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.

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The Most Gorgeous Hotels in Ksamil for Your Albania Vacation

The Most Gorgeous Hotels in Ksamil for Your Albania Vacation

Ksamil is a pretty seaside town in Albania located just across the water from Greece’s Corfu island. This absolutely stunning place is also very convenient when it comes to accommodation.

If you’re used to Greece’s great prices when it comes to your Summer vacation, then Albania can be an even more convenient choice (and that’s already saying a lot!).

In fact, the price of an Albanian beach escape will blow your mind. In the area, you can also visit the gorgeous Sarande. Instead, if you’re all for a beach vacation with a side of culture, you can also check the Roman city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just a short bus ride away.

So, if Ksamil is the next place you’re going to visit when in Europe, then check these places to stay!

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Gorgeous Hotels in Ksamil

Albania - Ksamil - Empty Ksamil Beach - Butrint National Park, Sarande, Southern Albania, Europe

This list of great hotels in Ksamil is divided according to the price for a one-night stay. This way you’ll be able to discover which is the most convenient place to stay according to your budget and taking into account the most remarkable characteristics of each hotel. Take a look!

Budget Hotels in Ksamil
($50 a Night and Under)

In no particular order, these are the hotels we recommend in Ksamil if you can’t assign a big part of your budget to accommodation.

Albania - Ksamil - Empty Deckchairs In Ksamil - Butrint National Park, Sarande, Southern Albania, Europe

Jasmina Soni Apartments

This is probably the most affordable pet-friendly accommodation you can get at the heart of Ksamil and it has most of the needed features you will require for a comfortable stay.

One night will only cost about $16 in a double room with a balcony that has terrific views of the picturesque rolling hills. For that very low amount, you already have a private bathroom complete with all the amenities – just a reminder that towels and linens are for an extra, you won’t pay much, so you can still pack lightly.

Considering the very budget-friendly prices, you get huge rooms and you really can’t find a reason to complain. Not as stylish as boutique hotels, but everything is decent and the level of comfort and functionality has been considered.

The property is a few kilometers from the beach, so it’s a good idea to rent a car for you to conveniently travel to different locations. If you don’t plan to rent a car, don’t worry, the hotel is only within walking distance from the bus station. 

Guests can enjoy free parking too! plus, there’s free parking for guests!

The units feature their own kitchenette and dining area, and shopping for groceries in the several markets nearby for fresh goods will be even more helpful to your budget!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Vila Vasiliu

This beautiful property is very close to 4 different beaches along the Albanian Riviera. The property has a beautiful garden with sun loungers and umbrellas. They combine both a traditional style with modern functional furniture.

The entrance to the property will make you feel like royalty with its castle-inspired gate. The rooms are simple but fully equipped with features you will need for your stay and more.

Each room has its own private bathroom and the beds are huge with comfortable quilted headboards. There’s also a touch of antique furniture and pieces of artwork hung on the walls to complete a classic homey feel.

You can also step out to breathe in some fresh air on the balcony – which is available for all rooms! A large group of travelers (maximum of 6 people) can get their 3-bedroom apartment and pay only $44 per night – that is such a steal!

So far, guests have loved the service, the location and the property itself so be sure to hurry up if you see it available!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Hotel Livia

If you are looking for accommodation that is so close (it’s actually inside) to the Butrint National Park, then Hotel Livia is a good choice that’s still within the budget.

Not only does it have a very stylish exterior, but its interiors are also very well decorated. The hotel itself is built in stone and wood and executed in the style of traditional Albanian houses. There are lovely outdoors with shady trees and plenty of coffee tables.

The entire property is also very exclusive so you won’t have any problems with random outsiders – it has fences and a gate to keep everything safe and secure.

You will love that they have good choices for rooms, but it is best suited for couples who want mid-range features at a fraction of the cost. Their double rooms are only $17 and the suite rooms are only $34.

The rooms have either a terrace or a balcony where you can see popular landmarks and enjoy a garden view. Light, warm colors are used as the basis for the room’s theme; combined with wooden furniture to give it a cozy vibe. The rooms are fully furnished and you also have an area next to the bed that can function as a work desk or as a mini-boudoir so you can prep yourself for the evening!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Hotel Sunway

Hotel Sunway is a high and modern white building that offers fairly priced accommodation, especially for those who wish to experience camping in the nearby areas. Make sure to book the property in advance if it is something that fits your preferences and needs, last-minute booking is not possible because a lot of people love this small hotel.

Every morning, the owner’s mother prepares a hearty breakfast buffet for their guests – a mother’s love truly makes the dishes taste better!

The prices are in the upper budget range, but if you’re getting mid-range amenities and features, then this is already a good choice! All rooms have a balcony with iron-glazed coffee tables and chairs, perfect for a nice morning coffee or tea.

The entire hotel features modern design and architecture which is also evident in the rooms. The beds are extremely comfortable and you can just hop in and sleep soundly.

There are tiled floors and walls inside the ensuite bathrooms and a glass wall separates the shower area from the toilet to avoid a damp mess after you bathe. Guests who have rented or brought their cars may park freely at their garage.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Mid-Range Hotels in Ksamil
($50-$100 a Night)

Check this mid-range accommodation in Ksamil if you manage to stretch your budget a bit more…

Albania - Ksamil - Restaurant with served table in seafront of Ionian sea, Ksamil

Hotel Piramida

A newly opened hotel is something that most people love. Why? Because most of the facilities aren’t dated and you are sure that everything is working just perfectly. Hotel Piramida fits that description because it opened only a few years ago.

The hotel features a private pool (with a pool bar) in the garden, which is something quite hard to find since beaches are already extremely affordable and beautiful in the area. It has a total of 17 rooms ranging from double to triple or quadruple rooms.

An energizing continental breakfast is included in your stay is available in the morning, but there are also markets only 2 minutes by foot if would rather have a different choice.

The rooms have a minimal flair, some of them with a tiny splash of color, but not too much, with a basic palette in black, white, and gray. All of the rooms have a private balcony with a table and chairs. 

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Hotel Esmerald Ksamil

Hotel Esmerald Ksamil is a family-run hotel where you can get a really good view of the islands and the emerald-colored sea (which was the perfect color to add to the hotel’s name) from your balcony.

The building stands out from the neighborhood due to its white color and modern style. While there are many other nearby beaches to explore, there is a private area of the beach dedicated to the hotel where you can rent loungers for a small price. Sometimes, parties are even held here, and you won’t have to worry about the noise reaching your room.

Their studio rooms have either garden or sea view. They’re also fully equipped with a flat-screen TV, A/C, heating, strong WiFi, a dining table, and a refrigerator. There’s not much to expect in terms of style, but they’re simple and comfortable.

The ensuite bathroom is spotlessly clean and it has tiled walls and floors plus an enclosed shower. Parking is also free and it is located underground, so you are sure that your car will be safe.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Heksamil Hotel

Heksamil is another top contender for a modern hotel with a private pool in Ksamil. They offer multiple room types have one of the best customer services you can think of! The pool area also features loungers, hammocks, and inflatables for kids (year-round!)

Balconies give all guests a sweeping view of either the sea, the garden, or the town.

The rooms have a modern functional style with tiled floors and wooden furniture to complete its polished simple aesthetics. They’re fully equipped with features like  A/C, flat-screen TV, washing machine, and fridge.

The private bathrooms are decorated in shades of blue, making them look relaxing. Parking on-site is free and you can also charge your electric vehicles here.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Poda Beach Hotel

Poda Beach Hotel is another mid-range beachfront hotel with a pool near the heart of Ksamil, which you can recognize by the entrance resembling a Greek temple. There’s a landscaped garden with an assortment of plants and trees to give you shade and a fresh ambiance – making it a small oasis by the beach. They offer rooms perfect for couples and even for a honeymoon.

All of the rooms (doubles and suites) are soundproof. Due to its perfect beachside location, most of the rooms feature a balcony or a terrace facing the sea. If you want a private spa bath in your room, you may opt for the bigger rooms or suites.

The beds are extra wide to keep you sleeping soundly after all the tiring and fun activities you can do nearby. The private bathroom also has all the amenities and toiletries that you need for a refreshing shower.

Poda Beach Hotel serves a continental breakfast with a good selection of bread, jams, and other delicacies to pair with a cup of hot coffee. Just in case you want to check their a la carte offerings, you may visit their café and restaurant, or you can check their bars for drinks.

The beach area of the hotel has sunbeds and umbrellas (maybe a lot) and a gorgeous beach bar!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Luxury Hotels in Ksamil
($110+ a Night)

These beautiful hotels are there for you to splurge and indulge during your Ksamil stay, discover the best ones down here…

Albania - Ksamil - Empty Ksamil Beach - Butrint National Park, Sarande, Southern Albania, Europe

King Hotel Ksamil

With a bright light and a crown logo visible even at night, King Hotel Ksamil stands out from beachfront luxury choices with tons of features and amenities. They have suites and rooms for families, couples, and even solo travelers. Most of the rooms open to a balcony with a view of the sea or a terrace, while some have huge windows that give you the same view.

You can also get your breakfast at the hotel for only $6.

The rooms have a simple and minimal style and you can really see how clean and well-maintained their facilities are. The private bathrooms are very luxurious because of the tiled walls and floors plus the enclosed shower with a powerful rain showerhead.

The rooms have everything you look for and regardless of the tier, they all boast a minibar with a fridge and an electric kettle. Kids can enjoy the free playground outdoors.

The buffet also has selections suited for kids who are picky eaters. You may also check the café or restaurant on-site for some great choices of Albanian and international food. Just be sure to bring cash, because cards are not accepted at the restaurant.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Hotel Castle

If you want to stay in a castle-looking hotel in Ksamil, then this one’s for you. Hotel Castle truly gives you the royal treatment you want for a well-deserved vacation. It is also very near to other beaches that you can reach on foot in a few minutes. At night, the glowing lights make the hotel look very bright and hypnotic – quite like a very festive place!

