Why Sao Miguel, Azores Will Blow Your Mind: The Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

Why Sao Miguel, Azores Will Blow Your Mind: The Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

My introduction to the Azores came a few years back, while watching Anthony Bourdain’s TV show. It seemed like such a mystical, intangible place and that instantly peeked my interest. Gotta love Mr. Bourdain!

Sao Miguel, Azores is a nature lover’s absolute dream. Tropical jungles, vibrant lakes, volcanos, relaxing hot springs, stunning waterfalls, epic hiking trails, breathtaking cliffside viewpoints, endless natural wonders, and lavish greens everywhere in sight. This is the Azores.

5 Things You May Not Know About the Azores

~The Azores are made up of lakes, lava fields, volcanic caves and islets.
~Sao Miguel is the biggest island and has 4 volcanos, 2 active and 2 dormant.
~Azoreans never pay more than €130 to go to mainland Portugal. If they pay more, they take their documents to the post office and get reimbursed.
~The Azores are the only producers of tea in all of Europe.
~The Azores have characteristic microclimates throughout the islands.

After spending 4 days on Sao Miguel island, I can honestly say it’s the most naturally beautiful place I have ever been (And this is saying a lot seeing as I was just in Iceland a few months earlier). Yes, it’s more naturally pretty than Iceland in my opinion. Actually, the 2 places reminded me a lot of each other in a weird way! The volcanic activity, the natural thermal pools, the black lava rocks and black sand beaches, the waterfalls (Iceland definitely takes the crown in that category), the geysers, and green moss covered landscapes.

Sao Miguel Azores

Sao Miguel, Azores is a very easily navigable island and the roads are very well maintained. Coming straight from Sardinia, Italy where I experienced the worst roads in Europe so far, the roads were heavenly to drive. The island is so perfectly manicured and well kept and the natural beauty was overwhelming. I spent a good part of my trip questioning if this place was even real.

In short…THE AZORES WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!

Where are the Azores?

The Azores are an archipelago of 9 islands located in the South Western Atlantic Ocean, about 1/3 of the way from Portugal to the East Coast of America. The Azores are part of Macronesia, along with Madeira, Canary Islands, and Cape Verde.

Most of the islands are protected and haven’t seen any damage from mass tourism. Hopefully they stay that way!

How to Get to Sao Miguel, Azores

Direct fights from Lisbon take 2 hours on Ryanair and cost around €80+ roundtrip, depending on the season. The earlier you book, the better chance of snagging the cheaper tickets. The 2 budget airlines, Easy Jet and Ryanair, just opened up flights in 2015 and it’s been a game-changer. Before this, it was extremely expensive to travel to the islands, making them a fairly unattainable destination for most. For the best flight deals, my “go-to” booking site is Skyscanner…I swear by them.

(Full disclosure: This contains an affiliate link, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the above link, at no extra cost to you. Yay!).

Transportation on Sao Miguel Island

Bus schedules are very infrequent on the island so I HIGHLY recommend renting a car and/or scooter. Plus, you really won’t be able to see the more off-the-beaten path places by public transport. I rented a scooter for the first 2 days and an automatic car for the last 2 days to go longer distances and it worked out perfectly.

Scooter rental in Sao Miguel, Azores, GoPro

Car/Scooter Rental

I went with Auto Ramalhense because they had good rates, good reviews, and the added bonus that they pick up and deliver your vehicle to your accommodation at no extra cost. Scooter rental costs €21-25/day (50cc horse power vs 125cc horse power). Definitely spend the extra few euros and pick the 125cc. This is not the time to be cheap!

(note: one week later in Lagos, Portugal I made the mistake of going with the cheaper 50cc scooter and it was a piece of crap. It was like a toy scooter and it took me forever to get anywhere. I also found out you’re not allowed to drive 50cc scooters on the freeway…after the fact!).

An automatic car rental costs 45 euro/day. For a manual car, expect to pay half that! If I could just learn how to drive stick dangit!

