Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

When you travel in  Iceland these days you will probably notice there are numerous beer labels and microbreweries that make their own beer. This is quite a remarkable fact, given that until 1989  beer was banned in Iceland. Today the beer culture is thriving, and you can barely visit a village that doesn’t have its own brewery with unique, great beers.

Some say it’s the freshness of the Icelandic water while others say it’s the bravery and daring spirit of the Icelandic Viking brewers,  but either way the beer scene is exploding — and we are here to guide you through it!  Which Reykjavik microbrewery is the best? Can you taste local beer on the Golden Circle? Where is the best Icelandic craft beer on the Ring Road? Is there really a geothermal brewery in Iceland? Here are the answers to these questions and so much more!

Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

Fun Facts about Iceland and Beer

  • Beer was banned in Iceland until the 1st of March in 1989, so every year Icelanders celebrate Beer Day on this date to remember the great day when the ban was lifted
  • Beer is the most common drink to have at happy hour in Iceland
  • Most breweries in Iceland make a special beer for seasonal occasions:  Christmas Beers, Easter Beers, Northern Lights Beers and Summer Beers
  • Icelanders say “Skál“ when raising their glasses before a drink
  • The word for “beer“ in Icelandic is “Bjor“
  • Some hot spring pools have bars, so you can take beer with you into the water! Examples include the Blue Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon and Myvatn Nature Baths.
Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

Top 10 Must Taste Icelandic Beers and Craft Beers

  1. Ulfrun IPA 4,5%
  2. Brio Lager/Pilsner 4,7%
  3. Einstok White Ale 5,2%
  4. Kaldi Lager/Pilsner 5%
  5. Garun nr. 19 Imperial Stout & Porter 11,5%
  6. Gaedingur Pale Ale 4,5%
  7. Boli Premium Export Lager 5,6%
  8. Egils Gull Light Lager 5%
  9. Malbygg Kisi Pale Ale 5,5%
Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

Best Breweries in Reykjavik

  • Borg Brugghus – they are undoubtedly the kings of the brewing scene in Iceland. They are not really considered a microbrewery, but their brew masters are very creative.   Definitely be on the lookout for their recent recipes when you visit Iceland. And  don’t miss out on their classics such as Ufrun, Solveig, Ulfur, Garun, Snorri, and Leifur.
  • Malbygg – they are new on the scene but have made a name for themselves in an amazingly short time. The company’s beer masters  were already celebrities in the Icelandic brewing community before the establishment of Malbygg, so people were excited to hear they were creating a new brewery.  People were even more excited when the first beers started hitting the shelves. Malbygg is known for its simple deliciousness, gorgeous beer can artwork, and humorous label names.  Our recommendations include their Kisi, Galaxy and Sopi labels!
  • Kex – if there ever was a cool place to hang out it is Kex Hostel and Bar,  where you can try some delicious home brewed beer, chow on some savory burgers and listen to live jazz music. I just love this place! They put a special emphasis on creating lovely Christmas beers,  so if you are in Reykjavik during the holiday season, make sure to stop by!
  • Bryggjan Brugghus – located in the hipster Grandi district, Bryggjan Brugghus is an excellent stop to make while exploring the Old Harbor district  shops. There is something truly distinguished about Bryggjan‘s ambiance,  and the food is first class. Why not sign up for a popular tour  where you can taste at least six different beers paired with scrumptious food courses? Learn more here.
  • Mikkeller & Friends – when you think of the words “craft beer“ and “Iceland“ the  metropolitan brand Mikkeller & Friends might not instantly come to mind, but this is the place to go if you are looking for a brew pub with delicious home-made brews, a colorful interior decor and a great selection!

There is nothing like tasting the great variety of beers in Iceland while exploring Reykjavik— why not join us on our Reykjavik beer tour?

Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

Best Breweries and Craft Bars on the South Coast

  • Olverk – A great place to visit in Hveragerdi,  Olverk is the only brewery in Europe that produces geothermally brewed beer! Most people know Olverk as a great restaurant, especially for pizza.  But behind it all is an amazing brewery. Olverk continues to surprise us with unique tastes, mixes and collaborations.
  • Olvisholt Brewery – this microbrewery is located on a farm in South Iceland. You can purchase Olvisholt beers at most  Icelandic liquor stores or simply make a stop at the brewery when exploring the South Shore. The Olvisholt team offers fun tours of the brewery that include beer tastings. It‘s a great way to get to know their refreshing beers straight from the source!
  • Brothers Brewery – this craft beer brewery is located in the remote and beautiful Westman Islands, which adds even more charm to their products. Their beers are smooth to drink, and most are named after colorful  characters, and local legends. The Brothers Brewery has a craft bar in front of their microbrewery where you can sit down and enjoy their beers on tap. Brothers is  “must“ stop in the Westman Islands!
  • Jon Riki – this restaurant/bar/brewery is a delightful gem located at Hofn in southeast Iceland. It is a family-owned company offering great quality food and innovative craft beer. Jon Riki is a wonderful spot to treat yourself to some traditional Icelandic dishes washed down with a glass of excellent Icelandic craft beer.
Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

Best Breweries and Craft Bars in East Iceland

  • Beljandi – this is an example of one of those quirky places that make people love Iceland. In the middle of a tiny village in the far away Eastfjords, you will find an incredible brewery, Beljandi. It has its own charmingly rustic Icelandic craft bar which the local community worked hard together to create. Beljandi is located in a refurbished meat packing building in Breiddalsvik, and everything is designed to evoke the feel of the place. The menu is set to fit the beers, and the bartenders/brewers are super friendly!
  • Austri Brugghus/Brewery – located at Egilsstadir, the “capital“ of the Eastfjords, Austri brewery was founded  in 2015 and is loved by many. Their focus is on producing proper good beers that go well with the high-quality food culture in the Eastfjords. You can try their beers at many of the local restaurants around the East.

Best Breweries and Craft Bars in North Iceland

  • Kaldi – if you ask anyone about the beer brewing culture in Iceland you are likely to hear the name Kaldi. The Kaldi brewery was established in 2006 and has been operating since with their internationally-known lagers and ales. You can also enjoy the famous Beer baths in Arskogasandur village, where you relax in a geothermally-heated barley brew designed just for spa treatments. Kaldi’s specialty is that they only make beer in bottles,  so the label is easy to spot in the shelves!  There is now also a Kaldi Bar in Reykjavik.

Fun Fact: Kaldi was the first microbrewery to open up in Iceland. The Kaldi brewers take the water used for the brewing directly from a small spring above the farm.

Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars
  • Segull 67 – Three generations of a family own this  brewery located in the colorful village of Siglufjordur in North Iceland. The word “Segull“ means “magnet“ in Icelandic, and it is connected to  the idea that  a magnetic compass always points north,  the direction where Segull 67 is located. The number 67 is a lucky number in the family, and they figured it could help the company. Segull 67 has been gaining a large following in the short time they have been brewing beer.  They are well worth the visit, and we especially recommend their brewery tours!
  • Gaedingur – in Icelandic, “gaedingur“ means a great horse.  The name was quite fitting for a brewery located in Skagafjordur, the mecca of the Icelandic horse. Gaedingur offer a wide variety of beers, ranging from  IPAs to stouts to pale ales and German-style lagers. In recent years they have also started to create seasonal varieties.
Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

Best Breweries and Craft Bars in West Iceland

  • Dokkan – the first brewery in the Westfjords is located in Isafjördur, the region‘s largest town. They have just started but are already receiving excellent praises for their fresh beers and great brewery tours.
  • Stedji – also known as “the brewers who dare“! Stedji is known to walk the usual line in their choice of flavors.  Innovative techniques include smoking their beers adding ram‘s testicles to them, along with ingredients such as chocolate, algae or strawberries. The results are interesting and delicious, and it‘s  safe to say that everyone can find his or her unusual favorite at Stedji. I personally love the chocolate and algae one and encourage you to try it! Their tours are great and the brewers very knowledgeable and friendly
Icelandic beer, Icelandic Beer | The Guide to the Best Breweries and Craft Bars

And that’s it! Now all you have to do is grab some beer, raise your glass and say “SKÁL“!

Your Iceland Bucket List

New Year, new you! We love this time of year with its promise of new beginnings, exciting adventures and the opportunity to go over your bucket list and think of items to tick off this coming year. A visit to Iceland is on a lot of bucket lists, but while you’re here making that dream come true, why not tick off some other items too? We’ve put together a list of once in a lifetime experiences you can do in Iceland that will be sure to make this year completely unforgettable!


Iceland has many underground caves, ranging from the massive to narrow slits in the cliffs that all, nevertheless, have a great history and connections to local legends. A must see for all geology enthusiasts, as well as anyone who wants to get a sense of the awesome power of nature and how small in comparison us humans really are. You can even see a volcano from the inside!344 €Per personInside the VolcanoView tour

Not to mention Iceland’s specialty, the many crystal ice caves that form in the glaciers that take up a large percentage of our landmass. Some of the caves form every year but others only appear once before never appearing again, giving you the opportunity to literally go where no man has gone before. There are few things as magical as standing in the clear blue confines of an ice cave like it’s your very own ice castle. Elsa from Frozen has got nothing on you!

Glacier Hike

Ice caves aren’t the only things worth exploring on a glacier, there’s also the glacier itself. Hiking on ice that’s thousands of years old while enjoying amazing views over the nearby countryside, or just the beautiful snowy hills all around you on a massive glacier, makes you feel like a real polar explorer.72 €Per personGlacier Discovery – Solheimajokull Glacier Walking Tour (from Basecamp)View tour

Experienced guides will teach you all about the wonders of these ancient giants and the influence they’ve had on the country and its people.

Helicopter Sightseeing Over the Glacial Lagoon

You’ve probably seen countless pictures of the famous Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon on Instagram from enthusiastic travelers that can’t get enough of its ethereal beauty. Now you will have the opportunity to experience this mystical marvel from a brand new point of view!2.513 €Per personGlacier Lagoon Helicopter ExpeditionView tour

A helicopter tour will give you a birds-eye view of the best and most dramtic sights on the south coast, culminating in a breathtaking flight over the glacial lagoon and a stop where you can watch the icebergs float by as seals play on the shore.


Have you always wished you could fly? Well here’s your chance! Or as close to it as you can get. Tandem paragliding offers the opportunity to fly over the stunning Icelandic countryside with an instructor. No previous experience needed, the instructor will take the reins while all you have to do is enjoy the feeling of freedom and the amazing view!256 €Per personParagliding Tandem FlightView tour


Yet another way to enjoy the unique beauty the Icelandic glaciers have to offer. A snowmobile tour combines the ingenuity of man with the ancient and awesome power of the glacier to make for an unforgettable experience.219 €Per personGullfoss, Geysir and Snowmobiling on Langjokull GlacierView tour

A combination tour will take you through the famous Golden Circle, an absolute must-visit when you’re in Iceland, to the majestic Langjökull glacier where you can explore the icy peaks with a guide on your own snowmobile.

