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

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17 of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey for Culture & Adventure Lovers

Wondering where to go on vacation in Turkey? We asked seventeen professional travel writers for their recommendations for the best places to visit in Turkey. There’s everything from big cities to charming villages to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and natural wonders. 

Map of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey

 

 

Travel Writers Tell Us Their Favorite Places in Turkey

In no particular order…

 

Istanbul

When I hear the word Istanbul, I’m immediately taken back to the images that first inspired my fascination with this city.

Its was these stunning aerial shots above the city with beautiful mosques like the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) sitting on the horizon, reaching for the heavens.

It was this gripping chase scene involving a motorcycle on the roof and inside of the historic Grand Bazaar as James Bond was in hot pursuit of a villain in possession of top secret information.

Turkey - Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - Collab

The movie was Skyfall and after watching that explosive opening scene, I knew I wanted to visit this beautiful city.

Istanbul sits on two continents (Europe and Asia) divided by the Bosporus Strait. It holds a strategic position along the historic Silk Road between Europe and the Middle East as well being the only sea route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Aside from Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and shopping at the Grand Bazaar you can get a taste of what it was like to live like a Sultan at Topkapi Palace or explore the cultural wonders of the Whirling Dervishes. From Taksim Square to Galata Tower, Turkish Coffee to Turkish Tea and romantic daytime and nighttime river cruises along the Bosporus. Be sure to head over to Galata Bridge which not only crosses the Bosphorus strait, on the top you’ll find men and boys fishing while beneath you’ll find some of the best fresh fish restaurants selling the fish freshly caught. Delicious.

My cousin married a Turkish woman and together with their son as well as a good friend of mine (Istanbul local) helped me put together a fantastic post called 48 Hours in Istanbul, Turkey. Check it out if you want to see more of this gorgeous city! 

 
Contributed by Christopher from Rudderless Travel
 
 

 

Cappadocia

Dreamy photos of hot-air balloons over Cappadocia convinced me to add it to my Turkey itinerary – and boy was I glad when I reached there.  

The sheer joy of getting up in the air and admiring the Mars-like landscape of Cappadocia while gliding over its weird rock formations put a smile on my face that refused to go. Once that was done, there was Goreme’s open-air museum to explore. A curious place with past monastic enclaves, strange drawings, and rock-cut churches, this is a museum worth spending time at.

Turkey - Cappadocia - Collab

The next couple of days were spent exploring the rest of Cappadocia with stops in Nevsehir – the region’s main province, Uchisar – the highest point of the region, hiking through Pigeon Valley and exploring the underground city of Derinkunyu. The region is blessed with extraordinary beauty and taking it slow will give you enough time to explore the richness of this beautiful part of Turkey. While here, don’t miss an opportunity to stay in a cave hotel. It’s one of the most unique things you can do in Cappadocia. 

Having spent almost four days here, I can say with certainty that it was time well spent. All in all, it’s fair to say that Cappadocia is as beautiful on the ground as it is from up above.

Contributed by Priyanko from Constant Traveller

 

Read: The Most Instagrammable Places in Cappadocia

 

Bodrum

Bodrum is located in the Aegean region of turkey and has a little bit of everything. It’s a popular holiday destination due to its crystal clear water and lovely sand beaches, but there are plenty of other things to do in Bodrum too. Allow a week to see the sights and enjoy a little relaxation time.

Bodrum is a port city and has an impressive selection of historical sites including the Bodrum castle. Built from 1402 onwards by the Knights of St John, the Castle is now home to the Museum of Underwater Archeology – definitely worth a visit for some impressive shipwrecks!

Turkey - A Lovely Planet - Bodrum - Collab

Bodrum was once known as the ancient walled city of Halicarnassus, and the remains of one of the city’s gates can still be seen, as well as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world; the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. This tomb was built around 353 B.C. for Mausolus, a satrap of the Persian Empire, and his wife.

Treat yourself to some Turkish Delight direct from the producers and don’t miss Gümüslük, an area of restaurants lining the water’s edge, lit with lanterns – it has to be one of the most romantic spots in Turkey! And finally – hit the beach – or book a trip on a sailing boat and enjoy the beauty of Bodrum from the Aegean.

Contributed by Hayley from A Lovely Planet

Fethiye

Fethiye is a coastal city located on Turkey’s southwestern Turquoise coast and is known for its natural harbor, incredibly beautiful (blue) water and some ancient places nearby. In my opinion, Fethiye is one of the best places in Turkey to spend beach holidays.

To get there, the easiest way is to catch a flight to Dalaman Airport, from where you can take one of the many buses for tourists.

While Turkey has many beautiful places to spend beach holidays, Fethiye has something special about it. I highly recommend taking a boat from one of the main beaches (mainly Oludeniz Beach), which will allow you to explore some of the most incredible beaches of Turkey.

Turkey - Fethiye - Collab

During these trips, you will explore “hidden beaches” (hidden because you can’t reach them without the boat), the incredible Butterfly Valley (which is a designated nature reserve) and much more. Food and drinks are usually included.

If you have the budget, it would be a good idea to get a private boat, as you could avoid other tourists and enjoy the beautiful places on your own.

One of the highlights is paragliding in Fethiye – which I also did, as the price was unbeatable (I paid around 70$ in 2017). The pilots are experienced and you will be able to enjoy the stunning views from above – if you’re lucky you can even spot some big turtles that are swimming around the bay of Fethiye.

As there are some interesting ancient sites around the area (like the ancient city of Tlos) I would recommend to spend at least 3 days in Fethiye – if you plan to do some relaxing beach holidays probably a bit more!

Contributed by Michael from mscgerber

 

Read: 15 Perfect Turkish Souvenirs

 

Ephesus

Ephesus was an ancient Greek port city that was later conquered by the Romans. Some of the ruins are incredibly well preserved, and the whole complex has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
In ancient times, Ephesus was famous for its Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Sadly, not much is left of that temple today, but there are plenty of other structures to admire. 
 
Turkey - Ephesus Library - Collab
 
The most impressive of these is the Library of Celsus, which was the third largest library in the ancient world. The ornate two-story façade, decorated with statues and Corinthian columns, remains almost completely intact. The library once housed more than 12,000 scrolls, which were stored in cupboards inside niches in the walls.
 
Other monuments worth seeking out include the Great Theater, Hadrian’s Temple, the Serapeion and Terrace House 2, which boasts wall paintings, mosaics, and marble paneling.
 
Ephesus is located about 80 kilometers south of Izmir. To visit the site, you’ll want to base yourself in the nearby town of Selçuk, where all the restaurants and accommodation are. The Edjer Restaurant in Selçuk serves a variety of Turkish dishes and can accommodate different diets. They make an amazing imam bayildi, which is a vegan dish popular in both Turkey and Greece.
 
Contributed by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan

The Library of Celsus in Ephesus

If you’re visiting Turkey, one of the highlights that you should see is the Library of Celsus in Ephesus. It was built in 135 AD by Gaius Julius Aquila in honor of his father Celsus, who was the governor of Asia at the time. His tomb was also located in a sarcophagus under the main floor.

At its peak, it held up to 12,000 scrolls, which meant it was the third largest library of ancient times. A single hall faces east so the morning sun can shine in. The library was also decorated with many colorful paintings, carvings, and statues. 

Turkey - Library of Celsus - Collab

The actual Library of Celsus was destroyed over time with invading armies, fires, and earthquakes. But it has been faithfully rebuilt to what all the records show it looked like.

If you want to have the Library to yourself, it’s best to go early in the morning at open or visit during low season in November. In the summer, it does get quite hot and crowded, so remember to bring sunscreen and water.

After seeing the Library, you should walk around the UNESCO listed city of Ephesus and see the other highlights such as the Amphitheater, terraced houses, and main harbor street. Some other places nearby include Isa Bey Mosque, Ayasoluk Castle, Ephesus Archaeological Museum and Temple of Artemis.

Contributed by Henry from This Life of Travel

Ruins of Myra

Myra is an ancient city founded on the river Myros and nowadays located 3 km away from the city of Demre.

It is not known exactly when Myra was founded, but the ruins and rock tombs located around Demre are dated back to the fifth century BC.

By the 3rd century BC, Myra became the most important city and a religious center of Lycia. The prosperity continued for many centuries until a huge flood in the 7th century. After that, the city began to lose its strength, but remained a place of pilgrimage, as the Church of St. Nicholas was located there.

The Church of St. Nicholas was built in the fourth century by Byzantine architects on the site of the ancient temple of Artemis. Throughout the centuries, the church suffered from war destructions and later from a major flood. A lot of time passed before the church was accidentally re-discovered in 1850.

Turkey - Ruins of Myra - Lycia - Pixabay

At present, there is little left of Myra. There is an open-air museum where you can see some remains of the past such as an amphitheater, sarcophagi, tomb rocks. Lycian rock-cut tombs in the cliffs of Myra are especially spectacular.

Opening hours are: daily from 9:00 to 19:00 (April – October), from 8: 00-17:00 (November – March). You can choose to visit Myra along with the Church of St. Nicholas as a day trip.

Contributed by Inna from the Executive Thrillseeker

Pamukkale 

Pamukkale in Turkey is the beautiful spot known for the unreal pictures of perfect blue pools of water in what appears to be snowy surroundings. This unreal spot is actually mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertines (terraces) on a nearby hillside.

The gleaming white calcite terraces look like snowy slopes on photos and the warm mineral-rich waters form gleaming blue pools that is nice to swim in and a spot not to miss when you travel in Turkey.

Pamukkale - Turkey - Collab

Pamukkale means cotton castle in Turkish and the name is self-explanatory if you look at photos.

The terraces neighbors Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded around 190 B.C. Ruins there include a well-preserved theater and a necropolis with sarcophagi that stretch for 2km. This Unesco World Heritage site gets thousands of daily visitors arriving on tour buses that start arriving at about 9 in the morning.

The gates open early at 6 am. If you arrive when the gates open you can have this entire amazing site to yourselves for about 2 hours until hundreds of tourist buses start swarming the place. My advice would be to arrive early and walk around as much of the site as you can for the first 2 hours taking beautiful photos in the soft light with few tourists, then go and enjoy swimming in the pools when the masses arrive.

Contributed by Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads

Hierapolis

On a hillside above the town of Pamukkale, white terraces stretch up towards the top. These terraces – called travertines – are one of the natural wonders of Turkey and have been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

They’ve been formed over many years by calcium that has washed down in the water and gradually hardened. They are solid to touch but in many of them are pools of water.

There’s a path you can take up through the travertines but you need to take your shoes off so you don’t damage them. It’s worth going to the top because, up here, you can look down and get the best view of the cascading terraces.

Turkey - Pamukkale - Collab

Up the top, you can also see the ruins of the ancient spa city of Hierapolis. Well before today’s tourists started visiting, people were coming here to bathe in the waters in the travertines. It’s thought that they had special health benefits. These days you’re not allowed to go in them, though.

You only need a couple of hours to see the travertines at Pamukkale. I think the best time to go is at sunset because you get beautiful colors reflecting off the water.

But Pamukkale is also a good base to do a day trip to the nearby ruins of Aphrodisias, which are also a World Heritage Site.

Contributed by Michael from Time Travel Turtle

Saklikent Gorge

Saklikent Gorge is the longest canyon in Turkey and the second longest in Europe. However, it’s not the length that makes it one of the best destinations to visit, but the fact that you can walk through it. The experience is very enjoyable, as the freezing cold water, the impressive scenery, and the hot air temperature keep walkers alert and focused on the present moment. This walk is mindfulness meditation at its best.

Saklikent Gorge is at 40 minutes of driving from Fethiye. As it is one of the most popular attractions in the area, there are lots of organized tours from Fethiye, Kalkan, Oludeniz or Patara, so you don’t really need to drive if you don’t want to. The area is organized as a national park, with bars, restaurants and cool activities such as rafting and kayaking.

Turkey - Saklikent Gorge - Collab

If you want to make the most out of your experience, it’s best to make it a full day trip. The walk itself may take anywhere from one hour to three or even four hours, but you’ll surely want to enjoy a nice lunch or some refreshments in one of those restaurants built above the river, just by the entrance to the canyon.

As you’ll walk through the river, you should wear water shoes. The bottom is rocky and slippery and the rapids can easily take away flip-flops and crocs. You’ll see such footwear floating along. If you’re fast enough, you may even catch some in your photos.  As there’s not much shadow along the way, you’ll need to wear a hat and a generous layer of sunscreen. You’ll also need to carry drinking water.

Contributed by Violeta from Violeta Matei

Kayakoy

If you’re looking to escape the crowds that fill the beach towns along Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast, consider making a day trip to Kayaköy. 

Only a few kilometers south of Fethiye, Kayaköy was once a bustling community full of Greek residents.  However, in the 1920s the government of Turkey struck a deal with the government of Greece, in which all Greek Orthodox residents of Turkey would be exiled to Greece and, in return, all Muslims in Greece would be exiled to Turkey.  The town was abandoned within weeks, and further efforts to repopulate it were hindered by the dry, rugged environment and a huge earthquake in the 1950s.

