Category: mini travel guide

Mini Travel Guide: Colombia

Looking for a travel guide to Colombia? Click through for a local's best Colombia travel tips - what to do, where to go, and how to travel Colombia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!
Looking for a travel guide to Colombia? Wondering is it’s safe to travel there … and if it is, where you should go? Me, too! Thankfully, Carolina is here to share her best Colombia travel tips!


There’s no one better to give Colombian travel tips than a native Colombian! I was born in Bogota, went to high school there, and visit on a yearly basis to catch-up with family and friends.
I can never get over the excitement of coming home to beautiful, friendly people, to amazing weather, to mouth-watering food for vegetarians and carnivores alike, and to heart-stopping vistas in every direction. The only risk left in Colombia is wanting to stay for good, something that I’m always considering.

Looking for a travel guide to Colombia? Click through for a local's best Colombia travel tips - what to do, where to go, and how to travel Colombia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Go in Colombia

Bogota

La Candelaria is a lively and artsy part of town. It is the equivalent of the Old City in other cities and there are galleries, old colonial architecture, student bars and restaurants. Cerro de Monserrate is a mountain that towers above the capital of Colombia with amazing views of the city. You can take the cable car to the top, where there is a church and a delicious restaurant.

La Zona Rosa y El Parque 93 are two areas home to nightlife, bars, and restaurants. Crepes and Waffles is a great restaurant where you can taste Colombian classics on all kinds of crepes.

Cartagena

Cartagena is Colombia’s coastal city and the Old Town is romantic and beautiful. Travel down the narrow roads and maze-like terraces and rooftops, covered with small swimming pools and hidden balconies.

A day trip to Las Islas del Rosario is worth it to get a secluded getaway on beautiful beaches. If you’re on a tight budget, you can sleep on the beach at Mar de Plata and mingle with the locals. For a feast, buy some lobsters from the fishermen and have them grilled for a delicious and memorable experience.

Medellin

Hatoviejo Restaurant is the best place in the centre for regional dishes such as plato montañero, a mix of fried pork skin, eggs, and ground beef. Mercado San Alejo is great for buying souvenirs, antiques, arts and crafts, and walking around.

Looking for a travel guide to Colombia? Click through for a local's best Colombia travel tips - what to do, where to go, and how to travel Colombia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Do in Colombia

Dance Salsa with a Colombian

Dancing Salsa with a Colombian is a life changing experience. Most restaurants cater to Colombian’s need to shake their hips. In Bogota, go to Andres Carne de Res which epitomizes Colombia through its food and vibrant dance-filled ambiance.

Drink Aguardiente

Fiery Water is a Colombian trademark and it contains 24%-29% alcohol. It is mostly drunk as a shot or over iced cubes throughout any festivities.

Go to Parque Tayrona

This is one of Colombia’s most popular national parks. It is set on the jungle-covered coast at the foot of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. The biggest attractions are the beaches, shaded with coconut palms and set in bays. If you want some of the freshest food and don’t mind no electricity, Reserva Natural El Matuy is a great place to stay.

Looking for a travel guide to Colombia? Click through for a local's best Colombia travel tips - what to do, where to go, and how to travel Colombia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Eat in Colombia

Ajaico

This is a potato soup and contains chicken, large chunks of corn on the cob, two or three kinds of native potatoes, and guasca, a weedy herb that gives the dish part of its flavour. This soup is served with capers, table cream, and avocado all mixed in just before eating. If you’re in Bogota, Andres Carne de Res  has an amazing Ajaico that you will never forget.

Arepas de Choclo

Colombian Corn Cakes with fresh cheese make for the perfect breakfast or afternoon snack. A plus if enjoyed with coffee or hot chocolate. Arepas de Choclo are the sweetest and moistest of the Arepa family.

Arequipe

Arequipe is creamy and has a caramel flavour. It is very common to find street vendors selling two slices of obleas wafers with arequipe in between, making for a delicious and addicting treat. Arequipe with cheese is a very common dessert that you’ll find, as the salty sweet combo sends the taste buds into overdrive.

Looking for a travel guide to Colombia? Click through for a local's best Colombia travel tips - what to do, where to go, and how to travel Colombia cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cultural Tips for Traveling in Colombia

Colombians are incredibly friendly and kind. They will go out of their way to help you and make you feel at home. They are also very proud of their country, and will love to help you enjoy Colombia.

