🇮🇳SOUTHERN INDIA

Hampi, IndiaFrom the sublime backwaters of Kerala, to wildlife wonderlands, to ancient cities and perfect beaches – this two-week journey will give you memories to last a lifetime. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your Southern India itinerary:

Luxury Kerala, India
1 ✈To Kochi (Book >) Dep: Afternoon 🏨 In flight!
2 Arr: Morning 🏨Hotel Old Harbour  (Book >) All hotels >
Enjoy a relaxed day in the serene surroundings of Kochi. See the Chinese fishing nets in action, visit the opulent Mattancherry Palace and St. Francis church – the oldest European-built church in India and where Vasco da Gama was first buried. Kochi is a pretty conservative place and so you will probably be more comfortable by dressing accordingly.
3 🚕Kochi to Alleppey taxi Dep: 10:00 Arr: 11:30 🏨Houseboat (Book >) All hotels >
Book a taxi through your hotel and join your houseboat for a midday departure. Sail through the serene Kerala backwaters, stopping off at villages along the way. Be sure to take some insect repellant with you.
4 🚕Alleppey to Mettupalayam drive (Book >) Dep: 12:30 Arr: 19:00 🏨Kurumba Village Resort (Book >) All hotels >
Enjoy a relaxing morning on the water before meeting your driver and heading to the foothills of Nilgiri hills. I highly recommend buying train tickets as far in advance as possible.
5 🚄Mettupalayam to Ooty train (Book >) Dep: 07:10 Arr: 12:00 🏨Treebo Trip Rosefield Heritage
(Book >)
All hotels >
The Ooty Toy Train has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site – it’s well worth the early start and 35-min taxi journey. Admire the magnificent engineering as the train traverses dense rainforests and steep mountains. The colonial hill station of Ooty has a lovely lake, nearby tea plantations and some wonderful botanical gardens. You will need to register with IRCTC before buying a ticket on their site.
6 🚕Ooty to Nagarhole National Park drive (Book >) Dep: 09:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Evolve Back Kuruba Safari Lodge (Book >) All hotels >
Drive through more plantations and spectacular views – asking your driver to stop whenever you wish – on your way to Nagarhole National Park. Settle in to your hotel then join the 15:30 jeep safari into the park. Visit TripSavvy for a guide on how much to tip your driver.
7 Sloths, leopards, tigers, wild Dogs, sambar, antelopes, deer and boars can all be spotted in this remarkable park. Start early and get the 06:30 road and river safari. Birds are mainly seen in the morning, elephants in the afternoon and tigers rarely.
8 🚕Nagarhole National Park to Mysore taxi Dep: 09:00 Arr: 12:00 🏨Radisson Blu Plaza
(Book >)
All hotels >
Your hotel can help arrange your taxi to Mysore. Mysore Palace is the must-see attraction here. If you’ve time to spare after that then the almost 800 year-old Somnathpur temple is well worth a visit, as is the lofty Sri Chamundeswari Temple, or the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens if you really want to see a tiger. Remember to dress modestly when visiting temples.
9 🚄Mysore to Bangalore train (Book >)
🚄Bangalore to Hampi train (Book >)
Dep: 11:30

Dep: 22:05

Arr: 14:00 🏨Train
Visit those places you were unable to see yesterday before journeying to Bangalore. Once you’ve dropped your bags at the railway station visit the immense ISKCON temple, as well as the old temples in the Basavanagudi area before heading for your night train to Hampi. Give yourself plenty of time to travel around Bangalore as the traffic congestion can be terrible.
10 🚄Bangalore to Hampi train Arr: 07:10 🏨WelcomHeritage Shivavilas Palace (Book >) All hotels >
The amazing 14th century ruins at Hampi stretch over 25 kilometers and so you’ll definitely need most of the day (and preferably a guide) to see them. There are no ATMs in Hampi and so, if you need cash, make sure you take it out in Hospet.
11 🚄Hampi to Goa (Madgaon) train (Book >) Dep: 06:20 Arr: 14:00 🏨Hotel Taj Exotica Goa (Book >) All hotels >
Glide towards the coast and start unwinding in the tropical surroundings of Goa. Air-conditioned first class (AC1 or 1A) is the most comfortable way to travel by public train in India.
12-13 Bored of the beach? Arrange tours with your hotel, including to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, and Se Cathedral in Old Goa, Singbal’s Book House in nearby Panaji and the Dudhsagar Falls. Learn a few local words before you travel to India
14-15 ✈Goa to home (Book >) Dep: Evening Arr: Morning (next day) Connect this itinerary with the Rajasthan – India or Nepal itinerary
Direct flights are possible, but only at certain times of year.
Mid-range Hampi, India
1 ✈To Kochi (Book >) Dep: Afternoon 🏨 In flight!
2 Arr: Morning 🏨Hotel Old Harbour (Book >) All hotels >
Enjoy a relaxed day in the serene surroundings of Kochi. See the Chinese fishing nets in action, visit the opulent Mattancherry Palace and St. Francis church – the oldest European-built church in India and where Vasco da Gama was first buried. Kochi is a pretty conservative place and so you will probably be more comfortable by dressing accordingly.
3 🚄Kochi to Alleppey train (Book >) Dep: 08:45 Arr: 10:40 🏨Houseboat (Book >) All hotels >
Take a tuk-tuk to the station and arrive into Alleppey in time to board your houseboat for a midday departure. Sail through the serene Kerala backwaters, stopping off at villages along the way. Be sure to take some insect repellant with you.
4 🚌Alleppey to Coimbatore bus (Book >) Dep: 15:20 Arr: 21:00 🏨Treebo Trend Jansi Residency (Book >) All hotels >
Enjoy a relaxing morning on the water before heading to bustling Coimbatore. I highly recommend buying train tickets as far in advance as possible.
5 🚄Coimbatore to Mettupalayam train
🚄Mettupalayam to Ooty train (Book >)
Dep: 05:15
Dep: 07:10
Arr: 06:15
Arr: 12:00
🏨Treebo Trip Rosefield Heritage
(Book >)
All hotels >
The Ooty Toy Train has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site – it’s well worth the early start and 35-min taxi journey. Admire the magnificent engineering as the train traverses dense rainforests and steep mountains. The colonial hill station of Ooty has a lovely lake, nearby tea plantations and some wonderful botanical gardens. You will need to register with IRCTC before buying a ticket on their site.
6 🚌Ooty to Bandipur bus (Info >) Dep: 08:24 Arr: 10:30 🏨Dhole’s Den Bandipur (Book >) All hotels >
Drop your bags off at your hotel and arrange your safari in the village. If you want to save money then join the 15:30 bus safari into the park. Bus times from Ooty  may change. Your bus will depart from Udhagamandalam Central Bus Stand (close to the station and so, on Day 5, you may want to check times)
7 Sloths, leopards, tigers, wild Dogs, sambar, antelopes, deer and boars can all be spotted in this remarkable park. Start early and get the 06:30 safari. Birds are mainly seen in the morning, elephants in the afternoon and tigers rarely.
8 🚌Bandipur to Mysore bus (Info >) Dep: 10:00 Arr: 11:30 🏨Lok Sagar Mysore Palace
(Book >)
All hotels >
Mysore Palace is the must-see attraction in this city. If you’ve time to spare after that then the almost 800 year-old Somnathpur temple is well worth a visit, as is the lofty Sri Chamundeswari Temple, or the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens if you really want to see a tiger. Your bus will be the one from Ooty and so exact times may not be available.
9 🚄Mysore to Bangalore train (Book >)
🚄Bangalore to Hampi train (Book >)
Dep: 11:30

Dep: 22:05

Arr: 14:00 🏨Train
Visit those places you were unable to see yesterday before journeying to Bangalore. Once you’ve dropped your bags at the railway station visit the immense ISKCON temple, as well as the old temples in the Basavanagudi area before heading for your night train to Hampi. Give yourself plenty of time to travel around Bangalore as the traffic congestion can be terrible.
10 🚄Bangalore to Hampi train Arr: 07:10 🏨Capital O 41723 Shree International(Book >) All hotels >
The amazing 14th century ruins at Hampi stretch over 25 kilometers and so you’ll definitely need most of the day (and preferably a guide) to see them. There are no ATMs in Hampi and so, if you need cash, make sure you take it out in Hospet.
11 🚄Hampi to Goa (Madgaon) train (Book >) Dep: 06:20 Arr: 14:00 🏨FabExpress Vagator Cottage (Book >) All hotels >
Glide towards the coast and start unwinding in the tropical surroundings of Goa. Air-conditioned first class (AC1 or 1A) is the most comfortable way to travel by public train in India.
12-13 Bored of the beach? Arrange tours with your hotel, including to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, and Se Cathedral in Old Goa, Singbal’s Book House in nearby Panaji and the Dudhsagar Falls. Learn a few local words before you travel to India
14-15 ✈Goa to home (Book >) Dep: Evening Arr: Morning (next day) Connect this itinerary with the Rajasthan – India or Nepal itinerary
Direct flights are possible, but only at certain times of year.
Budget Goa, India
1 ✈To Kochi (Book >) Dep: Afternoon 🏨 In flight!
2 Arr: Morning 🏨Kevins Placid Homestay (Book >) All hotels >
Enjoy a relaxed day in the serene surroundings of Kochi. See the Chinese fishing nets in action, visit the opulent Mattancherry Palace and St. Francis church – the oldest European-built church in India and where Vasco da Gama was first buried. Kochi is a pretty conservative place and so you will probably be more comfortable by dressing accordingly.
3 🚄Kochi to Alleppey train (Book >) Dep: 08:45 Arr: 10:40 🏨Houseboat (Book >) All hotels >
Take a tuk-tuk to the station and arrive into Alleppey in time to board your houseboat for an 11:30 departure. Sail through the serene Kerala backwaters, stopping off at villages along the way. Don’t forget to take insect repellant.
4 🚄Alleppey to Coimbatore train(Book >) Dep: 10:15 Arr: 15:27 🏨Treebo Trend Jansi Residency (Book >) All hotels >
Glide to the end of your houseboat journey then board the train to Coimbatore. Your hotel is near the Karpagam Cinema – going to see a Bollywood film can be great fun. This train only departs on Fridays. See here for other train times.
5 🚄Coimbatore to Mettupalayam train
🚄Mettupalayam to Ooty train (Book >)
Dep: 05:15
Dep: 07:10
Arr: 06:15
Arr: 12:00
🏨Treebo Trip Rosefield Heritage
(Book >)
All hotels >
The Ooty Toy Train has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site – it’s well worth the early start and 35-min taxi journey. Admire the magnificent engineering as the train traverses dense rainforests and steep mountains. The colonial hill station of Ooty has a lovely lake, nearby tea plantations and some wonderful botanical gardens. If you use IRCTC you’ll need to register before buying a ticket on their site. I highly recommend buying train tickets in advance.
6 🚌Ooty to Bandipur bus (Info >) Dep: 08:24 Arr: 10:30 🏨OYO 38131 Bandipur Khans Resort (Book >) All hotels >
Drop your bags off at your hotel and arrange your safari in the village. If you want to save money then join the 15:30 bus safari into the park. Bus times from Ooty may change. Your bus will depart from Udhagamandalam Central Bus Stand (close to the station and so, on Day 5, you may want to check times)
7 Sloths, leopards, tigers, wild Dogs, sambar, antelopes, deer and boars can all be spotted in this remarkable park. Start early and get the 06:30 safari. Birds are mainly seen in the morning, elephants in the afternoon and tigers rarely.
8 🚌Bandipur to Mysore bus (Info >) Dep: 10:00 Arr: 11:30 🏨Treebo Trend Akshaya Mahal Inn
(Book >)
All hotels >
Mysore Palace is the must-see attraction in this city. If you’ve time to spare after that then the almost 800 year-old Somnathpur temple is well worth a visit, as is the lofty Sri Chamundeswari Temple, or the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens if you really want to see a tiger. Your bus will be the one from Ooty and so exact times may not be available.
9 🚄Mysore to Bangalore train (Book >)
🚄Bangalore to Hampi train (Book >)
Dep: 11:30

