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The World's 10 Most Underrated Tropical Destinations

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Do you want to travel to a beautiful tropical destination but don’t want to deal with annoying tourists and crowded beaches? Then any one of the following 10 places might just be the perfect getaway for you.

Imagine this: you’re relaxing on an empty beach in a tropical paradise, lying on a towel atop soft white sands, bright blue skies floating above you, and crystal clear waters stretching out in front of you as far as the eye can see. The beach is so empty and serene that you can finally finish that book you bought at the airport last week. Perhaps you’ll have a delicious seafood dinner later that evening at a restaurant you didn’t need to make a reservation for 6 months in advance. You’ll return home well-rested and relaxed, with memories and souvenirs that will make you wish you could turn around and fly right back.

This is what I imagine the ideal vacation to be like. To be able to spend a couple of weeks away from it all, away from traffic, responsibilities, and annoying coworkers. So if this kind of vacation resonates with you at all, then I’m sure you’re now wondering where you can travel to that has all of the bells and whistles a tropical paradise should have – but without the crowd of tourists. Places like Bali, the Bahamas, or perhaps even Fiji are horrible places to travel to if you’re looking to just relax. These picture-perfect destinations are stunning, don’t get me wrong…. but there are millions of people dreaming about traveling to these same places. This means overpriced rooms, crowded beaches, and worse, agitated locals.

Perhaps you’re even considering going in an “off-season.” Well, Bali doesn’t really have an off-season, it’s crowded all year long, and the Bahamas experiences temperamental weather in the winter (lots of rain and thunderstorms). Meh…

This is why I set out to find some alternatives. Destinations that have incredible beaches, great food, and decent hotels. The problem with some destinations that do not get too much tourist traffic is that when you go, the only accommodations available is some rickety hut by the beach. I wanted to find destinations that have a variety of accommodations. So you can stay in the beach hut if you like that sort of stuff, or if you like to pamper yourself, you can splurge on a room in a 5-star resort that has every amenity you can imagine.

Sure, it can require some more skill and planning to go off the beaten path, but trust me, it is definitely worth it in the end. So if you’re traveling to a tropical destination sometime soon, consider going to one of these underrated alternatives to overcrowded beach destinations.

Travel Recommendations:

Where to book the cheapest rooms: I use either Agoda.com or Booking.com to find nice hotel rooms while on the go.
Where to find a cheap hostel to stay in: I usually use HostelWorld to find cheap accommodations while traveling abroad. Hostels can be sketchy at times, so while planning where I’m going to stay, I’ll check out the user-submitted pictures of the place before I book to see if the place is as advertised.
Best site to find cheap flights: I use Skyscanner. The website’s algorithm will compare prices for flights from all of the major airlines. In the past, I would try to hunt around for the cheapest flights on a ton of different websites but would almost always end up booking through Skyscanner.

Make sure to follow my Pinterest if you’re into more travel-related content:

La Digue, Seychelles

Renowned for its unspoiled beaches, craggy shoreline, and exotic wildlife, La Digue’s gorgeous powdery pink-sand beach, has served as the backdrop for movies like Castaway and Robinson Crusoe and is said to be the most photographed stretch of sand in the world. Getting to the Island is pretty easy, once you land on the neighboring island of Praslin, La Digue is only an hour-long boat ride away. Once on Ladigue, you will be completely submerged in nature, as the island remains unspoiled by the tourism industry. Your tastebuds will be in heaven as there are a couple of notable restaurants on the island – Tarosa Takeaway, a buzzy eatery with Creole fare; and L’Union Estate, the largest vanilla plantation left in Seychelles (both restaurants have stellar reviews). Check-in at the historic La Digue Island Lodge, which has thatched-roof bungalows and a 19th-century colonial.

Also, if you’d like to go really off the grid, the neighboring island of Felicite is breathtaking and if you also just so happen to be able to fork over $1k a night for a room, then check out Six Senses Zil Pasyon. In terms of architecture, the place is truly one of a kind.

One HUGE reason to go to Spain, THE FOOD! Yummy Paella & Gazpacho

Formentera, Spain

Formentera is the smallest of Spain’s Balearic islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s reachable by a 35 min ferry from its more crowded, better-known island neighbor, Ibiza, and makes for a popular day-trip destination in the summertime. This island exemplifies what’s like to live life along the Mediterranian, simple, beautiful, and of course, there’s GREAT food.

So technically food isn’t considered a love language but to me, it is. I am an absolute food snob and I will go to great lengths to find the best restaurant. So if you’re more of a food snob then you will love Formentera. In fact, you’ll probably spot yachts pulling up from Ibiza just to dine at the swanky eateries Juan y Andrea, Es Moli de Sal, and Beso Beach.

There’s also a calmer side of hidden beaches and local watering holes. Hike to the secluded cove of Calo des Mort, where you can dive into crystal clear turquoise water, followed by squid-ink paella and sangria at Can Forn.

St. Lucia

There are many reasons why you should visit St. Lucia. The small island, located in the eastern Caribbean, is filled with natural attractions, historical sites, exotic wildlife, and lush greenery, making it a wonderful place for both relaxation and adventure. If you enjoy trekking through exotic rainforest this Island might just be your cup of tea. The island is home to the Piton Mountains which cradles many of the beaches in St. Lucia providing spectacular scenery, especially at sunrise and sunset. The island is home to several one-of-a-kind hotels like the Ladera hotel, Jade Mountain Resort, & Villa Beach Cottages

Anguilla

US News and World Report ranked Anguilla — a British overseas territory — as the Caribbean island with the best beaches. With an embargo on cruise ships, casinos, and even high-rise hotels, Anguilla is a departure from your typical tourist trap. Accessible by a short boat ride from St. Maarten, Anguilla offers a distinct culture and landscape. Enjoy the island’s peaceful and laid-back energy while enjoying the beautiful clear turquoise waters that stretch out as far as the eye can see.

I once spent an afternoon once in Anguilla, and I got the chance to visit Shoal Bay. The beach is, in my opinion (and I’ve been to PLENTY of beaches) the MOST beautiful beach that I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

As for lodging, Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort is a top-rated resort on the island, with a former Michelin-starred chef, an award-winning wine cellar and access to a private beach.

Upolu, Samoa

Samoa is still one of the best-kept secrets in the entire South Pacific. Okay, it’s not totally a secret—but compared to countries like Fiji, it is still much more relaxed with fewer crowds. What makes the specific island of Upolu so great? Well, it is truly perfect for the adventurous traveler. According to Samoa Travel, on Upolu, you can go swimming in caves, go surfing, trek through the rainforest, and swim under waterfalls. It sounds like a paradise for anyone with a sense of adventure looking to experience something truly unique!

Sumba, Indonesia

Obviously, Indonesia is a super popular tourist destination for travelers from all over the world—this group of islands is so beautiful that people are willing to fly for days to get there just to spend a week or two in paradise. The crowds on Sumba are much smaller than the neighboring islands Bali, so you can experience the authentic Indonesian culture. Home to some of the world’s best resorts, and the beaches are simply amazing.

Lanai, Hawaii

Want to enjoy the natural beauty that Hawaii has to offer without dealing with all of the tourists? I mean what even is Honolulu these days, It feels just like Disneyland but with a beach and no rides. Smart vacationers head straight to Lanai, a small island just a short 25-minute flight from Honolulu. Lanai is much less populated than many of the other islands, which makes it a great spot for a more relaxing getaway. According to Go Hawaii, it’s the perfect place to explore rugged natural areas where most tourists don’t venture! But friendly locals will no doubt show the best places to seek out. Looking for something romantic? Check out the island’s beachfront campsites and Four Seasons properties.

Skopelos, Greece

Santorini. Mykonos. Crete. Greece is home to 227 inhabited islands across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, yet these three steal the spotlight every time. Skip the crowds for Skopelos, just an hour ferry ride from Skiathos, where you’ll find unspoiled coastline, charming blue-roofed tavernas, and Byzantine-era monasteries. Rent a private villa with terraces overlooking the cerulean Aegean at Adrina Resort & Spa (trust me, you’ll never want to leave). Skopelos Town’s terracotta-tiled buildings house romantic garden restaurants like Perivoli and joints like Antolia, where locals come to listen to live rebetika music. On the northwest tip of the island, the quaint village of Glossa offers the best vistas, especially at Agnanti, whose cliffside deck serves Greek classics of kleftiko (leg of lamb) and stifado (beef stew).

Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a Pacific island adventure far beyond any notions of cruise-ship ports and flashy resorts. Deserted beaches, an ancient culture, remote and rugged islands and world-class diving are just a small part of the magnetism of this scattered 80-plus island archipelago. Check out the Iririki Island Resort or the Angelfish Villas and tell me that you don’t just want to spend the rest of your life there!!

Cook Islands

I saved the best for last. The Cook Islands is another destination in the south pacific islands that you definitely should put on your radar. If you’re looking for an exotic getaway – it doesn’t get much more remote or more beautiful then this — home to perfect beaches, deep jungles and expansive coral lagoons. Each of the 15 islands seems more breathtaking than the last. The Cooks have the sun and sand and aqua waters you’ve always associated with the South Pacific, as do Tahiti and Fiji. But there are several ways the Cooks stand out from those other destinations.

First, it’s the cheapest to reach by air. Air New Zealand flies here every Saturday on a Boeing 777, a 9- or 10-hour non-stop flight from Los Angeles, and frequently offers airfares around $899 round-trip, or even less with their occasional $400 off coupon codes, which bring the price down to a ridiculous $499-$598 round-trip.

The one notable remark that many tourists come back from the Cook Islands is that “the people are so friendly.” Not to mention there are a ton of activities – snorkeling and diving are very popular here.  Fish and other seafood are delicious – what you eat in the restaurants is what was caught that day.

When to go – July through October because it’s “whale season” during which cavorting whales and their offspring are visible from the shore. Another fun fact: The country will most likely reach 100% renewable energy ahead of any other on Earth.

Remote, friendly, and insanely gorgeous, the Cooks Islands will not disappoint!

Have you been to any of these destinations? Leave a comment below and let us know your favorite!

The Best Travel Gifts To Get Your Jet-Setting Friend This Holiday Season

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We all have that one friend who’s always jet setting to Europe or traveling to some island in the Pacific that you’ve never heard about. They’re the ones living their “best lives” and their Instagram pages remind you of how long it’s been since you last took a vacation. So if you are at odds as to what to get this person for the holidays…. well, you’re in luck

The following list is packed full of ideas that your traveling friend didn’t know they needed – until now.

