What’s it Like to Live in Germany – the Good, Bad and the FUN

What’s it Like to Live in Germany – the Good, Bad and the FUN

It has now been close to five years that I have been living in Germany. The last five years have been extremely eventful. I have learned a new language, lived with Germans, made many friends, traveled within the country, celebrated many festivals, taught Yoga in a studio here and done much more than what can even be put on a list like this.

There have been moments when I have been bewildered by German rules, excited at the start of spring or snow season, hated everything when I missed my home country too much – but most of my moments were spent enjoying  the joy of living in this country.

If you’re on this page, then most likely you are considering moving to another country. Is Germany the country for you? Read on to see my experience of living in Germany. 

Germany is a Country Full of Rules

Every country has rules for everything, but not everyone follows them. In many cases, the people aren’t even aware of the rules in the first place. Things run very differently in Germany. In fact, things run exactly the way they should. 

There is a reason why public systems or many other processes run very efficiently in Germany. It is because the people have a very high regard for the rules and hardly ever break them. There is a process for everything and it is black and white hence highly efficient. If only every other country functioned like this, the world would have been very different. 

If you break a rule in Germany, then it is very likely that a fellow resident will point it out to you instead of turning a blind eye. Take it with a smile because they are just trying to help you.

Trash Management is Insane but Awesome

Yeah so almost every developed country and some developing countries have a trash management system that starts with people segregating their trash, but things are a little too extreme in Germany. 

Broadly speaking, all households need to sort out their trash into bio, plastic, paper, diaper, glass, old batteries, old electronics, paint, and drink bottles. Yes, you need to segregate trash in these categories in your house.  This is a very broad bifurcation because there are many “if”s and “but”s to this segregation in terms of rules. 

There are recycling boxes for old clothes and shoes in many parts of the city so you can get rid of everything that you don’t use as long as you plan accordingly.

I don’t know if there’s any country that beats Germany in terms of trash management but I have heard that the Scandinavian countries are pretty good too.

Clean Air and Forest Reserves

Germany is so green

Germany is so green

I love how Germany as a country protects and preserves the environment. The country is full of forests. There are plenty of nature reserves and they aren’t just close to small towns but also big cities. Yes, you could be living in a busy city on some 4th floor of an apartment building but you may still be able to find a small forest reserve nearby where you can go for a run and feel alive in the nature. 

Everything is Closed on Sundays (+ Holidays)

In most of the countries, offices are closed on Sundays but the big shopping areas are open because that’s when a lot of people finally get the time to step out and buy things. Of course, the things are very different in Germany. Here everything is shut on Sundays. Really, everything.

It took me some time to get used to the fact that there is one day in a week where almost all the shops are closed. Sometimes there is a holiday that’s on Monday or Saturday, so one has to be prepared for two days of supermarket closure and buy the important things from before.

This required a bit of planning from me in the beginning because in India the stores are open literally everyday. Even on Diwali. Yes, this is one of the things that I miss about living in India.

Drinking in Public is Normal 

Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal

Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal

Yes, shockingly you can drink beer in many public areas in Germany, including trains. No, that doesn’t mean you see wasted people everywhere.

German people know how to handle their alcohol well because beer is a very important part of their culture. They seem to respect the social decorum and you’d hardly ever seen anyone overdoing it unless it is a special occasion. But yes, occasionally you will see people who are drunk as hell. 

No Work After Hours: Work Life Balance is Super

Do you have a 9-5 job? It is highly likely that you don’t leave your workplace at exactly 5 everyday. It can be 5:15 on some days or 4:50 on the others. Even after you leave work, it is likely that on some days your team or colleagues will call you or email you about some important work. It is very normal to work after the hours in most countries. It sucks!

Having experienced corporate life in India and the US, the German way of working came as a pleasant surprise to me. If someone’s work ends at 5 pm here, the person WILL leave at 5 pm, and not a minute after that. No boss will call or email after the work hours or on a weekend. That just doesn’t happen in Germany, unless it is a highly exceptional case. 

This system really works well in Germany because Germans are highly efficient during their work hours. They really do work like machines because being efficient is in their blood. 

Silence on Buses or Trains

Berlin Train Station

Berlin Train Station

Things may be different in bigger cities that are international, but when you travel within a smaller city or a town, you will notice how silent the public places are. Coming from India, this was a big change because on a train in India, you’d normally hear a few people talking excitedly and loudly, a group laughing, somewhere a kid whining and his mother yelling.

Most of the Germans don’t talk loudly and if they are in a public place, they observe an unwritten but mutually understood rule that they’d lower their voices to a level that no one else can hear them. 

I do remember traveling with a group of blogger friends on a train in Berlin and all of us were from different countries. Someone from the USA, someone else from the UK, a couple from Spain, and me from India. Yes, all from the countries where people talk loudly. Of course we were the loudest group on the train but we weren’t even talking loudly.

Getting a Doctors Appointment Isn’t Always Easy

This isn’t always the case but  it happens a lot. Don’t be surprised if it takes you 6 months to get an appointment with a doctor. Because it is 6 months away, you are highly likely going to forget it and miss it. Good luck getting another appointment within the next few months. 

Lovely Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Most of the people who travel to Germany end up visiting the most expensive and touristy cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Hamburg or Cologne. No doubt these cities are lovely but so are the smaller towns. 

No matter where you live in Germany, you are never going to be far from old town areas and traditional timber framed houses a.k.a. Fachwerkhäuser. Even my completely under the radar boring town has two breathtaking old town areas with some historical houses. Some of the houses are from as early as 1300 AD.

The old town areas are super dreamy and they will make you feel like you’re starring in your own romantic movie. You will most likely find old buildings, small shops with lovely but expensive handmade things, benches strategically places in scenic spots and an amazing atmosphere.

Talking about the timber framed houses, yes – they exist in other countries too. BUT, as per wikipedia, the country that’s most known for these kind of houses is (drumroll) – Germany.

The Language

If you’re traveling within Germany then you will not really face a lot of language barriers. It is only when you start living in the country, you will realize that you will need to learn more than just the basic level German to do things here. I’m talking about paperwork, visiting different government offices like the town hall, tax office, etc.

In order to live in Germany, most of the visas have a prerequisite of basic German language skills. Trust me, you NEED to learn the basic level German, else you will feel stuck.

If you know English, then learning basic German isn’t that difficult because many nouns and verbs are same. What’s different is how the verbs are used and the endless articles. The good thing is, that German words sound exactly how they are written, which can’t be said about a lot of English words. The bad thing is that German language is highly complicated if you compare it to English.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you slightly mess up the grammar. If you make an effort to speak a few sentences in German then the locals will highly appreciate it and help you.

Paperwork Never Ends

Get ready to drown in a lot of paperwork if you end up living in Germany. Yes, paperwork exists in every country but in Germany it seems to never get over.

If you live in Germany, you will notice that there’s something new that comes up every month that needs immediate attention. Hence, more paperwork. Thankfully, the paperwork in Germany is pretty straightforward because all the rules and procedures are always black or white. 

The Food in Germany

Food in Germany - Schnitzel

Food in Germany – Schnitzel

Potatoes, meat, eggs, bread and dairy are things that truly rule the German food scene. If you eat in a restaurant in Germany, you will find very limited vegan food options unless it is an Asian restaurant.

In India and many other Asian countries you will find an entire section of vegetarian and vegan dishes, even if it is burgers. I have spent 3 months in the USA and I always noticed a lot of veggie items in the menu too. In comparison, here in Germany you will notice barely 1-2 dishes in the entire menu that are vegetarian and just one out of that would be vegan. 

However, when it comes to the availability of vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets, then Germany is awesome. Even the smaller super markets in small towns have German as well as a lot of international produce so you can find almost anything. If you love vegetables as much as I do, you are going to really enjoy cooking while you live in Germany. I didn’t know I could cook before I arrived in Germany!

Trains are Good BUT Expensive

German trains are awesome. They are clean, comfortable, 98% on time and extremely fast. You can travel very easily within Germany and nearby countries on trains. But they aren’t cheap.

It is sometimes cheaper to take a flight than travel by train. In many cases, if you’re looking for an affordable train ticket, you may have to change trains a few times in your journey.

Bicycle Will be Your Best Friend

Cycling in Germany

Cycling in Germany in Spring

Forget driving, or buses but the best way of getting around in Germany is on a bicycle. The bike lanes are everywhere and in many cases you can take an inside “walking / cycle only” path that’s more scenic. You can also take your bicycle on a train and travel to other places within Europe. San and I once also traveled to Amsterdam from our town in Germany on our bicycles.

Carry a lock, learn how to take care of your bicycle and enjoy riding one. 

You Can Travel all Over Europe 

Us three with van and our camping spot - traveling with a baby

Us three with van in Croatia – we drove all over Europe with our camper van

I’m sure other Europeans who are reading this would just say – “yeah of course”, but for a non European the ease of traveling within Europe is unbelievable. Yes, one of the best things about living in Germany is the possibly of reaching a new country in just a couple of hours. Not just by air but very easily by road or train without any need for visa paperwork. 

Depending on where you live in Germany, a few hours of driving can take you to Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, or the Czechia. If you take a flight, you can reach most of the European countries in just 2 hours. How awesome is that? San and I ended up traveling in most of Europe on our camper van while living in Germany. Check out our post about the most beautiful lakes in Europe.

Tap Water is Safe for Drinking

The tap water in Germany is safe for drinking even in big cities. It is the most controlled beverage in Germany and it should be. I wish it was the same all over the world. Everyone should have the access to clean and safe drinking water from their taps.

Strangely enough, not many Germans that I know drink tap water. They buy bottled water or carbonated drinks and choose to drink that over tap water despite its consequences on the planet (and their health).

Tap water gets tested periodically to check the quality and as per many reports it is as good and sometimes even better than the bottled mineral water. 

BUT You Can Never Order Tap Water in Restaurants. Never.

For a country where the tap water is safe for drinking, it is super strange that you can never ask for a glass of it in a restaurant. You are expected to order drinks with your meal and water isn’t always cheap. Also, bottled water creates unnecessary plastic waste. 

If You Ask for Water, You Will Most Likely Get Soda

For non-Europeans, water means just water. But that’s not the case with most of the Europeans. If you order water in a restaurant or ask for it somewhere, you will get a glass or a bottle of soda. In some places, they’re nice enough to ask if you want your water with or without bubbles. No, plain water doesn’t have bubbles, that’s soda. 

Highways have no toll.. and no speed limit

German highways are awesome. They are very well maintained, have resting stops after every few kilometers and are toll free. The only time we remember ever paying toll was when we used a bridge that connected Germany’s mainland to Rugen island.

Guess what, Germany’s highways are world famous and some people come come here from surrounding countries with their fancy cars. All because the highways (Autobahns) have no speed limit.

School System is Very Weird

There are just a few things that I dislike about Germany and one of them is the school system. It is very weird and it feels wrong. There are separate schools based on the intelligence level. There is a school for very bright kids and only those who finish this school can go to college. Rest others have to go to a school that’s not for the smartest kids. If they fail, they get thrown into a school that’s for below average kids. 

I understand that this may be an efficient system for managing education but it is a horrible system for developing smarter all rounded children. In real life, everyone has something to learn from the other. When children aren’t given the opportunity to study with those who are smarter than or not as smart as them, then they will miss out on some important life lessons.

Customer Service Doesn’t Normally Exist

You know what’s the only word that comes to my mind when I think of German customer service? It’s non-existent. Unlike Asia or Americas where the service mantra is that the customer is the king, in Germany it is completely different. Apart from the Deutsche Post and DHL, if you seek help from anyone at any office at any time, they will act as if they are doing YOU a big favor or they will just say no.

You Get to Enjoy All the Seasons

Snowy Winter in Germany

Snowy Winter in Germany

You’re probably thinking – huh, so that’s in many other places. Yes it is but I felt a need to add this here because this is a very big deal for me. You see, while living in New Delhi (India), I thought I was experiencing every season but I realized what I was missing after moving to Germany. 

Because Germany is in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter is really cold with shorter days. It doesn’t snow throughout the winter but it does snow at least once or twice per season. When it does, the world turns absolutely magical and white. Because of the extreme winter, spring feels more alive and the sudden burst of color because of the flowers is eye-popping.

Spring in Germany - Rapeseed Flower Field

Spring in Germany – Rapeseed Flower Field

The summer is warm in Germany and sometimes the temperature can go till 35-40 degree celsius. Those are the times I miss an air conditioner but I made do with a fan here. Right after summer, the autumn season is pretty intense.

Honestly, my first Autumn experience was in Germany. I never realized I was missing out on Autumn beauty in India till the time I moved to Germany. Autumn in Germany is beautiful because there are so many trees everywhere. They all turn yellow, then red and then brown. It is insanely beautiful to see autumn foliage in Germany.

