12 Amazing Reasons to Visit Amorgos, Greece: the Tiny Greek Island You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

12 Amazing Reasons to Visit Amorgos, Greece: the Tiny Greek Island You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Amrorgos is one of those places that you’ve probably never heard of, but will instantly be intrigued to visit once you hear about it. Amorgos is a tiny island in the Cyclades Greek island group with only about 2000 residents. It measures only 48 square miles, but it seems as if every square inch is packed with outstanding beauty.

Amorgos has escaped the mass crowds that other Greek islands in the Cyclades can’t seem to shake. Most of the small crowd you will see on the island is composed of French tourists due to a famous French director’s movie that was shot on the island called Le Grand Bleu.

I visited in mid October and it felt as if I had the whole island to myself at some times. This is what you call a Greek island paradise dream!

The one really unique thing about Amorgos island is that you can hike the entire island from top to bottom basically. There are hiking maps all throughout the island so they make it really easy!

All the hikes are well demarcated with information signs with the distance and time it takes between hikes. If you like hiking, and stunning beaches, you will love Amorgos!

How to get to Amorgos

There is NO airport on Amorgos so the only option is by ferry. It’s only 1 hour and 20 minutes from Naxos and 1 hour and 50 minutes from Santorini.

It’s not the easiest place to get to, but the trade off is less crowds! I would fly into either Santorini or Naxos and then take a ferry from there.

Where to Stay on Amorgos

There are 2 main port towns you will want to stay on Amorgos island, depending on which port your ferry arrives and departs.

The 2 towns are Katapola and Aegiali. Aegiali is more expensive but has more stuff to do. Katapola is more sleepy and has less stuff to see/do but it is the cheaper of the two. Decide on where to stay based on where your ferry arrives and departs. My ferry arrived and departed in Katapola so I stayed in this town. 

Where to Stay in Katapoli

Le Grande Bleu Villa (named after the famous French movie!)

This is a cute little boutique hotel a 5 minute walk to the port. The rooms were spacious, it was super quiet, and the hosts were SO hospital and nice! I absolutely loved my stay here and would highly recommend it. They even got a 9.7 review score on Booking.com! You can check the listing HERE. Oh, and did I mention it was only $35/night?

PS: You can rent an ATV directly from the villa and get it delivered for €15 per day, which is the cheapest price for an ATV that I’ve ever received on a Greek island (it was also off season so keep that in mind).

How to Get Around Amorgos

This is one island you absolutely need your own transportation as the bus service on the island is not that frequent and will not go to all the places you will want to visit.

The island is so small I would definitely rent an ATV to explore! There aren’t many cars on the road and it’s so easy to park everywhere with a small ATV.

Tip: There are only 2 gas stations on the entire island so make sure to fill up whenever you can!


12 Amazing Reasons to Visit Amorgos, Greece


Mouros Bay

Mouros Bay is a secluded beach that you have to walk down many steps to get to. The beach is lined with black sand and rocks, which contrasts so beautifully with the aqua water. There are no facilities on the beach and it is one of the more rugged beaches on the island. 

Mouros Bay, Amorgos

There are also underwater caves that you can swim in on the far end (which you can see when you walk down there). They are visible in the photo below.Mouros Bay

Maltezi Beach

A 30-40 minute walk from the town of Katapola is a beautiful sandy beach called Maltezi. The walk starts off in the little village called Xilokeratidi and then takes you along the shoreline of the water.

Maltezi beaxch, Amorgos

You will pass a little church and then over a rocky hill is this gorgeous turquoise beach that will beg you to come take a dip in. It does require a small hike up some rocks so closed toe shoes would be best.

Maltezi beaxch, Amorgos

The beach is hidden from the winds and remains pretty calm throughout the day. There are sun beds, umbrellas, and a little shack that serves drinks and snacks (but these facilities were not available when I visited in October).

Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa

This was the most spectacular thing to see on Amorgos in my opinion. The Monastery was built in the 11th century into the dramatic cliffside and sits an astonishing 980+ feet above the sea. The monastery is dedicated to Panagia (the Virgin Mary), the patron saint of the Island of Amorgos.

Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa

You will have to walk up about 309 steps to reach the top, but when the monastery first peaks through, it will blow you mind. At every turn it gets closer and closer and you continue to be in awe of this marvelous architectural marvel.

Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa


There are 3 monks that live here and act as guardians of the monastery. When you arrive, they serve you psimemi raki (a local liqueur) and some sweets. 

Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa, Amorgos

The monastery entrance is free but they so sell a few little trinkets inside to help pay for the upkeep. I bought a cute little ring with a cross for €5 for support of the monastery since it’s free entrance.

Amorgos

Tip: You must dress appropriately with shoulders and knees covered to get inside the monastery. They have some shawls at the entrance to cover up if you forget.


If you’re into lesser known Greek islands to visit, check out my guides on Kefalonia, Milos and Rhodes, 2 of the best Greek islands to visit!


Agia Anna Beach 

Agia Anna beach is right under the monastery and it takes just a few minutes to drive down the windy road to get to it. It is a very tiny pebbled beach with crystal waters. It is framed nicely by a cute little church. 

Olympia Shipwreck

The shipwreck was made famous by the movie Big Blue. The ship sank back in 1980 when the captain tried to find shelter from a storm. Everyone survived fortunately! There are rumors that the crew consisted of contemporary pirates that were coming from Cyprus. I guess we will never know!

Olympia, Amorgos

You must hike down about 10-15 minutes to get to the shipwreck. It’s an easy hike and I did it in sandals. This has also become a popular diving spot on the island.

Olympia shipwreck

Kalotaritissa Beach

Kalotaritissa Beach is about 5 minutes from the Olympia shipwreck. It is a gorgeous calm sandy beach with lots of little boats in the bay. In the summer you can cross to Gramvousa island from there, which looks absolutely stunning.Kalotaritissa Beach

There are no facilities at this beach and it’s a bit more rugged if that’s what you like.

Kalotaritissa Beach, Amorgos

Chora

Chora is the main town on the island of Amorgos and sits 400 meters above sea level with small streets and views of the windmills and castle.

Chora, Amorgos

There are remnants of a Venetian castle on the top which looks like a rock coming out of the top and contrasts great with the white buildings. Chora, Amorgos

The city is filled with small, maze-like streets, white washed buildings, and small boutiques and cafes.

Jazzmin cafe, Amorgos

Go to Jazzmin Cafe for great coffee and the best sunset view. From the terrace you can see the windmills sitting on the hill and admire the views while sipping on some coffee (or wine).Jazzmin cafe, Amorgos

Katapola

The quiet little port town that I stayed in was very peaceful and relaxing. There is a pebbled beach and a handful of tavernas lining the water.

Katapola, Amorgos

Go to Moonbar Katerina in Katapola for sunset. It’s a cute little wine bar with outdoor seating with a great view of the sunset. They serve a glass of wine with the local cheese which is SO good. A glass of wine costs €3.50, but the view is free. Moonbar Katerina, Amorgos

Most the restaurants in the port town have a view of the water and it’s so nice to end a day of exploring with a relaxing glass of wine watching the sun dip below the sea.

Amorgos, Greece

Kastri Hike

Start from the town of Vroutsis and take a peaceful stroll to Kastri, situated on the cliff overlooking the water. The hike ends at the acropolis of Ancient Arkesini, an ancient Greek settlement. 

Kastri, Amorgos

The hike takes about 30 minutes and you will pass a beautiful church on the way. The views the whole way are stunning. Definitely wear sneakers and not sandals like I did because it gets a bit rocky.Kastri, Amorgos

Tip: the Kastri hike is hike #3 on the hiking map of Amorgos. 

Tholaria to Langada Hike

One really cool hike is from one hilltop town to the other! You can hike from Tholaria to Langada hilltop towns in about 1 hour and 15 minutes and it is pretty flat the whole way.Amorgos, Greece

It’s an easy hike with views of Aegiali Bay the whole way. The hike is completely uncovered so you’re exposed to the sun the whole time. You definitely will want to wear a hat and sunscreen for this hike. Amorgos, Greece

Tholaria, Amorgos

cute little streets of Tholaria town

Tip: this is hike #4 on the hiking map of Amorgos.

Aegiali Bay

One of the main port towns on the island, along with Katapola, is called Aegiali. This town is more populated than Katapola and where to stay if you want a little more action.Aegiali bay, Amorgos

Aegiali has little cafes and gift shops lining the harbor with calm and aqua waters. Go to Maestro Cafe at the far end of the port. It has a great view of the water and has excellent coffee and breakfast. I went here twice!

Aegiali has an upscale hotel on the hillside overlooking the whole bay called Aegialis Hotel & Spa. It is the only 5 star hotel on the island. I didn’t stay here but took a tour of the facilities with one of the staff members and this place is absolutely breathtaking! They definitely have the best view of the island from the hotel, as you can see below. Aegiali bay, Amorgos

Levrossos Beach

This was my favorite beach on the island of Amorgos. Levrossos is basically a continuation of Aegiali Bay, but more secluded. You can walk from Aegiali in about 20 minutes or you can drive to the little parking lot above it and walk down in less than 5 minutes.Levrossos, Amorgos

There’s a cute little taverna above the beach with amazing views of the sea and surrounding mountains. This is a considered a nudist beach but not many people were nude. It is a calm sandy beach that’s a great place to relax.

