Top Costa Rica Travel Tips to Make the Most of your Trip

A popular destination for bird-watching, surfing and adventure sports, from white-water rafting to zip-liningCosta Rica is undeniably touristy, so unless you stay in the middle of nowhere, don’t expect to escape other visitors completely.

However, if you choose your time (don’t go over the Christmas holidays) and destination carefully, you can escape the crowds.

If you’re going to be heading to Costa Rica anytime soon, we’ve got the top Costa Rica travel tips to make the most of your trip to this adventurous country.

Related Read: Costa Rica 7 Day Itinerary

Costa Rica travel tips
Costa Rica travel tips

Top Costa Rica Travel Tips

Follow these top tips for Costa Rica travel to make sure that you have the most enjoyable and memorable trip to Costa Rica.

1. Make Manuel Antonio your home

The small southern Pacific Coast community of Manuel Antonio and the adjoining town of Quepos have an interesting population mix of expats, tourists and locals, making it a fascinating place to spend some time. It’s also very attractive, set amongst lush jungle and boasting alluring beaches.

2. Book a beach/tree house

We did both. We spent one week in a jaw-dropping villa without walls overlooking the jungle and another week at a house just steps from the sand. They were both wonderful, and aside from the luxuries of space and privacy, and the opportunity to cook our own food (we made local dish gallo pinto!), what we loved most were the friendly visits by locals who dropped in unannounced each day. Yes, I’m talking about the monkeys!

We love this Tree House Lodge in Puerto Viejo.

3. Use public transport

There’s no need to hire a 4WD, which is what many guidebooks tell you to do. After heavy rains some of the roads are impassable, so trust me, you don’t want to be behind the wheel – it’s best to be in the back seat of a vehicle driven by an experienced local.

Organize a transfer to your holiday rental, and then use the affordable local buses that frequently run between Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park.

4. Shop the local markets

An excellent farmers market is held in Quepos, running parallel to the waterfront, where you’ll find plenty of fresh local produce for about the same price you’ll pay in the supermarket, only the quality is better. You’ll also find free-range eggs and baked breads and cakes.

5. Do as the locals do

There are all sorts of regular local events happening in Manuel Antonio and Quepos, from yoga classes and football matches to chess tournaments and movie nights, and the friendly locals are more than happy to welcome newcomers.

How much more authentic can travel get?

6. Hit the national parks

Costa Rica has 32 national parks and Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular, with plenty of wildlife to see. On the morning we visited, we spotted sloths, agouti, tent-making bats, blue morpho butterflies, purple and orange tropical land crabs, red and black scarlet tanagers, a laughing falcon, vibrant toucans, glorious iguanas, cute raccoons, and a boa constrictor.

The locals love the wildlife as much as the tourists do, so go with a local, such as the excellent licensed guide we used.

Check out these tours to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Costa Rica travel tips
Visit the sloths in the Costa Rica National Parks

7. Spend time on the sand

The locals seem to live on the beach. It doesn’t matter where they come from but they all have deep dark tans. When we were here we would bump into people we met everyday at the beach – taking their daily walks, collecting seashells, reading a book, riding a horse, throwing a Frisbee, just watching the sunset, or enjoying a surf.

8. Learn to surf

Costa Rica is a popular surfing destination, for locals and visitors alike, so if you don’t surf and you want to do as the locals do, then you need to learn how. There are a couple of surfing schools, but individual instructors came more highly recommended to us by locals, such as long-time surfing teacher Ivan Castillo (batiquepos@hotmail.com) who can be found renting his boards out under a shady tree not far from the lifesavers’ stand.

9. Volunteer

The locals and expats are an active and altruistic bunch, devoting time to all sorts of causes, so why not volunteer a day or at the very least a few hours of your time while you’re there? We participated in a tree-planting event with local schools organized by the Titi Conservation Alliance, aimed at re-establishing a biological corridor for the endangered red backed squirrel monkeys.

When we visited they’d already planted 35,000 trees and planted 650 the day we joined them.

Related Read: Cultural greetings while volunteering in South America

10. Do very little

There’s no denying that it’s hot and humid here, so how do the locals always look as cool as cucumbers? By doing very little, that’s how. The locals have ‘the art of doing nothing’ down to a very fine art. How many destinations can you go to where you can live like locals and take a good old-fashioned lie-on-the-beach holiday at the same time? Manual Antonio, for one, Costa Rica for another.

Costa Rica beaches
The perfect spot to do nothing in Costa Rica

Here’s a few more Costa Rica travel tips


Discover the Mysteries Hidden in the Painting of the Last Supper by Da Vinci

Milan, in Northern Italy, has so much more to offer than the boutiques and football, its roads are steeped with history, and there are so many churches and cathedrals to see and absorb the culture.

Milan also offers relaxation from all the sightseeing strains in the way of its many spas. Or take a gondola trip around the labyrinth of Milan’s canals, something which this Italian city is less well known for. There is no shortage of things to enthrall and captivate in this admirable place.

Or, you can witness the painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci.

Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci
Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci

Experiencing the painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci

It has to be noted that one of the unmissable attractions of Milan, is Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. This has always been one of the most famous paintings in the world since its creation in the 15th century. Interest has risen even more significantly since the publication of Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code in 2003.

Tickets for the Last Supper are very popular, and sell out quickly, often weeks in advance, so it is advisable to book your Last Supper tickets early if you intend to see this world famous controversy for yourself. Only a certain number of people can visit the Last Supper masterpiece in one day, so as to preserve it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Last Supper painting is kept in the Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace – Wikipedia) church. The church itself is a alluring tourist attraction and definitely worth a visit. It is one of the most grand churches of the Lombard Renaissance, and took 20 years to build.