When it Snows, You Gotta Shovel the Sidewalk next to your House

No, I’m not talking about shoveling the driveway – that’s something you will need to do anyway if you want to take out your car after it snows. If you live in a house then most likely it would have a sidewalk for bicycles or pedestrians. In Germany, if anyone walks on the sidewalk next to your house and hurt themself bad if they slip on the snow then it is your responsibility. So, enjoy the snow but keep shoveling the sidewalk. 

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a rant about Germany but just an observation about how life is different here than my own country. I like the fact that the residents are accountable for the area around their house in the immediate vicinity.

Celebrations and Festivals

Carnival in Germany

Carnival in Germany

I thought India had too many festivals and celebrations but Germany isn’t any different. There’s something that happens every month in Germany. Everyone knows about the Oktoberfest? Well that’s just one of many. There’s the Carnival that’s crazier than anything you can imagine. It is like a psychedelic festival where everyone dresses up crazy and participates.

My First German Christmas Market - Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

My First German Christmas Market – Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Christmas time in Germany is like no other. Guess what, many famous international Christmas traditions actually came out of Germany., Santa Claus is from Germany too! Christmas festivities start in Germany at the end of November and last till Christmas.

There’s St Martin where children walk with the lanterns. Apart from this, there are so many smaller monthly celebrations and some are region specific. In my area we celebrate Kirmes, Schützenfest, Medieval Fest, Plum festival and many wine festivals to name a few.

The only time of the year when I haven’t seen any celebrations is between the New Years Eve to Carnival and that’s just one month. Carnival occurs in mid February every year.

Germany Has Bad Internet

You will find it unbelievable but you will find better internet in most places in Asia as compared to Germany. This comes as a shock because Germany is a highly advanced and developed country but the internet situation has evolved in a strange manner.

You see, Germany has an Oligopoly market situation when it comes to the internal. That means, there are just a handful of providers that rule the market. The speed is slow, service is horrible and faster internet is obscenely overprices as compared to many other countries.

Conclusion – Life in Germany – Yay or Nay?

I didn’t particularly love every aspect of living in Germany right away. It took me some time to adjust, and I kept comparing it to life in India. I missed the food, the color, the sensory overload and my people from India. I don’t know how it happened but two years after living in Germany, I started to miss it while I was traveling in India. When I was at the airport, I felt an odd connection to people who were talking in German. This is how I usually felt when I saw Indians talking in India. 

So, for me life in Germany is definitely YAY.

Bosnia Road Trip: Itinerary for Bosnia-Herzegovina [10 Days] in the Balkans

Bosnia Road Trip: Itinerary for Bosnia-Herzegovina [10 Days] in the Balkans

How awesome is Bosnia-Herzegovina – there are epic waterfalls, stunning clear rivers and charming little towns. 

When considering a country in eastern Europe for a road trip, Bosnia & Herzegovina should be one of the first countries on your mind. This idyllic country often gets overshadowed by its neighbour, Croatia. Don’t get me wrong, Croatia is a magnificent country in itself but Bosnia & Herzegovina is just something else.

Driving in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Driving in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Nature-lovers will be astounded by the abundance of natural marvels that are hidden within Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is a surprise that it is often less travelled than its neighbours, but that also means that it is typically less crowded. This also means that you will be able to travel around without seeing the full effects that tourism has on the society. You can expect genuine, unforgettable experiences.

Even though this post has a recommended itinerary for a road trip in Bosnia-Herzegovina, we recommend not making concrete plans but having a rough idea where you want to start and end. Enter Bosnia, go find a river and drive along it.

Check Car Rental Prices in Bosnia-Herzegovina

We drove along the Drina and got to see some of the most amazing scenery on our rented car. On our second trip here, we explored the area around Una and Krka rivers in our Camper van

One of the many scenic spots while road tripping in Bosnia

One of the many scenic spots while road tripping in Bosnia

Believe it or not, the above picture hasn’t been edited and these colors are real. This place was right along the Drina river a few hours after crossing Visegrad.

Yes, “Bosnia and Herzegovina” is a pretty long name, so throughout this article, we often mention just “Bosnia” or “Bosnia-Herzegovina” instead of using the full name. Yes, these are acceptable nicknames for this lovely country, pars pro toto!

Starting Point for Bosnia & Herzegovina Road Trip:

Us with our van in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Us with our van in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Most people start their Bosnia road trip from Croatia and it makes total sense to start at Una National Park, which is barely 30 kilometers from Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes. Both these countries share a long stretch of border with each other and it is a good idea to combine a Croatia road trip with Bosnia & Herzegovina. Be sure to read the post about our Croatia road trip.

In case you’re flying to Bosnia-Herzegovina, then your starting point will be Sarajevo and from there you can rent a car and do this itinerary in a loop. This way, you can return your rented car back in Sarajevo. The first time we rented a car here, we were quite stupid and went from one car rental shop to another at the airport to compare prices, cars and what not. We wished if there was a SINGLE website we could go to in order to compare everything. We know better now, of course there is a website and it is a pretty reputed one. If you want to compare car rental prices for different destinations, you can do this here on this website.

Check Car Rental Prices in Bosnia-Herzegovina

In case you’re entering from Serbia or Montenegro, your starting point will be Visegrad, it is situated close to both Serbia and Montenegro borders. The first time we visited Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was on a road trip from Serbia and we drove to Montenegro right after that. Check out this ultimate Balkan road trip itinerary to see our trip.

 

Una National Park – 2 Days

Milančev Buk - Martin Brod Waterfall in Una National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Milančev Buk – Martin Brod Waterfall in Una National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Una National Park is situated just off the border shared with Croatia and is much easier to get to while driving. It was established to protect the Una River; which is it centered around; Krka River and the Unac River. This park is known for its tufa formations. Picture stunning limestone formations but more porous; with holes that allow water to flow through and create magical waterfall systems.

Amazing camping spot in Una National Park -Camping & picnic place Lucica

Amazing camping spot in Una National Park -Camping & picnic place Lucica

At Una National Park, you will feel like you have escaped to a shrouded wonderland surrounded by lush flora and the sound of the powerful cascades. There are also many spots around the park where you can stop to set up a picnic for the day or camp for the night.

Jajce – 1 Day

Jajce - Bosnia-Herzegovina Road Trip

Jajce – Bosnia-Herzegovina Road Trip – CC0 VIA Pixabay

Jajce is a medieval town characterised by its fortress that sits atop the city and the waterfalls that flow beneath. Jajce is an interesting place to stop at on your Bosnia road trip not only because it’s breathtaking sites, but also the historical importance of this town. 

It once was a bustling capital of the Bosnian Kingdom and Jajce Fortress was the home of the last Bosnian King before it fell under Ottoman rule. Nowadays, the landmark is a great place to catch memorable views of the sunset. 

The waterfall that is “under” Jajce is called Pliva Waterfall and it is located right next to the town so it is very easy to get to. Lots of people opt to cross the river in order to get a photo of the Jajce Fortress, the town, and Pliva Waterfall together in a composition that looks almost unreal.

Mostar – 2-3 Days

Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina - Travel to the Balkans

Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina – Travel to the Balkans

Our next stop on this Bonia Road Trip is to Mostar, a city most known for the impressive Stari Most Bridge. Mostar Bridge is a well reconstructed and preserved Ottomanesque bridge that is impossible to miss while in Mostar. If you are lucky enough to be in Mostar at the end of July, you will have the chance to witness the local diving competition. This is a tradition where the bravest, young men take on the 24 m leap into the Neretva river.

Mostar was exposed to a variety of different cultural influences in the past which can be seen in the architecture as you wander the streets of the Old Town. The traditional food here is no different, sampling flavours from Middle Eastern dishes with a Central European twist.

Lastly, Mostar is a town that loves the arts. There are countless galleries, museums, and theatres to view works from Bosnian Natives and it is also the location of some really exciting summer festivals. 

Blagaj – Day Trip from Mostar

Blagaj on Buna Spring in Bosnia & Herzegovina - Road trip itinerary

Blagaj on Buna Spring in Bosnia & Herzegovina – Road trip itinerary

During your three days in Mostar, you might want to explore a bit outside the city and Blagaj is the perfect place to go! A short 15 minute drive will take you to the small village of Blagaj which is the location of an ancient Dervish Monastery and Vrelo Bune; a captivating natural spring.

I’m sure we say it often enough but we love being in natural environments and Buna Spring will not fail to enchant you. Its main alluring feature is the contrast between the rigid structures of the building and the organic flow of the landscape surrounding it.

You can go into the Blagaj Tekija (the Blagaj Monastery) if you wish for two and a half euros or simply spend the day wandering the village. There are also a few restaurants next to the spring that you can stop at for a bite to eat before heading back to Mostar.

Kravice Waterfalls – 1 Day (stay in Studenci town or Međugorje for the night)

Eating and Drinking in Kravice Waterfalls Bosnia

Eating and Drinking in Kravice Waterfalls Bosnia

Another popular day trip from Mostar is to the incredible Kravice Waterfalls but we think that they deserve a longer visit. To experience the true beauty of the falls, consider spending the night in Stufenci town or Međugorje. This will allow you to spend as much time as you want to enjoy Kravice falls as well as explore the grounds after the tour bus crowds leave.

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina - travel the Balkans

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina – travel the Balkans

Kravice waterfalls are a system of tufa cascades surrounded by lush forests. The falls empty into a crystal clear pool which you are allowed to swim in. Aside from taking in the spectacular sites of the falls, there are numerous spaces to set up a picnic, a swing to get that perfect ‘gram photo, and spots to relax. We have a lot more information in our blog post about Kravice Waterfalls.

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina - Balkans Road Trip itinerary

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina – Balkans Road Trip itinerary

There are 4 major waterfalls in this area of land that’s shared by Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina – and they’re all spectacular and have tufa formations. These are Kravice, Plitvice (Croatia), Krka National Park (Croatia) and Una National Park (Bosnia) and out of all of them our best experience was at Kravice. It was because we could swim and experience the true beauty and it wasn’t as crowded as Croatia’s Krka National Park.

Vjetrenica Cave – Stop here for an hour on your way

Inside Vjetrenica Cave in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Inside Vjetrenica Cave in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Next on our Bosnia road trip itinerary we suggest heading to the southern part of the country and even staying in Dubrovnik, Croatia for a few days but first, stop by Vjetrenica cave. 

Vjetrenica Cave is located outside the small village of Zavala and is completely worth a short visit while travelling around southern Bosnia. You don’t need to stop here for long but just do a little tour that will take you 30 minutes. It is one of those stops in your road trip itinerary where you can just stop for a snack and toilet and see something beautiful.

Albino cave salamander or Human Fish in Vjetrenica Cave

Albino cave salamander or Human Fish in Vjetrenica Cave

If you enjoyed watching BBC’s Planet Earth documentary series, then maybe you remember the episode about caves. It features a rare albino salamander, and I never imagined in my lifetime I’d get to see a creature as elusive as this, but I did in Vjetrenica cave. It is also sometimes called a “human fish” because of its skin color. 

Walking inside Vjetrenica Cave, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Walking inside Vjetrenica Cave, Bosnia-Herzegovina

We highly recommend you take a tour into the first 600 metres of this massive cave filled with a unique biodiversity that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. Two hundred subterranean species call the 20 km of Vjetrenica cave home.

While here, you can also visit Popovo Polje which is an expansive karstic field unique to the region due to the nearby Trebišnjica River. 

Dubrovnik – 1-2 Days 

Dubrovnik - King's Landing in Game of Thrones - Croatia Itinerary

Dubrovnik – King’s Landing in Game of Thrones – Croatia Itinerary

This is a great opportunity to fit Dubrovnik seamlessly into your travel plans as you would need to cross through Bosnia & Herzgovnia regardless to explore this 16th century seaport. Dubrovnik is well-known for having an old town that is reminiscent of the renaissance era that spread across Europe. 

Dubrovnik - Croatia Road Trip Itinerary

Dubrovnik – Bosnia Road Trip Itinerary

The charming cityscape alone attracts visitors to Dubrovnik with its romantic gothic and romanesque structures. Along with walking around the Old City, you can spend a day at one of the glorious beaches and dip your toes in the Adriatic Sea. 

Any Game of Thrones fans won’t want to skip seeing the walls of Dubrovnik which you will probably recognize as King’s Landing. In fact, you can go on a walking tour around the city to all the spots that the series featured.

 

Višegrad – 1-2 days

The Bridge on the Drina - Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Visegrad, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The Bridge on the Drina – Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Visegrad, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The last stop that you should add to you Bosnia road trip is Višegrad. If you are coming in from Serbia, you are most likely going to want to stop here first and do this whole itinerary in reverse order. 

Višegrad and its notable historical bridge is the setting of the book, “Bridge over the Drina” which was written by Ivo Andrić. Raised in Višegrad, Andrić went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature and gained recognition for the bridge that he once played on as a child; the Mehmed Paša Sokolovic bridge which is elegantly placed over the Drina river. 

