My ultimate goal is to inspire others to travel more. I love solo travel and love empowering women to do so. I also LOVE the camaraderie and friendships made from going on group trips. Which is why I have decided to make 2018 the year I open up some fun group trips and have a small group of adventurous souls join me.
These group trips are perfect for those who usually venture solo but who want to connect with new people. But if you would like to bring a friend along, go right ahead!
What Sets Crazy Travelista’s Mini Group Trips Apart from Other Group Trips?
First off, the group size will be capped at 8people max to focus on a more intimate feel so we can really get to know each other.
These group trips are designed for the lone traveler who is scared to travel alone, who has no one to go with, or who just loves connecting with new people around the world.
The tours would be heavily photography based, so a love for taking awesome shots is a must! Although I’m not a professional photographer by any means, I do have a knack for finding the best viewpoints and framing the shots and I would like to help out in any way I can.
I will share all my tips on how I get all my shots when I travel alone and help everyone get their own awesome shots on the trip. Even if you suck at taking pics, I guarantee you will go home with some amazing shots (even if I have to take them all for you myself♥).
The trips will be for adventure lovers who love hiking, discovering off the beaten path places, and the best photo spots.
The trips will be based on a “rough” itinerary I designed…but we will also leave plenty of room for unplanned adventures (because those are always the most memorable, right?).
I have been on 5 group trips so far and the best part about these trips is the life long friendships that develop from them.
As soon as you sign up, I will start a private Facebook group to introduce everyone as soon as possible. They did this on one of my previous group trips and it was awesome because it was like we knew each other by the time we actually met in person.
Are These Trips for You?
If you are a fun loving adventurous spirit with a good sense of humor and love meeting new people and experiencing different cultures, this trip is for you! These trip will focus mainly on adventure activities, and photography, so a love for both is a must!
These Trip are NOT for you if:
If you love drama, drugs, or getting black-out wasted every night, this trip is NOT for you. This is for the more mature traveler who doesn’t mind long days of adventure and photo taking. There will definitely be some wine drinking as well, so it’s not going to be all serious, trust me.
These trips are probably not for you if you are a budget traveler. These trips will mimic my traveler style, which I describe as “ballin on a budget” (I heard it on a rap song and thought it described my style perfectly). This style means not budget, but not super luxury. Basically, I like nice places, but I find awesome deals to make them cheaper. Most the accommodations we stay will be comfortable, cute, and unique.
22-38 years old
I’m not trying to be a dick, but I am going to put age limits on my trips, just because it gets very awkward when there is too much of an age gap. It’s such a better vibe and more cohesive when people are closer in age and in more in the same stage in life.
However, if you are a little but outside these age limits and you think you would still be perfect for these trips, send me a message and let me know. I am willing to make an exception in some circumstances. 🙂
Most of these trips will be female only (sorry guys). I am all about the female empowerment thing and encouraging girls to venture out on their own. Although if you want to come with your boyfriend, let me know and I may be able to make an exception on some trips.
*the co-hosted Banff trip is open to boys :)*
I have 4 group trips planned so far (& I may add 1-2 more later). Here are the timeframes for each just to give you an idea:
Lofoten Islands, Norway: March 1-5th, 2018
Croatia: May 26-June 6th (& maybe again in early September 2018)
*This trip is tentatively full, but there could possibly be one opening so make sure to sign up on the form on the blog post if you are interested in going! OR you can access the form here.
Best of Croatia: Dalmatian Coast + Istria (+ Slovenia day trip)
Length: 11 days/10 nights
Dates: May 26-June 6th, 2018
Start: Split, Croatia
End: Split, Croatia
I am especially stoked to host this Croatia trip as Croatia is like my second home. In case you don’t know, my boyfriend of 4 years is Croatian and lives in Split. I live in the USA, but that means I am in Croatia MANY times a year. In fact, I have been to Croatia 20+ times! I know the country very well and know the best places to go. I also know where to avoid. You can say I’m basically a Croatia expert so I am going to take you to all of my favorite places! 🙂
Plus, I think Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries in the entire world!
This road trip across Croatia will combine the most popular seaside towns and islands on the Dalmatian coast, the most stunning national parks, and the lesser know Istrian region. If you haven’t heard of Istria, think gorgeous medieval hilltop towns surrounded by Tuscany-like rolling hills and vineyards. We will be basing ourselves in Rovinj, one of the most colourful and underrated picturesque towns in all of Europe.
This 11 day/10 night trip will pack in as much of Croatia as possible, and also a day trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia (one of the most underrated cities in Europe in my opinion).
And if you are a Game of Thrones fan, we will try to squeeze in some optional tours in Split and/or Dubrovnik.
Where will we visit in Croatia?