Snorkeling in Silfra

The historical Þingvellir National Park is the site of the gorgeous Silfra rift. Even experienced snorkelers will have never seen anything like Silfra. The crystal clear waters offer an otherworldly view of the rock formations and plant life of this underwater lava field.205 €Per personBlack and Blue – Caving and Snorkeling ComboView tour

Nowhere else in the world will you have the opportunity to swim between two continents, as this underwater river flows between two tectonic plates connecting Europe and North America. This is truly a life changing experience.

Horseback Riding

The Icelandic horse is one of a kind. With five gaits instead of the usual four, this friendly and sturdy animal is uniquely equipped for the harsh Icelandic terrain. Ride through stunning lava fields and over rivers and connect to the land and nature in a way that has become too far removed from our modern lifestyle.160 €Per personHorseback Riding – Viking TourView tour

See Iceland’s World Famous Puffins

If your bucket list includes seeing the world’s cutest animals in person, Iceland is here to help! With many densely populated puffin colonies around the country, these adorable birds can easily be a part of your Iceland experience. The most breathtaking place to see the cuties is definitely Látrabjarg cliffs in West Iceland. The cliffs are the most western point in Europe and are the home to millions of seabirds.246 €Per personThe Wonder World of Latrabjarg (from Patreksfjordur)View tour

The puffins of Látrabjarg are known to offer great photographic opportunities since the cliffs give easy access to them and they are very unconcerned about humans. After all this is their home turf. So snap that perfect pic and cross one more thing off your list!

Witness the Northern Lights

A staple of bucket lists all over the world, witnessing the elusive aurora borealis is a life-long dream for many. Icelanders sure know how lucky they are in having the northern lights sometimes literally in their backyard, and therefore we do our best to share the joy with our visitors. There are a number of northern lights tours operating in Iceland, but for the perfect, dream-come-true experience you should without a doubt book a private tour.

That way you can give yourselves completely to the hunt as you drive through the Icelandic countryside in search of the dancing, colorful lights in the sky and share a special moment with a friend or a loved one. No matter what, you’ll never forget the magical Icelandic winter nights.

River Rafting

What better way to experience the incredible force of mother nature than expertly hurtling down white water rapids in a boat with experienced guides? In between the adrenaline fueled excitement of the rapids, you will have the opportunity to take in the beautiful landscape all around you as you sail down a glacial river in the Icelandic countryside. Perfect for daredevils of all levels (families included!), this activity is sure to make you feel more alive than ever.1.551 €Per personEast Glacial River Rafting ExpeditionView tour

Geothermal Swimming

Sure, you’ve probably been in a swimming pool before. But we bet you haven’t been in an Icelandic geothermal swimming pool before. The Icelandic pool-culture is something you won’t find anywhere else. Often used as a sort of community center, the locals will gather in pools all year round for a swim, a soak in the hot tub and, most importantly, a chat about current affairs. The outdoor pools and hot tubs will keep you warm even in winter and the conversation will make you feel like a part of this small island community.

7 Lesser-known waterfalls in Iceland

Most people that visit Iceland are stunned to discover the amount of waterfalls it has. I have even heard a person say that Iceland has „too many“ waterfalls. Is that even a thing? In my opinion you can never have to many waterfalls. It’s just a matter of narrowing down which you should visit, and that’s where our expertise comes in handy. Iceland has many waterfalls that have become quite famous. You might for example have heard off Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss or Skogarfoss? Although these waterfalls are amazing and absolutely worth visiting, we also want to tell you about the lesser- known waterfalls that are just as beautiful. That way you can build up your itinerary by including destinations that you might not have heard off, and mostly locals know about!


Let‘s start with one of my absolute favorite waterfalls, Kvernufoss. Not many know of this incredible waterfall, but to be fair it is relatively hidden. This stunning waterfall is 30 meters high (98 ft) located in a gorge in South Iceland. You will have to hike for about 20 minutes. But believe me when I say that is more than worth it and you will not regret it. The best part about Kvernufoss is that you can actually walk behind it and enjoy the true peacefulness of the waterfall.


The secluded beauty of East Iceland is only just beginning to be discovered by visitors. East Iceland offers you the opportunity to truly experience the tranquility of nature. The magnificent Klifbrekkufossar fall is located near Egilsstadir town. The waterfall is 90 meters high (295 ft), with seven tiers in a stair-step pattern originating from the spring- fed river,  Fjardara.  There is one downside to Klifbrekkufossar and that is that you can only reach it during summer (June – September), but that makes it all the more special.


Dynjandi (the name means “thunderous” in Icelandic) is easily one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. It is a “must- see” when you are traveling in the remote West fjords. For many locals it is Iceland’s most majestic waterfall in Iceland, and it is known as the jewel of the West Fjords. This powerful waterfall drops 100 meters (329 ft) off the edge of a mountain resembling a tiered wedding cake. Interestingly, Dynjandi is actually a series of seven tiered waterfalls, each one with its own name. You can even walk up to and behind the third waterfall, Gongufoss. It is very easy to reach Dynjandi from the road, and you will only have to hike for about 15 minutes. During the hike, you can view several smaller waterfalls leading up to Dynjandi itself. No matter how many times i visit Dynjandi, it leaves me lost for words each time.


Glymur is Iceland‘s second highest waterfall and it is located in Hvalfjordur or “Whale Fjord“. The waterfall descends gracefully in steaming ribbons down 200 meters (658 ft) into a massive canyon covered with vivid green moss. An ancient folk story says that a mythical whale once swam up the waterfall to reach the lake at the top. The weirdest thing about this story is that whale bones have actually been found in the lake! Finding Glymur is not hard, but to reach it you will have to embark on a slightly challenging but adventurous 4-hour hike on marked trails. One scenic trail takes hikers up to the waterfall, across a river down from the other side. If you are not up for it, I recommend that you instead hike up to one of the viewing points on the way and return the same way.

Good to know before hiking up to Glymur

Keep in mind that you will need to walk through the river using a primitive bridge made of logs and rocks placed directly in the water. A system of hand ropes helps you to keep your balance as you cross.  Be prepared to get wet and dirty and make sure you are dressed according to weather and have good shoes and water. It’s a good idea to bring a pair of wading shoes to use for river crossings. The best time to hike the area is in the summer. The trails can be slippery during the spring, fall and winter. The log bridge is also removed once the summer is over. And don‘t worry if your water flask runs out during your hike; you can get more fresh, clean water from the river along the way!


Are you planning to explore the famous Golden Circle but you are also looking to see something off the beaten tourist track? If that is the case then you should add Thorufoss to the itinerary. Thorufoss is a stunning waterfall close to Thingvellir and is 18m (62 ft). The best part of this waterfall is that you will most likely be alone when you visit. So, it’s great for both enjoying a peaceful moment in nature and for taking great photographs. Thorufoss is also one of the filming sites in the popular series Game of Thrones.  This was a scene from  Season Four when Drogon the black dragon met an unlucky farm goat for dinner.


Faradagafoss is situated in a gorge about 6 km from the town Egilsstadir in the East. A marked path from the parking spot leads up to the waterfall, an easy 30 – 45 minute walk. You can go down into the ravine and behind the waterfall. Make sure to be careful and hold on to the chain that has been embedded into the rock. A legend tells us that the cave is a good spot to make a wish. Another folktale claims that a female troll used to live in the cave with her pot of gold.  The hike up to the waterfall will take about 30 minutes from the parking lot.  Along the way you can enjoy the beautiful gorge and views over the whole valley.

Gluggafoss / Merkjarfoss

Gluggafoss is the most famous of a series of waterfalls running in the river Merkja in Fljotshlid, approximately from the town of Hvolsvollur in the South of Iceland. The name of the waterfall literally means “Window waterfall” and derives its name from the gap or “window” it has made in the cliff it falls down on. The cliff is palagonite or tuff rock which is quite soft and therefore the rock formation can be easily abraded. In the 1940s the waterfall looked totally different than it does today, you could hardly see the top of the waterfall and it had three gaps or “windows”. It also took further changes after the 1947 eruption in Hekla volcano, as the 20 cm thick as layer that was carried downstream by the river helped abrading the rocks. Gluggafoss is a protected nature reserve.


Even celebrities need to venture out into their
neighborhoods now and then for everyday living activities such as eating,
shopping, and playing. They are just people who want to take their kids to a
park, go to the movies, get a drink at night. You could simply drive around
their houses but they do like their privacy and are not likely to be out in the
front yard waving to passers-by.

Here, we suggest six great places where celebrities are seen on a fairly regular basis. Fortunately, all of these locations also offer a good time whether or not there are celebrity sightings, so you can enjoy yourself as you keep an eye out for your favorite stars.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

You know about the sidewalks and embedded terrazzo and brass stars, but you may not know that there are new unveilings each year that are open to the public, complete with a special viewing area. Star ceremonies begin promptly at 11:30 AM and conclude at 12:15 PM. Even if the newest star is not your favorite, the ceremonies always have famous guest speakers, one of whom may well be on your must-see list.

Go to the official Walk of Fame website, to see who is being celebrated and when. Check back often because announcements are frequently made only a week in advance.

While you’re in the area, check around Grauman’s Chinese Theater as it’s the home to many premieres.

>>Tip: Consider taking a walking tour of Hollywood and learn the behind-the-scene secrets.


Everyone likes to be beachfront and Malibu beaches have long been claimed as a private backyard of the rich famous. But that all changed in 2015 when Billionaire’s Beach was finally opened to the public. There is finally a concrete pathway that leads down to the crescent of sand that stretches about a mile and a half from the Malibu Pier toward Santa Monica. Many lavish houses have been built right up close to the sand and behind those walls and windows live celebrities. Officially known as Carbon Beach, it’s a good place to get a glimpse of celebrities. Look toward the homes, and on the weekends in particular, you could get lucky enough to catch stars out enjoying the beach.

>> Tip: take a Starline Malibu Stars Homes Tour

West Hollywood

Perhaps your best bet for simply ‘running into’ a celebrity would be in the highly desirable urban neighborhood of West Hollywood. Locals call this place WeHo, and socialites seem to flock here for a lot of reasons. Runyon Canyon is for hikers, (and some celebrities hike,) The Ivy restaurant on Robertson Blvd. is a hotspot, high end boutiques abound, and the place is simply a magnet for the rich and famous. Check out the dining and shopping options along Santa Monica Boulevard for a chance to see big names.

The Troubadour

Opening in 1957, this venue became an integral part of L.A.’s live music scene, with Elton John making his U.S. debut in 1970. Up-and-coming bands, local artists, and international headliners all vie for a spot on-stage. You can find a calendar of entertainers on the Troubadour’s website.

