Sofia Adventures

Welcome to Sofia!

Sofia is an intriguing city, with corners that show at various times a glint of the splendor of Vienna, the charm of Istanbul, the quirkiness of Budapest, and the brutalism of Moscow. You’ll find Roman ruins in our subway stations, medieval icons in the church basements, and Thracian relics in the former presidential palace. Yet Sofia brings all of these seemingly disparate traditions together into one magical, inspiring city.

DISCOVER SOFIA

DISCOVER SOFIA

DISCOVER SOFIA

NEW ON THE BLOG

11 Best Borovets Ski Resorts for a Magical Winter Trip

We think that Borovets is one of the most underrated destinations in Bulgaria for a ski holiday. It’s close to Sofia (and super easy to get there!), cheaper than Bansko, and full of wonderful ski resorts in Borovets that won’t break the bank while providing all the amenities you expect from a ski resort.

We’ve picked out the best Borovets ski resorts for a variety of budgets and picked out two holiday homes as well, perfect if you’re planning a Bulgaria ski trip with a larger group.

In general, our budget categories go as follows: a budget Borovets ski resort is under $100 USD per weekend night, a mid-range ski resort in Borovets goes for around $100-200 USD per weekend night, and a luxury Borovets ski can go for slightly upwards of $200+ USD per night.

However, keep in mind that we based these prices off a random Saturday in January. If you travel in the very peak season, such as the period between Christmas and New Years, expect prices to be as much as doubled at times! Meanwhile, if you travel during the weekdays and limit your weekend days, you’ll likely find that you’re able to get quite a good deal on accommodations in Borovets.

So, without further ado, here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Borovets, Bulgaria: the best ski resorts in the city!

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Planning a Bulgaria ski holiday? Whether you pick Borovets or Bansko, there are plenty of amazing ski resorts in Bulgaria. In this post we list the best ski resorts in Borovets, so you can pick the perfect Borovets accommodation (whether it be a hotel, a ski resort, or a villa) for your budget! Read this guide to where to stay in Borovets, Bulgaria for your ski vacation.
Planning a Bulgaria ski holiday? Whether you pick Borovets or Bansko, there are plenty of amazing ski resorts in Bulgaria. In this post we list the best ski resorts in Borovets, so you can pick the perfect Borovets accommodation (whether it be a hotel, a ski resort, or a villa) for your budget! Read this guide to where to stay in Borovets, Bulgaria for your ski vacation.

Budget

Bulgaria - Borovets - Hotel Samokov

Hotel Festa Chamkoria

The location of the hotel is peaceful and perfect — it is just right beside the ski slope. It boasts complete family-friendly features for as low as $84 USD (that’s for 2 adults and 2 kids!) per night. Try to book it for the early ski season to get a good deal like this!

All rooms are soundproofed and have a balcony with a mountain view. The hotel’s decor is the perfect embodiment of winter – the interiors are mostly white! The ensuite bathroom comes with the usual toiletries, a hairdryer, as well as fluffy bathrobes and towels. For someone who can’t live without caffeine (raises hand), each room has its own coffee and tea making facilities. While breakfast is inclusive, you can also request dinner with a wide selection of food!

If traveling with a family, there are a few family-friendly features to note. They have an outdoor playground and an indoor kids’ club for children. You can also request extra cribs or beds; just make sure to communicate this request before your arrival, as it can sometimes be unavailable due to the number of guests.

But not only kids can enjoy! For friends traveling here in a group, there is a bar inside where you can have some drinks. You can also take a dip in their year-round indoor heated pool, relax in the steam room or sauna, go to the spa for beauty treatments and massages.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Hotel Festa Chamkoria here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Hotel Flora

Euphoria Club Hotel

This 4-star design-inspired hotel is a skier’s paradise. The rooms look lovely in neutral light colors with touches of red, which give it a romantic appeal. Skiers are provided with free private ski storage, and if you didn’t bring your own gear, you can rent equipment directly at the hotel for a reasonable price.

The beds are comfortable and extra-long, to ensure that your sleep will be relaxing. In the morning, you will love the forest and snow-covered mountain view from your balcony.

Parking is free, but if you decided not to bring a car, then you can also take their free shuttle to and from the gondola lift or slopes. For some R&R, you can take a dip in the hot tub or visit their spa for a massage, facial, or other body treatments.

Families will be happy to note a few facilities that are perfect for them. If you need someone to watch over the kids while you enjoy the slopes or have a night out, you can utilize the hotel’s babysitting services. Keeping them entertained at the outdoor playground is also an option.

Those who do not ski can still enjoy swimming in their indoor pool, playing in their game room, relaxing in the lounge with a book, having cocktails at the bar, or renting a bike to go around nearby locations (weather permitting!). There are just so many things you can do at this hotel, and with the low price, it’s definitely a good bang for your buck.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Euphoria Club Hotel here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Valentine Snow

The Lodge Hotel

Considered to be one of the first boutique hotels in Bulgaria, The Lodge Hotel is one of the most well-reviewed hotels in Borovets. It’s a small, personal hotel with only 17 rooms and suites, so you can rest assured there is a great deal of attention to detail individually provided.

The rooms are simple yet elegant and have features like a minibar, private bathroom with toiletries, and safety deposit boxes for your important belongings. If you want a balcony or patio, take a look at their larger suite options.

A unique feature of the rooms is their underfloor heating which helps keep maintain your desired temperature — no frozen toes here!

First time skiers can get guidelines on their ski school inside. You can also buy or hire ski equipment here. It’s right next to the gondola entrance (literally 20 meters away!), so it’s perfect for skiers and snowboarders who don’t want to waste any time in transit to the slopes!

They also have wellness amenities like a fitness center, sauna, spa, steam bath, hot tubs, and two heated indoor pools. Those who do not wish to go outside for meals can dine in their restaurant and bar (though Borovets does have some delicious restaurants!)

If you’re lucky, you can get their suite for two that includes a private pool for $100 USD – that is such a steal! People looking to get married can book their bridal suite. If you feel like riding a horse or renting a car, they can arrange those have it too.

For people with kids, there are some amenities for you that make your trip even more relaxing. You can keep kids busy at their playground, enjoying board and puzzle games which are provided, or utilize the hotel’s own babysitting services.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at The Lodge Hotel here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Snow Covered Pine Trees

Radina’s Way Hotel

You will be welcomed by the fresh breeze from the mountain the moment you arrive! The rooms are well-maintained and cleaned every day plus there are multiple configurations for different family sizes. Details of warm colors complement its simple and elegant theme.

You can also rent ski equipment and have a private instructor for yourself at an additional charge. And you can even take a tour around the facilites on a sleigh pulled by horses! What a wonderful way to start that much-awaited vacation (and please any kids you’re traveling with!)

Guests enjoyed the free buffet breakfast due to its healthy options. There is also a restaurant inside the hotel that serves international breakfast, lunch, or dinner at an extra charge. The bar also has a good selection of drinks and cocktails.

Keep your vacation stress-free by availing some of the services at their spa center. You can also enjoy other free wellness activities in their fitness center, Finnish sauna, geothermal pool, and steam bath. To ensure safety, they have a separate children’s pool for free.

Just in case you need someone to watch over the kids, you can leave them at their kids’ club where a trained staff member can watch them. Cots and extra beds are available at no extra charge.

One thing to note is that it’s a little outside the center of Borovets and a bit away from the ski lift. There is a shuttle which connects you to the town center and the ski lift, but it doesn’t run extremely frequently, so you may prefer to stay here if you have your own car rather than relying upon the shuttle and taxis.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Radina’s Way Hotel here «« 

Mid-Range

Bulgaria - Borovets - Skiiers

Ice Angels Hotel

Ice Angels is the biggest 4-star hotel in Borovets, Bulgaria. That said, the hotel only has 40 rooms, and you can choose from a double, a studio or a suite type (some even have private fireplaces!).

The rooms are spacious, which makes it a very big space for couples and perfect for families on a vacation. Guests will feel like a celebrity upon entering the hotel because you will walk on their red carpet! The hotel has a very high demand during the peak of the ski season, so be sure to book in advance if this Borovets ski resort catches your eye.

Most of its amenities are world-class and newly renovated. They have an International Ski & Snowboard Center where you can learn the basics of these winter sports if it’s your first time hitting the slopes.

You can check their restaurant for a delicious experience of Bulgarian and international cuisine, or even party at their night club! If you prefer some peace and have some shots or drinks, then you can visit their lobby bar. For someone who wants to rejuvenate themselves, spa facilities like a warm jacuzzi, Turkish bath, sauna, and other delightful treatments are available: a perfect treat after a long day of skiing.

Due to the night club and lively lobby bar, the hotel can be a bit loud and is perhaps not the best place for families. It’d be far better for a group of friends who enjoy a lively apres-ski scene!

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Ice Angels Hotel here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Snow Covered Pine Trees View from the Hotel Flora

Festa Winter Palace Hotel

This is a 5-star hotel that looks very grand – it’s really like a palace! It has a total of 66 rooms — some even with fireplaces. The rooms are very stylish, spacious and elegant, each having its own balcony showcasing the view of the ski slopes and the mountains. You will be surprised by beautiful surprise decor elements like tiny hummingbirds and antelopes completing the interiors!

For someone who hates wet toilets that often come as a result of poorly designed bathrooms (raises hand), rejoice for the toilets are divided from the shower. As someone who’s been living in Bulgaria for years and is always shocked by the poor bathroom design — this may sound silly but it’s pretty freaking cool!

The quality of the buffet breakfast is also wonderful according to guests. There are two restaurants and a café inside, where you can enjoy meals or sip some warm coffee. Use of amenities like the pools, steam rooms, sauna, and fitness center is inclusive of your stay. There are also wonderful choices of treatments you can avail in their spa.

For skiers and snowboarders, the location couldn’t be more perfect, as it’s just 100 meters away from the ski lift! It’s nearby to several restaurants as well.

It’s a kid-friendly hotel, so bring along the whole family! Kids can meet new friends in their indoor play area (which is quite cute and safe) or watch their TV programs with children’s shows available. Cots for kids under 2 are free; there is a charge for kids over 2 if they require an extra bed.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Festa Winter Palace Hotel here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Bus Stop for the Bus from Borovets to Samokov

Borovets Hills Ski & Spa

This gorgeous hotel has a total of 65 rooms, where you can choose from a double, a suite, or an apartment-type stay. The floors are all carpeted and have vibrant and regal colors that perfectly complement and create a beautiful space.

Breakfast and dinner are included. For someone who is very conscious about what they intake, you can check their menu which caters to special diets. There is also a café inside the hotel and the restaurant offers a fine dining experience where you can see how they prepare authentic Balkan dishes right before your eyes! Parking is also very convenient and free.

Skiers can store their equipment safely in the ski storages provided. Someone who doesn’t know how to ski can try their ski school! The ski lift is only two minutes’ walk away, so there’s no time like the present to indulge in some winters sports.

The spa offers a great pampering experience, but you can step up your relaxation game with their hammam, massages, and hair and nail salon. There’s also a swimming pool, a steam bath, a hot tub, a fitness center, a sauna, and my personal favorite — a salt room!

If you want to bring back some Bulgarian souvenirs for your loved ones, they have an on-site gift shop for easy souvenir shopping.

For families, there are a few things to note. Children aged three years old and below are free of charge, and you can get them either a free cot or extra bed upon request. For a busy day skiing where you can’t bring your kids (or a night out sans kids), you can leave them safely at the kids’ club where a trained staff member can supervise them and keep them entertained with some activities and amusements! There are also indoor and outdoor kids playgrounds.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Borovets Hills Ski & Spa here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Snow Covered Trees Money Exchange

Luxury

Rila Hotel Borovets

The architecture of Rila Hotel Borovets is very modern, with an unusual triangular shape. It is classified as a spa hotel and you will notice a lot of wood in their interiors which makes you feel peaceful and calm. The rooms are also decorated with wooden furniture, that remind you of an upscale version of gorgeous Scandinavian designs. While Borovets is indeed safe, guests will feel an additional layer of safety due to the 24/7 security presence.

If you feel lucky that day, try your best at their on-site casino! Other activities like horse riding, cycling, and a games room with darts and billiards will keep you occupied when you’re bored. Though with the ski lift only a few meters away, why would you get bored?

You can also try their spa amenities — they’re one of the best, if not the best in the area. They have a 25-meter long heated indoor pool, hot tubs, a salon, hammam, fitness center, sauna, and wellness services such as massages and more.

A breakfast buffet is included in your stay and what parents love the most is the selection in their kids’ buffet. If nothing from the buffet fits your kids’ liking, you can check their a la carte kids’ menu too — perfect for picky eaters. For families, note that cots for kids under 2 are free; there is a reasonable charge (40 leva per child) for extra beds for kids aged 3-11.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Rila Hotel Borovets here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Hotel Rila

Hotel Yastrebets Wellness & Spa

The hotel has a next-to-nature design, making it look like a huge luxurious cabin — a lot of wood was used to make it, giving it an extremely natural and beautiful aesthetic! In fact, it has been awarded multiple times as Bulgaria’s leading resort by the World Travel Awards!

Outdoors, you will see the square-shaped wicker chairs in their patio, which look stunning. All of their rooms have a minibar, mountain view, safety deposit boxes, a personal wardrobe, a balcony with the view of the mountain, and free toiletries.

A/C and heating are also available depending on the season you arrive. The ensuite bathroom comes with free toiletries and all of their shower gels, shampoo, soap, and conditioners are organic.

Outside of the hotel are countless fragrant pine trees, that add a spectacular view from your room terrace. Most guests have loved their free breakfast, and many guests noted that they always looked forward to the themed dinner nights hosted at the restaurant.

