Planning The Perfect Weekend In Trentino, North Italy’s Secret Gem

If you are planning a weekend in Trentino then congratulations! You are going to have an epic trip to Italy!

Trentino in summer - green hills with snow capped mountains

Trentino wasn’t really on my radar until I attended a travel writing conference in Trento called Traverse. You can read more about Traverse here.

The very moment I arrived in Trento, I was smitten. Trentino is a stunning region of Italy and it’s capital Trento is the perfect base for exploring the wine regions, lakes and snow-capped mountains of Northern Italy. That is if you can tear yourself away from the charming old town of Trento with its castles, churches, gardens, cobbled streets and spectacular cable car views…

Spending a weekend in Trentino will not nearly be long enough to appreciate all that this wonderful region has on offer. But it will give you a good taste for Northern Italy and hopefully leave you wanting to come back and explore further afield.

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What you can expect from this article…

Where is Trentino?

Trentino is a region in northern Italy which borders with the tip of Lake Garda and is a gateway to the stunning Italian Dolomites Mountains. The region is packed with wineries, castles, old towns, mountainous and lake scenery offering lots of outdoors activities and fantastic hikes. Trentino deserves a place on any Northern Italy road trip!

LAGO DI MOLVENO trentino Carlo Baroni
Credit @ Carlo Baroni via Visit Trentino

Trento is the capital city of the region of Trentino with a population of 117K, home to the extremely beautiful Buonconsiglio Castle. The old town centre is compact and easy to walk around with quaint cobbled alleys, old churches with restored baroque architecture and parks brimming with colourful flowers. Just outside of town is a cable car which will afford you gorgeous views over the valley. I would recommend making this lovely city, Trento, your base for your weekend in Trentino.

Why you should plan a weekend in Trentino?

You may be wondering ‘Why Trentino?’

As I’ve already mentioned, Trentino hadn’t been on my personal radar before this year. I hadn’t even heard of it! Places like Tuscany, The Amalfi Coast and Sicily were all high on my Italy bucket list as I’m sure they are for many travellers. But Trentino had never leapt out at me. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there.

But now I find myself asking why it had never made it onto my radar before? How is it not equally as popular as Lake Garda, Venice or Cinque de Terre?!

Because Trentino is beautiful!

But not only is it beautiful but it’s friendly, affordable, uncrowded, authentic and there’s such a variety of things to do and places to see in this area. You will certainly not be bored on a weekend in Trentino! You are halfway between the Dolomites and Lake Garda so you will be indulged with some of the most beautiful scenery in Northern Italy.

view of Trento from the castle

There are so many places in Italy which have become overrun with tourists. It’s almost impossible to get good home cooked pasta without a hugely inflated price tag – lunch on Capri Island on the Amalfi Coast set me back a whopping €53!

Somehow, Trentino has escaped over tourism which has affected so many parts of Italy. The restaurants all serve delicious and affordable food – without exception! There are more locals than tourists and they smile at you as you walk by. You can afford a quality hotel room without needing to sell a kidney for the privilege.

Hiking in trentino in the summer

Things to do on a weekend in Trentino

Take a Hike to Lago Di Tret

Suggested by Philipp Ammon of CapturingWanderlust.com

Hiking to Lago di Tret, an old wooden jetty invites hikers to take a dive into the cool, emerald meltwater of this hidden forest lake. While you might not feel up to joining the locals on a traditional winter-morning swim, a sunny Trentino day during the warmer seasons could offer the perfect atmosphere for a picnic and a refreshing dip in lake Tret.

You can find a place to park next to the Hotel Scoiattolo in Val di Non. Follow the 512 Mountain Trail marked by a red and white flag and signs reading “Al Lago” for a relaxed 30-40 min uphill walk. The trail is lined with rushing creeks and colourful wildflower meadows.

You may work up a sweat, but as with most things in Trentino, the effort is well worth the reward.

Trentino lake by Philipp ammon
Credit @ Philipp Ammon

Take a day trip to Bolzano

Suggested by Kate of OurEscapeClause.com

Nestled in the Italian Dolomites and the capital of South Tyrol, a day trip to Bolzano is the perfect getaway from Trento!

Whether you want to pay a visit to the 5,000-year-old man Ötzi (yes, really!), stroll through Bolzano’s many colorful streets, hit up the delicious food markets, marvel at the frescoes at Castel Roncolo, or board a cable car that will whisk you away to one of the many small mountain villages in the region, Bolzano has something for you.

If you’re looking for epic views, try heading to Santa Maria Maddalena Church–and don’t forget to go for a wine tasting at one of the many nearby vineyards while you’re out there!

If you happen to be visiting the region in the winter, don’t forget to add a visit to Bolzano’s Christmas market onto your itinerary–as the home of the oldest Christmas market in Italy, there’s no better place in the country to experience a bit of festive cheer.

Picture of countryside around Bolzano

Take the Hydrotour Dolomiti at the Santa Massenza Hydro-Power Plant

trentino hydro power tour

You cannot fail to notice on your weekend in Trentino, just how many lakes and rivers there are. Trentino has tapped into that water source to create clean energy across the region and supply it nationally be creating Hydro electricity plants. They created huge tunnels under the mountains and funnelled water at high pressure and speed into power plants where the water is processed through huge turbines and is turned into clean electricity without any negative impact upon our environment. You can now learn all about how they do this by taking the Hydrotour Dolomiti.

Visit Lago Di Toblino

Take a leisurely stroll around this stunning lake admiring the Castel Toblino, this ideally situated castle. This is a great location for photographers for sunset and blue hour pictures. Here’s mine below! The great thing is that it can be accessed by a 5-10 minute walk which is great when there is not much light!

castle near trentino on a lake lit up at night

Visit Lake Garda

Ah Lake Garda, such a beautiful location. Although the lake is huge, you can get around it in one day if you start early. Stop off at the many beautiful villages including Sirmione with it’s charming lakeside castle complete with moat.

sirmione lakeside castle

Try Tandem Paragliding

Suggested by Lucy of FarawayLucy.com

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at tandem paragliding, there is truly no better setting in which to do so than over Lake Idro. Boasting a view that is second-to-none across the majestic Chiese Valley, paragliding is a great opportunity to get a bird’s eye view over one of Italy’s most beautiful lakes.

Hop in the car which takes you up to the mountainous alpine pastures and soon you’ll be ready to fly! Whether you are after a relaxing ride or a more exhilarating experience, the friendly team at Trentino Adventures gear your flight towards what you want to get out of the experience.

While the time may seem to fly by (pun totally intended), the flight actually lasts around 20 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to soak up the scenery. The experience may set you back around £100 per person, but the views make it well worth every penny!

Paragliding in trentino

Visit a winery

Suggested by Andrea of HappyDaysTravelBlog.com

Cavit Winery, located just outside the city of Trento, is a cooperative of ten wineries
and their associated 4,500 individual growers. It was set up in 1950 and now employs 200 people and produces 60% of all Trentino wine. As well as supplying the home market, Cavit exports all over the world and is the leading Italian brand in the USA.

The main grapes used by Cavit are Müller Thurgau, Gewürtztraminer and Pinot
Grigio, but they also grow a small amount of the ancient variety, Nosiola. In 2018,
they produced just 6000 bottles of this delicious award-winning white wine, rich with walnut flavours. We were lucky enough to taste it during our visit.

Cavit also produce red wines, mainly Bordeaux blends, and, under their Altemasi
label, sparkling Trentodoc wines, the oldest appellation in Italy.

The winery is happy to arrange visits for groups of ten or more. Contact them by
email at least a month before ([email protected]). Individuals can visit the onsite shop for tastings and purchases. It is open Monday to Friday 9.30 – 12.30 and 2.30 –
6.45 and Saturday 10 – 12.30. I highly recommend you do – it was a highlight of my time in Trentino.

Wine tasting at Cavit, Trentino

Visit the Gorges of Ponte Alto

Suggested by Toti and Alessia of ItalianTripAboad.com

For centuries the main objective of the inhabitants of Trento was to protect the city from the danger of flooding. The most important engineers in the World were working constantly on dyke, embankment and docks with the only plan to protect Trento.

That made the amazing Gorges of Ponte Alto, a deep canyon carved in the rocks by the river Farina over thousands of years. This is one of the best experiences to have in Trento and beyond.

Trekking along the valley, you can get close enough to the gorge to touch with your hands the cold flowing water, breathe the breeze of the spring water coming directly from the top of the mountains in the canyons. I had an amazing experience roaming between the vineyards of Trento Doc. An adventurous journey inside the thick forest and climbing down the difficult rocks while reaching the pool where the gorge flows.

Thanks to a group of passionate inhabitants and professional climbers I had the chance to get in deep into the gorge, an experience that will be forever in my mind. 

Visiting the gorges of ponte alto

Go Skiing or Ski Boarding in winter in San Martino

Suggested by Ania of TheTravellingTwins.com

We spent a winter holiday in San Martino skiing and snowboarding in the region of Trentino and we had a great time.

Our family was pretty new to snowsports, and with a total of 60 km of pistes, about half of which were graded blue, we had a fantastic choice. Slopes are wide and long, but beside skiing San Martino has lots of winter activities for everyone like guided snow rackets walks, snow mobiles etc.

The location is beautiful right up there at the top of the valley in the woodlands just before the Rolle Pass. We will never forget the sight of the evening sun on the pink rocks of the Dolomite peaks behind the town.

Talking of woodlands, the Violin Forest was a fascinating place to explore. Stradivari used timber from these trees for his instruments. Today you can go and see the beautiful landscape, spot wildlife and hear fascinating stories on a guided tour of the forest.

San martino skiing in trentino

Things to do on a weekend in Trento City

There are so many things to do in Trento itself that you might be reluctant to leave the old city!

I’d consider starting with a walking tour to help orientate yourself. Here are some places you shouldn’t miss when you are in Trento;

Buonconsiglio Castle

This well-conserved castle dating back to 1239 has been lovingly restored. It was home to the Prince Bishops until 1802 and is one of the most important castles in the region. It is open to the public to browse between 9.30 AM and 5 PM. The hours are slightly altered in high season to 10-6. It costs €10 for entry and I’d recommend paying for an audio guide as I found it extremely informative. Please note it is currently closed on Mondays.

castle trento

Take The Trento Cable Car

If you wan’t a great view of the city, head up the cable car which is free with your Trentino city card.

views over trento

Visit the 3D Bronze Map of Trento to gather your bearings

Suggested by Larch of TheSilverNomad.co.uk

No matter how much you walk around a town or city and how well you know it, sometimes it is hard to envision just how it used to look many years ago. In Trento, on the right hand side of the Cattedrale di San Vigilio in Piazza Adamo d’Arogno, there is a 3D bronze representation of the city before the River Adige

was diverted round the city in 1850. The original bronze patina has mellowed over the years to a soft blue, though certain areas have been rubbed back to the bronze by many fingers.

The layout of Trento does not seem to have changed much in the last 160 years and you can trace the major buildings, duomo and palace around the city including, standing up on a bronze rock, the circular Cesare Battisti Mausoleum.

The main buildings are numbered and to the left side there is a key to tell you what each one is. However, for the visually impaired, next to the numbers on the map there is an explanation in Italian Braille, you may need an Italian speaker to translate!

3D Bronze Map of Trento 2

Visit a brewery

Suggested by Aga of AMatterOfTaste.Me

Passion Brewery is a craft brewery located in an industrial area on the outskirts of Trento easily reachable by bus #17 from the city centre. Their small tap room, adjacent to the brewery is also extended to the outdoor area where food trucks appear in the afternoons.

The beer they produce will satisfy every taste. There are the usual craft-classics like IPA, APA, Session, Mild and Stout as well as limited, seasonal brews. Their inspiration comes from trendy American-style beers combining fruity and hoppy notes into beautifully balanced brews.

Passion Brewery’s beers have fun names like Holy Moly or Boom Boom Shakalaka which you won’t be able to order with a straight face (especially after you’ve had a few).

passion brewery in trento

Stuff yourself silly with Italian food

The food in Trentino is delicious. A blend of alpine and Italian cuisine with influences from neighbouring Austria (think Apple strudel for breakfast and more cheese than an episode of ‘Glee.’) You’ll still find plenty of delicious pasta dishes and pizzerias as well as local specialities such as the Polenta with shitake mushrooms and local cheese.

Whilst you might be tempted by the Tiramisu on the menu, make sure you save money for gelato. There are so many gelateria shops, you’ll find it easy to get a sugar fix!

Wash down your meals with some local Trentodoc sparkling wine or the national cocktail, an Aperol Spritz. Be warned, they are stronger than they taste and I learnt that the hard way…

italian pizza

The Perfect Weekend Trentino Itinerary

If you’re arriving after work on Friday, take the opportunity to see the sunset over Trento and the surrounding valley by taking the cable car. There is a bar at the top where you can enjoy your first Aperol Spritz aperitif before returning to the town for dinner at one of the many fabulous restaurants.

For your first full day in Trentino, spend the morning exploring the town itself. Visit the Buonconsiglio castle, enjoy the pretty gardens, visit one of the museums, look inside the churches and enjoy the shops. In the late afternoon, head out to one of the many wineries in the area for a wine tour and some tastings. After another delicious meal in one of the recommended restaurants (see below,) if you still have energy left, pop along to Accademia, a very cool underground bar which stays open late.

Top tip! There is a 2nd bar called Accademia in Trento! Confusing. Here’s the address you need: Via dei Ventuno, 1, 38122

View of Trento with the mountains in the background and a church steeple towering over the houses, the perfect base for a weekend in Trentino

I’d recommend for the 2nd day of your weekend in Trentino, that you escape to the countryside and either explore the lakes or the mountains in this beautiful region. To the South, you have the stunning Lake Garda and to the North, you have the snow-capped Dolomites. Take the opportunity on your 2nd day to take a hike in the Dolomites or visit some smaller alpine villages and make the most of the wonderful scenery in this region during your 2 days in Trentino.

trentino mountain scenery

The Trentino Guest Pass

The Trentino Guest Pass allows free access to many attractions including over 60 museums and 20 castles. If you stay with any of the partnered hotels for more than 2 days, you will get given one for free. If you stay just one night, you can still get a reduced price card. Otherwise, it costs €40.

