Explore Banff National Park with Winter Wonder Tour

Banff National Park is a dream to visit in Winter! In case you didn't know, Kyle is from Canada (read about our story here), and we love exploring Canada. Read about our Canada East Coast adventures here. However, we have not visited the Canadian Rockies in Winter until now. The snow-covered mountains and trees make for the perfect fairy tale getaway. There is no better way to start off your romantic trip than with the Banff Winter Wonder Tour. The tour takes you to some of the main highlights of Banff National Park in Winter. Hence, it provides you with a quintessential Canadian experience along the way!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff - The Next Trip

 

All of the below locations and activities were included within the Banff Winter Wonder Tour, which we enjoyed on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We were taken between all locations by coach bus. This allowed us to heat up after each outdoor activity and leave our belongings in a safe space when we didn’t need them. Take a seat as we take you through all of the tour activities!

 

Disclaimer:  Our tour was provided by Brewster Sightseeing and we loved it. As always, all of our opinions on our experience and how many Canadian treats you should eat are completely our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Views of Two Jack Lake

 

The first stop of the tour is a viewpoint of Two Jack Lake. The lake is named after two local Jack’s who used to work in the area and frequent the lake. Two Jack Lake is relatively unknown compared to some of the most famous nearby lakes. However, it is no less beautiful!

 

Two Jack Lake Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

The sun reflecting off the frozen lake is magical!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka

 

Lake Minnewanka is a large glacial lake in Banff National Park, and was one of our favorite stops on the tour! It is very popular in the Summer, but equally as beautiful in the Winter.

 

Showshoeing at Lake Minnewanka with Pursuit Collection - The Next Trip

 

Here we went on a short snowshoeing walk through the forest and along the lake. It had snowed the night before, so there was fresh snow everywhere. As a result, it was a lot of fun bounding through the deep snow. As the lake was entirely frozen and covered in snow, we even walked out onto the ice!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

Bettina tried using some old-style snowshoes made with a wooden frame and dried caribou hide webbing. However, as they didn’t have the metal ice picks on the bottom like modern snowshoes do, it was slippery! Luckily, she didn't fall!

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Cave & Basin National Historic Site

 

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is an interactive place to learn about the birthplace of Canada’s national parks, as well as local history and culture.

 

Cave and Basin Natural Hot Spring Banff - The Next Trip

 

The site includes access to an underground natural hot spring, which is protected to preserve the habitat of the Banff Springs snail. This minuscule snail has adapted to live in the harsh environment of the natural thermal springs. The snail lives in just five of the nine Banff hot springs, and is considered ‘at risk’ or endangered.  Additionally, there is only one hot springs open to the public (the Upper Hot Springs) to preserve these little Banff Spring snails.

 

Bow Falls

 

These waterfalls on the Bow River are located very close to Banff town center. The viewpoint here allows you to see the beautiful ice-covered falls in the Winter, as well as the nearby merger of the Bow and Spray rivers.

 

Bow River Banff National Park

 

We also enjoyed a cup of warm hot chocolate and a traditional Canadian sweet, Nanaimo Bars while taking in the beautiful Bow Falls!

Banff Gondola on the Winter of Wonder Tour

 

The last stop on the tour is at the Banff Gondola. The gondola climbs 2,292 feet (698 meters) to the top of Sulphur Mountain. On your way to the top you will have glimpses of the town of Banff and the mountain views that await.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The eight-minute journey to the top is totally worth it when you arrive to magnificent views like these!

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

At the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Winter Wonder tour includes a delicious sampling of a traditional Canadian snack. We tried bannock with maple butter and a cup of hot apple cider. Both the bannock and apple cider were freshly made upon our arrival. As a result, they were absolutely delicious! So much that we even had seconds!

 

Canadian Treat Bannock - The Next Trip

 

After our snack we had an hour of free time. You could take photos, walk the boardwalk to nearby Sanson’s Peak, or explore the gondola summit.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Igloo at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

After our time at the summit, we took the gondola back down to the mountain base. The coach bus drove back to the town of Banff, and we said goodbye to our excellent tour hosts. The Banff Winter Wonder tour is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon exploring Banff National Park in Winter and complete with outdoor Winter activities, historical facts, classic Canadian treats, and most importantly all those iconic Canadian Rockies views.

 

Alpenglow Festival

 

The Alpenglow Festival was not specifically included in our Winter Wonder Tour, but we wanted to highlight it as it is a must see if you’re in Banff on a Winter weekend. During the festival you can enjoy an evening of more amazing views and live music at the top of Sulphur Mountain. It happens every Friday and Saturday night between the end of January and April.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The festival is included within a Banff Gondola ticket, and provides a warm and cozy atmosphere at the top of Sulphur Mountain. Inside the gondola summit there is the Glow Bar Lounge, with live music, signature drinks, and tasty treats.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

If you feel like venturing out onto the rooftop, don't worry about the cold! You will be rewarded with a heated igloo, where you can eat a delicious s’more after roasting it yourself on the firepits! Our roasted s'mores were perfect! We enjoyed a relaxing Friday night at the Alpenglow Festival and can highly recommend it as an evening out on top of the town of Banff!

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

Pin this post to your Banff and Canada board to help plan your next trip!

 

 

Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!

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Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

Bangkok is one of the quintessential cities in Southeast Asia with its amazing food, huge nightlife scene, crazy traffic congestion, and intense heat – it truly is a full-out assault on the senses.  This however, doesn’t mean that your trip to Bangkok needs to be hectic, stressful, or overwhelming.  While three days is not quite enough time to see everything, it is the perfect amount of time to get a true sense of the city, so read on for our recommendations on the best things to do in Bangkok in three days.

 

Bettina and Kyle at Wat Arun - The Next Trip

 

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on things to do in Bangkok in three days, click here.

 

Is Bangkok Worth Visiting?

 

Absolutely! Even if you only have three days in Bangkok, the city is worth it as it has a little bit of something for everyone! Bangkok, officially known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, has a population of over 11 million inhabitants who welcome over 20 million visitors every year. This makes Bangkok one of the most visited cities in the world, and it is not hard to see why.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The tropical metropolis is extremely tourist friendly and offers everything from a vibrant street and nightlife, to hundreds of ornate temples and cultural sites, to bustling markets, to relaxing spas and wellness, all topped off by delicious and affordable food. The busyness of the city is exactly why Bettina fell in love with it.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

In addition, Bangkok has two large airports, and is an aviation hub of Southeast Asia, meaning that it is often more affordable than you think to fly here from virtually anywhere on the globe. If you’re interested in learning more on how to book cheap flights, check out our Five Step Guide.

 

Where to Stay in Bangkok

 

As Bangkok is such a huge city with so many diverse sights spread across the city, a hotel with a central location and access to public transit is ideal. For our time in Bangkok we stayed at the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok, which worked out perfectly. The Shama Lakeview Asoke hotel is located in a quiet area of the Central Business District and is an easy 10-minute walk to BTS Skytrain and MRT metro stations, as well as shopping malls and restaurants galore. This location allowed us to take public transportation when we were out exploring for the day!

 

View from Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

What makes the Shama Lakeview Asoke especially great for those on an extended Southeast Asia stay is every room in the hotel is an apartment style suite so you have lots of room to relax, and have some of the conveniences of home. Our one-bedroom lakeview suite included a fully stocked kitchen, comfortable work space, and washer and dryer, all of which we greatly appreciated.

