Japan had been on my list for a LONG time. For some reason though, I always struggled to make a trip happen. But finally, it happened! And since I was excited to make it here, I didn’t want it to be a quick trip.
In the end, we decided to spend 1 month total in Japan.
We spent the first two weeks in Kyoto and it was perfect. Every day was rewarding and we didn’t regret spending two weeks in this city at all. It’s calm, picturesque, friendly and full of activities and places to visit. The food is ever so tasty, it’s easy to get around and it’s also very affordable. It really was the ideal base.
We also were there during autumn and it was gorgeous as a result. The abundant nature and truly spectacular colors were far beyond anything we could have hoped for and it certainly helped make this an even more rewarding trip.
If you’re thinking of going to Kyoto, whether it’s for 2 days or 2 weeks, I hope the information below from my own experience proves helpful!
Since we were spending two weeks in Kyoto, we based our accommodation situation on three things – space, price and location. We work online every day so we wanted to have more space than a standard hotel room, which can be quite small in Japan. Of course, we also didn’t want to pay a fortune for accommodation either. And we preferred to be in a relatively central, but not overly touristy neighborhood.
After some searching, we found a place that matched all of the above.
Resi Stay Nishijin
For approximately $85 USD per night, we had a large studio (40 sq meters / 430 sq feet) with a small living room, two sofas, little kitchen, comfy beds and a balcony. It was quite modern, with the kind of bathroom and shower area that you want – Japanese style with all kinds of gadgets and settings. The wifi was strong, the heat and AC worked very well and it was spotless. Resi Stay has several locations in Kyoto but we chose the one on Nishijin. It was a local, quiet area, with small lanes full of quaint wooden houses, plenty of quality restaurants, a food market, good supermarkets and a bus stop in front of the building with buses that would take us anywhere we needed to go.
Also, since we love to walk all over the place, we were an approximate 30 – 60 minute walk from almost anywhere in the city. This suited us very well.
As Kyoto is a decent sized city, there are naturally a lot of different options for accommodation. I would recommend doing research first though on the type of neighborhood that you prefer to be based in. I know a lot of people immediately head for the Gion, Nishiki or Kyoto Tower areas but those can be very crowded. So it definitely depends on what you’re looking for.
Again, we managed to find a great deal on Booking.com for the Resi Stay Nishijin ($85 USD per night), so such deals are possible.
Food, Food, Food (You can eat it all with 2 weeks in Kyoto!)
Oh my. The food was incredible. Every single meal.
In the beginning, we would do a lot of research to find the best local restaurants to eat at. But by the end of our two weeks in Kyoto, we were confident that any place we went into would serve up a delicious meal, regardless of whether or not we could read the menu.
Some restaurants have English menus, some don’t. Some have photos of the dishes on the menus or on the walls, others don’t. Some also have beautifully artistic creations of their menu items in a display case in front of the restaurant or in the window, and of course, some don’t. So sometimes you know what you’re ordering and most of the time you have no idea.
Either way, eating in Kyoto and beyond was a major highlight of this trip.
Our food journey could be summed up by three categories:
1. Restaurants/Cafes – I could give a list of the places we ate at, but it’s not worth it. Trust me when I say that you just need to pop into any place you pass that looks interesting (especially if there’s a line of locals out front waiting to get in) and see how it goes. This was by far the best method of choosing restaurants and the success rate was 100%. From sushi to ramen, kaiseki to soba, Shojin ryori to okonomiyaki and everything in between, get ready for a food adventure like no other.
2. Nishiki Market – See below under activities. This place is food heaven and we visited this market several times in order to eat ALL the things.
3. Supermarkets – Kyoto’s fantastic supermarkets also played a role as there were several nights we just wanted to pick up some prepared food and eat back in our hotel room. Our favorite was Life Supermarket. The sushi at this supermarket was fresher and better than most sushi at proper restaurants in other countries. The set prepared meals (of which there are dozens) were always delicious too. This was such a cool way to eat here, and the shopping experience, which involved trying to figure out what most items were, was always super fun.
*Okay, I also need to mention the Japanese Fluffy Pancakes. If you don’t know about them, please make sure they are part of your Japan trip. We ate them more times than I’d like to admit. Insanely soft, fluffy, meringue based pancakes that can be made with all kinds of toppings such as fruit, chocolate, matcha, granola, caramel and more. Go to A Happy Pancake location (they can be found in many cities, including Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo), stand in line and wait for a table and then enjoy what will undoubtedly be the absolute best pancake you’ve ever tasted.
A lot of people talk about the Japan Rail Pass. It’s a pass that you can reserve before you enter Japan and it gives you unlimited rides on Japan Rail trains throughout the country. The price starts at about 30,000 JPY ($220) for 7 days, 47,000 JPY ($345) for 2 weeks and 61,000 JPY ($448) for 3 weeks. It’s a good deal if you’re going to use the trains often.
However, it’s worth doing research to see if this pass is indeed for you. We assumed we would need one, but after our research, we realized that it wouldn’t save us any money based on our particular itinerary. Since we were going to be in the Kyoto/Osaka region, then fly to Okinawa and then fly to Tokyo, the Japan Rail Pass was not suitable. In the end, our transportation costs were remarkably low, even without the Japan Rail Pass.
To start, we flew into Osaka Kansai Airport and this is what we did…
Arrival: Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto
Upon arrival at the Osaka Kansai Airport, we walked over to the airport train station went inside the JR Trains main office. The staff speak English and they can explain all of your transportation options.
We ended up purchasing the ICOCA Haruka Pass which was ideal for our stay.
It’s not exactly a pass though. It’s more like a card that you can top-up and use to pay for transportation on buses, subways and almost all trains (as well as vending machines and at some restaurants). The biggest benefit is a discount on the Kansai Express Haruka train from Osaka Kansai Airport to Kyoto. Since we needed to get from Kansai Airport to Kyoto and then back to Kansai Airport two weeks later for our flight to Okinawa, we got the round-trip discount.
We paid 5500 JPY ($40 USD) each for our ICOCA cards. This included 1500 JPY credit to be used on buses, trains and subways and a 4000 JPY roundtrip ticket for the Kansai Express Haruka train from/to the airport. In the end, we saved about 1000 JPY each on the airport train, making it very worthwhile.
Then, once we arrived in Kyoto, we simply used our ICOCA cards to tap on to buses, trains and the subway. It also worked for trains to Osaka and Nara, the subway in Osaka and for trains, subway and buses in Tokyo as well at the end of our Japan trip.
Trains – Again, we didn’t get the Japan Rail Pass because we realized that we wouldn’t be using trains often enough. We ended up taking the train from Kyoto to Osaka and back on one day and from Kyoto to Nara and back on another day. The total cost for those four train rides was 3360 JPY or $24 USD. That seemed like reasonable prices to us and the Japan Rail Pass would have cost a lot more than that. (We did use the Express train from Narita Airport to Shinjuku in Tokyo as well but the cost for that ride was 3050 JPY or $22 USD so it still didn’t justify purchasing the Japan Rail Pass since we only spent a total of $46 USD on trains.)
Buses – In Kyoto, the bus system is very easy to use. We used Google maps to figure out which buses we needed and then we simply used our ICOCA card to pay for each trip. The fare was 230 JPY per trip, which is only about $1.70 USD. We took the bus about 10 times during our stay for a total of $17.00.
Subway – We did not use the subway/metro system during our two weeks in Kyoto. Between the buses, taxis and walking, we covered everywhere we needed to go. However, we did take the subway/metro during our day trip to Osaka and it was also easy. We again used our ICOCA cards to pay for each ride, which cost either 180 JPY or 230 JPY depending on the distance. We took the subway 4 times during our day in Osaka and it cost us a total of 820 JPY ($5.85).
Taxis – Due to the favorable exchange during our stay, taxis were actually quite reasonable and far less expensive than we had imagined. We took 20 taxis during our 2 week stay in Kyoto and the total cost was 30,000 JPY or $214 USD. As we were in Kyoto in November, there were some cold and windy days where we simply wanted to get into a taxi and out of the cold. And since most rides cost $10 USD, it ended up being a good option. Also, the taxis are a cool experience with the automatically opening doors, extremely clean and roomy interiors and dedicated drivers who make sure they get you exactly where you need to go. There’s also no funny business so you can flag any taxi knowing you will simply pay the official metered fare.
Walking – We also walked a ton. Kyoto is a great walking city especially since it allows you to wander through random neighborhoods that you wouldn’t visit otherwise. This was certainly how we found many of our favorite restaurants, cafes, architectural curiosities, hidden temples and so on.
Activities for Two Weeks in Kyoto
With two weeks in Kyoto at our disposal, we took our time in terms of activities. We’re not the kind of travelers to make a list well in advance and to run around all day checking things off. We prefer to wake up, do some work (we both work online), look for a sight or area that seems interesting, head out for a late breakfast/early lunch and see where the day takes us.
During our stay, here’s where the days took us:
Fushimi Inari – Well worth visiting. This famous Shinto Shrine is dedicated to the god of rice and is home to thousands of orange torii gates that line the long pathway that loops around the hillside. We did the full 1.5 hour walk up the hill and back down again and it was beautiful. The higher up you go, the less tourists and the more time you have to soak up the peaceful setting.
Kinkaku-ji Temple – This temple is located in the west of Kyoto and it was our favorite. Kinkaku-ji is a Zen temple that is covered in gold leaf. It’s location, right on the edge of a small lake, makes for a mighty eye-catching sight. Naturally, the gardens around the temple were meditative too and there’s a nice path to roam around.
Nijo Castle – An impressive castle in the center of Kyoto that was once home to powerful shogun that ruled over Japan for 200 years. The site consists of a castle and palace but the palace was closed for renovations when we were there. But the wooden castle was quite a display of the shogun’s wealth and power with its endless rooms, intricate wood carvings, painted panels and sheer size. The grounds surrounding the castle, along with the very pleasant tea house/garden, made for a nice visit too.
Philosopher’s Path – This was a short and reflelction-inducing 2 km walk along a meditative tree-lined canal surrounded by nature and traditional homes. It’s located between the Ginkaku-ji and Nanzen-ji temples on the east side of the city. If you walk slowly and visit several temples along the way, you can turn this activity into an all day event. This is especially the case if you stop for a coffee/pastry break at the cozy Botanic Coffee Kyoto halfway along the path.
