Romania, and in particular Transylvania, conjures up images and feelings of some far off place . . . in the mountains . . . in the forests . . . with castles . . . kind of like Lord of the Rings, but with a spooky vibe . . . and indeed it is all of this. And while there are not as much of a concentration of stellar attractions as you would get in Western Europe, that is kind of Romania’s charm and it makes for a great roadtrip for a week or so, with the itinerary below
Wow it really is as picture-perfect as you’ve been led to believe! All the ingredients of a fairy tale:
– small church perched perfectly on a small island ✅
– sitting in the middle of crystal clear water with only the light lapping of town boats ✅
– castle nearby hanging over a precarious ledge to the water ✅
– backdrop of the Julian Alps ✅
An Instagrammer’s dream!
It’s a big shout when people say somewhere is the most beautiful place in the world . . . but, yep . . . Lake Como takes it. Picture perfect Italian villages punctuating luscious forests as they meet the lake’s crystal clear waters, and all against the stunning dramatic backdrop of the Alps. It’s hard not to just stop and gorp at it over, and over again
Naturally in such a beautiful place, it comes with a huge demand from others wanting to visit and, especially in summer, the costs go through the roof. The cost is something hard to avoid, but it’s actually relatively easy to avoid the crowds with a few simple tips and enjoy what makes this place such a world famous destination
Portugal is a great country for visiting for 10/14 days as it has a heap of varied things to experience and not vast distances to cover. By basing yourself in the 3 major areas of Porto / The Douro Valley, Lisbon, and the Algarve, you can use each as a hub for adventures nearby and also be able to stop off on a few places directly in between that are great for a couple of hours or so
Big highlights for me were actually some of the smaller places that I’d never heard of before I arrived in Portugal. In particular the gorgeous Duoro Valley wine region, the hilltop town of Sintra and the beautifully charming streets of Cascais. Plus, the more famous highlights of port tasting in Porto and various neighbourhoods of Lisbon
Each piece that makes up this itinerary has its own travel post, but I’ve also condensed the key points and listed some more general tips below
If you’re staying around the Duoro, or maybe Porto, I’d really recommend this 5 hour roundtrip hike from the beautiful mountain town of Ermelo to the waterfalls in the heart of the Alvao National Park. Clearly signposted all the way, you’ll get some great views over the nearby mountains, walk through some of the gorgeous forest and reward yourself at the top with a swim in the natural pools and waterfalls. Best of all, you’ll have it largely to yourself as, from what I saw, there are only see a few people along the way
Overall a great hike for a break away from the various wine tours!
Plan for getting there and back – Getting there and back you’ve got 2 options: road or sea. For road – either take a taxi direct to the Sai Wan Pavilion inside Sai Kung National park, or a bus to the entrance of the National Park (Sai Kung Country Park Visitor Centre – 45/60mins from Central) and then taxi from there to the pavilion (15mins). Must be a taxi as Ubers are not allowed in the park. Once there, it’s an hour walk down to the main beach of Ham Tim. For sea, take one of the speed boats from Sai Kung Public Pier, which you can reach in 45mins from Central. Takes around 30mins and HK$120 / US$15 per person. Can get a little bumpy as you get towards Tai Long Wan, but only for 10mins or so, and along the way you’ll see the UNESCO World Heritage rock formations that hug the coast. My suggestion is to take the taxi to the Sai Wan Pavilion, walk to Ham Tim as you pass by some of the small beaches and villages, chill out on the beach, walk over to the longer Tai Long Wan beach (just around the headland from Ham Tim), and then make your way back via speed boat to Sai Kung Town for some food in one of the seafront seafood restaurants
If looking for a bit more adventure when up in Tai Long Wan, the nearby rockpools are fun and the climb up to Sharp Peak (3 hours round trip) is well worth it for the views. I could write all day about Tai Long Wan, but won’t – instead, Sassy does a great summary here with all the details you need https://www.
Its obviously hard not to prioritise the classic highlights of Hong Kong, such as the Star Ferry, view from the Peak etc – and I’ve written a review for top tips on these here at 2 days for the famous highlights of Hong Kong – but if you’re looking for a tropical beach and fun adventure getting there, you won’t be disappointed in Tai Long Wan
I say this trip is supercharged because it doesn’t leave much time for chilling out. But, if you’re like most of us and only have a limited amount of vacation, then this is a fantastic weekend to weekend trip that takes in the world famous sites of Jerusalem, Petra and Wadi rum; while providing time for some fun experiences like floating in the Dead Sea, scuba diving in the Red Sea, driving through sparse deserts and a party in Tel Aviv
You’ll need energy for these 7 days, but you’ll be rewarded as, in my opinion, its one of the world’s best week long trips in the world
I was hesitating in going in winter as I’d seen low temperatures. Don’t. The winter helped with reduced crowds, not needing to book far ahead and not getting exhausted by the heat. Perfect trip for a week-long winter break
We’ve all seen the famous Treasury building that sits within Petra – yes, the one from Indiana Jones – but the Treasury is only one small piece of a vast network of ancient buildings that sit within a labyrinth of dramatic red stone canyons, and all surrounded by equally dramatic mountains and deserts. To combine a visit to one of the Wonders of the World with an exploration of the broader area makes this a truly unforgettable experience
I’ve written below some tips for how to get the most out of a visit to Petra, but my #1 tip is to get local guide to walk with you from Little Petra through the back entrance of the mountains, via the Monastery, and to the main Treasury / Siq (the famous bit). You won’t be disappointed as the views are world-class and the crowds less keen to stray so far from the Treasury. We visited in winter, which naturally thinned the crowds, but the site is so vast that even in the busy periods you will be able to get away