Turkey - Kayakoy - Collab

Today, when you arrive in Kayakoy from Fethiye (either by car, minibus or foot, if you’re a skilled hiker) you might think you’ve stumbled upon Ancient Greek ruins.  There are crumbling churches, hundreds of windowless houses and uneven stairs connecting the remaining structures that line the hillside. 

It’s amazing to think that less than one hundred years ago, this was a self-sufficient town in its own right, as you feel like you’re looking at a thousand years of destruction.  You’ll want at least two or three hours to explore the entire ghost town of Kayakoy, and it’s preferable to visit in the early morning or the late afternoon as there is little shade during the hot mid-day hours. 

Although there are not many tourist services available in Kayaköy, there are a few family-owned restaurants around the entrances that serve delicious, home-cooked meals based on local, seasonal ingredients (often grown right in their own gardens).  Consider stopping for a meal before or after your ghost town tour. 

Contributed by Carly from Fearless Female Travels

The Dogu Express

It is not a specific place, rather you get to see most of Turkey. One of the best things to do in Turkey is the Dogu Express. The longest train journey from Ankara to Kars in the most Northeastern part of Turkey. It takes 24 hours through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the country. Getting tickets for this train is not easy and they are often sold out in days.

This train is rightly popular. 24 hours might sound long, but with the beautiful scenery outside of your window, you will not be bored for one second.

Turkey - Dogu Express - Collab

The friendly people you meet along the way in the train are part of the experience. Not many tourists travel on this train and you will receive a warm welcome and some genuine curiosity what brings you to these parts of Turkey.  

The Dogu express is one of the cheapest ways to cross through the country and reach the isolated region of Northeastern Anatolia. The train stops at Kars and this could be the end of your journey or the start of a new adventure exploring one of Turkey’s more off the beaten path regions. Kars is a nice city in itself with the Kars castle. From here it is easy to visit the nearby Ani ruins or travel further to Dogubayezit for the Ishak Pasa Palace and famous Mount Ararat.  

Contributed by Ellis Veen from Backpack Adventures

Trabzon & Rize

Trabzon and Rize are on the Black Sea in northeastern Turkey and offer great places to base yourself for explorations of this part of Turkey. 

One of my favorite trips from Rize was to the Ayder Valley where you are surrounded by the lush green slopes of the Kaçkar Mountains. It seems there is a waterfall around every turn in this valley and some of the most picturesque stone bridges I have ever seen. Kaçkar Dağı is the highest peak in the Kaçkars at an elevation of 12.917 feet (3,937 meters).  The craggy peak presents a formidable challenge for climbers but offers hikers spectacular views.

Turkey - Collab - Stone Bridge Ayder Valley Turkey - Photo Jerome Shaw - TravelBoldly - 1024px -TBL-JFS_4756

The village of Ayder is a higgledy-piggledy array of houses, lodges, and businesses on the hillsides that rise up from the Kavran Dere /Kavran Creek.  I can recommend the Ayder Doga Resort Hotel. The walk up the steep hill is well worth it for the views across the valley.  They use a rope/pulley system to haul your luggage up from the road that runs through the center of town along the creek.

A visit to Ayder isn’t complete without a stop at the steam baths for a soak and coffee with the locals at one of the street-side cafes. The only thing I found more interesting than the mountains were the amazing faces of the citizens of Ayder.

Other things to see in the area are: 

  • Zilkale, a medieval castle built in the 14th or 15th century.  It is located in the nearby Fırtına Valley which translates to Stormy Valley.  The castle is built of the edge of a high cliff some 1,250 feet above the Fırtına Creek.

 

  • The amazing craftsmanship of the stone bridges over the Kavran Dere River. You can ride a Zipline under one of these beautiful bridges.

 

  • The Tar Şelalesi / Tar River Waterfall is accessed by a trail just off the Ayder Yaylasi Yolu / Ayder Yaylasi Road.

 

  • Nearer to Rize you can visit a tea plantation to see how this favorite beverage is grown in the terraced fields of the valleys.

 

Contributed by Jerome fromTravel Boldly

Antalya & Upper Duden Falls

Antalya is the largest city on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. Gateway to Turkey’s turquoise coast, Antalya is a modern city famous for its stunning beaches and wonderfully preserved old-city. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an adventurous holiday, Antalya has everything you need.

With its many buildings from Roman times, lovely hotels and restaurants, Antalya’s historic center is the place you don’t want to miss. In Kaleiçi, you can admire the beautiful Hadrian’s gate, enjoy a stroll along shop-filled streets, or eat an ice cream near the harbor. Don’t forget to visit Antalya’s museum, you will be amazed by its incredible archeological collection.

Turkey - Antalya - Collab

If you’re looking for natural beauties, head to the Duden waterfalls. The Lower Duden Falls are unique, as they drop off directly into the mediterranean sea. The Upper Duden Falls is located 15km outside the city, and are totally worth a visit.

Antalya is also a great place to relax. Konyaalti beach is stunning, tucked between the cliffs and the Beydağları mountains. It stretches out for miles and is surrounded with plenty of restaurants and cafes. Your second option would be Lara beach, where you’ll also find the amazing open-air museum Sandland.

Antalya is a fantastic city that really deserves at least 3 to 4 days to be enjoyed. But there’s always something new to discover, so staying longer would be even better.

Contributed by Camille from Crafty Explorer

Antalya & Lara Beach

With 300 sunny days a year, Antalya is a paradise for beaches, water sports, gastronomy, and shopping. Recognized as the most popular holiday destination for the Turks, Antalya is the right choice for both a family holiday and an escape with friends.

The city has plenty of attractions to see. The oldest building in the old city is the Gate of Hadrian, built in AD 130, on the occasion of the arrival of the Roman Emperor in the city. Another important attraction is the famous Lara Beach, one of the longest beaches in Turkey.

Turkey - Antalya - Collab

To the east of the Antalya rocky slope, almost next to the Duden Falls, is Lara Beach, a strip of land with an exit to the Gulf of Antalya. Antalya is an attractive and picturesque city with palm-lined boulevards, narrow streets, luxurious hotels, and impeccable service. Definitely one of the best places to spend a few days in Turkey!

Contributed by Raluca from Whisper Wanderlust

Şirince Village

Şirince is an ancient village in Izmir Province, located about 11 kilometers from Ephesus and 8 kilometers from Selçuk town.  The 15-minute ride from Selçuk to this hilltop village is winding and scenic with lush roadside mountain views.  The small village was once a Greek Orthodox settlement, where early Christians from Ephesus fled to evade persecution.  It was later populated with Turks after the governments of Turkey and Greece agreed to exchange Greeks living in Turkey with Turks living in Greece.

Today, Şirince Village is a living representation of the cultural fusion between Turks and Greeks.  Its narrow cobblestoned streets are rimmed with a red-tiled roof and old-fashioned stone houses typical of ancient Greek architecture.  Parts of the village had admittedly been touristy, lined with souvenir shops, fruit stands, restaurants and old Greek houses turned into guesthouses. 

Turkey - Sirince Village - Collab

After spending half a day in Şirince, I believe that this quaint village has nonetheless retained its authentic and rural charm.  You can see local women in traditional Turkish clothes pleasantly chatting around or selling handicrafts and homemade products.  Likewise, villagers remain engaged in farming, having olive oil and fruits as their major produce. 

Wine production from grapes, black mulberry, and other fruits is a popular cottage industry, as well.  Several wine houses around the village serve as attractions, where the locals will happily offer you a taste of their sweet wines.  Also unique in Şirince Village is the harmonious presence of a Greek Orthodox Church and a Muslim mosque within a small area of 700 inhabitants. 

A day in Şirince would be good enough for a relaxed exploration of the village.  On the other hand, an overnight stay is also recommended to witness the daily village life during the early morning and evening time while most day tourists are away.    

Contributed by Jing from Finding Jing

Dancing with the Laz People of the Black Sea in Rize

Start talking about Turkey and most travelers will immediately conjure up images of ancient Roman ruins, blue azure Mediterranean beaches, towering minarets, and massive domed mosques. Of course, that is Turkey, but there’s so much more to this amazing country once you leave the shores of the coast and wonders of Istanbul.

In fact, in the northeast of the country, travelers might be excused for feeling they’ve stepped off the bus and wandered into an Alpine paradise replete with rich green carpeted mountain meadows and craggy mountain peaks.

Turkey - Black Sea La Paz - Collab

This is the Kackar mountains and the home of the Laz people. These ancient wandering folk are said to be the descendants of Jason and have been trying to maintain their old customs, traditions, and language as the world changes around them. Most Sundays in spring and summer, if the weather is fine, impromptu gatherings will come out to the mountain pastures to share food and gossip and meet new friends.

As the gathering starts to grow and grow, a small traditional music group, replete with a curious sounding bagpipe, will launch into a merry tune and soon everyone is up and dancing in one large circle of 50-60 people or more. A trip to Turkey and the Black Sea would not be complete without a journey into the mountains around Rize to dance with the famous Laz people.

Contributed by Jim and Corinne of Reflections Enroute

Derinkuyu Underground City

Derinkuyu Underground City sits about 40 km from Goreme in Cappadocia, central Turkey. From above ground, you’d never know that beneath your feet is a subterranean network of caves and tunnels going down 85 meters and 11 floors deep.

The vast city was discovered in the 1960s when a man dismantled a wall in his cellar to find a room behind it. The room led to another room and another and eventually to a whole city which once gave shelter to thousands of people in times of siege. In key tunnels, massive millstones can be rolled across the entrances and locked in place and only operated from the inside.

This kept invaders out and the people inside safe. An underground river at the bottom of the city and air vents dropping down through the floors meant the occupants could survive inside for months on end. Food storage chambers and evidence of cooking fires can also be seen.

Turkey - Derinkuyu Underground City - Collab

Many types of chambers are found in the city with a myriad of tunnels leading to churches, family units, large halls, animal pens, and even a wine press. One particularly small and eerie tunnel leads to a temporary burial chamber. Some of the tunnels are so low that you’ll need to bend double to get through them.

The tours last around an hour and take in the key sites of Derinkuyu. You probably wouldn’t want to be underground any more than that and obviously, it’s not for the claustrophobic. Around 10% of the underground city is accessible to the public.

Tours can be booked to explore the cave network of Derinkuyu and other nearby attractions from tourist offices and hotels.

Contributed by Suzanne Jones from The Travelbunny

Don’t Leave for Turkey without Travel Insurance!

Finally, make sure you always travel to Turkey or anywhere in Europe with a valid travel insurance policy. Istanbul is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!

For travel insurance, 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 This for Your Trip to Turkey

 

17 of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey

The Most Magical & Instagrammable Places in Cappadocia

Cappadocia is truly a dream, either seen with your own eyes or behind the lens. I’ll admit that it was the strength of the imagery I saw on Instagram that ever inspired me to visit there. And when I found myself back in Istanbul for the second time last fall, it was a no brainer that I had to make it out to Cappadocia this time.

Luckily, getting out to Cappadocia is relatively easy and cheap, due to absurdly low domestic flight prices in Turkey (partly thanks to a depressed Turkish lira – horrible for Turks, great for tourists). That meant I was able to fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia for about $20 USD, though of course that doesn’t factor in things like luggage or airport transportation, etc.

However, it’s way cheaper than you think to get to this beautiful paradise of amazing rock formations, killer sunsets, unique hotels, and of course – the morning riot of color in the form of hundreds of picturesque balloons floating endlessly into the sunrise sky.

There are so many beautiful Instagram spots in Cappadocia, but Cappadocia is a bit more difficult to ‘gram than other places. For one, many of the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia are inside of hotels, and not every hotel allows guests to come in and take dramatic photo shoots in their interior (as you can likely imagine).

If you are a dedicated Instagrammer, I’d advise spending 3-4 nights in Cappadocia and staying in two different hotels to get an incredible variety of photos that can add a little magic to your feed for the months to come. Don’t worry, I’ll suggest all my favorite Cappadocia hotels that are just made to sparkle on the ‘gram below! After that, I’ll suggest my favorite Cappadocia photography spots around the Cappadocia area, which includes towns such as Nevsehir, Goreme, and Uchisar. Personally, I think Goreme is the best!

Most Instagrammable Hotels in Cappadocia

The most Insta-worthy spots in Cappadocia, unfortunately, are usually inside of hotels and access is typically restricted to non-guests. As a result, you’ll really want to book your hotel carefully. I stayed at a nice cave hotel, Chelebi Cave House, but while it was clean, cozy, and budget friendly, it certainly wasn’t “Instagrammable.”

The hotels I’m going to recommend are all beautifully designed with Instagram in mind and are definitely worth a splurge if you are an avid Instagrammer!

Sultan Cave Suites

Of all the Instagrammable places in Cappadocia, this is the most commonly photographed.

My friend Gemma of Two Scots Abroad stayed here during her time in Cappadocia and she let me in on a few of the secrets of this place. Apparently, the whole trend of eating ‘breakfast’ at this place while watching the balloons was started by @doyoutravel, who requested they move the cushions and breakfast area over by the balcony for photos… and that trend caught on like wildfire, with several Cappadocia hotels now doing the same!