I’ve listed a few accommodation options which are eligible for the Trentino card below…

Where to stay on a weekend in Trentino

I’d recommend basing yourself in Trento for your weekend getaway. You will be spoilt for choice with the many restaurants and bars in the evening and it’s the most central place in the region so is well positioned for making lots of day trips. It also has good transport links including a train station making it easy to reach from other cities in Northern Italy.

I personally stayed at Casa Degli Orti, a little guesthouse in the perfect position, right on the edge of the old town in Trento. All of the cities best attractions were within a 10-minute walk and there were bars and restaurants right on my doorstep. Trento also felt very safe at night when I was walking back to my apartment.

The guesthouse itself was very comfortable and the owner, very accommodating. I stayed in a triple room with two girlfriends. We had a bathroom to ourselves but a shared kitchen area. There was free wifi and there is also included parking facilities nearby (though I did not have a car with me.) It was great value and I’d recommend it for anyone looking for budget accommodation in a central location!

trento accommodation

Other Trento Accommodation you may want to consider

(All of which include free access to the Traverse Visitors Card – usually €40/week.)

Budget

Casa Lampone. If you’re on a really tight budget, Casa Mapone offers simple self-catered apartments just outside of Trento. There is a frequent bus which takes 10 minutes to reach the city centre and there is parking on site which is great if you have a hire car.

Mid-range

Agriturismo Locanda de l’Arguta. If you fancy staying on a farm yet also being close to the city, this is a great option. It has been rated very highly on booking.com scoring 9.2/10!

Best Western Hotel Adige. If you are looking for some rest & relaxation on your weekend in Trentino, then this mid-budget hotel with an indoor spa may be perfect. You can rest your weary legs in a jacuzzi after enjoying some hikes in beautiful Trentino!

Luxury

Villa Madruzzo. For a 4 start hotel, this one is actually very affordable and offers some peace and quiet, being located 4km away from the city centre. It has both modern and vintage style rooms as well as an indoor swimming pool and outdoor spa.

The Grand Hotel. If you’re looking for a fancy hotel (which incidentally is still surprisingly affordable) that is closer to the action, choose this one. It is right on the edge of the old town, opposite the tourist information centre and train station. It can’t get more central than this. I spent some time in the hotel bar/lounge area with friends and I must agree, it’s pretty ‘grand!’

The best places to eat and drink in Trentino

Pretty much every meal I had in Trentino was fantastic!

But the same rule applies here to all places popular with tourists – the best restaurants are not found in the central piazzas but rather tucked away down alleys and side streets.

Here are a few of my favourite places where I ate in Trentino;

Ristorante e Pizza Antico Pozzo

If you’re looking for fancy Italian A la ‘carte food, this place will suit perfectly. All the food was perfectly displayed and used some unusual ingredient combinations but it worked and was super tasty. Even the Asparagus flavoured ice cream…

Uva E Menta

I had the best pizza here and so went back a second time, this time sharing a steak and salad platter with a friend. It was incredibly tasty. Try and get a seat outside if you can but be aware this one gets busy even though it’s down an alley and not easily seen from the street – a sign of a great restaurant.

Green tower

I never actually made it here (damn you hangover) but I heard nothing but praise for it by many of my friends. I even heard someone say it was the best pizza they’d had in Italy…

Antica Trattoria Al Volt Trento

Serving up delicious local dishes, if you want to try something traditional which isn’t pasta or pizza, this is the place. I had a dish with polenta, mushrooms and a huge block of partially melted cheese!

Osteria Vineria San Martino

This little restaurant is about as far removed from a tourist trap as it can be! The staff didn’t speak much English and it had a real family feel to it. The food was delicious but it did take us some time to translate the menu with google translate…

How to get to Trentino

Unfortunately, Trentino does not have its own airport which can make it tricky to get to. However, it’s most certainly worth the effort.

Since it is best to have a hire car so you can get out and explore the region, you could fly into a nearby city and hire a car from the airport. This would be the best way to get to Trento. The closest airport would be Verona with Venice being the second closest.

I’ve hired many cars in Italy and so far my best experience has been with Europcar. I’ve certainly had some other less favourable experiences with car hire companies in Europe! If you want to know what it’s like to drive a car in Italy, read about my experiences driving in Sicily!

If you are planning to travel by public transport, you will find regular direct trains and buses from Verona and Venice. You can find prices and timetables using the Rome2Rio website.

I travelled to Trento from Naples and then onto Florence and managed to find direct trains for both that didn’t involve any changes. They weren’t particularly frequent but there were more frequent options which involved one or two changes.

Top Tips for visiting Trentino in a weekend

  • Hire a car – you will be able to visit many more places without relying on public transport.
  • Stay in central Trento, preferably close to the Old Town so that everything is in close walking distance.
  • Fly into Verona or Venice and drive to Trento from there. Alternatively train and buses are an option.
  • Spend time in the beautiful city centre but make time to explore the countryside.
  • Consider getting the Trentino Guest Card to get free access to many of the tourist attractions. This may be free if you are staying for 2 nights or more. Check with your hotel. Otherwise, it costs €40.
  • The best restaurants are always found away from the main Piazza’s. Look for restaurants found down little alleys and away from the centre if you want tasty authentic Italian food.
  • Eat Strudel for breakfast! Being so close to Austria, there is evidence of influence from the Alps including delicious Apple strudel wherever you go! (This got me quite excited!)
  • For some of the best views of Trento, make sure you catch the Cable car or visit The Castle.

Hopefully, now you have more of an idea of how to make the most of your weekend in Trentino. Trento and the surrounding lakes, wineries and mountains will no doubt have you falling in love with the region and next time, returning for longer!

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​The Most Romantic Things to Do in Paris

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Eros Erika | Dreamstime.com

It’s no secret why so many couples choose Paris as a destination for their honeymoon or anniversary trip. The French capital is overflowing with opportunities for lovebirds.

Obviously, the Eiffel Tower is the place to go take in the city’s aesthetic beauty, but it’s not the only spot for romance.

If you’re planning a trip to Paris with your loved one, make sure these activities are on your itinerary.

Picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

On a sunny day pick up a fresh baguette, assortment of cheeses, and a bottle of wine and head to Buttes-Chaumont Park for a picnic. This beautiful 61-acre park, in northeastern Paris, offers stunning views of the city. Perched at the top of an artificial lake, the park also boasts caves, waterfalls, and a suspended bridge. The land is sprinkled with exotic trees, such as Himalayan cedars and Siberian elms, and numerous birds like seagulls, moorhens, and mallard ducks.

Stroll arm-in-arm along Canal Saint-Martin

This lovely canal, which connects the waters of northeast Paris to the Seine via nine locks, is the perfect place for a stroll with your partner. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many quirky cafes that flank the canal’s water and iron footbridges. Then, make your way to the nearby Parc de la Villette, an urban park that houses museums, concert halls, live performance stages, and theaters.

Sail down the Seine

No trip to Paris is complete without a river cruise down the Seine, which cuts through the heart of the city. We recommend taking a sunset cruise so that you can see the city’s lights glittering on the water as you sail past landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and Pont Neuf. To up the romance, splurge for a lamp-lit dinner cruise.

Catch a cabaret show at Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge is one of the world’s most famous cabaret clubs. After walking under the red windmill that gives the venue its name, you’ll enter the iconic theater, which hosts an outstanding cabaret show that features a troupe of more than 80 dancers donning costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins that were handmade in some of the most famous Parisian workshops.

Enjoy dinner for two at La Coupole

This grand restaurant, which features stunning art deco décor, is the perfect spot for fine dining at a French brasserie. La Coupole’s 450-seat dining room is dotted with 33 majestic pillars. The menu’s lauded lamb curry is served from a rolling cart. An added bonus: the restaurant is located in the historic Montparnasse district, a hub for bohemian painters, sculptors, and other artists.

Journey to the Temple of Love

Temple de l’Amour, or the “Temple of Love,” is a white-marble dome set on an artificial island in the center of a lake in Versailles. This hidden beauty, commissioned by Queen Marie-Antoinette, is part of the meticulously manicured English Gardens. The temple boasts a sculpture of Cupid cutting his bow from the Club of Hercules.

Indulge in decadent Parisian pastries

Couples with a sweet tooth should carve out time to visit some of the city’s artisanal chocolate makers. If you’re looking for a rich culinary experience, take a 2.5-hour walking tour (via Viator) of the acclaimed chocolate shops in Saint-Germain where you can sample an array of French delicacies such as chocolate eclairs, truffles, and other delectable sweets.

Get lost in the Tuileries Gardens

This 55-acre public garden, nestled between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, is the grand dame of Parisian parks – and it’s the perfect place for a long afternoon stroll. Statues of Maillol stand among those of Rodin or Giacometti in this French formal garden, which was meticulously designed by Italian Renaissance architect Bernard de Carnesse in 1564. More than 14 million people visit the Tuileries Gardens every year.

Sip your way through a tour of Paris wineries

Escape the city and make your way to some of Paris’ finest wineries, where you can taste incredible vinos from locally made wineries. France’s famous champagne region is an easy day trip away from Paris. Make sure to stop at the cellars at G.H. Mumm, a renowned winemaking house that has been producing bubbly for nearly 200 years.

Steal a kiss at the I Love You Wall in Montmartre

This off-the-beaten-path art installation, found in the northern suburbs of Paris, features the words “I love you” in over 250 languages. It’s the love child of calligraphist Fédéric Baron and mural artist Claire Kito. Fun fact: the wall is constructed out of 612 individual tiles made from enameled lava.

3 Day Dubai Itinerary – Make the Most of 3 Days in Dubai

Dubai, being on many flight paths between Europe and Asia, makes the perfect city for a short stopover. If you have just 3 days in Dubai, you’ll be wanting to make the most of the short amount of time available to you to see as much of the city as possible. This 3 day Dubai itinerary is written by Valentina Djordjevic and is packed full of the best things to do in Dubai.

I’ll hand you over to Valentina now to tell us how to explore Dubai in 3 days

** Pssst, this article may contain affiliate links. If you have no idea what this means, click here and everything will be explained!**

No time to read this now? No worries! Pin it for later!

a 3 day dubai itinerary with the best things to do in dubai from visiting the desert to exploring souks

What you can expect from this article…

Planning 3 Days in Dubai

Dubai is a flashy travel destination overflowing with great restaurants, entertainment & shopping. It’s a modern city, built from the ground up only in the last few decades. Dubai is located in the middle of the Arabian Desert, and it’s bordered by the tranquil turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.

You don’t need more than 3 days in Dubai to check off the bucket list, and we’ll show you how!

Use this 3 day Dubai itinerary and you’ll be able to take advantage of everything this great city has to offer. We’ll help you get to all of Dubai’s hottest attractions, dine at Dubai’s trendiest restaurants, hit up the best beaches and stay at the most luxurious hotels.

Dubai is one of the most unique places in the world. Almost like Las Vegas of the middle east. It’s where glam and excess meet old world history and Muslim culture. The service industry in Dubai is top-notch. It’s, without a doubt, the cleanest city I’ve ever laid eyes on! Also, it’s one of the safest places in the world with unbelievably low crime rates.

An overview of this 3 day Dubai Itinerary

Day 1. You’ll learn about history and culture at the Dubai Creek and experience the luxury of Dubai’s downtown.

Day 2. Visit one of Dubai’s best beaches then take a desert safari.

Day 3. Walk the Dubai Marina, tour the Dubai Miracle Garden and experience the Global Village.

abra dubai

When is the best time to visit Dubai?

The best time of year to visit Dubai is November through to April (in the winter months). Due to the desert climate, it can be excruciatingly hot in the summer!

Also, many of the top attractions like the Dubai Miracle Garden and the Global Village are closed during summer months.

You’ll especially want to avoid travelling during Ramadan (beginning of May through the beginning of June) because many restaurants will be closed or have odd hours.

Getting to Dubai

You can get to Dubai by flying into the Dubai International Airport (DBX). Emirates airline connects Dubai to major cities all over the world. It’s an absolute treat flying Emirates because they offer above-average legroom, free WiFi and 2 checked bags with every economy class ticket! Dubai’s downtown is only a 15-minute cab ride from the airport.

Check out Emirates flights to Dubai here

Getting around Dubai in 3 days

To get around Dubai, you’ll need to take quite a few cabs… or Ubers. It’s a big city, and many of the attractions are relatively far from one another. For example, it will take 25 minutes to get from Dubai’s downtown to get to the Dubai Miracle Garden.

Alternatively, you can opt for public transportation. Although, it will take twice as long to get around. Luckily, cab fare is reasonable. You’ll pay less than 10 USD for that 25-minute cab ride.

You might decide to rent a car. Roads signs in the UAE are labelled in Arabic and English making it quite easy to get around. Although, like in many big cities, you may struggle to find parking.

See where all the various attractions are located in this Tourist Map of Dubai.

Dubai sunrise cityscape

Where to stay in Dubai

There are many great places to stay in Dubai, but we recommend staying in downtown. You’ll be within walking distance to the Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountains, the Burj Khalifa and more!

The most luxurious hotels in Dubai’s downtown are the Palace Hotel and the Armani Hotel.

Sofitel Downtown Dubai is a great affordable luxury alternative. The Carleton Downtown is a top-rated budget option.