Tip: If you walk 10-15 minutes past Levrossos, there is Psili Ammos Beach, an even more secluded beach with black sand. It was almost all nude sunbathers when I went. The views on the way to the beach are some of the best I saw on the whole island. You will see Levrossos and Aegiali beach in the distance framed by the mountains and hilltop towns. It’s so darn pretty!

Tip: As you’re leaving Levrossos, there are some epic white stairs carved into the mountain, which leads to a little church called Agios Konstantinos. It is right above Levrossos beach so keep an eye out.

Travel Insurance for Greek Islands 

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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Things to Do in Kefalonia: A 5-Day Itinerary for this Greek Island Jewel

Things to Do in Kefalonia: A 5-Day Itinerary for this Greek Island Jewel

Kefalonia (aka Cephalonia) is the largest island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. The Ionian islands are characterized by lush green landscapes, dramatic limestone cliffsides, and rugged beaches. The Ionian islands are the most mountainous of all the Greek islands, so if you love nature, you will be in heaven.

Kefalonia is particularly famous for Melissani Cave and Myrtos Beach. Yet, the island has so much more to offer, including picturesque fishing villages, Ainos National Park (the only national park on a Greek island), 2 impressive castles/fortresses, gorgeous turquoise waters, and stunning beaches that can only be reached either by foot or a narrow windy road filled with several exciting hairpin turns.

How to Get Around Kefalonia

While I almost always recommend renting an ATV to explore the Greek islands, this island is a little different than the other Greek islands and is too big really to explore with an ATV. Furthermore, there are many high cliffs and windy roads with no rails that could be dangerous on an ATV.

With that being said, I would recommend renting an ATV for just one day to explore the beaches of Argostili and then switching to a small rental car to explore the rest of the island. Or you could walk to the beaches from town, but this will take you 20-40 minutes. I did this and wished I had rented an ATV for the day as walking in the heat is not my idea of a good time.

Pro Tip: Most companies in Greece now require an IDP (international driving permit) which you can get easily the same day at AAA offices in the USA. They last for one year and cost $20.


Things to do in Kefalonia: A 5-Day Itinerary 

Day 1: Argostoli town and beaches

Day 2: Myrtos Beach, Assos Village, & Fiskardo

Day 3:  Melissani Cave & Antisamos Beach

Day 4: Fteri beach & Petani Beach

Day 5: Ainos National Park, St. George Castle, & Gentilini Winery

**The best Kefalonia beaches: Myrtos, Fteri, and Antisamos**


Argostoli

Argostoli is the capital city of Kefalonia and also the perfect place to base yourself to explore this island. It is in the most ideal location to visit all the best places in Kefalonia. There are also many beautiful beaches around the city that you could walk to. You have the option of staying right in town or in Lassi, near all the beaches.

Argostoli Town-set on a harbor with many restaurants and shops. There is also a famous sea bridge called the De Bosset Bridge that was built over the bay. It is actually the largest stone bridge built over the sea in the world and is almost at 690 meters long. You can walk to the other side of the bay in about 20 ish minutes.

Lassi-the part of Argostoli near all the beaches. This is a more relaxed area if you’re looking to lounge in the sun all day. However, it’s farther from the center with all the restaurants and shops so it’s a trade off.

The 3 main Argostoli beaches I would recommend are Makris Gialos, Kalamia, and Gradakia.

Makris Gialos beach-this is most popular beach in Argostoli. It has many beach beds you can rent for €12, as well as water sports and facilities. Costa costa beach club has drinks and food. It’s a very busy beach with parking on an incline on an unpaved path (so best to come with an ATV as opposed to a car). This is the beach to visit if you want more action.

things to do in Kefalonia

Kalamia beach-a 30 min walk from the center of Argostoli. It’s a small beach with a little beach bar. It has beautiful rock formations and little arches you can go under. The sunbed set is €7 to rent (2 chairs and an umbrella). It’s a rocky beach but the little part by the arches is sandy and relaxing. This was definitely my favorite beach in Argostoli.

Kalamia Beach Argostoli Kefalonia

Kalamia Beach in Argostoli

Gradakia beach-a 15 Min walk from Kalamia, this sandy beach has a beach bar, sun beds, showers, changing rooms, and I even saw signs for a pharmacie. There are some really pretty coves along the way where you can swim. However, they aren’t as calm and have some waves.

Day 2: Myrtos Beach, Assos Village, and Fiskardo

Myrtos Beach

Hands-down the prettiest beach on Kefalonia and a top contender for the prettiest beach in all of Greece. I honestly have never seen anything like it. The beach is unique as you view it from above, it has mesmerizing bright blue and aqua swirls that change shape and colors throughout the day.

things to do in Kefalonia

The beach is surrounded by towering dramatic cliffs and lined with pristine white pebbles on the bottom, creating a stark contrast between the turquoise waters.

Myrtos beach Kefalonia

This is honestly one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen in my life (only behind the view from Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos). When I drove to the viewpoint and saw it from above, I got goosebumps and I was literally in doubt that a place like this so beautiful exists. What is really unique about this beach is that the swirly patterns change throughout the day so it will look different at different times of the day!

Getting down to the beach will consist of a zigzag narrow road with several switchbacks all the way to the bottom. There are some blind spots, so make sure to go slow and honk around the corners. But the real highlight of this beach is from the panoramic viewpoint from above!

things to do in Kefalonia


If you’re into lesser known Greek islands to visit, check out my guides on Amorgos, Milos and Rhodes, 2 of the best Greek islands to visit!


Assos Village

Assos is an adorable tiny and colorful fishing village connected by an isthmus to a green mountain range that boasts a magnificent Venetian Fortress that looks back at the village. Assos village is said to have only 100 residents.

As with most of the awesome places in Kefalonia, access to the village is by a narrow road with hairpin turns lined by cypress trees. There are a few breathtaking views from the drive down that you will want to stop and snap pictures of, so take your time.

View of Assos village from the walk up to the Assos Fortress.

Assos is such a relaxing little place to spend the afternoon. There are little coves to swim with crystal clear calm waters. You can also sit at one of the tavernas on the water and admire the views of the bay and the Fortress across the way. And if you have the time, make sure to go up to the Assos Fortress.

The Assos Fortress was built by the Venetians in the 16th century to protect the city from pirate raids and the Turks. The fortress measures 44,000 square feet, one of the largest in all of Greece.

The walkway up to the fortress is lined with Cyprus and pine trees and has great views as you climb to the top. It will take about 30-40 minutes to get the top. Unfortunately when I got to the top, the fortress was closed. I forgot to check the opening times (still kicking myself). But regardless, the walk was very peaceful and the surrounding panoramic views from the top were stunning and well worth the stroll.

Assos Village Kefalonia

Fiskardo

Fiskardo is another picturesque fishing located at the northernmost tip of Kefalonia. It’s a pretty port town with colorful storefronts with blooming flowers cascading from them. And as you may have assumed, there are also many fish tavernas lining the port filled with customers people watching.

You’ll also see a bunch of fancy yachts parked in the harbor and it feels a bit more upscale than other parts of the island, although very “chill” at the same time. Overall, I loved this town and wish I had more time to spend here. 

Tip: Go to Theodora’s Cafe top floor for drinks and awesome views (pictured below).  things to do in Kefalonia

Day 3: Melissani Cave & Antisamos Beach

Antisamos Beach

Near the town of Sami you will find one of the best Kefalonia Beaches called Antisamos. There is a beautiful drive down to this beach by (you guessed it) hairpin turns. The shallow waters have a bright aqua color and then it starkly changes to deep blu as it gets deeper.

Antisamos beach offers free sun beds and some water sports. It is a pebbled beach with a few beach bars.

Antisamos Kefalonia

Antisamos is absolutely gorgeous and you could spend a whole afternoon here. Below are a few drone shots I took on my visit.

Melissani Cave

Melissani Cave is one of the main reasons why people come to this island, along with Myrtos beach. This unique cave formation was was said to be formed from an earthquake causing the ceiling to cave in and form an opening to the sky.

There are 2 parts to the Melissani Cave. The first one is this lake with the circular opening to the sky and the other part is a dark cave with a low ceiling consisting of stalagmites. It does get quite cold in there so make sure to bring something long sleeved. 

The water inside the cave is a mix of freshwater and sea water and is about 20-30 meters in depth. Melissani Cave was not discovered until 1951.

Melissani Lake

Tip: Go during midday so the sun is high in the sky and shines over it. This will highlight the vibrant blue/green waters. The entrance fee is €7.

Note: It was actually really hard to get a good photo (being solo) in the cave because there are lots of other boats and they take you in and out so fast. There were too many people in the boat to take a good selfie and the guy rowing the boat was not the best photographer. If you are not alone, it’s probably much easier to get good shots, just be prepared to take them of each other quickly.