Dep: 22:05

Arr: 14:00 🏨Train
Visit those places you were unable to see yesterday before journeying to Bangalore. Once you’ve dropped your bags at the railway station visit the immense ISKCON temple, as well as the old temples in the Basavanagudi area before heading for your night train to Hampi. Give yourself plenty of time to travel around Bangalore as the traffic congestion can be terrible.
10 🚄Bangalore to Hampi train Arr: 07:10 🏨Capital O 41723 Shree International(Book >) All hotels >
The amazing 14th century ruins at Hampi stretch over 25 kilometers and so you’ll definitely need most of the day (and preferably a guide) to see them. There are no ATMs in Hampi and so, if you need cash, make sure you take it out in Hospet.
11 🚄Hampi to Goa (Madgaon) train (Book >)
🚌Madgaon to Panjim bus
Dep: 06:20
Dep: 15:00
Arr: 14:00
Arr: 17:00
🏨Menezes House (Book >) All hotels >
Glide towards the coast and start unwinding in the tropical surroundings of Goa. Spend a night amidst the wonderful old buildings of Panjim, including Singbal’s Book House. When you arrive in Madgaon take a tuk-tuk or taxi to the KTC Bus terminus from where there are frequent services to Panjim.
12 🚕Panjim to Anjuna Dep: 10:15 Arr: 11:00 🏨FabExpress Vagator Cottage (Book >) All hotels >
Glide towards the coast and start unwinding in the tropical surroundings of Goa. Spend a night amidst the wonderful old buildings of Panjim, including Singbal’s Book House. Learn a few local words before you travel to India
13-14 Spend a couple of days unwinding on the beach before heading home. Be very wary of strong rip currents when in the sea
15-16 ✈Goa to home (Book >) Dep: Evening Arr: Morning (next day) Connect this itinerary with the Rajasthan – India or Nepal itinerary
Direct flights are possible, but only at certain times of year.

🇬🇷GREECE

Lindos, Rhodes, GreeceThere’s so much ancient history here that there’s a risk you’ll get blasé about seeing another 3,000 year-old pot. But then you realise walk through an old agora, or stand before a famous acropolis, or follow in the footsteps of knights and you appreciate Greece all over again.  Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your Greece itinerary:

Luxury Meteora, Greece
1 ✈Thessaloniki (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨The Excelsior(Book >) All hotels >
You should arrive in time to visit the 1,600 year-old Roman Rotunda Accommodation and transport can book up early in high season.
2 🚄Thessaloniki to Palaeofarsalos train
🚄Palaeofarsalos to Kalambaka train (Book >)
Dep: 15:15
Dep: 18:20
Arr: 16:59
Arr: 19:16
🏨Theatro Hotel Odysseon (Book >) All hotels >
Walk along Thessaloniki’s promenade to the Byzantine-era White Tower. The Church of the Holy Apostles, Arch of Galerius and Church of Saint Demetrius are also worth seeing. Make sure you always have some cash on you – many places don’t take card.
3 Go on a walking tour of the area, including to the famous monastery of Ypapanti and Great Meteoron or Varlaam. Make sure you’re covered up appropriately for entering the monasteries.
4 🚌Kalambaka to Delphi bus (Book >) Dep: 09:30 Arr: 13:30 🏨Nidimos Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
When the heat of the day has started to cool off, head for the Sanctuary of Apollo. There’s isn’t much info on site and so you’ll need to do your own research.
5 🚌Delphi to Athens bus (Book >) Dep: 11:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Hotel Grande Bretagne (Book >) All hotels >
Wander around the Athens’s Agora (central market) and the beautiful neighbourhood of Plaka. Kumru is a delicious warm sandwich made of sesame bread, Turkish sausage (veggie options also available), grilled cheese and tomatoes.
6 Devote today to seeing the Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum. This website provides good advice on buying tickets for the Acropolis.
7 🚕Athens to Piraeus
⛴️Piraeus to Rhodes (Book >)
Dep: 17:00
Dep: 18:00
Arr: 17:30 🏨On ferry
The Museum of Cycladic Art, Monastiraki Neighbourhood and Temple of Poseidon are worth visiting if you have time. Book a Lux cabin for tonight’s journey for supreme comfort.
8 ⛴️Piraeus to Rhodes Arr: 08:40 🏨In camera Art Boutique Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
A full day in which to visit the ancient sights of Rhodes Old Town. Must-see places include the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Street of the Knights, the Süleyman Mosque and the Archaeological Museum in the Hospital of the Knights. The Archaeological Museum is worth spending a few hours in and you can save money by buying a combined ticket with the Palace of the Grand Masters.
9 Take a day trip to Lindos and explore the town’s pretty streets and fascinating acropolis. In the evening head up Rhodes Old Town’s Roloi Clock Tower. Bring a snorkel and swim in the clear waters off of St Paul’s Bay.
10 ⛴️Rhodes to Symi (Book >) Dep: 10:00 Arr: 11:15 🏨Iapetos Village (Book >) All hotels >
Soak up the atmosphere in a harbourside café then take the bus to Panormitis Monastery. Back in town walk up the many steps to the Kástro. I recommend sitting on the right-hand side of the bus for the journey to Panormitis.
11 ⛴️Symi to Santorini (Book >) Dep: 17:15 🏨On ferry
Want more beach? Saint Nicholas Beach is either a short boat ride or long walk from town. This ferry service departs only once a week.
12 ⛴️Symi to Santorini
🚕Port to hotel
Dep: 00:30 Arr: 00:15
Arr: 01:00
🏨Aenaon Villas (Book >) All hotels >
Visit Akrotiri, and the picturesque town of Oia from where you can take a stunningly beautiful hike to Fira. Don’t ride the donkeys in Santorini as they are often mistreated.
12 Soak in the views from your hotel or visit the beach – Ammoudi Bay is one of the best for a swim. Check what time cruise ships will be docking so as to avoid the crowds.
13 ⛴️Santorini to Mykonos ferry (Book >) Dep: 12:50 Arr: 15:35 🏨Myconian Kyma Design Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
Staying in the Chora you can spend time here and there drifting through the pretty whitewashed streets. Head down to Little Venice for sunset. Sea crossings can be rough – take some motion sickness tablets if necessary.
14 The Mykonos Windmills  are just a 15-minute walk from your hotel. Paraportiani Church is also worth visit, as are Platys Gialos, Agios Sostis and Ornos beaches. The windmills are a great place from which to watch sunset.
15 ✈Mykonos to Home (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon Connect this Greece itinerary with the Western Turkey or Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria itinerary
Book a transfer to the airport.
Mid-range Athens, Greece
1 ✈Thessaloniki (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨The Bristol Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
You should arrive in time to visit the 1,600 year-old Roman Rotunda Accommodation and transport can book up early in high season.
2 🚄Thessaloniki to Palaeofarsalos train
🚄Palaeofarsalos to Kalambaka train (Book >)
Dep: 15:15
Dep: 18:20
Arr: 16:59
Arr: 19:16
🏨Dellas Boutique Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
Walk along Thessaloniki’s promenade to the Byzantine-era White Tower. The Church of the Holy Apostles, Arch of Galerius and Church of Saint Demetrius are also worth seeing. Make sure you always have some cash on you – many places don’t take card.
3 Go on a walking tour of the area, including to the famous monastery of Ypapanti and Great Meteoron or Varlaam. Make sure you’re covered up appropriately for entering the monasteries.
4 🚌Kalambaka to Delphi bus (Book >) Dep: 09:30 Arr: 13:30 🏨Nidimos Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
When the heat of the day has started to cool off, head for the Sanctuary of Apollo. There’s isn’t much info on site and so you’ll need to do your own research.
5 🚌Delphi to Athens bus (Book >) Dep: 11:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Rastoni Athens Suites  (Book >) All hotels >
Wander around the Athens’s Agora (central market) and the beautiful neighbourhood of Plaka. Kumru is a delicious warm sandwich made of sesame bread, Turkish sausage (veggie options also available), grilled cheese and tomatoes.
6 Devote today to seeing the Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum. This website provides good advice on buying tickets for the Acropolis.
7 🚕Athens to Piraeus
⛴️Piraeus to Rhodes (Book >)
Dep: 17:00
Dep: 18:00
Arr: 17:30 🏨On ferry
The Museum of Cycladic Art, Monastiraki Neighbourhood and Temple of Poseidon are worth visiting if you have time. Book an AA2, AS2 or AB2 cabin for tonight’s journey for supreme comfort.
8 ⛴️Piraeus to Rhodes Arr: 08:40 🏨Petrino (Book >) All hotels >
A full day in which to visit the ancient sights of Rhodes Old Town. Must-see places include the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Street of the Knights, the Süleyman Mosque and the Archaeological Museum in the Hospital of the Knights. The Archaeological Museum is worth spending a few hours in and you can save money by buying a combined ticket with the Palace of the Grand Masters.
9 Take a day trip to Lindos and explore the town’s pretty streets and fascinating acropolis. In the evening head up Rhodes Old Town’s Roloi Clock Tower. Bring a snorkel and swim in the clear waters off of St Paul’s Bay.
10 ⛴️Rhodes to Symi (Book >) Dep: 10:00 Arr: 11:15 🏨Captain’s Suites (Book >) All hotels >
Soak up the atmosphere in a harbourside café then take the bus to Panormitis Monastery. Back in town walk up the many steps to the Kástro. I recommend sitting on the right-hand side of the bus for the journey to Panormitis.
11 ⛴️Symi to Santorini (Book >) Dep: 17:15 🏨On ferry
Want more beach? Saint Nicholas Beach is either a short boat ride or long walk from town. This ferry service departs only once a week.
12 ⛴️Symi to Santorini
🚕Port to hotel
Dep: 00:30 Arr: 00:15
Arr: 01:00
🏨Horizon Resort (Book >) All hotels >
Visit Akrotiri, and the picturesque town of Oia from where you can take a stunningly beautiful hike to Fira. Don’t ride the donkeys in Santorini as they are often mistreated.
12 Soak in the views from your hotel or visit the beach – Ammoudi Bay is one of the best for a swim. Check what time cruise ships will be docking so as to avoid the crowds.
13 ⛴️Santorini to Mykonos ferry (Book >) Dep: 12:50 Arr: 15:35 🏨Mouselis Studios (Book >) All hotels >
Staying in the Chora you can spend time here and there drifting through the pretty whitewashed streets. Head down to Little Venice for sunset. Sea crossings can be rough – take some motion sickness tablets if necessary.
14 The Mykonos Windmills  are just a 15-minute walk from your hotel. Paraportiani Church is also worth visit, as are Platys Gialos, Agios Sostis and Ornos beaches. The windmills are a great place from which to watch sunset.
15 ✈Mykonos to Home (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon Connect this Greece itinerary with the Western Turkey or Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria itinerary
Book a transfer to the airport.
Budget Santorini, Greece
1 ✈Thessaloniki (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Jetpak Alternative (Book >) All hotels >
You should arrive in time to visit the 1,600 year-old Roman Rotunda Accommodation and transport can book up early in high season.
2 🚄Thessaloniki to Palaeofarsalos train
🚄Palaeofarsalos to Kalambaka train (Book >)
Dep: 15:15
Dep: 18:20
Arr: 16:59
Arr: 19:16
🏨Meteora Central Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Walk along Thessaloniki’s promenade to the Byzantine-era White Tower. The Church of the Holy Apostles, Arch of Galerius and Church of Saint Demetrius are also worth seeing. Make sure you always have some cash on you – many places don’t take card.
3 Go on a walking tour of the area, including to the famous monastery of Ypapanti and Great Meteoron or Varlaam. Make sure you’re covered up appropriately for entering the monasteries.
4 🚌Kalambaka to Delphi bus (Book >) Dep: 09:30 Arr: 13:30 🏨Sibylla Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
When the heat of the day has started to cool off, head for the Sanctuary of Apollo. There’s isn’t much info on site and so you’ll need to do your own research.
5 🚌Delphi to Athens bus (Book >) Dep: 11:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Bedbox Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Wander around the Athens’s Agora (central market) and the beautiful neighbourhood of Plaka. Kumru is a delicious warm sandwich made of sesame bread, Turkish sausage (veggie options also available), grilled cheese and tomatoes.
6 Devote today to seeing the Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum. This website provides good advice on buying tickets for the Acropolis.
7 🚕Athens to Piraeus
⛴️Piraeus to Rhodes (Book >)
Dep: 17:00
Dep: 18:00
Arr: 17:30 🏨On ferry
The Museum of Cycladic Art, Monastiraki Neighbourhood and Temple of Poseidon are worth visiting if you have time. Book a DOR (dormitory) cabin for tonight’s journey for supreme comfort.
8 ⛴️Piraeus to Rhodes Arr: 08:40 🏨Stay Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
A full day in which to visit the ancient sights of Rhodes Old Town. Must-see places include the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Street of the Knights, the Süleyman Mosque and the Archaeological Museum in the Hospital of the Knights. The Archaeological Museum is worth spending a few hours in and you can save money by buying a combined ticket with the Palace of the Grand Masters.
9 Take a day trip to Lindos and explore the town’s pretty streets and fascinating acropolis. In the evening head up Rhodes Old Town’s Roloi Clock Tower. Bring a snorkel and swim in the clear waters off of St Paul’s Bay.
10 ⛴️Rhodes to Symi (Book >) Dep: 10:00 Arr: 11:15 🏨Captain’s Suites (Book >) All hotels >
Soak up the atmosphere in a harbourside café then take the bus to Panormitis Monastery. Back in town walk up the many steps to the Kástro. I recommend sitting on the right-hand side of the bus for the journey to Panormitis.
11 ⛴️Symi to Santorini (Book >) Dep: 17:15 🏨On ferry
Want more beach? Saint Nicholas Beach is either a short boat ride or long walk from town. This ferry service departs only once a week.
12 ⛴️Symi to Santorini
🚕Port to hotel
Dep: 00:30 Arr: 00:15
Arr: 01:00
🏨Pension George (Book >) All hotels >
Visit Akrotiri, and the picturesque town of Oia from where you can take a stunningly beautiful hike to Fira. Don’t ride the donkeys in Santorini as they are often mistreated.
12 Soak in the views from your hotel or visit the beach – Ammoudi Bay is one of the best for a swim. Check what time cruise ships will be docking so as to avoid the crowds.
13 ⛴️Santorini to Mykonos ferry (Book >) Dep: 12:50 Arr: 15:35 🏨Morfoulas Studios (Book >) All hotels >
Staying in the Chora you can spend time here and there drifting through the pretty whitewashed streets. Head down to Little Venice for sunset. Sea crossings can be rough – take some motion sickness tablets if necessary.
14 The Mykonos Windmills  are just a 15-minute walk from your hotel. Paraportiani Church is also worth visit, as are Platys Gialos, Agios Sostis and Ornos beaches. The windmills are a great place from which to watch sunset.
15 ✈Mykonos to Home (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon Connect this Greece itinerary with the Western Turkey or Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria itinerary
Book a transfer to the airport.

