Follow Me Away - Couples Travel & Travel Photography Blog
Follow Me Away is a travel and photography blog featuring photography/model duo TJ Drysdale and Victoria Yore. Traveling couple & trusted resource for travel tips, inspiration, & advice. Capturing the world one shot at a time!
If you are looking for the best things to do in Oman you have come to the right place! Oman is one of the most fantastic and diverse countries on the Arabian peninsula and if you have never visited before, you are in for a real treat. There are so many places to visit in Oman that there is truly something for everyone. Love long walks on the beach and relaxing in the warm water? Oman has you covered? Interested in hiking and being active? Don’t worry? Want to escape from it all and wander cities and go shopping? You are in luck!
There are so many things to do in Oman we could write a book. But for the sake of this article, we have narrowed it down to some of the most epic and unique things to do in Oman. Within moments of stepping foot in the country, Oman shot to the top of the list of our favorite places to travel. This diverse, safe, unique, and easy-to-travel country will surely not disappoint you either!
When planning your trip, check out our list of places to visit in Oman below. We have included a map of where all of these places are located at the end so that you can see how near or far they are from one another. This is something we wish we had when planning our trip to Oman. Knowing where each of these Oman tourist places is located from the other will help you understand how you should map out your trip and route. We can’t wait to show you some of the most epic things to do in Oman that you absolutely must see!
10 Completely Epic Things To Do In Oman
Hike To Wadi Shab For One Of The Most Epic Things To Do In Oman
When we were planning our list of things to do in Oman, we knew that hiking and swimming in Wadi Shab was on top of that list. And we are here to say that it did not disappoint. If you are looking for one of the best Oman tourist places, add Wadi Shab to your list! First off, we want to share that in Oman, a “Wadi” is another word for a gorge or canyon. A Wadi is NOT the crystalline pools but is instead the actual canyon itself. There are tons of Wadis in Oman without any water in them at all. Thankfully, this is not the case at Wadi Shab and it is truly one of the most epic places to visit in Oman!
In order to get to Wadi Shab, you have to take a super short boat ride for 1 Omani Rial [about $2.80 USD] and then hike for 45 minutes. Every other article we came across talks about a “walk” to Wadi Shab but we are here to tell you it was more of a moderate hike. We passed someone doing it in crutches and a few fit elderly folks too so the hike is for everyone, just keep in mind to wear proper shoes and change into flip flops when you arrive at Wadi Shab itself.
Wadi Shab is one of the best things to do in Oman because you get the best of both worlds. You get to hike, and then you get to swim in perfectly clear pools of warm fresh water. There are three sets of pools and the third set of pools is the deepest and there is a cave to swim to at the end. The area of Wadi Shab for swimming is smaller than you may think but there is still plenty to explore. We ended up spending over 5 hours at Wadi Shab and it the views are so stunning it just had to top our list of things to do in Oman!
Explore Bahla Fort, One Of The Lesser-Known Oman Tourist Places
Bahla Fort is Oman’s only UNESCO heritage fort but it is one of the lesser-visited Oman tourist places. We visited Bahla Fort at the peak of the high season and we literally wandered this fort for an hour and only saw two other tourists. If you are a history lover and looking to experience one of the more unique things to do in Oman, put Bahla Fort on the top of your list.
What we loved about Bahla Fort is that it is much more affordable than other forts in the area. The cost of entry only rang in at 1 rial for both of us! We thought this was an incredibly cheap entry for such a fantastic place. Bahla Fort was constructed in the 13th century and you can explore the grounds at will. How many other places in the world can you go to where you can wander a UNESCO World Heritage Site for $3 for two people and hardly ever come across another tourist? This just adds to the magic of Bahla Fort and it should certainly top your list of places to visit in Oman.
Watch The Sunset Over Wadi Dayqah Dam
We went back to watch the sunset to Wadi Dayqah Dam 2-3 times during our time in Oman. Since we enjoyed it so much and it is such a unique experience, we think it should be added to your list of things to do in Oman. Wadi Dayqah Dam is located on the east coast of Oman and offers stunning and unexpected views. In fact, when we were sharing photos and videos from Wadi Dayqah Dam to our friends and followers during our visit, this was the place that most people had questions and comments about because no one had heard of it before.
The views at Wadi Dayqah Dam are truly stunning and it is one of the best places to visit in Oman because it is so easy to access yet so beautiful. Locals frequent Wadi Dayqah Dam as there is a park right on the lake for picnicking and playing with children. The park faces the lake and the sun sets behind the lake and the mountains which make for a simply wonderful dinner view. You can get to Wadi Dayqah Dam with any type of car, but if you are coming from the south your GPS may recommend a dirt road that can only be accessed by 4×4.
We highly recommend ensuring you are driving a 4×4 when coming up from the south as it is necessary to go the back way. Otherwise, the road from the main highway is completely paved and easy to drive on and takes you right to the Wadi Dayqah Dam complex. Even if you can’t be at Wadi Dayqah Dam for sunset, it is worth a spot on your list of things to do in Oman as it isn’t very famous or well-known.
Marvel At Muscat’s Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the most stunning religious establishments we have ever visited and one of the must-see places to visit in Oman. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is open to the public from Saturday-Thursday from 8am-11am. Many mosques do not allow non-Muslim visitors to enter the prayer area and that is one of the reasons Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque should top your list of things to do in Oman. The mosque is easily accessible and located in the heart of Muscat.
If you are planning to visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, keep in mind that a strict dress code is enforced. Everyone should have arms and legs completely covered and women are required to cover their heads and hair completely. If you aren’t into dresses, a simple pair of long pants and a long sleeve top and a scarf over your head is completely fine. All that is asked when visiting this beautiful location is that you dress respectfully for visiting a religious establishment.
If Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is on your list of things to do in Oman, make sure to budget enough time. We were there from 8:30am-11am when it was time to leave. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore and so much stunning architecture that you are going to want to have enough time and not rush. We didn’t feel rushed when experiencing one of the most famous places in Oman and it was well worth it.
Keep in mind that Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the more well-known and easily accessible things to do in Oman so it can get crowded. When we arrived at 8:30 am there were already over 50 tour buses in the parking lot. Thankfully, all the tours move quickly and the mosque property is huge so you never really feel too crowded! This mosque is one of the best things to do in Oman because of its religious and cultural significance and stunning architecture and design.
Go Camping In The Wahiba Sands Desert For One Of The Most Memorable Things To Do In Oman
Oman is home to a stretch of pristine sand dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. The Wahiba Sands [also known..
We had seen dreamy pictures from Wadi Tiwi in Oman online and we couldn’t wait to visit. Unfortunately, our excitement eventually turned into a sinking feeling and we feel we narrowly escaped a potential scam. We didn’t want to talk publically about our experience and just told our close family, but really feel that we want to share our story with others planning a trip to Wadi Tiwi in the event this has happened before.
Let me start off by saying that Oman was easily the safest country we have traveled to. We NEVER felt unsafe [other than this one example] and we NEVER felt like we had to protect or hold our bags close like we do in many European countries and cities including Paris, Rome, London, NYC and more. Oman was incredibly safe and it was soooo enjoyable traveling in a country where people aren’t trying to scam you or pickpocket you at every turn. You could rest with ease and explore at will and everyone was nothing but kind and helpful. This story does NOT reflect our experience in Oman as a whole but we still feel it needs to be said.
We aren’t saying that this was 100% a scam at Wadi Tiwi. We will NEVER know for sure. But it sure FELT LIKE we had narrowly missed some sort of dire fate. We are simply going to state the facts and let you decide for yourself based on them what YOU think it was. We also want to share our story so that others planning a trip to Wadi Tiwi know what to look out for and what NOT to do!
Even us “seasoned travelers” make mistakes when tired, frustrated or annoyed. If it wasn’t for Terrence’s quick thinking there is NO WAY to know what could have happened.
This was one of the Wadi Tiwi views we wanted to see [in addition to the waterfall]. This is what we set out to find during our visit to Wadi Tiwi. This is a stock photo as an example of what we saw online that was so beautiful we just had to see it ourselves.
How We Narrowly Avoided A Potential Wadi Tiwi Scam
When we decided to visit Wadi Tiwi, we did extensive research online. We read MANY other blog posts, checked out photos and guides, and searched around to find all the information necessary. The day before we had visited other nearby Wadis including Wadi Shab. We knew exactly which “views” we wanted to see at Wadi Tiwi including a popular one [shown in the photo above] and a waterfall.
During my time reading up on visiting Wadi Tiwi, I discovered that in order to get deep into the Wadi [another word for gorge], you would have to drive into the canyon and pass about 5-7 villages. Okay, so this didn’t sound too hard!
The day before, we had visited Wadi Shab and we had talked with a local man about visiting Wadi Tiwi. He said that you will drive into the Wadi and pass many villages before you arrive and maybe local children will offer to guide you down into the Wadi pools but you can tell them no if you want to go on your own. Okay, sounded easy enough, right?
The night before, I looked at all the blog posts about Wadi Tiwi one last time. They all pretty much said you drive into the Wadi [gorge] until you come across “the things.” When we visited Wadi Shab and Wadi Al Abreen everything was straightforward and there was a definite parking area. This was not the case for Wadi Tiwi.
When we went to Wadi Tiwi, we began our drive in from the road. Everything started alright but then we got to the first village. The roads narrowed extremely small [totally fine as the villages are built on a cliff slide]. We began our drive at about 3pm and the sun was scheduled to set at about 6:15pm. Since we had to drive and not walk, our plan was to drive into Wadi Tiwi, snap a few photos of the pools as the sun was a little less harsh, and then leave. There was no 45-minute hike to arrive at the Wadi pools like there was for other nearby Wadis so we were set.
At this time in the day, many other tourists were leaving Wadi Tiwi just as we were coming in. The roads were extremely steep and narrow [not an issue for us] but other tourists did NOT know the proper protocol and rules for passing on a steep and narrow one-lane road. Any time we passed a local or a local guide driving the opposite way, everything went smoothly. Any time we passed a tourist leaving Wadi Tiwi it was a huge ordeal and they wouldn’t pull out of the road and just didn’t understand appropriate passing rules. Each tourist we passed added at least 5 minutes to our journey.