Cheap travel tips for Colombia

Backpackers will average US$15 to US$25 per day. If you’re looking for a more comfy trip, with better restaurants, mid-range hotels, and an occasional flight, you’ll average between US$25 and US$45 daily. You can save money by using a student card when buying plane and museum tickets, or by going to free days at museums.

Bus ticket fares are always negotiable, and some haggling will knock off approximately 20% to 30% of the cost. But if you want to be successful, be ready to shop around at various bus company windows.

Airbnb is cheaper than a hotel, nicer than a hostel, and puts money in the pockets of local families. Here’s a five-star private room in Bogota for $13 a night and here is a GORGEOUS apartment in Cartagena for $74 a night. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Thanks so much for sharing, Carolina!  Do any of you guys have Colombian travel tips to share?

P.S. 7 travel tools I won’t shut up about!

photos by Luis Vidal // Julian Andres Carmona Serrato // Kevin Bluer // cc

Mini Travel Guide: Denmark

Looking for a travel guide for Denmark? Click through for from-a-local Danish travel tips on where to go, what to do, what to eat, and how to travel cheaply!

If you’re looking for a travel guide to Denmark – the happiest country in the world, home to tall, attractive, reserved blonde people – you’re in the right place! In fact, I brought in ex-pat Alexandra to tell us what to do, where to go, what to eat, and how to travel Denmark cheaply!

Denmark is a great travel destination and place to live. Between the gorgeous architecture and rolling scenery, the cities overflowing with bicyclists, the quaint traditions, and the funny, sweet, impeccably dressed Danes themselves – I fell in love with this amazing country instantly.

Since that first visit, I have spent more than three years in Denmark, in both the capital of Copenhagen and in Aarhus. And, if my dreams come true, I’ll spend the rest of my life there as well!

I first flew to Denmark when I was sixteen. I knew nothing about the country or the language (other than how to say “I have to pee” – “Jeg skal tisse”). Regardless, I would spend the next year living in their second largest city, Aarhus as an exchange student.

travel guide to denmark from a native

Must go in Denmark 

Christianshavn
This beautiful oasis in the center of Copenhagen is home to beautiful canals and small, colorful houses that rival the architecture of Amsterdam. This island is also the home of Christiania, the “free” state within Copenhagen that it is regulated by a special law.
This commune is most widely known for the legal sale of marijuana, but it also houses fascinating architecture and local residents. Take a walk around the nearby lake, and if you can find the Christiania Jazz Club – go! You’ll feel as if you’ve instantly been transported to 1955.
Tivoli
If you can spare about $20 for the entrance fee, visit the magical theme park of Tivoli in downtown Copenhagen. Stroll through the gorgeous gardens, enjoy a traditional Danish ice cream cone (topped with whipped cream, fresh jam and flødeboller), and see the theme park that inspired Walt to build Disneyland once upon a time.
  Looking for a travel guide for Denmark? Click through for from-a-local Danish travel tips on where to go, what to do, what to eat, and how to travel cheaply!

Must do in Denmark

Take a stroll on Nyhavn and see the sights
This well-known harbor in Copenhagen is filled with beautiful ships, quaint, brightly colored houses (one of which Hans Christian Anderson once resided in) and lots of people.
Enjoy a cold beer or ice cream by the canal in the warmer months, and then take a walk down to the harbor, where you can stroll by the Amalienborg Palace and all the way to the infamous Little Mermaid statue (emphasis on the word little – she’s tiny!). In colder months, enjoy a glass of wine and live jazz music in the nearby Tango y Vinos – an amazing Argentinian wine bar.
things to eat when traveling to Denmark

Must eat in Denmark

Smørrebrød
Denmark is well known for their variety of delectable open faced sandwiches, which are typically served on a very dark rye bread called rugbrød.Try any number of their traditional combinations: crispy fish, remoulade and lemon; hardboiled egg and shrimp; or – if you’re brave – pickled herring! If you’re at a special gathering, this lunchtime meal could be accompanied by shots of snaps. Skål!

Æbleskiver
If you happen to be in Denmark near Christmas, try Danish æbleskiver –small, spherical pancake-like treats that are served with fresh jam and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.You can simultaneously sip on my favorite Christmas drink glögg – mulled red wine with almond slices and raisins. Then just smile and say “God Jul!” to people you pass in the street. You’ll fit in perfectly!