🇦🇷SOUTHERN ARGENTINA

Bariloche, ArgentinaFrom the cultural buzz of Buenos Aires to the mountainous view from the Seven Lakes drive, from the whales of Peninsula Valdez to the magnificent hiking in El Chalten – this vast area of Argentina is one of the most photogenic places you’ll ever see. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your Southern Argentina itinerary:

Luxury Buenos Aires, Argentina
1 ✈To Buenos Aires (Book >) Dep: Evening   🏨 In flight!  
2   Arr: Morning 🏨Alvear Palace (Book >) All hotels >
Have a relaxing first day recuperating from jet lag. I suggest you find a cool café in Palermo and enjoy a delicious medialuna.
3 Visit Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, grab lunch at Mercado del Progreso and admire the city architecture on a walking tour. Extend your trip with a couple of days in Uruguay, a short ferry ride away.
4 ✈Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn flight (Book >)
🚌Puerto Madryn to Puerto Pirámides bus
Dep: Morning
Dep: 17:00
Arr: Afternoon
Arr: 18:30
🏨Hotel Las Restingas (Book >) All hotels >
Take a taxi to the bus station in Puerto Madryn and catch the 17:00 bus to Peninsula Valdez.  You’ll need to pay an entry fee to the peninsula – someone will board the bus to collect the fee.
5 Whales. So many whales. You can see them on a boat trip from Puerto Pirámides, or even from the shoreline. If you want to see orca then you’ll need to take a tour to Punta Norte. Take motion sickness tables for the whale watching trip.
6 🚌Puerto Pirámides to San Antonio Oeste bus
🚌San Antonio Oeste to Puerto Madryn bus (Book >)
🚄San Antonio Oeste to Bariloche train (Book >)
Dep: 11:00
Dep: 17:35
Dep: 22:20
12:30
Arr: 21:10
🏨Train  
Return to Puerto Madryn and pay a visit to the wonderful Museo Oceanográfico. If you’ve a couple of hours to spare walk along the beach to Punta Cuevas, where Welsh pioneers first settled. Take the bus to San Antonio Oeste and wait to board the train (which only departs on Friday nights). Get your Tren Patagonico ticket as soon as possible – up to 2 months before departure – on the Plataforma 10 website. For sleeper cabins select ‘Camarote’. 
7 🚗Bariloche to Villa La Angostura drive (Hire car >) Dep: 14:00 Arr: 12:28
Arr: 15:50
🏨Luma Casa de Montaña (Book >) All hotels >
In the morning sit back and watch the vast landscapes of Patagonia roll by. Hire a car in Bariloche and enjoy the start of the spectacular Seven Lakes road to Villa La Angostura. Once you’ve arrived drive a little way on to the shores of Lago Correntoso. You may want to allow more time to drive the Seven Lakes road as there are many scenic spots to stop at.
8 There are many incredible hikes to enjoy here, my favourite was to Cajon Negro.  The ViewRanger app was really useful for hiking in Argentina.
9 🚗Villa La Angostura to San Martín de los Andes drive Dep: 16:00 Arr: 18:30 🏨Río Hermoso (Book >) All hotels >
For a more sedate hike drive down to Puerto Angostura and get a ferry to Bosque De Arrayanes Embarcadero for the glorious walk through the Los Arrayanes National Park back to the dock. The first ferry leaves at 11am and the journey takes about one hour.
10 San Martín also has a number of enjoyable hikes in the vicinity, including the unmissable walk to Mirador Bandurrias and La Islita. Take some cash because you’ll pay a small fee to pass through Mapuche territory.
11 🚗San Martín de los Andes to Bariloche drive Dep: 10:00 Arr: 13:00 🏨Hotel Charming Luxury Lodge & Private Spa (Book >) All hotels >
Return to Bariloche and then drive on to Villa Llao Llao for a great walk along the lake before returning the car and taking a taxi to your hotel. Not a hiker? No problem. Your hotel is in a spectacular location so why not just enjoy the views from the luxury of your own spa room.
12 Board either bus 50 or 51 to Villa Catedral. Here you can enjoy a number of hikes or even a cable car ride. My favourite hike here is to Refugio Frey. Take a filter water bottle with you so that you can top up from streams along the way.
13 ✈Bariloche to El Calafate flight (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon 🏨Xelena Hotel & Suites (Book >) All hotels >
Another few hours in which to enjoy your luxurious hotel before departing for El Calafate. Arrange tomorrow’s trip to the glacier in advance.
14 Take a day trip to the Perito Moreno glacier, where a boat will take you up close to the face of the glacier. There are also some excellent walkways from which to admire the glacier from various angles. It can be expensive to get cash out of ATMs in Argentina.
15 🚌El Calafate to El Chalten bus (Book >) Dep: 08:00 Arr: 11:00 🏨Destino Sur Hotel & Spa (Book >) All hotels >
Welcome to one of the best places for hiking in the world. Start with a relatively easy walk to Lago Torre – about 4 hours round trip. When you arrive into El Chalten the bus will stop at the park visitor centre where you can figure out which walks you want to do.
16 Devote today to walking to Lago de los Tres. This is a truly spectacular route that ends with a steep incline (so be sure to have some spare energy!) When you arrive you’ll be surrounded by immense, photogenic mountains and lakes. The final climb on today’s hike can be very busy and you may be stuck behind slower walkers – be patient and give yourself plenty of time.
17 🚌El Chalten to El Calafate bus (Book >)
✈El Calafate to Buenos Aires flight (Book >)
Dep: 08:00
Dep: Afternoon
Arr: 11:00
Arr: Afternoon
🏨Alvear Palace (Book >) All hotels >
If you happen to be in Buenos Aires on a Sunday then you can get some great souvenirs at the San Telmo Feria. Bus tickets are usually only available to buy up to 2 months before departure.
18-19 ✈Buenos Aires to home Dep: Morning Arr: Morning (next day) Connect this Southern Argentina itinerary with the Northern Argentina, Brazil, Northern Chile or Southern Chile itinerary
Book your transfer to the airport.
Mid-range Tren Patagonico, Bariloche, Argentina
1 ✈To Buenos Aires (Book >) Dep: Evening   🏨 In flight!  
2   Arr: Morning 🏨Carles (Book >) All hotels >
Have a relaxing first day recuperating from jet lag. We suggest you find a cool café in Palermo and enjoy a delicious medialuna.
3 Visit Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, grab lunch at Mercado del Progreso and admire the city architecture on a walking tour. Extend your trip with a couple of days in Uruguay, a short ferry ride away.
4 ✈Buenos Aires to Bariloche flight (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Bungalows Buena Vista (Book >) All hotels >
Once in Bariloche spend some time in the many chocolate shops, or maybe take a trip up to Cerro Otto, using bus 50 or 51. Take those same buses or a taxi on to Villa Llao Llao and your hotel. It can be expensive to get cash out of ATMs in Argentina.
5 Board either bus 50 or 51 to Villa Catedral. Here you can enjoy a number of hikes or even a cable car ride. My favourite hike here is to Refugio Frey. Not a hiker? No problem. Your hotel is in a spectacular location so why not just enjoy the views from the luxury of your own spa room.
6 🚗Bariloche to Villa La Angostura drive (Hire car >) Dep: 15:00 Arr: 16:30 🏨Hotel Alma Andina (Book >) All hotels >
On your last day here enjoy a great walk along the lake from Villa Llao Llao. Take the bus to Bariloche, hire a car and enjoy the start of the spectacular Seven Lakes’ road to Villa La Angostura. Once you’ve arrived drive a little way on to the shores of Lago Correntoso. You may want to allow more time to drive the Seven Lakes’ road as there are many scenic spots to stop at.
7 There are many incredible hikes to enjoy here, my favourite was to Cajon Negro.  The ViewRanger app was really useful for hiking in Argentina.
8 🚗Villa La Angostura to San Martín de los Andes drive Dep: 16:00 Arr: 18:30 🏨Monte Verde (Book >) All hotels >
For a more sedate hike drive down to Puerto Angostura and get a ferry to Bosque De Arrayanes Embarcadero for the glorious walk through the Los Arrayanes National Park back to the dock. The first ferry leaves at 11am and the journey takes about one hour.