However, if you think you’re about to eat your breakfast there, think again: that little table set up is just a prop, not an actual breakfast, and Instagrammers take turns (sometimes kindly, sometimes cattily!) getting their shots here. If you’re an avid Instagrammer, you’ll understand and even love this set up…. if you’re a less photo-hungry traveler, you may find it a bit of an odd set up.

Keep in mind that access to Sultan Cave Suites’ rooftop is strictly only available to guests! Gemma said that there were staff on the roof turning away groups of non-guests who kept trying to show up and get their photo taken here. So if that iconic rooftop shot is a must for you, be sure to book at least one night at Sultan Cave Suites (and book it early, as it sells out quickly), and don’t count on using your charm to get your way into the coveted breakfast spot.

Learn more about Sultan Cave Suites here

Don’t fear if the breakfast nook is taken – there are beautiful spots all around Sultan Cave Suites, from the gorgeous balconies covered in cushions to hidden vista spots.

Don’t want to battle it out Hunger Games style for the classic breakfast shot, or just want to do something a little different? Bring some lightweight fairy lights like @tiebowtie did and compose a dreamy night shot with the lovely rock formations of Göreme providing an otherworldly backdrop.

As for the actual rooms, they are quite cozy and similar in design to the rest of the hotel, with Turkish furnishing details and an actual working fireplace inside of real cave rooms. The embed below has an actual video of the room so you can see what it looks like inside.

Intrigued? Check prices, reviews, and photos of Sultan Cave Suites here

Henna Hotel

If you’re looking for a more unique design hotel, Henna Hotel is absolutely gorgeous and it’s way less “discovered” than Sultan Cave Suites, which I feel like I see on Instagram every other day. If your Instagram aesthetic is all about interiors, patterns, and a slightly off the beaten path vibe, Henna Hotel is a dreamy place to stay in Cappadocia.

I mean, look at that dream-worthy interior! Can you imagine eating breakfast in that room, nearly 200 years old, all the while looking out the window and seeing balloons float past?

But of course, like any hotel worth its salt in Cappadocia, it has a beautiful rooftop where you can sit at sunrise and watch the balloons rise over the sky – with props like a Turkish nargileh and plenty of Turkish rugs as well to complete the look.

Learn more about Henna Hotel here

The rooms themselves are definitely on the dreamy side as well.

Each room comes with finely designed details like ornate doors as headboards, woven curtains, and traditional Turkish cotton sheets – all in a cave hotel with modern amenities like air conditioning.

Planning a visit? Check prices, availability, and more photos of Henna Hotel here

Taskonaklar Hotel

Imagine watching hundreds of balloons float by from the privacy of your own personal outdoor jacuzzi – breakfast included, naturally? That’s what’s unique about the beautiful Taskonaklar Hotel in Cappadocia.

Perfect any time of year, but especially dreamy if you visit Cappadocia in the winter when it’s all covered in snow!

It’s not quite as popular as say, Sultan Cave Suites yet, so if you are looking for an Instagrammable hotel in Cappadocia that will make all of your followers say “wow” and wonder where your Cappadocia photos were taken – this is my pick!


In addition to dreamy Jacuzzis with epic valley views, they also have other Instagram spots in this Cappadocia hotel.

Just check out these cool and ultra Insta-worthy swings!

Learn more about Taskonaklar Hotel here

Inside, though, it gets even more dreamy (if that’s possible) with antique furnishings with traditional Turkish details. I’m oohing and awwing over that original wood beam ceiling, the cave walls, the amazing mihrab-like fireplace, that antique sewing machine (!) and the incredibly detail-rich textiles. Can I just move in, please?

Check ratings, reviews, prices, and availability of Taskonaklar Hotel here!

Museum Hotel

If you want a dreamy place for sunrise balloon photos, you’d be hard pressed to beat the dreamy infinity-style pool at Museum Hotel – yes, breakfast can be included (and it’ll be real, unlike the props at Sultan Cave Suites).

Further, the hotel has several honors – it’s been awarded both the Best Luxury Boutique Hotel and the Best Hotel Architecture in Europe! With accolades like those, you can be sure the service will match the beautiful views.

Learn more about Museum Hotel here!

I’m just endlessly in love with that infinity pool – it offers so many unique compositions, reflections, angles, and potential throughout all different hours of the day to look beautiful.

I mean, look at this shot!

There are other Instagrammable nooks and crannies throughout the hotel, so you can get several different shots for your feed out of one stay.

Here are a few of my favorite angles of this hotel!


The rooms step it up a notch as well, with gorgeous décor and antique details befitting the name “Museum Hotel” (and yes, the hotel actually has several artifacts which you can view yourself!)

Some of them even have private hot tub in the rooms themselves!

Considering Museum Hotel? Click to see more reviews, photos, prices, and availability here!

Artemis Cave Suite

Another Cappadocia classic with a stunning roof deck, this is a great option for Cappadocia Instagrammers!

Adorable dog included 😉 Which, frankly, is enough of a reason to make me book here.

It isn’t quite as Instagram-famous as the other hotels in the area, but it is a good deal more affordable, so if you are looking for an Insta-friendly hotel on a lower price range this may be a good bet for you.

Learn more about Artemis Cave Suites here!

That’s not to say it’s not photogenic! Just look at all these cool photo spots:

Koza Cave Hotel

The highest hotel in Cappadocia, Koza Cave Hotel is where you go when you want the most epic, sweeping views of Cappadocia Valley.

It has one of the most beautifully designed rooftops, tied with Sultan Cave Suites in my opinion, but it’s not quite as Insta-famous so you are more likely to have a relatively undisturbed photo shoot here than at Sultan Cave Suites.

It’s a family run hotel so there are only 10 rooms, so you’ll have to book up early – but that also means you won’t have many people to compete with when it comes to getting your photos.

Learn more about Koza Cave Hotel here!


Didn’t bring a dreamy Instagram dress? They even have a cute blue blanket you can steal (temporarily, for the ‘gram!) to add some contrast or just keep you warm between photos.

The room themselves are beautiful as well – take a look inside! Some even have indoor cave jacuzzi tubs – swoon.

Want to know more? Check out Koza Cave Suites’ page for more info on prices, availability, reviews, and more.

Other Instagrammable Places in Cappadocia

While the hotels are typically the star of most Cappadocia Instagram shots, there are plenty of places around Cappadocia that are also worth visiting for their Instagrammability.

Some of these are popular, some are a bit more offbeat, so check it out and add a few of these to your Cappadocia photography list!

Galerie Ikman

One of the most beautiful stores I’ve ever seen, Galerie Ikman is on most Insta-lovers bucket list on their trip to Cappadocia.

Once a typical souvenir shop, this rug shop owned by an Instagram-savvy businessman is now a major spot for Instagram shoots in Cappadocia. Before you go here, know what you are getting into or risk being like one of the hundreds of people leaving bad Trip Advisor reviews.

#1 – Photos are not free, and you must ask permission (and pay) to take photos.

#2 – You must remove your shoes before entering

He charges 50 lira (about $10 USD) to take photos in there for 10 minutes. For the “drone service” like below, it costs a whopping 50 euros, or so I’ve heard!! Not my cup of tea, but if you are a dedicated Instagrammer or are planning to offset the cost by using it for sponsored posts, I’m sure you’ll pay whatever you want for photos like this!

Note: If you plan on buying a carpet, I’ve heard that you should skip Galerie Ikman as they are overpriced and a bit pushy with the sales. Instead, head to Sultan Carpets, next on this list.

Sultan Carpets

A beloved carpet seller in Cappadocia, Sultan Carpets has also cottoned on to the Instagram trend and is taking advantage by offering a few different photo services.

They have a costume rental, where you can rent a traditional dress, as well as “drone service.”

I’m sure they charge for photos but to be honest I’m not sure of the current rates – I’d be grateful if you could leave a comment letting me know if you come here for Instagram photos!

From a Hot Air Balloon

Unless you have a deathly fear of heights, you can’t come to Cappadocia and not fly on a hot air balloon!

Quite simply, it was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had in my life and is well worth every single penny. It is not a cheap experience, nor is it prohibitively expensive (again, thank you, favorable conversion rate!). However, don’t go with the cheapest option – you want a well-reviewed company, as a few crashes have happened with less reputable companies.

I recommend Royal Balloon as they have some of the most experienced pilots with thousands of hours of flying time, an average 5-star Trip Advisor rating with over 2500 reviews, and the best reviews on Get Your Guide. They are the gold standard in Cappadocia for a reason! This tour includes a transfer, breakfast buffet, 1-hour balloon ride, and a champagne celebration!

Check out reviews, prices, and availability with Royal Balloon here!

Open Air Museum

To see a bit of what life was like in Cappadocia well before the Instagram days, check out the incredible (and incidentally, quite photogenic) open air museum! Tickets are only 25 lira, about $5 USD, and it’s well worth it.

It gets crowded around mid-day and the light for photos get quite harsh, so it’s better early in the morning or around sunset.

You can visit independently, but it’s also on the Red Tour which covers many other sites on this list.

Monks Valley (Pasabag)

Some of the most unique “fairy chimneys” aka hoodoos that you’ll find in Cappadocia are in the area called Pasabag, aka Monks Valley.

It’s located on the road between Zelve and Goreme, and many day tours will stop here, or you can hire a taxi to get you here. Public transportation in Cappadocia leaves a bit to be desired, so even though I am generally an independent traveler who skips guided tours, I actually got around mostly using day tours as they were the most convenient! This is part of the famous Red Tour, which encompasses several of the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia in one easy day tour – I did it and highly recommend it! This is the company I recommend for the Red Tour.

This private tour also covers it and may be a better option if you need more time to set up your Instagram shots and don’t want to deal with the rush of a guided tour!

Uchisar Castle

The views from Uchisar Castle, about 10 minutes’ driving distance from the main Cappadocian town of Goreme, is well worth it – I mean, look at those views!

I especially love that mosque pointing out against the landscape of homes and hotels, don’t you? Also part of the Red Tour.

Dream of Cappadocia Viewpoint

There are a number of ‘frame-like’ viewpoints in Cappadocia, this one is called “Dream of Cappadocia” and it has a beautiful nest-like design.

Love Valley

Euphemistically named “Love Valley” for all the phallic-shaped rocks in the area, this is a beautiful area where you can get a lovely photo from a vantage point up high. Many Cappadocia tours will bring you to this viewpoint or you can rent a car and ask around!

I recommend making like @elizrahajeng and bringing a colorful blanket to spread out and take photos on.

Goreme Pottery Tree

Just outside of Goreme, you’ll find this beautiful pottery shop with some of their wares strung up on a tree. It’s a great place for photos and shopping for Turkish souvenirs!

Ethem Ustanin Yeri

One of the most famous viewpoints in Cappadocia in the nearby town of Ortahisar, this is well-worth a visit for its cute frame effect with typical Cappadocian charms like the blue ‘evil eyes’.

Evil Eye Tree, Love Valley

Seen at the popular viewpoint for Love Valley, the “Evil Eye Tree” is beautiful and extremely photogenic – I love this shot @mariarahajeng captured!

Heart Bench, Love Valley

Part of the Red Tour around Cappadocia, the Heart Bench at the Love Valley viewpoint is another popular photo spot.

Lake Tuz

Bolivia’s salt flats? Mexico’s Laguna Colorada? Nope, it’s Turkey’s very own Lake Tuz, the second largest salt lake in the country.

It’s hard to get here independently so I recommend visiting on a guided tour that encompasses Lake Tuz and the Underground City (a highlight of any trip to Cappadocia, though admittedly not that Instagrammable!) The tour I recommend is this one.

Selime

One of my personal favorite places in Cappadocia, this rock-cut monastery is beautiful. It’s on the Green Tour (this is the tour company I recommend) which is slightly less popular than the more famous Red Tour, so you won’t have to fight for photos quite as much. It’s also further out – about an hour away from Goreme – so it’s a bit off the beaten path.

Ihlara Valley

Another place I stopped on my Green Tour, the Ihlara Valley is a beautiful and easy 4 kilometer trek, complete with the world’s most adorable tea stop!

Planning to travel to Cappadocia, Turkey? This guide to the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia will help you plan the perfect Cappadocia photography locations. Full of scenic Cappadocia cave hotels in Uchisar and Goreme, this guide to Instagramming Cappadocia will serve you well!

Where to Stay in Rethymnon: Best Hotels & Hostels in Rethymnon

I will admit it. On my first trip to Crete, I skipped over Rethymnon. Luckily, on my most recent trip to Heraklion, I set aside time to explore Rethymnon, the beautiful seaside town in northern Crete. There’s just so much to do and see here that it deserves a few days on its own. From the lighthouse to the mosques to the stunning panoramic views, Rethymnon is a complete delight. Here are the best Rethymnon hotels and hostels in every budget so you can plan your own Rethymnon adventure.

 

Pro Tip: Rethymnon Hotels & Hostels can sell out months in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute to book your Rethymnon accomodations, especially if you’re looking for a good deal in the high season!

 

Rethymnon Hotel Guide: How to Use this List

Crete - Rethymnon - Street Scene

For ease of use, we’ve broken up this guide into three general price ranges. As of the time of writing this post, the hotels all fit into these categories. However, as demand fluctuates, peak travel times come and go, and hotels adjust their prices. You may find that the hostel, hotel, or guesthouse you’ve clicked on may not quite fall into that range. So let this be a general guide and always check prices before booking.