Cultural tips for traveling in Denmark Cultural tips for Traveling in Denmark

Everyone speaks English
This may not be completely true, but I bet this will be one of the first things you notice in Denmark. Danish citizens begin learning English in school at a very young age, and are often excited to meet English-speaking travelers so they can practice their language skills.

Sometimes it takes a beer or two for people to gain their confidence, but then you’ll find they often speak English perfectly! Regardless, I would suggest learning a few simple Danish words to use, such as thanks – tak – and cheers – skål.

Since only about 5.5 million people speak Danish, many Danes will be honored and surprised that you took the time to learn some of their language.

Reserved personalities
Many people think that the Danes are rude or cold when you first meet them, but really they are just generally reserved. Once they open up you’ll be glad you took the time to get to know them – so don’t write them off immediately!

Simply take the time to talk with them – ask them questions about Denmark and their own travels, or buy them a round. You’ll quickly find that they are truly some of the nicest and most accommodating people you’ll ever meet.

Traveling in Denmark tips and guide

Cheap travel tips for Denmark

Since food and drinks in restaurants and bars can be quite expensive in Denmark, many people drink and eat before going out – often not arriving at bars and clubs until around midnight (most places are open until 5 a.m.).

Buy food, beer and other drinks in supermarkets and you can save a lot of money. You can drink in public in Denmark too (in most places), so enjoy a pre-party picnic in the King’s Park or by the canal!

Of course, Airbnb is usually cheaper than a hotel and you’ll get a more “authentic” experience. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Thanks for sharing, Alexandra!  Any other Denmark travel tips to share?

P.S. 7 travel tools I won’t shut up about till you try

Photo by Daniel Jensen and Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Mini Travel Guide: Tallinn, Estonia

Looking for a travel guide to Tallinn, Estonia? Click through for Estonia travel tips from an experienced traveler - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all safely, cheaply, and respectfully!
Looking for a travel guide to Tallinn, Estonia? Maybe you didn’t even know you wanted to visit this beautiful, affordable, safe city – but you do now! I brought in experienced traveler Colleen to share all her best Estonia travel tips!

I had always been curious about the Baltic countries and visiting them had been at the back of my mind since moving to Azerbaijan in 2007.

Fast forward to 2011 and I’m living in St.Petersburg Russia, due to some silly red tape, I’m forced to leave the country for a month. Not bad, right?

Where better to go than Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania? My adventures had me wander through all three of those countries, but I stayed the longest in Tallinn, Estonia; 18 days in hostels, on friends mattresses and a Spanish language teacher’s couch.

Must do in Tallinn, Estonia

Must do in Tallinn, Estonia

KGB museum, Sokos Hotel

Tour must be scheduled in advance through website, (7€) but the guides are great and have a divers array of stories to tell about this fascinating hotel that housed a KGB surveillance point. Check the weather forecast,bring your camera, as you’ll have access to the most incredible views of Tallinn.

Patarei Prison Tour

Open until 2005 with human rights violating conditions, its a fascinating illustration of history-The Germans, Russians and Estonians swapped control of the facility at different points in history.

Tallinn Backpackers Hostel schedules tours often (8€)-only downside is you’ll likely go with a group of mostly drunk backpackers-do make sure you ask the guide lots of questions.

KUMU art museum in Kadirog Park

A 3 in 1 hit, Kadirog has one of the best modern art museums I’ve ever been to (and I live near the Hermitage), the presidents palace, and extensive park grounds for walking and picnicking.

.

Must see while in Tallinn, Estonia

Must go in Tallinn, Estonia

Leheema National Park via City Bike

49€. Book a day in advanced and must have 2 people, tours are Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat.  Paldeski via City Bike -1€per hour+ 2.00€train ride one way.

The peninsula packs in as much history as possible with everything from ancient fort ruins, stunning cliffs, and crumbling manors to a Soviet era Nuclear training facility.

Russian Embassy

Walk to it, and look up, you’ll be surprised by what you seek lurking on the gable-the local legend is that the man was peeping into the room of a lovely actress.

Looking for a travel guide to Tallinn, Estonia? Click through for Estonia travel tips from an experienced traveler - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all safely, cheaply, and respectfully!

Must Eat in Tallinn, Estonia

Estonian Chocolate

Germany and Belgian, move over! Estonian Chocolate, though lesser known than the giants of confection from other European cities, is slowly gaining a following among the connoisseurs of this essential food group. Shops abound in the Old Town; many connected to coffee shops. Ah bliss!