Nishiki Market – This massive covered market stretches along one lane for what seems like an eternity. You enter one end and good luck trying to get to the other end without stopping dozens of times to try all kinds of street food being served at the food stalls along the way. Squid on a skewer, sea urchin, fried shrimp, omelette sandwiches, chicken katsu, roasted chestnuts, endless pastries, so many forms of mochi, dumplings, tofu and on and on and on…it never ends and it’s the perfect place to spend a couple of hours trying every food item you can. At the east end of the market, there is also a non-food market that stretches along two covered lanes going north to south. You can find some interesting shops here, including those that sell traditional Japanese artwork, so its worth exploring too.
Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street – A smaller version of Nishiki market, if this street is close to where you’re staying, it’s also worth visiting for some delicious food. It closes at 5:00pm so it’s more of a lunch area, but with its food stalls and tiny restaurants, there is an infinite amount of options and it’s much less crowded than Nishiki Market.
Gion – This is the well-known geisha district of Kyoto and it needs to be visited, at least once. It’s quite crowded with tourists during the day but if you duck away from the main streets, it quickly becomes more quiet. Traditional buildings and homes, picturesque wooden bridges, high-end restaurants on Hanamikoji Street, endless shops selling all kinds of Japanese food items and even more temples to enjoy can be found here. We visited this area twice, once during the day and once at night. During the day, we walked from Kennin-ji Temple (with its stunning paintings and Zen garden) to Hokan-ji Temple (famous for its 5-story pagoda), up to the Yasaka Shrine and then wandered through every lane we could find. At night the neighborhood is much quieter and more atmospheric with all the lanterns and lights, with some places to eat and several bars as well.
Miyagawasuji – This neighborhood is a quick 10 minutes walk south of Gion and the difference was notable. As one of the other last remaining geisha districts, it’s home to traditional homes and shops, tiny local eateries and some of the quaintest streets in Kyoto. However, there were very few visitors in this area. It’s a small neighborhood but definitely a unique place to visit to soak up a Gion-like vibe without the crowds.
Tea ceremony – We found a simple tea ceremony in the Gion neighborhood (Tea Ceremony Camellia) where we could learn about the tea tradition in a nice setting. The session was only 50 minutes but there were only 6 people participating, making it more intimate. The hostess was an elegant, refined woman who taught us about and demonstrated the traditional tea-preparation methods. We then prepared our own tea, drank it and that was that. It was a very pleasant activity.
Temples – We visited so many temples during our two weeks in Kyoto that I can’t name them all here. If we saw a temple, we would often poke our head into the entrance of the grounds. If something attracted us, we would go in (most temples charge between 300 – 1000 JPY entrance fee). We went into huge temples and tiny temples, and all kinds in between. While walking around random neighborhoods, we always kept our eyes open for some of the more hidden temples, sometimes located in residential areas. These were quite interesting as they would have no visitors and while small, they were often a peaceful oasis.
Arashiyama – Home to the famous bamboo forest, and also home to the biggest tourist crowds we saw during our entire trip. It threw us off as soon as we stepped off the local bus as there were just so many people. To get away from the crowds, we ducked into the Hogon-in Zen Buddhist temple since it seemed quiet. Luckily, it was and we were treated to some of the most wondrous and colorful autumn scenery we could have hoped for. The tranquil gardens immediately put us at ease. After this nice break, we walked straight to the Bamboo Forest which was, as expected, full of people walking shoulder to shoulder along the path. We walked quickly and at the end, we turned right along another path and kept walking. After 5 minutes, the crowds disappeared and we enjoyed a peaceful wander through local neighborhoods and nature. We soon reached Saga Toriimoto (by accident), a well-preserved street full of traditional style homes. That led us to the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple which had only 2 other people inside, its own (uncrowded) bamboo forest and thousands of interesting stone memorial statues.
This is what I love about travel – the randomness of days like this.
After the temple, we started walking towards Kyoto center (which was 2 hours away by foot). After 30 minutes, we came upon a simple cafe called Cafe Yamamoto and went inside. We were treated to a memorable experience with delicious home-made cakes, excellent coffee, a cozy interior and very friendly staff. It was a highlight being inside this welcoming, random place.
Imperial Palace – We never really planned to visit the massive Imperial Palace complex in the center of Kyoto. But on our last day, we had some free time so we walked over. And it was great. The massive grounds is basically a park, with plenty of paths to stroll along and as you guessed by now, no shortage of beautiful nature to enjoy. The Palace itself is open to everyone, for free, so you simply enter the main entrance. You can then take a guided tour or walk around on your own. It’s a large site so you need at least an hour.
Random neighborhoods – One of our favorite activities, which we spent some time almost every day doing, was to simply start walking. The goal was to walk through random neighborhoods and see what we found. Often, in these neighborhoods we would grab a local lunch or a coffee or a traditional pastry for an afternoon snack. One example was when we ended up in Nishimachi, an odd area away from the tourists where the local shops have monsters in front of their shops as a way to attract customers. So I definitely recommend giving yourself plenty of time to roam around Kyoto without a plan! I’ve written about my 5-minute rule to having local experiences and Kyoto is a solid destination to put it into action.
We do prefer slow travel, so we really enjoyed getting to know Kyoto more than if we had stayed for only a couple of days. We also really loved the quiet, traditional atmosphere of Kyoto. But of course, there’s so much to see in Japan so we needed to go beyond the city limits as well. On two occasions, we left Kyoto to visit other cities.
Day trip #1: Osaka
Here’s how our day trip to Osaka went:
- Took a 45 minute train from Karasuma Station in Kyoto to Osaka Umeda Station
- Went straight to lunch at Kaiten Sushi Sakae (had to try the sushi belt experience!)
- Took the metro over to Osaka Castle and visited the extensive gardens
- Hopped on the metro and went to wander around the Shinsekai neighborhood, known for its 100+ year old colorful shopping district
- Walked across the city to the Shinsaibashi area to check out the Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street, eat some Japanese fluffy pancakes and soak up the energetic atmosphere
- After sunset, strolled around to check out all the activity with the massive brightly lit neon signs, endless eateries, markets, shops and crazy crowds
- Did some food tasting throughout the lanes of the famous Dotonburi area and still kept room for a seafood dinner as well
- Found ourselves trying some Japanese whisky at a random bar on a random street corner
- Took a train back to Kyoto later at night
Day trip #2: NARA
This was another perfect day trip. We boarded a train at Kyoto Station and 45 minutes later we were in Nara. And we ended up staying in the town for the entire day, getting back to Kyoto at around 9:00pm. Here’s what we did:
- Walked from the Nara train station through the quaint center of town, along Sanjo dori Street
- Had an excellent ramen lunch at Genkishin
- Spent a lot of time roaming around Nara Park, home to temples, shrines, gardens, nature walks and thousands of wild deer that bow their heads in hopes of getting food from passersby
- Walked along many of the paths throughout the parks in order to enjoy the nature
- Visited the 1300 year old Todaiji Temple that is one of the largest wooden structures in the world and home to a huge 15 meter high bronze Buddha statue
- Went for a wonderful sake tasting at Harushika Sake Brewery (500 JPY / $3.75 USD for 6 types of local sake)
- Went to the historic Nara Hotel for an afternoon snack at their tea lounge (the hotel has hosted emperors, royalty, presidents, popes, actors and many more)
- Walked back through the parks to the Kasuga-taisha Shinto Shrine
- One last slow meander through the parks during the evening, then through the center of town (maybe stopping along the way to enjoy some street food!) and back to the Nara train station
- 45 minute train back to Kyoto
That sums up our two weeks in Kyoto and the surrounding region! If you have any questions at all about visiting this area, please don’t hesitate to reach out and I’d be happy to assist. Enjoy your trip to Japan!
Remote work is on the rise, and becoming a digital nomad is more enticing than ever. Thanks to the pandemic, more people have experienced the benefits of remote work than ever before. It’s now projected that in 2027, more than half of the total U.S. workforce population will turn to freelance and remote work.
However, before you decide to become a digital nomad in the next year, it’s worth understanding that switching from being a traditional employee to going full-nomad is daunting and challenging.
To help ease the transition and make the process less scary, we’ve created a checklist of sorts of things to consider before embarking on this journey.
1. Find appropriate work
Becoming a digital nomad isn’t something that happens overnight. Before you embark on this journey of becoming one, you’ll need to find appropriate jobs that fit this lifestyle. For example, specific jobs, like those in the finance and banking sector, may not allow for remote work as easily due to legal restrictions and requirements. Jobs in publishing, social media, and even software engineering sectors might be more appropriate for remote work and could allow you to become a digital nomad more easily.
If you’re looking for work as a digital nomad, consider applying for remote roles. Sites like LinkedIn, Upwork, and Remote.co, have specific remote job listings that could help narrow your choices. If you’re currently employed, you might want to consider asking if you could go remote in your existing company. Before you switch and go remote, consider all the differences that might come with a remote contract, too.
2. Research every location you might want to work out of
A stable internet connection is one of the most important things to consider when deciding on which country to work out of. While the Indonesian island of Bali might be beautiful, the country doesn’t necessarily have the strongest internet connection. Suppose you’re a graphic designer or video editor. In that case, a weak internet connection could lead to slower download and upload speeds, which can be really frustrating, especially if you’re chasing a deadline.
That said, it’s crucial to research aspects like Wi-Fi connectivity and current events and be informed of other issues that might affect your productivity levels. Sites like SpeedTest can help determine your internet connection speed in a particular country. Alternatively, Reddit forums like r/digitalnomad could provide insight into a country you’re interested in.
3. Consider your cybersecurity needs
Unlike traditional employees, freelancers and digital nomads don’t have the luxury of a cybersecurity team to protect themselves should malicious third parties choose to target and steal information from them. When leading a nomadic lifestyle, it’s important to think about your cybersecurity needs. This is particularly important when managing money, receiving payments for your work, and paying bills overseas. You might also need secure internet access when filing for taxes and working on confidential documents.
A dedicated VPN for expats is a great way to protect your privacy, secure your internet connection, and ultimately protect your devices. A VPN, or virtual private network, runs your internet connection through an encrypted tunnel, preventing anyone from seeing your online activity.
4. Get quality health insurance
Before you book flight tickets, be sure to research good health insurance plans. Accidents, missed flights, and lost baggage can happen, especially when you’re traveling, so purchasing a digital nomad insurance plan that covers these instances is vital.
For example, companies like SafetyWing and World Nomads create specific plans for digital nomads.