It is worth looking at the various tours which operate around Milan, and combine the Last Supper tickets with some other fun excursions to make the most of your day. Other interesting things to do include La Scala Opera House, the world renowned opera house, and Corso Venezia, a fashionable street.

This tour by Get Your Guide, includes the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in central Milan and Milan’s renowned opera house, La Scala – plus, guaranteed tickets to see the painting of The Last Supper.

Book your Last Supper tickets early

Remember to purchase your Last Supper tickets before your trip to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Discover more of Leonardo da Vinci’s Milan by exploring more of his work throughout the city, including the Sforza Castle, Biblioteca Ambrosiana and Museo Poldi Pezzoli.


Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours in the Rincon de La Vieja National Park, Costa Rica

While visiting Costa Rica, we decided to go for a “canopy tour“, or zip-lining as we refer to it at home.

It was recommended that we go on the Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours in Rincon de La Vieja National Park rather than going on one of the tour packages offered at our resort.

It’s a full day adventure tour that includes a canopy tour, rock climbing, tubbing, horse back riding, hot spring and mud bath.

We’re going to share our full experience of this day of adventure in Hacienda Guachipelin – it was well worth it!

Book the tour here.

Rincon de La Vieja National Park in Costa Rica
Rincon de La Vieja National Park in Costa Rica

Getting to Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours

As we’d rented a car with another couple from our resort for a couple of days, we got GPS directions for the National Park and set out on our own. If you’re going to drive to Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours, make sure you have a 4×4 vehicle.

Once you get off of the Pan American Highway (Hwy 1) you’re on a very long unpaved road (in fact that’s all our GPS called it, ‘unpaved road’), full of potholes, hills, and the occasional cow wandering down the road.

Insider travel tip: When you arrive at the entrance to Rincon de La Vieja National Park, you come to a gate where they ask you to pay a toll to enter the park. Tell them you’re heading to Adventure Tours and you don’t need to pay!

The tour includes lunch at the Hacienda Guachipelín Hotel. I had a local drink to begin with, followed by Mahi Mahi on a bed of rice with some vegetables, and rice pudding for dessert. I enjoyed the meal, probably more than the food at our resort!

If you book this tour online, it includes a hotel pick-up so you don’t have to worry about getting to the park on your own.

Canopy Tour

After lunch, we headed out to the canopy. The first thing they do is to get all your equipment fitted. This includes your harness, helmet and gloves. My wife and I were both quite impressed with the harnesses they provide. Having done a fair amount of work in the entertainment industry where harnesses are a job requirement, we felt they paid very good attention to the safety of their guests.

Next up was a brief introduction to zip-lining. While still on the ground they showed you how to position your body while on the line, how to keep your balance, slow yourself down, what to do if you stopped in the middle of the line, etc.

After the briefing, it’s time to go flying through Rincon de La Vieja. We started off with a fairly long line for our first run, which just went through the forest. A good introductory run.  The second run, probably the longest of them all, goes over a canyon, with an incredible view if you were looking down as you flew overhead!

Next, you arrive at the rappelling line. Here your harness is attached to a rope and you’re lowered, head first, straight down along a waterfall.  You then swing across the water to another platform, and climb up at 40m ladder to the next platform. This part of the canopy tour is optional, as it requires a bit more physical strength than the rest. If you choose to rappel down, there is no way out other than the ladder climb back up. Only one of our party of 4 partook in this activity.

After another two zip lines, you arrive at the most challenging part of the tour, rock climbing. You have to climb across one rock wall and then down to another platform, with the river running underneath you. You then do a “tarzan swing’” to a platform on the other side of the canyon.

Finally, you have to climb another rock wall straight up to the next zip-line platform. After another short rock climb, there’s a small walk to the final zip-line location.  The staff are very good at guiding you through this section of the tour.  Although I must admit I was a little unsure about my ability to complete it, it felt like a great accomplishment to reach the end!

After all of that, there’s one final zip-line to the end, which you have the option of doing upside down! We took group photos on the last platform, and then had a short walk back to the Adventure Tours offices where we took off our equipment.

One of the joys of being there at the end of September is that is was pouring rain during many portions of the canopy tour. In some ways, this added to the experience. It felt like a bigger accomplishment doing the ziplines and rock climbing in that weather.

Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours, Costa Rica
Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours canopy tour

Hot Springs

The next part of the day would normally include horseback riding, but given that it was getting a later in the day (we didn’t arrive until almost 1pm) and that it was pouring rain outside, we skipped this and went straight to the hot springs.

The hot springs are located about another 10-15 minute drive up the road from the main Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours office. They’re not marked very well – but there is a sign about 100m before you get to them. The entrance is located right at the bottom of a steep hill on the road. There’s a bridge over the water here, you can park your car on either side of it.

There are change facilities located a short walk into the forest towards the hot springs.  A staff member from Adventure Tours was at the change facilities keeping an eye on everyone’s belongings.  The pools are located just past the change facilities.  There are 3 pools: one hot, one medium, and one cool.  If I had to guess that their temperatures, I would say they were about 107F, 103F and maybe 90F.  The hot pools are fed with water from a nearby volcano. You can see where the hot water is feeding into the pool.

There’s a bridge over the water leading to another cooler pool, but this one was closed on the day we visited because the water levels were too high.

The pools were very relaxing, and felt great on the “new muscles” that we discovered while zip-lining!  The pools were very quite, with only a few other guests showing up while we were there.

Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours, Costa Rica
Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours hot springs.