Coastal port of Split (the gateway to the islands)
Ritzy/picturesque Hvar Island
Small town of Omiš, beautifully framed by the Cetina River
Dubrovnik, aka King’s Landing
Plitvice National Park, the most stunning national park in Croatia
Rovinj, the colorful gem of Istria
Medieval hilltop towns of Istria
Ljubljana, Sloveina-one of the prettiest capital cities you will ever see
Daily continental breakfast
Accommodation in double occupancy (shared room)
Transport that starts and ends in Split (AC vehicle, all ferry tickets to islands)
Local SIM card with 10GB data (phone must be unlocked)
Entrance to Dubrovnik City Walls
What’s NOT Included:
Any extra activities not mentioned
Dubrovik cable car
Ziplining in Omiš
Price range: $1980
Non-refundable Deposit: $300
Sign up here. You will get email confirmation by next week of the final price and dates.
*Please do NOT book any flights until you receive confirmation from me.
Dates: late June 2017 (will be finalized in the next 2 weeks)
Starts: Calgary, Canada
Ends: in Calgary, Canada
Hosted by: Crazy Travelista & CareBear Abroad
CareBear Abroad & Crazy Travelista are super excited to be opening up our first group trip together! We have traveled to over 20 counties together and would be delighted to have like-minded travel enthusiasts join us for an awesome trip exploring the bucket list destination of Banff, Canada.
Why you should join us on this tour?
Come travel with Crazy Travelista & CareBear Abroad and join our fun adventures hiking all around the Canadian Rockies seeking out the most epic Instagrammable views of the amazing blue lakes and stunning mountainous landscapes.
Should You Join us on This Trip?
If you are a fun loving adventurous spirit with a good sense of humor and love meeting new people and experiencing different cultures, this trip is for you! This trip will focus mainly on hiking and photography, so a love for both is a must!
Because this trip is specifically focused on hiking, a moderate fitness level is recommended. We will be doing 2-3+ hours of hiking per day (maybe a little more on some days). We will also be kayaking and/or stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on some of the lakes (optional activities).
We also plan on mixing in some relaxing activities such as soaking in hot springs and horseback riding.
*If you love drama, drugs, or getting black out wasted every night, this trip is NOT for you.
Where will We Visit in Banff?
Each day will focus on hiking to the best viewpoints of the vibrant blue lakes of Moraine Lake, Banff, Peyto Lake, Lake Louise, and Yoho National Park (Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit).
Daily continental breakfast
Accommodation in double occupancy (shared room with same sex)
Transportation starting in Calgary
What’s NOT Included:
Any extra activities not mentioned
Horseback riding in Banff or Lake Louise
SUP or kayaking on Lake Louise or Moraine Lake
Total Price: TBD in the next 2 weeks
*We will be going in June which is the beginning of peak season. We picked this time since we wanted to ensure the lakes are NOT frozen and the hiking trails are not closed due to snow. (i.e. it will be more expensive than off season but we will see more awesome stuff!)
Sign up for Banff trip here. You will receive an email as soon as final trip details are released.
*Please do NOT book any flights until you get confirmation from me.
Most Photogenic Landscapes of Iceland: Epic 8 Day Road Trip
Tentative Dates: September 20-27th, 2018 (will be finalized by next month)
As another whirlwind travel year comes to an end, it’s about that time to reflect and reminisce on my crazy year and highlight my top moments/surprises. In 2017, I traveled to 13 new countries including, Ecuador, Finland, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Cuba, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Cyprus, Oman, and Jordan. I also revisited some of my favourite countries including Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Norway.
In 2017, I visited a total of 17 countries on 4 continents. WOW. I didn’t even notice it was that many until I typed it out. I guess I’m really living up to the name Crazy Travelista. 🙂
Without further ado, here are my Top 10 Travel Highlights & Surprises of 2017:
1. Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos is on many bucket lists and a dream destination for animal and sea lovers. But it costs a fortune, right? WRONG. I did one week for under $1K. Yep, I got skills like that haha. You can read about how I did it here and also free or cheap things to do in the Galapagos here.
It was just so fascinating to me walking around and seeing Sea Lions sitting on park benches, marine iguanas (that look like mini dinosaurs) wading next to me in the water, and stopping for a traffic jam of life size turtles in the wild. Oh, and seeing a sea horse up close in the wild was freakin incredible!
But my ultimate favourite memory was swimming with hammerhead sharks and sea lions at Kicker Rock. I’m not going to lie, I was scared shitless of jumping into the water above a shark, let alone a whole swarm of them. But it was a once in a lifetime experience and I wasn’t going to pass it up. If you do ONE thing in the Galapagos, take the tour to Kicker Rock on San Cristobal Island.
2. Northern Lights in Tromsø, Norway
One of my top 5 bucket list items of all time was finally fulfilled in Tromsø, Norway this year. I miss the Northern Lights in Iceland the year before and was so bummed. But let me tell you, it was well worth the wait and just made it that much more special when I finally got my first glimpse.
Not only did I see the Northern Lights, but they really put on a dramatic dancing show of electric neon green in the sky that I cannot describe it with any other word besides MAGICAL.
God, I loved Lapland. I didn’t think i would enjoy it that much but it really surprised me. I’m not the biggest fan of freezing cold destinations, but Lapland has single handedly changed my mind!