5. Have backup plans
Last but definitely not least, make sure to have backup plans should becoming a digital nomad not pan out for you. Regardless of whether you’re a traditional employee or a digital nomad, losing your job is a genuine risk and can happen to anyone. However, the pain of losing your job while on your digital nomad journey and away from your home base can be harder for some than others. That said, it’s worth thinking about what to do should this not work out for you. For example, always ensure that you have emergency funds in case you need to fly back home, if the country you’re in experiences some sort of unrest or if you lose your job.
Becoming a digital nomad might not always be easy. Still, the experience is rewarding, especially when you get to decide your schedule and simultaneously see different parts of the world. With these tips, we hope we’ve covered some of the vital things you’ll need to consider before you take on this exciting journey.
Are you planning a solo trip to Ireland? If so, why not consider Ireland? The island is brimming with Irish treasures around every corner, with beautiful locations to escape for a long weekend away.
If you’re looking to solo travel in Ireland and have a good time, then you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of ways to stay safe while enjoying yourself.
And keep in mind, if you search for negative testimonials on the internet, you will find them. Ireland is a safe destination to visit.
Unfortunately, the problem with these searches for “solo travel experiences” on the internet is that an above-average number of people only speak up when they have had negative experiences.
Let’s start with a few general solo travel tips:
- Avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas. If possible, travel with someone else or in a group.
- Be aware of your surroundings and who is around you at all times. Trust your instincts – if something feels off, it probably is.
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended. Drink spiking can happen anywhere, so it’s important to be cautious, even if you’re just having fun at the local pub.
Basically, your safety while in Ireland depends on what you want to do. The danger of assault by others is significantly higher in the city than it is in the countryside, as is to be expected.
The way of getting around in Ireland when traveling solo
The way you travel around Ireland can have a big impact on potential dangers. If you would like to do a lot of hiking, see the most beautiful places and be flexible, public transport is not an option anyway.
Hitchhiking can have its own appeal (not only financially), but of course, the chances of getting into an unpleasant or dangerous situation are especially high. Aside from the safety risk, Ireland and Scotland are great for hitchhiking, by the way.
The best way to travel in Ireland is definitely to rent your own car. Not only because there are no passengers (at least as long as you don’t want to), but also because you avoid waiting at bus stops and train stations.
Hiking solo in Ireland
On hikes in Ireland, you often don’t meet many people. The ones you do meet usually exchange a few pleasant words and then carry on with their journey. You frequently come across local farmers, who often tell you some information about the area or give you advice for the route.
Otherwise, the basic rules and potential dangers of hiking alone still apply. These are more likely to be due to sudden changes in weather, inappropriate clothing or lack of navigation skills.
Hiking by yourself can be a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before hitting the trail solo. First, make sure you are well-prepared with plenty of food and water, appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, and a map or GPS device. Secondly, pay attention to your surroundings and know where you are going so that you don’t get lost. Finally, trust your instincts; if something doesn’t feel right, turn back or find another route. By following these simple tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience when hiking alone.
The most significant hazard in this area is probably that your vehicle could be broken into at the parking lot. You can read corresponding warnings occasionally at hiking parking lots. If possible, take your valuables with you on the hike (cell phone, wallet, camera, etc.) and leave pseudo-hiding places such as the glove compartment open so that potential thieves can see immediately that there is nothing to take.
Here, we’ve rounded up the most beautiful places for your upcoming visit.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are situated alongside the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. The cliffs tower approximately 702 ft above the water, spanning almost nine miles along the County Clare coast. Here, you can capture stunning views of Galway Bay with Doolin Cliff Walk, only a few miles away.
The cliffs are one of the country’s most visited sites and a true natural wonder, so be prepared for some crowds. If you want to catch the sunset, stop by during the evening when the numbers drop for mesmerizing views.
You can get to the cliffs by starting at Doolin and walking 8 km towards the Visitor Center. A small access fee is required.
The Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula is one of Ireland’s biggest treasures with its quaint, secluded feel. This west Kerry fishing town lies in the heart of the Gaelic-speaking region in County Kerry, which is also a tourist hotspot for cliff jumping with its Caribbean-like waters.
The Dingle Peninsula offers one of the most scenic drives for travellers, with jagged coasts, ancient sites and charming pubs along the coastline.
Limerick is the closest major city making the region easily accessible by car via the N21.
Giant’s Causeway is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland. It has inspired artists, stirred scientific debates and captured the imagination of millions.
A remnant of the Paleogene Period, the Giant’s Causeway came to fruition from continuous flows of lava moving toward the coast and cooling when they reached the seawater, between 50 to 60 million years ago. Giants Causeway is also Ireland’s first UNESCO Heritage Site, with an area flanked by dramatic cliffs and 40,000 basalt stone columns for all to see.
You can get to the site via bus or car, easily accessible from Belfast or Dublin.
Kilkenny, otherwise known as ‘Marble City’, is a medieval beauty situated in Ireland’s Ancient East just 90 minutes from Dublin. The town offers a walk down memory lane with a 12th-century castle, cobbled streets, a bustling crafts and design scene, traditional Irish pubs and secret alleys.
The atmosphere in this town is electric, and the town’s people are often referred to as ‘Cats’. June through August is the best time for visitors who like it warm and maybe even a party or two. Some of Ireland’s best festivals occur in Kilkenny between May and August.
You can get to Kilkenny by air, by sea or by car.
Kingdom of Kerry
Kerry is one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland and is located in the far southwest. Like Kilkenny, Kerry offers the finest history with burial tombs, stone circles and ring forts from the copper and bronze age. Ever since the O’Connor chieftain Ciar took control of the territory, which reaches from the now Shannon estuary to the Maine river, back in the 1st century AD, County Kerry has been known as ‘The Kingdom’.
Few places can compete with Kerry’s stunning scenery and rich cultural heritage, making it the perfect place for solo travelers who want to go back in time.
Wicklow Way is one of the oldest and most scenic walks in Ireland. Spanning around 130 km long, those who dare to take a trip here will find themselves crossing the Wicklow Mountains from Clonegal in County Carlow all the way to Marley Park in Dublin.
The best time to walk Wicklow Way is from April to September. During the winter, the days are too short and often too chilly, with many accommodations and restaurants closed. Most hikers take about 5-7 days to complete the hike, but this can sometimes take longer, depending on the pace. Expect quiet trails, rolling hills and high peaks spanning through multiple forests.
County Mayo is a county in Ireland which offers endless beautiful landscapes, from incredible Blue Flag beaches to bleak but mesmerizing bog land. The county is considered one of Ireland’s must-see destinations.
It has cozy, welcoming towns and villages, historical sites full of stories and heritage, and stunning, sprawling, picture-perfect landscapes.
Ireland is a great destination for solo travelers, especially if it’s your first time traveling alone. Basically, anything can happen anywhere and at any time. Crime does exist in Ireland, even though it’s often thought of as a safe place.
So, you should follow the usual rules, like not leaving valuables lying around in public. There are certainly bad apples everywhere in the world, but the Irish are generally helpful, friendly, and pleasantly reserved.
Ireland is a beautiful destination for any solo traveler, with one Irish beauty after the next. From impeccable walks to quaint Irish pubs, scenic views and cultural heritage, there is much to see for any avid traveler.
Remember, you can explore more than one destination, too. Why not take an extended trip and visit all seven destinations?
If you do intend to go on a road trip, you can wind down between stops by trying a selection of online slots at an Irish Online Casino where you can play Irish-themed online slots to further immerse yourself in the Irish spirit.
However, whether you are visiting only one or all destinations, we are sure you will have an enjoyable experience at these wonderful spots!
You can always find someone for a quick chat at the local pub, but you can also just keep to yourself without any effort. The latter may not always apply to an encounter with drunken adolescents in some pubs at a late hour, but I wouldn’t exactly call that typical Irish behavior.
Where the wind and swell may take you surfing in Fuerteventura, is still unknown. Martian-like dreamscapes of blue barrels and jagged volcanic wilderness is a killer set for an epic surf odyssey, yet to be had.
Check out our guide to the Canary Islands in Spain.
Surfing in Fuerteventura can be: unique, fun, scary and disappointing; depending how you go about it. The waves can be small or gigantic, always with a few volcanic rocks about somewhere, so maybe bring reef boots, helmet and plasters.
Here are a few more tips on how to prepare and execute a surf trip to Fuerteventura.
Check out these top surf camps in Fuerteventura!
“And if you’re going up against a heavy weight, you would want to do the training and preparations for that.”
Tom Perry, Fuerteventura surf coach and islander of 23 years.
What to expect when going surfing in Fuerteventura
Tom goes on to say, “surfing seems to be the one sport where people don’t do any training for it…if you want to surf here you have to be a good swimmer”.
Understanding the ocean, its rips and tidal forces are key here. At the start of a lesson Tom runs through surf safety and etiquette with his students, on shore, before heading out.
“Its also a good idea to watch what the surf is doing for 10-15mins; look at what the locals are doing”.
The knowledge of how to get in and out of reef break surf, and where you are at all times, according to where the waves are breaking is crucial to staying safe. Tom recalls recently of having to rescue a student from another surf school after they were dragged away unaware, in a rip.
Related read: Best Destinations for Surfing Holidays Around the World
The swell that hits the island, forms on the reef and can cause some of the most powerful, dangerous and fun waves mother nature has to offer. It’s not uncommon to see excellent long barrels forming here. That being said, surfing the world over it is a limited resource, and one that is perhaps being abused for profit like gains by corporate ideology.
Tom runs a small surf school here on the island and has decided to keep it real and provide excellent safe and attentive surf coaching, whilst respecting the surfing culture, locals and families that also surf here. “Under the radar” that’s how I operate, says Tom.
How to get to the best surf spots in Fuerteventura
The sense of adventure is still very much alive here if one wants it. Volcanos, dirt tracks, nudists and crashing blue waves form a picture one wants to get immersed in.
Hire cars can be cheaply rented at the airport but be prepared for limited availability and long waits at the airport for a car. It’s advisable if taking surf boards that soft roof racks are used as the police have introduced heavy fines for people carrying equipment inside the cabin of vehicles. Many of the surf breaks are at the ends of dirt roads, so the more rugged of vehicle, the better.
Where to stay in Fuerteventura
Accommodations vary on the island a standard 1 bed apartment costs on average £50 per night. Tom runs a 9-bed group/family house that is connected to his surf school which is ideal for an inclusive surfing holiday.
Other options include:
When to go surfing in Fuerteventura
The surf season runs from October through to March for ideal conditions. Summer wet suits are generally worn all year round as the wind can cut through the heat. Rash guards and board shorts can be worn though in hotter months. Wet suits can be more protection from the reef beneath though. Wearing sunscreen and zinc on the face is a good idea too (or a hat).
