Rastoke, Slunj – Croatia’s Secret Waterfall Destination

Rastoke, Slunj – Croatia’s Secret Waterfall Destination

What landscape comes to your mind when you think of Croatia? Perhaps clear waterfalls – that’s because of overly popular (yet stunning) Plitvice Lakes and Krka National Park. Or it could be an image of a historical beach destination, thanks to Game of Thrones because Dubrovnik was the shooting location for King’s landing.

As a person who has visited Croatia year after year, I have to tell you that even though the country is stunning, the a majority of beautiful places are overrun by tourists.

Because of this, visiting places like Durbovnik or Krka National Park in peak times can be super stressful and may not feel like a vacation. Although the same is often thought to be the case for the Plitvice Lakes, but I have a post about how it can be done in a way to avoid crowds.

I’m here to tell you about another place that I have been visiting year after year and it hardly receives any tourists. It is a town called Slunj, with a waterfall village inside it called Rastoke.

Introducing Rastoke, Slunj

Rastoke waterfall, Slunj, Croatia

So what is Rastoke all about? It is a historical village in a Slunj town with many small waterfalls and cascades and surrounded by rivers Korana, Slunjčica and Plitvica.

The entire village is overwater, which is why it made it so special for me. Rastoke village is over three big islands and a bunch of smaller islands connected via bridges with water around.

Rastoke is known for its watermills too, which contributed to Slunj’s economic development.

Mini Plitvice Lakes - Waterfall in Slunj, Croatia Road Trip

Mini Plitvice Lakes – Waterfall in Slunj, Croatia Road Trip

Rastoke is called “Mini Plitvice Lakes” because one can see a similar natural phenomena as that in the nearby Plitvice Lakes. Rastoke is where Slunjčica River flows into the Korana River, which is one of the two rivers of Plitvice Lakes national Park.

I can’t compare Rastoke with Plitvice Lakes because the Plitvice Lakes are super stunning and not many places compare to the epic scale of natural beauty of those lakes. Having said that, I’d like to mention that Rastoke is much smaller but it is a thousand times more relaxing experience because there aren’t many visitors. 

What’s more is that this village is completely overwater. So if you rent a place to stay here, most likely it will be an overwater cottage. So, you can actually be a part of the landscape in a much more deeper way as compared to the Plitvice Lakes.

Is Rastoke a Secret?

The Lovely Waterfront Houses of Rastoke, Croatia

Are there any secret places in this age of Instagram? Hardly any. That changes the real definition of secret. In today’s age, a secret spot is one that’s not yet popular on Instagram.

The difference is that you wouldn’t see long queues of influencers in fancy evening gowns or cocktail dresses, so you can actually stand on scenic spots without thinking that you’re messing up someone’s photo (or Instagram reel).

Rastoke Waterfall, Slunj, Croatia [CC0] via Unsplash

Rastoke in Slunj is one such place. I have visited Slunj on many occasions because of a music festival that occurs near this town in a nature park along the River Mrežnica. This particular nature park has no network coverage, but don’t worry, Rastoke and Slunj definitely has good network.

My dream house – waterfront house in Rastoke with a waterfall on the side, Croatia

In order to truly experience Rastoke and Slunj town’s offbeat vibes, stay in one of the waterfront cottages here in Rastoke with the sounds of the waterfall in the background. I will share more information about this at the end of the post.

Where is Rastoke, Slunj

Rastoke is in the mountainous part of Central Croatia. It is located along the fast moving route between Karlovac and Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is a North-South route to the Adriatic Sea. Rastoke, Slunj is a 25 KMs from the Plitvice Lakes and just 16 KMs away from the nearest border of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Slunj Town in Croatia

Rastoke is a part of Slunj town. Slunj is a very small town with a castle, river, many restaurants, supermarkets and bakeries. Just like some parts of Zagreb, you will also see little hills in the background in most of Slunj.

How to reach Rastoke, Slunj

Driving to Rastoke Slunj, Croatia

The best way to travel within Croatia is by driving. If you live in a nearby country within Europe then you will probabaly drive to Croatia and travel within the country with your own car. Alternatively, you can fly to Zagreb and just rent a car from there (or any other city of Croatia).

We did travel to Slunj on our campervan and the journey was straightforward because Slunj is located on the important North-South route between Karlovac and Plitvice Lakes. In order to see the car rental prices, you can check this link for a comparison and estimate.

On the few occasions I have visited Slunj, I have traveled here by both bus and car. I found the bus travel in Croatia uncomplicated, affordable and stress free. It was effortless to travel to the bus stops within Croatia using Uber or Bolt taxi services.

It is very easy to reach Slunj on a bus from Zagreb or Plitvice Lakes or Karlovac. The journey from Zagreb to Slunj took us two hours on the last occasion and it was booked on Omio app (which is amazing for travel within Europe).

Please note Rastoke bus stop isn’t the same as Slunj main bus stop but you can walk from one to another in 10 minutes.

Rastoke is seven minutes walk from Slunj bus station. If you’re walking in summer with full sun and luggage, then this walk can take you 10-12 minutes.

Rastoke Parking

I saw three parking areas right at the entry of Rastoke. The parking here didn’t seem to have an option of card payment so keep Croatian Kuna coins with you. 

Rastoke Entry Fee (2022) 

The entry ticket prices are in Kunas and usually 1 EUR = 7.5 Kunas. Here’s the entry info for visiting Rastoke in 2022:

  • Adults: 45 Kunas in July & August; 40 Kunas in the other months
  • Children / Students / Seniors: 30 Kunas throughout the year
  • Family Ticket for 3: 110 Kunas in July & August; 100 Kunas in the other months
  • Family Ticket for 4: 130 Kunas in July & August; 120 Kunas in the other months (additional child 20 kunas)

 

What to See in Rastoke

Rastoke Map, Croatia

Rastoke Map, Croatia

Walk around in Rastoke, and explore the three islands. Don’t be fooled by the small size, there is a lot to see here. The most obvious thing to do here would be to see the waterfalls, but there’s more.

There are three main waterfalls in Rastoke. Yes, the map mentions more but I could just find three big ones. The rest of the waterfalls were small and there were also some small cascades. If you visit and find more than three big waterfalls here, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Waterfall of Rastoke, Slunj, Croatia

Apart from the streams and waterfalls, Rastoke has meadows, little islands that are connected with bridges, an 18th Century mill, a traditional carpet washer made of wood, a fishpond, a cave, a Winnetou totem and even a fairy garden. Yes, you read that right. You can find your fairy in the fairy garden, get a fairy name and check out the meaning of your fairy name.

Walk and explore Rastoke, Croatia

Fairies form an important part of Croatian and Slavic legends. This is one of the reasons why one of the waterfalls of Rastoke is called vilinska kosa – which means Fairy’s Hair.

Rastoke and the Legend of Fairies 

The legend of the fairies exists in Rastoke as long as the settlement itself. Legend has it that the riverbanks in Rastoke were a home to the fairies. This is the reason why a lot of water flowed through the mills.

The fairies of Rastoke had supernatural powers. They dressed in white and wore crowns or green garlands. They wove their hair in thick braids.

The Magical waterfall village – Rastoke in Croatia

As per the legend, while the millers were busy grounding corn into flour at night with their mills, the fairies stole their horses. They brought the horses back before the dawn with their manes braided up. 

There are more stories and legends about the fairies of Rastoke. It was believed that the fairies would lead lost travelers in fog to the right path, heal a sick person with herbs, put a restless child to sleep.

How long do you need for Rastoke?

Korana River, Rastoke, Croatia

Slunj town is small and Rastoke is even smaller. You don’t need more than half a day to see everything here unlike the nearby Plitvice Lakes national park that takes easily two days if you want to cover everything. However, I suggest you try to stay here for one night for a more relaxing experience. 

