Sicily is the largest island in Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by the Ionian, Mediterranean, and Tyrrhenian seas. Sicily is more rugged and raw than the mainland, which is one thing really I loved about it!
Sicily is quite big so you can’t really see it all in one trip (unless you stay 3+ weeks minimum). During my Sicily road trip, I decided to stick to the south east of the island (with a few day trips elsewhere) and I saw so many incredible places.
Food in Sicily
One of my Favorite parts about Sicily is the food. I stopped in Sicily on a Mediterranean cruise back in 2007 and had the best pizza of my life (that still stands til this day). I personally think they have better pizza than Naples, but hey, that’s just my opinion!
Foods you must try in Sicily: pizza (obviously), cannoli (Sicily is where cannoli originated), granita (flavored slushy ice drinks), Arancini (fried rice balls), and anything with ricotta cheese and/or pistachios. I think I gained 5 lbs from that trip alone…and I’m not even sorry about it.
Gluten free food in Sicily
Sicily was gluten free heaven and probably the most gluten free friendly place in Italy that I have ever been. Almost every restaurant had gluten free options and most pizzerias had gluten free dough. I wasn’t used to all the choices!
Here are a few places I visited on my trip to Sicily:
Licchios bar (Taormina)-gluten free cannoli and fried rice balls. They also had soy milk for coffee.
Mastrociliegia-gluten free canolis in Ragusa.
Gran Caffe del Duomo (Ortigia island in Syracusa) had an entire gluten free menu and gluten free cannoli. The pasta with mussels was really good.
Duomo pizzeria ristorante (Cefalú)-gluten free pizza right in the main square.
Driving in Sicily
Italians drive fast, that’s a given. The more south you go, the wilder it gets. That being said, I didn’t think the driving in Sicily was half as bad as so many people say it is. If you stay in the right lane (slow lane) on the highway no one will bother you, they will just go around you.
However on the country roads where there is one lane, just about everyone will be passing you. They pass pretty close to your car so just know what to expect and maybe scooch over a little bit to make room and you will be fine. Oh, and Sicilians don’t stop at stop signs so keep that in mind and use caution.
I would also recommend a mini car as some of the cities have tiny streets and it would be tough getting through with a regular size car. It’s also much easier to park a mini car also!
I rented a car for $200 for 10 days with Rentalcars.com (through Sicily by car). The company has terrible reviews online but it was my second time using them and it was fine. The big complaint people make is that if you decline their insurance they will take a deposit of 800€ so just know what to expect.
The total I spent on gas for 10 days was 122€ ($145).
*Make sure you do a walk around to see if there are any additional scratches or dents on the car that haven’t been marked (every time I’ve rented a car in Italy, I ALWAYS find additional scratches and that’s how they get you). If you don’t do this, they may charge you for the scratches later so please don’t forget! (Especially if you are declining their insurance…which I did because I have awesome car insurance through my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card).
*Please note: my credit card insurance does NOT include 3rd party liability insurance (damage to the OTHER car or bodily harm to the other driver). Most credit card companies do not offer this so you either have to purchase this separately (usually at $15/day) or reserve a car that already has that included. My rental car already had 3rd party liability insurance included so I didn’t need to purchase anything extra. (I always choose the package on Priceline.com that includes the 3rd party liability insurance in the price if there’s an option).
Sicily Road Trip: 9-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Catania in the evening
Day 2: Taormina
Day 3: Caltagirone/Enna
Day 5: Scalia di Turchi/Valley of the Temples
Day 6: Ragusa/Modica
Day 7: Marzamemi/Noto
Day 8: Syracuse/Ortigia
Day 9: Necropolis of Pantalica/Fontane Bianche Beach
*I arrived to Catania in the evening on my first day and then went to Taormina all the next day so I really didn’t get to experience much of Catania. But from what I did see, I don’t think I was missing much as there were SO many other beautiful place to see in Sicily.
Taormina is one of the prettiest cities in Sicily and one place you don’t want to miss! There is a lot to see and so much history in Taormina.
I didn’t rent my car until the 3rd day because I wanted to take a train to Taormina. The train from Catania to Taormina costs 8.60€ return and takes about 45 minutes. You must then take a bus from the train station in Taormina up to the Taormina center (3€ return ticket).
What To Do in Taormina:
Teatro Antico di Taormina– the famous Greek theatre built in the 3rd century with epic views over Sicily and the surroundings. Entrance fee is 10€.
Piazza IX Aprile-the main square in Taormina with incredible views, cute cafes, and restaurants. It’s a popular gathering place with musicians playing throughout the day.
Isola Bella (“beautiful island”) -the prettiest beach in Taormina that was purchased by the Department of Cultural Heritage in 1990 and declared a Nature Reserve and remains protected.
Villa Communale-a public garden with spectacular views of the coastline. It’s a peaceful place to get away from the crowds.
Mt. Etna-you can climb to the top of one of the most active volcanos in the entire world! I didn’t have time for this and it remains on my bucket list! Mt. Etna is also a UNESCO site!
Caltagirone is a beautiful town with a famous 142-step staircase made from ceramic tiles, each with their own unique design. It’s an artistic masterpiece and has often been used as a backdrop for festivals and cultural events, decorated in flowers, candles, and colorful lights.
The Staircase of Santa María del Monte connects the upper old town to the newer lower town. There are some cute shops along the steps. It’s very picturesque and great to photograph. It was a nice stopover on my drive to Agriturismo Bannata, (see below for where I stayed).
From Catania to Agriturismo Bannata stop in Enna for amazing views of the countryside and hilltop towns. The best view is from the Rock of Ceres (free entrance) where you can see the castle and countryside with 360 degree views
Enna from afar
Cefalù is a cute seaside town located in northern Sicily. It took me about 2 hours to drive there from Piazza Armenia (which is where I stayed at Agriturismo Bannata).