Driving Back

It was still light out when we started driving back, although it quickly got dark. As we’d discovered on the rest of our trip, the roads in Costa Rica (even the highways and more urban areas) have very poor street lighting, and no shoulders. You have to be very attentive to the pedestrians and cyclists in the dark.

Our return trip was also slowed down because we were stuck behind a line of school buses, with no room to pass. It appears students in Costa Rica go to school for a few hours in the morning, and then again later in the afternoon, with a break in the middle when the heat is at its worst.

Hacienda Guachipelin Adventure Tours: 5/5 

Would recommend this tour to anyone who wants an exciting, adrenaline pumped way to explore the Costa Rican landscape!

Exploring more of Costa Rica? Here’s a few tips:


A Guide to the Best Cities in Italy to Visit

Are you already planning your unforgettable Italy trip?

Combining delicious food, glorious architecture, saturated history, and impressive art heritage, this extraordinary country has it all to make you fall for it from first sight. Thus it’s no surprise that the list of unmissable places in Italy can be simply endless.

For your convenience, below, we created a compilation featuring Italy’s best destinations making an excellent introduction to the region and its dolce vita lifestyle. This should help to make the best out of your Italy trip.

Eternal Rome

Indeed, the expression “all roads lead to Rome” is another confirmation that the heart of the country is a good starting point for any Italy expedition, especially for first-timers.

Attracting travelers from all over the world, this art-laden European metropolis can be easily called an enormous living museum. Among its narrow streets are hidden Renaissance palazzos, Baroque fountains, beautiful chapels, and charming piazzas. As for places worth checking out during your trip, make sure to visit the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and, of course, the iconic Colosseum.

The Colosseum or Favian Amphitheater is an incomparable icon of Rome and a must-see spot where you can find out more about epic gladiator fights, entertaining performances, and other legendary events.

Alluring Venice

With its limitless capacity to enchant, striking Venice is more than just a city. It’s an entire series of 118 tiny islands divided by dozens of canals and connected by over 400 elegant bridges.

Let yourself get lost among the little alleys, shop the stalls that line the streets or stop by the Rialto Market, and, as a highlight, explore lapping waterways on a traditional gondola to see the beauty of the town from another angle. Wondering what else can make your Venice travel experience even better?

Thanks to developed lagoon aquaculture, Venetian cuisine offers a mind-blowing selection of seafood dishes. Believe us, accompanied with bubbly prosecco, these mouth-watering delicacies will provide a total blast of your taste buds!

Antique Florence

Famous worldwide as the cradle of the Renaissance, charming Florence represents a paradise for all passionate art enthusiasts since it encompasses numerous exquisite masterpieces of the era.

Tour the Gallery of the Academy of Florence to see the original “David” by Michelangelo, stroll the library of San Lorenzo, and make sure to pop in Uffizi Gallery, which is home to incredible works by such skilled creators as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci.

In addition to high-class museums, this fantastic town is dotted with various historical sites, monumental cathedrals, and glorious palaces, including the white-marble Baptistery, Bargello palace, San Miniato al Monte basilica, and the Medici Chapel.

Tranquil Siena

Situated just 43 miles (70 kilometers in equivalent) south of gorgeous Florence, this wonderful hill town in Tuscany has plenty of things to marvel at. According to ancient legends, Siena is considered to be found by Senius, son of Remus.

When speaking about this lively city, it’s impossible not to mention its main pride, Il Palio, or exciting horse race. This thrilling competition is run around the central piazza two times in summer. Interestingly, you can also see this event in action in the famed James Bond film called Quantum of Solace!

During your stay, save some time to peacefully wander the cobblestone streets, visit the eye-catching Siena Cathedral, and overlook the city from Torre del Mangia, an 85-meter high tower constructed in the 14th century.

Bustling Milan

Being one of the most visited destinations in Northern Italy, the world’s fashion and design capital offers plenty of things to see and do.

As a base for the city’s awesome shopping scene, chic outlets and luxurious boutiques are scattered around the area dictating contemporary fashion trends and attracting everyone with their bright showcases.

Apart from high-quality shopping, think about delving into Milan’s cultural legacy and paying a visit to the city’s remarkable museums and galleries. Witness the grandeur of Milan Duomo, stop by the famous La Scala Theater, traverse the historic Brera district, and pop in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to see the grand Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco “The Last Supper.”

Vivid Cinque Terre 

How about visiting not just one, but the whole five towns at once? Nestled in the region of Liguria, the Cinque Terre coast is a UNESCO-listed destination that represents a claster of  Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore fishing villages.

Each one of the five strikes with its petite colorful buildings, breathtaking sea views, and heart-warming coziness but still having its own unique character.

Apart from offering some of the most dramatic sceneries on the planet, Cinque Terre provides plenty of hiking opportunities. For centuries, the only way to get around the area was on foot! Thus today the local network of mountain trails is heaven for adventurous hikers eager to conquer unoccupied hills and enjoy untouched natural beauty.

To guarantee great comfort for all guests, the paths here differ in complexity and the length of the journey, so you can easily choose the one according to your preferences.

Summing up, miraculous Italy has everything to satisfy even experienced tourists. And apart from choosing the right destination, a well-planned route is a key to having an unforgettable holiday.

To see many-sided Italy at its best, as an option, you can build your travel itinerary with Triptil and make your travel dream come true!

Costa Rica 7 Day Itinerary: Visit the Nicoya Peninsula

Looking to book your next adventure? Or simply want to escape reality?

Look no further than the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica – a standout Central American country.

It thrives on passion for life; perhaps its most appealing attribute, and boasts a vibrant display of jungle and coastline which is home to some of the world’s most diverse wildlife.

