Croatia from Split to Pula

September 2018

My favourite bits about Croatia were the beautiful drives perfect for a road trip, the national parks, and the awesome festival locations!

Quick Bites

Currency: HRK (Croatian Kuna)
Why to go: Ideal for road trips, natural parks, & festivals
Where to stay: Airbnbs with parking
How long to stay: 2-3 nights at each city max
Transport: Hire a car
Go with: A group of friends
Food: Very mediterranean

Why go to Croatia

The view over a cathedral by the sea
The cathedral at Šibenik

My friend and I actually decided to go to Croatia for a music festival. Pula boasts various popular festivals such as Dimensions and Ultra. We were headed to Outlook festival for a sunny dose of bass music to finish off summer. My favourite bits about Croatia were the beautiful drives perfect for a road trip, the national parks, and the awesome festival locations!

Where to visit & what to do in Croatia

We wanted to see some of the country during our trip but knew we would be knackered post festival so we flew in early to the south of the country, Split, and decided to road trip up to the festival location, Pula. The start and finish points of our trip were hugely influenced by flight prices and convenience but we saw a good bit of the country and enjoyed some beautiful drives. Below are the locations we visited and what we did in each.

Split

Waterfalls surrounded by a green forest
The waterfalls that were visible along the path at Krka National Park

We stayed in Split for 3 nights, largely because it was the minimum stay at our Airbnb but it worked perfectly as a base from which to do day trips to Krka National Park and Hvar. Split in itself has good nightlife (full of young people from all around Europe making their way up to the festivals in Pula) and a delightful old town to roam. One of our favourite bits was a tiki bar placed in one of the old town squares that transitioned from serving smoothies to cocktails as the sun dropped. Krka National Park is roughly a 1 hour drive from Split and boasts some awesome waterfalls where you can take a dip, which feels well deserved after your walk to get there.

Hvar

Hvar is known as a party island for the rich. I believe it was featured as a Made in Chelsea holiday season destination. You understand why when you arrive on a ferry from Split to a port with several yachts. The ferry trip takes around 1.5 hours one way but is pleasant. We opted to not take our car and explored the quirky streets of Hvar by foot and hiked to some more secluded beaches away from the port. The water was beautiful here and some of the hotels looked stunning, but personally I was more enthralled by the parties had during the festival!

Šibenik

The drive from Split to Šibenik was only around 1 hour. We found a cute pop art style flat last minute and arrived at night ready to check out the city the next day. Šibenik is an awesome place to roam around in the sun, particularly the old town streets. If you wind your way up through the old town you reach St. Michael Fortress which gives you a great view over the city.

Zadar

A sunset over the sea with mountains and a boat in the distance
The view of the sunset from the sea organ in Zadar

The drive to Zadar from Šibenik was again only about 1 hour (this country is honestly ideal for a road trip). The old town in Zadar is where its at. It is perfect to walk around and has plenty of options for a nice dinner and a cheeky ice cream whilst the sun goes down. One of our favourite spots was the Sea Organ, where you can sit on the marble steps leading into the ocean and watch the sunset accompanied by the sounds created by the waves and the 35 organ pipes under the steps. Next to the Organ was the Sun Salutation which is essentially a massive solar panel which uses the day’s sunlight as energy to light up a series of multicoloured light on top it. These exhibitions are the coolest bits of Zadar so you can imagine they can get quite busy!

Pula

A group a young people watching sunset over the sea
One of the beautiful sunsets we saw by the sea during the Outlook festival

Pula was our last stop and I won’t pretend that we saw much more than the festival locations but they were a gorgeous backdrop to the festival. The opening concert was held in the Pula amphitheatre and it was incredible. Imagine the Colosseum in Rome all lit up in hues of blue, green, and red accompanied by the dulcet sounds of Bonobo. Hopefully that image excites you as much as it did me. The rest of the festival was held in Fort Punta Christo. Everyone stayed nearby so it was easy to walk to and from the festival. The Fort was right on the water and some of the stages were in some incredible hidden nooks of the Fort. I cannot recommend a festival here enough!

How long to stay in Croatia

An alleyway between old town houses with green window shutters and doors
The picturesque streets in old town Šibenik

A good 10 days in Croatia is enough for a Split to Pula road trip finishing off in some festival fun. We had a bout of food poisoning so we missed out on some things we wanted to see but we did not leave feeling unsatisfied. If you want to drive less in a given day, consider staying longer. If I were to visit without going to a festival I would tack on Zagreb and Dubrovnik as additional stops.

Transport in Croatia

Approaching a town whilst driving on a seaside road
The stunning E65 road we took from Zadar to Pula – such a gorgeous drive

I am not someone who loves driving or who is a super confident driver. Unfortunately I always end up driving in random countries, here is to hoping soon I will feel like a pro. Regardless of my skills behind the wheel, Croatia was such a pleasure to drive! The roads were easy to follow, with the exception of some one way road drama in some of the smaller towns (but I blame Maps over anything else). Some of the roads we drove at sunset on the coast were stunning and I reckon you would be missing out if you don’t opt to hire a car here in favour of buses or trains.

Where to stay in Croatia

A view over a port city full of white houses with red roofing
The view over Šibenik from outside the St. Michael’s Fortress

Stay in Airbnbs throughout your time in Croatia, it is more convenient if you have a car. We didn’t experience any much difficulty with booking accommodation same day (we are not plan ahead people) and even got to stay at a quirky pop art themed place for one night (one of my favourite Airbnbs ever). I would say that if you are going to a festival, book accommodation ASAP as prices sky rocket.

Make the trip moments

  • A red mess (guess what you will)
  • Our unfortunate laughing fit when returning our hire car with a dent from reversing into a pole (the guy at the rental place called us legends for being in such a good mood, but obviously we were so chill because we know ourselves and got full cover)
  • The amazing Catalans we met and hung with throughout our time at the festival
  • Morning sunrises at the beach post dancing all night
  • Never waking up before 2pm during the festival
  • All the amazing stage locations around Fort Punta Christo
  • My friend Vedran from the Airbnb
  • Having to make the long bus and train journey to Italy to get our flight out the day after the festival ended because we left everything last minute (naturally we had slept about 30 minutes and were absolutely destroyed)

10 travel related things to keep you busy during Coronavirus lockdown

Coronavirus has brought the world to a halt in aid of our fellow human in a way most of us have never experienced before. Fingers crossed we can see governments taking similarly drastic measures for climate change too, eh? It is easy to feel a little claustrophobic as a result the restrictions that have been put on our freedom. You may, like me, be starting to feel like your longterm relationship with Netflix is suffering as a result of too much time together and that it can no longer sustain you through this extended lockdown. I have made a list of 10 travel related things you can do to keep yourself busy during these days. Here is to diversifying your activities from the ingesting, lying on the couch, and sleeping which were a staple of my first week (no shame).

Sort out your travel photos

Have you got a crap ton of photos on your that need editing and putitng into folders? Sort it out! Organise your images and relive past trips as you do, helping to ease any depression and anxiety you may be feeling during this time. Clear the storage on your phone and back up your photos. Lastly, send photos to travel buddies that you have been meaning to and/or chase them for photos they owe you.