One thing you must do in Cefalú is climb Rocca di Cefalu. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the top and the cost is 4€ cash only.
The top of Rocca di Cefalu gives you a panoramic view over the gorgeous Sicilian coastlines on both sides.
Cefalù has a wonderful promontory near the sea where you can sit and enjoy the view of the “rock” in the backdrop.
*Parking in Cefalù is a bitch, to be frank. But there is a paid lot near the beach for 7€ per 12 hours which is where I parked.
Scala dei Turchi
Scala dei Turchi (“Stairs of the Turks”) is a spectacular site to see in Sicily. You can walk on these ascending stair-like formations composed of soft white limestone marl (it feels like a hardened clay). The dramatic bright blue water contrasting the pure white rock is a natural phenomenon you should definitely add to your itinerary.
Valley of the Temples
The Valley of the Temples consists of 8 well-preserved Greek temples and other historical remains perched atop a hill overlooking the valley and sea.
The Valley of the temples is the most famous archeological site in all of Sicily and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just outside the city of Agrigento, it can easily be combined with a day trip to Scala Dei Turchi.
Tip: Take a taxi from the car park up to the temple then walk down (2.5km) when you’re finished. The taxi costs 3€ and it saves an uphill walk. The entrance fee is3€. They do take credit cards.
The massive earthquake of 1693-destroyed 8 towns in of southeastern Sicily and they all had to be rebuilt. Caltagirone, Militello Val di Catania, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa and Scicli were all rebuilt in late baroque architecture of the times. The area is known as Val di Noto, and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ragusa is a GORGEOUS baroque town with upper and lower cities. This was my favorite city in all of Sicily and I just loved the old world feel.
Ragusa Ibla is the older lower city and more stunning part IMO.
Ragusa Superiore is the upper town and the more modern of the two. The 2 parts are separated by a deep ravine called Valle dei Ponti.
Some of the best views over the old city below are from the upper town at Chiesa Santa Maria (where I took the photo below).
Duomo San Giorgio is a beautiful cathedral in the center of a square with lots of restaurants and shops. It’s a good place to people watch and enjoy a cannoli.
Modica is another baroque town rebuilt after the earthquake that is known for its chocolate. There are many places where you can go in for a chocolate tasting. It had a weird texture and wasn’t my favorite honestly but the town is very beautiful and definitely worth a stop.
The center of Modica is at the bottom and Modica Alta is at the top, where you will get the best view.
Marzamemi is a cute little seaside town with a Greek vibe. It’s right on the sea and very quiet. There’s not much to do besides eat at one of the seaside cafes or go shopping in one of the little boutiques. It’s great for an afternoon of relaxation and eating seafood. Parking is 3€ in a designated lot.
Noto is a beautiful town with baroque architecture (and also one of the towns rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake). Go shopping in one of the cute artisan shops and pick up a painting or hand painted sculpture.
Go up Chiesa Santa Chiara for views over Noto (2€ entrance fee). There is easy parking at central Noto parking lot. Stroll down Vittorio Emanuel street and stop for a coffee with a view of the many baroque churches. It’s a great place to people watch.
Ortigia is the beautiful island connecting to Syracusa. You can walk around the outside along the sea. The water is crystal blue green and gorgeous. There are many cute shops with handmade stuff like leather bags and shoes. It’s a really nice place to just roam around and relax with a view.
Parking in Ortigia is an absolute nightmare, to be honest. I found an underground garage with the most confusing directions. I would definitely ask a local to see if you can actually park where you think you can (I got a ticket mailed to the USA 4 months later ugh).
Necropolis of Pantalica
Necropolis of Pantalica is home to more than 5,000 ancient tombs carved right into the rocks. This important archeological site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rocky tombs are surrounded by a deep gorge with gorgeous views all around.
You can also take a hike down to the beautiful grotto water below. It might take you 2-3 hours to complete the circuit, so make sure to make some time for it.
*Beware of snakes! I had one slither by me like 3 inches from my foot and it scared the living shit out of me. So watch where you’re stepping! I don’t think it was poisonous, but still.
It takes about 40 minutes to reachNecropolis of Pantalica from both Avila and Catania.
Fontane Bianche Beach
If it’s warm enough, I highly recommend stopping at Fontane Bianche Beach. It’s a gorgeous beach with soft white sand and swirly patterns of deep blue sea.
Where to Stay in Sicily
Staying in an Agriturismo
I’ve always wanted to stay in an agriturismo in Italy but for some reason it took me so long to do it. An agriturismo is a farmhouse that has been converted into accommodation. It’s kinda like a homestay where you rent a room out (usually you will have your own en suite bathroom). They serve the local wine and food from the farm animals and it is a really authentic experience.
My first agriturismo stay set the bar really high! Agriturismo Bannata was a secluded piece of paradise with a cozy and homely feel set in the Sicilian countryside. It’s a great place to sit by the pool (seasonal) or lounge on the balcony with a book in hand. There are also some trails you can walk nearby.
My room was spacious and had an amazing round tub in the middle of the room, as well as an ensuite bathroom.
I had dinner there one night cooked with the local ingredients and it was very delicious. I LOVED this place.
Price: $57/night (in April, shoulder season), including breakfast.
Where to Book: I used booking.com and you can check the listing HERE. If you’re new to booking.com, you can use my $20 OFF coupon here.
This place was a little more upscale than the other one, but it was nice to try the different styles! I had a single room in the attic with a spectacular view of the land from my window.
There was a pool and lounge chairs as well as huge comfy couches inside for when it was raining. It was a really relaxing environment and was a great spot to explore Ragusa.
Price: $116/night (in April, shoulder season).
Where to Book: I used booking.com and you can check the listing HERE.