Families who love to bond over a BBQ can pay additional to use their barbeque facilities. And even better — you can even bring your pets with you; just make sure to coordinate with the hotel and pay applicable fees! You can also check their on-site bar, restaurant, and café.

Aside from the free pool and wellness activities you can do, there are also a ton of other paid activities like archery, bike tours, badminton and tennis equipment rentals, horse riding and fishing which you may ask about at their 24-hour service desk.

For an extra special occasion, take a look at the incredible Finnish chalets they have on site, where you can stay in a wooden cabin, either one or two bedrooms — and some even have their own sauna! The price is a little high for this experience, but for a special occasion, I can’t think of anywhere more cozy or romantic to stay in Borovets.

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Hotel Yastrebets Wellness & Spa here «« 

Holiday Villas

Saint George Holiday Village

The villas provide a private, homey feel to every family vacation! It can also be considered as a perfect place to celebrate special occasions due to its privacy.

During winter, the villas will remind you of Christmas villages! Each villa features a living room with a fireplace and a seating area. There’s also three large bedrooms, two bathrooms and the floors are made of warm-toned wood parquet — perfect for large groups. The entire villa is equipped with speedy internet, so you don’t have to disconnect completely (unless you want to!).

In the “holiday village,” there is a restaurant that serves an international menu — you can also have breakfast there. Private parking is also available for those who wish to rent a car or are traveling with their own personal car. Kids can also have fun at the playground nearby.

Skiers who were not able to bring equipment can rent directly at the site. However, the ski storages are not inclusive of your stay and additional fees apply. There is a 24-hour service desk in the village if you need anything, so it’s the comfort of having your own home with the convenience of a receptionist on call at any hour!

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Saint George Holiday Village here «« 

Bulgaria - Borovets - Ski Lift

Villa Elena

Villa Elena is a huge villa with 8 bedrooms that are simple, big, and clean. The villa can accommodate 20 people or more, so it’s perfect for a family reunion or giant ski trip with friends!

The kitchen and dining area are complete with anything you would need to prepare and eat your meals. Everyone can feel warm in the living room because of the fireplace surrounded by a nice sofa. Kids (and adults, let’s be honest!) can enjoy making s’mores here! Free speedy WiFi is also available in the entire property.

Both the garden and terrace are a nice place to stay and watch the beautiful views of the mountains. The patio outside is where you can gather for a nice barbeque if it’s not too cold to heat up the grill and hang out outside!

However, it will be a good idea to bring your personal toiletries, especially towels, because there is an additional fee to get them there. If you feel tired at the end of the day, you can sit and relax at the sauna inside the villa. The overall experience of guests who stayed here was great!

»» Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Villa Elena here «« 

More Bulgaria Travel Resources

Bulgaria - Borovets - Sunny's Restaurant Stephanie

If you’re coming to Borovets for skiing or hiking, make sure to set aside some time to enjoy the town! We found that the hospitality in Borovets exceeded our expectations tremendously! Here are our Borovets restaurant recommendations for your trip. You’ll also want the directions for getting from Sofia to Borovets, as well as from Borovets back to Sofia.

Of course, you’ll want to know what to pack! We have a Bulgaria packing list which covers winter clothing for men and women here; however, since we’re not skiers or snowboarders, you’ll have to fill in your own gear knowledge if you plan to bring any winter sports equipment.

Since you’re planning a winter trip, we have some more winter ideas for what to do in Bulgaria in winter, as well as what to do in Sofia in winter (if you’re visiting Sofia as well!).

If this is your first trip to Bulgaria, read up on our Bulgaria trip planning checklist. You may also want to brush up on our guides to the Sofia airport and Sofia taxis, which will help you plan the logistics of your trip.

If you intend on spending some time in the capital before or after your trip, we have guides for things to do in Sofia, along with our Sofia restaurant and bar guides, plus where we recommend you stay in Sofia.

Going Skiing? Update Your Travel Insurance Policy

Finally, make sure you always ski with an updated travel insurance policy.  Any time you’ll be doing adventure sports and outdoor activities, you want to have travel insurance to cover you in case you get hurt. One of my best friends got in a skiing accident in Switzerland and had to be flown home. Without travel insurance, she would have gone bankrupt. However, they covered her ACL surgery in full.

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. Important note: if you plan to ski or snowboard, be sure to opt for their Explorer plan, as the standard plan does not include winter sports! 

I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

50 Fabulous Turkey Puns & Instagram Caption Inspiration

Are you looking for the best Turkey puns for a trip to Turkey (or a Thanksgiving pun for the holidays)? From birds to planes, here are our favorite Turkey puns.

Can’t read now? Pin for later!

Turkey Puns and Turkey Instagram Captions

The Best Turkey Travel Puns

Are you planning a trip to Turkey? Bookmark these Turkey travel puns for your trip!

Never in a fowl mood in Turkey!

Spending Christmas in Istanbul? Yep, I’m going cold Turkey

Turkey - Cappadocia

Istanbul holds the Turkey to my heart. 

I Galata get to Istanbul, ASAP!

Turkey - Istanbul - Galata Tower Stephanie

Making the mosque of our time in Turkey.

This is not my last trip to Turkey. I’ll definitely Bebek.

Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Breakfast at Nezih

You Ortaköy know how gorgeous Turkey is. 

Kadıköy? More like Cat-iköy. 

Turkey - Istanbul - Cat at the Blue Mosque

Stay Golden Horn, Ponyboy.

Being in Cappadocia is air-mazing.

I Cappadocia believe this place.

Turkey in winter is Brrrrr-eathtaking. 

Turkey - Istanbul - Hagia Sofia in Winter - Canva

Feline just fine in Istanbul.

The Fairy Chimneys in Cappadocia is truly a-stone-ishing.

Cappadocia - Turkey - Selime Allison

Turkey is for the birds.

I can’t Ephesus enough how amazing this place it.

The Best Turkish Food Puns

We love Turkish food, but we’re not above poking a bit of good-natured fun with some funny Turkish food puns!

Istanbul is such a a brew-tiful city!

You doner know.

Turkey - Istanbul - Istanbul Bosphorus Dinner - Canva

Olive for views like this.

Scoops, I did it again! 

Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Spices - Pixabay

Turkey, I’ll definitely be baklava!

You’re my better halva.

Turkey - Istanbul - Raki and Mezze - Canva-2

You’re such a Dolma.

I falafel that I have to leave Turkey.

Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Breakfast at Private Cafe

Am I Borek-ing you?

I’m Turkish Delight-ed to be in Turkey.

The Best Thanksgiving Puns & Turkey Puns

If you ended up here looking for Thanksgiving holiday puns and NOT puns about Turkey (the country), here are a few of my favorites. 

Thanksgiving Puns

Can’t wait to get basted.

Pour some gravy on me.

You can’t make this stuffing up.

Because I’m all about that baste.

Thanksgiving around here always turns into a clusterpluck. 

Turkeys gobble but they don’t fall down.

Flying home to see the family on Thanksgiving. I used my frequent fryer miles.

I’m a huge tryptophan of Thanksgiving. 

I want to quit eating, but I can’t go cold turkey

I’ve got ninety-nine problems, but a bird ain’t one. 

Pour me some more wine in my gobble-let.

If anyone harasses you on Thanksgiving, tell them to go pluck themselves.

Talk turkey to me.

You want a bit of my pie? No clucking way.

The chef must be disgruntled. He’s always flipping the bird.

Ottoman Puns

Love some good puns about the Ottoman Empire? Here are a few of my faves.

Sultan you believe how beautiful this place is?

If someone asks you is Turkey safe, tell them they Ottoman up.

Turkey - Istanbul - Mosque

I’d wear a Vizier, but I don’t want to look like a tourist.

Byzantine Puns

Here are a few of my favorite Byzantine Empire puns. I hope their straightforward enough for you!

I Constantipole how beautiful this place is.

I’m Justinian in love with this city.

Turkey - Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - Collab

Checking out Roman sites in Pammukale. It’s impossible to ruin this view! 

Turkey’s so romantic. It’s the best place to spend Valentinian’s day.

Turkey - Istanbul - Basilica Cisterns

Your photo is gorgeous! It’s perfectly in Phocas.

I got lost Rome-ing around Constantinople, because the streets were so Byzantine.

5 Things to Bring to Turkey

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

We’re working on our full list of what to pack for Istanbul, but here are five things you definitely want to bring with you!

The Lonely Planet Turkeya good guidebook can help you with the kinds of safety tips you need if you’re out in the city and feel a bit lost, especially if you don’t have internet or a cell signal. These also have specific neighborhood information that will help you in different parts of the city, and it’s a great supplement to blog posts like this one!

Unlocked Cell Phone: Stephanie and I both have unlocked cell phones that we bought in Europe (I use a Samsung and Allison uses an iPhone). This allows up to get sim cards when we travel so that we always have the internet. This has gotten us out of so many jams! If you don’t have an unlocked cell phone that can use a Turkish sim card, you can buy a cheaper unlocked phone online and bring it with you!

Pacsafe Citysafe or Other Anti-Theft Bag: This is the bag both Stephanie and I use for all our travels. It has a pouch with RFID technology so our credit cards can’t get scanned from afar, interlocking zippers to make it harder to pickpocket, and it’s roomy enough to be a perfect sightseeing day bag, yet it’s still quite stylish for all of its security features. If you’d rather bring something smaller, you can pack a money belt instead. 

Grayl Water FilterWhile the water is *technically* safe to drink now, I would still avoid it. If you don’t want to be buying millions of plastic water bottles, you can get a reusable water bottle that comes with a water filter so that you can stick to the tap water and reduce your plastic waste. If you’ll be traveling outside of the major tourist centers, check if the water is potable locally.

Seabands: If you get seasick easily, pack some Seabands or seasickness pills so you don’t miss out on the best parts of Turkey – being on the water! A trip to Turkey isn’t complete without a cruise or at least a quick boat trip, so make sure you’re prepared to enjoy it to the fullest!

More Turkey Travel Resources

Turkey - Istanbul - Stephanie Ortakoy Mosque

We have a ton of resources to help you plan your trip to Turkey!

If this will be your first time traveling to Turkey, check out this guide to planning a trip to Turkey (including visa information) and this guide beautiful places to visit in Turkey. You can also check out our Balkan currency guide, which explains how the Turkish lira works and guidelines for tipping in Istanbul.

If you’re heading to Istanbul, we have you covered. Start with our essential Istanbul Travel Tips and guide to staying safe in Istanbul

We’re working on our massive things to do in Istanbul post, plus you can check out our guide to the best Instagram spots around Istanbul, tips for shopping in Istanbul, the best Turkish food to eat, how to plan an Istanbul honeymoon, and what to do in Istanbul at night.

If you will be visiting in winter, we have a special winter in Istanbul guide plus an overview of Istanbul weather in January.

If you want to be in the city for just a few days (four or less), check out our Istanbul city break guide, which breaks down the best of the city so you won’t miss anything!

Headed to Cappadocia? If you’re curious about the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia, we’ve got you covered. We also have posts on the best things to do in Cappadocia, and how to plan a perfect 3 day Cappadocia itinerary, plus how to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul.

We have tons more Turkey and Balkans resources, and we publish new content nearly daily. Bookmark our Turkey and Balkans travel pages so you can find any new resources that come out before your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, make sure to travel with a valid travel insurance policy. While we feel safe in Turkey, it’s a good idea to be covered in case of an emergency. Travel insurance covers you in case of theft or an accident, which can save your trip if there’s an incident.

For travel insurance, Allison and I use World NomadsI’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

>>Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.<<

Pin these Turkey Puns & Turkey Instagram Captions for Your Trip!

Turkey Puns and Turkey Instagram Captions

 

50 So-Bad-They’re-Good Greece Puns & Instagram Captions

Trying to think of some hilarious Greek puns? Save your Greece of mind with these cringingly delightful Greece puns.

We have general Greece puns, puns about Greek gods and literature, and puns about Greek food — so there’s something for everyone here.

And if you think our puns about Greece are a little too dad jokey — please accept our Apollo-gies.

Need some funny Greece puns and Greece jokes for your Instagram captions or just to make your friends groan on your Greece trip? These hilariously bad Greek puns will do the trick!
Need some funny Greece puns and Greece jokes for your Instagram captions or just to make your friends groan on your Greece trip? These hilariously bad Greek puns will do the trick!

General Greece Puns

Greece - Delphi - Temple of Apollo

It’s impossible to ruin this view.

Why, it’s Greeced lightning!

I didn’t have to rush to join this Greek life!

Greecey hair, don’t care.

What Athens in Greece, stays in Greece

Greece - Athens - Amphitheater on the Acropolis called the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

What’s Athen-in’?

Greeking out over these views

Wonders never Greece

Take another Greece of my heart

Greek Literature & Mythology Puns

Greece - Athens - Temple of Olympian Zeus

My Apollo-gies for the cheesy puns

Greece, I already Arte-miss you

You Odyssey this view!

Go big or go Homer!

Can you Callispera some change?

Just getting some fresh Ares at the Acropolis

Atlas shrugged

Greece, you’re Castor-ing a spell on me!

Thank Dionysus it’s Friday

I Hades to have to leave

Greece is Hypno-tic

What a Pallas!

The Greeks sure know how to Plato their food

Don’t be a Socra-tease!

Greece, I’m going to myth you

Follow my Leda.

On the Zeus!

You’re getting on Minerva!

Greek Islands Puns

Greece - Santorini

So many blue-tiful views in Santorini!

Be still my Crete-ing heart

Let’s be dis-Crete

Isn’t it Saronic?