Day 4: Fteri Beach & Petania Beach 

Fteri Beach

Wow, I can’t say enough about Fteri Beach on Kefalonia island. I had never heard of it or seen any pictures of it before I came to the island and I was shocked at how this place isn’t more popular. Maybe because it’s a little tricky to get to.

View from the rock pile at Fteri beach

How to Get to Fteri Beach

I put Fteri beach into google maps but it wasn’t that clear. It basically takes you to the gravel road where you begin the hike. But NOTE that when you have about 4 minutes left on your google map directions, you will see the sign for Fteri beach on the left with a tiny place to park about 4-5 cars. If you keep following the google maps you will miss the entrance to the hike. You should see the sign when you’re about 3 minutes into the gravel road.

Getting to Fteri beach takes a one hour hike down through the wooded forest and down some rocks. Proper shoes are required for this hike so don’t try to do it in flip flops. I would also recommend pants because I got all scratched up from the bushes.

I’m not going to lie, the path is not that clear and it will take some time to find the way, but don’t let that scare you away. It was definitely an adventure!

Tip: Make sure to looks for the GREEN spray paint on the rocks because about 10 minutes into the hike it gets confusing.

Fteri beach Kefalonia

Drone shot of the cove you can swim to from the main beach in Fteri

Fteri beach was the second prettiest beach in Kefalonia and from the bottom had the prettiest water. Cascading shades of turquoise, deep blues, and crystal clear waters will blow your mind. Here are some more dramatic drone shots below.

The beach is surrounded by green nature and the limestone cliffs. There are not many people there, although you can get there by boat also so you may see some of the people coming from boats. This beach is a MUST in Kefalonia.

It was quite cloudy most the day when I visited, but when the clouds dispersed and the sun peaked through, it highlighted the waters so vibrantly, it was magical.

Petani Beach

A gorgeous beach located on the Paliki Peninsula surrounded by huge limestone cliffs. There are 2 taverns on the bottom, as well as some sun beds. Petani beach has white sand and gravel adding layers to the shoreline.  The waves can get kinda rough during inclement weather so take caution. The views going down to this beach are spectacular along the windy road.

things to do in Kefalonia

Day 5: Mt Ainos National Park, St. George Castle, and Gentilini Winery 

Mt Ainos

Ainos National Park is the only national park on a Greek island. I was so excited to hear this and it made me want to visit Kefalonia even more since I love hiking.

Hike the Mt Ainos Summit

This is basically my ideal type of hike because you can drive almost all the way up and then it’s only a 20-30 minute hike to the summit. I read a bunch of reviews that said the road conditions were treacherous going up here, but they are outdated so don’t let that scare you. Although the road was windy and there are some blind hairpin turns, the road conditions were pretty good all the way to the top with nicely paved, smooth roads.

Tip: park at the bottom of the towers and there is a little gravel road to the left. Walk down that path for about 10-15 minutes until you see a plaque with info on the left. Right after that you will see a little path on the right going up a hill. Take that and walk in the woods for about 10-15 minutes on makeshift steps.

Mt Ainos

The delightful path up to the summit of Mt. Ainos

The top is more of a rock scramble so make sure you have sneakers or closed toed shoes for this hike. If it’s foggy, wait a bit and you will get a full 360 degree view of the island. If it’s a clear day, you can even see Zakynthos and Ithaca nearby as well!

things to do in Kefalonia

The pathway to the summit has spectacular views as well.

St George Castle

The Venetian Castle of St. Gorge is more like ruins than a castle, but definitely still worth the visit. It is located at the top of the hill with 360 views over the island. It’s free entrance and has some great photo opportunities. However, it is closed on Tuesdays.

Eat lunch at Il Borgo at the base of the castle with amazing views and good food. Get the octopus in vinegar, it’s amazing!

things to do in Kefalonia

Gentilini Winery and Vineyards

If you’re a wine lover, you must come here! It’s just a few minutes from the airport and about 6-7 minutes from Argostoli so its super convenient. You could really go here any day because it’s so close to town. Another option is to go on your way to the airport on your way out of Kefalonia.

The wine tastings offer 3 wines for €5, 5 wines for €7, or 7 wines for €10. How cheap is that? You could never find prices like this in the U.S.!

You  can also add a tour for €5. They give you a board with cheese, bread, olive oil, and tomato doused with herbs. They also have gluten free bread, so I was in heaven because that almost never happens!!

Gentilini Winery Kefalonia

If you have more time on Kefalonia, head to the Paliki Peninsula

If you have more time in Kefalonia, I would recommend spending time on the Paliki Peninsula, where they have several beautiful beaches and some wineries. Xi beach is specifically known for brown sand and clay cliffs. The mud from the cliffs is supposed to make a therapeutic mud mask for your skin. I just drove by here and wasn’t able to get out and stay due to time, but it was a unique place to explore.

How to get to the Paliki pensula: You can drive the long way or you can take a ferry Ferry from Argostoli to Lixouri . The cost is €4 (cash only) for a car and yourself. The journey takes 20 mins and goes every 30 minutes.

Platia Ammos Beach-I tried to go to this beach as it was listed as one of the best Kefalonia beaches, but I couldn’t get to it and later read that the stairs going down to this beach were damaged from an earthquake and it has been closed to the public. I also read that it may be possible to reach this beach by a private boat, but I’m not entirely sure.

How to get to Kefalonia

Fly

Due to its location in the Ionian Sea, you’re most likely going to be flying in an out of Kefalonia, as opposed to taking a ferry. There aren’t many direct international flights into Kefalonia, so you’re most likely going to have to fly into Athens, and then take another flight to Kefalonia. 

I actually got lucky and got a direct flight from Edinburgh to Kefalonia Airport (airport code EFL) that took 4 hours and costed about $150. As I was continuing onto other Greek islands in the Cyclades islands, I had to fly back to Athens, and then fly to Paros from there. Fly from Athens with Olympic Air or Aegean Airlines.

During high season, make sure to get your flight months in advance to snag some cheaper flights. I use Skyscanner for about 95% of all my flights I book. They almost always have the cheapest flights compared to other search engines in my experience. 

Ferry 

I would NOT recommend taking a ferry to Kefalonia because honestly there aren’t many good options. You possibly could fly into Patras, and then take a ferry from Killini. But you would have to figure out how to get from Patras to Killini, which is about a 1.5 hour drive.

You could also fly into Zakynthos and then take a ferry from there, which is not a bad option if the flight into Zakynthos is cheap. I WOULD recommend you to do this option and stay in Zakynthos for 4-5 days as it is spectacular! One of my favorite Greek islands. 

Travel Insurance for Greek Islands 

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 4 claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 4 without any hassle. I highly recommend them. They also have some of the best medical coverage out of ANY travel insurance. Period.

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things to do in Kefalonia

Disclaimer: this article contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a very tiny commission if you purchase something through these links (this is at no extra cost to you). 🙂

 

Scotland Road Trip: An Awesome 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Scotland Road Trip: An Awesome 10 Day Scotland Itinerary

Scotland Road Trip: A 10-Day Itinerary

Scotland is one of my favorite places in Europe and I couldn’t wait for my second trip there this past fall. The country blew me away on my first trip and as a result of my obsession with the show Outlander, I had to go back and explore more!

This trip I focused mainly on the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye, arguably the 2 most beautiful areas in Scotland. You could spend weeks in Scotland and not even get to all the highlights, but this 10 day Scotland road trip hits most of the best places to visit in Scotland.

I also stopped at several Outlander filming locations throughout the country and I will say that all but 2 of the locations I would still recommend even if you don’t watch the show. These locations are absolutely stunning, trust me!

Driving in Scotland

Unless you’re just visiting Edinburgh, a car is essential to explore the best places in Scotland. However, I would try to pick up your rental after you leave Edinburgh because parking can be a disaster in the city.

Scotland Road Trip

There are MANY one lane roads in Scotland that go both ways with several passing spots, especially if you’re traveling in the Highlands. Make sure to go slow and keep an eye out for oncoming vehicles.

Tip: when driving in the Scottish Highlands, trips take about 30% longer than Google maps says so make sure to keep that in mind.

A note on the Isle of Skye: Parking can be a struggle as most of the sites on the Isle of Skye only have a TINY parking lot for 10 or less cars. Arrive early to assure your spot, especially in peak season.

PS: There are no tolls in Scotland. YAY!

Where are the Scottish Highlands?

The Scottish highlands are a sparsely populated area in the Northwest of Scotland consisting of gorgeous vast landscapes, stunning mountain drives, mysterious castles, beautiful lochs, wildlife, rugged coastlines, and various small islands. In other words, the Scottish Highlands are a nature lover’s dream! A Scotland road trip would not be complete without visiting the Highlands. Period.

Scotland Weather

It’s very wet in Scotland, so don’t even think about going there without a rain jacket and waterproof boots. The good news is that all that rain makes for a very GREEN landscape.