They charge only €8 to drop it off at the airport, which was so worth it seeing as I had a 7:30am flight! The company was very accommodating last-minute and overall I had a great experience. And no, this was not sponsored in any way, shape, or form.

Sao Miguel, Azores Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

Day 1: red pins
Day 2: blue pins
Day 3: yellow pins
Day 4: purple pins

Day 1 (with scooter)

Sets Cidades (Twin Lakes)

Cete Cidades Twin Lakes

Day 1 starts out strong with one of the most magnificent lakes on the island. Actually, Cete Cidades is made up of twin lakes, one blue and one green.You can go down to the bottom and see them separated by a bridge. It’s not as colorful on the bottom but still very beautiful. It takes 25 minutes by car from Ponta Delgada and 40 minutes by scooter. If you have time, this is a popular hiking spot so give yourself ample time to explore the different pathways!

Interesting folktale: Do you know why one lake is green and one lake is blue? Legend has it that a Princess and a shepherd fell in love. After the Princess’ father forbid them from seeing each other, they met one last time and cried so much that these 2 lakes were formed. The green from the tears of the green-eyed Princess and the blue from the tears of the blue-eyed shepherd. Now their tears will remain together in eternity! It doesn’t get any more romantic than that! ♥

Miradouro Do Rei

This is the tourist view that most people stop at and is a great introduction to the twin lakes. It’s far away, but close enough to really appreciate the distinct colors of these beautiful bodies of water.

Tip: you can continue on the dirt road and drive around the top for different views of the lakes.

Lagoa do Canario Miradouro

Lagoa do Canario Miradouro

This was by far the BEST viewpoint on the island for me. The peak is roughly 800 meters above sea-level, with a view of the mountains, the twin lakes, the caldera, and the sea in the backdrop. It’s SPECTACULAR. AMAZING. OUT OF THIS WORLD. Honestly one of the most EPIC views I have ever seen with my 2 eyes! It rivals the viewpoint of Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos and gave me goosebumps at first sight. What a beauty!

Tip: there is a parking lot before the dirt road that you can park and then walk 20 minutes or so…but you can also drive down the dirt road to the entrance to the viewpoint (which I did because it was freezing and windy outside).

Ponta da Ferraria

30 minutes away from Sete Cidades on the Western part of the island lies Ponta da Ferraria, a geothermal area of natural hot pools on the cliff sides. Walking down to the natural pool you will notice black lava rocks everywhere and it’s really a site to see. It was very Icelandic-like if you ask me. The popular hot pool is connected to the ocean and it makes you question, how in the world is it that warm if it’s connected to the ocean? I can’t explain it, but it’s definitely warm! The best part is that it’s FREE!! Unfortunately I didn’t have my swimsuit with me so I just laid on the black rocks to stay warm in the sun. It’s a very relaxing place and you could spend a whole afternoon there.

Ponta da Ferraria Sao Miguel, Azores

Tip: there is a spa area that charges 6 euro to enter, giving access to a thermal pool. (But why pay to use a man-made structure when you have the natural equivalent just steps away for free?). There is also a snack bar and restaurant inside if you’re hungry. There aren’t many options around to choose from, so it may be your only choice to eat.

Day 2 (with scooter)

Caloura

Caloura Sao Miguel, Azores

I just passed through this town quickly, but worth a mention is the unexpected pool that’s literally inside the ocean and connected to the land by a long rocky walkway. At this point it was pouring down rain so I just ran down and snapped a photo real quick.

Vila do Franco Campo

A cute little seaside town with a black sand beach. But the main attraction is the very close Badeinsel ilheu de Vila Franco do Campo. It’s an islet that seems to be a stone’s throw away from the town. As I was driving away and up a hill, I could see the bay inside the islet and it looked so awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t get over to the islet as boat trips only go in the summer. It was such a tease!