What really captivated me was all the super unique winter activities that you can try that are specific to this region. My favourite activities were the Husky ride, snowmobiling on a lake to see the Northern Lights (unfortunately they didn’t come out that night), taking a photography tour of the arctic landscapes, and especially the sauna plus an arctic ice dip. I did end up seeing the Northern Lights in Levi the next day!
I also really enjoyed a reindeer ride and visiting an ice hotel. Oh, and you can also visited Santa Clause Village and cross the arctic circle! Where else in the world can you do these things?
The only thing I missed was sleeping in an glass igloo hotel, which I plan to return for one day!
My favourite destination of 2017 goes to Japan! Japan is like steeping into another world and I definitely experienced the most culture here than any other place in 2017. I’m not usually a big fan of huge capital cities, but Tokyo is certainly an exception.
My senses were constantly stimulated walking around the chaotic yet peaceful city, and I could have spent my entire time in Japan exploring Tokyo and been satisfied. My favourite part was experiencing an owl and cat cafe.
Other favourites included expiring Kyoto (dressing as a geisha is a must), climbing the Fushimi Inari shrine, taking a sushi making class, visiting the Bamboo forest, and walking part of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route.
Japan is easily one of my top 5 favourite countries in the world and it’s somewhere I will 100% return to. Japan was the cleanest and most organized country I have ever been with the most respectful people I have ever encountered. If only the rest of the world would follow their lead.
Indonesia was near the top of my bucket list, especially Bali. And boy did it live up to my high expectations. I spent 2 weeks hopping around the islands, swimming with manta rays, snorkelling, surviving the craziest driving on a motorbike ever, chasing waterfalls, frolicking through rice fields, and slurping down smoothie bowls.
Bali is the perfect place to live it up in luxury, for next to nothing in cost. The people were amazing, the temples were grande, and the option for healthy food was endless. What’s not to love about Bali?
When I was younger, my family sponsored 2 Filippino girls who became like family (and lived with us for years). I always wanted to go see where they came from and I finally got the chance this year. With over 7000+ islands to choose from, it was hard to pick where to go. But since Palawan got rated the most beautiful island in the world, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
I spent a week between Coron and El Nido island hopping some of the most beautiful waters I have ever seen. I climbed the most dangerous hike I will ever do at Mt. Taraw and motorbiked around El Nido. I caught some epic sunsets at Las Cabanas and got daily massages.
I rented a kayak and paddled out to Bikal Beach on Cadlao Island through a gnarly storm that came out of nowhere (I’m glad I didn’t capsize and lived to tell about it hehe). Palawan was outstanding and gave me just the ideal amount of adventure and relaxation.
My second trip to South America this year brought me to the super dangerous country of Colombia (extreme sarcasm people). Colombia is such a colourful and vibrant country and I felt completely safe traveling there solo.
My favourite part of Colombia was visiting Tayrona National Park. It’s basically a national park filled with endless gorgeous beaches. You can even rent a hammock and stay the night there if you are into the camping (and spiders) thing. My only regret is that I only spent one day here.
Other highlights included climbing El Peñol for the EPIC views from above and visiting the most colourful city I’ve ever seen in Guatape. Oh, ad you can’t miss the beautiful and lively city of Cartagena. I basically spent all my days eating ceviche and photographing the dreamy colorful balkanise of the city. Colombia quickly became my favourite country in South America!
Another top 5 bucket list items was checked on my trip to Peru when I visited Machu Picchu. The long wait was more than worth it and it didn’t let me down one bit! What was even more special is that I miraculously almost had the whole place to myself. What a dream!
I spend 6 days in Cusco and the Sacred Valley constantly being awed of the next site. I attempted and completed the most exhausting hike of my life at Rainbow Mountain (above 17,000 feet altitude).
And to top it off, I enjoyed one of the most scenic train rides I’ve ever taken through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu.Oh, and I ate ceviche just about every day and didn’t feel guilty about it one bit. All in all, Peru was awesome!
Another “dangerous country” I visited myself this year (sarcasm again people). I want to start by saying that the hospitality I experienced in Jordan was some of the most heart felt i have ever experienced. I felt super welcome and super safe the entire time.
I spent 3 days in Petra and it blew my mind!!! Along with Japan, it was my favourite destination of 2017. I felt like Indiana Jones discovering the lost city of Petra and I had so much fun hiking around the city and doing some mini photo shoots.
The highlight for me was Petra by night which was pure MAGIC. If you go to Petra, definitely don’t miss it!
Most people I know have never heard of Oman and/or don’t know where it is on a map. And this is exactly why I wanted to visit! For the few people I knew who have visited, I have never heard a bad thing about the country.
The main attraction for me is all the Wadis in Oman. Think a desert oasis with a bright green body of water in the middle, lined with palm trees. It was like a mirage, but in real life. Oman was amazing and I had the best time renting a car and driving around to find new places. The Omani people were very kind and I felt right at home in this beautifully untouched Middle Eastern country. I highly recommend you visit soon before it becomes super touristy.
So What’s In Store for CrazyTravelista in 2018?