Airbnb in Avola
For my last few days on the islands I stayed at a lovely Airbnb in Avola, a great location to explore the southern jewels of Sicily. I rented a room for $26/night but when I arrived the host upgraded me to the private little detached house with a private bathroom right next to the main house. It was such a great place to stay and the veranda at the main house was super cozy and pretty. The host was amazing and I felt instantly at home!
Where to book: You can check the listing HERE. And if you’re new to Airbnb you can use my $30 OFF coupon HERE.
Travel Insurance for Italy
I would never travel without travel insurance anymore. I learned my lesson. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Travel insurance is especially important when traveling to islands, as you may need to be air-lifted to the mainland in the worst case scenario. Do you know how much air-lifting costs? Think at least 5 digits (I.e. Expensive AF!).
My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 3 without any hassle. I highly recommend them.
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Ahhh Norway, one of my favorite places on earth! This was my 4th visit to Norway, and my second in 6 months. I think it’s safe to safe I am absolutely obsessed with Norway. The natural beauty and outdoor activities on offer are hard to beat. The reason I’ve been back so many times is because everything I wanted to see and do is very spread out. Norway is a long, skinny country and everything is very far away away from each other.
So I decided to rent a car and do an epic 10 day Norway road trip. The one place that didn’t really make sense itinerary-wise was Trolltunga. But hell, it was at the top of my Norway bucket list and I was gonna do it in even if it required a ton of driving!
During my 10 day road trip, there were 2 days that required about 8-9 hours of driving. However, the scenery on the way was half the fun. Renting a car is the best way to explore this beautiful country and saves a lot of time and stress trying to use public transportation.
Driving in Norway
Driving in Norway was so much fun because I could stop anywhere I wanted and take in the view. I didn’t notice any aggressive driving there so it was pretty stress free overall. The only thing you need to keep an eye out is the one-way tunnels. There were only a few of them on my trip and they weren’t too bad (probably because I was used to them after all the one way tunnels in Lofoten islands and Faroe islands).
I rented a car from Sixt in Bergen and returned it to Trondheim. When booking your car, make sure you check the one-way fees because I saw some companies that charged $800 for the one way fee! Sixt charged $250 which was the cheapest I found.
I had also used Sixt before a few times and absolutely loved them. Their customer service is great and I never have to wait in any line when picking up the car. This was a godsend at LAX airport!
Also, I’ve gotten upgrades for free 3 out of the 5 times I’ve rented with them. They really are no hassle and the cars are always shiny and new. And no this is NOT sponsored and I’m not getting paid to say this! I just really like the company.
TIP: Get the smallest car possible for those single-lane roads and narrow driveways. You won’t be able to pass some places with a big car
VERY IMPORTANT TIP: A lot of the drives in Norway require a ferry crossing at some point. For this reason, you can’t plan to drive in the middle of the night because you might get stranded and never make it to your final destination until the next day. All the ferry times are different depending on the route, but when I was looking at the schedules it appeared that the last one was usually around 10pm or 10:30pm. You definitely need to keep this in mind when driving in Norway.
If you use Google Maps and put the address is, you will see if there is a ferry crossing or not on the route. Just look for the little ship symbol (below).
Extra Transport Costs
There are a bunch of automatic tolls (mostly when you go into a tunnel) that you will pass while driving in Norway. Check with your car company because I was told not to stop and pay and that they would be automatically added to my bill in the end (way easier). Otherwise, there is a pay station before or right after the tunnel.
I ended up paying $108 in tolls for my long 10 day journey (ouch). The good news is I got upgraded to a Hybrid car and the total for gas was just $105 for 10 days. And that’s with 2 days of 8+ hours of driving.
I also paid a total of $50 in ferry crossings as well (4 ferries total).
National Scenic Routes in Norway
There are 18 national scenic routes in Norway offering stunning scenery with several viewpoints to stop at and have photo shoot or a picnic. You will see glaciers, fjords, coastlines, stunning architecture, waterfalls, and more. These are some of the most gorgeous drives in all of Norway, so make sure to drive at least a few of them on your Norway road trip!
I drove on a few of them throughout my 10 day Norway road trip including Atlanterhavsvegan (the Atlantic Ocean Road),Sognefjellet (on the way to Geiranger), and Geiranger-Trollstigen.
The Sognefjellet passes through Jotunheimen National Park, with towering mountains and some glaciers as well, it was spectacular.
Norway 10 Day Itinerary
Day 1-2: Bergen
Day 3-4: Odda + Trolltunga hike
Day 5-6: Geiranger
Day 7-8: Trollstigen + Ålesund
Day 9-10: Atlantic Ocean Road +Trondheim
Bergen is the most adorable little city and a great introduction to Norway. It is also known as the gateway to the fjords since many of the boat trips out to the fjords start in Bergen.
For all the best things to do in Bergen, I will redirect you to an article I wrote for Eurail HERE.
Where to stay in Bergen
More affordable: I stayed in an Airbnb that was a 15 minute walk to town. It was on top of a hill so the walk had beautiful views most of the way. It was a 2 bedroom apartment on the bottom of the host’s house. It doesn’t have a kitchen or stove but it does have a fridge so you can make sandwiches and such. It was super cute and the host was super warm and welcoming. She even leaves a mug of hot coffee outside your door in the morning. It was only $48/night and for the price, it can’t be beat in Norway! It can sleep 3 people. You can check the listing HERE.
*PS: I was supposed to be on this trip with 2 other friends but they cancelled last minute so I had 2 bedroom places the whole trip because of this…not because I’m ballin’ or anything haha.
More luxurious: on my first trip to Bergen I stayed at Hotel Oleana and LOVED it. You can read my review of the hotel HERE.
Drive from Bergen to Odda
Driving time: about 3 hours
Ferry crossing: there is a ferry crossing from Tørvikbygd to Jondal to get to Odda . It costs 53 NOK ($6) and takes about 20 minutes. (The ferry leaves about every hour). You can pay by credit card. They will come to your car with a card machine while you’re in line and it’s a super easy process. FYI: I didn’t need cash at all on this entire trip!