Lagoa do Congra

A quick 12 minute ride from Vila do Franco Campo is one of my favorites Lagoa do Congra. This lake was recommended by my awesome Airbnb host and isn’t on any tourist map. However, you will see signs for it on the roads thankfully. After turning onto a dirt road, you will keep going about 6-7 minutes then park near the sign and hike down. It’s a very peaceful and gorgeous hike down to the lake.

Lagoa do Congra

The woods are so tropical, and it feels like a mini Amazon jungle. The hike is super easy and takes about 10 minutes. The lake is freakishly green and there won’t be another person in site. All you will hear are the sounds of joyful birds chirping everywhere. Nature at its finest.

Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo

Another magnificent lake with bold green hues. It looks kind of glossy and the colors change with the sun. The best part is that you can hike down to the sandy beaches at the bottom for crystal green waters.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to hike down. Out of all the things I saw on the island, this is the one I really wish I had more time at. Until next time…

Caldeira Velha

Imagine fairytale pools inside a tropical jungle oasis and you have Caldeira Venlha. It’s one of those unique places that makes you feel like you’re going to wake up from your dream any second. No need to pinch your travel partner, it’s real! It has one big waterfall pool and one smaller hot pool. Awesome place!

Caldeira Velha Sao Miguel Azores

Cost: €3 entrance fee.

Ribeira Grande

If you have time, make a stop in Ribeira Grande on your way back to Ponta Delgada. It’s a quaint little town on the water with a beautiful bridge. It’s one of the prettier towns I saw on the island and also would have liked more time here.

Ribeira Grande Sao Miguel, Azores

Day 3 (with car)

→Warning: day 3 will be action packed so get an early start!

Gorreana Tea Plantation

Did you know that Europe’s only production of tea comes from the Azores? I had no idea! Gorreana tea plantation has been operational since 1883. The plantation is in a gorgeous location overlooking the water and that alone warrants a visit.

Gorreana Tea Plantation

Tip: you don’t need to buy any tea because there are free tea tastings of local green and black tea. Just ask for it! There was a tour bus when I went around 9:45am so to avoid them try to get there as soon as it opens! The ride is 30 minutes from Ponta Delgada with a car.

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

About 12 minutes East of the tea plantation is Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes (Caldeiroes Park). I LOVED this place and it became one of my favorites on the island. It was the jungle playground that I dreamed about as a kid. There were perfectly paved pathways, waterfalls, springs, and woods, leaving you to roam wild with your imagination. I had the whole place basically to myself so the childhood fantasy might have been played out a little. Just saying… 🙂

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

Tip: make sure you don’t miss the big waterfall on the left side of the parking before the little bridge. I almost did! I only noticed it on my way out of the park.

Cost: entrance is FREE.

Miradouro da Despe-te Que Suas

Miradouro da Despe-te Que Suas

Next, go to Miradouro da Despe-te Que Suas. This had a great view of the cliffs with a huge heavenly umbrella tree. This viewpoint was so nicely decorated with flowers and that epic tree that I think I enjoyed it more than the actual view itself. Go figure.

Farol do Arnel

Farol do Arnel Sao Miguel, Azores

The most famous lighthouse on the island and only a few minutes south of Nordeste. You must walk down 15 minutes of a very steep hill to get to it. It was sort of anti-climactic for me and I would skip the walk down. Instead, drive 3-4 min south to Miradouro da Vista Dos Barcos for the best view of the lighthouse from afar!

Parque Florestral (and Pico Bartolomeu viewpoint)

This is a protected national forest that I accidentally stumbled upon while I got a little lost. It was really cool to drive to the top, blazing through the foggy skies. It was a bit cloudy/foggy at the top, but still had amazing views of the island. Look for the sign for the viewpoint called Pico Bartolomeu.

Parque Florestral

On the way to this viewpoint you will be astonished at the abundance of hydrangeas and cedar trees you will pass, tightly packed into this perfectly manicured forest. As I cut though the dense misty fog, I felt so small in the presence of these towering trees. It was eerie, yet peaceful.

Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego

Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego

Next, go to Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego, a gorgeous flower garden near Nordeste overlooking the mountainous cliffs towering over the sea. This was number 2 for the best view of the island for me so don’t miss it! There were also a lot of kitties there…that’s all.

Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego, Sao Miguel Azores

Tip: this place was a little hard to find as the only sign for it is at the entrance. To get to it, drive south from Farol do Arnel and pass the signs for Pedriera. It should be about 5-7 minutes from Farol do Arnel.

Miradouro Santa Iria

Miradouro Santa Iria

On your way back to Ponta Delgada, stop at Miradouro Santa Iria for spectacular views of dramatic cliffs from all angles. It’s one of the higher viewpoints, so you can look down upon all the epic cliffs plunging into the water. It’s one of the most “known” viewpoints on the island, and for good reason!

Day 4 (with car)

Your last day should be one of rest and relaxation after all the running around you’ve been doing. So go ahead and treat yourself!

Furnas Village Day

On your way to Furnas village, stop at Miradouro do Pico de Ferro to see Lagoa Furnas from above. The stop is a few minutes before the village and you will see a small sign for it.

Terra Nostra Park

This is where you will find the “golden jacuzzi” I like to call it. The large thermal pool is around 38+ decrees Celsius. There are no lockers but changing rooms and an outdoor (cold) shower.

Terra Nostra Gardens, Sao Miguel, Azores, GoPro

Tip: near the changing rooms, there are 2 smaller jacuzzis set inside the woods that are kind of hidden. Also, the sulfur from the thermal pool with stick to your bathing suit, so make sure you wash it thoroughly when you get out. I would avoid wearing a white bathing suit at all costs.

Cost: €6 entrance fee and €2 to rent a towel.

Dona Beija Thermal Springs

This thermal area is composed of 5 smaller hot pools. I really liked the setup of this place and it was a lot prettier and more cozy. It’s about an 8 minute walk from Terra Nostra. Dona Beija also had better changing facilities with paying lockers and a shower, and is open until 10pm if you want to do some night soaking.

Dona Beija Thermal Springs

Cost: €3 entrance fee and €2 to rent a towel.

Furnas-Caldeiras

Furnas Caldeiras is located on the bottom of the lake and is where you can see the geysers up close and watch them aggressively bubble. It smells really bad from the sulfur (obviously), but it’s cool to see, especially if you’ve never seen something like that before.

Cost: €0.50 cent entrance fee and € 0.40 cent parking.

Where to Stay in Sao Miguel, Azores

Airbnb all the way baby! I stayed in the capital city Ponta Delgada, because it was less than 10 minutes from the airport, and because it was a good base to explore the island. The farthest place on the island I visited was 1 hour by car, so not bad at all.

Sao Miguel, Azores Airbnb

I loved my Airbnb and for $21/night it was an absolute steal! Here is the Airbnb listing if you’re interested. And for first time users, you can use my coupon for $25 off .  (OR if you’re already an Airbnb member, you can sign up with a new email and get the same discount!). I rented a room in a huge house in a quiet part of the city and was super happy with it.

The house was like a mini mansion and I had so much space! I really felt like I was in a fancy place and was splurging, it was great! The best part was the host who was amazing from the start. He was so helpful with anything and made the BEST recommendations of what to see on the island. This is one of my favorite aspects of staying in an Airbnb…you get easy access to some great tips only a local would know. #WINNING.

Final Thoughts on Sao Miguel, Azores

Sao Miguel, Azores

Hold on, planning my next trip back, brb! But really, the Azores are a truly unique place with a natural beauty that has been unmatched in all my travels. It’s overwhelmingly gorgeous with so much to offer and hasn’t yet been corrupted by mass tourism. If you’re thinking about going, go NOW! It won’t stay off-the-radar for long. If you need any more info, feel free to send me a message!

 

RECOMMENDED TRAVEL GEAR FOR TRAVEL TO THE AZORES:

1.Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera: I made the switch from my huge DSLR and I wouldn’t go back. It’s light, compact, and takes amazing photos!