Make a travel bucket list

A bucket list is a great way to visualise all the things you want to do in this life to ensure you can start ticking them off. General bucket lists can be a little bit daunting to get through so why not make a bucket list for the next year (from whenever we can travel again) as well as a general one? Think about putting some structure or order to your list and you will have a trip plan ready to go for when we are free to roam again. Also, don’t limit yourself to an actual list, be creative and make an inspiration board or mind map!

Research & plan your next getaway

Get your research done now so when restrictions start to ease you don’t have to hesitate in booking your next adventure. It is likely that you may find some bargains given the struggle the travel industry is being put through right now. If you do your planning beforehand you will be ready to take advantage. Hopefully the research will also get you excited for all that is to come after we beat this thing.

Connect with someone you met travelling

Have an email stashed away from a cute guy you met in Vietnam who bought you coffee? Happened to see that rad girl you met at a hostel in Budapest post on Facebook recently? Reach out! It could be a chance to make a new friend, reignite old friendships, or just to hear someone else’s perspective on this time. It can be nerve wrecking to reach out to someone you don’t talk to regularly (hey, thrills are hard to come by these days) so rise to the challenge. I promise that even if they awkwardly don’t respond it will be therapeutic to do a little writing and reflect on how you are and what you are up to in life right now.

Make a trip video/scrapbook

Delight your travel companions and yourself by putting together an awesome masterpiece of a trip you did. You will get to relive the trip during the process whilst also getting to flex those creative skills. This kind of project is exactly the kind of thing many people want to do but put off because there is never time, and well, now is the time!

Journal a past trip

One of the reasons I love making this blog is that my travel experiences are forever captured. Trust me, you forget a lot! Whilst photos help document a trip they can’t capture all the moments like the funny thing your friend did or the exact itinerary. Get out your pen and reflect and reminisce about a better time.

Check out travel gear online

Appreciate this will be a tight time for many given the economic impacts of this lockdown, however, the impacts will also be felt by companies that sell hiking boots, travelling backpacks, travel gadgets etc. It may be possible to grab a bargain with many retailers dropping prices to avoid sales plummeting. If you can’t financially permit yourself to make a purchase at this time you can at least do some research into options online so you know what you do want to save up for when things are more stable again.

Get an international pen pal

Been meaning to practice your French? Want to hear perspectives & stories from the other end of the world as if you were there visiting? Want to potentially reach out to someone who is struggling with loneliness at this time? Look for a pen pal and reach out! Send a care package or a snack which is super typical from your country to cheer them up along with your letter. If you want to keep it local, write to the elderly in your community and ask them about their travel memories, I am sure many will have super interesting stories (a time without Google Maps means much more challenges than nowadays).

Educate yourself on sustainable travel

I am learning more and more lately about the environmental impacts of this hobby of ours. Take this opportunity to read up on what options there are out there to minimise your footprint when travelling. If you want visual inspiration of what a greener trip can look like, search up eco accommodation options, there are some amazing ones.

Learn more about a place you have already been

I am definitely guilty of having travelled to places without doing too much research on its history beforehand when life is busy. Have a read of the history of a place that piqued your interest during your travels. If you don’t want to read, find a documentary! If your interest isn’t historical, educate yourself on the issues impacting the community presently. It is easy to be caught up with what is happening in our immediate surrounding when news coverage rarely extends past local stories or selected global ones.

Top 10 tips for packing for any trip

I’ve packed for many a trip and I have got better at it with time. I’ve been through it all, I definitely used to overpack, have had luggage lost in transit, and had the odd disaster of my toiletries spilling all over my clothes. Here are my top tips to ensure nail the art of you packing smart (sorry, had to).

Choose the right luggage

If you’re going away for a couple of days, don’t overpack and commit yourself to a carry on size case or backpack. Choose something you will actually be able to lug around wherever you are going. Are you going to be moving from location to location? Don’t bring a suitcase, opt for a backpacking backpack. Invest in lightweight luggage to make the most of your weight allowance and to be gentle on your back.

Make a packing list

Have a little Google for packing lists for your destination and adapt it to make your own. Having an example list is good inspiration and may make you think of thing you may want to bring that you had forgotten. Making a list and taking it with you will also help the forgetful of you to make sure everything comes home with you again.

Choose your clothing/fabrics wisely

Opt for fabrics that don’t crease easily and are easy to wash if you will be abroad a while. Bringing breathable, waterproof, and versatile clothing is ideal and doesn’t need to be restricted to just active trips. If you pick the right clothing you will also be able to layer which is key to keeping your luggage light. If you stick to a colour palette, you’ll also have an arsenal of interchangeable outfits ready to go!

Roll clothes

Rolling clothing is the best way to prevent creases and tends to save more space. Rolling your clothes also makes it a lot easier to see what is in your case as things aren’t hidden!

Be conscious with your packing order

If you know you arrive at night and the first thing you are going to want is you PJs and toiletries without having to fully unpack – leave these at the top of your luggage! Equally if you know there are items you won’t need until later in your journey, keep them at the bottom of your pack stack.

Pack a reusable tote bag

A reusable tote is super light and gives you the option to have an extra bag to take around in your day bag in case you buy anything. Having one with you everywhere will also make you a more sustainable traveller as you can say no to plastic bags.

Bring your reusable water bottle

Once you have cleared security there will likely be a water point in the airport where you can fill this up. This beats having flight attendants bringing you all those plastic cups full of water.

Invest in shoe bags

Place shoes in shoe bags in your luggage to avoid them soiling any of your clean clothing. Reuse plastic bags if you don’t have any fabric bags.

Keep important things in your carry on

Keep all passports, boarding passes, visas, medication, essential toiletries, and valuables with you in your carry on so that if God forbid anything happens to you check in bag, you have all the important things to keep calm carry on.

Wear a scarf on the plane

I am alway cold on planes and a scarf can also act as a blanket and a pillow so it is my favourite versatile accessory to take with me. If you wear it on your person you also don’t need to take up any space if your luggage.

Practical tips for more sustainable travel

There is no denying that air travel and tourism has a significant contribution to our global ecological footprint. Nowadays there is mounting focus on how to be more conscious when travelling to offset the impact of our adventures. When travelling we have the same responsibility to act in a sustainable manner that we have in our own local communities and I would argue even more so as we are guests in someone else’s home. Here are some practical tips I have collected during my years of wandering which I follow to try and be a more sustainable traveller when packing and during my visits abroad.

6 tips for sustainable packing

Use refillable toiletries and/or bar soaps

Use refillable containers for all your toiletries to avoid buying and chucking toiletries with unsustainable packaging that aren’t finished when abroad. If you do buy toiletries, leave your unfinished toiletries in a hostel with a note that they are free for use. If you want to go the extra mile, invest in bar soaps and shampoos to avoid plastic packaging as well as liquid restrictions on hand luggage.

Pack a microfibre towel

If using towels provided by your accommodation, follow instructions to avoid them being washed more than necessary. Go one step further by bringing a microfibre towel (which are super light and take up minimal space) that you can use at your various locations.

Bring your refillable bottle and reusable carrier bag

Pack your refillable bottle and fill with boiled water if you are somewhere where tap water isn’t potable. If you have a light and collapsable cup and like your coffee, bring this along too! Particularly in markets many vendors will give you your goodies to take away in plastic bags, bring your reusable bag with you everywhere so you have it to hand whenever you can avoid plastic use.