If you stay in Rastoke for a night, then you can also try to be a part of one of the kayaking trips on Mrežnica river which is an unbelievably clear. This river makes many waterfalls, springs, and caves. If you arrive here on your own car or camper van, then you can also try to include Primišlje village. But I will talk about that later.

Slunjčica Walking Trail & Stari Grad

Stari Grad Castle next to Ratoke, Slunj, Croatia

Stari Grad Castle next to Ratoke, Slunj, Croatia

While you are in Rastoke, take some time out to experience the best of the surrounding natural beauty and walk along the river. Do the Slunjčica walking trail to see the clear water of this river and the sights around. 

One of the places that you will see on Slunjčica walking trail is a Stari Grad, which is a big castle that’s on the opposite side of the main road as you drive to Rastoke from Slunj. Stari Grad is not inside Rastoke but you will see it from the parking spot or the bus stop of Rastoke. You don’t have to actually go inside the castle to admire it. 

In order to start the Slunjčica walking trail, arrive at Moćanovo bridge (Moćanovog mosta) and then follow the trail along the river. 

Primišlje village near Slunj

If you don’t believe in fairies and magic forests, then your mind will change after you visit Primišlje. It is a small nature park along Mrežnica River where it makes many streams, waterfalls and cascades. This river is super clear and lush greenery dragonflies and magical misty foliage.

The only way you can visit Primišlje from Slunj is by driving. So, it works well if you have a rental car or your own car. Another way to reach Primišlje would be to hire a taxi from Slunj.

Be prepared to spend a few hours here without network coverage, so I recommend you download an offline version of Google Maps before you start driving here from Slunj.

If you don’t have a car, and you’re alone then I suggest you skip Primišlje because it would be too much of an effort to arrive here. Another way to experience this area is by kayaking. I found the below kayaking tour of Mrežnica that includes Primišlje on GetYourGuide that you can sign up for.

Where to Stay in Rastoke, Slunj

Rastoke, Slunj with overwater village, Croatia [CC0] via Unsplash

Slunj town has a number of guesthouses and Bed & Breakfasts but I highly recommend picking a place to stay next to the waterfalls of Rastoke. There aren’t many such places but I can tell you about one of them, it is called Holiday House Rastoke Pod Lipom.

Holiday House Rastoke Pod Lipom is a waterfront property and the river flows right under it, so it is extra special. Sleeping with the sounds of water is therapeutic and you can experience it here. 

Having visited Croatia a number of times, I’d recommend staying longer in a place like Rastoke as compared to some of the other highly touristy spots such as Dubrovnik, Split, Krka National Park or Plitvice Lakes.

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Is Bilbao Worth Visiting? Here are 5 Reasons to Visit Bilbao in Spain

Is Bilbao Worth Visiting? Here are 5 Reasons to Visit Bilbao in Spain

Visiting Spain’s Basque Country and wondering if Bilbao is worth visiting? This post will help you decide.

Bilbao is one of Spain’s greatest and most underrated city getaway destinations. The largest city in the Basque Country and in northern Spain, Bilbao has a unique character and tons of things to see and do.

Bilbao lies on on the banks of a tidal river, the Nervión. Biblao is surrounded by little green hills, which make a lovely backdrop for this city’s landscape. World-class museums, delicious food, fascinating history and culture, and ever-friendly locals are just some of the reasons why you can’t help falling in love with Bilbao.

The enigmatic Basque language is everywhere, but everyone also speaks Spanish and you’ll be fine getting by in English, as there are plenty of speakers here.

It is worth keeping in mind that in the near future, you might need to register online with the ETIAS to visit Spain or other countries in the Schengen Area if you aren’t a citizen of an EU or Schengen country yourself.

The Guggenheim Museum

El Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain – via Unsplash

If you’re a fan of art — especially modern art — you can’t miss Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. Internationally renowned for its permanent and visiting exhibitions, featuring works by both Spanish and international artists, this incredible building put Bilbao on the map as a must-visit for art lovers.

Bilbao’s pride and joy, the Guggenheim changed the face of the city when it opened in 1997. The once run-down port area of the city was transformed and regenerated into the modern metropolis you see today. The Museum was very much the centre of and catalyst for this change.

As well as the exhibits inside, the building is surrounded by sculptures that can be enjoyed by everyone free of charge. Perhaps the most famous is Puppy, a 40-ft topiary West Highland terrier covered in colourful flowers.

While Barcelona and Madrid have their fair share of art museums, Bilbao’s Guggenheim may well top them all.

The Casco Viejo

The Casco Viejo, Bilbao old town via Unsplash

At the heart of every Spanish city from Santiago to Almería is a casco viejo, or “old town”. Bilbao’s is up there with the best of them.

The old, narrow streets of the Casco Viejo are home to a plethora of quirky shops and bars, as well as some of the city’s most important sites. Here, you’ll find the epic 15th-century gothic cathedral as well as the Plaza Nueva — home to some of the best bars and restaurants in Bilbao.

But the real reason to visit the old town is the atmosphere. Exploring the old streets is an experience in itself. Every time you go, you’re sure to discover something new!

Pintxos

Pintxos – bite size snacks, Bilbao, Spain via Unsplash

The Basque Country is known for many things, not least its unique language. When it comes to food, one of the region’s most popular exports are pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”).

These bite-sized tapas come on skewers — usually on a slice of bread. You’ll see them everywhere in this part of Spain, and their popularity has spread to other regions such as Barcelona and Madrid. But the Basque Country is the homeland of the pintxo and in Bilbao, you’ll be getting the original article. 

Most bars will have pintxos readily available as snacks and there are also restaurants that specialise in them.

Like most tapas, it’s dangerously easy to just keep ordering these delicious little morsels! You can’t visit Bilbao without helping yourself to a few with a drink. It’s the local way of doing things, and visitors are more than welcome to join in!

Boat ride down the Ría de Bilbao

Ría de Bilbao boat ride, Bilbao, Spain via Pixabay

The scenic River Nervion flows through the heart of Bilbao, with the Casco Viejo and the Guggenheim sitting right on its banks. Taking a riverside stroll is pleasant enough but to really get the most out of a visit to the city, you need to get yourself on a boat.

There are regular boat tours down to the coast. Bilbao is only a few miles inland from the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bilbao Spain, Boat ride via pixabay

This final stretch of the river, known as the ría in Spanish, is actually part of the tidal estuary and is wide enough to allow the passage of ships. This led to Bilbao becoming an important port and a centre of industry in the past.

The boat ride offers fascinating snapshots of the city’s industrial past as well as the modern facades of a regenerated town.

You also sail right under the Vizcaya Bridge, commonly known as the Puente Colgante (hanging bridge). This remarkable feat of engineering is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vehicles crossing the river drive onto a section of road suspended from the bridge, which then moves across like a gondola, carrying the traffic.

Mount Artxanda

Bilbao City and Mount Artxanda in the background via Unsplash

For a panoramic view of Bilbao, there’s no better place than Mount Artxanda. Take the old funicular railway to the top of the hill and then breathe in the incredible vista before you.

This is more than just a viewing spot though! The picturesque park on top of the hill is full of sculptures and walkways. If you’re getting hungry, there are plenty of excellent restaurants up here too.

This is a fantastic place to cap off a visit to Bilbao and appreciate this wonderful city.

Cover Photo via Unsplash

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Hamburg Instagram Spots: 13 Photo Spots in Hamburg + MAP

Hamburg Instagram Spots: 13 Photo Spots in Hamburg + MAP

Here are the exact locations of some of my Instagram reels and posts from Hamburg. It took me multiple visits to find some of the most amazing photo spots and to compile this list of my favorite Hamburg instagram spots.
 