When you arrive here it can be a dilemma of where to surf depending on conditions (wind and swell direction). This is an art that can take years to practice and is cut short by drawing on a guide’s knowledge of where to surf on which days. They will share knowledge of well-known spots only and here are a few of these and a link to local surf cams and maps.
Where to go surfing in Fuerteventura
Here’s where to go for the best surf spots in Fuerteventura.
This break situated in Corralejo, northeast of the island, has a long paddle out to a perfect right barrel, when working in north directed swell. Surfing here is joined in with amazing views of Lobos, the neighbouring island and ferries that pass by you in the channel. There are different sections of this break with the outer back being the biggest.
You will know when you have paddled out enough by being able to see around the harbour wall at the distant headland. Duck diving these monsters is difficult so using the channel to manoeuvre is key. Seeing these walls of water moving towards you in the shipping lanes is an experience that causes the tingles still to rumble down the vertebrae.
Find the location here.
Here you could stay in one of the small basic fisherman houses that are situated on the shore for around £50/night. Waking up early to catch the surf whilst is quiet is sometimes crucial. Off to the right on big days bombs can be seen going off and hell-bent surf crews with jet skis, making the most out of “Acid Drop”.
A little way back on the headland amongst the volcanic debris pilgrims park up or sometimes camp in vans waiting for the conditions to be right. Then walking over the rocks to a small key of water will lead you out to the breaks which work at all tides but better and forming more at med to high.
You can find the location here.
German right works best at low tide that is a little past Majanicho heading west on the north coast. Parking can be tricky and again it does get busy. The long paddle out through a groove in the rocks and sling shot around will lead you to a great right that works great in the right conditions.
Watching from the shore can be fun too. Here you can capture good photos of people shooting off big waves again and again as the blue tubes crash into the black volcanic claws that are forever traying to grasp you. Defying its clutches and finding your way back in is a wild ride.
You can find the location here.
Flag Beach is a beginners beach and you will find the local surf schools making good use of it most days. There are still rocks to be mindful of. There are lifeguards that work this beach also. The swell is more gentle here than other beaches so if your surfing for the first time here is a good place to start that journey.
You can find the location here.
There are obviously many more breaks around all four corners of the island, and it really is about own personal discovery and unique experience. Who you meet and get surfing with is all part of your narrative. North, south, east, west; it’s all out there like a giant playground which you can dune buggy around like mad max on holiday, if you want.
Surf breaks to be mindful of
Hierro right and lobos can be known for there “territorial nature” and it is advisable for extra mindfulness to be taken when surfing here.
Things to do when the sun goes down or the waves go flat
- Dune buggy around the the islands dunes.
- Trek up one of the many volcanos on the island at dawn or dusk for spectacular view, or to check where the waves are.
- The island has many great restaurants to discover that are local and authentic.
- Check out the surf shops and local businesses of Lajares in La Olivia.
- If wind surfing is more your thing, then this island is well known for its windsurfing and specialist schools.
The Bosporus is one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks and a must-see for every visitor.
We tell you everything you need to know about this natural wonder and why you should do a Bosporus tour.
Here is our Bosporus tour summary:
The Bosporus Experience
The ship’s horn blares, and the last few people hurry to catch the ferry. Good for those who made it on board in time to get a good seat: on the lower deck, where there’s a white bench along the outer wall. You sit here just a meter above the waves, leaning back against the wall, feet up on the railing, basking in the sun and wind.
The best way to enjoy the summer in Istanbul is by taking a ferry ride across the Bosporus. For the crossing to Asia, most people choose to sit on the right side of the ferry (starboard) for the better view. And for the crossing to Europe, they prefer to sit on the left side (port). The ship’s horn will sound three times when it’s time to depart. Then, a dockworker will unhook the lines, and you’ll be on your way.
As the ship leaves the ferry port of Eminönü, seagulls glide alongside it, snatching up crumbs that passengers toss to them. Dolphins also sometimes appear here and swim right up to the Galata Bridge.
The ferry companies in the city offer some of the most beautiful routes, one of which goes to Kadiköy on the Asian shore. Millions of passengers use these ferries to cross between the 50 piers every year. On this route, the ship first passes through the Golden Horn – an elongated waterway that divides the European part of Istanbul – then crosses over the Bosporus – one of the two straits between the Mediterranean and Black Seas – before finally touching down in the Sea of Marmara on its way to dock on Asia’s shores.
The captain up on the bridge must stay concentrated at all times. Transverse to the direction of travel, freighters and tankers from different parts of the world cross the straits – they are often accompanied by tugs and have unconditional right of way on the international waterway, as do warships and occasional submarines.
Ferries go back and forth between continents – in addition to city passenger ferries, there are also car ferries and private lines. In between sail fishing boats, excursion ships, private yachts, garbage clearing ships and occasional sailors.
When the ferry arrives, the passengers disembark the ship to explore Kadiköy. This district has many pubs, stages, and a renowned food court – it has become Istanbul’s party district in recent years. Alternatively, you can just board the next ship back and relax… again on the right side.
The Bosporus – what is it, and where is it located?
The Bosporus is a strait located in northwestern Turkey. It forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia, and separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Marmara. The word “Bosporus” comes from Ancient Greek and means “ox-ford”.
The Bosporus is approximately 31 kilometers (19 miles) long, with a width varying from 700 meters (2,300 feet) to 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles).
The beauty of the Bosporus is truly an unforgettable experience. Standing on the shores of the strait, you can see the city of Istanbul stretched out before you. The skyline is dotted with minarets and the air is filled with the sound of prayer calls. The Bosporus is also a place of great natural beauty. The water is calm and crystal clear, and the shores are lined with trees.
In the springtime, the shores of the Bosporus are filled with colorful flowers.
Related read: Sights in Istanbul: A City of History and Culture
Why is the Bosporus so special?
The Bosporus is one of the most special places in the world. It’s not just a waterway separating Europe and Asia – it’s also a place where East meets West, and where you can find some of the most stunning scenery imaginable.
There are few things as breathtaking as watching the sun set over the Bosporus, or taking a leisurely boat ride along its length, admiring the opulent Ottoman villas that line its shores. Even simply strolling along the water’s edge and taking in the fresh sea air is an unforgettable experience.
If you’re looking for a place that truly has it all, then look no further than the Bosporus. Whether you want to relax and take in nature’s beauty, or explore a fascinating culture, this is the place for you.
Here are just a few of the reasons why the Bosporus is so special:
- The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. With its turquoise waters and lush green hillsides, the Bosporus is a feast for the eyes.
- You can really feel the history here. The Bosporus has been a vital waterway for centuries, and you can sense that history when you’re on it.
- It’s a great place to relax. Whether you’re on a leisurely boat ride or just sitting on the banks of the strait, the Bosporus has a calming effect.
- There’s always something to see. From the remarkable sunsets to the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, there’s never a dull moment on the Bosporus.
How to get the most out of your Bosporus tour
Get there early
The Bosporus is busiest in the late afternoon and evening, so get there early to avoid the crowds. On the other hand, watching the sun set over the Bosporus is a great experience as well.
Take a boat ride
A boat ride is the best way to see the Bosporus. You can find many different boats to take you on a tour, from small private boats to larger group tours. Or you could take a public ferry, which is a cheap option. If you like it more exclusive, then hire a private boat.
We did a cruise on a luxury yacht, and it was outstanding! Instead of being crammed onto a cruise ship with dozens of other people, we got to enjoy the luxury of a private yacht for the night. There were around 20-25 people total, and they served Turkish specialties and also wine and non-alcoholic drinks.
Some of the highlights from our trip were seeing the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, Rumeli Castle, Beylerbeyi Palace, and seeing the waterfront mansions lining both sides of the Bosphorus. Another highlight was driving under all the different bridges and seeing the city at sunset and at night. The tour lasted around 2 hours.
It was an incredible experience and one that we’ll never forget.
Is the Bosporus a river or a sea?
The Bosporus is a sea that runs through Turkey and separates the country’s European and Asian sides. Depending on the time of day and the tide, the Bosporus can look like a river flowing through the city. It also has a forceful current. As it’s a very narrow passage, lots of fish swim through it as well. With a bit of luck, you can even spot dolphins. We’ve seen a few on our ferry ride to the Eastern side.
Which Bosporus cruise to take?
There are a few different Bosporus cruises to choose from, and they all offer something unique. If you want to get the most out of your cruise, I recommend choosing one that includes stops at both the European and Asian sides of the city. That way, you can get a taste of both cultures and see some of the most beautiful sights in Istanbul. Whichever cruise you choose, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.
Here is a 90-minute tour for only €10 per person, which includes an Audio Guide, a Bosporus map, water or tea.
How to book a Bosporus cruise?
Bosporus cruises are a great way to see Istanbul from the water. You can book a cruise through a number of different companies, both online and in person. Some cruises are shorter, lasting only an hour or so, while others can be all day affairs.
It really depends on what you’re looking for and how much time you have. You can also book cruises on private chartered yachts, if you’re looking for a more intimate experience.
When to take a Bosporus cruise?
There is no bad time to take a Bosporus cruise, but the best times are definitely spring and autumn. The weather is milder then and the views of Istanbul are simply stunning.
Can I use the Bosporus ferry with the public transport card?
Yes, you can use the Bosporus ferry with the public transport card. The ferry is a great way to get around Istanbul and it’s very convenient.
The ferry ride across the Bosporus in Istanbul is a great value at only one euro. You get to experience the culture, history, and natural beauty of the city in just half an hour for around €1 per person.
I recommend to get the Istanbul Welcome Card, as it includes public transportation, but also fast track entry and skip the lines to the top sights. And a Bosporus cruise and tours are included as well.
Why is the Bosporus important?
The Bosporus is one of the busiest waterways in the world. It’s important because it’s a major shipping route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The Bosporus is also a popular tourist destination because it’s so scenic.
How to pronounce Bosporus?
The Bosporus is pronounced “bO-sfuh-ruhs.”
Who controls the Bosporus strait?
The Bosporus strait is controlled by Turkey.
What is the Golden Horn in Istanbul?
The Golden Horn is a major waterway that forms the harbor of Istanbul, Turkey. Its name comes from the fact that it is shaped like a horn. It is also sometimes called the Halic River.
More information and tips of places to visit around the Bosporus
Visit the mosques
The Bosporus is home to some of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul. Be sure to visit at least one during your visit.