This nightclub is popular with celebrities due to its excellent sound system and ability to attract great names. There is also a VIP loft which works to their advantage; not too much crowd-mingling for the celebrities but a good possibility to get a glimpse.

The Grove and Farmers Market

Celebrities like to take their children for outings as much as anyone else, and a day at The Grove and Farmers Market is perfect for entire families. While the farmers market is a landmark dating back to the Great Depression, the Grove sprang up right beside it in 2002 as a mix of retail, restaurant and entertainment destinations. People alternate soaking up the sunshine, walking in the park, popping into the fabulous shops and buying veggies. There is a Pacific Cinema there as well as a Yoga studio.

With bubbling fountains, an electric trolley, and sidewalk cafes, this place is very popular for family-day, whether you’re a celebrity or not. Also, famous people need clothes and like to buy their own, and the Grove provides plenty of celebrity-worthy shopping.

ArcLight Cinemas

Celebrities love a date night at the movies because they get to see their friends in the newest flicks. Arclight Hollywood hosts a number of blockbuster premieres throughout the year which are sure to attract some star power. Even if it is not a blockbuster night, celebrities go to the movies for a quiet night out so if you see someone with sunglasses on, look more closely and see if that jawline matches your idol’s.

ArcLight is known for its array of amenities such as reserved seating and alcoholic beverages at the concession. You can’t go wrong with a visit to this theater.

Orlando Spring Break 2019 – Things to Do in February & March During Your Vacation

From sunny beaches to the wilds of the Everglades to the gleaming urban streets of downtown, there’s a lot to do during Orlando Spring Break 2019.

It’s a perfect getaway spot, offering amazing attraction choices that span the gamut from wildlife excursions to science museums and beyond.

If you’re considering taking a spring break trip to Florida this year, but aren’t sure what you want to see, here are our suggestions for things to do in Orlando.

Top attraction options include:

  • SeaWorld Orlando
  • WonderWorks
  • LEGOLAND Florida
  • Everglades Tour
  • ICON Orlando (formerly Coca-Cola Orlando Eye)
  • And more!

And while you’re planning your Orlando excursions, don’t forget about the all-inclusive Go Orlando Card®.

It includes admission to many of the top Orlando area attractions, leaving you more left over for that perfect souvenir.

See all available attractions, passes, and prices — start here.

Explore the Magic of LEGOLAND Florida


When you’re on a vacation with kids, you do everything you can to make their trip magical. With a visit to LEGOLAND® Florida, you’re definitely making a few dreams come true this year.

You’ll probably need hours to explore this wonderland – the place where their favorite toys are brought to life in astonishing ways. With beloved characters like the creatures from the World of Chima to the girls from Heartlake City, your kids will be enjoying many of the park’s amazing themed areas.

Other regions of the park include the famed MINILAND USA (featuring scale replicas of some of the country’s most famous buildings and landmarks), LEGO City Rescue Academy (where kids can be firefighters for an afternoon), and the beloved LEGOLAND castle (home to knights, princes, and princesses).

Getting In: Admission to LEGOLAND Florida is included with the Go Orlando Card®.

Enjoy Adventures at SeaWorld Orlando

Image credit: SeaWorld Orlando.

Image credit: SeaWorld Orlando.

Today can be another opportunity to discover the magic of Orlando with a visit to SeaWorld Orlando. It’s one of the most popular attractions around, with its park-theme park, part-aquarium vibes.

Encounter exotic animals from around the world as you explore themed areas like Turtle Trek, Dolphin Cove, and Pacific Point Preserve.

Then, get your thrill on with a few rides aboard world-class roller coasters like the Manta and the Kraken. Or, opt for water rides like the Journey to Atlantis.

Be sure to stop by our favorite area of the park, Antarctica: The Empire of the Penguin.

Getting In: SeaWorld Orlando tickets are available with the Build Your Own Pass.

Indulge Your Love of Nature

Image credit: Everglades National Park Facebook page.

Image credit: Everglades National Park Facebook page.

Now is your chance to enjoy the wild and majestic beauty of the Florida wilderness. Explore the Everglades on an airboat tour that highlights both the amazing grasses and trees of this National Park, and the iconic gators that Florida is so famous for.

If you really loved the few glimpses you got of alligators, then you’ll have to pay a visit to the one and only Gatorland, also known as the Alligator Capital of the World. It’s over 100 acres of wildlife preserve with a fun and festive theme park built right in.

Kids and adults alike will marvel at all the things these critters can do, and it’s even a little bit educational with regards to their conservation and outreach work.

Getting In: Airboat tour tickets and admission to Gatorland are both included with the Go Orlando Card®.

Play Astronaut for a Day

Orlando Kennedy Space Center images (3)

One of the most unique offerings in Orlando is the famed Kennedy Space Center. Home of many of the country’s most impressive technological and scientific discoveries, this fascinating complex houses exhibits and objects that will delight space lovers of all ages.

Tour working areas of the space complex, where rockets launched and astronauts trained in simulators. Meet a real veteran astronaut who can tell you all about his or her experiences, and get a chance to see artifacts and objects from the history of space flight.

Visitors with smartphones will also want to make sure to download the Kennedy Space Center’s popular app!

Getting In: Admission to the Kennedy Space Center is included with the Go Orlando Card.

Explore Urban Orlando

The Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain in Lake Eola Park, Orlando, Florida

While you’ve probably been in and around downtown Orlando by this point, you haven’t seen all there is to see about this eclectic, sprawling urban area. To remedy this, you’ll want to take an exhaustive city tour of Orlando, which covers all the hot spots and big regions of the city.

Start with a visit to the charming Lake Eola, one of the most beautiful areas in town. Next, hop aboard a scenic boat tour in Winter Park, a lovely neighborhood for boutique shops and restaurants.

Then, head to the Park Avenue district, another great shopping option. Finally, you’ll end the long afternoon with a trip to Celebration, the perfect town envisioned by Disney.

Getting In: Orlando city tour tickets are included with the Go Orlando Card®.

Enjoy the Water

One of the many nice things about Florida is that the temperature of the ocean is actually quite nice by March. If you want to enjoy the chance to get out on the water, a cruise like this glass-bottom boat ride is an exciting option.

Taking off from Fort Lauderdale, this cruise sails through one of the many natural coral reefs found in this part of the ocean.

You’ll get the chance to peer into the ocean below through the glass bottom of your vessel. You can also opt to snorkel for a bit to get closer to the fabulous tropical fish.

Getting In: Glass-Bottom Boat & Snorkeling tickets are included with the Go Orlando Card®.

Kid-Friendly Attractions Everyone will Love

The Orlando Eye sightseeing

If the kids are getting antsy and you want them to burn off some energy, take them to the exciting WonderWorks, a great attraction just for them that’s both educational and fun.

Or, if you’re in the mood for something everyone can enjoy, spend some time exploring the International Drive (I-Drive) corridor. You’ll find plenty of top attractions like Ripley’s and mini-golf courses and the famed ICON Orlando.

Getting In: WonderWorks tickets and ICON Orlando tickets are included with the Go Orlando Card®. Ripley’s Believe it or Not tickets are available with the Orlando Explorer Pass.

Cool Off at a Water Park


While you’re in the I-Drive area, consider a trip to CoCo Key Water Park. It’s a smallish park, but features 14 exhilarating slides and tube rides plus heated pools and a kid-friendly play island.

There’s even a teen specific pool, so the older kids can enjoy themselves without feeling like they need to hang around the little ones. Throw in a tiki bar for the adults, and you’ve got yourself one fun afternoon!

It’s a great way to get a break from the humidity, which even this early in the year can be a bit overwhelming.

Getting In: Admission to CoCo Key Water Park is available with the Build Your Own Pass.

Spend Some Time in Tampa


One of the truly great things about Florida is how close the cities are to one another. You can go from Orlando to neighboring Tampa in as little as 90 minutes with the right traffic. Once you’re there, you’ll find a whole new wealth of attractions to explore.

If you want something kids and adults can both enjoy, the Museum of Science & Industry is a good option. There are some amazing attractions at this museum, like the enchanting Saunders Planetarium, or the fascinating “Mission: Moonbase” exhibit. Spend a few hours here and you’re set!

Of course, given that you’re here in the spring, it’s bound to be pretty warm. Why not take advantage of the nice weather with a cruise? Hop aboard the Dolphin Racer for a speedy sightseeing cruise through the waters of Tampa Bay. Keep an eye out for playful dolphins!

Getting In: Admission to the Museum of Science and Industry, and Dolphin Racer Speedboat tickets are included with the Go Orlando Card®.

Save on Admission

So there you have it – a selection of fun attractions and activities to keep the whole family happy on your spring break trip.

Whether you prefer to enjoy the warm weather with some outdoorsy things, or like to explore the cultural offerings of urban Florida, there’s something wonderful for you to enjoy in sunny Orlando.

Don’t forget to pick up an all-inclusive Go Orlando® Card to help cover the cost of admission to many of these great attractions!

Fun Things to Do in Orlando – The Ultimate Tourist Guide for Your Trip

Orlando, “the city beautiful”, offers more than just theme park fun, the city is also home to unique wildlife, a rich museum culture, world-renowned architecture, and more.

Whether you’re traveling with kids-in-tow, planning a romantic getaway, meeting up with friends, or going solo, our travel guides have all the information you need to discover it all, right here in one place.

Things to do in Orlando, in between applying sun block:

What are some popular attractions to visit?

  • Kennedy Space Center – Visit NASA’s launch complex, astronaut hall of fame, or see a rocket launch all just an hour from Orlando.
  • ICON Orlando (formerly Coca-Cola Orlando Eye) – One of the newest attractions in Orlando and the largest observation wheel on the East Coast. You gotta check it out!
  • LEGOLAND® Florida Resort – Built for kids, the 150-acre interactive theme park offers more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, restaurants, shopping, and more.
  • WonderWorks – This indoor amusement park is fun for all ages, with more than 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits that bring the unexplainable to life.
  • Gatorland: The Alligator Capital of the World – Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve, combining Old Florida charm with exciting new exhibits and entertainment.

These are just a few. Want more fun ideas for things to do in Orlando? Head over here for more Orlando attractions to see during your trip.

How long are you visiting?

Whether you’re visiting Orlando for 24-hours or a long weekend, we’ve put together sample itineraries with the most popular things to do in the city.

From the most popular theme parks to all-around-town tours, these itineraries give you the best Orlando experience for the time that you have in the city.

Who are you visiting with?

No matter who you’re traveling with, whether it’s a family vacation or more of an adult getaway, there are a ton of fun things to do in Orlando.

We’ve put together a list of top attractions and activities geared towards all travelers, from young kids to adults, to help plan your trip.

What type of activities interest you?

Whether you’re planning to exclusively visit theme parks or want nothing to do with them, our Orlando insiders have put together a few ‘best of’ lists to inspire and diversify your Orlando itinerary.

