Japan two week itinerary only1invillage

Your essential 2 week Japan Itinerary starts here!

How to spend an awesome 2 weeks in Japan. Our two week Japan itinerary suggestions. The Japan Rail Pass is a must for your 14 days. See the incredible sights, sounds and smells of this amazing country. Below is our itinerary put together from two separate 2 week trips to Japan. You don’t have to do it all. Pick and choose from what sounds most exciting. You might want to slow the pace down a bit too as our itinerary is pretty jam packed!

Quick Index 2 Weeks in Japan!

                                             

Quick Japan Round Up

The land of the rising sun. Ahh, the Karate Kid, raw fish and big drums. Sushi, sake and noodles. High tech gadgets and robots instead of humans in hotels. Toilets that talk to you, wash and dry you. Plus public toilets are spotless, plentiful and free! Public transport that runs on time and never ending politeness. Bowing, bowing, more bowing, bow some more. Girly giggling and wild make up. Boy bands, anime, manga, Pokemon and big name fashion brands.

incredible two week Japan itinerary bowing Japan manners
Start practising your bowing technique. Even the mannequins bow in Japan! Japan is an ultra polite society and on your two week trip to Japan, you’re going to do a lot of bowing!

Temples, castles and fast cars. Japan is a country full of stereotypes and contrasts. Ancient traditions and cultural practices are jostling with the modern Japan.

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan
Japan is a country where tradition and modern influences exist side by side.

Mountains, forests, busy coastal mega cities, hot springs galore and fascinating gardens to explore. Japan provides everything for tourists and at a surprisingly reasonably cost.

                                              

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Japan?

                                          

Don’t laugh! Some people don’t know where Japan is. Japan is an archipelago in East Asia. The biggest islands of Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu get all the attention. Japan stretches almost to Taiwan, with the islands of Okinawa, Miyakojima and Ishigaki in the south of the East China Sea. Neighbouring countries are: South Korea, China,Russia in the extreme North and Taiwan in the extreme South.

incredible two week Japan itinerary
Japan is a collection of many islands in East Asia.

                                              

When is the best time to go to Japan? 

In our opinion the best time to visit Japan is Spring or Autumn. April, May and June have plenty of daylight and it’s not too hot. It’s mild, some showers, but most days will be bright and sunny. The famous sakura (cherry blossom) season is also in Spring in the major cities of Tokyo and Osaka. For exact weeks you have to check each year, because of the effects of climate change.

incredible two week Japan itinerary when to go cherry blossom season
The cherry blossom (sakura) is best captured in April. The Japanese go nuts for taking photos of these pink flowers. Hinami (cherry blossom viewing) in most Japanese cities is in Spring, but check to make sure, due to climate change effects.

Avoid Summer as it is roasting in Japan!  However, if you love the high temperatures and humidity, you’ll love Japan in July and August! September and October are good months to travel on your two week trip to Japan. The days are still warm and the nights cool, not cold. There is still plenty of sunshine and the Autumn colours are just spectacular.

incredible two week Japan itinerary when to go Autumn magnificent colours
September is Autumn in Japan. It’s a great time of year to plan your two week trip to Japan. The formal gardens are simply breathtaking.

                                              

How Big and expensive Are Hotel Rooms in Japan?

Japan isn’t as expensive as people think. On your unforgettable two week Japan itinerary, you will spend less than you think. There is a vast range of accommodation available. The hotel rooms are not all like capsules! We like the Tokyu Rei chain of hotels for the price and size of the rooms. Some rooms are over 20 square metres. Our top tip is to always book twin rooms, rather than double, as you can be guaranteed a larger room with two beds. You can always push them together if you like.

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan hotel room size 25 square metres
Our messy room in the Tokyu Rei Hotel, Hiroshima. This room is 25 square metres. Not all hotel rooms are tiny in Japan.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary hotel rooms can be small
Some Japanese hotel rooms are notoriously small and compact. Here we are standing against the door! The traditional tatami mat and futon design is surprisingly very comfortable. The closer you are to a JR station the smaller the room, unless, you’re in a 5 star hotel. Spotlessly clean though. You can just see the shower on the left.

Youth hostels are becoming more popular in Japan. Good value three star hotels are very clean and can be as cheap as USD60, AUD90 or GBP50 in the right season and if you’re prepared to be a little further away from the railway station.

                                              

How expensive is Food in Japan?

premium Japanese fruit presentation box supermarket food incredible 2 week trip to Japan
This is an expensive fruit box for special occasions. Don’t worry, fruit isn’t really this expensive in Japan. (Price of those 8 pieces of fruit is $120 USD, $170AUD and GBP95!) Not for everyday consumption. It’s apparently the best of the best!

Food is also very reasonable. Filling and tasty noodle dishes can be found in McDonalds like ‘restaurants’ for USD6, AUD10 or GBP6.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary cheap set meals fast food style restaurants
Eating out in Japan isn’t as expensive as people think. We get these types of meals at ‘fast food’ restaurants. Cheap, healthy and tasty.

Western food, especially Italian dishes are copied very well and are also not expensive. They are available ready made on a microwaveable plate at convenience stores. In Italian restaurants pasta dishes start at $US7 for a basic spaghetti dish with tomato sauce, basil and parmigiano reggiano.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Western style food is widely available in Japan
Western food in Japan is very high quality. This duck salad and roast beef with good quality wine is only $US15, $AUD21 or $12 for lunch. Japan isn’t as expensive as people think.

Sushi and sashimi as you would expect is everywhere! NIgiri (the rice on the bottom and a slice of raw fish on top) is about an Australian dollar, 70 pence or 70 US cents per piece. Every corner shop, mini supermarket and major supermarket has top quality raw fish. You will see sashimi (raw fish with no rice) types you have never seen before. The variety of raw fish is amazing in Japan. Our top tip is to go at about 6.30p.m. to supermarkets in department store basements. The day’s fresh catch is discounted by 30 to 50 per cent. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary sashimi and sushi from supermarkets great presentation and variety
Keep costs down when eating sashimi and sushi on your incredible two week Japan itinerary by buying from supermarkets.

                                              

Is Japan safe to visit?

In terms of crime for tourists, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. If you drop a tissue, people will come running after you, to give your tissue back to you!

The organised crime of the Yakuza gangs will not be visible to the tourist.

The biggest danger is a major natural disaster. Japan is of course earthquake and tsunami prone. 

                                              

What’s Japanese food like? Where to eat? What to eat?

Traditional Japanese food is always beautifully presented. Every dish is a little work of art.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary all food is like a piece of art noodles soup vegetables and fish
Japanese food is always beautifully presented. A typical lunch is a mixture of hot and cold dishes. There is always miso soup, a noodle dish and pickled vegetables. Vegetarians are well catered for in Japan. Tofu and soya bean products are widely available.

Like all countries different regions have different specialities. Noodle of various types (there are 8 types: ramen, uson, soba, yakisoba, somen, hiyamugi, shiritaki and harusame) rice and dumplings (goyoza) predominate of course. Fish is highly prized and the famous marbled beef from Kobe.

incredible two week Japan itinerary famous wagyu beef
If you’re not vegetarian you have to try the wagyu beef. WIdely available in supermarkets for much less than a restaurant in Kobe. The high fat content or marbling is what makes this beef so special.

Fresh vegetables are really expensive in restaurants. You’re better off buying fruit and vegetables from a supermarket. Pickled vegetables are served with everything and at every meal.

Japan has the most Michelin starred restaurants, (after France) in the world. So you can drop a whole day’s budget on one meal if you choose!

                                              

Is it true ATMs are hard to find and Credit Cards aren’t widely accepted?

Yes and no. There are plenty of ATMs in the big cities. Top tip – many ATMs are hiding inside 7-Eleven convenience stores.

Credit cards are widely accepted in the big cities. Mastercard and Visa are more popular than American Express. 

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary credit cards
Credit cards are widely accepted in the big cities. Visa and Mastercard are preferred over Amex.
Incredible 2 week trip to Japan market vendors cash only
Smaller establishments won’t accept credit cards in Japan. You need to carry some cash in Japan, even in the big cities. Yen in Japan, do as the Japanese do!

                                              

What unique souvenirs can I buy from Japan?

Rice paddles and every sort of Hello Kitty merchandise you can think of!

incredible two week Japan itinerary hello kitty comes in every size shape and form you can even eat her
Hello Kitty! She is the cat that everyone loves ! You can find all the Hello Kitty merchandise you will ever need!

Green tea Kit Kats are definitely on the top of our list. In fact, green tea everything, green tea Pocky, ice cream, biscuits, waffles, cakes, chocolate, macarons, green tea latte powder and  green tea leaves. We eat so many green tea products when we go to Japan, our poo turns green!

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan green tea ice cream
C is so happy when she gets her hands on green tea products! If you love green tea, you’re going to find it in Japan. Take green tea products home as unique souvenirs.

No trip to Japan is complete without the toilet experience. You might want to take one home. Well the seat that is! Once you go, you’ll know what we mean! It will definitely be a memory of your 2 week trip to Japan!

incredible two week trip to Japan itinerary unique souvenirs from Japan take home a toilet seat
Bet you thought Panasonic only made TVs! If you’re in love with the unique Japanese toilet experience, you might want to take one home. It’s definitely a unique souvenir and one you’ll remember every day!

                                              

Getting around on your two week Trip to Japan

The best way to get around Japan on your two week itinerary is by  Bullet train.

Buy the two week Japan Rail Pass

This is the best way to keep travel costs down. The Japanese fast trains (shinkansen) or bullet trains are well known throughout the world and rightly so. Shinkansen actually means ‘trunk line’ but that doesn’t sound as sexy as bullet train does it? Their ability to run on time and the safety record of these high speed trains is amazing. You will be left in wonder how precisely these bullet trains leave and arrive to the second.

incredible two week Japan itinerary bullet trains shinkansen fast efficient clean
The Japanese bullet trains are fast, on time and mega comfortable. You too will fall in love with the shinkansen on your two week trip to Japan.

Also your shinkansen tickets will tell you exactly where to stand on the platform and the bullet train pulls up at exactly that spot. You will be a bullet train geek by the end of your two week trip to Japan! Even if you can’t tell your Hikari from your your Aomori, you’ll still love the Japanese bullet trains for their speed, comfort, cleanliness and efficiency.

Two week Japan rail pass cost 

The National  JR pass is available to buy in 7 days, 14 days or 21 days only. Green class is first class and  ordinary class is, not, as the name suggests, that ordinary! In our opinion, splashing out the extra is worth it for first class travel. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary bullet trains shinkansen green class is pure luxury
Treat yourself to Green Class (first class) seats on your 2 week trip to Japan. The seats are always in a 2 -2 configuration. In ordinary class there’s a row of 2 and a row of 3. In Green Class on the bullet rains, the seats are wider, there’s more legroom and on some routes you get a free blanket.

The National JR Pass is such a bargain that the bullet train trip from Tokyo airport to a downtown destination, is a quarter of the 7 day pass alone. You do the maths!  You will make half your money back on the two week Japan rail pass cost just by doing a return journey on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. But, of course, you’re in Japan for a 2 week trip, you’re not just going to Kyoto!

incredible two week Japan itinerary bullet trains shinkansen ordinary class seats are very comfortable
The seats in ordinary class on the Japanese bullet trains are very comfortable. They also turn around, so if you’re travelling in a big group, you can face each other.

Just in case you’re not going to Japan for a 2 week trip, you can buy the Japan Rail Pass for 7 days or 21 days, too. Below is a link with the cost of Japan Rail Passes, for 7, 14 and 21 days, in 3 major currencies.

buy-the-japan-rail-pass-online

Japan rail pass which one should I buy?

First up don’t get confused with the number of Japan Rail Passes on offer. For your two week Japan itinerary you will need the National JR Pass. This will give you access to all the bullet trains except the Nozomi. The Nozomi is the fastest bullet train, but, that doesn’t mean the other bullet trains are slow.

Japan rail pass where to buy

You can’t buy the Japan Rail Pass in Japan! You must buy it in your country of residence. As a tourist you are very privileged to be able to buy a two week Japan rail pass. Japanese citizens are not allowed to buy one! These bullet trains are something else!

Japan rail pass how to buy

Make sure you are a non resident of Japan. Type in the words ‘Japan Rail Pass’ into your browser’s search engine. Lots of travel agencies and online vendors will compete for your business. 

Japan Rail Pass rules of use

The Japan Rail Pass can only be used for the person whose name appears on the pass. You must carry it at all times with the tickets of the various destinations you are travelling to.

Japan rail pass map Where can I Travel?

Don’t get confused by the names of the trains. The Japanese give names to their trains and service lines. Come on, admit, it’s sort of cute! The name of the train also tells you if it’s fast or mega fast. Yes, all the shinkansen (bullet trains) are fast, but in Japan, there’s quick and super quick!

incredible two week Japan itinerary
Each shinkansen (bullet train) line has a name. Here are the major cities the national Japan Rail Pass will cover.

The Nozomi and Mizuho trains are not covered by the National Japan Rail Pass. If you want to take these ‘super fast’ services you have to pay an additional fee. 

The Japan Rail Pass also entitles you to free JR buses and the JR Miyajima Ferry when travelling to the beautiful must see island of Miyajima, near Hiroshima. Click here for the JR train map.

                                              

Unforgettable Two Week Japan Itinerary

Warning: This is an action packed, not for the faint hearted 2 week Japan itinerary. It involves a lot of walking and a lot of train rides. You’ll be travelling at speeds of 320km/h (200mph) on the bullet trains, so actually, you won’t be spending that much time on trains. It means changing hotels every 2 to 3 days. Of course you can always skip a few of the places we suggest in our incredible 2 week Japan itinerary.

On a two week trip to Japan we suggest this itinerary. Tokyo – Kyoto – Nara – Arashiyama – Osaka – Kobe – Himeji – Hiroshima –  Miyajima – Beppu – Takayama – Matsumoto – Tokyo.

This route means you don’t back track on yourself. Well, you do in the sense that you have to get back to Tokyo but you don’t stop at the same places!

As soon as you land at Narita International, Haneda, Osaka Kansai  Airport, head straight for the Japan Rail Pass office to exchange your ‘exchange order voucher’ you received in your home country. The actual Japan Rail Pass will look like this.

incredible two week Japan itinerary exchanging your voucher for the Japan Rail Pass
This is one side of the actual Japan Rail Pass. On the other side there is a handy map and the travel terms and conditions. Hello bullet trains!

A piece of card, which can be folded into three, to make the same size as your passport. While you’re at the office, you might as well get your tickets to Kyoto. You can reserve your seats at the same time.

                                              

Tokyo on your Two Week Japan Itnerary (3 nights)

The mega busy, modern capital of Japan is everything you have heard about. Tokyo is crowded, fast paced and full of energy. Shopping and entertainment is everywhere. It looks like any other major world city, full of skyscrapers and busy roads. Commuters and tourists from all over the world descend on Tokyo. 

Deciding which district to stay in is very difficult. All we can say is, make sure it is near a train station. Shibuya, Roppongi, Shinjuku and Ueno are popular choices. Look at the map below. For a PDF version of Tokyo train lines and districts,click here.

incredible two week Japan itinerary Tokyo train map including JR stations and subway
Stay near a train station when choosing a base in Tokyo. It will be easy to get around with a combination of JR lines and the excellent Tokyo subway system.
incredible two week Japan itinerary famous Shibuya crossing Tokyo
The famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. A popular district to base yourself for first time visitors to Tokyo.

In Tokyo, you’ll want to visit Harajuku street, the Royal Palace and the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Tokyo is also the place to do a day trip to Hakone and view Mount Fuji from a distance. You have to visit the famous Tokyo fish markets if you’re a sashimi (raw fish) lover. 

2 week trip to Japan Tokyo fish markets yummy sashimi on rice
If you like it fresh and raw, the Tokyo fish markets (Tsukiji Outer Market area) are a must visit place. A whole area of tantalising ocean delights await.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary tokyo fish markets fresh seafood
No 2 week trip to Japan is complete without visiting Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market. If you crave raw fish, raw crustaceans and anything uncooked, head on down.
incredible two week Japan itinerary Meiji Jingu shrine Tokyo
Say or rather write a little prayer or peace offering on these wooden boards at the huge Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

To see Mount Fuji, you will need to do a day trip to Hakone and Lake Ashi. This is a one hour train journey from Tokyo. Your Japan Rail Pass is valid to Odawara. From there you have to pay a separate fee to get onto a ‘romance car’ to Hakone. 

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan Mount Fuji Pixabay
The iconic Mount Fuji, Japan. Best to see the mountain from a distance. Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Hakone offer good viewing spots. Pray for a clear day.

                                              

Kyoto (3 nights as part of your two week Japan Itinerary)

Inari

Kyoto is the place to see the iconic, much Instagrammed 1000s of tori or gates of the Fushimi Inari shrine.

incredible two week Japan itinerary Fushimi Inari tori bright red near Kyoto
Iconic bright red tori gates of the Fushimi inari shrine near Kyoto. Get there early and you might get a shot with no one else in your way!

There is also a hill walk/ hike at this shrine. The shrines are actually in the little town of Inari, which is on the JR Nara line. This means with your two week Japan Rail Pass, it’s totally free! Kyoto to Inari is only 5 minutes away! See the green and white dashed lines below.

Unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary 1
From Kyoto you need to get on the JR Nara line for the Fushimi Inari shrines. It’s only two stops away from Kyoto.

It’s impossible to miss the entrance to the Fushimi Inari shrines.

incredible two week Japan itinerary bottom of Fushimi Inari near Kyoto
You can’t miss the entrance to the famous Fushimi Inari shrine. You just follow every one else from the train station until you see this.

Just follow the crowds who will be on your train. The walk to the top will take around 2-3 hours depending on your fitness level. You can turn around at any point, it’s not a one way circuit. As you climb between the thousands of bright red ‘tori’ you might even get sections to yourself for that precious photo!

incredible two week Japan itinerary fushimi inari shrine go early
If you’re very lucky, you might get sections of the Fushimi Inari shrine walk to yourself.