If you think you’ll want to spend every spare minute on the beach, stay at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel

the palm dubai

3 Day Dubai Itinerary

Day one of your 3 day Dubai itinerary

For breakfast on day 1…

Start your first morning in Dubai at the ‘Sum of Us’. It’s a 10-minute drive outside of downtown in the direction of the Dubai Creek attractions. The Sum of Us serves up some of the best breakfasts in Dubai! They’re a bread and pastry bakery, a gourmet coffeehouse and innovative restaurant all in one. With plenty of vegan and health conscious breakfast options, the Sum of Us won’t disappoint.

In the morning…

Continue to the Dubai Creek for some cultural and historical enrichment. Start at the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort. The Al Fahidi Fort is one of the few historic buildings in Dubai. It was built over 200 years ago in defence of the ruling monarchs. Inside the museum and fort, you’ll take a step back through time and learn about how civilizations lived in the Arabian desert.

Next, you can take a traditional Abra boat across the river to the Souks. Abras are leaving every few minutes. You’ll pay a 1 dirham coin to your driver once you get inside the boat. Ideally, you want to take route 1: Bar Dubai to Old Souk. Then, you’ll only be 5 minutes away from the Gold and Spice Souks.

Colourful Souks in dubai

Visiting the Souks can be a challenge but I do not regret going. Although, I wish I had known more about what to expect.

The Souks are traditional markets where locally sourced goods like gold, textiles, spices and perfumes are sold. They are great places to shop for souvenirs or gifts for the family. However, the vendors are extremely aggressive with their sales tactics. This can be off-putting.

Get lunch at…

Once you’re done shopping, take the Abra back across the creek. Get lunch at the beautiful Arabian Teahouse restaurant. This is a Dubai must!

Not only does it offer a cute garden vibe, but the Arabian Teahouse is one of the best places to taste authentic, well-prepared, Emirati food. You can’t make reservations here, so expect to wait a few minutes. It’s worth it! Make sure to order some tea with your meal!

arabian tea house dubai

Early afternoon…

Finally, you’ll want to visit the Al Fahidi Historical District before you head back to your hotel. The neighborhood is set up like a labyrinth with traditional style buildings. Get lost inside looking for various art galleries, craft shops and museums.

In the Evening

Spend your evening of day 1 in Dubai in the downtown area. If you’re staying in downtown, walk to the Dubai Mall first. It’s huge and gorgeous. There’s also an aquarium and an ice rink inside!

The most impressive parts of the mall are the ones that house the luxury design brands. Walk towards Chanel, Burberry, Gucci and you’ll see what I’m talking about. This part of the mall is also less heavily trafficked. The basement of the mall is where you will access the Burj Khalifa.

dubai mall

You’ll want to book the SKY experience at the Burj Khalifa. This package includes access to floors 124, 125 and 148. Floor 148 is the world’s highest observation deck.

It’s a lot cheaper to purchase standard admission that includes only floors 124 and 125, but these floors tend to be a lot more crowded. Your SKY ticket will also include a refreshment at the top.

Be sure to check the time of sunset and book the tour that starts 1 hour before the dusk. Book early to avoid disapointment!

sky burj khalifa dubai

You won’t need a whole hour on floor 148. Take a few photos and then head back down into the Dubai Mall.

Exit the Dubai Mall in the direction of the Dubai Fountains. Explore this pretty plaza, view the stunning Arabian architecture of the Palace Hotel, and wait for the next fountain show to start.

After you’ve seen the fountain show, explore Burj Plaza just before dusk. There’s a lot of pretty lights that come on at night. This area is so scenic and picture perfect!

Have dinner at Em Sherif. It’s a Lebanese restaurant located across from the Dubai Fountains. Dubai is a cultural melting pot with a huge immigrant population. So, don’t focus on just Emirati cuisine here! Eat delicious Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian food! If you don’t feel like splurging on dinner, instead have middle eastern fast food at Filful’s downtown location. This is a local favourite chain!

After dinner, head to the Level 43 Sky Lounge rooftop bar. It is a 40-minute walk from downtown if you are feeling ambitious, but it’s only a 10-minute cab ride.

I love this place because it’s got a hip vibe, chill electronic music and an outdoor rooftop terrace with views of the surrounding skyscrapers. You can also make a reservation online in advance to ensure you’ll get a great table.

Day 2 of your 3 day Dubai Itinerary

Have breakfast at…

Start your morning of day 2 in Dubai with breakfast at Comptoir 102. It’s a 15-20 minute cab ride from downtown and a few minutes walk from La Mer Beach. Comptoir 102 is regarded as the best healthy cafe in Dubai.

All ingredients are locally and sustainably sourced to ensure the highest quality. The menu is focused on nutrition and flavour, with many low carb and dairy free options. You’ve got to try one of their famous smoothies that are infused with vegetables, fruits, vitamins and nut milk.

In the morning…

Next, walk over to the beautiful La Mer Beach. It’s one of Dubai’s newest and best-developed beachfront. You’ll find plenty of shopping, dining and urban art. It’s the perfect place to relax. You can rent lounge chairs, umbrellas and even towels. Spend the day basking in the sun & enjoying the crisp waters surrounded by luxury.

la mer beach dubai

Have lunch at…

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, walk down the beach to Salt. Have lunch or just their amazing soft serve ice cream! Their original softies are the best.

In the afternoon…

If you have more time and energy, the other neat attractions in this area are the Etihad Museum and the Jumeirah Mosque. The Etihad Museum is a 15-20 minute walk from Salt in La Mer, and the Jumeirah Mosque will be on your way.

etihad museum dubai

The Etihad Museum is a beautiful modern and interactive museum that documents the contemporary political history of the United Arab Emirates.

The Jumeirah Mosque is one of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks. Visitors of all faiths are welcome. Organized free tours are run most days at 10 AM. Rework this activity at the beginning of your beach day if interested. The cultural tours discuss holidays, traditions and customs of the Muslim faith.

Jumeirah Mosque dubai

In the evening…

In the evening of your second day, set out on a Dubai Desert Safari. This is a Dubai bucket list must! There are many different tours and operators to choose from. Most tours will pick you up at your hotel around 4 or 5 PM.

Safari tours include camel rides, dune bashes, falconry shows, traditional food, belly dancing performances and henna tattooing. Some include alcoholic beverages.

We did the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve Tour. Overall, it was a great experience. The food was excellent! The landscapes were stunning, and the entertainment was fun. Our guide took the time to help us snap amazing desert photos. Make sure to get a henna tattoo.

The only part I will caution against is the SUV dune bash. The dune bashing may be a lot more fun in an ATV than the 4×4 SUV. My experience with the 4×4 SUV was that it was too long and a bit nauseating in the end. We spent more than 3 hours of the night driving and dune bashing!

Some tours skip the dune bashing all together. Instead, they may offer longer camel rides and dune surfing. If I were to go again, I’d definitely opt out of the SUV dune bash and choose either ATVs or no dune bash at all!

Whatever you decide, make sure you take part in a desert safari! Also, bring a sweater or jacket. It gets surprisingly cold out in the desert at night.

Day 3 of your 3 day Dubai itinerary

Have breakfast…

If you’re staying in downtown, walk to La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie for breakfast. This French bakery serves up the freshest and most decadent bread and pastries in Dubai. It’s also one of Dubai’s top restaurants. Have breakfast on their stunning outdoor patio.

In the morning…

Head over to the Dubai Marina. It will be a 15-20 minute drive from downtown. Do the Dubai Marina Walk, and enjoy the surrounding skyscrapers. Then, head over to the Jumeirah Beach Residence area. It’s a beautiful commercial district. Have a Nutella butter bun at Pappa Roti. 

dubai marina

In the afternoon…

Next, you’ll want to get another cab. Head to the famous Dubai Miracle Garden and prepare to be amazed! This place has hundreds of thousands of beautiful flowers arranged in cute structures. It’s heavenly.

flower garden dubai

In the evening…

Once the sun sets, head to the Global Village. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs!  It’s a multi-cultural market theme park. It’s only open in the evenings. It’s a 30-minute drive from downtown and 15 minutes away from the Dubai Miracle Garden. 

global village dubai lit up at night

Finally, end your last night in Dubai with a fancy dinner. I recommend TOMO for Japanese cuisine lovers. Zheng He’s is a must if you’re feeling Chinese. The wonderful Uptown rooftop bar is walking distance from Zheng He.

If you are travelling with a significant other, read about more things to do in Dubai for couples.

Valentina’s Destinations was born from my obsession with meticulously researching, organizing and planning my travel itineraries. I’m originally from Nis, Serbia. My family moved to the US when I was young, and I’ve been living in Chicago for the last decade. My passion is travelling the world with my boyfriend, Remigijus. When we’re not travelling, I work as a physician assistant in the psychiatry field. The mental health field is as rewarding as travelling can be. Follow my travels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.


Many thanks to Valentina for this great insight into how to explore Dubai in 3 days. I’m dying to book a weekend trip to Dubai now!

If you have more than 3 days in Dubai, here are a few other activities you could consider adding to your Dubai itinerary…

Read Next

Interview with a Local in Dubai – get tips from a local!


Don’t forget to pin this to your Pinterest board for later…

The Best Resorts on the Jersey Shore for a Fall Trip

Summer might be coming to an end, but these resorts are making the Jersey Shore a worthwhile fall trip this year.

The kids are back at school, family holidays have come and gone, but the northeast isn’t giving up its summer glory just yet. And with a handful of hip, new and lovingly renovated hotels gracing the New Jersey shoreline this year, it’s not hard to find a fall getaway that suits your mood.

Though the lifeguards have abandoned their chairs, this stunning stretch of sand and surf remains a vibrant presence. The restaurants and bars are open for business and beaches and pools cater to locals, day trippers and tourists alike – allowing for discounted prices and easier booking at some of the region’s finest hotels and resorts. To be clear, this is not Snookie’s Jersey Shore.

Wave Resort, Long Branch, NJ

Just over 55 miles south of Manhattan sits Long Branch. Once a holiday haven for seven US presidents, this resort town recently underwent a seaside makeover with it’s gleaming new Pier Village retail center.

To take it up a notch and allow folks to spend more than a day at the beach, the chic Wave Resort opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend 2019. The six-story, 67 room hotel offers luxe, minimalist décor as well as a pool with swim-up bar and firepits, and stunning 180-degree ocean views. There are seven different restaurants and bars on the property and a kid’s area for the little ones. A fitness center, spa and blowout bar round out the amenities, and beach cruisers are available for local sightseeing.

Asbury Ocean Club and The Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park, NJ

Forget the Hamptons, Asbury Park is the new “It” destination for discerning beachcombers heading to NJ beaches. And though it may be best known as the springboard to Bruce Springsteen’s career, it is now home to two of the hippest joints lining the Atlantic Ocean.

Both hotels are owned by full-service hospitality company Salt Hotels, yet they cater to uniquely different clientele. For those craving a little peace and quiet, The Ocean Club, perched on the fourth floor of this gleaming new 17-story high-rise, offers a cocooned retreat with a secluded pool deck and bar overlooking the ocean, lavish rooms and elevated service – including a shiny silver button which automatically refills your drinks while lounging.

The rock n’ roll theme at The Asbury offers a more laid-back vibe, with a colorful, family friendly pool area, food truck and wine bar, and even a pool table and pinball machine in the lobby area. Rooms are more stripped down and comfortable, but include Quad and Octo rooms, with two and four bunk beds respectively – perfect for groups. Head to the rooftop lounge for craft cocktails and flawless sunsets.

Hotel LBI, Long Beach Island, NJ

Approximately midway between Philadelphia and New York City, this narrow barrier island has long been a favorite beach destination for locals in the know. Devoid of a boardwalk, LBI enjoys a marked lack of bar hoppers and party goers, making it a preferred destination for families – along with the 18 miles of relaxing, clean beaches and activities like mini golfing, surfing, parasailing and shopping.

Newly opened this season is the expansive Hotel LBI, with 102 deluxe rooms, an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub with retractable roof, fitness room, salon and spa. Like most of LBI’s smaller hotels and motels, Hotel LBI is a few blocks from the beach itself, but you’ll be able to take in sweeping views of the ocean and the bay from its rooftop deck and bar. Want to take a closer look at what the island has to offer? Complimentary cruisers are available to pedal around at your leisure.

Ocean Casino, Atlantic City, NJ

No, it’s not Vegas, but Atlantic City exudes its own glittering swagger, luring a discerning collection of beachgoers to this shining city of Monopoly-name proportions. A certain president with a head for marketing no longer touts a hotel on the boardwalk, but the recently renovated Ocean Resort and Casino makes the case for celebrity sightings. The massive tower holds nearly 1400 guest rooms, many with views of the ocean or the bay, and relaxing is made simple at one of three pools, a full-service spa and a bathhouse.

Yes, there is the requisite casino with loyalty program and Ocean Rewards Club, for those who want to try their luck, but it’s the amenities that take this hotel above and beyond. Restaurants range from fine dining to quick casual, including eateries from Iron Chef Jose Garces and Marc Forgione, and a burger joint from Mark Wahlberg. There are also a handful or bars and lounges, including the Frose Daiquiri Lounge for frozen libations.

A Topgolf swing suite provides entertainment of a different kind with a virtual golf course as well as an indoor gaming suite with baseball, dodgeball, hockey, football and carnival games—open to kids as well as adults. Finally, check the calendar for events at the cutting-edge Ovation Hall, which has hosted the likes of Beyonce and Barry Manilow.

The Boarding House, Cape May, NJ

One of the oldest seaside resort towns in the country, Cape May is closer to Philadelphia than New York City, and is known for its stately Victorian mansions and cultural events, like its namesake Jazz Festival and the New Jersey Film Festival. But with the newly renovated Boarding House comes a little retro surf chic – giving a hip kick to this seemingly proper locale.

The hotel offers 11 unique rooms – each with a surfboard rack, original paintings and photography from local artists, a custom coffee blend from Cape May Roasters and handmade soaps by the village’s very own Shore Soaps.