2. Sony 10-18mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens: this wide angle lens is the key to landscape shots. I use this lens more than the original and am super happy with it. It’s not cheap, but super worth it if you want to get those special nature shots. Honestly, I would purchase the Sony alpha 6000 camera body only and save up for this lens to go with it.

3. E Bags Packing Cubes: the biggest life changer to keep me packing light! This is my biggest travel gear obsession and I have NO idea how I traveled without them before.

4. LifeProof NUUD Waterproof Case (iPhone 6): this helps protect my phone from water, sand, dirt, and the numerous drops that incur while I travel. I love it!

5. GoPro Hero 4 Session: I am a proud GoPro ambassador and obsessed with GoPro selfie pics if you didn’t notice! (I have recently upgrade to the 5, but this is the one I used in all my Portugal photos). It’s super small, compact, and easy to travel with. Plus it’s so much fun to use! 🙂

6. GoPro Hero 5 Black: My newest addition and I must say the BEST GoPro on the market. This is an essential item when you’re traveling solo to get all your cool shots (and of course underwater pics).

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I have used before on my own and that I truly love 🙂

WHERE IS THE MOST NATURALLY PRETTY PLACE YOU’VE EVER BEEN? HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE AZORES? DID IT BLOW YOU AWAY AS WELL? I WANT TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS! ♥

Liked It? PIN IT for later! 🙂

Sao Miguel, Azores 4-Day Itinerary

 

Taste of Testaccio: The Perfect Gluten Free Food Tour in Rome

Taste of Testaccio: The Perfect Gluten Free Food Tour in Rome

My favorite part of traveling is trying new foods, without a doubt.  What better way to appreciate a culture than to indulge in the local foods, right? Italian culture is centered around food. It brings family and friends together and eating is a sacred social activity (as it should be!). Hey, Italy is my favorite country in the entire world for a reason!

As someone who is allergic to gluten, traveling on a strict gluten free (GF) diet isn’t the easiest thing and it takes much more research and planning to have a safe dining experience. So when I found a gluten free food tour in Rome, offered by Eating Italy, I JUMPED on it! Ahh, finally! I decided on the Taste of Testaccio Tour with Eating Italy because I have never been to that neighbourhood but have always heard good things about it. It’s a local, colorful, and hip neighbourhood in Rome and it deserves more attention than it receives. I also learned that Testaccio is considered the birthplace of Roman cuisine! Umm, sign me up please! ♥

If you’re like me and are skeptical about forking out cash for a food tour, you will be pleasantly surprised. The food tour hits up 8 STOPS (and 12 tastings total), so make sure you skip breakfast. You will be STUFFED by the end of the 4-hour tour, guaranteed! My tour was from 10:30am-2:30pm, and it filled me up for the entire day. I only needed a light snack around 9pm, but it’s basically breakfast lunch and dinner crammed into 4 hours of yummy goodness.

(note: this food tour isn’t only for those who are gluten free and is open to everyone. However, it can be specifically tailored to those with food allergies, which is what they did with me). 

So What Does a Gluten Free Food Tour in Rome Look like? Here are the highlights below!

1st Stop→ Pastry Shopping

Eating Italy

Rich & sweet GF chocolate fudge tart

Breakfast of champions…the non Gf version below.

Eating Italy Pastries

I’ll take one of each, please 🙂

2nd Stop→Pizza, pizza, pizza (& rice)

Eating Italy Pizza

There’s nothing like a local pizza spot in Rome. My eyes were bulging out of my head. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a GF option and I was offered a rice dish instead (boo!). The rice was tasty, but it’s not the same. So instead, I just lived vicariously through my pizza devouring tour members.

3rd Stop→Salumeria

EatingItalySalami

Next stop was a cute salumeria where we were offered salami, prosciutto, and cheeses. The prosciutto was delicate, tasty and tender. The highlight was the buttery truffle cheese, an absolutely amazing surprise! I usually hate truffles (I know, blasphemous right?), but this was one of the best cheeses I have ever tried.