The interior of the hotel makes use of wooden floors and ceilings and contemporary furniture.

Rooms include doubles, triples, and quads for all types of guests. All of their rooms have a balcony and it opens you to a panoramic view of the sea with amazing sunset views! The entire room is also ridiculously clean so you won’t have to worry about your allergies.

Check their wellness facilities and try their sauna or fitness center. The property has a private beach area and it guarantees that you’ll have a nice sun lounger all for yourself!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Seaside Ksamil

The name of the hotel straight away gives you a relaxing idea of a beach setting in a peaceful location away from the hustle and bustle of the city – and that’s exactly what this place offers!

The property features a beautiful garden with flowering plants, swaying palm trees, and graceful vines crawling. There’s also an area with seaside views as well as a side of the hotel facing the magnificent scene of the town. No matter where you are, there’s a nice view always waiting for you in this dainty countryside house.

While rooms fit on the upper mid-range price, they do have a luxurious apartment with 2 bedrooms and a living area. This particular apartment can accommodate up to 8 guests and, like most of the rooms, it has everything you need, including 3 beds and 3 sofa beds. You can set up a nice meal or dinner in the outdoor dining area and you may also fire up the grill for a BBQ.

There’s even a washing machine you can use at your disposal, so you don’t have to use the sink to wash your clothes!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Villas and Holiday Homes in Ksamil

Do you prefer the homely feel of your own place rather than a hotel stay? Then check these villas in Ksamil for a relaxing vacation…

Albania - Ksamil - Rocky shore next to Ksamil, Saranda, Albanian Riviera, beautiful seascape, sunset

Villa Ermali

Villa Ermali is in a peaceful location and has a wonderful view of the beach, but still near to the city center and nested on top of a hill. You can simply go for a 10-minute walk from the property and take a dip or enjoy long walks by the sea.

The owner is also very accommodating and can speak multiple languages to help you with any concerns you may have during your stay – actually, most guests have loved staying here so you might not have any issues at all.

The price is very good considering you will only pay $28 per night and get the exclusivity of the entire property! If you don’t want to go out just to get breakfast, you do have the option to get it on-site for only $11 per head.

The villa has 2 bedrooms and it can accommodate up to 4 guests. Parking is also free and you can keep it safer with a lock. Sometimes, the owner pays a visit to their guests to bring some fresh fruits or other complimentary details.

During summer, you can use their grill to make a nice steak and match it to tasty baked potatoes. Past guests, have loved that the WiFi, A/C, and heating are all functioning well and you won’t have any issues connecting to the internet or having the right temperature despite the season.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Casa Ksamil

A huge group can save by getting a holiday home like Casa Ksamil. Take into account that properties like these are quite difficult to find online. This home in particular can accommodate up to 10 guests and it has all the features to make you feel at home despite, ironically being on vacation.

Casa Kamil features 4 bedrooms, each in a different style. Some of them are equipped with bunk beds. The style is modern, bold, and features vibrant colors. There are 3 bathrooms, though small, featuring amenities including a hairdryer. Some guests have noticed that the shower and toilet area are close to each other, so it can be a good idea to point the shower head to the side wall not to get the toilet all wet.

The living room has a comfy and colorful leather sofa with pillows. You are also provided with other features like a washing machine, a minibar with a coffee machine, a fully-equipped kitchenette, and ironing facilities.

There’s also a balcony with seaside views, as well as views of the flowery garden and the green mountains.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

5 Things to Pack to Albania

Bulgaria - Burgas - Stephanie at Burgas Train Station with Luggage

We have a complete packing list for Albania, but make sure you bring these five items with you!

Lonely Planet Western Balkans is a great guidebook for your visit to Albania, and it’s great if you’re also visiting any combination of the following countries: North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia. It can be really hard (sometimes impossible) to buy a physical guidebook in English once you’re in Albania, so if you like having your guidebook in your hands you will need to bring it with you from home.

Unlocked Cell Phone: Allison and I both have unlocked cell phones that we bought in Europe (I use a Samsung and she uses an iPhone). This allows up to get sim cards when we travel so that we always have the internet. This has gotten us out of so many jams! 

If you don’t have an unlocked cell phone that can use an Albanian sim card, you can buy a cheaper unlocked phone online and bring it with you!

Pacsafe Citysafe or Other Anti-Theft Bag: This is the bag both Allison and I use (and they also make men’s versions). It has a pouch with RFID technology so our credit cards can’t get scanned from afar, interlocking zippers to make it harder to pickpocket, and it’s roomy enough to be a perfect sightseeing day bag. 

 

A Sturdy MoneybeltIf you don’t want to get a new bag with anti-theft features as I use, you can use a money belt instead. I prefer to have these features built into my bag instead, but I know for a lot of people a money belt is a less expensive investment than a new bag. 

Grayl Water FilterWhile the water is safe to drink in the country’s larger cities, you need to avoid it in the small towns and villages inland and on the coast. If you don’t want to be buying millions of plastic water bottles, you can get a reusable water bottle that comes with a water filter so that you can stick to the tap water and reduce your plastic waste. 

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

Read next: Essential Albania Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Albania

More Places to Stay in Albania

Albania - Berat - Ottoman Houses

Are you visiting other parts of the country? When traveling to Albania, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. The country is gaining in popularity as a tourist destination, so some of the best spots do sell out early (especially in summer and on the coast)!

More Albania Travel Resources

Albania - Berat - Berat Flowers

First, start by reading our post on planning a trip to Albania. It covers everything from visas to vaccinations to what to pack, so it’s a great jumping-off point for your travel plans.

Next, check out our Albania packing list and our suggested one, two, and three-week Albania itineraries.

If you’re curious about the currency used in Albania and how tipping works, we recommend our Balkan currency guide to learn all about the Albanian lek and tipping culture. We also have a post on Albanian cuisine!

If you’re looking for even more places to add to your Albania itinerary, we have a bunch of ideas for you from us and other bloggers in this collaborative post about the 15 best places to visit in Albania! If you love UNESCO sites, make sure to check out Gjirokastra, Berat, and Butrint!

We are working on all of our Tirana guides, but for now, we have posts on the best restaurants in Tirana, the best Tirana cafes, and the best Instagram spots in Tirana, plus how to visit the Tirana Christmas Market.

We add new content almost daily! We recommend you bookmark our homepage, our Albania page, or our general Balkans page to refer to when planning your trip.

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

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

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

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

Pin this Ksamil Hotel Guide for Your Trip to Albania!

12 Amazing Things to Do in Kaş During Your Next Trip to Turkey!

12 Amazing Things to Do in Kaş During Your Next Trip to Turkey!

 

Once you discover Kaş, you will never want to leave, trust me! In Kaş, a magic spell will surround you and won’t let go.

When you wander this magnificent fishing village, you will feel the spirit of the streets. And once you’ve experienced the Mediterranean blues in Kaş, you’ll become obsessed with spending here every summer of your life!

However, before we step together into the city of Kaş, let us take a journey to witness the miraculous beauty of the local nature and the cultural richness that this city has been offering for centuries…

Kaş has been a very popular spot since prehistoric times, and it continues to be attractive today due to its natural beauty and location. Being at the intersection of the Lycian Way and the Caria Road, it has also doubled the historical and cultural value of the region. With its climate, nature, and historical texture, Kaş is one of the places you should visit in Turkey.

If you are ready for limitless joy and amazing views, let’s discover this stunning city.

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Where to Stay in Kaş

turkey - kas - sunset in the mediterranean. Kas, Bodrum, Antalya, Turkey.

If you’re spending some time in Turkey, you will probably be arriving in Istanbul, So, why not check our giant neighborhood guide and hotel recommendations? If you don’t have a clue about where to stay in Istanbul, read about our favorite Sultanahmet hotels near the Blue Mosque or our favorite Bosphorus view hotels.

Once in Kaş, there are plenty of places where to spend a great time. These are our top picks for each budget category.

Budget: For a great budget-friendly hotel, you can stay at Kaş Artemis Hotel, only 700 m to the seafront. Another great and affordable option is Hideaway, a few meters from the center.

Mid-Range: For an affordable stay, we recommend Club Çapa Hotel, ideal for a seaside holiday. One more place we suggest is Aqua Princess, close to the sea and the center too.

Luxury: There are many fabulous hotels to choose from, but we love Suna Sun Boutique Hotel for adults only. For a fantastic stay in the city center, then check the pretty Erdem City Hotel.

Amazing Things to Do in Kaş

In no particular order, check these amazing things you can do when you visit Kaş, on the coast of Turkey…

Tour the Center of the City

Turkey - Kas

The cobblestone street lined up with wooden houses adorned with flowers which run through in the middle of Kaş welcomes visitors with amazing views, bohemian cafeterias, and hundreds of cats.

On the streets, you can find small boutiques, antique shops, gift shops, jewelers, and carpenters featuring their crafts. If you want to better know local life, just take a walk along the streets in the old center of Kaş. They can be crowded at peak times though, so you can enjoy a more quiet time if you visit in spring.

Enjoy the Amazing Blue of the Kaputaş Beach

turkey  - kas - Famous Kaputaş beach from top. Antalya Turkey.

Kaputaş Beach is located on the Kaş-Kalkan road. It is a very special natural beach only 20 from Kaş.

Kaputaş is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. The beach embraces visitors with an amazing turquoise sea. Known as Canyon Beach, the sea here is normally wavy, but the view remains simply outstanding.

Kaputaş beach definitely deserves to be on the list of places to visit. If you decide to make a stop in Kaputaş, remember to carry flippers, goggles, and snorkel with you. You won’t regret it.