The lovely Drina river, near Visegrad, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The lovely Drina river, near Visegrad, Bosnia & Herzegovina

After you spend the day exploring the town of Višegrad, we highly recommend having dinner at Anika. Feast on some delicious dishes while enjoying a view of the bridge over the Drina at this locally cherished riverside restaurant. 

Sarajevo – Optional 

Sarajevo - Bosnia-Herzegovina Road Trip Itinerary

Sarajevo – Bosnia-Herzegovina Road Trip Itinerary – CC0 via Pixabay

If you have extra time, you can visit the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina on your road trip. Sarajevo, much like the rest of Bosnia, displays remnants from the Ottoman era. For any history buffs, the city is filled with significant local history to learn about and there are no shortage of interesting museums to visit.

Sarajevo is said to be an interesting stunning city, but honestly, we haven’t visited it despite our two road trips in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Big cities aren’t really for us, but we feel it is important to let our readers know about their options. 

Tips for Driving in Bosnia & Herzegovina 

Paved road in Una National Park

Paved road in Una National Park

We highly recommend driving around Bosnia with your friends if you have the option as it gives you so much more freedom with your itinerary. Here are just a few tips that you should consider before taking your own vehicle or renting one to start your road trip around Bosnia & Herzegovina.

We mentioned making a stop in Dubrovnik and if that is something you are keen to do, you need to make sure you have a green card for your car if it is a non EU registration. This basically just ensures that you have the proper vehicle insurance to cover cross-border travel.

Right outside Vjetrenica Cave in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Right outside Vjetrenica Cave in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina has quite a few traffic control stops where we saw people being stopped for speeding. We luckily weren’t stopped but if we can take one thing from this – Don’t speed and make sure to read and follow traffic rules to avoid any mishaps with the authorities.

If you notice someone signaling you by blinking their headlights, then they’re probably trying to warn you of an upcoming police checkpoint. Keep your speed in check as soon as you see this.

Try to get a car that has the ability to keep your devices charged. We don’t know what we would have done without access to google maps to help ensure we were going in the right direction. The last thing you want to happen is to be lost with no access to your phone.

No matter where you go, be sure to stay on the paved road. This is what we heard from everyone and is because of the threat of landmines.

We have a post on our website with tips for traveling in Europe with a campervan, it has a country specific section about Bosnia. Make sure you check it out as well. 

Best Time to Go to Bosnia-Herzegovina 

Lovely landscape in Bosnia-Herzegovina along the way - road trip itinerary

Lovely landscape in Bosnia-Herzegovina along the way – road trip itinerary

To be honest, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country that you can enjoy anytime throughout the year because each season offers its own unique set of experiences. Some of the most popular times to go are during the spring from April to June as those months see the mildest temperatures and are perfect for enjoying the natural wonders of Bosnia.

Since most of the destinations mentioned on our Bosnia-Herzegovina road trip itinerary are natural wonders, then we highly recommend the time from April to September. 

The county sees its hottest temperatures in July and August and its coldest in January and February. If you love to partake in winter activities, Bosnia during the wintertime is a dream and the months of February and March will offer you longer days to play in the snow.

The Food in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Our dinner in Anika restaurant in Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Our dinner in Anika restaurant in Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I will be honest, I did not enjoy a lot of my food in Bosnia & Herzegovina because most of it was meat. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan – I just love eating vegetables and dislike meat. The vegetables were very hard to find except in salads.

Salad in Anika restaurant, Visegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Salad in Anika restaurant, Visegrad, Bosnia-Herzegovina – Limited vegetarian food options

If you enjoy meat then you won’t have a hard time in Bosnia-Herzegovina. You can eat the famous ćevapi, which is like a kebab or ćufte, which is like meatballs or kofte. This is what San usually ate while we were traveling here and he loved it.

You can also try burek – which is a pastry that’s usually filled with minced meat but I often found vegetarian options that were stuffed with spinach and cheese, which is usually called zeljanica. You can buy burek in most of the cafes and bakeries.

A really good vegetarian food option in Bosnia is tarhana, which is a simple soup made with homemade pasta. It tasted divine! I had tarhana as a part of one of our best meals in Bosnia was home cooked and prepared for us by our Bosnian hosts while we were in Una National Park.

Is Bosnia-Herzegovina Safe to Travel Alone?

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Yes! Although we travelled together around this beautiful country, I would feel completely safe travelling around Bosnia-Herzegovina solo. While I was traveling solo in Turkey in 2010, I met a Chinese-American girl who mentioned she was traveling solo in Bosnia-Herzegovina just a few months before Turkey and she loved it.

A lot of people still think about the conflicts that occurred in the 90s and are concerned that this has deemed Bosnia unsafe but that is quite far from the truth.

If you stick to the cities that we have recommended here, you will find yourself more often than not greeted by friendly faces. Travelling with a strong awareness and common sense is a given when making your way around Bosnia as with anywhere else in the world. 

Where to go After Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Croatia

If you didn’t go to Croatia before you embarked on your Bosnia & Herzegovina trip, then you should head here and travel around this country. There are so many interesting sites to see in Croatia and one of the best reasons to go is to soak up the sun on the Istria Coast.

With a relatively moderate climate all year round, Croatia is a favourite amongst travellers within the Balkans for a reason. There are many small islands to explore as well, which means that there are plenty of opportunities to avoid crowds and find your own natural sanctuaries to relax in.

Serbia

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park in Serbia, near Mokra Gora

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park in Serbia, near Mokra Gora

Following our ultimate Bosnia Herzegovina Road trip itinerary, we have led you right to Serbia which is only a half hour drive away from Višegrad. With bustling, urban cities, a rich cultural history, and flavourful local cuisine, Serbia is an amazing country to continue on to if you are travelling through the Balkans. 

Also, if you are in love with all the natural wonders that you witnessed on your Bosnia & Herzegovina road trip and would like to see more, Serbia is ready to wow you. There are quite a few established and hidden natural sites to stop at while travelling this underrated country.

Montenegro

Black Lake - Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Black Lake – Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Our last suggestion is to head to Montenegro. It is one of the smaller countries in the Balkans, but don’t let its size fool you. There are tons of astonishing sites to behold while travelling this country. The Dinaric Alps make up a large portion of the north of Montenegro which shifts to plains the more south you go.

Montenegro is also the home of the popular and stunning, Kotor Bay. The diverse natural terrain and charming old towns within this country are enough reasons to head to Montenegro after completing your Bosnia road trip. 

Did follow our Bosnia-Herzegovina itinerary?

Tag @drifterplanet on Instagram and hashtag it #drifterplanet. We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

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.

Northern Italy by Train Itinerary: Where to Go + How to do it + Info

Northern Italy by Train Itinerary: Where to Go + How to do it + Info

Italy has always been the centre of attention because of its beauty and culture. Year after year, it ranks in the top 10 as one of the most visited countries in the world. Italy is where you can really experience it all – the best food, beaches, mountains, canals, art, architecture, luxury cars, and history. Can you believe Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world?

Italy’s amazingness isn’t just due to its rich culture or fascinating history, or even the scenic beauty. It is more than that. It is about experiencing the mediterranean climate, the joy of sitting on a chair along the street in one of the cafes while sipping espresso, tasting the simplicity of food that’s cooked with just 3-5 ingredients, seeing the locals communicate with energetic gestures and listening to the musical sound of Italian chatter. 

An outdoor restaurant in Tuscany, Italy

An outdoor restaurant in Tuscany, Italy – CC0 by Nina Evensen from Pixabay

If you look at the map of Italy, you will notice the country is shaped like a boot. It is surrounded by water on almost all sides, except the top of the boot. As you go down from the top of the boot to the toe, you will see how the landscape changes from mountains and alpine lakes, to vineyard and to the beaches. 

Broadly speaking, the regions can be divided into the below sections, and in brackets are the most famous destinations of the regions so that you can get an idea – 

  • Northeast Italy, (the Dolomites, Trentino, Venice and Bologna) 
  • Northwest Italy, (Cinque Terre, Milan and the Alps)
  • Central Italy, (Tuscany region and Rome)
  • Southern Italy, (Naples, Puglia, Amalfi and Capri)
  • The islands – Sicily and Sardinia.

Each region of Italy offers something completely unique, and there is so much to experience in this incredibly exciting country. You don’t even need to go to the most popular destinations to enjoy the beauty of Italy. 

Beautiful village Tavon in Val di Non, Coredo, Italy

Beautiful village Tavon in Val di Non, Coredo, Italy

Even if you’re in one of the most unknown towns that doesn’t have a single person who speaks English, you will have an incredible time. Italians have a skill of communicating well with their exaggerated hand gestures, so language isn’t usually a barrier. Moreover, almost all the towns have pretty streets and lovely town squares with something historic. Most of the city centre also have a free water fountain where you can fill up your bottles.

No doubt all the regions of Italy have something to offer, but the north of Italy is where you will find many of the country’s famous destinations and that’s what this post is all about. Yes, I’m talking about the Lake Como, the Renaissance city of Florence, the canals of Venice, Cinque Terre’s colorful coastline, the majestic Dolomites and the fashionable Milan. 

You can travel internally in the North of Italy in many ways but getting around by road is the best option to experience the natural beauty. 

In particular, getting around by rail is easy and convenient. You can sit back and relax as you gaze out from your window and see the beauty of the country. This is why rail holidays to Italy are super popular. They are relaxing, luxurious and can provide you a good value for money.

Check Car Rental Prices in Italy

Another option is to arrive in Italy by air and rent a car from the airport. You can check and compare the car rental prices here from many different car rental companies.

Northern Italian Train Destinations + Itinerary

Northern Italy has an amazingly extensive train network that connect many of the country’s top destinations. We have made a train itinerary for you that can be shortened or lengthened based on your preferences. You can start this itinerary from top to bottom – Venice to Rome, or the other way round from Rome to Venice. 

The below map is just a very broad depiction of this route map. At this time Google Maps doesn’t let users create a route map with multiple train stops and this is why I have selected a driving map to give you a general idea. 

 

We have mentioned 5 main parts of Northern Italy and optional destinations around those parts that are worth visiting. For instance, if you’re more into art or history and are super short of time, then you can just do Venice, Florence, and end your trip in Rome. However, we suggest you do a mix of both – the big cities and smaller towns so that you can experience Italy’s true natural beauty.

Here are some of the places that you can visit on a rail itinerary in this part of the country. 

Venice (Optional: Trento, Lago di Grada, Lago di Braies) – 3 – 4 Days

Grand Canal in Venice - Northern Italy by Train

Grand Canal in Venice – Northern Italy by Train – CCO via Pixabay

When thinking of Italy, Venice is always one of the first destinations that spring to mind. This floating city is known for its network of canals and bridges. Because of its geographical placement, it is the perfect way to start (or end) your Italy by train itinerary. You can explore the northeastern and northwestern parts of Italy very easily with your starting point as Venice. 

Being a major tourist destination, Venice is well connected by train routes. In fact, the easiest way to reach this city surrounded by water is by train, and you can take one from Austria, Slovenia or Germany. You can also arrive here on a ferry from Pula in Croatia. Or, you can just fly to Venice airport to start your Italy train trip. 

A bridge over a pretty canal in Venice, Italy

A bridge over a pretty canal in Venice, Italy – CCO – by travelspot via Pixabay

Forget about cars here – Venice is all about getting around via boat. There really is no place in the world quite like Venice, and it should definitely be added to any Italian travel itinerary. 

Besides the beautiful canals and gondolas, Venice is also known for many famous landmarks and attractions. These include the Doges Palace, St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge, the Campanile di San Marco, and many more. The buzz and energy experienced when walking around Venice is unlike any other city. After you spend around 2 days in Venice, then consider getting out to see the mountains.

Lago di Braies or The Pragser Wildsee, or Lake Prags, Lake Braies in north Italy

Lago di Braies or The Pragser Wildsee, North Italy – CC0 by vaiunruh via Pixabay

Venice can is a good starting point for you to see Italy’s mountains to see the Lake Grada or Lake Braies or the Dolomites. You can start off in Venice, head to Lake Grada (stations are Desenzano del Garda / Sirmione). If you have more time on your hands, then you can extend this part of your trip to experience the scenic towns around Lake Garda. Or go further up to Trentino.

If you’d like to see the Dolomites, then we suggest you take a train to Trento and consider going further up north to experience the Trentino region. You can include places like Val di Non, the spectacular lesser known Lake Tovel and also Alpe Cimbra. This part of Italy has some of the best lakes in Europe. We actually drove here from Venice with our rental car in 2018 and loved it.

Lake Como (Optional Lake Orta & Milan) – 2 Days

The lovely Lake Como in Italy

The lovely Lake Como in Italy – CC0 – by EzPzPics via Pixabay

Italy has some amazing lakes and you can find the most famous ones in the north. These lakes are big, beautiful with the perfect alpine backdrops. They have been attracting travelers for many years.

Thanks to their stunning natural scenery, pretty lakeside towns, ancient villas, perfect gardens, and 19th-century hotels, a holiday along the Italian lakes is all about a luxurious and laid back experience. In the last part we spoke about Lake Grada and Lake Tovel, that are in Trentino region but here we will tell you how to visit Lake Como and Lake Orta.