For starters, here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category, converted to USD for ease of understanding.

  • Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $15-25 USD per night for a dorm bed or about $50 for a room that sleeps two.
  • Mid-range: Around $60-90
  • Luxury: Around $100 per night or more

 

A quick note about naming. The town of Rethymnon goes by many different names (RethimnoRethymnoRéthymnon, and Rhíthymnos). This is due to the transliteration of the town name from the Greek alphabet. We use Rethymnon in most places in this article for clarity, but you may find companies or other websites use Rethymno, etc. 

 

Where to Stay in Rethymnon: Budget Travelers

Crete - Rethymnon - Youth Hostel

Crete is a surprisingly affordable Greek island to visit, with prices much lower than on nearby Santorini. However, you still might find that getting the best deal on budget accommodations in Rethymnon requires planning.

Best Budget Hotels in Rethymnon

Pick #1 Camping Elizabeth

For an adventurous take on budget accommodations, we recommend Camping Elizabeth. Located just three kilometers outside of Rethymnon, this camping ground has caravans, tents, and bungalows to rent! Each includes outdoor furniture and access to a fridge, which means you can keep your costs even more in check. There is an onsite taverna serving local dishes, and a bus stop is just three hundred meters away. A great way to stay close to nature and the beach while enjoying Rethymnon during the day. Check rates and availability here.

Pick #2 Faros Beach

One of the most popular budget hotels in Rethymnon for its combination of price and location, Faros Beach is located right on the Venetian Harbor.  You can head up to their rooftop terrace to enjoy the views (especially appealing during the gorgeous Rethymnon sunsets), and you can utilize the shared kitchen to help keep your trip costs down. Check rates and availability here.

Best Rethymnon Hostel

The hostel scene in Rethymnon is not as advanced as in Heraklion, but there are still a few to pick from.

Pick #1 Rethymno Youth Hostel

Just a ten-minute walk from the Rethymnon bus station, you can quickly start your time Rethymnon at this social hostel which prides itself on giving travelers a warm welcome. The rooms are airy and bright, and there is a bar and cafe on site.  Check rates and availability here.

Pick #2 Rethymno Hostel

Located in the old city near the archaeological museum, Rethymno Hostel is a great location to base yourself to get out and explore the city. With modern shared spaces and a large balcony, you can get out of your dorm and enjoy the hostel. There is a shared kitchen to help curb your food costs while in Rethymnon. Check rates and availability here.

Where to Stay in Rethymnon (Mid-Range): Best Affordable Hotels

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Fortezza of Rethymnon

Pick #1 Sea Front Old Town

For a seafront hotel that is surprisingly affordable, we recommend Sea Front Old Town. The location is in the middle of the old town and right on the sea, with most rooms having scenic balconies showing off either the seafront or the old town. Since Rethymnon is so beautiful, you really can’t go wrong with either view. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Pick #2 Casa Dei Delifini

For a bit of Old Town Rethymno charm, we recommend Casa Dei Delfini. This Venetian mansion hotel has stone walls and wooden beam ceilings, so you get a real feel for the history of the city as you relax in style. The furnishings are chic and guests rave about the showers.  – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Where to Stay in Rethymnon (Luxury): Top 5 Star Hotels in Rethymnon

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Venetian Harbor of Rethymnon Lighthouse

Our Favorite: Rimondi Boutique Hotel

For a true luxury experience in Rethymnon, we recommend the five-star Rimondi Boutique Hotel. The rooms are stunning (think Instagram-worthy), and the location can’t be beaten since the Venetian Harbor is only a four-minute walk away. If you want an extra dose of relaxation, you can use the onsite Turkish bath and massage services. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Runner-Up #1 Kyma Suites Beach Hotel

If you want the relaxation and peace of being on a beach resort but still be able to enjoy the beautiful town, we recommend the Kyma Suites Beach Hotel. This five-star hotel is located close to Rethymnon’s Old Town, but you get to enjoy the beach views from your room. The furnishings and decor are modern and beautiful, and the pool is picture-perfect.  Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Runner-Up #2 Kriti Beach Hotel

If you’re looking to relax with beautiful pool-side views, we recommend the Kriti Beach Hotel. This five-star Rethymnon resort hotel is located right on the beach and is just a five-minute walk to the Venetian harbor.  It’s the pool that has us hooked. You can enjoy a swim while appreciating the gorgeous Mediterranean views. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Rethymnon Travel Resources

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Venetian Harbor of Rethymnon Lighthouse

While in town, I’m sure you’ll want to soak up the sun on some of the local beaches and explore the city on foot. Here are our travel resources to help you plan your trip to Rethymnon:

How to Get to Rethymnon

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - View from the bus from Heraklion to Rethymnon

We have guides coming on how to get to Rethymnon from Chania and Heraklion utilizing the island’s great intercity bus system.

If you choose to take a taxi, the rate is set and posted. Reconfirm the rate before you leave. If you are staying outside of the city, they may have you use the metered rate. Taxi drivers in Crete aren’t too scrupulous, but I have heard of tourists being charged double or triple during the very high season. Note what the rate should be on the rate list before you leave the airport, reconfirm with your driver, and you will need to pay in cash unless otherwise arranged.

You can also prearrange a private transfer. This is a great option for groups and families, especially families traveling with children.

 

Check prices & reviews for private transfers from Chania.

 

Check prices & review for private transfers from Heraklion. 

 

Final Word: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Make sure you always travel to Crete with a valid travel insurance policy. While the island is a very safe place to travel, you want to make sure you have your possessions covered if they’re stolen and your medical bills covered if you get sick or injured. This is especially true if you plan on enjoying Crete’s nature, water activities, or nightlife! If your phone gets wet or your camera breaks, it’s so much better if you know you can get it replaced!

For travel insurance, 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.

Do you have any hostels or hotels in Rethymnon to recommend? What do you think is the answer to the question, where is the best place to stay in Rethymnon? Let us know in the comments!

 

Pin This Rethymno Hotel Guide for Your Trip to Crete

Where to Stay in Rethymnon: Hotels for Every Kind of Traveler

The 10 Most Instagrammable Places in Rethymnon, Crete

Looking for Crete Instagram inspiration? Rethymnon is a beautiful city. Often overlooked by Chania and Heraklion, I was completely taken with Rethymnon. Even after nearly a month in Crete, I couldn’t help but be blown away by the city’s charm and beauty. Here are the ten best (in my opinion) and most Instagrammable places in Rethymnon plus their locations so you can find them on your own!

Read: 44 Fabulous Things to Do in Rethymnon

 

A quick note about naming. The town of Rethymnon goes by many different names (RethimnoRethymnoRéthymnon, and Rhíthymnos). This is due to the transliteration of the town name from the Greek alphabet. We use Rethymnon in most places in this article for clarity, but you may find companies or other websites use Rethymno, etc. 

The Best Rethymnon Instagram Spots

From famous landmarks to hidden gems, here are our favorite Rethymnon photography locations.

The Egyptian Lighthouse

When in Rethymnon, one goes to the lighthouse. It’s impossible to imagine anyone coming to the city and not seeing it. However, there are better times for photographing Rethymnon’s most iconic spot. During the day, especially in the high summer, the light can get really harsh. Instagram is awash with washed out and overexposed photos from here. I personally think that photographing it at golden hour does wonders, bring out the deep colors of the water and giving a better background for the sky.

There are many different angles that work. You can go all around the harbor, seeing what works and what doesn’t. There’s a crane behind it, so some angles will only work if you can photoshop it out. You can also take an interesting shot of the lighthouse through the arch of the tourism office nearby.

Location: Egyptian Lighthouse, Rethymno 741 00, Greece

Looking Up to the Fortezza

There are many great shots taken from the Fortezza looking out, but my favorite view is from the ground looking up at the watchtower. You get beautiful rocks and waves in your shot. One of my favorite things to do in Rethymnon is to walk along the shore at sunset, and this photograph really sums up what this experience feels like.

If you start at the Egyptian Lighthouse and make your way towards the bus station, you’ll find dozens of places you want to stop and photograph. This relatively short walk is packed full of beauty.

Location: the parking lot near Leof. Emmanouil Kefalogianni 18, Rethymno 741 00, Greece

The Venetian Harbor

You need to set aside a lot of time for your trip to the Egyptian Lighthouse since the Venetian Harbor is just next to it. Between the two, you can easily take hundreds of shots and selfies, testing out a million different angles. The boats in the harbor are one of my favorites sites in Rethymnon, along with the beautiful waterfront restaurants and cafes behind them.

Location: Venetian Harbour, Rethymno 741 00, Greece

Rethymnon Beach

Crete is full of beautiful beaches, and no doubt a relaxing day lounging in a sunbed and lapping up waves is high on your to-do list. The beaches here offer great opportunities for photography. While none of them can compare to say, the natural beautify of Seitan Limania, there is still so much to enjoy here. And you don’t have to climb down a terrifying cliff to get to the beaches of Rethymnon, so that’s a major plus!

Location: there are tons of beaches, but one example is at 

Streets of the Old City

These charming blue steps in the Old City are next to the tavern Vassilis. Thank you to Stelios for helping us find the exact address! Stop by the tavern (which is his Uncle’s) for a refreshing drink after getting your Instagram pics! 

Location: Chimaras 27, Rethymno 741 00, Greece

Mikrasiaton Square

This is where you go to Rethymnon if you want to see the city’s best murals and street art. If you’re the kind of Instagrammer who longs for a colorful wall and a hint of cool, then look no further.

Location: Mikrasiaton Square, Rethymno 741 00, Greece

Wayside Shrines

Greece is full of beautiful wayside shrines. These poignant spots are often put in beautiful settings, like this one at the base of the Fortezza. It’s almost impossible not to photograph them, as they seem so important and ethereal.

I encourage you to take your pictures, but there are a few things to know before you start shooting. Many of these mark the sites of accidents, and many Greek Orthodox believe that the person who died is still here in part. Also, these are important religious spots, doubly so because they are so personal in nature.

If you choose to photograph them and post them on Instagram, be respectful. Don’t vandalize them or change them in any way. If they are not a part of your culture, then use your platform to further an understanding of a culture different than your own.

Location: Below the Fortezza on Leof. Emmanouil Kefalogianni

Globe Monument in Memorial Park

 

If your Instagram account is dedicated to travel, or if you’re just an avid traveler yourself, then your heart will flip standing by this giant globe monument in Memorial Park. There’s so much room for creativity here (way more than my straightforward picture).

I have been having a hard time finding out what the monument is to, so be respectful. I’d avoid yoga poses, for example, until you know more about it. (I tend to avoid yoga-Instagram in general, but that’s just because I have no flexibility whatsoever). If you know more about the monument, let me know in the comments so I can update this post.

Location: Near the Fortezza on Leof. Emmanouil Kefalogianni by the Bus Station

Avli

Dining at Avli in Rethymnon is picture-perfect, with a mix of old school Greek charm and modern sophistication. You really can’t ask for a more perfect setting to dine in during your Crete vacation, especially if you go when the flowers are in full bloom.

Location: Xanthoudidou 22, Rethymno 741 00, Greece

Rimondi Fountain

Rimondi Fountain is one of the city’s best-known sites, but nearly every photograph I’ve seen of it on Instagram is bad. My own photos of the fountain are bad. This is a hard place to photograph. If the light is off even a tiny bit then it will be covered in shadows. It’s in kind of a strange corner, so there’s not a lot of space to work with. It’s historically important and some elements are beautiful, but altogether its kind of a weird shape. Finally, most people’s photos (including mine) mess up their colors to better deal with the godawful shadows.

So why is it on my list of the most Instagrammable places in Rethymnon? Well, first, you’re going to see it. Second, you’re going to want to photograph it. And if you’re doing research ahead of time for places to photograph in Rethymnon, then you have enough time to plan your shot.

After combing through hundreds of IG photos of the fountain, this is the only example of one that I liked. Seriously. The only one. Shots of just the fountain were never really done well enough to be interesting, and far more often they were a mess. Shots of people in front of the fountain work better, but they’re still tricky. In most of the photographs I’ve seen of people in front of the fountain, the people look unrelated to the fountain like they’re in an entirely different picture. I’m telling you, this is one hard landmark to nail.

I think the reason this one works is her dress is bright but doesn’t clash with the fountain, and her hat pulls out some of the colors of the fountain without competing against it or being too beige-y. I’m sure other colors would work, like maybe baby pinks and light oranges, but the shots I saw of all black and all red were just not right.

You can also see how she was still dealing with some shadows, but she’s standing just so that her head looks like it’s being framed by the natural light. Seriously, this simple photo gets so many things right that the average shot of this fountain misses.

So plan what you need to plan. Get your lighting right. Or opt for beautiful detail shots. And if you hate everything you shot, you won’t be the first (or the last) IGer to be taken down by the fountain.