Don’t shop just for your trip

Be conscious when you go shopping for clothing and buy things that you can layer so you have options for all possible climates when the time for a trip comes. Avoid buying things just for a trip that you are unlikely to use often even if what you buy is sustainably made. If you do find yourself with excess clothes donate and/or recycle them.

Invest in an ebook, use book swaps, or sign up to your local library

If you read a lot an ebook is your best bet in terms of weight and space in your luggage. If you love your paperbacks, use your local library as a source for you reads. Alternatively, most hostels have a book swap you can use to pass on your book when done and pick up a new gem (even if you are not staying, pop into a hostel that has one).

Take eco friendly or reusable period products

There a various companies making plastic and chemical free tampons and pads nowadays which are great options to avoid the environmental damage the alternatives cause. Want to save more space in you luggage and be less wasteful, then invest in a menstrual cup which is reusable and can last ten years.

6 tips for sustainability during your trip

If you can, choose to stay longer

Staying longer at accommodation offsets the frequency of a full room scrub down and bedding/towel wash before the next tenants come. More time in a country also means you can opt for public transport as opposed to domestic flights to get from point A to B.

Eat local and less meat if possible

Buy things that are sourced regionally and are in season if cooking for yourself. If you eat out, eat local to support the economy and take try the local dishes which are more likely to be made with quality local ingredients. Opt for sustainable eateries if you can. Much like back home, the less meat in your diet, the better for the environment.

Rideshare, trains over planes, and night buses

If you are hiring a car or looking to travel by car, try and fill it through ridesharing apps or Facebook groups if you aren’t travelling with enough people for a more eco-friendly trip, good stories, and the perk of splitting the costs. If you have the time always opt for trains and public transport over planes. Night buses are a great way to get from A to B whilst avoiding traffic and paying a night’s accommodation (some countries have really comfy ones like Peru).

Do NOT litter and pick up litter

I cannot stand people who litter in someone else’s home, don’t do it, even if it is a place where trash is a typical site. Go a step further and actually pick up some of the rubbish you see lying around and dispose of appropriately. If you see someone leave their trash lying around or a plastic bag on the beach, dispose of it appropriately following the recycling nuances wherever you are.

Bin toilet paper if asked and shorten your shower

In many countries the plumbing won’t be capable of dealing with toilet paper waste, respect this and remember to bin not flush! Be conscious and shorten you shower to preserve water, particularly in locations where water is scarce.

Opt for eco-friendly lodging and travel

Many airlines now have carbon offset programs for their flights, details of which are shown on sites like Skyscanner. Try and stay in eco-friendly accommodation, nowadays there are so many unique and quirky options in most locations and you will leave feeling good about your stay.

How to make friends when travelling solo

So, you’re finally doing it, going on the solo trip you’ve been wanting to for ages? Yes, go you! I firmly believe it is one of the most empowering things you can do in life. You may be nervous about being lonely or not finding people or having to dine alone, so here are my top four tips for making friends whilst your out there “alone” in the big wide world.

Stay in hostels

Hostels are the best way to go if you are travelling solo but want to meet people. They are wallet friendly, chilled out, and often have awesome social spaces (think rooftops and bars). Hostels are also full of solo travellers so you will be amongst people in the same situation as you! If you are put off by the idea of sharing rooms many hostels offer private rooms, otherwise you can choose a room for anywhere from 4 to 20 or so people. In terms of quality and cleanliness, it’s easy to circumvent nasty surprises by only staying at really highly rated hostels. When you share a room with someone you will naturally say hi and strike up a conversation and it’s the same idea in the lounge, kitchen, or social spaces, there are going to be people around and you’ll be bound to interact.

Just say “Hi, where are you from?”

Okay, if you are naturally a little more shy or socially anxious this may be the hardest bit, but often someone else will initiate the conversation so that you don’t have to. If striking up a conversation is not easy for you, you will never go wrong with this line. Everyone is travelling, everyone is new, everyone has a story you’ve never heard. Everyone is interesting! If you start a conversation with this one question that everyone can answer the rest will naturally flow. Maybe you’ve visited their home country, somewhere else they’ve travelled, or maybe you play the same sport/instrument or whatever. Make the verbal move and the rest will no longer be uncomfortable.

Be generous

Generosity goes such a long way amongst travellers. This spans from sharing advice about cool places to visit, to sharing a packet of snacks you’ve just bought with others at your hostel, to buying someone a beer. Being nice is nice, and you appreciate kindness even more when it comes from a stranger. Whoever you treat will automatically think you are rad, and if it’s a drink you’ve bought them, they will usually get the next round. Even if they don’t, just look at it as an investment in humanity. It is good for the soul to give. Share the love.

Ask people to join you on a day trip

Maybe you are doing a tour and have a vehicle hired for the day you can fill with people? Ask around at the hostel if anyone wants to join! You all save money by splitting the costs, you’ll all get some awesome company, and whoever joins saves having to organise it themselves. Even if you are not doing a tour but just going by yourself to see a site, ask around if anyone is checking out the same thing that day and buddy up! It always helps if you’ve already struck up a convo earlier in the day/week but this is super normal amongst travellers and if you are positive and friendly, you’ll have companions in no time. Some hostels also offer day trips you can sign up for directly which tend to attract other solo travellers just like you.

Itinerary: Peru in 12 days

November 2018

Day 1: Cusco to Aguas Calientes

  • Wake up bright and early (welcome to your holidays – I’m talking like 5am) and head to a food cart to pick up a quinoa, kiwicha, or maca drink for breakfast and some sandwiches for lunch
  • Get your pre-organised ride (typically from the Plaza de Armas) to Hidroeléctrica
  • Arrive midday at Hidroeléctrica and have a bite to eat
  • Set off on the hike to Aguas Calientes (around 2-3 hours at a calm pace admiring the surroundings – can also get the train but we were on a student budget)
  • Check in to your accommodation and grab dinner at one of the many restaurants around town (go easy on the mojitos as you’re hiking a lot tomorrow)

Day 2: Machu Picchu

  • Wake up even earlier than yesterday (4:30am) to hike up to the entrance of the Machu Picchu site (you can also get a bus, but again, we were on student budgets)
  • Find a tour guide at the entrance of the site (many around forming groups) and be one of the first groups to head in at 6am
  • Walk around the site and go up the mountain/Huaynu Picchu at the allocated time if you have a ticket
  • Tip: We had an early ticket for the mountain and our guide said it wasn’t worth it as there are a lot of steps and the cloud and fog was too thick to see anything at that time. We decided not to go and saw the site at the best time (fog/cloud dispersion was amazing). To be honest there is also enough walking around to do around the site that the mountain would be too much, especially considering we hiked to Aguas Calientes and to the site entrance! If you get tickets though, don’t get morning tickets!
  • Get your tour guide to negotiate with the guards to let you overstay your allotted 4 hours at the site (ours offered to do this!)
  • Walk around, get your fill, and get your passport stamped with a cool Machu Picchu stand before heading back to Aguas Calientes for dinner

Day 3: Cocalmayo hot springs

  • Have breakfast and head off on the hike back to the Hidroeléctrica train station
  • Get in a taxi and head to the Cocalmayo springs (there will be loads of taxis near the station)
  • Enjoy a day of relaxation following all your hikes enjoying the baths of varying temperatures (there is a restaurant and changing facilities)
  • Get a taxi to Santa Teresa and have a bite to eat at a local restaurant before getting a taxi to Santa Maria
  • At Santa Maria find a van making the trip back to Cusco (more likely to get road transport here than in Santa Teresa but beware you will have to wait until the van is full)