During the whole summer season, there are regular minibusses covering the route Kaş-Kaputaş Beach and Kaputaş Beach-Kalkan-Patara. If you prefer to relax and enjoy a guided visit, check this value-for-money jeep safari that also takes you to Patara beach and Saklıkent.

 

Feel the Historical Spirit in the Ancient City of Xanthos

Turkey - Kas - Xanthos Ancient City. Grave monument and the ruins of ancient city of Xanthos - Letoon (Xantos, Xhantos, Xanths) in Kas, Antalya/Turkey. Capital of Lycia.

It was the largest administrative center of the Lycian civilization in antiquity. The ancient city of Xanthos is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a history that goes back all the way to the 7th century BC. It’s located 70 km from the Kaş-Fethiye highway.

Most of the historical art in Xanthos belongs to the Hellenistic period. The Harpy Monument, the city walls, the agora, the church with mosaic floors, the theatre, and the Tomb monuments in the necropolis can be seen here.

Many of the artifacts were discovered by British Fellows who carried out excavations in the ancient city in the 1840s. Today, these are on display at the British Museum.

There are many historical monuments that are worth visiting in this fascinating ancient city. The ancient settlement was destroyed many times, continuously burned down, and rebuilt.

They said that this is the site where most artifacts in the region can be found, so much so that the excavations are still ongoing. To have a better idea, researchers confirm that all the artifacts that we can see here today are only a fraction of what the city used to be. Want to put both Patara and Xanthos on a day trip? Then we suggest you this tour.

Walk Saklıkent Canyon

turkey - kas - Saklikent Canyon is the deepest canyon in southern Turkey, Goynuk canyon Saklikent, located in District of Kemer, Antalya Province

The canyon of Saklikent is about 14 kilometers long and is believed to have emerged as a result of an earthquake. This unique beauty is one hour away from to center of Kaş.

At the end of the canyon, there is a small waterfall. On hot summer days, it is a good idea to walk through the canyon and to refresh in its ice-cold water. There are very nice restaurants lined up by the river where you can relax after the walk too.

Say Kalimera to our Greek Neighbor Meis Island

Turkey - Kas - Meis Island

No matter where you look when in Kaş, you can always spot the island of Meis (Kastellorizo for the Greeks), which adds even more beauty to the scene. The island of Meis, located just 2.1 km from Kaş, is also one of Greece’s most distant islands to their mainland.

Meis is a lovely little island that hasn’t surrendered to urbanization. After a 20-minute ferry ride from Kaş, you’ll find yourself in a different country.

Enjoy the Amazing Views of the Ancient Theatre of Antiphellos

Turkey - Kas - Remains of Antiphellos Theatre at location Kas, Antalya, Turkey

This is my favorite place in Kaş, I like to come here just to enjoy the great sunset over the sea… These Lycians really knew their business. Everything they designed has a beautiful view.

There are not many structures remaining from Antiphellos to the present day except the Ancient Theatre of Antiphellos. Although it has been restored, you can still feel its historical aura.

When you access the theater, you can feel that the atmosphere isolates you from your surroundings. When you get to the top seating area, it is a pleasure to watch the sunset combined with the views from Kaş and Meis Island.

You can stay long after the sun has gone down to witness the glittering view of the sea in the evening.

Visit the Church of Saint Nicholas

Turkey - Kas  - Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) Church in Demre. It is rumored that St. Nicholas, is the same person as Santa Claus. Internal view of the church. Very close to the ancient city of Myra. Antalya / TURKEY

Do you know where Santa Claus comes from? St. Nicholas, worldwide known as Santa Claus, was born in one of the important cities of the Lycia region, Patra, but in general, it’s said that he lived in Demre.

Saint Nicholas had a great influence on the city of Mayra, where the Church of St. Nicholas is located, ıt became the capital of the Lycian region and increased its reputation. The Church of Saint Nicholas is an important monument and the most outstanding example in Byzantine art history,

The Church of Santa Claus, which was heavily damaged by floods, earthquakes, and invasions, was rebuilt under the orders of Emperor Constantine IX and his wife Zoe in 1042, and also by the Russian Tsar I in 1862. From mosaic floor coverings to a terrific interior design, everything is waiting to be discovered.

Take a Short Trip to Kalkan

Turkey - Kas - Holidaymakers sunbathing at Kalkan beach - Kalkan, Turkey

If you come to Kaş, you shouldnt leave before visiting Kalkan, which is located about 25km from Kaş. It was founded 200 years ago by Greek sailors and bears traces of the Lycian civilization.

Those seeking tranquility should know that here it’s quieter than in Kaş. Kalkan does not offer that small boutique hostel culture and yet you will find luxury small hotels and villas, prefer for a stay when exploring the area.

Another characteristic of this place is that the majority of the population is British. The British who own villas in Kalkan make up almost 80% of the population.

Feel the Hot Sand in Patara Beach

Turkey - Kas - Patara

There are many beautiful beaches around Kaş, Patara is one of them. And you should really see it. Patara is only 40 minutes away from Kaş, near the ruins of the ancient city of Pattara.

Patara Beach is approximately 12 km long and its most important characteristics are the soft, fine sand, and the extension of the coast. This shore is protected since it’s a place where sea turtles lay their eggs.

Pattara also has a very ancient history. The old city of Patara was one of the most important cities of the Lycian civilization. This is due to having the first parliament building in this region, which gave it an important place in history.

Also known, as one of the birthplaces of the god Apollo, other important structures you can check in Patara include the Vespasianus Bath, the Theater of Patara, a Corinthian Temple, and a Byzantine church.

Dive into the Amazing Blue Underwater World

Turkey - Kas - Diver swims near a cave in Alanya / Turkey

If you are interested in diving, Kaş is one of the most important diving centers in the world. The underwater exploration will offer you beauty, sunken cities, and forgotten ships to discover… The beauty beneath the turquoise color of the sea, coupled with warm temperature and transparency is undefeated.

Here, you can train to become a professional or experienced diver through an unforgettable holiday that includes daily training and a final certification.

Jump from the Asas Dağ

Turkey - Kas - Paragliding in the sky. Paraglider tandem flying over the sea with blue water and mountains in bright sunny day. Aerial view of paraglider and Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz, Turkey. Extreme sport. Landscape

Are you an adventurer? If you say yes, you shouldn’t miss a paragliding adventure in Kaş to enjoy a great view from the sky.

Do go for the 650-700 meter high track at the foot of Asas. The runway height is ideal for those who will experience it for the first time. The flight time takes approximately 20-25 minutes. If you’re eager to try this activity, then check this fantastic tandem paragliding fly over Lycia, Kas, and Meis.

Taste Local Turkish Food in Bi Lokma

Turkey - Kas - Manti / Turkish Ravioli with yogurt.

So you are in Turkey, a country with an amazing history, and with gastronomy spanning from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic. It’s now time to taste the delicious Turkish cuisine.

Bi Lokma is my favorite restaurant in Kaş which serves fresh homemade dishes. If you want to taste local Turkish food, I recommend you to visit Bi Lokma and eat its Sarma, and the Mantı. You can also taste their delicious Turkish breakfast.

5 Things to Bring to Turkey

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

First of all, check our essentials ist of what to pack for Turkey, and also consider these five things you definitely want to bring with you!

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

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

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

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

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

More Turkey Travel Resources

Turkey - Istanbul - Stephanie Ortakoy Mosque

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

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

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

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

Pin this Guide to 12 Things to Do in Kaş for Your Trip!

Great Things to Do in Cluj Napoca for a Fantastic Vacation!

Great Things to Do in Cluj Napoca for a Fantastic Vacation!

Cluj-Napoca is the treasure city of Romania. Located in the heart of Transylvania, famous all around the world for its tales about Dracula and vampires, Cluj is the second biggest city in Romania and it was nominated European Youth Capital in 2015.

I know for sure that you’ve been curious about it since you first read the word Transylvania, so let’s see what are the top things thing to do in Cluj Napoca.

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Where to Stay in Cluj Napoca

Romania - Cluj Napoca - Old city of Cluj-Napoca, night scene

Here are our top suggestions for where to stay in Cluj Napoca for your next visit to Romania. In general, budget means hotel stays for around $30 a night, mid-range is about $35-70 per night, and luxury will cost over $80 per night.

Budget: When it comes to Cluj Napoca with a limited budget, check the comfort and simplicity in Hotel Olimp, another place we recommend is Hampton by Hilton Cluj-Napoca.  

Mid-range: With a more generous budget, discover the Zen Central Suites or Golden Tulip Anna Dome Hotel.

Luxury: Want to splurge in Cluj Napoca? We recommend a stay at Hotel Platinia or at the magnificent Hotel Opera Plaza.

Great Things to Do in Cluj Napoca

In no particular order, these are some of the top things to do in Cluj Napoca when venturing into wonderful Romania…

Discover Piata Unirii

Romania - Bucharest. Piata Unirii , Bucuresti Sunset

Like any other enthusiast traveler, the first things you want to see in a new place are the landmarks and the structures the city has to offer. There is no better place to start with than Union Square.

A full-day walking and sightseeing is waiting, so you better fuel up with a tasty breakfast and a cup of coffee. And there is no better place to do so than in Union Square.

Enjoy a perfect view of the center of Cluj-Napoca, while you walk in the area. Here, it’s possible to admire the curious combination of architectural styles from Baroque to Gothic, from Neoclassical to Renaissance.

If you are not really sure where to start from, we suggest you check a tour like this one, that will take you on a walk around town to see the main attractions.

Visit St. Michael’s Church

Be ready to be astonished at the grand Saint Michael Church situated in the center of Cluj, in Union Square. This building is centuries-old, dating back from the 15th century, and it is the second tallest church in Romania.

Tourists as well as locals, no matter who passes by, will lift their heads to admire this grand majestic church. One thing to keep in mind, that not even many locals know, is that you can actually climb the tower and admire the city from above. Be ready, though, you will need to climb 175 steps to get there.