Don’t let Italy’s more famous destinations like Rome and Venice make you leave out Lake Como in your itinerary. Lake Como (or Lago di Como) is awesome and it will make you fall in love with Italy. Stay for a few days in one of the little towns along Lake Como and you wouldn’t want to leave. Remember the idyllic Naboo from Star Wars II Attack of the Clones? It was filmed along Lake Como. 

Varenna, Lake Como, Northern Italy by Train itinerary

Varenna, Lake Como, Northern Italy by Train itinerary – CCO Image by travelspot via Pixabay

Lake Como is the most well known of the lakes in Italy. This enormous body of water is speckled with the most charming towns, speedboats, grand hotels, and phenomenal views. This far northern part of Italy is very close to Switzerland, so it offers a completely different atmosphere altogether. 

Lake Como has a shape of an inverted “Y”, so the legs are towards the south. The most scenic villages along Lake Como are up in the north because of the mountains. 

Lake Orta, Italy by train

Lake Orta, Italy by train – CC0 by Fabio Valeggia via Pixabay

If you would like to experience the magnificent lakes, then taking a rail holiday is one of the best ways to do it. You can experience the Lake Como by taking a train to Como Nord Lago, Como Nord Borghi or Como San Giovanni. You can extend this part of your trip to also visit the Lake Orta by taking a train to Pettenasco.

Depending on your route, you may have to stop at Milan or change trains here. Why not stay for a day in Milan and experience the country’s fashion capital?

The Cinque Terre (Optional Turin) – 3 Days

The colorful houses of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The colorful houses of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy – CCO by heidi_ziller via Pixabay

The Cinque Terre is one of the most impressive coastal destinations in Italy. This stretch of scenic coastline is dotted with five of the most magnificent little towns in Italy. These are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Monterosso. Out of all these towns, Manarola is the one that you see on most of the pictures. 

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre – CC0 by Zotx via Pixabay

The Cinque Terre is best known for its beach, harbors, hiking trails, local wines, and perfect pastel-coloured villages. There are no cars in the Cinque Terre, and each town is connected via train. This makes rail travel the best way of reaching this area. If you are planning a railway itinerary in northern Italy, including a stop at the Cinque Terre is easy.

Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre - Northern Italy by train

Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre – Northern Italy by train – CC0 by Felix Wolf from Pixabay

From Milan or Como Nord Lago train stations, you can head to Turin. Either stay here or get on a train to Rapallo. From Rapallo, you can take a ferry to experience the Cinque Terre villages. Alternatively, you can also take a train from Rapallo to Monterosso.

Another option is to take a train directly from Germany to Cinque Terry by travel via the Rhine Gorge and Gotthard Pass to experience the best of Cinque Terre. 

Florence, Tuscany (Optional Umbria) 3 – 5 Days 

Sunset in Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Sunset in Florence, Tuscany, Italy – CC0 by Mark Gilder via Pixabay

Tuscany and Umbria are two Italian regions that cover some of the most attractive sights and points of interest in the country. Did you know that the Renaissance art movement started from Italy? It happened right here in Tuscany.

Both Tuscany and Umbria form a part of Italy is that’s very green. In fact, Umbria is also called the “green heart of Italy”, so you will get to experience the nature, the history and the art scene in Tuscany and Florence together. The real beauty of this area is outside the cities and town – that’s where you will get the typical picture postcards style landscapes.

Tuscany's famous rolling hills - Italy by train

Tuscany’s famous rolling hills – Italy by train – CCO by monica_valladares from Pixabay

Nestled in the rolling green hills and scenic landscapes of these areas, you will find cities like Florence, Siena, Assisi, Pisa, and Perugia. Between the art, food, wine, history, and natural beauty – there are so many things to experience around here. 

These regions are conveniently located, being within easy reach of major cities. This makes a train journey around these regions very easy. To experience this region by train, you need to arrive in either Perugia (for Umbria) or Florence (for Tuscany).

Tavernelle - Perugia - Umbria, Italy

Tavernelle – Perugia – Umbria, Italy

If you’re arriving here from the Monterosso or Rapallo train stations because you were visiting the Cinque Terre, then you can take a train directly to Lucca, make a quick side trip to see the leaning tower of Pisa and then head to Florence – a city where it all began.  To experience the best of Tuscany, you can stay for a few days in Florence and then take a train to Siena to explore the Chianti vineyards. You may want to read this Florence travel guide to gather more information about this legendary destination.  

If you have some time on your hand then you can visit Umbria right after Tuscany. From Siena, you can enter the Umbria region by taking a train to Perugia and head to Assisi and Spoleto from there. You can also make a trip to Lake Lucerne or visit Capri from Florence. If you don’t want to spend too much time in Tuscany, you can just visit Florence for a quick visit from Rome.

Rome (Optional Castel di Tora or Naples, Pompeii) – 2 Days

The bejeweled Rome in Italy

The bejeweled Rome in Italy – CC0 by Nimrod Oren via Pixabay

Rome is Italy’s capital and most well-loved destination. This ancient city has so much going on, and any holiday to the country should definitely include a stop here. Every single thing in Rome has a history, even a bench along the street.

Rome is characterized by its world-famous landmarks and history, delicious cuisine, vibrant streets, and architectural beauty. Wherever you walk in this city, you will be faced with postcard-perfect scenes. With its renowned museums, churches, Colosseum, Vatican City, piazzas, fountains, and more, Rome offers the ultimate Italian experience. Being the capital city, Rome is very well-connected and easy to travel to. 

Even the streets in Rome are lovely

Even the streets in Rome are lovely – CC0 by djedj via Pixabay

While in Rome, you can also easily visit the Vatican City. You don’t even have to make a day trip because it is right there.

Just 50 KMs away from Rome is the stunning Castel di Tora along the Turano Lake. It is a medieval village with lovely narrow streets and stunning viewpoints. The best part is that it next to the water. Include Castel di Tora in your itinerary if you have a little more time in Rome and you’d like to get away from the maddening crowds.

Rome is also a good starting point to see the Northern Italy if you want to start this itinerary from reverse, that is, from south to north. Start at Rome, head to Perugia, then Florence, then to Bologna and finally Venice. You can also alter this route by heading to the Cinque Terre villages at the end instead. Rome can be a part of many different kinds of train itineraries and you can also consider starting in Switzerland.

In case you want to take a peek at the gems of southern Italy, then you will be happy to know that they’re not far from Rome. It will take you just 3 hours to reach Naples and the Pompeii ruins.

Northern Italy Train Travel

The destinations above are some of the most popular stopping grounds in northern Italy. However, you can still customize your trip by adding stops at places like Milan, Bologna, San Gimignano, Verona, and Trentino. Starting your trip in either Venice or Rome, and traveling between these destinations is easy to do. 

Final Thoughts about Northern Italy by Train Itinerary

If you are planning to explore Italy, then getting around by train is one of the best ways to do it. Italian rail holidays are convenient, and they offer fantastic views and experiences along the way. Traveling by train in Italy is quick and comfortable so it makes a lot of sense.

The northern Italy is full of incredible places to visit and varied regions. Visiting some of the above mentioned destinations will give you an excellent taste of Italy that you will remember for life.

Did follow our Northern Italy itinerary?

Tag @drifterplanet on Instagram and hashtag it #drifterplanet. We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

 

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Turkey Travel Tips (from a local): 15 Things to Know Before Visiting

Turkey Travel Tips (from a local): 15 Things to Know Before Visiting

Turkey travel tips has been written our Europe content specialist – Alara Benlier, who is originally from Turkey. This post has been further expanded by the editor. 

Turkey is historical, vibrant, and is insanely beautiful. This country that’s twice the size of California offers an exhaustive selection of places to visit and travel experiences to its visitors.

While in Turkey, you can find pretty much every kind of landscape (and even more) if you know where to go. You can enjoy thermal springs with crystal clear waters, relax on the inviting beaches, see the ruins of ancient empires, float on a hot air balloon over unique formations, party on a yacht like a millionaire, enjoy delicious culinary and even go skiing.

White Travertine Thermal Pools with Blue Water - Pamukkale, Turkey

White Travertine Thermal Pools with Blue Water – Pamukkale, Turkey

Turkey’s unique location attracts millions of tourists each year. No matter the season, you can do many fun activities here. Moreover, you can experience countless cultural trips, including wandering around ancient ruins that are also listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites. 

So, whether you are a passionate photographer, a gourmet, an adventure lover, or just a professional sunbather, you can have the holiday of your dreams in Turkey. If you are interested, here is everything you need to know before visiting Turkey from a born and raised Turkish expat. Here are my top Turkey travel tips for you.

Travel Tips for Turkey

Turkey Weather and When to Visit

A dog sitting on the road in Cappadocia with snow around

This adorable dog is surely enjoying the snow

No, Turkey isn’t just a summer destination like many places in Europe. Depending on what you want to do, you can visit Turkey during every season. Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara region gets very warmer in summer and it can sometimes rain too. This area gets colder than many other parts of Turkey during winter and it can snow too (but not often).

Most of the coastal of Turkey have a typical warm Mediterranean weather (think of Italy, Greece, etc.) with warm and dry summers and mild winters. The middle part of the country (like Central Anatolia) gets warmer summer days but chilly nights and mornings. 

During spring, summer and winter, not only you can enjoy many breathtakingly beautiful beaches, but also you can do lounging, parasailing, paragliding, and even canoeing in the ancient lands of Turkey. And starting from Winter, here is a winter wonderland. Over the years, Turkey became a hot spot for ski lovers with its excellent ski resorts, splendid hotels, and amazing nature.

Visa for Turkey

Some nationalities do not need a visa to enter Turkey, that includes some European countries a few Asian countries and also a few South American countries. They can enter visa free for 90 days.

Many other nationalities can enter with an eVisa and some with a conditional eVisa. Passport holders of Australia, UK, USA need to apply for an Electronic Visa (e-Visa). Indian travelers can get a conditional e-Visa if they already have an active visa from US, UK, Ireland or the Schengen countries.

As the name suggests, the e-Visa Application System allows travelers to apply their e-Visas online. You just have to fill the online form and pay the visa fee, and within 3 minutes, you will receive your visa! Just don’t forget to apply for your visa between three months to 48 hours before your travel date.

Is it safe to travel to Turkey?

The answer to this question is yes, but just like anywhere in the world, you should be cautious about your surroundings. Thankfully, Turkey’s name is coming clean after several terror attacks that happened in the past, and today, it is declared as safe from many governments. 

Just be careful around the crowds, and if you are too anxious, try not to visit Turkey around religious and public holidays. Keep in mind that the coasts are safe, and big cities like Istanbul are always surrounded by policemen. Unless you are visiting the cities close to the Syrian border, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

In any case, you should make it a point to read the travel advisory before you plan your trip and once again before you visit. 

Currency in Turkey and managing Money

Turkish Lira notes of 10s and 20s - Currency in Turkey

Turkish Lira notes of 10s and 20s – Currency in Turkey [CC0] via Pixabay

The local currency in Turkey is Turkish Lira. Although most places would prefer cash, you can also pay with VISA and Mastercard. 

Try to carry a smaller amount of money for smaller purchases. Turkey has banknotes for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira. So carrying two 50 liras instead of one 100 lira might be better. Haggling is also very common in local shops. You might get up to 50% off from bigger purchases.

Which SIM Card to get?

Due to the legal restrictions, it might be complicated to get a local SIM Card if you’re traveling here for a longer period of time. Generally, you can get a SIM card by showing your passport at one of the shops in the airport or in a store in the city. 

There are three network operators in Turkey: Turkcell, Vodafone, and Türk Telekom. They have official stores everywhere around the country. 

Turkcell is known for its good connection, but it is the most expensive one. Vodafone is also fairly good and Türk Telekom is the cheapest one. Although Türk Telekom is good, if you are planning to visit locations with high altitude, I would stick with Vodafone or Turkcell according to my budget. 

Also, all mobile devices purchased outside Turkey that use a Turkish SIM must be registered with the government after 120 days. If not, you will end up with a phone that doesn’t work.  

Scams in Istanbul

Outside the Blue Mosque at night, Istanbul - Turkey Travel Tips

Outside the Blue Mosque at night, Istanbul – Turkey Travel Tips

Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in Turkey due to its historic beauty. And just like every other tourist city, here also has typical tourist scams. Although the Turkish people are very helpful, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to scams. The most known ones are taxi scams, pickpockets, and paying more because you are a tourist. 

Taxis usually take a longer road to get you to your final destination to make you pay more money. To prevent that you can use public transportation, or if you have to use a taxi, you can ask the reception of your hotel or hostel to call a cab for you. 

To avoid pickpockets, you have to be careful about your belongings. If you are around a crowd, keep your bag in front of you or somewhere you can see it. 