Day 4: Sacred Valley

  • Join your tour bus in the morning from Cusco and set off for a packed day of seeing all the top sites in the Sacred Valley
  • Start of with the Moray archaeological site
  • Next head off to the Maras salt mines
  • Following this, roam around the Ollantaytambo ruins and markets
  • Finish off the day at the Pisac site (our group took so long that the site closed shortly after we got there unfortunately)
  • Tip: try space out your exploration of the Valley over more than one day if you have the time to ensure you have enough time at each site

Day 5: Rainbow Mountain

  • Set off (you guessed it) early on your tour van towards the Rainbow Mountain from Cusco
  • Stop at a restaurant pit stop to have some Coca tea before heading to the mountain to begin your hike
  • Hike all the way up to the peak taking your time so as to not suffer any altitude sickness (have plenty of layers at it is very cold at the peak)
  • Enjoy the view, take your photos, then head down again at an equally calm pace as the way down is where my altitude sickness hit!
  • Return to the restaurant for a well deserved lunch and then it is back on the van to Cusco
  • Dinner and drinks in any of the cool spots around Cusco

Day 6: Cusco

  • Finally enjoy a bit more of a lie in before you take the chance to roam around the streets of Cusco before you leave the beautiful city
  • Visit the various markets, including San Pedro, in order to find beautiful textiles, Peruvian chocolate, and much more
  • Get lost in the San Blas area of the city which has lots of cool quirky stores
  • Try and eat and drink away from the Plaza de Armas to avoid the tourist trap and get a more local feel
  • Get an overnight bus to Arequipa to avoid paying a night’s accommodation

Day 7: Arequipa

  • Drop all your stuff off at your accommodation and head off to explore the streets of Arequipa
  • Visit the colourful Monastery of Santa Catalina
  • Take a browse around the Santuarios Andinos museum where the mummy of ‘Juanita’ is housed
  • Roam around the markets (most things are cheaper in Cusco so hopefully you have bought anything you wante to there)
  • Enjoy sunset with a drink at a bar overlooking the Plaza de Armas
  • Organise a day trip to Colca canyon for tomorrow at one of the tour agencies in the Plaza de Armas

Day 9: Colca canyon

  • Head off early in the morning with your tour to the Colca canyon, stopping off at various viewpoints for stunning views
  • Spend some time at the Mirador Cruz del Cóndor to catch the Andean condor in all its glory
  • Enjoy last night in Arequipa with a nice dinner, some drinks, and some cheeky picarones for dessert
  • Get on another overnight bus this time headed for Lima

Day 11: Lima

  • Drop your stuff off at your accommodation and prepare to roam around the city
  • Do a free walking tour to get a good sense of the city and its history
  • Peruse the huge Mercado Central (central market)
  • Walk to the Magic Water Circuit and watch the water show
  • Tip: roam around the park following the show as there is more to see than just the main event
  • Dinner at a typical polleria

Day 12: Barranco & Miraflores

  • Get to Barranco by tram from central Lima
  • Roam around Barranco and take in the beautiful street art
  • Head down to the beach to relax with a beer as you prepare to say goodbye to Peru
  • Have a ceviche lunch in Barranco
  • Walk along the coast to Miraflores to check out the fancy part of Lima (full of expats)

Itinerary: USVI in 7 days

February 2019

Day 1: arrival and ferry to St John

  • Arrive at St Thomas airport and get a taxi to the port
  • Enjoy your first of many Painkillers of the trip at the bar until the ferry arrives
  • Relax on your 20min ride to Cruz Bay on St John whilst breathing in the sea salt air
  • Pick up a rental wranglers (literally all rentals are wranglers on this island) if you are old enough to (i.e. 25 or above)
  • Have dinner at one of the restaurants near the Cruz Bay port
  • Get a taxi/drive to your accommodation (try not to leave it too late if it is a hard to find Airbnb)

Day 2: Hawksnest Beach & Cruz Bay

  • Drive down to Cruz Bay for a lazy breakfast at Cruz Bay Landing (the best company will get two things and share with you)
  • Head to Hawksnest Beach for your first taste of the island’s beautiful waters
  • If you have enough water (and no car) walk back on North Shore Road towards Cruz Bay to see the sights from the viewpoints on the way whilst the sun goes down
  • Wander around the Cruz Bay shops and galleries follower by dinner in one of the many restaurants in the Bay before calling it a night (the sun will have you worn out, truuust)

Day 3: Trunk Bay

  • Head to the grocery store in Cruz Bay before heading out to pick up any drinks and snacks you need for a full day at the beach
  • Drive to Trunk Bay with your snorkel gear in tow
  • Spend the day snorkelling and enjoying the Bay
  • Enjoy sunset on the beach and then get a taxi back (we left too late and ended up hiking it – perks was seeing Cruz Bay all lit up from the top of North Shore Road and a hell of an appetite for dinner)
  • Have dinner at The Longboard in Cruz Bay for some amazing Painkillers (amazing with nutmeg grated on top) and even better poké bowls

Day 4: Snorkelling at Waterlemon Cay

  • Get in a good breakfast in Cruz Bay (we just went back to Cruz Bay Landing because it was the best breakfast in the Bay in our opinion)
  • Drive to the start of the Leinster Bay trail and hike towards Waterlemon Cay (about 20min walk)
  • Spend some time snorkelling in Waterlemon Bay to see rays, turtles, barracuda, and nurse sharks
  • Following this, finish the trail towards the end of the Bay where the Cay sits (a couple was just leaving as we arrived leaving the spot fully to ourselves)
  • Snorkel around the small island just off the Cay to see a beautiful array of ocean life (you can spend hours here)
  • Tip: there is a slight current between St John and the small island, nothing very strong but it’s better to be aware of before you set off
  • Walk back on the trail (might find some donkeys) as the sun sets for beautiful views across the Bay
  • Dinner at another of the fine choices in Cruz Bay (fully guilty of returning to The Longboard again as it was so good)

Day 5: St Thomas & Magens Bay

  • Head to Cruz Bay to get the ferry over to St Thomas
  • Pick up a rental car (we went back to the airport as we had booked one here)
  • Drive to Charlotte Amalie for lunch and a wander round (mostly jewellery shops for all the cruise traffic so not too much to see)
  • Head to Magens Bay for sunset

Day 6: Coki Point

  • Have breakfast and head to Coki Point beach for the day in the company of the day’s DJ
  • Spend the day snorkelling around the coast and stay until sunset
  • Drive to Red Hook for a sushi dinner with some very fresh fish

Day 7: Mermaid’s Chair & Lindquist beach

  • Have breakfast at Barefoot Buddha (amazing sweet potato and goat’s cheese wrap)
  • Head to the Mermaid’s Chair and park up near the estate which you must hike down (we got caught in a downpour so bring a cagoule)
  • Clamber around the rocks at the literal end of St Thomas
  • Stop for some lunch and margaritas before driving around the island to reach Lindquist beach
  • Spend the rest of the day time at Lindquist before heading for some amazing sushi

Day 8: cheeky bit of beach & depart

  • Grab takeaway at Buddha again because it was just that good and head to Lindquist beach for a few hours before heading to the airport (absolutely don’t back into a pavement just before returning the car like we did)
  • Drop off your car and say goodbye to paradise

Note: This itinerary is based on not being able to rent a car. If you can rent one, I encourage you to explore much more of the island! I’ll have to return when I’m old enough to rent one! The renting age is lower in St Thomas but you are not supposed to bring your cars over on the ferry if not a local.