9 San Martín also has a number of enjoyable hikes in the vicinity, including the unmissable walk to Mirador Bandurrias and La Islita. You’ll need to take some cash because you’ll pay a small fee to pass through Mapuche territory.
10 🚗San Martín de los Andes to Bariloche drive
🚄Bariloche to San Antonio Oeste train (Book >)
Dep: 12:00
Dep: 17:00
Arr: 15:00 🏨Train  
Return to Bariloche and then board the train for San Antonio Oeste. Once on board sit back and watch the vast landscapes of Patagonia roll by. Get your Tren Patagonico ticket as soon as possible – up to 2 months before departure – on the Plataforma 10 website. For sleeper cabins select ‘Camarote’. 
11 🚄Bariloche to San Antonio Oeste train
🚌San Antonio Oeste to Puerto Madryn bus (Book >)
🚌Puerto Madryn to Puerto Pirámides bus
Dep: 09:40
Dep: 17:00
Arr: 07:14
Arr: 13:05
Arr: 18:30
🏨Hotel Las Restingas (Book >) All hotels >
Transfer to the bus to Puerto Madryn where you can grab lunch whilst waiting for the bus to Peninsula Valdez. You’ll need to pay an entry fee to the peninsula – someone will board the bus to collect the fee. Tren Patagonico only departs on Sundays. The bus to Puerto Madryn departs a few blocks north of the train station – ask for directions.
12 Whales. So many whales. You can see them on a boat trip from Puerto Pirámides, or even from the shoreline. If you want to see orca then you’ll need to take a tour to Punta Norte. Take motion sickness tables for the whale watching trip.
13 🚌Puerto Pirámides to Puerto Madryn bus
🚌Puerto Madryn to Esquel bus (Book >)
Dep: 11:00
Dep: 20:15
Arr: 12:30 🏨Bus  
Pay a visit to the wonderful Museo Oceanográfico in Puerto Madryn. If you’ve a couple of hours to spare walk along the beach to Punta Cuevas, where Welsh pioneers first settled. Pack ear plugs and an eye mask for the overnight bus journeys.
14 🚌Puerto Madryn to Esquel bus
🚌Esquel to El Chalten bus (Book >)
Dep: 16:00 Arr: 06:30

 

🏨Bus  
With your almost 12 hours in Esquel take a ride on La Trochita – the old Patagonian Express. Walk to Laguna La Zeta or in Parque Nacional Los Alerces. Bus tickets are usually only available to buy up to 2 months before departure.
15 🚌Esquel to El Chalten bus   Arr: 10:00 🏨Latitud 49º (Book >) All hotels >
Welcome to one of the best places for hiking in the world. Start with a relatively easy walk to Lago Torre – about 4 hours round trip. When you arrive into El Chalten the bus will stop at the park visitor centre where you can figure out which walks you want to do.
16 Devote today to walking to Lago de los Tres. This is a truly spectacular route that ends with a steep incline (so be sure to have some spare energy!) When you arrive you’ll be surrounded by immense, photogenic mountains and lakes. The final climb on today’s hike can be very busy and you may be stuck behind slower walkers – be patient and give yourself plenty of time.
17 🚌El Chalten to El Calafate bus (Book >) Dep: 17:00 Arr: 20:00 🏨MadreTierra Patagonia (Book >) All hotels >
Several more hours during which you can hike to Chorrillo del Salto and/or to Los Condores. Take a filter water bottle with you so that you can top up from streams along the way.
18 Take a day trip to the Perito Moreno glacier, where a boat will take you up close to the face of the glacier. There are also some excellent walkways from which to admire the glacier from various angles. Arrange your trip to the glacier in advance.
19 ✈El Calafate to Buenos Aires flight (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon 🏨Carles (Book >) All hotels >
Relax before the flight to Buenos Aires. Enjoy one last evening in the Argentine capital. If you happen to be in Buenos Aires on a Sunday then you can get some great souvenirs at the San Telmo Feria.
20-21 ✈Buenos Aires to home Dep: Morning Arr: Morning (next day) Connect this Southern Argentina itinerary with the Northern Argentina, Brazil, Northern Chile or Southern Chile itinerary
Book your transfer to the airport.
Budget Whale
1 ✈To Buenos Aires (Book >) Dep: Evening   🏨 In flight!  
2   Arr: Morning 🏨Selina Palermo Soho (Book >) All hotels >
Have a relaxing first day recuperating from jet lag. We suggest you find a cool café in Palermo and enjoy a delicious medialuna.
3 Visit Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, grab lunch at Mercado del Progreso and admire the city architecture on a walking tour. Extend your trip with a couple of days in Uruguay, a short ferry ride away.
4 ✈Buenos Aires to Bariloche flight (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Hospedaje Penthouse 1004 (Book >) All hotels >
Once in Bariloche spend some time in the many chocolate shops, or maybe take a trip up to Cerro Otto, using bus 50 or 51. It can be expensive to get cash out of ATMs in Argentina.
5 Board either bus 50 or 51 to Villa Catedral. Here you can enjoy a number of hikes or even a cable car ride. My favourite hike here is to Refugio Frey. After all that hiking enjoy the incredible views across lake and mountains from the hostel.
6 🚌Bariloche to Villa La Angostura bus(Book >) Dep: 14:30 Arr: 15:45 🏨Hostel La Angostura (Book >) All hotels >
On your last day in Bariloche take the bus to Villa Llao Llao for a great walk along the lake. Take the bus along the spectacular Seven Lakes road to Villa La Angostura. Once you’ve arrived walk a little way on to the shores of Lago Correntoso. Bus routes along the Seven Lakes road are weather dependent.
7 There are many incredible hikes to enjoy here, my favourite was to Cajon Negro.  The ViewRanger app was really useful for hiking in Argentina.
8 🚌Villa La Angostura to San Martín de los Andes bus (Book >) Dep: 14:45 Arr: 17:00 🏨Rukalhue Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
For a more sedate hike walk down to Puerto Angostura and get a ferry to Bosque De Arrayanes Embarcadero for the glorious walk through the Los Arrayanes National Park back to the dock. The first ferry leaves at 11am and the journey takes about one hour.
9 San Martín also has a number of enjoyable hikes in the vicinity, including the unmissable walk to Mirador Bandurrias and La Islita. You’ll need to take some cash because you’ll pay a small fee to pass through Mapuche territory.
10 🚌San Martín de los Andes to Bariloche bus (Book >)
🚄Bariloche to San Antonio Oeste train (Book >)
Dep: 09:45
Dep: 17:00
Arr: 13:15 🏨Train  
Return to Bariloche and then board the train for San Antonio Oeste. Once on board sit back and watch the vast landscapes of Patagonia roll by. Get your Tren Patagonico ticket as soon as possible – up to 2 months before departure – on the Plataforma 10 website. For sleeper cabins select ‘Camarote’. 
11 🚄Bariloche to San Antonio Oeste train
🚌San Antonio Oeste to Puerto Madryn bus (Book >)
🚌Puerto Madryn to Puerto Pirámides bus
Dep: 09:40
Dep: 17:00
Arr: 07:14
Arr: 13:05
Arr: 18:30
🏨Hospedaje La Posta (Book >) All hotels >
Transfer to the bus to Puerto Madryn where you can grab lunch whilst waiting for the bus to Peninsula Valdez. You’ll need to pay an entry fee to the peninsula – someone will board the bus to collect the fee. Tren Patagonico only departs on Sundays. The bus to Puerto Madryn departs a few blocks north of the train station – ask for directions.
12 Whales. So many whales. You can see them on a boat trip from Puerto Pirámides, or even from the shoreline. If you want to see orca then you’ll need to take a tour to Punta Norte. Take motion sickness tables for the whale watching trip.
13 🚌Puerto Pirámides to Puerto Madryn bus
🚌Puerto Madryn to Esquel bus (Book >)
Dep: 11:00
Dep: 20:15
Arr: 12:30 🏨Bus  
Pay a visit to the wonderful Museo Oceanográfico in Puerto Madryn. If you’ve a couple of hours to spare walk along the beach to Punta Cuevas, where Welsh pioneers first settled. Pack ear plugs and an eye mask for the overnight bus journeys.
14 🚌Puerto Madryn to Esquel bus
🚌Esquel to El Chalten bus (Book >)
Dep: 16:00 Arr: 06:30