There are a few restaurants and shops to buy refreshments along the way to the top of Fushimi Inari. Make sure you deviate a bit from the main paths and find these gorgeous areas with mini gates and animal statues.

two week trip to Japan smaller shrines on the hike up the hill at Inari near Kyoto
Find the little shrines when you get off the main two tori tunnels. Fushimi Inari is unmissable on your 2 week trip to Japan.

 

Gion District of Kyoto

This is one area you don’t want to miss out on seeing. Amazing shrines and temples at the top of streets lined with magnificent food shops and restaurants. Wandering up and down the narrow and traditional streets of the Gion district is unmissable.

2 week trip to Japan Gion district Kyoto traditional style houses
Kyoto’s Gion district is lined with narrow and more traditional looking houses and shops. Wander up and down the ancient capital streets of Japan. There’s plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops to keep you going as you ascend towards the pagoda and temples on the top of the hill.

This is the traditional district of the geisha. Always ask permission before you take a photograph of geisha. 

2 week trip to Japan Gion district Kyoto geisha
Geisha in the Gion district of Kyoto. These are not tourists dressing up as geisha. Yes you can pay to have the white make up, hairstyle and kimono of geisha for a few hours. Never insult geisha by taking their photos without permission.

Kiyomizu -dera Temple Kyoto

This amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site is set on the hills above Kyoto. A vast complex with lots of steps and opportunities for stunning photography.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Kiyomizu dera temple Kyoto
You won’t be able to resist the bright red pagoda of the Kiyomizudera Temple complex in the Higashiyama sightseeing district of Kyoto. It’s a bit commercialised, but still, very worthwhile in our opinion.

The main hall ‘stage’ built out of wood fascinates all who visit. The view of Kyoto down below is truly unique. The overhanging ‘stage’ of the main hall of the Kiyomizu Temple is built onto the steep cliff of Mount Otowa. It is built in a Japanese style of grids, without any nails being used! The wood is almost 400 years old and still supports the hundreds of visitors each day.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Kiyomizu dera temple Kyoto
The amazing Kiyomizu dera temple complex is built on the cliffs of Mount Otowa, Kyoto. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers stunning views of the city from its main hall ‘stage’.

You might need a little map to orientate yourself at Kiyomizu dera Temple. It’s like a little village. Kiyomizudera means ‘pure water temple’. There are lots of places to see this pure water running out from the Otowa waterfall. There are said to be benefits from drinking this pure water. Visitors can drink from special long handled ladle like cups to bring longevity, luck in love and success at school!  Every little bit helps!

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Kiyomizu dera temple Kyoto
Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto. Drinking from the ‘pure water’ of the Otowa waterfall has three separate benefits. Get lucky in love, live longer and do well at school. You’re only supposed to drink from two, so choose carefully! There are special long handled ‘cups’ which don’t touch your lips for this purpose at designated spots.

You will also want to make a day trip while in Kyoto to the nearby town of Nara. You can feed tame deer with special deer biscuits.

Nara

It’s temple time again! You have to visit Todai-ji temple when you’re in Kyoto. Well, actually, temples will be like churches in Europe, on your 2 week trip to Japan! Todai-ji temple is one of the world’s biggest wooden structures. It’s ancient too. Todai-ji temple is over a thousand years old. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary Todai Ji Temple Nara near Kyoto
Todai-ji Temple in Nara Park. One of the biggest wooden structures in the world. Try and go in sakura (cherry blossom) season for those unforgettable memories on your Japanese vacation.

The main attraction is the huge, and we mean huge, bronze budhha statue. 400 tonnes of huge. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary giant bronze buddha in Todai-ji Temple Nara, near Kyoto
Feel small in front of the giant 400 tonne bronze buddha at Todaiji Temple in Nara Park. A must see attraction on your unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary.

Todai-ji Temple is inside the Nara Park, where you can see deer roaming around. They’re quite friendly and very cute. See below!

incredible two week Japan itinerary friendly deer in Nara Park near Kyoto
Come and feed me in Nara Koen Park. Oh and see the amazing Todai-ji temple too.

Arashiyama

From Kyoto this is another easy day trip, you don’t want to miss out on! 6 stops from Kyoto on the Sagano line. Yes, it’s free if you have the Japan Rail pass! It’s not a bullet train, but a local train. The top three attractions in the Arashiyama area are the bamboo grove, the Kinaku-ji golden temple, Tenryuji temple and Sogenchi gardens. There are of course other delights which will be on your Kyoto tourist map, that your hotel will give you.

incredible two week Japan itinerary Kinaku-ji golden temple near Kyoto
The golden temple (Kinaki-ju) is literally covered in gold leaf. It’s a glittering marvel. One of the highlights on a day trip from Kyoto on your 2 week Japan trip. Located 20 minutes from Kyoto. Best to go by the 205 bus from Kyoto bus station.

The bamboo grove has gone insta crazy and now it’s really hard to get a shot of this place without anyone else in it! Ok, maybe if you go at the crack of dawn, we’re just not early morning people! It’s not really a forest. It’s a pathway with lots of tall bamboo on either side. It can look very green or quite grey. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near Kyoto
The bamboo grove in Arashiyama. These amazing tall plants are a top attraction on a day trip from Kyoto.

Another must see site is the Tenryuji temple. You can enter it via the bamboo grove. This amazing temple has one of the best gardens in Japan. The famous pond is also full of colourful carp fish and on a sunny Spring day, the reflection of the hills in the pond is just amazing. You will see devout Japanese meticulously picking up leaves and pulling out grass in these immaculate gardens. This is one of the finest examples of shakkei which means borrowed scenery. The hills in the background blend in seamlessly with the Sogenchi gardens.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Sogenchi Gardens part of the grounds in the Tenryuji Temple, near Kyoto near the Bamboo Grove
Capture the stunning reflections in the garden pond in the grounds of the Sogenchi Gardens, Arashiyama. The Tenryuji Temple is in the background. There are some of the biggest carp fish you will ever see in this perfectly landscaped temple complex. A must see attraction on your 2 week trip to Japan.

                                              

Osaka (1 night or a day trip from Kyoto)

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Osaka Castle and Gardens
Castles and beautiful gardens go hand in hand in Japan. Osaka castle is no exception. Just a 15 minute bullet train ride from Kyoto.

Next stop on your unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary is the city of Osaka. Population 2.6 million.  It’s just a 15 minute bullet train ride away! We only stop for a night and a day. Our main highlight is the castle and the entertainment district of Dontonburi. You can even stay an extra night in Kyoto, if you don’t want to pack your bags and change hotels. Osaka castle and the Dontonburi district can be a day trip from Kyoto.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary green and gold Osaka Castle
The fabulous green and gold castle in Osaka, Japan. Make a day trip from Kyoto (only 15 mins away) or stay over night. Note J has a very apt T shirt!

Your 2 week trip to Japan continues on the awesome bullet trains. BY now you are loving your Japan Rail Pass. It is so convenient. Practically every major tourist site is reachable for free on the 2 week Japan Rail Pass in your hand. We bet even you have started bowing at the trains like the conductors do on the platforms! Come on, admit it, you’re a big fan of travelling by train, bullet train style.

                                              

Kobe  (1 night)

It’s just 13 minutes from Osaka on the amazing bullet trains. The famous city named after an American basket ball player? No, we’re just joking. Apparently Kobe Bryant’s parents named him this after seeing the famous beef on a restaurant menu. What can we say? We came all the way to Kobe just to eat the beef too!

Kobe beef is a type of Wagyu beef. Wagyu beef is so expensive because you can trace the cow back to its parents and grandparents. Kobe beef has to come from the Hyogo prefecture. It also has to be from a type of cattle calle Tajima. The wagyu, which means ‘Japanese beef’ you’re eating in your home country probably isn’t genuine. However, if you come to Kobe, you can bet your bottom dollar, the beef is local. Kobe beef is exactly that, beef from the Kobe region. 

2 week trip to Japan kobe beef meal
Kobe beef dinner. When in Japan, you have to try it. Genuine Kobe beef is extremely rare outside of Japan. This meal cost us a day’s budget. Back to noodles for a few days!

Apart from some of the best beef in the world, Kobe has some other attractions worth coming for. If you’re a nature lover, you will be amazed by the Kobe Herb Gardens. Perched high up on the hills of Kobe and reachable by cable car, the Kobe gardens are quite unique.

incredible two week trip to Japan itinerary Kobe ropeway
Take the rope way (cable car) high into the hills to escape the grey city colours of Kobe. You can even walk up the rope way route if you want some exercise.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, (which you can get up there), as you gaze down on the sprawling city. It’s built to mimic a European, German to be precise, castle and its grounds.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Kobe herb gardens restaurant and museum cafe
At the top ropeway station is the German style landscape. You can grab a bite to eat, with all food using the herbs on the slopes.

There’s a fabulous restaurant too.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Kobe food restaurant herb garden
A main and an appetiser at the restaurant is only 2380 yen, about 20 US, 17GBP and 30 AUD.

It’s a place to go just to breathe some fresh air and relax in nature. In Spring, the slopes are bursting with colour from the thousands of varieties of flowers and herbs. There’s also a water fall on the way up. This is definitely worth seeing, on your 2 week trip to Japan. For a map of the rope way and gardens, click here.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Kobe herb gardens
The Kobe Herb Gardens are set on an easily walkable slope on the foothills of Mount Rokko. Colourful and peaceful, a place to surround yourself with beautiful flowers and aromatic herbs.

Another reason people come to Kobe is to experience the hot baths at Arima. The Japanese onsen experience is quite a ritual and Japan is famous for its onsens. Good for the skin and a great cultural experience. Remember in Japan, no tattoos and no mixed bathing. Plus, you have to get naked. Sorry, no naked pictures of us!

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary onsen gold and silver water at Arima near Kobe
The ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ soothing mineral water is a unique factor for onsens in Arima, just north of Kobe. This outdoor terrace is part of the Arima Grand Hotel (photo courtesy of www.tsungagujapan.com)

Search for Arima onsen and you will see that there are plenty of hotels with private onsen too. If you want more privacy, you will have to go in your hotel’s onsen. In any case, walking around a traditional town is quite nice after so many big cities on your 2 week trip to Japan. Even if you don’t like bathing in thermal mineral waters, Arima is worth the day trip from Kobe.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Arima onsen river gold and silver water
The thermal waters of Arima are said to be gold and silver in colour. Here, they run through the river in the centre of Arima. Many hotels and 4 public baths use these waters to fill their own onsen at Arima.

                                              

Himeji (1 night or day trip from Kobe)

Next stop on your whistle stop tour of Japan is Himeji. Himeji is home to the White Heron castle and has been restored to its former glory. From Kobe, it’s just 30 minutes on the bullet train! The main reason for stopping here is the stunning castle. It is a national treasure.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Himeji
Now where is the darn castle? Himeji Castle towers at one end of the main street in Himeji.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Himeji beautiful white castle
Who’s taking the photo? Looking energetic before the climb to the top of the castle!
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Himeji
Nice gardens and views surround the castle. There’s also a moat around the castle.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Himeji
Himeji castle is lit up at night and the gardens are full of locals and visitors sitting, picnicking and chatting.

                                              

Hiroshima and Miyajima Island (2 nights)

Hiroshima is infamous for a very sad reason. Two atomic bombs were dropped on two Japanese cities in 1945. Without going into the politics of the Second World War of who was wrong or right, Hiroshima deserves a visit. Hiroshima is also the jump off point for the beautiful Miyajima Island, with its massive red gates built into the sea (our feature picture). Also if you have missed out on seeing the deer at Nara Park, there’s hundreds of deer roaming around Miyajima Island.

From Kobe, this is another short trip on the bullet trains. Just over 90 minutes away. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary
Jump on the shinkansen bullet trains for 90 minutes from Kobe. Hiroshima is your next stop on your incredible 2 week trip to Japan.

The most photographed image in Hiroshima is the Industrial Promotional Hall.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Hiroshima Industrial Promotional Hall
This is the original building that now stands as the only surviving structure in Hiroshima. The Industrial Promotional Hall is commonly referred to as Genbaku Dome.

Now called the Genbaku Dome, it is the only surviving structure that withstood the atomic blast in 1945. It stands now as a permanent Peace Memorial. It is both a reminder and warning to us all of the destructive power of atomic weapons.

2 week trip to Japan bullet trains to Hiroshima Genbaku Dome
The Genbaku Dome stands as both a memorial and future reminder to the horrors of atomic weapons. Hiroshima is all about embracing peace.

It’s not all doom and gloom in Hiroshima. Even though the Peace Museum is a must see attraction with confronting images. You have to go.

2 week trip to Japan Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Confronting images at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It’s a sobering way to spend some time on your 2 week trip to Japan.

There is great food, an electrical bike system and if you’re a baseball fan, the Mazda stadium. Oh and of course there’s a castle and pretty Japanese gardens to stroll around!

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima Castle. Photo courtesy of Pen Ash from Pixabay.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary HIroshima get around on e bikes and trams
E bikes, electronically assisted bikes are the way to get around Hiroshima. Weather permitting of course!
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Hiroshima Mazda stadium baseball fans go mad
The Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima. This place is insane on match days. If you’re a baseball fan, the Japanese baseball fans are crazier than you! Go just for the atmosphere, even if you don’t like or understand baseball!
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Hiroshima beautiful and serene Japanese gardens to explore
Make time to stroll the relaxing gardens of Hiroshima. Shukkeien Gardens is a beautiful landscaped garden.

Getting to Miyajima Island is also easy from Hiroshima. With that handy Japan Rail Pass in your hands, even the ferry over is completely free! Miyajima warrants a whole day, especially as you’ll want to stay for the amazing sun set shots. It’s also a chance to see Japanese island life, away from the big cities. You can even find spots where you’ll be completely alone!

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary JR ferry to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima day trip
Hop on the Miyajima Ferry to the beautiful and calm island of Miyajima. Of course it’s free with your Japan Rail Pass! It’s not just bullet trains that are covered with your pass. You can even use JR buses.

Miyajima Island

After breakfast in Hiroshima, make your way to the JR ferry. Get on a JR Sanyo mainline train (it’s not a bullet train, but still free with the JR Pass). 30 minutes later you’ll be at the Miyajimaguchi JR station. From there it is a 6 minute walk to the ferry terminal. Don’t worry it’s well signed. You can’t get lost. As usual follow all the other tourists! The ferry ride only takes 10 minutes.

Unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary 2
Getting to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima is easy.

 

As you sail on the waters, you approach the famous Otorri Gate. It’s unmissable. It comes in as the number three most scenic spot in Japan.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary magnificent gate Miyajima Island off the coast of Hiroshima
The gigantic gate of Miyajima Island. Comes in at number three of Japan’s most scenic spots. What do you think?

Don’t panic if you don’t get good shots from the ferry. There are plenty of opportunities to get those breathtaking shots when you get on dry land. When the tide is out, you’ll even be able to go underneath the huge gate.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Otorri huge gate Miyajima Island
The impressive Otorri is built on the seabed off Miyajima Island. At low tide you can walk directly under it.

From the ferry terminal on Miyajima, don’t forget to make a note of the last departing ferry back to the ‘mainland’. Head right towards the huge red gate and the old town walk just like everyone else. Sorry you won’t be the only 1 in the village just yet!

The main attractions are all centred together in two main areas. The Itsukushima Shrine, the 5 storied pagoda, the Senjokaku Hall and the main shopping street are in one area. The aquarium, history museum, treasure hall and Tahoto Pagoda to the right of the shrine.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Miyajima Itsukushima 5 tiered pagoda
Hmm …wonder why they call it the 5 storied pagoda? Up close and personal at the 5 tiered pagoda on Miyajima Island.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Miyajima Itsukushima shrine and 5 tiered pagoda
The elevated Itsukushima Shrine and 5 storied Pagoda are within the same area on Miyajima Island. A day trip from Hiroshima, Miyajima is one of Japan’s top scenic destinations.

You can do some hiking on Miyajima. There is a trail that winds itself up from the Momijidani Ropeway station, which is just a 10 minute walk from Itsukushima Shrine. In fact there are three trails that will get you to the top of Mount Misen for some spectacular views. (see the map below)

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Miyajima map
To do some hiking on Mount Misen on MIyajima Island you can either walk or get the ropeway. If you walk, there are three routes, the Momijidani Course, the Daisho-in Course and the Omoto Course.

We cheat and go to the summit with the assisted option. But we do come down on foot.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Miyajima ropeway
Take the Miyajima ropeway to the top of Mount Misen on Miyajima Island. You can always walk one of the hiking trails on the way down.

At the top of Mount Misen, on a clear day, you get fabulous views. Even if it’s not a clear day there are huge granite boulders and possibly, if you’re lucky you will see some hawks or falcons circling high above you.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Miyajima ropeway to Mount Misen summit
At the top of Mount Misen, MIyajima Island. On a clear day you can see all the way onto the ‘mainland’. The weather wasn’t being kind to us!

On the way down, we choose to take the Momijidani hiking trail. This is particularly rewarding if you want to be the only1in the village. Hiking down is a lot less crowded than getting the ropeway up. As you descend along this path there are hundreds of maple trees. There’s even a small river and of course a beautiful shrine to keep the spirits up. No pun intended!

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Miyajima
As you trek down the Momijidani Trail from the summit of Mount Misen, you pass the small but pretty Momijidani River. Mount Misen is Miyajima’s tallest peak.

As you walk along the Momijidani hiking trail, you will see the lovely Shinomiya Shrine.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Miyajima
Shinoyima Shrine is in the background. Hiking down from Mount Misen, on MIyajima Island following the Momijidani Trail. Hooray, we are the only ones in the village!

Miyajima is also home to lots of deer. So don’t worry if you missed out on seeing them in Nara, near Kyoto. The deer are very used to humans and often try to walk with you!

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary deer on Miyajima
Don’t worry if you miss out on seeing deer at Nara, near Kyoto. Deer on Miyajima Island are very relaxed and used to humans! This male deer is ignoring J. Seen it all before, another human who wants a photo with a deer.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary deer on Miyajima
Plenty of friendly cute deer to see on Miyajima. They’re part of the landscape.