Itinerary: southern Jordan in 3 days

September 2019

Day 1 – Petra

  • Fly in to Aqaba airport or cross the Wadi Araba border from Israel in the morning
  • Take a car straight to your accommodation by the Petra site
  • Arrange a car to drop and pick you up, pack up some food, sunscreen, (plenty) of water and off you go to see Petra
  • Stay until closing time and buy Petra by night tickets off of the workers without leaving the site to observe the “by night” setup and to get the photos without photobombers
  • Have a calm dinner, apply the aloe vera, and rest easy post many hours in the desert sun

Day 2 – pool day, Wadi Rum at night

  • Enjoy a relaxed pool day surrounded by the desert mountains
  • Set off around 2pm on the hour and a half drive towards the Wadi Rum petrol station
  • Get collected at “the petrol station” by the transport from your accommodation and set off on the dusty (please cover your mouth to not inhale half the desert) drive to your hotel
  • Enjoy a zarb (the Bedouin way of submerging your meal in sand to cook it) dinner and then head off for some stargazing with a stellar telescope
  • Wrap up and sit outside your hotel room to truly appreciate the view of the starry sky late into the night

Day 3 – beach at Aqaba

  • Wake up for the desert sunrise and go back to sleep until the desert sun won’t let you any longer (you’ve done a long nights stargazing and sunrise is early, trust me you will want to)
  • Post breakfast set off to your Aqaba accommodation (you will get picked up at the petrol station by your transport)
  • Spend the day at your hotel’s beach and enjoy some luxury and a beautiful sunset over Eilat before you end your trip

Jordan (south)

September 2019

There were essentially two reasons we decided to extend our trip to include Jordan, the Petra archaeological site and a night’s stargazing in the Wadi Rum desert, and let me tell you they were definitely worth it.

Quick Bites

Currency: JOD (Jordanian Dinar)
Why to go: Petra & Wadi Rum
Where to stay: 5* hotels (cheap comparative to western Europe)
How long to stay: 3 nights to not pay anything at the Wadi Arab border when crossing from Israel
Transport: Taxi
Go with: A partner or friend
Food: Disappointing but I mostly had hotel food to be fair

Why go to southern Jordan

I combined seeing southern Jordan with a trip from Tel Aviv to southern Israel I did with a friend. In Eilat, Israel there is a border with Jordan which is conveniently positioned to allow you to visit the most well known tourist attractions in the country. Click here to learn more about what to expect at the border. The border is around a fifteen minute drive from Aqaba (opposite Israel’s Eilat), a two hour drive to Petra, and around a one hour drive to the Wadi Rum desert. There were essentially two reasons we decided to extend our trip to include Jordan, the Petra archaeological site and a night’s stargazing in the Wadi Rum desert, and let me tell you they were definitely worth it.

Where to visit in southern Jordan

Petra

Woman sat at the Petra site
My friend taking in the Petra site

We crossed into Jordan from Israel around midday. After two hours driving to Petra, we arrived at our hotel at 2pm. The transport from the hotel to the archaeological site had already left and Khaled, who drove us to Petra, offered us a deal to drive us to and from Petra and to Wadi Rum the following day, allowing us to get straight to the site to make the most of our time. We didn’t go to the site prepared at all. We did not have enough water or any food and had bought Petra by night tickets before going in. We ended up staying at the site for around five and a half hours. The plan had originally been to return to the hotel or to eat something next to the site and go back for Petra by night. However, as closing time for Petra by night came and the crowds thinned, we didn’t want to miss the best time to roam around the site. Although the famous instagram photo is of the treasury at Petra, I urge you to walk around more. There are so many stunning structures and the site is huge. Walking beyond the treasury also leaves behind the tourist fanfare which I frankly found annoying.

Petra by night is very much a tourist trap. You walk the same path to the treasury (the first structure at the site) lit up by candles in paper bags only to sit down in front of the treasury lit up in various colours for 20-30 minutes. The event consists of a story by candlelight and some music played all whilst you sip on a small glass of tea. I’m not saying don’t go but I just think Petra is much more than this. There was no roaming around and seeing different structures lit up. Also, it was very cold, bring a jumper if you are going!

Wadi Rum

Bubble hotel at Wadi Rum
Our bubble at the hotel in the Wadi Rum desert

Wadi Rum became our desert stay destination thanks to my friend’s research. She had found a bubble hotel online and it became what she was looking forward to the most out of the trip. I had never stayed the night in a desert before but being in the middle of nowhere with minimal light pollution means you get a beautiful view of the night sky, the main attraction in my opinion. The hotel offered stargazing which we took advantage of, following which we just sat and stared at the stars on our bubble patio. It was a very romantic setting, hence most of our fellow travellers were couples. Although we decided we weren’t that fussed, the hotels in the desert also offer tours around the place to see various sites.

Aqaba

Sunset from a beach in Aqaba
Sunset over Eilat from our hotel’s beach in Aqaba

Aqaba wasn’t really an intended destination. We always knew that on the fourth day we were going to have to get a bus from Eilat and travel the five hour trip back to Tel Aviv. As such, the decision was to either stay the night in Eilat or Aqaba and set off in the morning. We decided to spend the night in Aqaba for two reasons: the hotels are cheaper than Eilat and if we stayed three nights in Jordan we saved 10 JOD each in exit fees at the Jordanian side of the border. Following our night in the desert, we got a car to Aqaba and had a relaxed beach and pool day. Rumour had it that easyJet is going to start direct flights to Aqaba, and I see why, the beaches were pleasant and for a cheap 5* stay with a nice beach, it worked well.

How long to stay in southern Jordan

Petra by night
The treasury at Petra by night

This will differ depending on how you entered Jordan. If you are doing an extended full country tour of Jordan, you may want to stay longer and explore additional archaeological sites. However, my friend and I had limited time to explore southern Jordan and we found that three nights was the perfect amount of time to see what we really wanted to whilst avoiding Jordanian border costs and even getting a day of relaxation before commencing our long bus journey back to Tel Aviv before our flight out. Our three nights consisted of a day and night in Petra, a pool day in Petra and night in Wadi Rum, and a beach day and night in Aqaba before heading back to the Wadi Araba border.

Transport in southern Jordan

Camel on the road in Jordan
One of the many camels we saw on the road on the way to Wadi Rum

We didn’t look into hiring a car in Jordan but to be honest with the little time we were planning on spending in the country, as well as what we were planning on getting up to, it didn’t seem like it would be that worth it. After crossing the border into Jordan from Israel at the Wadi Araba border you are met by the taxi mafia. They do not like you grouping up to pay less on taxis and they charge more than the standard fare posted on the billboard right next to the border office. We didn’t actually take any of these taxis as we’d met a Brazilian couple who asked if we wanted to share the trip to Petra. Their hostel owner was picking them up and agreed to take us along which did cause a bit of an argument with the taxi leader but we just got out of there as quick as possible and all was fine.