I found a ton of deals this fall on Amazon because let’s face it – Amazon has become the de-facto shopping platform because of the convenience and ease it provides. I’m guilty of buying just about everything online on Amazon and stocking up on toiletries and travel-sized beauty products before every trip.

This list will not just suit the needs of the winter’s shopping haul, but any of these items can be an awesome birthday gift as well! So make sure to save this for later! (Pinterest pin can be found towards the end of the post)

So without further ado, here’s the list!

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Packing

Samsonite Omni Expandable Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels
It’s no surprise that Samsonite has been the industry leader when it comes to suitcases –
THEY LAST A LIFETIME!
This model comes in 12 different colors
3 piece set ($229) 2 piece set ($219) Carry-on ($92.99)

M-jump 6 Set Travel Storage Bags
Cute boxes that fit perfectly in your suitcase so that you can organize your pants & sweaters
Plus, cute laundry pouches to put your dirty socks!
Comes in 5 colors (red, sky-blue, grey, Navy, Pattern)

Zoppen Multi-purpose Travel Wallet
#1 Bestseller in wallets w/ over 4,000 ratings!
For the stylish girl on the go, this document (or anything!) holder is the perfect organization tool. With different size pockets, a spot for all your documents, and a passport pocket, it’s an awesome travel essential.

Jewelry Organizer ($19.99)
Made with water-resistant polyester and has fabric
See-through pockets make it easier to organize,
+ smooth zippers to prevent jewelry loss and entanglement.

Leather Passport Holder Cover ($6.99)
The #1 best-seller in Passport covers comes in 22 different colors
Tired of frayed passport pages?
Get yourself a leather passport holder to protect those edges

Electronics

Kindle Paperwhite
Now Waterproof with more than 2x the Storage ($159.99)

Beats Solo Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

PowerCore Portable Charger ($59.49)
External Battery with Dual Input Port and Double-Speed Recharging + 3 USB Ports

5-in-1 Universal Adapter ($35)

CAILLU cord organizer
(Set of 5 for $7.99)

Canon PowerShot G7 X Digital Camera ($494)
This small but powerful camera has made a name for itself, it has the bells and whistles of a DSLR camera but without the bulky lens and heaviness
It is wifi-enabled, has a 3.0 touch panel LCD and captures stunning 1080p/50p Full HD video

Clothing

Timemory Knitted Cashmere Poncho ($22.99)
I never leave home without a comfortable wrap or poncho — it’s the perfect accessory when you don’t feel like putting an outfit together and doubles as the ultimate airplane blanket!

Skechers Women’s Ultra Flex Statements Sneaker ($37.95)
These have become my new favorite travel sneakers!
They are soft, lightweight, durable and comfortable all over.
Plus they’re all machine washable—a dream for travelers!

Hidden Undercover Travel Pouch for Women ($11.16)
Stash up to 6 credit cards plus money and key with adjustable, elastic strap suitable for all bra sizes

MLVOC Travel Pillow 100% Pure Memory Foam Neck Pillow ($21.99)
This machine-washable, super comfortable travel pillow comes with a 3D sleep mask, earplugs, and luxury bag

Trtl Pillow ($29.99)
With over positive12,000 reviews on Amazon, the trtl pillow is a best-seller because it’s scientifically proven to keep your head in a better position when sleeping upright. No more nodding heads!
Super soft fleece combined with a unique hidden internal support

Freshen up between flights

ALLUREY 24K Gold Collagen Eye Masks (15 Pairs for $9.99)
Great eye patches that are anti-aging and anti-wrinkle + will reduce puffiness & Dark Circles
I have the most sensitive skin when it comes to make-up and masks
and these are by far the most gentle on my skin!

Ursa Major Trial Kit, Natural Skincare Essentials ($25)
Travel wreaks havoc on skin. This travel beauty essentials set is a complete regimen from my favorite “clean beauty” brand!

Knours. – Sweet Enough Rescue Mask Set (5 pack)
These rosewater toning masks are hydrating and rejuvenating—the perfect pick-me-up after a long travel day or drying flight. This 5-pack Facial Mask Sheet Mask Set is also EWG Verified meaning it is chock-full of clean and natural ingredients!

Compact Vanity Mirror + Portable Charger ($27.99)
This mirror has a port so you can charge your iPhone on the go
Perfect stocking stuffer!

Eco-Friendly Bamboo Toothbrush ($11.95)
These bamboo toothbrushes are a great way to help keep the earth green AND are so light and easy for travel. Made of soft, BPA-free bristles, they are a great alternative to standard plastic, bulky brushes. (I’ve also seen these used as a great hair teasing tool on-the-go!)

Crease Release Spray ($11.95)
This is a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone that has a lot of meetings or travels for work!
No more wrinkles in 2020 🙂

The Perfect DIY Copenhagen Food Tour

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Updated on January 8th, 2020

Copenhagen Food Tour
Photo by Rimma Bondarenko

Copenhagen is home to one of the hottest restaurant and food scenes in the world. So if you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to Denmark, then a Copenhagen food tour is a must.

There are so many great foods to try in Copenhagen, but you’re just not going to have time to get to them all. So whether you’ve got just two days in Copenhagen or two weeks, this DIY Copenhagen food tour is the perfect way to get a taste of what the city has to offer. I’ll take you to all the popular spots that everybody is raving about.

Since this tour is an introduction to Danish food and aims to keep costs affordable, you will not find Noma or the Alchemist on this list. Instead, you’ll find local favorites that should fit in anyone’s budget.

So why a DIY Copenhagen food tour you ask? While there may be plenty of organized Copenhagen food tours in the city, I think making your own is the way to go. Not only will you save a ton of money, but you’ll be able to move at your own pace and order what you want. Plus, you can break up the tour over the duration of your trip so you don’t have to eat too much in one sitting.

As any good Danish food tour should begin, we start with coffee. Let’s go.

Copenhagen food tour
Photo by Mariusz Prusaczy

DIY Copenhagen Food Tour

But first, some quick information about this tour.

First, you will be your own guide. You can use Google Maps to give you directions, time and distance between stops.

Second, the easiest way to get around Copenhagen is by bicycle. The infrastructure for bikes is incredible and you can rent a bike just about anywhere. So I encourage you to join the locals and make this Copenhagen food tour a culinary bike tour.

Most bike rentals in Copenhagen are by the hour, but if you plan to keep your bike for several hours, it usually makes more sense just to do a full day rental. I believe I paid about 8 Euro for my full-day bike rental.

Third, if riding a bike is not for you, you can also visit all these destinations as part of a DIY walking tour, though you may wish to hop in a taxi once in a while to speed up the process.

Fourth, let’s talk about languages. So the primary language spoken in Copenhagen (and Denmark) is Danish. As such, locals will almost automatically greet you and begin speaking to you in Danish. However, the majority of Danes also speak English, and they speak it very well. So if you’re an English speaker, ordering food in Copenhagen will not be challenging.

Copenhagen pastries
Photo: Corner 108 Cafe

The Corner 108

Every Copenhagen food tour should start off with a hot cup of coffee. If you’re a coffee lover like I am then you’ll be pleased to learn that the coffee culture in Denmark is strong. There are great cafes all over the city, and just about all of them seem to have mastered the cappuccino. I know this because I checked. Maybe not all of them, but I had a lot of cappuccinos during my visit.

So if you want to start this private tour off right, make your way over to The Corner 108 Cafe. They’re a cozy little cafe serving coffee by day but turn into a fancy wine bar by night. Get there right when they open at 8:00 a.m. to make sure you get first dibs on their fresh pastries.

The cafe is linked to the city’s famous Noma restaurant as both establishments share the same owner. If you’re unfamiliar with Noma or New Nordic Cuisine, the restaurant has been listed as one of the top restaurants in the world since 2010, it is currently ranked 2nd.

So basically what you need to know is, both their coffee beans and their pastries are excellent. Please come here, order at the counter, then have a seat and enjoy your coffee and pastry inside. It’s the perfect way to warm up before the rest of your Copenhagen food tour begins.

The Corner 108 Cafe is open daily until midnight. Monday through Friday they open at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays they open at 9:00 a.m.

Porridge Copenhagen
Photo: Grod / Facebook

Grod

The trendy food culture in Copenhagen has even spiced up traditional porridge, or oatmeal, depending on where you are from.

Make a visit to one of the many Grod locations in the city to grab a delicious and healthy breakfast in the morning. Grod specializes in porridge, but they add fresh and unique toppings to make it special. The one I tried during my visit had fresh apples, caramel, and almonds. Pair it with a cup of hot cocoa and its the perfect breakfast on a cold morning.

Grod has multiple locations throughout the city and hours can vary. However, typical hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Smorrebrod
Photo: Selma / Facebook

Selma

Selma is home to the famous Smorrebrod, or open faced sandwiches, that Copenhagen is known for. While plenty of other places around the city make and serve Smorrebrod, Selma is always named as the place to try it.

The menu at Selma includes about a dozen or so options of Smorrebrod. Most of the options include herring and a mix of other toppings, served on rye bread. If you are not a fan of herring, you can also find pork, chicken, and vegetarian options on the menu as well. Their menu is seasonal, so offerings will change depending on the time of year.

Selma is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The last food order is accepted at 4:00 p.m. They are open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to about midnight. The last order is accepted at 10:00 p.m.

Hot Dog in Copenhagen
Photo: John’s Hot Dog Deli / Facebook

John’s Hot Dog Deli

The hot dog is a big thing in Copenhagen and you can find them just about everywhere. One of the most popular spots in the city to get yourself a dog is at a place called John’s Hot Dog Deli. They have a variety of different dogs and about a dozen or so toppings to choose from.

The staff here are incredibly friendly and will help you put together a dog that you’re going to like. They are more than happy to make recommendations if you’re not sure what you’d like. They also have a great beer selection, serving beers from some of the best local breweries. They even have a few great ciders.

John’s Hot Dog Deli is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Except for Fridays and Saturdays when they remain open until 3:00 a.m.

Hija de Sanchez
Photo: Hija de Sanchez / Facebook

Hija de Sanchez

The al pastor taco from Hija de Sanchez is what dreams are made of. Seriously, it’s a damn good taco. The al pastor is tender and packed with flavor. The pineapple is sweet, fresh and juicy, and they top it with just the right amount of cilantro and fresh onion. It’s simple, It’s perfect. You need to eat this taco.

Tacos are made quick and fresh to order. This is the perfect stop when you’re looking for something quick and delicious.