The beach is about 12 blocks away, but your stay includes free access to the hotel’s sister Montreal Beach Club, which includes two loungers and one umbrella per room. A basket of local breakfast goodies can be delivered to your room for $25 if you want to sleep in and yoga mats are just a phone call away. And did we mention it’s pet friendly?

Seaview, A Dolce Hotel, Galloway, NJ

After an $18 million upgrade and full renovation, the historic Seaview Hotel is ready for its close-up. Though technically on the Jersey Shore, teetering on the bay, the Seaview is best known for it’s nearly 700 acres of woods and 36 holes on two sprawling golf courses, one designed by famed designer Donald Ross.

Stay in one of the nearly 300 art deco rooms and grab a cocktail in the iconic Lobby Bar and Lounge – all of which kept the architectural integrity of the 105-year-old resort. The indoor and outdoor pool are family-friendly, and if golf isn’t your thing, you can head to the tennis courts, hike the surrounding walking trails or make an appointment at the luxurious Elizabeth Arden Day Spa.

Grab a meal at the Main Dining Room or the Coastal Grill, and look out for the Seasonal Seafood Buffet every Thursday night at 5pm.

2 Weeks in Sri Lanka with G Adventures: A Group Tour Review

Is Sri Lanka on your travel bucket list yet?

If not it needs to be! With luscious rainforest, tea plantations, national parks teeming with wildlife and exotic beaches all on the agenda, Sri Lanka really does have it all. With 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, you can see all of this and more…

elephants in sri lanka

Today I’m going to be reviewing the adventure group tour of Sri Lanka I took with G Adventures, a company I have travelled with many many times. I had 2 weeks in Sri Lanka with G Adventures, having the time of my life

** Pssst, this article may contain affiliate links. If you have no idea what this means, click here and everything will be explained!**

What you can expect from this article…

So Why Sri Lanka? 

It’s hard to put into words why I love Sri Lanka so much. It’s like an assault on the senses. The lingering heady waft of incense, women wearing vivid colourful saris, intense sunsets, the fragrant curries, the crashing of the waves on otherwise serene beaches…

sri lanka train station

People told me I would love it but I wasn’t expecting to fall quite so head over heels as I did. Sri Lanka well and truly stole my heart.

There are ancient temples to explore, beaches to relax on, rain forest scenery to hike amongst and its one of the best places to go on safari for wildlife fanatics. It’s also one of the friendliest places I’ve been in Asia and somewhere I always felt safe.

Sri Lanka has only recently become a tourist hot spot and this year was ranked number one tourist destination by The Lonely Planet. It won’t be long before tourists are flocking there in their masses. I’d recommend going BEFORE this happens.

sri lanka drone dalawella beach unuwatuna

Sri Lanka is one of those up and coming destinations which is at its tourism peak right now – enough tourist infrastructure for the ease of travel but without being ruined by mass tourism and high rise beach resorts.

I’ve recently finished a G Adventures Sri Lanka group tour and would wholeheartedly recommend this tour to anyone. It was my 7th trip with them (I’ve now done my 8th – a Maldives dhoni cruise.) Every trip I have taken has been absolutely fantastic.

So I decided to write this G Adventures Sri Lanka Encompassed review to show you exactly why I loved my 2 weeks in Sri Lanka so much and why will be recommending this Sri Lanka group tour to all of my besties…

No time to read it now? No worries! Pin it for later…

How to spend 2 weeks in sri lanka with g adventures the best sri lanka group tour company.

If you want to skip my article and go straight to see the tour I took, you can click HERE.

What is G Adventures anyway?

G Adventures is a global adventure travel company specialising in small group, ethical tours which venture off the beaten track and give back to the local community.  

They offer adventure tours on all seven continents and so far, I have travelled with them in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, The Galapagos, Peru and The Maldives.

Their tours are always reasonably priced and each trip has a “ripple score” which reflects how much money goes back into the community. This transparency is one of the reasons I choose G Adventures over other companies.

G Adventures is dedicated to ploughing as much money as possible back into the local community so you can be confident the money you spend, will go a long way towards helping Sri Lanka’s tourism industry boom once more.

They also have a partner company Planeterra which runs charitable initiatives to help communities help themselves for long term benefits. For example, providing training to lead to employment and business opportunities. Most G Adventure tours visit at least one or two of these projects and the Sri Lanka Encompassed group tour was no exception.

Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?

You may be wondering if Sri Lanka is safe to travel to? It’s a tricky question to answer as at the moment, our world is in a precarious position with terrorist attacks occurring all over the world. Yes, Sri Lanka was targeted in early April. But terrorists have attacked London, Paris, New Zealand, Turkey, Bali and so many more places in recent years.

My personal opinion is that we cannot halt our travel plans and sit at home, wrapped in cotton wool. The terrorists would win. The risks have now been downgraded, the government has conducted a very thorough investigation, travel insurance is valid again and Sri Lanka is ready to welcome you with open arms.

Travelling Sri Lanka with G Adventures is a safe way to see the country as you will always have travel companions and a guide to watch your back and someone will always know your whereabouts.

I commented many times during my 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, about how safe and comfortable I felt. Far more safe than I have felt in other countries in Asia! I personally would not hesitate to return to Sri Lanka which is now one of my favourite countries that I have visited.

Right, let’s get onto the good bit and talk about what you can expect on a Sri Lanka Encompassed tour with G Adventures! I’ll outline some of the highlights from each day on tour, discuss the pros and cons of travelling Sri Lanka with G Adventures, answer some frequently asked questions about group tours and offer you some post-trip advice.

G Adventures Sri Lanka Encompassed Itinerary – How I spent my 2 weeks in Sri Lanka

Day 1 – Arrival

You can arrive at any time and in the evening there is a group meeting followed by dinner together in the hotel to get to know your tour group.

Day 2 – Colombo to Negombo

The trip starts properly on day 2 with a quick tour of Colombo’s highlights before transferring to Negombo. We spent a lovely afternoon exploring Negombo’s canals seeing the colourful fishing boats, the mangroves and the wildlife including meeting some very cheeky monkeys. After a fantastic first day, we relaxed on our hotel beach, watching the sunset with a cocktail.

negombo canals the first stop on sri lanka group tour

Day 3 – Negombo to Sigiriya

The morning began with a tour of Negombo’s busy fish markets. We then headed toward the cultural triangle where we climbed the 1200 steps up Sigiriya’s Rock Fortress, a world heritage site. The views at the top were well worth the effort and we cooled off with a dip in the pool back at the hotel.

fisherman at negombo
scenery from sigiriya rock

Day 4 – Dambulla cave Temples to Minneriya National Park Safari

The day began with a trip to Dambulla Cave Temple, a series of 5 beautiful caves containing ancient artwork and buddha statues. (Make sure you take socks as you’ll have to ditch your shoes and walk on the hot granite rock!)

dambulla cave temple sri lanka

This was followed by a tour of a village, seeing rural life in Sri Lanka. We learnt to make hoppers – a traditional breakfast food before our exciting elephant safari at Minneriya National Park.

This was an optional extra but definitely worth the money. We saw so many elephants, many just a few metres from us, some with babies. There was plenty of other wildlife here but the baby elephants stole the show.

minneriya national park elephants at a watering hole

Day 5 – Kandy

On our 5th day, we travelled to the bustling city of Kandy. Along the way we stopped at a spice plantation for an informative tour and a short but sweet ayurvedic massage.

Lunch was at the Sthree project -one of G Adventure’s partners Planeterra projects in Sri Lanka. Here women run a social enterprise encourage women in hardship or people with disabilities into work by running their own creative businesses and selling their wares in the shop. They also make delicious lunches and the proceeds get ploughed back into the enterprise.

That afternoon after arriving in Kandy, we checked out The Temple of The Tooth – one of Sri Lanka’s most important and grandest of temples. We then squeezed in time to go to a traditional Sri Lankan drum and dance performance.

I was so impressed with our hotel that night. Not only was it pretty luxurious but wow, the views from the balcony across pretty Kandy Lake…

Day 6 – Kandy to Tamarind Gardens Homestay

The following morning we had some free time which I chose to go for a proper Ayurvedic massage after my little taster session the day before. I felt completely rejuvenated afterwards. You could also choose from the many things to do in Kandy such as visiting the botanical garden, going shopping or walking around the Kandy lake.

We then drove to another Planeterra project, this time a homestay at Tamarind Gardens an hour or so outside of Kandy. I will be writing a separate article about this amazing place so please watch this space…

At Tamarind homestay, the family run a dairy farm whilst also running several projects to benefit those who live in the nearby village. This includes running a project where women are recycling rice bags into tote bags as well as helping women start creative businesses such as incense and jewellery making to avoid having to work in the mines.

They are in the process of building some classrooms where they will be teaching apprenticeships free of charge to those who leave school with little qualifications.

One of the schemes I particularly loved was their goat project. They provide one family with two goats to breed. They then have to return one kid to the farm which is paired with another goat to help another family. The original goats and any other offspring then belong to that family to use in what way they like to help make money for example breeding or using to make goats cheese etc.

That afternoon we were shown around the village and had the opportunity to mingle with the locals before enjoying some delicious food in the evening.

incense stick maker in sri lanka

Day 7 – The Tea Plantations and Nuwara Eliyah

After bidding farewell to the wonderful family at Tamarind Gardens we set off on our journey to Nuwara Eliyah in the highlands passing through beautiful lush scenery along the way. Our trip took us to a tea plantation where we learnt how to choose and pick the right leaves and then had a tour through the tea factory followed by some tea tasting. Alas it was not enough to convert me to tea but I did enjoy taking some photo in the tea plantations.

Make sure you pack a jumper for Nuwara Eliyah as it’s at higher altitude and can actually get pretty chilly, especially in the evenings. It’s nicknamed ‘Little England’ and it’s easy to see why. Not only is the weather reminiscent of back home but also the colonial houses and some of the scenery. There were even stags roaming on the moors!

In the afternoon there is spare time. You could spend this shopping in the markets or go for high tea on the manicured lawns at the prestigious Grand Hotel.

Day 8 – Horton Plains and the Ella Train Jouney

We made an early start leaving at 4 am to drive to The Horton Plains for a hike starting at sunrise. The scenery was beautiful and so different to elsewhere in Sri Lanka. Having made such an early start, we were back at the hotel in time for a quick shower before we took our much-awaited train journey to Ella.

Horton plains sri lanka viewpoint

Widely recognised as being one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, the journey to Ella was no ordinary train ride. We had 3 hours of beautiful lush scenery, tea plantations, forests and mountains and of course trying to get that iconic ‘leaning out of the door’ photo everyone wants for their Instagram!

kandy to ella train sri lanka

Day 9 – Ella Rock and Nine Arch Bridge

It’s another early start today to walk to Ellas Rock. Unfortunately I’d sustained a knee injury so didn’t manage to make it but instead enjoyed some time chilling out in charming little Ella full of quirky bars and cafes and, art galleries and gift shops. Those who did the walk also loved it and said the scenery was brilliant.

That afternoon our team reunited and we walked (well I hobbled) to Nine Arch Bridge, a particularly scenic place to see the blue train come past. Expect crowds and lots of people taking selfies. However, it really is beautiful nonetheless.

sri lanka nine arch bridge ella

Day 10 – Little Adams Peak Hike and Yala National Park

For anyone who didn’t hike to Ella Rock, you can see a similar view from a different side of the valley on Little Adams peak hike. It’s a short one so you can be up and back down in about 90 minutes. Which is handy because after a quick shower, we were on the road again headed for Yala National Park – one of the places I was most excited to see.

In the afternoon we went out on our first Yala safari in the hope of catching sight of a leopard. Yala National Park is one of the best places in the world to see Leopards as it actually has the worlds highest concentration of leopards. We got lucky, not only with a sighting of a leopard but also more elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, buffalo, deer and birds. Safari at Yala National Park was without a doubt one of my highlights of this Sri Lanka group tour.

Day 11 – Yala National Park to Mirissa

In the morning, we had the opportunity to take another safari at an additional cost. I cannot get enough safari time so I signed up immediately. Sadly no more leopards but plenty of monkeys, deer and this time we saw a mongoose and a monitor lizard which was very cool.

That afternoon, we headed for our base for the final 3 nights, beautiful Mirissa. We stopped briefly at Tangalle to admire the beautiful beach and get a drink but we got to the hotel in time to enjoy a bit of pool time.

two baby monkeys in yala national park sri lanka

Day 12 – Day trip to Galle

The main activity today is an afternoon trip to Galle, a fortified city founded by the Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. The lighthouse is the main feature point and its a beautiful spot for sunset. However, make sure you don’t miss browsing some of the galleries and gift shops in the narrow lanes, it’s a brilliant place to find the perfect souvenir. There are also a LOT of jewellers so if you want to nab yourself some beautiful gemstone jewellery to remind you of your trip to Sri Lanka then here’s a great place to do it. I bought some beautiful solid silver drop earrings set with rose quartz for a bargain price of $50!

things to do in mirissa day trip to galle lighthouse

After you’ve shopped until you dropped, check out some of the bars and restaurants which line the streets. The minibus will usually pick you up about 9pm to head back to Mirissa.

We had the morning to ourselves to enjoy the many things to do in Mirissa. I and my roomie got up early and headed for the iconic photo spot Coconut tree hill. After getting our photos (and yes it is as pretty as it looks in photos) we went to Secret Beach in Mirissa.

visit coconut tree hill in sri lanka - one of the best things to do in mirissa

So ‘Secret Beach’ isn’t actually so secret these days with street signs pointing the way! But whilst it might not be a secret, it’s also not really widely known or crowded either. It’s a pretty little beach with a protected lagoon for swimming and a little beach bar. We spent a blissful few hours relaxing and swimming in the lagoon before heading to a little surf bar called ‘Aloha’ for lunch – I’d highly recommend it there, the food is amazing!