Hamburg made me fall in love with Germany. There are canals, bridges, a stunning warehouse district with Dark Acadamia aesthetics, massive ships on the Elbe river, a tunnel and loads of street art. There is also a narrow street with the whole Harry Potter Diagon Alley vibe.
 
Hamburg is where even the subway stations look gorgeous, bus interiors look adorable with a tiny bookshelf and also the town hall is an interesting place to photograph. Is the rest of Germany also like this? Umm, no.
 
If you’re visiting Hamburg and you’d like to creagte some memorable photos too, then here’s my list that’s specifically curated for that purpose. Here are top instagram spots in Hamburg.
 

1) Brooksfleet, Speicherstadt

View of Brooksfleet in Speicherstadt, Hamburg

Speicherstadt is a German word that means “warehouse district”. It is super special because Hamburg has the biggest warehouse district in the world. And it is stunning!

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is my favorite photo spot in Hamburg because all the buildings are red. The icing on the cake is that there are intersecting canals, that make the photos look stunning.

Something about the red buildings and Hamburg’s gloomy cloudy weather give me massive Dark Acadamia vibes on this particular spot.

Brooksfleet canal in Speicherstadt, Hamburg photo spots

Speicherstadt is within the HafenCity quarter. You will find many photo spots but the best ones aren’t on top of the big bridges. Get on one of the narrower bridges that go over Brooksfleet canal and click a picture. You won’t be disappointed!

The Brooksfleet in Speicherstadt t is the extension of the Kehrwiederfleet. I found this spot randomly in 2017 while I was getting out from Miniatur Wunderland, and I revisited in 2022 for a few photos and reels.

Exact location: the narrow bridge right behind VLET restaurant in Speicherstadt that goes over Brooksfleet.

Click Here for coordinates on Google Map.

2) Nikolaifleet & Deichstraße

Nikolaifleet - Hamburg’s Prettiest Canal

Nikolaifleet – Hamburg’s Prettiest Canal – I photographed this in June 2017

Oh Hamburg, stop pretending to be Amsterdam! Just kidding. But yes, this spot will remind you of Amsterdam because the buildings along the canal are narrow.

Nikolaifleet is the name of a canal that is in Hamburg’s old town. What makes this photo spot special is that it is along Deichstraße, a pretty street with historical narrow buildings.

Nikolaifleet canal in July 2022, Hamburg Instagram spots

First mentioned in 1304, Deichstraße is the oldest remaining street in Hamburg’s old town – Hamburg Altstadt. The historical canal side houses here are from the 17th – 19th century. This photo spot is right opposite Speicherstadt. 

There’s also a bench here, so that you can sit down and take a break. If you have something nice to sip while you wait here, then that is even better. If not, then just admire the view, click a few photos and move on.

I have mentioned this photo-spot in my things to do in Hamburg post already. To get to this spot, arrive at Haus der Seefahrt and walk a few steps further and you will see this view. 

Click here for location coordinates on Google Map.

3) Wasserschloss (Water Castle), Speicherstadt

Wasserschloss (Water Castle), Speicherstadt via Unsplash

The most photographed spot of Speicherstadt is the Wasserschloss, which means “the Water Castle”. It is at the end of the the historical Holländischfleet-Brücke. This photo spot is interesting because of two intersecting canals – Wandrahmsfleet & Holländischbrookfleet with the Wasserschloss building in the middle. 

The Wasserschloss building was the home and working space of the those that maintained the warehouse district’s rope winches. Not many were privileged to live inside the warehouse district, but they were.

Speicherstadt at night - Hamburg's Warehouse District

Speicherstadt at night – Hamburg’s Warehouse District

How to photograph the Water Castle (Wasserschloss) in Hamburg? You don’t get too close to it but find a bridge that overlooks it. In order to see it, you will have to get on to the Poggenmühlen-Brücke, which is close to the Schmidtchen Speicherstadt cafe.

Click here for location coordinates on Google Map.

A lot of elaborate townhouses in Speicherstadt that belonged to the merchants from Holland along the Holländischfleet-Brücke were demolisghed to makje roopm for new warehouses. Also, many historical buildings were destroyed duering the World War 2 but some were restrored brick by brick.  

As of 1991, the warehouse district is under monumental protection, and from 2015 the entire Speicherstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Other interesting buildings in Speicherstadt are:

Cafea GmbH, Am Sandtorkai 2 

Building along St. Annenfleet, Speicherstadt, Hamburg via Unsplash

The stunning building at Am Sandtorkai 2 next to St. Annenfleet canal is Cafea GmbH, which was a coffee store that’s permanently closed. This building is stunning and is definitely worth photographing. 

Speicherstadtrathaus

It means the Warehouse District Townhouse and is the head office of HHLA transport and logistics.

Kehrwiederspitze

This is a cute small buuilding that you will see from the bridge as you walk around in Speicherstadt.

Café Fleetschlösschen

This building was once a customs booth on Brooktorkai but is now a restaurant. 

 

4) Elbphilharmonie, HafenCity

The Elbphilharmonie, HafenCity or Elbphi, Hamburg, Germany via Unsplash

The Elbphilharmonie or just the Elphi is a massive concert hall in Hamburg’s HafenCity. It is an iconic glass building that you should try to photograph if you visit Hamburg.

Some people say that the Elbphilharmonie shape resembles the top of the sail. Others even say that it looks like an iceberg, or a wave or a quartz crystal – but I will leave it to you to decide.

As per the architect (Herzog & De Meuron), the Elbphi gives an impression of a giant crystal that reflects the town, Elbe River and the sky differently from any position and at any hour of the day. You guessed it, it isn’t a historical landmark. The Elbphilharmonie was inaugurated in January 2017.

If you want to explore the HafenCity and Elbphi, check out this 3 Hour Bicycle Tour with Elbphilharmonie that goes through many famous landmarks here and also Elbphilharmonie, where you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city.

Because it is massive, it isn’t a good idea to get close to it to photograph it. Instead, get to a place from where you can photograph the Elbphi over the water.

In my opinion, the Pedestrian Bridge Opposite Haus der Seefahrt is an excellent spot for photographing the Elbphilharmonie.

5) Alsterarkaden & Otto Liss Gedenktafe

Otto Liss Gedenktafe overlooking Vleet restaurant, Hamburg

There is a spot right after you get out of the Rathaus complex where cars can’t go but you can stand on the bridge that’s called Schleusenbrücke. Go on the bridge to look at the water and the restaurants along with it.

If you walk further 150 meters further and cross VLET restaurant, you will find a spot that’s marked on Google Maps as Otto Liss Gedenktafe. That my friends, is where I clicked the above picture.

Otto Liss Gedenktafe viewpoint overlooking Rathaus and Vleet restaurant, Hamburg

I really like this photo spot in Hamburg because you can see the iconic Rathaus building in the background with the canal and restaurants. 

The best time for this photo is at night because that’s when you can capture the romantic vibe of the canal side restaurants because of the warm lamps.

Alsterarkaden in Hamburg with Rathaus in the background

The canals here are Kleine Alster and Alsterfleet.  This photo spot overlooks the VLET restaurant. Yes, I have mentioned them already in the first point and no, they aren’t paying me to mention them. But it seems that this chain restaurant is all over the famous Instagram spots of Hamburg.

Click here for location coordinates to click the main evening photo at the top of this section.

6) Rathaus – inside and outside

Rathaus in Hamburg – top photo spots

Now that you’re near the Rathaus, you will notice that it is an interesting building with Neo-Renaissance architecture. The building is wide, so you have to find a way to fit it properly in a 5×4 frame that’s a preferred photo frame for Instagram. Of course you would need a wide angle lens but nowadays all good cellphones have that too.

Hamburg Rathaus – top IG spots in Hamburg

Don’t just stay inside the Rathaus, but go inside too and you will love the photo possibilities. The water fountain and the Hygieia sculpture behind the Rathaus also make a nice photo background.