Here is a good tip on how to buy Hagia Sophia ticket and what to expect.
Shop at the markets
The markets along the Bosporus are a great place to find souvenirs and local goods.
The Grand Bazaar is a world-famous market that sells everything from spices to jewelry. With hundreds of shops, it’s one of the biggest and oldest covered markets in the world.
Read our travel tip: Grand Bazaar in Istanbul: A Shopper’s Paradise
Enjoy the Turkish food
The Bosporus is home to some of the best Turkish cuisine. Be sure to try some of the local specialties during your visit.
We had lunch at Ali Ocakbaşı. They have a great view onto the Golden Horn. They aim to offer a new generation of Ocakbaşı and kebab enjoyment in one of Istanbul’s most beautiful locations.
The entrance is a bit hidden in an alley, and you have to take the elevator up to get to their restaurant. Knowing the importance of local ingredients and seasonality, they prepare the flavors of the regions with original recipes and modern presentations, made in wood stoves.
They also focus on sustainability and cooperates with family farms. The chaos, confusion and all the difficulties of this city disappear with a view over the Bosporus. Make sure also to go all the way up, onto the roof terrace to snap some photos and to enjoy the view and atmosphere.
Visit the Bosporus Bridge
The Bosporus Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in Istanbul. It’s worth taking some time to walk across it and take in the incredible views.
Go for a swim
If you’re visiting in the summer, don’t miss out on the chance to go for a swim in the Bosporus. There are many beaches and swimming spots to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you.
Relax in a Turkish Hammam
Here you will find a list and more info with some of the best hammams that you can visit during your stay in Istanbul: Where to Experience a Traditional Hammam in Istanbul.
For the men reading this, you can also visit a Turkish Barber Shop.
Visit the top sights in Istanbul
There are many sights to see in Istanbul, and you’ll definitely find something that interests you. However, there are a few sights that you shouldn’t miss.
The first is the Blue Mosque. The mosque was built in the early 1600s and is one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture. It’s named for the blue tiles that adorn its exterior, and it’s well worth a visit.
The second sight to see is Topkapi Palace. The palace was once the home of the sultans who ruled over Istanbul, and it’s now a museum full of incredible art and artifacts from that time period. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in history or culture.
The Basilica Cistern – The Sunken Palace is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s easy to see why. The Cistern is an enormous underground water storage system, which you can visit and which was built in the 6th century.
Finally, no trip to Istanbul would be complete without seeing Hagia Sophia. The building started out as a Christian cathedral but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Then it served as a museum where you could see both Christian and Islamic art side by side. Now it’s a mosque again, though it’s still more a touristic attraction.
You won’t regret it!
If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, then you won’t regret taking a trip on the Bosporus. The beauty of the waterway is truly something to behold, and you’ll be able to enjoy it from a unique vantage point as you cruise down the middle of the sea.
After your ferry ride, be sure to explore the ancient city of Istanbul. There’s plenty to see and do here, from visiting historic monuments and museums to exploring winding alleyways and finding local restaurants and shops.
No matter what you’re interested in, Istanbul has something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a breathtakingly beautiful place to visit, put Istanbul at the top of your list. The Bosporus is an unforgettable experience, and you won’t be disappointed with the city’s rich history and culture.
Byron Bay is considered a hotspot for travelers – and not for nothing! Here you will find a colorful mix of different people, which will immerse you in a truly unique atmosphere.
The city’s motto says it all: cheer up, slow down, chill out.
Byron Bay is one of the most popular stops along the eastern coast and THE surf hotspot in all of Australia. Almost every surfer you’ll meet during your trip to Australia has been here!
But is it worth visiting Byron Bay even if you’re not a surfer? Definitely!
Even if you’re not into watersports, you’ll enjoy this little coastal paradise to the fullest. Keep reading for the best sights, beaches and excursions in the area for all travelers to enjoy. We also share our top tips for restaurants, campsites, accommodations and much more.
Here is our Byron Bay summary:
Sights in Byron Bay
There are many natural highlights to see in and around Byron Bay. Therefore, most of the “sights” are actually beautiful places in nature.
The “Cape Byron” and hiking trail
Cape Byron is a stunning peninsula that juts out into the middle of the sea and is definitely a highlight on any trip. The eponymous “Cape Byron Walking Track” leads around the peninsula, past breathtaking viewpoints, beautiful beaches and a snow-white lighthouse – we’ll tell you more about all three shortly!
The trail itself is approximately four kilometers long, and depending on how many photos you want to take, plan on two to two-and-a-half hours. The difficulty level is easy. There are some ups and downs, but nothing too strenuous – the entire path is paved and in good condition. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins or turtles in the water during your hike. There’s also a relatively high chance of seeing humpback whales off the coast between May and November.
Cape Byron Light
The “Cape Byron Light” is the white lighthouse that was just mentioned, and it’s a real celebrity. There are two reasons for this:
It is the oldest mainland Australia lighthouse (1901). It also stands at the easternmost point of the country. Even today, it’s in excellent condition-regularly renovated and always repainted. There is also a small, free lighthouse museum inside the landmark.
Something else that’s great: since it was built on top of a 90-meter-high hill, you have a wonderful view of both the sea and coast from there. It’s supposed to be especially beautiful during sunset and sunrise.
Opening hours: Daily: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
No visit to Byron is complete without completing the Byron lighthouse walk. About a 2 hour roundtrip from the center of town, start along the beach up to the Pass, then take in some incredible views along the coastal path via Wategos before finishing off at the famous Cape Byron Lighthouse. Bonus points if you’re at the lighthouse for sunrise or sunset – well worth it.
There are always gigantic viewpoints along the Cape Byron Peninsula – among the most beautiful you might find during your whole Australia trip. We would like to list a few of them briefly:
- Captain Cook Lookout: is well suited as a start of the hike and is actually gorgeous.
- Fisherman’s Lookout: is a small viewing platform on a rock in the middle of the water. Mega view of the big Clarkes Beach, numerous surfers and the cliffs!
- Cape Byron Lookout: located at the northern end of the peninsula, also with great views of cliffs and rough seas.
- One more: Maybe it’s the most impressive lookout, and there is no name for it. But it is relatively easy to find: Follow the road from the lighthouse about 200 meters south until you come to a hairpin bend. In the middle of the bend you will see a small green area and binoculars. You can expect an astonishing view of Tallow Beach.
Byron Bay City Center
Once you’ve circumnavigated the peninsula, it’s definitely worth taking a quick trip to Byron Bay center – the vibrant, hip center full of young people. Here, one store follows the next and the streets are lined with restaurants, cafés, boutiques and more.
However, there is always a lot going on here – especially on weekends and during peak tourist season between December and February. If you don’t feel like it, though, no big deal! You can easily skip the center.
Beaches in Byron Bay
Now we come to the beaches. There are quite a few of them around Byron Bay, and we will show you the most beautiful ones now. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best beaches that Byron has to offer.
Related read: Best Destinations for Surfing Holidays Around the World
Byron Bay’s main beach is Clarkes Beach, which offers a direct connection to the city center and runs in a crescent shape along the peninsula. The sand here is incredibly fine, really bright and clean, while the water is clear and turquoise – it’s truly a paradise beach. In the morning you’ll also see plenty of surfers: from little kids to older folks who ride waves better than anyone could have thought possible.
The next beach along the peninsula is Wategos Beach. Compared to Clarkes Beach, it is much smaller, quieter, but no less beautiful. At the picnic areas you will find free BBQ grills. That’s something you find quite often and which is super cool. On the beach are also some pretty nice homes and accommodations with great views of the sea. You could definitely become envious.
Little Wategos Beach
Little Wategos Beach is the perfect place to go if you want a more untouched and quiet experience. There are no houses around, and only a small path leads down to the beach. Depending on the tide, though, swimming might not be ideal since the shore can be rocky with large boulders in the water. But it’s still beautiful nonetheless!
Let’s talk about the stunning Tallow Beach. It is part of the small Arakwal National Park, and at 3.2 kilometers, also the longest beach around Byron Bay. You can get an incredible view of the beach from that lookout, described above, without a name. You can also drive to the “Tallow Beach Car Park” and walk directly to the sea. Parking there is free, but there are only a few spots available. The beach itself is breathtaking.
The Best Activities in Byron Bay
Surf, surf and surf. Or you could relax on the beach or walk around the cape, but also take up a few other activities.
Kayaking in Byron Bay
If surfing is not for you, there is also the possibility to jump into a kayak and with a little luck discover dolphins and turtles on the open sea!
An epic way to see the stunning coastline around Byron Bay, as well as a unique perspective of the iconic Cape Byron lighthouse. The morning tour is the best option for sighting some of the resident dolphins who usually pop up to say hello!
Such kayak tours usually start in a smaller group, last about 2-3 hours, and you even have a guide with you who knows exactly where to look.
Related tour: Sea Kayak Tour with Dolphins and Turtles
Go scuba diving in Byron Bay
Julian Rocks is one of the top dive sites in Australia and is packed full of incredible marine life. Depending on when you visit, you can see manta rays, grey nurse sharks, huge rays, and even curious leopard sharks. And of course, there are always plenty of turtles!
Related tour: Sea Turtle Snorkel Tour in Julian Rocks Reserve
Whale watching in Byron Bay
If you’re lucky enough to be in Byron Bay between May and November, make sure you add whale watching to your itinerary. As the most Easterly Point of Australia, the entire migration passes by the Cape so you’ll get some incredible interactions.
Playing the drums at Wreck Beach
The Wreck is the perfect place to watch the sunset and enjoy some awesome drumming. Every evening, a group of hippies gather to play bongos, percussion and trumpets as the sun goes down. It’s the perfect opportunity to let loose and have some fun!
Skydive in Byron Bay
Looking for an adrenaline rush during your Byron stay? Why not jump out of a perfectly good plane at 15,000 feet? Skydiving should definitely be on your bucket list and Byron is easily a fantastic jump zone – the views are epic.
Not quite the adrenaline buzz of skydiving but another awesome way to see the bay from a different perspective – if you can time it with the right conditions, a hang glide over Tallows Beach is pretty incredible.
Take a Scenic Flight
So, not everyone is into jumping out of planes or swinging from a hang glider to get aerial views. But that’s okay! There are plenty of other options to choose from, like scenic flights. There are a number of different options available, all of which take you on a tour around the Cape and provide views of the lighthouse.