Hija de Sanchez is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Copenhagen Food Tour
Photo: War Pigs / Facebook

War Pigs

War Pigs Brew Pub was the most recommended restaurant when I told people I was planning a trip to Copenhagen. I planned to grab dinner there my final night in the city but ended up next door because it looked packed and I was too shy to go in. Don’t judge me, I’m still regretting this choice.

So I’m including War Pigs on this list having never been there myself. But please go there, order the brisket and mac and cheese and tell me how great it is.

War Pigs Brew Pub is essentially a partnership between Danish brewery Mikkeller and American brewery 3 Floyds. They came together to open a Texas Barbeque style restaurant that serves their Danish and American beers. Everybody raves about this place and I really hope I get to return to Copenhagen one day so I can try this place out.

War Pigs Brew Pub is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Copenhagen Food Tour
Photo: Mother / Facebook

Mother

Last, but certainly not least, you absolutely must end one of your evenings in Copenhagen at Mother. Their pizza is fantastic and reminds me of pizzas I’ve had in Naples and New York. This place gets amazing reviews and there’s a good reason for it. This was easily my favorite meal in Copenhagen. In fact, I liked it so much I went there twice.

Mother is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Reservations are not necessary but they can get quite busy at times.

If you’d like to take a free walking tour to learn about Copenhagen’s history and culture, check out Sandemans New Europe walking tour.

Copenhagen food tour
Photo: Mikkeller / Facebook

Mikkeller

If you’re looking to grab some drinks in the evening (or during the day, I’m not judging) I encourage you to add some beer tastings to your Copenhagen food tour. The city is a popular destination for beer lovers due to the growth of the craft beer scene here.

In fact, the craft beer scene in Copenhagen is almost as hot as the food scene. Of all the breweries in Copenhagen, Mikkeller is probably the largest and most famous. They actually have several international locations in places like San Deigo and Reykjavik. But you’re in luck if you’re in Copenhagen because they actually have 15 locations within the city. So basically, they are never too far away.

If you are like me and not a big fan of beer, you have to try their cider. In fact, just about all the breweries in Copenhagen will have a cider available, and most of them are quite tasty. This was one of the things I really loved about Copenhagen during my visit. I’ve been really getting into ciders lately but they are not as popular in the United States. But in Copenhagen, they take their ciders seriously, and it shows.

There are multiple Mikkeller locations throughout Copenhagen and you can find their beers and ciders at establishments around the city. For more information, visit their website.

Food Markets

If you’re looking to try a whole bunch of different things all at once, head over to the Elsinore Street Food Market. The market features vendors selling everything from coffee to tacos to Christmas food. There are a few other street food markets around the city as well, though some are seasonal. If you’re up for some day trips, there are also food markets in neighboring cities and across the bridge in Malmo, Sweden as well. You can read about the other markets here.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this DIY Copenhagen food tour and that you have a new appreciation for Danish cuisine. If you have any other great Copenhagen restaurant recommendations, please let me know. I’m always interested in new restaurant recommendations.

Want to save it? Pin it.

Copenhagen Food Tour Pinterest Pin
Eden Fite in the Medina in Essaouira

Eden

Part-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds

Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

Copenhagen Food Tour

The Perfect DIY Copenhagen Food Tour

Updated on January 8th, 2020 Copenhagen is home to one of the hottest restaurant and food scenes in the world. So if you’re lucky enough…

Your Guide to the Best Time to Visit Copenhagen

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Updated on December 26th, 2019

Best time to visit Copenhagen
Photo by Julian Hacker

Are you trying to decide on the best time to visit Copenhagen? I think you’ll have a great time no matter when you visit, but certain times of year may be better than others depending on what you’re looking for.

In this post, I break down what to expect from each season and month of the year when visiting Copenhagen. Now, this isn’t a detailed weather forecast or description of the seasons. But I will give you a good idea of things to consider when deciding which month to visit.

Best Time to Visit Copenhagen

Since Copenhagen can get quite cold and rainy during some seasons, certain attractions normally operating in the city will close down seasonally until the weather gets better.

For example, both Tivoli Gardens, the city’s famous amusement park, and the popular food markets are all seasonal. So if you’d like to make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to visit these attractions, keep reading.

Best time to visit Copenhagen
Photo by C.D.

Copenhagen in spring

Spring is the best time to visit Copenhagen if you’re looking for mild temperatures and lighter crowds. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get your visit in before the summer crowds arrive and prices get high.

March

March in Copenhagen marks the beginning of Spring, but don’t tell that to the weather. Temperatures in March are still quite chilly and it’s still on the wetter side. But if you’re willing to deal with the crummy weather, you’ll get to enjoy the city for a good price and without the normal crowds.

Since the city’s popular food markets don’t open until next month, consider exploring the city’s many famous breweries. I mean, what else are you going to do if it’s raining outside?

April

April marks a dramatic change in Copenhagen as the weather begins to get warmer and drier and the days longer. You’ll also be happy to hear many of the popular street food markets and food halls reopen this month.

Though if you don’t want to visit a food market you can always take my approach and do your own DIY Copenhagen food tour. If that’s not enough, the famous Tivoli Gardens Amusement park also reopens. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in April in Copenhagen.

May

May is the first month of the year where the weather starts getting warm. This is getting to be a busier time for a visit, but it’s still not as crowded as the upcoming summer months.

Now is the time to visit some of the city’s most popular destinations before the summer crowds arrive. It’s also the perfect weather for biking around the city. Consider grabbing yourself a Copenhagen Card and exploring all the major sights.

Best time to visit Copenhagen
Photo by Explorer Bob

Copenhagen in summer

Summer is the best time to visit Copenhagen if you are looking to experience the best weather and you don’t mind the crowds. Unfortunately with the great weather comes greater demand for flights and hotels. Be prepared to spend more when visiting Copenhagen during the busy summer months.

June

June is an extraordinarily busy month in Copenhagen. The popular CopenHell music festival takes place in the third week of the month and brings visitors from all over Europe.

There is also a popular street festival called Distortion that takes place in the city in the first week of the month. In addition to these popular events, there are also a few national holidays in June along with the Midsummer celebrations.

July

July features some of the warmest temperatures and the longest days of the year. Since the weather is so great and the days are long, July makes the perfect time to add a few day trips into your itinerary if you’re going to be in Copenhagen for several days. Nearby Malmo, Sweden is a popular choice.

July is also the month when the popular Rockslide music festival takes place, which will make this a busy month in the city. You should book hotel accommodations early if you’ll be visiting during the festival which usually takes place in the first week of July.

August

August marks the final month of summer. Temperatures are still warm and the days are still long. The city is still full of lots of tourists still in town, but they are slowly beginning to head home.

There are lots of festivals in Denmark and Copenhagen this time of year, so if you’re interested in learning more about the food and culture, August is the perfect time to visit.

Best time to visit Copenhagen

Copenhagen in autumn

Autumn is the best time to visit Copenhagen if you’re looking for slightly cooler temperatures and beautiful fall colors. This time of year just about all of Copenhagen is covered in bright gold and orange leaves, especially in and around the city’s many parks.

September

September can be the best time to visit Copenhagen for those of us that are looking to avoid crowds and love a great deal. By this time of year, summer travelers have gone home and back to work or school. This means demand is lower for hotels and flights, which means prices are lower too.

October

October is a fun month to visit Copenhagen because there is a lot going on. The famous Tivoli Gardens is open and celebrating the Halloween holiday with impressive decorations and delicious seasonal treats.

October is also when visitors can experience Culture Night which happens annually around the middle of October. Culture is an annual celebration of art and culture. Academic and art institutions all over the city keep their doors open late and host special events for the public.

November

November is probably one of the least crowded times of year to visit Copenhagen. Temperatures are getting colder and the weather is getting wetter, so fewer are willing to deal with these conditions while traveling.

But if these things don’t bother you, pack a warm jacket and an umbrella and have yourself a fantastic time exploring this fun city. Towards the end of the month, you’ll even get to visit the city’s famous Christmas Market at Nyhavn.

Best time to visit Copenhagen

Copenhagen in winter

Winter is the best time to visit Copenhagen if you’re looking for the lightest crowds and fun holiday celebrations. While Copenhagen in winter is by far the coldest time of year to visit, it’s also the most festive. This is the time of year when Christmas celebrations begin and holiday decorations are on display.

December

December is when Christmas festivities are in full swing in Copenhagen. All of the city’s Christmas markets are open and local stores are full of holiday shoppers. Visitors to Copenhagen in winter will also get to sample Denmark’s holiday meals and desserts when visiting local restaurants.

January

January in Copenhagen has some of the coldest temperatures of the year and also some of the shortest days. The sun will rise around 9:00 a.m. and set around 4:00 p.m. While days are short and temperatures are colder, this is a great time to visit the city if you’re looking for a deal. Hotel prices and airfare will be more affordable this time of year.

February

February marks the end of winter when days are finally beginning to get longer. Temperatures remain on the chilly side, but the annual VinterJazz festival is held this month. The Winter Jazz Festival is held throughout the entire country of Denmark.

The festival includes over 600 concerts in over 150 venues over 3 weeks. It’s an extremely popular annual event with musicians from all over the world participating.

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen
Photo by Klug Photography

Tivoli Gardens Seasonal Hours

Tivoli Gardens is open seasonally 4 times per year for Winter, Summer, Halloween, and Christmas. You can see the various opening dates below:

  • Winter: January 31st – February 23rd
  • Summer: April 1st – September 20th
  • Halloween: October 9th – November 1st
  • Christmas: November 16th – January 5th

Daily operating hours vary by season and day of the week. More information along with ticket prices can be found by visiting Tivoli Gardens online.

Have you been to Denmark? Let me know when you think is the best time to visit Copenhagen. I visited during October and thought it was perfect. No crowds, low prices, and fall colors. Plus I got the perfect temperatures for riding my rental bike all over the city.

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Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

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RALT Monthly Newsletter – December 2019

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Armadillo in Riga, Latvia

Welcome back to my monthly newsletter, I guess this is starting to be a thing.

November brought me back to Europe and to my first ever Women in Travel Summit (WITS). I’ll tell you now, both of these experiences were awesome.

WITS was holding its first-ever European version of their conference and they chose Riga, Latvia as their destination. Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive about making the trip all the way to Lativa, a part of the world I was not at all familiar with, to attend a conference I knew nothing about.

But what’s the point of life if you’re not going to take a few chances? As it turned out, attending WITS and visiting Lativa was a fantastic decision and I had an incredible time. Probably not a big surprise there.