You better be back before your Corfu

Greece - Corfu - Sunset

It’s in one Oia and out the other

All Rhodes lead to Greece

Symi in Greece!

Are you Syros-ly going to skip the Greek islands?

Greece Food Puns

Turkey - Istanbul - Turkish Coffee

Have yourself a brew-tiful day!

I’m not a freddo tell you that I’m in love with Greece

I can be your gyro, baby!

Feta late than never!

Olive for views like this.

Olive you.

The city just ouzos with charm

Greece - Heraklion - Restaurants Greek Food Calamari

Split this plate of calamari? Are you squidding me?

Greece, I’ll definitely be baklava!

Gimme a pita that!

I should be souvlaki!

You’re my fava-rite

You’re my better halva

I falafel that I have to leave Greece

Key Things to Pack on Your Trip to Greece

Greece - Santorini

If you’re planning a trip to Greece, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more packing tips, check out our complete Greece packing list.

– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Greece for this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.

– A water bottle with a filter. While often, the tap water in Greece is drinkable, there are places where it isn’t, including some popular tourist destinations like Santorini.

We generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant!

We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.

– Motion sickness pills. Many Greek roads are winding, especially around the coast. If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.

– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.

 Travel safety items. We think Greece is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

More Greece Travel Resources

Greece - Epidaurus - Stephanie Selfie

Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.

First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.

Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.

If you are still trying to figure out your Greece itinerary, check out our guides on where to go in Greece, the best places for island hopping in Greece, and when is the best time to visit. 

If you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned! 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!

Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.  While Athens is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” and we think it’s true!

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.<<

Essential Turkey Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Turkey

If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, you’re in luck: prepare yourself for a magical experience unlike nowhere else in the world.

Turkey is a place of immense history that spans the centuries, once the heart of one of the most important empires the world has seen. Today, it has a thriving culture driven by youth, creativity, and tradition.

Packing for Turkey is not always easy as the weather varies quite a bit from season to season — something that took me aback when I planned my first trip to Turkey, which was in February, and noticed temperatures hovering right around freezing!

We’ve created this Turkey packing list to help you decide what to wear and what to bring for a variety of itineraries, seasons, and activities in Turkey, for both men and women. Read on to see our comprehensive guide on what to pack for Turkey!

Want to save for later? Click to pin!

Wondering what to pack for Turkey? This guide to what to wear in Turkey for women & men will be your ultimate Turkey packing list! Tips on what to wear on Turkish beaches and in Turkish cities like Istanbul, cute Turkey outfits, what not to forget to bring to to travel Turkey, and other Turkey packing tips for summer, spring, winter, and fall.
Wondering what to pack for Turkey? This guide to what to wear in Turkey for women & men will be your ultimate Turkey packing list! Tips on what to wear on Turkish beaches and in Turkish cities like Istanbul, cute Turkey outfits, what not to forget to bring to to travel Turkey, and other Turkey packing tips for summer, spring, winter, and fall.

What to Pack Everything In

Your Main Bag: Backpack or Rolling Suitcase?

Personally, Stephanie and I both prefer traveling around Turkey with a backpack. Even in Istanbul, many of the side streets are old with no clear sidewalk, and the sidewalks there are quite clunky and hard to roll a bag down.

However, if wearing a backpack is not feasible for you due to mobility limitations, how much you like to pack, or just your comfort, it is definitely possible to use a rolling suitcase in Turkey. Just be aware that it requires some more effort due to the sidewalks.

For longer distances, such as between the airport or train/bus station and your hotel, you may want to spend the extra for a taxi or Uber. We generally recommend using Uber in Istanbul to avoid taxi scams.

Our Top Recommendation for Backpacks

I absolutely love the Tortuga Backpack for traveling Europe, and it’s my go-to bag for virtually any trip I take in the region that’s longer than a week. I carry a Tortuga 45L Backpack because it’s compact, carry-on friendly, and don’t scream “backpacker” as loudly as other bags.

It has 3 main compartments: one with a laptop sleeve that can also accommodate other flat objects like important papers and books, one giant rectangular compartment ideal for packing cubes filled with your clothes, and one smaller compartment with organizers for passports, pens, odds & ends, etc. – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to.

This is great because many backpacks are more suited for hiking than city travel and you have to load everything from the top (which also means that you have to disembowel your bag every time you want to get something from the bottom — hardly a recipe for organization).

It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside if needed. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute the weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs, prices, and details for the women’s backpack and for the men’s.

Our Top Recommendations for Rolling Suitcases

We haven’t carried a rolling suitcase in a while, having been converted to the benefits of backpacks a while ago. However, we understand that everyone’s needs and preferences are different!

If you are going to bring a roller bag, we suggest getting a soft shell one that can squish. Stephanie’s personal roller suitcase is the awesome Osprey Sojourn.

Steph lived out of just this bag and a backpack for eight months and found that it held up beautifully. She likes that it can squish into the back of buses and fit on train luggage racks easily. It expands to hold a ton of stuff if you plan to shop a lot while in Turkey (Istanbul shopping is amazing!).

You can check prices and reviews of the Osprey Sojourn here.

Your Day Bag: Backpack or Purse

Serbia - Gardos - Backpack

Your day bag should be able to hold all the things you need for the day: water, sunscreen, wallet, any medicine or make-up you may need, a layer in case the weather changes, camera, etc.

It depends what you prefer, but for comfort, a backpack is usually the better day bag because it distributes weight more evenly across your shoulders. However, if you’re used to carrying a purse, that may be what you prefer.

We recommend investing in a day bag with some security features because Istanbul is quite a large city and theft is definitely possible the same way it is in other large European cities like Lisbon, Athens, or Paris. However, I will say that while I personally know someone who has had things stolen in all of the above three cities, I’ve never known anyone to have anything stolen in Istanbul.

It’s not that Turkey is dangerous, but we just believe travel to touristic places inherently has its risks. We prefer to protect ourselves upfront rather than deal with consequences down the line.

Our Top Recommendations for Backpacks

We both carry the CitySafe backpack by PacSafe not only on our travels but in our day-to-day lives. It’s cute, it’s functional, it’s comfortable, and it’s secure as hell.

We’re talking about interlocking zippers (which you can then put through a second clasp for two layers of security which basically no thief will ever both with), slash-proof wire mesh construction, and RFID blockers to keep your personal data safe.

It’s neutral enough to be unisex, it’s roomy enough to fit a small laptop, large camera, and tons of odds & ends, and it fits under the plane seat in front of you. What else could you want? This isn’t sponsored, we’re just straight obsessed. Get yours today.

Our Top Recommendations for Purses

Due to our everlasting obsession with our travel backpack, neither Stephanie nor I really carry purses much for our travels.

However, for a long time, Stephanie was a huge fan of her large Longchamp bag, and since it packs up small, she still rolls it up and brings it on her travels when she wants to use a purse instead of a backpack. For two years, it was her main day bag on all her trips, and it still has a place in her heart. 

Due to our satisfaction with our CitySafe backpack, we’d definitely recommend other PacSafe products like their secure purses – they have shoulder bags and crossbody bags.

Our Top Recommendation for Money Belts

Personally, we don’t carry money belts, since we carry secure bags, but we know some travelers feel a lot safer with a money belt. If that’s you, this is the money belt we recommend.

How to Keep it Organized

Bulgaria - Sofia - Packing

Just because you have the right suitcase and day bag doesn’t mean your bags will be packed right. You need to think about how you’ll organize your belongings so that everything is accessible and compact.

Packing Cubes

I don’t know how I traveled before packing cubes, and I never want to go back! Packing cubes are extremely helpful for organizing your luggage and keeping it that way so that when you want to extract one shirt from your bag, you don’t end up exploding your whole bag open.

I have used several different brands of packing cubes over the years and generally any one works fine, but I prefer ones that have a variety of sizes because it helps me Tetris-cram all my clothes into my Tortuga backpack more easily.

Generally, I use the big one for dresses, skirts, and jeans, the medium one for t-shirts, and the small one for underwear, bras, socks, etc.

Cosmetic Bags

A set of cosmetic bags is so useful! In addition to using it for your make-up, you can also use them to stash odds & ends like earplugs, an eye-mask, pens & pencils – things that usually get lost at the bottom of your bag.

I like to have 4 different bags: one for makeup, one for hair accessories, one for toiletries (which I list seperately below, because this one is such an awesome find!), and one for cables and electronic accessories. 

If you don’t have a bunch of cosmetic bags lying around from old make-up purchases, you can pick some up off Amazon. I think these are particularly adorable.

Pack-It Flat

This is one of my favorite packing finds! The Pack-it-Flat toiletry bag is the ultimate way to keep all your toiletries packed.

What I love about is is that it packs, well, flat like a book, rather than most toiletry bags which make big bulky squares that take up way too much space and are annoying to deal with.

This is a definite upgrade from my cosmetic bag system, which took up too much space and was completely disorganized. It can fit so much into such a small amount of space and it fits perfectly in one of the outer pockets of my bag or laid flat on top of all my packing cubes.

Travel Wallet

A good travel wallet meets a few criteria: RFID blocking, plenty of room for coins, room for bills and receipts, plenty of card slots, and can fit a passport.

I use a PacSafe travel wallet that does all of that and looks cute doing so (I chose the denim).

Laundry Bag

Whether you’ll need to do laundry on the road or you’ll wait to do it at home, it’s essential to have a bag to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean clothes.

While that can easily be just a grocery bag, I love this cute travel-themed Kikkerland laundry bag which is easy to hand over to someone on laundry day.

Canvas Tote

We recommend bringing a tote with you wherever you go to reduce plastic waste!

This is also great for doing small errands or when you don’t want to pack your whole day bag, and is absolutely essential for any trip that includes a day at the beach, hammam, or pool.

I generally use ones I’ve gotten for free from various events and conferences, but you can find a ton of cute tote bags on Amazon.

Ziploc Bags

You’ll thank us for this when all your stuff stays dry your entire trip. I always pack my liquids in a Ziploc bag (plus you need one if you’re traveling with liquids in your carryon). 

Pack all your liquids in Ziploc backs so that if something breaks or opens, the liquid stays inside the bag. Stuff a few extras in your luggage for any liquid purchases or if you need to keep a wet towel separate from the rest of your luggage.

I like to have a mix of small and large bags so I’m covered in most situations. 

Coin Purse

If you don’t live in Europe, you might be surprised just how quickly coins stack up in your bag when traveling around Europe. Turkish lira can definitely add up and get lost at the bottom of your wallet!

In the States, I never bothered with a coin purse, but living in Europe I find that it’s essential. I have one with a flower pattern like these.

5 Essentials You Don’t Want to Forget

Turkey - Istanbul - Bosphorus and Ortakoy Mosque

If you only read one section of this post, make it this one!

Guidebook

While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We strongly recommend the Lonely Planet Turkey which is a great, up-to-date resource for your travels.

Travel Insurance

It’s always a good idea to be covered when you travel abroad in case of theft, illness, or accidents. Steph and I have been paying customers of World Nomads for three years and counting and are happy to recommend them to fellow travelers for the clarity of what they cover, the efficiency of processing claims, and the ease of renewing while still on the road if your trip ends up being longer than expected.

Cute Swimwear

If you’re going to Turkey in the summer and you have your eye on some beaches, be sure to pack at least two cute swimwear options, if not more, so that you never have to put a wet swimsuit back on!

I love this one-piece option for modesty and this bikini for when you want to show a little more skin, but pick whatever you love best and will both feel comfortable and make you feel confident in photos!

Comfortable walking shoes

You’ll find yourself walking a lot in Turkey, and it’s easy to do 10,000+ steps in a day (if you’re not relaxing on the beach all day, that is).

Pay close attention to our shoe recommendations below, but don’t order new shoes right before your trip! Give yourself a few weeks to break them in. The earlier you can get any new shoes you need, the more time you’ll have to get them comfy. You don’t want a blister on the road!

Medicine

I’ve written a whole section on what should be in your mini medicine kit, but this especially goes for any prescription medications you may need from back home.

It’s not always possible to get the same exact medication in Turkey, so be sure to stock up on what you need! And don’t forget seasickness/motion sickness pills if you’re sensitive to movement – they’re a lifesaver for buses.

Quick Overview of Weather in Turkey

Turkey - Istanbul - Galata Tower Stephanie

Turkey has quite a diversity of weather you may experience: it truly has all the four seasons, with tons of summer sunshine but also a possibility of snow in winter. We have a post about the weather in January in Istanbul, but we’ll go into more detail about all the seasons here.

We will use Istanbul as our point of reference because it’s the one place people almost always include on their trip. Check for your destinations if you are visiting more than one place in Turkey. Also, as your trip approaches, you should double-check the weather report. It can always be colder or warmer than the average Istanbul temperatures we’ve listed here!

In spring in Turkey, it starts out cold in March and gets warm by May. In March, average highs are 11°C (52°F) and average lows are 5°C (41°F). By April, you’ll see average highs of 16°C (61°F) and lows of 8°C (46°F). In May, those temperatures will rise to average highs of 20°C (68°F) and average lows of 12°C (54°F).

In summer in Turkey, think hot hot hot! June average highs are 26°C (79°F) and average lows are 17°C (63°F). July averages are hotter, with average highs of 28°C (82°F) and lows of 19°C (66°F). August has the same averages as July – so definitely think cool, loose clothing!

In fall in Turkey, prepare for rapidly falling temperatures. September is still fairly warm, with average highs of 25°C (77°F) and average lows of 16°C (61°F). October gets cooler, with average highs of 19°C (66°F) and lows of 12°C (54°F). November is when it starts to feel almost like winter! Expect average highs of 14°C (57°F) and lows of 9°C (48°F).