Well, let’s just say that 2018 is going to be the year of GROUP TRIPS and I’m super excited about it! I have 4 trips planned so far to Lofoten Islands (Norway), Croatia, Banff, and Iceland. The Norway trip is tentatively filled, but keep a look out very soon for details on Croatia, Banff, and Iceland. So excited to meet like-minded travellers!
In terms of solo travel, I have my eye on some places that I’m hoping to get to this year. But as always, who knows if I will actually make it to all these places.
CrzayTravelista’s 2018 Travel Wishlist
HaLong Bay, Vietnam
Rio de Janeiro
Back to Albania
Looks like I have lots of planning to do! Cheers to 2018!
Have you ever heard of Milos? I hadn’t until about 1.5 years ago. While there are many heavenly Greek islands to daydream about, Milos is something special.
Milos is not on the radar of most travellers, and for that reason it escapes the hoards of tourists that most Greek islands receive. Milos is small enough to navigate in a few days, yet with over 70+ beaches to explore, you can spend weeks there and never get bored. There are SO many unique places to discover on Milos island, just wait and see!
Beaches with moon-like landscapes, colorful fishing villages, picturesque blue and white towns, and mouthwatering fresh seafood, what’s not to love about Milos? Oh, and of course cats, lots of them (would you expect anything less from Greece?).
→ Firiplaka Beach, Tsigrado Beach, Paliochori Beach
*My Airbnb is #17 on the map (the furthest drive was about 30 minutes from my Airbnb so it was a great location).
4 Day Milos Itinerary | Day 1
Sarakiniko-lunar landscape beach that looks like white sand dunes and also the most popular beach on the island. You can spend some time walking around the moon-like landscape to other areas where you can swim and snorkel.
Mandrakia-the cutest little fishing village lined with colorful houses and turquoise waters. Eat at Medousa restaurant on the water. They have the best grilled octopus and vinegar dish (best octopus I’ve ever tasted). There are also many kitties around.
Firopotamus-gorgeous blue waters with a white little church in the distance. This area is etremely relaxing and picturesque. Take a hike behind the church for some ruins and awesome plunging cliffs on the other side.
Fourkovouni-another picturesque fishing village near Plathenia beach. Plathenia is a nice beach with large rock formations in the water. It’s definitely worth the stop if you have time.
4 Day Milos Itinerary | Day 2
Plaka-traditional Greek Town up on a hill where you can view a big portion of the island. This is where you go if you want to see the traditional Greek blue and white houses. It also has many lovely restaurants and shops.
The church in Plaka sits atop the highest point on the island and you can see it from a distance (i.e. you can basically use it as a reference point if you ever get lost).
Klima-a traditional fishing village with colorful boat garages on the bottom. This village is very calm and quiet and is a nice place to walk around and take lots of photos. A lot of locals still live here and it’s cool to see them living the simple old way of life.
Catacombs and Roman Theatre-take a little break from the beaches and appreciate some of the history on the island. The Roman theatre has an amazing view over the Aegean sea and is a few minutes from the underground Catacombs. Make sure to stop at the port city of Adamantas on your way out. This is where you will find most of the boat tours leaving from the island.
Paliorema Sulfur Mines-the only place on the East Coast you can go with an ATV.
The sulphur mines were operational until the 1960’s, but have remained abandoned ever since. It’s set on a beach with orange sand (dyed from the sulphur) and is a really cool site to explore. It’s kind of an eerie, spooky feel walking through all the little rooms with the beds and other signs of life that remain.
You must drive down a very rocky dirt road about 20 minutes to get to it. It’s hard to get to but there is no one around and it’s a fun place to photograph.
4 Day Milos Itinerary | Day 3
Papafragas-a hidden little cove on the way to the port city of Pollonia. It has a small caved arch that leads to the sea. Be careful with the descent, the steep cliff has a lot of slippery rocks. Pollonia is a cute port city and where you will catch your short ferry to Kimolos island. Eat at Enalion restaurant in Pollonia. They had some awesome grilled shrimp and fried eggplant with feta and tomatoes sauce.
Kimolos-take the ferry to Kimolos island. It is a 25 minute ride from Pollonia. You can bring your car or scooter, which I highly recommend because there really is no other way to get around the island.
Ferry Cost: €2.10 for passenger, €5 for ATV, and €8. 70 for car. Make sure to bring cash.
Chorio-start off by visiting the adorable little traditional Greek town of Chorio. It has a castle and ruins, as well as some cute little restaurants.
Prassa beach-take a drive to the prettiest beach in Kimolos called Prassa. It’s a rugged drive, but you pass some beautiful scenery on the way. Unfortunately the beach was closed as they were doing some construction on it, but I was able to snap this picture before I left. How pretty is that water?
Goupa-yet another pretty fishing village (are you kinda sensing a theme here?). I saw this on the road and turned around to come see it up close. If you love photography, make sure to stop here.
Abandoned Windmills-if you can find this place its definitely worth a visit. I had to ask a local and he drove his car up there in front of me to show me where to go (talk about Greek hospitality).