Behind the Rasthaus when you cross the fountain and look towards the road, there is an arch. That makes a good photo spot too. I did not click a photo there but shot an Instagram reel.

As you get out of the Rathaus, walk around to see different photo possibilities. There’s the Handelskammer Hamburg building next to it that’s also worth photographing.

Click here for photo coordinates.

7) Stintfang for Landungsbrücken Station, St. Pauli 

View of Landungsbrücken from Stintfang, Hamburg Insta Spots – July 2022

How can a train station look so stunning. But of course Hamburg has it all.

Landungsbrücken is actually a set of bridges that connect the floating landing stations for the ships to the land on Hamburg docks. But in this point we are talking about the Landungsbrücken station in St. Pauli.

Landungsbrücken station building is very interesting because there are certain inscriptions and also a clock tower that actually is used to measure the water level too. This entire complex is a protected monument.

The best place for photographing Landungsbrücken is from a spot called Stintfang. It is an observation deck that’s across the road and you have to slightly climb up. From here you will also see the Elbphilharmonie, the famous Rickmer Rickmers museum ship and the busy Hamburg dock.

Landungsbrücken Station, St. Pauli viewpoint – June 2017

I remember I visited this spot in 2017 from a park where a lot of people were sitting with beer to watch the sunset over Landungsbrücken. This time in 2022, I saw lot of those sitting spaces on the grass were closed off for people and instead there were just the benches.

You can also arrive here directly from Landungsbrücken station as you go on the bridge that crosses the road and then climb more steps to reach on top.

Click here for photo coordinates.

8) Elbe Tunnel & Steinwerder

Inside the Elbtunnel in Hamburg – Photo spots in Hamburg

You must have noticed that I have mentioned the Elbe River a few times. Yes, it is a major river in Central Europe and it goes through Hamburg. A lot of things and places in Hamburg have the word “Elb” because of this river.

The Elbe tunnel (or Elbtunnel in German) goes under the Elbe river and is the longest river tunnel in the world. The entry point is located actually in the Landungsbrücken complex, so pretty close to the previous point on this list. 

The Elbe Tunnel, Hamburg – top photo spots

There is a lift that will take you to the starting point of the tunnel. The lift doesn’t operate after 6 pm. It gets very close un this tunnel so I hope you carry something warm to wear.

On the other side of the Elbe River through the Elbtunnel – Steinwerder

You can walk from one side to another in less than 10 minutes. If you want, you can also explore the area on the other side of the harbor. It is called Steinwerder, and it is a maritime industrial area.

Click here for the entry coordinates for the Elbtunnel.

9) Strand Pauli at Sunset

StrandPauli, Hamburg – top photography spots

Strand Pauli means Pauli beach – but this isn’t a beach spot but is a bar that’s a good photo spot because of the location.

Like most of the spots on this list, this place also looks good at sunset. But I understand that you can’t be everywhere at the sunset time. In that case, I’d recommend you arrive here before or just after the sunset to capture a reddish hue before the purple hour of the photography begins.

To make things better, there is a frame of an old van here that makes a lovely photo frame. We saw it in 2022 and I hope it is still there when you visit.

Click here for the photo coordinates.

10) St. Michael’s Church (Hauptkirche Sankt Michaelis)

St. Michael’s Church Clock Tower, Hamburg via Unsplash

St. Michael’s Church is Hamburg’s most famous church and is one of the five main Lutheran churches. The building is iconic because of the 433 feet tall clock tower that hovers over most of the background pictures of Hamburg from many directions.

St. Michael’s Church interiors – Hamburg Instagram Spots via Unsplash

The clock tower of St. Michael’s Church was once used to navigate the ships on the river Elbe. Today this tower features an observation deck with panoramic views of Hamburg from every direction. The clock on this tower has faces on the four sides and these are the biggest clock faces in all of Germany.

Click here for the photo coordinates.

11) Hamburg Street Art: St. Pauli & Schanzenviertel

St Pauli Street Art, Hamburg

If you want to capture different perspectives of Hamburg, then you can’t miss St. Pauli & Schanzenviertel. This is where several artists began their journey, including the Beatles. (Yes, the band is from Liverpool but St. Pauli is where they were when the rise of Beatlesmania began.)  

In order to see the street art, get to the skate park in St. Pauli and walk around. Explore the area around Pauli U-Bahn station and Schanzenviertel. The walk from St. Pauli to Schanzenviertel won’t take more than 15 minutes but will take longer if you stop often for photos.

Street art St. Pauli Skate Park Hamburg

Hamburg’s Red light district – Reeperbahn is also a part of St. Pauli. For obvious reasons, you can’t click photos in that part of the city. I just wanted to make sure that you’re aware of this.

I know that the street art in Berlin is famous, but I enjoyed Hamburg too. In my opinion it was certainly more vibrant. Get to the skate park in St. Pauli and you will find an interesting spot to photograph. 

12) Hamburg Skyline From Boat

View of Hamburg Skyline from the boat

Hamburg’s skyline looks amazing at night, so where should you go to photograph it? Get on a night boat tour. The boats leave a little before it gets dark so that you can see the buildings along the water and massive ships that are lit up.

Hamburg Evening Tour with Lights

As the night darkens, you will see how the colour changes. I have personally done this tour and many people have booked it on my website over the last many years. It is a popular tour and is one of the best ways to see the skyline in a romantic setting.

This tour lasts around 60 minutes and is totally worth it. There is an outdoor deck which is rooftop and tends to get full. It offers excellent photo spots.

Hamburg can get a bit chilly because of the winds so not many people want to stay on the rooftop for long. You can also sit indoors because there are plenty of levels and a lot of seats. The view from indoors is also lovely.

13) Alster Lake

Alster Lake in Hamburg

In my Hamburg things to do post, I mention Alster Lake as a good spot for watching the sunset. I still say the same, so if you have time on your hands then definitely include this on your list.

If you like photography then you know this already that the colors right before and after the susnet bring out the best in every landscape and as a result the photos turn out amazing. This is time is called “the golden hour of photography”.

There is a walking path that goes along the main road that’s next to the lake. You can walk on it and stop for photos. There are spots for going down the steps so that you are closer to the lake.

There are spots where you will see swans. You will also see a lot of locals sitting on the benches next to the lake. Opposite the Alster Lake is the Hamburg University. You will also see a TV tower in the background here.

Where to Stay in Hamburg?

Paradise Suite at Superbude Altona Hamburg

There’s just one answer – Superbude. This chain has the most stunning rooms that aren’t just hostels but also “paradise suites”. We stayed in the Superbude Altona with our toddler and loved it. The location was amazing and it was a quieter part of Hamburg. 

The room was very interesting for not just my toddler but also for us. This is how they design the rooms in all the Superbude chains with interesting elements and small interactive art pieces. I remember our room in Superbude St. George had a singing fish!

We have also stayed in Superbude St Pauli and Superbude St. George in 2017. They are all amazing in terms of location, breakfast and comfort. More than anything, it is the design element that sets Superbude apart from all other hotels.

If you are looking to explore Hamburg with your family then I suggest you book a room at Superbude Altona. If your motive is to party and to explore Hamburg’s nightlife, then you should consider Superbude St. Pauli. If you don’t mind being in a busy area and would like to be close to the central train station and the Hafencity, then consider Superbude St. Pauli.

Yes, I love the Superbude chain so much that I even have a post about them based on my trip in 2017. Maybe it is time to update that post with new information about Superbude in Altona. 

Final Thoughts about Hamburg Instagram Spots

I hope you find my list of Instagram spots in Hamburg useful. I wanted to compile this list for people like me who are always looking for the best photo spots in a destination but maybe they don’t have time to do their research. 