In winter in Turkey, bundle up! December averages are roughly a high of 10°C (50°F) and a low of 6°C (43°F). In January and February, the average high is 46°F (8°C ), while the average low temperature is 39°F (4°C). 

What to Wear in Turkey For Women 

What women should wear in Turkey depends on a variety of factors: destination, time of year, and activities planned.

Destination matters quite a bit. For example, Istanbul is an extremely secular city, whereas many places in Turkey are more conservative. As a result, what to wear in Turkey is quite dependent on where you go in the country.

For Istanbul, think modern and youthful; for Anatolian Turkey (with the exception perhaps of Cappadocia, which is quite touristic and people are used to seeing a variety of dress, and the beach resorts in the South), think modest.

If you’re just spending time on Turkish beaches or islands, you’ll be fine in some swimsuits, some modest cover-ups for when you’re off the beach, sun hats, and sandals.

If you’re hopping from city to city with some beach time too, you’ll want to throw in some comfortable walking shoes, stylish yet modest dresses or other clothing, etc. If you’ll be active like kayaking or hiking, some sporty clothes will be an important addition.

Personally, we like to mix it up with dresses, skirts, casual tops with jeans, and lots of outfits with leggings. We generally dress the same in winter but just add more layers!

We’ve created two separate packing lists: one for spring through fall, one for winter. You may want to adjust the packing list slightly depending on the season: for example, you may decide to leave the heavier jacket at home in the heat of summer, and swap a summery maxi dress for extra leggings in spring or fall. However, there’s enough overlap that we’ve combined it all into one spring/summer/fall list.

A note on modest dress for women in Turkey: While modern-day Turkey is a country founded on secularism, many women still dress somewhat conservatively. In Istanbul, you will see everything from women in tight bodycon dresses to women in burkas; in other parts of the country, the tendency is to dress a bit more modestly.

I generally recommend avoiding backless and strapless dresses and shirts, as well as tight shorts and ultra-short mini skirts, though if you are only in Istanbul and/or the beaches along the Turkish Riviera, you can relax a bit.

My favorite outfits in Turkey are short-sleeve shirts paired with a midi skirt (below the knee) or maxi dresses in summer. In winter, I pair dresses with leggings and add a jacket or go with jeans, a smart top, and a jacket.

As for what to wear in mosques, generally, they have headscarves and wraps to wear around your body in case your clothing is too revealing. You may want to bring your own if you don’t want to wear something that’s been worn by others.

What to Pack for Spring, Summer, & Fall in Turkey

Clothes

2-3 tank tops: Great for layering, and you may want to add a few more in the summer. We like these ones. We opt for ones with slightly thicker straps rather than loose camisoles.

2-3 V-neck shirts: In case you want a little more coverage, or if you’re traveling in spring/fall, these are also great multi-purpose separates. We recommend these ones. I also love to have a simple striped T like this one.

2 long sleeve shirts (fall/spring only): You won’t need these in the summer, but in fall, they’re wonderful to have. We recommend these ones.

1 chambray shirt: Perfect to wear as a shirt in spring/fall or to wear unbuttoned as a light jacket on a summer night – this shirt is so versatile that it’s become my packing must-have.

1 mid-weight jacket: There can be some surprising weather sometimes even in the summer in Turkey, so I still recommend one medium-weight jacket like this denim jacket or a faux leather jacket in case your chambray isn’t warm enough.

2 pairs shorts (summer only): You likely won’t need these in the fall or spring. For summer, I recommend 1 loose pair of linen shorts and 1 pair denim shorts. If visiting conservative parts of Turkey, you may not want to bring these along, or just select a longer, looser pair.

Lightweight scarf: Great for too much A/C, surprisingly chilly nights, surprise mosque visits, or dressing up an outfit you’ve worn too many times. We like this one for all the color choices.

Black cardigan: Great for cool nights in summer, adding a touch of modesty, and dressing up fall and spring outfits; we suggest this one.

2-3 pairs black leggings: I love leggings so much – for sleeping, for lazy days, to avoid chub rub, to make a summer dress fall appropriate, to wear on active days when doing things like kayaking or hiking. We recommend bringing a few pairs if you can (we suggest these).

1-2 pairs skinny jeans: 1 in summer, 2 in fall or spring. We like these ones, but jeans are so personal, so bring your favorites.

2-3 skirts: We love skirts for travel! In summer, I love midi skirts and maxi skirts, whereas in spring and fall, I prefer mini skirts that I can wear with leggings and boots. If you’re an avid Instagrammer, we love this ultra-photogenic maxi skirt.

2-3 summer dresses: I try to buy dresses that are great for summer but can transition well to fall and spring with the right accessories. We think this one and this one are super cute, and appropriate for most of Turkey (just add a lightweight scarf for shoulder coverage if you want extra modesty points).

Maxi dress (summer only): I love maxi dresses for summer, but they don’t transition as well as shorter dresses for fall. Here’s a simple one we like, and we also love this colorful maxi dress for livening up your photos. Both are good for modesty (just throw a shawl around your shoulders if you want extra coverage).

Shoes & Sandals

Travel sandals: Depending on what you’ll do in Turkey. If you’re just going to be walking around the cities, I love Birkenstocks and live in them about half of the year. If you’re going to the beach, pool/spa, or staying in a hostel, also add on a pair of simple rubber flip flops that you can get wet.

Comfortable but cute sneakers: Gone are the days where I can comfortably wear flats for a day of heavy sightseeing! I strongly recommend a stylish pair of sneakers like these black Nike running shoes for your busiest city days.

Ankle boots: I definitely recommend a water-resistant pair of ankle boots for rainy days, cold weather, or going out at night if you want a more dressed-up option. These Teva ankle boots are adorable yet comfortable.

Underwear

No-show socks: Nothing worse than socks that clash with your shoes! We like these no-show socks.

8+ pairs underwear: Bring one pair for every day of travel you want to go without doing laundry, plus one extra. If you need new travel undies, we recommend these comfy quick-dry ones.

2-3 bras: Depending on your needs and activity levels. I usually bring 1 bra and one bralette, but if you’re active you may want a sports bra or if you like to wear backless or strapless tops/dresses you may want adhesive or strapless bras. If you want a quick-dry travel bra, we recommend this one.

Sleepwear: I personally love having dedicated sleepwear – this silky pajama set is so comfortable!

Jewelry & Accessories

Headbands: Great for keeping hair out of your face or hiding greasy or salty hair if you need to! We think these are ultra-cute.

Jewelry: Pick cheap statement jewelry and leave heirlooms or expensive jewelry at home. Theft is relatively uncommon in Turkey, but it’s better to make yourself inconspicuous.

What to Pack for Winter in Turkey

Turkey - Istanbul - Stephanie Ortakoy Mosque

Clothes

2 long sleeve shirts: Great for layering with skirts and leggings or jeans. We recommend these ones.

2 pairs skinny jeans: We like these ones, but bring your favorites that are already broken in if you have them. A little looser is better so you can fit an extra pair of leggings underneath if it’s super cold.

2 sweater dresses: I love cute sweater dresses like this one for cold winter days.

2-3 skirts: I prefer above-the-knee skirts that I can easily pair with leggings in winter.

3+ pairs warm leggings: I personally wear fleece-lined leggings nearly all winter long because I’m sensitive to wool. However, merino wool is ultra-warm (and non-microbial and odor-resistant) so I recommend a pair of merino wool leggings if your skin can handle wool.

1 ultra-warm parka: With low temperatures just above freezing, and occasional dips below freezing possible, don’t forget a warm enough jacket. If you’ll travel in winter frequently, I recommend a winter jacket like this North Face parka. I had mine with me in my February visit to Turkey and was grateful for it! It’s a little pricy, but it literally comes with a lifetime guarantee and they will repair or replace it for free if you ever have any issues with your coat. I’ve owned mine for nearly a decade.

Ultra-light down jacket: For less cold days or for layering it underneath your parka for the truly cold days. This rolls up and packs easily in your day bag so it’s good to bring along – I have one really similar to this.

Shoes & Sandals

Ankle boots: For cold weather shoes that are still good for going out at night, we suggest these Teva ankle boots.

Waterproof leather boots: For snowy days and super cold weather when you still want to be comfortable, I love these knee-high Blondo boots and have owned them for over a decade (including trips to Turkey in winter!)

Snow boots (optional): If you want a dedicated snow boot – we suggest these ones.

Underwear

6+ pairs wool socks: Wool socks will keep your feet so much warmer than your standard cotton socks! We suggest these affordable yet cozy socks.

8+ pairs underwear: Bring one pair for every day of travel you want to go without doing laundry, plus one extra. If you want underwear specifically made for travel, we recommend these comfy quick-dry ones.

2-3 bras: Depending on your needs and activity levels. I usually bring 1 bra and one bralette, but if you’re active you may want a sports bra too. If you want a quick-dry travel bra, we recommend this one.

Jewelry & Accessories

Winter scarf: Turkey can get cold in the winter, so you’ll definitely want a warm winter scarf like this one. I picked up a gorgeous wool scarf somewhere along Istiklal Caddesi that I loved.

Touchscreen gloves: You’ll want to cover your fingers and still be able to use your favorite touchscreen devices, so we recommend gloves like these which are compatible with your smartphone.

Fleece-lined knit hat: You lose a lot of heat from the top of your head and ears, so a fleece-lined knit hat that you wear tight, like a beanie, is a fantastic choice. Pick a colorful one for cute photos!

Jewelry: Go with inexpensive statement jewelry and leave heirlooms or expensive jewelry at home. 

What to Wear in Turkey for Men 

Turkish men tend to dress smartly in the cities, especially compared to Americans and Canadians. Avoid khaki shorts and white sneakers that scream “tourist,” which can also be a safety hazard in cities where pickpockets target people who look like oblivious westerners.

Instead of dressing like you just left boy scout camp, think sophisticated European style. Obviously, if you’ll be spending most of your time on the beach and island hopping, you can relax the dress code quite a bit.

What to Pack for Spring, Summer, & Fall in Turkey

Keeping in mind which season you’ll be visiting in (and our overview of the weather in Turkey above), here’s what we suggest men wear in Turkey. Adjust the items and layers slightly to better match the season. 

Clothes

4-5 everyday shirts: Whether your go-to everyday shirt is a t-shirt, a polo shirt, or something with a bit more style, bring enough that you can go with only doing laundry twice a week. Make a few of these long sleeve shirts in early spring and in the autumn, but during summer long sleeves aren’t necessary. 

1-2 collared shirt: Bring a nice collared shirt, like this Oxford shirt, for a date night, if you decide to go to a performance, or even just to enjoy a bit of a fancier night on the town.

If you’re traveling single, this will also come in handy for going out, though you might want to make it something that can go from sightseeing to the club.

3-4 undershirts: If you wear undershirts, bring them. Expect to be doing laundry 1-2 times per week during your trip, so bring enough to cover half a week (plus you’ll be wearing one as well).

1-2 pairs of shorts: Summer in Turkey can be brutally hot, and in this situation, you will be happy to have some shorts. Just avoid shorts that look overly touristy. We think something like these jean shorts would work. Again, avoiding khaki shorts with giant cargo pockets is for safety (but it’s also about fitting in). 

The cut and style of the shorts you choose will really make a difference in how Europeans perceive you, but remember that men in Europe rarely wear shorts. Therefore, all shorts are statement shorts (and the statement that you’re making, typically, is rob me).

Note that you generally cannot visit a mosque wearing shorts, so opt for long pants on those days.

2 pairs of jeans: The sophisticated-yet-still-fun older brother of the jean short, this is what most tourists in Europe end up wearing to fit in yet still be comfortable – even in summer. While European men wear slacks or dress pants more than jeans, a crisp pair of jeans is almost always acceptable. While we always appreciate a good dad jean, for Europe think more of a relaxed fit like these Levi’s

1 pair of wrinkle-free dress pants: While you can wear ironed jeans out on a nice evening, you’ll probably feel more comfortable wearing a nicer pair of slacks. Get one with a wrinkle-free fabric like these so you don’t have to worry if your accommodations don’t have an iron handy. 

1 medium-weight jacket that can handle rain: There can be some surprising weather sometimes even in the summer in Turkey, so bring a jacket that can handle rain and a bit of wind. We like this Columbia rain jacket.

1-2 pairs of swim trunks: This is dependant on your itinerary, but I think it’s always a good idea to bring something to swim in – even if you think you won’t need it. Whether you spend time on the beaches of the coast and islands or just want to enjoy the pool at your hotel, it’s nice to be able to relax a bit. 

Note that many older men will opt for the Speedo. This is one area where we do not recommend a North American tourist to try to fit in!

You can choose to show a bit of your personality in your swimwear, by going either super traditional like these trunks or something with a bit more flair, like these pineapple swim trunks.

Shoes & Sandals

Travel Sandals: If you’ll be in Turkey during the summer, sandals are a great idea, especially if you’ll be spending time walking around the cities. Consider a sports sandal like these leather athletic sandals or a pair of  Birkenstocks.

If you’re headed to the beach or even just a communal shower in a hostel or gym, you also need to pack a pair of rubber flip-flops.

Comfortable Sneakers or Walking Shoes: If you’ll be doing a lot of sightseeing (and most likely, you will be) bring a pair of functional shoes that can support your feet at the end of a long day. We suggest getting a pair of Chuck Taylor’s (avoid white pairs) or something like these Sketchers

Boots: If you’ll be doing a lot of hiking in Turkey, bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots like these Keen Waterproof Hiking Boots. If you’ll be walking around doing mostly normal sightseeing, opt for something like these Timberlands instead. 