                                              

Beppu

Beppu is on the island of Kyushu. Looking at a map it is left of Tokyo. To get here you get your shinkansen to Fukuoka (have fun pronouncing this one!) and change onto a local train. Of course it’s all included with your 2 week national Japan Rail Pass. Beppu is known for its many onsen, over 2000 in fact. The coloured water of various ‘hells’ are a main attraction of the area. Think New Zealand on a smaller scale. But we mean a really smaller scale.

Beppu - incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Red Hell
Hells therme in Beppu has a range of different coloured waters some you can bathe in.

In order to get a European spa experience, meaning you can bathe together you have to go to Suginoi Palace Baths. This is a hotel with a huge set of pools with local thermal waters attached to it. Non guests can use the pools. To bathe naked though is single sex. That’s very Japanese. No naked bathing together like in Germany and Austria.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Suginoi Hotel baths near Beppu
Suginoi palace baths in Beppu have both separate and mixed baths. It is rare in Japan for couples to bathe together.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Suginoi palace baths near Beppu
Suginoi palace baths in Beppu has a fantastic light show every night.

                                              

Takayama Japanese Alps

Now you have visited quite a few big cities on your 2 week trip to Japan. You are a bit tired of the neon, bright city lights. It’s time to head for the countryside for some fresh air and a change of scenery. You’ll still be eating awesome food and experiencing polite Japanese culture, just at a more relaxed pace.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary HIda Takayama
Connect with the countryside. A traditional thatched roof in the village of Hida in the Japanese Alps. Hire a bike and ride around at a slower pace on the last leg of your amazing Japanese holiday.

Now getting here is a bit of a conundrum when it comes to using the bullet trains and the local JR trains. It depends where you’re coming from. If you decide to come from Tokyo you will come via  Nagano and Matsumoto. There’s not much to see in Nagano, or rather, we don’t have time to stop off and see Nagano on our jam packed 2 week Japan itinerary. The trains will take 4.5 hours and a bus 2.5 hours. Getting the Nohi bus is definitely quicker from Matsumoto.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Beppu to Fukuoka limited express train
The limited express train from Beppu to Fukuoka. It’s going to be a long day of train rides, but look at the comfortable seats. Beppu to Takayama is over 7.5 hours. You’ll be ok!

If you decide to follow our itinerary and come from Beppu, you’ll be coming via Nagoya on a mixture of limited express trains and the shinkansen. Change at Nagoya for a limited express train and the journey is 2.5 hours. Get the local JR train and the journey time increases to 4 hours. Please note that the total train journey time from Beppu to Takayama, with changes is just over 7.5 hours.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Beppu to Takayama
The Beppu to Takayama train route. 2.5 hours Beppu to Fukuoka, Fukuoka to Osaka on the Sanyo shinkansen is 2 hours and 40 minutes. Then change Osaka to Nagoya which takes an hour because you can’t use the Nozomi train with your Japan Rail Pass. Finally Nagoya to Takayama is 2.5 hours on the JR limited express trains.

It’s a long day of travelling. The total train time without waiting for connections is 7 hours and 40 minutes. But hey, it’s all covered on the Japan Rail Pass you have in your hands.

Takayama itself is very compact and has an old district and a new district. The old district is similar to the Gion district in Kyoto. There are lots of wooden houses and restaurants with narrow streets. This is the place, apart from Kobe, to eat Hida beef, a special type of beef, reared only in Japan. 

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Takayama old district
The narrow streets of the old district in Takayama, Gifu prefecture. Life in the Japanese Alps is at a much slower pace than the big cities.

 

Traditional village – (Hida No Sato) Takayama 

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Hida no Sato
The open air museum of Hida no Sato is a village of traditional wooden houses of the Edo period (1603-1867). Plenty of things to see including everyday utensils and you can dress up too if you want.

Hida No Sato is an open air museum. This might sound a little naff, but, actually it is a really good experience. The area is built to recreate life in a traditional Japanese village. You can go inside houses, dress up and try traditional games. It is a lot of fun and you learn something about traditional Japanese village life. It will be really quiet here too as not many tourists make it out here!

                                              

Matsumoto

If you’re not sick of castles and you want to break up your bullet train journey before heading back to Tokyo, you must stop off at Matsumoto. 50 minutes on the limited express train from Nagano will get you to one of Japan’s most complete castles.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Matsumoto castle
Matsumoto castle stands on a plain, rather than a hill. One of the most original castles in Japan. On your 2 week trip to Japan you’re going to become a castle expert. Matsumoto castle is unique because it has a heavily fortified second donjon! It also has a turret adjoined to its main keep. But you know that, now you’re a Japanese castle expert.

Matsumoto is a compact little city with all the main attractions walkable from the train station. It has a cute walking street, lined with of course cherry tees. Matsumoto is the place to eat horse meat  – raw and cooked. Neigh, we are not joking. Being global travellers, horse is not new to us. We eat as the locals do, when in France, we mean Japan!

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan horse meat Matsumoto
Horse meat is on the menu in Matsumoto. It’s available raw, lightly seared or cooked in many restaurants in Matsumoto.

Matsumoto castle is best photographed in cherry blossom season, as its outer moat has hundreds of cherry trees. Walking under them or on top of freshly fallen petals is like a carpet of pink pastel. Girls, get your inner pink on! It really is quite magical. It’s not too crowded either which is another reason for stopping off at Matsumoto.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Matsumoto castle view of cherry trees on outer moat
The view from inside Matsumoto Castle. The outer moat is lined with hundreds of cherry trees which look spectacular in sakura (cherry blossom) season. It’s pastel pink all the way around the outer moat, baby!

If you have made it all the way through our 2 week Japan guide, well done! Obviously this doesn’t cover the whole of Japan. You need at least a month for that to happen. Next time we go to Japan, we’re going to turn right from Tokyo and go towards Sapporo. 

Japan is a country you will want to visit more than once. You will leave with memories of bullet trains that run on time to the second. Your bowing technique will leave you more flexible than your yoga teacher. Going to the toilet will never quite be the same again. You will tell your friends about how in a country that has robots running a hotel, there are still places you can’t use a credit card. All of the above will be done at your local izakaya over some sushi and sake!

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan sake barrels
You’ll be telling all your friends about Japan over sake. Hopefully your sake barrel will be smaller than these!

If you have any comments or suggestions about our incredible 2 week Japan itinerary, please write a comment below.

Arigato gozamaishita! (We’re bowing as we say this by the way!)

 

 

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Peninsula Hot Springs near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation

Only1invillage reviews the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne

Tired, stressed out, need a short break? Head to the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne for a much needed short getaway. Indulge, relax and rejuvenate. Luxury is so close at hand for city slickers at the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne.

Healing thermal waters are just 100 kms from the CBD. Make a day trip from Melbourne or stay in a nearby winery for extra luxury. 

The Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula have long been a secret destination for corporate bonding, girls’ day out, hen parties and nature lovers. Here you can immerse yourself, literally, in warm mineral water and in nature. 

Quick Index Peninsula Hot Springs!

                  

The Benefits of Thermal Spring Waters

The benefits of geothermal waters are plentiful. You get really smooth skin and a great night’s sleep for starters! In addition to this, the minerals in the water are good for arthritis sufferers and can reduce blood pressure. Finally bathing in mineral rich waters, such as the Peninsula Hot Springs promotes detoxification. By increasing blood circulation and the movement of oxygen through the body, the warm waters contribute to the body’s detoxifying capabilities. So what are you waiting for? Not only enjoyable, a social event and a beautiful peaceful place to visit, but good for your health!

                  

When to go to the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne

The good thing about hot springs is that you can visit them at anytime of the year. Even when it’s cold and raining, you’ll be immersed in warm water. You won’t feel the cold at all. Personally we like to go on sunny or cloudy days with an air temperature in the 20s. 

                  

Getting To The Peninsula Hot Springs

Drive

About 1.5 hours away from Melbourne. Of course this is traffic dependent too. Taking the paid way is 15 minutes quicker than taking the free roads.

Peninsula Hot Springs near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
The best way to get to the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne is to drive.

Public Transport

It’s a bit difficult to get public transport and we don’t recommend it. But it is possible. If coming from Melbourne, you need to get a train to Frankston. From Frankston take the number 788 bus to Rye. From Rye you need to call a taxi or an Uber.

Tour

Book a day tour which includes entrance, lunch, wine tasting and a gondola ride. The lunch is not at the Peninsula Hot Springs. Prices start at over $200AUD. You only get to spend 2 to 3 hours in the pools, if you come on a tour.

                  

Prices and Packages at The Peninsula Hot Springs

For public bathing,  prices start at $55AUD for a whole day. To experience all pools you need at least 4 hours in our opinion. 

If you want just a ‘quickie’ and you can get to the Peninsula Hot Springs before 9am, you can pay as little as $25AUD. That’s the off peak tariff, which means Monday to Friday. Weekends are naturally more expensive!

If you don’t want to mix with the common people and are seeking seclusion, packages start at $95AUD per person. This means however, no people watching and why would you sacrifice that?! There are also plenty of other ways to spend your money, for example, buying a massage package or the Spa Dreaming Package.

                  

Staying Overnight

At present you cannot stay on site. There are plans for 10 glamping pods to be opened soon. Stay at nearby wineries or in hotels in the nearby towns of Fingal or Rye. The Peninsula Hot Springs has partner hotels on their website. We stay at the excellent 4 star Rye Hotel

                  

What to bring

Bring your own towel and bathrobe if you want to cover up as you run from pool to pool. Bring your thongs! By that we don’t mean your G string! Take our Aussie slang guide quiz to make sure you can understand what the staff are saying! 

Ladies – C always brings her own powerful hairdryer. There’s nothing worse than a bad ‘after the hot springs’ look!

Bring some clay. What? A mud mask or a body mask. There’s an area where you can paint yourself with clay, but, you have to buy it. SO bring your own instead!

                  

What not to bring

On sunny days, you don’t need sunscreen as there is plenty available at the Peninsula Hot Springs. Can we just say though, please don’t smother yourself in it and get straight in the pools. It leaves a sticky, oily mess floating on the top! 

Don’t bring jewellery because it will tarnish – badly!

Don’t wear your best footwear. They might get wet and shrink.

                  

Spend a whole day relaxing at the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne

The number of pools is amazing. They keep adding to the pools too. It’s getting bigger and bigger. You can bring your own food because there are dedicated picnic areas. The food isn’t that great at the cafe we’re afraid to report.

Start at the bottom of the complex and slowly work your way up!

Let’s get stuck into the pools!

We like the public spaces pools. You can have private baths, but the tubs in the private areas are not that big and there’s less people watching. Where’s the fun in that?

After parking, you follow the signs to the Reception area. It’s best to book ahead, especially at the weekends. You will get refused entry or told there’s a slot available in four hours if you want to wait. The locker charge is $5 which is activated onto your wristband. You don’t have to use a locker, there are wooden boxes that you can put your belongings by the first hot pool. However, you are relying on other people’s honesty not to rifle through your things.

The first pool has a hydrotherapy bar and lie down jet massagers, that you can activate yourself. The water temperature  is a very pleasant 36 – 37 degrees. Just behind is a cold plunge pool which apparently is the best way to use thermal waters. You warm your blood up and then you cool it down. 

Peninsula Hot SPrings near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
If you turn right after coming down the stairs at Reception, you will see these pools. The ladies in the background are sitting on the jet massagers and you can see some people doing exercises in the hydrotherapy pool.

To the left of the first pool is another low pool surrounded by trees. The water  temperature is pretty much the same as the first pool (36 -37 degrees).

As you head up the hill, you come to the reflexology walk, also known as the ‘freakin painful footpath’. Raised pebbles make a supposed therapeutic walk  to ease the tension of your whole body and massage pressure points. It’s not for everyone, but, most people do it as a badge of honour. We just like the punishment factor. Of course, it’s filled with warm spring water.

Peninsula Hot SPrings near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
J starts the reflexology walk and stops to contemplate the health benefits! Come on, you can get to the end, deep breaths!

After you survive the water walk torture, there’s another pool and then the Turkish style hamam. Basically a steam room with a dome, a hamam, is the place to sweat all the toxins out. As is traditional, there is a heated marble stone in the centre to lie on, if you like to pose. Fill up the little silver bowls with cold water to splash on yourself, if you get too hot. Make sure you close the door quickly as you enter and leave, so the temperature can remain hot and all the steam doesn’t escape.

Just adjacent to the Turkish style hamam is the sauna. It’s quite small and can fit a maximum of 10 people comfortably. Bring a towel to sit on the wood for hygiene reasons.

Peninsula Hot SPrings near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
As you ascend, each pool has either pegs or rails where you can hang your towels and bath robes. Some spots have little rectangular boxes to place your glasses in. There are also water taps, so you never get thirsty.

Before you get in each pool and after you get out, you are supposed to have a shower to rinse off any dead skin. There are a variety of massage showers which we love to stand under as the powerful jets massage the head and shoulders. All the water coming out of the massaging showers contain trace elements. C swears her hair feels better and has more root lift after using thermal waters.

Peninsula Hot SPrings near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
Rinse off and get a massage at the same time! These powerful showers are pure bliss at the Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula.

The newest area of the Peninsula Hot Springs, is called the amphitheatre. This area seems less busy probably because it’s further away from the older section.

Peninsula Hot Springs near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
The newest area of the Peninsula Hot Springs is the amphitheatre area.

You get beautiful garden views here, an outdoor stage and a new cafe will be built soon. There are seven hot pools and two cold plunge pools.

Peninsula Hot Springs near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
The newest addition to the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne is the amphitheatre area. In the background you can see the outdoor stage.

If you turn left at the bottom of the stairs after the reception area, you start at the foot pool inside. Continuing outside there are Japanese style waterfall jets and a small cold plunge pool. There’s a hand bath basin, where you can fill up a huge stone basin with therapeutic thermal waters.

Keep walking and you will come to a pond where the ducks are having the best time! You can watch the wildlife from the next pool which has the best foot, calf and back massaging jets. The jets are on automatic timer and get switched on every 15 minutes. Most of the pools look like the one below. The temperature of the pools range from 36 to 42 degrees celcius. All the pools are clearly signed for temperature.

Peninsula Hot Springs near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
Most of the pools at the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne can fit 8 to 10 people. You are always surrounded by bushes and native grasses as you soak.

Now for the best part of the Peninsula Hot Springs. No it’s not pictures of us in our swimwear, it’s the hilltop pool. When you make it to the top pool, you are rewarded with a 360 degree view of the Mornington Peninsula. Be warned, however, you will rarely get this pool to yourself!

Peninsula Hot Springs near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
The hill top pool provides panoramic views of the Mornington Peninsula. Immerse yourself in nature, literally!

After some careful editing to protect the privacy of others, we can show you the hill top pool. Be warned though, you will rarely have it to yourself.

Peninsula Hot Springs near Melbourne indulge relax and rejuvenation
When you get to the hill top pool at the Peninsula Hot Springs Melbourne, you will rarely be alone! It’s quite a hot pool and very small.

We hope you enjoyed this review from Only1invillage. The Peninsula Hot Springs is an easy day trip from Melbourne. If you’re in the Mornington Peninsula area, stay at the excellent wineries of the region and of course, take a detour to the nearby beaches. Make a weekend out of it or a day trip. Relax, indulge and rejuvenate!

 

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Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport

Qantas Club Melbourne Domestic Business Class Lounge Review

Recently refurbished, one of the business class lounges at Melbourne Airport for domestic passengers gets a review from Only1invillage.

There are 2 lounges at the domestic terminal in Melbourne for business class passengers. Here we review the Qantas Club lounge. Don’t confuse it with the Qantas Domestic Business Lounge. Definitely not same same!

Before you are allowed in remember Qantas has a strict dress code. To ‘ensure  an enjoyable experience’ make sure you read this first. No beachwear! (Erm who wears that to fly anyway?) and no singlet tops for men. No UGG boots and no thongs! By thongs we mean flip flops. They’re not going to check your underwear! (See our Ultimate Aussie Slang Guide to help you understand more of the native lingo!) No sleepwear. Don’t show too much flesh or look like you’re heading off to the gym. Make sure your tops don’t have offensive slogans or images on them. (But an ‘I love Qantas’ T shirt is probably fine!)

Qantas Club Melbourne domestic business lounge at Melbourne Airport
Don’t get caught out or refused entry to the Qantas Club in Melbourne. Check this guide to make sure you’re suitably dressed.

Qantas call this particular domestic business lounge the Qantas Club. The domestic lounge got a much needed makeover. According to previous reviewers, the space for business travellers was like a dark, scary corridor! It was also cramped. The renovations are still coming. There will be more space upon completion in November 2019.

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne AIrport
The Qantas Club lounge has had a makeover in Melbourne. Brighter and more spacious than the previous model.

We visit on a busy Friday evening. It is definitely being tested to the maximum. Seating is sparse, conversation is loud and most of the shower rooms are busy! It is very unlike the pictures Qantas show you on their website.

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Friday evening in the Qantas Club lounge in Melbourne is busy.

Here are the positives and negatives of the Qantas Club Domestic Business Class Lounge at Melbourne Airport. No wonder Qantas shorten it to The Qantas Club, it’s quite a mouthful to say, otherwise!

POSITIVES Qantas Club Lounge Melbourne Airport

The lounge location is just after security. Turn right and go up the escalator.The other business class lounge is for when you turn left at the top of the escalators.

Qantas Club domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Turn right at the top of the escalators after security. The newly refurbished Qantas Club domestic business class lounge awaits.

The lounge is spacious and has a light airy feel. It is very long. The placement of the bar and barista coffee machine is nice and central. The luxury touches of marble and shiny stainless steel are new and inviting. The new wooden floors give the lounge a modern touch. It looks so much better than carpet. Carpet is so last century!

Qantas Club domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Sleek and shiny central food and beverage aisles in the spacious Qantas Club domestic business class lounge.

The wi-fi is fast and there’s no need to ask for a password. There are plenty of charging points. Look under or near your seat.

There are various types of seating. You can grab a bar stool while you chat to colleagues or sit on the more padded chairs and armchairs. If you need to work there is desk seating too.