What parts of Orlando are you visiting?

Explore Orlando by neighborhood to make the most of your time sightseeing. We’ve highlighted a handful of top attractions and places to see by neighborhood in Orlando so you can maximize your time in each location.

When are you visiting?

Orlando is a top destination for travelers year-round and offers a different experience with each season and type of weather.

Check out our lists of things to do in the city throughout the year to make the most of your itinerary and experience unique, calendar-based events.

What’s the best way to get around?

Orlando is easy to navigate – it has the second largest public transportation system in the nation and there are tons of taxis and shared ride services available.

Car (recommended): renting a car is the most popular option for travelers. Most of Orlando’s attractions are near major thoroughfares and are easy to get to from I-4.

Public transportation: LYNX, Orlando’s comprehensive bus system, can get visitors to most areas in Orlando and beyond and LYMMMO is the free downtown circulator bus servicing the immediate downtown area.

Tip: get the free moovit app for point-to-point trip planning and real-time updates for both subway and bus routes.

Taxis: taxis are typically available at major attractions and most hotels and shared ride services such as Uber and Lyft are widely available and easy to use.

Looking for more info? Check out our post on getting around Orlando for tourists.

Where should you stay?

There are plenty of great places to stay in the area. Below are a handful of hotel suggestions located near popular tourist attractions and fun things to do.

  • Hilton Orlando
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Dr Conv Ctr
  • Crestwood Suites of Orlando-Disney World
  • Embassy Suites Orlando – Downtown
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Orlando Downtown

Where should you shop?

In between sightseeing, try and find time to pick up some souvenirs. Here are a few popular areas to get some shopping in.

  • Macy’s
  • Florida Mall
  • Orlando Premium Outlets
  • International Drive Flea Market
  • Winter Park Village

Make sure to check out all of the extra discounts and savings available on the Go Orlando Card.

Where to Eat

Go on a tour of Orlando’ foodie scene with our top picks for family-friendly places to eat in Orlando.  We’ve included top picks for every appetite and attractions nearby so you can sightsee while you taste your way through Orlando’s culinary destinations. No judgement.

Fun Info from a Local

  • Orlando is the Lightening Capital of America.
  • Gatorland was the first theme park to open in Orlando.
  • Lake Eola, and many other of Orlando’s lakes, is the result of an 80-foot deep sinkhole.
  • Orlando’s official city nickname is City Beautiful.

Best Restaurants in Orlando

When it comes to fun activities in Orlando, you’re spoilt for choice. Florida’s fun capital is the epicenter of entertainment, with theme parks around every corner and activities for everyone. Whether you’re into thrill rides or outdoorsy pursuits, there’s an activity to keep you busy.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie, you’ll be pleased to hear that Orlando has some great restaurants too. Here’s our pick of the best restaurants in Orlando which are conveniently located near some of the most popular city attractions too…

Dixie Crossroads

This neighborhood institution is one of the best places to eat in Orlando and has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike for years. Its proximity to the Kennedy Space Centermakes it the perfect place to dine after spending the day in full rocket immersion. It’s also one of the best places to get delicious, local seafood for an affordable price. Tender rock shrimp boiled in the shell is the dish that they’re famous for, and according to all of the great reviews, it’s well worth the wait. The wait, you ask? Yes; during peak season, people are happy to stand in line for an hour or two at a time to get in. Forget about reservations because they don’t take them, but if you go during off-peak season, you should be able to be seated right away.

Address: 1475 Garden St, Titusville, FL 32796

Phone number: 321-268 -5000

Fun Town Pizza & Pasta Buffet

After a day playing in and marveling at the wonders of Legoland, everyone’s going to be hungry. The Fun Town Pizza and Pasta Buffet is one of the best places to take a bunch of Lego builders after a day of play. The prices are affordable, making it the perfect option for families wanting to eat well while sticking to a budget. The all-you-can-eat setup makes it more than worth it too. You can binge out on the salad bar while your kids try out all the different types of pizza they won’t eat at home.

Address: 1 Legoland Way, Dentro Do Legoland, Winter Haven, FL 33884

Yard House

From poke nachos loaded with marinated raw ahi, sweet soy, sesame seeds, and cilantro, to braised short rib ravioli featuring tender, shredded braised beef, sun-dried tomatoes, and a marsala cream sauce, Yard House is a wonderful Orlando dining experience and the perfect place for people who love to try new dishes. Don’t just take the hundreds of five-star reviews on TripAdvisor at face value; go for yourself to get the absolute proof and a standout meal. The restaurant’s proximity to Madame Tussaudsmakes it the perfect ending to an eerily wonderful day.

Address: 8367 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819

Phone number: 407 351-8220

Padrino’s Cuban Bistro

You can’t visit Florida without enjoying fabulous Cuban food, and Padrino’s has some of the most fabulous around. You can munch on crispy, exquisitely-tasty plantain chips topped with divine garlic sauce while figuring out what your main course will be. It’s so difficult, though: do you try the famous Cajun Seafood Jambalaya, a Cuban take on a Cajun classic? Or should you dive into the Seafood Paella, filled to overflowing with shrimp, chicken, mussels, chorizo, fish and spicy yellow rice? While pouring over the menu, sip on one of the many mojito options and pretend you’re relaxing on a Saturday night in Havana. Padrino’s proximity to Gatorland makes it an almost must-see destination after spending an afternoon with Florida’s other Gators.

Address: 13586 Village Park Drive, Ste 304, Orlando, FL 32837

Phone number: 407-251-5107

Seito Sushi

If you’re yearning for fresh sushi and that magnificent umami flavor, Seito Sushi is one of those places that will help you with your craving. Fresh nigiri and sashimi plates abound, the staff will try and accommodate requests not available on the menu if they can (ahem: sake bombs!). The attentive staff, fresh food, and stylish surroundings make this one of the best restaurants in Orlando Florida and the perfect end-of-the-day stop after taking a spin on ICON Florida.

Address: 8032 Turkey Lake Road, Ste 700, Orlando, FL 32819

Boggy Bottom Barbecue

After people hop off the Boggy Creek Airboat Tour, many of them head over to Boggy Bottom Barbecue. This friendly spot offers some of the best BBQ food in the area, from succulent spare ribs to gator for those who are so inclined. Kids can order offerings like grilled cheese or hot dogs if there’s nothing from the main menu that catches their fancy – so even the fussiest eaters are catered for.

Address: 2001 E. Southport Road, Kissimmee, FL 34736

Phone number: 407-279-5050

Planning to visit any of these top eateries? Share your food photos with us on our Go City Facebook and Instagram pages. We love to see your fab holiday snaps.

10+ Best Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

For travelers headed to the Emirates, Abu Dhabi is an attractive vacation destination. It’s the capital city of the UAE and is located on island in the Persian Gulf, less than 100 miles from Dubai. It’s perfect for tourists because of its wealth of cultural and outdoor attractions, ranging from top-notch dining to cruises, tours, and more. These are our expert recommendations for the top things to do in Abu Dhabi for first-time visitors.

If you’re headed to Abu Dhabi on your Emirates vacation and are in search of the best things to do, check our out list of the top ten best things to do in Abu Dhabi.

Our ideas include outdoor and indoor fun, shopping, dining, and more:

  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Abu Dhabi
  • Eco Donut Boat Rental in Abu Dhabi
  • Daylight Cruise in Abu Dhabi
  • Meal at Buca di Beppo
  • Sunset Cruise in Abu Dhabi
  • Sheikh Zayed Mosque
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • Heritage Village
  • Marina Mall
  • Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park & Kayak Tours

Save on Top Things to do in Abu Dhabi 

Regular admission to many of these Abu Dhabi activities is included with the Go Dubai Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 52% versus paying at the gate.

Check out all Dubai and Abu Dhabi tourist passes, attractions, and prices.

Please note that some of these fun Abu Dhabi activities may not be included with the Go Dubai Card.

Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Abu Dhabi

Explore the capital city with this convenient and exciting bus tour from Big Bus. You can hop on or off at any of more than 15 included stops, giving you the flexibility to explore as you go.

Choose from two routes: the Yas Drive (Green Route) or City Tour (Red Route). This is a smart option for those first-time visitors to the city.

Getting In: Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Abu Dhabi tickets are included with the Go Dubai Card.

Eco Donut Boat Rental in Abu Dhabi

The Eastern Mangroves (part of a National Park, more on that below) are a must-see natural destination in Abu Dhabi and one of the region’s most popular sites for adventurous travelers.

Embark on an eco-donut boat journey to explore the wild marine life of the mangroves, including flamingos, heron, turtles, fresh, and more. It’s an ethical and responsible way to tour this natural wonder, as well as plenty of fun!

Getting In: Eco Donut Boat Rental tickets are included with the Go Dubai Card.

Daylight Cruise in Abu Dhabi

With its waterfront location, Abu Dhabi is the perfect city for enjoying a cruise. This one-and-a-half hour option showcases the natural world and makes for a relaxing afternoon.

See mangrove forests on one side, Emirati buildings on the other, and plenty of sights of the Abu Dhabi skyline in the distance.

Getting In: Daylight Cruise in Abu Dhabi tickets are included with the Go Dubai Card.

Meal at Buca di Beppo

While it can be a ton of fun to explore new cuisines and taste the flavors of the Emirates, sometimes you just want some good family fun in a familiar setting.

Buca di Beppo offers family-style dining with delicious Italian-inspired fare, located in the expansive Yas Mall. It’s a great place to stop for dinner after exploring your shopping options – always a treat in the Emirate.

Getting In: Meal at Buca di Beppo tickets are included with the Go Dubai Card.

Sunset Cruise in Abu Dhabi

If your idea of the perfect cruise is a romantic excursion out onto the Gulf waters as the sun sets luxuriously in the distance – you’re in luck!

This sunset cruise in Abu Dhabi is the ideal date night idea. You’ll still get to enjoy the gorgeous natural scenery, but maybe focus a little more on your company, too.

Plus, the sunsets in Abu Dhabi are simply stunning and are not to be missed.

Getting In: Sunset Cruise in Abu Dhabi tickets are included with the Go Dubai Card.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

One of the most significant architectural structures in the Emirate, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is truly magnificent. Built relatively recently, this ornate mosque is a site to behold from outside and in. It’s one of the best sites to photograph in all of Abu Dhabi!

It’s also one of the few mosques in the region open to non-Muslims, but visitors should show respect at all times and adhere to customs of dress and behavior.

Getting In: The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is free to visit, but guided tours may incur additional fees.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Arts and culture lovers won’t want to miss the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It’s a new museum – created in partnership with French architects – that encompasses broad collections of classical and modern art.

Their rotating temporary exhibitions showcase art on loan from French institutions, and feature everything from textiles and craftwork to paintings and sculpture. A visit here is a great opportunity to appreciate the global history of art.