Dress Shoes: You don’t need something super fancy, but if you are planning to have a nice night on the town with your partner then you should bring a pair of shoes that will go with a slightly nicer outfit. For example, these Oxford sneakers will transition better from day-to-night than a typical sneaker will. 

Underwear & Socks

7-8 Pairs of Underwear: While we expect you’ll be doing laundry once or twice a week, it’s nice to be able to go an entire week with clean underwear if you need to. If you want to invest in a few new pairs, get something like these quick-dry boxer briefs so that when you do hang your laundry to dry, they dry quickly. 

7-8 Pairs of Socks: Only you know if you like your socks with a bit of flair or if you’re a socks-blend-in kind of guy. If you want no-show socks, get something like these quick-drying ones. No one wants to put on socks that didn’t get completely dry before an entire day of sightseeing.

1-2 tee shirt and shorts for sleeping: Whatever you sleep in, bring one or two. If you sleep naked, don’t book a room in a hostel dorm, please. (Yes, this has happened.) This pajama set will keep you from getting in trouble in any shared sleeping situation.  

Jewelry & Accessories

Wrist Watch: If you’re a watch guy, bring it. Unless it’s a super expensive watch or a family heirloom. In that case, leave it at home and use your cell phone to tell time. 

Any personal jewelry: If you wear jewelry, bring it, especially if it’s an important item like your wedding ring. However, anything that’s a family heirloom or insanely valuable, leave at home.

1-2 Hats: If you don’t feel dressed without a baseball cap or hat, bring one or two options. 

What to Pack for Winter in Turkey

Use the packing list for spring, summer, and fall section above as a guide, but with the following additions and substitutions. 

Clothes

A Winter Coat: Upgrade the rain jacket to a real winter coat. Remember that when you’re traveling somewhere new, you will spend significantly more of your day outside than if you are working or living somewhere. We suggest something like this North Face Parka which will last for decades.

1-2 Wool Baselayers: The key to dressing for winter in Turkey is layers. You want to be able to get warmer when needed, and then be able to remove the layers if the weather changes or you go into a building that’s way overheated. Adding a wool base layer under your shirt is a great way to get some extra warmth in that will breathe

Long Underwear: You can make your jeans sightseeing-in-winter ready by pairing them with some long underwear. 

1-2 Sweaters: Another great way to add in an extra layer is to wear a light sweater over your shirt, giving you a bit more warmth with an option to still put your coat on if you need even more. We like these v-neck pullover sweaters.

Shoes & Sandals

Waterproof Leather Boots: Upgrade your boots to the waterproof variety, like these Timberlands. Trust us, nothing is worth than walking eight miles sightseeing on cobblestone streets in waterlogged shoes.

Waterproof Sneakers: If you still want to spend your days in sneakers, get a waterproof pair like these Columbia Waterproof hiking boots.

Snow Boots (optional): While not really necessary for most of Turkey, if you’ll be visiting a ski resort like Sarıkamış or Kartepe, you’ll probably want some snow boots. We like these from Sorel.

Underwear

7-8 pairs of wool socks: Upgrade you regular socks to warm, wool socks to keep your toes toasty warm even when it’s freezing out. 

Flannel Pajamas: Upgrade your t-shirt and shorts to flannel pajamas. This is especially important if you’ll be staying in hostels or hotels in historic buildings. 

Jewelry & Accessories

Winter Scarf: Add a thick cable knit scarf or cashmere scarf to keep the wind out. 

Waterproof Touch-Screen Gloves: You probably know that you’re going to want gloves, but there are a few finer points to consider. You’ll want waterproof gloves in case it’s snowing, and touchscreen capabilities so that you can continue to take photos and navigate with your cell phone. Check out this affordable pair from Finger Ten.

Fleece-Lined Knit Hat: Don’t waste your time bringing any winter beanie. Get one that’s lined with fleece to keep as much of your warmth as possible. We like this one from LETHMIK

Toiletries 

While you can obviously pick up a lot of this once you’re here, we don’t like spending a ton of time on errands once we are in Turkey. Instead, we like to actually spend our time exploring!

Keep in mind if you’ll be staying in smaller towns or villages, you may not have quick access to a store after hours.

Toiletries for Women

We’ve outlined everything we typically bring. Note that we usually bring travel-size versions so this doesn’t take up much room in our backpacks.

Hair Care & Bathing

Shampoo & conditioner: I love shampoo bars personally since I try to pack carry-on only and reduce my plastic consumption. I like the ones from LUSH as well as these ones from Amazon.

Dry shampoo: We all have those days when showering is hard – dry shampoo will perk up any oily locks.

Brush or comb: Whatever you use – I like this small travel-sized one.

Hair ties: If you have long hair, you’ll likely want some hair ties.

Hairdryer & straightener: Optional, but if you do your hair at home, you’ll probably want this when you travel as well. If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll want dual voltage.

GoToobs: For your favorite shampoo/conditioner or body wash/lotion from home, I love these squeezy silicon GoToobs.

Body wash and lotion: Either full-size or in carry-on-sized containers like above.

Skin Care

Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up. If you use moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside all day. 

Facewash: For washing all the dirt, dust, smog, sweat, and other travel-related impurities off your face at the end of the day. Make sure you bring a travel-sized version, like this travel Clean & Clear. 

Tweezers: For emergency chin hair situations and unibrows and the like – you know what I mean. Turkish women always have flawless eyebrows, so keep up. I always carry tweezers like these.

Sunscreen: You can buy sunscreen here, but it’s likely cheaper at home or bought online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions

Razor & refills: It’s not always easy to find your brand on the road. I use Venus and I can’t always find it every place I shop, so I’d suggest bringing from home. Here are the razor + refill cartridges.

Anti-chafe balm: If you have thick thighs and are traveling in summer, this stuff works miracles! Vaseline also works great.

Make-up

Bulgaria - Plovdiv - Hemingway Restaurant Stephanie
Red lipstick is the ultimate travel hack!

Foundation: I love this Benefit Oxygen foundation because it doesn’t make me break out and it’s very lightweight coverage with a bit of SPF.

Mascara: I love Urban Decay, but YMMV.

Blush: I prefer creme/gel to powder to avoid breakage and subsequent messes– I suggest this awesome Tarte cheek stain.

Red matte lip stain: Red lipstick is our ultimate travel hack. I use the matte lip stain from Sephora and it works a dream and lasts for ages.

Concealer: I swear by Make-up For Ever concealer – it’s the best I’ve ever used, and I used to struggle with serious acne.

Dental care

Toothbrush: I have a small folding toothbrush and I love it for travel, as I always break or lose the clip-on caps.

Toothpaste: Whatever you use at home will do! Steph’s mother, who’s a dental hygienist, keeps her stocked with travel-sized tubes of Sensodyne

Floss: Because your mother will know if you don’t use floss. (Or at least Steph’s will). 

Eyecare

Sunglasses: Either prescription or regular, depending on needs

Reading glasses: If needed.

Glasses: If needed. If you have a back-up pair, it’s nice to have two in case one pair breaks. (Or be able to switch between a pair of glasses and contacts).

Hard Glasses Case: If you bring glasses or sunglasses, have a hard-shell case like this one to keep them safe when you’re not wearing them. Travel can beat up your glasses if you don’t store them properly. Remember that if you have very large or wide glasses, you might need a larger case. 

Contacts & saline solution: If needed. Note that saline solution is considered a medical supply and you are allowed to bring more than 100 ml in a carry-on. Make sure that your contact case has screw tops like this one and is not the kind that just snaps shut. Otherwise, you might find yourself with lost contacts. 

Note that if you typically wear contacts, it’s a good idea to bring a backup pair of glasses in case you hurt your eyes. This happened to me on a trip to NYC once, and I had to wear my prescription sunglasses all weekend since I couldn’t get my contacts in my eyes (and forgot my glasses). 

If you’re flying transatlantic, keep your glasses in your carryon. Long flights tend to dry out your eyes, and you’ll be happy to have the option to switch to glasses if the need arises. 

Personal Care

Whatever you need for your period: I personally prefer a Diva Cup as it’s reusable, eco-friendly, comfortable, and can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. Others may prefer tampons or pads. Tampons can be harder to find in Turkey than in other countries, especially outside of Istanbul, so stock up if that’s your preference.

Condoms and/or other birth control methods: If you may have a little… romance in Turkey, bring your own birth control methods, whether that’s condoms, birth control pills, or something else.

Toiletries for Men

While we know that men and women travel with many of the same toiletries, there are typically (though not always) a few differences. 

Canva - Man Wearing Black Jacket And Brown Backpack

Hair Care & Bathing

Shampoo & Conditioner: While some guys don’t mind using whatever shampoo comes with the hotel, we know that many of you guys are way more particular than that. If you have a shampoo preference that’s very specific, bring it with you. 

If you want to minimize your plastic use, pick up a shampoo bar like the ones at LUSH or these ones from Amazon

Also, it’s possible that your accommodations won’t provide shampoo and conditioner. Check ahead. Worst case scenario, you can pick some up in Turkey.

Brush or Comb: I like traveling with a travel hairbrush, but if you prefer combs then I wouldn’t worry about getting a smaller version since it will lay flat in your bag.

Hair Accessories: If you have a particular hairstyle that needs accessories, bring a few. 

Hair Products: If there’s a hair product that you use every day, bring it. Keep in mind airline carryon restrictions for liquids. 

GoToobs: For your favorite shampoo/conditioner or body wash/lotion from home pick up some GoToobs.

Body wash and lotion: Either full-size or in carry-on-sized containers like above.

Skin Care

Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up. If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside all day. 

Facewash: For washing all the dirt, dust, smog, sweat, and other travel-related impurities off your face at the end of the day. Make sure you bring a travel-sized version, like this travel Clean & Clear. 

Tweezers: For emergency splinters, etc. I always carry tweezers like these.

Sunscreen: You can buy sunscreen here in Turkey, but I suggest you buy the good stuff from recognizable brands or better yet, buy it online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions (which once happened to me all over my DJI Osmo while waiting in line for the Hagia Sofia…) or carry-on allowances.

Razor & refills: We know that the type of razor you use is very particular. If you use an electronic razor and live in North America, keep in mind that the voltage in Europe will fry your razor.

We suggest bringing a good handheld razor instead, like the Gillette Fusion5 and a few extra razor blades.

If you prefer to get a shave with a straight razor at a barbershop, you will be able to find barbers in all major Turkish cities. However, we can’t vouch for language barriers, since these kinds of shops rarely get tourists. 

Anti-chafe balm: If you tend to chafe when you get sweaty, this stuff works miracles! Vaseline also works great. Keep in mind that you will be walking in the heat for long periods of time in summer, so if you’ve ever chafed it’s better to be safe than ruin your vacation.

Dental care

Toothbrush: This small folding toothbrush will keep your teeth clean and your bag light.

Toothpaste: Whatever you use at home will do! Steph’s mother, who’s a dental hygienist, keeps her stocked with travel-sized tubes of Sensodyne

Floss: Because your mother will know if you don’t use floss. (Or at least Steph’s will). 

Eyecare

Sunglasses: Either prescription or regular, depending on needs

Reading glasses: If needed.

Glasses: If needed. If you have a back-up pair, it’s nice to have two in case one pair breaks. (Or be able to switch between a pair of glasses and contacts).

Hard Glasses Case: If you bring glasses or sunglasses, have a hard-shell case like this one to keep them safe when you’re not wearing them. Travel can beat up your glasses if you don’t store them properly. Remember that if you have very large or wide glasses, you might need a larger case. 

Contacts & saline solution: If needed. Note that saline solution is considered a medical supply and you are allowed to bring more than 100 ml in a carry-on. Make sure that your contact case has screw tops like this one and is not the kind that just snaps shut. Otherwise, you might find yourself with lost contacts. 

Note that if you typically wear contacts, it’s a good idea to bring a backup pair of glasses in case you hurt your eyes.

If you’re flying long haul, keep your glasses in your carryon. Long flights tend to dry out your eyes, and you’ll be happy to have the option to switch to glasses if the need arises. 

Personal Care

It’s important to plan ahead for your personal needs before you leave for your trip. This means packing condoms or the preferred birth control methods of you and your partner. If you don’t have a partner traveling with you, but hope to meet one once you’re here, bring condoms from home. The brands here can be different than what you’re used to.

You also want to think about any sex-related prescription drugs you use at home. If you use Viagra at home, bring it with you (but also bring proof that you have a prescription). 

Miscellaneous Items to Pack for Turkey

Turkey - Istanbul - Galata Tower

Reusable water bottle with filter: While you can drink the tap water in most of Turkey, some smaller towns and islands may not have drinkable tap water. Always ask a local before you try it. Many will say that they don’t like the taste and prefer to drink bottled water. You can purify any water using a filter water bottle like the GRAYL. If you’re sticking to big cities, a regular reusable bottle will do just fine. This one is cool because it’s collapsible!

Mini bathroom kit: For poorly stocked bathrooms at bus stops or public restrooms, you’ll be happy you have this! I carry a small hand sanitizer and these wet wipes.

Travel umbrella: Rain is not always predictable in Turkey – have a small travel umbrella stashed away for unexpected showers.

Hiking boots (optional): If you plan to come to Turkey to hike, such as in Cappadocia, you’ll definitely want your hiking boots! I recommend these Ahnu hiking boots for women, and these Keen boots for men.

Trekking poles (optional): Not needed, but if you like them, you’ll want to bring them. I recommend these travel-friendly poles.

What to Put in Your Medicine Kit

Serbia - Belgrade - Pharmacy Allison

Pepto-Bismol: This is my favorite medicine for when I have stomach trouble as it’s not as harsh on your stomach as Imodium, but they don’t sell it in most of Europe (I’ve learned this over and over again the hard way). Bring some from home – I always stock up.