Odda is a gorgeous little town set in a fjord and is sort of like the gateway to Trolltunga. This is where you will want to look for accommodations if you plan on doing the Trolltunga hike.
Where to Stay in Odda
Airbnb: I stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment on the top of my host’s house that had the BEST views of the whole city in my opinion! The stairs to get up there were brutal and extra steep, but that’s the small price to pay for incredible views like that. There were sweet views from the main bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen.
The host was just incredible and like your mother greeting you with a big hug like you know each other. She even came and helped me with all my bags up those evil steps. She also brings up a basket of hiking gear that you can borrow like wool sweaters, hats, gloves and gives great tips about the hike and where to park/when to go, etc.
It was also one of the most affordable place to stay in all of Norway at $78/night for an entire 2 bedroom apartment. You can check out the listing HERE. You can also use my $40 OFF coupon here if you’re new to Airbnb.
Trolltunga is definitely one of the best hikes in Norway and the longest hike I have ever completed. My body was sore for days afterwards and I could barely even walk, but it was definitely worth it!
Tips for Hiking Trolltunga
Parking costs are RIDICULOUS so the more people in your car the cheaper it will be
Trolltunga upper parking only holds 30 cars and opens at 6am. Get there by 5:30am. I arrived at 5:33am on September 4th (end of peak season) and was number 14 in line. It cost is 600 NOK ($72). The cost to park at the bottom lot is 500NOK ($58) so not much difference.
Parking at the upper lot will takes off 3 KM each way of your hike so it’s totally worth it. It turns a 28km hike into a 22km hike.
The entire hike is on uneven rocks the whole time. There are no bathrooms or trash cans. There are also no bushes or trees to hide behind so if your bladder is weak, you’re going to have to get creative for your privacy. (I held mine for 12 hours like a champ).
The hike will take you 8-12 hours round trip, including a break for lunch and waiting in line for pictures. (I heard some people who completed it in 6 hours total, but they must be VERY fast hikers…it took me 11 hours, but I am on the slower side as I had a partially torn ACL on the hike!).
Start the hike as early as possible so you won’t have to wait in the LONG line for pictures on the Troll’s Tongue (Trolltunga). You also don’t want to be hiking back in the dark.
If you get in line for the picture before noon you won’t have to wait long for your picture. I heard that in the peak summer months it can take up to 3 hours to wait for your picture (Sucky!)
Just below Trolltunga on the left is a mini Trolltunga with a spectacular view. You won’t have to wait long for your picture there. You do have to climb down on some slippery rocks so just go slow.
The hike is super safe and can be done solo with no problem. There are many people on the trail so you’re never alone. There is no dangerous wildlife either.
Sunrise on the start of the Trolltunga hike.
Drive from Odda to Geiranger
Driving Time: 8-9 hours. This is the longest drive of this whole trip but you can stop at many places for a picnic or for photo ops. You will pass though a windy road through Icelandic landscape and even a glacier.
Drive through Jotunheimen National Park via Sognefjellet, home to Norway’s highest mountains (see National Tourist Routes above) to get to Geiranger. This road was absolutely breathtaking and the time passed so quickly driving through here. Although, in reality it took me forever since I kept stopping every 2 feet for photos.
There was a small fee for driving this road but it was SO worth it. It cost 80 NOK($10).
Just a glacier in the background, NBD
Stop at Lom Stave Church on the way to admire the beautiful traditional Norwegian architecture (and also to stretch your legs).
Geiranger is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in all of Norway.
What to Do in Geiranger
Flydalsjuvet viewpoint and rock-to get to the rock you have to step over a 1 foot mini fence behind the men’s bathroom. Then walk straight down the path that curves to the right. It takes 1 minute from the bathroom. It’s roped off because it’s dangerous so please don’t bring your children or dogs out there. Also, make sure you’re not wearing sandals or unsturdy shoes. There are no rails or anything and the drop is several hundred feet. BE CAREFUL!
Fjordsetet (the Fjord Seat)-be the queen of the fjord and admire the vast beauty of Norway from this epic seat at the top of the lookout point.
Hike-there are many hikes around Geiranger ranging from 30 minutes to multiple hours. I didn’t attempt any hiking as it was raining most the time, and also because I could barely move from Trolltunga.
There are fjord cruises on offer that will take you around the fjords for 90 minutes. The cost is 350NOK ($41) and it leaves 3 times a day.
Fjordnaer Geiranger Sjokolade-this place is heaven for chocolate lovers. This cozy little cafe does chocolate tastings with unique flavors such as blue cheese chocolate and fresh berry chocolates (It sounds weird, but it’s so good).
They also offer a famous hot chocolate with white, dark, milk, or chili chocolate flavors. Oh, and maybe my favorite, coffee chocolate! My mouth is watering just reminiscing about this place.
Ørnesvingen Eagle road-on your way out of Geiranger, take the Eagle Road up the mountain to a gorgeous viewpoint over the fjord and valley. It’s on the 63 road on the way to Trollstigen.
Where to Stay in Geiranger
I stayed in a cute little 2 bedroom cabin apartment at the top of the hill with a magnificent view of the valley below. The views form the restaurant were mind blowing (pictured below).
A lot of the hikes start right from the accommodation so it’s an excellent place to base yourself. It’s so peaceful and quiet up there and I would definitely recommend it.
Where to book: I used booking.com for this place. It cost $140/night and fit 4 people. You can check the listing HERE. And if you’re new to booking.com, you can use my $20 OFF coupon!
Drive from Geiranger to Trollstigen
It takes 2 hours to get from Geiranger to Trollstigen on Road 63. The drive from Geiranger to Trollstigen is a national tourist route, as mentioned above.
Ferry Crossing: there is a ferry crossing from Geirangervegen to Trollstigen at Eidsal. It takes 10 minutes and costs 98 NOK ($12).