And last but not least, sellers might charge you more money because they think that you don’t know the actual price of their products or services. To prevent that, do your research! Thanks to the internet, you are one click away from knowing all the best and the worst shops all around the World. 

Overall Istanbul is a majestic city, but keep in mind that Turkey offers more incredible cities. So, if you have enough time, try to spend less time in Istanbul, and explore other cities in Turkey.

Getting around in Turkey

You can get around in Turkey by internal flights, renting a car, using a coach, and depending on the location – even a ferry.  

With its bunch of airlines that fits your budget, Turkey can be easily explored by a plane. Due to the competition, you can book a cheap flight and fly to almost every city in Turkey.

One of the low cost carriers in Turkey is Pegasus Airlines, that’s what the Drifter Planet team used in Turkey twice. Although it is not the most environmentally-friend option, if you have a tight schedule, you can always get to your destination very quickly via planes.

Although renting a car is always an option, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are aiming for a heart attack, then renting a car might be the one for you. Having one of the most expensive gas in the entire World, constant traffic, and of course so many angry drivers that ignore most of the traffic signs, you can easily rent a car in Turkey with your passport or driving license. Just make sure to rent your car from a reliable agency, like Europcar, or Avis, and get insurance for the car. 

Most Turkish people use the coach, especially the night coach, as a more budget-friendly option. The buses in Turkey for longer destinations are very luxurious and shockingly affordable. Every Turkish town and city have a bus station, called otogar. From there you can buy your bus ticket, which is called bilet in Turkish. 

Buses in Turkey - Metro turizm bus

Buses in Turkey – Metro turizm bus

If you are a solo traveler, depending on your gender, you can book a seat next to your own gender to ensure safety as well. During your trip, you will be served a cake or sandwich, and a bottle of water for free. Most of the bus companies also provide wireless Internet, and a film to watch. Buses will stop in many resting places for you to use the toilet, stretch your legs, and eat in restaurants.

Metro Turizm bus ticket - Turkey travel tips

Metro Turizm bus ticket – Turkey travel tips

It isn’t easy to prebook the buses online without a Turkish card or phone number but it can be done if you really try your best. We were able to book a bus with “MetroTurizm“, but only after translating the entire website in English. Somehow their English version of the website wasn’t allowing bus bookings at that time.

Ferries are also a great option for traveling in and around Istanbul, Izmir, and from incredible cities like Bodrum and Marmaris to the Greek islands.

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Turkey

Sunrise view - Sultan Cave Suites, Cappadocia, Turkey

Sunrise view – Sultan Cave Suites, Cappadocia, Turkey

The most beautiful place on earth where you can enjoy a hot air balloon ride is right here in Turkey. It is in a mystical fairy land called Cappadocia, which looks like it belongs on another planet. Cappadocia’s landscape looks surreal, and it looks it is out of a science fiction movie like Star Wars.

There are fairy chimneys and caves everywhere in Cappadocia. People still live in these caves and many have been transformed into spectacular hotels. Right here, you can enjoy a hot air balloon ride to experience the most magical sunrise.

Cappadocia is massive and has around 10 villages that are all unique in their own way. One can get a little confused about where to go. The most popular place in Cappadocia for a hot air balloon ride is Göreme. Be sure to read about Cappadocia on our website – Hot air ballon experience in Cappadocia, staying in a cave hotel in Göreme and Cappadocia’s Instagram worthy spots.

Recommended Itinerary for Turkey

It is no secret that there are lots of places to visit, lots of things to do and lots of things to eat in Turkey!  If you want to visit this glorious country, but don’t know where to start, there is a great 10-day itinerary on this website, which covers the most attractive places you can visit in Turkey. However, if you want to spend more time in Turkey to understand the culture better and explore all around it quickly, here is a two-week itinerary of Turkey!

Day 1 and 2 – Istanbul

Sunset cruise over Bosphorous, Istanbul itinerary

Sunset cruise over Bosphorous, Istanbul itinerary

Istanbul is mostly famous for its bridge that brings together Asia and Europe, mosques, tulips, seagulls, and Turkish bagels. But the city also has a great history dating back to 660 before Christ, Roman empire, Byzantine, and Ottoman empire. If you want to check out the historical monuments on your first day, you can start exploring Istanbul from Sultanahmet Square, where you can find Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque, and Basilica Cistern. 

On your second day, you can shop at the Spice Bazaar aka Mısır Çarşısı, which is one of the largest bazaars in Istanbul. Here, you can buy spices, Turkish delights, jewelry, souvenirs, dried fruits, and nuts. The Grand Bazaar, on the other hand, is the oldest and largest bazaar in the world with 4,000 shops and 350,000 visitors a day! 

Day 3 and 4 – Bursa

Bursa was the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. But here is not only known for its history, but also its silk, ski resorts, and thermal baths made here a must-visit city. Due to located near an extinct volcano called Uludağ mountain, Bursa has thermal baths with mineral-rich waters.

If you are visiting Bursa, you should experience the traditional thermal Turkish bath, since it is one of kind! The mineral water boils up from below to comfort you and nurture your skin! As a tradition, you should get the best rubdown (kese) to get rid of the dead skin cells and a massage just to relax your muscles.

Day 5 – Izmir and Ephesus (Efes)

Izmir is blessed with amazing beaches, gorgeous nature, and of course, ancient places like Unesco World Heritage Site listed Efes! 

Celsus Library, Ephesus - Turkey Itinerary

Celsus Library, Ephesus – Turkey Itinerary

While in Ephesus, you can check out many historic gates and temples, but the most impressive ones are definitely the Temple of Artemis and the Library of Celsus. But if you enter Ephesus from the south entrance, you will see its world-famous theatre. This theatre not only witnessed the history but also hosted many amazing performances by Elton John, Ray Charles, Jethro Tull and many more!

Day 6 and 7 – Bodrum

With its pure white buildings with Saxon blue doors, its amazing seacoast, and gorgeous bougainvillea flowers, Bodrum is definitely a must-visit city! This old fishing town is located on the coast of the astoundingly clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea and also hosts the ancient city of Halicarnassus, which is said to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World!

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus has an ancient tomb, which was built between 353 and 350 BC! In here, you can also check out the Myndos Gate, which was built under the reign of King Mausolus. This gate witnessed the greatest battles during the siege of the city by Alexander the Great.

Day 8 and 9 – Fethiye

Oludeniz Beach, Fethiye, Turkey Travel Tips

Oludeniz Beach, Fethiye, Turkey Travel Tips

With its breathtaking marina, amazing night-life, and otherworldly sea, Fethiye is the only city in the world, where you’ll find sarcophaguses on the streets!  In here, you can swim in the Dead Sea/Blue Lagoon, and also do lounging, parasailing, paragliding, canoeing and many more! The world-famous beach of Fethiye and its blue lagoon, Ölüdeniz, is known for its shades of turquoise and aquamarine, and it is officially awarded as a Blue Flag beach.  

On your second day, you can hike the ancient Lycian Way to check out the amazing views of the sea and the mountains. You also have to check out the gorgeous Butterfly Valley! This valley’s name comes from the endemic butterflies that live near the waterfalls on the canyon wall. From the top of this valley, the view of the bay is just breathtaking.

Day 10 and 11 – Antalya

When you first hear Antalya, you might think of beautiful beaches, a bright sun, and 5-star hotels. But Antalya also offers gorgeous ancient cities and sights! On your first day, you have to check out Aspendos, which is an ancient Greco-Roman city in Serik. Aspendos has huge fame with its breathtaking Roman theatre, the best-preserved theatre in Turkey. The theater has a seating capacity of 20,000 people, and it is still used for concerts. 

For your second day, you can visit the Konyaaltı, which has a pebble beach with amazing turquoise waters. Here you can also paraglide and enjoy many water sports. Or around 60 km away, you can visit the sandy Lara Beach, which is known for its curative sands for the ones with rheumatism problems!

Day 12 and 13 – Pamukkale

Early Morning in Pamukkale, Turkey

Early Morning in Pamukkale, Turkey

With its mineral-rich hot springs and its ancient Greco-Roman city, Pamukkale is a natural site, located in Denizli. Pamukkale literally means cotton castle in Turkish, which suits its amazing calcium-rich springs that shaped its snow-white limestones over the centuries perfectly. But this Unesco World Heritage site is not only popular for its natural pools but also its holy ancient city of Hierapolis!

Cleopatra Pools in Pamukkale, Turkey

Cleopatra Pools in Pamukkale, Turkey

On your second day, you have to check out this Greco-Roman city. Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BCE. After the archeological diggings, many significant structures like gorgeous Byzantine gates, a theatre, temples, thermal baths, and an extensive necropolis came to light.

Day 14 and 15 – Cappadocia

Cappadocia's unique landscape caves carved in volcanic formations

Cappadocia’s unique landscape caves carved in volcanic formations

With its fairy chimneys, amazing nature, and fun hot air balloon activities, Cappadocia offers a great time for its visitors. Being on the Unesco World Heritage List, with its fairytale looking landscapes with fairy chimneys, pigeon houses, orchards, and vineyards, it is surreal to fly over the beautiful valley and have the most romantic time while gazing the sunset!

On your second day, you should visit the Ihlara Valley, which is a 16 km long valley that is a home for 105 ancient churches! This unique valley’s honeycombed churches were built by Cappadocian Greeks. It is truly a magical place to wander around while listening to the peaceful river sounds.

 

What to Eat in Turkey?

Shish Kebab with Naan - my food in Istanbul

Shish Kebab with Naan – my food in Istanbul

Turkish cuisine is one of the most diverse and famous cuisines in the entire World. You may have eaten Turkish dishes before, but there are some must-taste dishes that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Turkey!

  • As the main dish, you can have Iskender Kebab, Şiş (Shish) Kebab, Mantı, Etli Ekmek, or if you are vegetarian, you can have Meze or street food like Kumpir
  • Iskender Kebab is a traditional Döner kebab which is served with yogurt and a warm tomato sauce and melted butter over pieces of thinly sliced lamb meat and pide. 

Turkish food menu - Turkey travel tips

Turkish food menu – Turkey travel tips

  • Şiş (Shish) Kebab, on the other hand, is grilled chicken, beef, or lamb on a skewer, served with rice, salad, and fries. 
  • If you crave carbs, you should try Mantı aka Turkish Ravioli! Mantı is little a handmade dumplings are filled with ground lamb or beef, which topped with creamy yogurt and melted butter tomato paste sauce. Or Etli Ekmek, which is a long and thin piece of flatbread, topped with meat and cheese. 
  • If you are a vegetarian, you will love Etli Ekme because you can choose your own toppings to “vegan-ise” it. 
  • As a lighter dinner option, you can have Meze, which actually consists of a small selection of dishes commonly served with drinks or before a meal. You can either just eat Meze, or you can also order a main dish with them. Turkish people love eating Meze while drinking Rakı, which is a traditional alcoholic beverage. 
  • Traditional Turkish Mezes are Cacık, which is yogurt with herbs and cucumber, hummus, butter, Dolma, which is rice-stuffed vine leaves, eggplant salad, Feta cheese and all served with a warm pide. Pide is a flatbread which is kind of like a pizza, but is much better. It is a typical Turkish comfort food.  

Eating Pide -Turkish Food -

Eating Pide – Experiencing Turkish Food

  • And lastly, Kumpir is actually a giant baked potato, which is cut down the middle and served with butter, cheese and various toppings that you choose. As a dessert, you can have World-famous Baklava, and of course Turkish delight.
  • Turkish cuisine is very flavourful and best complemented with local alcoholic beverages. You can have some Turkish wines include Kavaklidere Yakut (Bogazkere – Okuzgozu), Merlot, and Vinkara. 

The national drink, Rakı, is a must if you want to have an authentic Turkish food experience. It is a spirit, distilled from grapes and made with aniseed. When Rakı is mixed with water and ice, its color changes from transparent to white, which is why it is also called lions milk.

Ramadan in Turkey

Ramadan is called Ramazan in Turkey. It is important to know about this because it is a month long of fasting time, that ends with Eid ul-Fitr . During this time, the locals do not eat or even drink anything from the time sun rises and to the time it sets; they only eat after the sunset.

If you’re in a smaller part of Turkey during Ramadan, you should know that some restaurants will be shut during the day, and it is considered inappropriate if you eat in front of those who are fasting. Although in touristy places like Istanbul’s Sultanahmet square, you will easily find a bite to eat. 

The dates for Ramazan are for this year are 24 April 2020 to 23 May 2020. 

What to Wear in Turkey?

Trying to bathe in Pamukkale's Thermal Pools without taking off my clothes

Trying to bathe in Pamukkale’s Thermal Pools without taking off my clothes

No, all Turkish people don’t dress conservatively. Somehow the country is split where one half of the people wear conservative attire while the other half wear whatever they want and don’t mind showing some skin. Don’t stand out as a tourist, but try to blend in.

You can wear pretty much anything you want in Turkey, depending on the weather. During summer, light cotton pants, T-shirts and flip-flops are the most common clothes to wear. Depending on the location, you can also wear shorts.