Surfing in Byron Bay
The most classic and popular is surfing. Numerous schools offer courses for beginners as well as advanced surfers and want to introduce you to surfing in Byron Bay in a relaxed way. To accomplish this, visit one of the many local surf schools, check the ratings on the Internet and simply ask for the price. Alternatively, you can also book a surf course online.
Wildlife in Byron Bay
Who wouldn’t want to see tropical animals in the wild? In Byron Bay, this dream can come true with a little luck and attention.
You might already spot a kangaroo on Tallows Beach. Just like the many colorful parrots that fly around Australia like street pigeons in Venice. OK, maybe not that many. Whether blue, green, white or pink: The flutterers make tremendous noise at dusk which is only topped by the enormous bats.
The thing that makes Byron Bay special is the active marine life. Since 2006, the coastal area between Brunswick Heads and Lennox Heads – with Byron in the middle – has been protected as a marine park.
Surfing with dolphins, seals and turtles is therefore the order of the day in Byron Bay! And you’ll never forget surf sessions with dolphins. Usually, whole herds of mother animals show up, teaching their young everything important in the water. Namely, bouncing, surfing and scaring surfers by suddenly surfacing.
Byron Bay restaurant tips
If you’re ever in Byron Bay, be sure to check out “The Hideout”! It’s a bit hidden away but definitely worth seeking out. They’ve got great options for both vegetarians and meat-eaters, plus you can order some vegan dishes if that’s what you’re after.
Give it a go and try the vegetarian burgers. Definitely some of the best you’ll get in Australia. If you’re looking for a delicious meal at a reasonable price, this is the place for you.
Cost: Two vegetarian burgers with roasted vegetables & fries about $17
Address: 6/13 Lawson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481, Australia
Opening times: Daily 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Their goal is to become 100% carbon neutral and use as much Australian made/grown produce and products as possible, in order to reduce their environmental impact.
This results in some really delicious vegan food – definitely worth a visit when you’re in town.
The artfully crafted imitation meat dishes are not only indistinguishable from the real thing, but actually taste even better.
Three Blue Ducks Byron Bay
The focus at Three Blue Ducks is on organic, sustainable and locally sourced produce. Many of the ingredients come directly from the restaurant’s own farm.
It’s a great choice for lunch and they have an excellent café and a produce store. Alongside dishes such as miso-glazed eggplant with whipped tofu, szechuan, ginger, coriander, peanuts and pickled chili, there is a rotating selection of Australian craft beers, wines and ciders on tap.
They also offer picnic hampers packed full of local goodies to enjoy in their stunning 80-acre grounds which boast views over the hinterland and Byron Bay’s famous lighthouse.
They have a playground for your little ones and live music on Friday-Sunday evenings!
This is a charming Greek paradise in Byron’s Arts & Industry Estate. Here, it’s all about community and home-style feasts.
The taverna-style restaurant offers a $60 three-course banquet, with loads of veggie options. The traditional Greek dishes change seasonally, but you can expect classics like calamari skewers and Greek salad to be on high rotation.
The space is laidback, exuding Greek island vibes, and the leafy courtyard is an ideal spot for balmy nights.
Come here, if you’re looking for authentic, home-style food and warm hospitality. And check out their pop-up events. You’ll be treated to traditional music and dance, along with mouth-watering dishes!
And it’s where you’ll bring your own drinks (BYO).
While they have a whole new menu with Asian-style dishes, shareable items such as prawn toast donuts served with yuzukoshu dipping sauce, salt and pepper tofu, hot and tingly BBQ lamb ribs, and honey king prawns with typhoon shelter crumbs are still the focus.
The space is full of earthy peach and terracotta shades, a glam bar area and vibrant dining area where you can enjoy striped banquet seating.
The soundtrack is fun, the lights are dim, and the vibes are always positive–this rounds out the full experience!
Raes Dining Room
Raes Dining Room, located at the ultra-chic Raes on Wategoes hotel, is across from Wategos Beach – one of the best swimming spots in the region.
If you need more than just relaxing beach surroundings and effortlessly luxe interiors, maybe the dishes will do it for you. Dishes like a Davidson plum glazed free-range pork scotch fillet or spanner crab and sweet corn agnolotti are sure to please.
Byron Bay Markets
The Byron Bay markets are a great place to grab some tasty local produce or souvenirs.
The Community Market is held on the first Sunday of every month.
The Community Market has been a staple of the town since 1987. It’s an eclectic mix of market stalls that showcase Byron’s unique culture and personality. The market supports local businesses and talent, making it a great place to shop and eat.
You can find everything from delicious food to handmade arts and crafts, all while enjoying live music from local musicians. It’s a great representation of what makes Byron such a special place to live.
The Farmers Market is held on Thursdays from 8-11am.
The Byron Farmers Market is one of the longest running farmers’ markets in Australia, having started back in 2002. A handful of local famers saw the potential to sell their produce directly to the public, reducing food miles and ensuring their small farms remained viable.
Over two decades later and the market has grown significantly, with over 70 stalls offering fresh locally grown produce every Thursday morning at Butler Street Reserve. Shoppers can find everything from seasonal fruit and vegetables, pasture-raised meat and eggs, artisan cheese and bread, seafood, pasta, rice, nuts, honey, flowers and more.
Supermarkets may be convenient, but farmers’ markets offer a unique opportunity to buy fresh food directly from the people who grew it. You can also connect with your community at these markets.
The Twilight Market is held every Saturday, 2 October 2021 – 30 April 2022, 4 – 9pm at the Railway Park.
The Byron Bay Twilight Market is the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind arts and crafts made by talented local artisans.
With markets taking place during an extended summer season, downtown Byron Bay turns into a creative hub where visitors can browse unique boutique stalls offering handcrafted jewelry, leather goods, clothing and more. Various food vendors are also on site. And you can listen to great music while enjoying incredible eats.
This family-friendly atmosphere provides a fantastic opportunity for artists, designers, healers, producers and musicians to showcase their talents as well as handmade high-quality designs.
Address: 58 Jonson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
The Beachside Market is also held four times a year in Jan, Easter, mid July and late Sept (keep an eye out for posters around town).
The Beachside Market is a place where you can find handmade goods, delicious food and great entertainment. Held four times a year, this market is the perfect opportunity to support local artisans while enjoying one of Australia’s most famous beaches.
With a diverse range of products on offer, from clothing and homewares to health and wellbeing services, there’s something for everyone at the Beachside Market. So come along and enjoy all that this unique event has to offer!
The market’s number one priority is incorporating features of authenticity, community and sustainability. It’s the perfect place for local creators and artists to showcase their skills to everyone who attends. With more than 200 stalls taking up space on half a kilometer of beachfront at Byron Bay’s Main Beach, you’re guaranteed to find some amazing products and services that are unique to the Byron Shire area.
Hipster stores & cool events
Visitors from all over the world come here to enjoy the sea as well as the trendy restaurants and cafes. You can find smoothie bowls, bliss balls and really good coffee at these eateries–all of which are becoming increasingly popular in Bali (another favourite vacation spot among Australians).
A great tip if you’re trying to save some money while eating out: have an indulgent breakfast or lunch instead of dinner since dining out in the evening tends to be quite expensive. For instance, you could treat yourself to Coconut Coldbrew Coffee with Dukkah Poached Eggs at Bay Leaf or Acai Bowls at Top Shop or Cafe Combi.
They’ve been serving up great food, coffee, and tunes in the heart of Byron Bay for a while now, and they do their best to make you feel at home while you’re with them.
It’s all part of their plan: to give you an experience that you’ll want to tell your friends about, and hopefully bring you back for more. Their menu is seasonal and full of fresh, local ingredients. Their coffee, roasted by the legends at Blackboard, is a tried and tested blend of ethically sourced beans that they know you’ll love.
Address: 2A Marvell St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
The Top Shop is an old 1950s milk bar located at the corner of Massinger and Carlyle Street, just up from Clarkes Beach in Byron Bay.
The Top Shop
With a vision for something fresh and different, the Top Shop team set to work transforming the little shop on the hill into a place focused on providing the highest quality food and coffee in a fun and welcoming atmosphere.
Address: 65 Carlyle St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
This family-run café has been a local & tourist favorite in Byron since 2008. Their philosophy is all about using organic produce from local farmers.
What’s really cool about Combi is the wooden chalkboard by the counter that lists where all of their produce comes from. Most of their ingredients are sourced from small artisan suppliers in Byron and the surrounding towns in New South Wales, which as well top and the way to go.
Cool festivals in Byron Bay
Byron Bay Surf Festival
Don’t miss the legendary Byron Bay Surf Festival – a multi-day frenzy of surf music, surf movies, surf art and outdoor surf market with cool in-labels. That’s when the whole town is on its feet.
Because from the little nipper to the spry senior citizen, everyone can surf here and have a garage full of boards. Don’t be surprised if, with your surfboard under your arm, you immediately get involved in conversations with wave-crazy locals who love to talk shop and swarm in front of their quiver!
The Byron Bay Surf Festival is all about celebrating surf culture. They bring together local and international surfers to share their passion for the sport, art and lifestyle. The festival reflects the values of the Byron Bay community, with a focus on sustainability.
The multi-day festival activates a variety of events, including surfing, art, music, film, special guests and environmental aspects with an awareness and focus on sustainability, education and innovation.
Camping in Byron Bay
Looking for a place to camp around Byron Bay can be tricky. Although there are some paid campsites, they can be quite expensive, especially during peak season. However, free camping is practically nonexistent in the area. If you’re considering wild camping as an option, think again—you’ll likely get caught by police patrols who issue hefty fines.
Byron Bay Discovery Parks
You’ll probably have to choose a paid campground. Compared to the other options, this one is one of the cheapest during the high season, and it has pretty good ratings. You should be satisfied with that choice. The toilets and showers are clean and modern, there’s a nice pool on-site, Wi-Fi, and a large camping kitchen that you can use.
If it suits you, there are also large (but expensive) camping cabins with real beds and private showers available. That kind of “luxury” can be nice to have, especially when you’re traveling long-term through Australia.
Note: Be sure to book in advance during the busy season between mid-December and late January!
Unpowered Site: ~$35 per night
Powered Site: ~$50 per night
Camping Cabins: ~$150 per night
Hotels and other accommodations in Byron Bay
If you’re not traveling with a camper or tent, don’t worry – there are plenty of hotels in Byron Bay to choose from. There are options for every budget, from relatively cheap hostels to luxurious accommodations with a sea view.