The best way to travel across the country conveniently was taxis. I warn you they are not cheap. We got the name of the hostel owner who had taken us to Petra who basically agreed to ferry us around during our time in Jordan for a good price. He took us from our hotel to Petra, picked us up from Petra and took us to our hotel, took us from Petra to Wadi Rum, and arranged for a friend to pick us up from Wadi Rum to take us to Aqaba on our last night. We ended up using the same driver to take us to the border on the fourth day too.

To give you an idea of prices:

Border to Petra = JOD 35 for two (two other passengers paid the same)
Hotel to Petra & back AND Petra to Wadi Rum = JOD 55 for two
Wadi Rum to Aqaba = JOD 25 for two
Aqaba to Border = JOD 10 for two

Where to stay in southern Jordan

Hotel near Petra
The stunning views from our hotel in Petra

Whilst taxis are expensive, you can stay at 5* star hotels here for a cheap price relative to what I’m used to in western Europe. Bear in mind that in Wadi Rum and Petra you are going to be roaming around desert so you may be in search of a bit of luxury when it comes to accommodation. Admittedly I’m more of an airbnb and hostel gal. I’m down for anything that has a good vibe, is convenient, and is well priced. On this trip I was with a friend who prefers a nice hotel so we both compromised, and frankly in a destination where you’re weary post hours in the desert, I was happy to change my usual habits. The most expensive stay was in Wadi Rum where we stayed in a luxury bubble. It was a once in a lifetime stay and well worth it for the experience. We ate in our hotels during our whole stay in Jordan and I must admit I wasn’t very impressed, but hey, I didn’t go to Jordan for the food!

Money

Woman in Petra site
Me in one of the nooks in the wall on the path leading to the treasury

We bought just enough dinars (around 13-15 JOD) on the Israeli side of the Wadi Araba border to get us a taxi to Aqaba. We only exchanged this much because the rate was pretty bad. The original plan had been to get a bus from Aqaba to Petra to save some money but of course we were lucky in bagging a car straight to Petra. We told the driver we needed to exchange more money which he did for us in the car at a better rate than the border. We kicked ourselves a little bit when we got to the hotel though, as it had a near perfect rate which usually isn’t the case at hotels. Lesson learned: change just enough for a taxi first chance you get, and then exchange the rest of your money at your hotel in Jordan.

Make the trip moments

Sunset at Wadi Rum
The sunset from our porch at Wadi Rum blew me away
  • Sunset from our bubble’s patio in the Wadi Rum desert (the most beautiful I have ever seen)
  • Stargazing in the Wadi Rum desert (we saw Saturn!)
  • Contemplating life whilst staring at all the stars from our bubble patio accompanied by a good stargazing playlist
  • Roaming around Petra in that sweet spot close to closing for Petra by night preparations, it was a lot less busy and made the experience all the more magical
  • Going on a “frienymoon” after my friend had just got married and come back from her honeymoon

Read about the procedure to cross the Wadi Araba / Yitzhak Rabin border when you enter Jordan from Israel.

Itinerary: Budapest in 2 days

April 2019

Arrive late night

  • Take the bus from the airport to the centre/your accommodation
  • Get a bite to eat for dinner
  • Find your accommodation and settle in

Day 1 – walking tour, ruin bars

  • Free walking tour around the city to see the main sites and get a sense of the place
  • Try local delicacies like lángos and kürtőskalács when you find your energy flagging
  • Go to Szimpla Kert for some drinks at a ruin bar (sample some pálinka)
  • If you’re not tired enouh, go have a boogie at Fogart

Day 2 – Gellért Hill, baths

  • Roam the Jewish quarter to check out the awesome street art
  • Wander over to the Széchenyi baths for a good soaking
  • Check out the city sites closer up without the tour (e.g Parliament, Fisherman’s Bastion, National Gallery)
  • Walk up Gellért Hill and watch sunset with a group of friends, music, and a pack of cards

Depart early morning

  • Take the bus to the airport (take care as it can get quite packed)
  • Grab breakfast at the airport before boarding your flight

Peru

Peru is a place of extremes. Extreme altitudes, hikes, and variation amongst communities and regions. Every bit worth the visit.

November 2018

Peru is a place of extremes. Extreme altitudes, hikes, and variation amongst communities and regions.

Quick Bites

Currency: PEN (Peruvian Sol) literally called sun!
To do: Incredible hikes, charming cities, and Machu Picchu
To stay: Hostels or booking.com
How long to stay: Two weeks to see three cities
Food: Pollerías and Arroz Chaufa
Why to go: Machu Picchu – no photo does justice to being there
Transport: Overnight buses, taxis, tours, and trams in Lima
Go with: Small group of friends
Driving: Don’t do it, some of the roads will give you ridiculous vertigo!

Why go to Peru

Peru is a place of extremes. Extreme altitudes, hikes, and variation amongst communities and regions. No two cities I visited were like each other which made for such a rich and diverse trip. I went to the beach, I roamed around cities, I soaked in thermal baths, and went on hikes with stunning views. There was just so much variety to this country which is the reason I highly rate it as a travel destination.

Peru was my first taste of South America and boy am I glad. It just so happened that I had a cousin who had been volunteering at the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin in Arequipa for six months. Before heading home she was going to do some travelling around and she told me to come. Naturally, I said yes, no thoughts or hesitations. When someone invites you to go to Peru with people who have actually been living the Peruvian life, you say yes.

Where to go in Peru

Peru is big (we are talking about five times larger than the UK here), so unless you have the privilege of spending a solid month plus here on your first visit, you will have to be selective about where you go. On my trip I went to Cusco, Arequipa, and Lima. Luckily my trip was planned for me. My cousin and her housemate had done some travelling of their own travelling during their stay but had graciously left some of the best bits to see with me.

Cusco

The view overlooking Cusco
The view overlooking Cusco

Cusco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The city is the old capital of the Inca empire as well as its ideal location for popular day trips like Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and the Rainbow Mountain. There is a reason this city is one of the most popular and I absolutely loved it for it’s own merits too, not just as a base to see other things. Whatever time you have to play with in this beautiful country, put Cusco at the top of your list. It can be a bit touristy in the centre, but wander around and you find charming markets and hideaway haunts.

Arequipa

The Colca canyon near Arequipa
The Colca canyon near Arequipa which is close enough for a day trip

We went to Arequipa following our first stop in Cusco. My travel companions had to pack up their flat before we headed to Lima and of course they wanted to show me their home of the past three months. Once again though, I fell in love with the place! Arequipa was less touristy than Cusco and being in the desert, much more sunny! I had the privilege of staying in my cousin’s flat so had the chance to feel like I actually lived there, and it really was the kind of place where I could see myself living. The city is surrounded my three volcanoes and there are some cool day trips you can do from there. This may not be the highlight destination in terms of things to do and see but it’s a great location if you actually want to spend some time living in Peru.

Lima

My last stop was Lima, the capital of Peru. I spent around two days here and saw the beach, the Magic Water Circuit, had some awesome chicken, roamed around, and did a walking tour. It’s cheapest to fly in and out of Lima so it’s likely you will spend a day or two here. I did like the city but it was probably my least favourite destination. It was great to walk around the capital to get a sense of what life is like here but I preferred the other cities I visited as they had a more laidback vibe.