Trollstigen is known as “The Trolls Road” and is probably the most famous National Tourist Route that you can drive in Norway.
Trollstigen is a famous windy road carved into the mountain that consists of 11 hairpin turns going steeply up the mountain with the gorgeous Romsdal Valley below.
The turns are so sharp at some points that I had to honk because I couldn’t see around the corner. It sounds scary, but if you drive slow, it’s more fun than anything. You’ll also pass some beautiful cascading waterfalls on your way down as well.
NOTE: Trollstigen is usually closed from October/November to mid May due to snow so make sure you plan accordingly (the dates may vary, but you can check the status here on the official page of the Norwegian Scenic Routes.
Drive from Trollstigen to Ålesund
It takes 2 hours to drive from Trollstigen to Ålesund.
A fire in the early 1900s basically burned Ålesund to the ground and they rebuilt it in the art nouveau style. That’s why it looks different than any other city in Norway. It looks like the old town of a Central European city.
What to Do in Ålesund
Hike up to Aksla viewpoint (Aka Fjellstua), a mere 418 steps to the top. There is a cafe with an awesome view at the top where I sipped cappuccino and had a lovely GF pastry.
The Ålesund harbor is a nice place to grab a drink and people watch.
Kayak-there are kayaks available to rent to take around the harbor if it’s a nice sunny day.
Ålesund can easily be done in one day (or even a day trip from somewhere else), but it was a nice place to relax and unwind after all the driving I had been doing.
Where to Stay in Ålesund
I stayed in a 2 bedroom penthouse apartment with the most amazing views of the city throughout the whole penthouse. It was right in the center of town so it was nice to just walk outside and be around all the restaurants, attractions, and shops. It was also only a few minutes from the walk up to the viewpoint.
View of the center from the living room
View from the bedroom
Where to book: My 2 bedroom Airbnb was $200/night and could fit 4 people. This was in September so it might be a little more during peak season. You can check the listing HERE.
Drive from Ålesund to Atlantic Ocean Road
It takes a little less than 3 hours to get from Ålesund to the Atlantic Ocean Road.
Ferry Crossing: You must take a ferry from Vestnes to Molde. It costs 152 NOK ($18) and takes about 40 minutes. (The ferry runs about every 45 minutes).
Atlantic Ocean Road
The Atlantic Ocean Road is an epic windy road connected by peninsulas in northern Norway. The road goes over the powerful ocean and on stormy days the waves come crashing onto the road. Google pictures of it, it’s quite scary looking!
The Atlantic Ocean Toad takes less than 10 minutes to drive and has many stop-off places to park and take pictures. There is a little visitor center with a cafe and toilets. They also built a 360 degree walkway that you can walk full around and see both sides of the road.
Ferry Crossing: from the Atlantic Ocean road to Trondheim takes about 3.5-4 hours and requires a ferry crossing from Halsa to Kanestraum. It costs 106 NOK ($12.50) and takes about 20 minutes. (The ferry runs about every 20 minutes).
Trondheim was founded by the Vikings in 997 and used to be the Viking capital of Norway until 1217. Trondheim is a super colorful town that has lots of things to do so don’t overlook this awesome city. It really surprised me!
What to Do in Trondheim
Go to the old town bridge for the best views of the colorful buildings against the water. The old wooden buildings used to be housing for the working class. They have been beautifully preserved and now house cute cafes, shops, and restaurants.
Walk through Bakklandet area for the cutest little neighborhood and cafes. This was my favorite area of the city and I could have gone cafe hopping all day.
Walk up to the Kristiansten Fortress for great views over the city. There were many picnic tables and people jogging and working out up there.
Go to the famous Bakklandet Skydsstation for fish soup (and GF bread). This is a traditional little restaurant with a homey feel inside.
Where to Stay in Trondheim
I stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment that was about a 15 minute walk to the main part of town. The tram was also right outside so it was very convenient to get around. It was super spacious and cost $120/night and fit 4 people. You can check the listing HERE.
Travel Insurance for Your Norway Road Trip
Shit happens, especially when you’re out being adventurous every day. That’s why I would never travel anymore without travel insurance. Travel insurance doesn’t just cover your delayed/cancelled flights, it also covers medical expenses in case of emergencies, lost or stolen items on your trip, and lost baggage.
My go to travel insurance is World Nomads. I’ve been using them for 4.5 years now and I love them. I have had to file 3 claims so far and I got fully reimbursed for all of them with no hassle. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but they have some of the highest coverage of any travel insurance. For this reason, I will continue to use them!
How to Get World Nomads for Your Next Trip
If you want an idea of how much travel insurance is going to cost, you can get a quick quote below:
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Wow, each travel year keeps getting better and better and as I reflect on the places that I’ve gone, I still cant believe it! In 2018 I traveled to 7 new countries including Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, UAE, and Vietnam. I also re-visited some of my favorite countries including Greece, Norway, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Denmark, England, Albania, Canada, Iceland, and Northern Ireland.
In 2018, I visited a total of 18 countries on 3 continents. It was extremely hard to pick my favorites but I’ve narrowed it down to the following 6 places (plus a few more). Hopefully it provides some new travel inspiration for 2019!
The Lofoten Islands were a dream destination for me and high up on my bucket list. Norway is one of my favorite countries in the world and the natural landscapes in Lofoten Islands were just unreal. Lofoten Islands exceeded my expectations and literally took my breathe away. It’s also a photographer’s dream!
This trip was also special because it was my first ever GROUP TRIP that I led and it was so much fun to meet new girls and share the experience with others for a change. We stayed in the coziest cabin right on the lake and were dazzled by the Northern Lights on our last night there. The icing on the cake! I plan on doing another group trip there in 2019 since I loved it so much. Lofoten Islands was probably my favorite place I visited in 2018!