Location: Mavrokordatou Alexanrou, Rethymno 741 00, Greece

Where to Stay in Rethymnon

While accommodations in Rethymnon are affordable compared to many resort towns in Greece, prices can vary greatly between the high season and off-season. We’ve broken down where to stay in Rethymnon according to a few different budget ranges. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:

  • Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $15-25 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $50 for a double.
  • Mid-range: Around $60-$90
  • Luxury: Around $100 per night or more

 

Budget: For an adventurous take on budget accommodations, we recommend Camping Elizabeth. Located just three kilometers outside of Rethymnon, this camping ground has caravans, tents, and bungalows to rent! Each includes outdoor furniture and access to a fridge, which means you can keep your costs even more in check. There is an onsite taverna serving local dishes, and a bus stop is just three hundred meters away. A great way to stay close to nature and the beach while enjoying Rethymnon during the day. Check rates and availability here.

Mid-range: For a seafront hotel that is surprisingly affordable, we recommend Sea Front Old Town. The location is in the middle of the old town and right on the sea, with most rooms having scenic balconies showing off either the seafront or the old town. Since Rethymnon is so beautiful, you really can’t go wrong with either view. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Luxury: For a true luxury experience in Rethymnon, we recommend the five-star Rimondi Boutique Hotel. The rooms are stunning (thing Instagram-worthy), and the location can’t be beaten since the Venetian Harbor is only a four-minute walk away. If you want an extra dose of relaxation, you can use the onsite Turkish bath and massage services. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Still Looking?  Check out our full Rethymnon Hotel Guide.

 

Crete Travel Resources

Most people who come to Rethymnon also explore other parts of this beautiful island. Here are additional Crete travel resources to help you with your trip.

 

Don’t Travel to Crete without Travel Insurance

Finally, make sure you always travel to Crete with a valid travel insurance policy. While Rethymnon is a very safe place to travel, you want to make sure you have your possessions covered if they’re stolen and your medical bills covered if you get sick or injured. This is especially true if you plan on doing any water sports like snorkeling, diving, or boating.

For travel insurance, 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 This Rethymno Instagram Guide for Your Trip to Crete

The 10 Most Instagrammable Places in Rethymnon, Crete

44 Fabulous Things to Do in Rethymnon & Bonus Travel Guide

Rethymnon is a popular vacation destination. Some choose to come and relax on the nearby Cretan beaches, while others delight at exploring the hidden cafes and windy cobblestone streets. Whether you are most excited to experience Rethymnon’s history, culture, architecture, cuisine, photography spots, or its beaches, there’s something for everyone here. This is the list of our favorite things to do in Rethymnon, plus our best tips for where to stay, how to get around, and how to get here.

The Best Things to Do in Rethymnon, Crete: How to Use this List

Since most visitors to Rethymnon have only a day or two, we do not expect you to try to check everything off on this list. Rather, the goal is to give you a great overview of the town before you arrive so that you know what interests you the most, and you can plan accordingly.

Many of the sites on our list are buildings you might inadvertently pass by as you explore or tours that offer something truly special. This way, you can have an understanding of the places as you see them, but we doubt you’ll want to go inside every church or book every tour!

Please let us know what questions you have in the comments! We love Crete and want to make sure you have the best trip possible.

A quick note about naming. The town of Rethymnon goes by many different names (Rethimno, Rethymno, Réthymnon, and Rhíthymnos). This is due to the transliteration of the town name from the Greek alphabet. We use Rethymnon throughout the article for clarity, but you may find companies or other websites use Rethymno, etc. 

Historical Buildings & Landmarks

No matter how long you have to visit Rethymnon, whether you have one day or an entire week, you’ll most likely notice these important historic sites during your time here.

Egyptian Lighthouse

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Venetian Harbor of Rethymnon Lighthouse

The most famous landmark in Rethymnon, the Egyptian Lighthouse sits in the middle of the Venetian harbor. The different names of the lighthouse and harbor may seem confusing, but the Egyptian Lighthouse was built during the 1830s during the time when the Ottoman Empire controlled the island and gave it to the Egyptians. The Venetian harbor, which already existed, might have had a lighthouse there previously but it is no longer standing.

Venetian Harbor

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Venetian Harbor of Rethymnon

During the summer, you can dine right on the harbor at one of the many fish restaurants. During the winter, it’s still warm enough to go for a sunset stroll most days of the year.

Rimondi Fountain

Crete - Rethymnon - Rimondi Fountain

Built by the then-governor Rimondi during the era of Venetian control of Crete, the Rimondi fountain is one of the best reminders of the city’s former Venetian glory. The fountain still serves fresh water from its three lion heads to passersby.

Fortezza of Rethymnon

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Coast

The Venetians built Rethymnon’s Fortezza, or citadel, to protect the city in the sixteenth century. By the middle of the seventeenth century, the Ottomans had taken over. Today the Fortezza is a complex of beautiful historic buildings complete with stunning sea views. I also love admiring the battlements from the ground below, as it makes a very striking view above the water.

Guora Gate (Megali Porto)

Crete - Rethymnon - Arch into Old City

Part of the former Venetian City Walls, the gate was formerly called the Great Door and was once one of the main entryways into the city.

Globe Monument at Memorial Park

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Globe Monument

I passed this monument at the bottom of the Fortezza while walking along Ioannou Melissinou. I couldn’t find much information about it online (Google Maps just lists it as ‘Globe’), but it’s beautiful. If you’re looking for great Rethymnon Instagram spots or something a little offbeat, it’s definitely worth passing by. If you know more about it, let me know!

Venetian Loggia

A beautiful and prominent building in the middle of town, the Venetian Loggia has been standing in Rethymnon since the sixteenth century. Today it houses a market for art reproductions.

Religious Buildings

While the Venetian landmarks might be the city’s most prominent, there are many beautiful religious structures in the city worth passing by. There are Greek Orthodox, Catholic, and Islamic buildings that together show the long and layered history of the city.

Catholic Church St. Anthony of Padua

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Megalos Antonios Church Clocktower

Shedding light on Crete’s Venetian past, a small community of Catholics still live in the middle of this Orthodox island. While the original Venetian churches were turned into mosques, Catholics built smaller chapels and continued to practice their faith. Saint Anthony’s was erected in 1897.

Chapel of Agios Spyridon

Built into the cliffs below the Fortezza, Agios Spyridon is a tiny Byzantine chapel. Inside the chapel is built into the rock, and outside you can see stunning views of the mountains and the sea.

Church of the Four Martyrs

Crete - Rethymnon - Four Martyrs Church

Also known as Tesseris Martyres, the Church of the Four Martyrs is one of the major modern landmarks of the city. Built in 1975, it stands near the public garden on the site of a former Orthodox church.

Church of Our Lady of the Angels

Crete - Rethymnon - Church of Our Lady of the Angels

This church may have a quintessential Greek Orthodox look, but it was actually built by the Dominicans during the Venetian period. Dedicated to Mary Magdalene, it served as a Catholic church until the Turks converted it into a mosque. It has been Greek Orthodox since 1917.

Hagia Sophia Church

Crete - Rethymnon - Hagia Sophia Church

The seventeenth-century church of Hagia Sophia isn’t much to look at from outside, but if you’re walking by it’s hard to take your eyes off the nearly four-hundred-year-old church. The white Islamic plaque is from the time when this was converted into a mosque.

Kara Mousa Pasha Mosque

A renaissance church turned into a mosque after the Ottoman invasion, Kara Mousa Pasha Mosque is located near heroes square. You can’t go inside, but you can see the beautiful if somewhat decayed building from the outside of the yard.

Neratze Mosque

Crete - Rethymnon - Neratze Mosque or Gazi Hussein Mosque in Mikrasiaton Square

The most prominent mosque remaining in the city since the Turks were expelled from Crete, it is used today as a concert hall. It started out as a Catholic church built by the Augustens. It was dedicated to Gazi Huseyin Pasha, who conquered the city. Today it is alternatively referred to as the Conservatoire in honor of its current role in the city. It is located on Mikrasiaton Square.

Wayside Orthodox Shrines

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Roadside Shrine

If this is your first time traveling to Greece or a primarily Orthodox part of the world, you might see wayside shrines like the one above and wonder what they are. It is common in most parts of the Orthodox world for small roadside and household shrines to be erected. I spotted three beautiful ones while walking through Rethymnon, but this one at the base of the Fortezza was my favorite.

Be respectful when seeing (and photographing) these sites. They often commemorate the site of a fatal accident:

After burial, some Greek families will also erect a shrine at the crash site to commemorate their deceased loved ones.

“A cemetery is seen as the place where [the deceased] lives on after death, but the place of their death is also a point of metaphysical reference,” one folklorist told the The Associated Press. “The shrine serves for remembrance.”

Sultan Ibrahim Han Mosque

One of the most prominent landmarks located on top of the Fortezza, it may be harder to identify the former church as a mosque since the minaret is almost completely gone. If you love visiting mosques, this might be one of the most interesting ones since it served as the Fortezza’s cathedral before the Turkish occupation.

While this is the final mosque on our list, you can actually spot several more in the city. There are currently eight mosques in Rethymnon that you can visit.

Rethymnon Shopping Spots

If you are looking to do some shopping in Rethymnon, there are wonderful shops selling local Crete products and artworks. Some of my favorite Crete souvenirs are edible (or drinkable). It’s always fun to bring back a taste of Crete in the form of local wines, olives, and, of course, raki. Here are my favorite Rethymnon shopping recommendations.

Old Town

Crete - Rethymnon - Souvenir Store for Crete Products

Interspersed among the international chains like Colors of Benetton, the old town is full of souvenirs stands. Stick to shops advertising local products, like Agrotiko. Don’t leave your Cretan vacation with products made in China. Wander down Paleologou, Arabatzoglou, and Souliou Streets for great options. If you’re looking for copies of Cretan archeological finds, stop by the Loggia.

Outdoor Markets

If you are in town on a Thursday or Saturday morning, you can check out the open-air market, called the Laiki, while those in town on Wednesday afternoon can visit the farmer’s market.

Shop for Locally Made Leather Goods

Crete - Rethymnon - Spantis Handmade Leatherwear Shop

For a stop in an artisan’s shop, go to Spantis Leather Goods. Here you can shop from the goods on display, but you can also take a peek at the workshop in the back of the store. Each piece in the store is handmade, from cutting to sewing to painting. This was my favorite place to shop in Rethymnon, and the gifts I bought here were some of the most popular I’ve brought back from Greece.

Shop for Local Ceramics

Crete - Rethymnon - Ceramic Pottery

The lands and islands of Greece have been synonymous with pottery practically as long as man has been shaping clay. No trip to Rethymnon is complete without at least doing some window shopping at one of Rethymnon’s ceramic shops or studios. My favorite is Hydria Pottery Workshop near the Rimondi Fountain.

Museums

While the island’s most famous museums might be in Heraklion, there are a few gems in Rethymnon. You don’t need to dedicate too much time to get to enjoy them, and entrance fees are low. I’ve listed my favorite two here, but the city actually has nine different museums to for museum-lovers to explore.

Archeological Museum

Crete - Rethymnon - Archealogical Museum

This small archeological museum costs just one euro to enter. Inside you’ll find objects from the history of the city, dating from the Neolithic era through the Roman period. Just be aware, no photos are allowed inside (and they’ll make you delete them if you were unaware of the rule…ahem…).

Ecclesiastical Museum

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Church Museum of the Cathedral of Rethymnon

For those who love church history, come to see the rare objects from the history of the churches in Rethymnon. On display are liturgical vestments, icons, coins, and the inner workings of the clocktower from before it was changed to an electric clock.

Squares & Outdoor Spaces

Rethymnon is a beautiful town with a mix of gorgeous and quirky city squares, parks, and other outdoor spaces to enjoy.

Stroll Along the Shore

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Coast

One of my favorite memories from Rethymnon is walking along the shore past the Venetian harbor at golden hour. The combination of beautiful light, waves, and the rocks on the shore while strolling underneath the Fortezza is truly magical.

Mikrasiaton Square

Crete - Rethymnon - Street Art on Mikrasiaton Square

This funky city square hosts some of the best Rethymnon street art, along with the Nezarte Mosque and city war memorial.

Tessaron Martyron Square & the Municipal Garden

Crete - Rethymnon - Statue of Konstantinos "Kostis" Giaboudakis

Located near the Guora Gate where the old town meets the new city, this is a popular place for children. They can enjoy the playground while parents can take a break at the cafe or nearby brewery.

Platanos Square

This square is located by Rimondi Fountain, lined with cafes and shops.

City Tours

For those looking to explore Rethymnon deeper, tours are a great way to learn more about the city, enjoy the countryside, and go on some unique Cretan adventures. Note that I’ve listed the food and wine tours in the food section, but most of the tours here do include sampling or lunching on traditional Cretan cuisine.

Rethymnon Walking Tour

Crete - Rethymnon - Neratze Mosque or Gazi Hussein Mosque in Mikrasiaton Square

One of my favorite things to do when I arrive in any city is to get oriented by taking a walking tour. In Rethymnon, you have the option to go on a walking tour that offers more than just a look at the city. On the Walking Tour in Venetian, Byzantine, & Ottoman Rethymno you get to learn about the history of the city’s sites along with sampling Greek coffee, learning how Greek’s tell their fortune with their coffee cups, and enjoy learning (and sampling) local cuisine and wine.