Here you can see the narrow winding roads that went through the villages of Wadi Tiwi
An example of a difficult part in the road that gave many tourists trouble as they weren’t familiar with correct passing. I add this part to the story because it shows how annoyed we were at driving for 45 minutes which led to bad decisions later during our time in Wadi Tiwi.
There were no signs or landmarks and we didn’t see any tourists anywhere. We assumed there would be a signed parking lot or something of that nature as there had been at other Wadis, even the more remote ones. We wound through the valley floor of the Wadi and then up and down through cliffside villages.
It took us 45 minutes to get into the Wadi. At this point, I had been driving and was extremely frustrated that we had yet to find “the spot” as the sun was going down and we had been in the car so long fighting with inexperienced tourists on the roads.
We saw a sign for a parking lot for a hike that connected Wadi Tiwi to Wadi Bani Khalid on the other side of the mountains. Since we didn’t want to do this hike, we stopped and asked a local man if this was the place to stop and see the waterfall at Wadi Tiwi and the view we wanted to see [shown above in this article]. He said no and told us to continue down the road for another 10-15 minutes and a few miles.
We head down the road further and after 10 minutes we don’t see anything. I stop again and ask another local teenager if this was the proper place for the waterfall and the Mibam Village [our end goal]. He said no and told us we still needed to go a few minutes up the road. He asked if he could get in our car and take us and we declined. He put his head and hands in the window and insisted and we declined as we didn’t have any cash for payment on us.
In Oman, guides are a HUGE industry. Guides help people find their way and take them to all of the sights. This boy was just trying to be a guide and make some extra cash but again we were frustrated and annoyed so we declined and left.
Part of the cliff-side road in Wadi Tiwi. At this point, we hadn’t seen a tourist for a long while and we also were high on the cliff edge not anywhere near the valley floor where the pools or waterfall would be.
About a half-mile, after we left the boy we came across another village. As soon as I turned into the village a man jumped out of nowhere and started waving his hands like mad in the middle of the road. I rolled down my window and he asked “are you looking for the Wadi Tiwi?!” and I was like YES!!!!! After driving for 45 minutes and dealing with poor drivers and being confused we had FOUND IT! The guy immediately flagged me to park on the side of the road and pointed down a very steep hill and said the Waidi Tiwi tourist area was down there.
I asked him if this is where the waterfall was and he said yes. I wanted to confirm that this was it so I asked him if there was anywhere else to go. He said NO that the road ended and this was it. I could clearly see from my GPS that the road did NOT end in that village but I figured maybe he had misunderstood and that there were only more villages that way but no pools or waterfalls. I pulled over to park and was just annoyed and done and ready to see Wadi Tiwi pools and leave.
IMMEDIATELY Terrence felt a sense of dread. He said he had a bad feeling about this whole thing. I told him it would be fine and that “guide culture” is big in Oman and this guy probably just wanted to be our guide down to the Wadi. Terrence knew Wadi Tiwi is a big tourist attraction and said how could this POSSIBLY be the spot? It was literally just enough space for two cars to barely park on the side of a narrow road in a random village in front of a random house. He said there was no way this was it.
I asked him if he REALLY felt that bad we could just leave. He said it was up to me and ultimately he didn’t say a hard no and we decided to go. But first, we did something we had not done our entire time in Oman. We packed up every single item of value in that car to take with us. During the entire time in Oman, we had left camera gear, clothes, personal items, batteries etc in the car and never felt unsafe.
Terrence and I never spoke to each other, but quietly packed up every single item of value. That being said, I accidentally left my Olympus Camera and my drive on the floor in the back seat. While we were packing up our bags of clothes and swimsuits etc. the man was standing right outside.
Another man came and sat on a wall right outside our car and watched us the whole time. Terrence was very uncomfortable but I assumed this guy was living in a small town village and some tourists came and he just wanted to see the action. There is no way to know who was right and we aren’t saying the guy had bad intentions in any way at all. These are just the facts. As we were packing up a guy sat on a wall and watched.
While we were finishing packing up, a group of women and children were walking down the street towards us. The man who jumped out in the middle of the road and was our new “guide” shooed them away hurriedly. They had a weird look on their faces but turned around and left as the man scolded them in Arabic and told them to leave us.
We asked the man where the waterfall was and he pointed down a very steep hill and said it was just five minutes this way. We said okay but we were at the very top of the mountain and had to walk to the valley in order to get to the alleged pools and waterfall in Wadi Tiwi.
At this point, I was still optimistic but Terrence was on high alert. The local man we had met at Wadi Shab had told us that it was common for kids to ask to guide you into the Wadi so I assumed this man was doing the same thing.
This next part happened in a span of under two minutes. I checked the time stamp on my photos and our entire ordeal lasted 2 minutes.
There was a steep road we walked on for about 0.1 seconds before the man took us DEEP into the forest in a very local village. I always try and be optimistic and adventurous so that was the mindset I took. Plus, I was just ready to find the views at Wadi Tiwi and be done with it.
Here is Terrence beginning the descent into the thick forest below with the man walking a bit ahead. In hindsight, there was no way on this earth you could walk from where we were to the valley floor in just five minutes. Major tourist mistake but we always try and see the good in people.
We began to walk along the date palm irrigation system and started to descend the steep mountainside. At this point, the guide asked Terrence if he could help him with his camera, as Terrence had accidentally hit the lens hood as he jumped down one of the irrigation rivers. Of course, Terrence declined as any traveler knows not to let random strangers in the woods hold their cameras, plus Terrence was taking photos. He doesn’t care if it was Florida, NYC, Oman, Ireland, Iceland, anywhere, nobody was holding his camera.
As we continued to go down the cliff side and along the irrigation system, this is when I finally began to feel uncomfortable. The man asked Terrence at LEAST 5 times in a minute if he could “help him” with his camera and went so far as to reach toward it and be very insistent. This really rubbed me the wrong way.
The man looking at Terrence’s camera as we go even deeper into the forest. This is moments before the below “act” happened.
Then Terrence jumped off another small ledge and hurt his ankle. Or did he? No, he didn’t really hurt himself, he faked it. I am here to say that Terrence’s quick thinking almost certainly saved us from a potentially dire situation.
Terrence jumped down and immediately held his ankle and said “ow! ow! my ankle ughhhhh it hurts!!!!!!!!!!” I knew IMMEDIATELY this was a ploy to leave. The man asked again if he could hold Terrence’s camera to which Terrence declined. He held his ankle and exclaimed in fake pain a few more times.
I turned my back to the man and mouthed to Terrence asking him if he wanted to go back to the car and leave. He immediately gave me “the look” and said yes. So then I began putting on my act. I was like “oh no babe are you okay? Do you want to leave? OMG I think we should leave you don’t want to hurt your ankle more walking down this steep cliff.”
Terrence said [in more fake pain] that yes he wanted to leave and told the guide that he had hurt his ankle the other..
Churches in Iceland are so unique and pretty and you must put them on your list of things to see! Unlike many other websites that talk about planning a trip to Iceland but are very vague about where the pretty locations are, we are going to give you the exact google map location of each and every picturesque church in Iceland!
These churches in Iceland are spread all around the country, from the popular south to the far-flung Westfjods and the chilly North. The one thing that we ask of you is that you be respectful when visiting these churches in Iceland. We are telling you the locations and that is our contribution. Your contribution is to be respectful of the church, nature, locals, and fellow tourists during your visit.
Be quiet, don’t hog the view, and don’t take too long in one place or be crazy or loud. We are revealing the location and names of these beautiful churches in Iceland and we encourage you to visit them with respect and dignity. Don’t throw trash or use the outdoors as a bathroom [yes feces are commonly found in Iceland!] Feel free to visit these pretty churches in Iceland, but make sure you are respectful when doing it!
Prettiest Churches In Iceland + Map To Find Them
Thingvalla Kirkja Church
Thingvalla Kirkja is one of the oldest churches in Iceland! It was consecrated in the 11th century. For being so old, it is still quite pretty and we love the white building rimmed with green detail. Thingvalla Kirkja is easily accessible from Reykjavik as it is located in the nearby Thingvellier National Park. This national park is home to Iceland’s Golden Circle drive so if you are looking for an additional stop along the way, make sure to visit one of the oldest churches in Iceland!
Thingvalla Kirkja is accessible in both the winter and the summer so no matter what time of year you are visiting Iceland, you can stop by this pretty church for a photograph.
Call us boring or typical, but our favorite pretty church in Iceland is Búdakirkja which is one of Iceland’s few black churches! Also known as the Budir Black Church [in English and by tourists], this small wooden structure is located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula’s southern end. This church is incredibly picturesque and can be accessed during both the summer and the winter. It looks beautiful during the sunset and makes for a striking foreground when capturing the Northern Lights in the winter. This is easily one of the cutest churches in Iceland because the black color stands out against the Icelandic landscape.
This church is very popular for photography and with tourists, so if you visit, make sure to get your shots and get out and respect others who are visiting and photographing it too! You don’t want to hog the view. If there is a wedding, come back at a different time because this means the wedding party rented out the church for the occasion.
When we were driving along the Ring Road through Iceland’s East Fjords, we were immediately struck by how pretty Kirkjubaer Church was. We could see it from the road and knew we had to pull over and stop for a photo. Kirkjubaer Church is one of the prettiest churches in Iceland and is located in the old fishing village of Stodvarfjordur in the East Fjords. The East Fjords of Iceland don’t get a lot of love, and there aren’t as many things to see and do there when compared to other parts of Iceland, but they sure are home to quite a few lovely churches in Iceland including Kirkjubaer Church.
Kirkjubaer Church is well worth the stop if you are driving through the East Fjords because it is so picturesque and because it will really break up your driving and give you time to stretch your legs and walk around and learn about this small fishing village.
Husavikurkirkja Church is located in the high North of Iceland in the town of Husavik. When we first visited Husavik we didn’t know what to expect, but the town is actually larger compared to other tiny villages in Iceland, and Husavikurkirkja Church really stood out! This is one of the larger churches in Iceland and isn’t quite as teeny tiny as some others around the island. Husavikurkirkja Church looks like a real-life gingerbread house and is well worth the stop if you are on the hunt for the best churches in Iceland.