Not only is it fun to walk around the abandoned windmills and have a selfie photoshoot, it’s also where you can get the best views of the entire island.
4 Day Milos Itinerary | Day 4
The last and final day will be spent on the South part of the island. The South was definitely the most rugged area and had the most secluded beaches. Naturally, this was my favorite part of the island.
Firiplaka-the prettiest beach in Milos and one of the prettiest beaches in Greece (in my opinion). There is a little beach bar and lounge chairs on the beach. The best views are from the car park so make sure to get a peak before you go down!
Tsigrado-the most unique entrance to a beach I’ve ever seen. You have to inch your way down on your butt and climb down a rope, down 2 ladders, and another rope.It opens up to a beautiful secluded beach perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. The descent is at your own risk. I honestly wouldn’t attempt it if you’re not too mobile. Tsigrado is only a few minutes away from Firiplaka Beach so make sure to look for the signs as you’re leaving Firiplaka.
Your reward for braving the scary descent down to Tsigrado.
Paliochori-a stunning coastline of burgundy cliffs and huge boulders in the water. There are a few hotels situated on the beach but it still is less populated than the beaches on the northern part of the island. You can climb across the boulders to get to a more secluded beach on the other side if that’s what you fancy.
My favorite and most recommended way to explore the Greek islands is by ATV. My host dropped me off at Moto Christos and negotiated from €25 down to €20 a day for a 150cc ATV. Go with the 150cc ATV as the 50cc is like a toy vehicle and has trouble making it up steep hills.
I felt pretty safe riding around the island as there were hardly any cars on the road. Parking was also free and readily available everywhere I went.
Note: some places on Milos require either a motorcycle license or international driver’s license to rent a motorbike/ATV. Moto Christos only required my regular US license.
Also, most places do NOT allow you to drive the vehicle on the West part of the island as it is not very developed and there aren’t many paved roads. This means you will NOT be covered by insurance if you disobey this and drive there anyway.
Where to Stay in Milos
I rented a cute little studio Airbnb for only $32 a night. The host was amazing and it included pick up and drop off at the airport. She even dropped me to the ATV place. She wrote out a list of best restaurants and things to see on the island. You really don’t need to plan anything if you stay here.
The studio had a TV, AC, kitchen, and private bath. The host lives right next door. It’s a very quiet and safe area, (except for the bell tower going off every hour until midnight). It also included maid service daily. The location was excellent as it was 5 minutes from the main city of Plaka and close enough to travel to all the main beaches within 30 minutes or less by ATV.
You can check out the listing here. If you are new to Airbnb, you can use my $40 OFF coupon here. Yay!
How to get to Milos
Fly from Athens with Olympic Air or Aegean Airlines. The flight is only a short 25 minutes from Athens and costs around €70. It all depends on the season. During high season, make sure to get your flight months in advance to snag some cheaper flights. I found my flight using Skyscanner.
Take a catamaran from Athens (Piraeus) which costs approximately €38-€58 and takes anywhere from 2.5 hours to 4.5 hours, depending on the company. There is also a slower ferry but it takes 7+ hours, which I would not recommend.
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.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please PIN it for later (just hover over the photo below).♥
Have You Been To Milos? What Was Your Favorite Beach?
Can I just start by saying how much I love Finland? It honestly wasn’t somewhere that I was dying to go to before since I am not the biggest fan of cold weather. But after spending a total of 5 days in the northern region of Lapland, I fell in complete love with the country. Now I absolutely crave a winter wonderland vacation at least once a year. Finland is incredible!
Thanks Finland, I’m hooked for life!
Where to Stay in Levi, Finland
The town of Levi is located in the heart of Finnish Lapland, the northernmost region in Finland. Lapland is a great spot to view the northern lights and participate in many awesome outdoor activities unique to this region. More on that later…
Located in the absolute center of the sleepy ski village of Levi, Break Sokos Hotel Levi is for those wanting quality accommodation at a reasonable price. Set across 3 buildings, Break Sokos has more of a homey boutique feel than a large chain hotel.
A cute little log cabin behind the hotel. I wonder who lives here?
The hotel is stylish, spacious, and cozy, and totally walkable to anywhere you needed to go in the city. PS. Levi is such an adorable little ski town.
My favorite parts of the hotel were the onsite coffee house and the in-room sauna. Have you stayed in a hotel with a sauna in your bedroom? It’s. So. Freakin. Cool.
My Cute & Cozy Room (with my own SAUNA!)
My room was located on the 3rd floor with a view directly facing the ski slopes. The room was large for European standards with a distinct feature of a SAUNA in the bathroom. Yes, you have your own sauna!
I can’t tell you how nice it was to get back from a day in the frigid Lapland air and relax my tense muscles in the soothing sauna.
And I didn’t have to worry about bringing a swimsuit because it was my own private sauna! All nudity welcome. 🙂
The room was decorated with local Finnish touches reflective of the area. It had 2 single beds, soft down comforters, a flatscreen TV, mini bar, safe, toiletries, and a hot water maker with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate ready to make. Oh, and there was a bobcat on the curtain. It’s like they knew I was obsessed with cats! #meow
The room also had a heater, which I didn’t need because it was warm inside. Actually a bit too warm at night (I found myself sweating even with a fan I travel with (yes, I’m crazy).