No matter whether you choose to see the church from the outside, the inside, or up from the tower, it’s a promise that you’ll be bewildered by the building!

Check Banffy Palace

Right across Piata Unirii is Banffy Palace. The building was designed by German architect Eberhard Blaumann and built back in the 18th century. As of 1951, the palace houses the National Museum of Art, which holds an extraordinary heritage of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art.

After a tour of the museum, if it’s your lucky day, you can come back at night for the many events that are held in the central yard of the Museum; from shows and exhibitions to concerts and party events.

Go for a Gala Evening at the National Opera

The National Opera stands gloriously to its range as it is considered to be a European Cultural Institution. It has featured over 200 different titles of operas, operettas, and ballet.

One of the best goosebumps moments in my life happened while I was watching the Swan Lake play and you could not hear a peak from anywhere as the audience was astonished by the greatness of the performance.

If you enjoy ballet as well, you can choose between Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nut Cracker, Don Quijote, and many others.

Learn About the Pharmaceutical History of Transylvania

Photo Credit: Monica Emilia Chirila / CC BY-SA 3.0 RO [link]

The oldest pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca is hosted in Casa Hintz and has an impressive collection of 3000 pieces, the oldest dating from 1573. It is separated into 4 rooms and it illustrates the pharmaceutical activity of Transylvania since the 15th century.

One of the fun reasons why a lot of people visit is that it’s possible to find there bizarre things like powdered human mummies, potion antidotes, and lobster eyes.

During the annual Night of Museums, an Egyptian mummy was brought here to be exhibited, and over 25.000 people from Cluj spent the night visiting the pharmacy and other museums of Cluj.

Take a Walk in Central Park

As you will get to notice, people from Cluj are calm and for sure they don’t like to rush and ran around. Follow their example and go for a walk in Central Park. Hey, you can even feed the ducks if it helps you relax. During summer, you can take hire a pedal boat from the jetty on the lake or just sit back and enjoy nature.

Don’t worry if you are visiting in winter, you can still walk the alleys and sit on a bench right in front of the Casino, only a marble fountain separates you from the building.

Experience Paranormal Activity in Hoia Baciu

Hoia Baciu forest is the perfect spot to unwind and relax. Or not? It is said that this beautiful forest is haunted since the beginning of time and people claim to have seen UFOs and experienced nausea, anxiety, and sickness symptoms.

The story began when a shepherd stepped into the forest with a flock with more than 200 sheep and never came out. The forest carries his name and since then, it is considered one of the most haunted forests in the world.

One of the weirdest things about it is that the trees grow in a clockwise spiral form, and none of the specialists that investigated this phenomenon can explain the reason.

Some say that this forest might be a portal to another world, but this won’t stop the young souls from celebrating the WoodTech festival in Hoia Baciu!

Spend an Afternoon at the Botanical Garden

You cannot overlook the Botanical Garden in Cluj Napoca. 10 000 different plant species live in one of the biggest public botanical gardens in Romania. Dull of breathtaking beauty, any nature enthusiast will love this place!

You can enjoy the Japanese Themed Garden with a classic pond with soft aesthetics and aromatic air or the Greenhouse where you’ll find huge palm trees and exotic plants.

One of the main attractions is a lotus from Amazon who grows to 1,5m in diameter and can hold as much weight child. After your walk in the garden, you can climb up the water tower to get a full look at the Botanical Garden and watch the sunset from there.

Quick tip! On some days, if you have a book with you, you can get in for free!

Get Inspired by the Panoramic Views of Cluj

Once upon a time, Cetatuia was a fortress, turned into a prison, and now is the most romantic place in Cluj.

You’ll first love will be Cluj, but most of everybody’s love stories in this city started with a date on Cetatuie. Here is where you can get the best panoramic view of Cluj, to see the rise of the airplanes at sunset, wait for the starlight sky, and admire the city lights in the evening.

This is the perfect spot to end the landmarks tour in Cluj-Napoca so you can get to the fun part.

Experience Untold

Let’s have some fun, shall we? The 13th biggest festival in the world, Untold can host none less than 370,000 people from 110 different countries in only 4 days, this was the last festival’s record back in 2019.

As many say, it’s not just a festival, is a true experience. In Central Park, you will find out that there is so much stuff you can do between concerts and you won’t get the chance to get bored while waiting for the music to start.

You get to choose between VR experiences, getting inside a bubble, and even fire acrobats that will shock you with daring shows. If you want to experience a more traditional side to it, they even bring a Maramureseana House where you can enjoy traditional plates of food and attend yoga, ceramics, painting, and crochet classes. Crazy, right?

You can come bare face at the festival cause there are people here to transform you with make-up and hairstyle in a Festival Queen. Therefore, there is no need to worry about your style cause fashion designers have an outdoor shop for you to choose your next outfit.

 In Candyland, you can go back to your dream childhood while savoring a triple flavored ice cream while riding an English Carrousel.

Are you waiting for the concert now? Many famous names have stepped on the stages of Untold, like Robbie William, Armin van Buuren, Steve Aoki, James Arthur, Martin Garix, Tov Lo, David Guetta.

How about the tickets? They sell as fast as hot bread! You can buy your pass online but the organization decided to give people more opportunities to attend the festival.

You can donate blood and you receive a 1-day pass, volunteering also sounds like an amazing option, right? One of the craziest things I ever witnessed in Cluj was going grocery shopping at Kaufland Market and getting a full-day ticket pass at Untold!

The funny thing is that it wasn’t announced so it caught me off guard while I was at the cashier and they told me to go and grab my ticket to Untold…  and I have only bought a pack of gum!. In just 30 minutes, every Kaufland Market got full of people, and tickets sold out in 10 minutes. There is so much to say about this festival… but you better experience it for yourself!

Bar Crawling on Piezisa Street

Festival or not, Cluj is a vibrant city.

Piezisa street waits for students every autumn. It’s a relaxed and bohemian place, where young people feel happy and free, ready to live and have fun. In the beginning, it was just a normal street but due to its intense traffic, people started to open their business on the side of the street, and fast forward, the street was closed to vehicles.

Now, it’s a students’ paradise and from down and up to the hill, there are a lot of options to start your night with.

Cleo Pub is a bar with personality. It’s a place where you can spend your days and nights, having a coffee or a cheap beer, playing cards, or enjoying a shisha. You can even attend the Quiz Night held every Wednesday,  the bar gets full of people ready to win the game!

Just a few meters up on Piezisa street is Booha Bar. One of the most famous bars in Cluj-Napoca and for all the right reasons. Here is the place where you need to come in time to get your spot and where they play the best music.

Prices are a bit higher than the normal rates on the street but it isn’t that important for people because it’s worth every penny. The music varies based on the events they organize, mostly Indie and Drum’s Bass.

If there is a place that knows how to throw a party, that’s Booha Bar. They started a new concept called Booha College Party and it extended all over the country.

Booha College Party brings all the good DJs and themes at every festival and once a month in different locations. Your tickets must be purchased when they announce the event cause otherwise, you may not get a spot at the most awaited events of Cluj!

Visit the Beer Factory

Romania - cluj dapoca - Old beer factory

The Ursus Beer Factory first appears in the city records in the 18th century as the first beer factory opened in town. After 150 years of producing one of the best beer in Romania, it finally came to an end back in 2010.

Even though this brought sadness among locals, the restaurant is still open.

There you still can a cold beer and the house specialty “Rib Eye Stick”, a combination of grilled veal, served with creamy mushrooms, garlic bread, and buttercream with Chippolino.

Food for Every Taste!

romania - cluj napoca - Traditional Romania Food at a local brunch in Transylvania

Maybe you loved Cluj so much that you extended your stay here but the only thing you miss from home is your food! No problem, Cluj has it all!

If you came a long way from Tokyo, Tokyo Japanese Restaurant is the only 5 stars certified in town and of course, the chef is a Japanese Master Chef. The atmosphere in this place is a quiet and romantic one, the staff is very friendly and attentive to customer needs. Besides, dishes are presented in a delicate yet spectacular way.

India is already known for the tasteful and diverse dishes from the country, but the good thing is that you don’t need to go there just now to have a taste of Indian food! Indigo is one of the first Indian restaurants to be opened in 2010 in Cluj and it’s the only one to serve the famous Thali.

Experience Samsara Food House and Samsara Chilled Tea House

Why do I say experience? Well, let’s start with the first one. Samsara FoodHouse the biggest vegetarian and vegan restaurant in the country and you don’t even need to be vegetarian to have a bite! Samsara FoodHouse will make you believe that food can be delicious without meat too!

romania cluj napoca - Vegan or vegetarian restaurant dishes top view, hot spicy indian soups, rice and salads in copper bowls. Traditional indian cuisine meal assortment on wood background. Healthy eastern local food

Samara Chilled TeaHouse is nearby and the place is actually located in a house! It is separated into 4 different rooms, each one having its own theme. As you walk in, you will feel like you are in your own home, thanks to their policy about removing your shoes.

You can choose between the rooms and one of the things that make it feel like a home is that you will be sitting on the ground on the mattresses and pillows. Sounds cozy, right?

The music is Ambiental and combined with the exotic tea and flavored shisha, you will just disconnect from your day-to-day worries.

See the Earth

LightsOnCluj is the festival of light and it started as a project for designers to expose their work, but it turned out to be one of the most creative and beautiful events in Cluj.

Every installation is placed in different places in the city and has the intention to catch the eyes of people and help the authorities with more ingenious lighting solutions.

One of the main attractions of 2019, was the Gaia installation of the British artist Luke Jeram.

It’s the layout of the Earth and its scale is 1.8 million if compared to our planet. Have you ever imagined seeing the earth as an astronaut? Here is your chance.

Explore Turda Salina

Located at 120 below the ground lever, Turda Salina was a salt mine back in1932 but now it has transformed into a full and eclectic experience for visitors.