Not many people I know go to Bagan…one of the reasons that it really appealed to me! I loved it and it was such a unique place that was different to any other place I had ever been. Riding E-bikes around dirt roads searching for the sunrise or sunset was magical. I was also there during the water festival (“Thingyan”) which was…interesting haha.
It took some work getting all the way over to Bagan, but I’d say it was truly worth it! If you want somewhere different or off the beaten path, Bagan is the place to go in 2019! PS: try to make it during hot air balloon season (I just missed it by like a week or 2).
The Faroe Islands (made up of 18 islands) are a self-governing region of Denmark located in the North Atlantic Ocean halfway between Iceland and Norway. It reminded me a lot of the landscape in Iceland, but with NO crowds. The Faroe Islands are the place to go if you love nature, hiking, photography, and isolation.
I spent a total of 5 days there and couldn’t recommend it more. Just beware of car rental prices because they are absurd! Book in advance. Also, if you’re interested in seeing puffins, the season runs from late May to early September! For all of the details and the 5 day itinerary I put together, check out my post about the Faroe Islands here.
I had been to Canada several times before but nothing prepared me for what I would see in Banff. The most beautiful blue and crystal clear lakes you will ever see in your life are in Banff. This was also a group trip destination and it was such a fun time. Banff had some of the most gorgeous hiking trails and the scenery is hard to beat! Banff should definitely be at the top of your 2019 travel wish list!
Banff is the perfect place to go if you love hiking in nature and breathing in the fresh mountain air. Make sure to carry bear spray and try not to hike alone because some trails actually require a minimum number of hikers (but you can always join other hikers as well).
PS: some of the trails and roads are closed throughout the year due to snow so to be safe, travel there from June to early September if you want to make it to Moraine Lake, etc.
Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Vietnam was one of those destinations that really surprised me in 2018, particularly the countryside. I took a day trip to Ninh Binh and Tam Coc and it blew my mind! You can easily take a 2 hour train ride from the crazy bustling Hanoi center to a whole different world filled with epic mountainside views and tranquility.
Make sure to take a boat ride through the valley with the Vietnamese feet rowers for a very cool experience that will take you through some caves and let you feed some goats on the way. And you cannot leave the area without hiking up to the Hang Mua Caves, pictured below.
Not only did I LOVE Vietnam, but I can now honestly say Vietnam has the best coffee in the world! (along with Italy and Colombia). The egg coffee is life changing (and i’m not even being dramatic haha). Oh, and did I mention endless Pho soup for only a few bucks? I was in complete heaven.
Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
It took my second trip to Iceland (and my last group trip) to finally make it to the lesser visited Snaefellsnes peninsula, and boy was it worth the wait! I had longed to visit Arrowhead Mountain from Game of Thrones and it was absolutely gorgeous.
One of my favorite memories was actually on the way up there stopping at a cute little hot spring in the middle of nowhere. What made it so magical was that we were the only ones there and it felt like a little gnome house or something.
My other favorite destinations from 2018 included Sicily (Italy), Rhodes (Greece), Northern Ireland Game of Thrones trip, Sri Lanka, The Cotswolds (England, and an epic Norway road trip.
The Cotswolds, England
Sicily Road Trip
Mirissa, Sri Lanka
GOT tour, Northern Ireland
What’s On My 2019 Travel List
There are SO many places I can’t decide! But i do know I am going back to Asia for a few weeks and also going to try to visit the few countries left in Europe that I haven’t been. And my ultimate destination will be Patagonia (which I have been trying to go to for the last 3 years). I’m hoping 2019 will finally be that year!
I also have a few destination weddings I am going to in North Carolina and Mexico so it’s going to be a busy year!
More Group Trips
I had a BLAST doing group trips last year and I want to continue them in the new year! I will probably host 3-4 trips in 2019, the first being Lofoten islands, Jordan, and Beirut! Check the details here.
Other group trip options for the second half of the year are Azores islands, Peru, GOT Northern Ireland tour, Scotland road trip, Oman, Lapland, and Patagonia!
Lofoten Islands: March 7-12, 2019 (Update: will be moved to Oct/Nov now)
Jordan: March 27-April 3rd
Beirut, Lebanonadd-on: April 3-7th
My 2019 Group Trips will all be run based on demand. Since these destinations got the most votes, these are my first set of group trips for 2019. I will do 2 more trips by the end of the year (in the fall) so stay tuned for those as well.
Lofoten Islands, Norway Group Trip (Oct/Nov 2019)
UPDATE: Due to some schedule conflicts, this trip will be moved to Oct/Nov now. Stay tuned for the exact dates in the next few months.
Last March, I took a small group of adventurous ladies to the remote Lofoten Islands in Norway and it was an absolute blast! I can honestly say that it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen (& I’m pretty sure all the girls would agree).
Not only that, but we had the most breathtaking cozy cabin right on the lake with the most AMAZING VIEW of the mountains and water, the perfect setting to view the Northern Lights! (which we saw right from our living room!).
The Northern Lights from our living room in Lofoten
We had such a great trip that I wanted to open up a second trip in March 2019!
The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago off of Northeast Norway known for their cute little traditional fishing villages, epic mountain peaks, stunning fjords, and breathtaking panoramic views.
The Lofoten islands aren’t the easiest (or cheapest) to get to, which is why they aren’t on the main tourist track (another reason they are so intriguing to me). The good news is I took all the stress out of planning this trip for you!
The Lofoten Islands are a photographer’s dream, especially because they are a good place to see the Northern Lights. And there is nothing prettier than seeing these cute little seaside towns all covered in snow.
We will meet in the town of Bodo, Norway, which is like the gateway to the Lofotens. The next morning we will take a short 20 minute flight to the islands.
I have rented a car and plan to drive around to some of the best photo spots on the islands like cute little villages, arctic beaches, and viewpoints over the islands.