What to see and do in Peru

There are so many things to do in Peru and what I did does not even come close to an exhaustive list but here are a selection of three of my favourite things you absolutely must do. Give yourself time to see the place if you have the luxury! If you are tight on time like we were, don’t focus on fitting as much as you can in, but rather appreciate and spend time at the places you can see. Also, try visiting sites later in the day when there are less tourists as it is always more magical.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is what most people think of first when they think of Peru and it is at the top of my top my list of things to see and do here. It is what you see plastered all over Instagram, but in all honesty it’s for a reason. This is the kind of site where no photo, no matter how rad, does it justice. We hiked up at 5am to be one of the first groups to enter the site. Hint: You find a guide outside the entrance. We entered the site to find near zero visibility due to fog and cloud cover. Walking around with our guide and group, slowly but surely, the sun started to break through and the clouds dispersed. Suddenly you find yourself are face to face with the regal impossibility of the place. You are in a citadel in the clouds. You are surrounded by breathtaking mountain ranges. Good luck getting that experience on an insta photo.

Cusco

The Pisac site in the Sacred Valley which you can visit on a day trip from Cusco
The Pisac site in the Sacred Valley which you can visit on a day trip from Cusco

There is not one single thing about Cusco that warrants its place in my top three, it is the culmination of everything it offers. Our days here were filled with visits to the local food market for the best smoothie and sandwiches I think I’ve ever had, haggling at the markets for llama keychains with crazy eyes as souvenirs for everyone back home, and walking to viewpoints which offer an epic view of the city. There was no sense of urgency in this city and I think the fact that we could just be still here and enjoy and discover what Cusco had to offer was what I loved.

Rainbow Mountain

The group on top of the Rainbow Mountain
The gang on top of the Rainbow Mountain, exhausted but smiling

Once again there are plenty of awesome photos of the Rainbow Mountain and they are very warranted. The reason this hike features in my top three is purely due to the physical challenge and surrounding beauty of it. The peak of the mountain was the highest we’d been in Peru, standing at over 5,000m. Until this hike I had been lucky to have no altitude sickness, not even during our Machu Picchu hiking but the Rainbow Mountain defeated me.

I was actually the first of my group to make it up the mountain and I had felt fine, out of breath but not unwell in any way. The walk brought with it stunning surrounding mountain ranges, plenty of donkeys ferrying people up and down, and of course, llamas and alpacas. When we got to the top we took a break and tried some alpaca meat prior to taking our photos and checking out the impressive views. The way down is what ended me funnily enough. I think it was the speed of the descent at the urgency of the tour guide. During the walk down I started to feel dizzy. By the time we’d made it back to the restaurant I felt like puking and could not get one spoonful down me (trust me this is not like me) so my cousin ate for both of us (very like her). I drank loads of coca tea which the locals swear helps with altitude sickness, slept on the drive back to Cusco, and was fine when I woke up.

How long to spend in Peru

The monastery of Santa Catalina in Arequipa
The monastery of Santa Catalina in Arequipa

Peru is huge so at some point I would love to spend a solid two months travelling here, however, I work full time and the most I could get off was just over two weeks, but boy did I make it worth it. It isn’t a destination I would go to for less than that as you will be left wanting more and without a proper sense of the place and how it varies city by city and region by region. I managed to see three cities in this time and didn’t have a single boring day. If you have more time to play with, look to explore the north and all of Peru’s incredible terrains including the coastal, jungle, and mountainous areas. If you are looking at saving time, use overnight buses to travel between locations. They are more comfortable than planes and saves you a night’s accommodation!

Transport in Peru

The train tracks on the walk to Aguas Calientes
The train tracks on the walk to Aguas Calientes

Some of the roads I went on in Peru were the scariest of my life, so unsurprisingly I wouldn’t recommend driving there. The roads you wouldn’t want to drive are predominantly the mountainous roads, especially when it’s cloudy or foggy and you are super high up! Most of our tour transportation didn’t have seatbelts, a charming characteristic I quickly found was very common in Peru. Another delightful experience was the overnight bus from Cusco to Arequipa. We were asked to provide our fingerprints on some paperwork before boarding the bus. My travel companions relished my reaction when they told me this was so they could identify our bodies if we happened to have an accident on one of the perilous roads we were likely to be travelling along in the dead of night. Ah the joys! In all seriousness though, the buses are super comfortable. You get meals onboard, have a toilet accessible, movies throughout the ride, and it is more comfortable and spacious than a plane seat.

Where to stay in Peru

The surroundings on the hike up to the Rainbow Mountain
The surroundings on the hike up to the Rainbow Mountain

I mostly stayed in hostels or rooms found through booking.com during my stay in Peru. The quality of the rooms varied based on the location and the price of course but the hosts were always super friendly and helpful. Cusco had some awesome looking hostels so I’d look to stay at one next time I’m in the area. Either way you won’t go wrong with whatever you choose. I’d just advise you to keep it central in the cities to make getting around and back easy and if your accommodation has a kettle, boil some water to refill your bottles.

What to eat in Peru

The question should be what not to eat in Peru. I didn’t even have the chance to taste all the local delicacies here but most of what I ate I loved, save one bad experience at a mosquito ridden cafe in Aguas Calientes with chewy meat and lacklustre food. Peru has street stands which offer sandwiches with Peru’s unique salty cheese, egg, palta (avocado), or a mixture of these, if you are looking for something on the go for you tours. The avocado in Peru is a thing of true beauty and so cheap compared to Europe!

You will also find street stands offering various breakfast drinks, including my favourite made of kiwicha. The drinks come in plastic bags with straws (the locals bring their own containers) and the best way to describe them are warm, sweet, quinoa-y, liquidy porridge type concoctions. They are great sources of energy and super desirable on a cold morning.

Other things to mention are the smoothies and killer sandwiches you can get at any food market, churros, coca tea, and pollerías which offer insane portions of super tasty chicken. You will find most plates come with potatoes and rice so get used to carbs. If you want to try all the best local dishes, go to a picanteria for lunch like the locals in Cusco or Arequipa and try all the famous dishes with a jug of chicha morada (made form purple corn).

Make the trip moments

A llama in Arequipa
One of the resident llamas at the university in Arequipa
  • Me arriving in Cusco at the dead of night to find my cousin and our friend were late, typical Spaniards
  • Getting to Cusco only to find out I’d have to wake up at 5:30am the following morning to make our bus towards Hidroelectrica, and that these early mornings are how most of my days would continue…
  • My first day and the first drive way up in the mountains. Think windy roads, with near zero visibility, no seatbelts (not really a thing in Peru), and the driver crossing himself three times to pray for us to make it to our destination. The roads are petrifying, but you just have to accept there isn’t much you can do about it, or the screechy Peruvian music on the radio
  • Watching the mountains around Machu Picchu slowly appear from the clouds
  • The llamas at the university in Arequipa, they weren’t huge fans of me…
  • Taquitos, salsa aji, buñuelos, the Tres Leches cake from the lady outside the university in Arequipa, who am I kidding so much of the food
  • When you go to Peru everyone tags you in every llama video out there. I got tagged in one where a lady was getting in a taxi with a llama. And then, I kid you not, I witnessed such things in Cusco. We were too gobsmacked to capture the moment on video, but twas epic
  • Missing my flight back, because I had printed off the wrong email following a flight time change only to get the original (now incorrect) flight back at no extra cost (phew)
  • All the hiking/walking, such a refreshing break from corporate life
  • Ordering food from the polleria only to ram it into takeaway boxes 30 seconds after it made it to our table and run like mad women so we wouldn’t miss the tour bus
  • The company and all the damn laughs, thanks Peru, thanks you two

How to cross the Wadi Araba/Yitzhak Rabin border

September 2019

Use this guide to straight up walk into Jordan from Israel with zero stress!