It’s an underground museum but there is so much more you will discover here! There is an elevator that will take you down and to the amusement park with a Farris Wheel, a mini-golf course, pool tables, bowley alleys, and an amphitheater. There’s even an underground lake that you can explore on a paddleboard.

If you’re not sure whether you should visit or not, why not checking the premises and the unique atmosphere with an organized tour? We recommend this one, which will show you the best of Turda Salina in just a few hours.

Experience the Dungeons

remoania - Vintage Combination lock in a Quest Escape Room

The Dungeon is the first escape room in Cluj and it has been welcomed with enthusiasm by everyone!

When you visit, the staff will tell you everything you need to know to learn how everything works.

More or less, this is how it goes: you are locked in a basement and here is your chance to test your detective skills and the main goal is to find a key to get out. Easy peasy, right? But is it actually like that?

I guess there is only one way to find out!

As you can see, there’s a lot to do in Cluj Napoca, and it can be a great destination any time of the year you want to visit!

What to Pack for Romania

Don’t forget! Romania is a 4-season country, so before you are visiting, make sure you check up the weather! Luckily for you, Cluj is always hotter than other cities so don’t be scared if you forgot about this aspect.

We have a full Romania packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!

A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We own and recommend Lonely Planet Romania & Bulgaria for travel in Romania and beyond!

One or two swimsuits: If you’re staying in a resort with a sauna, indoor pool, or steam room — or just visiting Bucharest’s epic Therme spa — you’ll likely want one! We suggest bringing two so you never have to put a cold wet one back on. We love this one.

Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.

Sunscreen: We strongly suggest wearing sunscreen when you spend time outdoors, no matter the weather outside. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen – it’s mess-free, works well in carry-ons, is ultra-protective, and blends in well.

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

Romania Travel Resources

Romania - Bucharest - Street art near Carturesti Verona

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance

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

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

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

Pin this Guide to the Best Things to Do in Your Cluj Napoca Vacation!

8 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Patras Carnival

8 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Patras Carnival

Either you have some very excited friends who have visited Patras Carnival, and loved it, or… you ended up looking up for it because flights to Rio De Janeiro were a bit out of budget.

Whichever scenario brought you here, I guarantee, you will NOT be disappointed, as our carnival in Patras is not in any way less fun or exciting compared to its more famous “cousin”, Rio Carnival.

Patras Carnival has a history of almost 200 (!) years and is considered one of the most famous Greek attractions. People from all over Greece and neighboring countries visit the city during the Carnival days, and during those days, Patras is suffocating from young, energetic revelers, who are spreading fun vibes all around.

Because it’s an event – or more accurately a series of events – for which you will not find much information online, let me give you a thorough local-expert survival list, to make sure you will not omit anything important in your trip plan for Patras Carnival!

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Where to Stay in Patras

Greece - Patras - Patras city, Greece, view from above scenery. Patras is Greece's third-largest city and the regional capital of Western Greece, in the northern Peloponnese, 215 km (134 mi) west of Athens.

If you’re planning to spend some time in the wonderful area of Patras during the carnival, why not check these places to stay? Here are our top suggestions for where to stay in Patras. In most cases, budget means hotel stays for around $50 a night, mid-range is from about $60-80 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.

Budget: When it comes to Patras with a limited budget, check the simple but cozy El Greco Hotel or Hotel Atlanta.  

Mid-range: With a more generous budget, discover the comfortable Galaxy City Center Hotel, with top reviews, and Moxy Patra Marina.

Luxury: Want to splurge? We recommend a stay at the magnificent The Bold Type Hotel as well as at Maison Grecque Hotel Extraordinaire.

8 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Patras Carnival

These are the key things you need to consider if you’re planning to visit Patras for Carnival. With these tips, you won’t miss any of the fun!

Choose Your Dates Wisely

Greece - Patra - Sunset view on the bridge near Patras. Suspension bridge crossing Corinth Gulf strait, Greece, Europe. Second longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Dramatic red sky under a Rion-Antirion Bridge.

Carnival is a pretty long celebration. As it is widely known, we Greeks don’t miss a chance to prolong celebrating! 

And when I say long, I mean it starts every year on January the 17th and ends a day before Clean Monday. Clean Monday is a moveable feast, occurring on the 7th Monday before Easter.

Of course, you are more than welcome to spend almost a month in Patras, in order to attend the full program of Carnival; however, let’s go with the more probable scenario, of you visiting Patras for 4-5 days.

The tourist attraction of the Carnival is the big parades, happening throughout the city streets, where you can also take part. And these parades happen on the weekend, right before the end of the Carnival.

More specifically, here’s the timeline:

  • Parade of the Floats – Friday
  • Walking (or Night) Parade – Saturday
  • Grand Parade & Closing Ceremony  – Sunday
  • Awards & Clean Monday – Monday

So a perfect vacation stay would be from Friday, February 28, one day before the big parade, until Tuesday, one day after Clean Monday (March 3rd). During this time, you will also have the chance to attend additionally the Closing Ceremony, the Parade of the Floats, and the awards of the best Carnival groups.

Don’t Be a Last-Minuter When it Comes to Accommodation

Greece - Patra - building in Patra Greece - carnival season

When I said that Carnival is one of the biggest attractions of Patras, I seriously meant it. That’s why it’s a logical consequence, that accommodation options in a small city like Patras, are severely diminished already a month before the start.

We are going to explore your options for accommodation in ascending order when it comes to the price.

First of all, if you have friends here, know that locals are really familiar with the concept of hosting hordes of visitors in their places. So don’t be ashamed and go ahead to ask them if they can spare a couch.

This brings us to your second option, being Couchsurfing. If no friends are detected in Patras, why not make some? Send some requests on the famous app and if you are lucky enough, a local will accept to host you.

There are not many Airbnbs available during this period in Patras, and the ones that are, are usually overpriced. Sometimes a hotel is more budget-friendly, so keep this in mind before booking.

A very important tip before choosing your apartment or hotel is to relocate the map on the platform, as most apartments that appear are really far from the actual center, even on the other side of the sea! So be very careful to book an apartment within walking distance from the center, unless you decide to bring a car and stay sober.

Suggested hotels in the city center are the Galaxy City Center Hotel and Patras Palace, especially if you wish to enjoy a sea view.

Byzantino, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if you want to be literally one step away from the feast.

Join a Carnival Group

Greece - Patra Aerial drone photo of iconic fully crowded square of Saint George or Agios Georgios during the annual Carnival Parade in city of Patras, Achaia, Peloponnese, Greece

Carnival groups are masses of people dressed in the same suit that storm around the city during the two Parades, the “Night Parade” and the “Grand Parade”.

Joining such a group is definitely a must, otherwise, why would you come for the Carnival! This is also the big advantage of Patras’ Carnival compared to Rio’s, where mostly samba schools join the parade.

For these parades, you don’t need to know how to samba nor wear a costume like Victoria’s Secret’s latest feathered runway creation. (Although if you want to, you’re still more than welcome).

On the official Patras Carnival website, you can see a list with all the available groups, once they are announced. You don’t need to rush for this one, as… Greek people never rush! The list is announced about a month before the carnival. You can choose your favorite suit among them and send your inquiry to join.

Keep in mind that the suit is hardly ever important for the younger ones. The most complicated and impressive suits are those of the first groups in the line during the parade. These groups usually consist of older people, who enjoy carnival as it was in the old times.

On the other hand, younger people care more about night parties and wild entertainment. So they follow far behind during the parade, usually starting much later than the first groups and their suits are much less complex.

Groups also organize special parties for their members, before and after the parades. So it’s a great way to socialize with other people. Depending on what you want to experience during your stay, choose your group accordingly!

Don’t Miss the Parade of the Floats

greece - patras - Carnival mask on colorful blur party backgroundPatras Carnival Fireworks

Friday might be your arrival day in Patras, but you’re not allowed to miss this parade!

The floats are huge sculptures, made of polystyrene, which are paraded through the streets. They tend to have a particular artistic look and a satirical dimension. Most of the time, they are inspired by contemporary politics, but they also convey various other messages concerning nowadays.

The biggest and most magnificent float is the one of the Carnival King, of whom you will read about again later.

Following the Float of the Carnival King, the Float of the Carnival Queen is carrying a beautiful, young lady, sharing smiles with the attendees. Every year there is a call, during which ambitious Queens can apply for the position.

This parade is definitely going to supply you with a good deal of Instagram stories, so be ready!

To avoid surprises when you read the seventh title, the Queen of the Carnival is a real person, while the King is just a… float!

Wear Your Suit and a Bottle of Mavrodafni (No Matter What!)

Greece - Patra - venetian carnival mask with wine

And when I say no-matter-what, I mean even if it’s raining cats and dogs.

It’s not unusual for the Carnival days to be rainy. Luckily, as the saying goes, we’re not made of sugar. We’re in fact so used to parades with rain, that if we’re honest, it doesn’t feel like Carnival without a bit of rain. (No? Just me?)

However, the point is that you need to get out of the house and join the parade even if all the Plagues of Egypt strike Patras the same day. (Okay, that’s a bit too drama queen-ish – I guess then, and only then, you have a decent excuse to stay home!).

The next thing you need to do, while you’re on your way to the parade, is to find a store or a wandering seller that sells Mavrodafni.

Mavrodafni or Mavrodaphne is a local wine made of black grapes, for which we in Patras are very proud. It doesn’t matter if you buy it on the street or in a store; the bottle is secured anyway.

There’s just one last thing you need to pay attention to in order not to make a terrible mistake and locals start looking at you with repulsion.

Don’t use a glass!

Mavrodafni is supposed to be consumed right away from the bottle and there will be no exceptions. So grab a bottle, hold it throughout the parade, get a second one if this one is finished and last but not least, don’t even consider saying that you didn’t like the wine. We get really emotional about this.