When I saw black out curtains I was super thrilled because light wakes me up instantly. But then I noticed there is a gap in the right side where light seeps through so it wasn’t totally dark.
Wide Variety of Brekkie Choices
Breakfast was served from 7-10:30am and I appreciated the later service. I hate when breakfasts end at 9am, I’m so not an early morning person. The variety was large and included the typical hotel breakfast of cured meats and cheeses, bacon, eggs, bread and butter, cereal, yogurt, granola, and a do-it-yourself waffle maker. All allergens were listed in the dishes which was great. They even had a gluten free section, which I highly appreciated.
Overall, the food was good, but not great (which seems to be the case in a lot of hotel buffet breakfasts). The variety was a plus, and trumped other hotels in that aspect.
The only thing I was disappointed with was the service. There was one attendant clearing dishes and it was really busy in the morning. I sat at a table with a whole bunch of dirty dishes and in 40 minutes of me sitting there, they weren’t cleared. Not a huge deal, but eating breakfast with dirty dishes all around you is not what I expected.
Like I mentioned above, the hotel was smack right in the center of the city of Levi with easy and quick access to everything you could need. Within a 5 minute walk, you could get to the gondola ski lift , a big market, several restaurants and shops, the tourist office, and the bus stop. You do not need a car when visiting Levi.
I’m always hesitant to stay right in the center because it’s usually noisy and I’m the world’s lightest sleeper (seriously, I am), but this was probably the most quiet hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Noise is not a problem at all. Maybe the snow absorbs the sounds? I’m not sure but I’m going with it since I didn’t hear a peep from outside.
What to Do In Levi
Levi is a great city to explore the many unique activities Lapland, Finland has to offer. If you like skiing, this town is perfect for you! In less than a 3 minute walk from the hotel, you are at the ski slopes! Super convenient if you want to come back to rest or heat up between ski sessions.
Just a few minutes from the hotel is the base of the ski lift
Amongst my favorite activities in Levi were a sauna + ice dip in a frozen lake (crazy fun) and a husky safari!
Oh, and Finnish Lapland is one of the best places to view the northern lights. In fact, I happen to see them in the city of Levi on my way to a restaurant. I had my tripod so ran behind the building to snap a couple shots. I never thought I would see the northern lights in the middle of the city! I felt like I was dreaming.
Break Sokos Hotel Levi has an on-site coffee house, a huge plus for coffee lovers like me. I really liked the vibe of this cozy place and went there every day.
They had a bunch of tempting pastries to choose from (and a good variety of gluten free as well!). It was a good chill out spot to take a break from the frigid outside temps. They also had a bunch of board games to play with which I thought was a fun idea.
They also had an onsite restaurant called Kiisa, which serves traditional Finnish dishes, however I didn’t have time to eat here (and also because it was a bit more pricy than other restaurants in the area). But hey, most hotel restaurants are.
Fitness Center and Spa
There was a fitness center right next to the hotel, which offered free access to hotel guests. It was a small but nice gym which I definitely utilized during my time there!
There was also a day spa which I didn’t have time for unfortunately. If you didn’t get a room with a sauna, don’t fret. Break Sokos has a public sauna and jacuzzi complex in the hotel.
Final Impressions of Break Sokos Hotel Levi
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at Break Sokos Hotel. The hotel was immaculately clean, stylish, located in the perfect spot, and had everything you could need for a fun and relaxing time in Levi. The staff was warm and welcoming and offered great recommendations on what so do around the area, all you have to do is ask!
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*I was hosted by Break Sokos Hotel Levi during my stay. My opinions however remain my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. I wouldn’t sell out like that! ♥
I recently spent 6 wonderful days in Peru exploring Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley. I was on limited time so I wanted to see as many places as I could in a short amount of time. I didn’t get much sleep, but boy did I experience some awesome sites! You can sleep when you’re dead, right?
Sacred Valley 6 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive to Cusco, relax and acclimate
Day 2: Taxi Tour to the Sacred Valley with drop off in Ollantaytambo
Day 3: Morning train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, limited afternoon ticket to Machu Picchu
Day 4: Hike Machu Picchu Mountain, take late afternoon train back to Cusco
Day 5: Cusco all day
Day 6: Rainbow Mountain all day tour
Sacred Valley 6 Day Itinerary: Day 1
What to Do in Cusco
Saqsayhauman (aka “Sexy Human”)– a 30-minute walk from town with cool ruins and the best view over Cusco.
Plaza de Armas-the beautiful main square lined with restaurants and shops. It’s a good place to people watch, shop, sip coffee, and eat.
San Pedro Market-a large local market with cheap goods and food. It’s about a 10 minute walk from Plaza de Armas.
Chocolate Museo-for chocolate lovers, there is a free tour and chocolate tasting. You will not only taste chocolates, but everything chocolate flavoured, including fruit jams and liqueurs.