 

Hotel Room at Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

When not relaxing in your room, the hotel amenities include a huge outdoor pool and large gym, and a few fun activities like a ping pong table and indoor golf driving range.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Last but not least, there are two restaurants you can choose from for breakfast! We ended up eating all of our hotel meals at the Coffee Club café. It was so good that we even came back here for late night snacks, dessert, and drinks each night.

 

Breakfast at Coffee Club Cafe

 

If you are looking for a centrally located place to stay in Bangkok, which is comfortable, incredibly clean, and full of amenities, we can highly recommend the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok.

We were hosted by  Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok and had a wonderful time and are excited to share our trip with you. All of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Thai Food

 

Thai food is world-renowned for its diversity in flavors and attention to detail and happens to be one of our favorite cuisines in the world. If Bettina could pick just one favorite meal, for her it is absolutely Thai Green Curry. As a result, we went on the search for green curry every day in Bangkok!

 

Basil Chicken Thai Food at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

With a three-day visit to Bangkok, there is a lot to see in a short amount of time. One thing you don’t need to be too worried about, is having great food. There is amazing Thai food around every corner. For our time in Bangkok we enjoyed every meal, and didn’t really do any significant prior research.

 

Street Food in Thailand - The Next Trip

 

That being said we recommend a quick peak on Google Maps restaurant ratings when you are ready to eat. We found that while there were a lot of highly rated restaurants, there were also a surprising number of poorly rated restaurants (which we would generally say is less than four stars out of five, however there were a lot below three stars when we searched).

Some of our other favorite Thai dishes which are definitely worth trying are Pad Thai, Yellow Curry, a fresh Thai Salad, and so many others.

 

Streetfood in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

You may be wondering "is street food safe in Bangkok?” and to that we can say that we sampled street food too many times to count and we never got sick. We highly recommend you try some local street food as it is an essential part of the Bangkok experience! There are so many street vendors on every corner, you can and should be picky about where you eat. Choose the vendor with a clean looking cart, and where the meat is being freshly grilled, as opposed to looking like it has been sitting in the hot sun all afternoon.

 

Fun Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

 

A trip to Bangkok can be very different for each individual person, depending on your interests.  If you want to party all night long, the city can certainly deliver, but we opted for a visit focused primarily on exploring some of best wats (Buddhist temples) the city has to offer.

 

Temples in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Before you visit any temples, make sure you are respectful to the religion and culture and dress appropriately. For women, this means covering your shoulders and knees. If you are wearing a short skirt and revealing top, make sure you bring a large scarf to cover up your knees and a cardigan to cover your shoulders and chest area. Men should wear long pants and either short- or long-sleeve shirts (no tank tops). No worries if you forget to dress properly though; most wats also have clothes rentals.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun

 

Wat Arun is one of the best known in Bangkok, and is one of the few main tourist sites located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. Getting here is fairly easy as it is a short walk from one of the MRT Blue Line stops. Wat Arun towers in the distance, as its central spire is over 70 metres (200 feet) tall, and is covered in colorful porcelain.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 50 baht (about $1.65 USD). Due to its popularity, we highly recommend arriving early in the morning to avoid the worst of the thick crowds. We also heard that the morning sun reflects off the temple to give a nice pearly glow.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Most people arrive at Wat Arun by taking one of the many ferries that cross the Chao Phraya River, which is another experience worth doing! The ferries are inexpensive, and the quickest way to cross over to the next main attraction!

 

Crossing Chao Phraya River on a Ferry - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

 

In addition to Wat Arun, Wat Pho is another of the best known Bangkok attractions, together with the nearby Grand Palace. This temple has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, and also includes the famous Reclining Buddha, built in 1832 and lying 46 meters long (151 feet).

 

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 100 baht (about $3.30 USD) and is worth it! We again recommend arriving early due to the huge crowds that come to see the Reclining Buddha. Even if you don't arrive early, the entire area is not overly crowded. That means you can easily walk around and enjoy the sights.

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you have enough time and truly are an early bird, be sure to check out The Grand Palace. It is the most famous landmark in Bangkok and Thailand's most sacred site. Tickets to the palace are 500 baht ($16.60).

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

More of Wat You Want

 

During our time in Bangkok, we toured two additional wats, although there are hundreds more that we didn’t get to.  Wat Ratchanatdaram is stunningly beautiful, with a style that is slightly simplified and symmetric compared to most other wats that we saw.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The best part about this wat is that there is no entrance fee. As it is further away from the main tourist area, it is also not very busy at all. We arrived in the late afternoon, and there was only a handful of other people visiting at the same time.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Only a tuk tuk ride away is Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, our favorite wat in Bangkok.  We arrived just before sunset, and had the place almost all to ourselves.

 

Tuk Tuks in Bangkok, Thailand - The Next Trip

 

This wat is also known as the marble temple; and you can see why from the photos! Entrance to Wat Benchamabophit was 50 baht (about $1.65 USD), and definitely worth it.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

 
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Chatuchak Weekend Market

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market is another quintessential Bangkok experience and is one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days. It is the world’s largest and most diverse weekend market with more than 15,000 stalls selling almost everything you could imagine.

 

Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Entrance to the market is free, so you can save your baht for shopping and eating! We purchased a few souvenirs at the market, but since we were most excited about the food, we arrived hungry and sampled as much as we could! If you like coconut, you will love the Thai coconut ice cream! It comes in a coconut and with toppings of tapioca pearls, peanuts, shaved coconut, etc.

 

Dinner at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Thai Coconut Ice Cream at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

We visited Chatuchak Weekend Market on a Friday evening which is less busy than during the weekend. However, not all market stands were open so we didn't get to experience the full size of it. We'd recommend visiting on a Saturday or Sunday for shopping, but Friday night for eating.

 

Accessories at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Food court at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Getting to Chatuchak Weekend market is relatively easy as both public transport systems, BTS and MRT,  have nearby stations to the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

 

How to Get Around Bangkok

 

Not only is Bangkok a large city population-wise, but also geographically. This means you will be spending time trying to figure out how to get between the amazing sightseeing opportunities here. Traffic congestion can also be a problem, which can seriously cut into your time enjoying the city.  We primarily used the MRT (metro) to get to and from our hotel to various areas of the city. As the MRT travels underground, you don’t have to worry about traffic.  The same goes for the BTS Skytrain, which travels above the city streets. Another great reason to take the MRT is that it is cheap, safe, but more importantly, air-conditioned which comes in super handy on those hot and humid summer days! As a bonus, with stations looking as pretty, taking public transport is a sight in itself!

 

Metro Station in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you find yourself too far away from a MRT or BTS Skytrain station, we can highly recommend Grab, which functions just like Uber or Lyft. We also used Grab to get to and from the airport, without any issues.

Of course, no trip to Bangkok would be complete without a trip on a tuk tuk! Be sure to agree upon a price prior to getting in, and then sit back, and hold on!

 

Spas and Thai Massages in Bangkok

 

We were pretty jetlagged when we arrived in Bangkok, so decided to pamper ourselves with a famous Thai massage. The Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok offers in-house Thai massages and we couldn't resist to book one for each of us. We both received a set of pants and top to put on before getting situated on the massage bed. Thai massages are very different to Swedish massages and combine acupressure and yoga postures. If you are looking for a relaxing massage, Thai massages may not be your best choice. Bettina chose a "medium" strength massage but I'm pretty sure I heard her say "ouch" at some point! 🙂 The massages can be a bit painful but we felt extremely relaxed afterwards and were able to sleep off our jetlag.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you are looking to get your nails done, Bangkok is one of the best places to do so! Bettina and I picked a place in a nearby shopping center and received and incredibly detailed and gentle pedicure. It is also very reasonably priced, making it another one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days.