Experience the Best of Patras Nightlife

Greece - Crete - silhouettes of a crowd of people dancing in a nightclub on the dance floor at a party out of focus

Once the parade is finished, you might want to get a 1-2 hour rest or not. After that, it’s time to explore the Patras nightlife scene, which is without a doubt… active!

First of all, the best parties are literally happening on the streets, outside bars and cafeterias. Bars all along the main street, turn their music really loud and people are gathering up right outside. You can stay, dance, drink something if you want, and then move along to the next one.

When you get tired of migrating from bar to bar, it is very important to choose the most suitable type of Carnival party for you.

The most famous and biggest clubs in Patras are “OMNIA downtown” and “Navona Club di Oggi”. They are a bit far away from each other, so if your friends are not supporters of walking drunk, make sure you choose the nearest. Expect mainstream music and unfortunately, a very big line. However, once you get in, you will be compensated with a good time!

Next, as mentioned previously, there are hundreds of small bars with their own parties and if you’re a big group, chances are you will have much more fun in such a place. I’m just going to mention “Notos Jazz Bar” and “Bocas” as favorites, in case you are really lost.

Last but not least, in case you hear very loud music from an apartment and see people going in and out (that’s my way of describing a house party by the way), give it a try and ask if you can join. Everybody is in a great mood and usually will welcome you in. That’s the most authentic night outing.

Enjoy the Closing Ceremony and the Burning of the Carnival King

Greece - Patras - Fireworks

The closing ceremony has more fireworks than our taxes can afford, live music concerts with artists like Boney M, and of course, the burning of the Carnival King. Do I need to say more?

Let’s take it one by one. During the Grand Parade, a huge float representing the Carnival King is paraded through the streets. At the end of the parade, the King is directed towards the port, where it is set on fire symbolically.

The fire is said to burn along with the King’s evil spirits, passions, and hatred among the people.  The lighting of the fire is also related to the transition from winter to spring.

Right after, there is an epic firework display and an open-air concert. Everyone is simply there, enjoying the last Carnival day and having a good time, with the company of her/his Mavrodafni.

Have a Relaxing Day by the Beach on Clean Monday

Greece - Patra - Rio Antirio Beach Patra and big cable bridge

Clean Monday is the First Day of the Great Lent, during which, according to the Orthodox Church, we’re not allowed to eat meat, eggs, or dairy products. However, shellfish is permitted and of course, being Greek, we’re taking advantage of this!

Clean Monday is traditionally celebrated with a small excursion, flying of kites, eating of shellfish and other traditional fasting specialties, such as “Lagana”, a special type of bread, and “Halva”, a traditional sweet.

In order to fly your kite, you should choose a nice park, such as “Faros”, or simply the beach. You could also head to the mountain, Panachaiko if you’d like to change up the setting a bit.

As far as it concerns lunch or dinner options, there are many great options in Patras. In Istioploikos, you can enjoy seafood right next to the waves, while in En Plo, you can have a more authentic Greek taverna experience.

However, in case you have the energy needed, I strongly suggest that you visit a village nearby Patras called Psathopyrgos. If you’re returning back to Athens, it is on your way and it offers an idyllic view to combine with your fasting food!

5 Things to Bring with You to Greece

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

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

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

– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in most of Greece is drinkable, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! There are places in Greece, especially on the island, where the water tastes like minerals.

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

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

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

 Travel safety items. We think Greece is safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Allison nor I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

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

Read More: Essential Greece Packing List: What to Wear & Pack for Greece

More Greece Travel Resources

Greece - Delphi - Stephanie Selfie

First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a separate guide to tipping in Greece so you know what to give to different servers and staff while you’re here.

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

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

If you know you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram guide, the best Athens day trips, and our complete Athens hotel guide. We also have a guide to the best things to do in Athens in winter

We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned! 

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

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

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

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

While Greece is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” and we think it’s true!

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

Pin this Guide to Enjoy the Most in Patras for Carnival!

 
11 Dreamy Things to Do in Ljubljana in Winter

11 Dreamy Things to Do in Ljubljana in Winter

 

For those of you who don’t know Ljubljana, you’re missing out on a really special place, especially in winter.

Centuries, even thousands of years old (think Roman era), this little town still provides a lesson when it comes to amazing food, even better wine, and fairytale-like architecture. 

The small capital of the equally small nation of Slovenia has a magical Christmas feel in December and plenty of cozy winter amusements. With the picturesque old town and the heavenly Ljubljanica River, the city is a gem to stroll around.

Every season is special in itself, but the wintertime draws many tourists. Even though there are lots of visitors, the crowds aren’t a problem – the more the merrier is the rule during the winter time: everybody is socializing outdoors, strolling under the romantic Christmas lights, and shopping for decorations at the Christmas markets.

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Where to stay in Ljubljana

Slovenia - Ljubljana - Aerial panoramic view of Ljubljana decorated for Christmas holidays. Roofs covered in snow in winter time. Slovenia

We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in various Slovenian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible since this is a popular time to visit the city.

Winter Weather in Ljubljana

Slovenia - Ljubljana - Snow on Ljubljana at New Year's Ljubljana, Slovenia

It does get cold between November and February, with the temperatures ranging from -5° Celsius to above 5° Celsius (23°F to 41° F), but with some sunny days, some foggy ones, mainly days with think, thick, cotton-like fog (which magically disappears at noon and then bam, sunshine!), and also some snowy days.

Yes, it does snow in Ljubljana, the first snow coming to put a magical blanket over the special Christmas decorations is in December, but not a lot and not for a long time.

But when it does, the little parks and streets and statues turn into a scene straight from your classic fairytale children’s books. Combine that with Christmas time and you get something that seems to come out straight from a Hollywood movie!

How Long to Stay in Ljubljana in Winter?

Slovenia - Ljubljana - View from the train from Zagreb to Ljubljana

Due to the small size of this picturesque city, it takes you only one prolonged weekend to enjoy most of its sights. You can maybe take a week of your time and you’re in for a real treat in Ljubljana and its surroundings.

The Most Inspiring Things to Do in Ljubljana in Winter

In no particular order…

Celebrate the Christmas Season in Ljubljana

Slovenia - Ljubljana - Preserens square, decorated for Christmas and New Year celebration, Ljubljana, Slovenia

So for starters let’s talk about the holiday season. Even if you don’t celebrate the traditional version of Christmas, the Christmas markets all across Europe leave no soul indifferent.

Imagine a small, southeast European version of Vienna, Prague, or Budapest –  that’s Ljubljana for you. From mulled wine and warm gin to the little Christmas markets and an amazing display of lights and shining Christmas trees all across town, experiencing the Christmas Markets in Ljubljana is one of the best things to do in Ljubljana in winter.

Combine that with sales at the best boutiques in the city center –  think Galerija Emporium – and you’re in for a great time. 

See the Lighting of the Ornaments

Slovenia - Ljubljana - Advent December night with Christmas decoration lighting in Ljubljana's city center at dusk.

The mayor of Ljubljana ceremoniously lights the ornaments every year in the beginning of December during a special event that draws people from all over Slovenia and Europe.

It marks the beginning of this cheerful holiday time of the year. You can decide to party and sing along in one of the squares during live concerts by local artists or go to the ballet to attend a performance of Christmas Nutcracker or Swan Lake.

Either way, people around you will be joyful and happy to include you in the collective holiday craziness. While strolling along the crowds holding mulled wine, buy some roasted almonds or toasted chestnuts to keep your hands warm. The whole holiday cheer peaks with the New Year’s Eve and the traditional fireworks.

Across town you have outdoor celebrations and concerts, for kids there is the Santa parade during the day. Restaurants and discotheques invite regional stars to perform and dinner tables collapse under a variety of local and international food. Don’t forget to kiss a stranger on midnight! 

On the next day, to survive the famous Maček – that’s what the Slovenians call the hangover (it literally means cat and nobody knows why!), eat something hearty and cleansing.

Think Sarme the first day of the New Year, this dish is made of minced meat rolled into sour cabbage leaves, seasoned, and then cooked in the oven. Pure comfort food after a night of partying!

See Ljubljana Castle Lit Up and Sparkling

Slovenia - Ljubljana - Fireworks above Ljubljanas castle for New Years celebration, Ljubljana, Slovenia - Image

Towering above Ljubljana, the centuries-old Ljubljana castle on top of its little hill, glowing in Christmas lights every holiday season.

There is a small Christmas market there and very good restaurants, serving hearty and tasty meals to battle the winter wind on the hill. 

It provides spectacular views during the opening ceremony in December where you can watch the whole city being lit up with Christmas decorations. Go by foot or avoid the icy path using the funicular with its amazing ascending views.

Enjoy Ljubljana’s Restaurant Scene

Slovenia - Romantic medieval Ljubljana's city center, the capital of Slovenia, Europe. Night life on the banks of river Ljubljanica, where many bars and restaurants take place. Franciscan Church in background.

When you’re done with your outdoor drinking and activities, you can warm up in one of the plentiful high-quality restaurants that the city has to offer.

From high-end venues to your local fast food neighborhood joint, there is something for everybody. They don’t forget about vegetarians or people with different food needs or preferences – you can get it all in almost every café or restaurant.

If you like to see and to be seen, don’t forget about the restaurant CUBO. The short trip by taxi from the city center is worth it – this modern design restaurant offers high-class gastronomy a la carte, but they also do love to suggest their best seasonal offerings.

Try Balkan Fast Food

Slovenia - Balkan grill. B-B-Q. Rostilj, Balkan cuisine. Street food. Food festival

On the other end you have the popular street fast foods – yes, they are out in the open (and therefore not so warm) but, again, worth it.

From kebab to burek, you have to try all the famous Balkan delicacies. Tozd, As Aperitivo, Pop’s Place etc… these are a few of the most popular fast food spots in Ljubljana.