Getting In: Louvre Abu Dhabi is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Dubai Card.

Heritage Village

This fascinating attraction showcases Bedouin history and culture, highlighting the roots of what developed to become the contemporary Arabic culture of the modern Emirates.

Here you can come to try traditional cuisine, see cultural practices from years gone past, peek at small museums, and browse arts and crafts to your heart’s content. There are stores for souvenir shopping, too!

Getting In: Heritage Village tours are separately ticketed and are not included with the Go Dubai Card.

Marina Mall

By 2013UAEWikiUser – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the largest malls in all of Abu Dhabi, the Marina Mall is a new venue filled with shops from around the world, including the region’s first stand-alone store catering to fans of the English Premier League Team, Manchester City FC.

It’s filled with a variety of attractions, including everything from fashion and leisure to entertainment and dining. Plus, because it’s the Emirate, it’s filled with over-the-top fun like musical fountains, a bowling alley, a theater, an ice rink, and more.

Getting In: It’s free to explore Marina Mall, but save some room in your budget for shopping.

Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park

This is a unique find in Abu Dhabi, a watery paradise with the environmentally important (and visually appealing!) mangrove trees. They contribute to scrubbing carbon monoxide from the air, preventing tidal waves and other flooding, and shelter thousands of bird and marine species.

The only way to explore this national park is through a registered tour company – might we suggest a kayak tour, which allows you to truly experience this beautiful environment at water level?

Getting In: Kayak Tour of the Mangroves tickets are included with the Go Dubai Card.

Remember to Save on Admission

In addition to the fun activities mentioned above, you can also go on a camel trek, swim near Yas Island, embark on a desert safari, and so much more.

If any of these activities and attractions sound like an appealing way to explore the amazing city of Abu Dhabi, then be sure to snag an all-inclusive Go Dubai Card.

Save big on combined admission to all your favorite things to do in Abu Dhabi, and have the trip of a lifetime.

How to plan a trip to Italy – a step by step guide

how to plan a trip to italy

Welcome! My name is Katy and ever since I first visited 20 years ago I have been plotting my next trip to Italy. From its historic cities to the mountains, lakes and coast, I fell in love with this beautiful country and want to help you do the same.

Planning a trip to Italy is one of my favorite things to do (I’ve been there more than 25 times!) so we created this guide to help you plan and book your trip with ease. Welcome to Untold Morsels – travel blog with family, food and culture in mindPlayUnmuteLoaded: 99.96%Remaining Time -0:01Fullscreen

We hope you find our step by step guide on how to plan a trip to Italy useful. 

  • 1 When to go to Italy
  • 2 How to get there
    • 2.1 Best flight deals to Italy
    • 2.2 Arriving by train from other cities in Europe
    • 2.3 Bus travel to Italy
    • 2.4 Train and bus bookings
  • 3 Passports and visas
  • 4 Itineraries and planning
    • 4.1 Where to go
    • 4.2 Suggested itineraries
    • 4.3 Recommended group package tours in Italy
    • 4.4 Recommended guidebooks
  • 5 Travel booking timelines
  • 6 Accommodation in Italy
    • 6.1 Accommodation costs
    • 6.2 Best accommodation sites
    • 6.3 Our guides on where to stay in Italy
  • 7 How to get around Italy
    • 7.1 Train travel in Italy
    • 7.2 Driving in Italy
    • 7.3 Internal flights
  • 8 Tickets, tours and attractions
    • 8.1 Tickets for major attractions
    • 8.2 Day tours in Italy
  • 9 Airport transfers
    • 9.1 Rome – transfers from Fiumicino airport
    • 9.2 Venice transfers
    • 9.3 Florence transfers from Florence airport
    • 9.4 Florence transfers from Pisa airport
    • 9.5 Amalfi Coast transfers from Naples airport or train station
  • 10 Money and budget
    • 10.1 Expected costs
  • 11 Internet access
    • 11.1 Local SIM
    • 11.2 Portable wifi device
  • 12 Travel Insurance
  • 13 Packing for your trip
    • 13.1 Absolute must have items for your trip
  • 14 Travel with kids in Italy
  • 15 Italy trip planning done!

When to go to Italy

how to plan a trip to italy on your own

The best time to visit Italy is when it suits you and your schedule. However, you should be aware of a few seasonal variations:

  • Italy is one of the world’s most popular destinations and is very busy (and more expensive) at peak periods – from May to September
  • Summers can be very hot (especially in the south) and winters cold with ski resorts open in the northern alpine regions
  • August is the busiest month with Italians and people from all over Europe on vacation. Coastal and lake areas are very busy with visitors
  • Easter is a major holiday in Italy – expect demand for rail travel and accommodation to increase

For this reason we like to visit Italy in the shoulder months – April/May and September/October when the weather is sunny and mild, crowds are manageable and you can find great value flight and accommodation deals.

How to get there

gondola ride in venice

Flying direct (or with a single stop) to Italy from most places in the world is easy. Most visitors fly into Rome Fiumicino [Leonardo da Vinci](FCO) international airport but you can also easily fly into Milan Malpensa (MXP) or Venice Marco Polo (VCE) airports from major hubs around the world.

There are many other airports throughout the country that can be accessed within Italy and Europe.

Best flight deals to Italy

We use a combination of SkyscannerCheapoAir and Google flights to source the best flight deals for Italy.

  • Skyscanner – portal where you can view cheapest days and routes to fly and set alerts for price drops
  • CheapoAir – uncovers the best deals on first class flights around the world
  • Google flights – great for checking schedules and airline routes

To find the best deals, set up alerts on Skyscanner for the month you wish to travel and wait for price drops. Be prepared to be a little flexible on dates and stopovers. It is often cheaper to fly into Milan rather than Rome but that is most useful for northern Italy itineraries.

Tip – always use an incognito browser window to search for flight deals. Prices are amended up for users known to be searching for specific dates and times

Arriving by train from other cities in Europe

If you are traveling within Europe, train travel is easy with links to major Italian cities – Milan, Rome, Florence and Venice – from other capitals in Europe. Seat 61 is a great resource for planning train travel within Europe.

Bus travel to Italy

If you’re on a tight budget and traveling within Europe, then you might want to consider coming to Italy by bus. Low cost operator Flixbus covers 1,200 destinations in 26 countries.

Train and bus bookings

Go Euro is a useful site for booking a combination of train, bus and air travel within Europe

Passports and visas

italy vacation planner

Citizens of the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand can enter Italy and stay up to 90 days without a visa within an 180 day period. You must have 6 months validity on your passport.

All other nationalities should check this Italian government site that will walk you through whether a visa is required for your visit.

European Union and UK citizens can travel with photo identification. 

Please note – this information is subject to change and it is always best to check with your local foreign office for the latest advice on travel to Italy.

  • United States – click here
  • Australia – click here
  • United Kingdom – click here
  • Canada – click here

Itineraries and planning

plan trip to italy

Where to go

Probably the hardest decision you need to make is which places you would like to visit. This is a very difficult task for many of us and it is a challenge for me to this day.

The most popular places to visit in Italy are listed below.

  • Major cities – Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and Naples
  • Tuscany – large region known for hilltop towns, wineries and beautiful countryside
  • Cinque Terre – 5 spectacular villages that hug the sides of cliffs on the Italian Riviera
  • Amalfi Coast – picturesque coastal region near Naples – Sorrento, Positano, Capri
  • Northern Italian lakes – scenic lakes close to alpine mountain ranges

As a general rule, for a 3-5 day trip choose one destination – a city or area. If you have a week to 10 days then 1-3 places in either the north OR south of Italy. For a 2 week trip you could cover 3-4 places and see both north and south.

Try not to pack too much in. It’s easy to underestimate transit times and getting in and out of airports and train stations.

Suggested itineraries

ponte vecchio best things to see in florence italy

For their first trip to Italy, many people will choose to start their journey in Rome and visit Florence and Venice. This 10 day Italy itinerary covers that route and includes detailed instructions on how to make the most of your time in Italy. 

Alternative 10 day itineraries

  • Rome + Amalfi Coast – Rome [4 nights], Amalfi Coast/Naples/Pompeii/Capri [5 nights]
  • Rome + Florence and Tuscany – Rome [4 nights], Florence [3 nights], Siena [2 nights]
  • Venice, Milan, Lake Como + Florence – Venice [3 nights], Milan [1 night], Lake Como [2 nights], Florence [2 nights]
  • Sicily – deserves 2 weeks! – click for highlights and hidden gems

City itineraries

Rome – a 5 day itinerary that can be adapted for more or less days – click here to read
Florence – suggestions for 1,2 and 3 days in the Renaissance city – click to read

More itineraries coming soon!

Recommended group package tours in Italy

Package tours of Italy can be a fantastic way to avoid the stress of planning your own trip. They are also great if you would like some company along the way.

Intrepid Travel

We like the tours offered by Intrepid Travel because they strike the balance between showing you highlights of a destination and allowing time for exploration on your own. Their premium brand Peregrine has some interesting hiking tours of the Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast.

Group sizes average around 10 so you get personal attention when you need it. We also love that Intrepid has a commitment to responsible travel and leads the way in promoting animal welfare.

Top tours of Italy by Intrepid and Peregrine

  • Best of Italy – 15 days covering Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre and more – click here for details
  • Cinque Terre walking tour – 8 days walking the spectacular coastal villages – more information
  • Italy real food adventure – 8 days of feasting in Venice, Tuscany and Rome – more details


Even as independent travelers we like to browse Tourradar – a market place for tours where you can browse hundreds of package tours by different operators, and by date. Then filter by your interests and age group and read detailed reviews.

There are various levels of support offered from fully organized tours to independent self drive or train itineraries.

Top tours in Italy found on Tourradar

  • Highlights of Italy – 8 day train tour through Milan, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Rome – click for more info
  • 3 Nights Venice, 2 Nights Florence & 5 Nights Rome – a self guided tour – click here for details
  • Self guided walking tour of Tuscany – 8 days of fresh air, wine and views – click here for details

Recommended guidebooks

We plan trips using a wide variety of sources. If you can, choose a guide that is relevant for the region you are visiting as they are usually more detailed

Our favourite general guidebooks for Italy are:

Lonely Planet – Our favorite practical guide, Lonely Planet regularly updates guides for Italy | Florence and Tuscany | Venice and the Veneto | Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast | Italian Lakes | Sicily | Southern Italy

Rick Steves – America’s foremost authority on travel in Europe produces excellent practical guides and itineraries for Italy | Rome | Florence | VeniceCinque Terre

DK Eyewitness Guides – we love the illustrations and cultural and historical insight in these guides. They are perfect for those of us who respond best to visual cues.

Travel booking timelines

When should you book your travel, accommodation and tours in Italy?