And the best part is that you can see it all in one week. 

Limited to seven days ourselves, and on a very tight budget, my sister and I flew into San Jose where we stayed for one night before catching the bus and ferry across to the west coast to Montezuma (on the east side of the peninsula).

This was our first stop on our Costa Rica itinerary.

Costa Rica itinerary

Montezuma

Our week in Costa Rica itinerary started off spending four days in Montezuma.

Where to stay in Montezuma 

Luz en el Cielo-Eco B&B/Hostel. This place is unreal. It costs between $16 – $20USD per night for a shared room, with cooked breakfast included. Not a bad price to pay for a clean hostel in a spectacular location-nestled in the colourful jungle and an arms throw from the beach and town. They also have private dorm rooms and cabanas.

The staff are great- extremely friendly and helpful, the showers are warm, and the hammocks are perfect for monkey and bird spotting.

Book your stay here.

What to see in Montezuma

Montezuma is the epitome of hippie. Just stroll 50 meters down to the main street from your hostel and you’ll see for yourself. It draws a multi-ethnic crowd of an artistic and beach-loving nature. Stalls decorated with hand-made crafts and jewelry line the street, sarongs and artwork are on display, and alfresco-beach style cafes bars and restaurants provide the perfect setting for you to partake in the continuous mellow party.

Costa Rica itinerary, Montezuma
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Montezuma itinerary

Day One: Hiking to waterfalls

You can’t visit Montezuma without hiking through the overgrown jungle to an opening where waterfalls tumble into large natural pools of cool, emerald water. There are two large waterfalls – the highest standing at around 14 meters tall, often seen with Tico’s diving from it head first into the water below.

For the sane and safe, though not lacking an adventurous side – a rope swing and smaller jumping rock provide an afternoon’s worth of fun. The easiest way to reach the waterfall is by following the dirt road bypassing town heading south. I do however suggest you take the other path off the beaten track and use the vines to hoist yourself up the steep parts of the jungle. It’s beautiful seeing it this way and the views are spectacular.

Leave yourself a full day for this as you may find yourself wanting to explore beyond the falls. 

Day Two: Day trip to Tortuga Island

Every day a trip to Tortuga Island leaves from Montezuma in the morning, taking you on a 40 minute boat ride across pristine waters to your destination. The boat stops at two large rocks just off the beach.

Here you will discover an incredible underwater world as you snorkel in the warm water before heading onto the main island for a feast of fresh fish, a game or two of volleyball and perhaps a jet-ski or banana boat ride. 

Tortuga Island in Costa Rica
Tortuga Island in Costa Rica

Day Three: Secluded beach day

You may need a helping hand to find this one but its worth seeing if you can. A 15 minute walk north along the rocky beach will take you away from the populated main beach to a stunning, secluded spot enclosed by jungle and rocks.

You can spend the day soaking up the sun, rolling on the sleepy waves in the sea, and trekking a short way up the fresh water stream to a small opening for natural mud-masks and a massage under a waterfall.

This is the perfect spot to unwind, relax, read your book or just zone out and forget about your worries.

Day Four: Zip-lining through the treetops 

Spend your last day in Montezuma zip-lining through treetops of jungles alongside incredible wildlife on a canopy tour. This is awesome. Zip lining is like going on a flying fox, but you go faster, longer and you’re harnessed up. A perfect way to finish up your Montezuma experience.

Montezuma in Costa Rica
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa

Our next stop on our Costa Rica itinerary was Santa Teresa which sits on the west side of the peninsula. 

Where to stay in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a long stretch of coastline, lined with restaurants, bars, small stores and jungle. It’s a surf-lover’s, yoga fanatic’s, photography guru’s utopia. There are so many hostels to choose from, though we chose to stay up the Northern end away from the main part of town which was perfect for us as we wanted our last couple of days to be peaceful.

Search for accommodation in Santa Teresa here.

What to see in Santa Teresa

It’s impossible to describe Santa Teresa in one word. It truly is an absolute paradise. Spend your morning and evenings walking 40 minutes to and from the other end of ‘town’ either along the beach or dirt road and you will stumble across some hidden treasures.

The beauty of Santa Teresa is that although it is defined by a long stretch of coastline, it is broken up into separate beaches by rocks and vibrant green trees, perfect if you want to steer clear of the main crowds.

Costa Rica Itinerary, Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa itinerary

Day Five: Walk through the town & beach

I would highly recommend you walk along the stretch of dirt road to town ducking into the many small stores they have full of sarongs, swimwear, jewelry, crafts and surf gear.

Stop for lunch at one of the many “soda’s” along the way which will set you back around $4USD depending on your café of choice.

There’s not much to see in the main part of town, so you may not want to spend your time looking around there. Instead I suggest you walk back along the beach and pick a beach front bar to settle on a hammock in and sip the afternoon away with a mojito in hand as you watch the sun set over the surfers.

Day Six: Hit the waves

Grab a surfboard from your closest hire shop and take to the waves. Though if you haven’t surfed before or if you are a beginner, make sure you don’t go alone as the currents are strong and rips are common in parts.

If you are experienced, this is an absolute haven for you as Santa Teresa is home to world-class waves, and many who have simply visited on a surfing holiday in the past have ended up staying. 

Book a surfing lesson in Santa Teresa here.

Day Seven: Relax on the beach

Spend your last day in paradise letting it unwind you, relax you and mellow out somewhere on the beach. Don’t forget your camera as the setting is perfect to get the perfect photo.