During Spring and Fall, you should bring a warm jacket/windbreaker because the weather is rainy, and it is chilly at night. And during winter, better pack your sweaters because it snows almost everywhere in Turkey. For the beach, you can basically wear anything you want. Most Turkish women love sunbathing in their bikinis. 

If you are planning to visit mosques and churches, you should not wear any shorts or sleeveless tops. Women should also cover their hair. And don’t forget to bring socks since most of the mosques have carpet floors, and walking with your shoes on a carpet (or inside the house) is not acceptable for Turkish people. Overall, modesty is very appreciated in Turkey. If you want to avoid some looks while walking in the city, try to dress up on the conservative side.

About Turkish Hamams

Turkish Hamams - Turkey travel tips

Turkish Hamams – Turkey travel tips

Turkey might be known for its amazing beaches, and historical places, but this country is also blessed with more than 1,000 thermal springs. These mineral-rich springs have also healing properties, which is the reason why they attract many tourists throughout the year. 

You will find lots of Traditional Turkish Bath places which are called Hamam anywhere you visit in Turkey. If you want to get rid of all the dead skin cells from your body, you can visit the Hamam of your choice. But there are a couple of things to know! 

For example, every Hamam has two sections, one for women and one for men. This means that at most of the Hamams, you can’t get scubbed down with your significant other. 

Keep in mind that, Hamams are HOT. If you have any lung or heart problems, ask your doctors for permission beforehand.

If you are visiting a Hamam, don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and some clean sandals. 

When you enter the Hamam, you will see an amazing interior and five to six taps of water with beautiful sinks underneath. In the middle, there will be a big stone which is called göbektaşı. 

If you want to be rubbed down by a professional, he or she (depending on your gender) will come and rub you there. Before the rubbing, you need to be inside of the Hamam for at least 15 minutes. Afterward, they will first soak your body with warm water, otherwise, the dirt won’t come off. 

After the washing up, you will receive a massage, and later you will get rubbed with an oriental washcloth, which is called kese. Finally, you will receive another soapy wash, followed by a rinsing session with cold water. 

After the whole experience, don’t forget to tip your attendant. PS. You need to wash your private parts yourself. Most of the Hamams, people are inside are butt naked, but it doesn’t mean that you also have to be. Also, bring your own soap and shampoo if you are allergic, and don’t forget to remove your makeup because it will get ruined.

Etiquette for Visiting Mosques

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul - Turkey Travel Tips

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul – Turkey Travel Tips

One of the most beautiful experience in Turkey is listening to the unmissable call of prayer 5 times a day from a nearby mosque. There’s something calming and soothing about this sound. Of course, you should try to expand this experience by visiting a mosque. Please don’t be stupid enough to mimic this sound of prayer, even if you’re in a hostel and are sitting with backpackers. 

Mosque Etiquette - what to wear - Turkey travel tips

Mosque Etiquette – what to wear – Turkey travel tips

Dress conservatively if you’re visiting a mosque. Cover your legs, arms and shoulders – this is for both men and women. In most of the mosques, you will be able to pick up scarf to cover your head on your way in. Photograph the architecture by all means, but look out for “photography allowed” signs before you do. Do not take the liberty of photographing the locals in prayer without their permission.

Just like many places of worship all over the world, you will need to remove your shoes at the entry point so wear something that can be easily removed. 

Quick Tips for Solo Women Travelers

Traveling to any new country as a solo woman traveler can be overwhelming but at the same time, liberating. Turkey is an amazing country and is an excellent destination for a solo woman traveler.

We have mentioned this before in this article, but it is time to reiterate – try to blend in. Dress like locals and don’t let your outfit or actions scream “tourist”. Be careful of your surroundings at all time and listen to your gut. If a place or a situation doesn’t feel safe for any reason, then get out. Make friends with other women travelers that you meet, share stories and stay connected. 

Did follow our travel tips for Turkey?

Tag @drifterplanet on Instagram and hashtag it #drifterplanet. We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

 

About the writer:

Alara BenlierAlara Benlier

My name is Alara Benlier, and I am a passionate traveler who is in a constant search for delicious foods and historical places. Currently living in Germany, I visited many places in Europe and met lots of lovely people from different cultures. Before Germany, I lived in Rotterdam for a year and traveled all around the Netherlands. I am excited to share all my experiences in Drifter Planet.

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.

The Spectacular Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, Slovenia [Bohinjsko Jezero]

The Spectacular Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, Slovenia [Bohinjsko Jezero]

Imagine a lake with clear blue-green water that’s surrounded by mountains. To make things even better, there are multiple beaches where one can chill and enjoy the magic of Mother Nature. Yes, that’s exactly what Slovenia’s Lake Bohinj is – paradisiacal. It is called Bohinjsko jezero in Slovenian.

Bohinjsko jezero - Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Bohinjsko jezero – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

We ended up visiting and camping next to Lake Bohinj by just chance. Honestly, we did not even know about this awesome lake but we were looking for a place to camp in Slovenia. At that time, we were on our camper van and driving to Croatia. We saw a big lake marked as “Bohinjsko jezero” on Google Maps, saw the pictures and immediately decided to check it out. 

Clear blue water of Lake Bohinj and the Mountains, Slovenia

Clear blue water of Lake Bohinj and the Mountains, Slovenia

The area around Bohinjso jazero is mountainous and full of trees, so we did not see the lake till the time our van was parked in Camp Zlatorog Bohinj. Our jaws fell as soon as we reached close to the lake and stood on one of its many beaches. The landscape was right out of a travel movie, and we were in it! Of course, we decided to stay here longer than just one day. After all, it is one of Europe’s most beautiful lakes.

Where is Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj Map by Camp Zlatorog Bohinj

Lake Bohinj Map by Camp Zlatorog Bohinj

Most of Lake Bohinj is located in Triglav National Park; the only national park within Slovenia. It is often overshadowed by its more popular cousin Lake Bled which is a short, 30-minute drive away. 

Triglav National Park sits in the northwestern part of Slovenia. It is named after it’s primary peak; Triglav; which is the highest mountain in the Julian Alps. The glacial Lake Bohinj is located south of Mount Triglav.

Bled is the closest major city, however, Lake Bohinj is surrounded by many small villages that are highly worth a visit. Each village around Lake Bohinj can offer you a different way to experience the grand lake and Triglav National Park.

How to reach Lake Bohinj

A couple on the beach by Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

A couple on the beach by Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Getting to Lake Bohinj is not too difficult as many visitors enjoy travelling into Triglav National Park for a day or two while visiting Bled. In fact, Lake Bohinj is only a quick 30 minute drive from the popular Lake Bled. If you are travelling from the capital Ljubljana, expect an hour and 45 minute drive.

The closest train station is in Bohinjska Bistrica which is a large settlement near Ribcev Laz; a small village that lies on the eastern side of Lake Bohinj. Despite it being fairly close, you will still need to take a cab to get to Ribcev Laz.

There are buses that will shuttle you from Bled to Lake Bohinj all year round. They run less frequently during the wintertime so make sure to check out the schedule before planning your trip.

If you’re flying to Ljubljana or any other part of Slovenia and if you don’t intend to rent a car, then booking a tour to Lake Bohinj may make more sense. This way, you can visit both Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj as well as Savica waterfall without the hassle of finding out and booking your public transport. Of course, we only recommend this “short cut” experience if you don’t have much time on your hands.

Book Lake Bled + Lake Bohinj + Savica Here

As mentioned at the top of this post, we arrived here on our camper van. We highly recommend you to drive here on your own whether you live in Europe or not. You can land in Ljubljana (or anywhere else in Slovenia) and rent a car from there. (you can rent one for cheap

Renting a car to explore Slovenia (and Eastern Europe in general) is highly recommended as it gives you more freedom to explore all the small towns and natural sites that are off the typical tourist trail. Despite being able to get around Europe quite easily by trains and buses, driving yourself will give you the time to stop whenever and wherever you are drawn to; because Slovenia has a lot to offer.

The Julian Alps Card Bohinj

Lake Bohinj surrounded by mountains, Triglav, Slovenia

Lake Bohinj surrounded by mountains, Triglav, Slovenia

Planning to spend a few days around Lake Bohinj? Consider getting a Julian Alps Card; also referred to as the Bohinj Tourist Card; to save on the many attractions around Lake Bohinj.

This pass is only available from April to October and only travellers staying at least two nights within Bohinj are eligible to purchase one. They can be purchased from any of the Bohinj Tourist centres around the lake. You can choose one of three options depending on how long you are wanting to stay in the area; they have you covered for 3 days, 5 days, and 10 days.

Not only does this card grant you free admission into sites such as the Savica Waterfall and Mostnica Gorge, but it also covers parking at most car parks around Bohinj. It also offers discounts on other activities and transport around the Lake and you are sure to get your money’s worth if you are wanting to see as much as possible during your visit.

Lake Bohinj Things to do

Lake Bohinj Camping

A caravan parked next to a lake in Slovenia

A caravan parked next to a lake in Slovenia

The best way to enjoy this Slovenian beauty is by camping next to it. If you have a camper van, you can take it right next to the lake and camp – we did too. Look for “Camp Zlatorog Bohinj” on Google Maps and just drive to it.

We talk a little more about Camp Zlatorog further down in our Lake Bohinj accommodations section but we can’t urge you enough to give them a go!

If you are like us and love being surrounded by nature, then you won’t be disappointed by waking up from your tent or camper in the midst of Bohinj. The Lake Bohinj camping sites also give you easy access to the numerous trails around the lake so you can start surveying the land around Triglav National Park as soon as you wake up.

Kayaking on Lake Bohinj

Kayaking on Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Kayaking on Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

One of the most popular activities to take part in at Lake Bohinj is kayaking. You can rent your kayak for an hour if you’re a beginner or for half a day. This way, you can take your kayak to some of the other beaches that you can’t easily reach by walking. But it all depends on your kayaking skills. 

Relaxing on our rented kayak on Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Relaxing on our rented kayak on Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Kayaking is one of the easier adventure sport activities as compared to many. I have kayaked a lot in my life but for some reason I wasn’t so good at it here. My good friend Isi and I rented a kayak together. For some reason, we kept kayaking around in a circle instead of going towards the distant beach. It may have been because our coordination was disastrous but it made us giggle like little girls. 

Lake Bohinj Kayaking - Slovenia

Lake Bohinj Kayaking – Slovenia

If you are looking to go on some kayaking adventures, you can actually do it directly from Camp Zlatorog Bohinj. That’s how we did it. In case you’re not camping, then the best village to stay in is Ribcev Laz. You can choose from a few rental places that are situated right on the lake to rent canoes and kayaks. 

Kayak rental - Camp Zlatorog Bohinj - Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Kayak rental – Camp Zlatorog Bohinj – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

The cost of renting a kayak for one hour from Camp Zlatorog Bohinj was just 10 Euros for one hour in summer of 2019. If you are looking for a little more guidance, sign up for a tour that will take you around the lake! For the more avid kayakers, book a tour down the Sava Bohinjka River to explore some of the gorges that tower above Lake Bohinj.

Lake Bohinj Swimming

Lake Bohinj Swimming,Triglav National Park Slovenia

Lake Bohinj Swimming,Triglav National Park Slovenia

The best way to enjoy Lake Bohinj is by swimming in it. Much like the more popular Lake Bled, the water of Lake Bohinj is especially inviting during the warm, summer months in Slovenia. Since Lake Bohinj is not as well travelled, you will have no problems finding your own space to take a dip.

Lake Bohinj is a glacial lake which means that it is constantly being replenished with water from the mountains. Due to this, the crystal clear lake is often fresh which makes it a blissful and safe place to go swimming in Slovenia..

Swimming in Lake Bohinj's cold water - Slovenia

Swimming in Lake Bohinj’s cold water – Slovenia

As an extra note, there are motorized boats that travel within the lake. This should not cause any problems in your Lake Bohinj swimming experience as the lake is big enough for everyone’s adventures.

Walk Around Lake Bohinj + See the Beaches

One of the many beaches along Lake Bohinj - Bohinjsko Jezero - Slovenia

One of the many beaches along Lake Bohinj – Bohinjsko Jezero – Slovenia

An amazing way to experience Lake Bohinj is by walking on the path that goes along the shore. No, you won’t be able to go completely around it but you can experience the beauty by walking along it for some part and reaching a few scenic spots. 

Mountains, clear lake and pretty beaches - Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Mountains, clear lake and pretty beaches – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

To make things more interesting, carry a mat, some food and drinks and set up a picnic if you reach a nice spot. Swim in the lake and then hang your towels to dry as you relax on the mat. Be sure to carry a bag for your trash and pick up everything before you leave the spot to leave no trace. 

Picnic next to Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Picnic next to Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, Slovenia

San and I did this with our friends and we also managed to get our baby to sleep on her pram along the lake. Yes, you should check out our tips for traveling with baby.