I really enjoyed all the tours they put together for us and had so much fun walking around the beautiful city of Riga. I loved that there were no crowds anywhere, ever. It was awesome. Plus, the hospitality in Riga is incredible, everybody I met was really friendly. I really can’t wait to go back and explore more of Eastern Europe.

If you ever get the chance to visit Lativa, don’t pass it up.

November also brought me to London for the first time. I kinda messed up this whole London visit because I decided to be cheap and booked a hotel out in the middle of nowhere.

I was trying to save money, but I think it would have been money well spent to be closer to the action. While it wasn’t the trip I wanted, I know I’ll get the chance to return. This time, with a hotel right in the middle of the action.

How about you? Have you ever booked a hotel in a terrible location and totally regretted it?

Eden Fite standing in front of Buckingham Palace

Destinations Visited

  • London, United Kingdon
  • Riga, Latvia
Brewery tour in Riga, Latvia

Favorite experience

My favorite experience this month was going on the brewery tour in Riga as part of the Women in Travel Summit. While I’m not at all a fan of beer, sometimes you just know where the fun people will be. I was totally right. This night was the most fun night of my entire trip.

I got to hit up all the trendy breweries in Riga with about a dozen or so other ladies. Plus we got to learn all about the craft beer scene in the city. It was an amazing night and we were all friends by the end of the tour.

Fish and Chips from a local pub in London

Meal of the Month

My favorite meal this month goes to the fish and chips I had at a local pub in England. This was my first time having fish and chips at a pub there and I even got to try mushy peas. I gotta tell you, the peas were much better than I expected.

This pub also had a fantastic cider on draft. I have no idea what it was, but it was light and sweet and paired perfectly with the fish.

November 2019 Blog Posts

I spent the month of November writing posts about my trip to Copenhagen and added some additional content on Luxembourg.

Here are links to my latest content:

If you’re planning a trip to Copenhagen or are just thinking about visiting Copenhagen, please check them out. I had such a great time in Copenhagen and I’m confident these posts will lead you in the right direction.

Graffiti on a wall in Stratford, London, England

Travel Fails and Mishaps

Booked a hotel way outside London

I made a hotel booking mistake when planning my London trip and ended up way outside of the city center in Stratford. While I’m sure Stratford is a lovely neighborhood, it’s not exactly what I had in mind for my first visit to London.

I ended up wandering around for a few hours, ate some pizza, then got bored and just went back to my hotel room to sleep. Fortunately, I did wake up on time to grab dinner and a pint at a local pub.

However, I definitely could have planned this better. On the bright side, I was able to return to London a week later to give it another go, albeit just for one more night.

Coming up in December 2019

I’m really excited to be headed to Iceland in December. While I know its a very popular destination, I have planned my visit for the winter, so I’m hoping it is not too busy or crowded.

I’m planning to start the trip off with a stop at the Blue Lagoon. Then spend the next few days exploring outside of Reykjavik during the day in places like the South Coast and Golden Circle.

After tours during the day, I’ll be checking out the restaurants and bars in Reykjavik during the evening while wandering around the city. I’m hoping to find some good food and great cocktail spots.

I’m also really hoping to catch the Northern Lights while I’m there. I’ve always wanted to see them and am hoping this is my chance.

In addition to Iceland, I’ll also be spending some time in New York City. I’m excited to try some restaurants and bars there and do a little sightseeing. I’m also looking forward to staying at the TWA Hotel at JFK. I’ve read so many great things about it, I can’t wait to experience it for myself.

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Eden

Part-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds

Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

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The Perfect Way to Spend One Day in Riga

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Updated on December 26th, 2019

3 brothers in Riga
Photo by Pumpizold A.

Planning a visit to Latvia and hoping to squeeze in one day in Riga? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s totally doable and completely worth it. You’re going to love Riga.

I put together this itinerary together to help those of you who are short on time but want to see as much of Riga as possible in just one day.

Fortunately for those of us short on time, Riga is a very walkable city. You won’t lose much time moving from place to place since most major sites are centrally located.

So lace up your sneakers, grab your phone, and let’s get going.

Top 14 Things to Do with One Day in Riga

To get through your one day in Riga adventure you’ll need a comfortable pair of walking shoes. You can get anywhere you need to in the city by walking, as long as you’re comfortable being on your feet all day.

You will also be using Google Maps to get walking directions to take you from place to place.

A quick note. The items on this itinerary are in order based on either their location, proximity to one another, or their operating hours.

However, feel free to move things around as you see fit. Also, you are encouraged to move at a reasonable pace throughout the day to ensure you have time to visit all the stops.

Eden Fite sitting in front of Three Brothers in Riga, Latvia

1. Get a picture with the Three Brothers

No trip to Riga would be complete without a visit to the Three Brothers. The three houses that make up the Three Brothers represent different development periods in Riga. 

The oldest is the white house which was built in the 15th century. The yellow house was constructed around 1646, and the green house, built in the Baroque style, was built towards the end of the 17th century. 

If you would like to get pictures of the Three Brothers, plan to arrive on the early side so you have time to set up your shots and not have to worry about crowds. I headed straight to the Three Brothers when the sun came up and had the area to myself for a while.

That being said, it is hard to get a good shot of the Three Brothers because there are other buildings and houses in the way. If you have the ability to shoot with a wider angle on your phone or camera, you will want to enable that feature for your photos here.

You can find the Three Brothers in the historic city center, Google Maps will help you navigate your way. 

Eden Fite sitting on the ground in Riga, Latvia in front of the House of the Black Heads
House of Black Heads

2. See the House of the Blackheads

The House of the Blackheads is a famous landmark in Riga’s Old Town area. The building was originally constructed during the early 14th century, though it had to be rebuilt after it was destroyed in World War II. 

The original building was constructed as a gathering place for various Riga public organizations. In the 17th century, the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a guild for unmarried merchants, ship owners, and foreigners in Riga became the sole occupant of the building. The space was intended to promote entrepreneurship and be used for banquets and meetings for its members.

Today the space is used for exhibitions, concerts, and other events. The facade of the building is the highlight of the town square and is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Riga.

I recommend arriving early if you’d like to get pictures. The square in front of the building gets very busy during the day. 

View from the top of St. Peter's Church in Riga, Latvia
Photo by Makalu

3. Climb to the top of St. Peter’s Church

Visitors can find the best view of Riga from the top of the St. Peter’s Church bell tower. The view from the top will give you a bird’s eye view of the surrounding city center, the Daugava River, and Town Hall Square. On a clear day, it’s the perfect spot to capture a photo of the city.

The church itself is an important example of medieval architecture and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.  In the past St. Peter’s was a Catholic church but has since been converted to a Lutheran church. It was originally built in the 13th century but underwent a series of reconstructions over the years. 

I include a visit to St. Peter’s Church bell tower on the early side because you’ll get better pictures before the sun is directly overhead. However, another option would be to move your visit to the bell tower later in the day.

Depending on the weather and time of year of your visit, you may be able to end your one day in Riga by watching a beautiful sunset over the city.

St. Peter’s Church is generally open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. They are closed on Mondays.  However, hours do vary depending on the time of the year and holiday celebrations.

You are encouraged to visit their website prior to your visit in order to time your visit properly and ensure you will have access to the bell tower. Admission for adults will be 9 Euros. 

Swedish Gate in Riga, Latvia
Photo by Gorsh 13

4. Walk through the Swedish Gate

You can find the historic Swedish Gate in Old Town Riga. The gate is part of the city’s old town walls that circled the old city for protection back in Medieval times. The Swedish Gate was built in 1698 after the Swedish – Polish War when the Swedish Kingdom took control of the city.

Today, the Swedish Gate leads to a few narrow cobblestone streets that remain from Medieval times. These streets are beautiful and fun to walk through, especially early in the morning before they become crowded.

The Swedish Gate is always open so you can visit whenever you like. Though I recommend visiting in the earlier part of the day. 

Fruit at Riga Central Market

5. Eat your way through Riga Central Market

The Riga Central Market is the largest such market in Europe and the place to go if you’d like to sample traditional Latvian food and get a glimpse of local life. The Riga Central Market is frequented by Riga chefs and restaurant owners seeking fruits, vegetables, and meat to prepare and serve their customers

The market itself is divided into different sections by type of food. You’ll find fruits and vegetables in one building, seafood in another, and meat in yet another. There are also several stands serving prepared foods as well. It’s a great place to walk around, especially in the morning as everyone is getting set up for the day.

The Riga Central Market is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. though some stalls and merchants are not open until a bit later. The market closes at 5:00 p.m on Sundays.

Riga city park

6. Go for a walk in Bastejkalna Park

Bastejkalna Park is a large green recreational space in the center of Riga. The park features walkways and trails that run alongside the canal. Visitors can rent boats to cruise along the waterways during the warm summer months.

There is plenty of seating to rest or relax along with large grassy areas, making the park the perfect place for a picnic. Just be sure not to bring any wine or beer as it is illegal to drink outside in public in Latvia.

The park also features lots of plants, flowers, and bridges. If you’re a photographer, the park is a great place to get some unique photos of the city.

If you’re not a photographer, the park is a great place to mingle with locals and get a glimpse of daily life in Riga. You’ll see lots of locals out getting some exercise, taking a walk, or just letting their children run around and play. 

Freedom Monument in Riga
Photo by Yulia B.

7. Visit the Freedom Monument

You can find the Freedom Monument on the main walkway in the center of Bastejkalna Park a few minute’s walk from the historic center. The Freedom Monument is a memorial honoring the soldiers killed in the Latvia War of Independence which was fought from 1918 – 1920. 

The monument was unveiled in 1935 and is an important symbol of the freedom, sovereignty, and independence of Latvia. The monument stands 138 feet tall and is made from granite, travertine, and copper. At the top of the monument stands a copper figure of Liberty holding 3 stars above her head. The 3 stars represent the constitutional districts of Latvia. 

Latvian National Museum of Art
Photo by Gelia

8. See the Latvian National Museum of Art

The Latvian National Museum of Art is located in the northeast corner of Bastejkalna Park. The museum is home to over 50,000 works of art created from the middle of the 18th century to present. The museum focuses on Baltic and Latvian art, so a visit or tour at the museum is a wonderful way to learn more about Latvian culture and history.

The museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They are open later on weekdays, so check their website prior to your visit. The museum is closed on Mondays.  Admission will be about 6 Euros and if you’d like to add the audio tour, it will be 7.50 Euros. Guided tours are also available at certain times and will cost extra. 