Eating Italy Taste of Testaccio Tour

Balsamic vinegar tasting. Tasted like honey to me, SO GOOD!

We had some free time inside to sample and purchase any delicacies we desired. If I wasn’t at the beginning of my trip, I would have stocked up for goodies to take home. Maybe next time!

4th Stop→The Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome

The Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome

I know what you’re thinking.. a cemetery visit on a food tour, wtf? But after all that food, it was the perfect break. Not to mention, a very beautiful and peaceful place. If you’re in Rome, I would highly recommend a visit here to get away from the crowds!

The Non-Catholic Cemetery for Foreigners in Rome

5th Stop→Testaccio Covered Market ( with 3 food stops inside the market)

This was my favorite stop on the tour. It was a local market where the shops were passed down from generation to generation and everyone knew each other. It was such a great vibe inside, and not to mention some awesome food!

Taste of Testaccio tour

Nothing like fresh caprese salad. Melted in my mouth!

gluten free food tour in Rome

Clockwise: Bruschetta on GF bread, fresh veggies, GF suppli, GF fried artichoke.

Inside the market, I endulged in:

Food box on Taste of Testaccio Tour

Cute little Food Box shop

  1. Bruschetta (pronounced “broo skeyta” NOT “brooshetta”) with a homemade gluten free baguette, soft on the inside and crispy on the edges. They let me take home the entire loaf for later, which was a big plus!
  2. Caprese-garnished with the freshest basil and mozarella. The ingredients were so soft and fresh, I didn’t need to chew much.
  3. Fried artichoke and wine-the artichoke was a substitute for the bombettos (neck of pork, pecorino, and bacon) the others got to try. Delicious!

 

Bonus stop: I found a little gluten free shop and got my own suppli (fried risotto and cheese ball) and it was divine! (note: this was not included in the tour and I purchased it on my own).

6th Stop→Sit-Down Restaurant with 3 Pastas & Unlimited Wine

gluten free food tour in Rome

GF pasta substitute with cracked pepper and cheese. Simple yet delicious.

Stretchy pants would have been very helpful at this point in the tour. Just about to tap out but there were 2 more stops! Oh, and did I mention endless wine carafes? ♥

Taste of Testaccio Tour

3 non-GF pastas to choose from

7th Stop→Suppli (fried risotto and cheese balls) at Trapizzino.

gluten free food tour in Rome

Traditional Suppli (fried risotto % cheese). Not GF but they look oh so tasty!

Suppli is a traditional fast food in Rome and costs only about €1. This option was NOT GF so I was offered some pulled marinated chicken. I did get to taste the GF version of suppli in the covered market, so I was satisfied to say the least.

8th Stop→Gelato

Taste of Testaccio Tour

The last stop was for dessert, and what better dessert in Italy than gelato? I finished the whole thing and then I surrendered the flag. I could not physically fit any more food inside my body. I had never been so stuffed in my life.

The Verdict

My first food tour was a success!  I had doubts about not getting enough food but boy was I wrong! It was totally worth it and food tours are going to be my new obsession. I will also say that the tour would not have been as fun without our awesome tour guide Domenico. He had a hippie style, and was whitty, knowledgable, and charismatic. The tour guide really does make or break the tour!

I was surprised at all the GF options and the variety of foods offered. The only disappointment was that they didn’t have GF pizza. Other than that, I give it an A! If you have never done a food tour in Italy, I would definitely give it a try! It was the perfect gluten free food tour in Rome.

*I was a guest of Eating Italy on the Taste of Testaccio Tour. My opinions, however are my own. I don’t bullshit and I LOVED this food tour! 

Have you Ever done a Food Tour with Eating Italy? Have you done any other gluten free food tours in Rome? Do tell!

9 Things to Love About Radisson Blu Split

9 Things to Love About Radisson Blu Split

Oh Croatia, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. If you’ve been following my travels, you’ll know I absolutely adore the country. I especially fell in love with the coastal city of Split on my first visit in 2013 and I have been going back frequently ever since. It’s a special city and you cannot easily escape the charm.