As soon as possible is the straightforward answer when it comes to popular hotels, accommodation and tours especially for peak times in July and August. If you can, try to book 6-12 months in advance for popular areas such as the Amalfi Coast in summer.

Flight bookings will depend on where you are flying from. For long haul flights the best deals are generally found 6-12 months in advance while deals pop up regularly for travel within Europe.

Rail bookings can be made up to 4 months in advance on high speed intercity and standard intercity trains.

Accommodation in Italy

trips to italy accommodation

Choosing where to stay is an important part of planning your itinerary. Italy is well set up for tourists and you can expect the usual range of hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation as well as apartments and villas.

If you plan to spend any time in the country, consider staying at an agriturismo or farm stay – offered by Italian farmers who earn additional income by providing rooms and meals. This accommodation is very popular in Italy and ranges from budget to luxurious.

We’ve stayed in agriturismi (plural) with swimming pools, hammams and wine cellars and always try to build them into our itinerary. An added bonus is that the food served is farm fresh and generally excellent.

Accommodation costs

Here is a rough guide to help you plan your accommodation budget. Prices are average for a double room though this will vary with prices higher in popular areas at peak times

Upscale / Luxury – €200+ [USD $230+] per night
Midrange / Boutique – €110-250 [USD $125-285] per night
Budget / B&B – €60-120 [USD $70-140] per night
Ultra budget / Hostel or shared room in AirBnB – €20-35 [USD $25-40] per night

Best accommodation sites

Our favorite site for booking lodging is because it has a huge range of options from hotels and resorts to bed and breakfast, apartments and farm stay accommodation.

You can easily compare prices and amenities and take advantage of their generous cancelation policies to find the right accommodation for you. We’ve also found their concierge service helpful and get better deals because we use them regularly.

Other sites we use and recommmend

VRBO – the best site for long stay villas and apartments – click here to browse VRBO
AirBnB – for longer stays in apartments and villas – first time users can claim free credit here
Tripadvisor – mainly to read reviews but you can sometimes find good deals on there too

Our guides on where to stay in Italy

villa amalfi coast

We created these guides with specific recommendations of where to stay in the major tourist areas in Italy in response to questions from our readers and in our Italy Travel Planning Facebook Group.

Florence – district and accommodation guide – click here
Milan – district and accommodation guide – click here
Amalfi Coast – towns and accommodation guide – click here
Rome – coming soon
Venice – coming soon

We also created a guide on how to find the right accommodation for your trip that includes a printable checklist – click here to access the article.

How to get around Italy

As a general rule, if you are traveling between cities and major towns then the best way to travel around Italy is by train. If you want to explore the countryside and small villages you will need to rent a car.

When you are mapping out distances to travel between destinations use Google maps or Rome2Rio is another useful site.

Train travel in Italy

trains in italy

The train system in Italy is modern and efficient with fast speed services linking the major cities and regional trains connecting smaller towns and villages. Two major train networks operate throughout Italy – Italo and TrenItalia.

Advance bookings are advised for high speed intercity services where seats are allocated. You can save money booking in advance if you purchase non-flexible tickets.

Recommended train booking site – ItaliaRail

You can book directly with these operators or an easier way is with ItaliaRail – a dedicated English language site where you can book and pay in US dollars, Australian dollars, GB pounds or Euros. ItaliaRail accepts all international credit cards – unlike some Italian sites.

To use your tickets you will need to quote your booking reference on board the train or collect them from the self-service machines found at all main stations in Italy.

Click here to search for rail tickets on ItaliaRail

High speed train intercity travel times on popular routes

Rome to Florence – 1 hour 30 minutes
Rome to Naples – 1 hour 15 minutes
Rome to Milan – 3 hours
Rome to Venice – 4 hours
Florence to Venice – 2 hours
Florence to Milan – 2 hours

Driving in Italy

planning a trip in italy

With a bit of forward planning and common sense, renting a car and exploring the back roads of Italy is easy. We wrote a full guide to driving in Italy but here are our top tips

  • You are required to carry an International Drivers Permit – these can be arranged in your home country at minimal cost
  • Standard transmission on cars is manual or stick shift. If you want to rent an automatic car expect to pay extra, if you can find one available
  • Rent the smallest car you can to fit you and your luggage – roads are often narrow and you don’t want to get stuck!
  • Heavy fines apply if you enter ZTL zones – historic districts where driving is not allowed

We use to find the best car rental deals in Italy including one way options. They search both international and local providers so you get a wide variety of choice and there is 24/7 support if you need it.

Click here to search for car rentals in Italy with

Internal flights

If you want to travel very long distances or to visit the islands of Sicily or Sardinia, flying makes the most sense.

Check on Skyscanner or Google Flights for routes and prices. Remember to set alerts for those routes you want to fly and book early for flights in the summer months.

Tickets, tours and attractions

We source and book tickets and tours via GetYourGuide and Viator. They are tour and ticket aggregators so there is lots to choose from. I like the fact you can read reviews, book everything in the one place and keep your tickets and vouchers on their apps too. You can also pay in your own currency and with international credit cards which can be a challenge when using Italian websites.

We prefer GetYourGuide – you can read our review of GetYourGuide to find out why here

Tickets for major attractions

Colosseum - highlight of 10 days in Italy

Rome, Florence and Venice are some of the busiest cities for tourists in the world thanks to their famous attractions – the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, Uffizi Gallery and Doge’s Palace.

Unless you want to spend precious vacation time standing in lines to enter these sites we strongly advise you to prebook advance skip the line tickets for the following attractions. [In winter months booking in advance is not as necessary]

We have given you the official booking sites and an alternative for approved ticket partners should you have trouble using the official site – unfortunately that happens a lot! The direct sites are usually cheaper but the partner sites are generally more user friendly.


  • Colosseum – official ticket site OR buy Colosseum tickets on Get Your Guide
  • Vatican Museums – official ticket site OR buy Vatican Museum tickets on Get Your Guide
  • Omnia pass – Colosseum + Vatican + one other museum + hop on, hop off bus – click here for details


  • Uffizi Gallery – official ticket site OR buy Uffizi tickets on Get Your Guide
  • ‘David’ statue [Accademia Gallery] – official ticket site OR buy Accademia tickets on Get Your Guide


  • Doge’s Palace – official ticket site OR buy Doge’s palace tickets on Get Your Guide
  • San Marco basilica – official skip the line tickets OR buy a tour of San Marco including tickets on Get Your Guide


  • ‘Last Supper’ painting – official ticket site OR buy Last Supper tickets on Get Your Guide
  • Duomo rooftop – official ticket site OR buy Duomo tickets on Get Your Guide

Day tours in Italy

rome food tour

We love doing guided tours. Not those huge group ones where you follow the flag waving guide around in a herd trying to keep up. No, we especially like small group and food tours where you learn and discover all about the culture and history of the places we visit. Plus it’s so much more fun than reading plaques and you get to ask questions.

So make sure to build in a couple of tours when you are planning a trip to Italy.

We highly recommend the fun team at The Roman Guy.  They offer interesting small group and private tours throughout Italy including late and early entry to the Colosseum and Vatican. We especially loved their food tour of the Trastevere district in Rome.

You can get 5% off The Roman Guy small group tours using our code ‘UntoldItaly’

Recommended day tours by destination


  • Rome in day – tour includes Vatican and Colosseum – great if you have limited time – click for details
  • Colosseum virtual reality tour – brings the arena to life with 3D effects and sound – more information
  • Rome by night – discover the beauty of the Eternal City after dark on this 2 hour tour – click for details
  • Vespa tour – pretend you’re Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday on this vintage vespa tour – more details 

Click here to read our guide to the best day tours in Rome


  • Uffizi Gallery + Palazzo Vecchio – 3 hour combined tour of the city’s must see sights – more information
  • Florence Dome Climb – climb the famous dome for spectacular views of Florence – more details
  • A day in Tuscany – full day tour to San Gimignano and Siena from Florence – click for more info

Click here to read our guide to the best day trips from Florence

Burano - one of the hidden gems in Venice


  • Doge’s Palace and Basilica tour – 2 hour tour of the major attractions in Venice – more information
  • Burano, Murano and Torcello – half day outer islands of the lagoon escorted tour – click for details
  • Street food tour – discover Venetian cicchetti and visit the famous Rialto market – click for details

Naples, Sorrento and Amalfi Coast

  • Boat trip from Sorrento to Capri – one of the highlights of my life! Full day tour – click for details
  • Pompeii and Amalfi Coast tour from Naples – full day tour if you are short on time – more info
  • Amalfi Coast – small group tour to Positano, Amalfi and Ravello from Sorrento – more information

Click here to read about taking a boat tour to Capri

Recommended experiences in Italy

Enjoying a walk with friend in the vineyards

Sightseeing, soaking up the atmosphere and visiting major monuments (plus eating!) will take up most of your time on your trip to Italy. However, if you have a little more time, we recommend seeking out unique Italian experiences that are sure to be the highlight of your trip.

Food festivals are so much fun. We stumbled on a sagra (food festival) near Lake Como and had a great time tasting all the local dishes. On another trip we managed to be in Florence during the finale of the Gelato Festival (how did that happen I wonder?) and were able to taste some incredible flavours.

You can check this site for information on food festival dates in Italy.

Wine tastings and tours are popular activities in Tuscany and there is a great selection to choose from on Viator – click here to view 

making pasta with Fabrizia Cantini

If you want to recreate the delicious dishes you tasted on your trip, why not take a cooking class. We learned so much from our class and market tour in Florence and enjoy making fresh pasta at home. 

>> Click the links to browse cooking classes in RomeFlorence and Amalfi Coast

For those who love football or soccer there could be no greater thrill than watching a football match in an Italian stadium. You’ll need to book tickets well in advance and we found the best site to do just that – click here to book Italian Serie A tickets.

Airport transfers

italy transport travel

No matter where you fly into Italy you will need to transfer from the airport to your accommodation and vice versa. Most of the airports are a fair way out from the city center – and in the case of Venice, in the middle of a lagoon! So preplanning your arrival is advised.

You can compare different transfer services on Hoppa – a website that specializes in transfer options from major airports. They have options to suit all budgets and prices for coach, mini bus, private car and limo services. 

If you know you want to book a car service we use and recommend Blacklane transfers.

Rome – transfers from Fiumicino airport

Taxis are fine, there is a set rate into Rome of €48 and the ride takes around 45 minutes. Or, if you’re like me, and need some comfort when you arrive you can pre-book a transfer on Blacklane

This would also be the best option if you are traveling with more than 2 people and have several items of luggage.

The most popular way to get into Rome is the Leonardo Express train – a non-stop service between Fiumicino and Rome Termini (the main station). Trains depart every half hour from 6:23 to 23:23, and the trip takes 32 minutes. The cost is €11. Unless you are saying close by you will then need to get a taxi to your accommodation.