Pick a restaurant at night (Rocamar restaurant has a laidback vibe with beanbags and hammocks to laze about on), and let the music transform you into a state of bliss.

Exploring more of Costa Rica? Here’s a few tips:


Cost Rica 7 Day Itinerary: Visit the Nicoya Peninsula

Looking to book your next adventure? Or simply want to escape reality?

Look no further than the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica – a standout Central American country.

It thrives on passion for life; perhaps its most appealing attribute, and boasts a vibrant display of jungle and coastline which is home to some of the world’s most diverse wildlife.

And the best part is that you can see it all in one week. 

Limited to seven days ourselves, and on a very tight budget, my sister and I flew into San Jose where we stayed for one night before catching the bus and ferry across to the west coast to Montezuma (on the east side of the peninsula).

This was our first stop on our Costa Rica itinerary.

Costa Rica itinerary

Montezuma

Our week in Costa Rica itinerary started off spending four days in Montezuma.

Where to stay in Montezuma 

Luz en el Cielo-Eco B&B/Hostel. This place is unreal. It costs between $16 – $20USD per night for a shared room, with cooked breakfast included. Not a bad price to pay for a clean hostel in a spectacular location-nestled in the colourful jungle and an arms throw from the beach and town. They also have private dorm rooms and cabanas.

The staff are great- extremely friendly and helpful, the showers are warm, and the hammocks are perfect for monkey and bird spotting.

Book your stay here.

What to see in Montezuma

Montezuma is the epitome of hippie. Just stroll 50 meters down to the main street from your hostel and you’ll see for yourself. It draws a multi-ethnic crowd of an artistic and beach-loving nature. Stalls decorated with hand-made crafts and jewelry line the street, sarongs and artwork are on display, and alfresco-beach style cafes bars and restaurants provide the perfect setting for you to partake in the continuous mellow party.

Costa Rica itinerary, Montezuma
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Montezuma itinerary

Day One: Hiking to waterfalls

You can’t visit Montezuma without hiking through the overgrown jungle to an opening where waterfalls tumble into large natural pools of cool, emerald water. There are two large waterfalls – the highest standing at around 14 meters tall, often seen with Tico’s diving from it head first into the water below.

For the sane and safe, though not lacking an adventurous side – a rope swing and smaller jumping rock provide an afternoon’s worth of fun. The easiest way to reach the waterfall is by following the dirt road bypassing town heading south. I do however suggest you take the other path off the beaten track and use the vines to hoist yourself up the steep parts of the jungle. It’s beautiful seeing it this way and the views are spectacular.

Leave yourself a full day for this as you may find yourself wanting to explore beyond the falls. 

Day Two: Day trip to Tortuga Island

Every day a trip to Tortuga Island leaves from Montezuma in the morning, taking you on a 40 minute boat ride across pristine waters to your destination. The boat stops at two large rocks just off the beach.

Here you will discover an incredible underwater world as you snorkel in the warm water before heading onto the main island for a feast of fresh fish, a game or two of volleyball and perhaps a jet-ski or banana boat ride. 

Tortuga Island in Costa Rica
Tortuga Island in Costa Rica

Day Three: Secluded beach day

You may need a helping hand to find this one but its worth seeing if you can. A 15 minute walk north along the rocky beach will take you away from the populated main beach to a stunning, secluded spot enclosed by jungle and rocks.

You can spend the day soaking up the sun, rolling on the sleepy waves in the sea, and trekking a short way up the fresh water stream to a small opening for natural mud-masks and a massage under a waterfall.

This is the perfect spot to unwind, relax, read your book or just zone out and forget about your worries.

Day Four: Zip-lining through the treetops 

Spend your last day in Montezuma zip-lining through treetops of jungles alongside incredible wildlife on a canopy tour. This is awesome. Zip lining is like going on a flying fox, but you go faster, longer and you’re harnessed up. A perfect way to finish up your Montezuma experience.

Montezuma in Costa Rica
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa

Our next stop on our Costa Rica itinerary was Santa Teresa which sits on the west side of the peninsula. 

Where to stay in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a long stretch of coastline, lined with restaurants, bars, small stores and jungle. It’s a surf-lover’s, yoga fanatic’s, photography guru’s utopia. There are so many hostels to choose from, though we chose to stay up the Northern end away from the main part of town which was perfect for us as we wanted our last couple of days to be peaceful.

Search for accommodation in Santa Teresa here.

What to see in Santa Teresa

It’s impossible to describe Santa Teresa in one word. It truly is an absolute paradise. Spend your morning and evenings walking 40 minutes to and from the other end of ‘town’ either along the beach or dirt road and you will stumble across some hidden treasures.

The beauty of Santa Teresa is that although it is defined by a long stretch of coastline, it is broken up into separate beaches by rocks and vibrant green trees, perfect if you want to steer clear of the main crowds.

Costa Rica Itinerary, Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa itinerary

Day Five: Walk through the town & beach

I would highly recommend you walk along the stretch of dirt road to town ducking into the many small stores they have full of sarongs, swimwear, jewelry, crafts and surf gear.

Stop for lunch at one of the many “soda’s” along the way which will set you back around $4USD depending on your café of choice.

There’s not much to see in the main part of town, so you may not want to spend your time looking around there. Instead I suggest you walk back along the beach and pick a beach front bar to settle on a hammock in and sip the afternoon away with a mojito in hand as you watch the sun set over the surfers.

Day Six: Hit the waves

Grab a surfboard from your closest hire shop and take to the waves. Though if you haven’t surfed before or if you are a beginner, make sure you don’t go alone as the currents are strong and rips are common in parts.