One of my favourite places in sri lanka - secret beach in mirissa
Secret Beach in Mirissa

Day 13 – Free time in Mirissa

Day 13 was a free day in Mirissa so if you missed Coconut tree point or The Secret Beach, you’ll have another chance today. Other popular activities include surfing at Weligama beach (with waves suitable for complete beginners and advanced surfers) and whale watching.

whale watching in sri lanka - tail our of water

Mirissa is one of the best places in the world to see Blue Whales which are huge. They are the size of a double-decker bus! Very cool! I’d recommend going with the company G Adventures suggest as some boats chase the whales and can be unethical. However, our boat kept a good distance at all times so as to not distress the Whales. We saw plenty of boats that did not follow this rule… So whilst I would recommend whale watching in Mirissa, I’d urge you to be selective about which company you choose. G Adventures will certainly be able to help!

Day 14 – Departure day

The trip ends after breakfast on day 14 so feel free to leave at any time it suits you. Most of the goodbyes are done the previous night at our farewell meal. I have a few suggestions for how to spend a few days after your trip ends, so keep reading if you have more than 2 weeks in Sri Lanka..!

My Review of G Adventures Group Tour Sri Lanka Encompassed. 

Our Group

  • Our CEO (that’s ‘chief experience officer’) U.D, was incredibly helpful and informative. He was a font of knowledge, especially where Sri Lanka’s history and religious beliefs were concerned, always giving us extra tidbits of information everywhere we went.
  • The rest of the group was made up of 10 travellers. We were a mixed age group with the youngest being in her 20’s and the oldest, a couple in their 70’s who explained travelling with people younger than them, keeps them young! A mentality I loved! I enjoy travelling on G Adventures classic tours with a mixed age group but if you’d prefer to travel with people your own age only, G Adventures does offer 18-39 tours and National Geographic tours which are more pricey and usually attract an older audience.
g adventures tour guide

The Good

  • We had a brilliant tour leader who made travelling around Sri Lanka, an absolute breeze!
  • The itinerary was fantastic covering most of Sri Lanka’s highlights plus a few places off the beaten track that we wouldn’t have found otherwise.
  • The itinerary included trips to Planeterra projects so we felt we were having a positive impact on the communities where we travelled.
  • It was a great way to meet other like-minded travellers and the trip was really sociable.
  • The standard of accommodation was brilliant (we’ll touch upon that more in a bit, stay tuned…)
  • There are no single supplements so you are not penalised for being a solo traveller.

The Bad 

  • I can honestly only say good stuff about my trip to Sri Lanka however if I’m getting really picky, I would love an additional day in Ella town which I fell in love with.

Would I recommend this Sri Lanka group tour to my besties? 

Absolutely! If you’re looking for a trip which combines gorgeous scenery, beautiful beaches, amazing wildlife, adventure, culture and mouth-watering food, then the Sri Lanka encompassed group tour of Sri Lanka is right for you. 

Frequently asked questions about G Adventures Tours in Sri Lanka

How many people are there on a G Adventures group tour in Sri Lanka? 

There will be a maximum of 16 people on a G Adventures Classic tour. However, not all tours are full and on my trip, there was 10 of us which was a great number.

Enough people that there will be at least a few you click with and not so many that you feel like sheep being herded from attraction to attraction! I have travelled with other companies with packed buses of 30+ tourists and I vowed I would never travel like that again. G Adventures strikes the balance perfectly.

tour group on a sri lanka g adventures tour

Will I have my own room on a G Adventures tour?

There is an option to pay extra if you want a room to yourself but otherwise, you will be matched with someone of the same gender and similar age. If there is an odd number of travellers, you may get lucky and score your own room anyway.

But actually sharing a room with someone who is like-minded and shares your love for adventure can be fun – kind of like reliving your teenage slumber parties! You may even find a new friend for life…

What is the accommodation like on a Sri Lanka group tour? 

I was seriously impressed with the standard of accommodation on this Sri Lanka group tour. I chose the Classic tour so the accommodation is a bit more classy than on a shoestring 18-39 tour. Whilst most places we stayed were 3*, many felt like more. We were often greeted with tropical fruit juice on arrival and generally treated like 5* guests.

The rooms were spacious, clean and comfy and we had air con, wifi, ensuite bathrooms and a balcony everywhere we went. We even came back to our rooms once to find our fluffy white towels had been moulded into the shape of a dog!

accommodation on a g adventures sri lanka tour

There was one homestay and also a night of glamping in Yala National Park where the accommodation was more basic but very comfy and in these places we had fans to keep us cool at night. I loved our glamping tent – complete with comfy beds and even our own bathrooms.

Sri Lanka glamping in yala national park

How will we get between places? 

Many G Adventures trips use a mixture of public and private transport but since public transport isn’t always the safest in Sri Lanka (crazy crazy drivers,) we were chauffeured everywhere in a spacious, comfy, private air-conditioned van. Our driver was fantastic, getting us safely around Sri Lanka even when we had a face-off with a huge male elephant!

How much money will I need for the Sri Lanka Encompassed trip? 

This depends on your style of travel. If you want to order what you like off the menu, eat only in nice places, enjoy a few cocktails and say yes to all the extra activities like additional safaris then I would aim to spend up to $350 per week, so 2 weeks in Sri Lanka could cost up to $700.

I spent around $350 per week but indulged in two extra safaris and an ayurvedic massage. I also enjoyed my food and drink without really thinking too much about it and bought several souvenirs including some beautiful silver earrings from a gem shop. So I wasn’t really watching the pennies closely!

If you were on more of a tight budget, you could easily aim for $200-250 per week (or $500 total for 2 weeks in Sri Lanka) with meals costing on average about $8-10 (including a soft drink or two.) All breakfasts and occasional lunches and dinners were included within the price of the trip. Most activities were also included.

Will I have to carry my luggage everywhere? 

Actually, no! Firstly, our private minibus delivered us right to the hotels where we were staying each day. Also, it’s customary that the bags get delivered to and picked up from your hotel rooms. The tipping was managed from a group kitty overseen by our CEO so there was absolutely zero hassle and I felt spoilt rotten. (Please tell me to get real if I start to turn into a bit of a princess..!)

What if I need some time to myself? 

The great thing about G Adventures tours is that it is up to you how much you join is. There’s no pressure to join in every activity or eat every meal together and there’s enough free time that you can relax in whatever way suits you. I was feeling shattered one night and behind on work so I opted to stay at the hotel to get some work done and have an early night. No one batted an eyelid.

That said, you form close bonds on trips like these so often most people choose to eat together.

meal out with the group on a g adventures sri lanka tour

Is Sri Lanka safe for female travellers? 

I felt so safe the whole time I was in Sri Lanka. I found Sri Lankans to be warm, welcoming and very polite. In fact, Sri Lanka has a very low rate of crime against tourists and the crime rate, in general, is fairly low.

Was there wifi at the hotels?

Yes, every place we went to had wifi with the exception of the homestay. As expected, there were some places where it was faster than others but in general, we were well connected with the online world!

You can also pick up a sim card very cheaply with plenty of data on it.  

Is Sri Lanka ok for vegetarians and vegans? 

Absolutely. We actually commented on how easy it would be to be vegetarian in Sri Lanka. There are lots of delicious curries without meat, for example, Dhal, pumpkin and mango curries all of which were delicious.

I want to stay a few extra days at either end of the trip. Can G Adventures help me organise that? 

G Adventures can arrange accommodation pre and post-trip in the same hotel where you start and end the tour and can usually obtain a slight discount off the regular room price for this purpose.

If you are going to tag on any extra days, I’d suggest adding them on at the end. There’s not much to see in Colombo whereas Mirissa is a lovely beach town to relax in. It’s also close by to some other great places to visit like Galle and Dalawella beach where I spent an additional night.

Is there a loyalty scheme for G Adventures?

G Adventures offers a 5% discount off your next trip when you fill in your post-trip feedback forms.  

playing games with the g adventures group

What is the best time to book a trip to Sri Lanka with G Adventures? 

This will depend on which trip you book in Sri Lanka as the rainy season is different in certain parts of the country.

April – September is the best time to visit Sri Lanka if you are visiting the North and East.

However, this Sri Lanka Encompassed group tour focussed on the west coats, central hilly regions and the southern coast. Therefore the best time to visit will be during the dry season between December and March.

I was in Sri Lanka from the 16th of March until the 6th of April and had nothing but glorious sunshine. However, the weather we experienced wasn’t completely typical for Sri Lanka. It was much drier and hotter than normal, even the locals were feeling the heat!

What should I pack for a G Adventures group tour? 

Even though your luggage is transferred from the bus to your hotel room, it’s worth packing light if you can. You’ll be on the move frequently so it’s much easier if you just take what you need and no more.

I’d highly recommend taking some packing cubes to help keep you organised on the move. I usually have at least 3 cubes – one for clean clothes, one for laundry and one for underwear, swimwear, my quick dry towel, PJs and a sarong (all the things you need to access quickly.)

Sometimes I use a packing cube for all of my electrical items but my new Osprey backpack has so many pockets I didn’t need to this time.

Sri Lanka isn’t short of beautiful scenery and wildlife so you’ll want to take a decent camera with you. I use the Sony A7iii but if you’re looking for a lightweight, cheaper option then I’d recommend this one or this one.

As for what to wear in Sri Lanka, keep in mind that it is a conservative country and you will have to dress appropriately especially when visiting temples. I’d advised floaty trousers and skirts in a lightweight material that hang below your knee. Also lightweight, quick-drying cotton t-shirts which cover your shoulders and aren’t low cut.

Whilst many women wear bikinis on the beach, I would suggest a swimsuit is more appropriate and less likely to offend. I saw a few women wearing thong bikinis on the beach near Unawatuna and I felt really uncomfortable knowing how conservative the locals are. It just seemed disrespectful.

It’s also worth mentioning that there were times I really wished I’d bought my head torch with me. Especially when camping and at the homestay.

Are there other G Adventures tours in Sri Lanka? 

Absolutely. There are a huge variety of G Adventures Sri Lanka group tours varying from 7 to 32 days. There are trips combining Sri Lanka with either India or the Maldives, sailing trips, National Geographic trips with plush accommodation and a focus on wildlife and shoestring tours for 18-39 year-olds for a bargain price of $830 for 12 days! That’s just $69 per day!!

The trip I took was a Classic (middle of the range) trip which lasted for 14 days visiting most of Sri Lanka’s highlights. I’d love to go back and visit the North on a sailing trip next time…

Post-trip recommendations for if you have more than 2 weeks in Sri Lanka

I would highly recommend adding on a few extra days at the end of the trip. This group tour is jam-packed full of awesome things to do so you may just want to indulge in some chill time before your board your flight.

You could stay in Mirissa where the tour ends. It’s a lovely place with plenty of things to do and lovely beaches to visit. However, there are 3 nights in Mirissa included on the G Adventures itinerary and I found this was enough time to get a good feel for Mirissa and so I chose to move on for my final night.

I have 3 alternative suggestions for how you could end this trip and go home feeling rested and relaxed after your 2 weeks in Sri Lanka.

Option 1 – Dalawella Beach – if you only have a few days.

After bidding a fond farewell to my Sri Lanka G Adventures family, I got a taxi to Dalawella beach which was about a 45-minute drive. It is a quiet village with a beautiful beach about 10 minutes away from the busier beach town of Unawatuna. You may have seen photos of the Instagram-famous palm tree swing. Dalawella is where you’ll find it.

But aside from this photogenic spot on the beach, it’s just a really lovely place to relax. The best thing about Dalawella is that it’s safe to swim thanks to a wall of rock creating a lagoon safe from the ferocious Sri Lankan waves! I stayed in a rustic wooden beach hut, ate my weight in Sri Lankan curries whilst I still could and swam in the warm lagoon. It was a wonderful end to my Sri Lankan adventure.

Option 2 – Sailing in North Sri Lanka – great to explore a different side to Sri Lanka

Consider tagging on another G Adventure Sri Lanka trip but this time on a sailing trip exploring the small islands, villages and reefs by sailboat. The trip starts and finishes in Jaffna, a more remote city in the North which gets a lot of its influences from India. It’s a great place for exploring colourful Hindu temples.

Option 3 – A Maldives Dhoni Cruise

After my few days at Dalawella beach, I hopped over to the Maldives on a surprisingly cheap flight from Colombo to Male. I’d always thought the Maldives were for honeymooning loved up couples only and had resigned myself to having to wait until my time came.

But then I discovered G Adventures also offered sailing trips in the Maldives. We spent a relaxing yet adventurous week snorkelling, diving, island hopping and swimming with sharks, turtles and dolphins. If you have an extra week then I’d highly recommend tagging on a week in the Maldives. It’s way more affordable than you’d think. (It’s also currently on sale!)

drone photo of the maldives and the dhoni cruise boat

Read more | 9 Reasons to go sailing in the Maldives.


Hopefully, this Sri Lanka group tour review of the G Adventures Sri Lanka encompassed trip has helped to answer all of your questions about what to expect on an adventure group tour. However, if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments box below!

During my 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, I was hosted by G Adventures. However, all opinions remain my own as always. This is my 7th trip with G Adventures and only the first where I have collaborated with them and I think that probably speaks volumes about how much I like and respect them as a company! G Adventures remains my favourite small group adventure tour company and I have since travelled with them to The Maldives.

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21 Ways You Could Get into Trouble as a Tourist in…

Venice Dusk2Venice Dusk2

Rudi1976 | Dreamstime.com

Destinations in Italy are increasingly cracking down on visitor misbehavior. Here are the ways you could run afoul of Italian rules.

It can be hard to stay afloat of Italy’s wave of bans on visitor-related misbehavior. From snacking on the street in Florence to riding a bike in Venice’s city center, there are specific everyday activities that could see you slapped with a fine of up to €500 ($550) or daspo (temporary ban).