Imodium: In case of any stomach emergencies (read: diarrhea before a long bus or flight), Imodium is a good option. Bring some from home.

Painkillers: Aleve works better for me, but YMMV. I also bring some Excedrin Migraine as I’m prone to migraines. 

Pedialyte hydration packs: Perfect after drunken shenanigans, long hikes, or just plain dehydration because you suck at adulting. Made for kids, but it works just as well for hungover adults. I buy these ones.

Bandaids: For blisters, small cuts, breaking in shoes, etc., bandaids are always handy to have.

Tiger balm: I discovered this is Southeast Asia and left obsessed. It’s great for aftercare for bug bites, nursing headaches, rubbing on aching muscles, and basically anything. You likely won’t find it in Turkey, so buy it online.

Mosquito repellent: You can bring ones with DEET or without DEET, or I love having some of these mosquito repellent wipes that I can keep in my bag in case I suddenly start to get swarmed and don’t have my regular repellent with me.

Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well.

Technology & Accessories

Serbia - Belgrade - Laptop

Camera, lenses, and chargers: I use a Sony A6000 with a kit lens and the 18-105mm f4 lens, which is a good starter camera that is lightweight but not quite professional caliber. Steph uses a Nikon D810 which is better but more expensive and bulkier. If you want a smaller camera for video or adventurous travel, a GoPro would be perfect.

Smartphones: Then again, more and more often, we find ourselves taking photos with our smartphones and leaving our bulky cameras in our bags. I use an iPhone X and Steph uses a Samsung Galaxy.

Kindle: We love having our Kindles with us when we travel, especially in places like Turkey where the selection of English-language books is often small (or non-existent). Keep yours safe in a cover. I use one like this one.

Laptop and charger: We both use Macs as our travel and work laptop, but if you just want a cheap laptop for travel, a Chromebook is a good choice.

Extras for Hostels 

Sleep mask: Any will do, but for the year or so that I spent living out of hostels, I loved my contoured sleep mask!

Hearos ear plugs: I tested many earplugs when I traveled around the world staying in hostels – Hearos are the clear winners.

Mini combo locks: Most hostels will have lockers for you to use, but most do not come with their own locks. I prefer mini combo locks to locks with a key as it’s harder to forget your combination than to lose your key.

Travel towel: Great for hostels where you may have to rent a towel, but we also just recommend this towel in general as it’s awesome.

What to Pack for Studying Abroad, Working Abroad, or Homestays

If you’re coming to Turkey for any of the above reasons, we suggest bringing a small gift from your home city or country (something that you wouldn’t get anywhere else). Small tokens do the trick. Your gifts don’t need to be extravagant. It’s the thought that counts! 

Give these out to teachers, administrators, hosts, new friends, and anyone else you think will appreciate a little taste of your home.

For work abroad, bring enough to give to administrators, your higher-ups, and any coworkers. 

For homestays, bring something a bit larger, but you only need one for your host family. So instead of little pins, you might bring a nice snowglobe or a box of candy or local jam. 

Important Documentation

Crete - Heraklion - Cosmote Passport

Make sure you remember to bring these important documents with you when you come to Turkey!

Your Passport is the most important piece of documentation that you need (they probably won’t let you on the plane without it)! However, just having your passport tucked into your travel wallet isn’t good enough. You need to make copies before you leave.

Scan your passport and email it to yourself. Then print out three hard copies. Hide one in your luggage, one in your day bag, and give one to your emergency contact at home. (You can also email it to this person). 

If you make sure you always have access to a copy of your passport, even in cases where everything is stolen or you don’t have access to the internet, you’ll be able to get an emergency one made if your passport is lost or stolen (or damaged). 

A Passport Holder to protect your precious passport. Did you know that you can be denied boarding on your flight if your passport has visible damage? I’ve seen it happen, and it doesn’t matter how much you scream at the poor airline employee, they aren’t going to change their mind.

If you’ve taken our advice and will be using a travel wallet during your trip, then keep your passport safe in the passport pocket during your trip. 

If you will be doing a lot of water activities like island hopping, catamaran cruises, and beach days, then you might want to pick up a waterproof passport holder to make absolutely sure your passport doesn’t get ruined during your trip.

Your Travel Insurance Policy Information in case you need to make a claim during your trip. I like to use the same system as I do with my passport – three hard copies and a soft copy. Make sure your emergency contact has a copy of your insurance policy information as well. In certain (unpleasant) situations, they will need to file the claim on your behalf.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

Driver’s License for renting a car or driving in Turkey. While you’ll still need to bring your passport with you to pick up your rental car, a driver’s license is required if you actually want to be allowed to drive the thing. This also works as an ID when you don’t want to take your passport somewhere. You may need an international driving permit for Turkey, so do the research on this ahead of time.

Credit Card & ATM Card Information in case your cards are lost or stolen. I use the same soft and hard copy system for my cards as I do for my passport and travel insurance information, with one major exception. I don’t send or leave a copy with anyone. 

For your copies, make scans of both the front and back so you have every number you need (including the phone number to call from overseas). 

Student ID or Senior ID so that you can utilize any available discounts. Some museums and heritage sites have discounts for students and seniors (and it never hurts to ask if one is available).

Tour Confirmations for any pre-booked activities in case you can’t get internet access for check-in. Where required, you should have printouts of your confirmation, but other companies will allow you to use an electronic ticket or even their app.

This is one reason we book our own activities through GetYourGuide -because you can easily organize all your booked tours in their app. 

Accommodation Confirmation for every place you’re staying. While you can reasonably expect to be able to check-in without producing a copy of your confirmation, bring it anyway in case of an emergency like they’ve lost your reservation or you can’t remember the name of your hotel to give to your taxi driver. That way, you also don’t have to hand over your smartphone to your taxi driver, which can lead to uncomfortable situations at times, especially if you’re a solo woman traveler.

Another reason to make sure you have your hotel information is to make sure that the charges align with what you’ve booked. I’ve been in a situation where I was charged more and had additional fees that were not in my original contract. 

That’s one reason I prefer to use Booking.com to book my rooms. They have pretty flexible cancellation policies and I have a number to call for customer service in case there’s a problem. 

Transportation Information for your flights, buses, trains, and car rentals. I use the app TripIt (see the App section) to organize these things, but you’ll also want to save the emails and print out any tickets or boarding passes before you leave. 

You’ll also want to have the instructions for using ground transportation to your first accommodations, especially if you won’t have data or will be arriving after dark.

Apps to Download Before Your Trip

Cell Phone - Instagram - Apps to Download on your phone before your trip

Here are the apps you want to download on your phone before you leave home. 

Uber for taxis in Istanbul. In other places, you’ll want to ask locals about a reputable company and call ahead to register a ride to avoid any taxi scams. iTaksi is another alternative in Istanbul.

Google Translate so that you can easily get out of any jams caused by language barriers. You can even use the photo setting to translate menus and signs (provided you have wifi access or a data plan).

Google Maps for navigating while on the road, especially for walking in cities and driving on roads. You can even download the maps for the cities you’ll be visiting before your trip so that they are available to you offline.

Moovit for using public transportation since the times are routes are more reliable in the Balkans than Google Maps.

Skype so that you have a way to make phone calls on the road. This will come in handy if you need to call your bank if something happens to your credit cards. 

Facebook Messenger for staying connected with family back home for free. Alternatively, you can use Whatsapp or Viber. Some tour companies (especially small ones) will use Whatsapp or Viber to communicate logistics as well.

Instagram because you know you want to post the gorgeous Instagram pics you’ll take in Turkey. We also love using Instagram for trip inspiration when in new places.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile for editing your travel photos on the road. While Adobe for Desktop is a paid service, the mobile version for your phone is free.

iTunes, Podcast Addict, or other Podcatcher if you like listening to podcasts on your trip. 

Dropbox Mobile for backing up cell phone photos as you travel. This is important in case your cell phone gets lost, broken, or stolen. I like to back mine up at night over wifi (don’t back up over cell data unless you have unlimited data). If you use an iPhone, double-check that iCloud is backing up your photos, otherwise get Dropbox or another third party app.

Your Airline App if you’re flying in or out of Turkey so that you can utilize mobile check-in and avoid having to print your boarding cards. 

Tour Company Apps for any pre-booked activities. We book our tours on GetYourGuide and then use their app to keep the confirmations and itineraries organized. 

TripIt for organizing flights, hotel accommodations, and tickets. I really don’t understand how anyone gets around without it!

More Turkey Travel Resources

Turkey - Istanbul - Istanbul in Winter Snow Selfie Stephanie

Headed to Turkey? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip.

If this will be your first time traveling to Turkey, check out this guide to planning a trip to Turkey (including visa information) and this guide beautiful places to visit in Turkey. You can also check out our Balkan currency guide, which explains how the Turkish lira works and guidelines for tipping in Istanbul.

If you’re heading to Istanbul, we have you covered. Start with our essential Istanbul Travel Tips and guide to staying safe in Istanbul

We’re working on our massive things to do in Istanbul post, plus you can check out our guide to the best Instagram spots around Istanbul, tips for shopping in Istanbul, the best Turkish food to eat, how to plan an Istanbul honeymoon, and what to do in Istanbul at night.

If you will be visiting in winter, we have a special winter in Istanbul guide plus an overview of Istanbul weather in January.

If you want to be in the city for just a few days (four or less), check out our Istanbul city break guide, which breaks down the best of the city so you won’t miss anything!

Headed to Cappadocia? If you’re curious about the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia, we’ve got you covered. We also have posts on the best things to do in Cappadocia, and how to plan a perfect 3 day Cappadocia itinerary, plus how to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul.

We have tons more Turkey and Balkans resources, and we publish new content nearly daily. Bookmark our Turkey and Balkans travel pages so you can find any new resources that come out before your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Turkey (or really, any part of the world)! Steph and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While Turkey is safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<


7 Spectacular Things to Do in Rhodes in Winter

Trying to decide whether to visit Rhodes in winter? Or perhaps you already have plans and you want to know what to do once you get here?

Visiting Rhodes in winter is a great way to escape from colder climates and enjoy the culture and history of one of Europe’s most popular islands – without dealing with the hordes of tourists who come in the summer! 

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The Best Things to Do in Rhodes in Winter

What is the Weather Like in Winter in Rhodes?

Rhodes stays a bit warmer than Greece’s mainland, with highs around 14-16° Celcius (58-61° Fahrenheit) and low temperatures around 9-11° Celcius (48-51° Fahrenheit). Expect rainy days, so pack accordingly (see below). 

Of course, double check the weather forecast a few days before your trip, as Rhodes can experience a hot or cold spell during your specific travel window.

The Best Things to Do in Rhodes in Winter

Here are our picks for what to do in Rhodes in winter.

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Rhodes Old Town

Greece - Rhodes - Walls

The New Town in Rhodes is considerably busier in winter than Rhodes Old Town, but if you want to learn about this UNESCO World Heritage Site, winter is a great time to come and explore without fighting the crowds! 

The Medieval City of Rhodes was inscribed onto the WHS list in 1988. According to UNESCO:

The Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and set about transforming the city into a stronghold. It subsequently came under Turkish and Italian rule. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period. In the Lower Town, Gothic architecture coexists with mosques, public baths and other buildings dating from the Ottoman period.

Enjoy Some Solitude in Lindos

Greece - Rhodes - Lindos in Winter

The town of Lindos, so popular during the summer, is practically a ghost town in winter. If you want to wander through the town’s white-washed houses and enjoy its pictureque beaches, going in winter will give you the option to explore Lindos almost completely on your own!

While most shops and restaurants will be closed, a few stay open all year, so don’t worry about starving. I would personally base yourself in Rhodes and then visit Lindos from Rhodes as a day trip.

Go on a Winter Hike

Greece - Rhodes - Winter Hiking

If you find hiking in high summer to be brutal, indulge in some winter hiking! Rhodes has great paths you can walk, from short city gardens to longer treks through the lush inland.

Stroll along the Beach…or Indulge in Water Sports!

Greece - Rhodes - Beach - Woman in Cave in winter alone

In winter, I prefer a solitary walk along the beach, especially if I can take in a beautiful sunrise or sunset. However, there are people in Rhodes who do water sports all year. The water may be cold, but it’s still warmer here than in many parts of northern Europe.

Eat the Way Locals Do

Greece - Rhodes - Nikos

One thing I adore about visiting Greek islands in winter is that the places which stay open are the ones that are frequented most by locals because they have enough customers to stay open year-round. While there are definitely restaurants that target tourists that are delicious, you can trust a taverna that’s still open in December to be especially tasty!

Many of the resort towns will be completley closed down in the winter, but there are tavernas in Rhodes Town (a few in the Old Town but more in the New Town) and there’s even a taverna that stays open year-round on Pallas Beach in Lindos!

Visit the Acropolis of Lindos…without the Heat!

Greece - Rhodes - Acropolis of Lindos in winter

If the thought of visiting archealogical ruins in the heat of August doesn’t appeal to you, checking out the Acropolis of Lindos in wintertime seems like a far better option. 

The Acropolis of Lindos, located far above the town, offers gorgeous views year-round. However, you will most likely find it without any other tourists, making your opportunity to connect with history that much more palpabl.e

Celebrate Christmas in Rhodes Town

Greece - Rhodes - Christmas Decorations

While Rhodes doesn’t have a traditional Christmas market like the Heraklion Christmas market on Crete, there are still festivities to enjoy during Christmastime in Rhodes. 

Start with the Christmas decorations in Mandraki Harbor. The three windmills are decorated wtih light displays representing the Three Wise Men from the Bible.