KGB House Riga, Latvia

9. Tour the KGB Building

The KGB Building, or the Corner House, is a museum in Riga dedicated to educating its visitors on the atrocities that occurred there during the Soviet occupation of Latvia. I encourage anyone visiting Riga to stop by the museum and participate in their guided tour. It was both educational and eye-opening.

I will warn you, a visit to the KGB Building is not light or fun, but you will come away from the experience with more knowledge than you had before. Admittedly, my eyes teared up a few times listening to the stories of events that occurred there. 

However, I think it’s important to continue to educate ourselves on past events like these. We need to understand them in order to prevent them from happening again. 

Please note, I am intentionally choosing not to further explain or describe the museum or tour. Instead, I encourage you to visit and experience this for yourself. I believe there are certain places (probably many) in the world where their histories and stories are best told by others. This is certainly one of them.

The museum exhibition is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free of charge. Guided tours of the cell block are held 5 times daily at 11.00, 12.00, 1.00, 3.00 and 4:00 p.m. The guided tours will cost 10 Euro per person.

Latvia National Opera

10. Visit the National Opera

If you’d like to add some glamour to your one day in Riga, consider a night at the opera. The Latvian National Opera is located near Bastejkalna Park. It is home to the National Opera of Latvia, Latvian National Opera Chorus, Latvian National Opera Orchestra, and the Latvian National Ballet. It is housed in a gorgeous building constructed in the Classicism style in 1863. 

Performances at the opera are seasonal, but there is almost always something going on. Be sure to check their website for tickets before you arrive in town. Despite the opulence of the theatre and quality of performances held here, tickets remain affordable.

Lido restaurant in Riga, Latvia
Photo by Lido / Facebook

11. Try Latvian cuisine

One of my favorite parts about Latvia was getting to try different foods. If you’re going to be spending even just one day in Riga, you must try traditional Latvian cuisine.

Some of the most common ingredients you’ll find in Latvian cuisine are potatoes, fish, cabbage, and rye bread. During my visit to Riga, I came across a lot of pickled cabbage and beets, and a lot of fried herring. Admittedly, none of these are my favorite things, but I tried them nonetheless. I must report, I still do not like these things.

Fortunately for me, there were many other dishes to try in Latvia. If you’re looking to sample a lot of different items, head over to Lido Restaurant. There are a few of them across the city. 

Lido Restaurant serves traditional Latvian cuisine in a cafeteria-like setting. You grab a tray and walk around to the different food stations. You’ll find a variety of hot foods including main dishes and sides, baked foods, salads, drinks, etc. The best part is you get the opportunity to try a whole bunch of different dishes in one sitting.

A lunch or dinner at Lido will generally cost only a few Euro and it’s fast and easy. 

If you happen to be at the Lido in the historic center, head around the corner to a bar called Black Magic so you can try Latvia’s famous black balsam liqueur.

Splendid Palace, Riga, Latvia

12. See a film at the Splendid Palace

The Splendid Palace is a historic art deco movie theatre in Riga. The theater originally opened in 1923 and it was the first cinema in the Baltics to screen sound films.

Today, visitors can attend Latvian film premieres, international film festivals, live performances, concerts, and more. Several films from various genres are typically screened throughout the day beginning around noon or 1:00 p.m.

Even if you don’t have time during your one day in Riga to attend a film or performance, you can stop by to admire the theater’s neo-Baroque exterior and neo-Rococo interior. If you’re in town during the weekend, guided tours of the theatre are held on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. 

Brewery tour in Riga, Latvia

13. Go on a brewery tour

If you’re a fan of beer, you’re really going to like the craft beer scene in Riga. There are dozens of breweries in the Riga Beer District which makes the perfect evening destination.

If you’d like to learn about the craft beer scene in Riga, consider taking a guided brewery tour. It’s a fun way to end your one day in Riga, and a great opportunity to make some new friends.

Here are some of the breweries I visited and recommend:

  • Ziemelenkurs: A nautical-themed brewery serving beers aptly named such as Mermaid, Propeller, and Icebreaker. They also have great burgers. 
  • Alkimikis: A fantastic small brewery in the heart of Riga serving unique craft beer and delicious food. They use chili, chocolate, and even coffee beans to craft their beers. 
  • Labietis: This is a lively pub and brewery where you can watch the beer-making through a glass wall along the inside. They make over 40 different beers and rotate the offerings on tap. They have about 12 different beers on tap at a time. 
  • Valviermuiza: This is a brewery, bar, market, and restaurant all in one. They specialize in perfectly pairing delicious beers with incredible Latvian food. If you do to just one place, go here. 
art nouveau building in Riga, Latvia
Photo by Makalu

14. Take an Art Nouveau walking tour

The city of Riga is widely known for its Art Nouveau architecture. The Art Nouveau movement was popular between 1890 to 1910 across Europe and featured a design inspired by women, nature, symbolism, and the supernatural.

Today, these buildings remain intact and are on display for all who care to seek them out. In fact, over 40 percent of Riga’s city center is comprised of Art Nouveau buildings with over 800 across the city. 

If you’d like to do your own Art Nouveau walking tour, just head over to Albert Street and Elizabeth Street. They are about one block long each and run parallel to one another. You can find them about a 15 to 20-minute walk from the Riga city center.

It’s a peaceful walk and an excellent way to burn off all the delicious Latvian cuisine you’ve been snacking on during your one day in Riga adventure. Trust me, it’s a beautiful neighborhood and worth the effort to get there. 

Tips for Spending One Day in Riga

Here are a few tips to make your one day in Riga a bit more enjoyable.

  1. Be prepared to do a lot of walking. The city is fairly compact and very walkable, so it’s the easiest way to get from place to place.
  2. Book your hotel near the city center. Most of the hotels in Riga are very affordable, so you should have no trouble finding a nice place to stay within your budget.
  3. Make sure your phone is fully charged. Google Maps will take you everywhere you want to go, but it can start to drain your battery. Be sure you’re starting the day with a full charge.
  4. Bring a charger and battery pack with you. Since you’ve only got one day in Riga, you don’t want to waste time having to go back to your hotel to charge your phone or camera, so just bring it with you.
  5. Dress in layers. Righ can get chilly in the fall and winter, but once you start moving around you might get warm. So make sure you’re able to add or remove layers as you go about your day.
  6. If you’ve got more time to spend in Latvia, be sure to plan some day trips outside the capital city. Latvia is a beautiful country and a fun day trip is a great way to see more of it.

I sincerely hope you get the opportunity to visit Riga and that you love it as much as I did. I was so impressed by the city that I am hoping to return when I’m in the area again next year. Let me know if you get the chance to go. I’d love to know what you thought about the city.

If you have any questions about this itinerary or about Riga, please send me a message. I’d love to hear from you and am happy to help if I can.

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Part-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds

Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

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The Ultimate Guide on Where to Eat in Riga

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Updated on December 29th, 2019

Where to eat in Riga
Photo by Ross Helen

If you’re in the midst of planning a trip to Latvia you’ll soon find yourself wondering where to eat in Riga. And boy are you lucky, because Riga has a fantastic food and restaurant scene. In fact, the Riga food tour I took when I was there was one of my favorite activities from my visit.

What’s great about Riga is that its a completely walkable city, you can get just about anywhere on foot. So all of the places I recommend in this foodie travel guide can be reached on foot as you’re exploring the city throughout your visit.

I really hope you find the restarant scene in Riga as exciting as I did, and if you are as into trying new foods as I am when traveling, I just know you’ll love it too. So let’s eat, shall we?

Fruit stand inside Riga Central Market covered with colorful squash and pumpkins

The Ultimate Guide on Where to Eat in Riga

Some important information before we get started.

This post is part Top 10 List and part DIY Food Tour. The list below includes 10 restarant, bar, and cafe recommendations based on places I tried or places that were recommended to me by others in Riga.

Some of these recommendatins came from people who lived and Riga, and some were from other travelers who had been in town longer than I had.

I think the establishments listed below are best visited over a few days as you’re exploring this beautiful art nouveau city. I do not recommend visiting them back to back in one shot, though that’s totally up to you.

For me, I prefer to space out my meals, but tend to eat smaller portions so I can try more places or more dishes without over stuffing myself. Buf if you prefer to go all in, who am I to judge? 🙂

Also, most of these establishments are in the historic center, but some will be found just outside. Try to coordinate visits to these restauratns based on where you’ll be exploring that day.

But honestly, I just encourage you to try different places each day. Be a little adventurous and try things you wouldn’t at home. It’s all about the experience, so make it your own.

Cappuccino with traditional foam design on a gray table

1. Caffeine LV

Caffeine LV is a popular coffee shop chain with locations all over Riga. This is the place to go when you’re looking for a quick coffee in the morning. They serve a particularly delicious caramel macchiato if you like something with a touch of sweetness.

They also serve a variety of pastries, sandwiches, and other grab and go breakfast items and snacks. If you are in a hurry, pick up something for the road to eat along the way. The service tends to be freindly and fast, so you can get in and out quickly.

You will seriously spot Caffeine LV locations all over the city, so finding one should not be a problem. Hours may vary at the different locations but they are generally open from 7:00 a.m. during the week and 9:00 a.m. on weekends.

If you’ve got a little time and you’re looking for an especially good cup of coffee, make your way over to Rocket Bean Roastery. They are located about a 25 minute walk from the historic center, but are well known for serving high quallty coffee. They source their beans from all over the world then roast them in house. I encourage you to pay them a visit if you have the time.

Big Bad Bagels / Instagram

2. Big Bad Bagels

If you’re looking for a quick and delicious breakfast to start your day, Big Bad Bagels is a popular option for both locals and tourists. They bake their bagels fresh daily and serve them with delicious high quality toppings.

You can choose from dozens of topping combinations with ingredients like cream cheese, bacon, eggs, smoked salmon and fresh veggies. They have plenty of vegan and vegetarian options as well. They also serve smoothies, fresh juice, and of course, coffee.

Big Bad Bagels is open daily at 8:00 a.m. most days and 9:00 a.m. on weekends. They are located a short walk from the historic center on the opposite side of Bastejkalna Park.

Red buckets filled with pickled cabbage on a table at Riga Central Market in Latvia

3. Riga Central Market

Just about every walking tour and food guide about Riga will recommend a stop at the Riga Central Market. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of local life, and it also happens to be the largest European market of its kind. In fact, it’s about 778,000 square feet with over 3,000 different market stands.

This is the place where many chefs and restaurant owners will come to purchase the food they will serve at their restarants for the day or week. So while I’ve been told the market has become a bit touristy over the years, it is still used by locals for practical purposes.