Quick Bites

How long to stay: Stay 3 nights in Jordan to pay no fees to Jordan
Why to visit Jordan from this border: Petra and Wadi Rum
Transport: Beware the taxi mafia at the Jordan border
Go with: A group if you want to pay less per person on taxis, or join up with people before crossing where the taxis can’t see you

How to cross the border into Jordan from Israel? When I made the crossing everything online was super outdated, unclear, or led me to believe that we would get fleeced at the border and end up paying more than we had to. Use this guide to straight up walk walk on into Jordan from Israel with zero stress!

The process

Israel to Jordan:

Get to the border via taxi or alternatively there is a bus that leaves you close. First, go to the cashier and pay your exit fee to Israel, taking the opportunity to exchange a small amount of money (very small as the rate is crap) for you taxi on the other side. Go through a couple of passport checks on the Israeli side (have your entry ticket with you) and exit Israel!. Walk straight to Jordan!

The Jordan side is simple. Enter a hallway with offices and go to the officer you are directed to. They will check your passport and give you a slip to fill in with your details which they will stamp. Do not lose this as you need this to leave. You shouldn’t pay anything upon entry, only upon exit if you don’t meet certain conditions.

Jordan to Israel:

Similarly to entry, go to the officer you are directed to and give them the slip you filled out upon entry (get this stamped at Petra). We had stayed in Jordan three nights and had gone to Petra so we were not eligible to pay the visa or exit fee. If you are eligible to pay anything go ahead and then pass through to the Israeli side. Here you will wait in line for a luggage check which can be rather slow. We left Jordan relatively early thinking we’d miss the crowds as we wanted to get a bus from Eilat all the way to Tel Aviv sameday. We were wrong though and were met by a long wait on the Israeli side for baggage checks so leave some time for the crossing (1-2 hours). Following this, go to passport control and obtain another entry ticket (I just kept all those I’d received during my time in Israel as a precaution). After passport control you pass through into Israel to find taxis waiting.

Visas and costs

Israeli costs:

Unfortunately, although I was charged nothing when arriving to Tel Aviv’s airport or when I re-entered Israel post my short visit to Jordan, there is a fee to pay when you leave Israel via the Yitzhak Rabin border. Israel charges 101NIS each to leave which we hadn’t been aware of when we made the crossing (thankfully you can pay with card).

Jordan Pass:

The Jordan Pass is a package you can buy before entering Jordan that acts as a visa fee waiver and a ticket for entry to Petra. Everyone online seems to recommend getting it, however, it really depends how long you want to spend in Jordan and visiting Petra, otherwise it may not be worth it (it wasn’t for us). The Pass has three packages: 70JD for one day’s, 75JD for two consecutive day’s, and 80JD for 3 consecutive day’s entry to Petra. This is really the only differentiator as you get free entry to more than 40 Jordanian attractions, free downloadable brochures, and the tourist visa fee waiver (only when you stay a minimum of three nights) with all three.

When to opt for the Pass if crossing into Jordan via this border:

If you want to see some of the other 40 attractions included in the pass, and will stay in Jordan at least three nights. Your visa fees will only be waived if you stay at least 3 nights in Jordan. Without the Jordan Pass entry to Petra is 50JD for 1 day, 55JD for 2 day, and 60 JD for 3 day entry. If you want to see some other attractions, the Pass is a good deal. Bear in mind if you are going to stay three nights in Jordan coming through the Wadi Araba border you wouldn’t pay anything upon exiting anyway so the Pass is essentially a ticket bundle.

When to not opt for the Pass if crossing into Jordan via this border:

If you are going to Petra but do not have time or interest in visiting the other 40 attractions included in the Pass. We were originally going to stay two nights in Jordan: one night in Petra, and one night in the Wadi Rum desert. We actually extended this because if you stay three nights you don’t have to pay a 10JD departure tax. Add to this the fact that accommodation in Aqaba is much cheaper than Eilat (we were going to have to spend the night in one of these two) and you’re onto a double winner.

Long story short, if you stay two nights in Jordan and visit Petra you don’t pay the 40JD visa fee, but if you extend to three nights or more, you also don’t pay the 10JD departure tax. Make sure to get your Jordanian entry slip stamped at the Petra ticket office. They won’t remind you, so remember to ask! I’m not 100% sure if you won’t get you fees waived at the border if you don’t have this, but why risk it! We ended up only paying 50JD each for our Petra entry, saving 20JD by not getting the pass. It is an almost free trip to Jordan if it weren’t for the Israeli charges.

Transport to and from

Get to and from the Israeli side by taxi, Gett taxi, or by bus. We made friends with some Israeli guys at our accomodation who offered to drive us so feel free to try that too if you are feeling charismatic.

Get to and from the Jordan side by taxi. There is a taxi mafia so they will charge you more like 15JD to Aqaba although the official rate is 11JD. A taxi to Aqaba from the border or vice versa at 10JD is a good price. We met a Brazilian couple at the Jordanian side waiting for the owner of their hostel to pick them up and joined them to go directly to Petra rather than stopping at Aqaba first. The taxi guys were not happy and came over to argue as they’d seen we’d grouped up! Ride sharing saved us time and money with the trip to Petra costing us about 30-40JD between the two of us. Grouping up is a way to pay less per head but group up before crossing where the taxi drivers can’t see you if you are going to do this.

Exchanging money

We exchanged just enough for a taxi to Aqaba on the Israeli side of the border. Obviously our plans changed and we ended up taking a car straight to Petra. We asked the driver if we could stop somehwere to exchange money on the way to pay him and he did the exchange in the car at a decent rate. Only when we got to the hotel did we kick ourselves as (oddly) it had the best rate we had seen. Advice: exchange just what you need for a taxi from the border and exchange the rest at your hotel.

Things to remember

  • Don’t lose your documentation (Isaeli entry/exit tickets and Jordanian entry slip)
  • You will always pay an exit fee to Isreal of around 101NIS
  • Stamp your Jordanian entry slip at the Petra ticket office
  • Group up before crossing to the Jordanian side of the border to avoid the taxi mafia’s wrath
  • Only get the Jordan pass if you want to see Petra and some of the other 40 attractions included
  • Stay less than two nights and don’t visit Petra (why would you not) to pay a 60JD visa and a 10JD exit tax
  • Stay less than two nights and visit Petra to only pay a 40 JD visa fee and a 10JD exit tax
  • Stay two nights and visit Petra to only pay 10JD exit tax
  • Stay three or more nights and visit Petra to pay nothing on exit!
  • Exchange enough money at the border to pay transport to your accommodation but not more

The main reason for any tourist to cross the Wadi Araba / Yitzhak Rabin border is to visit Jordan.