The weather is also very fickle in Scotland, especially in the Highlands, so expect ALL 4 seasons in one afternoon. The weather can be absolutely crazy and unpredictable at any time. Think sunny and gorgeous with endless blue skies, and 5 minutes later it’s monsoon raining and hailing. I experienced that a few times on my trip, especially on the Isle of Skye. Just make sure you’re prepared with the proper gear and you should be fine.

Tip: no matter how sunny and blue it looks outside, always bring a rain jacket out with you. Always.


Scotland 10-Day Itinerary 

Day 1-2: Edinburgh

Day 3 Optional: Outlander tour all day

Day 4: Drive from Edinburgh to Portree with stops at Drummond Gardens

Day 5-6: Isle of Skye

Day 7: Drive to Eilean Donan Castle, Glencoe and Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter train)

Day 8: Glencoe hiking

Day 9: Drive to Edinburgh and stop in Finnich Glen and mystery castle

Day 10: Hopetoun House & Midhope Castle

NOTE: without the Outlander tour, this Scotland itinerary would be 9 days total


Day 1-2: Explore Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of the most underrated capital cities in Europe. If you didn’t know, now you know! It’s actually in my top 5 favorite capital cities in Europe! The old world medieval architecture of the Old Town is a highlight for me, but if modern is more your style, the New Town is worth exploring as well. I would give yourself at least 2-3 days to explore this unique capital.

Scotland road trip

The Edinburgh castle sits atop an extinct volcano in the middle of the city which can be viewed from what seems like miles away. The Royal Mile street connects the Edinburgh Castle to the magnificent Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland.

Outlander fans: the Palace of Holyroodhouse is where Bonnie Prince Charles stayed for a month back in 1745 in real life, but was not actually in the show. Apparently the book mentions it (I haven’t read it).

What to See in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle-magnificent views overlooking the city, although a steep entrance fee of £19.50.

Royal Mile-a mile long street that is lined with many cute shops, pubs, cafes, and small museums.

Palace of Holyroodhouse– official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland.

Dean Village– a picturesque village in a quiet part of town. You can walk along the Water of Leith Walkway in about 15 minutes from the city. It’s a pretty and peaceful walk along the waterfront.

picturesque Dean Village

The Real Mary King’s Close-discover an amazing underground world of the 1700’s, still well preserved to this day. The close is located under the big buildings on the Royal mile and it’s really like you’re stepping back in time going down there.

You can only go by guided tour and it costs £16.50 (100% worth it). The tour takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. Get tickets in advance because they do sell out almost every day. DON’T MISS IT! This was my absolute favorite attraction in Edinburgh. It’s truly unique and you won’t see anything like it anywhere else. PS: you can’t take photos down there.

Calton Hillone of the best spots to view the sunset in the city. It’s a quick 10 minute walk from the center and offers a panoramic view over Edinburgh.

Hike Arthur’s Seat-a hike that gives you the BEST view over the city. It takes about 45 minutes from the bottom of the hill. Start the hike at Holyroodhouse. It’s a semi steep hike that’s beginner to moderate in intensity. You don’t need hiking boots but definitely need sneakers with good grip. At the top you’ll be climbing up rocks. You can view all of Edinburgh and the Craigs from the top (see photo below).

Scotland road trip

Waterstones Edinburgh-a bookstore that has an amazing view of Edinburgh Castle. Grab a coffee and enjoy the views.

If you’re gluten free (GF) and in Edinburgh, go to Smoov Gelato for awesome gluten free waffles. Also try Eteaket for GF scones and tea. Hula Juice Bar has GF açaí bowls and GF avocado toast.

Outlander fans: While walking the Royal Mile, stop by Bakehouse close, the scene of Jamie’s print shop. where Claire and Jamie reunited in season 3.


Day 3 Optional: Outlander Tour

I spent one day doing an Outlander filming site tour but  if you’re not an Outlander fan, you can totally skip this day. But if you are a fan, I highly recommend this tour! What locations we visited on this tour:

Doune Castle-Castle Leoch in Outlander. It is also used as Winterfell in the pilot of Game of Thrones. The entrance fee is £9, but it’s more impressive from the outside than the inside.

Linlithgow Palacethe oldest palace in Scotland and also where those infamous almost-impossible-to-watch scenes from the season one finale took place, if you know what I mean. The entrance fee is £7.20. There are awesome view of the water from above and you can see the old cells on the bottom. It’s pretty cool even if you’re not an Outlander fan.

Blackness Castle-used as Fort William and Blackjack Randall’s headquarters. It is also on the water in a cute little town.

Midhope Castle-the real life Lallybroch! The entrance fee is £3.50. It is very busy and tour busses are only allowed to stay 20 minutes. However, I returned on a later date to go on my own and it was so worth it! (more on this at the end of this article).Lalybroch


Day 4: Drive to Portree & Stop in Dunalastair Castle & Kinloch Rannoch (optional)

Day 4 will be a long drive and take up half your day so make sure to start early. Drive from Edinburgh to Portree and stop at Dunalastair Castle.

Dunalastair Castlea really cool abandoned castle out in nowhere. You have to drive down a gravel road to get to it but you’ll likely have it to yourself. It’s very spooky/eerie. It takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Edinburgh.

For Outlander fans (skip this one if you don’t watch the show!):

Kinloch Rannoch (aka Craigh Na Dun in Outlander): before you get too excited, there aren’t actually any stones like there are in the show. However, you can still visit the famous little hill where they set up the stone. I was totaling fangirling at this site and it’s so worth it if you watch the show, even without the actual stones.

Outlander filming locations

Having my moment at Craigh Na Dun from the show Outlander

I went on a windy day and with the location on the little hill, it created this swirly sound and it freaked me out because it sounded very similar to the swishing/swirling sound they hear on Outlander before they go through the stones. No joke, it was unreal!

**I would ONLY go here if you watch Outlander because it probably won’t seem too impressive to you otherwise. It is only about 10-15 minutes from Dunalastair Castle. It’s kinda tricky to find and I had to stop at the little inn in town to ask for directions. They had an Outlander map and it really helped!


You may also enjoy: Norway 10 day Road Trip Itinerary 


Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is arguably the prettiest area of Scotland. The Isle of Skye is is an island connected to the mainland by bridge. It’s about 226 miles from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye and will take about 5-6 hours by car if you drive direct. Everything on Isle of Skye is pretty close together so it makes it really convenient to explore, even without lots of time.

Portree

To explore the Isle of Skye, base yourself in Portree, a cute colorful seaside town in a central area. Portree is known for seafood so make sure to go to the harbor and try some mussels or smoked salmon.

Portree, Isle of Skyle

Accommodations are limited so plan to book way in advance, especially during peak season. I rented a small room in an Airbnb that was a 5 minute walk to town. It was perfect because it had free parking right in front of the house. It was very basic but great if you’re on a budget. Portree accommodation is generally pretty expensive. You can view the Airbnb listing HERE. An if you’re new to Airbnb, here is a $55 coupon to use on your first trip!

Day 5: Hike Old Mann of Storr, Kilt Rock/Mealt falls, Duntulm Castle & Fairy Glenn

Old Mann of Storr hike

A quick 15 minute drive from Portree will get you to the parking lot for the Old Mann of Storr hike. There is a TINY parking lot for cars so get there early. There is also some paid street parking, but overall there aren’t many spots. Try to start the hike by 8:30am to avoid the crowds.

I would consider it an easy hike for any level of fitness. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the main area at the top and then you can hike around and explore more if you wish. If you want the iconic photo spot with the old Mann of Storr with the dramatic landscape in the back and the sea, go to the right when you get to the top and hike a little bit more to get that epic view.

If you look at the above pictures you will never guess that 10 minuted later it started monsoon raining and hailing and I had to run down the mountain as fast as I could. Typical Scotland weather!

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

Drive to Kilt Rock/Mealt falls (it’s only 15minutes from Old Man Storr). It’s just a viewpoint so it’s a quick stop to hop out of your car and walk a few feet to see the viewpoint.

Scotland road trip

Duntulm Castle

From Kilt Rock/Mealt falls, drive to Duntulm castle (remains of clan Macdonald). It’s less of a castle and more like ruins on a dramatic cliff overlooking the sea. It’s gorgeous and worth a walk down to the bottom for the best views!

Duntulm Castle, Scotland

Fairy Glenn

The Fairy Glenn was one of my favorite areas in Isle of Skye. It’s an outstanding hilly green landscape with a circular rock pattern formation. You can walk around and explore the area and hike up the little hills for spectacular views. It really is a unique place like I’ve never seen before.

The drive to it is on a TINY one lane track and can be stressful but it is SO worth it. Avoid the middle of the day so there aren’t as many cars on the road.

Day 6: Dunvegan castle, Neisse Point Lighthouse, & Fairy Pools

Dunvegan Castle

Home to the MacLeod family for over 800 years, Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in all of Scotland. Honestly the inside wasn’t that interesting to me, but there were pretty gardens and nice view if you walk around the castle and to the back. I would say it’s only worth it if you’re really into history or want a cool Instagram picture. The entrance fee is £14.