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days:

 

1) Prepare for an assault on the senses. Sometimes your expectations can make or break a trip. While Bangkok is absolutely amazing, it is not the most relaxing place to be. If you are prepared to experience extreme heat and humidity, smell delicious food mixed with raw sewage nearby, see extreme wealth and poverty juxtaposed, and are prepared to battle the insane traffic congestion, you will have a great time! Part of traveling is just rolling with the local scene, even if it is not what you are used to. It's Bettina's favorite part about traveling!

2) Stay Hydrated. Building on top of our first point, almost no matter what time of the year you visit, it will be hot. Nothing takes the fun out of travelling like a good headache, sunburn, or dehydration. We carried water bottles and sunscreen with us everywhere we went and absolutely needed it. You can buy water bottles almost everywhere from street vendors. However, if you are in tourist area, prepare to pay 2-4x the “regular” price compared to a stand just a few blocks away.

3) Use the BTS Skytrain and MRT metro!  Before arriving, we planned to walk and take tuk tuks mostly everywhere, but after a half day in the heat, taking a tuk tuk spitting out exhaust fumes, while sitting overtop the hot engine in a traffic jam, was less than appealing. Our rides on the MRT were an nice air-conditioned break, rejuvenating our energy for the next activity.

4) Take out enough cash. Cash truly is king in Bangkok.  There were very few places that we went that accepted credit cards, so make sure to have enough Thai Baht currency for all of the wat entrance fees, street food, and market shopping for your trip. ATM machines are plentiful to take out more cash if you run out.

5) Eat the street food. This is absolutely part of the Bangkok experience. If you still have concerns, inspect each street vendors stall carefully to look for reasonable food preparation conditions. Look for stands where they cook the meat in front of you. You can even ask them to cook it longer if you prefer. Another tip is to seek out the food vendor that has the longest line of locals getting food.  If locals line up to eat there it should be delicious and safe.

 

Save this post to your Asia travel Pinterest board for when you plan your next vacation!

 

 

Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat at Chatuchak Weekend Market, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.

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How to Spend a Weekend in Alaska – the Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a great place to spend a (long) weekend in Alaska. It is perfect for getting a quick taste of wild Alaska, as it is relatively close to Anchorage. Prepare to see majestic mountains, beautiful glaciers, historic towns, and a chance at wildlife during your trip to the Kenai Peninsula. Be sure you have your camera charged and ready at all times! Unlike Bettina, wildlife doesn't pose and wait for you to be ready. 🙂

 

A weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

We worked with Pursuit Collection to be able to share the full Alaska wildlife experience with you! As always, all our opinions and photos are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us. 

As you may know, it is our goal to visit all 50 U.S. States and Alaska has been a state neither of us had been to yet! You can check out the progress of our states visits on our U.S. States map. You can also read about our previous adventures offroading in Colorado, our cultural immersion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and our weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Laying in the grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We spent the July 4th weekend in Alaska and used the holiday to make it a 4-day trip without missing too much at work. Despite it being the height of summer, temperatures in Anchorage are usually around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius).

Our trip on the fourth of July weekend was unique as a number of record high temperatures were recorded in Alaska that week. This made for a much warmer trip than we expected! For us, summer is definitely the best time to visit Alaska.

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula.

 

Welcome to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

What is the Kenai Peninsula?

 

The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240km) southwest from Anchorage and includes mountain ranges with glaciers, many lakes and rivers, historic towns, and the famous sounds and fjords of the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula doesn’t include all of the popular sights of Alaska, but it is a great starting off point. We highly recommend it for your first trip to The Last Frontier.

 

River in the Summer at Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

 

How to Get To The Kenai Peninsula

 

You will almost certainly be flying into Anchorage, which is the largest city in Alaska, and also has the largest airport.  All major US carriers fly here multiple times per day throughout the Summer.  Flight frequencies drop off significantly once the weather gets cold.

 

Plane Landing at Anchorage Airport Alaska - The Next Trip

 

You can also fly seasonally from Canada, Germany, Russia, and Iceland! Due to the distance from Alaska to the lower 48 states, there are a lot of flights that arrive and depart late in the evening (for example we arrived at 1am and then flew a red-eye back to Chicago leaving at 8pm and arriving at 4am!).

 

Once in Anchorage, we highly recommend you rent a car to explore the peninsula as it makes getting around much easier and you can make the most out of your weekend in Alaska. You don’t need to rent an SUV or truck to get around, as a car will easily reach all of the main sights.

 

Where to Stay in the Kenai Peninsula for a Weekend in Alaska

 

If you are planning to see all of the Kenai Peninsula in a weekend or extended weekend, having a base somewhere near the middle of the peninsula is a great way to go. That way you can explore each day without having to pack up and stay somewhere new each time. We spent the night in a hotel near the airport as we arrived late the first night. For our next night we used Airbnb to rent a cute cabin in the woods! Our cabin was near the small town of Soldotna.

 

AirBnB Cabin in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

There are so many other options available all over the Kenai Peninsula on Airbnb. We also saw single rooms, small cabins, or massive houses all to yourself; just pick your favorite! If you haven’t used Airbnb before you can signup using this link to get a $40 discount on your first booking.

 

Our cabin was brand new and included a small kitchen with outdoor barbecue, bathroom with shower, and a loft for sleeping which was super fun!

 

Living Room AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip         Loft at AirBnB in Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

Seward, Alaska as the Perfect Base for Your Weekend in Alaska Exploration

 

The city of Seward, founded in 1903, is located at the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. That means you can get to Seward by car, train, boat, or by air! Seward is an easy drive 2.5 hours south of Anchorage and so we drove there on our first day. We were more than excited because it was the base for our Kenai Fjords tour! Seward’s harbor and location makes it one of the best bases to explore the Kenai Fjords National Park.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Seward has a number of restaurants and other places to stock up on groceries for your visit. One of the major attractions of the Kenai Fjords National Park is just a few minutes outside of Seward and is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska, the Exit Glacier.  Unfortunately for us, the heavy forest fires in the area resulted in lots of smoke in the air, so we weren’t able to catch the best view. Also be aware of the mosquitoes here, the hike is not long, but the bugs are all over, be prepared!

 

Exit Glacier in Wildfire Fog Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 
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Kenai Fjords National Park

 

Kenai Fjords National Park Sign Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We partnered with Pursuit Collection to do their Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which was for 6 hours out on the open water. We had the potential to spot whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals, and puffins! Their tours are a great addition to any Alaska getaways.

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The friendly staff at Kenai Fjords Tours checked us in and as we were a bit early, they were actually able to get us out on an earlier boat. We started off in thick sea fog and wondered if we would see anything at all on this trip!

 

Foggy Harbor at Seaward, Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Lifting Fog at Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

No sooner than five minutes in, we came across a small group of sea otters. The otters were just bobbing in the water relaxing, without a care in the world!

 

Floating Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Our tour continued onward to a few small islands where a large number of birds were nesting, including puffins! Right next to them was a group of Steller sea lions sunbathing on the rocks.

 

Puffins on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions and Otter on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Sea Lions on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

It was a bit of a longer boat ride, allowing us to dig in to the provided lunch. Once finished, we reached the piece de resistance of this tour, the Aialik Glacier.