If you only have time for one tour in Rethymnon, this is a great way to combine a walking tour with a bit of the benefit of a wine and food tour as well. Click here to check reviews and prices.

E-Bike Tour

If you want to get out of the city and explore the countryside, this guided electric bike tour of the area is for you. You’ll get to explore olive groves, nearby monasteries, and go on a short hike of the famous Myli Gorge. Lunch is served in a village taverna. During this tour, you get to meet and talk with local nuns about their life and enjoy picturesque panoramic views of the coast.

Click here to check reviews and prices. 

Arkadi Monastery & Local Villiage Tour

Arkadi Monastery is the oldest monastery in Crete, and it is also one of the island’s most famous landmarks. On this Explore the Real Crete tour, you will get to visit the monastery, along with Melidoni Cave and the villages of Margarites and Apostoli. Highlights include visiting an olive oil factory, enjoying live traditional folk music, and lunching at a traditional village taverna.

Click here to check reviews and prices.

Land Rover Safari to Preveli Beach

Crete - Preveli Beach - Pixabay

Enjoy your day in a Land Rover Safari to Preveli! You’ll get to learn about Cretan culture in nearby villages and see some of the area’s most beautiful sites, like Prassas Gorge and Potamon Dam while making your way to the south coast’s Preveli beach. There you’ll get to enjoy your dip in the Libyan sea and enjoy the local palm tree forest. A great way to mix culture, adventure, and a beach day!

Click here to check reviews and prices.

Private Sunset Cruise on a Yacht

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Coast

Looking for a way to celebrate a special evening in Rethymnon? You can rent a luxurious private yacht and go on a Private Sunset Cruise. While you may not be in the business of renting a private yacht in your everyday life, this is an extremely special way to enjoy an evening in Rethymnon. You’ll get to enjoy the sunset and go for a swim off of a luxury yacht. I can’t think of a single thing that would be more glamorous.

If this is a trip of a lifetime for you and your family or friends, I highly recommend booking this cruise. It’s one of those activities you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Click here to check reviews and prices.

Rethymnon Beaches

There are many fabulous beaches in Crete, but there are a few close to Rethymnon and accessible by bus or a fairly inexpensive taxi ride. Here are the most popular beaches near Rethymnon. Loggerhead turtles nest along the beaches here, so always be a respectful beachgoer.

Rethymnon Beach

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Venetian Harbor of Rethymnon

Starting near the Venetian harbor and stretching in front of the Boardwalk and beyond the city, this is the closest beach to the Old Town. You can rent sunbeds and umbrellas, and there are many cafes and restaurants to enjoy when you need a break from the sun. Because of its proximity to the city, this beach can get crowded during the high season in the summer.

Missiria Beach

Missiria beach is located three kilometers east of Rethymnon. It’s accessible by public bus and has facilities including sunbed rentals and showers. There are tavernas and other businesses along the beach, making for an easy and relaxing trip from Rethymnon.

Perivolia Beach

The nearest suburb east of Rethymnon, Perivolia used to be a separate resort and vacation destination; however, now the two areas have merged and many come from Rethymnon to enjoy the beach here during the day. There are great facilities and the same sandy beaches stretch from Rethymnon past here. It is reachable by foot for those who want to walk from Rethymnon along the water.

Platanes Beach

Five kilometers east of Rethymno, this is the furthest of the beaches commonly visited from the old town by bus or taxi. The town is not particularly beautiful, and the main attraction is that this is one of the largest beaches in Crete.

Food & Nightlife

Here are our recommendations for enjoying Rethymnon’s food and nightlife while you’re in the city.

Greek Coffee

Greece - Heraklion - Restaurants Greek Food Crete Food Fyllo Sophies Bougasta Greek Coffee

You really don’t understand the first thing about Greece if you haven’t tasted Greek coffee. Have a coffee? is most likely the first thing you’ll be asked upon meeting your hosts, and it might sound more like a command than an offer. You also must call it Greek coffee, for while it’s part of the Ottoman tradition, everyone in Greece switched the name from Turkish coffee to Greek coffee in the twentieth century. Basically, the entire country gave Turkey the middle finger.

You can enjoy a coffee at one of the city’s many sidewalk cafes and tavernas, or you can learn more about it on the Walking Tour in Venetian, Byzantine, & Ottoman Rethymnowhich includes both a coffee tasting and learning how to tell your fortune in the coffee grounds. Click here to check reviews and prices.

Alternatively, you can learn about Greek coffee as part of the Gourmet Trail of Rethymnon food tour. Click here to check reviews and prices.

Enjoy Local Cretan Cuisine

Crete - Rethymnon - Cretan Salad

Cretan cuisine has a lot of overlap with traditional Greek cuisine, but there are differences. When eating in one of Rethymnon’s restaurants, look for local Cretan classics like dakos made with Cretan rusks, coclious me hondro or land snails, and bougasta. If you can’t tell which dishes on the menu are specifically from the island, don’t be afraid to ask your server!

Gourmet Food & Wine Tour

Learn about local foods on the Gourmet Trail of Rethymnon. Is there a better way to learn about cuisine than by sampling different dishes and drinks while being taught about the traditions behind them? On this tour, you will about (and try) Greek coffee, Cretan pastries, meze, and desserts. You will also have a wine tasting, a beer tasting, and have a local cocktail! By the end of the tour you will have sampled your way through the local food scene, and you’ll be prepared to order for the rest of your trip in confidence.

Click here to check reviews and prices.

Village Baking Class

If you want to leave Crete with some of the practical skills needed to make Cretan food at home, then this Traditional Village Bakery Class & Tour is the way to go. On this tour, you travel to the village of Vatos to learn how to make traditional Cretan bread from the passionate local bakers. You will also get an up-close view of life in Vatos, including having a traditional Cretan lunch with your hosts.

Click here to check reviews and prices.

Try Raki

Crete - Rethymnon - Raki Bar

If this is your first time in Crete, no doubt you will be shocked at the amount of free raki you’ll be offered just for buying dinner or sitting in a cafe. When I first started traveling to Crete, I didn’t understand the appeal. However, after countless glasses of raki, I am one hundred percent a believer in this Cretan spirit.

Taste Local Wine

Crete - Rethymnon - Cretan Wine

Crete is known for its local wineries. While I don’t love every Cretan wine that I’ve tried, I’ve had some amazing ones. (Pro Tip: avoid Cretan Sail at all costs! Somehow the wine is salty…). If you want to try some local varieties, ask your server for recommendations. Wine has been produced here for over four thousand years, so there will be something perfect to pair with whatever you choose for your meal.

If you want to go on a wine tasting of local wines, this is included as part of the Gourmet Trail of Rethymnon food tour. Click here to check reviews and prices.

Admire some Pastries and Koulouri

Crete - Rethymnon - Bakery

Iconic and delightfully affordable, don’t skip out on visiting a local bakery while in Rethymnon. Try a koulouri (sesame bread formed into crowns), a kalitsounia (cheese pastry), or a bougasta (phyllo dough and cheese with different toppings). Or try all three!

Rethymnon Strip

The strip of restaurants near the beach has modern bars. This is not exactly Ibiza, but if you’re looking for a more carefree nightlife scene, this is where to head first.

Eat with a View

Greece - Crete - Rethymnon - Coast Restaurant

Sometimes it’s less about what you’re eating, and more about where. Rethymnon has a great stretch of cafes and restaurants with beautiful sea views. Take the time for a meal, a coffee, or a drink while enjoying the sea views and delightful Mediteranean breeze. Just remember that being on the water means you’ll be getting some wind, so wear layers, especially in the evenings.

Rethymnon Travel Guide

Crete - Rethymnon - Street Scene

Rethymnon is a fabulous place to stay. In our opinion it gets a little overlooked compared to Chania and Heraklion, so here are our recommendations for accommodations and transportation to help make your trip as smooth as possible.

Where to Stay in Rethymnon

While accommodations in Rethymnon are affordable compared to many resort towns in Greece, prices can vary greatly between the high season and off-season. We’ve broken down where to stay in Rethymnon according to a few different budget ranges. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:

  • Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $15-25 USD per night for a dorm bed or about $50 for a double.
  • Mid-range: Around $60-90
  • Luxury: Around $100 per night or more

 

Budget: For an adventurous take on budget accommodations, we recommend Camping Elizabeth. Located just three kilometers outside of Rethymnon, this camping ground has caravans, tents, and bungalows to rent! Each includes outdoor furniture and access to a fridge, which means you can keep your costs even more in check. There is an onsite taverna serving local dishes, and a bus stop is just three hundred meters away. A great way to stay close to nature and the beach while enjoying Rethymnon during the day. Check rates and availability here.

Mid-range: For a seafront hotel that is surprisingly affordable, we recommend Sea Front Old Town. The location is in the middle of the old town and right on the sea, with most rooms having scenic balconies showing off either the seafront or the old town. Since Rethymnon is so beautiful, you really can’t go wrong with either view. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Luxury: For a true luxury experience in Rethymnon, we recommend the five-star Rimondi Boutique Hotel. The rooms are stunning (thing Instagram-worthy), and the location can’t be beaten since the Venetian Harbor is only a four-minute walk away. If you want an extra dose of relaxation, you can use the onsite Turkish bath and massage services. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

 

Still Looking? Read our full Guide to Rethymnon Hotels and Hostels

 

How to Get to Rethymnon

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - View from the bus from Heraklion to Rethymnon

We have guides coming on how to get to Rethymnon from Chania and Heraklion utilizing the island’s great intercity bus system.

If you choose to take a taxi, the rate is set and posted. Reconfirm the rate before you leave. If you are staying outside of the city, they may have you use the metered rate. Taxi drivers in Crete aren’t too scrupulous, but I have heard of tourists being charged double or triple during the very high season. Note what the rate should be on the rate list before you leave the airport, reconfirm with your driver, and you will need to pay in cash unless otherwise arranged.

You can also prearrange a private transfer. This is a great option for groups and families, especially families traveling with children.

 

Check prices & reviews for private transfers from Chania.

 

Check prices & review for private transfers from Heraklion. 

How to Get Around

Crete - Rethymnon - Taxi Stand

Once you arrive in Rethymnon, you’ll find that getting around the actual town is very easy. I walked everywhere I went, including to and from the bus station, which saved me money on transportation costs.

If you want to utilize the taxis, it’s very simple. Rethymnon taxis have set rates. You can go to a taxi stand, where there will be a price list displayed for how much your destination is. Confirm the cost with your driver before you leave, or agree that you will use the metered rate. Be prepared to pay for your taxi in cash unless you agree with your driver ahead of time.

If you need to call and have one pick you up at a destination, I recommend calling Rethymno Taxi. You can see their set prices here. 

There are also city buses available which go around town and also out to some of the beaches. I haven’t been able to track down the website, so ask your accommodation for assistance if you want to utilize the city bus in town.

Crete Travel Resources

Most people who come to Rethymnon also explore other parts of this beautiful island. Here are additional Crete travel resources to help you with your trip.

Don’t Travel to Crete without Travel Insurance

Finally, make sure you always travel to Crete with a valid travel insurance policy. While Rethymnon is a very safe place to travel, you want to make sure you have your possessions covered if they’re stolen and your medical bills covered if you get sick or injured. This is especially true if you plan on doing any water sports like snorkeling, diving, or boating.

For travel insurance, 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 This Article for Your Trip to Rethymnon

44 Fabulous Things to Do in Rethymnon & Bonus Travel Guide

 

27 of the Best Places to Visit in Slovenia

Slovenia is a land of fairy-tale castles, beautiful rivers and lakes, incredible mountains, and vibrant cities. It may be small, but this country at the western edge of the Balkan peninsula is well worth visiting in depth.

This guide to where to go in Slovenia includes well-known destinations like Ljubljana and Lake Bled, but you’ll also plenty of off the beaten path Slovenia hidden gems as well, contributed to by over two dozen travel bloggers who have visited and loved Slovenia!

So, without further ado, here are what we think are the best places to visit in Slovenia.

Ljubljana

Slovenia - Ljubljana - River
Photo and words by Stephanie of History Fangirl

Ljubljana is a beautifully romantic city. Any trip to Slovenia’s charming capital should start with a visit to Prešeren Square, with its stunning Triple Bridge and cupcake pink Baroque Church of the Annunciation. Other city highlights include visiting Ljubljana Castle, which you can reach by either a short hike to the top of the hill or a ride up in the funicular. 

If you love European markets, then you simply must take a visit to the Central Market, which runs along the edge of the river. You can find everything from artisanal gelato to used jeans for sale here, so if you’re in the mood to hunt for a Slovenian souvenir, then give yourself a little bit of time to explore.

To enjoy a slice of Slovenian history, head to Congress Square, where important figures like Josef Broz Tito and Bill Clinton have addressed the crowds. This is also where Slovenian independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire was declared in 1918.

My personal favorite spot in Ljubljana is the Dragon Bridge, the city’s famous Art Nouveau landmark. It’s this bridge, when combined with the pinks and dreamy yellows of the city’s architecture, that gives Ljubljana its patina of dreaminess and fairytale-esque escapades. 