Scotland Road Trip

Dunvegan castle views

Neisse Point Lighthouse

The road here is very scary, I’m not going to lie. It’s a one lane road on a windy cliff road with no rails in most places. There is a tiny car park at the top and you can get out and takes pics from there. There is a well marked path if you want to go walk out to the lighthouse. It was WAY too windy and stormy when I arrived so I didn’t make it out there unfortunately. I couldn’t even take my camera or phone out to take a photo.

Fairy Pools

Unfortunately the weather was crazy that day with heavy rain and strong winds so I didn’t make it here. You will only get that crystal blue color of the water if the sun is shining on the pools so keep that in mind. I read that it is a 20 minute walk to the first pool.

Day 7: Drive to Eilean Donan Castle, Fort William, Old Inverlocky Castle, & Glenfinnan Viaduct

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle is located right before you cross the bridge to the Isle of Skye so you can either stop on the way in or the way out. It it one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland and also one of the most recognizable. This castle is located at a point where 3 sea lochs meet, creating a spectacular landscape for this fairytale castle. When the weather is foggy, it looks extra eerie/etherial. It’s a smaller castle, but it’s my favorite one in Scotland!

Eilean Donan Castle

Fort William

This is where you should base yourself to explore Glencoe. It’s affordable and not too far from everything that you will want to see. 

Old Inverlocky Castle

Some cool ruins in Fort William that are worth a quick stop at. The entrance is free and you will probably only spend 5-10 minutes here.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct is the famous train from Harry Potter, and is worth a visit even if you’re not a fan (I am not and it was still awesome).

Harry Potter train

Tip: go past the visitor’s center parking for free parking. Instead of going to the “viewpoint”, walk under the viaduct and to the right and climb up the hill. This way you can get a picture without the crowds and it’s also a better view because you get the water and ALL the landscape in the background. Check HERE for the Jacobite train times so you can plan accordingly.

Scotland Road Trip

Day 8: Glencoe: Lost Valley hike, Glen Etive drive, & Glencoe Lochan

Lost Valley Hike

Park at the 3 sisters viewpoint parking and take the trail to the left. The hike is moderate and definitely requires good supportive and waterproof shoes. Most the hike is up slippery rocks, but it’s doable. The hike took me one hour each way and then time to explore at the top and take pics and eat a snack. Allow 3 hours total from start to finish including photos.

Scotland Road Trip

Lost Valley hike

Glen Etive drive

This is a 12 mile drive on a one way road with spectacular views. It is also where parts of James Bond Skyfall was shot. Go past Dalness estate about 6-7 minutes for the most spectacular views. Make sure to drive slow and look out for cars ahead to allow them to pass.

Scotland Road Trip

Glen Etive drive views

Glencoe Lochan

I ended the day at Glencoe Lochan and it was so relaxing and peaceful. There are 3 paths you can take. Take the yellow path and walk through the green moss covered forest and huge trees.

The red path is flat and takes you right to the loch (lake). You can complete it in 30 minutes. Bring snacks for a little picnic by the loch.

Outlander fans: Glencoe Valley is where the opening credits for Outlander were filmed.

Day 9: Drive back to Edinburg and stop in Finnich Glen, mystery castle, & Drummond Gardens

Finnich Glen (The Devil’s Pulpit)

Finnich Glen is an impressive 100-foot gorge with red waters hidden inside a wooded area out in nowhere. You will see a narrow entrance with stairs and a rope to get down. It’s not for anyone who has mobility issues and can be very slippery. But getting down into the gorge is half the fun! You will get dirty, so don’t wear anything you wouldn’t mind getting messy.

Scotland road trip

How to find it (it’s really confusing, i’m not going to lie!): You will want to park at the intersection of A809. You walk to the left on road A809 for about 5 minutes. (You will see a pasture on your left). Pass a bridge where you will hear the water and then you will see a metal door on the left side. Walk past the door and you will find an opening in the fence. Go through this opening and walk left and follow the trail. There is a fence that should be on your right and the gorge will be on your left. Stay close to the fence because this is where you will see the steps to the entrance (if you start walking down by the water you will miss it). Walk about 4-5 minutes and you will see the opening to the steps on the left. The steps are really slippery and there is a rope for you to hold onto. Your hands will get all muddy from hanging onto the rope so bring some wet wipes!

Scotland road trip

Alas, the entrance to Finnich Glen!

Outlander fans: the red water at Finnich Glen was used in Outlander as the Liar’s Spring. Dougal made Claire drink from the spring to see if he could trust her (with a knife behind his back).

Buchanan Castle

Another secret abandoned castle about 8 minutes away from Finnich Glen. You’re not technically supposed to go inside but you can take photos of the outside.

Scotland Road Trip

Drummond Gardens

While you can’t technically visit the castle, you can still photograph it. However, you CAN visit the gardens. The garden is huge and you could spend an hour or so wandering around. It was also used as the Palace of Versailles in Outlander.

I am not lying when I say this is the most spectacular and gorgeous garden I have ever seen! The entrance fee is £6.

Scotland road trip

Day 10: Hopetoun House & Midhope Castle 

Hopetoun House & Estate

Hopetoun House is another not-to-miss destination just outside of Edinburgh. It’s a grande mansion set on 6,500 green acres of land that was built back in 1699. Hopetoun House is Scotland’s largest stately home in the country and is the ancestral home of the Hope family for the past 300 years. Currently the Earl of Hopetoun and The 4th Marquess of Linlithgow live in this house.

Scotland Road Trip

What is really unique about this estate is that the front of the estate and the back of the estate were built by 2 different architectures who had completely different styles, which is blatantly apparent upon seeing it.

The entrance fee is £10.50 and it is opened from 10:30-5pm. Check the website for seasonal closures.

The Hopetoun House estate is featured over and over in the series Outlander. It is pretty impressive and very picturesque and grande. You can walk around the property and view it from all angles. Its a very peaceful place! There weren’t too many people there so it was a very nice experience. I would visit this place wether you watch the show or not! It’s worth it.

Outlander fans: Hopetoun House was used for MANY Outlander scenes. The most noteworthy are the Duke of Sandringham’s residence, the side streets used for Paris where Mary got attacked, the stables in season 3, and where Jamie taught little Willie to ride a horse.

Midhope castle (Lallybroch ️ in Outlander)

A 20 minute drive outside of Edinburgh and down a one lane road you’ll find Midhope castle, aka Lallybroch, in Outlander. It’s open from 9-5pm but often is closed due to events or filming. Check the website for closures.

Ps: everything online said you need to obtain a parking pass in order to visit Midhope Castle on your own but this it not true. I drove up right when it opened and the attendant let me in and I had the whole place to myself for a good 20 minutes! There is an attendant in a little booth that will collect the entrance fee of £3.50. They only accept cash so make sure you bring it!

Travel Insurance for Scotland

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.

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products/services that I have used before on my own and that I truly love. This helps keep my site ad free (because I HATE ads when I’m trying to scroll through a blog post, don’t you?). 🙂

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Scotland road trip

 

Patagonia Itinerary: How to See the Best of Patagonia in Just 8 Days

Patagonia Itinerary: How to See the Best of Patagonia in Just 8 Days

If you’re into hiking and nature, there’s a good chance Patagonia is on your bucket list. It’s the ultimate nature lover’s dream. It had been my dream for years and I finally made it a reality with this epic Patagonia itinerary.

But I will be honest, planning a trip to Patagonia was the most complicated and stressful trip I have ever planned. There isn’t a lot of good info on Patagonia and I gave up planning 3 years in a row because it was too much work and extremely time consuming.

I wanted to see as much as possible in a little amount of time, so hopefully this Patagonia itinerary that I tried out will help you plan with a lot less stress.

Where is Patagonia

Patagonia is a sparsely populated region in southern south America that’s between Chile and Argentina. Patagonia contains many gorgeous National Parks, stunning lakes and glaciers, a vast desert, and of course the Andes Mountains.

PATAGONIA MAP

How to Get to Patagonia

Patagonia is HUGE so it depends on where exactly you’re going. But I would say the classic Patagonia trip would most definitely include Torres del Paine National Park, which is located in Chile.

There are 2 options for getting to Torres del Paine National Park. You can fly into Punta Arenas (farther away but many more flights) and then take a bus to Puerto Natales and then another one to the the National Park.

OR you can fly directly into Puerto Natales Airport (airport code PNT), which is what I did (from Santiago). There was a direct flight that took about 2 hours and 40 minutes on Sky Airline. The cost was only $38 with only a personal item. The carry on cost $32, so $70 total to get from Santiago to Puerto Natales. There is only ONE flight per day max during peak season and it’s not every day. I bought my ticket 6 months in advance, so make sure you buy in advance if you want to do this option.

There are taxi stands at the baggage claim at Puerto Natales airport where you pay $8000 CLP (about $10) to go to Puerto Natales city center. It takes about 15 minutes on a scenic drive along the water. You pay and get a voucher and then take it outside to the taxi stand. It’s a fixed price.