 

Lunch on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

As we approached the Aialik Glacier you could feel a great silence come over the boat and stillness in the air. The size of the glacier is unlike anything we have seen before. To fully appreciate it, it should be seen in person.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Bettina and Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The captain turned off the boat motors and we sat in the bay listening to the cracking of the glacier with the odd bit of ice falling into the water. We witnessed some fairly significant calving while we were watching.

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Calving is when a glacier suddenly releases a mass of ice. The deep and loud booms of the ice cracking echoed across the bay. This is followed by the silent mid-air fall of the ice, and the final plunge into the ocean. Our boat rocked back and forth from the rippling waves, almost a half mile away.

 

Bettina at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Kyle at Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We captured the calving on video for you to get a better impression of how majestic it is. Click to the right to see the video below.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzmDASpgB1r/

 

Bettina even managed to snag a picture with some glacier ice!

 

Bettina holding Ice from Aialik Glacier on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On the boat ride back to Seward we came across a few separate pods of whales. However none of them decided that they wanted to do a full 'Free Willy' jump out of the water. As a result we were left trying to snap a few tail photos off in the distance. You might be more lucky though as these are some of the best places to spot whales!

 

Whale Hump on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Whale Tail on Pursuit Collection Cruise Kenai Fjord Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The boat soon returned to Seward harbor, indicating the end of the tour. We were very impressed by how much wildlife we saw during the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour.

 

Exploring Homer Spit, Alaska

 

To be honest we didn’t expect much of Homer, it seemed to be just the end of the road, or the end of the Sterling Highway, on the edge of Kachemak Bay. Given that we only had an extended weekend in Alaska, we spent all of our time here at the Homer Spit. The Spit is one of the main highlights of Homer, and is a gravel bar that sticks out 4.5 miles (7.2km) into the bay.

 

Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once you make it to Homer Spit, you can walk around the harbor and stroll along the colorful houses on the promenade. Most importantly, try some Alaskan fish and chips!

 

Bettina in Harbor at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Boardwark at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

The sea fog was still thick, well into the afternoon, and provided for a magical atmosphere on the beach!

 

Fog at the Beach at Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Once the sun pokes through, you should be able to see the surrounding mountains which are worth a trip themselves. Bettina on the other hand, was most excited when we found a swing underneath the boardwalk.

 

The Swing Location Homer Spit Alaska - The Next Trip

 

This may look like the perfect shot; however it was the result of hundreds of ill-timed attempts on the swing. If you want to get the perfect Instagram shot, check out the swing! It's located under the promenade near 4350 Homer Spit Road. It's best to access the swing from the beach.

 

Explore the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

 

With your rental car you can explore a large portion of the Kenai Peninsula, with additional side trips to Whittier, Chugach State Park, or wherever your heart desires.

 

Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

During our trip to Alaska there were a number of forest fires burning in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula. Smoke drifted all the way to Anchorage. This meant that you couldn’t see the beautiful mountains all around, and sometimes hardly the car in front of you. As a result, we  spent more time on the western edge of the Kenai Peninsula where the sun was shining and the air was much clearer.

 

Laying in grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

On our drives we pulled off onto a few side roads and even spotted a few elk out for lunch. Remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elk in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Wild Elks in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

If you have time, you can also venture to Captain Cook State Park to take in the late afternoon sun and go for a walk along the beach.

 

View in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

Before arriving, we knew that the sun would rise early and set late for the month of July in Alaska. However, we weren’t quite prepared for how much sun there was. The sun rose around 4:45am and set around 11:30pm. That meant never truly became ‘dark.’ The benefit of this is that we were out sightseeing and driving to 9pm, and we didn’t have to rush anywhere to see something before the sun set. There were so many sunny hours in the day! However, falling asleep was somewhat difficult given that it was still broad daylight at 10pm. If you plan your trip to Alaska, make sure to read our 5 top tips below!

 

We loved our weekend in Alaska, exploring the Kenai Peninsula and can absolutely recommend as it is a great beginner’s “taste of Alaska” to start your adventures in the state.

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Weekend in Alaska - the Kenai Peninsula

 

1) Rent a car.  There is no better way to see the Kenai Peninsula than by driving the open roads. This gives you the flexibility to stay exactly where you like. When driving, you can stop at any viewpoint along the way, including when you see wildlife! Some tour buses will stop when wildlife are near the road, but you don’t want to be on the one that drives right by!

 

2) Prepare for the sun. While it may not get as hot as the lower 48 states, Alaska can still have long days of sun during the summer months.  Don’t take this to mean that the sun is less intense. It is just as intense in Alaska as it is in other places, and sometimes more so depending on elevation. In addition, as the days are longer you will have more exposure to the sun each day. It helps to prepare with sunglasses and sunscreen during the day. For the night, don’t forget a good sleeping mask to sleep properly when it is still light outside!

 

3) Prepare for the unknown.  Despite the Kenai Peninsula being relatively populated compared to the rest of Alaska, this is still “wild Alaska.” You should always know where you are and where you are going, without relying on any cell service. You should also always make sure to have enough gas in the car and water and snacks, in case you end up stranded somewhere. Even if you don’t end up stranded, it can be a long drive to the next town if you get hungry or thirsty. Furthermore the temperatures can drop drastically. So make sure you pack right for the perfect weekend in Alaska.

 

4) Bring your best camera and a zoom lens. Moose, deer, and bears don’t generally walk up to your car so they can be nicely framed in your phone’s camera. The animals are generally a bit further away, and if they are close you should probably back away, so be prepared by bringing your best camera with an excellent zoom lens.

 

5) Book a tour. We are staunch believers in doing your own thing when traveling. However, sometimes it is not always reasonably possible, and a tour is the best way to go.  For Alaska, you are likely here to see nature and wildlife, and the best way to do that can be to go with someone who knows the area best. We highly recommend setting aside time for a whale watching, glacier, or other tour that intrigues you the most. We toured with Pursuit Collection and the Kenai Fjords National Park Tour which we can highly recommend.

 

Pin this blog post to your U.S. and Alaska destinations boards to save all your ideas about the Kenai Peninsula and a weekend in Alaska!

 

 

A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway
A Weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - Your Guide for where to stay, what to see, and how to maximize your short weekend getaway

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Top 7 Things To Do In Madeira

For those that don’t know, Madeira is a Portugeuse island 520km (320 miles) off the coast of Morocco, and about a 1.5 hour flight from Lisbon.  It's an incredibly beautiful island and is most well known for being the home of Cristiano Ronaldo. It is also great to pair with a visit to other great Portuguese cities. Don't miss out on our Porto and Coimbra adventures or skip to The Next Trip 5 Travel Tips for Madeira here.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço

 

 

How to Get to Madeira

 

Being an island, you will obviously be arriving by plane (unless you are brave enough to take a boat!), however flights are somewhat limited to just a few airlines, primarily TAP Air Portugal and all of your favorite European low cost carriers. If you are arriving late in the evening like we did, there are some great hotels close to the airport (and the beach!) such as the Santa Cruz Boutique Hotel.  There is no better way to start your island adventure on Madeira than with breakfast with a view like this.

 

Santa Cruz breakfast with view

 

Santa Cruz Boutique Hotel Breakfast View

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira

 

You may be able to drive all around in Madeira in one day, but the island is packed full of beauty and activities so we highly recommend spending more time on the island to explore as much as possible! Read on for our top 7 things to do in Madeira. Our expectations were high for our trip to Madeira, and it easily met and exceeded them!