The cheapest transfer option – this bus goes direct from the airport to Termini – €6 one way 

Venice transfers

venice italy airport transfer

The water bus company Alilaguna runs regular shuttles (every 15 -30 minutes in peak season) to and from the islands on the lagoon and the airport stopping at San Marco and Rialto (main stops). The fare is €8 one way €15 return and the journey takes 1½ hours – you can book online here 

For a glamorous arrival hire a private boat transfer or shared transfer in a water taxi – journey times and prices increase depending on number of people and exclusivity. A direct private transfer to the airport takes around 45 minutes.

  • Private transfer – around €200 for 6 people – book here 
  • Shared water taxi transfer – around €30 per person – book here 

You can also take a taxi or express airport bus to Piazzale Roma and then take a vaporetto (ferry) or walk your hotel/accommodation. A one way trip on the ferry costs €7 per person and is valid for 60 minutes.

The taxi will cost around €25 and the bus will cost around €8 and take around half an hour – for advance bus bookings (recommended in summer) go here 

Florence transfers from Florence airport

Florence airport is very close to the city center and a 15 minute taxi ride away. There is also an airport bus that takes around 20 minutes – more information

Florence transfers from Pisa airport

Many people fly to Pisa to reach Florence as it is a larger airport. If you arrive during the day take the PisaMover train to Pisa Centrale train station – journey time 5 minutes. Then take a train to Florence. The last train departs at 21.30

On our last visit we arranged a transfer with Blacklane as we arrived too late for the last train. There is also a coach transfer option.

Amalfi Coast transfers from Naples airport or train station

amalfi coast transfer

We recommend hiring a driver. The train, ferry and bus via Sorrento can take 4 hours while a car service is around 1.5 hours. You can compare different services on Hoppa – a site specializing in airport transfers or we use and recommend Blacklane transfers.

You may find sites or groups where specific drivers are recommended. I do NOT recommend booking a driver this way for safety reasons – how do you know that the person recommending the driver is reputable, let alone the driver? And also for practical reasons – small operators may not have capacity or availability.

Money and budget

italy trip planner money tips

The local currency in Italy is the € Euro.

There is no need to carry too much cash when you are in Italy. Credit and debit cards VISA and Mastercard are widely accepted while American Express is not as popular.

Be aware of foreign currency charges and ATM withdrawal fees applied to your account when you are abroad. You may want to review the cards you are taking with you prior to your trip. We always take two – one as a back up for emergencies. 

Expected costs

Apart from major transport, accommodation and activity costs (eg custom tours and experiences) expect to spend around €30 – 50 per person per day on food and snacks. We allocate another €50 per adult for tours, tickets, day travel and other items. This is a generous budget and it is possible to travel much more cheaply in Italy.

Note – a tourist tax is collected at hotels and accommodation throughout Italy. The rate depends on the city, class of hotel and number of nights you are staying.

Internet access

internet - travel planning italy

Have a good think about how much internet access you will need on your trip. Some people are happy to disconnect and use paper or offline maps while others need that online connection.

Italy has high speed internet and there are many options to stay connected depending on your needs. If you use minimal data and are happy using offline maps and guides then you should be able to get by using wifi at your accommodation. It would be unusual to find accommodation that did not offer wifi. You still need to check though.

Do not expect wifi connections to be available in restaurants and cafes – in Italy restaurants are for eating.

Make sure to turn off international data roaming before your trip to avoid unpleasant bill surprises

Local SIM

If you have an unlocked phone you can purchase a tourist SIM before your depart or when you arrive that has enough data for map navigation and research – will not extend to streaming movies or any other heavy upload or download activity. I haven’t used it myself but this local SIM from Italian provider TIM comes highly recommended. 

Portable wifi device

skyroam solis portable wifi

If, like me, you need to be online and connected throughout the day, you should consider renting or buying a portable wifi device like this one from Skyroam. It connects to the local network in Italy and many countries around the world. You then buy day passes for $US 9 per day that give you unlimited data.

I’ve been testing out Skyroam and it offers fast speeds – at least 4G. You can connect up to 5 devices and it also acts as a battery charger. The battery itself lasts a day.

You just need to set it up before you depart on your trip and learn how to use it as it is not as straightforward as I would like. Even so, I like having my usual SIM in my phone and the data running separately.

Click here to learn more about Skyroam plus get 10% off with my code – UNTOLDM

Travel Insurance

insurance travel planning italy

Yes you need travel insurance for Italy. Even if your home country has a health care agreement in place with the Italian government. These agreements do not cover emergency repatriation or trip cancelation so make sure you are covered well before you depart. 

We use World Nomads insurance because it is quick and easy to buy a policy and claim online. You can get a quick no obligation quote from them here.

Packing for your trip

What to pack will depend on the season and places you visit in Italy. We created a full packing guide with printable checklist that you can access on this page. It covers everything from seasonal capsule outfits to tech items and beauty need.

Absolute must have items for your trip

  • Collapsible water bottle – stay hydrated and fill up at free water fountains all over Italy
  • Camera – for your vacation snaps – I use an Olympus Pen – it’s lightweight and takes great photos
  • Packing cubes – these make packing and unpacking so easy.I love them!
  • Power cube – don’t bring lots of bulky converters. This one has 3 USB ports
  • Battery pack – keep your phone and/or camera charged
  • Converter – you will need one!


Travel with kids in Italy

family travel italy

We think Italy is one of the best places in the world to travel with kids. Children are welcomed and enjoyed wherever you go. There are not too many challenges that you would not experience at home.

Probably the hardest thing we find is that we fend off many kind offers of sweets and treats on a daily basis from well meaning grandmas/nonnas on our trips. There is a limit to how much chocolate a 4 year old can eat!

Restaurants will feed your kids first so you can enjoy your meal later. It’s such a brilliant move, I have no idea why this doesn’t happen in most countries. At any venue you can always order a plain pasta with red sauce beloved by children world wide.

travel with kids in italy

Kids travel at greatly reduced prices on Italian trains. Children under 4 ride free, no ticket required. Those under 15 can travel on the child rate on national trains and the child fare applies to children under 12 on regional trains.

If you are visiting museums and attractions such as the Vatican Museums and Uffizi Gallery we recommend hiring a guide that specializes in bringing these places alive for kids.

Our twins have been all over Italy with us. Their favorite city to visit is Venice – you can read our popular guide to Venice with kids here.

Italy trip planning done!


A blue sky over the ancient buildings of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Cambodia: it’s full of warm and friendly people, beautiful coastlines, a lively nightlife, and it has a growing foodie scene. It’s also one of the cheapest countries in the world.

I didn’t have high expectations when I first visited in 2006. Back then, all I knew about Cambodia was its awful history involving the Khmer Rouge and that it was home to Angkor Wat.

But I was blown away by the people and their warmth, spirit, and hospitality; the beautiful natural scenery; and the country’s long history. It was wonderful, and I ended up staying weeks longer than I thought I would (I especially loved Phnom Penh). I returned often, including spending over a month there when I was writing my first book. (It made for a great base of operations.)

In the last decade or so, Cambodia has grown by leaps and bounds. Sleepy little towns I visited before are now megacities, tourists (especially Russians and Chinese) visit en masse, there are more ATMs (there was exactly one in the country when I first went), and there’s a growing expat and foodie scene.

Cambodia still has problems, but it’s a lot more cosmopolitan today than when I first went.

What should you do when you visit Cambodia?

How should you plan your trip?

Below are some itineraries that include the best destinations in Cambodia. You can use them as a guideline to help you make the most of your trip!

What to See and Do in Cambodia: A One-Week Itinerary

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 1 – Phnom Penh

The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh has a Wild West ambiance, with dusty streets and a “devil may care” atmosphere. It has a few good attractions and an up-and-coming foodie scene.

The main attraction is the Royal Palace. Start there, and don’t miss the beautiful flower gardens and the Silver Pagoda, whose floor is made up of more than 5,000 silver tiles; inside is an emerald-covered Buddha and a diamond-covered Maitreya Buddha. It also has murals around its outer wall that tell the story of the Ramayana.

On the palace grounds are five stupas, with the two largest to the east containing the ashes of King Norodom and King Udung (the two most famous kings of modern Cambodia) and a statue of King Norodom on horseback. Admission is $10 USD for foreigners.

After seeing the palace, learn about the country’s tragic, not-too-distant history. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a former school where the Khmer Rouge interrogated and tortured people in the 1970s. You’ll see rusty beds and torture devices, in sharp contrast to the beautiful trees and lovely jasmine smell in the gardens. Admission is $5 USD for adults and $3 USD for anyone under 18.

Afterward, head to the Killing Fields, about 14km from Tuol Sleng. Although a visit to Choeung Ek (the best-known site) may not be the most cheerful way to spend an afternoon, it makes for a hallowed and memorable experience, a testament to the dangers of uncontested power. You won’t believe the memorial building in the center that is filled with skulls. Admission is only $3 USD; expect to pay at least $15 USD for a return-trip tuk-tuk ride.

(Tip: Visit the museum before heading to the Killing Fields, as it will open your eyes to the atrocities that happened here.)

Where to Stay in Phnom Penh: Sla Boutique Hostel – This is a pretty nice hostel not far from restaurants, bars, and attractions. It’s clean, and the beds are comfy and have privacy curtains. The staff (especially Mr. Star) are super friendly, and they can really help you plan your trip.

People visiting one of the many temples in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Day 2 – Phnom Penh

Spend your second day wandering around the city, and start by seeing the Independence Monument, designed by architect Vann Molyvann and inaugurated in 1958. It was created to mark Cambodia’s independence from French rule, though it also serves as a de facto war memorial. It’s one of the biggest landmarks in the city and a good place to start your day.

If you’re in the city on a weekend, try to catch an architectural walking tour with KA Tours, which has excellent guides who are students or experts in architecture, plus they’re not very expensive at around $15.

Check out the Cambodian Living Arts Center, a traditional dance school and performance center where you can watch students in training and see traditional live theatre. This is a fun way to spend a couple of hours while learning about the artistic traditions of the country. You can also take part in a workshop, which last around 90 minutes and cost $15 USD per person.

Make sure you stroll along Sisowath Quay on the Mekong River. The 3km walkway is busy and full of restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops.

Boats floating in the water near Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Day 3 – Sihanoukville

Get an early start and take a five-hour bus ride to Sihanoukville, named after the ruling prince of Cambodia in 1964. It was a lazy beach town until about 2010, when it took off with travelers (and tons of Chinese and Russian tourists on package tours) because of its white-sand beaches, nearby deserted islands, excellent diving, and delicious seafood. Its varied nightlife filled with cheap booze makes it the premier backpacker party city in Cambodia.

If you’re looking to soak up some sun, Independence Beach and Otres Beach are probably your best bets. Serendipity Beach used to be a great party spot, but there’s a lot of Chinese development going on now, so I wouldn’t stay there.