There are also some EPIC hikes to do in the Lofotens, although only some are accessible during the winter time. But I do plan on doing 1 of the smaller hikes if the weather gods permit. We will check the avalanche warnings the night before and decide from there. So ya, you kinda should be into hiking and be in moderate shape.
That being said, you will need waterproof boots/hiking shoes and microspikes. It is still very much snowy this time of year and we will be walking around all day so it would suck to have wet and soggy feet.
At night, it’s gonna be all about searching for the Northern Lights. There is never a guarantee that they will come out to play (so you have to set your expectations accordingly). However, the Lofoten Islands are 100 km above the Arctic Circle so that gives me lots of hope! We saw them on our last night of our trip and it was MAGICAL!
We will stay in a cute little cozy red cabin (just like you see in all the pictures…and the same one as last year) right on the water in Homnøy, the most photographed village in the Lofotens. There is a deck overlooking the water and mountains, which is the perfect setting if the Northern Lights appear. How cool would that be to just walk outside and see them without having to go anywhere? My dream! (Update: this actually happened!!!)
So What’s It Gonna Cost Me?
Non-Refundable Deposit: $400
Total Trip Cost: $1675
Another important note: As with all group trips, travel insurance WILL be required for this trip. Plus, it’s foolish not to travel without it anyway.
Norway is expensive AF! In fact, Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, so this is definitely NOT a budget trip. This is more like a bucket list trip!
Norway is also one of my top 10 favourite countries in the world (out of 83 that I’ve been). The natural beauty is unmatched and keeps bring me back for more (this will be my 4th trip). Trust me when I say the steep prices are 100% worth it!
I’ve also taken a look at photography tours of Lofoten Islands and they run anywhere from 2500 EUROS to 4500 EUROS! I am not a professional photographer, hence the lower prices. But I definitely have more skill than the average person, which I will use to help you get some awesome shots!
5 nights accommodation in double occupancy (you will have your own twin bed in a room shared with another female traveler..possibly your new BFF)
Return flights from Bodø to Lofoten islands and back
Private transport around the islands
Lifelong memories and friendships!
What’s NOT Included:
International flights to Norway
Food (however, there will be a kitchen where we stay and I will be making grocery store runs…restaurants are limited on the islands so this is a good option to eat cheap). I think we all spent less than $80 on food for the few days we were there.
Travel insurance (mandatory)
Where Can I Sign Up?
I am only taking 4 other adventure travellers with me so spots are VERY limited. You can sign up HERE (Oct/Nov dates will be announced at a later time, but feel free to fill out this form so i have your email and to assure you get first dibs on spots!). Please only fill this out if you are super serious about gong.♥
Jordan Group Trip
Dates: March 27-April 3rd, 2019
Trip starts in: Amman, Jordan on March 27th
Trip ends in: Amman Jordan on April 3rd
Visa Required: YES (for US citizens, this can easily be obtained during your passport check on arrival)
Activities: Petra, Petra by Night, luxury stay on Dead Sea, desert glamping (with actual beds)
I am SO excited to go back to Jordan as it is one of my favorite destination of 2017 and my favorite country in the Middle East! I went solo and felt totally safe, in case you are wondering!
On this trip, we will spend 2.5 days in Petra and I will show you all the epic viewpoints I found on my last trip. There is some hiking involved so you must be ok with this! But no hiking experience needed, don’t worry!
After Petra we will spend one night glamping in the desert (there will be beds inside your tent so it’s not roughing it by any means).
We will also visit the Dead Sea and stay in a luxury hotel with a sea view.
The trip starts and ends in Amman so we will have time to explore the city as well.
Jordan Trip Itinerary
March 27: Amman
March 28-31: Petra
March 31-April 1: Wadu Rum desert glamping
April 1-2: Dead Sea resort luxury hotel
April 2-3: Amman
Non-refundable deposit: $400 due by January 23rd
Total Price: $1600 (due by February 23rd)
*For any past guests on my previous group trips, you will get a special discount, just ask 🙂
7 nights accommodation in double occupancy (you will have your own twin bed in a room shared with another female traveler).
Private transport around Jordan
Petra by Night entrance fee
Lifelong memories and friendships!
What’s NOT Included:
International flights to Jordan
Jordan Visa Fee* (see below)
Entrance to Petra for 2 days* (See below)
Food (other than the breakfasts mentioned above)
Alcohol (It’s a dry country so there will not be much alcohol consumption)
Travel insurance (mandatory)
*I did not include the 2 day entrance fee to Petra since its cheaper to buy the Jordan Pass before you enter Jordan, which reduces your visa entry fee. I’ll give you more details about it once you book the trip, don’t worry! It’s pretty easy 🙂
Is travel insurance worth it? This is such a big debate in the travel community and I’ve noticed that sometimes the arguments around it can get heated. In the end, it’s a personal choice.
The truth is, if you knew all the facts, you would probably agree that you should never travel without travel insurance. It’s just foolish and risky.
But hey, if you have a few hundred thousand dollars handy just in case you need to get air lifted from an island to the mainland, by all means, skip the travel insurance.
Travel insurance can save you a shitload of money in case an accident happens. And let me tell you, accidents DO happen when you least expect them.
I use World Nomads for all my international and yearly California trips. World Nomads offers comprehensive travel insurance internationally, as well as domestic travel insurance that is at least 100 miles from your home.
World Nomads Insurance Review
What Does Travel Insurance Actually Cover?
Travel insurance can save your ass in so many different ways (and get you reimbursed for your expenses). Here are the main things travel insurance will cover:
If your flight gets delayed or cancelled. This can also cover your accommodation/food expenses in these cases as well.
Emergency medical insurance (probably the most important part of travel insurance)
Unless you have some magical health insurance back home in the US, your health insurance will most likely NOT cover you abroad. I never knew that til about 10 years ago and that’s when I started getting travel insurance. Ignorance is bliss.