Italian authorities have introduced a slew of new rules aimed at curbing unacceptable behavior, many of which are in response to issues with overtourism. Some have been introduced with a zero-tolerance approach. In June, a Canadian tourist was fined €250 ($278) for sunbathing in her bikini in Venice’s Giardini Papadopoli. While in July, two German tourists were fined €950 ($1058) and immediately asked to leave the city after they were found making coffee on a portable stove beneath the historic Rialto Bridge. Officials confirmed that this was the 40th time since May that visitors have been ordered to leave town for breaching the rules.

“Venice must be respected,” mayor Luigi Brugnaro said at the time, “and bad-mannered people who think they can come here and do what they want must understand that, thanks to local police, they will be caught, punished and expelled.”

It’s not just Venice taking firm action. Two French tourists were caught allegedly taking sand from a beach in Sardinia this month and could face up to six years in prison. And in Rome, police have been encouraging lounging tourists to move from the Spanish Steps as sitting on them is now subject to a fine of about €400 ($450). At first glance, the rules may seem harsh but residents in Italy are really starting to feel the strain of overtourism. Many have had enough of visitors treating their cities like theme parks. You obviously don’t want to be that person who could cause offense (or worse, commit an offense). Simply respecting Italy and its citizens should be enough to keep you out of trouble but even the most well-intentioned visitor might slip up from time to time.

With that in mind, here’s a quick brief at what not to do on your next visit to Italy:

1. Purchase unauthorized tours from touts in any city.

2. Purchase “skip-the-line” tours outside historic monuments in Rome such as the Vatican.

3. Join organized pub crawls in Rome.

4. Eat or drink at famous sites in any city, like the Spanish Steps.

5. Sit or lay down in front of shops, historic monuments and bridges. You’ll more than likely be moved on.

6. Eat on the streets of Florence’s historic center – Via de’ Neri, Piazzale degli Uffizi, Piazza del Grano and Via della Ninna – from noon to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm daily.

7. Drag pushchairs or wheeled suitcases up the Spanish Steps in Rome.

8. Jump into fountains or otherwise damage or climb on them.

9. Set up picnics in public spaces or pause too long on bridges in Venice.

10. Ride bikes in Venice city center.

11. Drink alcohol on the street between 8pm and 8am in Venice.

12. Busk on public transport in Rome.

13. Attach love locks to bridges in Rome and Venice.

14. Take part in group celebrations such as hen and stag parties outdoors during weeknights in Venice. They’re only permitted outdoors during the day or on weekends.

15. Let your mouth touch the spout of Rome’s public drinking fountains, known as nasoni. Instead cup your hands under the spout of place your finger under the stream to direct an arc of water to your mouth like the Romans do.

16. Drink alcohol out of glass containers on public streets, public transit and in non-enclosed green spaces in Rome after 10pm. Or drink alcohol out of any container after midnight in these spaces.

17. Dress up as a historical figure or character like a “centurion” (gladiator) in Rome and pose for photos with tourists.

18. Walk around shirtless or in your swimwear in any metropolitan area. This state of dress is strictly restricted to the beach or lido.

19. Wear sandals or flip-flops while hiking in Cinque Terre.

20. Swim in the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri. You can visit by boat but swimming in the grotto is strictly forbidden, just ask supermodel Heidi Klum who was fined €6000 ($6696) for taking a dip in the waters this summer.

21. Steal sand from the beaches of Sardinia (or any beach for that matter). You could face up to six years in prison.

Budapest in Winter – Everything you need to know!

If you are planning a city break in Europe during the cooler months, then consider visiting Budapest in winter. Budapest has it all, historic buildings, tasty goulash, fancy outdoor spas and quirky nightlife and covered in a layer of snow, Budapest is more beautiful than ever.

Winters in Budapest are cold, there’s no denying that. But it is also undeniably pretty. There are also plenty of things to do indoors like taking a tour of the opera house, visiting the markets or curling up in a cosy cafe.

Buda Castle in winter in Budapest

I personally visited Budapest in winter with one of my girlfriends and we had an absolute ball. But that was a while ago now so instead of racking my brains for all the best bits, I’m letting Kata from Budapest Connections, tell us all about her beloved Budapest.

She has so many great tips for enjoying the winter in Budapest including how to enjoy Christmas and New Years Eve in this wonderful city in Hungary.

No time to read it now? No worries, pin it for later…

budapest in winter pin

So I’ll pass you over to Kata now…

What you can expect from this article…

Visiting Budapest in Winter

Why Visit Budapest in winter? 

Budapest is full of winter magic and surprises. It is a lovable city with its merits and flaws. If you would like to gather great memories, I recommend bathing under the stars with a snow-covered hat on your head at one of the many baths. There is no better destination than Budapest.

How to get to Budapest in winter 

Most of the tourists arrive in Budapest at Liszt Ferenc International Airport

Getting to the city from the airport is very straightforward. The official shuffle bus of Budapest departs right in front of the arrivals. A one-way ticket costs 900 HUF (3 USD).

There are also cabs at the airport, of course. 

How to get around Budapest in winter

Budapest has an extensive and well functioning public transport system. During winter your best option is the subway: it has 4 lines and they touch almost all the main tourist attractions.

The only exception is the Castle District, home to Buda Castle and Matthias Church, but it is also easily reachable by buses or funiculars. 

Tram 2 is one of the best sightseeing tram lines in the world, make sure to use it! It runs along the Danube promenade and provides the best views of Gellért Hill, the Castle area and the Parliament. 

Where to stay when you visit Budapest in the wintertime

Budapest is a very walkable city, so I recommend staying in the city centre. From there you can get to nearly anywhere you want and the public transportation is also perfect.

szechenyi chain bridge budapest

The best places to stay in Budapest are; 

Near the Danube Promenade: perfect for couples

In the Jewish District: perfect for young folks who would like to enjoy Budapest nightlife

Near Parliament: perfect for families

What is the weather like in the winter in Budapest?

Winters in Budapest are cold: the average temperature is somewhere between -5 and +4 Celsius (23 – 40 Fahrenheit).

Sleet, snow and wind are very common with some unpredictable sunny periods.

But doesn’t it look beautiful covered in snow?!

Buda Castle in winter Budapest

Things to do in Budapest in winter 

Budapest has more thermal springs than any other major city in the world. No wonder that it is also called the “city of waters”. Hungarians are definitely making good use of these springs: we drink these healing waters, we inhale the steams and of course, we also bath in them. 

One of the biggest tourist magnets is the bath culture in Hungary. Especially during summer, the baths in Budapest are packed with locals and tourist alike. In winter, going to baths that have outdoor pools is not that obvious, but I urge you to try it!

One of the most fun ways to experience the baths culture in Budapest is by visiting a spa and immersing yourself in the hot waters of an outdoor pool. It is a strange feeling, being warm in the water whilst snow starts to blanket your head (I recommend having a thin hat).

For this experience, visit Széchenyi Bath as it has the biggest outdoor space of all baths. 

schezynyi baths in budapest

Things to do in Budapest in the rain

When the weather turns cold or it starts to rain, you will soon feel the need for some cosiness and warmth. Luckily, Budapest is full of cosy cafés. 

Several traditional cafés are famous for their beautiful architecture and detailed decorations, such as Gerbaud, Ruswurm, Café Párisi – Lotz Hall, and New York café, that is said to be one of the most beautiful cafés in the world. 

If you are more into modern cafés, no problem. In the city centre, there is a café on almost every corner. 

Things to do in Budapest at Christmas Time

Budapest fills with Christmas vibes during the holiday season. The Christmas markets are internationally famous and Budapest has already been voted the most affordable Christmas Market destination in Europe

The markets are packed with homemade goods and gifts and they offer all the main traditional Hungarian meals. They are paradises for foodies!

Budapest at christmas tree lit up with lights

Try some local festive delicacies

Try many delicious, authentic Hungarian dishes as you can: goulash, “pörkölt”, “lángos”, stuffed cabbage accompanied by craft beers, mulled wines or hot tea. 

Our sweets and pastries are also worth trying! “Beigli” is a typical Christmas pastry, stuffed with walnut or poppy seeds. 

“Kürtös kalács” is also known as chimney cake. It is a tall pastry baked into a chimney-like shape. While fresh from the over and hot, it is rolled in a topping such as vanilla sugar, cinnamon, ground walnuts. 

“Szaloncukor” is a candy that is soft inside and coated with chocolate. We decorate our Christmas trees with these. Buy some of these edible Christmas decorations for your loved ones!

Christmas markets not to miss in Budapest

There are several markets around the city, but two of them you definitely should not miss: 

Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market

Location: Vörösmarty tér, district V.

How to get there: 

M1, M2, M3 metro lines: Deák tér station

Tram 2 Vigadó station

This is the biggest and most popular one in Budapest. It has around 100 stalls offering gifts and crafts and it has the widest range of dishes, too. 

St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market

Location: Szent István tér, district V.

How to get there:

M1, M2, M3 metro lines: Deák tér station or Arany János station

Tram 2 Széchenyi István tér

It is a smaller, but an equally fabulous market, right in front of the Basilica. 

This market has some unique features: a skating rink in its middle and a light show that is coordinated with music and projected on the walls of the Basilica itself.

Opening times of the Budapest Christmas Markets

Vörösmarty Square: 9 November – 1 January

Szent István Square (St. Stephen’s Basilica): 23 November – 1 January

The markets are usually open daily from 11 am to 9 pm

Exceptions;

24. December 10 am to 4 pm

25-26 December 10 am to 6 pm

Celebrating New Years Eve in Budapest

Enjoying a cruise on the Danube is one of the best ways to spend New Year’s Eve. There are various types of boat tours, so everyone can find something for their taste and wallet.

budapest fireworks over parliment buildings

If you are not into ship cruises, you can head to a central club. ‘360 Bar’ is one of the best options with its cool roof-top where you can enjoy the views without feeling cold in its heated igloos. 

Ruin bars are the biggest party hotspot in Budapest, every bar has a unique atmosphere. You can also take part in an NYE bar hop to experience several bars in one night. 

szimpla ruin bar budapest nightlife

The streets and squares in Budapest are also full of crowds of young locals, dressed up in party hats and blowing their whistles. After the countdown to the new year finishes, everyone gets loose with hugs and kisses all around the city. 

The best areas to enjoy the party spirit are the Danube promenade (Vigadó Square) and Vörösmarty square. 

Other events and festivals in Budapest in the winter 

The Ice Rink in Budapest City Park, right in front of the fairytale-like Vajdahunyad Castle is a must for winter sports lovers. It is open all winter and you can rent a skate at the spot. 

There are a lot of “pop up” ice rinks throughout the city. 

On St. Martin’s Day restaurants serve goose dishes and new wine, and there are several street festivals on this occasion, too.  

At the end of November opens the annual Christmas market, a great source for souvenirs, traditional crafts, and Hungarian comfort foods, like pörkölt, harcsa paprikás (paprika fish stew), and sausages. 

February is carnival season (“farsang” as we call it). It begins on Epiphany on the 6th of January and lasts until Ash Wednesday. 

Farsang is the perfect occasion to taste as many sweets as humanly possible. Hungarian doughnuts are simple but delicious, with powdered sugar and (apricot) jam. 

You can also peek into the “Busó” parade of Mohács, without leaving Budapest. “Busó” is where scary-looking men chase women while wearing wooden masks and horns. 

If Busó is not your thing, fear not: Valentine’s Day is also celebrated in Hungary. 

Hungary’s prize pig, Mangalica also has its own festival in February. Taste the products made from a pig while chatting with the farmers. 

entrance to the Royal Palace in Budapest on a winters day

Packing for winter in Budapest 

Do not forget to wear grippy shoes during winter, the pavements are slippery.

Be sure to pack scarves, hats, and gloves! Layering is very important because there is a huge difference in temperature between outside and indoors. 

A heavier, more nourishing hand and face cream would be handy, too. 

Other top tips for visiting Budapest in winter

What about the nights, you may ask. Head to Jewish Quarter during an afternoon and stay there until the evening! It is the district of street art, design shops, and ruin bars. 

Always look around well in the narrow streets of this neighbourhood, as the best murals in Budapest can be found here! Such as the Man of the Year mural as featured below.

Man of the Year - Hungarian Freedom Fighter Street art Budapest

The ruin bars are unique and quirky enough to make you hop in each one. Start with Szimpla and wander around its secluded rooms.

If you are with kids in Budapest (or you are young at heart), go sledging to Normafa! It is a popular hiking spot that is easily reachable from Széll Kálmán square metro station. Just take bus number 21 or 21A and about 20 minutes later get off at the final station. You are right there! Easy.

Oh, and one more thing: After Christmas, the prices drastically drop both in hotels and shops!


Many thanks to Kata for giving us such a great insight into what the winter in Budapest is like and why we should be planning a city break there this winter!

Kata writes a niche Budapest blog packed full of all the information you could possibly need to plan a trip to the capital city of Hungary. You can follow her Budapest stories on Facebook and Instagram.

picture of Kata Németh

Have you been to Budapest? Feel free to drop your Budapest winter tips in the comments box below! And don’t forget to pin this article so you can come back to it later!

Visiting Budapest in winter

The Best Museums in Every State

From a memorial built out of the scars of 9/11 to the delightfully quirky Museum of Clean, we’ve gathered the USA’s best museums in every state.

With so many amazing cultural, quirky, history-focused and art-centric attractions to visit across America, it’s nearly impossible to choose the one best museum in each and every state. However, these institutions continually rise to the top of must-see lists for good reason:

Alabama

A multi-faceted interpretive museum and research center, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute takes visitors on a moving and important journey through the advent and progression of the Civil Rights movement.

Alaska

Inside its stunning glacier-like façade, the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North in Fairbanks offers an in-depth peek into the biodiversity, culture and geology of this intriguing northern terrain.

Arizona

Founded in 1929, The Heard Museum in Phoenix celebrates Native American culture and advances American Indian art through a remarkable collection of historic and modern items, textiles, jewelry, ceramics and Hopi katsina dolls.