According to our guide on the food tour, many of the individual vendors are families that have been selling products there for generations. So if you want to support locals and local businesses, this is a good place to do it.

Inside the Riga Central Market you’ll find room after room filled with fresh produce, vegetables, meat and fish. Visitors to the market can sample the pickled cabbage and other vegetables at certain stands, which I highly recommend doing if you enjoy pickled vegetables. I’m not a cabbage fan by any means, but I had the best pickle of my life here.

If you are planning to be in town for a few days, the Riga Central Market is a good place to stock up on snacks to keep in your hotel room or apartment as well.

Aside from the raw fruits, vegetables, and meats, there are several restaurants serving everything from smoothies to coffee to dumplings. I don’t suggest getting a full meal while you’re in the market, but its a good place to sample different items as you’re walking around.

The market is open daily around 7:00 a.m. or so, but I recommend getting there a bit later if you’re looking for snacks. Many of the vendors don’t really open up for business until a bit later in the morning.

Where to eat in Riga
Lido Restaurant / Facebook

4. Lido

If you only go to one place on this where to eat in Riga list, make it here. Even if you’ve only got one day in Riga and you’re just passing through, this is where you should eat at least one meal.

Lido is the place to come when you want to try a wide variety of traditional Latvian foods. They serve their dishes cafeteria style, so you can fill your tray up with whatever you like as you make your way through the various sections.

You’ll find dozens of hot dishes, soups, salads, sides, desserts and drinks. Pick up a little of whatever looks interesting and don’t forget to try one of their desserts as well.

There are several Lido restaurants around town, including one in the area just outside the historic center. This is also where you’ll find the majority of Riga hotels. Most locations open around 11:00 a.m. and close at 11:00 p.m.

Fat Pumpkin / Facebook

5. Fat Pumpkin

When you are trying to figure out where to eat in Riga to find something healthy and meat free, make a bee line for Fat Pumpkin.

Fat Pumpkin specializes in meat free, vegan and vegetarian cusine. They offer a large menu of burgers, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and desserts. Raw foods are also available. They even have a vegan bakery, so if you’re looking for a cake or some pastries for a special occasion, this is a great option.

Fat Pumpkin is open daily from noon to 10:00 p.m. They are located right inside the historic center a short walk from St. Peter’s Church.

3 Chef's Restaurant in Riga
3 Chef’s Restaurant / Facebook

6. 3 Chefs Restaurant

If you want to get fancy and have a unique dining experience, make your way over to 3 Chefs Restaurant, or 3 pavāru restorāns.

This restaurant is known for having an open kitchen in the center of the dining room, putting the chefs on display for guests to watch as they prepare and plate their dishes.

The menu is meat heavy, using experimental preparation, flavor combinations, and ingredients to create delicious, but unique dishes. Their menu has a strong focus on local produce and seasonal ingredients.

You’ll notice immedately they take pride in their presentation, starting from the bread course when you are seated. Bring your camera folks, these dishes are all photo worthy.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are a few items on the menu to choose from. I also believe the chefs would be willing to create something appropriate for your diet upon request, but you may wish to inquire ahead of time just in case.

3 Chefs Restaurant is open daily from noon to 11:00 p.m. Reservations are not required but I encourage you to make them if you have a larger party.

XL Pelmeni dumplings in Riga, Latvia
Photo by Анатолий Стафичук

7. XL Pelmeni

XL Pelmeni is a delicious little dumpling spot right in the heart of old town Riga. It’s a great stop if you’re looking for a snack and you want to try the local cuisine. This has been described to me as Latvian fast food, though I am told Pelmeni is actually a Russian dish. Despite this, pelmeni is a popular dish in Latvia and its also really cheap.

XL Pelmeni serves their dumplings cafeteria style. You grab a bowl at the front of the line then fill your dish with whichever dumplings you would like. They serve chicken, beef, smoked meat, cheese, and vegetable dumplings.

Toppings include sour cream, pickles, and a few other sauces. Once you’ve filled your bowl, you are charged based on the weight of your dish. Don’t be shy though, it’s very inexpensive.

If you happen to be hungry late at night, XL Pelmeni is open until 4:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, making it a perfect stop after a night of drinking. They open weekdays at 9:00 a.m. and weekends at 10:00 a.m.

Black Magic / Facebook

8. Black Magic

You can’t leave Riga without trying the city’s famous Black Balsam liquer, a dark and potent liquor made from 24 different herbs. One of the best places to try Black Balsam is at the Black Magic Bar located right in the middle of the historic center.

At Black Magic Bar the Black Balsam is served in coffee drinks, cocktails, and even in chocolates and desserts. You can also just try it on its own as well. They also conduct 30 minute presentations on the history and importance of Black Balsam. Visit their website for details and to request availabilty.

Save your visit to the Black Magic Bar for a time when you need a break from all the walking around. You can duck in any time for a quick drink and maybe even try one of their fancy desserts if you’re looking for something sweet.

The Black Magic Bar is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Reservations are not required and seating is first come first served.

Gutenbergs / Instagram

9. Gutenbergs

For the perfect view overlooking Riga at sunset, head over to Gutenbergs for wine, cocktails and appetizers. Make sure you ask for a window seat, or if the weather is right, request a spot on the outdoor patio.

You’ll find Gutenbergs on the 5th floor of the super cute Gutenberg Hotel. Their menu features a variety of steak and seafood dishes, along with salads, soups, pastas, and some beautifully plated desserts.

They’ve won awards for their wine list, so you’ll have plenty of options there. If wine is not your thing, they have many other cocktails and beers to choose from.

Gutenbergs is a beautiful restaurant, both inside and out on the patio. It makes the perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion or to save for your last day in Riga. Dress nice and take some pictures. Also, try to time your visit for sunset for the best lighting.

Gutenbergs is open daily from 1:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Reservations can be made by sending them an email, details can be found at their website.

A line of four beers of different colors paired with small side dishes on a wooden cutting board
Valmiermuiza / Instagram

10. Valmiermuiza

If you want a lively and unique place to end your night, head over to Valmiermuiza. They specialize in pairing beers with food, and the food is absolutely fantastic.

Truth be told, this was one of my favorite Riga restaurants, mostly because their rye bread garlic bread was out of this world. Seriously, we tried this stuff as part of a beer and food pairing, and the entire group was ecstatic about this bread. We were still talking about it days later.

Their food menu focuses on using local produce and seasonal ingredients. You will find a lot of cheese, potato, fish, and meat in their dishes. Though vegetarian options are also available. As for beers, they have an extensive list of beers on tap and bottle. For those not much into beer, they also serve wine and cocktails.

Valmiermuiza is open daily. They open at 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and 3:00 p.m. on weekends. They are open late until 1:00 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday and close at 11:00 p.m. all other nights. They do accept reservations, though they are not required. Visit their website for details.

If you’re also in the mood for some local live music, consider checking out Folkklubs ALA pagrabs. They offer a full restaurant menu, full bar, and live music at least five nights a week. You can find them right in Riga’s historic center.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my recommendations on where to eat in Riga and that you find this list helpful when planning your visit. If you’ve been to Riga and have other great restaurant recommendations, please contact me. I’d love to include additional suggestions on this list.

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Eden Fite in the Medina in Essaouira

Eden

Part-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds

Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

7 Fun Day Trips From Riga

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Updated on December 29th, 2019

Day trips from Riga
Photo by Gorsh 13

If you’re planning a visit to Latvia, you absolutely must make time to explore outside the capital city and include a few day trips from Riga. Latvia is such a beautiful and unique country, it would be a shame to see just one place.

In fact, one of my favorite things about Latvia is how easy it is to get around. The country is compact, has excellent infrastructure and it packed full of natural beauty. It’s the perfect opportunity to take advantage and plan some day tours around this wonderful country.

So after you’ve finished exploring Old Town Riga, the beautiful Art Nouveau Museum and the Riga Central Market, prepare for some adventure with one of these fun day trips from Riga.

To help you weigh your options for the perfect day trips from Riga, I put together this list of some of the most popular choices. Hopefully, you’ll have time to visit more than one.

7 Day Trips from Riga

For the majority of these day trips from Riga, you can get to all destinations within an hour or so by car. Once you arrive at each destination, you can make your own walking tour of the area and spend as much time as you like in each place.

For those of you not interested in driving or renting a car, many of these day trips from Riga can also be booked as part of a small group tour or private tour. A quick internet search should provide some wonderful options. You can also inquire with your hotel’s front desk or apartment host.

No matter how you decide to put together your day trips from Riga, I think you’ll find the time and effort complete worth it. I hope you find Latvia to be as wonderful as I did.

Exterior of Sigulda Cave in Sigulda, Latvia
Photo by Pixabay

1. Sigulda

Sigulda is a beautiful hillside town that sits in the Guaja River Valley about one hour outside the capital city of Riga. The town is known for its three castles, two medieval castles, and one built in the 18th century. 

The town is a popular destination for residents of Riga as well due to its proximity and the beauty of the area. In the fall, Sigulda is especially popular due to the abundance of fall colors on display.

HIking is another popular activity in Sigulda. You’ll find dozens of trails all over the Guaja River Valley in a variety of distances and levels of difficulty. Tackling one of the many trails here is a perfect way to get in some exercise and outdoor time. 

If hiking is not your thing, the town also has a tram that runs over the treetops. The tram departs from each end every 20 minutes or so. 

If you’re on the adventurous side, head over to Tarzan’s Adventure Park. The park offers a variety of unique activities from zip lining to obstacle courses. The park is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

Medieval castle ruins in Cesis, Latvia
Photo by Vladimirs Gorelovs

2. Cesis

The traditional Latvian town of Cesis is found about one hour east of Riga. The town is actually located within the boundaries of Gauja National Park. Due to this incredibly fortunate location, you’ll have access to plenty of outdoor activities when visiting Cesis.

The town of Cesis itself is famous for Cesis Castle, one of the most well-preserved Medieval castles in Latvia. The castle was built in about 1214 by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, a Catholic military order.

While Cesis Castle holds a long and storied past, its most interesting era (in my opinion) was during the time of the Livonian War which took place from 1558 to 1583. During the war, in 1577, the castle was under attack by Ivan the Terrible’s army. Instead of surrendering, those inside the castle committed a mass suicide by blowing themselves up with gunpowder.

Today, Cesis Castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Baltics. The castle is open to visitors year round and visitors are free to explore the castle’s rooms and tower on their own.