If you’re lucky, you may be covered so just call your health insurance to make sure. Even so, I would still purchase travel insurance for all the other benefits like trip protection/baggage and personal effects loss, etc.
Travel insurance will cover medical bills and dental costs in case you have an emergency overseas (examples: you get in a car accident, you catch the flu, you need to be hospitalized for food poisoning/yellow fever, you chip a tooth, etc.).
In case your camera gear/computer/drone, etc gets damaged, lost, or stolen; your baggage gets lost/delayed.
Evacuation and Repatriation
In case you’re on a remote island and need to be airlifted to the mainland. Repatriation means in case of your death abroad, your body will be returned to your home country.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW)
CDW is included in the Explorer Plan and will cover up to $35,000. (Note: CDW is not available for residents of NY, OR or TX).
What Travel Insurance Usually Does not Cover
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Most travel insurance does NOT cover pre-existing medical conditions. Sometimes you can add on an extension for this and pay more. In terms of World Nomads, they do not cover pre-existing medical conditions UNLESS they are controlled and stable.
If you do have a stable pre-existing medical condition, such as diabetes or something, I would still call to make sure what exactly would be covered in the event you would need medical treatment related to this.
If you read the fine print, a majority of travel insurance companies will NOT cover you for riding a motorbike. World Nomads DOES cover motorbike activities. However, this is ONLY if you are properly licensed in your home country to drive the vehicle.
For example: if you want to rent a motorbike in Thailand and you’re from the USA, you must have a valid motorcycle license from the USA. I didn’t realize this until recently, so basically all the motorbikes I rode in SE Asia I wasn’t properly covered for. Thank God nothing happened!
You Should NEVER Travel to the USA without Travel Insurance. Period.
Great news! World Nomads covers non-USA citizens for traveling to the USA. I was able to help my boyfriend (who is from Croatia) secure travel insurance for his month long trip to the USA.
The USA is NOT a place you ever want to travel to without travel insurance. The cost of healthcare is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. A trip to the hospital can run you $2,000-$10,000+(for a one night stay).
There is no way around it and if you need medical care while you’re here, you WILL pay the price (they will track you down until it’s paid so be prepared if you visit without travel insurance).
My Favorite Travel Insurance: World Nomads Insurance
I’ve been using World Nomads for the past 4.5 years and I absolutely love them. I have filed 3 claims so far and have gotten fully reimbursed without hassle. I had 2 claims for stolen gear (both in South America) and one hospital visit in Croatia.
Top 5 Reasons Why I Love World Nomads Insurance
You can file a claim entirely (and easily) online
Their customer service is very helpful
You can get reimbursed fairly quickly
Their coverage is some of the BEST, especially when it comes to emergency medical expenses
You can extend your coverage easily, even while you’re already on your trip (instead of having to buy a whole new policy)
My real life experiences with World Nomads:
1. After a big trip to Africa I was in Croatia and had severe stomach pains. My hypochondriac self was convinced I had Hepatitis A since I didn’t get the vaccine before my trip. Two hospital visits later and some meds and I was discharged with gastroenteritis.
Type of Claim: Medical Emergency
What was required to file my claim: the discharge letter from the hospital which included my diagnosis and doctor’s signature, copy of my bill, receipt/bill from the pharmacy where I got my prescription, and a copy of my return plane ticket in and out of Croatia.
How Long Did it Take to Get Reimbursed: 6 weeks total to get my check mailed to my door (it was delayed a bit since I forgot to submit proof of my plane ticket…not entirely sure why the plane ticket mattered since it had nothing to do with my hospital visit, but hey, they required it).
Note: it says on the site that documents need to be translated into English, but when I called they informed me that it was not necessary. So I just submitted the doctor’s note in Croatian and it was totally fine.
2. While on a bus in Colombia I had my very expensive camera lens stolen from my bag. My Airbnb host helped me file a police report in Colombia and as soon as I got back I filed my claim.
Type of Claim: Stolen Gear
What was required to file my claim:the police report, receipt of purchase of the camera lens, proof that my credit card was charged for the purchase, and a copy of my return plane ticket.
How Long Did it Take to Get Reimbursed: 4 weeks total
3. While in Bolivia I had my cell phone stolen from me right in front of my Airbnb with 2 security guards. How does this even happen? Ugh.
Type of Claim: Stolen Gear
What was required to file my claim:the police report, receipt of purchase of my cellphone, proof that my credit card was charged for the purchase, and a copy of my return plane ticket.
How Long Did it Take to Get Reimbursed: 5 weeks total
How to Get World Nomads for Your Next Trip
If you want an idea of how much travel insurance is going to cost, you can get a quick quote below:
World Nomads Standard vs Explorer Plan (Which one do you need?)
There are basically 2 different plan options for each trip. The standard is a more basic coverage and the explorer offers a bit more coverage.
If you can’t decide which one you need, the main difference between the 2 plans are as follows:
Activities you plan on participating in:
If you are going to be doing more high risk activities such as cliff jumping, cave diving, scuba diving more than 50 meters deep, sky diving, hiking (up to 22,965 feet/7,000 meters), etc. you probably will need the Explorer Plan.
If you plan on going to to the beach and lounging most the time, the Standard Plan may be more suitable for you.
You can check the list of activities and which plan covers them here.
The Explorer plan also gives more coverage in almost every category including gear coverage of $3000 compared to $1000 in the standard plan, CDW coverage up to $35,000 versus no CDW coverage with the standard plan, etc. Without getting too detailed, you can check the example below:
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Note: I am not getting paid for this post nor did I receive any discounts for using World Nomads. I have been using it on my own for 4.5 years and absolutely love it. After using it for so long, I decided to sign up for their affiliate program which lets me receive a very small commission if you use my links (at no extra cost to you of course). This helps me keep my site ad free (cuz I hate ads when I’m trying to read a site, don’t you?). So THANK YOU! ♥