Arkansas

Named for the natural spring that feeds the 120-acre grounds, the striking architecture of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville makes a memorable first impression; inside, view exhibitions housed within a linked series of pavilions for free.

California

The expansive views of the Los Angeles basin rival the art inside the uber-modern Getty Center; admire the European and American collections, then enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Central Garden and an al fresco café lunch or refreshment.

Colorado

On a 15-acre former rail yard, the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden maintains more than 100 historic locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses to observe, along with a depot museum, a railroad reference library and a functioning roundhouse.

Connecticut

Experience adventure at sea without ever leaving dry land; the Mystic Seaport Museum pays homage to America’s seafaring heritage with more than 500 watercraft on display, a recreated coastal village, a research center and a working shipyard.

Delaware

The former childhood home of horticulturalist Henry Francis du Pont, the opulently restored Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library fills 175 rooms with American decorative art pieces and furnishings, some dating back as far as 1640.

Florida

With a thought-provoking permanent collection of original objets d’art, prints, photos, sculpture, paintings and illustrations, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg lends an immersive peek into the life of the eccentric artist and master of Surrealism.

Georgia

The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta traces the lineage of the iconic soft drink with a 4-D film presentation, a look at the bottling process, a pop culture gallery, and the opportunity to sample more than 100 different products from around the world.

Hawaii

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in downtown Honolulu serves as a thoughtful repository for royal family heirlooms and also maintains a science adventure center, a planetarium and one of world’s largest collections of natural history specimens.

Idaho

The quirky Museum of Clean in Pocatello goes way beyond vacuum cleaners and washing machines to address the evolution of cleaning products and equipment and their effects on the environment; a gallery for kids actually makes chores fun.

Illinois

No Windy City visit is complete with a trip to the iconic Art Institute of Chicago to marvel at original masterpieces by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Chagall and Picasso during a docent-led or self-guided tour.

Indiana

Dinosaurs crashing through The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis façade get visitors excited for the five floors of interactive fun they’ll discover inside, including areas that focus on science, global culture, archeology, space travel and extraordinary children.

Iowa

Part of the 30-acre TechWorks campus in Waterloo, the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum gives voice to Iowa’s farming history and heritage as interpreted by one of the industry’s most significant contributors.

Kansas

The Kansas Aviation Museum in the original Wichita Airport facility flies high with historical military and civil airplanes, flight simulators, exhibits on major aircraft manufacturers, a retired air control tower and the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame.

Kentucky

The stunning works of art on display in the National Quilt Museum’s three exhibition galleries make it easy to see at a glance why enchanting little Paducah is famous for its quilting, crafting and fiber arts heritage.

Louisiana

Let the good times roll at Mardi Gras World on the New Orleans riverfront with an insider glimpse at how extravagant parade floats take shape, in addition to the opportunity to learn about Mardi Gras history and try on costumes.

Maine

The Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park dates back to 1791, making it the oldest lighthouse in Maine; the museum in the former Lighthouse Keeper’s quarters holds maritime artifacts, documents, navigational tools and models.

Maryland

Both part of the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge and the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Center in Church Creek honor the life and legacy of the groundbreaking abolitionist.

Massachusetts

Inside a striking exterior designed by I.M. Pei, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library in Boston examines the life of America’s35th Commander in Chief from childhood through his political career, marriage and assassination.

Michigan

Encompassing the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, the Greenfield Village living history site and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, the comprehensive 250-acre Henry Ford campus in Dearborn merits several days of exploration to fully absorb.

Minnesota

Founded in 1883, the Minneapolis Institute of Art boasts a permanent collection of 90,000 objects spanning 20,000 years and six continents, in addition to gorgeous architecture, traveling exhibits and community-oriented programming.

Mississippi

Visitors can immerse themselves in the sounds and stories of legendary artists like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton and John Lee Hooker at the Delta Blues Museum in the historic 1918 Clarksdale freight depot building.

Missouri

Crawling through colorful tunnels, scaling large-scale wire sculptures, playing amid indoor urban artscapes and riding the rooftop Ferris Wheel at the 600,000 square-foot City Museum in St. Louis is enough to make anyone feel like a kid again.

Montana

The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman honors its rugged roots with one of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil collections, a Yellowstone National Park display, planetarium shows, a paleontology research facility and a seasonal living history farm.

Nebraska

Step back in time to the days of the Oregon Trail; the landmark Archway facility in Kearney retraces the steps of America’s settlers as they traveled the Great Platte River Road during Westward Expansion.

Nevada

Get a lesson in Las Vegas history with a walk through the Neon Museum to see flashy signage that once adorned the Strip’s extravagant casinos, hotels and tourist attractions, along with blueprints, photos and other memorabilia.

New Hampshire

The Mount Washington Observatory and Weather Discovery Center in North Conway offers a way to safely explore some of the planet’s most extreme climates and conditions through guided weather station tours and interactive science exhibits.

New Jersey

Experience the bells and whistles of the Jersey Shore at the Pinball Hall of Fame and Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park by trying your luck on a rotating selection of 200-ish playable machines from the museum’s 600-item collection.

New Mexico

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe imparts an inspiring look at the life and work of New Mexico’s most recognized 20th-century artist by inviting guests to experience her distinctive abstract, landscape and floral paintings in nine themed galleries.

New York

Rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center, the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City honors the lives lost during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and pays tribute to the heroes that emerged.

North Carolina

With 8,000 acres, 250 preserved rooms, priceless works of art, a massive banquet hall, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool and bowling alley, the palatial French chateau-style Biltmore House and Gardens estate is Asheville’s crown jewel.

North Dakota

The North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck takes a wide-ranging look at the state’s geologic evolution over 600 million years through four galleries filled with artifacts, art and interactive displays.

Ohio

Music fans make pilgrimages to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to learn about the legions of legends who’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame, catch live performances and even noodle on real instruments in the Garage.

Oklahoma

Experience the great American West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City through exhibits and galleries that highlight Native American life, the American Cowboy, rodeo and other cultural touchpoints.

Oregon

One of the top science centers in the country, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland maintains 200 hands-on exhibits spread across five halls, a planetarium, six labs and a full-size US Navy submarine to discover.

Pennsylvania

The echoes of history ring through the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center; the museum offers a primer on one of America’s most significant Civil War battles before visitors embark on guided tours of the battlefield itself.

Rhode Island

The RISD Museum on the campus of the Rhode Island School of Design holds its own against much bigger facilities thanks to an extensive collection of 100,000+ globally sourced paintings, sculpture, textiles and furniture.

South Carolina

On the actual site where slaves were auctioned back in the mid-1800s, the Old Slave Mart Museum educates visitors on the facts and realities of the most shameful chapter of American history through informative, emotionally moving content.

South Dakota

Currently closed for a massive architectural expansion with plans to reopen in 2021, the National Music Museum on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion delights visitors with instruments on display from the facility’s 15,000+ piece collection.

Tennessee

A shrine fit for a King, Graceland in Memphis gives visitors the chance to tour the estate of Elvis Presley to see the rooms in which he lived, his racquetball court, personal family effects and final resting place in the meditation garden.

Texas

Retired spacecraft, astronaut spacesuits, an Independence shuttle replica, an International Space Station gallery, moon rocks, virtual reality experiences and motion simulators await at the Smithsonian-affiliated Space Center Houston.

Utah

Just west of Temple Square, the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City provides an overview of the religious history and foundations that inform the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Mormon faith.

Vermont

The Shelburne Museum serves up an all-inclusive sampler of history, art and culture through 39 New England–style buildings on a bucolic 45-acre site, all filled with materials and artifacts from the collections of founder Electra Havemeyer Webb.

Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg brings American history to life through costumed interpreters who populate a working 18th-century village, as well as museums dedicated to folk art and decorative arts, seasonal programming and historic dining opportunities.

Washington

Next to the Space Needle, Seattle’s long-term Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition sparkles and shines with eight galleries, three drawing walls, a Glasshouse and a garden filled with vibrant works by the renowned glass artist.

West Virginia

Veteran miners lead underground tours through the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum, a recreated 20th-century Appalachian miner’s camp settlement and an authentic West Virginia mountain homestead.

Wisconsin

Get your motor running at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee while learning all about the history of America’s signature motorcycles and the culture they’ve inspired among their loyal customer base through the years.

Wyoming

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody encapsulates the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum, the Plains Indian Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum all under one expansive roof.

5 Spectacular Italy Road Trips You Need To Steal

There is something pretty special about Italian road trips. If you are brave enough to tackle the crazy hot-headed local drivers and the tight twists and turns and narrow laneways, then you are in for a treat.

Yes, Italy road trips are not for the faint-hearted or the newbie drivers, but you cannot deny that road trips in Italy are pretty spectacular. With the perfect blend of sophisticated culture, mind-blowing scenery and delicious food and drink.

Yep, those close calls with a reckless scooter and that time you took 30 minutes to manoeuvre yourself out of a tiny alley your sat nav somehow led you down, will be worth it! Trust me!

The hardest thing will be choosing your Italy road trip as there are so many beautiful driving routes through this stunning country. I’m currently visiting Italy for the 4th time during which time I will be taking two more Italian road trips (I just can’t get enough…)

So based on my experience with Italian road trips, I decided to create 5 perfect Italy road trips which you can easily take in your annual leave ranging between 3 days and 2 weeks.

Here are 5 of the best Italy Road Trips you need to steal to add to your Italy bucket list..!

alpine town view on northern italy road trip

What you can expect from this article…

Overview of the best Italy road trips

  • #1 Sicily 10-14 days – old towns, beautiful beaches, history, islands and active volcanoes
  • # 2 Italy icons10-12 days – Rome, Pisa, Milan, Venice – ancient ruins, history, culture, shopping, romance and buzzing nightlife.
  • #3 Northern Italy12-14 days – Cinque de Terre, Lake Garda, Dolomites, Venice – cute coastal towns, beautiful lakes, spectacular mountains and finished off with some romance in Venice.
  • #4 Tuscany4-7 days – Florence, Chianti wine region, Sienna and Val’ D’ Orcia Tuscan countryside – beautiful cities, cute villages, rolling hills, stunning scenery and wineries.
  • #5 The Amalfi Coast3-5 days – Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Capri – postcard-perfect beach towns, sophisticated boutique hotels and restaurants, designer shopping and beach time.
val d'orcia scenery at dawn on a tuscany road trip in italy

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italy road trip ideas

Now let’s look at those Italy road trips in a little more detail…

The 5 Best Italy Road Trips

Italy Road Trip #One – Sicily

Sicily is famous for its beautiful cities, stunning beaches and most of all for being the best place in Italy for foodies. You will also find Mt Etna here, an active volcano you can see gently smoking away, and plenty of historical archaeological ruins. For one island, it packs a lot of punch!

jetty leading to cefalu town with bright aqua ocean

Top attractions on a Sicily road trip…

  • Taormina
  • Mt Etna
  • Cefalu
  • Zingaroo National Park
  • Favignana
  • Valley of the Temples
  • Baroque cities
valley of the kings ancient monuments

An overview of your Sicily road trip itinerary

Fly into Catalina and begin your Italy road trip by heading to Taormina, a seriously beautiful old town with cobbled alleys and shed loads of character. Take the cable car to visit Isola Isabella beach or visit the ancient and well-preserved amphitheatre overlooking Mt Etna!

Your next stop is to visit the iconic Mt Etna. You can choose between a variety of day trips, some of which visit various villages and markets on the way and show you a snapshot of Mt Etna where you can admire the lava trails. Others where you can actually hike up Mt Etna. Either way, you cannot miss iconic Mt Etna off your 10 day Sicily itinerary!

From Mt Etna, head toward Cefalu. This was possibly my favourite town in Sicily with charming cobbled alleys and a beautiful beach with the most perfect aquamarine water.

From Cefalu, make your way to Zingaroo National Park and enjoy a hike to one of the many beautiful beaches before winding up in Trapani on the west coast of Sicily.

Trapani is a great springboard for visiting Favignana island, a tiny place which you can easily explore by bike in one day. Spend a relaxing day cycling between beaches before catching the ferry back to the mainland. Alternatively, you could book a sailing trip and visit a few islands in one day.

bike propped against a wall overlooking perfect ocean at favignana sicily italy

Wind your way towards the Valley of the Temples where you can spend a day exploring these giant ancient monuments.

For your last few days in Sicily, spend them exploring the Baroque towns in the Southeast of Sicily, Ragusa being my favourite. I’d also recommend spending a few hours at Marzamemmi, a gorgeous little fishing town with some incredible restaurants and spending your last afternoon in Syracuse exploring the old part of the town, Ortigia.

Italy Road Trip #Two: Italy Icons

If you are a city girl (or guy) then this is the Italian road trip for you! This Italy Icon road trip ticks off some of the most popular cities in Italy allowing you to soak up the history, culture and traditions of this beautiful country.

visit rome colloseum as part of your italy icon road trip

Top Attractions on this Italy Icon road trip

  • Visit the Vatican City
  • Visit the many ancient archaeological sites in Rome such as the Colosseum and Roman Forum
  • Take a Selfie at the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Hit the shops in Milan or see a football game
  • Check out Al Duomo in Milan
  • Take a gondola ride in Venice and get lost in the canals
  • Visit colourful Burano
burano colourful houses venice

An overview of this Italy Icon road trip

Spend your first 4 days in Rome, soaking up the atmosphere in this beautiful hectic city. Explore the many archaeological monuments, amphitheatres, fountains and piazzas. Make sure you take some time just to sit outside a cafe enjoying an aperitif and watching life go by. You must also allow one day for enjoying the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel – make sure you get a queue jump ticket really early – the queues can be insane!

roman forum rome italy

Read more about Rome:

After you’ve had your fix of Rome, spend a day or two in Pisa. Pisa is famous for the Leaning Tower of Pisa where you must visit for that iconic photo! But it’s also a really lovely city which is not quite as busy as Rome so you can spend time just soaking up the atmosphere. From Pisa, you can also take several day trips up to Cinque de Terre, to Elba island or into Tuscany where you can enjoy the stunning scenery and delicious wine!