San Blas Neighborhood– the hipster area of Cusco that has cute artisan shops and great views over the city.
Where to Get Coffee with Soy Milk in Cusco (Because…lactose intolerance)
Finding coffee with soy milk in foreign lands can be quite tricky, but I found 2 great places in Cusco.
Punchay Cafe– in the San Blas area is a cute little cafe with soy milk options.
Cappuccino cafe-a cafe overlooking the main square with awesome views and soy milk options (pictured above).
Where to Eat Healthy Food in Cusco
As you may have heard me say before, I am allergic to gluten and extremely lactose intolerant. Therefore, most my food choices involve healthy/organic restaurants that aren’t the cheapest places to eat. But hey, being healthy ain’t cheap! The following are my favourite healthy restaurants in Cusco:
Organika-a tiny restaurant with awesome farm to table food and great juices. I tried the caesar salad and substituted the caesar dressing with passionfruit dressing and it was incredible! I am not a salad girl at all, but this one impressed me with the robust flavours.
Nuna Raymi-a large and cozy restaurant with organic food with fresh herbs and veggies/fruit. They have all the herbs and veggies displayed so you can see what you’re eating. I tried the gluten free version of Loma Soltado with Alpaca that was amazingly tender and juicy. Allergens are labelled on the menu.
Per.uk-a small restaurant near the main square that had the most amazing trout ceviche I have ever tasted. Allergens are labeled on the menu.
Greens Organic-an organic restaurant right off the main square that has awesome feta avo salad and juices. Allergens are listed on the menu.
Chia-gluten free/vegan/vegetarian new restaurant with yummy green curry.
Cafe de Museo–great breakfast and coffee with balcony seating outside. It’s also a nice cozy atmosphere inside.
Uchu-upscale steakhouse that I splurged on my last night and it didn’t disappoint. You can cook your own meat on a slab and they had the best side salad I’ve ever tasted. The wine was top quality as well.
Where to Stay in Cusco
I rented a room in an Airbnb for just $16/night. It had an amazing view over Cusco and an awesome host. Breakfast was also included. The room was basic and the hot water only lasted about a minute, but hey for the price, location, and awesome host it was super worth it. You can check the listing here. And if you are new to Airbnb, you can use my $40 OFF couponhere. (it will also give me a coupon as well, yay).
The first photo is the view from the Airbnb and the second is the cute little street the Airbnb is on.
Sacred Valley 6 Day Itinerary: Day 2
I decided to explore the Sacred Valley on the way to Machu Picchu. Through my excessive research I found the taxi company called Taxidatum, which had great reviews for professionalism and safety. I ended up using them 3 times in Peru and they were very professional, punctual, and drove slowly/safely.
The company offers Sacred Valley day tours as well as a final drop off in Ollantaytambo. I did the Sacred Valley tour which stopped in Chincheros, Maras, and Moray. The cost for the entire car was $65 so you can split between passengers. I did it solo and had my own private car, which ended up being cheaper than the train and so worth it. I could go at my own pace and stay as long or little in each place as I pleased. I highly recommend doing this to see some of the awesome sites along the way to Machu Picchu. My favourite stop was Maras, with the endless salt pans set in between the gorgeous Andes mountains.
Make sure to get the touristico bolistico ticket for 130 Soles. It allows entry into Ollantaytambo, Moray, Maras, Chincheros, Saqsayhuaman and a bunch more ruins and museums around Cusco. You can buy the ticket at any of the included sites (I bought mine when I entered Chincheros).
The salt mines of Maras used by the Incas in ancient times are still in use today.
Similar in appearance of a Greek amphitheatre, the concentric circular depressions of Moray remains a mystery. However, because of the vast temperature difference from top to bottom, it is believed they were used to cultivate certain crops and the area at the bottom was used as an agricultural research station.
Ollantaytambo is a common starting point to the Inca trail, this beautiful little city deserves at least a half day to explore. My taxi tour ended in Ollantaytambo and I had a half day to roam around, walk up the ruins, and relax before my morning train to Machu Picchu. From the top of the Ollantaytambo ruins, you can see the whole city and stunning landscape completely surrounded by the Andes mountains. I absolutely loved this city.
Sacred Valley 6 Day Itinerary: Day 3
Machu Picchu Tickets: Things to Know
As you may have heard, new regulations went into place on July 1st this year which is restricting tourists to either a morning ticket or afternoon ticket. Before you could just go any time of day and stay all day…not anymore.
Despite what you will hear, there aren’t 2 time frames, but actually there are 3. The morning, afternoon, and the limited “Horario Vespertino 13:00 horas”.
Machu Picchu Tickets
Morning ticket + hike allows entrance from 6am-12pm. Cost: 200 Soles ($62)
Afternoon ticket + hike allows entrance from 12pm to 5:30pm. Cost: 200 Soles ($62)
Horario Vespertino allows entrance from 1pm to 5:30pm Cost: 120 Soles ($37)
Machu Picchu entrance without any hike costs 152 Soles ($47)
The limited half day ticket starts at 1pm instead of 12pm. It’s cheaper than the half day and I got this one for my first afternoon there. The next day I got the morning ticket with the hike to Machu Picchu Mountain.