You must have noticed that I love photographing the same spots, so I clicked some in 2017 and others in 2022 at the same place.  If you come across some more interesting Insta spots in Hamburg then please leave a comment and let me know since I’d love to add more to my list for my next trip.

Disclosure: I collaborated with Superbude Hamburg in 2017 and 2022. However, all opinions expressed in this articles are my own.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Things to do in Faro, Portugal [Algarve’s Entry City]

Things to do in Faro, Portugal [Algarve’s Entry City]

Faro is a lovely little historical city in Portugal’s Algarve region. It is the entry point to Algarve because it has an airport. Faro is used as a base to explore Algarve’s other beach destinations like Lagos, Albufeira, Portimão, Sagres, Benagil Cave, Vilamoura, etc.

I have this thing for old Portuguese buildings, town centers, family restaurants with chairs on the sidewalks so I highly enjoyed my time in Faro. In some ways Faro reminded me of Lisbon, but thankfully it is tiny and isn’t as touristy. But it did have some of the things I loved about Lisbon.

If you’re wondering how many days you need in Faro, then the answer is two. If you are in Portugal for a short time, then you can reduce this time to one day. It all depends on how you enter Portugal. 

If you’re wondering if Faro is safe for solo women travelers, then the answer is yes. Faro is where I landed before I headed off to Lagos. And this is where I came back a day before I flew back home to Germany. As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe in Faro and overall it was a very easy destination in every way.

Here are things to do in Faro, Algarve’s entry city.

Walk around in Faro & admire Azulejos

Walking around in Faro was a fun experience because I saw some interesting old buildings, artwork and azulejos. Azulejos are painted ceramic tiles that are everywhere on older Portuguese buildings. I fell in love with these tiles the first time I visited Portugal.

Sometimes they are just around the doors and windows but at times I saw the face of the walls covered with them. I photographed at least 20 different ones in Faro.

The time I visited Faro, the city was blooming with Jacaranda tree. I could see purple flower petals on the streets and the air smelled nice.

Here’s an important tip for walking around in Portugal – the old town streets are wretchedly slippery. Be careful with your shoes and wear the ones that are least likely to slip. A friend’s friend fractured her ankle because she slipped.

In my next points I talk about specific areas of Faro that you can discover by walking. But I’d still like to recommend that you don’t limit your walking to just those sections because I saw so many interesting sights in the most random places too.

An Old Building in Faro, Portugal

Stop at a nice place for a coffee and Pastel de Nata and enjoy the warm weather that Faro is known for. I loved every bit of my time there and you will too.

Arco da vila

Arco da vila in Faro, Portugal

I have this thing for photographing arcs, and this one had the most perfect background of the old town street behind. It kind of reminded me of Prague’s arches where one can see the old town except it wasn’t as crowded like Prague always is. 

Arco da vila is a city gateway that leads to the old town. It is right next to Algarve Tourism office. This arch has bell on top with a clock under it. This highly ornate arch dates back to the 19th century and is a national monument.

Arco da vila in Faro to Cidade Velha

I asked a stranger to click this photo and it turned out decent. The light was perfect as it was just after the sunset with a warm hue of street-lamps in the background. This spot was so empty at this time, it felt unreal.

I saw some massive bird nests on this building near the clock. I think they were vulture nests. I also saw vultures that were standing and sleeping here at night – was a strange sight. 

Cidade Velha (the Old Town Area)

The streets of Cidade Velha – the Old Town in Faro, Portugal

Cidade Velha is not the name of a place or a church but it means the old town. Faro’s old town is lovely in every way and what’s even special is that it is small and not busy.

Cidade Velha is the historical center, Centro Historico with well preserved 18th century architecture. Walking around here in the evening was one of the best things to do in Faro. Don’t do this during the afternoon unless you don’t have any other time because it gets hot. 

Cidade Velha with Igreja de Santa Maria in the background, Faro, Portugal

Take our some time in the evening before or right after the sunset to walk around in Cidade Velha to enjoy it with pretty lights. The evening breeze makes it a pleasant experience and you can also find a restaurant with outdoor seating. Check out my restaurant recommendations at the bottom of this post. 

At the end of the Cidade Velha, you will find Arco de Repouso. Just the way Arco da vila is the entry point of the old town, Arco de Repouso is the exit point – or the other way around depending on your direction. It isn’t as special as Arco da vila. 

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo, Faro, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo & Capela dos Ossos is the full name, which isn’t so easy so just keep Igreja do Carmo in your head. This is the most famous church of Faro which was completed in 1719. 

Capela dos Ossos – the Bone Chapel inside Igreja do Carmo, Faro, Portugal via Pixabay

The Capela dos Ossos (the bone chapel) in the Igreja do Carmo church can be accessed through the church for EUR 2 entry. Is is decorated with the skeletal remains of over 1,200 former monks. Yes, you can actually see their skulls and bones used as tiles. It is a very strange sight.

Igreja do Carmo doesn’t have wheelchair access or baby stroller paths.

Mercado Municipal (Faro Municipal Market)

Inside Mercado Municipal, Faro, Portugal

I have this thing for local markets and Faro did not fail me. I entered Mercado Municipal without any expectations but I wanted to buy everything. There was a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, honey, flowers, pastry, bread, and many other things.

Mercado Municipal – Faro’s municipal market, Portugal

Mercado Municipal is a modern building and is air-conditioned. It is a good place to pass your time and people watch. No, not in a creepy way but to experience the culture. 

 

Faro Marina & Jardim Manuel Bivar

Faro Marina – view from Suites Aliança terrace, Portugal

Faro Marina is the scenic dock area with I love Faro sign. This was right next to my room at Suites Aliança, so as soon as I got our of my room, I had an opportunity to walk around here.

Jardim Manuel Bivar, Faro, Portugal

There’s a Musicpavillion, Jardim Manuel Bivar and a children playground next to the Faro Marina. Walk around here and you will see some musicians busking. Some are good and they stand next to the restaurants with outdoor seating. 

Banco de Portugal building near Faro Marina, Portugal

You will also see the stunning Banco de Portugal building in this area. That’s closer to the street than the actual marina. 

Igreja de Santa Maria

The view from Igreja de Santa Maria, Faro, Portugal

Igreja de Santa Maria is the church that I saw from my balcony at Suites Aliança, that appeared to be right behind the Arco da vila. It also has a few bells on top, like Arco da Vila. In reality it was much farther and I realized it while I walked through the old town, Cidade Velha.

A local told me that it is possible to go the the rooftop of Igreja de Santa Maria, and he highly recommended that I do it at sunrise to see the view. But I did not want to wake up at 5 am on my vacation. I’d still like to mention this to you, in case you want to experience this. 

Igreja de Santa Maria has two chapels, a garden with a sun clock, and the rooftop that I mentioned before. You need to pay EUR 3.5 to enter. The interiors are lovely but keep in mind that I recommend this place mostly for the views.

Ria Formosa Lagoon

Ria Formosa in Algarve, Portugal via Pixabay

Ria Formosa Lagoon is close to Faro, is a group of islands and six inlets which collectively form the Ria Formosa Nature Park. This lagoon was recognized in 2010 as one of Portugal’s 7 natural wonders

The wetland of Ria Formosa Lagoon islands, channels, marshes, sandbars between the beaches of Garrão and Manta Rota. If you are into birdwatching, then you should keep Ria Formosa on your list. My friend went kayaking here and saw flamingos.

There are restaurants in Ria Formosa by the sea and also the white city of Cacela Velha with a fortress that you can climb for a view.