Baby sleeping in her pram in Slovenia

Baby sleeping in her pram in Slovenia

Hike to Savica Waterfall (a.k.a. Lake Bohinj Waterfall)

Savica Waterfall near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Savica Waterfall near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia by Frerk Meyer CC BY SA 2.0 via Flickr

Savica waterfall is close to Camp Zlatorog Bohinj, but if you’re not staying here then you can consider staying in Ukanc village to have access to the lake as well as the stunning Savica Waterfall; also known as the Lake Bohinj waterfall. In Slovenian language, it is marked as Slap Savica on Google Maps. There are a few ways you can get to the falls, but the easiest way is to drive right to the Savica Hut; which is the starting point for a few hikes around Triglav National Park.

Savica Waterfall, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Savica Waterfall, Triglav National Park, Slovenia by cpandmd (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr

If you are up to it, you can also hike from Ukanc village to Savica Waterfall via a scenic circular trail that takes an average of three hours to hike. During the summer, you can also get on the hop-on hop-off bus from Ukanc that will take you to the entrance. If you’re an experienced bikers, you should consider renting a mountain bike. This way, you can take the cycling tour loop to get to and from Savica Falls.

Once you get to the entrance and pay your 3 euro to get in, there is a slightly steep hike up to the majestic Lake Bohinj waterfall. After about 20 minutes of hiking, you will be rewarded with the stunning view of the cascade pouring into its emerald green basin underneath. 

View from Prsivec

Lake Bohinj view from Pršivec, Slovenia

Lake Bohinj view from Pršivec, Slovenia by Anna & Michal (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Searching for that panoramic postcard-photo view of Lake Bohinj? Then consider climbing to the highest peak around the lake called Prsivec. There are two directions that you could tackle Prsivec from, the west and the east. 

Coming from the east makes for a more leisurely hike with the pleasant sights of the alpine meadows accompanying you on the journey up. The best village to stay near here is Stara Fuzina as you can directly access the road that takes you to the beginning of the loop.

From the westside of Lake Bohinj; next to the trail up to the Savica Waterfall; is a path that leads you to the challenging Komarča wall. This trail should only be attempted by experienced hikers but if you decide to go this way, you won’t be disappointed by all the site-seeing along the way.

Hiking to Savica waterfall from Lake Bohinj is a very small hike. If you’re a serious hiker, then you will love our post about hiking in Triglav National Park. This post details almost all the fun hiking trails and some of them even cross scenic gorges. 

See Mostnica Gorge

Mostnica Gorge near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Mostnica Gorge near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia – Julie Mac (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

While staying in Stara Fuzina, spend a day exploring Mostnica Gorge. Flowing through the centre of the city is the Mostnica River which has carved the impressive gorge just north of the town. 

To get there you can drive up to one of the car parks located near the main entrance to the gorge or you can walk up from Stara Fuzina. There is an entrance fee of 3 euros per person which allows you to visit the gorge for as long as you would like.

Mostnica gorge itself is a gem of Slovenia that doesn’t get nearly enough recognition. There are so many things to discover within the 2 kilometres that the gorge spans including interesting flora and fauna, spectacular views of the gorge and the river, as well as some incredible natural marvels like the “Little Elephant” rock.

If you have time, don’t stop at the gorge! Continue on the trail through Voje Valley until you reach Voje Waterfall. Voje Valley will reward you with more breathtaking views featuring Mostnica river and rolling wildflower meadows. Once you make it to the falls; also known as Mostnica Waterfall; there is a food hut there serving traditional Slovenian dishes.

Soca River

The Turqouise Soca River in Slovenia

The Turquoise Soca River in Slovenia – Aiva (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Since you have already made the trip out this far west of Slovenia, you should take a peek at Soca River; a 138-kilometre long alpine river that intersects through Western Slovenia to Northeastern Italy. There are many quaint villages that the Soca River runs through but if you are driving, the settlement of Soča is not too far from Ukanc and is well worth a stop if time permits.

Soca River swimming, Slovenia

Soca River swimming, Slovenia by Erik Paakspuu – (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Soča River is a picturesque river that starts in the Trenta Valley and reaches all the way to the Adriatic Sea. It draws visitors to it with its icy aquamarine colour and lush forest that lines both sides of it. The river itself is refreshing and provides many activities that you can do in and around the valley such as swimming, kayaking, and white water rafting. 

Soča River in Autumn, Slovenia

Soča River in Autumn, Slovenia – by Bernhard Latzko – (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr

If you are loving the area around Soca, you can also visit some of the well known villages that it passes through such as Kanal, Bovec, and Nova Gorica.

There are many types of adventure activities that you can experience on Soca river.  Consider booking a tour with an adventure activity – these tours usually also include back and forth transport from Bovec. Below are a few that we have handpicked for you:

Where to Eat near Lake Bohinj?

Our burger in Camp Zlatorog Bohinj, Slovenia

Our burger in Camp Zlatorog Bohinj, Slovenia

Camp Zlatorog Bohinj has an amazing restaurant that’s near the lake. Drink the beer from the tap and eat the Zlatorog burger here.

Lake Bohinj Accommodation

Camp Zlatorog Bohinj

Small pier at Camp Zlatorog Bohinj - Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Small pier at Camp Zlatorog Bohinj – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

We love camping! It gives us the opportunity to really experience the natural beauty of a place and Camp Zlatorog Bohinj is an excellent choice if you are looking for a campground. If you stay here, you don’t have to go anywhere else because you have access to a few beaches along the lake and many other scenic spots. 

Located in Ukanc on the shore of the lake itself, the grounds are protected by the shade of the forest and are equipped with everything you need to make your stay here comfortable.

The beach next to Camp Zlatorog Bohinj - Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

The beach next to Camp Zlatorog Bohinj – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

The location is superb and in close proximity to Savica Waterfall and the trail leading to the Valley of the Seven Triglav Lakes. Camp Zlatorog Bohinj also offers resources and can help you book rentals for all kinds of exhilarating activities and sports around Lake Bohinj.

After Sunset at Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

After Sunset at Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

For us, the best part of our Lake Bohinj experience was staying next to it. This way, we saw the lake literally all the time for two days and appreciated how the colors changed as the sun went down. We did not feel a need to get out because our campground had an amazing restaurant, a bar and we had access to many different scenic spots along the lake.

Hostel pod Voglom

This cozy Lake Bohinj accommodation option is located in the small village of Ribcev Laz; the watersport hub of the lake. Hostel pod Voglom provides both shared dorm rooms and private rooms. Many guests boast about the incredible staff that take care of the hostel who go above and beyond to make your stay at Lake Bohinj memorable.

Hostel pod Voglom is a great option if you are wanting to kayak around the lake and the Sava Bohinjka River. The best part about this hostel is that you get lakeside accommodations at an affordable price.

Bohinj Apartments

If you are looking for a more private and romantic setting, why not rent an apartment on the lake? Most Bohinj apartments start at $50 a night and are often set in homey lakeside cottages. You have many different options sprinkled around the shore of Lake Bohinj from Ukanc to Ribcev Laz and you cannot go wrong with choosing any of them.

We recommend a place called TD Bohinj Apartments, which is just 50 meters from the lake. These apartments feature a bedroom, kitchen, dining area and a small sitting area. You can make your own breakfast and coffee before starting your day.

Lake Bohinj Weather and When to Go

The region of Triglav National Park and Lake Bohinj sees warm summer days and cold winters. During the months of March to September, Lake Bohinj greets the most visitors. Lake Bohinj’s warmest months are from July to August where it can get to 30 degrees celsius.

The dreamy Bohinjsko jezero - Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, Slovenia

The dreamy Bohinjsko jezero – Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park, Slovenia

In summer you can relish in the warm temperatures of the season and it is the best time to enjoy all of the watersports around Lake Bohinj. If you love kayaking, make time to also check out the other rivers that run off from the lake!

The romantic Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

The romantic Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, Slovenia

Triglav National Park in the fall season turns into a cozy vacation with a mild climate and trees that are sporting red and orange leaves. Much like the springtime, this is the ideal season to explore all of the trails around the park. Autumn is also considered a low season for the Bohinj area which means that activities are affordable and crowds are minimal. 

Bohinj is an idyllic setting if you are looking for a winter holiday escape. With the renowned Vogel Ski Resort in Triglav National Park and maple snowshoe trails, you can enjoy the natural beauty that the region of Bohinj has to show in the wintertime.

Lastly, spring is when you will be able to see all the life growing in the rolling meadows. Go trekking to Voje Valley through Mostnica Gorge for the most picturesque views of the wildflowers and other fauna as they wake from their winter slumber. You will find all the info on the tourism board website here.

Did follow our travel recommendations for Lake Bohinj?

Tag @drifterplanet on Instagram and hashtag it #drifterplanet. We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

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.

The Ultimate Hamburg Nightlife Guide: Top Clubs + Survival tips

The Ultimate Hamburg Nightlife Guide: Top Clubs + Survival tips

Hamburg Nightlife Guide has been written our Germany and Netherlands content specialist – Alara Benlier. This post has been further expanded by the editor. 

Young, hip and fun – those are just some words that can describe the “Gateway to the World”, aka Hamburg. Located along the River Elbe, this radiant city has the second busiest harbor in Europe.

Over the years, Hamburg went through a lot of big historical moments. The city’s largest part was destroyed during World War II, but the historical value has been preserved. And today, the city is one of the main cultural hubs in the World. In my opinion, it is Germany’s most interesting city.

Hamburg at night looks even better

Just a random spot in Hamburg – gorgeous like other random spots

Hamburg has a lot to offer if you are someone who has a colorful mind and wild at heart. In Hamburg, you can unearth your creative soul by day and dance like there’s no tomorrow at night. Not only that, Hamburg’s green cityscape with its 2,500 bridges, expressionist architecture, and spectacular botanical gardens will make you never want to leave the city.

Does Hamburg Have a Good Nightlife?

Enough about what Hamburg is all about, let me come to the point. The nightlife in Hamburg is insane! If you don’t believe me, believe the statistics, because Hamburg is ranking higher than Amsterdam, Berlin, and Barcelona when it comes to nightlife! As per a survey by Hostelworld, Hamburg’s nightlife is really the best in Europe.

Hamburg Harbor at night - Hamburg Nightlife Guide

Hamburg Harbor at night – Hamburg Nightlife Guide

Filled with amazing music venues, wild nightclubs, interesting exhibitions, techno concerts, and cultural events, you can find something for every taste.  What’s better is that there’s a typical Hamburg style thing to do right after the party in the early morning hours. I won’t won’t spill all the beans here, but you can read about this in the “party like a local” section. 

Whatever your idea of fun, Hamburg seems to have always the right alternatives, both day and night. This young and multicultural city is definitely suitable for all ages and all budgets, with many cheap (some even free!) alternatives. Not just Europe, Hamburg is one of the best places in the world for an epic night out. With its outstanding bars and nightclubs for every budget, this lively port city offers a crazy night out experience for every taste. 

Whether with its famous red-light and party district of St Pauli (with wild Reeperbahn), or alternative Sternschanze, Hamburg offers one of the best experiences to everyone, no matter your gender or age.

Hamburg Nightlife Tips + Info

What Time Do the Clubs Close in Hamburg?

Germans love to party and their typical party starts and ends very late. It isn’t unusual for the bars to remain open till the wee hours of morning. Nightclubs go a step further and in some places, the party really begins after 1 am. Many Bigger clubs (like Grosse Freiheit 36) aren’t open on all days of the week and are functional on mostly Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Most clubs remain open till 6:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights and till 4 am on  

Which part of Hamburg has the best nightlife?

Everyone knows that the hub of nightlife in Hamburg is the St. Pauli district. This district also contains Reeperbahn, which is Hamburg’s red-light district. Hamburg’s St. Pauli attracts tourists at any time of day or night, with a wide choice of entertainment for all tastes. 

If you walk all the way through St.Pauli, you will reach the World-famous Reeperbahn, which is almost a kilometer long road full of bars, night clubs, theatres, and burlesque shows! If you are looking for alternative vibes, you have to check out the Sternschanze. 

The best part is, it is just further from the Reeperbahn. With its entirely different atmosphere, you can enjoy many trendy cafés and cocktail bars. If you can’t choose where to party, here is the extensive Hamburg nightlife guide!

Most of Hamburg’s nightclubs can be found in bizarre but extremely cool locations. Even Hamburg’s famous river, the River Elbe, is a nightlife location with swimming bars and clubs in many fancy ships for party people! You can probably have fun anywhere in Hamburg, but there are some cult places that you shouldn’t be missing out on.

Where to Stay in Hamburg for Nightlife?

Our private room in Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

Our private room in Superbude St. Pauli, Hamburg

The best place to stay in Hamburg to experience the nightlife is Superbude St Pauli. You can get private rooms and dorm beds – whatever works for you. The place is hip, vibrant and completely matches the vibe of Hamburg. I can not think of a better place to stay in Hamburg than this.