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Various seating options range from hard stools to comfortable, padded chairs and ‘lounge’ style ‘sofas’.

Showers are available in the toilet areas. There’s no reservation system, you just go and try your luck. Towels are a bit on the thin side. The glass is frosted so you can see if someone is using it (apart from the engaged red sign in the lock).

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Can’t wait until you land to freshen up? Take a quick shower. Make sure you lock the door!
Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Don’t forget to return your towel after your shower!

The central bar looks and feels like any classy Melbourne City watering hole. It’s clean and the service is friendly and efficient. You can order beer on tap or get bottled beer. There’s no help yourself beer at the Qantas Club. You can help yourself to wine and sparkling wine. Spirits have to be requested too. Qantas clearly want to keep you in a decent upright state before your flight. 

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
The sleek modern bar is in a central location in the Qantas Club Melbourne.

The barista made coffee comes with latte art and tastes great. Melbourne lattes are good in the Qantas Club  business lounge!

Unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary 9
The coffee at the Qantas Club Melbourne domestic business lounge gets the thumbs up from coffee conossieurs.
Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Get a fresh barista made coffee to have in the lounge. Take away a Vittoria coffee if you’re in a rush. Soy skinny available too. This is Melbourne after all. The great coffee capital.

NEGATIVES Qantas Club Lounge Melbourne Airport

Catering

The biggest disappointment is the food. Avoid it, if at all possible. You probably don’t want to eat there unless you’re really hungry or like food you used to cook when you were a student living away from home! Take a look at the uninspiring food menu.

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
The evening menu isn’t exactly gourmet dining at the Qantas Club Melbourne lounge for domestic departures.

You can make your own toasted sandwich. There are various fillings on offer. In our opinion it wasn’t very different to the AMEX lounge at Melbourne International Airport. The taste of the one hot dish was very bland. A microwave meal for one is tastier than the pasta dish on offer.

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
The hot food selection is nothing to write home about. Sorry Qantas, we are not impressed.

Sorry Qantas catering, you need to lift your game. The food definitely doesn’t match the pictures on their website. 

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Poor taste and presentation of one of the hot meals. The pasta is soft and the sauce tastes like the chef just added ready made sauce over it.

The wine selection is also mediocre. Qantas has not pulled out the stops when it comes to the grog! Maybe they’re thinking, no one will notice. 

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
The wine selection is mid range. The bottles here range from $15 to $20 AUD.

Busy busy busy.

The lounge is heaving at the end of a working week. Friday evening at the Qantas Club domestic lounge is like Friday evening in the city. There’s people everywhere, drinking and socialising. It’s noisy and you can hear everyone’s conversations.

Qantas domestic business lounge Melbourne Airport
Feels like Friday drinks in the city! Hustle and bustle your way through the Qantas Club Domestic Lounge before your flight.

Who can get into the Qantas Club?

A lot of people!

Business class ticket holders flying on a Qantas or Jetstar flight. But you wouldn’t come here, you would go next door.

Qantas Gold or Emirates Platinum Gold.

China Eastern Miles Gold.

Sapphire and Emerald business or first class travellers travelling on a Qantas flight. Again though, you won’t be happy here.

Buy Qantas Club Membership ($399 once off joining fee and $540 per annum). Not worth it in our opinion.

Buy a day pass for $49 if you’re a Qantas Silver member. Must buy in advance. No at the door purchases.

Final Thoughts

The Qantas Club lounge is the poor cousin of the Qantas domestic business class lounge. There’s no Asian Spice Bar, it’s not peaceful and the food is a taste disaster! On the positive side it is much lighter and has a brighter feel than its predecessor. If you have the choice, head next door!

 

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Emirates Business Class Lounge KL

5 enticing reasons to use the Emirates Business Class Lounge KL.

The luxurious emirates business class lounge KL is situated on the upper level of KLIA. Malaysians love using acronyms. KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) is not to be confused with KLIA2. KLIA2 is the hub for the no frills airline Air Asia and is NOT walkable. There is a train called the KLIA Express which connects the two terminals. Make sure you go to the correct terminal or your FOMO (fear of missing out) will kick in!

You are welcomed with the bright golden signature colours of the Emirates lounge. Access is granted  in any number of ways. All business and first class ticket holders. Skywards Gold members travelling in economy can access Emirates Business Class Lounge KL. If you’re a silver member, you can’t come in here, but you can when you get to Dubai.

This lounge, like all Emirates Lounges are open 24 hours a day.

The entrance to the Emirates Business Class Lounge KL
The familiar and welcoming gold and brown colours of the Emirates Lounge in Kuala Lumpur.

Here are our top 5 reasons you must visit Emirates, business class lounge when in KL.

5 Emptiness and  luxury at Emirates Business Class Lounge KL

Emirates Business Class Lounge KL
Get your timing right and you can have the Emirates Lounge in Kuala Lumpur all to yourself!

Now some people might argue that having no one in the lounge equates to no atmosphere. Personally, we love an empty lounge. The space looks cleaner, the staff are way friendlier and it’s like sitting in your own living room. The large screen TVs keep you informed on current affairs and your flight departure. We have read reviews that this lounge can get very busy, but, this was not our experience.

Emirates Business Class Lounge KL
Like the feeling of being in your own lounge room? The Emirates Kuala Lumpur Business Class Lounge can be pretty empty!

4 Refresh and relax

A business class lounge should be an area to relax in. A space to catch up on some emails or research your next destination. There are a few different areas to spread out in. The lounge is lovely and cool. The famous humidity of the Kuala Lumpur weather won’t get you in here. You can definitely spend 3 hours here easily. Take a refreshing shower, as on board, unless you’re first class, there’s no shower for you! Collect a towel and toothbrush from the attendants or just help yourself. The shower pressure is good!

Take a shower in the Emirates Business Class Lounge KL
Tried and tested. The power shower in the KL Emirates business lounge.

3 Comfortable choice of seats and varied seating areas

The seating in the Emirates Business Class Lounge KL
Comfortable and spacious seats in the Emirates Business Class Lounge in Kuala Lumpur.

There are cosy seats for families and friends. Individual armchairs for business and lone travellers are covered in leather. You can choose to sit in a cafe style area or a more restaurant looking area. There’s an office space too complete with photocopier and printer. If you’ve been to other lounges, you’ll notice the same signature colours and styles of the seats.

Comfortable dining chairs in the Emirates lounge in Kuala Lumpur
Comfortable dining chairs are available to savour the gourmet dining available on the ground in the Emirates lounge in KL.

2 Views of aeroplanes

For those who love watching the aeroplanes, the Emirates Business Class Lounge KL has you  covered. Watch luggage and catering being loaded. Imagine your comfort on the upper deck of your A380. Dream about your arrival destination as you sip on top quality champagne.

View of aeroplanes from the lounge in KL (Emirates)
From the lounge in KL, you can watch the coming and going of planes while you relax.

1 The outstanding food and beverages selection

Emirates business class lounge KualaLumpur
The gourmet dishes will have you drooling. The Emirates Business Class Lounge in Kuala Lumpur does a stellar job in presentation.

This is where Kuala Lumpur really stands out. The quality and freshness of the ingredients used are first class. The presentation and the taste of the food is as good as a restaurant. Gourmet dishes and definitely standout presentation. 

As you can see from the pictures below, care has been taken in the way the food is prepared and plated up. Even when you make your own bigger plate, it still looks good. Everything is very clean and shiny in the Kuala Lumpur Emirates Lounge. Luckily for us, we get to the food before anyone else and so there aren’t any spills or stains in the buffet area.

Gourmet food in the Emirates business class lounge in Kuala Lumpur
Tasty hot dishes to choose from in the Emirates Business Class Lounge in Kuala Lumpur.
Gourmet food in the Emirates business class lounge in Kuala Lumpur
A glass of premium red wine goes so well with the beef carpaccio.

You won’t find any cheap and nasty wines in the KL lounge. All the wines retail at about $35 a bottle. (We like to do our research!) The wines are expensive and the champagne French. Emirates don’t take short cuts on the beverages list in Kuala Lumpur.

The wines are expensive and the champagne French. Emirates don't take short cuts on the beverages list in Kuala Lumpur.
Moet is the standard champagne in Emirates business class lounges worlwide. No Asti or Cava here darling!
The wines are expensive and the champagne French. Emirates don't take short cuts on the beverages list in Kuala Lumpur.
Uh oh! It’s time to be your own bartender! No experience necessary. We should mention that non alcoholic drinks are available too of course.

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Emirates A380 business class review Kuala Lumpur to Paris

Emirates a380 business class Kuala Lumpur to Paris

It’s non stop luxury from the business lounge in KL and onto the first A380. A BMW return transfer service to a complimentary hotel in Dubai too. Back in the dazzling and glitzy flagship lounges (there’s 3) in Dubai and onto another A380 to Paris. Come along with us for the ride.

Quick Index of A380 Business Class KL to Paris

                                                                                    

Getting to KLIA and the Emirates Lounge

You will notice when in Malaysia, that acronyms are everywhere. No one says Kuala Lumpur – it’s KL darling. Unfortunately the Emirates limousine service to the airport isn’t available in KL so you are stuck with a cab, Uber, Grab or train. 

Flying business class on long haul flights makes it that much more bearable! Using the lounge beforehand in Kuala Lumpur is even better. The lounge is pretty empty for the 19.10 departure flight. This is also the best flight in our opinion, because you can leisurely check out at midday from your hotel. Most, if not all hotels in Kuala Lumpur have a midday check out time. So much nicer than European hotels, that sling you out at 10am. You also miss the notorious KL traffic. Sometimes, it takes over 1.5 hours from downtown KL to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport). The lounge is actually very impressive check out our full review here.

Stopover, Flight Times and Transit

Emirates flies with 1 stop in Dubai, between Kuala Lumpur and Paris (Charles de Gualle). There are 3 flights daily. Departure times from the Malaysian capital, are, 01:10, 10.15 and 19:10. The flight time is approximately 7.5 hours for each leg of the journey.

Emirates flight times from Kuala Lumpur to Paris
Emirates flies 3 times a day from Kuala Lumpur to the French capital.

The transit time can range from 3.5 hours to 18 hours! If you opt for the longest stopover, in business class, Emirates will provide you with a complimentary hotel stay. This will also include your meals and transfer in Dubai.

Emirates business class long transfer chauffeur Emirates provide all business and first class passengers with a complimentary chauffeur to a hotel in Dubai. Your layover in Dubai has to be over 6 hours to access this.

Emirates use Dubai and Singapore for their stopovers in Asia from Australia and New Zealand. From Kuala Lumpur, you’ll be in  transit in Dubai for between 3.5 hours to overnight. If you choose the overnight stopover/layover option, (anything over 6 hours for business class passengers) Emirates will provide you with a complimentary hotel. Emirates call this their Dubai Connect service. All the meals are included and so is the BMW or Mercedes chauffeured car to and from the hotel.

Emirates business class stopover in Dubai includes a BMW to and from the complimentary hotel
Emirates business class stopover in Dubai includes a BMW to and from the complimentary hotel if your stop over is 6 hours or longer.

The hotels Emirates use varies. We stayed in the Roda Hotel. Emirates like to advertise the Copthorne Hotel as standard, but it is at their discretion.

Emirates business class stopover in Dubai includes a complimentary hotel
Emirates business class stopover in Dubai includes a complimentary hotel stay. All meals and transfers to and from the hotel are provided.

        

You must make use of the stopover in Dubai by using the Moet and Chandon Lounge in Terminal 3. It’s quite unique. When flying business class via Dubai, don’t miss out. See our separate review here for the Dubai Emirates Lounge. Read on to find out what to expect from the Emirates A380  business class flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris, via Dubai. 

                                                                                  

Here’s the full review of the flight on Emirates A380 business class flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris

 

After using the very non busy Emirates Lounge in Kuala Lumpur, (See separate review here) we are very relaxed as we board the 7.5 hours flight to Dubai. The personal welcome message ensures you are in the correct seat! Naturally you will have chosen the best seat via the Emirates App, beforehand!

                                                                  

the Emirates  A380 business class cabin

                                                         

The cabin is spacious and private on the upper deck. Nab the window seats if you’re a lone traveller. The window seats offer the most privacy. The middle seats are great for friends. Even if you’re not travelling together, the middle seats are still private enough.

Emirates A380 business class cabin configuration
The cabin configuration on the Emirates A380 is 1 – 2 -1.

The walnut and cream colours are used throughout the cabin. There are a couple of gold bling accents throughout too.  The bar is packed up for take off. It looks modern and funky when the canapes and stuzzichini come out later! You receive your champagne before take off.

EMirates business class cabin a380 kula lumpur to paris
No Emirates business class flight is complete without the pre -flight champagne and nuts.

When you need to sleep, the cabin darkens and you look up to the twinkling stars. Well, not literally, the electric stars on the roof. There is also mood lighting that sends signals to your body to prepare for sleep and waking up. That’s why some of the photos are a strange colour!

Emirates business class A380 KL to Paris via Dubai review
The configuration of the seats is good for both single and couple travellers. The privacy screens in the middle seats are high enough to shut out your fellow traveller, should the need arise! There is no problem getting in or out of every seat. All seats offer easy aisle access.

 

  

the seat and surrounds on Emirates A380 business class

The most important thing about the seat in any business class flight is that it reclines to 180 degrees.  A flat bed makes all the difference. There’s good storage space around you and you won’t inconvenience anyone when accessing your belongings. In business class, ample electrical points for charging various devices comes as standard. You get a personal soft drinks mini bar too. An additional ‘mattress’ for softness is  provided after take off. Your personal tablet is also available for flight information and selecting entertainment.

Emirates A380 business class review Kuala Lumpur to Paris via Dubai
Reserve a window seat if you want more privacy on the Emirates A380 business class seats.

The seats are most importantly able to go to a fully flat position. The Emirates 777 -300 ER business class does not do this. Newer 777 – 200LR planes do, however have a lie flat bed. The 180 degrees position allows you to get a full night’s rest. Immediately after take off, Emirates provides you with a ‘mattress’ which makes the seat even more comfortable for sleeping. Even if you don’t want to sleep, the mattress provides an extra layer of comfort.

Emirates business class A380 KL to Paris via Dubai review
A sleeping C awakes from the fully flat lie down bed in business class. Note the happy face after a good rest. Check your plane model carefully as not all Emirates planes have 180 degree positions. Shock horror! Yes, some of the older planes only have angled seats in business class. You have been warned.

There is plenty of space surrounding you. Plenty of stowage space by your feet and the over head locker.

Emirates A380 business class deep locker window seat
If you have a window seat you get a deep storage locker.

Some people don’t like the personal storage ‘box’ which is quite deep on your window side if you have a window seat. If you’re in the aisle seats, you have plenty of storage overhead. You’ve got your USB ports and international sockets close at hand too. Your soft drinks mini bar and small items storage shelf are all within easy reach.

Emirates A380 business class review Kuala Lumpur to Paris via Dubai
The seat area on the Emirates A380 business class includes your own personal mini bar. Plenty of charging options and your own personal tablet.

So, after the welcome drink and warm nuts, which come in a ceramic bowl, it’s time to look into the amenity bag. Men get a compact, grey rectangular toiletries bag filled with mini sized Bvlgari products. A disposable razor, shaving foam, the plastic toothbrush and those all important sexy flight socks!

Emirates A380 business class review Kuala Lumpur to Paris via Dubai
Looking into the mens’ toiletries bag. Bvlgari products, shaving foam and a razor to fight the 5 o’clock shadow. The bag is quite smart and good for re-use.

Ladies get a beige Bvlgari toiletries bag. Plastic brush, compact mirror, toothbrush, eye mask, body lotion and eau de toilette. Not sure the bag is reusable. It’s not as sturdy as the mens’ toiletries bag.

Emirates business class a380 flight kula lumpur to Paris
The ladies’ toiletries bag is filled with mini sized Bvlagri products.

All passengers are provided with noise cancelling headphones. They’re not as good as your BOSE headphones, but 10 times better than the economy class headphones. 

Emirates business class Kuala lumpur to Paris
Your noise cancelling headphones. A lot more padded and comfortable than the economy headphones!

 

    

Emirates A380 business class In flight Entertainment

The entertainment system for business class passengers comes with a huge 23 inch screen. You can control your entertainment in three ways. You can touch the screen directly, use the handset, like in economy class, or use your personal tablet. There are over 4000 programmes and films. You can catch up on TV boxsets, listen to whole West End or Broadway musicals or watch endless documentaries. The latest films/ movies are a highlight of Emirates’ in flight entertainment. The flight cameras are also quite fascinating. We always leave the personal tablet on flight camera mode. If you’re not asleep, you won’t get bored.

Emirates A380 business class screen 23 inch Kuala Lumpur to Paris flight review
Your business class screen keeps you entertained for hours if you can’t sleep. Bye bye Dubai….hello Paris!

                                                          

 Emirates A380 business class service

Business class service is pleasant and friendly. Staff notice when your personal mini bar needs a top up. We do notice that when there are only 20 passengers in business class, the friendliness of the staff increases dramatically. They are attentive, but not in your face. They also seem genuinely happy, particularly the bar staff. Where else do you get to chat and get paid at 40,000 feet? 

Emirates business class A380
Emirates flight crew are always smiling on the A380 service. Wouldn’t you if you were here?                                                                                                                    

                                                              

the bar on the Emirates A380 business class

Fancy going to the pub or wine bar? After take off, the staff busy themselves setting up the famous bar at the back of the plane. Here you will find a large screen TV, standing room and seating for about 8 people. Little hors d’ouvres decorate the bar and cocktails are made to order.

Emirates A380 business class review Kuala Lumpur to Paris via Dubai
The famous A380 bar on board Emirates planes. Photo courtesy of Rob Young (Flickr)

If you’re a light sleeper, make sure you choose a seat away from the bar. If your flight is carrying an international sports team, things can get quite rowdy! The bar area is like a mini lounge area. You have 2 small seating areas on either side. There are 2 stand up spaces and a dedicated cocktail maker! The on board bar used to be the standout feature of Emirates business class. Now other airlines have jumped on board (no pun intended!!!) Qatar, Etihad, Virgin Atlantic and Korean Air also have on board bars. Maybe we’ll get to try them and write a review.  