Other decorations around town are organized by the municipality, including a special train that runs from Aktaion daily. 

Rhodes Winter Travel Tips

Greece - Rhodes - Boat in Rhodes Harbor

Unlike visiting Crete in winter, which still has tons of locals, there are a lot fewer peple around Rhodes in winter. While Rhodes Town is still vibrant, many of the smaller resort towns feel practically empty. If there’s something you want to do on the island, make sure you book ahead or discuss plans directly with someone on the ground.

During the high season, there are tons of direct flights to the island from all over Europe, but from November onward, expect to connect through Athens or Thessaloniki.  

While you can reach Rhodes in winter by ferry, if you get seasick easily you may choose to fly instead. The seas can be choppy and rough in bad weather. 

5 Things to Bring with You for a Winter Rhodes Vacation

Greece - Delphi - Stephanie Selfie

We have an entire Rhodes packing list that includes exactly what to bring to dress for winter in Rhodes, but here are some essentials you don’t want to miss!

A Guidebook – While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We own and recommend the Lonely Planet Greece for a great guidebook on the ground. 

A winter scarf: Bring a winter scarf like this one (women’s) or this cashmere scarf (men’s) to help block out the wind.

An ultra-light down jacket: You can wear this on its own or pair it with the jacket for colder days. This rolls up and packs easily in your day bag so it’s good to bring along – I have one really similar to this (women’s) but there’s a men’s version as well.

Sunscreen: Yes, you will want sunscreen in Crete, even during the winter! While you can buy it here, I suggest you buy the good stuff from recognizable brands or better yet, buy it online in advance.

I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions.

Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides especially on mountain roads – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well.

Read Next: Essential Rhodes Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Rhodes

More Rhodes Travel Resources

Greece - Epidaurus - Stephanie Selfie

Headed to Rhodes? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.

If you’re still trying to plan your trip around the island, check out our guide to things to do in Rhodes. If you want to spend some time in Lindos, check out how to get from Rhodes to Lindos.

If this will be one of your first trips to the Greek islands, check out our massive Greek Island hopping guide as well as our recommendations for where to go in Greece and when is the best time to visit. 

We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.

Finally, Make Sure You Come to Rhodes with Travel Insurance

I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Rhodes, Greece, or anywhere in the world!

Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption. 

While Rhodes is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe.

>>Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.<<

Pin this guide to the Best Things to Do in Rhodes in Winter for Your Trip!

The Best Things to Do in Rhodes in Winter

 

 

17 of the Best Places to Visit in Romania for Every Kind of Traveler

If you’re wondering where to go in Romania, we’ve got you covered. We asked a group of professional travel writers to share their favorite Romania vacation spots, plus we’ve added a few of our own, to come up with this comprehensive list of the best places to visit in Romania!

When planning your Romanian itinerary, keep in mind that public transportation times between cities can often be deceptively long. We don’t encourage anyone to come to Romania and try to zip around too fast, instead we love slowly exploring one region at a time instead of rushing from place to place. Romania is a country that is best enjoyed when you savor small moments, rather than just seeing the country’s highlights.

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Want to travel Romania? We’ve covered the most beautiful places to visit in Romania, from Bucharest to Transylvania (Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara, and beyond) to the Black Sea coast of Constanta and Danube Delta to under-the-radar Romanian cities like Timisoara, Cluj, and beyond. Full of the best things to do in Romania and Romania travel tips. From nature to mountains to food, this is your one-stop spot for Romania itinerary inspiration!
Want to travel Romania? We’ve covered the most beautiful places to visit in Romania, from Bucharest to Transylvania (Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara, and beyond) to the Black Sea coast of Constanta and Danube Delta to under-the-radar Romanian cities like Timisoara, Cluj, and beyond. Full of the best things to do in Romania and Romania travel tips. From nature to mountains to food, this is your one-stop spot for Romania itinerary inspiration!

Here are the best places to visit in Romania (as picked by travel experts!)

In no particular order…

Bucharest

Since Bucharest is the most visited city in Romania (and many people’s entry point into the city) it should surprise no one that it’s the favorite Romanian vacation spot of many travel writers! We were lucky enough to get two separate takes on this great Romanian city.

Romania - Bucharest - Best Places to Visit in Romania Collab
Photo by Laura @ TTS. Reused with permission.

The capital of Romania, Bucharest is a must visit for anyone visiting this lesser known corner of the world. You can spend hours meandering around the city marvelling at the broad range of architecture dotted throughout this metropolis.

There’s so much to see here – from the hard to miss, ginormous Palace of Parliament, so large that barely fits into one photograph, to the beautiful domed Stavropoleos Monastery and Bucharest’s own Arc de Triomphe! Take a break from the bustling streets and head to Herastrau Park, a green oasis in the midst of the city encircling the Herastrau Lake, where you’ll find many locals enjoying a relaxing walk or bike ride in the fresh air.

When it comes to food, although Romania isn’t famed for it’s cuisine, there are two absolute gems to put on your list whilst exploring Bucharest.

For a truly traditional affair head to Caru’cu Bere, an ornate beer hall serving up pints of great value local beer and classic Romanian dishes including mittitei and tochitură. The live Romanian folk music and over the top venue may make this seem more like a tourist haunt but you’ll find many locals also frequent this authentic place.

On the other end of the scale make your way to The Artist, one of Bucharest’s only and certainly the best fine dining you’ll find in the city. Serving up inventive dishes including quail with crab, apricot and white chocolate this is one restaurant you don’t have to choose one dish as you can opt for the ‘spoon tasting’ a mouthful or two of each delicious dish.

Contributed by Laura from The Travelling Stomach.

Romania - Bucharest - Skating Rink Mall
Photo by Rob – Resused with permission.

I loved living in Bucharest, Romania. Bucharest is the capital of Romania and there is lots to see and do. You can visit the Old Town, take a tour of the markets, go ice skating in a mall or enjoy some of the architecture. Also, be sure to try some traditional foods, pass time in their near perfect parks or even heck out parliament. This is just a glimpse, there are lots of things to do in Bucharest. 

Why really won Bucharest over for me was how livable it was. The accommodations in Bucharest are quite affordable to start with. The internet in Bucharest is some of the fastest in the world and many people I met spoke English.

I really enjoyed the variety of foods available and the nightlife was rock solid as well. That said, like anywhere “there are pros and cons to living Bucharest”.  Since Romania is the capital though, there is really something for everyone from history buffs, to foodies or even digital nomads like myself. 

It should go without saying that if you’re traveling in Romania, set some time aside to explore Bucharest.

Contributed by Rob Lloyd from Stop Having a Boring Life.

Sighisoara

Romania - Sighisoara - Best Places to visit in Romania collab
Photo by Emily Lush. Reused with permission.

Home to one of the best-preserved medieval citadels in Europe (and one of the few that remain inhabited), Sighisoara is a must-visit in Romania.

Located 300 km north-west of Bucharest, Sighisoara is one in a constellation of fortified Transylvanian cities. It was established in the 12th century by the Saxons, craftspeople and merchants dispatched to the area to safeguard the Austro-Hungarian border from the Ottoman.

Members of Sighisoara’s 15 trade guilds (Rope Makers, Furriers, Tanners and Butchers, to name a few) took care of the town’s walls and defensive bastions. Today, each of the towers retains the name of its forbearers.

Like other Transylvanian cities, Sighisoara revolves around its Clock Tower (Tunul cu Ceas) and square. The tower’s shimmering roof tiles can be spotted from anywhere in the city. The wooden Scholar’s Stairway, first built in 1642, leads to the Biserica din Deal and German Cemetery high above the town.

Other highlights of Sighisoara include visiting the canary yellow house where Vlad Tepes, AKA Count Dracula, was born in 1431. It’s now a restaurant and small museum. A couple of hours can happily be spent wandering amongst the cobbled lanes and pastel houses that helped earn Sighisoara a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1999.

Sighisoara can easily be reached from Bucharest by rail or bus. It’s also possible to visit as a day trip from Sibiu or Brasov.

Contributed by Emily from Wander-Lush.

Brasov

Romania - Brasov - Center of Town

Brasov is a charming medieval city in Transylvania Region of Romania. Known for its colorful baroque structures and history, Brasov is one of the hidden gems in Europe. 

This town has one of the best locations in Romania if you want to go sightseeing. In the town center alone, you’ll find several things to do in Brasov. 

The main attractions include the famous Black Church which earned its nickname when it survived the fire in the 1600s. The town square of Piata Sfatului is where the locals and tourist alike go people watching or just to relax. 

And Piata Sfatului is probably one of the quirkiest things to do in Brasov as it’s the narrowest street in Europe. For us, one of our favorite things to do in to simply walk around town and admire the beautiful traditional homes that make up this beautiful town. 

The entire town is bordered by the Carpathians on three sides which means it is also close to some of the best spots for nature tripping and skiing during winter. Also, its central location in Romania makes it a good base for several day trips from the town center.

These day trips include a tour to Bran Castle which is known as the Dracula’s Castle and other castles in the area such as Peles and Cetatea Rasnov. 

So if you want a less crowded but beautiful and relaxing town, a trip to Brasov is a must. 

Contributed by Christine Rogador from The Travelling Pinoys.

Bucovina

Best places to visit in Romania collab
Photo by Inma Gregorio. Reused with permission.

Quite regularly, only travelers who have already been in the country for a few days, or visit Romania for a second or third time, discover the wonderful area of Bucovina, in the north of the country. And again, most of those who finally decide to visit it, do so for their famous collection of painted orthodox monasteries, which have been the cover of many international travel magazines in recent years and, frankly, they are wonderful.

Today I am not here to repeat what you already know but to bring you this snapshot, a perfect document that conveys how impressed the Bucovina landscapes left me. Maybe the stars lined up so that I could experience one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life, maybe it’s like this on a daily basis.

Whatever it is, seeing the fog rise over the hills – only populated by a few small wooden huts here and there – as the sun was rising, it was one of the most sublime moments I have lived throughout in my travels. And so it was, ladies and gentlemen, how Bucovina stayed in my retina – and, like the visual-being I am, therefore in my heart.

Don’t be afraid to visit Romania during the coldest months. It is one of the best winter destinations in Europe!

Contributed by Inma from A World to Travel.

Piatra Neamt & Neamt Fortress

Romania - Bistrita - Piatra Neam

One of the most picturesque cities in Romania, the highlight of Piatra Neamt is a (short) trek up to Piatra Neamt fortress. Beyond the stunning views from the top of the fortress, you’ll also get to explore one of the most important historic sites in Romania.

To get to the top, the hike is about one kilometer, and there is a small tourist center set up at the bottom. When we were there, we saw some adorable puppies towards the bottom.

The fortress was built in the thirteenth century, and played an important role in the system of defenses organized by Stephen III of Moldavia during the fifteenth century. 

Editor’s Choice.

Peles Castle

Best places to visit in Romania collab
Photo by Chrysoula Manika. Reused with permission.

Peles Castle, known locally as Castelul Peleș is a stunning Neo-Renaissance castle that looks like it has hopped right out of a fairy tale book! This medieval castle is nestled in the hillside of the Carpathian Mountains and is one of my favourite places in the whole of Romania! Peles Castle was built between the years of 1873 and 1914 and was one of the major stops along the medieval route between Transylvania and Wallachia.

Peles Castle comprises of pristine turrets and terraces as well as muralled walls and manicured gardens. This picture-perfect palace is now a museum which displays halls, parlours and salons in exquisite condition with a whole host of paintings, tapestries, furnishings and fabrics to admire. Outside, the grounds feature a range of sculptures, many created by Italian artist Raffaello Romanelli.

While Peles Castle was once home to the Romanian Royal Family, it is now mainly enjoyed by the public and is only intermittently used by the royals to host celebratory events such as the 150th anniversary of the Romanian Royal Dynasty a few years ago.

Visiting Peles Castle is a must for those who love all things magical as it has a truly enchanting presence, and photographers will be in awe of this photogenic castle from every angle! Peles Castle can easily be reached as part of a day trip from Bucharest as it lies just two hours away, so there really is no excuse not to visit this captivating castle.

Contributed by Chrysoula from Historic European Castles.

Horezu Monastery

Romania - Horezu Monastery

While Bucharest is lacking nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a great day trip from Bucharest is to visit the UNESCO Site of Horezu monastery in the Southern Carpathian mountains.

According to UNESCO’s inscription:

Founded in 1690 by Prince Constantine Brancovan, the monastery of Horezu, in Walachia, is a masterpiece of the ‘Brancovan’ style. It is known for its architectural purity and balance, the richness of its sculptural detail, the treatment of its religious compositions, its votive portraits and its painted decorative works. The school of mural and icon painting established at the monastery in the 18th century was famous throughout the Balkan region.

It’s easiest to visit from Bucharest by car or you can spend a few days in the area.

Editor’s Choice.

The Danube Delta

danube delta romania
Photo by Megan Starr. Reused with permission.

One of the most incredible places to visit in Romania is the underrated Danube Delta.  Most people associate Romania with castles and its gritty capital city but they completely miss out on the Delta, which is situated in the northeastern corner of the country on its border with Ukraine. 

The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the third largest biodiversity in the world behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos.  There are over 300 recorded bird species calling the Delta home and the landscapes feel like you’re in the southeastern United States… not in the middle of Europe.

There are an abundance of things to do in the Danube Delta, but I definitely recommend spending some time slowly traveling through its three different channels. 

The three channels that eventually flow into the Black Sea are Chilia, Sulina, and Sfantu Gheorghe.  Chilia is the youngest and most of it is located within Ukraine.  Sulina is the most known and actually has been manipulated by man a lot over the years.  And Sfantu Gheorghe is the most sparsely populated and, perhaps, the most remarkable in terms of beauty.