My Patagonia Route:

I flew into Puerto Natales and out of El Calafate during my Patagonia trip. I wanted to avoid as much backtracking as possible due to time constraints.

I flew from Santiago to Puerto Natales, then took a bus from Puerto Natales to El Calafate, then a bus to El Chalten, then a bus back to El Calafate where I flew out from. From El Calafate you can continue on to Buenos Aires directly or to Mendoza with a connection. Flying within the country is pretty cheap but it’s expensive if you want to fly between Chile and Argentina.


8 Day Patagonia Itinerary

Day 1: Fly into Puerto Natales from Santiago

Day 2: Mirador Los Torres all day hike (8-10 hrs)

Day 3: Bus to El Calafate

Day 4: Day trip to Perito Moreno Glacier

Day 5: Bus to El Chaltén + Mirador De Los Condores hike for sunset

Day 6: Mirador De Los Tres (Fitzroy) all day hike (8-10 hrs)

Day 7: Laguna Torre all day hike (5-7 hrs)…I dod NOT get to this hike as the weather was bad and my legs were dead. Instead, I had a spa day at Spa Yaten! (see below)

Day 8: Bus back to El Calafate and fly out from El Calafate airport

Pro Tip: I would highly recommend adding an extra day before or after the 2 big hikes (Mirador Los Torres and Mirador De Los Tres) because sometimes the trails are closed due to high winds or other crazy weather. This DOES happen in Patagonia since the weather is so unpredictable. You wouldn’t want to go all the way to Patagonia and then miss one of these bucket list hikes because you didn’t allow enough time. Take an extra day and relax if you need! I actually did that after the first big hike (and due to the weather the second hike as well). The hikes will drain your energy so having that extra time to recover is key!


What to See in Chilean Patagonia

Ok, now let’s get into that famous Patagonia hiking! I mean, isn’t that why most people come to this region?

Torres Del Paine is said to be the most popular destination in Patagonia so no trip would be complete without a visit to this spectacular natural park in Chile.

Most people opt for the multi day hikes such as the W circuit and O circuit in Torres Del Paine. However, if you don’t have the time or are not into overnight camping, you can easily do a day trip to the best hike in the park! (which is what I did).  If you only do one thing in Torres del Paine National Park, make it a day hike to Mirador las Torres for the best views!

Patagonia Itinerary

Patagonia Hikes: Mirador las Torres 

Distance: 11 miles round trip

Elevation gain: 3000 ft

Time it takes: 7-10 hours (depending how fast/fit you are)

Where to start: Hotel Los Torres

Which park entrance to use: Amarga

Torres Del Paine Entrance Fee is $21,000 CLP (about $26) and it lasts 3 consecutive days (there are other options if you stay longer to do the multi-day treks). You must pay in CASH in Chilean Pesos only. You must also have your passport number for the form but they didn’t actually ask for the passport.

The drive from puerto Natales to the entrance at Amarga was about 2.5 hours with 2 quick stops for viewpoints. Then it’s another 20 minutes on a dirt road to Hotel Los Torres.

Mirador las Torres Hike

The first hour or so of the hike is uphill, then it evens out a little until you get to Refugio Chileno (about 1.5 hours from the start) where you can buy snacks, food, and use the restroom. (They have pizza, burgers, and sandwiches). They accept cash only. The bathroom costs 500 CLP. This is a good stopping place to rest and eat a snack or lunch. I stopped here on the way in and the way out to rest and recharge.

Torres Del Paine

The next part of the hike is through a little forest where there is shade for about another hour and 15 minutes.

The last part of the hike is about 1 hour uphill on steep rocks. Some of the rocks are loose so just be careful. The last hour is brutal and the hardest part of the hike, But the reward at the end is SO worth it!

Tips:

  • start early because technically they close the top at 4:30pm (there are park rangers up there and they will make you to start to go back down).
  • bring plenty of snacks because this is a very tiring hike
  • you can refill your water bottle in any of the natural springs on the way, the water is fresh
  • make sure to bring a hat and gloves because the top is windy and chilly

Where to Stay in Puerto Natales

I don’t know if there is such thing as Patagonia for cheap, but I decided to go cheap with accommodations on this trip since everything else was so expensive. Most the places I stayed were around $40 a night on average and I had my own place (except in El Claltén, where I just rented a room in a nice house and it was great!).

I rented this little cabin in the back of the host’s house on Airbnb and it was pretty good for the price. It had 2 floors and could sleep 3 people. The neighborhood wasn’t my favorite but it was only a 10 minute walk to the center of town. It was basic so don’t expect anything too fancy, but I was happy with it. It was $35/night and this was peak season. If you’re new to Airbnb, use this coupon for $30 OFF your first trip!

PS: while staying in Puerto Natales, make sure to go to Coffee Maker for amazing views of the water and mountains and good coffee (they have soy milk, yay!). It had a cute and cozy interior with faux fur cushions and couches. Great place if you like coffee and views!


What to See in Argentinian Patagonia


El Calafate 

El Calafate is a small touristy town where you will base yourself for the next big attraction in Argentinian Patagonia: Perito Moreno Glacier!
Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier

Here are 5 interesting Perito Moreno Glacier facts:

  • Perito Moreno Glacier is HUGE, covering 100 square miles (a length of 19 miles and a width of 3 miles). It’s also 560 feet tall! You can’t really appreciate the vast size of it until you see it in person.
  • Perito Moreno glacier is the 3rd largest freshwater reserve on the entire planet!
  • Glaciers help regulate the earth’s temperature as they reflect 45-85% of the earth’s sunlight!
  • Unlike most glaciers which are receding, Perito Moreno is actually advancing! (by 2 meters per day).
  • it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Patagonia Itinerary

How to Get to Perito Moreno Glacier

From El Calafate you can take one of many daily busses that go to the glacier. It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get there by bus.

I went with the company Andesmar. The bus costs $1000 ARS ($16) and it takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get there. I heard it gets super busy in the morning so I decided to go in the afternoon, which was a good call! I liked this company since the bus was more like a mini van and it wasn’t crowded at all.

I took the afternoon bus at 1:30pm and departed the glacier at 6pm so you get about 3 hours which is enough in my opinion if you’re not going on the boat tour (boat tour is $1000 ARS).

Patagonia Itinerary

The entrance fee to Perito Moreno Glacier is $800 ARS ($13). You CAN pay by credit card despite what every blog says that you can’t. However, in my experience the credit card machines in Argentina sometimes don’t work so it’s better to have the cash with you (there are NO ATMs in the park or anywhere around).

I completed the orange, black and the first part of the blue trail in about 2 hours. The green trail was closed. In my opinion, the central trial has the best views (orange) as well as the first part of the blue trail before it wraps around to the other side of the lake.

Tip: Bring some snacks (and some wine) and have a little picnic with great views!

Where to Stay in El Calafate 

I stayed in this studio Airbnb right in the middle of the town and it was great! Super spacious and so close to everything. It had AC and cable TV which was also a plus. My only complaint is the pack of dogs barking outside my window at night, but I think that’s a problem everywhere in the city as I saw stray dogs literally everywhere. It cost $40/night.

El Chaltén

El Chaltén was probably the most charming of the 3 small towns I stayed in around Patagonia. It is located in Los Glaciers National Park. It’s also the perfect location for many hikes as most of them start right from the town! The most famous hike here is the Laguna De Los Tres (aka Mt Fitzroy) hike. This ended up being my favorite hike in ALL of Patagonia!

Patagonia Hikes: Laguna De Los Tres hike (aka Mt Fitzroy hike)

Patagonia Itinerary

Distance: 13 miles round trip

Elevation gain: 3300 ft

Time it takes: 8-10 hours (depending how fast/fit you are)

Where to start: either in El Chalten town or at Hosteria Pilar (my choice)

Laguna De Los Tres hike

This hike is a loop hike so you have the option of going a different way on the way back for different scenery.
What I recommend:

Take a shuttle bus (I used Frontera Sur company) to Hosteria Pilar to start the hike to Mt. Fitzroy. It cuts about 30 minutes off your hike and you get to see Piedras Blancas Glacier on the way (seen in the pic below!).

Patagonia Itinerary

It’s a pretty flat hike most the way through woods except the last hour to the top. This last hour is pretty steep up a hill and kinda like the Mirador Los Torres hike, except I thought this one was a lot easier. The last 20 minutes you will be climbing up a hill with loose rocks so be careful.

There is a campground called Poincenot on the way about 10-15 minutes before you hit the uphill climb. It takes 2 hours to get to Poincenot campground from Hosteria Pilar. There is an outhouse here (there is also another outhouse at the beginning of the steep climb). Bring your own toilet paper because there was none at either!

Patagonia itinerary

Once you reach the top, you can go down towards the lake on the left side and then up the little hill. It takes about 7-8 minutes to get up the hill where there is another glacier thats absolutely gorgeous.

Patagonia itinerary

You can see both lakes from the top and it’s an EPIC panoramic view. This was my favorite view in all of Patagonia!