Bilini

The Estonians have taken the empty palette of Bilini and made it fantastic! Fillings can be everything from fresh strawberries and cream to chanterelles and blue cheese (a personal favorite, not for diet conscious!)

Ask a few residents where they recommend to sample bilini, as you will likely get several different answers and thus have the opportunity to indulge in the many varieties.

Salmon Soup

Clear broth, with delicate chunks of salmon and a dollop of cream. Tasty enough to convince the most ardent fish soup hater. (That would be me!)

Roasted Almonds

Purchased from the street wagons, and wrapped in a bit of paper, these nuts are roasted in a sugary/caramel topping that means you basically hoover the package in glee.

Saku Original

No visit to Estonia is complete without tasting the local beer. As I prefer my drinks to be of the wine/liquor variety, my opinion on Saku is: OK. But why drink beer when you can imbibe a delicious berry gin called Saare D Inn?

Looking for a travel guide to Tallinn, Estonia? Click through for Estonia travel tips from an experienced traveler - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all safely, cheaply, and respectfully!Cultural tips for Traveling in Estonia

Estonian people culturally are not as ‘smiley’ as Americans, but don’t think for a moment they are not friendly, a few polite words will get you far, as especially in the Old Town they are used to foreigners being rude and drunk.

Jõudu tööle!: Power to your work! Keep Going!
Terviseks : Cheers! Health!

Looking for a travel guide to Tallinn, Estonia? Click through for Estonia travel tips from an experienced traveler - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all safely, cheaply, and respectfully!

Cheap travel tips for Estonia

Go in Autumn! Off-season tickets are almost 1/2 the price (hotels, bike rental, tours etc) sure the weather isn’t the warmest, but less crowds, lots of sun, truly lovely colors and great atmosphere.

Bring your computer, Tallinn prides itself on being the most wired city in the world and…it is! Happy hours and Business Lunches are common in the Old Town, so if I wanted to eat out, I’d do lunch instead of dinner and found a place with 1€ tap beer.

In my experience, In Your Pocket guides are the most reliable and can be printed from the internet.

Most places take credit cards. The exchange counter at the bus station (at time of writing) charged a ridiculous high fee; it’s wise to search for a no-commission exchange counter-I remember finding one at Vuru Shopping Center.

Airbnb is cheaper and more authentic than a hotel, nicer than a hostel. Here’s a two-bedroom apartment for $48 a night and here’s a four-bedroom apartment (with a sauna!) for $92! If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Have any of you been to Estonia? Any questions for Colleen?

P.S. My minimalist travel makeup bag – only 3 products!

Photos by Esgo K., Ruslan Valeev // wikipedia // wikipedia // cc

Mini Travel Guide: Bali

Looking for a travel guide to Bali? Click through for Bali travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!
Looking for a travel guide to Bali – land of amazing food and fantastic beaches? I brought in a local to share her best Bali travel tips – where to go, what to do, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

I’m Sarah, a 24-year-old photographer living in the jungle in Bali, Indonesia. Last winter I was home in America, between jobs, and the travel bug was biting me hard.

So when an opportunity to teach English and art to Balinese kids materialized, I jumped on the next flight out. Volunteering segued into an amazing job, and now I’ve been in Bali for the better part of a year! It’s amazing where life’s little twists and turns will take you.

must do while in Bali

Must go in Bali

The Bali beaches!

Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, and Nusa Dua are the most popular, great for surfing and partying. Sanur is quieter and has beautiful views of the neighboring islands. Padangbai, Candidasa, and Amed to the east are chilled out spots great for diving and snorkeling.
All the expats seem to have their favorite secret beaches so ask around if you want to find a hidden gem. I love the fishing beaches of Klungkung, the sand there is glittery black thanks to eruptions from the volcano Gunung Agung nearby.

Ubud

If you stick only to the southern beach towns like many visitors do, you’ll miss out on what makes Bali special, which is the local culture.
Head up to Ubud, where Balinese arts and culture readily co-mingles with tourism. When you’re in town be sure to see a dance performance, the Kecak dance is my favorite.
Spend a couple days exploring Ubud on foot, there’s something interesting to be found on every side street and if you wander far enough you’ll always be rewarded with stunning rice paddy views.