Where to Stay in Sihanoukville: Monkey Republic – This hostel is awesome. It’s a happening place, with a bar, restaurant, and pool. The staff is really friendly, and they host a lot of events. (Say hi to Aaron for me!) They can also organize a lot of day trips for you too.

A small boat on the beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Day 4 – Sihanoukville

Today is a day for day trips.

From Sihanoukville, hop on a boat and take a 45-minute ride to Koh Rong. While you can stay overnight, if you’re pressed for time, you can do it in a day trip. The beaches here are way better than on the mainland (and a lot less polluted). Snorkeling day trips cost approximately $21 USD and include lunch and equipment; there are PADI-certified schools in the area that offer a variety of different dive trips for one or more days.

If you don’t feel like heading to Koh Rong, you could book motorbike trip into Bokor National Park (as well as longer, multiday trips if you’re interested). There, you can hike through a great rainforest or see the atmospheric ruins of the French aristocracy for whom Bokor was a big draw back in the day. You’ll have some amazing views and find ruins, waterfalls, and temples all around.

You could also do a day trip to Kampot and the pepper fields in that area too.

The old temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Day 5 – Siem Reap

It’s gonna be a busy travel day. From Sihanoukville, you’ll need to return to Phnom Penh and then get on another bus to Siem Reap. I recommend Capitol Tours. It’s a 12-hour ride, so it’ll be evening by the time you get to Siem Reap.

(Note: It’s better to take the night bus so as not to waste a day. You won’t sleep well, but you also won’t lose a day!)

Siem Reap is located on the northeastern side of Tonle Sap Lake and is the main access to Angkor Wat. The center remains a rural old town, with French-style houses and shops. The area around the Old Market is crowded with locals and foreigners all day long.

Where to Stay in Siem Reap: Topsky Hostel – This hostel offers basic accommodations in a pretty quiet area that’s not far from the action. Try to get a lower bunk with a privacy curtain. The friendly staff will help you arrange a tuk-tuk and activities too.

A tree growing around a temple at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Day 6 – Siem Reap

Spend your day at Angkor Wat, the ancient city that was the center of the Khmer Empire that once ruled most of Southeast Asia. The temple was built in the 12th century and covers over 500 acres.

The most popular temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Angkor Thom. I would recommend getting a multiday pass so you can visit some of the outer temples where there are fewer visitors. You can hire a tuk-tuk for the day for around $20-25 USD or rent bicycles and explore on your own.

Angkor Wat is open daily from 5am to 6pm. Admission is $37 USD per person for a day pass, $62 USD for a three-day pass, and $72 USD for a seven-day pass.

One of the many ancient temples surrounded by trees at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Day 7 – Siem Reap

Enjoy your last day in Cambodia by exploring more of the Siem Reap area. Head over to the Angkor Wat complex for several more hours in the morning and then head over to astonishing Banteay Srei.

Known as “the city of women,” this temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and features a number of outstanding red sandstone statues. (You need an Angkor Wat Pass to visit.)

If you have time, visit Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. It is 52km (32 miles) from Siem Reap. Sailing down the river and around the lake gives you a look at how closely Cambodian life is tied to this major waterway. Tours start around $2.50 USD per person.

What to See and Do in Cambodia: A Two-Week itinerary

Want to spend more time in Cambodia? Great! You should! There are tons of other places to visit. Here are my suggestions:

Days 1 & 2 – Phnom Penh
Follow the Phnom Penh itinerary from above.

Day 3 & 4 – Sihanoukville
Follow the Sihanoukville itinerary from above.

Day 5 & 6 – Koh Rong

Head out to Koh Rong, which got its name after the legend of a giant King Kong–like ape that once called the island home. It’s a 45-minute trip from Sihanoukville and a great place to relax on the beach or go snorkeling. There are a lot of accommodation options, and it’s a popular spot with backpackers.

Day trips costs around $25 USD and include lunch and snorkeling equipment, but since you have the time, spend a few nights here relaxing and enjoying beach life.

There are also other islands nearby if you want to stay longer and explore, including Koh Rong Samloem, which is becoming something of a backpacker paradise (there’s even a Full Moon Party there now).

Days 7 & 8 – Kep

In the morning, travel by bus to Kep, which is about two hours from Sihanoukville. This quaint beach town and fishing village is the quiet version of Sihanoukville: a nice place to relax near the ocean but without a party atmosphere. It’s famous for its pepper crab and empty beaches.

Consider taking two full days here. Sure, it’s quite sleepy and there’s not a lot to do, but it’s the perfect place to relax, eat all the delicious crabs the city is famous for, and read a book. You can also spend some time on nearby Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) too, a secluded and charming escape from the world if you’re looking to disconnect. Basic bungalows can be rented for under $10 USD per night.

Where to Stay in Kep: Khmer House Hostel – Kep is pretty spread out, so wherever you stay, make sure you rent a bike or scooter. This hostel is a good option as it’s not far from the Crab Market.

The brown waters of the river in Kampot, cambodia

Day 9 – Kampot

The southern region of Cambodia is filled with pepper farms where you can learn about the history of the spice, see how it is grown, and pick up what is considered some of the finest pepper in the world.

I’d spend one night in Kampot. It’s another quiet town on the coast. Most people come here to enjoy the scenic riverside views as well as the rolling hills that surround the city. The area used to be a getaway for the French, so you’ll see old French architecture around.

At night, the street near the old bridge is lined with fruit shake vendors. Try a million. The city is famous for them.

Also, if you only do one thing in this entire itinerary, make sure it’s eating the ribs at The Rusty Keyhole. They are some of the best ribs I’ve ever had in my entire life. You have to order them the day before. You’ll also get healthy side of mashed potatoes and coleslaw too. It’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I still dream of it.

Where to Stay in Kampot: The Magic Sponge – This is one of my favorite hostels in Cambodia. Make sure you book early, as it tends to sell out. It’s a really nice, relaxed guesthouse where you’ll get your own bed (not a bunk). You’ll feel at home here, and it’s a short walk to the center of town. The dorm rooms are very clean. They also have a little mini-golf course too.

The green fields surrounding Kampot in Cambodia

Day 10 – Kampot 

Today, hire hire a tuk-tuk driver to explore the Kampot area. The Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple has a religious shrine inside, or you can head out and spend the day in Bokor, as Kampot is relatively close to the park.

Days 11, 12, & 13 – Siem Reap
Follow the Siem Reap itinerary from above. Angkor Wat is best seen slowly, so use your days to explore it as much as possible. There are a lot of out-of-the-way temples to visit that are free of crowds.

Day 14 – Siem Reap

On your last day in Cambodia, why not take a cooking class? The class sizes tend to be around six people, and you will learn to prepare three different meals, as well as get recipe cards at the end. Prices start around $20 USD per person; local guesthouses can help arrange a class.

What to See and Do in Cambodia: A Three-Week Itinerary

Have even more time for Cambodia? Good! Cambodia has a lot more to it than the major spots on the backpacker trail.

Days 1, 2, & 3 – Phnom Penh and Kirirom National Park
Follow the above suggestions, but also head out to Kirirom National Park for a day trip. This park has all sorts of walking trails, mountain biking trails, waterfalls, and a few lakes. It’s a good place to go to take a break from the city.

The park is around a two-hour drive from the city, so you’ll need to hire a driver for the day. The best way to do this is to find some travelers to join you so you can share a ride, which will cost around $80 for the day.

Days 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 – Sihanoukville and the Islands
Follow the above suggestions but at a much slower pace!

Days 9, 10 & 11 – Kep and Rabbit Island
Follow the above suggestions for Kep, but head out to Rabbit Island for a rustic island getaway.

Days 12 & 13 – Kampot
Follow the above suggestions!

Days 14, 15, & 16 – Siem Reap
Follow the above suggestions!

One of the many ancient temples covered in jungle at Koh Ker in Cambodia

Day 17 – Koh Ker

For a fun day trip from Siem Reap, head to Koh Ker, located around 2.5 hours from town. Koh Ker was briefly the capital of the Khmer Empire, and many of the temples here are over 1,000 years old. It’s a massive archeological site located in the jungle, and it sees far fewer tourists than Siem Reap.

There are no public buses that go there (the roads were only paved a few years ago), so you’ll have to arrange transportation via your hostel or hotel.

Locals and tourists bathing at the waterfall in Phnom Kulen national park

Day 18 – Phnom Kulen

For another fun day trip, head to Phnom Kulen, considered the country’s most sacred mountain. It’s located just 50km from Siem Reap and offers some amazing jungles, hiking, and picturesque waterfalls where you can take dip to beat the heat. You can easily spend a day here. If you head up to the summit, there are some great views as well as a large reclining Buddha statue. Try to arrive early as the park fills up by lunchtime. Admission to the park is $20 USD.

Day 19 – Battambang

From Siem Reap, you can take a three-hour bus to Battambang. Or try taking a riverboat on Tonle Sap for a unique experience (there is one boat per day, with tickets costing around $20 USD per person).

When you arrive, you’ll discover Cambodia without the tourism. Get familiar with Battambang by exploring the town on foot (or by tuk-tuk). Check out the Phsar Boeung Choeuk and Phsar Naht markets. You’ll also want to visit the gorgeous pagodas and temples, such as Wat Pippitharam (near the Old Market), Wat Bovil, Wat Kandal, and Wat Damreay Sar.

In the evening, check out the Battambang Circus. The show is put on by students at a Cambodian nonprofit arts school, so your donations go to a good cause.

Where to Stay in Battambang: Sophea Hostel – This is a good place to meet locals and make some friends. It’s family-run, and they try to make you feel at home. The facilities are pretty basic, but typical, dorms. There’s a nice garden and sitting area. While there’s no restaurant on-site, there are plenty of nearby options.

The green farmlands surrounding Battambang in Cambodia

Day 20 – Battambang

Take it easy this morning by touring the town a bit more on foot. Check out the colonial architecture along the waterfront and the governor’s residence. This building from the early 1900s is not open, but you can marvel at the exterior.

While you’re wandering, don’t miss the Art Deco central market building and the Victory swimming pool (where you can take a dip if you’re in the mood). You may want to visit the Battambang Museum; admission is just $1 USD, and you’ll learn a lot about the history of the area.

After lunch, you should grab a tuk-tuk and head a bit out of town to check out Phnom Sampeu. Take about an hour to climb to the monastery on the hill. You’ll also find some caves in the area with Buddhist temples in them. There’s also another cave at the foot of Phnom Sampeu; this is where you want to be around dusk, when millions of bats fly out of the cave in search of food. It’s an incredible sight!

Two monks in orange robes walking in a temple in Cambodia

Day 21 – Siem Reap or Phnom Penh 

Make your way back to one of these towns, depending on where your flight is leaving from. Enjoy the bus ride, knowing it’s your last in Cambodia (at least for now)!