If you’re looking for a modern, chill vibe and great burgers you’re in for a treat. The burger culture in the city is strong with various small and big restaurants serving anything from the classics to truffles and vegan varieties. 

One of the wintery things that has rows of people waiting in front of it, is the famous Jesensek “šmorn”. Dough for pancakes, baked together with rum and sugar and then cut into little pieces, covered with powdered sugar and chocolate/strawberry jam. Yummy! 

The hearty national Slovenian dishes are perfect for the winter. Beef soup with noodles; black pudding sausage with sour cabbage and baked potatoes; sweet štrudl and potica, strong cooked wine and gin, and strong shots made of various flowers and trees which should heal anything from your headache to the common flu.

Be prepared – that winter liquor, brewed in the fall when the fruit is plentiful, is really strong, invented decades and decades ago when the winter in Ljubljana included two meters of snow and frost all over the place.

Indulge in Sweet Flavors in Ljubljana’s Best Bars

Slovenia - View of lively river Ljubljanica bank and Tromostovje in old city center decorated with Christmas lights at dusk. Ljubljana, Slovenia, Europe.

Treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate or a strong, home made coffee in one of the many cafes around the old town city centre. Daktari provides you with a homey, bohemian feeling with mismatched chairs and couches.

Daktari is the place to go for local homemade ginger tea or to listen to a gig, from singing to instrumental and several other performances and readings.

Of course, you can indulge your senses in other locally famous and fancy bars. For a feeling of Vienna-style sweets check Menagerie, and for the guaranteed best ice cream and macaroons in the city –  Zvezda (both the oldest one in the hotel Slon and the one on the corner of Zvezda park right in the heart of the town). Whichever you choose, you will end up having a lovely time.

In the mood for beer? Don’t miss the only real English pub in the city, the CuttySark, famous for its never-ending beer varieties served in all forms of cans, glasses and “krigl” (think large, bavarian Octoberfest kind of monster glasses).

Other Entertainment to Enjoy in Winter in Ljubljana

Slovenia - Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre is an opera house in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It serves as the national opera building of the country.

Although January and February can be gloomy and sleepy, you can still find some activities to amuse yourself. Apart from the amazing restaurants, cafes and shops to explore and enjoy, you can visit the movie theatre or decide to watch some opera or theatre. 

Let’s not forget the various museums and galleries you can visit, explore, and spend a couple of hours in. From national to international history and arts, you can find interesting shows in every one of them.

They are all situated around the old city centre and you can walk in between them, checking them in also from the outside, since the buildings and architecture are also remarkable works of art. For a fun afternoon go to the House of illusions to turn your perspective upside down.

Check the Great Outdoors

Slovenia - Snowy sculptures, Slovenia Ljubljana park Tivoli

Moving on with the outdoor activities – the biggest park in Ljubljana is called the Tivoli park. Modelled with the Austro-Hungarian influence in mind, the park offers various paths to stroll along, a pond, cafes, places where artists gather, and more… Even a small castle!

Although we have to admit it is best looking in spring and perfect for relaxing in summer, the park is also beautiful in winter. Especially when it is covered in snow or early in the morning, immersed in mist and a white glow combining with the first sunrays. Winter is the perfect time to feed the local friendly and used-to-humans squirrels in the park and enjoy some fresh air.

All around Ljubljana, there are have little hills and trekking paths and forests… and even in the cold season, they are perfect for a little exercise and some outdoor fun.

Šmarna Gora Hill offers sweet specialties, there is a bar and even a restaurant on top of this little hill. When it’s foggy in Ljubljana, go to this little gem on the outskirts and hike up to see the spectacular views of Ljubljana under the fog.

You can get there with the bus or by car since there’s a lot of parking space available. Stop by Dvor Tacen coffe place on the way back to city centre (situated just on the outskirts of the parking lot) and enjoy some hot chocolate. 

Just a short distance from Ljubljana you can ice skate, ski and enjoy other winters activities involving snow and hot tea. The recreation centres usually provide the necessary equipment for you to rent by the day. You can also rent a car simply and cheaply across Ljubljana or even use the city’s car-sharing service.

One of those activities is cross-country skiing. Even during the snow-free days of winter in Ljubljana, you can go cross country skiing in Medvode on the outskirts of Ljubljana  – providing it is cold enough, of course, that artificial snow does as melt like the real one.

slovenia - Top of the legendary ski track Njivice

Treat Yourself to a Local Spa

If you’re here for a little bit longer than a short weekend, make a trip to a spa. You can definitely do it in Ljubljana without moving out of town at all; for example the spa in hotel Union or the spa in hotel Austriatrend.. or maybe the spa/pool/aqua-land center in the shopping zone.

The spot is ideal for families and couples alike, with water games and slides for the little ones and a sauna zone for the older members of the family. And there are a ton of pools included!

While you’re in that part of town go shopping – that’s the place for it. BTC shopping district offers shopping malls, boutiques, from Zara to Prada, and Italian brands, you have it all. Either way, that part is perfect for a couple of hours or a whole day of spending time and money. 

But for a really great spa day go to Rimske Terme or Terme Orhidelia in other parts of Slovenia (all doable in about 2 hours, though). You can stop along the way to check a good local restaurant, and then finish the evening in Ljubljana at the city center.

Finish the night the best possible way in places like the trendy cocktail bar Kolibrij on Rimska Ulica, with a variety of cocktails, a piano, and a rustic-chic atmosphere. It’s super tiny but exclusive – there you can’t go wrong with a sour. 

Slovenia - Beautiful spa composition on massage table in wellness center

Karneval Time in Ljubljana

At the figurative end of winter immerse yourself in yet another festive time – the Pust or Karneval time. The legend says that the Kurenti (national masks) are there to scare the winter away.

They patrol and make noise in the city streets from Friday to Tuesday on carnival week. Go along with them – dress up into anything you like! Just like the famous carnival in Venice and its Italians in masks, the Slovenians have smaller versions in different towns, also in Ljubljana. The clubs and bars transform into masked parties for all age groups alike.

Do not forget to dress up on Saturday and Tuesday! And of course gain some more weight (that’s the common side effect of Ljubljana in wintertime) eating Krofi, local versions of donuts filled witty apricot jam or try the modern version – chocolate and vanilla. Try to get your hands on some homemade grandma versions if you can!

Slovenia - Traditional carnival on shrove Saturday with traditional figures, known as kurent or korent and close-up of a mask in Ljubljana, Slovenia

All in all,  Ljubljana is the perfect destination to visit during winter. If you can, try to visit it in December to get the real holiday cheer and spirit going on. Taste the mulled wine, enjoy a rich dinner, and go for a classic Christmas concert afterward.

On the next day, check the museums, and some of those Christmas parties in the local club and you’re all set. You can do this also as a part of a bigger Christmas market tour – don’t forget to include the sister cities of Budapest and Vienna.

Discover the great works of the famous Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik in Prague and come back to Ljubljana for another prolonged weekend in May, for some sunbathing, amazing ice cream and, the green flowery boom in the city.

So winter in Europe, winter in Slovenia and winter in Ljubljana have a ton to offer.

Don’t forget to bring your winter hat and gloves and a warm scarf. Be prepared to drink lots of hot lemonade and you’re all set! Battle the wind and flu season like the locals – with ginger, mint, lemon juice all blended together with honey into vitamin bombs. After all, if those Slovenians manage to survive freezing outdoors, you can too! Immerse yourself in the cold an enjoy a great winter time in of the smallest capitals of Europe! 

What to Pack for Slovenia in Winter

Slovenia - Lake Bled - Man in Winter

We have a full Slovenia packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!

A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We suggest Lonely Planet Slovenia if you’ll be traveling quite a bit around the country, or if you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip, Lonely Planet Western Balkans includes Slovenia and many of its neighbors.

One or two swimsuits: While swimsuits may not come to mind for ski season, if you’re staying in a ski resort with a sauna, indoor pool, or steam room, you’ll likely want one! We suggest bringing two so you never have to put a cold wet one back on. We love this one.

Plenty of winter clothing: You can check our packing list above for our full winter packing suggestions for men and women. At a minimum, you’ll want to bring a warm winter jacket (I love this North Face parka), cozy snow boots, warm wool socks, touch-screen friendly gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.

Any ski equipment and clothing: We’re not skiers ourselves, so we don’t have specific ski gear equipment, but special ski clothes — waterproof pants and jackets, goggles, etc. — and ski gear obviously should be on your packing list, unless you have decided to rent it all when you arrive at your Slovenia ski resort.

Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times — and winter travel in addition to skiing will really do a number on it! If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.

Sunscreen: We strongly suggest wearing sunscreen when you spend time outdoors, no matter the weather outside. The higher altitudes combined with the reflection of the sun off the snow can lead to unexpected sunburns. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen – it’s mess-free, works well in carry-ons, is ultra-protective, and blends in well.

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

More Slovenia Travel Resources

Slovenia - Piran - View of Piran and Coast Stephanie

If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!

If you know you’ll be coming to Bled near Christmas, check out our guide to the Lake Bled Christmas Market, the best things to do in Bled in winter, and how to celebrate Christmas in Bled. And check out the best things to do in Slovenia in winter if you’ll be seeing more of the country.

If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll find our Instagram guide to Bled helpful (Ljubljana on the way!). 

If you need more Slovenia travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in Slovenia, the best Slovenian castles, the most breath-taking Slovenian waterfalls, and what Slovenian souvenirs you should bring home.

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

Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!

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

While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel – especially during the winter! – so it’s better to play it safe.

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

Pin this Guide to What Things to Do in Ljubljana in Winter for Your Trip!

Unforgettable Things to Do in Santorini During Winter!

Unforgettable Things to Do in Santorini During Winter!