Balinese Temples

Visit some of Bali’s incredible temples. There is a Bat Cave Temple, which is exactly what it sounds like, and an Elephant Cave Temple, which is even cooler than what it sounds like.
The most underrated temple I’ve visited was Pura Pasar Agung, which is high on the slopes of Gunung Agung, where the views of the island at sunrise are spectacular. By the way, if you’re interested in praying at a temple, go ahead and try it, it’s a very powerful experience. Go with a Balinese friend and have them show you how it’s done.
must see while in bali

Must do in Bali

Catch a ceremony procession in the street

In Bali big events like weddings, cremations, and some holy days call for a procession through the town. They are happening all the time so it’s really down to luck if you catch one.
I pass them about once a week when I’m driving home from work but the experience never fails to have a deep impact on me. The haunting sounds of the gamelan orchestra and the women in their brightly colored kebayas is the stuff that great travel memories are made of.

Looking for a travel guide to Bali? Click through for Bali travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must eat in Bali

Anything in a Padang

Visit a Padang for a delicious and cheap (under $2) meal with the locals. They are easy to spot because all the dishes are staggered in rows in the window, checkerboard style.
Point at three dishes you like the look of and you’ll get them served up with rice and stewed greens.

Babi Guling

Meat eaters have got to try Babi Guling, Balinese suckling pig. The pig is spit roasted for hours and basted in coconut oil and just about every local spice. Mouth-watering!

cultural tips for traveling in Bali

Cultural tips for Traveling in Bali

Talk to the Balinese locals. This might sound obvious, but talk to people! The Balinese are some of the most hospitable people on earth. A stranger greeting you on the street probably isn’t trying to scam you, so go ahead and have a friendly chat.

Even if you’re being sold a service you don’t want (massage, taxi, handicrafts, etc) a polite “no, thank you” or “terimakasih” is always appropriate.

Cheap travel in Bali

Cheap travel tips for Bali

Despite the abundance of luxury resorts, Bali is best discovered on the cheap, and you can stay here quite comfortably for under $30 a day. Lodge in a homestay with a local family. Eat at Padangs and markets, many of which run late at night.

If you want something cheaper than a hotel, but more posh than a hostel, Airbnb’s a good bet. Here’s a beautiful, one-bedroom villa for $67 a night and here’s a three-bedroom three house for $97 a night. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Alcohol is expensive except for arak, a rice wine moonshine. Its production is illegal and unregulated, so drink it at your own peril.

Travel by Bemo, the brightly colored buses that run along fixed routes between towns.Take it easy, travel slow, explore off the beaten path, keep an open mind, go with the flow, and you’re sure to have the trip of a lifetime.

Have any of you been to Bali?  Any tips to share?

P.S. 7 travel tools I won’t shut up about

photos by sarah // not without my passport // David Stanley

Mini Travel Guide: Iran

Looking for a travel guide to Iran? Click through for a local's Iran travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!
Looking for a travel guide to Iran? It’s not easy to get honest insights on this gorgeous country, so I brought in a local! Today, Tonya is sharing her best Iran travel tips – what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Iran or Persia? Both! This is the destination of different. Ancient landscapes, Persian traditions, contemporary society, the most friendly, happy and hospitable people, to-die-for foods, Iran will captivate your soul.

From minarets and bazaars to modern malls, you might wake to the calls to prayer, haggle over handmade Persian carpets and handicrafts, purchase the latest technology, dine on a Persian Shah’s menu, snow ski in the mountains or bathe on a tropical island.

You just won’t want to leave – I stayed over two years and still didn’t want to leave.  Iranians are incredibly friendly, and ‘guests’ are most important. They’ll house you, feed you, and show you their Persia.

Looking for a travel guide to Iran? Click through for a local's Iran travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Go in Iran

Naghsh e Jahan Square – Esfahan

Reportedly the largest square the world over; incorporating the colossal Imam Mosque and its magnificent blue mosaic tilework on the south side and the oldest and largest bazaar in the Middle East on the north side.
It’s near-impossible to choose which Persian handicraft of skillfulness to take home. Be sure to try speaking Farsi wherever you can in Iran, the locals will love you all the more for it, and haggling will be much more fun!

Persepolis and Ghalat – Shiraz

A Must. Go. To. Persepolis provides ancient architecture on a scale of magnitude, including palatial pillars and gateways. I spent hours dragging my jaw in awe! Indescribable.
Ghalat is off the beaten track (ask a local agency (taxi) driver to take you) – it’s a stone and mud village heritage (poss. UNESCO) site, still inhabited, and providing photographic subjects like nowhere else. Ever.