 

Hike to Ponta de São Lourenço

 

This was one of our favorite spots on Madeira and well worth taking a half day or more to complete. It's a 2-hour hike one way with incredible scenery.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

We stopped along the way multiple times to snap a picture or two. Also, learn from our mistake and bring your bathing suit and a towel on your hike. There are a few great places to take a refreshing dip in the ocean along the way. Another plus is that there is a small café at the end if you’re a bit thirsty or hungry after your hike out!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Swim in the Atlantic Ocean

 

So if you didn’t take our advice above and swim in the ocean on your hike to Ponta de São Lourenço, there is an easier and more convenient place for a swim on the complete opposite side of the island. Porto Moniz is a city at the north-western most corner of Madeira and has a huge swimming pool full of fresh seawater. How fresh you may ask?

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

Well while we were there, the waves were coming up over the rocks and pathway into the “pool.” Admission is a few dollars to enter, but it is well worth it for a nice relaxing swim and a shower to rinse off afterwards. They have restrooms, showers, and lockers there. Make sure you bring your own towels though.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

While in the area, be sure to check out the islets of Ribeira da Janela rising from the ocean. Watching the waves here is mesmerizing.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Sea Rocks

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Sea Rocks

 

Check out the Levadas

 

Levadas are strewn across the country side of Madeira. They were originally created to move water around the island as the west and northwest of the island receive heavy rainfall, but the southeast region is much drier. With more time (and better weather) we would love to hike some of these levadas, which can be tens of kilometers long, run along cliffs, and even through tunnels!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Lavada

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Lavada

 

Don’t Miss the Viewpoints of Funchal

 

Being an island with steep cliffs and mountains, there is never a shortage of views, equally when looking out over the main city. Funchal is the sixth largest city in Portugal, and has been the capital of Madeira for over 500 years. Cabo Girão is a spectacular sea cliff with the highest cliff skywalk in Europe – if you can stomach the walk out over the glass, it is well worth the views!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint funchal

 

A bit closer to Funchal, Miradouro Pico dos Barcelos doesn’t disappoint and also provides a beautiful panoramic view over Funchal.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint funchal

 
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Watch the Sunrise

 

This is the one activity we truly missed out on while on Madeira. The sunrises from a number of the islands peaks are legendary, and in particular we hoped to catch the sunrise from the top of Pico do Areeiro. Unfortunately for us, there were heavy thunderstorms the morning we were there and given our tight itinerary, we had no room in our travel plans to stay a day longer and hope for better weather.

 

Stop by Lighthouses for More Amazing Views

 

One of Bettina's favorite things to see in Madeira was the Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse. Situated high up on a cliff, it provides spectacular views of the ocean.

 

Viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Portugal -flowers butterfly

 

It is easily accessible by car and the viewpoint is only a short walk from the parking lot. The lighthouse itself is as picturesque as they come and also houses an exhibit.

 

Watch your Plane Arrive at the Funchal Airport Observation Deck

 

Even for non-avgeeks, planes are fascinating to watch.  Once you’ve gone through security at Funchal Airport, be sure to wait for your flight on the outside observation deck which has great views of the runway.  Funchal airport is unique in that it has a particularly steep approach and the runway even extends out over the ocean on a platform. As a result, it is a great place for some casual plane spotting!

 

We put together a list of 5 top tips for your visit to Madeira to make sure you can make most out of this trip and be prepared.

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a Visit to Madeira

 

1. Spend at least one night in Funchal

The surprisingly bustling capital city of the island. While this city is not going to be a party hot spot, it is a great size to explore in a day or two on foot and has a great atmosphere. Be sure to wander the streets to find the perfect restaurant for dinner and take in the island vibes.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-streets of funchal

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-funchal harbor

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-streets of funchal

 

2. Rent a car.

While Madeira isn’t that large, and does have public transportation around the island, the freedom of having your own car is highly worth the cost so that you can visit what you like at your own pace.  The roads can be narrow, twisty, and steep, but for us that just adds to the adventure!

 

Rental car-driving in portugal

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-driving in madeira

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint

 

3. Be prepared for all types of weather.

We experienced torrential downpours, followed by clear blue skies, and fairly frequent wind while on Madeira – such is the case for an island in the Atlantic! Expect to have rain and wind, but don’t let that dampen the mood as the weather is constantly changing and the sun will likely shine again the same day.

 

Portugal mountains view

 

4. Seafood and Wine.

Need we say more? Madeira is well known for it’s local Madeiran wine as well as great seafood. Be sure to sample what you can! We highly recommend the Filete de Espada (Scabbard Filet), traditionally prepared with a banana and passion fruit sauce.

5. Bring your hiking shoes.

Madeira is far from flat, and whether you are hiking to the top of Pico do Areeiro, walking to the end of Ponta de São Lourenço, or walking through the streets of Funchal, there will be hills and cobblestones. Bring a pair of comfortable flats to make your travels easier. Bettina managed fine in some ballet flats but we did get very interesting stares on our hikes.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint hiking

 

Is Madeira on your bucket travel list? Tell us about the places you want to travel to in the comments below!

 

Pin this blog post to your Portugal and Madeira Pinterest boards to save all your ideas and don't miss out when you're there!

 

Top 7 Things To Do in Madeira

 

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A Sintra Day Trip – Why You Have to Go

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a prince or princess living in a palace, then a Sintra day trip from Lisbon is a must!  Our day spent here brought all of Bettina’s princess dreams true. To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to prepare for a daytrip to Sintra, click here.

 

What is Sintra and Pena Palace

 

Sintra is a small city on the outskirts of Lisbon, only 30km (19 miles) away, and is surrounded by natural parks and the Sintra Mountains. There is a lot of history in this area of Portugal as Sintra was a playground for royalty, the rich, and the famous throughout much of history. This means that there is not only the Pena National Palace, which we visited, but also the National Palace of Sintra, the Castle of the Moors, and many others all located in and around Sintra. We drove through Sintra, stopping for a quick coffee, but decided to focus our time on Pena Palace.

 

A Sintra Day Trip View of Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip View of Castle of Moors

 

How to Get to Sintra

 

We already had a rental car as we were completing a short road trip through Portugal from Porto (you can read about our time in Porto here and Coimbra here). Our drive from Cascais to Sintra was about 20 minutes, and it is only 10 minutes more from Lisbon.  We appreciated having a car to get up through the hills to Pena Palace.  The road was steep and narrow, but there was lots of parking when we arrived.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Alternatively you can easily reach Sintra by train from Lisbon.  There are numerous bus and tuk tuk options to take you up the hill to Pena Palace, or you can hike! Of course plan a lot of extra time if you plan to hike through the hills.

 

Pena Palace

 

The main attraction! Pena Palace is perched at the top of a hill, and is considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal. This is a Romanticist castle, and we couldn’t agree more. It is one of the most romantic castles we've visited so far. Pena Palace has a number of different sections and design elements, reflecting the tastes of its prior owners through the ages.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Top from Chicwish / Skirt from Chicwish / Shoes from Mi.iM (Use beingbettina20 to get a 20% discount)

 

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace
A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Explore Pena Palace

 

One of the great things about Pena Palace is that you are allowed to climb up a number of the bastions, parapet walls, and ramparts. As a result, this makes for great pictures! You will have to be patient and wait your turn in line though. Unfortunately not all tourists we encountered were so considerate!