On the way back from the hike, take the route towards Laguna Capri. Stop at laguna Capri on the way back for a rest and a snack. It’s a peaceful crystal clear lake with Mt. Fitzroy in the background. From there it’s about 1.5 hours back to El Chaltén, mostly downhill.

Patagonia Itinerary

It takes about 4 hours from the top to get back down to El Chaltén. You do go through some wooded areas with mosquitos so bring mosquito bracelets and/or spray (I have mine linked below!).

You can drink all the water in the streams on this hike as they are fresh! Make sure to pack lots of snacks and a lunch as this is going to be a long day. (tip: Circumin vegan restaurant in El Chaltén will pack you a lunch for hiking that’s vegan and gluten free if that’s your thing. Costs is $600 ARS {$10})

Patagonia Hikes: Mirador de los Cóndores

This is more like a little walk than a hike, so it’s super easy to add it onto the end of any day. It takes about 20 minutes one-way from the visitor’s center and about 30 minutes from the town. It’s a super easy hike up to view the whole city and Fitzroy in the backdrop. This hike would be great to do during sunset.

Patagonia itinerary

Tip: Go to Spa Yaten in El Chaltén after all your hikes for a nice massage. It costs $1900 ARS ($30) for 30 minutes. They also have a sauna and personal size jacuzzis if you fancy. It’s the perfect way to relax after all that hiking.

Where to Stay in El Chaltén

I stayed in a room in my host’s house and it was perfect! It was right in the center of town and the shuttle bus to the Mt. Fitzroy hike stopped right in front of it (and the host set it up all for me). The host was super helpful and friendly. I would definitely recommend it! This is the Airbnb link HERE. It was $50 per night.

How to Get in Between Towns in Patagonia

I originally wanted to rent a car for all of Patagonia, but realized most companies will not let you cross over the border (and the few that do charge an arm and a leg to do it). So I decided to rent a car from Puerto Natales just to go to Torres del Paine National Park. Then from Puerto Natales I took a bus to El Calafate, and then eventually to El Chaltén.

For the car rental, I found a local branch of Avis called EMSA Rent a Car. I went through them and it was SO much cheaper than any other company for an automatic car. I ended up paying about $71 a day for an automatic when most other companies online were charging about $200 per day (yes, you heard that right). If you can drive stick shift, consider yourself blessed in Patagonia!

The busses were clean and comfortable and most of them allowed you to pick your seat in advance. Make sure to take the front seat on top for the BEST views! I used 3 different companies and all were pretty similar in terms of quality and price.

Patagonia Itinerary, busses in Patagonia

Views from the top of the double decker bus from El Calafate to El Chaltén

Bus Companies in Patagonia:

Bus-Sur: I took this from Puerto Natales to El Calafate. This trip took about 5 hours and 30 minutes with the border crossing. You get to pick your seat when you book, but it was not a double decker bus. Cost: $20,000 CLP (about $25 at time of this article).

Chaltén travel– I took this from El Calafate to El Chaltén. It’s a a double decker bus and you get to choose your seat when you book. The trip took 3 hours with a stop at the ranger station for orientation and a quick lecture about the rules of Los Glaciers National Park. Cost: $1000 ARS (about $16 at time of this article).

Cal-Tur-I took this double decker bus from El Chaltén to El Calafate. The trip took 2 hours and 40 minutes on the way back (as you don’t need to do the orientation again obviously). This company had free seats so get there early to choose your seat. Cost: $1000 ARS (about $16 at time of this article).

Note: due to the crazy inflation and exchange rates in Argentina, these prices will fluctuate drastically. So it’s hard to predict how much they will cost during your trip. I got lucky and had a very good exchange rate at the time so the prices were very low compared to what I’ve read in other blogs.

What to Pack for Patagonia 

This was tough as I only carried a tiny carry on for my Patagonia trip, and I also went to other areas in Argentina for 9 days after that.  With 2 different climates, I brought only the essentials.

Patagonia itinerary

My foldable backpack really came in handy on my Patagonia hikes! (also pictured: my super comfy leopard leggings, best hiking socks, waterproof hiking boots, and cute baseball cap).

Patagonia is notorious for crazy changing weather and high winds strong enough to blow you down to the ground so you definitely want to be prepared. I went during their summer in December and it was actually a lot warmer than I expected and I hardly got any of the harsh winds. However, I had everything I needed for the crazy weather with me just in case.

The 3 things you absolutely cannot forget to pack for Patagonia are: waterproof hiking boots, rain jacket, and puffer coat.

Here is everything I packed for my Patagonia hikes:

Base layer.-This one from Amazon is a total dupe of Lululemon and such good quality! I loved the thumb holes.
Merino wool hiking socks-hands-down the BEST hiking socks! Expensive but worth it! They don’t absorb sweat so never really smell. You can re-wear them if you don’t have access to a washer. I have 2 pair and recycle them throughout my trips.
Tank tops-a basic tank for when you get hot from hiking is essential. I like the longer ones that cover the bum!
Leopard Leggings-my new favorite Amazon leggings. So comfortable and awesome quality!
Hiking boots-these are my favorite hiking boots! They keep my feet totally dry in wet weather and have good grip.
Waterproof rain pants-I brought these but ended up not needing them, but they were good quality for the price.
Packable puffer jacket-I was amazed at how warm this kept me with how thin it is! Great for traveling light!
Beanie-it gets really cold and windy at the top of the mountains so you definitely want to pack a beanie.
Gloves-again, it gets cold up there so be prepared!
Hiking poles-I didn’t end up buying these but regretted it. They could have saved my knees. These are the ones I had saved to buy on Amazon (so I don’t actually know hoe they perform honestly).
Rain jacket-this is the best lightweight rain jacket! I’ve been using it for years and it keeps me pretty dry.
Hoodie/fleece-you definitely want to bring this for an extra layer.
Sunglasses-my $12 Amazon sunglasses are great! They feel like much better quality and really block the sun.
Packable backpack-this was SO handy for this trip. It was super sturdy quality as well. Was hard to get it to pack into itself the first few tries, but you will get the hang of it after 3-4 times. I’m bringing this on all my trips now!
Baseball cap-I have a blue and black one in this hat and I love it! I always get compliments on it.
All Natural Mosquito bracelets-so glad I brought these because there were more mosquitos than i thought in Patagonia, especially walking through the wooded areas.
Natural Mosquito lotion-I used this in combo with the bracelets and did not get one bite! It does not contain DEET, which is very toxic to breathe in.
Compression socks-these are for all the plane rides to prevent swelling in the legs and possibly a clot. I wear them on any flight over 1 hour!

Electronics

Good power bank-this is the BEST power bank I’ve ever used. It charges your iPhone 3-5 times (Depending on which one you have). It also has 2 plugs so you can plug more than one device into it at once!
Sony Mirrorless Camera with Wide Angle Lens (crucial for getting all those mountains in the shot!)
GoPro Hero 8-also great for that wide angle effect or if you want to make cool videos!
GoPro selfie stick-been using this one for years! It’s so small and compact and you can screw a little trip onto the bottom.
iPhone selfie stick-this one works for your iPhone and your GoPro. It’s lightweight and super easy to carry around everywhere. It also has a remote!
iPhone 10-the camera on the newer iPhones are incredible!
iPhone 10 screen protector-this is the BEST screen protector I’ve found! I actually forgot my hard case in Patagonia and dropped my phone hard and the screen protector totally protected it. The screen protector cracks and it saves your phone!
Outlet converters for Chile and Argentina
Noise cancelling headphones-this is a great alternative to the super expensive Bose headphones. No way I’m paying $300+ for headphones. But i use these and I’m happy with them.

Travel Insurance for Patagonia 

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 or remote places in the mountains, as you may need to be air-lifted 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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Patagonia itinerary

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The Perfect Sardinia Road Trip: Best Sardinia Beaches and Scenic Routes

The Perfect Sardinia Road Trip: Best Sardinia Beaches and Scenic Routes

Sardinia island is overshadowed by the other more popular Italian destinations and took me about 10 years of traveling to Italy to finally visit. My Sardinia road trip blew me away and surprised me in so many different ways. Sardinia is a lot bigger than I thought and there is SO much to see!

Sardinia is the 2nd largest island in the Mediterranean behind Sicily. One week was not nearly enough to see all the highlights and I barely scratched the surface of the amazing-ness of this island.

Sardinia (aka Sardegna) is an agricultural island and very mountainous. It’s rough around the edges and perfect for those who want to see more off-the-beaten path beaches. Most the Sardinia beaches were a little hard to get to honestly, but all SO worth it.

For this 8 day trip, I focused on the East Coast of Sardinia and part of the Northern tip and I think it was a perfect introduction to Sardinia. But if you want to see most of the island highlights, you will need at least 2 weeks, or multiple trips. 

How to Get to Sardinia 

There are many daily flights to Sardinia from the mainland of Italy for very cheap, if you don’t mind the budget airlines. 

My ticket from Milan to Olbia, Sardinia (on the Northeast of the island) cost $40 flying on EasyJet. It was less than a 1-hour flight. On the way back I flew to Rome on Meridiana for $88 on a direct flight. 