 

🏨Bus  
With your almost 12 hours in Esquel take a ride on La Trochita – the old Patagonian Express. Walk to Laguna La Zeta or in Parque Nacional Los Alerces. Bus tickets are usually only available to buy up to 2 months before departure.
15 🚌Esquel to El Chalten bus   Arr: 10:00 🏨Hospedaje Mi Rincon (Book >) All hotels >
Welcome to one of the best places for hiking in the world. Start with a relatively easy walk to Lago Torre – about 4 hours round trip. When you arrive into El Chalten the bus will stop at the park visitor centre where you can figure out which walks you want to do.
16 Devote today to walking to Lago de los Tres. This is a truly spectacular route that ends with a steep incline (so be sure to have some spare energy!) When you arrive you’ll be surrounded by immense, photogenic mountains and lakes. The final climb on today’s hike can be very busy and you may be stuck behind slower walkers – be patient and give yourself plenty of time.
17 🚌El Chalten to El Calafate bus (Book >) Dep: 17:00 Arr: 20:00 🏨Folk Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Several more hours during which you can hike to Chorrillo del Salto and/or to Los Condores. Take a filter water bottle with you so that you can top up from streams along the way.
18 Take a day trip to the Perito Moreno glacier, where a boat will take you up close to the face of the glacier. There are also some excellent walkways from which to admire the glacier from various angles. Arrange your trip to the glacier in advance (your hostel can help).
19 ✈El Calafate to Buenos Aires flight (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon 🏨Selina Palermo Soho (Book >) All hotels >
Relax before the flight to Buenos Aires. Enjoy one last evening in the Argentine capital. If you happen to be in Buenos Aires on a Sunday then you can get some great souvenirs at the San Telmo Feria.
20-21 ✈Buenos Aires to home Dep: Morning Arr: Morning (next day) Connect this Southern Argentina itinerary with the Northern Argentina, Brazil, Northern Chile or Southern Chile itinerary
Book your transfer to the airport.

Island hopping

I’ve long wanted to try island hopping in the Caribbean. When I started researching my trip there I was happy to see that it is possible to get a ferry between St Lucia, Dominica and Guadeloupe. However, I also wanted to see Barbados and so managed to find a cheap flight from Ecuador, via Florida and then another flight between Barbados and St Lucia.

These islands all felt very different. Barbados was relatively flat and had a plethora of incredible beaches. St Lucia had more variety; a few amazing beaches, mountains and rainforest. Dominica wasn’t great for beaches but offered a magnificent, verdant interior, as well as whale watching opportunities. Guadeloupe had good and easy hikes in the mountains, a large choice of beaches and a distinct French flair.

I knew that it would be easy to create a Luxury version of the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, the Mid-Range version was also pretty simple to put together. The Budget version was, however, more of a challenge, but it is entirely possible to see this part of the world without spending a fortune (partly thanks to the low cost airlines which fly there from the US).

We stayed in a range of accommodation, my favourite being the luxurious hotel on the side of a hill overlooking St Lucia’s dramatic pitons. The lowlight? Dominica’s incredibly disorganised border at the ferry port. It was so bad I nearly dropped this island from the itinerary, but its an amazing place and so worth going through immigration pain.

🇧🇧🇱🇨🇩🇲🇬🇵EASTERN CARIBBEAN

Sugar Beach, St LuciaIn the Eastern Caribbean you’ll find picture-perfect beaches, but also adventure in the form of rainforest hikes, swimming beneath waterfalls, snorkelling over reefs and much more. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your Eastern Caribbean itinerary:

Luxury Barbados
1 ✈To Barbados (Book >)
🚕Airport to Durants
Dep: Afternoon
Dep: Afteroon
Arr: Afternoon
Arr: 40 mins later
🏨The House by Elegant Hotels (Book >) All hotels >
You’ll arrive at your hotel in time for dinner and a relaxing evening after your flight. Arrange your transfer in advance for a smooth arrival.
2-5 You’re staying by one of the best beaches in Barbados, a great place to swim as well as to snorkel out to reef filled with colourful fish. During your time here I recommend a visit to the manor house, steam train and rum distillery at St Nicholas Abbey. In nearby Holetown there’s good shopping, a lively nightlife and the Holetown Monument which commemorates the 1625 English landing. Hurricane season runs from June to November.
6 ✈Barbados to St Lucia flight (Book >)
🚕Airport to Soufriere transfer
Dep: Afternoon
Dep: Afternoon
Arr: Afternoon
Arr: 1hr 30mins later
🏨Jade Mountain Resort (Book >) All hotels >
The transfer to your hotel takes an hour and a half, but once you arrive you’ll quickly realise you’ve come to somewhere special. Use an eco-friendly sunscreen and help protect the reefs.
7-10 Apart from spending time on those exquisite beaches and in the crystal-clear sea, pay a visit to the Sulphur Springs close to Soufriere, hike through the rainforest or embark on a sailing trip. All beaches in St Lucia are public – don’t let anyone try to kick you off!
11 ✈St Lucia to Dominica flight (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Morning 🏨Jungle Bay Resort & Spa(Book >) All hotels >
You’ll need to make an early start for the one flight a day to Dominica. Once you arrive, collect your car and enjoy the drive over the mountains to your hotel. Water in Dominica can be unsafe to drink, buy a filter water bottle and avoid using plastic.
12-14 Dominica is more about adventure than beach, so take yourself on the 45-min hike to Middleham Falls where a cool pool beneath a high waterfall is your reward. Much easier to get to are the twin waterfalls at Trafalgar Falls. From Roseau you can arrange dolphin and whale watching tours. Swim in the bubbling waters of Champagne Bay, or snorkel at spectacular Scott’s Head. Insect repellant is recommended when heading into the rainforest.
15 ✈Dominica to Guadeloupe flight (Book >) Dep: Evening Arr: Evening 🏨La Toubana Hotel & Spa (Book >) All hotels >
One you’ve landed at Pointe-a-Pitre airport collect your car for the 30-min drive to your hotel. Guadeloupe is a French territory and therefore in the EU.
16-18 You’ll be staying on the island of Grande Terre, where most of the best beaches are located. If you want to get active then drive to Basse Terre – you’ll find a good guide and maps here. Learning some French words and phrases will be appreciated by the locals.
19-20 ✈Guadeloupe to Home (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr:
Morning (next day)
Connect this Eastern Caribbean itinerary with the Cuba, Costa Rica or Eastern USA itinerary
Consider adding on a day or two in New York or Paris to break up the journey home.
Mid-range Dominica
1 ✈To Barbados (Book >)
🚕Airport to Speightstown
Dep: Afternoon
Dep: Afteroon
Arr: Afternoon
Arr: 1hr later
🏨Sugar Cane Club (Book >) All hotels >
You’ll arrive at your hotel in time for dinner and a relaxing evening after your flight. Arrange your transfer in advance for a smooth arrival.
2-5 You’re hotel offers free transfers to one of the best beaches in Barbados, a great place to swim as well as to snorkel out to reef filled with colourful fish. During your time here I recommend a visit to the manor house, steam train and rum distillery at St Nicholas Abbey. In nearby Speightstown there are some great beachside restaurants. Hurricane season runs from June to November.
6 ✈Barbados to St Lucia flight (Book >)
🚕Airport to Soufriere transfer
Dep: Afternoon
Dep: Afternoon
Arr: Afternoon
Arr: 1hr 30mins later
🏨Stonefield Estate Resort (Book >) All hotels >
The transfer to your hotel takes an hour and a half, but once you arrive you’ll quickly realise you’ve come to somewhere special. Use an eco-friendly sunscreen and help protect the reefs.
7-9 Apart from spending time on those exquisite beaches and in the crystal-clear sea, pay a visit to the Sulphur Springs close to Soufriere, hike through the rainforest or embark on a sailing trip. All beaches in St Lucia are public – don’t let anyone try to kick you off!
10 🚕Soufriere to Castries taxi Dep: 20:00 Arr: 21:30 🏨Harbour Vista Inn (Book >) All hotels >
Enjoy one last day at the beach before transferring to Castries, where you’ll stay the night before catching the early ferry tomorrow. Castries isn’t much fun at night and so I’d recommend arriving here later.
11 ⛴️St Lucia to Roseau ferry  (Book >)
🚌Roseau to Calibishie bus
Dep: 07:00
Dep: 12:30
Arr: 11:15
Arr: 14:30
🏨Wanderlust Caribbean (Book >) All hotels >
An early start for the ferry to Dominica. Once you arrive walk to River Bank road where you can catch a minibus to the other side of the island. Water in Dominica can be unsafe to drink, buy a filter water bottle and avoid using plastic.
12-14 Dominica is more about adventure than beach, so go on the 45-min hike to Middleham Falls where a cool pool beneath a high waterfall is your reward. Much easier to get to are the twin waterfalls at Trafalgar Falls. From Roseau you can arrange dolphin and whale watching tours. Swim in the bubbling waters of Champagne Bay, or snorkel at spectacular Scott’s Head. Your hotel can help to arrange tours of the island with Nigel – a guide I can highly recommend.
15 ⛴️Dominica to Pointe-a-Pitre ferry (Book >) Dep: 11:30 Arr: 13:45 🏨Le Rayon Vert (Book >) All hotels >
One you’ve arrived in Guadeloupe collect your car for the 1-hour drive to your hotel. Guadeloupe is a French territory and therefore in the EU.
16-18 You’ll be staying on the island of Basse Terre, where there are some great beaches as well as a plethora of inland activities – you’ll find a good guide and maps here. Learning some French words and phrases will be appreciated by the locals.
19-20 ✈Guadeloupe to Home (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr:
Morning (next day)
Connect this Eastern Caribbean itinerary with the Cuba, Costa Rica or Eastern USA itinerary
Consider adding on a day or two in New York or Paris to break up the journey home.
Budget Guadeloupe
1 ✈To Barbados (Book >)
🚕Airport to St Lawrence taxi
Dep: Afternoon
Dep: Afteroon
Arr: Afternoon
Arr: 25 mins later
🏨Southern Surf Beach Apartments (Book >) All hotels >
You’ll arrive at your hotel in time for dinner and a relaxing evening after your flight. You can find an official taxi stand in the airport, just outside the arrivals doors.
2-5 St Lawrence is a lively part of Barbados, with a good choice of rum shacks and beautiful beaches. During your time here I recommend a visit to the manor house, steam train and rum distillery at St Nicholas Abbey. In nearby Bridgetown there’s good shopping and a charming boardwalk. Hurricane season runs from June to November.
6 ✈Barbados to St Lucia flight (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon 🏨Sérénité Vigie Saint Lucia (Book >) All hotels >
Your hotel is a short walk from the airport and is a great place from which to watch the sun go down. There are plenty of minibuses running from near your hotel to the airport in Barbados.
7 🚌Castries to Soufriere bus Dep: 10:00 Arr: 12:00 🏨Serenity Escape St Lucia (Book >) All hotels >
You can either take the bus directly to Soufriere, or stop off along the way at a rum distillery. Use an eco-friendly sunscreen and help protect the reefs.
8-9 Apart from spending time on those exquisite beaches and in the crystal-clear sea, pay a visit to the Sulphur Springs close to Soufriere, hike through the rainforest or embark on a sailing trip. All beaches in St Lucia are public – don’t let anyone try to kick you off!
10 🚌Soufriere to Castries bus Dep: 17:00 Arr: 19:00 🏨Harbour Vista Inn (Book >) All hotels >
Enjoy one last day at the beach before transferring to Castries, where you’ll stay the night before catching the early ferry tomorrow. There are only a limited number of decent restaurants in Castries.
11 ⛴️St Lucia to Roseau ferry (Book >)
🚌Roseau to Soufriere bus
Dep: 07:00
Dep: 12:30
Arr: 11:15
Arr: 14:30
🏨Soufriere Guesthouse (Book >) All hotels >
An early start for the ferry to Dominica. Once you arrive walk to River Bank road where you can catch a minibus to Soufriere (not the one in St Lucia!) Water in Dominica can be unsafe to drink, buy a filter water bottle and avoid using plastic.
12-14 Take a minibus to Roseau and then another to the twin waterfalls at Trafalgar Falls. From Roseau you can arrange dolphin and whale watching tours. Swim in the bubbling waters of Champagne Bay (close to your guesthouse), or snorkel at spectacular Scott’s Head. Insect repellant is recommended when heading into the rainforest.
15 ⛴️Dominica to Pointe-a-Pitre ferry (Book >) Dep: 11:30 Arr: 13:45 🏨Gîte bois Cannelle (Book >) All hotels >
One you’ve arrived in Guadeloupe collect your car for the 1-hour drive to your gîte. Guadeloupe is a French territory and therefore in the EU.
16-18 You’ll be staying on the island of Basse Terre, where there are some great beaches as well as a plethora of inland activities – you’ll find a good guide and maps here. Learning some French words and phrases will be appreciated by the locals.
19-20 ✈Guadeloupe to Home (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr:
Morning (next day)
Connect this Eastern Caribbean itinerary with the Cuba, Costa Rica or Eastern USA itinerary
Consider adding on a day or two in New York or Paris to break up the journey home.