I have handpicked a few tours for you to experience Ria Formosa:

  • Ria Formosa Islands Catamaran Tour: 4 hour catamaran tour that includes a stop at Farol and Deserta islands. EUR 35 per person.
  • 4 Islands, 4 Stops in Ria Formosa Catamaran Tour: 4 hour catamaran tour that includes a stop at Deserta Island, Farol Island, Hangares, and Culatra Island. You will also have the option to have lunch in a typical restaurant on Breech Island – the cost of lunch is not included in the tour. This tour costs EUR 35 per person.
  • Ria Formosa bird watching tour: Get on an eco friendly solar boat for a 2 hour bird watching tour. The tour costs EUR 30.

The above tours are by GetYourGuide – it’s a company I personally use for tours and have always had an excellent experience in terms of booking, service and the tour quality. I only recommend the companies that I personally use,

Praia de Faro 

Praia de Faro, Algarve, Portugal via Pixabay

This is the main beach of Faro. If you’re going to visit the other destinations in Algarve, then this beach will not be special for you. However, if you have time and / or if you aren’t hitting Algarve’s beaches then make surre you visit Faro’s main beach – Praia de Faro.

This sandy beach stretches for a few kilometers and doesn’t tend to get crowded. It is very close to the airport so is a good place to stop right before you leave Faro in case you need to check out early but your flight is in the evening.

Experience Fado

Fado is Portuguese Blues and if you like live music then you should try to experience it while you’re in the country. Fado guitar recitals near the tourism office are popular in Faro and they cost just EUR 5.

Where to stay in Faro (my Hotel recommendations)

When I travel solo, I usually book a bed in a hostel to save money and to make friends. But in Faro I decided to book an entire hotel room for myself because they weren’t expensive and I found some really stunning ones.

SUITES ALIANÇA

The bedroom room in Suites Aliança, Faro, Portugal

This hotel was actually the best hotel experience in Portugal for me because it had everything. It was in a beautifully preserved old building with stunning new interiors and fittings. I’d call the interiors Art Deco.

My room was comfortable with a nice bed and air conditioner. This hotel also has a kitchen with all the appliances that one can use.

The best part for me was the reading room and the view from the window. It looked directly on to the old streets! I think that’s the room I enjoyed the most while I was here. I used it for Yoga, reading and made a few videos.

Click here to book SUITES ALIANÇA

The location was perfect because this hotel is next to Arco da vila so you have the entire old town at your feet. The main bus station is also nearby, it is on the other side of the hotel. Faro marina is super close and you can see it from the terrace. 

Rate Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun Hotels

My room at Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun Hotels, Faro, Portugal

This is a basic hotel in Faro that’s close to everything. The train station is just next to it so that was a big relief. My room had a super tiny attached toilet and shower. My room also had an air conditioner, which is much needed in Portugal’s summer months.

Click here to book Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun

I decided to eat breakfast here and it was just 5 euros. It was pretty basic and I enjoyed it.

Restaurants in Faro:

I spent two nights in Faro, so I got a chance to try out a few restaurants. Here are the three that stand out:

Taberna Modesto for seafood

My meal in Taberna Modesto, Faro, Portugal

Taberna Modesto was recommended to me by a local and it was perfect in every way. The vibe was perfect because it is in Cidade Velha, the old town. There is an outdoor seating and an amazing atmosphere. I was here alone but the romantic vibe made me miss my husband.

I love fish and seafood in general, so I loved the menu here. I wanted to order everything because there were so many varieties of freshly caught fish, prawns, octopus, and crabs. I eventually decided to order one of the fishes, which arrived with potatoes and broccoli.

I also drank green wine, which is something I tried for the first time in Portugal. I thought the price was for one glass but for that I got a small bottle – wow. I ate chocolate souffle too. I was surprised at how affordable my meal was as compared to rest of Europe.

Chelsea for breakfast

My breakfast at Chelsea, Faro, Algarve, Portugal

What do you look for in a good hearty breakfast? For me it is avocado, fruit, eggs, and coffee – I had all of that in Chelsea. 

I ordered Eggs Benedict which arrived on sourdough bread, avocado, chia seeds and hollandaise sauce. They also had smoothies, salad bowls, pancakes, and many other delicious things. I also enjoyed my orange juice and soy milk cappuccino here. I packed Pastel de Nata for the way and they were super delicious.

Apart from the above two, there are three more restaurants that I wanted to visit but didn’t. They are:

  • Cidade Velha Rooftop: This restaurant was recommended to me by Google and looks like the rooftop area has an amazing sunset view. I did not go there but I’d like to mention this to you.
  • Namastey Indian: It is an Indian restaurant that I wanted to visit but I decided to eat the local specialities so skipped it.
  • Chefe Branco: This was recommended by someone on a travel forum because they have local specialities. 

Getting around in Faro

You don’t need anything like a rental car to get around in Faro. Yes, if you want to explore the rest of Algarve then a rental car will help you but in Faro you can just explore everything by walking or by hopping on to an E Scooter.

Faro Airport

Faro airport to the city center is just 5 kilometers. I was told that I could get the bus 16 from airport and it drops off in Faro itself. But I decided to take a taxi instead because I landed late and I didn’t want to wait for the bus.

Faro Train Station

Faro train station is small. I noticed a big queue for tickets and I was nervous since I was there just 10 minutes before my train to Lagos. But luckily I found out that I could just buy the tickets on the train so I didn’t have to stand in the line.

Faro Bus Station – Terminal Rodoviário Faro

Faro bus station is 3 minutes walk from Faro Marina. From here you will find buses that leave for other destinations within Algarve. I traveled on train and bus both in Algarve. The trains are faster and better since you can stand up and walk around. The buses are decent too and the one I was on had very good internet.

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How to Get to Everest Base Camp, Nepal – Trek Itineraries + Practical Info

How to Get to Everest Base Camp, Nepal – Trek Itineraries + Practical Info

The trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC) is long known for its unmatched view of the Everest. The route is immersed in the peaceful world of Tibetan Buddhism and scenes of the glorious Himalayas.

Everest Base Camp trek is Nepal’s most popular because of its breathtaking mountain views, great paths, and pleasant tea house-style trekking.  

In this article, you will find a few options of the Everest Base camp trek routes. These hikes provide a glimpse into Nepal’s undeveloped side and the Himalayas that most tourists miss on the typical route. 

Everest Base Camp and the Khumbu Icefall Nepal via Unsplash

In order to visit the Everest Base Camp, you will travel through Khumbu Valley. It is one of the most famous valleys and Lonely Planet ranked it as the sixth best region in the world in which to travel.

You will also witness the glorious Sagarmatha National Park on the way. Moreover, the view of the world’s tallest four peaks: Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Everest, Mt. Cho Oyu, and Mt. Makalu, will make your trip worth the trek.

Everest Base Camp Trekking Route, Namche, Nepal via Unsplash

There were only two primary ways to get to the south base camp of Mt. Everest in Nepal 53 years ago: a trip from Kathmandu, a four-to-five-week trek. Alternatively, take a one-day bus journey to Jiri, walk for five to eight days to Namche, and then to Mt. Everest. 

In 1964, Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust built a mountaintop airport and a dirt runway at Lukla. It gave travelers a shorter route to Mt. Everest.

Most people prefer the 35 – minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla to begin their trek. However, only a few adventurous souls take the old-fashioned trek beginning at Jiri.

So, how to get to Everest Base Camp? Below are a few Everest base camp treks with itineraries and route information. 

1) The Classic Solukhumbu Trek to Everest Base Camp (13-14 days trekking)

Descending Mt. Kala Patthar (5644m) to Gorakshep – the sunset over Mt. Everest (middle), Nuptse and Changtse – via Unsplash

This is the most direct route from Lukla to the peak of Kalapatthar at 18,192 feet. Kalapatthar gives the best view of Mount Everest. This is a pilgrimage to the highest mountain in the world.

You take a short, scenic, and unforgettable early morning flight to Lukla from Kathmandu. You will start your trek from Lukla and downhill toward Dudh Koshi River. The trail includes passing the Chhupulung Ghat’s Sherpa town, along with large rocks dedicated mainly to Buddhist prayers, while heading to Phakding Village.