Low Price Range:
Glen Villa Resort
Glen Villa is the perfect place to get away from it all and relax in style. With its own private tropical gardens, lush saltwater pool and relaxed sunny atmosphere, you’ll feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But with all the comforts of home just a short walk away, you’ll never want to leave!
Address: 80-86 Butler St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Byron Bay YHA
The YHA Byron Bay is a centrally located traveller property that’s just a few hundred metres from the beach. It’s right in the heart of Byron, with lush private ensuite rooms, a tropical pool oasis and phenomenal murals. You can expect resort vibes, hostel budget, and nothing but good times.
Address: 7 Carlyle St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
The Arts Factory
Byron Bay’s original hostel, super fun hippie vibes and alternative style accommodation. The Arts Factory Lodge, a budget-friendly accommodation in Byron Bay, was originally created in the 1970s by hippies and local and international artists. In the 1980s, it became an internationally recognized rock and roll venue. Some say that it’s The ‘Birthplace’ of much of the fame and spirit of Byron Bay.
The Arts Factory Lodge still maintains that original spirit today. Guests can relax by the pool, swing in the hammocks, and soak up the friendly atmosphere for which they are universally famous.
Medium price range:
Wake Up! Byron Bay
This bohemian-inspired resort-style accommodation is the perfect place to escape the ordinary. Located just steps from the beach, you can relax and enjoy a series of innovative spaces, including a restaurant, beach-style bar, outdoor courtyard, bright and open communal spaces, and modern facilities.
Address: 25 Childe St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Surf House Byron Bay
The Surf House offers a unique, premium accommodation experience in the heart of Byron Bay. A relaxed ‘surf inspired’ space that fuses quality facilities with bespoke design and style. Just 50 metres from the beach, guests enjoy convenience and comfort with bright, modern private and shared rooms, rooftop bar and complimentary surfboard hire.
Address: 23 Lawson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Cape Byron Retreat
Cape Byron Retreat is a place where you can find balance. It’s a sanctuary in the hinterland that feels like it’s worlds away, even though it’s only four minutes from the heart of Byron Bay.
Every room is designed to celebrate the beauty of the natural surroundings, so you can feel serene and relaxed inside. There are plenty of opportunities to focus on wellness during your stay, from the pool and outdoor spas with views of the hinterland to the massage and yoga pavilion. You’ll find wellness around every corner at Cape Byron Retreat.
Upper price range:
28 Degrees Byron Bay – Adults Only
As you step into 28 Degrees, you’ll instantly feel as though you’ve been transported to a chic and stylish friend’s home. This private sanctuary is just footsteps away from Byron’s famous beaches, offering conscious travelers the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Whether it’s lazy mornings lounging in plush linen sheets, afternoons spent relaxing by your private plunge pool or evenings enjoying crisp champagne under the palms, 28 Degrees provides the perfect setting for your slow living reset.
Address: 12 Marvell St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Cape Beach House
Cape Beach House is a locally owned, stylish boutique guesthouse that captures all the cool, relaxed vibes of Byron Bay.
It’s perfectly located within walking distance of the beachfront, cafes, and restaurants, so you can easily stroll around and soak up all the sights and sounds that Byron Bay has to offer. The guesthouse includes a lap pool for a refreshing dip, or you can unwind with a drink or a book in one of our cosy corners in our beautiful communal lounge area.
Address: 94 Lawson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
The Lord Byron
Located in the heart of Byron Bay within a tropical setting, The Lord Byron has everything you need to escape from it all.
The pub has a large garden with a kids play area. The bed & breakfast rooms have their own annex, which matches the style of the original building.
Satara Byron Bay
Satara has all the chic, coastal vibes that Byron Bay is famous for. Surrounded by stunning rainforest, it’s the perfect unassuming hideaway to relax and recharge.
This beautiful property offers flexible accommodation options, making it ideal for a couples getaway or family holiday. It’s situated only minutes from downtown Byron Bay, so you can enjoy all the city has to offer without being too far from nature.
Daytrips from Byron Bay
If you’re looking to spend a few days in Byron Bay, then checking out some of the area’s attractions is definitely worth your while. Here some great options for things to do.
Nightcap National Park
Nightcap National Park is absolutely massive – to be specific, it spans an area of 8,081 hectares. So there is plenty to see and do there.
For instance, the gargantuan Minyon Falls: a waterfall that plummets over 100 meters into the depths and at the top of which a stunning jungle panorama awaits you. Those are best when it rained enough. Otherwise the waterfall is somewhat dry. Nevertheless, it is still an incredible sight! See beneath for more info.
Hike the “Historic Nightcap Track”. At least the first five of 19 kilometers. Since it’s a point-to-point hike and you will have no way to get back to the start at the end, you will have no choice but to turn back.
The first five kilometers are also different than you might expect: Instead of great viewpoints, you will walk through dense jungle for the entire time. Instead of panorama views, you will hear rustling leaves from birds, lizzards and snakes.
If you’re looking for an adventure in the Non-Cap National Park, be prepared to encounter some wild animals. Australia is home to plenty of hiking trails, so you won’t be short on options when it comes to exploring the great outdoors.
Hike to the Minyon Falls
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, this is the perfect spot. The cell phone service isn’t great here, so be sure to print out a map or ask for directions before setting out.
The road leading up to this parking lot is gravel, but it’s an official road – don’t worry about getting your car dirty. Attention, rental cars are often not allowed to drive on these roads. But here there is no way around it.
This is a great spot for hiking and taking in some fresh air.
As you hike off into the rainforest, keep in mind that it can quickly get hot–up to 30 degrees. Make sure to bring enough water with you to stay hydrated. The further you hike into the rainforest, the more shade you’ll find from the trees.
In the beginning, the trail is easy to follow. But after about 45 minutes, it starts to get narrower and narrower. Eventually, the only way to know you’re still on the right path are the small orange arrows painted on the trees. Oftentimes, you’ll find yourself practically alone on the trail, undisturbed by crowds of tourists. The cicadas can be incredibly loud at times, making it hard to concentrate on something else.
If you get lost, don’t worry — you’re not the first person to have trouble interpreting the signposts. Just keep calm and backtrack until you find your way again.
After a good two hours of hiking, you should start to hear the sound of the waterfall. The last leg of the journey includes climbing over large boulders to reach it.
The hike to Minyon Falls is a great way to experience the rainforest up close. The waterfall itself may not be the most impressive, but the journey there is definitely worth it. What makes this hike special is that you are relatively isolated from other people. There is no guide or large groups. It’s just you and the rainforest.
Nimbin is a small, hippie village located about 60 kilometers from Byron Bay. And when we say hippie, we mean it.
The houses in the center of the village are all brightly painted, and you’ll see plenty of Rastafarians and other hippies roaming around town.
This is a place where you can find some truly unique stores. They offer an amazing variety of items, including books on the healing power of hemp. The store decorations are also very whimsical and colorful. You’re sure to find something interesting here that you won’t be able to find anywhere else, including hemp products.
Is there really cannabis in Nimbin?
In Nimbin, you won’t be able to just walk into a store and buy marijuana over-the-counter. There is probably cannabis cultivation happening in the town itself (which is apparently tolerated by the state, even though it’s illegal in Australia). You’ll see signs everywhere in the stores that say cannabis is not sold there. In the end, you probably just have to go through the back door and then get offered something…
You can also expect people to strike up conversations with you regularly while you’re walking down the street.
If you’re looking to get your hands on some marijuana, just be aware that possession of the drug is illegal in Australia. The police also regularly patrol the entrances and exits to Nimbin.
Extra tip: At sunset, the Nimbin Showgrounds come alive with the sound of tens of thousands of bats flying overhead. For about 20 minutes, you can watch these magical creatures fly by in a truly unique experience. This alone makes it worthwhile to come to Nimbin for one night.
Getting to Byron Bay
Here’s a quick overview of the best ways to get to Byron Bay.
Driving to Byron Bay
The best way to travel to Byron Bay is definitely by car or camper. Not only will you have a lot of fun on an Australian road trip, but you’ll also be the most flexible and able to make changes on the fly if need be.
From Sydney, it’s about 770 kilometers to Byron Bay, but the route isn’t very complicated. In the end, you just have to follow the Motorway M1 northwards until it automatically becomes the Pacific Highway A1 and shortly before Byron Bay turns into the M1 again. So you stay on pretty much on the same road for almost your entire journey.
Only shortly before reaching your destination do you need to exit onto Ewingdale Road and then follow signs that will lead you right into Byron Bay!
Parking in Byron Bay
Unfortunately, free parking in Byron Bay is scarce: you can find parking machines that charge $4 per hour or $12 for the whole day almost everywhere. But here are a few free parking possibilities for you.
- Parking spot: On Lighthouse Road on the right side of the road, directly across from the paid parking at Captain Cook Lookout.
- Parking spot: Lee Lane – a small alley that branches off Lighthouse Road. Here, all parking is free.
Both parking lots are also a perfect starting point for the Cape Byron Walking Track.
The only important thing is to come as early as possible! The free areas are quickly filled up. We recommend 8 o’clock in the morning. At that time you should be able to get one of the few free spots. Otherwise, make sure that you get an accommodation with free parking.
Long distance bus to Byron Bay
If you don’t wanna drive yourself, you can also use a long-distance bus to Byron Bay.
We recommend the provider Greyhound Australia. It is very well known, has a large route network and the prices are not too expensive. You can either book one-way tickets for a certain route or the much more extensive Whimit Pass. The pass allows you to travel as often as you want on a Greyhound bus without paying extra. The only important thing is that you choose how long you want the pass to be valid for when booking it!
If you wanna travel by bus for an extended period of time and at the same time stay extremely flexible, then getting yourself a Whimit Pass is definitely worth it!
Getting to Byron Bay by train
You can also arrive by train. There is no direct line to Byron Bay, as the city hasn’t their own station, but there is one in Casino. From there, you can take one of the two bus lines – C 161 or C 173 – for the 80 kilometers to Byron Bay.
To get to Casino by train, you can use the T31, T32 & T33 lines, which cover large parts of the East Coast. This means you can start in Sydney, Brisbane or any other stop where one of the three trains stops.
You can book tickets on the official transport website of New South Wales.
Good to know: Learn some Aussie English
Of course, standard English is sufficient in Australia. But chatting with the locals is even more fun if you can sprinkle in a little Australian slang.
Friends are suddenly “mates” and instead of having a barbecue you meet for a “barbie“. Australians love to use shorthand when they speak, so it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of Aussie slang words.