Did I mention my boyfriend is Croatian? So yeah, I have a thing for Croatia.

When I travel, I swear by using Airbnb for accommodation. But honestly, I have not had the best of luck renting in Split. I find most the apartments I’ve rented in Split through Airbnb are WAY smaller than they look in pictures, the walls are paper thin and you can hear footsteps all throughout the day and night, and the wifi is usually TERRIBLE.

So I decided to try my luck at a hotel and I’m so glad I did! The Radisson Blu Split has set the bar high and I will definitely stay there again in the future.

Here are the Top 9 Things to Love About Radisson Blu Split: 

1. Location

The bad news: the hotel is NOT in the center

The good news: the hotel is NOT in the center

Split Riva

The beautiful Split Riva (waterfront) in Croatia

If you’ve been to Split in July and August, you will notice that the night life is very lively. Fun if you’re into partying, not so fun if you’re trying to sleep. There are usually pros and cons to staying in the center. The obvious being you’re within walking distance to everything. The cons being the noise and the inflated prices. I think the Radisson Blu Split is in a perfect spot, away from the crowds yet close enough to be a part of it if you wish! A bus will get you to the center in 10 (ish) minutes. Walking will take you about 45+ minutes, but it’s all along the coast and you will pass several cute little local beaches so it’s a great way to see some of the lesser known beaches in the area.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Top 5 Reasons to Visit Croatia NOW

Another great perk about not staying in the center? The hotel had excellent wifi, which in my experience, is NOT common in the center of Split.

2. Support for Local Artists

Art Hall at Radisson Blu Split

If you walk around and explore the hotel, you will notice a large section of paintings in one of the hallways, beautifully lit by blue lighting. What I learned is that once a month, the art is changed and they display prints from local artists in and around Split. I thought that was really great and it’s nice to see them supporting the local community. It might not seem like a big deal, but I thought that was really encouraging to see.

3. Huge Breakfast Selection

Breakfast at Radisson Blu

I was surprised at how big the breakfast room was. At first it seemed like a school cafeteria, but the awesome views made up for it. The food selection was huge and even with my gluten allergy, I found plenty to eat. Custom made omelettes, local cheeses, cured meat, sausages and bacon, cereals, fresh squeezed juices, and a porridge station with a variety of nuts and toppings, you name it and they had it. To top it off, they had soy milk for my coffee, which is nearly impossible to find in Split otherwise. It was everything you could have asked for in a buffet breakfast.

4. The Amazing Spa

The spa was hands-down my favourite part about the hotel. At 2,000 square feet, it’s the largest spa in all of Split! You could seriously spend an entire day there getting pampered, or just relaxing on your own. Are the treatments pricey? Yes, slightly, but nothing outrageous. And what hotel spas aren’t pricey anyways? You’re paying for convenience.

Radisson Blu Split Spa

Indoor pool & jacuzzis. Photo courtesy of Radisson Blu Split.

Even if you don’t want to spend any money, there is a lot to enjoy. My boyfriend and I really enjoyed the solarium and jacuzzis, and got some good R&R in during our stay. The spa has a solarium/sun room, a pool, 2 Finnish saunas, steam room, hot pool, cold pool, and 2 jacuzzis. We literally spent a whole evening there and would have stayed longer if we didn’t get kicked out for closing time.

Radisson Blu Split Spa

Relaxing spa day with #Bae

Also inside the spa was a gym with free weights, machines, and cardio equipment. It’s another perk for those of you who love to work while traveling (which definitely is me).

5. Views for Days

Views at Radisson Blu Split

One thing you will notice right away at Radisson Blu Split is the nice views, which can be seen just about everywhere. All the restaurants, bars, and even the gym had floor to ceiling glass windows with lots of sunlight. All that vitamin D really puts you in a great mood! Ok, maybe it’s just the placebo effect, but hey, whatever works!