Although Husavik is technically accessible all year round, it can get quite snowy and brutal in the winter with tons of snow. When we visited Husavikurkirkja Church it was in the fall and the weather was great, but just a month later this Icelandic church was buried in snow. If you want to visit Husavikurkirkja Church, it is best to plan your trip to Iceland during the warmer months.
Vik i Myrdal Church
Vik i Myrdal Church is easily the most popular and most photographed church in Iceland. It is located high on a hill overlooking the town of Vik, and if you are going to be driving the Ring Road through southern Iceland, you will surely see it. We have passed by Vik i Myrdal Church countless times both in winter, fall, and spring and it is accessible all year round. Although it is one of the most photographed churches in Iceland, it is very picturesque and worth a stop.
If you are looking to visit Vik i Myrdal Church at its very best, consider visiting during summer or the warmer months. You will see purple flowers blooming all around the hillside that this Icelandic church is perched atop and it makes for some magical photos and meditation if you are interested.
Most people never know that there are more than one black churches in Iceland! They will visit the Budir church listed above and will never think to visit Raudisandur Black Church located in the remote Westfjords of Iceland. This church is simply called “old church with adjacent graveyard” on Google Maps so make sure you are heading to the right place and not to a turf church by a similar name in North Iceland! The Westfjords are such a stunning part of the country to visit, but do require a few days to really even begin to scratch the surface. Although it is not entirely 100% black like the Budir Church, Raudisandur Church is black with red and white trim which makes it entirely unique!
Raudisandur Church is located in Raudisandur in the southern Westfjords. It is located right on what is lovingly referred to as the “red sand beach” so simply put the town of Raudisandur into your GPS and you can’t miss the church! We don’t recommend heading out to the Westfjords strictly to see this one church, but putting multiple interesting things on your list to see and including this church along in your discovery of this remote part of Iceland.
Hofskirkja Church is one of the most unique churches in Iceland because it is wooden and turf. The roof is made out of turf that blends into the earth below it making it incredibly pretty. In fact, Hofskirkja is easily one of the prettiest churches in Iceland for this single reason. Hofskirkja is located near Hof Iceland and Skaftafell National Park. This turf church in Iceland has a cemetery around it and should 100% be respected.
When visiting Hofskirkja do not climb on the church or walk near or on the surrounding graves. Be quiet and treat this pretty turf church in Iceland with the utmost respect. It is well worth the stop and is located in South Eastern Iceland and is a great way to break up your drive along the Ring Road with a unique stop.
Seydisfjordurkirkja Church is located in the town of Seydisfjordur which is in the Eastfjords of Iceland. The town of Seydisfjordur is at least a 30-45 minute drive each way off of the Ring Road but the drive is well worth it. You drive up a mountain and then wind down the other side until you come to Seydisfjordur nestled right along a fjord. Seydisfjordurkirkja Church is one of the prettiest churches in Iceland because it is a soft powder blue which stands out among the moody town.
But the best part? This powder blue church is accented by a rainbow pathway that leads up to it! Seydisfjordurkirkja Church is located in the center of town and there is a rainbow walkway that winds through the small shops and ends up at the foot of the church. Although it was off the Ring Road and took a little longer to drive to than we had anticipated, visiting Seydisfjordurkirkja Church was well worth it. If you are looking for one of the prettiest churches in Iceland, build in some extra time to your itinerary for a visit to this colorful place of worship!
Northern Italy is the perfect getaway you have been waiting for! See stunning views from a gondola in Venice or explore the amazing and delicious city of Parma, there is so much to experience. Get to know some of the best places to visit in northern Italy with this article, you will love every single one! Northern Italy is truly a treat to be able to visit, so utilizing your time is very important.
Make sure when you are planning your trip to look here for the most incredible places to visit in northern Italy, it will be a dream come true! Not only does northern Italy contain staggering castles, but decadent cuisine and quaint villages. There is something for everyone in northern Italy, and hopefully, we will show you what you are looking for! If you are visiting Italy for a honeymoon, check out our 7 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy for the best places to visit, especially in northern Italy!
Each location in northern Italy is unique to itself, even if each place is within the same region. There are some seriously epic places that should top your list, if not for the impressive views alone. Transportation in northern Italy is pretty simple since it is all within one region. Our suggestion is to rent a car; the best way to travel around northern Italy and there are parking garages you can leave your vehicle at.
This is crucial, especially in places like Venice, since they have no roads! If renting a car is out of your price range, then traveling by train or boat is your next best bet. This is also a really great way to explore northern Italy as you can see off-the-beaten-path views and towns you wouldn’t normally get to see! Look at our Wildly Romantic Italian Honeymoon Destinations to see the best ways to visit Italy and enjoy your experience if you are visiting during your special time!
10 Stunningly Beautiful Places You Must Visit In Northern France
Bolzano Is The Gem Of The Dolomites In Northern Italy
Bolzano is a picturesque location in northern Italy, missing out on this beautiful town would be a disappointment! You can find this marvelous place in a valley among hilly vineyards, perfect for gorgeous photos and picnics. What is really interesting about Bolzano is that it is home to a literal ice mummy named Otzi. He is a neolithic mummy and was found in September of 1991 in the Otzal Alps; he offered an amazing look into what Copper-Age Europeans lived and looked like! You can see him at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology. Bolzano is also the gateway to the Dolomite’s Mountain Range, so hiking and rock climbing in certain areas are encouraged! Make sure to spend time looking at the places you can go to rock climb because the experience is out of this world!
The Duomo di Bolzano Cathedral is a gorgeous church in northern Italy. The sight of it makes you want to immediately go inside to view the interior. It’s Romanesque and Gothic architecture add life to the cathedral, viewing this beautiful place is something you are never going to forget! Bolzano is also home to a 13th century Mareccio Castle that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen! If you have traveled all over Europe you are likely to see over hundreds of castles but this one in Bolzano is such an amazing work of architecture. Opened in 1275, this castle was actually a home rather than a fortification. Previous restorations have been made on the building and between 1560 and 1570, the Romer family had it made into a renaissance castle. It is mostly used as a convention center now but tours are available to the public!
Another great thing about Bolzano is the Messner Mountain Museum in the southwestern port. In amazing condition, the museum is actually located within Firmain Castle. This northern Italy town is a great destination to start off with or end with, everything is close together and there is so much life within the town as well!
Venice Is Made Up Of Over One-Hundred Islands, And You Can Walk Them Within A Day
What’s great about Venice, one of the most popular cities in northern Italy, is that no matter how big the city is, you can still walk the entirety of it within one day! These small islands are so close together that bridges and side streets connect them. It is so wondrous to be standing over a tall bridge and have multiple gondola’s pass by underneath you! Venice also does not have any roads inside the city since there are waterways and canals. When you are exploring this grand city and walking is not your cup of tea, the gondolas are an amazing way to experience Venice in all its glory. These islands are part of a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Being in the gondola’s is awe-inspiring because you can see a renaissance and Gothic palaces that line this beautiful little canals.
Venice is the capital of the Vento region in northern Italy and when you visit, you’ll know why. It is such a huge beacon for tourism and shopping. This city has a life like no other and you will be so amazed at its presence. This northern Italy city is also a romantic getaway for a couple of any kind, taking a trip here will be well worth your money and your time. Gliding in a gondola at sunset? Now that is what I call romance! Make sure to check out local businesses for shopping and dining, you will find some of the best eateries just by exploring! Let your hungry stomach lead you to fine cuisine and don’t hold back!
Venice is also home to some wonderful historic locations like St. Mark’s Basilica. This hulking cathedral can be seen from the Piazza San Marco square, which has gorgeous mosaics and is connected to Doge’s Palace. St. Mark’s Basilica is seen as the most famous church in the city and rightly so. The Italo-Byzantine architecture of the church is widely recognized as one of the best examples of the aforementioned. Don’t forget about Doge’s Palace as well, with its Gothic style and museum held inside!
Parma Isn’t Just About The Cheese, This Northern Italy City Has The Most Charming Side Streets
Parma can tell you about itself by just the name. Northern Italy is famous for many many things, but Parma is probably well known to cheese lovers all around the world. Parmesan cheese and Parma ham are what the town is most famous for, you will be sorely dismayed if you do not take at least one cheese tour in this town. Seeing as that is what Parma is known for, you can’t leave without trying the delicious food!
What is also cool about this northern Italy area is that it is home to the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world! So it is bustling with students and city life alike, it so fascinating to sit and people watch at a small cafe on one of the side streets. Speaking of those, you can take the most inspiring photos on Parma’s many cobbled side streets. If you want to explore, put on some comfortable shoes and just start walking around! The small streets are lined with businesses and cafes, perfect places to sit and relax or enjoy the local shopping.
One of the places you’ll really love about this northern Italy city is that it has a 19th century Opera House called the Teatro Regio. Classical concerts or Opera’s can be heard from this magnificent theater and it is transcending. Look at the venue’s website before you go to see if you are able to see a concert or play at this spectacular opera house! Another amazing part of Parma is the Galleria Nazionale, which boast works of art by the famous painters Correggio and Canaletto. The northern Italy gallery is located within the Palazzo della Pilotta, edifices that make up an entire complex. Seeing this amazing construction is unforgettable and an absolute must in Parma!
Milan Is The Shopping Hub For The Entire World
Milan is a metropolis, a global capital for fashion and design. You cannot walk more than five feet without passing by a clothing or goods store. It is mind-blowing how huge this epicenter is and all that it offers to its patrons! World-class dining experiences, high-end shopping districts, and art all located within this gorgeous northern Italy city. You can have the most exquisite food you will ever eat in this city, if you’re hungry for something specific, one of the restaurants has it guaranteed. With shopping, there is so much to do and see, from name brand fashion like Prada or Chanel to local businesses that sell their trade.
If you are into shopping malls, Milan has one of the biggest in northern Italy! The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II has more high-end shopping experiences that will knock your socks off! Built in the 19th century, this northern Italy mall is a four-story arcade. You could literally spend all day here looking at the shops and getting lost in the intricate details of the architecture. It is amazing to see how stately this building is, just looking at it will impress you!
One thing we admire about Milan is the amazing buildings located within this northern Italy metropolitan area. The Duomo di Milano is perhaps the greatest and most complex cathedral within Italy. It took almost six-hundred years to complete and is a great example of Gothic architecture, this imposing building seems like it came out of a dream.