Cesis Castle is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The castle is closed on Mondays. Admission is 3 Euros per person.

Old Medieval castle in Bauska, Latvia

3. Bauska

You can find beautiful and quaint Bauska about one hour south of Riga. As you might have guessed, the town is home to a castle.

The Bauska Castle was built between the 15th and 16th Century by the Livonian Order. In 1706, the castle was blown up by the Russians during the Great Northern War.

Today, only the ruins of the castle remain. There is however, a nearby palace that has been fully restored.

Both the Bauska Palace and castle ruins are open to visitors. There is a beautiful view of the surrounding area from the top of the Bauska Castle tower.

Aside from the castle and palace, there is also an onsite museum where visitors can learn about the history of the region and the structures you are touring.

Panoramic view of a walking trail through the bog in Kemeri National Park, Latvia.
Photo by Art 4 Stock

4. Kemeri National Park

Kemeri National Park is located 45 minutes from Riga just west of Jurmala. The park features the same characteristics of the traditional Latvian countryside including forests, bogs, lakes, and beaches. 

Within the park there are also several natural springs, which made the park a popular spot for spas and resorts at one time. However, the area is not as popular as it once was. 

The park is also known for its many boardwalks leading visitors over the bogs and also for bird watching as the area is home to a few rather rare Latvian bird species. 

A river in Gauja National Park
Photo by Pixabay

5. Gauja National Park

Gauja National Park is located about one hour east of Riga. It is Latvia’s oldest and largest national park. The park is known for its beautiful rivers, cliffs, and caves that line the Gauja River. 

There are also over 500 historical and cultural monuments found within Gauja National Park, including a total of 6 medieval castles. 

Of particular interest inside Gauja National Park is the Turaida Museum Reserve and Turaida Castle. On the reserve visitors can also explore Turaida Church, Folk Song Hill, Folk Song Garden, and the Rose of Turaida Memorial.

Popular activities within the park include hiking, bungee jumping, boating, cycling, and skiing. If you’d like to make your visit to Gauja National Park an especially adventurous day tour, you can even try out bobsledding.

Gauja National Park is open year round. 

Rundale Palace in Latvia
Photo by Pixabay

6. Rundale Palace

Rundale Palace is found in the town of Rundale, just over an hour south of Riga. The palace is a Baroque style palace built in the late 1700s for the Dukes of Courland. 

The palace had many uses over the years, including being used as a school until 1978. Today, the palace and museum are open to the public for visiting and occasionally for special events. 

On the interior of the palace visitors can view the many halls and apartments. On the exterior of the palace, visitors can walk through the beautifully manicured French Garden and Rose Garden. 

The Rundale Palace is open for viewing daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Guided sightseeing tours are available for those who would like to learn about the history of the palace. Regular adult admission is $8 Euros. It is recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines during certain parts of the year. More information can be found by visiting their website. 

I also encourage you to arrive early if planning a visit to Rundale Palace. This is one of the most popular day trips from Riga, so the palace can be a bit crowded at times. If you’d like to avoid these crowds, plan your visit for the shoulder season, a weekday, or just arrive early.

Jurmala beach in Latvia

7. Jurmala

One of the easiest Riga day trips is Jurmala. Jurmala is a resort town located along the northern coast of Latvia about 30 minutes west of Riga. The town is famous for its fresh air and miles of sandy beaches. 

The town is filled with resorts, spas, and restaurants to suit just about any budget. Due to its coastal location, the town is busiest in the warmer summer months, but there is still plenty to enjoy during cooler times of the year as well. As you might expect, resort prices tend to be lower during the cooler months as well, so take advantage. 

The most popular activity in Jurmala is swimming and hanging out at the beach. The beaches here are clean and family friendly. You’ll also find lots of options along the beaches for snacks and drinks if you get hungry, though you can always bring your own. 

Most visitors to Jurmala will eventually find themselves on Jomas Street, a trendy area perfect for trying out the local restaurants and bars. 

Jurmala also has a popular water park called Līvu akvaparks, which is open seasonally and makes a great place to keep the kids entertained if you’re traveling with little ones. 

I hope you’ve found some inspiration in these 7 day trips from Riga. If you’re planning to explore the capital city itself, be sure to see the highlights from my own visit to Latvia to have the perfect one day in Riga.

5 Tips for Planning Day Trips from Riga

  1. Plan to leave Riga early in the morning in order to avoid traffic and maximize your time exploring outside the city.
  2. Leave time for stops along the way. Part of the fun of a road trip is being able to stop anywhere you want along the way. So if you see something cool, pull over.
  3. Bring some water and snacks for the road. You don’t want to waste time on your day trip from Riga. So plan ahead with snacks and water so you don’t have to stop and look for these items later.
  4. Bring comfortable shoes and dress in layers. You’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, so you’ll want to be wearing the right shoes and clothing.
  5. Fill your tank before you leave. While there are plenty of service stations around Latvia, you don’t want to waste your time getting gas when you could be doing more fun things.
  6. Double check opening hours of the destinations you plan to visit. You do not want to drive all the way out into the countryside to visit something only to find out they are closed.

If you’ve been to Latvia and taken your own day trips from Riga, I’d love to hear from you. I’m always looking for good recommendations or to hear what day trips you liked and which ones you didn’t. Thanks so much for reading.

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Eden

Part-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds

Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

Day trips from Riga

7 Fun Day Trips From Riga

Updated on December 29th, 2019 If you’re planning a visit to Latvia, you absolutely must make time to explore outside the capital city and include…

How to Avoid Crowds at Vatican City

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Updated on December 29th, 2019

Photo of fountain in front of St. Peter's Basilica
Photo by Matt Sawyers

Rome is one of the most-visited cities in Europe. In turn, Vatican City is one of the most visited destinations in Rome. So you can bet the Vatican is an extremely busy place.

Since I travel so much and I hate being in crowded places, I’ve made avoiding them an art form. That includes an ability to avoid crowds at the Vatican.

So let me help you naviagate away from all the crowds in Vatican City so you can focus on seeing what you came to see.

Here are my top 7 tips to help you avoid crowds at the Vatican.

How to avoid crowds at Vatican City

1. Purchase tickets in advance

One of the easiest things you can do to avoid crowds at Vatican City is to just get your tickets online before your visit.

It should be no surprise that the lines to get into the Vatican Museums are incredibly long. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear stories from people who waited over two hours just to get to the front of the ticket line.

You’ll see what I mean when you arrive on the day of your visit. The line to get in usually snakes down the block and around the corner of the outer walls.

What’s crazy is that you can totally avoid that line all together by just purchasing your tickets online ahead of time. Who wouldn’t want to save themselves from having to stand in a line for two hours? Just don’t forget to bring your tickets with you when you pack for your trip.

When booking your tickets online, don’t forget to add in the audio tour as well. It’s nice to get the background on the art you are looking at as you make your way through the museum. Plus, you can always skip around to just the parts you want to hear, and it’s only a few Euro. It’s worth it.

Sunrise at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City
Photo by Yeo Khee

2. Arrive early

If you happen to be a morning person you’re in luck. The earlier you can get to Vatican City, the lighter the crowds will be. People on vacation do not like to get up early, so use this to your advantage.

While the Vatican Museums do not open until 9:00 a.m., St. Peter’s Basilica opens every day at 7:00 a.m. If you can arrive to St. Peter’s Square (just in front of the basilica) before 7:00 a.m., you may have the place to yourself (almost) for at least a little while. So if you get there that early, take advantage of being there on your own and take some nice photos.

Also, if you do plan to arrive this early to beat the crowds, don’t forget to look at sunrise times for Rome during the week of your visit. In the summer months this will not be a problem as the sun rises around 5:30 a.m. in June.

However, if you are visiting in December, the sun rises around 7:30 a.m., so it may not be worth the super early arrival if you were looking to take pictures. Though despite the late sunrise, I’d bet getting to watch the sun come up from Vatican City would be completely worth it.

If you’re wandering around taking photos before the doors open to the basilica, keep an eye on the line to get in. The line does move very quickly, but you want to make sure you can get it right away so you can get over to the Vatican Museums before they open as well.

3. Book a sunrise tour

If you’d like the chance to actually get inside the Vatican Museums before everybody else, consider booking an early morning tour, or sunrise tour.

The sunrise tours start at about 7:00 a.m. and they will take you to all the most popular things to see in Vatican City, including the Sistine Chapel, all before the doors officially open. It’s a unique experience and well worth the effort if you’re an art lover and don’t mind the early wake up time.

As part of the sunrise tours, you also get special access to the hidden walkway that connects the Vatican Museums to St. Peter’s Basilica.

So basically, you’ll be able to get into the museum an hour or so before everybody else, and you get to skip all the lines to get into the museums and the basilica. Not to mention you’ll have a highly knowledgeable guide telling you all kinds of interesting stories about the Vatican and the famous art you’re looking at.

Pinecone Courtyard, Vatican City, Italy
Photo by Fine Art America

4. Book a breakfast tour

Another unique way to avoid crowds at Vatican City is to sign up for the early morning breakfast tour. Like the sunrise tour, you’ll get access to the Vatican Museums before everybody else.

The breakfast tours also begin at about 7:00 a.m. and include the same benefits as the sunrise tours. In addition to those benefits, the breakfast tour also comes with, you guessed it… breakfast.

Breakfast is served at the cafe located in the Vatican’s famous Pinecone Courtyard. It’s an American buffet style breakfast with pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, fruit, and juice.

I’m going to be totally honest with you here before we move on. I’ve never once heard good things about the food in Vatican City. I’ve only ever heard that one should avoid eating inside the Vatican at all costs.

The usual complaints are that it is underwhelming and over priced. Now in this case, the breakfast is included in your tour, and I’m not entirely sure how badly they can screw up bacon and eggs, but I just wanted to warn you.

I can almost guarantee, this will not be the best meal you have in Italy. But the tour sounds cool and you get into the Vatican before everybody else, so hey why not?

So after you enjoy (?) breakfast in the beautiful Pinecone Courtyard, you’ll be whisked away on an open air bus that will take you to some of the least visited parts of Vatican City. While on the bus you’ll be taken to see the Italian garden and Rose garden, the Vatican Railway, and the Pope’s helipad along with a few other highlights. Then finally, you’ll head into the Vatican Museums to see the Sistine Chapel, some of the other major works in the museum collection, and then over to St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square.

How to avoid crowds at Vatican City

5. Visit Vatican City in the off season

One of the best ways to avoid crowds in Vatican City, and just Italy in general, is to visit during the off season or the shoulder season.