Your trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar is one of the most mesmerizing as it lets you pass through the Pine forest and gives eye-pleasing views of numerous mountain peaks including Mt. Thamserku, Mt. Everest, Mt. Kusum, Mt. Kangtega, and Mt. Kangaroo.

Everest Base Camp Trekking Route, Namche, Nepal via Unsplash

After a day of acclimatization at Namche, you trek to reach Tengboche after descending to the Dudh Koshi river through the rhododendron trees.

You will then reach Dingboche, passing by Pangboche village and appreciating the magnificent mountain Ama-Dablam. You will be spending your night here at Dingboche for acclimatization with a chance to witness Peaks Island and Lhotse.

You will need a whole day to reach Lobuche from Dingboche. You will climb the summit of Duglha while following the Chukpo Lari ridge’s trail to reach Lobuche to see the Himalayan boundary.

You will then be climbing the lateral moraine of the  Khumbu Glacier towards Gorak Shep. You will then be left with a short walk to reach the Everest Base Camp with a view of the magnificent Khumbu Glacier and TransHimalayas.

After walking for a day, you will reach the highest point of the trek, the Kala Patthar (5,500 meters) in Mt. Pumori. You will witness numerous peaks from Kala Patthar, including Mt. Everest, Ama Table, Cholatse, Lola, Nuptse, Tabuchi, and Khumbutse.

Namche Bazaar view point, Namche Bazaar, Nepal via Unsplash

Then you head back to Namche Bazar via Ama Dablam and Tengboche. The next day you will pass through numerous settlements such as Manjo, Phakding, Jorsalle, and Benkar on your way back to Lukla.

You will then end your trek to Everest Base Camp with a 35-minute flight to Kathmandu airport from Lukla airport.

2) Jiri to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp trek, Nepal via Unsplash

Traditional Everest Base Camp routes are popular with individuals who prefer to avoid the Lukla flight. The flight from Lukla to Kathmandu is regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world.

During the 1950s, the Jiri Everest base camp trek routes were well-known and famous, and expedition. 

The journey to Jiri begins with a 10-hour drive from Kathmandu Valley. You begin walking from Jiri to Lukla, where the famous EBC Trek route begins. 

Overall, the trek from Jiri to Lukla takes between 5 and 8 days, depending on your pace. Therefore, it is recommended that you add at least a week to your overall trekking duration and fly out of Lukla.

The trek allows you to explore Nepal from two different perspectives. The path from Jiri attracts very few visitors, and the tea houses are poorly developed, with little more than Dal Bhatt on the menu. 

You may discover the lovely forest, terraces, farmlands, and Dudh Kosi river while trekking from Jiri to Lukla and avoid the crowds of trekkers.

The walk into Lukla is challenging, despite the low height, as it passes over various valleys, ascends, and descends multiple ridgelines as it traverses the base of the Himalayas. Most hikers agree that the lowest part of the trail is the most difficult.  

After arriving in Lukla, the hike to Everest Base Camp follows the standard route.

3) Three Passes and Everest Base Camp

Gokyo valley view from Gokyo Ri

The trek from Three Passes to EBC takes you through Khumbu Region’s beautiful wilderness. It is a difficult path that needs crossing 3 high-altitude passes, while a view of 4 of the world’s 10 tallest mountains makes it worthwhile.

The route begins in Lukla and changes after you reach Namche Bazaar. You will hike up the Bhote Koshi River for many days, reach the Renjo La Pass, and enter the Gokyo Valley after leaving Namche Bazaar.

You can witness numerous peaks, including Makalu, Cho Oyu, Mt. Everest, and Lhotse from Renjo La and Gokyo Ri’s top.

You will also be taking in the spectacular views of Mount Pharilapche and descending the 36-kilometer Ngozumpa Glacier, leaving behind the Gokyo Ri.

Then it’s on to Gorekshep and Everest Base Camp via Cho La (5400m), with spectacular views of Ama Dablam.

The path departs from the main road again and heads across Kongma La. Cholatse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Pokalde, Lhotse, and Makalu can all be seen from the pass.

You will cross the pass while descending into the Niyang Khola Valley, stopping in Chukkung, the starting point for hikes to Island Peak.

The rest of the path descends to Lukla through Tengboche and Namche, as is customary.

4) Tumlingtar to Everest Base Camp (21-22 days)

The trek begins with a flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar. The tiny settlement of Tumlingtar serves as a starting point for trekkers heading to Makalu Base Camp.

This rarely opted route takes around nine days to trek from Tumlingtar to Lukla. However, climbers traveling to the hiking peak of Mera use the section closer to Lukla.

Lukla Airport, Lukla – Everest Base Camp Trekking Route via Unsplash

This trail is truly off the beaten path, and the experience is unique because the tea shops are pretty basic, with few amenities and minimal menus. The locals are kind and accommodating and will go out of their way to ensure you have a fantastic day.

Tumlingtar (460m) is located at the foot of the Himalayas and can be extremely warm, so dress appropriately. The journey from Lukla to Tumlingtar takes around nine days and can be used as an exit or entry point into the region.

One benefit of using it as an entry is allowing you to acclimate and become in shape before confronting base camp. It traverses the foot of the Himalayas, similar to the Jiri journey, and as a result, there is a lot of up and down. This trek section adds roughly 8 to 9 days to the total trek time.

Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour

Helicopter getting ready for Everest tour

The Everest Helicopter Tour, a brief yet worth a try helicopter tour to Mountain Everest base camp. This Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour is ideal for individuals with a tight schedule and those not willing to hike for many days.

The journey lasts about 4-5 hours, covering views of Kathmandu city, Everest Bse Camp – especially Kalapatthar.

However, the most fantastic view of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mt. Cho Oyu, Mt. Ama Dablam, Mt. Nuptse, and Mt. Everest, can be seen from Kalapatthar. 

Depending on the weather conditions, the helicopter lands at Kalapathar or Everest Base Camp for a 10 to 15 minutes exploration and sightseeing stop. 

Gokyo and Renjo La Pass Trek

This shorter version of the Three Passes Trek does not include Kongma La or Everest Base Camp.

It cannot be considered an alternate route because it does not lead to Everest Base Camp, but it is a fascinating walk in the region with spectacular views of Everest. It takes the conventional route from Lukla to Namche before diverging and following the higher terrain to Dole and Machhermo.

The walk then ascends to the Ngozumpa Glacier’s terminal moraine, following the glacier’s lateral moraine to Gokyo and its six lakes. Gokyo offers a day of rest, with the option of climbing Gokyo Ri for spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. The renowned mountain of Pharilapche (6017m) rising over the turquoise waters of Dudh Pokhari has been the subject of numerous photographs.

The hike leaves Gokyo and passes Renjo La (5360m) before descending and following the Bhote Koshi canyon for several days back to Namche. One of the journey’s highlights is the view of peaks Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, and Cho Oyu from the top of Renjo La.

Best time for the Everest Base Camp Trek

Due to the harsh weather in the Everest Region, the peak and the best seasons for Everest Base Camp Trek are spring and autumn. Other seasons are the least visited.

What’s the Shortest Everest Base Camp trek route?

For each choice, there is a trekking equivalent. The shortest trek route, the classic Everest Base Camp Trail, is the most direct way. The longer you’re on the trail, the more expensive your trip is. Accommodations vary. 

Tips for the Everest Base Camp Trek

Break your trekking shoes before you start – Everest Base Camp via Unsplash

Trekking in the Everest Region needs some preparation, ranging from physical fitness to mental preparedness. Train to trek and plan for extra hard days at the end.

To save money, buy the trekking gear in Nepal. You will get everything in Kathmandu at a much better rate than anywhere else in the world.