If you are experienced, this is an absolute haven for you as Santa Teresa is home to world-class waves, and many who have simply visited on a surfing holiday in the past have ended up staying. 

Book a surfing lesson in Santa Teresa here.

Day Seven: Relax on the beach

Spend your last day in paradise letting it unwind you, relax you and mellow out somewhere on the beach. Don’t forget your camera as the setting is perfect to get the perfect photo.

Pick a restaurant at night (Rocamar restaurant has a laidback vibe with beanbags and hammocks to laze about on), and let the music transform you into a state of bliss.

Exploring more of Costa Rica? Here’s a few tips:


A Week in Spain: From Madrid to Barcelona

I’m sure time flies while traveling, but what to do with a week in Spain?

The answer to that is simple – try to come up with a comprehensive itinerary that best suits your needs and make sure to include the things that interest you most, even though one visit to the sunny destination will not be enough either way.

A great idea for your first sighting in (or a legendary comeback to) Spain is visiting two of the main hubs in the country in one go!

Here’s what to do with a week in Spain: From Madrid to Barcelona.

Traveling From Madrid to Barcelona  

Whether you start your adventure in Madrid and end in Barcelona or vice versa, one of the best ways of traveling between the two cities is by taking a train. You can make your way from Madrid to Barcelona by train in around three hours, all the while enjoying scenic views along the way and making use of modern onboard amenities, ensuring your comfort and safety. Check Rail.Ninja for more information on trains, timetables, and other train-travel-related information in Spain. Alternatively, you can hop on a bus or arrange yourself a private transfer to reach the destination, which can be slightly more time- or money-consuming.

For a scenic stop on your way from Madrid to Barcelona, hop off the train in Zaragoza, another lovely Spanish destination for you to explore. Home to some spectacular examples of Moorish architecture, it is the capital of the scenic Aragón region and the fifth-largest city in the country. While there, make sure to visit the spectacular Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, the imposing Palacio de la Aljafería, and Museo de Zaragoza, or simply set off wandering its charming streets as scenic views await you on its every corner.

Must-See Sights in Madrid

Let’s start with the bustling Spanish capital, Madrid; brimming with so many things to see and do, the city is a well of endless sightseeing opportunities.

One of the main visitor attractions in Madrid is undoubtedly the renowned Prado Museum, housing an exceptional collection of artwork, including but not limited to pieces by Velázquez, Ribera, and Zurbarán. Another crucial stop on the itinerary of any museum lover is the National Archaeological Museum telling the story of Spain’s past and its significant events. Another great way to get better acquainted with the country’s history is joining one of the comprehensive theme tours, such as the Madrid of the Bourbons Walking Tour or the Spanish Civil War Tour.

If museums are not something you enjoy, there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities and authentic activities to take part in, for instance, discovering the Golden Triangle of Art, joining a Tapas Cooking Class, taking a day trip to Toledo, enjoying a Flamenco Show, the list goes on!

Such activities allow you to familiarize yourself with the unparalleled fiery culture of Spain and to delve deeper into its flavorful world of gastronomy, popular all over the world.

With all the sightseeing tours to join, flamenco shows to watch, and tapas to taste in Madrid, three or four days pass by without you even noticing it!

Barcelona Attractions Not to Miss

After that, comes the time for you to get better acquainted with the jewels of Barcelona, starting with an unforgettable tour of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Scattered all over the bustling city, his works attract a number of visitors, from those lined by the Sagrada Familia to the ones leisurely strolling around Park Guell.

Other must-visit attractions on any Barcelona itinerary include the Cathedral de Barcelona, Las Ramblas, and the lively La Boqueria market, where you can sample local delicacies, buy fresh produce, or start souvenir hunting for the loved ones back at home.

Among the most popular sites, you can also find the Tibidabo Mountain providing picturesque views over the entire city and the Barceloneta beach, perfect for gazing at the sun slowly setting down in the evening. Don’t miss the chance also to visit the museums in the Montjuïc area and marvel at the dancing fountain nearby!

If you somehow still have a day to spare with the abundance of things to enjoy in Barcelona, don’t miss the chance to set off on a day tour! One of the most popular nearby attractions, perfect for a day-long getaway, is the postcard-like Montserrat Monastery, located just a short ride away, or a Game of Thrones tour in Girona, for those interested in the iconic TV series.

No matter which tours and activities you choose, there will always be so many more day tours to take part in, and sights and cities to visit in Spain, which will undoubtedly leave you wanting to come back.

What’s on your list for A Week in Spain?

Simple Tips for an Easy Visa Application

Applying for a visa can be one of the most stressful parts of traveling. From figuring out what type of visa you need to how to apply for one and gathering the MANY documents required.

Not to mention getting the timing right to make sure that you get your visa in time!

While we can’t take away all the admin that often comes with visa applications, it is possible to have a relatively easy visa application process.

Here’s a few simple tips to ensuring that you have an easy visa application!

Applying for a visa might seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. Here’s a few visa application tips to help make the process much easier.

Get help if you need it

If you don’t have time to figure out the whole visa application process yourself, or just don’t feel like going through the hassle, then hire a visa application service, like ByeVisa.

ByeVisa are eVisa experts and make international travel simple and stress free. Not only do they provide all the information that you need, but you can apply for your eVisa with them – in just a few clicks!

Not all visa application services assist with all visas. ByeVisa, for example, assists with Canada, USA, Vietnam, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Cambodia eVisas.

Start your application process early

If you know that you’re going to need a visa for the country that you’re visiting, start planning your travels early. Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days before your date of travel, so don’t wait until the last minute.