Kish Island

Just a couple hours flight from Tehran, Kish Island is a tropical escape in the Persian Gulf. Spend days on the golden sands (women can sunbathe and swim comfortably at a private women’s beach) and swimming with small sharks (that didn’t bite) and vibrant fish.
All your favourite water activities are also available across the island. There are modern and traditional shopping galore, teahouses and restaurants scattered everywhere, and an amazing ancient history trail of its own most definitely worth investigating!
Looking for a travel guide to Iran? Click through for a local's Iran travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Do in Iran

Bazaars – at night!

Major cities come to life at night and the bazaars attract the locals – everyone from old to children – Iranians make this evening activity vibrant, exciting, and fun.

Iranian Food!

Eating is a significant cultural experience. Street stalls and markets offer traditional balal (coal-cooked sweetcorn), beetroot, fresh walnuts, and pistachio bastani (ice-cream). Iranian pomegranates and hendoone (watermelon) are another must!

Looking for a travel guide to Iran? Click through for a local's Iran travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Eat in Iran

Everything! Seriously!

Persian cuisine is the most delicious, and street stall and market food, like restaurants and tea houses alike, is also very delicious, traditional, and safe to eat. Tea houses are everywhere, offering traditional chai (tea) and Persian foods. Stretch out on a carpeted divan and enjoy.

Coal-cooked kebabs

served with rice dishes exquisitely decorated with saffron, spices, and nuts.

Naan 

Fresh baked breads are sold in local bakeries everywhere. Eat with panir (cheese) for breakfast, and panir and sabzi (fresh mixed vegetables and herbs) for lunch. Food heaven – try combining watermelon and panir wrapped in fresh bread!
Looking for a travel guide to Iran? Click through for a local's Iran travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cultural Tips for Travel in Iran

Dress code

Upon arrival all women must be wearing a headscarf and modest length jacket (mid-thigh is fine) and ankle-length pants or skirt. Men wear trousers; shirts can be long or short sleeve. Once there, you’ll get the idea of what/how to wear.

Respect is quintessential in Persian culture

Don’t get trampled trying to board the metro or get into an agence by waiting idly by, but do practice common courtesies wherever you go. Men and women who are not family don’t normally greet with a kiss.

Shopping

You can bargain with most merchants. Sometimes, merchants will act like they can’t accept money from you (numerous times), but it’s just a traditional respect.

This goes for anything you offer locals, including food. They might politely refuse but it doesn’t mean they don’t want it. Keep offering until they accept.

Looking for a travel guide to Iran? Click through for a local's Iran travel tips on what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cheap travel tips for Iran

Transport is generally reasonable. Most people get around via shared (sometimes jam-packed) agency (taxi) to and from anywhere. It’s a cultural thing and something you must experience.

There are buses and trains to/from most major stops. You can hire a car and driver quite reasonably and they’ll take you to your local destinations (or ask for their suggestions), and while you visit they will wait.

Negotiate your taxi fare.

Note: Government departments can be frustrating and are better avoided wherever possible. Public restrooms are not prolific nor always user-friendly for many foreigners but are manageable.

Alcohol is illegal (doesn’t mean you can’t find it, but it is illegal). Most important signage is in Farsi and English.

Any Iran travel tips to share?  Questions for Tanya?

P.S. How to live out of a suitcase – glamorously

Photos by ali reza // slow train coming //  pouria eini // Julie Johnson // sasan rashtipour // Joel Tasche // Ali Morshedlou on Unsplash

Mini Travel Guide: Turin, Italy

Looking for a travel guide to Turin, Italy? Click through for Turin travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!
Looking for a travel guide to Turin? Ready to eat your weight in Italian chocolate? If your answer to both of those questions is yes, you’ll enjoy these Turin travel tips from local Chelsea. She’s telling us what to do and where to go in Turin – and how to do it cheaply, safely, and respectfully.

Turin is a large city that is perfectly situated in the north of Italy only one hour from the ski resorts, one hour from the Italian Riviera, and two hours from Milan. It was built by the Romans and has been growing and thriving ever since. I’ve lived here since 2007 and have made it my mission to explore every inch of this city.