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Definitely make sure to explore all around Pena Palace so that you get views of this truly impressive building from all angles.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Inside Pena Palace

 

To truly live out your prince/princess dreams, be sure to take the time to walk through the interior of Pena Palace.  The inside of the palace is set up to serve as the summer residence of the royal family, and is full of period appropriate furniture, paintings, and other artwork.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Usually when exploring European palaces you only get to see the fancy sitting rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms of the royal elite. However Pena Palace also allows you to see the working kitchen of the palace, which is a unique perspective and makes you appreciate our modern appliances.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Best Views of Pena Palace

 

Once you’ve completed your tour of Pena Palace, take the time for the 20 minute walk through the peaceful surrounding gardens and forest up to the Cruz Alta monument.  With a little bit of flexibility you can climb up to the monument and will be rewarded with impressive views of Pena Palace from afar.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

This view was worth the walk! In addition, this monument had very few tourists, compared to Pena Palace, which was bursting with selfie-stick wielding crowds in the early afternoon.

 

How Long Does it Take for a Sintra Day Trip?

 

We spent a full afternoon exploring the Pena Palace as well as walking some of the pathways in the surrounding park. Arriving just before lunch, we had about a 5 minute wait to purchase tickets and enter the palace grounds, but otherwise could access everything within and around the palace as we liked.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

You could easily spend a week exploring the hills around Sintra and the many palaces as there are walking trails all throughout the region allowing you to explore as much or as little as you would like, however it also works perfectly as a day trip.

Check our top tips below to help plan your Pena Palace and Sintra Day Trip!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Sintra Day Trip Tips

 

  1. Get there early! Like as soon as they open or even earlier. As the day goes on there will be more and more tour buses full of tourists arriving, so get arrive at the palace as early as you can to have the palace to yourself (more or less).
  2. Take some creative photos. Pena Palace is breathtaking from almost any angle, and with almost all of the walkways and areas of the palace open, you are free to get creative and take more than your standard tourist photos. This is your chance to make your princess fantasies come true!
  3. Bring your best walking shoes. Pena Palace is located at the top of the hill and requires at least a 10 minute walk up the steep cobblestone paths. Further, the surrounding park grounds are full of pathways to explore.
  4. Pack some water.  While there is a cafe in the palace, you’re going to want to pack some water if you are exploring on a hot day as there are no other stores near the palace.
  5. Go for a hike. Take the extra time to walk to the Cruz Alta monument to get the perfect photos of Pena Palace from a distance – no drone required! In addition, if you have the time as part of your Sintra day trip, you can also walk and hike all over the Sintra Mountains for other unique views of Pena Palace and the beautiful Portugal Riviera.

 

Have you been to Pena Palace? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

Pin this blog post to your Portugal and Sintra Pinterest boards to save all your ideas and don't miss out when you're there!

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Why You Have to Go - The Next Trip

 

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How to Spend A Day in Coimbra, Portugal

To be honest, we hadn’t even heard of Coimbra prior to researching destinations for our Portuguese road trip, which is probably why it was the most surprising destination of our trip.  We had no expectations and absolutely loved the 24 hours we spent here and can’t recommend it enough! To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a day in Coimbra, click here.

 

A Day in Coimbra: Getting There and Around

 

We arrived in Coimbra after a weekend in Porto (read about it here) during rush hour, and since we didn’t know much about the city, we were just following the directions of our GPS to get to the hotel. However, the closer we got, the steeper and narrower the streets became.

 

Narrow Streets in Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Tight narrow roads do not phase us after all of our European road trips, but these were some of the tightest and steepest we ever drove within a city. Our rental car was relatively small, but we took a different route to our hotel as we were not confident that we could make the tight turn without scratching our car.

 

A Day in Coimbra: Where to Stay

 

We spent our one night in Coimbra at the Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra which has very luxuriously designed hotel rooms.

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

Our room was on the first floor but because the hotel is on a hill, there is an amazing view of the city. The room is small but very unique and they even included free of charge champagne and cake in the evenings! Not to mention breakfast in bed in the mornings.

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

We didn’t spend much time in the hotel though as we hit the streets as fast as we could due to the rapidly setting sun.

 

How to Spend A Day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

A Day in Coimbra: What to See

 

Coimbra is a very old city, dating back to the Roman era and is anchored by the University of Coimbra, established in 1290, and perched on top of the hill. The university buildings include the jaw-dropping Pátio das Escolas. This historic square alone is worth the visit to Coimbra as there just isn’t a bad angle to take a picture.

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

 

 

It was particularly beautiful at dusk and includes a view of the surrounding valley.

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

The next morning we headed back to the University of Coimbra area to see the Biblioteca Joanina, a famous historic library.  The next scheduled visiting time was in one hour, so we took pictures in the beautiful Pátio das Escolas square. The nearby chapel and palace are also worth visiting.

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

This dress is already sold out, but I linked some of my favorite turquoise and teal dresses below.

 

 

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

The palace tour had an outdoor terrace, which provided great views over the city.

View from the Palace, University Square, Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

View from the Palace, University Square, Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

We eventually made it into the library, the Biblioteca Joanina, and it was definitely worth the wait! This is one of the most impressive libraries that we have ever been to, and a definite must-see if you are in Coimbra. You’re not allowed to take photos inside, so check out their website to get an idea of what it looks like inside here.

 

Biblioteca Joanina, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Heading back down the hill, we explored the streets of the old town more and fell even further for this quaint city.

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Because we only had one day in Coimbra, we did not have enough time to see the aqueduct, botanical gardens, and waterfront. From the quick views we saw from afar, they definitely are worth a visit as well!

 

A Day in Coimbra: Where to Eat

 

While in Portugal, we were on a mission to try natas in each city. Pastel de nata’s are custard filled tarts, and are worth eating at any time of day.  A few locals recommended we stop by this café for a coffee and some natas. The natas here are some of the best we tried, with incredibly flaky pastry. They were only surpassed by the slightly more lemony natas we had at the Largo da Portagem square.

We both truly believe that calories don’t count when you are traveling!

Natas to eat in Portugal | The Next Trip

 

For dinner, we can highly recommend Zé Manel dos Ossos. This restaurant was recommended to us by some locals we met the day before. They advised arriving half an hour before the restaurant even opened at 7:30pm! We arrived on time, and were second in line, with a few other groups arriving only a few minutes later. This restaurant is one of the best in Coimbra for traditional Portuguese food. As there are only seven tables inside it pays to arrive early, so there is no need to wait.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Time passed by quickly, and soon enough the friendly staff seated us inside the eclectically designed restaurant. The owner is super friendly and since we didn’t know what to order (nor could we read the menu) he chose for us. We shared a starter of mushrooms and pork; it was absolutely delicious, with a nice rich flavor.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

The main course: seared pork with rice and beans.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Portuguese food is hearty and filling! This was the best meal from our Portugal trip, although the pitcher of wine definitely helped wash it all down. There is nothing like a relaxing  digestive evening stroll around the city after a heavy meal.