The best part about Superbude is the location. It is directly in St. Pauli, you can walk for barely 2 minutes and you will reach the boho Sternschanze. If you walk in the other direction, you will reach the red light area – Reeperbahn. Want to know more? Read my blog post about my experience in Superbude.

Getting Around: Hamburg Public Transport

The buses in Hamburg have bookshelves full of books

The buses in Hamburg have bookshelves full of books

It’s very easy to travel within the city, that’s why the public transport in Hamburg is the most popular method of getting around. You can use the metro trains – S-Bahn and U-Bahn (underground) to reach literally anywhere.  Buy a ticket at the Ticket Automat at the station and make sure you validate the ticket using the machines at the station before boarding. 

There are also many frequent buses both during the day and night. So, you don’t have to worry about how to reach your accommodation, after a wild night out. A special night bus – “Nachtbus” connects the city centre with the far off districts. 

Guess what – as of this year, you can also use Uber in Hamburg. If you didn’t know, Uber is an app that connects taxi drivers to passengers. Uber rides are much cheaper than normal cabs and you can easily call one using just the app on your phone. 

Experience the Nightlife in Hamburg Like a Local 

Before beginning this epic list of nightclubs, let’s talk about the inevitable truth about having a crazy night out, the next morning, aka hangovers. And trust me, even the locals have excruciating hangovers! But of course, Germans made even hangovers a tradition. 

To experience Hamburg’s nightlife just like the locals, you have to go to “Der Fischmarkt” – the fish market, after partying. There, you will meet a lot of crazy party people. 

Der Fischmarkt - Hamburg Fish Market

Der Fischmarkt – Hamburg Fish Market

While you’re in the Fischmarkt, be sure to eat the traditional bun with Fischfrikadelle, which is basically a fish cutlet with bread. It is yummy. (Or as Germans say, lecker). Oh, and let’s not forget the beer on the side! Not my personal hangover cure, but it is the tradition. So, when in Rome do as the Romans do!

Best time to visit Hamburg

Located in northern Germany, Hamburg tends to have a gloomy weather, so the best time to visit Hamburg is during the summer. Moreover, there are many street parties and open air festivals during summer. Some of the most famous street parties are Bergedorfer Stadtfest in Bergedorf, Osterstraßenfest in Eimsbüttel, and Schanzenfest in Schanzenviertel.

Open Air Festivals or Parties

A typical open air festival or a party is usually referred to as just “open air” in Germany. If you like rock music, you should check out the Wutzrock festival thats lasts for 3 days in August. Another notable festival is Vogelball, which literally just translates into “Bird Ball”. You can let your inner creativity show by dressing up in feathers. During easter, you can check out the Oster open air. Other open air festivals and parties are Wilhelmsburg, Come Dance, Humpty Dumpty and Dockville

Hamburg Neighborhoods to Experience the Nightlife

St Pauli – the Nightlife hub

The Lively St. Pauli in Hamburg

The Lively St. Pauli in Hamburg

The famous red-light and party district, which is also known as St Pauli, is at the heart of Hamburg. During the day, this district is very cool, but here comes to life after midnight. 

Did you know that the Beatlesmania actually started in Hamburg? It all began right here in St Pauli. With its erotic bars, sex shops, old sailors’ pubs, and hip discos, here offers something for everyone. It is great for every budget too, you can find many cheap student bars or fancy cocktail bars in every corner.

Just a quick tip: if you end up in an erotic bar, be careful about the ladies inside. They might charge you for a lot of stuff (like walking with you inside the bar, drinking with you, etc.)

Reeperbahn – the Sin Street

Dollhouse and other clubs in Reeperbahn - Hamburg's Red Light area

Dollhouse and other clubs in Reeperbahn – Hamburg’s Red Light area

Along the calm Elbe river and located within St Pauli, Reeperbahn has always been a hot-spot for entertainment. This historic ropemakers’ district was a very popular destination for seamen, who were looking for some fun at night. 

During the 1960s, the red light district turned into a very exciting spot for musicians as well. The legends like The Beatles, The Jets, and Rory Storm and The Hurricanes performed here. Today, you can still find many live-music venues, but also nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. If that is not enough, you can enjoy many art galleries, cabarets, and theatres! 

Don’t have enough time to go through each of them? Well, then you have to check out the Panoptikum wax figure museum, the Beatles monument, Große Freiheit street, and Hans-Albers-Platz, or if you are only interested in drinking, you can simply join a pub crawl. 

If you love outdoor concerts or markets, you also need to check out the Spielbudenplatz, which is a large square at the center of the Reeperbahn.

Also in late September, Reeperbahn hosts a massive festival full of amazing concerts, art exhibitions, and a music industry convention annually! This festival attracts around 25,000 visitors each year, so if you are visiting Hamburg in late September, you have to check out the amazing Reeperbahn Festival.

Sternschanze – the Boho Zone

Sternschanze - right outside Superbude St. Pauli hostel

Sternschanze – right outside Superbude St. Pauli hostel

Just a short walk from the Reeperbahn, you will be in an entirely different atmosphere, because the Sternschanze will salute you with its boho and leftist vibes. In here, you can check out the multicultural Karoviertel, which is known for its trendy cafés and cocktail bars.

Get yourself a yummy bite to eat, because the food here is more affordable than other areas. I recommend a place called Fischimbiss. You will most likely meet a lot of Erasmus students, and tourists here. If the weather is good, you can join the people who will be partying out on the streets too. 

Best Hamburg Clubs & Bars

As per Lonely Planet, Hamburg’s party places can be broadly segregated into pubs, cafe-bars, cocktail bars, music bar, brewery bars, and nightclubs. We don’t want to confuse you with an exhaustive list, so here’s a short and curated list of best places to party in Hamburg:

Docks, St Pauli [Techno, House and R&B]

Opened in the early 1900s as a cinema with a capacity of more than 1500 people, today, the Docks is one of the most famous clubs in Hamburg. And not only the visitors love this crazy nightclub, but also the bands. The world-famous metal band Metallica called the Docks the “damn best club in the world” when they performed in 1997.

In this entrancing nightclub, you can enjoy Trance, Techno, House and R’n’B music every Friday and Saturday night.  So, if you want to dance till the morning where some of the greatest music artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Black Sabbath have performed, then you have to check out the Docks!

Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn [Multi Sectional]

Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn - Best Hamburg Clubs

Grosse Freiheit 36, Reeperbahn – Best Hamburg Clubs

By far the most popular club in Hamburg is the world-famous Grosse Freiheit 36 club. This epic club is known as a real nightlife hub in Hamburg for years. With its extravagant live concerts, the Grosse Freiheit 36 has been attracting many party people for more than four decades. The club owes its fame to the epic band, the Beatles, which was also performed in this venue.

The Grosse Freiheit 36 has three separate sections; the Galerie 36, Kaiserkeller, and the Grosse Freiheit 36. The Galeria 36 is located on the upper floor and can be reached via its own entrance from the outside. In this section of the club, you will find a cocktail bar and exciting art exhibitions. You can enjoy many delicious cocktails and shop for amazing art pieces, while listening to exotic Latin music.

The second section is the Kaiserkeller. This is where the epic band, the Beatles have performed for 6 hours. Today, the concert stage of the Great Freedom 36 offers a forum for young musicians. With a good mixture of gothic, metal, rock, hip-hop and chart parties, the Kaiserkeller turns into a popular party location at the weekend. 

Suggested: The Ultimate Amsterdam Nightlife Guide 

Last but not least, Große Freiheit 36! You might have heard the name of the club from the famous movie called “Große Freiheit Nr. 7” from director Hans Albers. But today, with over 100 concerts annually, various wild parties and event programs, here is one of the best-known clubs both in Germany and internationally.

Golden Pudel Club, St. Pauli [Underground]

Golden Pudel is small underground club that’s right next to the fish market (Der Fischmarkt) in St. Pauli. This place is for serious party goers who can handle being in a small room that’s packed with people. This place is open almost everyday till 6 am in the morning. 

This club has quite a history. It was once a smugglers’ prison and later turned into an underground club. The building caught fire and it was non operational for many years but then it reopened. 

Südpol, Süd Hamburg [Techno]

Love techno? Then Südpol is the place for you. Many say it is the best techno club in Hamburg and has the most amazing atmosphere. Just like Berlin’s Berghain, the queues outside Südpol can be extremely long. It isn’t very easy to get inside, so make sure you’re not overly drunk and overdressed – else you may be denied entry.

If you somehow manage to enter, congratulations – you’re one of the few. At the point of entry, your cell phone camera will be taped by the security to ensure you do not click photos. 

Prinzenbar, St. Pauli [Electronic and Rock]

In 1906, part of this Art Nouveau discos premises belonged to one of the first cinemas in Germany, the Kinosaal Spielbudenplatz 19. With this history and the partly preserved interior, the ambiance of this dazzling club captivates its visitors.  

With ornaments in stucco and chandeliers hanging from the high vaulted ceiling, the Prinzenbar offers a very interesting experience to not only the party people, but also photographers and filmmakers. 

In Prinzenbar, you can enjoy electronic and rock music, a large selection of concerts on the crowded dance floor. The prices also don’t break the bank. You can enjoy the live performance of many young musicians by paying a modest admission price.

Fundbureau, Sternschanze [Punk, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Reggae and Electro]

Being originally a lost and found office, today, the Fundbureau is known as one of the busiest underground clubs in Hamburg. With its vaulted ceiling, walls covered with graffiti, and the narrow corridors, this nightclub offers a great atmosphere for party people.

In the Fundbureau, you can enjoy live popular DJ shows or wild live concerts. If you are lucky, you can also attend the clubs famous Datschaparty, which is a themed party organized by the club itself! At the Datschaparty, you can taste many different Russian beers, vodkas, and local produce while listening to electronic music.

Uebel und Gefährlich, St. Pauli

Looking for unforgettable concerts and long nights of dancing? Then you have to check out the famous Uebel & Gefährlich. In this massive nightclub, you can attend many fascinating concerts, wild parties, and interesting events. 

This nightclub stands out from other famous nightclubs in Hamburg by its breathtaking view over the roofs of Hamburg. Located on the fourth floor, Uebel & Gefährlich is divided into three locations which host 1000 people; the ballroom, the tower room, and the roof terrace. And if you are into techno and 20s jazz, you have to check out this amazing nightclub.  

Cotton Club, Alter Steinweg [Jazz]

If you are into jazz music, then you have to check out the Cotton Club. This legendary club is the oldest and most famous jazz clubs in Hamburg. In the Cotton Club, you can get to enjoy an exquisite program full of the finest exponents of Trad, Ragtime and Dixieland jazz from both national and international artists. 

The program usually starts around 20.30 with a welcoming atmosphere. So, if you would like to enjoy great musicians like the Schnelsen Stompers, the Hot Shots, and the Boogie Connection while sipping your drink, then you have to check out the House of jazz in Hamburg, the Cotton Club!

Mojo Club, Reeperbahn [Mainstream] 

Back in the 1990s, Mojo Club was the most popular place to party in Germany. It was the place to be if you loved clubbing. Like Massive Attack? They performed here too. Mojo Club closed in 2003 but then reopened in 2013 in a basement under “Tanzende Türme” – the dancing towers. Today it is the place to be to if you like jazz,  alternative rock, and dub. You can also sometimes hear the 90s music and Bossa Nova. 

Bar Hamburg, St. Georg

Want to chill with Robert De Niro on one of the chicest bars in Hamburg? Then, you have to check out the celebrity bar, aka the Bar Hamburg. In this bar, you can hang out with international stars, while choosing the best cocktail from 90 other cocktails. Whether you are looking for a chill night out or crazy dance parties, you can have them both in Bar Hamburg.

The party boat – Ms Hedi / Frau Hedis Tanzkaffee, St Pauli

I know partying on the famous nightclubs is a must, but have you wondered how cool it would be if you can party on a boat while gazing at the spectacular view of Hamburg? If yes, then you have to check out the party boats!

These tour boats offer parties or some kind of fun programs every night. If you are into live music performances, you can attend the party boat on every Tuesdays and Thursdays, or enjoy DJ performances on the other days of the week. Another cool thing about the party boat is that you can hop and hop off any time you want! The prices don’t break the bank either.

How to Reach Hamburg

Hamburg has 4 airports, so it’s not hard to get in here. You can fly to Hamburg from any major European city, with cheap flights. 

If you are traveling within Germany or from any other close countries, environmental friendly options like trains, or buses like Flixbus are also nice alternatives. Hamburg is also only three hours away by bus from Berlin. 

Did follow our nightlife recommendations for Hamburg?

Tag @drifterplanet on Instagram and hashtag it #drifterplanet. We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

 

About the writer:

Alara BenlierAlara Benlier

My name is Alara Benlier, and I am a passionate traveler who is in a constant search for delicious foods and historical places. Currently living in Germany, I visited many places in Europe and met lots of lovely people from different cultures. Before Germany, I lived in Rotterdam for a year and traveled all around the Netherlands. I am excited to share all my experiences in Drifter Planet.

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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