                                                                                  

The food and Beverages on Emirates A380 business class

 

The food is good, but not exceptional. Whilst not exactly gourmet in taste, the presentation is solid. It is really hard to get fantastic tasting food when so high up in the air. It still needs to get reheated and this is where the freshness factor loses points. Still, the smoked salmon entree is always a good choice. You can’t go wrong, pulling out some salty fish from the refrigerator!

Your gourmet food is served on fine china crockery by Royal Doulton.  Your cutlery is exclusively designed by Robert Welch! (Just in case you wanted to know). All the salads are crisp and fresh. If you really want to know what you’re going to eat before the flight, you can download the PDF menu here.  J loves looking up the premium wine and liquor section, which you can also see here. The main draw card of all Emirates A380 planes are the bars at the back, where you can mingle with other guests or the staff. Never have your warm nuts and crudites looked so good!

The food on board is presented as a taste sensation of the globe. Flying from Kuala Lumpur you have a choice of Asian or Western starters, mains and desserts. All food is served on a crisp white tablecloth. You have shiny, stainless steel cutlery instead of plastic. If you haven’t pre – ordered a special meal, the staff come around with their phone to log your meal requests. There are also light bites available during the flight. You won’t be going hungry, that’s for sure. 

We opt for the smoked salmon starter. Moist and tasty. Fresh lemon and capers on the top are pleasing to the eye. The little salad has not wilted yet.

Emirates business class A380 KL to Paris via Dubai review
The smoked salmon starter is a great way to start off your dinner on the Emirates A380 business class. It even comes with capers!

For main course, the beef dish is succulent enough. There’s a bit too much sauce and the beef is medium. Like we say, it’s really difficult to get restaurant quality in the air.

The 7.5 hour flies by! (No pun intended)

We’re landing in Dubai and swapping onto another A380. As we opt for the long stopover in Dubai, we use the complimentary hotel service. (See above – Stopover, flight and transit times)

When we get back to the airport for our Paris flight, we make use of the Emirates Dubai lounge before boarding !

Back on board the Emirates A380 to Paris, from Dubai. We settle in to the same comfortable seats and play with the electrics again. Surely that’s the first thing everyone does? The crew is new and are as relaxed and refreshed as we are. We make sure the latest films are showing and calculate how many we can watch before landing. The menu is different and the first difficult choice is what to eat for breakfast.

We choose  the Western English breakfast. The little flower shaped butter is one of those special touches that foodies will appreciate. Cute little salt and pepper shakers add some table elegance. Fresh orange juice is on offer as well as cappuccino or freshly brewed tea. 

Emirates A380 business class review Kuala Lumpur to Paris via Dubai
It’s breakfast time! Yoghurt and a refreshing fruit salad. Fresh coffee or cappucino available.

It’s deja vu! We’re on another A380 plane. This time however we bring you a toilet review!     

                                                                                  

the toilet on the Emirates A380 business class

No Only1invillage review is complete without the important toilet pictures! Don’t look in the magnifying mirror. Flying has a terrible habit of enlarging pores and drying out your skin! You’re still breathing the same air as your fellow economy class passengers.

Emirates business class A380 KL to Paris via Dubai review
Erm, we know you have always wanted to see inside the business class toilets!

If you love brushing your teeth, you’ll find extra toothbrushes and Colgate toothpaste in the toilets. Apart from that, there’s not much more to say. It’s got a tap with hot and cold water, face cloths and perfume. It’s not a huge toilet, but how much room do you need? It is slightly bigger than economy class and of course, you have fewer people to share with.

                                                                                  

final thoughts on the Emirates A380 business class KL to Paris

 

The Emirates world wide network is quite big. Partnering with Qantas and part of the One World alliance, you can fly practically anywhere in the globe. If you’re flying with British Airways and at the last minute you get a plane swap for an Emirates A380, this is a good thing. 

On this particular flight, the two A380s are exactly the same. In fact, maybe it is the same plane? The crew changes in Dubai, but the standard of service, food, entertainment etc remains the same. 

A good thing about taking two shorter business class flights is you get to use two separate Emirates lounges in different countries. You get to experience the KL Emirates lounge and the Dubai Emirates Lounge. If you take a longer flight, for example, the Dubai to Melbourne route, which is 15 hours non stop, you only get to use the Dubai lounge.

The on board bar is a definite plus, over other long haul carriers such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Having a bar, brings back that luxurious feel of flying in the good old days when a whole deck was a lounge. We read  that somewhere. Is it the best business class available? Well, you’ll have to decide for yourself.



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Aussie Slang - Only1inVillage.com

Learn 24 Australian Slang Words and phrases in our essential Survival Guide

You have finally landed in the land Down Under. You’re in Australia. Everyone speaks English, well sort of! You’re not alone if you don’t understand everyday spoken Australian slang. Fear not, we have put together a guide we think you’ll find useful.

Australians have a special kind of English, that takes some getting used to. Here Only1invillage helps you navigate the confusing speak of ‘Straya’.  Australian slang is confusing at first, but, persevere and you will understand these humans. Take the quiz and see how well you score, Australians and visitors alike. Let your inner geek shine.  You know you want to get all the answers right!

C is a born and bred Londoner. She thought ‘Staryian’ would be a breeze. After all, it’s just English with a different accent right? WRONG! It’s taken her a few years to understand the lingo. That’s the first word in our Australian slang quiz.

The Only1invillage Aussie Slang Guide. Learn essential words and phrases to make your stay in the land of plenty a breeze! only1invillage essential guide
The Only1invillage Aussie Slang Guide. Learn essential words and phrases to make your stay in the land of plenty a breeze!

Only1inVillage Australian Slang guide starts here mate

1 – What does ‘lingo’ mean?

(A)   a type of exotic fruit, a cross between a lemon and a mango

(B)   a language

(C)   a line that can move on its own

Answer: (B)

Is this what 'lingo' means in Australian slang? An exotic fruit, a cross between a mango and a lemon? only1invillage
Is this what ‘lingo’ means in Australian slang? An exotic fruit, a cross between a mango and a lemon?

2 – How you going? What is the Australian slang speaker asking you?

(A)   How are you?

(B)   What type of transport are you using to get there?

(C)   When are you leaving?

Answer : (A)

Unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary 31
This is ‘how I’m going’ – by car! Australian slang phrases you’ll need to understand. Actually, it means, ‘How are you?’

3 – Who, what or where is a ‘servo’?

(A)   A waiter or waitress

(B)   You say this when you want someone to bring you drinks

(C)   A service station where you can buy fuel and possibly go to the toilet

Answer: (C)

This person isn't your 'servo' in Australian Slang! A 'servo' is a place where you can fill up your car with fuel. Of course, it all makes sense. NOT! only1invillage Australian slang guide
This person isn’t your ‘servo’ in Australian Slang! A ‘servo’ is a place where you can fill up your car with fuel. Of course, it all makes sense. NOT!

How are you doing so far? Got them all correct? Here’s more!

4 –  Someone says to you ‘She’ll be right’ Do they mean?

(A)   Women are always right and know the answers

(B)   She’ll be here soon

(C)   Everything will be OK

Answer: (C)

5 – What, who or where is a ‘bogan’?

(A)   Something green or yellow that you shouldn’t pick from your nose

(B)   An uncouth or uncultured person

(C)   A shortened word for toboggan?

Answer (B)

6 – You’re in a moving vehicle on a road and someone says ‘Chuck a U-ey’ Do they mean?

(A)    Make a U turn

(B)    Throw up immediately

(C)    Throw a horse shoe that you just happen to have with you

Answer: (A)

7 – Who, what or where is ‘a bloody ripper’?

(A)   A person who tears things and produces blood while doing so

(B)   An angry person

(C)   Something amazing or awesome

Answer: (C)

 

8 – You’re in a pub and you hear ‘it’s your shout’ Does this mean?

(A)   You have to shout now

(B)   It’s your turn to buy all the drinks for your group

(C)   You’re talking too loudly, speak more quietly

Answer: (B)

9 – You need to go to a ‘bottle-o’ What kind of place is this?

(A)   A museum where you can see lots of bottles shaped like the letter O

(B)   A shop that sells alcohol and soft drinks

(C)   A therapist who will help you to un-bottle your emotions

Answer: (B)

10 – You’re deciding what to eat in Australia. A native suggests you go to ‘Maccas’ Where do you go?

(A)   A Spanish themed restaurant where maracas are being played

(B)   A small town west of Sydney

(C)   The fast food restaurant McDonalds

Answer: (C)

11 – You heard an Australian English speaker say, ‘I gave him the bird’ Did this mean?

(A)   I gave my mate a pet budgy (budgy – see question 12)

(B)   I tried to be a match maker with a girl friend and a mate (mate- see question 13)

(C)   I extended my middle (rude) finger in a gesture to show anger and annoyance

Answer: (C)

12 – You’re at an Australian beach, because Australia is blessed with lots of them. You hear someone say, great ‘budgy smugglers mate’ as a man walks by. You think to yourself,

(A)   That man is a known criminal who illegally imports colourful birds to Australia

(B)   The man is wearing tight swimming briefs that accentuate ‘the lump in the front’ in the shape of a cute bird that can be trained to mimic humans

Answer: (B)

'Great budgy smugglers mate!' This type of swimwear is not that common in 'Straya' The ex prime minister is a proud budgy smuggler wearer. J does not wear budgy smugglers! OK he does for swimming in the pool! only1invillage
‘Great budgy smugglers mate!’ This type of swimwear is not that common in ‘Straya’ The ex prime minister is a proud budgy smuggler wearer. J does not wear budgy smugglers! OK he does for swimming in the pool!

13 – You hear the word ‘mate’ shouted at the airport, in the street, in cafes, on the beach, well everywhere you go! Are the Australian slang speakers telling you 

(A)   You’re a friend 

(B)   You should ‘go forth and multiply’ like animals on the Discovery Channel

(C)   They are trying to say the word ‘might’ but can’t articulate it properly

Answer: (A)

14 – Your Australian slang speaking friend says, ‘Can you pick up some tinnies mate’? What do you do?

(A)   Buy some beer packaged in aluminum cans

(B)   Lift up some cans of food to show how strong you are 

(C)   Buy a random selection of tin cans

Answer: (A)

15 – A favourite one of C’s when discussing children’s behaviour. He or she ‘cracks the shits’ What is happening?

(A)   A child is desperate to go to the toilet to do a number two

(B)   A child is very angry or loses his or her temper

(C)   A child is nervous

Answer: (B)

16 – You are invited to a barbie (see question 17) and the host says in Aussie slang, ‘Don’t forget to bring the snags’ You nod and take to the barbie,

(A)   Some cigarettes, because you think snags are rhyming slang for fags, which is slang for cigarettes

(B)   Some of your SNAGS (sensitive new age guys) 

(C)   Cylindrical shapes of processed meat, wrapped in a skin, commonly called sausages everywhere else in the world

Answer: (C)

17 – Someone asks you if you have a ‘barbie’ What do you possess?

(A)   A plastic doll that has unrealistic female proportions and long blonde hair

(B)   A barbecue

(C)   A bar bell for keeping fit and strong

Answer: (B)

Is this a barbie Australian Slang only1invillage
Is this what Australians mean when they say Barbie?

 

18 – ‘See you in the arvo, for the barbie and snags’ You nod and take your sausages to the barbecue,

(A)   In the afternoon of your mate’s back garden

(B)   You’re totally confused because you can’t go inside an avocado. You think you’re good at Australian slang and heard the word ‘avo’

Answer: (A)

19 – You are walking on a hot day and you hear ‘awesome thongs mate!’ Is the Australian slang speaker complimenting you on,

(A)   Your great underwear choice, as you quickly think ‘Is my G-string showing?’

(B)   That great kitchen utensil you use to grip and lift food instead of using your hands

(C)   Your flip flops, a type of open toed sandal with no back strap, that you only wear when it’s hot. Australians even wear them in Winter. Yes, some parts of Australia have Winter!

Answer: (C)

When you get compliments on your 'great thongs', Australians mean the footwear, not your underwear! only1invillage
When you get compliments on your ‘great thongs’, Australians mean the footwear, not your underwear!

20 – Someone gives you advice about going to a popular tourist attraction because ‘it’s in woop-woop’ What do they mean?

(A)   It’s a place with an Aboriginal name

(B)   It’s quite remote or far away

(C)   You definitely should go because it will make you say ‘woop-woop’ because it’s so much fun

Answer: (B)

21 – The Australian slang term is ‘Did you get a root?’ What are they asking?

(A)   Did you find a fast route home back to Bondi?

(B)   Did you figure out the cause of the problem?

(C)   Did you have sexual intercourse?

Answer: (C)

22 – Your mate asks if you can bring the esky to the barbie? What do you bring?

(A)   A portable cooling box for your tinnies and snags

(B)   Your pet dog which is a mongrel breed – half husky and half unknown

(C)   A pair of skies

Answer: (A)

23 – Your Australian friend says, ‘Mate, it was chockers’ What do they mean?

(A)   He or she just had an awesome hot chocolate down at the cafe as they’ve given up caffeine

(B)   It was Chockers who did it, not me!

(C)   It was really full or busy

Answer: (C)

24 – You are whinging (complaining) because you’re probably a POHM (a British person who is a Prisoner of her Majesty. But, actually, descendants of the First Fleet are the real prisoners’ descendants, but, never mind). Your Aussie mate calls you a ‘sook’. Are you?

(A)   Sulking because things don’t always go your way

(B)   Saying ‘I suck’ or I’m not good at that

(C)   Being mistaken for a sock or is he/she asking you for a sock (preferably a pair)

Answer: (A)

Hopefully you are now confident to navigate the strange world of Strayian slang. Good onya mate! Ripper job for completing the quiz! Help y’self to a tinny, from the esky and grab a snag from the barbie. G’day, G’arvo and G’night from Only1invillage.

 

How did you go mate? 

Did you answer mostly A, B or C?

What kind of person are you? (Disclaimer: these personality types are not based on scientific research)

Mostly A – Crafty Cricketer  – When you’re not in the members only pavillion at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), you’re sipping rose at the Portsea Polo. 

Mostly B – Beer Drinking Bogan – You love drinking VB (Victoria Bitter) beer, while driving around in your Holden V8. The window is always down even in Winter. Maccas is your restaurant of choice. You will however, never be seen dead wearing budgy smugglers at the beach.

Mostly C – Latte Loving Larrikin – You love your piccolo, never drink capuccino after dinner and know your sashimi from your sushi. You’re also not afraid to have a few beers with your quinoa! You’ll sometimes wear your thongs or sometimes go barefoot.

Now you have mastered Australian slang like an Aussie go forth and spread the word (s). Happy travels from Only1invillage!



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You Yangs Big Rock

Get Active in The You Yangs!

The You Yangs Regional Park is only 67 kms outside of Melbourne along the Princes Freeway or M1. It takes about an hour and 10 minutes to drive there. It’s a great Melbourne day trip and a chance to do some easy walking with great views. City dwellers love the You Yangs for its ‘bushwalking’ and fresh air. From Geelong, you’re only 30 kilometres away, but, it will still take you 50 minutes to drive there. The nearest town is either Lara or LIttle River, which are both about 10 kilometres away.

What is there to see and Do at The You Yangs Regional Park?

There are spectacular views of the volcanic plains below when you climb to the peak. There is good native vegetation featuring plants such as Sugar Gum and Yellow Gum Eucalypts. If you’re very lucky, you might spot a koala! Sightings of kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and lizards are common. Bird lovers will find the You Yangs Regional Park particularly rewarding. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded.

Most of the walk, trails and hikes are quite open and exposed to the elements. There are lots of granite rocks and boulders, with some very interesting shapes. Big Rock, the most popular granite rock is huge. If you can’t make it into the Red Centre of Australia, to see Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) this is quite a good substitute!

You can go mountain biking here. Even horse riding is permitted. There are a variety of walks as well as some basic rock climbing available to everyone. Groups have to book, but individuals don’t need to. Free barbecues are on offer on a first come first serve basis. The car parks have plenty of picnic tables to take a break after your outdoor adventures. You Yangs Walks

The You Yangs Regional Park is well signed. Get out of the city and experience Melbourne’s mini ‘outback’.

Top Tips

When to go: As long as it’s dry, any season is good to go.

Difficulty of hiking trails: Mostly easy to hard. The hiking trails offer something for everyone. Even young children can do most walks as it’s pretty flat.

Car Parks: There are 5 car parks. All have picnic tables and areas attached to them.

The first car park is the Office Park car park. This is where you can check which rock climbing sites are available and any other important updates.

The second car park is with the Yellow Gum Picnic Area. 

The third car park is the Turntable Car Park. It also has picnic tables and toilets. Warning: the toilets have no flushing water. They are typical ‘bush’ composting toilets. A deep hole where you just throw the toilet paper into the dark. Always close the lid for obvious reasons!

There are two other car parks called Big Rock and Kurrajong.

Provisions: We recommend that you take half a litre of water per person, per hour, that you intend to walk. For the longest walk, you might want some muesli bars or protein balls too.

Sun protection: Don’t get caught out with the harsh Australian sun. Wear sunscreen and a hat. You might not feel like you’re getting burned, but sun burn is never a good look!

Shoes: Hiking shoes are not necessary for the majority of the You Yangs walks. For the East West walk you might want to wear hiking boots. There are parts that you need to scramble and some steep steps. However, you can get by with running shoes and many of the trails are popular with fitness runners. They aren’t wearing hiking boots.

Mobile phone reception is good within the You Yangs Park.

Flooding: There are some areas which can be closed after heavy rainfall. Always check with the Park Office first for safety reasons.You-Yangs-Parks-Victoria-map

The map above has been republished with permission from Parks Victoria. It’s the best map of the available walks.  It can be found with additional information at the You Yangs state park site  here

Branding Yard Trail

5 km return 2.5 hours easy/medium grade .Start at Turntable car park or Toynes Road Gate.  

Northern Range Walk

3.5km one way 1hour. This walk extends from the East West Walk and the Branding Yard Trail. A bit more of a challenge. Some steep parts and you get water views.