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Can't get enough of Portugal either? Check out our blog post on Porto here or get planning your own trip with our free top 10 tips on how to save money on traveling!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips on How to Spend a Day in Coimbra

 

  1. Pick a hotel in the historic old town. There are numerous small hotels in the historic old town with reasonable rates. The location allows you to easily reach all sights by foot, and be close enough to rest your feet in the middle of the day if you need it. We stayed at the Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra and can highly recommend it!
  2. The first stop when you arrive should be to get tickets to see the Joanina Library. They only allow 60 people in the library at any given time and reservations are mandatory. Get your tickets early so that you don’t miss out! There are so many beautiful photo opportunities all around the University of Coimbra and the square, that even if you have to wait a bit, it is no problem.
  3. Bring your best walking shoes, i.e. comfortable and preferably closed flats. While flip flops might be comfortable, they will hurt your feet after walking up and down these steep cobble stone streets for hours. Walking is absolutely the best/only way to explore Coimbra. This seems to be a common tip in Portugal!
  4. Try the natas – all of them!  We indulged in natas almost every day of our trip in Portugal.  The best ones that we had on our whole trip were in Coimbra. We can highly recommend these two cafes, here and here. We also had The World Needs Nata recommended to us, but it was closed when we were visiting.
  5. Eat at Zé Manel dos Ossos. This is not your typical restaurant and already seems to be gaining a lot of popularity through word of mouth only. Prepare yourself for a hearty meal of traditional Portuguese food and entertainment written all over the walls. If you decide to stop by, make sure you get there a 10-15 minutes before they open for dinner. The place has only a few tables and often lines up out the door.

 

Have you been to Portugal? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

Pin this blog post to your Portugal Pinterest board to save all your ideas and don't miss out when you're there!

 

 

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A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go

A few months ago we stumbled across an article from late 2017, saying how the Northern Lights were going to be decreasing for almost the next decade! While we did catch a brief glimpse in Lapland (northern Finland) when we first met almost nine years ago, we didn’t get to see the full sky filled with a beautiful display of aurora. This would be our last chance, so to speak, to try to catch the Northern Lights for the next few years.

Click here if you want to skip to our 5 Top Iceland  Travel Tips. If you'd like to watch our Iceland experience on video, check out Bettina's Instagram stories here.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

How We Got To Iceland

 

Soon after we read that article, WOW Air came out with a great fare sale from Chicago to Iceland, which allowed us to pick up round trip tickets for the two of us for only $220 each. You can’t beat this kind of price for a direct flight to Iceland! We left Chicago late on a cold Friday in January and flew overnight. The beauty of over-night flying is that you don't need to get a hotel and you have the entire arrival day to explore. Check out this blog post for tips on how to get over jet lag.

 

Weekend In Iceland Itinerary and Story

We left Chicago on a cold Friday in January and were actually heading to warmer temperatures up in Iceland, the land of ice and fire! Arriving around 5:30am, our first stop was Joe and the Juice, a great coffee shop in the airport, and then to Avis to pick up our rental car.  We then had a 3 hour drive in front of us, to our destination: Vík.

We passed by top sights such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss but unfortunately, at this time in the day, it was still pitch dark and we couldn’t see them. It wasn’t until we closed in on Vík closer to 10:00am that the sky started to brighten. We were lucky to have done a complete Iceland road trip back in 2015 and have seen most of the main sights already. We were thus able to focus on one of our favourite areas of Iceland: the South-East coast.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

When we were in Vík in 2015, it was late August and lush, green, and almost warm. Things were slightly different today, with temperatures hovering around 0C (32F) combined with wind and snow. That did not stop us from getting out and capturing some amazing photos at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

Chicwish gifted Bettina this gorgeous dress. It also comes in black and white. It's the perfect dress for a wedding guest!


 

The combination of wind and snow meant we ran back to the car quickly to warm up. The clouds had also moved in, and it began to rain, putting a bit of a damper on our moods. However, one thing to know about Iceland is that the weather changes quickly, is unpredictable, so you just have to expect the unexpected!

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

We began our drive back towards our hotel in the direction of Reykjavík and did take the time to stop at the Dyrhólaey lighthouse and both Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss for more pictures despite the continuing rain.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

The sheer power of the waterfalls is absolutely amazing every time you see it.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

During the winter months, Iceland does not get a lot of daylight. With 5 hours of daylight, the sun was already setting as we were heading towards our hotel.

 

 
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Since we really only had one night in Iceland, this was now our chance to see the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, the aurora forecast was not great. It was also a cloudy night, so our chances were slim at best. It was however supposed to be clear skies in the early morning, so we decided to get up at 6:00am and see what we could see. We drove a few minutes out of town to get away from the surrounding lights and stared out at the pitch black sky.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

After fiddling with the camera a bit in the bitter cold, we were able to capture some reflections of the Northern Lights off in the distance. Not quite the epic full sky pictures you see in the travel brochures, but we were happy to have seen something – our trip had not been in vain!

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

After heading back to the hotel to freshen up and have breakfast we were off again, but this time under blue skies and shining sun, exceptionally rare for this time of year, made all the better by the light dusting of snow from the night before.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

We drove south towards the ocean and stopped for pictures at Strandakirkja. The views here were absolutely incredible and made us so thankful for our decision to actually do this weekend trip.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Continuing through the Reykjanesfólkvangur Nature Preserve, we came across even more awe-inspiring views.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

We were a bit pressed for time at this point to head back to the airport and catch our flight. After a brief stop at the local Costco for a cheap snack and fuel – off we went back to the airport!

 

Costco in Iceland - 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Costco in Iceland - 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 


Despite having only about 30 hours on the ground in Iceland, we had experienced so much in such a short amount of time that it felt like we had been gone for days. If you have the chance to spend a weekend or longer in Iceland, we highly recommend – it is one of our favourite places!

 

 

Top 5 Iceland Travel Tips

 

1) Expect the unexpected when it comes to weather.

You could easily experience weather from all four seasons, so be prepared and take it in stride! Make sure you bring warm and water-proof clothing. We wore Sorel boots and Fjallraven jackets to keep us warm.

2) Find meals at the local Bónus or Krónan grocery store.

Eating out is really expensive. We’re talking $20 to $25 for a basic entrée excluding drinks, starters, or dessert. However, you can find a good selection of food for somewhat reasonable prices at the grocery store. If you can, bring some snacks with you. Trail mix and protein bars travel really well.

3) Rent a car no matter how long your trip.

Iceland is all about getting out and seeing nature, and there’s no better freedom than having your own car to explore. We rented a car with Avis and everything went smoothly.

4) Bring your Costco card!

The store is relatively new in Iceland and you will save big time on fuel, groceries, and snacks from their restaurant! We got gas at Costco right before returning our rental car, and even snuck in the Icelandic version of the famous Costco hot dog.

5) You don’t actually need cash.

As long as you have a chip and pin credit card, you won’t need to exchange for any Icelandic Krona. We used our cards everywhere without problem and saved the time and hassle of exchanging currency.

 

5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Would you visit Iceland just for the weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

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Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights

So you want to go on a vacation? But you might not have a lot of vacation time or a huge budget? No worries, we have you covered! Other than people asking where our next trip is to, the second most asked question is where and how we book all of our flights to travel everywhere we do. These are our top tips for booking cheap flights! Learn how we travel as much as we do while both having full-time jobs and a busy schedule!

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

#1: Sit Down With a Calendar

 

Not the first tip you were expecting? It may seem unusual, but this is one of the most important!

Most people start off by hearing about or seeing pictures of a particular destination and all of a sudden that’s where they just have to go on their next vacation. In this situation, you will likely struggle to find cheap flights. If you have a set location and set date in mind and no flexibility, you're are at the mercy of the flight deal gods.

While you can certainly get a good deal by booking a vacation with a set destination and date in mind or booking last-minute deals, your chances of finding cheap flights are higher a couple of months in advance. Take the time at the beginning of the year/quarter and sit down with a calendar. Map out the weekends you would like to travel and pick weekends where you want to stay in town. Also think about your already known travel plans such as seeing family for the holidays, weddings you're invited to, etc. The end result is a set number of dates when you know you would like to get away so that when a flight deal comes along there is no wondering of when to go. You will already have a few dates in mind (and discussed with your significant other) and can get straight to the booking process.