I spent a total of $99 for my 2 tickets to Machu Picchu. It’s not cheap, but I’m so glad I went 2 days. The first day I went in the afternoon at a relaxed pace taking photos and walking around the ruins. The second day I did the hike and after that I was so exhausted I didn’t stay much longer. The afternoon trip plus the morning hike was perfect.
You need to purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible because the number of people per day has been limited, especially for the mountain hikes. They only allow 800 hikers per day for Machu Picchu Mountain. For Huayna Picchu Mountain, the daily limit is only 400 hikers per day. It was actually sold out when I checked 2 months before so make sure to plan way in advance.
There are 2 different time slots for the hikes, and you must pick one when buying your ticket.
Machu Picchu Mountain time slots
1st time slot: 7-8am
2nd time slot: 9-10am
Huayna Picchu Mountain time slots
1st time slot: 7-8am
2nd time slot: 10-11am
To buy tickets, you will have to go The Ministry of Culture Website which is quite confusing. The site is annoying and takes forever to load and sometimes crashes, but just be persistent and try again. They only take Visa card for payment so don’t try to pay with MasterCard or Amex or you will wonder why it’s not working. I found a great step-by-step guide by Thrifty Nomads that will walk you through the confusing process, which is what I used. You can check their article here.
Visiting Machu Picchu
Take the Vista Dome or Expedition train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. I booked my tickets on Peru Rail. When you get to Peru, you must take your confirmation to a Peru Rail office and get the actual tickets. They are a little slow with everything so give yourself an extra 30 minutes to get the tickets from them.
The view from the Vista Dome Train
You can only bring one small carry-on bag on the train as there is no overhead storage. If you want to bring anything else, you will need to email them 48 hours in advance and if they still have availability they will tell you yes. Still, no huge suitcases will be allowed due to space.
Once in Aguas Calientes, get a round-trip bus ticket for $24 to Machu Picchu and get up there by 1pm. By 3:30-4pm it was virtually empty. I almost had one of the top tourist sites in the world all to myself. I would definitely recommend going in the afternoon when there is less people. The only thing is you can only hike the 2 mountains during the morning time. This is exactly why going for 2 days is key!
Hike Machu Picchu Mountain in the morning. Allow yourself 4 full hours to complete the hike roundtrip. Take lots of water. Because of the altitude, the hike is intense and you will need to stop a lot to catch your breathe.
I caught the Expedition train back at 3:20pm and arrived in Poroy station at 7:10pm. There is no train station in Cusco and the station used is called Poroy, a 20 minute taxi ride outside of Cusco.
Sacred Valley 6 Day Itinerary: Day 5
Whatever activities you didn’t get to on day 1, finish up today. Tomorrow will be a very strenuous day so make sure to take it easy.
Sacred Valley 6 Day Itinerary: Day 6
Day Trip to Rainbow Mountain
Pickup is at 3:30 or 4:30 in the AM so make sure you get enough rest. You will drive 3 hours total, with a stop for breakfast, before getting to the entrance. Once there, you will have an option to rent a horse, which I highly recommend unless you have amazing cardiovascular endurance. Rainbow Mountain sits at an altitude of over 17,000 feet, so for most of us that don’t live at high altitudes, this will be the most challenging hike you will ever do. Pace yourself, go as slow as you need, rest when your body tells you, and drink lots of water.
Even with the horse, you will have to hike the last 200 meters which is at an extremely steep incline. I thought I was going to die and had to keep stopping every 10 steps to catch my breathe. My heart felt like it was going to explode in my chest. The altitude is no joke so make sure to listen to your body.
Even through all that extreme exhaustion and fatigue, the views at the top are SO worth it. It’s such an incredible natural phenomenon to see. There will be many tour groups there so it’s a little tough to get photos without a million people in them. But I managed to find a perfect spot. At the top of the mountain, turn left and walk down a little bit and the perfect spot will be on the left. It’s a little farther away from view than you see in photos, but I much preferred it to get some photos without people in them.
I paid $30 and booked online with Haku company via findlocaltrips.com. They were selling the tours in the city for 70 pesos (about $21), but I wanted to read reviews on the company as I have heard many stories of companies in both Peru and Bolivia having a problem with the drivers being drunk. There has also been many accidents with tourists which have resulted in death so I was not going to take that chance. I am willing to pay more for my safety and piece of mind. Please do your research before booking with a company that involves any kind of transport in Peru and Bolivia.
Travel Insurance for Peru
I never go on a trip anymore without travel insurance. Never. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Shit happens when you least expect it.
After crossing into Bolivia, my cellphone was stolen. Traveling without your cell is the worst! I’m so glad I had insurance because when I got back I filed the claim with no hassles and got fully reimbursed for my phone + the expensive case that it was in. Thank God!
My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 total claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 3. I highly recommend them.
*this post contains affiliate links.
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