It is absolutely stunning to walk along the top of the building, you feel like you are on top of the city! Another example of stunning architecture is the Sforzesco Castle, a medieval fortress that contains pieces of art and discovered treasure. This castle has been renovated and restored so many times, but it is still heavenly to visit. It is currently a museum, so make sure to visit and tour before leaving Milan!
Turin Is Perfect For A Lazy Day Of Cafe Hopping And People Watching
This northern Italy town is the best place for visiting old cafes and restaurants, spending a leisure day exploring Turin. This town is really good for taking a break if you’ve been non-stop traveling. It has a charm to it like nothing else! Visiting Turin is a wonderful idea because although there is much to see, you can spend your day wandering around and exploring without feeling like you’re missing out. Northern Italy has some wonderful cities but Turin is one of the best, it may be a large city but it feels like it’s not! This northern Italy area is known for some epic places but probably the most well known is the face of Jesus in the Turin Shroud! Even if you aren’t religious, this is a marvel this is a must-see!
Something really cool about the northern Italy city is the refined architecture. Exploring through this city will give you so many amazing feeling, the Baroque buildings will take you back in time. It is so gorgeous to look around and feel as if you were placed in a different time and life. While you’re in Turin, make sure to visit the impressive Piazza Castello and Piazza San Carlo. These squares will blow you away with the amount of fine details and the picturesque views. Sitting in the squares for a couple of hours will be the most peaceful moments of your entire trip!
If you love cinema then this northern Italy city is the place to go because it has the National Cinema Museum! Located within the Mole Antonelliana, a 19th-century tower that has beautiful a beautiful spire, the National Cinema Museum has old artifacts and cinema relics that will be the highlight of your visit. Seeing how movies and film have progressed is absolutely amazing and you will thank yourself for the visit! While you’re in Turin, make sure to visit the Egyptian Museum where you can see gorgeous ancient relics and beautiful works of art, and don’t forget mummies!
Genoa Is A Must-See Port City In Northern Italy
What is really amazing about northern Italy are the port cities you can visit and stay in! There are some truly beautiful spots in northern Italy but Genoa has to be one of the best! Genoa is the capital of Liguria and if you haven’t guessed, it is a unique port city. In the past, Genoa was and is known for their central role in maritime trade, a powerhouse for ships and travelers looking to come to a new and exciting place. This northern Italy port is full of rich history and a place you should most definitely check out!
Northern Italy and Italy itself has so many cathedrals but one of my favorites is the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, a Romanesque church that has a gorgeous exterior and interior. This cathedral has intricate details that will take forever to notice or even find, all of it culminates together to create this amazing and decadent church. The interior has frescoes that will take you away to another world, it is that mesmerizing. The church also has a black and white striped facade, something you will never forget! Take many pictures because even though you won’t forget, you’ll want to look back on and remember how blown-away you were!
This northern Italy port city is still a working port and such a sight to see. Going to explore the docks is a great experience, feel the life of the city by the water and see the trade happening in real time! There is an Aquarium and a Maritime Museum, so check out the history of the port city while looking at marine life! Make sure to visit the Piazza de Ferrari, a central part of this northern Italy city! There are small lanes that take you anywhere you want to go but a lot of them lead you to the Piazza, which is an amazing experience when the lane opens to this large and frankly magnificent square. Located in the square is the Bronze Fountain, a dramatic sculpture that is a must-see!
Are you on the hunt of the best New Zealand South Island itinerary? Look no further as these are the best stops that you are going to want to drop everything and see! People always have a hard time choosing between North Island and South Island in New Zealand. But you know what, I’ll go for South Island any time of the day. And there’s a good reason for that, almost all the natural gems are located at South Island compared to the more developed North Island. Today, we’re gonna look at the places to visit to include in your New Zealand South Island itinerary.
Whether this is your first time planning a New Zealand itinerary or you are an old pro, these must-see stops should top your itinerary. Some you may have heard of while others may be brand new to you which will make them even more exciting to discover when you are planning your perfect New Zealand South Island itinerary. Make sure to check out this post for the best road trip apps and tools and get ready to see the best of New Zealand!
10 Must-See Stops On Your New Zealand South Island Itinerary
Milford Sound Offers Waterfall Views
Milford Sound, located in Fiordland National Park is truly a legendary paradise for mankind, offering different magnificent views on different seasons. As a result, it is easily one of the best stops on your New Zealand South Island itinerary. Whether you are visiting in the summer or during the off-season, the views are spellbinding and there is so much to see and do.
The best way to visit Milford is by cruising or kayaking. Due to a large number of cruises running here every day, you’ll find that the prices are relatively cheap. Kayaking is also an option for those who prefer flexibility but the downside is that you can’t explore far from Bowen Falls when of the more popular Milford Sound waterfalls. The peaks surrounding the rivers are ultra-steep, reaching heights over 2000m. When it comes to winter, you’ll find green trees at the bottom of those snow-capped mountains. A very interesting thing that happens is when it rains, hundreds of waterfalls will appear in Milford Sound for several hours. Only a few waterfalls, like Bowen Falls, remain flowing throughout the year.
Dolphins also enjoy swimming alongside the cruises, so get your camera ready at all time! It’s so heartwarming to see wildlife engaging with humans but be careful not to feed or try and touch any animals during your New Zealand South Island itinerary. The only road that leads to Milford Sound is from Te Anau, which is 2 hours away. Along the way, there are a lot of campsites and attractions which are worth spending some time. Make sure to visit this comprehensive guide to plan your perfect New Zealand Road Trip itinerary for additional first-hand planning tips!
Mount Cook National Park May Be The Most Well-Known Stop On Your New Zealand South Island Itinerary
If you are planning your New Zealand South Island road trip, chances are you may have heard of the famous Mount Cook before. After all, it is quite well-known because Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, with an elevation of 3,724m. And what’s better when there’s a national park dedicated to it? The mountains in the national park are breathtaking and worth a stop on your New Zealand itinerary.
While it is difficult to summit Mount Cook because you’ll need a professional expedition team with all the tools and gears, there are lots of tracks/hikes available in the national park. The most well-known track would be the Hooker Valley Track. It’s easy and wheelchair accessible and only requires 3 hours for a return trip. The track spans 10km back and forth, circling through the valley overlooking the surrounding massive snow mountains. It’s the best-reviewed track in New Zealand!
If you’re doing a New Zealand South Island road trip, consider staying a night here inside your car or campervan. Check Campermatefor the exact locations of the campsites. The fare would be around $8 per person per night. Be prepared for the bone-chilling temperature when camping here, especially if you’re traveling in winter! Make sure to research and pack appropriate clothing depending on what you want to see and do at Mount Cook during your New Zealand South Island itinerary.
Arthur’s Pass National Park Is Majestic But Often Skipped Over
Often missed out in travelers’ New Zealand South Island itinerary – Arthur’s Pass is the only highway that connects the West Coast and the East Coast at the central region. It’s also one of the most scenic driveways in New Zealand. Sadly, many travelers miss out on seeing Arthur’s Pass when planning their New Zealand road trip. The best-known landmark of Arthur’s Pass National Park is Castle Hill, the filming location of The Chronicles of Narnia. Standing beside those massive limestone boulders will undoubtedly make you feel tiny. This is a unique piece of New Zealand that you certainly shouldn’t miss.
If you love hiking, then you shouldn’t miss Avalanche Peak too. It’s very physically-demanding for some, but can be completed within a day. It’s a popular track with a well-marked path so you need not to worry about getting lost. The track is closed in the winter, because… The name says it all. If you’re driving this New Zealand South Island road trip itinerary during the winter, be sure your car has some snow chains or snow tires because it’s a hot spot for car accidents caused by skidding on black ice. It’s located at high altitude and pretty vulnerable to heavy snowfall! Just be safe and drive slowly and you should be alright.
Franz Josef Glacier Is The Most Popular Glacier You Will See On Your New Zealand Road Trip
One of the two most well-known glaciers in New Zealand, Franz Josef Glacier should be in your bucket list right now and should top your New Zealand South Island road trip stops. Why do I say so? Well, the glacier is retreating at a ridiculous speed every year, large portions are gone day by day, and eventually, it will not be offering the same view as your friend sent you several years before. This is truly sad and this is happening to glaciers all around the world, from Alaska and Canada to Iceland and Greenland. If you really want to see glaciers during your New Zealand road trip, make sure to stop at Franz Josef Glacier before it is gone.
There are several operators which bring tourists up to the glacier for exploration using helicopters. You’ll be brought to the safest route with the most spectacular views for an unmatched experience. Make sure you book early! If you have never been in a helicopter, it is an incredible out-of-body experience and what better time and place to do that than on New Zealand’s beautiful south island?
If you’re not planning to explore the glacier by helicopter, then you can visit the glacier by parking your car and walking up to the foot of it. It’ll take about 30-45 minutes to walk to the viewpoint on the glacier, though it’s still quite far away. If you are planning your New Zealand South Island itinerary on a budget, hiking to the foot of the glacier will be the best option for you. If you have some extra money to spare, the helicopter ride is well worth it!
Lake Tekapo Offers Stunning Year-Round Views
Lake Tekapo, a destination enjoyable in four seasons is the right place to be if you’re looking for some out-of-the-world vibe. No matter what time of year you are planning your New Zealand South Island itinerary, you will have a chance to visit Lake Tekapo and see some of the prettiest views you have ever seen,
Arriving at the right season, you’ll get to enjoy the vast field of lupine blooming by the crystal clear blue lake. The lupine blooming season peaks around mid-November until early January [remember that New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere!], so take note if you’re planning your itinerary now. If you’re a fan of astrophotography, like me, then there’s one more reason you shouldn’t miss Lake Tekapo. With almost zero light pollution in the surrounding, stars powdered all over the sky, almost brightening the dark sky up.
And if you’re looking for a perfect photograph of the starry sky, then use Church of the Good Shepherd as your subject! The architecture and size of the church make it the best subject for all photographs in town! Whether you are a lover of nature and pretty views or a serious photographer looking for perfect compositions, Lake Tekapo is a must-see on your New Zealand South Island itinerary!