Radisson Blu Split Outdoor Pool

Radisson Blu Split Outdoor Pool. Photo courtesy of Radisson Blu Split.

6. Relax on Your Own Private Beach Area

Private lounging area at Radisson Blu Split.

Private lounging area. Photo courtesy of Radisson Blu Split.

A few minute walk down to the sea from the hotel you will find a small private beach for hotel guests. There is a beach bar called Mistral and several day beds for your lounging pleasures (free for hotel guests). It’s super nice to have your own private beach, especially during peak season when most beaches in the area are packed.

7. Nearby Žnjan Beach

Znjan beach near Radisson Blu Split

Žnjan beach is one of my favorite beaches in Split. For those of you not too familiar with Split, Žnjan beach is a located on the outskirts of the center with a very laid back atmosphere. It is a pebbly beach (as most in Split are) lined with some trendy cafes that are very popular with the local crowds. The beach is more secluded and the water is crystal clear. Žnjan Beach, along with Kasuni beach, are my top 2 favorite beaches in Split and away from the tourist crowds.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Proizd Island: the Secluded Croatian Paradise You’ve Been Looking For

8. Modern Luxury Not Typical in European Hotels

Radisson Blu Split luxuries

The Radisson Blu Split exudes modern luxury, noticeable from the second you enter the large colorful lobby. One thing that immediately caught my eye was the iPad station available for guests with fast wifi. Even though I had my own laptop and iPhone with me, I couldn’t resist playing with a new toy. You always want what you can’t have, right?

Radisson Blu Split Rooms

The entire hotel is very tastefully decorated with pops of color in all corners of the hotel. Our room had 2 twin beds, a flat screen TV, ample shelf space for unpacking, and a large balcony. There was a partial sea view and a view of the mountains. Although the car lot in between was not the most attractive view we could have asked for, it was still very nice.

The bedding was extremely plush and comfy, which really makes the difference of a good night’s sleep or not. It’s something I have learned not to take for granted when traveling in Europe. Comfy beds are very rare to find, trust me.

9. Because Size Really Does Matter

Lobby at Radisson Blu Split

It’s one of those places that has everything on site, so you never have to leave. But Split is gorgeous and you’re going to want to get out and explore. I’ve been traveling to Europe religiously since 2006 and this was definitely the biggest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. The hotel boosts 250 rooms, a spa and fitness center, 3 restaurants, 2 bars, an outdoor pool, a huge lobby, and 9 conference rooms. The hotel also has an onsite hair dresser, car rental company, and excursion center to help plan your holiday activities. So really, it has everything you need without having to look elsewhere. Convenience at its finest.

Oh, and the Radisson Blu Split is also a popular spot for weddings! Just in case you’re wondering…

Cons (Because not every hotel is perfect)

  • the bathroom had stained glass instead of regular walls/doors, so it lacked the privacy I like when using the toilet.
  • the size of the hotel was a plus, but at the same time that resulted in a less cozy feel.
  • 12 euro for parking. I know most hotels these days charge for parking, but since its not inside a busy town and there is plenty of space around, I think parking should be included in the price. But that’s just me. It’s not a huge deal, but just had to mention it (very nitpicky of me, I know).

Overall, I had a really nice stay and it was great getting pampered while in Split. It really had all the amenities you could have asked for and the staff was so nice and inviting. This was my very first experience staying in a Radisson Blu hotel and I was quite impressed. They uphold very high standards and I would definitely stay in one of their hotels again!

Happy travels and enjoy Split!

♥A special thanks to Radisson Blu Split for hosting me during my stay. All opinions, however, are my own. I don’t bullshit and would never recommend somewhere I didn’t truly enjoy!♥

Note: Due to my visit during off season, the outdoor pool was drained & the beach area was not set up. Therefore, the Radisson Blu Hotel provided me with a few pictures to supply for this post, as were marked above.

Have you ever Stayed in a Radisson Blu Hotel? Have you Ever Been to Split? How was Your Experience? Do tell! 

Like it? Pin it for later 🙂

Radisson Blu Split