Here are a few more popular Australian phrases that will help you fit right in Down Under.
Ace – Very good
Arvo – Afternoon
Exy – Expensive
Lollies – Sweets
Maccas – MacDonalds
Roo – Kangaroo
Young kangaroos – Joey
Stoked – Super Excited
Straya – Australia
The United States is one of the most visited countries among tourists, with more than 80 million travelers from around the world visiting every year. The country is chock-full of interesting attractions, natural wonders and big city life and it would take years to see them all.
Most travelers typically tend to stick to tried and true tourist attractions like Times Square in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.
However, there are so many other tourist spots that deserve a visit as well!
When planning your second visit to the United States, make sure to add these destinations to your itinerary and check here for helpful information regarding the EVUS program.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the most picturesque places in the United States — and perhaps even the world!
Located in the state of Arizona, this national park is visited by nearly 6 million travelers a year, with about 40% of guests coming from outside the United States.
The Grand Canyon is famous for its natural beauty, panoramic viewpoints, and cultural significance, so it’s no wonder why it rightfully earned a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The flora and fauna in the canyon changes depending on the elevation, while at the bottom there is the mythical Colorado River. During the summer, be sure to enjoy kayaking, rafting, fishing, or even water skiing on the river. Travelers who love nature and the great outdoors should be sure to add the Grand Canyon to their itinerary.
Route 66 is rightfully considered the main road of the entire United States and the mother of all other roads. In fact, the route is even nicknamed the Mother Road thanks to a mention in John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath.
The route spans a length of 3,665 km (2,450 mi) and connects Los Angeles (California) on the west coast to Chicago (Illinois) in the northeast. Along the way, travelers pass through major cities like Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Springfield, and St. Louis across eight US states, as well as tourist attractions like the Grand Canyon and Mississippi River.
To truly get into the spirit of Route 66, be sure to rent a retro car and stop by local mom-and-pop restaurants to order a classic peach cobbler, Americana style!
The Museum Mile
Located on Fifth Avenue in New York, the Museum Mile is, like the name states, a long area where many museums are located next to each other. Those who enjoy culture and museum hopping should definitely block off a day or two to explore the places along the Museum Mile!
The museums here are based on a variety of different topics and interests, including the Museum of the National Academy, El Museo del Barrio (on Latino culture), National Museum of Design, Museum of African Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (20th century art), and many others.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is considered one of the most beautiful and diverse nature reserves in the United States. It’s the third most-visited national park in the United States, just behind Great Smoky Mountains and Zion National Park.
Yellowstone is striking in its size (it covers more than 2.2 million acres!) and is located on the territory of the three states: Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Here, guests are treated to jaw-dropping landscapes, huge mountains, caves, waterfalls, and rivers.
As a bonus, there are nine museums located around the territory of the national park, like the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Idaho Potato Museum, and the Museum of the National Park Ranger.
Mendenhall Glacier, in the state of Alaska, is an incredible natural attraction that gives travelers the unique opportunity to walk inside an ice cave! Walking through the labyrinths of the glacier, visitors can see a unique phenomenon where refracting light breaks through the ice and scatters around, creating an incredibly beautiful scene.
Every year the glacier melts and shrinks, which means visiting this place can be a truly rare opportunity to see the glacier before it disappears completely.
Lake Tahoe is the most famous freshwater lake in the United States, having formed between 2 and 3 million years ago. It is located about 320 kilometers northeast of San Francisco and is a very popular holiday getaway for many locals and second-time visitors.
The location has a very developed infrastructure, including intercity transportation, hotels, cabins, restaurants, gas stations, and much more.
Lake Tahoe receives tourists all year round. During the summer, travelers can swim in the lake, chill out on the beaches, or go hiking, and in the winter, the area is frequented by skiers and snowboarders looking to slide down the Olympic-worthy slopes.
Although most people have some familiarity of Mount Rushmore, only a few have visited on their first trip to the United States — making it a perfect destination for returning visitors!
The mountain is notable for the fact that it is carved with portraits of four of the most famous US presidents: Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. The carved portraits are striking in their size, with the average height of each bas-relief coming in at around 18.6 meters (60 feet).
The post What to See in the United States if it’s Not Your First Trip appeared first on Wandering Earl.
After recently realizing that I need more nature in my life, we decided to spend some time outside of Lisbon. As a digital nomad, I felt lucky that I could just pick up and go, knowing that I can still get work done along the way.
So we looked at several destination options. But then a friend recommended the area around Serra da Estrela National Park and we immediately loved the idea. I honestly think we put this Portugal road trip together in about 10 minutes. We simply wanted to get out into nature and if a friend said this area was worth visiting, that was good enough. We booked a rental car and a hotel and four days later we were ready.
The trip proved to be PERFECT. And I’m convinced that anyone looking to enjoy some time in the countryside of Portugal visiting small villages, hiking through impressive nature, breathing in the fresh air and eating some really good food, should head to this region as well.
Here’s exactly what we did…
Day 1: Lisbon to Manteigas (the Portugal road trip begins)
We picked up our rental car in the center of Lisbon. I used Sixt car rental, which I’ve used before in Portugal. It’s always been reliable, easy and affordable in my experience. Given that we were headed into the mountains, I went with an SUV so that we’d feel a bit safer. It cost 40€ per day including insurance.
And then, off we went on this Portugal road trip!
- Left Lisbon at 2:00pm and began the drive north.
- Drove via the A1 and A23 highways, had a failed attempt to find a good place for a coffee break in the town of Entroncamento, and then continued.
- At the town of Malpique, we left the highway and took N232, a windy road that went through picturesque villages, with impressive mountain scenery as well.
- 40 minutes later we arrived in the small mountain village of Manteigas.
- Checked in at the Hotel Berne (simple, but great rooms with views out over the town and valley, excellent breakfast and very easy to park here, which is rare in these parts with all the narrow roads).
- Walked into town and ate at Restaurante Paragem Serradalto, one of the few restaurants open. We had some bread, cheese, olives, trout and local wine.
- Then we walked back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep.
Day 2: Manteigas to Serra da Estrela + 2 hikes
After breakfast at the hotel, we started our day out and about at 10:30am…
- Drove along Rua da Lapa, heading south and then on to the very narrow N338 that went along the Zezere River.
- Enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of the Glacial Valley of Zezere next to us.
- Arrived at Covao d’Ametade Park for a quick walk to some of the valley viewing areas.
- Continued driving another 15 minutes to the Serra da Estrela National Park.
- Stopped at the impressive lookouts along the way.
- Did the 1 hour hike down to Covao do Meio (picturesque artificial mountain lake).
- Drove to Torre, the highest mountain peak in the Serra da Estrela mountain peak (and highest point on mainland Portugal).
- Ate fresh sandwiches for lunch while sitting on a rock overlooking the stunning mountain range.
- Drove 20 minutes to Lagoa Comprida (Comprida Lake) which is the start of another great hiking trail.
- 3 hour return hike to Covao dos Conchos (an artificial lake with a bizarre tunnel in the middle – the hike was easy/moderate and passed through some really beautiful landscapes the entire way – highly recommended!).
- Drove back to Manteigas along N339 and N232, two incredible mountain roads that offered constant breathtaking views (including bright green pastures full of huge, scattered boulders).
Day 3: Manteigas to Covilha + forest hike
Looking to head in a different direction, we researched several other nearby towns to visit. In the end, we landed on Covilhas for no real reason other than it looked interesting. And so the Portugal road trip continued, and off we went at 10:30am…
- Drove 45 minutes to Covilha along the N338 and N339 mountain roads.
- Visited the Santa Maria Maior church which is covered in blue and white tiles.
- Walked all over the center of town and found a ton of interesting murals on the sides of buildings (check out the small lanes!).
- Had a coffee at the cafe in the Public Garden of Covilha, overlooking the rest of the town below.
- Lunch at Alkimya (great restaurant with delicious food, a unique atmosphere and an wonderful owner/waiter).
- Drove back towards Manteigas along a different route (N18 to N232) that led us to the very top of the mountains behind Manteigas.
- Using AllTrails app again, we did this 1 hour forest hike (Rotas das Faias) at the top of the mountain (nice scenery through a pine forest).
- Returned to the hotel via crazy windy road that led straight into town.
- Dinner at Hotel Berne.
Day 4: Manteigas to Piodao
With a full day to visit somewhere a little farther away, we decided to do some more hiking. So we looked at the AllTrails app (shows all the walking/hiking trails in an area) and settled on what seemed to be an ideal hike in the Serra do Açor protected region. The main focus of the hike was the halfway point – the tiny mountain village of Piodao.
We left Manteigas at 9:30am and began the day.
- Drove to Serra da Estrela National Park and straight across until we reached the N338, which took us to the town of Vide.
- From Vide, we drove to the village of Foz de Egua on CM1134 (another incredible road scenery-wise, but bumpy and narrow!).
- We parked in the village of Foz de Egua.
- Began our hike to Piodao village following the AllTrails map.
- The hike was easy/moderate and took 1.5 hours (surprise, surprise – the scenery was gorgeous, with lots of cows and sheep, trees, valleys and fresh air – it was one of the best hikes I’ve taken in a long, long time).
- Reached the really quaint village of Piodao and had lunch at the excellent O Solar dos Pachecos.
- Walked all over the village, through all the narrow lanes (really attractive village!).
- Continued our hike along the Eastern trail back to Foz de Egua.
- This part of the hike was easy, mostly downhill and super pleasant (it took about 45 minutes to reach the suspension bridge at the end).
- We climbed up the stairs to the top of Foz de Egua (where our car was parked alongside the road).
- Returned to Manteigas via the craziest route we drove on during this trip (SEE THE MAP BELOW!).
- Be careful with this route as there is a very narrow 3km stretch that is dirt only and brings you right up close to the edge, with a massive drop-off into the valley!
- We stopped for a view and celebrated being alive after the harrowing drive.
- Arrived back in Manteigas at 5:00pm.
- We tried to go to the hot springs at the Termas de Manteigas Hotel but they were fully booked (if you book advance, this would be a great way to finish the day!).
- Dinner back at Hotel Berne.
Day 5: Manteigas to Lisbon (the end of our Portugal road trip)
On this day, we returned to Lisbon. It was an easy day as we left Manteigas at 10:00am and arrived back at the Sixt car rental location in the heart of Lisbon at 1:30pm. As soon as we entered the city though, we instantly wanted to turn around and head back out towards the peaceful, therapeutic countryside. Luckily, in Portugal, such places, and their benefits, are never far away.