Brda

Photo and words contributed by Melanie of BRB Travel Blog

Did you know that Slovenia has one of the best wines in Europe? Located near the Italian border, the Brda region has built up a reputation for doing some of the finest wines in the country and it has craved international recognition.

This wine country has around 100 wine producers for approximately 5,000 inhabitants. Goriska Brda is characterized by sparse small villages perched on top of rolling hills and miles and miles of vineyards. The panoramic roads connecting vineyards and villages are absolutely stunning. The typical wines in the region are white wines, Rebola and Friulano which is similar to Tokai.

The main town of the region is Dobrovo with its castle as one of its main attraction. Also, don’t forget to visit the picturesque village of Šmartno. Considered a cultural monument, this tiny village offers great views of the valley and has many hiking trails.

We recommend staying 2 days to better appreciate the wines, local food, and the many hiking trails. Do stop by the San Martin hotel for breathtaking views of the rolling hills. Of course, the main activity is wine tasting so prepare your taste buds you will enjoy your visit!

Krnsko Jezero

Photo and words contributed by Pashmina of The Gone Goat

Every feature of Krsnko Jezero contributes to the wonder and glory of the mountains in  Slovenia. Situated in Lepana Valley at 1,350m, this 2-hour 15 minute day hike in Slovenia will bring you to a mountain trail so stunning with lovely wooden cottages that have the best creamiest blueberry pies and cottage cheese.

To get to Krsnko Jezero, rent a car from Bovec and head towards Kranjska Gora. Turn right to the crossroad to Lepana Valley, a few hundred meters after the kilometre post 13.0. Drive this road through the Lepana Valley until you reach the end and park at the lodge of Dom dr. Klementa Juga.

The lake is surrounded by colourful poppies, including several endangered species such as the yellow Kerner Alpine poppy. The first part of the hike will not be kind on your legs as you have to hike craggy paths with some strenuous switchbacks. These manoeuvrings of the track will bring you into the view the opening of the Krnsko Jezero Lake.

You can stop here for a picnic and quietly take in the surroundings, and when you’re done you can also venture into other parts of Slovenia for a day-hikes just like what I did.  No matter how often we saw the sights from higher ground, the stark contrast between the mountains and the green waters were a sight to behold.

Triglav National Park

Photo and words contributed by Sabrina of Moon & Honey Travel

Triglav National Park is one of the most pristine alpine regions in Europe. The park gets its name from the country’s highest peak, Mt Triglav (2864 m) and coincides almost entirely with the Eastern Julian Alps. Covering about 4% of Slovenia, this massive area (840 square kilometers) is best explored over a few days.

Highlights of Triglav National Park include Lake Bohinj, Slovenia’s largest glacial lake, Savica and Peričnik Waterfalls, Tolmin Gorges, and the Vintgar Gorge. These popular sites are easily accessible by car and a short walk from late Spring to early Fall. If you’re interested in exploring the more remote peaks and valleys of the Julian Alps, consider hiking hut to hut across Triglav National Park. In summer, you can overnight in mountain huts (rifugios) along the various trails. Just remember to make reservations in advance.

Triglav National Park is free for everyone. There’s no entrance fee and you don’t have to have a permit to hike overnight in the park. However, some of the popular destinations have entrance fees. For example, Vintgar Gorge costs 9 EUR per adult and Savica Waterfall costs 3 EUR.

Maribor

Photo and words contributed by Jacky of Nomad Epicureans

If there ever was a city in Slovenia that deserved the byline ‘hidden gem’ in Slovenia, it would have to be Maribor. Although it is actually the second-biggest city in Slovenia, it still flies under most travelers’ radars. Historically, it was part of the Austrian empire and even today, it is located a mere 20 km from the Austrian border. It is a popular day trip destination for many Austrians and rightfully so.

Located on the Drava river, between Calvary and Pyramid Hill, its location in combination with a relatively mild climate has always favored viniculture. In fact, did you know that Maribor is the home of the oldest still-existing grapevine in the world? In the same location as the Old Vine, you can also find the Old Vine House, a small museum dedicated to all things wine. Around the city, you’ll also find plenty of options to taste some of the region’s best wines (for the best experience and beautiful views, head to the vineyards outside the city).

Apart from its long tradition in wine, Maribor also has plenty of historic sights to offer. Buildings such as the Water Tower and the Judgment Tower can be found in the Lent district. A bit further from the riverbank lies the city center with its beautiful examples of classical architecture, as well as the historic Jewish Quarter.

Although you can certainly see Maribor on a day trip, it’s well worth spending a night or two to really get out into the countryside and take in the views over the rolling hills. The best time to visit is without a doubt during the wine harvest in autumn, when the whole countryside turns into a stunning mix of red, orange, and yellow.

Savica Waterfall

Photo and words contributed by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

Savica waterfall is the most popular waterfall in Slovenia and the third most visited sight in the country. Of course, it’s not as big or powerful as world-famous waterfalls like the Victoria or Iguazu Falls, but it has a unique charm and beauty all its own. The waterfall flows out of a karst cave tunnel and divides into two parts, making a distinctive “A” shape.

The best time to visit is in the spring, when the snows of the mountains up above Lake Bohinj are melting and the water flow is at its highest. If you’re there in summer, it can get pretty crowded, so try to arrive early to avoid the tour groups.

Savica Waterfall is located inside the Triglav National Park, which is the only national park in the country. It’s near Lake Bohinj, so if you’re already visiting the lake you should definitely include a short side trip to the waterfall. You’ll have to climb about 500 steps to reach it, which takes about 20 to 25 minutes. Be sure to wear shoes with good grip, as the pathway can get slippery.

The view of the waterfall at the end is totally worth the effort, though! Unfortunately, Savica waterfall is not wheelchair accessible. There’s a modest entrance fee of 3 euros, which helps to keep the pathway well maintained. Most visitors stop at the viewing platform to take photos, but it’s also possible to continue a little further to a locked gate, from where you’ll have a closer view of the falls.

Podcetrtek

Photo and words contributed by Karolina of Karolina Patryk

Slovenia is one of the hottest destinations in Europe. Everybody is visiting Ljubljana, Predjama Castle, Lake Bled or Piran. Even though Slovenia is really small, and easy to drive around in just one day, there are still some places in a country that are off the beaten path. One of them is Podcetrtek. It is located on the East of Slovenia, in a halfway between Maribor and Zagreb, Croatia. This lovely region is one of the greenest places we have been to (it’s not always like that, we’ve been visiting Podcetrtek in September). 

I can’t imagine more peaceful place in Europe than this region. It’s a perfect holiday destination. There are many things to do in Podcetrtek, including having fun at the Terme Olimia spa, visiting Olimje Minorite Monastery with one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe and watching animals at the Jelenov Greben Homestead.

Be sure to go to Domacija Haler to try the crafted beer and some traditional Slovenian food. If you want to eat something sweet, go to Syncerus Chocolate Boutique to try some chocolate.

Podcetrtek is quite small, so one or two days will be perfectly enough to visit all the important tourist spots. The best way to get there is by car.

Vogel

Photo and words contributed by Amandine of Les Berlinettes

If you are going to Slovenia in the winter, there are a few magical places to go to. One of them in Vogel. It is named by locals as the most beautiful ski resort in Slovenia.

The landscape is surreal and is situated in the Triglav National Park, therefore the area is protected, but they still allow skiers. It has 14 great slopes for both beginners and intermediate skiers. From the ski resort you have views over Trigal, Slovenia’s highest peak and Bohinj Lake. Even if you are not a skier, it is worth going up with the aerial cable car just for the view.

There are many mountain eateries but the most spectacular one is Panorama with a view over the lake. The not-to-miss lift starts from Bohinj Lake. It is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Slovenia! You can access Vogel by car (2 hours from Ljubljana) or by bus that will take you directly to the cable car, at the Ukanc stop. 

Lake Bohinj

Photo and words contributed by Elaine & Dave of Show Them The Globe

With its crystal clear waters and stunning mountain views, Lake Bohinj is one of the most beautiful places in Slovenia. While it’s often overlooked by tourists who visit its more famous neighbour Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj should be on everyone’s Slovenian bucket list!

The shores of Lake Bohinj are a short but incredibly scenic drive from Lake Bled. The lake is the largest permanent lake in Slovenia and is a quiet respite from the crowds that throng Lake Bled during busy months. On the way to Lake Bohinj make sure to stop at the quaint town of Bohinjska Bistrica located in the foothills of the Triglav National Park which is located between Lake Bled and Bohinj.

There are lots of activities to keep visitors occupied at Lake Bohinj. There is something for everyone: from hiking and cycling the shores to kayaking and swimming in the refreshing waters We love the hikes to Mount Psivec and Vogar which showcase the amazing views of the lake below. It’s also a great place to come and do absolutely nothing! We spent our day at Lake Bohinj relaxing at one of the many secluded swimming areas that are dotted around the lake. For anyone planning a trip to Slovenia, be sure to make some time for this beautiful lake.

Tolmin Gorge

Photo and words contributed by Ellie & Ravi of Soul Travel Blog

Situated at the southwestern most end of the Triglav National park in North West Slovenia, the Tolmin Gorge sits at the confluence of the Tolminka and Zadlascica rivers and is home to some of the most stunning, cool, turquoise waters. The gorge itself is beautiful and usually quieter than other gorges along the Soca River valley, making it a great off the beaten track addition to your Slovenia itinerary

The gorge itself consists of two levels and it’s possible to climb down and walk along the river banks along gravel paths. On a warm summer’s day, visitors enjoy swimming or dipping their toes into the fresh waters (the water is extremely clean – like everything in Slovenia!)

There are also viewing platforms and bridges above where you can get a great view of the gorge with less legwork. From the lower level of the gorge, a cycle path runs along the river and it’s possible to bike further along the river valley if you have your own bikes. 

The gorge is open from April to November each year (it’s closed during the winter). We visited in autumn and found that a spectacular time to visit Tolmin Gorge (and the rest of Slovenia) with the gently rust-colored leaves falling into the gorge and adding even more color.

Vintgar Gorge

Photo and words contributed by Leo of Safari Nomad

When we talk about Slovenia’s unspoiled nature and its hidden gems, we absolutely can’t pass by one of the mind-blowing natural sites – Vintgar Gorge.

Vintgar Gorge is a unique gorge nestled cozily in the eastern edge of Triglav National Park, just a few kilometers outside of the picturesque town of Bled. The gorge, carved by the Radovna river, is surrounded by varied plant life and lovely wooden walkways and bridges installed bellow impressive vertical cliffs.

What makes this place so special is the fact that the color of the water changes from green to blue depending on the section. In other places, the water is transparent and forms beautiful pools, rapids, and waterfalls. Hearing the roaring of the water is extremely relaxing and will make you want to stay there as long as possible.

At the end of the 1.6 km trail, you will spot another highlight, the mighty 13-meter-high Šum waterfall. Here, you can take some time and admire this wonderful gift of nature and capture some photos.

This destination is an amazing place for a family trip, a relaxing day out where you surrounded with nature, a peaceful early morning walk, or just enjoying the pure, fresh air. If you want to know more about Vintgar Gorge read more info here.

Bela Krajina

Photo and words contributed by Alice of Teacake Travels

Deep in the south of lush green Slovenia is the rustic, humble and beautiful region of Bela Krajina. It is the poorest area in this country, but the people are incredibly lovely, welcoming, and eager. They are open to more people visiting the region and they will be very happy to show you just how relaxing and healthy life can be here!

There are plenty of hiking routes to explore, a glorious gushing river with ample adventure sports activities to try, hidden retreat spots to relax and unwind, and Croatia is literally a stone’s throw away. Bela Krajina’s river is the border between Slovenia and Croatia – and you can easily wave to the neighboring locals as you sit on one side of the river whilst they are on the other.

I hung out in Bela Krajina for 4 days and got up to plenty of things whilst I was there. Admittedly, you could check into a retreat like Big Berry and just let nature overtake you for all of that time. However, if you have itchy feet and really want to experience Bela Krajina to its fullest, I recommend the following: eat their locally grown and homemade specialities, go whitewater rafting along the river, visit the darling traditional little town of Črnomelj and go on this Bela Krajina secret hike.  

Soča Valley

Photo and words contributed by Joanna of Overhere

Soča Valley is a scenic area located in western Slovenia, close to Triglav National Park. This beautiful valley was created by one of the most famous rivers in the Balkans – Soča river. The river’s emerald color makes it a unique natural wonder and a trademark of Slovenian nature. 

In Soča Valley, there are lots of great places to visit – it is a paradise for nature lovers, photographers, and sports aficionados. Hikers, climbers, kayakers, cyclists, and skiers will all appreciate the variety of possibilities in Soča Valley.

One of the must-see places is the Great Soča Gorge. It is a 750 meters long and 15 meter deep gully. At some points, it is only 1 meter wide! There is no marked trail leading along the gorge, but it is possible to get down to the bottom of the gully or admire it from the top of the rocks.

All nature lovers should also visit Kojzak Waterfall and Tolmin Gorge. Kojzak Waterfall might not be very high, but it is so beautiful that it is considered as one of the best attractions in Soča Valley. Tolmin Gorge is a perfect place for an undemanding walk – it takes about one and a half hours to explore this amazing natural formation.