Fox Glacier Is One Of The Best Places To Stay During Your New Zealand South Island Itinerary
I mentioned about two glaciers when I talked about Franz Josef Glacier, this is it – Fox Glacier. Comparing the towns of the two glaciers, Fox Glacier is much more happening and there are more hostels and restaurants around there. It’s also rated as one of the best places to stay in the world! If you are trying to figure out where to stay on your New Zealand South Island itinerary and aren’t quite sure, you are going to want to make sure you spend the night [at least one!] at Fox Glacier!
If you didn’t get to do a helicopter tour at your first New Zealand glacier, there are a bunch of tour operators here offering guided walks in Fox Glacier by helicopter as well. The price range is almost the same, but I would do it in Fox Glacier because I simply love staying in this very town and enjoy the best pork ribs for dinner. If you’re up to some adventures, then Skydive Fox Glacier is definitely worth your consideration. It’s voted as the most scenic skydive in the world in 2016, and also offering the highest altitude skydive in the country. 16,500ft above sea level drop with 70 seconds free fall! Talk about something memorable to do on your New Zealand South Island road trip! This is something you won’t soon forget.
At this point, we have all seen and heard about the supposed adverse effects of Instagram on travel. If you aren’t familiar, places such as Venice and Greece are overrun with tourists and the prices are going up and up for locals. Places such as Oregon and Iceland aren’t the way they used to be anymore. Heck, when I traveled to Iceland twice in 2016 vs when I traveled in 2018 there was a world of a difference. Trails were closed because they were muddied and there were tons of tourists, but otherwise, the country remained relatively the same and was as beautiful as ever.
I totally understand why locals are upset. I get why the internet warriors jump to their keyboards to critique an Instagrammer for jumping a fence to take a photo. I see where they are coming from. This isn’t to diminish the experience of places like Greece, Cinque Terre, Iceland, Oregon and more. But it is to ask the question…….
But What About Florida?
Yes, you heard me. I think it is entirely impossible to have this conversation about ruining landscapes without including Florida. [and many other places in this world too I am sure!] As a millennial and an influencer and a traveler [the trifecta that people love to hate] I have been around and seen the rise of this debate from the beginning. I have traveled to places pre and post-Instagram. But I have NEVER heard a single person talk about Florida.
Now, I am sure I am going to be crucified by the internet for saying this…but someone has to. Sure a waterfall here and a canyon there gets higher foot traffic than normal and the once green trail is muddied, but in the end, how detrimental to the environment as a whole? Is it REALLY ruining the environment and natural landscapes at a record pace as so many articles claim on the internet?
Or should we maybe also include places that are also truly suffering on a massive scale in our outrage? Of course, leaving nature to its very own is the 100% best thing to do. But the greenery around a waterfall path is muddied and the entire internet is suddenly a champion for green living. I don’t want any Joshua Tree or pristine beach to be ruined. But I also don’t want the entire bredth of the conversation to be only focused on one thing.
What all of these conversations fail to mention is Florida.
Before you say “oh well we all KNOW that there are tons of people in Florida we don’t need a discussion” STOP and think about the last time you saw ANYONE in a group on Facebook or in an article about the globalization about travel mention Florida. Are there entire Instagram accounts devoted to the overtourism and overbuilding in Florida? Do you admonish your favorite Instagrammer for going on vacation or moving to Florida? I have never seen it not a single time not once. I am sure this can be applied to many locations that maybe the internet deems as “too far gone” to even be cared about. As a native Floridian, I reject this being used as an excuse.
I may not be as pretty as a waterfall or canyon but I am important too!
Our natural landscapes are raped and have been for decades as shopping mall after apartment complex is put up. People from Oregon and Iceland and many of the places that complain about the negative impact of tourists in their native place come to Florida and trash our beaches with garbage on spring break or vacation. Our wetlands are bulldozed for more malls and more housing complexes yet NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT.
As a Native Floridian, I have seen the impacts first hand. As a child, my parents took us traveling around North America extensively. After a 4 month trip to Alaska, my parents were tired of living in the city and moved us as far into the Florida countryside as they could. This is where I grew up for my tween, teen, and early twenty years. We were 30-40 minutes away from the closest grocery store, from the closest church, from the closest mall. We had land and so did our neighbors and there wasn’t much to see or do. This was entirely the point as my parents wanted to be as far away in nature as they could get.
Every week on a 40 minute drive to Mass, I would pass by Floridian forests and fields. And year after year as I grew up I would grow heartbroken as forest patch after forest patch was destroyed to build another housing complex, another shoppping plaza, another building. This wasn’t an addition to an already buslting area, this was expansion and it would devestate the environment. I would talk with my mom and sister about how sad it was that the animals will not have anywhere to go. And when an animal gets in a neighborhood what happens? The animal is killed “for its own good.”
Now every bit of green space along the drive from my old home to my old church is filled with a building of some sort. This was not the case all of 15 years ago when I visited. How do I know? Because every week when I visit my boyfriend I pass my old church and the forest that was eventually a cow pasture is now……a massive apartment complex. It honestly makes me cry just thinking about it.
The Florida my parents tried to escape to is now gone. The little bits of rural Florida that I once knew, stripped away. And NONE OF THIS IS EVER TALKED ABOUT!
These are the exact types of Florida forests that are torn down day after day to make room for yet another complex.
Instead, the internet casts [often rightful] judgement on people who choose to stay in Airbnbs because it drives up rental costs. Instagram and those who make a living from the platform are constantly berated as being the reason WHY the environment in these locations is being ruined [again, could be rightful].
Sure the environement in Iceland and Oregon and Bali is fragile. I GET IT! Because the environment in Florida is fragile too. Every environment is fragile. BUT WHY DON’T PEOPLE TALK ABOUT IT?
I know that Iceland has gotten so many more tourists lately, including myself because the country is beautiful, so I decided to do some research. Because in the online circle, EVERYONE talks about Iceland. Everyone is a champion for saving this country and while this isn’t wrong in any way, please simply consider this viewpoint.
In 2017, Iceland received a record 2 million visitors [population roughly 300K]. This is 6x more tourists than locals. In 2017, Florida received 116.5 million visitors [population roughly 20 million] For Florida, we received 6x as well. Yet, no one talks about Florida in all the groups on social media. No one blames the ads on the NYC subways. No one blames influencers who come to Florida and promote our beaches, our landscapes, our wildlife. No one blames the travel agents or tourism companies. No one really blames anyone because this isn’t something talked about in the same conversation as a waterfall or canyon.
Why? Is it because we are so big we don’t deserve to be talked about? Is it because our landscapes, although very useful to the ecosystem, aren’t as pretty as other parts of the world? Is it because people laugh at Florida for having all the “crazy people?” Is it because the animals aren’t as exotic?
Manatees huddled in the less-than-crystal clear water
In almost every country I have visited abroad I met someone who has visited or is planning to visit Florida. From India and Iceland to Austria and Ireland, people are just as fascinated with Florida as Americans are with Europe. I honestly can’t think of a single trip I went on where I met people and talked about travel that they didn’t mention coming to Florida for vacation.
Did you know that 900 people A DAY are moving to Florida? In the 1891, just 34,000 people lived in Florida. Now, our population is estimated 21.5 million in 2019. I have seen the first hand impacts of this. Every month [no exaggeration] there is a new massive apartment complex that pops up. One after another after another. All of our wetlands, forests, and fields are concrete. Perhaps people think that we are so far gone it doesn’t matter. Perhaps if the internet and Instagram were around in the early 1900s, people would have championed us too.
My parents have seen the first hand impacts of this living in Florida in the 1970-1980s when the water at Clearwater Beach really WAS CLEAR! What am I left with? Murkey water, without even a foot of visibility. But do the tourism ads show you this? No! They are very photoshopped and the water, while warm, is no longer clear and blue and pretty. How do I know? Because I used to swim there every week for exercise and I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face as I did a breast stroke.
The talk about the rent rising? Yeah, that is happening in Florida too. But have you heard it shouted from the rooftops? Of course you haven’t. You have been told not to stay in an Airbnb in Barcelona or Italy but have you been told not to travel or move to Florida? My guess is you haven’t. Our rent is now egrigiously high, espcially in the Tampa Bay Area. It continues to grow so much that city officials are wondering if a rent ceiling is necessary.
More and more people are living at home or living with multiple roomates to save money on costs. If they do live alone, it is in a tiny apartment that is built out of crappy matieral that will be knocked down as soon as the next hurricane hits our area. How do I know? Because I see these complexes go up on the daily and the flimsy matieral used to make the crappy homes [sadly]. And as a native Floridian, I know this piece of plywood wouldn’t stand a chance against Mother Nature’s wrath should a hurricane hit us.
Did you know that it takes a minimum of 40 years, sometimes 100 years to restore lost wetlands? Florida has a whole lot of them and building codes are skirted constantly to build on these fragile landscapes. A mall across from my boyfriends house was put on hold for years until they could prove that the mall would still maintain the natural enviornment. News flash: it went through and there isn’t a green space left. But please, lets continue to ONLY talk about the fragile moss around waterfalls and make it the sole subject of our discussion.
This is the “before” site of the new mall when my boyfriend was growing up as a teenager in this part of Florida. Note all the green space and trees.
There is plenty of information on the web about planning a trip to Italy, but most of it focuses on what you should do. We even have an Ultimate 10 Day Italy Itinerary that tells you what to do and how to plan. But this guide is different. This is going to tell you what you should AVOID doing when planning a trip to Italy. Don’t worry, it isn’t all as scary as you may think. Italy is an easy-going country to visit, but there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your Italy itinerary.
We have been to Italy countless times at this point and have made countless mistakes. This [unfortunatly] has given us first-hand knowledge on what you should NOT DO when planning a trip to Italy. Italy was one of the three countries we visited on our first trip to Europe ever [along with France and Ireland] and we have since been back many times. From the prettiest islands in Italy to the villages of Cinque Terre, these tips apply to everyone planning a trip to Italy!
7 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy
Mistake #1: Spending Too Much Time In Rome
Don’t get us wrong, Rome is an absolutely amazing city to see. When we were planning a trip to Italy for the first time, we were warned not to spend too much time in the city. Did we listen? Of course not! We spent 4 days in Rome and it was bordering on too much. There is a TON to see and do in Rome like all the famous monuments and the Vatican [our favorite part] but some people plan to spend between 5-7 days in Rome and sacrifice seeing some other fantastic parts of the country to stay here.