East West Walk

4.5km return 2-2.5 hours medium/hard grade. Start at Turntable parking area. This is probably the most challenging of all the You Yangs walking trails. You’ll need to do some rock scrambling. However, you are rewarded with stunning views of the You Yangs and the surrounding areas.

Flinders Peak Walk

3.2 km return 1 hour hard/difficult grade. Start at the Turntable car park. If you’re trying to do your daily 10,000 steps, this walk will give you 450. When you get to the top, you guessed it, you’re at the highest point in the You Yangs ranges.

Big Rock Walk

3 km return 1 hours easy grade. Start at the Park Office Car Park. A gently sloping loop, popular with dog walkers, fitness runners and families. Big Rock is never far away. If you just want to walk on Big Rock ( a big granite rock) you can do this from Big Rock Picnic Ground Car Park.  We did it from Turntable car park. It’s about a 1.3km easy walk to Big Rock from here.

You Yangs Regional Park

Starting our walk from Turntable car park to the Big Rock picnic area.

You Yangs Big Rock

This is the sign from the Big Rock Picnic Area.

You Yangs Regional Park

Looking out at the You Yangs from on top of Big Rock.

You Yangs Big Rock 

The Big Rock is huge. You can walk all over it in about 20 minutes and you can walk around it.You Yangs Tee Pee

Climb the rock and congratulate yourself! On the path around Big Rock you will see Tee Pees. Some trees  have been burnt and have colourful amber sap leaking out as they heal. You Yangs Regional Park

 

On our way back we passed this colourful split rock. 

You Yangs Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking is also very popular in the You Yangs

The You Yangs is a beautiful spot. It’s so close to Melbourne and has enough to do to keep you going back. This was such a fun day out. We know we will back soon!

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Things to Do in Ljubljana Slovenia and city guide

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital has rich history and beautiful architecture. It has fantastic food and wine, a castle, great museums, cathedral and churches. In summary, a beautifully preserved old town. Ljubljana is a very green city. Ljubljana has it all. Small town friendliness with big city efficiency rolled into one. With so many things to do in Ljubljana It makes perfect sense to base yourself in the capital.

Quick Index

 

                        

Why go to Ljubljana?

A Perfect base for Day Trips

Base yourself in the amazing capital city of Ljubljana. If you run out of things to do in Ljubljana, there are plenty of nearby attractions. Day trips to Bled, Kamnik, Moravske Toplice, Maribor and Celje are within easy driving distance.

Food Paradise

Ljubljana is fast becoming Europe’s next hot foodie destination.You will love the innovative and fresh local food. The city produces food with some sustainable practices. In fact, Slovenia is the only country in the European Union which has given its native honey bee, the carniolan, protected status! Good news for honey lovers and everyone with a sweet tooth. Ljubljana also has an up and coming wine scene. Slovenia is an up and coming wine region. It produces great tasting favourites, such as, Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling. In addition to these varieties, there is the sumptuous sounding Black Velvet and Puro, a sparkling wine.platter-things-to-do-ljubljana

 

A Green City

Ljubljana has held the prestigious title of European Green Capital, in 2016. It is also in the running for European Capital of Culture in 2025. Past winners like Athens, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Lisbon and Prague have seen their tourists numbers increase with this title.

Friendly Locals

Ljubljana is full of friendly, smiling locals going about their day. The locals all speak excellent English. Ljubljana has a population of 272,000 and the friendliness of a smaller destination. Ljubljana is a warm and welcoming city. Prices are generally lower than in most of Western Europe. The reasons to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia are endless! You will fall in love with Ljubljana. You’ll also learn how to pronounce it well!

                

Where is Ljubljana?

Pronounced luu-blee-yah-nah, Slovenia’s capital city is located in central Europe. Ljubljana is located bang in the centre of the country. To be precise, Ljubljana is 46.05 latitude, and 14.51 longitude. Moreover, it is situated at an elevation of 295 metres above sea level. Slovenia itself is bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Slovenia has a small strip of coastline, on the eastern side, jutting out into the Gulf of Trieste.

                        

When to go to Ljubljana?

Ljubljana, Slovenia is a year round destination! Hurrah! Ljubljana experiences a temperate climate and so has 4 distinct seasons. There’s always some event or festival to join in with or admire.

Summer time is the most crowded time to visit, but it’s also the time of the most cultural events. Even in Winter, Ljubljana is great. Sipping your latte in one of the many cozy cafes along the banks of the river, will be a pleasure. Spring time in Ljubljana is blooming marvellous. The city’s largest park Tivoli (510 hectares to be precise) springs into a riot of colour. The ornamental garden beds and trees show off their beauty. In Autumn, you still get the long daylight hours and sunshine to explore. Prices begin to go down and there’s more pavement space.

                        

How to get to Ljubljana?

Flying into Ljubljana Airport

Most people will probably fly into Ljubljana, Slovenia, the country’s capital city. The Joze Pucnik airport is 26kms to downtown. Connections through all major European hubs such as London, Frankfurt and Zurich from Asia and Australia. From North America, including Canada, your international connections include Vienna, Istanbul, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, London, Frankfurt and Zurich. Two low cost carriers fly directly from  England and Hungary. Easyjet from London and Wizz Air from Budapest. 

Train

If you happen to be in Vienna or Venice you can catch a train! The fastest route from Venice to Ljubljana is just over 4 hours with 1 change. Other major European cities offer connections to Ljubljana. Prague, Belgrade, Salzburg and Budapest are easy access points to Ljubljana. For more routes and destinations to and from Ljubljana, by train, click here.

Bus

Don’t fancy changing? Happen to be in Austria? Hop on a bus from Vienna, Austria and you can reach Ljubljana in just under 5.5 hours, with no stopping! Other major bus destinations across Europe are mostly from Germany and Croatia. A great way to plan bus journeys, to and from Ljubljana, Slovenia, can be found here.

Car

Leasing or hiring a car really isn’t necessary if you stay in Ljubljana. The excellent and cheap public transport will get you to most tourist hot spots.

If however, you’re on a grand driving tour, then a car, is the way to go. You will need a sticker that you attach to the windscreen to allow you to drive on Slovenian roads. This is NOT included in your car hire. Current prices for the vignette is 15, 30 and 110 Euros. That’s weekly, monthly and annually. These vignettes are available to buy once you cross the border. Sold at major petrol stations. Having a car also enables you to base yourself further out from the old town, which of course means, cheaper accommodation costs.

                        

Getting around Ljubljana

Ljubljana is easy to get around. It has fabulous public transport. The roads are not too busy. Best experienced on foot, SUP, kayak, canoe or bicycle. If you drive everywhere, in our humble opinion, you’ll miss little undiscovered gems. getting around water kayak canoe Ljubljana things to do

Rent a kayak or canoe. A different way to take in the sights of beautiful Ljubljana.

A great way to see the city is with the Ljubljana City Card. This card which can be bought at the tourist information centre, offers free entry to many attractions and free public transport. P.S city cards like this are available in many European cities. For more information on the Ljubljana card click here.

The Ljubljana card gives you a return journey to and from the airport. Also included is a free guided city tour. There’s more. Free travel on city buses and a free funicular ride up to Ljubljana castle. Hang on, you get more. 24 hour free access to WiFree Ljubljana. Get connected on the city’s free internet access at the STIC (Slovenian Tourist Information Centre). That’s not all! You’ll also get free admission to over 20 museums and galleries. Plus 4 hour bike hire and the zoo!

Still not convinced? You get a free boat cruise as well! If you can visit every attraction listed, the potential savings are 210 Euros. Ready to take that challenge? Like getting your money’s worth? Well, get a Ljubljana City Card. Online discounts apply too. Current adult prices are 31,39 and 45 Euros. You can buy the card for 24, 48 and 72 hours. The time starts from activation.

                        

Explore the Amazing Capital of Ljubljana Slovenia

Who doesn’t like a 15th Century castle? Ljubljana Castle is a must see attractionLjubljana Castle things to do in Ljubljana

The stunning Ljubljana Castle looks down on the city below.

High in the hills and visible from the city below. Ljubljana castle towers majestically over the Slovenian capital. You can take the easy way up, by funicular or the hard way, on foot. Easily takes the spot of number one things to do in Ljubljana. Built at different stages, LJubljana castle has a complicated history. Most of what you see today is from reconstruction work in the late 60s. If you look really carefully, you might see some ancient Roman stones in the walls.Ljubljana Castle things to do in Ljubljana

For the hard core, like us, we prefer to walk up the paths from the old town to get to Ljubljana Castle!

For castle buffs, Ljubljana castle is a medieval marvel that you must see! Even if you don’t like castles, the view of the city below is breathtaking!

The Museum of Puppetry and the Museum of Slovenian History awaits. You can also dine in style at Ljubljana castle in the two restaurants, Streleca and Na Gradu. Both have fantastic ambience. Prices are high and portions are small. However, the food is first class yumminess.Ljubljana Castle restaurant things to do in Ljubljana

Don’t miss out on a top nosh meal at Na Gradu restaurant inside Ljubljana Castle. Great views, history and amazing food. A perfect way to finish a day’s sightseeing!

The wine list is equally fantastic. Ljubljana Castle things to do in Ljubljana

It’s easy to walk around Ljubljana Castle as it’s nice and flat. 

In the Summer months, there is an open air cinema at Ljubljana castle. There’s even a nightclub! Ljubljana castle is often used for cultural events and dance evenings. Over 500 events a year are held here. Ljubljana castle is rightly the most visited attraction, this fantastic city has to offer.

Check the website for the latest events, such as concerts and non-permanent exhibitions. Some are free, whilst others require a fee.

Exploring the Old Town of Ljubljana

Walking around the old town and soaking up all the blends of architecture is one of the pleasures of Ljubljana. The Franciscan church in the Presernov trg Square is a good starting point. It’s right in the historic city centre. The bright pink church is a blend of Secession, Baroque and Joze Plecnik architectre.

pink franciscan church ljubljana things to do old town The pink Franciscan church is hard to miss! A unique blend of architecture in Ljubljana’s Old Town.

 

Move onto the ornately decorated cathedral. Also called the church of Saint Nicholas. This is also Ljubljana’s most important Baroque church.old town things to do in Ljubljana

Ljubljana Old Town is full of interesting styles of architecture and colourful facades.

Meander on down to the Town Hall with its beautiful Roman baroque fountains. Various exhibitions are held in the Town Hall. Continue walking until you get to the now famous Jakopic Promenade in Tivoli Park. This is a popular outdoor gallery which is the place to see huge photographs. Open all year round!

Take up the Bridge Challenge

Walk along the Ljubjanica (the name of the river) in old town and see if you can name all the bridges. There’s Triple Bridge and Butcher’s Bridge. Next, Hradecky Bridge and Trnovo Bridge. Finally Cobbler’s Bridge and the famous Dragon Bridge! Ljubjanica’s embankments have wonderful architecture and romanticism. Stroll along, noting the interesting bridges and stop as much as you like in the many lively cafes.dragon bridge things to do in Ljubljana

Tick off the famous Dragon Bridge. Walking around the Old Town is one of the top things to do in Ljubljana.Old Town river things to do in Ljubljana

Ljubljana has a mostly pedestrianised river area in the old town district. If you need to be on water though, you can also cruise along in a boat or do it with a stand up paddle board!

ARTS AND CULTURE Museums and Galleries

Ljubljana has museums and galleries galore. You won’t be thinking of things to do in Ljubljana! It hasn’t won the European Capital of Culture award yet. Ljubljana is a candidate for 2025. Don’t miss, the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova. There are constantly changing art installations and interactive art projects. The National Gallery is for lovers of fine art during the middle ages to the 20th century. There are of course, many temporary exhibitions, some of which are outdoors and for free.

Then of course, there’s the Museum of Modern Art and the Tivoli Mansion. Also the International Centre of Graphic Arts, City Art Gallery and Dobra Vaga. Dobra Vaga is a place where you might lose some money. It’s a gallery where you can buy artists’ work. They have a unique pricing concept. It is called ‘art by the kilo’.  Works are sold in physical kilos, but, by the artistic ‘weight’ and power of the exhibit! It is very subjective. Agree with it or not, it’s definitely a unique place to see young Slovenian artists at work.

For photography lovers, there are two place to visit. The Galerija Fotografija and Photon Gallery. Galerija Fotografija specialises in photographic art. Photon Gallery is for modern photography.

Festivals take place outside, particularly in Summer. From films under the stars to classical symphony orchestras and jazz. Festivals equals fun. The Ljubljana Summer festival is a highlight. Don’t miss it! A mix of dance, theatre, soloists, orchestra and ballet companies from around the world. Visitors in Winter need not miss out either. A shorter duration, but no less jam packed line up of events happening.

Shopping

Ljubljana provides all the shopping experiences you can expect from a capital city. Major hyper centres which will have supermarkets and malls. There are outdoor fairs and shops selling traditional Slovenian foods. You will even find socially responsible shopping experiences. Locals are using fair trade coffee and recyclable cups. Up-cycled pre- loved items, are available to buy too. You will find the usual global fashion brands when clothes shopping. Hand made souvenirs are particularly popular. Get your hands on some fleur de sel, to rival the French! Of course, a good bottle of wine is never a wrong choice. Plecnik’s Market is on every Saturday. Ljubljana locals gather here to buy and sell fresh produce from all over Slovenia. shopping outside things to do in Ljubljana

Shopping at outdoor markets in Old Town, Ljubljana, the amazing capital of Slovenia.

Atlantis Waterpark

If there’s a place with healing thermal waters, you can bet your bottom dollar that Only1invillage has been there! Vodno Mesto Waterpark is situated within the gigantic BTC City Ljubljana area. It’s a one stop place for fun, relaxation, entertainment and shopping. There’s even a hotel here, if you don’t want to stay down town. The water park has entertainment for all the family. Slides, swim through underground caves and a rapid river make a huge splash for the little ones. For the adults there’s the Thermal Temple and Sauna Land (read naked section!) Expect all the usual treats in Sauna Land. There are massage benches, jacuzzis, massaging waterfalls and steam rooms.

If you love thermal waters, like we do, head on down!  You can spend the entire day submerged in water until your skin goes wrinkly! Highly recommended.

                        

EAT EAT EAT

It’s difficult not to be impressed by the food and wine in Ljubljana. Ljubljana has so much fabulous food! Touted as one of Europe’s best food destinations, when you eat here, you’ll agree. Ljubljana has fine dining, fast food and everything in between. Deciding where to eat is very difficult with such a choice before you!

Indulging in great food is definitely such an easy thing to do, in Ljubljana. It is unfair to recommend any particular place. However, the two restaurants at the castle are superb! Streleca and Na Gradu restaurants pull all the right punches. Location, atmosphere, service and of course, traditional Slovene food. Definitely a place for a special occasion.

The whole world’s cuisine is represented in the Slovenian capital. You can eat Japanese, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese etc. However, you have to sample Slovenian food in Ljubljana. Hunt out typical Slovene dishes of meat pockets and dumplings with various fillings. Vegetarians and pescatarians are well catered for.eat traditional slovenian food potica things to do in Ljubljana

Potica pictured above is a traditional Slovenian sweet treat. Warning, it contains nuts! Photo courtesy of Flickr.

OK, we’re going to make some suggestions! Head to Druga Violina for a taste of traditional Slovenian food at a very good price. We like that the produce is fresh and locally sourced. Druga Violina is at the start of the old town. It’s small, so in busy months make sure you make a reservation.

Want traditional dumplings decorated with micro greens and edible flowers?micro greens and micro veg things to do ljubljana eat eat eat

Fancy some micro greens and micro veg? Eat well in Ljubljana. Modern dishes with excellent presentation.

Pri Skofu is a hidden gem, just outside the historic centre. Make the effort to get there. Sample the small, but, interesting menu at a fair price. Fresh local produce as always!

For a slightly more expensive option head to Spajza. Modern European cuisine, situated in an eighteenth century house. Spajza is also, the place to eat horse! Yes, not for the squeamish! The back courtyard is very romantic in the evening. Come for dinner and the waiters will light the table candles. This creates a beautiful atmosphere. The service is friendly and efficient. The servers have good knowledge of the menu. They make good local wine pairing suggestions too.

Need Italian food? Missing pasta? Head to Julija Restaurant on Stari Trg 9. Fabulous pasta and traditional dishes such as octopus. Also some Slovenian favourites too. Outside seating area and free wi-fi!Italian food Julija restaurant Ljubljana eat eat eat

Mmmmmmm, Spaghetti al vongole. Italian food is delicious in Ljubljana. Spaghetti with clams.

For serious foodies, check out what’s hot and what’s not on the Ljubljana culinary scene on  gourmet-lj.si/si  (The site is also in English and Italian).

                       

Where to Stay 

LUXURY:

For the ultimate in luxury the InterContinental opened in 2017. It has a rooftop restaurant with great views over the city and castle.

MID RANGE:

The excellently located sLOVEnian ART STORY  receives consistently great reviews. The hotel features artwork from local artists.

BUDGET:

The friendly Turn Hostel Ljubljana  is a great budget backpackers’ choice in the city centre.InterContinental Ljubljana where to stay

InterContinental  

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Velika Plenina things to do in slovenia

11 Best Things to do in Slovenia

Slovenia is a largely undiscovered gem. Some say Europe’s best kept secret! Visit the amazing capital Ljubljana. See the most stunning lake in Europe. Relax in spa towns, cycle through picturesque villages. Visit the oldest vine in Europe and many more! Here is our list of things to do in Slovenia!

Quick Index of Things to do In Slovenia

                                                                                            

Where is Slovenia?

Slovenia is in the middle of Europe, when you look on a map. Slovenia is often confused with Slovakia. A European country that didn’t exist until 1991. It gained its independence from the former republic of Yugoslavia. To make matters even more confusing, Slovakia, is not too far away! The countries have similar sounding names. Their flags are similar colours. They have similar history. The two countries also share border countries. But don’t let that confuse you! To help you tell the two apart, Slovakia is land locked and Slovenia isn’t.

Slovenia itself is bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Slovenia has a small strip of coastline, on the eastern side, jutting out into the Gulf of Trieste.