Don’t forget to break your shoe before you trek. By that I mean, walk in your trekking shoes to a few times everyday to make sure they adapt to your foot shape before you start the hike.

Carry Nepalese Rupees as well as US Dollars. You won’t find any ATMs so prepare in advance.

Everest Helicopter tour is a great alternative for the people who wants to see the closest version of Everest without trekking. 

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Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal: How to visit + Kayaking + TIPS

Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal: How to visit + Kayaking + TIPS

Imagine a beach that’s hidden from the rest of the world because it is in a cave. A perfect beach with soft sand that’s beautifully lit because of the hole on the top of the cave. That’s Benagil Cave in Algarve.

Beaches are special but hidden beaches are more than just extra special. I am happy to say that I have visited quite a few because I always try to find one such beach when I visit a beach destination. When I do, I feel like a character out of the Beach movie.

Inside Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Algarve’s Benagil Cave beach is one of those extra special ones. The only way in is by swimming or kayaking, which obviously adds a more elusive touch to this already amazing place.

Benagil Cave has a hidden beach, where a little light falls dramatically, because it has a hole on the top. 

The dramatic light inside the Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal via unsplash

Where is Benagil Cave?

Benagil Cave is near Carvoeiro, which is cute little resort town in Portugal’s Algarve region. It is between Portimão & Albufeira. It is 55 KMs away from Faro, which is Algarve’s entry point because of the airport.

 

Where to Stay to visit the Benagil Cave

If you visit Algarve, then most likely you will set up your base in Albufeira, Lagos, Tavira, Sagres, or Portimão. I picked Lagos because it is seriously stunning, has a low key vibe and historical old town. My second choice would have been Sagres or Portimão.

If you want to be close to the Benagil cave, then you can pick Carvoeiro for your base. But it is a little upscale in terms of hotels as compared to the other destinations that I mentioned above.

Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave

Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave

I did not want to stay in Carvoeiro because I wasn’t looking for a resort destination but a place that had a bit of everything – beaches, hiking, viewpoints, restaurants, history and a certain vibe. But, it doesn’t mean Carvoeiro isn’t nice. It is and I am leaving it for another trip when I visit with my family.

If you don’t want to stay in Carvoeiro too, then you can easily make a day trip to see the Benagil Cave with a rental car or a tour.

How to Go Inside the Benagil Cave?

Reaching Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal via unsplash

The first thing you would wonder about the Benagil cave is how to get there. As mentioned before, there are only three ways:

  1. Kayaking,
  2. Swimming to the cave,
  3. Paddleboarding

 

Kayaking with my friend to Benagil Cave, Praia da Marinha in the background – Algarve, Portugal

In order to do so, you will either need to pick a tour or drive to the Benagil beach and try to find a way to rent a kayak from there. I will talk about these options in details below.

How to Pick your Benagil Cave Tour?

Picking the tour to see the Benagil cave, Algarve, Portugal

When you arrive in any part of Algarve – be it Albufeira or Lagos or Portimão, you will see lots of shops in the main center or near the train or bus stations or in the Marina where they try to sell you a tour to see the Benagil cave.

The thing is, 95% those tours will take you on a big boat, and big boats can only see the Benagil cave from outside. So, you will technically not visit the beach. You can’t leave the big boat so you won’t get to walk on the beach.

Me in Benagil cave and the kayak next to me (behind the rock)

The only way you can go on the beach is when you take a tour with kayaks or paddle-boats or SUP. After a lot of research and reading reviews on hundreds of site that we found on the internet, we found this perfect tour for us. It wasn’t from Lagos, but from Portimão.

We were staying in Lagos but we reached Portimão in just 20 minutes with our bus. Portimão is easy to reach from anywhere in Algarve with a bus or a train.

Book Benagil Cave Kayak Tour

This tour was excellent. Not only we visited the Benagil cave, but we also visited some of the other caves around and they were all good. We also saw the famous Praia da Marinha, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches of Europe.

Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal

We had a very comfortable catamaran with a toilet. We had a staff of four people with us on the board who were our guides and kayaking lifeguards.

Other Benagil Cave Kayak tour options

If the above tour is booked out or if you’re not going to be in Portimao, then I have handpicked a few more tours for you:

 

Is it difficult to kayak to Benagil Cave?

Kayaking isn’t difficult and you don’t need to know if from before to do it. There were many newbies with me and they did well. It was maybe my 15th time kayaking and I found this spot very easy. But I understand if you are nervous about it, I can sometimes be too.

If you do a tour then they will already give you instructions for kayaking. They will help you arrive on the beach with kayak, which in my experience is the moment where most of the people fall. Falling in the water isn’t something you should be scared of by the way.

The area around the Benagil cave is rocky (of course), so the only thing you should be scared of is falling out of your kayak and hurting yourself with the rocks. But, don’t let fear mess up your experience. A little bit of fear is ok for awareness so that you can keep yourself safe. 

Kayaking vs Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Stand up Paddleboarding with Pure Magic - Achill Island, Ireland

Stand up Paddleboarding with Pure Magic – Achill Island, Ireland

Honestly, I prefer SUP over kayak because I find it much more fun to balance while standing. Kayaking is easier and is something I have done many times.

The only reason I booked a kayaking tour and not SUP is because I didn’t find a tour that started from Lagos or Portimão. Also, SUP tours are more expensive. But if I didn’t have any money or commute restrictions, I would have picked up this below tour.

Book Benagil SUP Tour

If you’d like to do stand up paddleboarding to visit the Benagil cave, then check out this tour. This is a 2 hour tour that starts from Benagil beach and you can find one as early as 7:30 am, which is way before most people start to arrive here.

Not into Kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding? Try a Boat Tour

Benagil cave with boat, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Ok, I get it. You don’t want to kayak or go on a SUP or even swim to the cave. You would rather experience the beauty of the cave from the water and the comfort of your boat. No worries, I get you and I can help you with a few tours where you can do just that:

Please note: that you wont be able to leave the boat, or make swimming stops or enter the beach inside the Benagil cave. If you want to go on the beach or to swim, then book a kayaking or SUP tour.

The Best time to do the Benagil Cave Tour

Most of the tours leave in the morning at 10 am and 2 pm in the evening. Of course most people opt for the 2 pm one. I did too because I don’t like to wake up early. But I urge you to book an earlier tour if you don’t have an issue with early rising like I do.

Can You Visit the Benagil Cave without a Tour?

Visiting Benagil Cave, Algarve

This is something that isn’t advertised but seems to be possible. Why should it be? After all, you can enter the cave on a kayak or a paddle boat without a guide. Actually, I didn’t find a way to do it, maybe because I didn’t try hard enough and I was in Lagos.

I did speak to two local travelers who rented a kayak from the nearby Benagil beach and arrived inside the Benagil cave. Of course, you will need to reach here first with your rental car

Book a Rental Car

This option may make sense if you are already going to rent a car to travel within Portugal. In that case, you can arrive on Benagil Beach and try to speak like a local to find a place where you can rent a kayak from.

Visiting Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

But if you rent a car just to visit the Benagil Cave, then it may not be the best idea if you don’t find kayaks for rent on Benagil beach to visit the cave. The cost of our tour from Portimao was 40 euros but the cost of tour from Benagil beach is 35 euros. So the difference is just 5 euros and if you rent a car just for this, then you will probably pay minimum EUR 30 per day and add EUR 35 for kayak tour from Benagil Beach per person.

Final Thoughts on visiting the Benagil Cave in Algarve Portugal

Inside Benagil Cave – the kayaks and paddle boards

Visiting Benagil Cave may sound complicated but it isn’t. If you want to visit it then you shouldn’t let anything stop you. After all, there aren’t so many such places in the world. If you visit Portugal’s Algarve region then you should definitely do everything you can to visit the Benagil cave for a once in a lifetime experience.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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