 

#2: Sit Down With a Map

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Okay, so now you have a few weekends and perhaps a week or two when you are planning to travel. But where in the world should you go!? You might have a bucket list, a list of 'saved' places on your social media accounts, or a few places your friends visited that you'd love to go to as well. If you're looking for more inspiration, you can peruse our Pinterest travel boards which include our collection of travel inspiration around the world. Make sure you discuss your favourite destinations with your significant other/family/friends so that when a flight deal comes along, you don't have any convincing to do!

For example, our goal while living in Chicago has been to see all 50 states – that means in 2019, our travel list includes the final states we have left (read about some of our 2019 travel goals in this post here).

So now that you have a list of where you want to go and when you are able to go there – bring on the flight deals!

 

#3 Set Flight Alerts

 

With a list of potential dates and destinations, you can now use the power of Google Flights to set flight alerts for your most-wanted trips. Setting up a flight alert is super easy and only takes a few minutes. This is how you set up a Google Flights alert to find cheap flights:

  1. Create a search with your trip date and location on Google Flights.
  2. Select the 'Track Prices' option below and enter your email.
  3. Wait for an email from Google Flights notifying you when the flights drop or increase in price.

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

This is what a flight tracking email could look like:

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

You can even use multiple origin and destination airports in your Google Flights search. For example, if you wanted to go to Hawaii or the Caribbean but didn’t care which island, you could choose multiple islands in one search.  Or you can search for an entire region such as 'Europe' and Google Flights will provide you with prices for each city.

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Once you set your flight tracker, you will get notified when prices drop and you can immediately book your cheap flights. Google Flights also includes 'Tips' based on your search and will let you know if the current price is high or low relative to historical prices.

We always set flight alerts far in advance for our inflexible trips, such as heading home to families over the holidays to make sure we find cheap flights.

 

 
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#4 Sign Up for Flight Deals

 

In addition to tracking flight prices on Google Flights, there are incredible flight deals almost every day which let you fly around the world for way less than you think. The only problem is that you likely only hear about the deal once the cheap flights are gone!  Luckily for you and us, there are people who make it their mission to inform us of the latest and best flight deals. We highly recommend following @TheFlightDeal on Twitter so that you get an instant notification when a flight deal is posted. We also highly recommend signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights who will send you an email with your personalized flight deal. You select the region you live in for where you want the flight deals to originate from and then sit back and keep an eye on your inbox for the next great cheap flight to come along!

 

#5 Book the Cheap Flight!

 

So you finally get this email or Twitter alert with an incredible flight deal for one of the destinations you were hoping to go to! Now what?

A good flight deal typically only lasts for about an hour up to a day or two, so you’ve got to move very quickly! Give your significant other/family/friends/travel partner a quick call to confirm the trip and if you have time, take a look at visa requirements and approximate hotel prices to get an idea of the overall cost of the trip.

Once everything is ready to go, head to Google Flights and pull up the flight you received the alert for. For instance, if you got an alert for flights between Chicago and Newark in March, type in Chicago and Newark as your origin and destination in Google Flights, together with your travel dates. The flight options will show up and your flight deal should be part of these options. Clicking on the link in Google Flights will take you directly to the airline's website where you can book the flight.

 

Ready For Take-Off!

 

Five Step Guide to Booking Cheap Flights - The Next Trip

 

Before you hit that purchase button, be sure to check the carry-on and checked luggage restrictions and fees as those can both make or break your flight experience.

Now all you have to do is get ready for take-off!

There is a great sense of ‘winning’ or beating the system when you manage to snag an awesome flight deal! And also, don’t worry if you miss out on a deal as there will always be another one.

If you want to learn more on the tips and tricks we use to save money on flights and hotels for our travels, sign up to our mailing list below to receive our free Top 10 Money-Saving Travel Tips!

 

Make sure to pin this pin to your favourite personal travel board on Pinterest so that our tips are only one click away!

 

 


 

Visions of Zanzibar

Just hearing of Zanzibar evokes visions of an exotic bustling city with winding streets packed with houses, spice markets, bazaars, and mosques with a fusion of cultures and people. We arrived unprepared for Zanzibar, having done virtually zero research. We had no cash and no idea how to get to our hotel! The official taxi cab stand had reasonable rates to Stone Town, the main city on Zanzibar. We exchanged more USD for a couple hundred thousand Tanzanian Shillings (we felt super rich with all those 000’s!). And with that, we were on our way! Zanzibar is a perfect destination to combine with an African safari. We went on our first African safari in Tanzania and loved the game drives.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Tembo Hotel

 

The Tembo House Hotel is one of the few hotels in Stone Town that offers beach access but also is right in the heart of the city. We set off to explore the city as soon as we dropped our bags.

 

Exploring Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Stone Town is an important historical and artistic city for Eastern Africa due to its diverse mixture of influencing cultures from Arab, Persian, Indian, European, and local Swahili. But don’t just take our word for it. As a result of this history, the city has UNESCO World Heritage status for it’s ‘outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonization.’

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar - St. Joseph Cathedral

 

Visions of Zanzibar - St. Joseph Cathedral

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

The majestic House of Wonders is a former palace of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Another nearby former palace is Bait As-Sahel, as well as the Old Fort. All of these buildings were built by the Omani Arabs over 300 years ago when they expelled the Portuguese. They stand proudly facing the harbor, though are many decades past their prime. I think this really adds to the unique appeal of the city.

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

After meandering our way through some of the narrow streets we found ourselves back at our hotel, where we cooled off enjoying the luxury of air conditioning compared to our safari tent!

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Zanzibar Sunsets

 

Feeling luxurious, we walked next door to the beautiful Park Hyatt Zanzibar for drinks and dinner, with another incredible sunset view.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Park Hyatt Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset at Park Hyatt Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset at Park Hyatt Zanzibar

 

The beach came to life at sundown and was full of boats returning to shore. Unusually, fisherman took the boat motor with them as they left for the day. And among all of the chaos, kids were playing and swimming.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Sunset

 

Zanzibar Weather

 

For our next day we had visions of taking a boat to nearby Prison Island, or complete a spice tour at one of the many spice farms on the island, however, the weather had other stories.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Tembo Hotel

 

A couple of thunderstorms came rolling through Stone Town during the first half of the day. This allowed us to relax in our hotel room and around the pool – with our trip so far being pretty jam-packed (you can read about our safari here and here) this was our day to sit back and relax, especially through the heat of the afternoon sun.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Tembo Hotel

 

After the storms had passed, we spent a few hours wandering around the hotel and the beach.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar - View from Tembo Hotel

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

Visions of Zanzibar

 

 

Darajani Market

 

In the early evening we ventured back out to explore the streets in search of the Darajani Market. It was chaotic...

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Streets of Stone Town

 

... and full of some the best smells (think fresh local cinnamon, cardamom, and currys) ...

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

... and worst smells (think of raw fish, raw meat, and rotting vegetables) all combined into one bombardment of the senses.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Market in Stone Town

 

For dinner we ate at Lukmann Restaurant, which we highly recommend. They have a massive selection of local fare for a reasonable price, and the place was full of both tourists and locals alike, eating like it was their last meal.

 

Visions of Zanzibar - Stone Town at Night