                                                                                            

Why visit Slovenia?

Basically put, Slovenia has it all! Fantastic food and wine. Romantic castles galore and great museums. Slovenia has many historical sites. It has cathedrals and churches too. There is interesting architecture to marvel at as well. The small towns are very friendly. Even the big cities maintain their charm. In our experience, Slovenia is full of friendly, smiling locals. English is widely spoken. With a population of just over 2 million, Slovenians are genuinely welcoming. Slovenia doesn’t suffer from over tourism yet. Plus, who else do you know who has been to Slovenia? Go for bragging rights!

 

Slovenia is fast becoming Europe’s next hot, gastronomic destination.It is getting a reputation for innovative and fresh local food. Slovenia also uses many sustainable practices. Winner, winner! Slovenia is the only country in the European Union which has given its native honey bee, the Carniolan, protected status! Good news for honey lovers and everyone with a sweet tooth. The wine scene is slowly starting to make a name for itself too.

Some say that Slovenia is Europe’s best kept secret. Well, not for long! It is fast gaining a reputation for Europe’s outdoor adventure playground. Rugged mountain trails and slopes for skiing and other snow based fun. If we have to make comparisons, Slovenia is a bit like Switzerland. Of course, there’s one big difference, the affordability! Then you’ve got lakes and rivers to go canyoning, kayaking, rowing, white water rafting and SUPing (stand up paddle board) on. There’s underground caves to explore, forests to zip line through and hills and mountains to para-glide over. Don’t forget the usual suspects of walking, hiking, cycling and horse riding too!

Prices are generally lower than Western Europe too. The reasons to visit Slovenia are endless!

                                                                                      

When to go to Slovenia?

Slovenia is a year round destination! Hurrah! Slovenia experiences a temperate climate and so has 4 distinct seasons. There’s always some event or festival to join in with or admire.

Summer time is the most crowded time to visit, but, it’s also the time of the most cultural events. Even in Winter, provided you are dressed correctly, it will be your Winter wonderland. Spring time in Slovenia is blooming marvellous. Prices are still low. There’s less people too. In Autumn, you still get the long daylight hours, sunshine and the great galleries and museums. Prices begin to go down and there’s more pavement space.

                                                                                      

How to get to Slovenia?

Fly

Most non- neighbouring -European- country people will probably fly into Ljubljana, the country’s capital city. The Joze Pucnik airport is 26kms to downtown. Connections through all major European hubs such as London, Frankfurt and Zurich from Asia and Australia. From North America, including Canada, your international connections include Vienna, Paris, Rome, London, Frankfurt and Zurich. Two low cost carriers fly directly from  England and Hungary. Easyjet from London and Wizz Air from Budapest. 

Train

Slovenia is well connected by the inter city trains of Europe. Your main station will, of course be the capital, Ljubljana. If you happen to be in Vienna or Venice you can catch a train directly from Austria or Italy! The fastest route from Venice to Ljubljana is just over 4 hours with 1 change. Other major European cities offer connections to Ljubljana. Prague, Belgrade, Salzburg and Budapest are easy access points to Ljubljana. For more routes and destinations to and from Ljubljana, by train, click here.

Bus

Don’t fancy changing trains? Happen to be in Austria? Hop on a bus from Vienna, Austria and you can reach Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia in just under 5.5 hours, with no stopping! Other major bus destinations across Europe are mostly from Germany and Croatia. A great way to plan bus journeys, to and from Ljubljana, Slovenia, can be found here.

Car

Most neighbouring Europeans drive into Slovenia. You will need a sticker that you attach to the windscreen to allow you to drive on Slovenian roads. This is NOT included in your car hire. Current prices for the vignette is 15, 30 and 110 Euros for weekly, monthly and annually. These vignettes are available to buy once you cross the borders from neighbouring countries. They are sold at major petrol stations. Having a car also enables you to base yourself further out from the big cities, which of course means, cheaper accommodation costs.

                                                                                          

Getting around Slovenia

Slovenia is easy to navigate. Modern roads and motorways with clear road signs. A good public transport system coupled with roads which are not too clogged with traffic. To get to the lesser known places, a car is essential. If you’re sticking to the 2 most famous sights of Slovenia (Lake Bled and the capital city, Ljubljana) then trains and buses will be fine.

Right, now you have the basics covered, let’s get back to our awesome list of the 11 best things to do in Slovenia!

          

11 Float on the Slovenian Riviera in Piran

Fiesa beach, a short walk from the centre of Piran, is the best place to get your salt on! It is popular with locals and international visitors who want crystal clear water to swim in. There are also many chairs to rent, a large shaded area and a playground for kids. Water activities such as SUP, paddle boats and canoes are available for floating and lazing on. You can also see underwater life in this part of the Adriatic sea. So don’t forget your mask and snorkel. Walk a short distance and you will find a beach under the cliffs. 

Piran itself, is a pretty harbour town. Salt harvesting has kept this town alive for over 700 years. The benefits of natural sea salt are said to aid everything from rheumatism to dry skin! Pop into the Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida to feel the benefits of salt mud, brine and sea water. You know it is natural because the spa is right in the middle of the salt pan harvesting area! The spa closes from September to May.Piran things to do in Slovenia

Get your salt on in Piran! The beautiful coastal city has a rich salt harvesting history. Close to Italy, this Slovenian beauty, is a little reminiscent of the Cinque Terre.

In the city itself, Piran has walking and bike trails. There are city walls and gates to discover along with a salt museum. You can sample the up and coming wines of the Istria region. Stroll along the pretty harbour front and taste Slovenian traditional food. Finally, you might want to get an aerial view of this picturesque coastal town when you jump out of a plane. Tandem skydiving is one way to get that Instagram shot without a drone!

        

10 Explore Fabulous Ljubljana

Explore the amazing capital Ljubljana! Ljubljana held the European Green Capital title in 2016 and is a candidate for the European Cultural Capital city title in 2025. 
Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital has fantastic food, a fascinating castle, great museums, cathedral and churches. Also a beautifully preserved old town. There is interesting architecture in Ljubljana with the modern jostling for space next to the old. Best experienced on foot, SUP or bicycle, Ljubljana has it all! Small town friendliness with big city efficiency rolled into one. It makes perfect sense to base yourself in the capital for day trips. Popular places to visit are Bled, Kamnik, Moravske Toplice, Maribor and Celje.explore ljubljana things to do in slovenia

Ljubljana has a beautiful river running through the old city centre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

9 Stroll around Lake Bled

Lake Bled is possibly Europe’s prettiest lake. With its own little island perched in the middle, a medieval castle in the hills and pristine green glacial water! We think you’ll agree that Lake Bled is stunning. It usually ranks pretty highly on people’s things to do list when in Slovenia. There are picture perfect postcard views from every angle of the lake. Strolling around the perimeter is an easy 2 to 3 hour walk. Flat, mostly paved and boardwalk style walkways mean no special footwear.  A family friendly destination, with plenty of things to do for young and old alike. 

For the less active there’s pletna cruising ( the traditional Lake Bled boats). Being a clean body of water, it’s not surprising that in the Summer months, swimming, SUPing, rowing and kayaking in Lake Bled are very popular. You can even go tobogganing in Lake Bled! For our full guide on Lake Bled, including where to eat and stay,click here for our post.Strolling around Lake Bled things to do in Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia’s number one tourist attraction! It definitely should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Slovenia. On the country’s only natural island, make sure you ring the 17th century bell for good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                           

8 hike the Vintgar Gorge

Only 4 kms in distance from Bled, Vintgar Gorge is a great day trip out from Bled. Cycling is the best option, as the roads are quiet and the countryside to the gorge is scenic.Enjoying the great outdoors couldn’t be easier than hiking the Vintgar Gorge. It’s suitable for the whole family. Slovenia is Europe’s outdoor adventure playground and Vintgar Gorge is so accessible. It’s surely one for the bucket list.

Mostly flat, along boardwalks which lead you through the amazing rock excavations of Mother Nature. The calming hues of green and blue mixed with unmistakable smell of clean, crisp air, is what Vintgar Gorge is famous for. There are even parts where you can scramble down to the river and dip your toes in! A mini waterfall, towering limestone cliffs and deciduous vegetation, make Vintgar Gorge an absolute must on your list of things to do in Slovenia, particularly if you’re in the Lake Bled area.Vintgar Gorge Lake Bled area

Luscious vegetation and crystal clear water  awaits you in Vintgar Gorge.  An easy and spectacular walk.

                                           

7 Swim or kayak in Lake Bohinj

Lake Bohinj is the lesser known of the two most beautiful lakes in Slovenia. Lake Bohinj is just 36kms southwest of Bled. It offers a more chilled out and relaxed vibe than Bled. There isn’t actually a town called Lake Bohinj, so in your sat nav you’ll be looking for Ribcev Laz, Jereka, Star Fuzina or Bohinjska Bistrica.

The water is the same, crystal clear and changing hues of emerald green and blue. Kayaking, SUPing, rowing and swimming are your water based options. There are various cycling trails and you can horse ride in the area too! If you’re looking for more peace and quiet, less tourists, but still outstanding natural beauty, head to Lake Bohinj!lake bohinj things to do in slovenia

 

The quieter less famous and brash sister to Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, has its own rugged beauty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

6 Sip Wine along the River in Maribor

Maribor is Slovenia’s 2nd largest city with a population of 95,000. Winner of the 2012 European Capital of Culture award. Yes, Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, but the award doesn’t have to go to the actual capital city. Past non capitals have been Antwerp in the Netherlands and Krakow in Poland. In Maribor you can indulge in many lazy afternoons, eating on the river banks and walking it off afterwards! Maribor old town has a very picturesque main square and is easy to navigate.

The oldest part of Maribor is the area of Lent. Here, for wine lovers and history buffs combined, you will find the oldest vine in the world.Maribor wine tasting oldest vine in the world things to do in Slovenia

Naturally, Only1invillage has to visit the museum and sample the wine cellar delights. Come on, it’s a historical and cultural activity after all!  As the saying goes, “When in Maribor…”

According to the website of tourism in Slovenia, the vine is over 400 years old and the world’s oldest vine. Now, that’s what we call vintage (no pun intended) Apparently, French vine specialists, in Paris, have authenticated its age, from cuttings. So it must be true. maribor worlds oldest vine things to do in slovenia

Maribor is home to the world’s oldest vine at over four hundred years!  The Zametovka vine has its own Old Vine Festival for 10 days every September in Maribor. Yes, Slovenia makes good wine too!

Admiring the  city’s architecture of Maribor’s buildings, churches and cathedral is easy to do on foot. Your admiration route of Maribor is best done by walking along the Drava River. Start on one side, cross over the Main Bridge (the one that is high up) and doing it all over again. Make sure you stop off for food at Barcaffe @nana, right on the main square. Great marinated trout salad!
Read up on your Slovenian and European history and culture in the Regional Museum. It has some of the best exhibits dating back to the Stone Age. For 3.50 Euros this is an excellent way to get a grip on Maribor’s history and sense of place in the world.maribor river and city architecture things to do in slovenia

View of Maribor, Slovenia’s 2nd largest city and the River Drava.

                                                                                                                                                                

5 Drink from a Beer fountain in Zalec

Whilst we’re on the subject of alcohol, the old town of Zalec, which is a mere 20 kms from Celje has a beer fountain! Okay, it doesn’t dispense real beer for free, but, it is something you might not find anywhere else in the world? It is now over 2 and a half years old. Head to the North side of City Park (Park Zalec) to experience this unique tourist attraction.

You buy a beer mug from the many shops in the town and inside each mug there is a microchip. There are six beer fountains to take samples from. When you place your mug under the fountain, it will automatically dispense a decilitre of beer. The idea is not to get you drunk, but, to appreciate the different flavours of Slovenian beer. You also get a history lesson of the hops growing tradition of the surrounding area. Above all, you get to take the beer mug home as a souvenir!

For more information about the Zalec and Zavinja Valley area, where to eat and stay, cultural events and where to eat and stay visitwww.turizem-zalec.si. The website is in 7 languages.Zalec beer fountain things to do in slovenia

The world’s first beer fountain! Surely a ‘must do’ thing in Slovenia. Hop to it in Zalec.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

4 Coffee at the Historic Castle in Celje

Celje where great coffee and castle history go hand in hand! Castles are definitley always on our list of things to do when we visit European countries. Slovenia is no exception!
Celje is Slovenia’s 3rd largest city with a population of 38,000. The main draw card for Celje is its magnificent castle ruins. Set high upon the hills, it towers over the city below. Be sure to go just for great views of Celje and the surrounding area. Inside, there is a great little museum and the best coffee. You get back the price of the coffee as part of the entrance fee.

Also, a small, grisly torture museum, showcasing the worst of European torture devices in the Middle Ages. Not recommended for children!
Walking around old town in Celje, exposes you to pretty houses and buildings. The mostly pedestrianised streets are meant for casual strolling and sipping coffees. However, if you have the time for a meal, we recommend Gostilna Frankl.

Roman ruins too in Celje!
If the castle hasn’t given you enough history, there is the Museum of Regional History. Inside the Princely Palace, in the basement, you can see remains of ancient Roman roads and statues. This is from a time when Celje was known as Claudium Celeia. So called because Claudius was the Roman Emperor at that time. In the other building, The Old Count’s Mansion, you can see weaponry, art and furniture of the times. Buying a ticket from Celje Castle will give you a discounted rate on these two (well technically one) museums. celje castle things to do in slovenia

A castle with your coffee sir? Celje castle is perched high above the town and has spectacular views of the surrounding area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

3 Relax in Spa paradise at Moravske Toplice

Moravske Toplice is in the North East of Slovenia. A place to relax, rejuvenate and refresh! This small town is for people who love thermal waters. Hey, that’s us! Ideally situated on the borders of Austria, Hungary and Croatia. A 2 hour drive from the capital, Llubjana. Perfect for day trips into Graz and Austrian spa towns such as Bad Radkersburg, Terme Loipersdorf and Bad Gleichenberg. Note, however, that Austria is more expensive than Slovenia.

Moravske Toplice is home to Terme 3000 and Terme Vivat, the former being the biggest by water area. Hotel Termal, Hotel Ajda and Hotel Livada also have their own smaller pools and access to Terme 3000 pools and the whole complex. If you’re not staying at Termal, Ajda or Livada, you cannot use those pools. Never mind they are smaller than the 9 outdoor pools that Terme 3000 offers.
The famed ‘black water’ thermal pools are the hottest pools which contain special algae. Upon closer inspection the water is actually clear with dark green bits. DO not wear light coloured swimwear into these pools! Moravske Toplice things to do in slovenia

Terme Vivat  in Moravske Toplice has a good mix of indoor pools and outdoor pools (about 10 in total) and a sauna.

Terme 3000 is best if you have kids. There are water slides and inflatables for the children to jump on. Terme Vivat is more for the healing properties of the thermal waters in a quieter atmosphere. There are no slides. Both have adult only sections. Going nude is required for the saunas and steam room. Terme Vivat has the better nude section in our opinion. There are more saunas and a steam room. Terme 3000 only has 2 saunas, an ice cold plunge pool and an area of wooden beds with buckwheat pillows.terme 3000 things to do in slovenia

Terme 3000 has water slides for the kids. Pictured is the warmest ‘black’ pool, which contains the healing algae.

Apart from indulging in spas and massages, Moravske Toplice also boasts great cycling to the surrounding villages and wineries. So get on your bike! You can hire bikes from the tourist information centre. Mainly flat and dedicated cycle paths will keep the whole family fit and healthy for hours! There are cute pumpkin fields everywhere and a great golf course. Cycling through the villages is very picturesque. You might even see some interesting art works made by the locals. After all that cycling, you’ll need to jump back into the healing thermal waters to soothe the saddle soreness!

                                                                                                                                                                                       

2 Mountain Hiking at Snovik and Kamnik

Hiking and more hiking! Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the best things about Slovenia. Natural scenery abounds in Slovenia. Mountains, lakes, glacial valleys, gorges, river walks, caves and canyons, forests and alpine meadows. If it sounds a bit like Switzerland, that’s because it is! But with one big difference. The price. It is a bit like Switzerland on the cheap! 

Snovik

Snovik is an area of cute villages and hiking opportunities, set in the Tuhinj Valley, in the North of Slovenia. Only a 50 minute drive to Lake Bled, the country’s most visited destination. Plus, a world away from the hustle and bustle of the capital Ljubljana, also only a 50 minute drive away. These two towns make the ideal weekend get away for city dwellers. Snovik hiking things to do in slovenia

Head off into the hills for fresh air and a more relaxed pace of life in the villages around Snovik, in the Tuhinj Valley, in Northern Slovenia. The Tuhinj Valley is only a 50 minute drive from the capital, Ljubljana.

A recently developed eco resort, called Terme Snovik (click here to book), with thermal waters is a popular resort to stay and base yourself in. Within the Terme Snovik grounds, you can explore the practice of ‘Kneipp’ therapy along the stream and woods. There are placards along the Kneipp trail, telling you what to do and how to get the best benefits of the combination of water, exercise and nourishment.
There are many signed walks from Terme Snovik, up into the surrounding hills, where villagers grow plums and apples. The names of these villages are, Praproce, Podbreg, Hrusevka, Pirsevo, Vaseno and Potok.

Kamnik

The tenth largest town in Slovenia, with a population of about 18,000. You can drive  here as a stop off point whilst going to Velika Planina. It has a tiny castle in ruins, which is worth stopping off at because it offers great views into the surrounding mountains. Also, climbing the steps to the castle, you get a fabulous roof top view of the pretty orange tiled houses below. kamnik things to do in slovenia

The view of Kamnik’s pretty orange tiled roof tops and the Kamnik Alps, from Kamnik castle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

1 Go off grid at beautiful Velika Plenina

Velika Plenina is a fascinating and beautiful place to go for a hike. High up on the mountainside, villagers have built their own community in the fresh mountain air. The first thing you notice is the roof tops. They are made of pine shingles. The traditional houses look like they are sinking into the ground. It is so picturesque and peaceful up here, given its difficulty to get to.