While some visas may come through really quickly, others can take a few weeks. Each country has different turnaround times, which you can usually find on their dedicated websites. Be aware that during peak season visa processing can take longer than anticipated.

If you do need a visa in a hurry though, you can always opt for Priority Visa Service (available for certain countries). However, you will need to pay extra for this service.

Make sure that your passport is valid

We often forget to check the expiry dates on our passports, but it’s an important detail for your visa application.

Most visa application requirements include your passport being valid for at least three to six months beyond the date that you plan to leave the destination.

Some visas, like the US ESTA Tourist Visa, may require your passport to be an electronic passport that includes a digital chip with biometric information.

Follow ALL the requirements

You’ll usually be able to find a checklist of the requirements for the visa for your destination. It’s important that you follow ALL of the requirements by getting all of the documentation ready.

The last thing that you want to do is waste a visa appointment slot by getting rejected purely because you left out a document.

The standard requirements are usually:

  • Your visa application form (accurately filled out).
  • Recent passport photos.
  • Valid passport.
  • Round-trip flight details (here’s how to get cheap flights).
  • Accommodation bookings or letter of invitation.
  • Proof of financial means.
  • Travel insurance policy.
  • Proof of paid visa.

Every visa is different, so make sure that your research specifically for the destination that you’re visiting as some might require additional documents.

Depending on the type of visa that you’re applying for, whether it’s a business visa, working holiday visa or long-term visa, you may need further documentation. Some countries may require you to submit a letter of employment from your country.

If you have all of these documents ready beforehand, you’ll more likely have an easy visa application process.

Be clear on your reason for travel

Why do you want to visit that country? You’re going to be asked this question on your visa application form, during your interview (if required), and probably also at passport control when you arrive. So, it’s a good idea to be clear on your purpose of travel (and stick to it).

Are you visiting family? Are you going for work or a conference? Is this purely a holiday trip?

You will be asked to prove your reason. If, for example, you’re going to visit family, you may be required to provide a letter of invitation along with a copy of your family members passport. If you’re going for work, then you’ll likely be required to produce a letter from your work.

Include a cover letter

This tip is mostly geared towards those applying for a Schengen Visa where it’s quite common to include a cover letter in your application.

This is your time to shine, and PITCH yourself. Include your reasons why you’re traveling to the country (including that you love their country), your planned itinerary, your financial means, and your reasons to return home. They want to know what you’re going to be getting up to in their country and that, when your visa expires, you’ll be leaving.

Easy visa applications come to those who are prepared. Do your research, get your documents ready and start the process early!

Medellin Neighborhoods to Explore Beyond the Tourist Zone

Most tourists visiting Medellin in Colombia tend to stick to the usual tourist zone in the city. But, there are so many more Medellin neighborhoods to explore.

Parque Lleras is in Poblado neighborhood where tourists and well-heeled locals in Medellin come to play. It’s surrounded by hostels, restaurants, and bars and has been a magnet for travelers for years.

In addition to living there, I’ve traveled to Medellin, Colombia, dozens of times. So, one of my favorite things to do is get out of the tourism zone in Poblado and visit the city’s more working-class areas.

If you want to explore more of what Medellin has to offer, then you need to travel further out to the more localized neighborhoods in Medellin.

Related Read: Visit Colombia: Travel Tips for Your Trip

Getting out of the Tourism Zone in Medellin.

Best Medellin neighborhoods to explore

If you want to get out of the tourist zone of Medellin but still keep it safe, an excellent place to come is the barrio of Santo Domingo. It’s accessible by Metro Cable (gondola lift system) from the city’s easy-to-manage train (metro) stops.

It will give a traveler insight into a working-class Medellin neighborhood. It’s up in the hills of Medellin, to the north of the city, and can provide travelers with some real insight is how people live in Medellin. As you look up the hills, you will see that the houses are really colorful. A lot of them are self-built.

Use the Metro Cable to get around the city

The Metro Cable helped transformed Santo Domingo. Today it’s still primarily poor and working-class, but with a safer present and a brighter future to aspire to.

What I like about Medellin is that the government was very progressive in terms of putting the Metro Cable up. It serves as potential transportation for the people who live here, but it’s also a tourist attraction. So, you will see some tourists here from time to time. There’s a significant police presence during the day, so it’s no problem to just hang out with the people of Santo Domingo. I think it’ll really enhance your trip.

Exploring more Medellin neighborhoods on the Metro Cable
Robert Rose of Raw Travel TV in Santo Domingo

Neighborhoods further up the Metro Cable

Parque Arvi

If you want a quick break from the hustle and bustle of Medellin, just continue on the metro cable a bit further up the mountain to the lovely Parque Arvi.

Parque Arvi is just a short Metro Cable ride up from Santo Domingo, but you’re a world away from Medellin.

Parque Arvi is a marvel of urban planning and a credit to Medellin’s progressive, socially conscious government initiatives.

Comuna 13 (aka Comuna Trece)

Another recommendation is to check out the once dangerous but now crowded area of Comuna 13. Perhaps no community suffered more during Pablo Escobar’s reign than Community thirteen (Comuna Trece in Spanish).

This barrio was once ground zero in the war between the government and narco-traffickers.

Today, Comuna Trece has made a remarkable comeback and is a shining example of social inclusion tourism’s potential.

Over 1,000 visitors a day trek to this former “no man’s land” to experience the stunning views, colorful murals, art, local flavor, and outdoor escalators.

What I really liked about my tour of Comuna Thirteen was the fact that I was able to see this area and at the same time help the people there.

And if you think about it, that’s a fantastic turnaround because just a few years ago, no one would even venture in there. Now, over a thousand travelers a day are visiting, spending their money, and getting to know the people. And doing it in a responsible, sustainable way.