Spending too much time in Rome is a common mistake people make when planning a trip to Italy. While Rome does have a lot to see and do, it can feel quite touristy very quickly if you aren’t careful. If you have a shorter amount of time in Italy, we beg you to not spend half of your trip in Rome. Go for a quick introduction and then head out to see the rest of what Italy has to offer. While there is a lot to see and do in Rome, you would be giving up a chance to see Italy at a slower pace. When planning a trip to Italy, consider spending between 2-3 days in Rome for a good first-time experience without feeling too rushed.
Mistake #2: Trying To Do Too Much In One Trip
Another huge mistake people make when planning a trip to Italy is trying to pack in too much into one trip. Again, how do we know this? Because we did it too and constantly see others doing the same thing. Italy may look small on the map, but it is actually quite big when you have to explore the whole thing. There is also so much to see and do. This is why we have been back to Italy so many times! We have never been able to see and do all we want in one trip so we have to go back.
When planning a trip to Italy, we highly recommend NOT burning out. By burning out, we mean trying to do way too much in a short amount of time. We recommend choosing a few things to do and spending longer at those things than choosing a lot of things to do and only getting a few hours at each. Of course, whatever type of trip you want to spend is completely up to you, but slower travel will really let you know more about Italy and it will be much more enjoyable.
While you are planning your trip to Italy, we recommend choosing your highlights and then going from there. Choose the places you must see and make those a priority. If they are all spread throughout the country and you have only a short amount of time, you may want to rethink your Italy itinerary.
Sometimes it is better to do the top half or the bottom half of the country if you only have a short time, say, 5 days. If your main reason to visit Italy is to see some fantastic scenery, then make that your priority and don’t try and fit in the beach and museums and wineries all in a few days. This will make you feel burnt out and at the end of the day, you really won’t enjoy the nature that you traveled all the way to Italy to see.
Mistake #3: Being Scared To Use/Not Understanding Public Transportation
Many Americans who are planning a trip to Italy [us included] are very confused about the Italian public transportation system. We are from Florida and public transport here are some crappy busses that don’t run on time. The best experience many people in North America get with public transportation is seeing it in a big city such as New York City or Toronto. That makes people like us not understand what public transportation is all about in Italy.
When planning a trip to Italy, public transportation is widely available and affordable! On our first trip to Italy, we took the train [yes, the train!] all the way from Rome to PARIS! That is really far in case you didn’t know and it didn’t cost that much. We stopped in a few cities along the way but the point was to show you how connected Italy really can be.
Let’s say you fly into Rome. There are affordable public transportation options to get you from the Rome airport into the city center. When you are in Rome you can either take the bus or the metro [underground/subway] around the city. When it is time to head to say, Florence/Venice/Naples/wherever, don’t worry! You will catch a local bus/metro to the larger train station. You will find your train and ride it to your destination. Once you arrive in that destination such as Florence, you will walk out of the station and there will be local public transportation HERE for you too!
Even the smaller towns in Italy have great local transportation options and are very affordable. When you are planning a trip to Italy, keep this in the back of your mind, especially if you live somewhere that doesn’t rely on public transportation for transit. You will not show up at a train station and then be left with no option to connect you to your hotel or the city center. Italy isn’t like North America and this country is well-connected to the max! It was an easy, affordable, and enjoyable experience.
Mistake #4: Spending Too Much Money On An International Cell Service Plan
Luckily, with Sprint and T-Mobile, we get free international data and text messages so we don’t have to pay for a pricey international plan like others who have AT&T or Verizon. If you have a phone carrier with an expensive international plan, DO NOT GET IT when planning a trip to Italy! You don’t need it. Spending too much money on a pricey international cell phone plan is one of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a trip to Italy. We were spared from making this mistake because our plans had it included, but know so many people who don’t know this simple trick we are about to share.
We highly recommend getting a LOCAL sim card in Italy. You can simply take out your sim card from your phone and pop in a local one. This allows you to use local 4G networks just like the local Italians do. We love using sim cards from local countries as they allow you fast, easy, and affordable network connection. When buying a sim card, you can usually purchase one in the airport or in any downtown metro area.
The best network for sim cards in Italy is TIM. This sim card costs around $25 for 30 days of usage and comes with 4G speeds and 15GB of data usage. This is a WONDERFUL deal and oftentimes much cheaper [and way faster!] than using your own plans international data. Plans such as Verizon don’t really exist in Italy which will cause your experience to be frustrating and slow. Plans such as TIM do exist and are the main network used in the country so you can be sure to have an enjoyable and affordable experience. We highly recommend looking into a TIM SIM [heehee] when planning a trip to Italy.
WORD FROM THE WISE: Make sure that your smartphone is “unlocked” for International SIM card usage. This involves calling or tweeting your cell carrier to ensure that it is unlocked for SIM additions. Simply tell them you are traveling abroad and want to get an international SIM and that you need your phone unlocked. This is one of the easiest tips we have for you when planning a trip to Italy because it makes getting around so much easier.
Mistake #5: Only Traveling To Italy In The Summer
Most people think that they can only plan a trip to Italy during the summer. Why? Because that is when it will be the best weather and when the experience will be most enjoyable. We are here to tell you that this isn’t exactly true. You can plan a trip to Italy at any time of year and we highly recommend visiting during the off-season. When we visited during the summer or warmer months, the entire island was crowded as locals were off work for holidays and the heat made hotels without air conditioning unbearable.
When we visited Italy in the off-season, we had a fantastic time every single time we visited. The weather was cool and pleasant, the tourist season was low, prices were cheaper, and we didn’t need AC in a hotel. We planned a trip to Italy once in the early spring and the experience was just great. The weather was beyond fantastic and there were hardly any other visitors. On the other hand, when we visited in mid-June, we were fighting with crowds of tourists and everything was overcrowded and super hot.
That being said, if you are planning a trip to Italy and want to head into the Dolomites/Italian Alps, then the winter/spring will not be the best time for the experience because they will be buried in snow [unless you want to ski!] If you want a lighter tourist time to visit the Dolomites in Italy, consider visiting at the end of summer or during early fall. You will still get the same stunning experience but it won’t be nearly as busy as visiting during peak season. Just don’t try and visit the Dolomites in early spring and expect them to be free of snow!
If summer is the only time you have when planning a trip to Italy then please, feel free! But we just want to let you know that summer isn’t the ONLY time you have to plan your trip. Italy is essentially a year-round destination and we have had great experiences visiting when the air is cooler and more pleasant outside.
Fall in Rome is quite magical and there are much fewer tourists than high season.
Mistake #6: Completely Writing Off Renting A Car In Italy
Another mistake people make when planning a trip to Italy is completely writing off renting a car. This is a HUGE MISTAKE when planning your trip to Italy because renting a car will provide you with so much freedom. If a tour is more your style then that is totally fine and there are some great tours in Italy that will take you around with ease if you are only in Italy for a few days. As we mentioned above, Italy has some FANTASTIC public transportation that you should 100% use. But great public transportation can only take you so far.
We personally love renting a car as often as possible! From Iceland and Peru to Alaska and Ireland, we have rented cars all around the world and love the freedom they provide. We have often used public transport in Italy and while it is great, you still must stick to a schedule and the busses and trains only take you so far. We are photographers and hikers and love getting deep into the landscape and renting a car in Italy allows us to do just that.
For example, when we rented a car in Trentino in the Italian Alps/Dolomites, we spent 5-6 hours a day driving up to the tip-top of the mountains, seeing quaint villages, driving past cliff-side vineyards, finding random castle ruins and more. When we rented a car in Milan, we drove down the coast and spent days exploring small Italian seaside villages. Although there are indeed trains and buses that go to these places, a car provides us with way more freedom and it is a really fantastic way to see Italy if you are up for it.
A WORD FROM THE WISE: While renting a car in Italy can be affordable, some tolls are steep! We are talking $25 a pop. If you choose to rent a car while planning a trip to Italy [and we highly recommend it] budget at least $200 for tolls, especially if you are driving anywhere out of Milan. Some parts of Italy have more expensive toll roads while others are much more affordable.
Of course, we understand that renting a car in Italy isn’t for everyone! If this is your first trip to Italy and you just want to see the highlights such as Rome>Florence>Venice then you really won’t need a car because the trains and buses are great. On the other hand, if you are looking to easily visit far-flung Italian villages and..
If you are looking for the best San Francisco wine tours you have come to the right place! We have visited San Francisco many times and are here to give you all the information you need for planning your amazing wine getaway. San Francisco is situated in the perfect location and allows you to easily enjoy your days exploring wineries and your nights dining and drinking in the big city. Whether you are starting your Northern California Road Trip itinerary or just dropping in for business or family, there is really so much to see and do for everyone.
In this post, we are going to cover the best wine tasting in San Francisco itself in case you don’t want to leave the city and you just want to explore what it has to offer. We will also cover the best Napa Valley wine tours from San Francisco in the event you want to visit an actual winery and escape the hustle and bustle of city life. We include tours that focus 100% on wine and also tours that focus half on wine and half on culture, food, or something else in case you are going with a group of people with differing tastes. All of these San Francisco wine tours are run by local and trusted operators in the Bay Area so you know you are in good hands!
Hands Down, These Are The 5 Best San Francisco Wine Tours
Napa Wine Tour With Castello Di Amorosa & Lunch (8 Hours)
This Napa Wine Tour With Castello Di Amorosa & Lunch is a wonderful introductory San Francisco wine tour because it includes everything you want to see and do when you think of taking a California wine tour. The first reason that we love this tour is that it takes you to visit the most famous wineries in Napa Valley, Castillo Di Amorosa, Robert Mondavi and V.Sattui. So not only do you get to go on a Napa Valley wine tour from San Francisco, you get to see a castle which is a very unique thing to do in California.
This San Francisco wine tour also includes a picnic lunch at V. Sattui Winery which is a wonderful experience you shouldn’t miss. One reason we highly recommend this wine tour is because it is a small group tour. So in addition to seeing the wineries, castles, and lunch, you get a more private experience with just a few other guests in a luxury sprinter van. We personally prefer smaller tours with smaller transport vehicles which is why we loved this tour for wine tasting from San Francisco and is one of the reasons we recommend it on this list.