Note: I went in the off-season in April. Expect much higher prices during peak season.

As Always, I used Skyscanner to find my tickets (9 out of 10 times it results in the cheapest tickets for me).

Renting a Car in Sardinia 

Let me start by saying that having your own car is a MUST to explore the hidden spots and places that aren’t on the map. I have never rented a car on my own because it’s usually too expensive (and more so because I can’t drive stick shift). But through much research I realized that most of the best beaches in Sardinia can only be reached by car (or foot).

The public transportation is lacking on the island, especially outside of July and August. After spending a week there, I realized I definitely couldn’t have seen half of what I saw without a car and it was great being able to go at my own pace. I did LOTS of stopping at random cliffs to take pictures and I was loving it! 

Note: the road conditions were not good in Sardinia, so drive carefully so you do not get a flat. There were a lot of potholes, even on the freeway. So just make sure to stay alert to avoid them.

Sardinia road trip

It was also great not having to lug around all my camera equipment on my shoulder all day like I usually do when exploring a new place.

I went with Sicily by Car and paid $180 for an 8-day automatic car rental (which is SUPER cheap for an automatic in Europe). Prices were half that if I only knew how to drive a manual car! One day I’ll learn, damnit!

The company had mixed reviews and I initially had my concerns and said “oh hell no”. But I spoke with my host in Sardegna beforehand and she assured me she had used the company many times without any mishaps so I trusted that! In the end, Everything went smoothly and I don’t have any complaints.

I booked this car on RentalCars.com, which I love to use when renting cars in Europe.

PRO TIP: if you want to avoid a large deposit on your card, get the extra full coverage insurance (it’s worth it if only to avoid the 800 euro deposit). I paid a 250 Euro deposit. Also, make sure you walk around your rental and check for scratches that weren’t marked on the rental agreement. I saw 4 extra scratches that weren’t marked and had them added on the agreement so I wouldn’t get charged for them later! They happily agreed to sign off on it and I was on my way! Simple. Quick. Efficient. Bam!

(PS: this is before I had the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which I always use for car insurance overseas so that I don’t have to pay for extra coverage).


Sardinia Road Trip: Where to Visit in Sardinia


Best Beaches in Sardinia (North East)

Let me start by saying this list is my personal opinion. In one week I was only able to visit a handful of Sardinia beaches and wasn’t able to see all of the most popular beaches on the island as they are all spread out. I will say that Sardinia has the most consistently breathtaking beaches out of any country I’ve been. Every little beach I saw was spectacular, even the random little ones I saw while driving. Here is a list of the best beaches in Sardinia on the North East coast of the island. 

My Top 5 Favorite Sardinia Beaches

1. Cala Goloritze

Cala Goloritze requires a 2-hour hike but is so worth it! This beach alone is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that’s how special it is. It’s a rocky beach with huge boulders in the water with the most crystal blue/green waters.

 

Sardinia road trip

The photos I took do NOT do it justice as it was super overcast and about to rain. Even so, it’s still gorgeous!

Tip: Drive to Brainei and then look for signs for Golgo. From there it’s about 20 minutes. Follow signs for Golgo restaurant/bar.

2. Capriccioli

Capriccioli is one of the famous beaches of the ritzy Costa Smeralda region and was my second favorite beach in Sardinia.

It is made up of 4 small half crescent shaped beaches. There are 2 on the East and 2 on the West about 5 minutes walking distance from each other. The 2 small beaches on the East are prettier and less windy.

Sardinia road trip

The 2 East beaches are separated by huge boulders and green vegetation. It’s absolutely breathtaking. You can drive right up to it and one of the easiest beaches to access on Sardinia, yet one of the prettiest.

Sardinia road trip

3. Spalmatore

This stunning beach was on the Island of La Maddalena. I stopped at this beach randomly on my road trip and it ended up being the nicest blue/green contrasted water on the island. It was one of the clearest waters I’ve ever seen and I was in a daze just staring out at it.

No filter whatsoever on the below photo. How freaking pretty is that water?
Sardinia road trip

4. Capo Coda Cavillo

As you drive to it, you will be greeted with a beautiful panoramic view and private beach on the way. You will need to drive down a dirt road with lots of pot holes to get to it but it is worth well it.

Sardinia road trip

There was a private little beach on the way to Capo Coda Cavillo that I just had to stop at and climb down to. There wasn’t a single soul there besides myself. Just the way I like it!

Sardinia road trip

5. Cala Luna

Located in the gulf of Orosei, Cala Luna (“Moon Cove”) is a spectacular beach that has caves you can go into and get away from the sun. You can take a €12 boat ride from from Cala Gonone and get dropped off at this beach. You can also reach this beach by hiking from Cala Fuili about 1.5 hours and I heard it’s a difficult hike (proper shoes required!)


If you’re also interested in doing a Sicily road trip, check out my detailed itinerary: Sicily Road Trip: 9 day Sicily Itinerary 


Other Awesome Places to Visit in Sardinia

Cala Brandinchi

A sandy beach known as the “Tahiti of Sardinia” by the locals. The crystal waters are very shallow and you can walk out pretty far. 

Sardinia Road Trip

Cala Lunga Di Porto Massimo

A tiny private beach on La Maddalena with cascading colors from light blue green to rich blue and turquoise hues. 

Porto Cervo

Puerto Cervo is a beautiful colorful village that reminded me of Arizona with the sand blast orange on the streets and buildings. For the best panoramic viewpoint, head to Stella Maris Church. 

Best Scenic Routes in Sardinia 

There were so many beautiful stops along the coastline during my road trip in Sardinia, so I thought I would mention a few here. 

1. Road from Cannigione to Palau. On my way to catch the ferry to Maddalena I was slapped in the face with numerous turquoise waters that lined the coastline making this a great drive for photo ops. 

Sardinia road trip

2. Road from La Maddalena port to Cala Francesca. Blue, blue, and more blue. 

3. Road from Caprera to Cala Coticcio (on Caprera Island). This drive is through a pine forest and up into the nature where you will have a great panoramic view over the island.

Sardinia road trip

4. Northeast on Maddalena Island passing Spalmatore and “panoramica“. This stretch of coast took me awhile to pass since I kept stopping for photos of jaw-dropping waters. 

Sardinia road trip

Where to Visit in Sardinia: La Maddalena and Caprera Islands 

La Maddalena and Caprera islands are part of the Sardinia archipelago and you can cover them both in a day if you start early. They are both gorgeous and should not be skipped, especially La Maddalena.

La Maddalena Island

La Maddalena is a small island off the Northeast of Sardinia. It is a short 20 minute ferry from Palau (€23,80 for 1 person plus car roundtrip) and I highly recommend you make a trip here while in Sardinia. 

Sardinia road trip

La Maddalena had the most consistently pretty waters in all of Sardinia. I would have liked to stay one or 2 more days. The island is very small, but there is a lot to see. You can drive the whole island in half a day.

Make sure to stop at Porto Massimo, a tiny private beach with cascading colors from light blue green to rich blue and turquoise hues. 

Caprera Island

Caprera island is a 10 minute drive from La Maddalena which is connected by a bridge. Caprera is uninhabited so it’s perfect for nature enthusiasts. There are endless walking/hiking trails to explore.

The drive around the tiny island will mostly be through a beautiful pine forest. It’s a very quiet and peaceful place and I really enjoyed it. 

Prettiest Regions in North East Sardinia 

Orosei-way more rugged and untouched than the rest of the island. Mot of it is part of huge national park with lots of hiking and hidden beaches. This was my favorite area on Sardinia. 

Costa Smeralda-more polished than the rest of the island kn own as being the playground of the rich and famous. It has beautiful beaches but they are more crowded.

Budoni-gorgeous beaches that are made of white sand and less crowded.

Where to Stay in Sardinia

L’essenza Luxury Huts

L’essenza eco friendly luxury huts (aka tipis) are set in a beautiful natural environment surrounded by lush greens and great views. Also, the kindest and most helpful hosts! This is truly a unique experience and if you go to Sardinia, you have to try it out

L’essenza Sardinia

You can ready my detailed post about it here: Ecofriendly Luxury Huts at L’essenza, Sardinia

Su Gologone Boutique Hotel

Su Gologone is a GORGEOUS art hotel secluded in the mountains the perfect place to get off the grid and relax. What really impressed me is that the owner hand-painted all the designs by herself!

Su Gologone

You can ready my detailed post about it here: Su Gologone: A Secluded Oasis Igniting the Inner Creative in You

Airbnb in Azeachnea (Costa Smeralda)

I stayed in a cute Airbnb up in the hills with the most spectacular view over the surroundings. The host was super kind and attentive. She even came with her car a few times to bring me back as I got lost (my sense of direction sucks). She served a filling breakfast and we had wine together each night. I wold highly recommend this place. It was only 20 minutes from Costa Smeralda and 30 minutes from the airport.

I paid $45 per night for this Airbnb. You can check out the listing on Airbnb HERE. And if you’re new to Airbnb, you can use my $40 OFF coupon HERE.

Travel Insurance for Italian Islands 

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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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