Several interesting settlements and places exist along the Danube Delta.  Mila 23 is a laid-back village accessible by boat through the Sulina Channel and its colorful houses, dense forests, and chilled-out vibe will make you think you’ve landed on an island in the Caribbean. 

Letea Village is home to an ancient forest and some of Europe’s most famous inland sand dunes.  It is also Romania’s oldest nature reserve.  Sacalin Island is Europe’s newest piece of land and is located in the Black Sea right beside the Sfantu Gheorghe branch of the Delta.  This piece of brand new land is only accessible by boat and is uninhabited. 

While it is not a small village but rather a large city, Tulcea makes a great base for exploring the Danube Delta and there is a lot to do there, as well.

The Danube Delta is an incredible place to take some time and explore some of Romania’s (and Europe’s) best nature.  It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Romania.

Contributed by Megan Starr from MeganStarr.com.

Timisoara

Romania - Timisoara
Photo by Rose Munday. Reused with permission.

The pretty city of Timosoara is much more than a point of entry to Romania, although it does make for an excellent stop-off if coming overland from Budapest or indeed anywhere in Eastern Europe. Although Timosoara isn’t anywhere near the size of Bucharest, it offers something the latter doesn’t: a charming, historic centre lesser touched by the American-style burger bars that dominate the capital.

With three sunny historic squares, Timosoara offers learning and people-watching opportunities aplenty. During the summer, Victory, Independence and Unity Squares are inhabited by locals who meet to socialize and drink coffee in the sun.

Once you’ve admired the historically significant buildings and learnt about Romania’s rich yet troubled history, you should pull up a chair and join them! Other things to do in Timisoara include walking the river path, heading inside the ornate Orthodox Cathedral and learning about how people once lived at the Communist Consumer Museum.

For foodies, there are some highly recommended cafes and restaurants in Timisoara. Check out Casa Bunicii 1 or Gratarul cu Staif for traditionally meaty Romanian cuisine or Lera’s Bistro for a taste of Serbian food. Family-run Jolie Bistro serves the best international food in town, while Il Gelato Di Bruno are renowned for making the best ice cream.

Contributed by Rose Munday from Where Goes Rose.

Sibiu

Romania - Sibiu - Best Places to visit in Romania
Photo by Karen Turner. Reused with permission.

One of the most beautiful cities in Romania has to be Sibiu. This stunning town in Transylvania has a long history of German influence.  

Within the UNESCO recognized historic center, you’ll find many beautiful buildings with peeking eyes and colorful facades. Beyond the historic center, you’ll find the old fortifications of Sibiu with its impressive towers and walls.

I especially loved Sibiu as although it’s certainly a touristic attraction in itself, it is walkable, fairly quiet, and full of cozy cafes that you’ll want to pop into.  Even after visiting other Romanian cities, I fell in love with Sibiu’s quiet beauty that only becomes even more lovely as the sunsets and golden hour sets in.  

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the local fairs or the annual Christmas market held in the Grand Square.

Do not miss taking the impressive covered tunnel up to the hill towards the Evangelical Church, a beautiful Gothic church that dates back to 1350. WIthin the church, you’ll have impressive views over the city and be able to learn more about the German past of Sibiu.

Eating local is easy in Sibiu as you’ll find several cafes and restaurants that focus on regional food and drinks. 

Contributed by Karen Turner from WanderlustingK.

Arad

Romania - Arad - Best Places to Visit in Romania Collab
Photo by Lucas. Reused with permission.

If you are going to visit Timisoara, you should consider visiting Arad. Arad is a city located in the western part of Romania just 60 kilometers far from Timisoara, close to the Hungarian border. It has a population of 160 000 inhabitants and is one of Romania’s biggest industrial regions but also the cultural center with the philharmonic, theater, and museums.

I’ve been in Arad only a few days but it was enough time to jump out in the afternoon and see some of the local attractions. What is worth recommending to see among the others is the 18th-century Stronghold in Arad – it’s quite close to the city center (anyway, Arad is not so big). In the historical market square, you will find many buildings with classical architecture like 19th century Ioan Slavici Theater or the City Hall.

In the evening you can eat really good food as well as drink different kinds of craft beers in Euphoria Restaurant located just next to the Continental hotel where I stayed.  If you are going to wander a little further, I recommend using trams. What is interesting is that Arad’s trams are one of the oldest in Romania – the company was founded in 1869.

Contributed by Lucas from Lean Traveller Guide.

The Transfagarasan

Romania - Transfagarasan - Best Places to visit in Romania Collab
Photo by Loredana. Reused with permission.

My favorite place to visit in Romania is the Transfagarasan. Constructed between 1970 and 1974 for defensive purposes, this road is now one that offers spectacular views. You can get to the Transfagarasan by car – you can go on a one-day trip from Bucharest or as a stop on your Romania trip.

The road is a bit challenging – it has numerous hairpin turns – but not that difficult. It is open from July to the end of September (sometimes just until mid-September) – it actually depends on the weather.

The road takes you to an altitude of 2,042 meters (6,699 ft) and rewards you with amazing views and several waterfalls along the way. There are places where you can park the car and soak in the beauty – and take pictures to remind you of this amazing road trip.

At the top, there is also a cabin – Balea Lake Cabin – where you can stay at. There is also a lake – Balea Lake – and you can snap the perfect Instagram photo here with the cabin reflected by the lake. While you’ll visit this during the summer, you can expect to see some snow! How’s that for a fun experience?

Words can’t really express the beauty of the trip and the amazing feeling you get when reaching Balea Lake. While you may have to go slowly – as many people go there and sometimes lines are formed – the trip will be amazing, I guarantee it.

We try to get to the Transfagarasan once a year – and we never get tired of the views, the smell of the forests, and of the trip itself!

Contributed by Loredana from Earth’s Attractions.

Rupea Fortress

Romania - Rupea Fortress near Brasov - Green grass and citadel and mountains

Even though Rupea Fortress is one of the most iconic sites in Romania, it’s not as famous as other Romanian castles, especially compared to other Transylvanian castles like Bran and Peles.

Located about halfway between Sighisoara and Brasov, it was built in the fourteenth century by the local Saxons to protect against incursions from Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. 

Combine a visit to Repua Fortress with stops in the local villages of Viscri and Crit.

Editor’s Choice.

Targu-Mures

Romania - Targu-Mures - Places to Visit in Romania
Photo by Dragos Gontariu. Reused with permission.

Targu Mures is a unique, historic city in Romania that is full of culture and artistry. The famed city’s name literally translates to “market,” and the city’s bustling streets have once served as the hub for local artisans to showcase their crafts.

Now, the artistic city has evolved into a modern hub for unique restaurants, cafes, churches, and monuments. It’s simply an amazing city for anyone looking to deeply engage with the history and culture of Romania.

Targu Mures is home to many unique landmarks, such as the Apollo Palace and the Palffy House. But its main cultural attraction is located in the southern heart of the Targu Mures Square, where the “Culture Palace” is located.

The Culture Palace hosts many unique museums in the heart of Targu Mures, and the traditional Romanian architecture will be sure to evoke awe in its viewers. I recommend visiting the Teleki Library and the St. Michael Wooden Orthodox Church, both of which are historic landmarks that embody the ancient knowledge and culture of Transylvania.

Targu Mures offers the travel experience of the modern world, with unique restaurants, bars, and other amenities, but also offers the experience of the past unlike any other city in Romania.

Contributed by Andrew Kim from RoadGoat.

Cluj Napoca

Cluj Napoca - Romania - Places to Visit in Romania
Photo by Karolina Klesta. Reused with permission.

Cluj Napoca, the unofficial capital of the Transylvania region in northwestern Romania, is one of the best places to visit in Europe. A perfect getaway for families, Cluj Napoca has many open spaces and attractions that will bring awe to your children’s eyes. 

First, Cluj Napoca’s Botanical Garden with its exotic flowers and ponds can bring fairytales to life. Then, for a bit of a thrill take a walk around the Hoia Forest with its haunting, crooked trees. Perhaps you can even tell them local stories of alien encounters and people who disappear when the mist falls. Another place for an adventure is underground within the salt mines, where a boat ride amidst glistening walls awaits. Later on, take a walk around the charming city center and they will feel like they have taken a tour of a storybook.

Aside from its stunning attractions, Cluj Napoca is also a great place to try traditional Romanian food. It has its own delicious culinary specialties like the Varză à la Cluj, a meat and cabbage dish flavored with thyme, cumin, and paprika, and the Ciorbă de fasole cu ciolan, a hearty bean soup topped with smoked pork meat and served in a bread bowl. 

As one of those lesser-known cities in Romania, another advantage of visiting the lovely region of Cluj Napoca is that it is rarely crowded and traveling from one place to another is as easy as hopping on an Uber. Accommodation is also affordable and easy to book with all the family packages offered by the hotels. 

Contributed by Karolina Klesta from The Lazy Travel Blog.

Bran Castle

Best Places to Visit in Romania Collab - Bran Castle
Photo by Piritta Paija. Reused with permission.

The Bran Castle is by far, one of the most spectacular medieval castles in Romania. It’s located in Bran, near the town of Brasov in Transylvania. Transylvania has always been strongly connected to the many vampire myths and folklore and Bran Castle is also often called ”the Dracula’s Castle.”

However, Vlad Tepes (also called Vlad the Impaler, the Prince of Wallachia), the real-life paragon of Dracula, never actually lived in the castle. But he still has a brief, known association to the castle, he was imprisoned there for two months in 1462. 

But don’t let that small detail diminish the splendour of this place, Bran Castle is still a fascinating place to visit and you can fully immerse yourself into the colorful history of the region and the castle itself. However, still worth mentioning is that in the villages near Bran there is a belief in the existence of evil spirits called  ”strigoi” or ”steregoi” (kind of ghosts) that can be mixed with the vampire folklore as they have many common characteristics. So, maybe these beliefs have supported the myth of Dracula, too.

I recommend reserving several hours for your visit to Bran Castle so that you can explore all the narrow corridors and corners of this remarkable, historical place. The castle is surprisingly big. Bran Castle was built in 1382 and it’s a national monument of Romania. You can reach it conveniently by car or train in just 2.5-3.5 hours from Bucharest. But whatever you do, don’t skip this magical place on your visit to Romania. 

Contributed by Piritta Paija from Bizarre Globe Hopper.

Rasnov Fortress

Romania - Transylvania - Brasov - Râșnov Fortress Rasnov

Also known as Rasnov Citadel, this fortress is often overlooked for visitors planning to see Peles or Bran Castle, but you can actually easily combine Rasnov with a trip to Bran Castle from Bucharest. 

Located high above the town of Rasnov in the Carpathian mountains, the citadel was built by the Teutonic knights in the fourteenth century and protected the local Saxon population for centuries.

Abandoned in the mid-nineteenth century, it has been recently restored and is now a popular (and photogenic) Romanian tourist destination, complete with a museum about the history of Rasnov.

Editor’s Choice

What to Bring with You to Romania

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

If you’re planning a trip to Romania, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more, check out our complete Romania packing list.

– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We love Lonely Planet Bulgaria & Romaniafor this region and strongly recommend it to supplement blogs. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.

– Layers in case of poor weather. We had really bad luck with weather our last trip in Romania – it snowed before Halloween! We always recommend bringing a rainproof jacket like Allison’s personal favorite, the Marmot PreCip, which she has had for years and has held up well to countless abuse over 3+ years of travels. (Here’s a men’s version, too!)

– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in big cities in Romania is drinkable, such as in Bucharest and Brasov, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.

– Motion sickness pills. Romanian roads are winding and road conditions are not good – not even getting into the drivers, either. If you have a weak stomach like we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.

– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.

 Travel safety items. We think Romania is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack. It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as its neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.

Read more: Essential Romania Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Romania

Where to Stay in Romania

Romania - Bucharest - Hotel Cismigiu

We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in different Romanian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. While Romania is underrated by international travelers, many of the best places can book early during the high season because Romanians know where to go.

Romania Travel Resources

Romania - Bucharest - Street art near Carturesti Verona

If you’re going to Romania, we have a goldmine of resources for you to take advantage of! First, check out this guide to planning a trip to Romania. It’s a good starting point for planning your trip.

Next, check out all the things to do in Transylvania and things to do in Bucharest. You can also check out our Instagram guides to SibiuBrasov, and Bucharest – more are on the way.

You can also read about the best Romanian castles, the Romanian food you should try on your trip, the best Romanian souvenirs, and inspirational travel quotes about Romania. Plus, how to plan some epic day trips from Bucharest.

We publish new content nearly every day! Bookmark our pages on Romania and the Balkans so that you don’t miss out on any new info or resources that we publish before your trip!

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance

I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Romania (or really, any part of the world)! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!

>> Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here <<

 

Pin this Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Romania for Your Trip!

Want to travel Romania? We’ve covered the most beautiful places to visit in Romania, from Bucharest to Transylvania (Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara, and beyond) to the Black Sea coast of Constanta and Danube Delta to under-the-radar Romanian cities like Timisoara, Cluj, and beyond. Full of the best things to do in Romania and Romania travel tips. From nature to mountains to food, this is your one-stop spot for Romania itinerary inspiration!
Want to travel Romania? We’ve covered the most beautiful places to visit in Romania, from Bucharest to Transylvania (Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara, and beyond) to the Black Sea coast of Constanta and Danube Delta to under-the-radar Romanian cities like Timisoara, Cluj, and beyond. Full of the best things to do in Romania and Romania travel tips. From nature to mountains to food, this is your one-stop spot for Romania itinerary inspiration!
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