 

Are you still uncertain about visiting Santorini in winter? Or maybe you just made up your mind about getting to the island during the cold months but are looking for some winter inspiration. You’ve come to the right place!

Traveling to Santorini in winter can be a great way to enjoy a milder winter climate and discover the island without the crowds!

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Where to Stay in Santorini

Not sure where to stay in Santorini? If you want to be around the best nightlife, your first choice should be Fira, followed by Imerovigli.

Greece - Santorini - Pixabay

Where to Stay in Fira

Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Fira. Generally, budget means hotels for around $50 a night a, mid-range is from about $70-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.

Budget: If you’re looking for a nice place to stay in Fira without spending too much, check these two places, Alizea Villas & Suites or Villa Anto.

Mid-Range: If you want a nicer hotel in the capital of Santorini without breaking the budget, we recommend either of these two cute design guest houses Sweet Pop or Villa Galaxy Santorini.

Luxury: Do you want to splurge in a beautiful cave hotel with unique vistas towards the caldera? Then check any of these two superb places in town: Aura Cave or Volcano View.

Where to Stay in Imerovigli

Budget: If you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation and the typical dug-out-looking cave studios and suites that Santorini is famous for, then Caldera Premium Villas is a wonderful place to stay.

Mid-Range: For a comfortable place to stay, with great views and impeccable service, check both Ilioperato Hotel and Ayoba Santorini.

Luxury: Imerovigli is one of the best places to stay in Santorini, therefore not short of luxury hotels and suites, our favorite ones are Afroessa and Seven

What is the Weather Like in Winter in Santorini

Greece - Santorini

The weather can be quite unpredictable when it comes to winter in the Cycladic islands, however, it’s still not as cold as in the rest of Europe, or some other countries in the northern hemisphere.

Temperatures can range from 18 °C to 12 °C, although they can get as low as 4 °C on very cold days. It’s not common to find snow but has happened in the past.

The skies are not as clean and blue as you would find in summer, since it tends to be cloudy or at least partially clouded, although you’ll definitely find sunny days too. Rain is not uncommon, so keep all these details in mind when you pack for a winter holiday in the Greek islands.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Santorini in Winter

Greece - Santorini - Pixabay

The best thing about traveling to Santorini in winter is definitely the quiet atmosphere that you’ll find on the island. 

Although Santorini does not really close for the season, there are far fewer tourists around. That also means less time spent waiting in lines for museums or archaeological sites as well as less crowded roads. 

Walking along the tiny alleys of the beautiful town of Oia or the capital of the island, Fira, will be much more comfortable during the winter.

On the other hand, the hotel choice will be more restricted, there’ll be fewer open bars and tavernas too. But you don’t really need to consider this as a disadvantage. It’s the local’s favorites the ones that remain open through the year, guaranteeing excellent food at very convenient prices.

In fact, when it comes to prices, everything is cheaper during the low season. You will pay less for accommodation, food, transport, tours, and souvenirs too. 

So, if you’re trying not to spend that much, or if the summer price tags on the island don’t fit your budget, there’s no better moment in the year than winter to visit Santorini.

The Best Things to in Santorini in Winter

Greece - Santorini - close up view of church bells with bare tree in the foreground oia santorini greece

You won’t probably be swimming in the fairly cold waters of the Aegean during winter, and in any case, Santorini is not really known for its heavenly beaches, like other islands.

And still, there’s so much to do to discover Santorini in winter that you can have a hard time choosing what’s best for you.

See Oia’s Famous Whitewashed Landscape

Greece - Santorini - Golden Light over Santorini, Greece

Oia is probably the prettiest town in the Aegean, and it’s certainly the most photographed one due to the unique views that combine pristine white houses perched on the border of the volcano, the deep blue of the sea, and the azure color of domes in most churches.

Oia is sadly packed during summer, making it impossible to discover every hidden angle of it. Besides, since the town is full of winding paths and stairs, paying a visit to Oia during winter will save you the fatigue of climbing steps under the scorching sun of the Greek summer. 

Visit the Archaeological Site of Akrotiri

One of the most fantastic places to visit in Santorini is the archaeological site of Akrotiri, located directly south of the small village with the same name. It is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece. Here, it’s possible for you to truly understand the high level of development that the ancient civilizations on the Greek islands reached in the past.

The site reached our days in a great preservation state thanks to the volcanic ashes that covered the whole area after the great volcanic explosion sometime during the 16th century BC.

It’s also a great place to visit during winter since the whole site is housed under a bioclimatic roof that not only protects the ruins from being exposed to the elements but also makes it a great place to visit on a rainy day.

Take a Walk Along the Empty Coast

Greece - Santorini - Beach of the island of Santorini in winter. Greece.

Despite Santorini being better known for its idyllic whitewashed houses and fairy-tale landscape, some of the beaches on the island are great to take a walk and soak in the bizarre volcanic landscape. 

You can discover some unique hidden coves and deserted shores with surreal landscapes. You can hike until you reach the spectacular Red Beach and even get a glimpse of the White Beach in the southern tip of Akrotiri.

You can also drive all the way to Baxedes, on the opposite coast of Oia, and marvel at the unique landscape on this hidden corner of the island.

Alternatively, enjoy a walk on the black sand of Perissa and Kamari and stop for a dish of traditional Greek food in one of the few tavernas that remain open in winter.

Check Santorini’s Museums

Greece - Santorini - Ancient Akrotiri settlement at Santorini island in Greece. Detail of a house wall fresco.

Nothing beats some time spent in a museum during a cold or cloudy day, so if the weather on the island is not giving you a break, head to Fira, the capital of the island, and visit the two most remarkable museums in Santorini.

Inside the Archaeological Museum of Fira, you’ll find all kinds of objects that had been found during the excavations made in Akrotiri. The museum also hosts impressive sculptures of the Hellenistic period, Byzantine works of art, and even some remains of prehistoric times, including objects from the Geometric to the Hellenistic periods.

If you’re a sucker for history, visit also the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which features frescoes and ancient objects found not only in Akrotiri but also in some other areas of the island. It presents the artifacts divided by different eras and civilizations making it quite easy to get a clear picture of the past of the Aegean islands.

Different elements including vases, figurines, and objects of daily use are eloquent proof of the grade of the degree of development reached by the ancient peoples of Greece.

Shop for Souvenirs in Fira

Greece - Santorini - traditional streets of Santorini

The capital of the island, Fira, is the right place to go if you want to find a more alive atmosphere during winter. There are many good tavernas open for locals and some souvenir shops still open in the colder months.

Winter is the perfect time to hunt for bargains. The island can be pretty pricey during summer, so there’s no better chance to get that unique black volcanic soap from Santorini to take back home.

Although you won’t find every single shop open, prices will be certainly more affordable than in summer.

In Santorini’s capital, you’ll also find some of the finest art galleries in Greece, prices might be a bit high for your taste, but you will definitely enjoy admiring the art exhibited during your visit.

Hike from Fira to Oia

A popular activity that tourists enjoy in summer is hiking the long coastal path that from Fira passes through the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli to take you directly to Oia, on the northern tip of the island.

The hike, however, can be extremely long and exhausting when you also have to endure the hot temperatures that hit the island in summer.

Winter is one of the best moments to live this adventure and to marvel at the breathtaking views of the Caldera without any rush.

Explore the Hinterland Villages

Greece - Santorini

There is much more to Santorini than just Oia and Fira. In fact, there are lesser-known villages scattered around the island, usually also forgotten during summer, where life keeps more or less the same pace all year round.

Head to Karterados to visit a relaxed town with just a few inhabitants. Wander along the empty streets and let your sight get lost in the immensity of the sea that can be spotted in the distance.

Pyrgos Kallistis, one of the prettiest villages in Santorini, was also the capital of the island in the past. The village, nestled on the slope of a soft hill is a perfect spot to learn about the traditional architecture of the island and to try local specialties, such as Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, or fava spread with freshly-baked bread.

Discover the Pretty Churches on the Island

Greece - Santorini - Greek Orthodox church in Santorini island, Greece.

The most iconic churches in Santorini are indeed located both in Oia and Fira, but that does not really mean that other small chapels in Santorini lack in charm or are less interesting.

You can definitely take some time to check the unique white church in Karterados or the blue-domed church in Perissa. 

In Akrotiri, while you walk your way to the Red Beach, take a look at the unique church that rests on the side of the rocky hill. The white walls of the chapel produce a striking contrast against the reddish slopes of Akrotiri

Book a Wine Tour

Greece - Santorini - Glass of wine in Santorini

Santorini is also known for the great quality of its wines. The island hosts several prestigious wineries that you can visit and where you can learn how to pair the local wine with the traditional dishes of Greece.

Go for a glass of Assyrtiko if you’re willing to taste one of the best-known Greek wines on the market or sip a small glass of Vinsanto, the world-famous dessert wine from the island.

A wine tour is also a great way to learn about the unique way that the grapes are cultivated on the island as well as about the characteristics that the volcanic soil confers to fruits and vegetables grown on Santorini.

As you can see, the island of Santorini has a lot to offer to those visiting off-season, there are fun things to do for every taste and traveler.

You will also enjoy mild winter weather as well as discounted fees for accommodation, car rental, and dining, as a matter of fact, winter can indeed the best time of the year to discover Santorini.

READ MORE: 25 Beautiful Greece Quotes To Inspire Your Greek Travels 25 Gorgeous Quotes about Athens & Instagram Caption Inspiration

5 Things to Bring with You to Santorini

Greece - Crete - Heraklion - Old Venetian Harbor Luggage

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

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

– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in Santorini is drinkable, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! There are places on the island where the water tastes like minerals.

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

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

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

 Travel safety items. We think Santorini is very safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie nor I use these. Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack.

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

More Greece Travel Resources

Greece - Santorini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pin this Guide to the Best Things to Do in Winter in Santorini for your Next Trip to Greece!

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