This is the perfect full day tour if you don’t want to commit to just city or just wineries. When you go on the San Francisco City & Wine Touryou will get the best of both worlds. For us, Victoria loves cities and Terrence loves nature and wine so it was really the perfect mixture to keep us both happy and interested. If you are traveling in a group or as a couple and each of you has different interests, this San Francisco wine tour is a great way to keep the peace.
You will start this tour off by enjoying 2 hop-on-hop-off tours in San Francisco (Official City Tour, Sausalito Tour) and then you will head out into the country to experience a true California wine tour. This tour includes one free tasting as well. If you are a huge wino then this may not be the San Francisco wine tour for you as there is only one tasting included. But if you are looking for a great introductory wine and city tour, the bus tour tickets and free tasting really make this tour worth it, especially for groups, families, or couples!
San Francisco: Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Tasting Tour (9.5 Hours)
If you are like us and you want something a bit more than JUST wine, this is the San Francisco Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Tasting Tour for you! While wine is tasty and all, pairing it with chocolate and cheese just ups the experience in our opinion. We love that there can be no more than 18 people on this Sonoma Valley wine tour from San Francisco so you really get to enjoy an intimate experience. Our favorite part? The fact that you get to sample fresh olive oil and balsamic vinegar straight from the production mill!
We also love that on this tour you will get to see one of Sonoma Valley’s spectacular wine caves for a wine and cheese tasting and you will also get to stop at a local chocolate shop for a chocolate tasting all in addition to the production mill mentioned above. The Sonoma County wine cave you will get to see is quite spectacular and impressive. If you are a foodie who loves wine, then this is going to be one of the best San Francisco wine tours for you!
Alcatraz Night Tour + Napa & Sonoma Tour from San Francisco (25 Hours)
When you are heading to California, you are going to want to see the sights along with your tasting! When you take this Alcatraz Night Tour + Napa & Sonoma Tour from San Francisco you truly get immersed into the culture and tastes of the city! This tour actually lasts two days! On the first day, you will get a personalized tour of Alcatraz by night. If you haven’t visited Alcatraz yet, this is such a unique thing to do and the experience is even spookier because you visit at night! It is just so cool and this is easily one of the most unique San Francisco wine tours on the list.
The next day, you will taste wine at top-rated Napa and Sonoma wineries. This is also a unique experience as many San Francisco wine tours only include a tasting in either Napa or Sonoma, but usually not both. During your tour, you will journey through the vineyards, fermentation facilities, and wine caves on a tram tour which adds to the charm of the experience. You will also get to enjoy a picnic lunch in downtown Sonoma or on a shaded patio at a local winery. This is the best San Francisco wine tour for true wine lovers because there are so many stops. It also offers the most bang for your buck because it lasts for two days.
San Francisco Bay Sailing Tour with Drinks (2 Hours)
What if you are looking for one of the San Francisco wine tours that is different and super relaxed? What we love about this San Francisco Bay Sailing Tour with Drinks is that you still get to taste all the delicious locally made California wine, but you won’t be on a bus for 12 hours to do so. Instead, you will get to float along the San Francisco Bay on a sailboat where you can enjoy local drinks. The best part? There are only 28 people at most that can come along for the ride on this double-masted sailboat so you know this will be one of the more intimate San Francisco wine tours on the list.
Although this isn’t as extreme as one of the Napa Valley wine tours from San Francisco, we really wanted to add it to this list in case you wanted to try local wines in a more casual setting. If you only have a short time in San Francisco, then you may want to give a sunset drinking sailing a go. We know you will love it as much as we do!
And there you have it! Our comprehensive list of the best 5 San Francisco wine tours that are hands down worth the money. Whether you are looking for Napa Valley wine tours from San Francisco or something more unique that includes foodie or cultural experiences, there is something for everyone in this moody California city. We hope you enjoy San Francisco as much as we did and we hope you find a San Francisco wine tour that speaks to you and your tastes!
I get so many questions about my posing in travel photos on Instagram [and in general] so I wanted to create a [hopefully] really helpful blog post to show you exactly what I do. This post isn’t to tell you that there is ONLY ONE WAY! It is to simply show you MY WAY and answer some commonly asked questions. If you do something different, that is great and I am happy for you! This is simply my way and not intended to put down any other way. But before we do that I am going to give you a little background on my history and how I got to where I am today. If you aren’t interested, then simply skip down to the headings below if you don’t want to hear my life history.
In this post, I am going to show you exactly how I do this…..stand in a location for a picture and make it look slightly decent
First off, YES I used to do modeling locally but I was really bad at it compared to other girls. I do not credit what I look like now in travel photos on Instagram to my modeling history. I could NOT pose well and everything was just awkward. Of course, I got a few decent shots, but I shudder to think of all the images the photographers did NOT show me! Second of all, the ONLY reason I got into modeling locally was for the free pretty pictures. I will NOT lie about this and that is LITERALLY the reason I modeled. To wear pretty clothes and get good photos of myself.
I say this because people assume I look the way I do in our travel photos on Instagram simply because of the modeling background. I want to let you know this is ENTIRELY UNTRUE and that YOU can achieve this similar posing look in your own travel photos.
We can all be honest that traditional modeling and posing just isn’t for me despite my best efforts. As you can see here I have on a full face of makeup, full hair, wardrobe, styling, set and more. I got to work with some fantastic photographers like Pure Emotions Photography for shoots like this one and my stiff posing is no one’s fault but my own!
Flash forward to Terrence and I meeting and starting our @followmeaway pictures and I knew this was THE TYPE OF MODELING FOR ME! He didn’t want strange poses, he didn’t care about hair or makeup or fancy gowns or shoes. He cared ONLY about me looking like I had just run away from some castle and happened upon a nearby waterfall. I could dig it! Our motto for these photos was “same pose different location.” And it was LITERALLY me in the same pose in different locations. WAY easier than traditional modeling. I will discuss how you can apply this to your travel photos on Instagram further down in this article.
Here I am in the types of photos Terrence and I do for Follow Me Away project. No fancy makeup, hair, poses anything. The dress hasn’t been washed in ages and is stained. Way simpler than my days modeling. I don’t have to do a darn thing and I can STILL get pretty photos? Count me IN!
Flash forward again when we created @followmeawaytravel where we share our more “natural” and “normal” travel photos on Instagram. This where the photos of me in long flowy skirts walking across the street or standing in front of some monument are housed. I get so many questions about how to pose naturally, how to get a flowing look of your skirt, how to look good in travel photos when you are NOT trying to sell or feature a product, what the heck should you do with your hands, how to not look like an awkward tourist in travel photos and more.
First off, I want you to know that I have BEEN THERE! Finished travel photos on Instagram are my HIGHLIGHT REEL! Of course, I have deleted all evidence of horrible posing from the web. Terrence takes many photos that you NEVER SEE! Some locations I have been to have had horrific lighting and that makes everything much worse.
Anyway, these are all my tips to help YOU pose like ME. This isn’t to put anyone else’s way of posing down or to tell you this is the ONLY way to pose on Instagram. These are simply MY TIPS to YOU if you want to try and achieve a similar look in your photos. I hope they help!
How To Take Great Travel Photography Featuring YOU
Before we get into the posing for travel photos, first we are going to quickly talk about TAKING the travel photos or having someone take them of you. Before you can even get in the shot to pose, you are going to have to set it up and make sure that everything is set up for success. A question I am commonly asked is…
How Do I Look Good In Photos A Random Passerby Takes Of Me?
I have to say that the answer to this is hard. You basically don’t. Having a random person take a photo of you is a TOTAL shot in the dark. I’m not saying NOT to do it, I am just saying that it will achieve debatable results. They may not capture both you AND the background and it probably won’t be centered. Sometimes you WILL achieve success. As I said, it is debatable.
If you DO want to go about having someone take travel photos of you, make sure to put your camera or smartphone on BURST MODE. Burst mode is a total lifesaver. Instruct the person taking the photo of you to simply press and hold their finger down on the shutter [for a smartphone] or to take three photos of you [on a traditional camera]. The shutter will fire at rapid speed which will allow you to quickly change poses while that person is taking photos of you. While they may only press the shutter three times, you may end up with 300 photos to choose from. This widens the chance that you have something usable when a random passerby takes a photo of you during your travels.
I wouldn’t call this a “random person” per se as it was another blogger who took this image. We don’t usually have a random passerby take photos of us so this is the best we have for an example!
What About If I Am Traveling With My Kid Or A Person Who Isn’t A Pro Photographer?
If you are traveling with someone who is NOT a pro photographer but is still a family member or close friend, provide them with a few tips of what you are looking for in the shot. For kids, make it a challenge like “can you get mommy in the shot AND make the photo not crooked?” This sounds boring but with a little bribing or competition [if you have multiple kids] it could lead to some good shots.
When you are traveling with someone who isn’t a pro photographer or who doesn’t know anything about composition, try and set up the shot for them and put the camera on “burst mode” as suggested above. Do not be afraid to gently suggest improvements. The most important part is to ask this person if they are willing to play this role before the trip [unless this is your husband then sorry husband this is your job heehe kidding but not really].
What I find really helps is to take the target photo that I want beforehand and then show the person what you are trying to get. Then you jump in the shot and they take it. This will [hopefully] lead to a closer match than just asking them to take a spectacular shot of you in it.
Either way, sometimes you can’t avoid using a random person or someone who isn’t a pro when taking travel photos. But if you CAN avoid it I really suggest it because sometimes it is more trouble than it’s worth.
What do I recommend instead if you are solo traveling or traveling with someone who isn’t reliable 24/7? Your friend the trusty tripod! A tripod will never fail you and won’t change the angle and won’t complain that it is tired of taking photos of you for the 100th time. A tripod can be your bff.
Here is a shot of us taken in Alaska by my mom. We helped her set up the shot and then gave tips for improving the shot after the first few tries
How Do I Take Travel Photos Of Myself Using A Tripod?
When Terrence and I want to be in the same photo, we turn to using our trusty tripod photographer. Sometimes we travel with my mom or sister or Terrence’s family and while they have turned out some decent stuff, we prefer to set up the shot 100% EXACTLY like we want to. This is what a tripod allows us to do.