Looking for a travel guide to Turin, Italy? Click through for Turin travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Do in Turin

Savoy Turin Residencies

Visit any of the UNESCO established residences of the Savoy dynasty. The Savoy family ruled over Turin much like the Medici’s ruled over Florence. They built dozens of royal residences with several in the heart of the city and most are open to the public.
My favorite is Palazzo Madama in Piazza Castello. It has a roman base, a medieval middle, and a baroque facade. Inside are ornate rooms filled with the royal art collection, but the impressively overstated staircase alone is worth the visit.

The Egyptian Museum

I hear you, why am I recommending you visit an Egyptian museum in Italy? Because Turin doesn’t just have an Egyptian museum, they have the largest and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo.
One of the many highlights is the exhibit of Kha and Merit. Everything in his room was taken from a complete tomb of a husband and wife who had been mummified with all they could ever want in the afterlife including food, a complete cosmetic kit, styled and beaded wigs, and perfectly preserved shoes!

The Mole

Take the elevator to the top of the Mole Antonelliana. The Mole is the tallest building in Turin and can be seen from just about anywhere.
It now houses the Museum of Cinema which is worth a visit but make sure you use your ticket to board the glass elevator that goes to the top where you will get a stunning view of the city including the two rivers that cross through Turin and the surrounding Alps.
Looking for a travel guide to Turin, Italy? Click through for Turin travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Go in Turin

Porto Palazzo Market

This market claims to be the largest outdoor market in Europe. Food stalls arranged in an intricate labyrinth seem to go on for miles. You’ll find fresh produce, wines, cheeses, olives, bread, fish and meats.
I recommend getting lost inside the maze and putting together your own personalized lunch to be eaten later, perhaps in the nearby Porta Palatina Park, which holds the ruins of the original Roman city gate .

Take a passeggiata in the Roman Quarter

The Roman Quarter is the oldest part of Turin and can make you feel lost in time when strolling along it’s thin stone streets. I must say that Via Mercanti and Via San Tomaso are the most quaint and romantic of the streets in this quarter.
It is full of cafes, antique shops, and bakeries.
Looking for a travel guide to Turin, Italy? Click through for Turin travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Must Eat in Turin

Chocolate

Chocolate is serious business here. There are more chocolatiers in Turin than in all of France and Belgium combined. In the spring the city holds the Cioccola-To Festival where many of these chocolatiers converge in Piazza Vittorio to sell and show-off their greatest sweets.
I recommend trying Gianduja (jan-do-ya). It’s mix of sweet chocolate blended with local hazelnuts and is the preferred flavor of Turin. You might also want to try it as a gelato flavor or the most common way kids grow up eating it, as Nutella.

Bicerin

The Bicerin consists of warm and thick dark chocolate on the bottom of a glass topped with a shot of espresso and then topped with a dollop of thick and heavy cream.
The drink itself is not sweet until you add the sugar but, and this is important, make sure you do not stir your Bicerin! This is the one and only rule of drinking it. It can be found in any cafe or you can try it at it’s 1763 birthplace, Il Bicerin Cafe in Piazza della Consolata.

Looking for a travel guide to Turin, Italy? Click through for Turin travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Cultural Tips for Travel in Turin

If you are in Turin in June, keep an eye out for the Marathon of Gelato (Maratona del Gelato). Each year many of the city’s gelaterie (ice cream shops) participate on marathon day by giving out samples of their best flavors for free. The marathon is; if you can make it to every gelaterie in one day. I have done it, twice!
In August most Italians go on vacation, usually to the sea. The city is empty and many shops and travel hotspots are closed. It’s quiet but there might not be as much to do as you would like.

Looking for a travel guide to Turin, Italy? Click through for Turin travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and how to do it all cheaply, safely, and respectfully!

Travel on the Cheap in Turin

Parco del Valentino is the city’s largest park and on it’s grounds you will find Borgo Medievale. The Borgo is an extremely detailed life-sized replica of an authentic medieval village which was built for an exhibition in 1880. It’s picture perfect and entrance is free!

Airbnb is almost always cheaper than a hotel and more pleasant than a hostel. Here’s a private room for $26 or an entire apartment for $38! If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking.

Any Turin (or Italian) travel tips to share?  Any questions for Chelsea?

P.S. 7 travel tools I will not shut up about!

photos by Jace Grandinetti // davide ragusa // antonio filigno // wikipedia // jane mary smith // cc