Living the high life

In 2008 we set out to travel from London to Nepal without taking any flights. We celebrated reaching that goal atop Poon Hill, 3200 metres high and with a view of several 7000+ metre-high mountains. What a stupendous country Nepal is.

Of course, if hiking isn’t really your thing then there are other ways to view those magnificent Himalaya; on a white water rafting expedition (which I can also highly recommend), from an aeroplane, from an infinity pool in your luxurious hotel… Then there’s the fascinating city of Kathmandu, friendly hill-top villages and the wonderful wildlife of Chitwan National Park.

The Nepal itinerary was one of those few where Luxury, Mid-range and Budget travellers all, at one point, stay in the same accommodation. When you’re on a remote trek there isn’t much choice but to stay in a teahouse and they’re all pretty basic. But they’re also an enjoyable part of the trekking experience and, after a day of hiking up steep hills, any bed is welcome!

I chose to include a trek in the Annapurna region rather than nearer to Everest. This is because I have direct experience of this trek and know that it’s one of the best you’ll ever do. Plus, if you’re short of time, you can still see Everest on a special flight. If you do have more time then I would absolutely recommend trekking up to Everest Base Camp – flying between Kathmandu and Pokhara is the best way to make up that time.

🇳🇵NEPAL

Poon Hill, NepalYou’ll need to be somewhat fit to tackle the magnificent treks in Nepal, but the reward for all that effort is a front-row view of the world’s highest mountains. Back where the oxygen is less thin are fascinating cities and incredible wildlife-spotting opportunities Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your Nepal itinerary:

Luxury Chitwan National Park, Nepal
1 ✈To Kathmandu (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2 Arr: Afternoon 🏨Hotel The Dwarika’s (Book >) All hotels >
Relax in your beautiful hotel and go for a stroll around the old city.
3 Explore the Thamel District, visit the Pashupatinath Temple, famous Boudhanath Stupa, beautiful Taleju Temple, the Patan Museum and, if time, climb up to up to the ancient Swayambhu temple for breathtaking views. Mid-afternoon head over to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur. Visitors from most countries can obtain a visa on arrival.
4 ✈Kathmandu to Pokhara flight (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon 🏨The Pavilions Himalayas (Book >) All hotels >
You have a little more time this morning to see any sights you missed out on yesterday before the breathtaking flight to Pokhara. Once you’ve arrived, dropped off your bags and got your trekking permit, head to the lake for a serene paddle over the water. You will need to get a trekking permit (details here) – head straight to the Nepal Tourism Board office when you arrive in Pokhara or ask your hotel for help.
5 🚕Pokhara to Nayapul taxi
🚶Nayapul to Ulleri hike
Dep: 07:00
Dep: 09:00
Arr: 08:45
Arr: 16:00
🏨Super View Guest House
From Nayapul walk to the Birethani checkpoint and get your permit checked. Then onwards and upwards, through valleys and past rivers. Along the way you’ll pass tea houses where you can stop off for food and drink. It isn’t necessary to book guest houses in advance – if those I’ve recommended aren’t available then be assured that standards don’t vary much.
6 🚶Ulleri to Ghorepani hike Dep: 07:00 Arr: 15:00 🏨Super View Lodge
3,767 stairs to Ghorepani, stopping at beautiful Ulleri village. About halfway through the walk you’ll start getting glimpses of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Once in Ghorepani leave your bags at the teahouse and take a couple of hours to rest, before ascending Poon Hill (about 45 mins away). From the top is one of the best views you’re ever likely to see. These trekking times allow for a slow pace and many rest stops!
7 🚶Ghorepani to Tadapani hike Dep: 08:30 Arr: 17:30 🏨Fishtail Lodge
Awake at 04:00 and trek back up Poon Hill for a spectacular sunrise. Return for breakfast then enjoy today’s walk through forests, over rivers, up to the highest point on the trek (about 10,000 ft) and yes, more steps. Tadapani has amazing views – including of the fishtail peak of Machhapuchhre – which you can admire over a recuperating drink. Plastic water bottles can’t be bought on the trek – buy a filter water bottle. You’ll also need to bring your own sleeping bag, liner and towel.
8 🚶Tadapani to Birethanti hike
🚕Birethanti to Pokhara taxi
Dep: 08:00
Dep: 15:00
Arr: 14:30
Arr: 17:00
🏨The Pavilions Himalayas (Book >) All hotels >
A relatively easy walk, descending to Birethanti and stopping off at Ghandrung village. Back in Pokhara treat yourself to a well-earned massage. Do you need a guide for your trek? I don’t think so, at least not for this one which is a pretty obvious route.
9 🚗Pokhara to Bandipur drive (Book >) Dep: 11:00 Arr: 13:30 🏨Depche Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
Meet your guide and enjoy the drive to Bandipur. This well-preserved medieval town boasts old temples and shrines, as well as superb views of the Himalaya from Tudikhel hill. Be wary of the signs of altitude sickness.
10 🚗Bandipur to Andrauli drive Dep: 08:00 Arr: 11:00 🏨Barahi Jungle Lodge(Book >) All hotels >
Drive on to Chitwan National Park where you will spend today and tomorrow seeking out tigers, rhinos and wild elephants. Take a power bank with you on treks and safaris.
11 More time to see wildlife, including deer, monkeys, crocodiles, wild boars and many species of birds. Do not ride elephants! They are often mistreated.
12 🚗Andrauli to Kathmandu drive Dep: 09:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Hotel The Dwarika’s (Book >) All hotels >
Back in Kathmandu you’ll have plenty of time to see any sights you missed on days 2-4. In need of souvenirs? Pick them up at Mangal Bazaar. You can’t take Nepalese rupees out of the country; exchange before you leave.
13 Today you’re going on a flight to see Mount Everest. The flight starts early and has you back on the ground in an hour, during which time you’ll see the world’s highest peak from your guaranteed window seat. If you want to extend your trip then consider travelling to Lukla on day 13 for a ground view of Everest.
14 ✈Kathmandu to Home (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Evening Connect this Nepal itinerary with the China or India (Rajasthan) itinerary
Book your transfer to the airport.
Mid-range Kathmandu, Nepal
1 ✈To Kathmandu (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2 Arr: Afternoon 🏨Tibet International (Book >) All hotels >
Relax in your beautiful hotel and go for a stroll around the old city.
3 Explore the Thamel District, visit the Pashupatinath Temple, famous Boudhanath Stupa, beautiful Taleju Temple, the Patan Museum and, if time, climb up to up to the ancient Swayambhu temple for breathtaking views. Mid-afternoon head over to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur. Visitors from most countries can obtain a visa on arrival.
4 ✈Kathmandu to Pokhara flight (Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon 🏨Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge (Book >) All hotels >
You have a little more time this morning to see any sights you missed out on yesterday before the breathtaking flight to Pokhara. Once you’ve arrived, dropped off your bags and got your trekking permit, head to the lake for a serene paddle over the water. You will need to get a trekking permit (details here) – head straight to the Nepal Tourism Board office when you arrive in Pokhara or ask your hotel for help.
5 🚕Pokhara to Nayapul taxi
🚶Nayapul to Ulleri hike
Dep: 07:00
Dep: 09:00
Arr: 08:45
Arr: 16:00
🏨Super View Guest House
From Nayapul walk to the Birethani checkpoint and get your permit checked. Then onwards and upwards, through valleys and past rivers. Along the way you’ll pass tea houses where you can stop off for food and drink. It isn’t necessary to book guest houses in advance – if those I’ve recommended aren’t available then be assured that standards don’t vary much.
6 🚶Ulleri to Ghorepani hike Dep: 07:00 Arr: 15:00 🏨Super View Lodge
3,767 stairs to Ghorepani, stopping at beautiful Ulleri village. About halfway through the walk you’ll start getting glimpses of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Once in Ghorepani leave your bags at the teahouse and take a couple of hours to rest, before ascending Poon Hill (about 45 mins away). From the top is one of the best views you’re ever likely to see. These trekking times allow for a slow pace and many rest stops!
7 🚶Ghorepani to Tadapani hike Dep: 08:30 Arr: 17:30 🏨Fishtail Lodge
Awake at 04:00 and trek back up Poon Hill for a spectacular sunrise. Return for breakfast then enjoy today’s walk through forests, over rivers, up to the highest point on the trek (about 10,000 ft) and yes, more steps. Tadapani has amazing views – including of the fishtail peak of Machhapuchhre – which you can admire over a recuperating drink. Plastic water bottles can’t be bought on the trek – buy a filter water bottle. You’ll also need to bring your own sleeping bag, liner and towel.
8 🚶Tadapani to Naya Pul hike
🚌Naya Pul to Pokhara bus
Dep: 08:00
Dep: 15:15
Arr: 14:45
Arr: 17:15
🏨Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge (Book >) All hotels >
A relatively easy walk, descending to Naya Pul and stopping off at Ghandrung village. At the end of the trek you’ll need to wait for a passing bus back to Pokhara. Back in the city treat yourself to a well-earned massage. Do you need a guide for your trek? I don’t think so, at least not for this one which is a pretty obvious route.
9 🚌Pokhara to Dumre Bazaar bus
🚌Dumre Bazaar to Bandipur bus
Dep: 10:30
Dep: 13:30
Arr: 13:00
Arr: 14:30
🏨Gaun Ghar (Book >) All hotels >
The well-preserved medieval town of Bandipur boasts old temples and shrines, as well as superb views of the Himalaya from Tudikhel hill. Ask your hotel about transport from Dumre and to book your bus ticket to Sauraha.
10 🚌Bandipur to Dumre Bazaar bus
🚌Dumre Bazaar  to Sauraha bus
Dep: 08:30
Dep: 10:30
Arr: 09:30
Arr: 13:30
🏨Green Park Chitwan (Book >) All hotels >
Drive on to Chitwan National Park where you will spend today and tomorrow seeking out tigers, rhinos and wild elephants. Ask your Chitwan hotel to collect you from the bus stop.
11 More time to see wildlife, including deer, monkeys, crocodiles, wild boars and many species of birds. Do not ride elephants! They are often mistreated.
12 🚌Sauraha to Kathmandu bus (Book >) Dep: 09:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨Tibet International (Book >) All hotels >
Back in Kathmandu you’ll have plenty of time to see any sights you missed on days 2-4. In need of souvenirs? Pick them up at Mangal Bazaar. You can’t take Nepalese rupees out of the country; exchange before you leave.
13 Today you’re going on a flight to see Mount Everest. The flight starts early and has you back on the ground in an hour, during which time you’ll see the world’s highest peak from your guaranteed window seat. If you want to extend your trip then consider travelling to Lukla on day 13 for a ground view of Everest.
14 ✈Kathmandu to Home (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Evening Connect this Nepal itinerary with the China or India (Rajasthan) itinerary
Book your transfer to the airport.
Budget Mount Everest
1 ✈To Kathmandu (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2 Arr: Afternoon 🏨WanderThirst Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Relax in your beautiful hotel and go for a stroll around the old city.
3 Explore the Thamel District, visit the Pashupatinath Temple, famous Boudhanath Stupa, beautiful Taleju Temple, the Patan Museum and, if time, climb up to up to the ancient Swayambhu temple for breathtaking views. Mid-afternoon head over to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur. Visitors from most countries can obtain a visa on arrival.
4 🚌Kathmandu to Pokhara bus (Book >) Dep: 07:30 Arr: 15:00 🏨The Mountain House (Book >) All hotels >
Once you’ve arrived in Pokhara, dropped off your bags and got your trekking permit, head to the lake for a serene paddle over the water. You will need to get a trekking permit (details here) – head straight to the Nepal Tourism Board office when you arrive in Pokhara or ask your hostel for help.
5 🚌Pokhara to Nayapul bus
🚶Nayapul to Ulleri hike
Dep: 07:00
Dep: 09:00
Arr: 09:00
Arr: 16:00
🏨Super View Guest House
From Nayapul walk to the Birethani checkpoint and get your permit checked. Then onwards and upwards, through valleys and past rivers. Along the way you’ll pass tea houses where you can stop off for food and drink. It isn’t necessary to book guest houses in advance – if those I’ve recommended aren’t available then be assured that standards don’t vary much.
6 🚶Ulleri to Ghorepani hike Dep: 07:00 Arr: 15:00 🏨Super View Lodge
3,767 stairs to Ghorepani, stopping at beautiful Ulleri village. About halfway through the walk you’ll start getting glimpses of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Once in Ghorepani leave your bags at the teahouse and take a couple of hours to rest, before ascending Poon Hill (about 45 mins away). From the top is one of the best views you’re ever likely to see. These trekking times allow for a slow pace and many rest stops!
7 🚶Ghorepani to Tadapani hike Dep: 08:30 Arr: 17:30 🏨Fishtail Lodge
Awake at 04:00 and trek back up Poon Hill for a spectacular sunrise. Return for breakfast then enjoy today’s walk through forests, over rivers, up to the highest point on the trek (about 10,000 ft) and yes, more steps. Tadapani has amazing views – including of the fishtail peak of Machhapuchhre – which you can admire over a recuperating drink. Plastic water bottles can’t be bought on the trek – buy a filter water bottle. You’ll also need to bring your own sleeping bag, liner and towel.
8 🚶Tadapani to Naya Pul hike
🚌Syauli Bazaar to Naya Pul bus
Dep: 08:00
Dep: 15:15
Arr: 14:45
Arr: 17:15
🏨The Mountain House (Book >) All hotels >
A relatively easy walk, descending to Naya Pul and stopping off at Ghandrung village. At the end of the trek you’ll need to wait for a passing bus back to Pokhara. Back in Pokhara treat yourself to a well-earned massage. Do you need a guide for your trek? I don’t think so, at least not for this one which is a pretty obvious route.
9 🚌Pokhara to Dumre Bazaar bus
🚌Dumre Bazaar to Bandipur bus
Dep: 10:30
Dep: 13:30
Arr: 13:00
Arr: 14:30
🏨Hotel The North Face (Book >) All hotels >
Meet your guide and enjoy the drive to Bandipur. This well-preserved medieval town boasts old temples and shrines, as well as superb views of the Himalaya from Tudikhel hill. Ask your hotel about transport from Dumre and to book your bus ticket to Sauraha.
10 🚌Bandipur to Dumre Bazaar bus
🚌Dumre Bazaar  to Sauraha bus
Dep: 08:30
Dep: 10:30
Arr: 09:30
Arr: 13:30
🏨Hotel Rhino Land (Book >) All hotels >
Drive on to Chitwan National Park where you will spend today and tomorrow seeking out tigers, rhinos and wild elephants. Ask your hostel to collect you from the bus stop.
11 More time to see wildlife, including deer, monkeys, crocodiles, wild boars and many species of birds. Do not ride elephants! They are often mistreated.
12 🚌Sauraha to Kathmandu bus (Book >) Dep: 09:00 Arr: 14:00 🏨WanderThirst Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Back in Kathmandu you’ll have plenty of time to see any sights you missed on days 2-4. In need of souvenirs? Pick them up at Mangal Bazaar. You can’t take Nepalese rupees out of the country; exchange before you leave.
13 Today you’re going on a flight to see Mount Everest. The flight starts early and has you back on the ground in an hour, during which time you’ll see the world’s highest peak from your guaranteed window seat. If you want to extend your trip then consider travelling to Lukla on day 13 for a ground view of Everest.
14 ✈Kathmandu to Home (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Evening Connect this Nepal itinerary with the China or India (Rajasthan) itinerary
Ask your hostel for help flagging a meter taxi to the airport.

“I will not let you go into the unknown alone”

Travelling through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria was one of the first holidays I took with my girlfriend (who became my wife). It’s therefore been a while since I was there but, having done a lot of research, it seems as though (thankfully) the sights you have to see haven’t changed. Not surprising, considering many of these sights are centuries old.

Budapest is a destination in its own right, as evidenced by the many tourists who come here for a weekend break, but it’s also a great place to start this itinerary and enjoy an overnight train to Romania. Waking up in Transylvania is a special treat – fortunately the only things which seem immortal around here are the remote, well-preserved castles, which are especially atmospheric.

Although taking the train can be a comfortable way of travelling, it isn’t necessarily the fastest and this is true in Romania. This itinerary therefore incorporates a bus journey to speed luxury, mid-range and budget travellers to Sofia in Bulgaria.

My abiding memories of Sofia are the golden dome of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the military artifacts on sale at Bitaka Flea Market (hand grenade anyone?) and the astonishingly delicious ice cream. I have tried to pack in as many amazing, unforgettable sights into this 11-day Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria itinerary. My only challenge was trying not to mention Dracula too much…

🇭🇺HUNGARY, 🇷🇴ROMANIA & 🇧🇬BULGARIA

Bran Castle, RomaniaThree countries, 11 unforgettable, action-packed days. Beautiful cities, medieval towns, ancient castles, huge forests and wild mountains – this itinerary has it all. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your Hungary, Romania & Bulgaria itinerary:

Luxury Budapest, Hungary
1 ✈To Budapest (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Aria Hotel Budapest (Book >) All hotels >
Upon arrival into Budapest, visit the immense St Stephen’s Basilica. If you’re not up for much walking, buy a public transport pass at the airport.
2 Walk over the chain bridge and marvel at the views from Fisherman’s Bastion, including over the impressive Hungarian Parliament Building, then continue on to Buda Castle (under which is The Hospital in the Rock) and Heroes’ Square. Try to catch a performance at the beautiful Hungarian State Opera House. There are many interesting free walking tours in Budapest (don’t forget to tip!)
3 🚄Budapest to Sighișoara train (Book >) Dep: 23:10 🏨Train
Begin your day with a tour around Vajdahunyad Castle then go for a soak in the healing waters of the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Buying an Interrail pass (Eurail pass if you don’t live in Europe) can save you money.
4 🚄Budapest to Sighișoara train Arr: 11:06 🏨DoubleTree by Hilton (Book >) All hotels >
Sighișoara’s well-preserved old town walls encircle the 12th century citadel in which you’ll find the clock tower (good views form the top), the Monastery Church, the bust of Vlad Tepes and the Covered Staircase which leads to the Church on the Hill. If you have a little more time then hike or bike into the Transylvanian countryside and up to the Breite plateau. This is the town in which Vlad Tepes (aka Vlad the Impaler/Dracula) was born – his birth home is now a restaurant (Casa Vlad Dracul).
5 🚄Sighișoara to Braşov train (Book >) Dep: 11:08 Arr: 13:46 🏨Hotel Kronwell (Book >) All hotels >
Once you’ve dropped your bags at the hotel walk to the medieval Catherine’s Gate and then along the city wall. Squeeze down String Street (Strada Sforii) – at 4ft wide reputedly the narrowest in Europe. Visit Saint Nicholas Basilica and admire the ornate interior. Beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and larger train stations.
6 Take a taxi to Bran Castle – one of several deemed to be the home of Dracula, but certainly the most photogenic. Consider adding a day to explore other castles in the area including Corvin Castle, where Vlad Tepes was allegedly held prisoner for several years. Learn a few basic Romanian words and phrases.
7 🚄Braşov to Bucharest train
(Book >)
Dep: 11:20 Arr: 14:05 🏨Hotel Epoque (Book >) All hotels >
The immense Palace of Parliament – one of the world’s largest buildings – is a good place to start in Bucharest. Stroll around Cișmigiu Gardens and the cobbled streets of Old Town (don’t miss Stavropoleos Church). Although cheaper, Romania’s R-trains are slower – spend just a little more to make the most of your time here.
8 🚄Bucharest to Veliko Tarnovo train (Book >) Dep: 12:40 Arr: 20:41 🏨Agusta Spa Hotel (Book >) All hotels >
In Bucharest go to Revolution Square (Piața Revoluției) – an important place in Romania’s history. This site has useful Bucharest public transport info.
9 🚌Veliko Tarnovo to Sofia bus
(Book >)
Dep: 16:15 Arr: 19:15 🏨Sense Hotel Sofia (Book >) All hotels >
Bursting with history, the Bulgarian mountain city of Veliko Tarnovo has a wonderful old town which is best explored on foot. The Tsaravets fortress is a must-see. Bus travel is faster than train travel in Bulgaria.
10 Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the National History Museum, the Sveti Georgi Rotunda are all must-sees. If you’ve some spare time then the National Palace Of Culture often has great events and fascinating exhibitions. Pick up souvenirs at Bitaka Flea Market. Learning some basic Bulgarian Cyrillic can help you get around, especially if you stay in the country for more than a few days.
11 Sofia to Home (✈Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon Connect this Hungary, Romania & Bulgaria itinerary with the Slovenia & Croatia, Western Turkey or Austria & Munich itinerary
Not ready to go home? Visit Bulgaria’s beautiful Black Sea beaches.
Mid-range Brasov, Romania
1 ✈To Budapest (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨Hotel Bo33 Family & Suites (Book >) All hotels >
Upon arrival into Budapest, visit the immense St Stephen’s Basilica. If you’re not up for much walking, buy a public transport pass at the airport.
2 Walk over the chain bridge and marvel at the views from Fisherman’s Bastion, including over the impressive Hungarian Parliament Building, then continue on to Buda Castle (under which is The Hospital in the Rock) and Heroes’ Square. Try to catch a performance at the beautiful Hungarian State Opera House. There are many interesting free walking tours in Budapest (don’t forget to tip!)
3 🚄Budapest to Sighișoara train (Book >) Dep: 23:10 🏨Train
Begin your day with a tour around Vajdahunyad Castle then go for a soak in the healing waters of the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Buying an Interrail pass (Eurail pass if you don’t live in Europe) can save you money.
4 🚄Budapest to Sighișoara train Arr: 11:06 🏨Casa Savri (Book >) All hotels >
Sighișoara’s well-preserved old town walls encircle the 12th century citadel in which you’ll find the clock tower (good views form the top), the Monastery Church, the bust of Vlad Tepes and the Covered Staircase which leads to the Church on the Hill. If you have a little more time then hike or bike into the Transylvanian countryside and up to the Breite plateau. This is the town in which Vlad Tepes (aka Vlad the Impaler/Dracula) was born – his birth home is now a restaurant (Casa Vlad Dracul).
5 🚄Sighișoara to Braşov train (Book >) Dep: 11:08 Arr: 13:46 🏨Casa Veche (Book >) All hotels >
Once you’ve dropped your bags at the hotel walk to the medieval Catherine’s Gate and then along the city wall. Squeeze down String Street (Strada Sforii) – at 4ft wide reputedly the narrowest in Europe. Visit Saint Nicholas Basilica and admire the ornate interior. Beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and larger train stations.
6 Take a 35-minute bus journey from terminal #2 to Bran Castle – one of several deemed to be the home of Dracula, but certainly the most photogenic. Consider adding a day to explore other castles in the area including Corvin Castle, where Vlad Tepes was allegedly held prisoner for several years. Learn a few basic Romanian words and phrases.
7 🚄Braşov to Bucharest train
(Book >)
Dep: 11:20 Arr: 14:05 🏨Hotel Christina (Book >) All hotels >
The immense Palace of Parliament – one of the world’s largest buildings – is a good place to start in Bucharest. Stroll around Cișmigiu Gardens and the cobbled streets of Old Town (don’t miss Stavropoleos Church). Although cheaper, Romania’s R-trains are slower – spend just a little more to make the most of your time here.
8 🚄Bucharest to Veliko Tarnovo train (Book >) Dep: 12:40 Arr: 20:41 🏨Gurko (Book >) All hotels >
In Bucharest go to Revolution Square (Piața Revoluției) – an important place in Romania’s history. This site has useful Bucharest public transport info.
9 🚌Veliko Tarnovo to Sofia bus
(Book >)
Dep: 16:15 Arr: 19:15 🏨InterContinental Sofia (Book >) All hotels >
Bursting with history, the Bulgarian mountain city of Veliko Tarnovo has a wonderful old town which is best explored on foot. The Tsaravets fortress is a must-see. Bus travel is faster than train travel in Bulgaria.
10 Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the National History Museum, the Sveti Georgi Rotunda are all must-sees. If you’ve some spare time then the National Palace Of Culture often has great events and fascinating exhibitions. Pick up souvenirs at Bitaka Flea Market. Learning some basic Bulgarian Cyrillic can help you get around, especially if you stay in the country for more than a few days.
11 Sofia to Home (✈Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon Connect this Hungary, Romania & Bulgaria itinerary with the Slovenia & Croatia, Western Turkey or Austria & Munich itinerary
Not ready to go home? Visit Bulgaria’s beautiful Black Sea beaches.
Budget Sofia, Bulgaria
1 ✈To Budapest (Book >) Dep: Morning Arr: Afternoon 🏨The Lazy Muggle Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Upon arrival into Budapest, visit the immense St Stephen’s Basilica. If you’re not up for much walking, buy a public transport pass at the airport.
2 Walk over the chain bridge and marvel at the views from Fisherman’s Bastion, including over the impressive Hungarian Parliament Building, then continue on to Buda Castle (under which is The Hospital in the Rock) and Heroes’ Square. Try to catch a performance at the beautiful Hungarian State Opera House. There are many interesting free walking tours in Budapest (don’t forget to tip!)
3 🚄Budapest to Sighișoara train (Book >) Dep: 23:10 🏨Train
Begin your day with a tour around Vajdahunyad Castle then go for a soak in the healing waters of the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Buying an Interrail pass (Eurail pass if you don’t live in Europe) can save you money.
4 🚄Budapest to Sighișoara train Arr: 11:06 🏨Burg Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
Sighișoara’s well-preserved old town walls encircle the 12th century citadel in which you’ll find the clock tower (good views form the top), the Monastery Church, the bust of Vlad Tepes and the Covered Staircase which leads to the Church on the Hill. If you have a little more time then hike or bike into the Transylvanian countryside and up to the Breite plateau. This is the town in which Vlad Tepes (aka Vlad the Impaler/Dracula) was born – his birth home is now a restaurant (Casa Vlad Dracul).
5 🚄Sighișoara to Braşov train (Book >) Dep: 11:08 Arr: 13:46 🏨Hostel Mara (Book >) All hotels >
Once you’ve dropped your bags at the hotel walk to the medieval Catherine’s Gate and then along the city wall. Squeeze down String Street (Strada Sforii) – at 4ft wide reputedly the narrowest in Europe. Visit Saint Nicholas Basilica and admire the ornate interior. Beware of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and larger train stations.
6 Take a 35-minute bus journey from terminal #2 to Bran Castle – one of several deemed to be the home of Dracula, but certainly the most photogenic. Consider adding a day to explore other castles in the area including Corvin Castle, where Vlad Tepes was allegedly held prisoner for several years. Learn a few basic Romanian words and phrases.
7 🚄Braşov to Bucharest train
(Book >)
Dep: 11:20 Arr: 14:05 🏨Podstel Bucharest (Book >) All hotels >
The immense Palace of Parliament – one of the world’s largest buildings – is a good place to start in Bucharest. Stroll around Cișmigiu Gardens and the cobbled streets of Old Town (don’t miss Stavropoleos Church). Although cheaper, Romania’s R-trains are slower – spend just a little more to make the most of your time here.
8 🚄Bucharest to Veliko Tarnovo train (Book >) Dep: 12:40 Arr: 20:41 🏨Hikers Hostel (Book >) All hotels >
In Bucharest go to Revolution Square (Piața Revoluției) – an important place in Romania’s history. This site has useful Bucharest public transport info.
9 🚌Veliko Tarnovo to Sofia bus
(Book >)
Dep: 16:15 Arr: 19:15 🏨Hostel Mostel (Book >) All hotels >
Bursting with history, the Bulgarian mountain city of Veliko Tarnovo has a wonderful old town which is best explored on foot. The Tsaravets fortress is a must-see. Bus travel is faster than train travel in Bulgaria.
10 Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the National History Museum, the Sveti Georgi Rotunda are all must-sees. If you’ve some spare time then the National Palace Of Culture often has great events and fascinating exhibitions. Pick up souvenirs at Bitaka Flea Market. Learning some basic Bulgarian Cyrillic can help you get around, especially if you stay in the country for more than a few days.
11 Sofia to Home (✈Book >) Dep: Afternoon Arr: Afternoon Connect this Hungary, Romania & Bulgaria itinerary with the Slovenia & Croatia, Western Turkey or Austria & Munich itinerary
Not ready to go home? Visit Bulgaria’s beautiful Black Sea beaches.

Not just your imagination

Close your eyes and imagine Indonesia. When you see this country for yourself you’ll realise that what you pictured is probably pretty accurate. In fact, the reality will likely exceed expectations. 

There’s the well-preserved temples of Borobodur, the alien landscape of Mount Bromo and the perfect, serene rice terraces around Ubud. And then, of course, there are glorious beaches.

Waking up before dawn to see sunrise at Bromo was both exhausting and incredibly rewarding. We only used buses to get about, but the railway on Java seems as though it works well and therefore a good option for travellers. 

For these itineraries I’ve tried to avoid the crowds in Kuta, but there are great luxury, mid-range and budget options available and so, after the idyll of Lombok, it seemed a good and sensible place in which to end this journey. Just a word of warming if taking bemos; hold on tight and prepare to have many conversations with locals.