Rome and Vatican City are some of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. In fact, Italy is the 5th most visited country for tourists in the world (as of 2018) at which time the country welcomed over 62 million visitors. You can bet the majority of them went to Rome and Vatican City during their visit.

So with numbers like those, how do you avoid crowds at Vatican City? You’ve got to visit when others can’t travel. Plan your visit for the spring and fall when kids are in school. You can also plan your visit during the winter when it’s cold. Most of the time, people don’t want to bother with traveling in bad (rainy or snowy) weather.

If you’re willing to travel in the spring or fall, you’ll be rewarded with decent weather, lower hotel prices, and best of all, very small crowds. If you’re brave enough to travel in the winter, you’ll find even better deals and much smaller crowds.

For me, my favorite months to travel are March and October. I’ll get a couple of rainy days here and there. Mostly though, I just get places like the Trocadero in Paris or Buckingham Palace in London all to myself.

But anyways, the point is, you’ll find much smaller crowds in Vatican City during the early spring, fall, and winter. Avoid the summer months of June, July, and August at all costs.

Spiral staircase at the Vatican Museums
Photo by Joanna McKeogh

6. Plan to visit Vatican City on a weekday

If you want to avoid the big weekend crowds at Vatican City, plan to visit during the week. I especially recommend visiting Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

The Vatican is closed on Sundays (mostly), so the busiest days are Fridays and Saturdays. Mondays are also busy since many other popular attractions around Rome are closed on Mondays. This brings many visitors looking for something to do on Mondays to the Vatican.

However, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are typically the least busy days of the week. So if you really want to avoid crowds at Vatican City, come on a random Tuesday. Show up at the end of the day or get there when the doors open with your ticket in hand.

Dusk overlooking Vatican City
Dusk overlooking Vatican City

7. Attend Vatican Museums by Night

The Vatican Museums by Night is a special event held on Fridays from April to October. On Fridays, the museum is reopened to the public from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Visitors can tour the museums on their own or with a guide during these hours. There is even a happy hour held in Pinecone Courtyard for this event. On some nights, live concerts are held in the courtyard as well.

This event provides a really special way to experience the Vatican. I didn’t get the opportunity to do this during my visit, but I’m definitely booking this event when I return. (I think everybody who has been to Italy has plans of returning, right?)

Admission to the event and happy hour starts at about $38 Euro. Prices increase if you would like a guided tour. Alcohol is not included in the price (sorry guys). Do book your tickets to this event in advance.

I hope you found these tips to avoid crowds at Vatican City useful and can plan an enjoyable visit. Vatican City is such a fascinating place with so much history, it’s hard not to have a good time.

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Eden

Part-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds

Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

How to avoid crowds at Vatican City

How to Avoid Crowds at Vatican City

Updated on December 29th, 2019 Rome is one of the most-visited cities in Europe. In turn, Vatican City is one of the most visited destinations…

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Vatican City at night

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Updated on August 23rd, 2019 Vatican City is a must-see for all first-time visitors to Rome for many reasons. First, it’s home to some of…

7 Reasons to Visit Panama

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Updated on January 2nd, 2020

Why visit Panama

Why visit Panama you ask? Well let me tell you what this incredible country has to offer. Panama has some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. It is covered almost entirely in rainforest, but is also home to hundreds of islands dotting its Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

Aside from the country’s natural beauty, it’s capital Panama City, is host to incredible food and nighlife scenes. Plus you’ll find plenty of music and art all over the city.

So whether you’re looking to take a weekend getaway or a week long vacation, Panama is a one of a kind destination and one I’m sure you won’t soon forget.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

San Blas Islands, Panama
Photo by Pixabay

1. The weather

I recommend visiting Panama anywhere from December through April. Why visit Panama during this time? Becuase this is Panama’s dry season and December through April are the months that receive the least amount of rain.

February is the driest month, averaging less than two days of rainfall. Just for perspective, October is the wettest month, with about 20 days of rainfall.

However, despite the higher rainfall from May through November, the temperatures in Panama remain warm year round. Temperatures average anywhere between 76 to 86.

So if you’re looking to explore the country’s many beaches and islands, just about any time of year is a good time to visit. Just be mindful that hotel prices and airfare will be a bit higher during the dry season.

Panama City , Panama
Photo by Angel Lopez

2. It’s affordable

Why visit Panama because it’s affordable? Well why NOT visit Panama because it’s affordable? Like the majority of the other countries in Latin America, Panama is a relatively affordable destination for tourists and backpackers.

While Panama City may be more expensive at certain times of the year (especially the dry season and holidays) it is still on the affordable side for a capital city. However, the rest of the country is on par with the rest of Central and South America.

Bargains can be found when it comes to hotel and hostel accomodations, transportation, food, and even beer and alcohol. You can get a decent hotel room for around $50, a beer for about $1, and local busses and shuttles are cheap. If you’re on a tight budget, you can get pretty far in Panama.

Even if you’re looking for some adventure during your visit, activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and zip lining, will all be much cheaper here than in other parts of the world. So take advantage of your time here and particpate in these activities if you can.

Also, Panama uses the U.S. dollar, so you if you’re coming from the United States, you don’t need to exchange any money.

Cargo ship passing through the Panama Canal
Photo by Monica Volpin

3. The Panama Canal

Why visit Panama to see the canal? The Panama Canal is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, along with other along with other engineering feats such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Empire State Buidling in New York. According to many, it is one of the largest and most difficulut civil engineering projects ever undertaken.

Visitors staying in Panama City can get to the Panama Canal and the Miraflores Locks and Visitor’s Center via a 20 minute taxi ride. The visitor’s center includes a viewing platform and a museum where you can learn about the fascinating history, design, and construction of the canal.

Here are a few intersting facts about the Panama Canal:

  • Construction of the Panama Canal began on January 1, 1880.
  • The canal was finished on January 7, 1914 and opened on August 15, 1914.
  • It takes 11 hours and 38 minutes for a ship to pass through the canal.

The Miraflores Locks and Visitor’s Center is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is $20 per person. Visitors are free to explore the musuem, viewing platform, giftshop and restaurant on their own at their own pace. Guided tours are also available.

Why visit Panama
Photo by Anne Van Huis

4. Bocas del Toro

Why visit Panama for Bocas del Toro? The islands that make up Bocas del Toro are the perfect destination for a relaxing and extremely affordable Caribbean vacation.

In fact, my past visit to this region is one of the main reasons I’m such a fan of Panama and why I’ve always wanted to go back.

There are tons of things to do in Bocas del Toro to keep you busy during your visit. I recommend about two to three days here if you’re planning on exploring more of Panama.

What I enjoyed most during my visit to Bocas del Toro was going zipling through the treetops and then spending a day relaxing at Red Frog Beach.

To this day, Red Frog Beach is the best beach I’ve ever been to. It had calm, soft waves, crystal clear water, and there were only about 7 other people on the whole beach. It was an amazing day.

Other fun things to do in Bocas del Toro include bike riding, snorkeling, surfing, scuba diving, yoga, Spanish languge classes, eating delicious Panamanian food, and hitting up some of the local spots for beer and cocktails in the eventing.

LIfe moves at slow pace here, but beautifully so.

Why visit Panama
Photo by Pixabay

5. Panama City

Why visit Panama City? It’s easily the most lively and exciting major city in all of Central America. With its historic center, its trendy restaurant and nighlife scene, and accessibility from most major cities in North America, it’s hard to find a reason you wouldn’t want to visit.

Here are some of the top destinations for visitors in Panama City:

  • Casco Viejo: This is the hisotric district of Panama City that was settled back in 1673. This district was built after the previous Panama City, known as Panama Viejo, was destroyed by pirates (Captain Morgan actually, go figure). Casco Viejo was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
  • Punta Culebra: This is a nature and conservation center in Panama City. You can view tons of local mammals and marine life. They even have sloths if you’d like to get a closer look at these cuties.
  • Cinta Costera: This is a large city park in Panama City that sits alongside the ocean. It’s a great place for a walk along the coast, people watching, or even a picnic.

In addition to visiting the places mentioned above, I encourage you to explore some of the city’s local neighborhoods and try out some of the many great restaurants you’ll find there. Some popular neighborhoods for great restuarants, cafes and bars are Casco Viejo and El Cangrejo,.

Why visit Panama
Photo by Pixabay

6. San Blas Islands

Why visit Panama for the San Blas islands? The San Blas islands consist of about 365 islands of various sizes, located off the northern coast of Panama. Only about 49 of them are inhabitated, so the remaining islands are virtually untouched, with no infrastructue to get in the way of their natural beauty.

Popular activities while exploring San Blas include swimming, snorkeling, sailing, scuba diving, wind surfing, and fishing. Mostly though, you visit to experience the islands and enjoy the view.

Travelers wanting to explore the islands can do so either via a day tour, or by booking accomodations on one of the inhabited islands.

Another popular option is to rent a sailboat or catamarran with I Travel by Boat. They will take you on 3 to 6 night sails around the San Blas islands.

I highly recommend skipping the day tour. I would instead book night or two in a bungalow, or opt for a boat tour. If you’re traveling from Panama City, it’s about a 3 hour drive to get to the port for San Blas.

Multi-colored coffee beans in a brown wooden barrel
Photo by Rodrigo Flores

7. Coffee

Why visit Panama for coffee? Well in case you didn’t know, Panama grows some of the best coffee in the world. They are particularly known for growing Geisha coffee beans, which produce a diverse flavor profile with hints of fruit such as guava, papaya, and pineapple.

The Geisha coffee beans are grown in the Chiriqui Highlands. One of the most popular destinations in the region for travelers looking for coffee tours is the town of Boquete.

Once in Boquete, you can find plenty of coffee plantation tours available. Here are a few you may wish to check out: Cafe Ruiz, Finca dos Jefes, and Finca Casanga.

Most coffee tours in the Boquete area will cost about $35 to $45 per person. The tour will generally last about two to three hours. Please, don’t forget to buy some beans to bring back home.

I hope this Why Visit Panama post has convinced you to book a trip to the country. I visited way back in 2014, and have been wanting to return ever since. If you’ve been to Panama, I’d love to hear what you liked about the country and why you would recommend it to others.

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Reasons to visit Panama
Eden Fite in the Medina in Essaouira

Eden

Part-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds

Going to all the places hoping to see all the things.

Why visit Panama

7 Reasons to Visit Panama

Updated on January 2nd, 2020 Why visit Panama you ask? Well let me tell you what this incredible country has to offer. Panama has some…