Another natural gem is Boka Waterfall. It is actually the highest waterfall in Slovenia – it reaches a whopping 136 meters! It is a real treat for Instagrammers and nature lovers.

Velika Planina

Photo and words contributed by Lori of Travlinmad

Slovenia is one of the greenest destinations in Europe, and one of the most amazing places to experience it all is on a summer hike to the mountain plateau to see the incredible alpine views and the historic herdsmen settlement of Velika Planina (literally “big plateau”) at the top.

Located an hour northeast of Ljubljana, it’s a scenic and moderate hike to the mountain top, where local cow herders walk their herds up to greener pastures for the summer months of June through September. The surrounding Kamnik-Savinja Alps are the perfect backdrop to explore this beautiful plateau on foot, but first you have to get there.

You can always hike up nearly one mile to the mountain top. But a more enjoyable way is to take the cable car up from the valley below, followed by a short chair lift to the summit at Velika Planina.

Once at the top, you can hike to the settlement and visit the tiny museum to learn about the history and local culture. You can also visit the settlement for the annual Christmas Eve mass at The Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows, a magical time of year when visitors arrive by candlelight for midnight mass. When you’re visiting Slovenia, a hike to Velika Planina is a must for outdoor lovers and adventure travelers.

Piran

Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Europe

One of my favorite places to visit in Slovenia is Piran, a pretty town on Slovenia’s Adriatic coastline.  This former fishing village is built onto a peninsula that juts into the sea, and with fortified city walls and a baroque church keeping watch from above, it’s a postcard-perfect destination.

Despite its small size, it’s easy to spend two or three days in Piran as there are plenty of things to see and do.  

The Old Town is well worth exploring not only to see Tartini Square and its pastel-colored Venetian Gothic buildings but also to wander the cobbled alleys that wind their way up the hill behind the town.

Your uphill walk will be rewarded with a stunning panorama of Piran from St. George’s church – come just before sunset for the most incredible views.  Another great vantage point is the city walls, which date back to the 7th century, and are open daily until dusk.

Back down at sea level, a stroll along the seaside promenade is a must.  Restaurants and ice cream sellers jostle for trade, sun worshippers bask on the water’s edge, and a tiny lighthouse stands proud at the tip of the peninsula, just as it has done for almost two hundred years.

Even during the busy summer months when visitors flock to Piran for its idyllic seaside location, the town has a relaxed and friendly vibe.  There’s nothing pretentious about this coastal town – and that’s what makes it so special.

Bovec

Photo and words contributed by Jeanne of Learning to Breathe Abroad

The picturesque town of Bovec can be found nestled in the Soca Valley and surrounded by the majestic Julian Alps. This little town is the adventure center of Slovenia and is jam-packed with adrenaline junkies. Dare to go white water rafting on the Soca River? Or how about flying through the sky on a zip line? Then Bovec is the place for you!

Getting to Bovec can also be an adventure if you drive the death-defying Vrsic Pass from Kranjska Gora. It has been listed as one of the World’s Most Dangerous Roads due to its hairpin bends and steep gradient. If you have nerves of steel, it is highly recommendable as the views are spectacular.

For a change of pace, the hike to the Boka Waterfall takes an easy 1.5hr and you’ll get up really close to watch the water falling freely for 106 meters before hitting the rocks below. The Virje Waterfall is another easy 3 km hike from Bovec.

For history buffs, the Walk of Peace is a hiking and cycling trail that links the places associated with the First World War. There are also numerous other hiking and cycling trails with varying levels of difficulty to suit all levels, from racers to young families.

Still, want more? How about skiing, sledding and cross-country skiing in winter or bungee jumping from the bridge over the Soca River. How about seeing the whole valley from a paraglide or spelunking in the nearby caves? Whatever your sport of choice, Bovec will provide and then some!

Ptuj

Photo and words contributed by Jeanne of Learning to Breathe Abroad

The city of Ptuj has incredibly been inhabited since the Stone Age! Being the oldest recorded city in Slovenia, it easily rivals Ljubljana for historical importance, yet very few tourists make it this far East.

The Ptuj Castle is a highlight with its panoramic views over the red-roofed city and across the Drava River. The castle museum has an extraordinary display of armour, tapestries and a large collection of Kurent masks and costumes.

The old town is small and can easily be explored in an hour or 2. From the central Slovenski Trg square make your way to the clock tower in front of the Catholic Church, then wander down Murkova Ulica till you reach the al-fresco restaurants and cafes in Mestni Trg square. Other sights include the statue of Saint Florian, Minoritski Trg, the Miheliceva Gallery and Mestni Park.

Ptuj is also well known for its thermal pools, so make sure to find time for a restorative soak. The slides and outdoor pools are also a big hit with kids.

The medieval city of Ptuj is simply enchanting. Get lost meandering along the quaint cobbled streets, enjoy a delicious meal while watching the world go by in Mestni Trg square or enjoy a walk along the Drava River. No matter what you do you’ll have the town virtually to yourselves!

Portoroz

Photo and words contributed by Megan of Red Around the World

Portoroz is a small town on the Adriatic Coast of Slovenia.  It’s a great town to use as a base for exploring the area.  Make sure you take a day trips by bus to either Piran and Izola, also on the coast but with a lot more old European charm.  You could also take a boat trip to see them, but don’t forget Portoroz, too!

If the season is right, relax at the Portoroz Beach.  Visit the salt pans to see where Piran salt comes from.  Walk along the promenade and admire the Adriatic Sea and check out the shops and restaurants. 

If you’re just visiting Portoroz, Piran, and Izola, two or three days should be good, but if you’re using it as a base for day trips, then maybe four or five would be better. Be sure to visit the Skocjan Caves, Postonja Caves, or Mount Vogel.  This was the best place I visited in Slovenia (but I did love it all) and I can’t wait to go back.

Lake Bled

Photo and words contributed by Cath of Passports and Adventure

When friends of our suggested a holiday by a lake, we were dubious to say the least, especially visiting Lake Bled with a toddler. But after a week spent at Lake Bled in Slovenia, we were converts. So much so, we are eager to return. Lake Bled, nestled among the Julian Alps, is one of the most picturesque places we’ve ever visited. Extremely family-friendly and with a landscape to wow you, it’s one of the best places to visit in Slovenia.

During summer you can enjoy swimming in the lake, along with a host of other water sports. Bled Castle sits on a hill top overlooking the lake and offers some spectacular views of the lake and surrounding area. You can also immerse yourself in some history while exploring the castle.

Bled Island is easily reached, either by boat or, if you fancy it, by paddle boat. You can even swim out to it! Make sure to visit the church on the lake and ring the bells. It’s said that those who ring the bell, and therefore pays honour to the Virgin Mary, will get a wish come true. The island, although small, is worth getting one of the pletna boats over, especially if visiting with smaller children.

There is a range of other activities to do including hiking, tobogganing down the mountain side, walking the circumference of the lake and more. And winter sports are in abundance around Lake Bled if you are visiting at that time of year. There are lots of restaurants and cafes for eating in, and you must make sure to try a slice of Bled Cake. It is delicious!

You can easily spend a week near Lake Bled, enjoying all it has to offer and the surrounding areas. Neighboring Lake Bohinj is worth a visit if you have a car, and the capital Ljubljana and the nearby Postojna Caves are easy to reach for a day trip. It truly is a great base for enjoying a holiday and exploring some other must-visit places in Slovenia.

Skojcan Caves

Photo and words contributed by Corinne of Reflections Enroute

Slovenia is known for a few of its cave sites, but even though Skocjan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s not as well known as some other sites. Maybe it’s because it’s further from Ljubljana, tucked into the corner of the Italian and Croatian borders. It’s almost three hours from the capital city either by public transportation or car, but is it ever impressive and well worth the trek!

Skocjan is the largest underground cave in the world, and even when you are touring it, it’s difficult to grasp the enormity of it. Upon arrival, tickets are bought and visitors are separated into groups. There are tours in many languages, but of course there are more in Slovenian and English, which leave hourly starting from 10:00 AM. The tours meet on the grounds of the ticket office and are escorted to the entrance to the cave, which is a good ten minute walk. 

After a brief introduction, the guide holds open a small door, and as you peer in: surprisingly it looks small and confined. Where are the huge caverns? They are located after the initial path sloping down into the earth. After a few minutes, the cave opens up and the walls and ceilings are covered with limestone stalagmites and stalagmites. The gorge and caves were created over centuries by the Reka River, which you will cross and see during the tour. There are three different walks to choose from when buying your tickets, but please beware, all of them are on unleveled ground, which is sometimes wet and slippery. There are also quite a few stairs to climb. At the end of the tour, you can take an outdoor elevator to ground level back to the ticket office and parking.

One of the most impressive sights and natural phenomena in all of Slovenia, it would be a shame to miss it!

Big Berry (Primostek)

Photo and words contributed by Gemma of Two Scots Abroad

What better way to start that day than over a breakfast basket filled with organic local produce while you watch the Kolpa River float by? Hypnotic! In summer, you can even swim in the river. 

Big Berry, Slovenia is a stylish glampsite set on the Slovenia/Croatian border near Primostek (Bela Krajina region). Each cabin has a hot tub for sipping delicious Pivovarna Vizir wine or beer. There are a couple of dining options close to Big Berry, a well-equipped kitchen in each cabin, and BBQ area. 

With Big Berry amenities you might not want to leave but since Slovenia is a small country you can easily day trip to the likes of the fairytale town of Bled or to Postojna Caves!

Tivoli Park, Ljubljana

Photo and words contributed by Mateja of Roaming Goblin

Tivoli is the biggest park in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. There are always people enjoying this green oasis right close to the train station and central Ljubljana, but the area is big enough that everyone can find their own spot in the shade under a tree.

In Tivoli Park, you can find approximately five square kilometers of paths, fountains, trees, outdoor galleries, and even a pond with an old boathouse – no boats anymore, as it was turned into a very popular cafe called Colnarna with plenty of outside seating.

Locals love to spend time in the park. There are people doing yoga, cycling, jogging, roller-skating, or just strolling around. You can find a few children’s playgrounds around the park and if you are patient and quiet, you might see squirrels jumping from tree to tree. You can see families having picnics and in the evening listening to mini free concerts under the stars – mMostly in the warmer months, of course. Moms with strollers somehow always end up chatting and eating cakes at the tables of Colnarna or one of the other smaller cafes.

I have two favorite spots in Tivoli. One is a bench in a rose garden next to the Glasshouse, near the pond and close to the outdoor library, which pops up on sunny days in summer. The second one is at the top of the Roznik hill, above Tivoli. The hike is just long enough to call it exercise, and you can treat yourself to a local dish at the top. Flancati are huge sweet snacks that go well with coffee or tea.

Last but not least, on the way back to the city, check out the outdoor gallery at Jakopic’s promenade. They change the photographs on display every few months. 

Idrija

Photo and words contributed by Tom of Travel Past 50

One of the things we like to do as we’re traveling to a new country is to use the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites as a touchstone for suggesting places to visit. That’s how we ended up in Idrija, Slovenia.

Idrija was inscribed on the World Heritage list because it was the site of the world’s second largest mercury mine for more than 500 years, only closing when the falling prices and increased knowledge of the poisonous effects of mercury converged to make it no longer economically or ecologically viable to continue the operation. A portion of the mine has been preserved for tours.

An interesting, and perhaps ironic, fact of life in Idrija was that while the men were working in the fatal environment of the mercury mine, the women mostly occupied themselves making elaborate and beautiful lace which was sold all over Europe. 

The Municipal Museum was full of lovely examples of Idrija lace, including several of their unique asymmetric creations to require uncanny skill, imagination, and patience.

Logar Valley

Photo and words contributed by Claire of ZigZag Road Trips

Lesser known than other places in Slovenia such as Lake Bled or Ljubljana, the Logar Valley is definitively worth the detour.

Wandering through this valley, also known as Logarska Dolina, is breathtaking: Sharp summits, rock steep walls, green pastures, historical and charming farms and, as everywhere else in the country, lots of trees… (see more photos in this article), but the main interest is the drive or walk to the end of this glacial valley. 

The Logar Valley is not difficult to access. Located north of Ljubljana, it will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes by car. It is a great place for those who love hiking. There are several waterfalls in the area, but they are not always flowing. One of the most visited, the 90m (295ft) high Rinka waterfall, can be reached after a steep but short hike from the last carpark deep in the valley.

I recommend an overnight stay to appreciate the silence of nature and to see the sun slowly filling up the valley and highlighting the mountains. But if you stay longer, you can explore the other glacial valleys nearby: Robanov Kot and Matkov Kot or drive the Solcava Panoramic Road and taste delicious produce at the various farms.

Planning a trip to Slovenia? Pin it for future reference!

Planning a Slovenia trip and wondering where to go in Slovenia? This guide to the best places to visit in Slovenia will help you plan the perfect Slovenia itinerary. Whether you visit Slovenia for a week or just stay in Ljubljana for a few days, this post will help you plan a Slovenia road trip or day trips from Ljubljana.
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