We use the Benro Slim Travel Tripod and it is lightweight and I carry it on my backpack so you know it isn’t too crazy. We also have the Benro Travel Angel Tripod and it is MUCH larger and sturdier than the Benro Slim. Terrence carries this tripod and it is our go-to when shooting self-portraits in windy or treacherous locations such as Iceland.
If you have a DSLR or Mirrorless travel camera a tripod is the BEST way to get successful photos of yourself. I know SO MANY fantastic successful travelers on Instagram who take their own photos of themselves.
Most camera companies have an APP you can download on your smartphone. This will act as your mobile “shutter release” and you can actually SEE YOURSELF IN THE SHOT on your smartphone. This is revolutionary when it comes to looking good in travel photos because you can SEE what you look like on your smartphone while your camera is all the way on the tripod. This way you can set up the shot and pose and look through the shots all without ever leaving the area you are standing or sitting.
We took this picture of ourselves using a tripod in Paris. We set the tripod up across the street and Terrence is hiding the smartphone behind his leg which we used to trigger the shutter.
We use the Sony A99ii Camera which allows us to use the “Sony Play Memories” app. Most other major camera companies offer the same sort of app/shutter release tool. If you do not, you can buy a camera trigger to go with your camera, but it will not allow you to see your pose. Seeing your pose is the major advantage of tripods and the smartphone app.
If you want an even EASIER way to take bomb travel photos of yourself, then consider investing in an affordable tripod for YOUR SMARTPHONE! This is such an easy way to quickly get great photos of yourself without having to deal with other people. We recommend this smartphone tripod and shutter releaseand it is so easy to set up and use. A smartphone tripod folds up really small which makes it easier to carry than a traditional tripod.
My friend Sylvia who travels in a wheelchair and specializes in accessible travel got tired of having to rely on others and uses a smartphone travel tripod in the majority of her travel photos. She is just one example of the ease and many uses of a smartphone tripod when taking great photos of yourself during your travels. It is easy to whip out, set up, shoot, and finish and allows you to take the exact shot you want and only rely on you.
There is plenty of information on the web about planning a trip to Ireland, but most of it focuses on what you should do. We even have an Ultimate Ireland Road Trip Itinerary that tells you what to do and how to plan. But this guide is different. This is going to tell you what you should AVOID doing when planning a trip to Ireland. Don’t worry, it isn’t all as scary as you may think. Ireland is an easy-going country to visit, but there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your Ireland itinerary.
We have been to Ireland countless times at this point and have made countless mistakes. This [unfortunatly] has given us first-hand knowledge on what you should NOT DO when planning a trip to Ireland. Ireland was the very first country abroad we have ever visited. We have since been back many times and have covered just about everywhere on the island. From the quaint small towns in Ireland to the rugged north of Donegal, these tips apply to everyone planning a trip to Ireland!
7 Big Mistakes To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Ireland
Mistake #1: Spending Too Much Time In Dublin
Ask pretty much every native Irish or Northern Irish person and they will tell you to get the heck out of Dublin. This is a mistake we made on our very first trip to Ireland. We flew into Dublin and stayed there the whole time, with the exception of taking small day trips to the nearby towns of Howth and Bray [highly recommend!]
If you only have one day in Ireland, then sure, spend it in Dublin because that makes sense. But if you are planning a trip to Ireland that is longer than just a day or two, you should avoid spending too much time in Dublin. Why? Dublin is a nice city, but it is extremely expensive and hotels and restaurants will break the bank. While there is a lot to see and do, it is really not that interesting when you compare it to the rest of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Spending too much time in Dublin is a common mistake people make when planning a trip to Ireland [we did too!] We highly encourage you to NOT make the same mistake we did and only spend a short time in Dublin before leaving to see the rest of this beautiful country. We recommend 1-3 days at the most, depending on what you want to see and do. If you can swing 1-2 days, that is even better! Check out this guide on How To Spend 2 Days In Dublin
Mistake #2. Trying To Do Too Much In One Trip
Another huge mistake people make when planning a trip to Ireland is trying to pack in too much into one trip. Again, how do we know this? Because we did it too and constantly see others doing the same thing. Ireland may look small on the map, but it is actually quite big when you have to explore the whole thing. There is also so much to see and do. This is why we have been back to Ireland so many times! We have never been able to see and do all we want in one trip so we have to go back.
When planning a trip to Ireland, we highly recommend NOT burning out. By burning out, we mean trying to do way too much in a short amount of time. We recommend choosing a few things to do and spending longer at those things than choosing a lot of things to do and only getting a few hours at each. Of course, whatever type of trip you want to spend is completely up to you, but slower travel will really let you know more about Ireland and it will be much more enjoyable.
While you are planning your trip to Ireland, we recommend choosing your highlights and then going from there. Choose the places you must see and make those a priority. If they are all spread throughout the country and you have only a short amount of time, you may want to rethink your Ireland itinerary.
Sometimes it is better to do the top half or the bottom half of the country if you only have a short time, say, 5 days. If your main reason to visit Ireland is to see some fantastic scenery, then make that your priority and don’t try and fit in shopping and pubs and cultural stops all in a few days. This will make you feel burnt out and at the end of the day, you really won’t enjoy the nature that you traveled all the way to Ireland to see!
Mistake #3: Being Too Scared To Drive In Ireland
We are from the United States so we drive on the “right” side of the road. As you may know, in Ireland they drive on the “left” side of the road which scares many people away from renting a car. This is a HUGE MISTAKE when planning your trip to Ireland because renting a car will provide you with so much freedom. If a tour is more your style then that is totally fine and there are some great tours in Ireland that will take you out of Dublin with ease if you are only in Ireland for a few days. You can see our favorite Day Tours From Dublin here!
We are talking to those of you who are planning a trip to Ireland and WANT to drive but are AFRAID to. We have driven on the “wrong” side of the road multiple times in Ireland and now we feel like professionals at it. We want to really and truly tell you that it is is NOT as bad as you think and skipping renting a car in Ireland is a mistake! If you rent a car from the airport, you will immediately be on motorway [aka insterstate] and that is the EASIEST place to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road. Unlike driving in your home country where everything is memorized and you drive like a machine and don’t think about it, you DO have to “think” about driving in Ireland because it is so different from the norm.
We actually think this makes you into a safer driver because you have to put some thought into what you are doing. Our best advice is to drive SLOWLY and CAREFULLY but with confidence. If you turn on your GPS and plug in the location you are heading to, the GPS will put a “path” on your smartphone and you can easily see which way you are going to turn and how. This makes it a little easier for you to visualize when driving.
Driving in Ireland opens the doors to so many more things to see and do. You can drive out to sunset at the Cliffs Of Moher and then down to dinner at a pub. You can drive up to a castle ruins in the distance and spend as long as you want there. You can take a car ferry to a small Irish island for Ice cream. All of these intimate and memorable experiences can be done when you rent a car in Ireland and have a little bit of confidence when driving yourself.
If you have never driven on the “wrong” side of the road, make sure to rent an automatic transmission car. Manual vehicles will be so much cheaper, but it will be very difficult to learn how to drive a stick shift car ” backward. An automatic transmission is driven the same way on the left side of the road as it is on the right side of the road and the pedals are in the same order. With a stick shift, you will have to gear shift with your left hand instead of your right and the narrow roads of Ireland aren’t exactly where we recommend doing things.
Mistake #4: Spending Too Much Money On An International Cell Service Plan
Luckily, with Sprint and T-Mobile, we get free international data and text messages so we don’t have to pay for a pricey international plan like others who have AT&T or Verizon. If you have a phone carrier with an expensive international plan, DO NOT GET IT! You don’t need it. Spending too much money on a pricey international cell phone plan is one of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a trip to Ireland. We were spared from making this mistake because our plans had it included, but know so many people who don’t know this simple trick we are about to share.
When planning a trip to Ireland, you are going to want to get a SIM CARD for “3” NETWORK. The SIM card was for UNLIMITED smartphone data in Ireland and we paid around 30 Euros for an entire month of data. Now, our first time using an international SIM card was in Ireland so we were skeptical at the coverage. And we are here to tell you that the coverage was BETTER than we get in our own home in the USA. The 4G speeds were so fast and allowed us to use all of our apps and social media just like a local Irish person would. All for the price of 30 euros for an entire month. We were shocked. We were impressed. We think it will be a huge mistake if you buy an expensive international plan instead of getting a 3 SIM card when planning a trip to Ireland.
Where do you buy a 3 SIM card? You can buy it at a 3 store in Dublin or anywhere around the country. Simply tell them you want the unlimited plan and pop it in your phone. It is so easy anyone can do it. WORD FROM THE WISE: Make sure that your smartphone is “unlocked” for International SIM card usage. This involves calling or tweeting your cell carrier to ensure that it is unlocked for SIM additions. Simply tell them you are traveling abroad and want to get an international SIM and that you need your phone unlocked. This is one of the easiest tips we have for you when planning a trip to Ireland because it makes getting around so much easier.
Mistake #5: Completely Writing Off Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is part of the UK but is located on the island of Ireland. The “Republic of Ireland” is the place that most people travel, but Northern Ireland is so worth the trip. Many people make the mistake of never considering visiting Northern Ireland for one reason or the other. Maybe they think Northern Ireland is dangerous, as Belfast once was. Maybe they think there isn’t much to do. Or maybe they just aren’t all that familiar with Northern Ireland to even put it on the map when planning a trip to Ireland.
We are here to tell you that Northern Ireland has so much to see and do. It is easy to visit and Belfast is just 2 hours from Dublin. The country is 100% SAFE to visit and the natural scenery is unparalleled. In Northern Ireland, there are castles that tower over the ocean and look fake, even when you are standing in front of them, there are sea cliffs and enchanting forests and rolling hills and bustling cities and towns. Maybe you have heard of a little show called “Game Of Thrones.” Game Of Thrones was actually filmed in Northern Ireland and you can visit all of the places where filming took place. We even put together this Game Of Thrones Ireland Itineraryto show you the best of the filming spots and activities.
You can easily drive, take the train, take a bus, or fly into Northern Ireland. Visiting Northern Ireland is a fun way to technically visit two countries on one trip [UK and Ireland] and as soon as you cross the border you will see the British flag fly and the dialect change. We think a huge mistake people make when planning a trip to Ireland is writing off Northern Ireland from the itinerary and we just wanted to shed a little awareness so you can make an informed decision!