I think one of the reasons it works is social inclusion. They’re including the people there. The revenue stream is also giving them a point of pride about where they live. Because it is stunning.

I think it can serve as a model for communities worldwide to develop tourism and how tourism can help impoverished communities turn things around while helping out the locals living there. While assisting the traveler in getting an idea of what it’s like, what people live like, in most of the world.

To me, it’s a win-win situation. And I think so long as it’s done sustainably and responsibly, I really don’t see a downside to doing it. I’m glad I did it. I really recommend it to other travelers as well.

Join this Comuna 13 Graffiti Tour with a local guide. You’ll get to learn about the troubled history of Medellín while checking out amazing street art and meeting artists and local residents in the community.

Medellin neighborhoods - Comuna Trece
Comuna Trece (Comuna 13)

Looking for more places to explore in Colombia? Check out these posts:


Best Places to Visit in the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Fortunately, there is no such thing as the ultimate vacation scenario, as everyone has their own idea of what a dream holiday is.

Yes, planning a getaway would be much easier if there would be some universal answer, there is no arguing that. But life would be so much duller that cost just doesn’t justify the means.

However, there are several popular ideas on what makes a perfect trip setting. For some people, it’s the tropical paradise from the Bounty chocolate bar commercial, while others long for the unique larger-than-life atmosphere of the capital cities. Quite a few dream of snow, fjords, and the miracle of aurora borealis.

And, the gem of Italy, the stunning Amalfi Coast is definitely one of the most interesting options on the list of the favored vacation destinations. And with so many incredible places to visit in the Amalfi Coast, it’s no surprise!

The picturesque coastline seems to belong to another world, a window to a paradise realm from a different universe. The pure beauty of the sceneries takes your breath away even if you’ve been to this remarkable region multiple times before.

Everything seems to be too good to be true: nature, food, limoncello liqueur, and brilliant sights, so deciding what should go on your must-see vacation list can be rather challenging.

So, let’s explore some of the most interesting options to look for with Italy vacation packages

Best Places to Visit in the Amalfi Coast: Sights Not to Miss

It’s bold (to say the least) to assume that someone can visit all the impressive landmarks of the region during one holiday, so why not start with something less ambitious?

For example, you can pick three interesting places you would like to visit for your first trip, and it will leave you some time to enjoy a gastronomic tour, explore the cities you’ve chosen for your stay, and set off on some impromptu excursions. 

Blue Grotto on Capri Island

A stunning natural wonder, the Blue Grotto, is an extraordinary sea cave that can easily become the highlight of your trip. This magical natural wonder belongs to another planet and feels like a setting for one of the Doctor Who episodes. 

The entrance to this not-so-secret landmark hardly stands out, two meters wide and about a meter high, so you need an experienced guide to get inside. Visitors have to lie on the bottom of a rowboat to be able to get in, but this minor inconvenience is well worth the stunning beauty that waits for them inside. Upon entering, they see a wide cave going deep into the cliff and illuminated by the rich blue light, coming from the seawater, so clean it seems impossible.

In the Roman times, this place was a bathing hole of the second Roman emperor and looked more civilized – decorated with sculptures (two of them you can find in Anacapri museum) and boasting a few resting areas, but time erased the traces of luxury, and the Blue Grotto now seems as untouched as it once was.

Cathedral of Saint Andrew & Cloister of Paradise

The city of Amalfi boasts plenty of fascinating sights, but if you don’t have much time and have to pick just one of them to explore thoroughly – check out the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, also knows simply as Amalfi Cathedral.

It’s probably one of the most visited places in the Amalfi Coast.

You won’t miss it, because the sight is a real head-turner, dominating the views of the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of Amalfi.

To be fair, a place like that, combining unique style, fascinating history, and unparalleled cultural heritage, makes quite a bizarre sight, neighboring with cozy and always busy streets filled with shops and cafes. But such an interesting position only adds to its charm.

The cathedral houses the relics of Apostle Saint Andrew, and its interiors can make even seasoned travelers gape in awe. 

Cloister of Paradise, adjusted to the cathedral is also an interesting sight to stop by. This beautiful place is a small garden with palm trees and amazing flowers, the kingdom of green and blossom, and it was designed as a graveyard for the rich merchants of Amalfi, but it’s nothing like any cemetery you’ve seen before.

This island of tranquility is surrounded by a majestic peristyle, supported by over a hundred columns. During your visit, make sure to keep an eye out for the ancient sarcophagi, nestled around the cloister. 

Vallone delle Ferriere

Even if you are not a big nature fan, take a short break from the famous sandy beaches of the Amalfi Coast and give the famous Vallone delle Ferriere hike a chance.

A truly remarkable way to see a different side of Amalfi, enjoy some breathtaking views, and take advantage of a few unique photo opportunities. Don’t worry, no special physical training is needed to explore the trail, it’s relatively easy and mostly descending

The path will lead you through a beautiful valley where you can see the ancient ruins of the medieval foundries, passing old water mills (once the engine, powering the world-famous paper industry of Amalfi) and majestic waterfalls. The whole hike takes about three hours, and it’s better to set off early in the morning if the day promises to be hot.

The best advice I can give you – wear your trainers and don’t forget your swimming suit, and make sure to thank me later! 

As you can see, even these three places to visit in the Amalfi Coast, a bare minimum of an Amalfi Coast tour, already make a fantastic reason to choose this sun-kissed vacation as your next holiday destination!

But you can rest assured, that there is so much more to see and do there, that you will want to come back to this unique Italian region time and time again.