Next, spend at least one day in Milan. Milan is famous for both football and shopping so try to make time to browse the shops or enjoy a game in the famous stadium. Football’s not really my thing so you’d be much more likely to find me exploring the boutiques! You should also make time to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Nascente, also known as Al Duomo, which is one of the most spectacular cathedrals in all of Italy! Again it’s definitely worth getting a skip-the-queue-ticket well in advance.

colourful sunset photo of the canals in venice italy

Spend your final 3-4 days in Venice, one of the most romantic cities in the world. You should plan to get lost in Venice. Spend hours wandering the tiny cobbled alleys with no direction and stumble across little at galleries, shops, delicious eateries and enjoying the beautiful Canal system which makes Venice so famous. You can’t leave without enjoying a gondola boat trip up the canals (though don’t expect it to be cheap!) A day trip to colourful Burano would also be a great way to end your trip.

Italy Road Trip #Three : Northern Italian Gems

This is the perfect Italy road trip for any country bumpkins amongst you. This route will take you through colourful seaside towns, into the stunning snow-capped mountains and lakes of Northern Italy and will end in charming Venice.

dolomites scenery lakes and mountains in italy

Top attractions on this Northern Italy road trip

  • Hike the beautiful Cinque de Terre trail
  • Take a boat trip along the coast of Cinque de Terre to see it from another angle
  • Visit the charming towns and villages around Lake Garda
  • Enjoy the spa at Sirmione where you can watch the sunset over Lake Garda
  • Visit the lovely town of Trento which has somehow escaped mass tourism which affects other parts of Italy.
  • Take hikes amongst the lakes and mountains in the Dolomites region.
  • Enjoy wine tasting in Trentino
  • Enjoy the canals and colourful streets in Venice and Burano.

An overview of this Northern gems Italian road trip

Start in the Cinque De Terre with a few days in the picture-perfect colourful villages which rise steeply from the dramatic coastline, accessible only by train and boat. A public footpath connects the 5 villages which make up the Cinque de Terre and hiking between the villages is a great way to explore.

Make sure you stop for plenty of pizza, prosecco and gelato along the way and savour your time, people watching from restaurants lining the coast. It’s also worth taking the ferry at least once so you can see it from another perspective!

cinque de terre

Spend one night in Sirmione found at the most southern tip of Lake Garda. This beautiful old town is home to a castle directly on the water and the most incredible spa whee you can sit in a jacuzzi until midnight watching the sunset over Lake Garda and then the stars come out. Bliss.

Spend your next day traversing Lake Garda, stopping at little villages and viewpoints along the way, winding your way north to Trentino.

lake garda village mountain scenery italy

Trentino will be your base for exploring the lakes, vineyards and Dolomites mountains. I would recommend staying in the capital city of the region, Trento, where you’ll find a laid back old town with cobbled alleys, a charming castle and a cable car with views over the whole valley. Spend a few days in Trentino, visiting wineries, castles, lakes and taking short hikes to enjoy the spectacular scenery in Northern Italy.

trentino castle view over city

Learn more: How to plan a perfect weekend in Trentino

Your final stop on this northern Italy road trip is Venice. Spend a few days exploring the canals, laneways, churches and restaurant scene in this romantic city. Make time for a day trip to colourful Burano.

Italian Road Trip #Four: Florence and Rural Tuscany

Tuscany is possibly one of the most beautiful places in Italy and therefore makes for a great place to road trip in Italy! Expect to see rolling hills, tiny ancient walled villages sitting on hilltops, fields of colourful poppies and pretty vineyards where you can sample the wine or take a wine tour. Try not to plan too much as the beauty of a Tuscany road trip, is stopping wherever you fancy.

Top attractions on this Tuscany road trip in Italy

  • Visiting the Duomo in Florence
  • The birds-eye views from one of the many towers in Florence
  • Wine tasting in the chianti region
  • Pienza – possibly the cutest village in Italy!
  • Driving the scenic Val D’Orcia route where there are instagram – perfect views in every direction!

Overview of this Tuscany road trip

Start this road trip in Tuscany, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Visiting the Duomo is a must but definitely get queue jump tickets as the queues were insane! I’d recommend spending two days in Florence in order to see most of the highlights.

florence at sunset italy

Your next stop is the Chianti wine region where you should stay in an agriturismo and spend your days’ wine tasting and visiting the cutest of hilltop villages.

walled village in chianti region

From there, you should spend a few days driving the Val D’Orcia – one of the prettiest driving routes in Italy. You will recognise many viewpoints which appear on postcards across Italy here and if you’re a photographer, you should definitely factor in a few early mornings for sunrise photoshoots.

Make time to visit Pienza – this is my favourite town in all of Italy. Never have I seen such a colourful town brimming with flower arrangements ad overlooking the beautiful Tuscan hills.

Read more | A 5 day Tuscany itinerary

sunrise in the val d'orcia

Italian Road Trip #Five: The Amalfi Coast

Road tripping along the Amalfi Coast isn’t without its challenges – narrow roads, hairpin bends, expensive and scarce parking and congested roads! But it’s also one of the prettiest road trips you can take in Italy and remains one of the most popular p[laces to visit in Italy, or for that matter, Europe!

The colourful houses are framed by dramatic cliffs overlooking pretty beaches and a turquoise ocean. It is like something straight out of a movie! So hectic as it may be, a road trip along the Amalfi Coast is worth it every time!

coastal scnenery on island of capri italy

Top attractions on an Amalfi coast road trip

  • Beautiful Capri Island
  • Positano beach
  • The view from Ravello
  • The beach at Amalfi town
  • The viewpoints all along the beautiful coastline.
drone view of positano beach italy

Overview of this Amalfi Coast Italian road trip

Spend 3-5 days winding along the coast road from Sorrento to Amalfi stopping off at postcard-perfect villages and towns and viewpoints along the way. Visit Ravello for the most stunning view from its gardens, visit the charming pebbled beach at Amalfi. Enjoy shopping in Positano and visit the local beach (Fornillo Beach) for some rest and relaxation.

Make time to take a boat trip to Capri, the island of the rich and famous. Take a boat trip around the island and visit the Blue grotto where the water glows the brightest blue colour. Then take the chairlift to the town of Capri and visit the Gardens of Augustus where you will find some of the most spectacular viewpoints.

If you have just 3 days in the Amalfi Coast then base yourself in Positano. If you 4 days or more, I would suggest you stay for 2 nights near Sorrento then have 2 nights in Positano.

bright coloured ocean on island of capri

Top Tips for Enjoying an Italy road trip

Italian road trips are a brilliant way to see the country and you will have no shortage of things to do or places to see. The scenery will be stunning and well worth the effort of hiring a car. However, driving in Italy isn’t always easy. With narrow roads, hairpin bends, limited parking and many erratic fiery Italian drivers on the roads lane hogging and getting worked up at roundabouts!

But the tips below should help you have a successful road trip in this stunning country. For more of an insight into what it’s like to drive in Italy, you can read my article about driving in Sicily.

Tips for renting a car in Italy

  • I’ve rented several cars in Italy and it hasn’t always been a stress-free experience! My best experience so far was with Europcar and I highly recommend organising your car hire through them. It was very straightforward and they even offered me a free upgrade.
  • Do not buy your insurance through the car hire company, it will always work out more expensive. Instead, use icarhireinsurance.com. For a fixed fee (which is a fraction of the car hire insurance costs,) you can get Europe wide cover for an entire year meaning that you can take more than one road trip for less than one trip would cost you if you bought it directly!
  • Don’t hire a GPS – they’re expensive. Use your phone in a phone vent holder and download the relevant map on maps.me app which works without the internet.
blue car in a narrow italy alley

Tips for driving in Italy

  • Always keep some loose change and a few small notes ready for road tolls – there are a lot of them!
  • Rent the smallest car you can as roads in Italy are often narrow and there are plenty of lane hoggers – especially on the Amalfi coast.
  • For road trips on the Amalfi coast, always allow longer than google maps thinks you will need! You can’t drive these roads quickly!
  • Don’t forget to check that your accommodation offers free parking before you book! Booking.com allows you to filter out hotels without parking.
  • Leave a local newspaper in your car to look less like a tourist and be less likely to get your car broken into!

Tips for booking attractions on your Italian road trip

  • Since you’ll only have a few days in each place, it’s best to book your tours in advance, especially your skip-the-queue tickets as these sell out quickly for popular attractions and will save you a lot of time and stress.
  • I use ‘Get Your Guide‘ to book day trips, tickets and tours for the sheer variety of options available in almost every city in Europe.

Packing for an Italian road trip

  • Pack light as you will be taking your belongings into each hotel and moving every few nights
  • Pack a vent phone holder s you can use your phone handsfree as a sat-nav.
  • Suitcases are easier to travel with in Italy as you’ll be packing and unpacking frequently.
  • Italians dress stylishly. If you don’t want to stand out as a tourist, now is your opportunity to wear pretty sundresses, floaty skirts and smart sandals. However, I also carry some leggings and hiking boots for the occasional hike.
  • Make sure your shoes are really comfy as you’ll be doing a lot of walking on all of these 5 Italian road trips!

If you want to explore Italy but don’t fancy taking a solo road trip, you could consider joining a G Adventures tour and leave the driving and organisation to someone else! It’s also a great way to meet people…

Read Next…

Articles about Italy…

Articles about Europe…


Hopefully you’ve found an Italian road trip to inspire you amongst this list and have a better idea about how to plan your road trip in Italy!

Which of these Italy road trips do you fancy taking? Tell me in the comments below and feel free to ask questions!

In the meantime, here are some pretty pins for your Pinterest bards so you can come back to this article later…

7 Easy And Affordable Wellness Retreats And Escapes

We’ve selected seven easy getaways that will help you unwind and recharge.

You need a break. You’ve worked hard lately; you’re always connected; and you’re feeling a little burned out.

These are seven easy destinations for you and/or your family to unwind, disconnect, and recharge both body and mind. Better yet, none of them will break the bank. And in some cases, some of them are downright cheap.

Before booking your next wellness retreat, consider one of these:

Bluff Dwellings, Utah

You’ve heard of Bears Ears National Monument. Now see it for yourself from the area’s brand-new, gorgeously located, and perfectly arranged resort in Bluff, Utah. At Bluff Dwellings Resort (pictured), you can stay on-site for the pool, spa, and surrounding views, or drive 30 minutes to hike or off-road in the new national monument, river raft the Grand Canyon-like San Juan with family, or take in the timeless Monument Valley in nearby Navajo Nation. Far away from the crowds of the rest of Southern Utah, Bluff Dwellings is a fantastic place to lose yourself during an extended mountain stay.

Huntington Surf Inn, California

Long revered for its beginner-friendly and expert breaks, Hunting Beach is and will forever be “Surf City, USA.” But whereas Southern California can be notoriously expensive, the Huntington Surf Inn is as affordable as it is accessible to the beach—just a few minutes’ walk to both the waves and International Surfing Museum. Award-winning amenities include comfortable and colorful rooms, free wifi, parking, complimentary beach toys, and big screen TVs with premium cable to binge on. From here the perfect wave is within reach.

The Fox Den, Montana

Welcome to one of the finest rental properties within minutes of Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park and still one of the best places to go off grid. This five-star rated “superhost” Airbnb is located in the woods of Soda Butte Creek with easy access to decks with spectacular views, hot-tub overlooking the creek, and many of Cooke City’s best hiking trails. Feather beds, hardwood floors, and full kitchens make staying in a must, but with so much of the great outdoors nearby, you’ll also want to explore. In addition to hiking, fishing, biking, and snowmobiling, be sure to drive the nearby Beartooth Highway, which is considered one of the most scenic drives in America.

Casablanca Resort, Nevada

If sunbathing by a fantastic, palm tree-lined pool all day replete with waterfall, kids slide, hot tub, and an immense amount of playing room appeals to you, look no further than Casablanca Resort in Mesquite, Nevada. Better yet, this five-star pool at a three-star hotel ranges from $40–70 per night, depending on the season and weekend. What’s more, there’s a lot of great golf courses and hiking trails nearby if that’s your thing. Make no mistake – the rooms and casino are about as bare bones as they come. But you’d be hard pressed to find a better desert oasis on a budget than here.

Ocean Village, Dominican Republic

While most tourists flock to the resort-filled Punta Cana, you’ll find a lot more affordability, fewer crowds, and more authentic Dominican adventures, food, and culture in Puerto Plata. On a recent visit to Ocean Village, I swam at the on-site private pool, took several naps on the sundeck hammock, lounged around at the nearby beach resort and infinity pool, and even surfed with locals using Airbnb’s new Experience listings. Beautiful, relaxing, and affordable are all three adjectives that perfectly describe Puerto Plata.

The Inn at Thorn Hill, New Hampshire

Like Southern California, New England can be prohibitively expensive. That’s not the case at The Inn at Thorn Hill, however; this budget stay is a 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice winner located in the famously beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. “The perfect couple’s getaway,” “One of the 10 most romantic inns in North America,” and “Most amazing B&B ever” have all been used to describe the four-diamond lodge. With loads of free amenities, namely parking, internet, hot tub, spa, fitness center, and breakfast, there’s a lot to love about this beautiful property.

Hallmark Resort, Oregon

Few places on Earth are more timeless, rejuvenating, and/or romantic than Cannon Beach, Oregon. And few places on Cannon Beach are better than the award-winning but still affordable Hallmark Resort & Spa. As the closest hotel to the iconic and Goonies-famous Haystack Rock, this oceanfront property offers panoramic views of one of the most stunning and deepest beaches on the planet. With a variety of rooms to fit a variety of budgets, you’ll never be more than a few steps away from the sand, homemade lobby cookies, and endless scenery.