You first drive to a car park (which is free) near Kamnik, head for the town of Stahovica in your GPS. You buy a ticket which includes the cable car and a ski lift both ways (17 euros) The cable car is terrifying for those who don’t like heights! The ski lift is somewhat more pleasant as it is closer to the ground, but, not enclosed. Your legs are just dangling freely in the open air.

Velika Plenina is full of cows roaming freely with their giant bells. It’s a bit like a scene from Switzerland if we have to make comparisons. You can get up close and personal to the cows, since they’re pretty used to gawping humans!Velika-Plenina-lift things to do in slovenia

Here’s a friendly cow on the ski lift, going up to Velika Plenina! (Only cow in village!) An off grid, mountain settlement with traditional Slovenian mountain huts, dotted around the spectacular green landscape. 

Is there any food to buy up there? Yes and no. If you go in peak season and peak times, there are some options. As you get off the ski lift, before you get to the first village there is a restaurant called Gostisce Zeleni Rob. Traditional home cooked food with amazing mountain views. If this is closed, a few of the villagers have yoghurt and cheese for you to sample in their front garden. There are also a couple of drink stands offering alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages on the side of the paths. These are very few and far between and may, or may not be open.

The good news is that despite reports to the contrary, there are fresh water drinking taps. The water tastes really good and is 100 per cent potable! Velika Plenina things to do in slovenia

The traditional mountain huts in the picturesque village of Velika Plenina, high up in the Kamnik Alps. In the Spring and Summer the lush pasture plateaus are great for hiking. In the Winter, a white Winter Wonderland emerges, where snow activities abound.

You can spend hours up here wandering from the village back down to the car park. There is even accommodation, if you wish to stay longer in this idyllic setting. If you go in Spring, you will see the most amazing carpet of crocus flowers. In Winter, it looks magical with the snow capped mountains as you can imagine. What you don’t expect is a museum! Yes, you hear correctly, there’s a museum in the first major village of Velika Planina. This unique place has to be on your list of undiscovered gems in Slovenia. It is certainly one of our favourite things to do in Slovenia!

For live weather reports and the most up to date information on prices and opening times, visit Velika Plenina’s official website. www.velikaplanina.si/Home

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Lake Bled Slovenia the Ultimate Fairytale Destination 46

Lake Bled Slovenia the Ultimate Fairytale Destination

Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe. Boasting postcard views from every angle of the stunning lake complete with a central island with a church and a clifftop castle. Definitely a must see when visiting Slovenia. 

Quick Index

                                                                      

WHERE IS LAKE BLED

Situated in the NW of Slovenia. Lake Bled is the most visited area in Slovenia. Slovenia itself  has borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia and has a small coastal strip, closest to Italy called the Slovene Riveria. You can call Slovenia central Europe. It really is in the middle.

where is lake bled map

Lake Bled is in Slovenia, a country bordered by Croatia, Italy, Hungary and Austria (map courtesy of  hikenow.net)

                                                                                                                                                                                        

WHEN to go to lake bled

All the time! Magical in Winter and divine in Summer but most crowded and higher prices. Summer is particularly crowded for traffic and there’s only one road in and one road out! Slovenia has a typical temperate 4 season climate. A distinctive Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. If you dress correctly, Winter is a great time to visit and of course, if you’re a skier, there’s no better time to plan a trip to Slovenia.

Recent Summer weather has been a bit unpredictable like much of Europe, with August heatwaves and flash storms. For the least tourists and lowest prices, go in the so called shoulder seasons, that is, late Spring to early Summer and early Autumn. These times will have plenty of sunshine, so important for those unforgettable Lake Bled photographs.

Bled-Lake-view

                                                                                                                                                                                       

WHY GO to lake bled

Lake Bled and the immediate vicinity has history, hills, lakes, gorgeous gorges, monumental mountains, gushing canyons and rivers, yummy food, friendly locals and picture postcard views from every direction. Visitor numbers show that Slovenia is largely Europe’s best kept secret. So make Lake Bled your next holiday destination, before it becomes likes Venice! For many people, the only thing they might know about Slovenia is that Melania Trump hails from this ex- Yugoslavian country. 

There are so many things to do in and around Lake Bled. It is indeed beautiful and picturesque, with plenty of opportunities for being active, both, in and out of the glittering green water. Furthermore, if you just want to laze around with spectacular vistas in every direction, you can do this too. Of course, it has its own magnificent castle high up in the hills, which you can see easily from the lake. Prices are still a bit cheaper than France, Germany, Austria and Italy, but not as cheap as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Once you go to Lake Bled and Slovenia in general, you’ll be thinking of even more reasons to go back!Bled Lake and Castle

Lake Bled is the epitome of beautiful, especially in Spring and Summer.

                                                                                                                                                                                      

HOW TO GET to Lake Bled

Flying into Ljubljana Airport

The nearest airport  to Lake Bled is Ljubljana. Direct flights from London with Easyjet, a low cost carrier. Wizz Air flies direct to Ljubljana from Budapest. London, Frankfurt, Zurich, Paris, Vienna and Rome will be your international connection hubs from Asia, Australasia and the Americas. The number of flights fluctuates dramatically for the Summer and Winter timetable. Many people do a day trip from the capital, Ljubljana. The distance from Ljubljana to the town of Lake Bled is only 35kms from the Joze Pucnik airport.

Drive 

We lease a car from Paris and drive! Of course, this is because Lake Bled is on our grand European tour, but you will rent a car from the airport. You will need a sticker that you attach to the windscreen to allow you to drive on Slovenian roads. This is NOT included in your car hire. Current prices for the vignette is 15, 30 and 110 Euros for weekly, monthly and annually.

Rail 

By train there are connections on the international routes (From Munich in the West and Athens in the East) where you change at Ljubljana and then get a local train. The train stations are either 4kms or 1.5kms from the centre of Lake Bled. It depends which train you take in Ljubljana.

Bus 

Private buses and local buses will drop you at the main station, a 3 minute walk from Lake Bled. The hard core can cycle the 50kms from Ljubljana! We don’t recommend it though!

Taxi 

Taxis are not cheap, but, depends on your itinerary and budget. This may be the option for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                      

GETTING AROUND Lake Bled

When you arrive at the fabulous Lake Bled we recommend you get on your bike or walk. Car parking is severely limited in the centre and even on the outskirts, you will need to get there early to park in one of the car parks. Don’t even think about trying to use the supermarket car parks, they’re onto you!

                                                                                                                                                                                     

12 THINGS TO DO IN LAKE BLED

Lake Bled is an half hour to 45 minutes drive, from the capital Ljubljana. You can cover the lake itself in a day trip, but there is plenty to do in the surrounds of Lake Bled, if you want to base yourself in Bled. For example, Lake Bohinj, Vintgar Gorge and the mountain treks of Trivglav National Park are perfectly accessible from Bled.

                                                        

12. Explore and discover Lake Bled castle

You can see the fabulous Lake Bled Castle from the lake. What a position! Yes, we know a good castle is always built on a hill top, but, come on, this castle tops the charts for being part of an amazing landscape too. In addition, when it is lit up at night, you appreciate it even more. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that if there’s a castle, we’ll go and see it! It is one of the best places to get spectacular shots of Lake Bled below, the island and the Karavanke mountains, plus the Julian Alps.Bled-Castle

We think you’ll agree that Lake Bled Castle is both majestic and romantic.

Rich in history, Lake Bled Castle is Slovenia’s oldest castle. First written records of it date to the 11th century. The castle is open all year round. There’s so much to see, you need to make at least a half day trip to see and experience everything. Moreover, you’ll want to stay for a bite to eat, as the food is scrumptious at the Lake Bled Castle restaurants. 

There is plenty to do, once you reach Lake Bled Castle. You might even want to get married there! It has to be the ultimate fairytale venue! To keep you busy there is the castle museum, wine cellar, forge (where you can make your own money!) printing works, the knights’ hall, the castle chapel and the well. If you’re lucky, you might see some traditional dancing, where staff dress in resplendent costumes and move to the beat of times gone by.traditional dancing Bled castle

Watch a performance of traditional dancing at Lake Bled Castle, a must for history and fashion lovers.

                                                        

11. Swimming in Lake Bled

The lake itself is beautifully clean and provides a refreshing dip on those hot balmy days. There are various ‘beaches’ dotted around the lake, some of which are private (Guests of the Grand Hotel Toplice don’t need to worry though). You can also pay to use slides and a cordoned off area of the lake, weather permitting of course! Swimming is one of the best things to do in Lake Bled because it’s free!Swimming Bled Lake

Swimming in clean Lake Bled is a must in Summer. The temperature is a comfortable 22 degrees centigrade.

The ducks think it is a great idea too.lake bled ducks

Lake Bled water is very clean for humans and ducks to go swimming!

                                                        

10. Stand up paddle boarding

This craze that took off in Hawaii, of course has now infiltrated itself into water sports. Lake Bled is wonderfully calm, so good for beginners who are new to SUP. Supping is becoming one of the more popular things to do in Lake Bled. Prices start from 10 Euros an hour.sup lake bled

See the picturesque Lake Bled by hiring a stand up paddle board for an hour or two.

                                                        

9. Rowing or Kayaking

If you want to row yourself, you can easily hire a small boat for 2 for an hour, from 10 euro. Rowing is one of the more energetic things to do in Lake Bled, depending on how seriously you take it! While less frequently for hire kayaking is also available around the lake.Bled Lake rowing or kayaking

Tour Lake Bled in a little rowing boat. So much better if someone else rows!

The little island in the middle is a working community. There’s the famous Mother of God, 16th century church to visit, a tiny museum and cute shops. If you’re very lucky as you row up to the 99 stone steps up to the church, a wedding may be happening! The little Bled Island is so romantic.Lake Bled

The Lake Bled natural island is home to a medieval church, museum and artisan shops.

                                                        

8. Boat cruises around Lake Bled 

For the less active, boat cruises depart at various points from around the lake. These boats are known as Pletna. They are traditional, flat bottomed boats powered only by oars. Maximum seating capacity is 20. They all have colourful awnings to protect you from the sun and rain as you glide across the peaceful lake.  Frequency varies in high and low season. Sometimes you have to wait until a boat is full before the cruise can begin. Pletna Lake Bled

The traditional pletna boats of Lake Bled provide an alternative mode of taking in the magnificent scenery.

                                                        

7. Sunbathing opportunities

Wherever you lay your towel, around the edges of Lake Bled you can sunbathe. When it all gets a bit too hot, jump into the clean, refreshing lake. Pack a picnic or position yourself opposite the small supermarket, so you can nip in for those essential refreshments, whilst enjoying the beautiful Lake Bled scenery.Unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary 47

 

Get your tan on around Lake Bled. Pack your swimming gear for some serious sun in Summer!

                                                        

6. Tobogganing

You don’t need snow to go tobogganing in Lake Bled! It is so much fun for big and small kids.

summer fun tobogganing in Lake BLed things to do in Lake BledNo snow necessary to go tobogganing in Lake Bled! Summer fun by the lake.

Catch a ski lift up the hill and as you wait, take some silly photos in the giant wooden frame, which gets you and Lake Bled in the background!Lake Bled Post Card Views

Strike a pose in the giant photo frame above Lake Bled as you wait for your ride down on the toboggan!

The ride down in the one person toboggan is exhilarating. If you have a small child, he or she can ride in the front. The best thing about it, is you can go in Summer.Lake Bled Tobogganing

An exhilarating ride down the slope in Summer is a must do activity in Lake Bled!

                                                        

5. Walking

At the top of the tobogganing site you get great views looking down on Lake Bled. There’s even outdoor gym equipment if you’re feeling energetic! Of course the lake itself, is a flat, gentle walk which most people can manage easily in 3 hours, with stops for photos and food!Lake Bled Tobogganing and Castle

 

Walking the perimeter of Lake Bled takes only 2 or 3 hours.

                                                        

4. Hiking around Lake Bled

The hiking opportunities in and around Lake Bled and its hills are a must. Just getting to the castle is a bit of a hike! But, the reward is fabulous Lake Bled views! Luckily, you can also get fed at the castle on certain days too! Lake Bled is at the bottom of the Triglav National Park where you can do guided or non guided walks, depending on your level of experience and fitness.Bled Castle View

Hiking up to the castle walls at Lake Bled is a big achievement!

                                                        

3. Get on your bike

People often ask if you can cycle around Lake Bled. Of course you can! Once you have done a few circuits of the lake, head to Vintgar Gorge. As you cycle through cute little villages, the friendly Slovene people will wave and point the way to Vintgar Gorge, if you get lost. Head towards Podhom and look out for the small signs for Vintgar Gorge as you cycle along. It’s not all paved road, at some spots you will have to get off your bike and push it over gravel paths.Lake Bled Cycling

Biking is very popular in and around Lake Bled. Plenty of bikes to hire by the hour or per day.

Closed from December to May, Vintgar Gorge is an easy bike ride away. When you get there, your reward is spectacular rock formations with refreshing clear water flowing over boulders and rock pools. It is all pretty flat. The hues of calming green are all around you, from the plants clinging to the rocks to the changing water below you. Vintgar Gorge Lake Bled area

Mesmerising Vintgar Gorge is just a mere bike ride away from Lake Bled. Go and see it!

                                                        

2. White water rafting, ziplining or canyoning

If you need a bit more of adrenaline style action then book a day trip. Book online or in Bled itself. If action and adventure are on your list of things to do, areas very near to Lake Bled will fulfill your requirements. You will be taken to sites near Bled and Bohinj by experienced guides. The health and safety requirements for these activities meet European standards. You are provided with helmets, wetsuits, life jackets, harnesses and ropes.

                                                        

1. Eat Bled cream cake

You know the old saying, you can have your cake and eat it? Yes, eating this cake is one of the things you have to do when you come to Bled! Decide which eatery is best! This is more like a custard slice than a cake. When you look at a Bled cream cake, it is similar to a millefeuille without the layers, topped with whipped cream. There is a story behind this cake, which some say is best sampled at the Park Hotel.

Make your own choice and don’t just try one! Apparently, everything is prepared under the guidance of the lucky number seven. The puff pastry is folded seven times and then left to rest overnight before baking and cooling again. The egg custard is cooked for seven minutes. Cooled, coated in a delicately sweetened layer of whipped cream, and dusted with powdered sugar, each cake is then cut into a perfect seven-by-seven centimetre square.Bled Cream Cake

The famous Lake Bled cream cake! Got to try one or two when you come to Lake Bled!

                                                                                                                                                                                        

WHERE TO EAT iN LAKE BLED

Lake Bled and its surrounds are full of restaurants, cafes and snack bars. The food served in Lake Bled is first class and quite international. Prices are rising, due to its popularity, but Lake Bled is still cheaper than London or Melbourne as an overall destination for foodies. Deciding where to eat in Lake Bled is a difficult decision! We will help you decide with a selection of our favourite restaurants.

FAVE RESTAURANTS IN BLED

Pizzeria Rustika  

A pizza and pasta restaurant with an open air roof top or cozy indoor dining. Service is great and friendly. This is our favourite hangout, when deciding where to eat Italian food. Specialty pizzas have buffalo mozzarella, C’s favourite pizza topping. Yes, you can have better and she has lived in Milan, home of the best pizzas after Napoli, so C is a pretty good judge. Generous toppings and they don’t cook the proscuitto or rucola. Not such a cheap eat anymore. Two speciality pizzas, one dessert, half a litre of wine, a juice and a cappuccino, cost 45 euros. Pizzeria Rustika Lake Bled

Fabulous speciality pizzas with buffalo mozzarella at Pizzeria Rustika, Lake Bled.

Penzion Berc fine food

This place is a bed and breakfast with an attached restaurant. You don’t need to decide where to eat if you’re staying here, as the breakfast is superb! The food is very fresh and uses local ingredients and the servings are generous. Not cheap, because it is very popular. One road behind the main road off the lake. The service is friendly and the suggestions are not just the most expensive items on the menu. Book a table in advance to avoid disappointment. The outside dining area is very attractive too!pension berc fine food

Can you tell which one is edible? Fine food indeed at Pension Berc.

The restaurant at Vila Bled

Used to do a fabulous 7 course degustation for 65 euros. Just thought we would throw that in there to make you guys jealous, since we have been to Lake Bled three times! Again, due to Bled’s rising popularity, prices are now more expensive  and unfortunately the degustation menu is off the books. A la carte though is still fine food, Slovenian style.

Portions are on the smaller side, more akin to the current trend of charging a lot for a little. So, eat the bread that comes gratis! Make sure you get an outside table with a view of the castle as the lights switch on, every night. Very romantic. The car park driveway is also pretty impressive, as you feel like a visiting dignitary when you pull in.Bled fine dining

Gourmet food and great presentation at the restaurant at Vila Bled.

Lake Bled Castle restaurant

Struggling to decide where to eat, to get stunning views and delicious food? Need a special place to impress a date? Always imagined yourself dining like a king or queen in your own castle? Head on up to the castle restaurant. Check which days and the opening times as you don’t want to be turned away. The trek up is worth it, just to get a view of Lake Bled below. There’s an entrance fee of 11 Euros, but this gets struck off, if you book a table at the restaurant. The food is not cheap, but, top notch! A four course tasting menu will set you back 50 Euros. We recommend you book in advance. Bled Castle Dining

Here we are having a pre -dinner drink in the castle whilst waiting for a fabulous gourmet dinner at the castle restaurant.

Bonus place to get a great picture whilst sipping on a latte or licking an ice cream is Café Belvedere. Also good for trying the famous Lake Bled cream cake. Google it! Come on we’re not giving you everything on a plate! Bled Lake from Cafe Belvedere

Cafe Belvedere is a great place to take pictures of the iconic Lake Bled!

                                                                                                                                                                                        

WHERE TO STAY iN LAKE BLED

LUXURY:

For the ultimate in location and luxury, right on the lake with private sunbeds and bathing, you can’t go past Grand Hotel Toplice if your budget stretches that far!  

MID RANGE:

The family run excellently located Penzion Kaps receives consistently great reviews. The breakfast is a particular delight.

BUDGET:

The friendly Central Hostel Bled  is a great budget backpackers’ choice for those with limited funds. Grand Hotel Toplice Lake Bled

Grand Hotel Toplice

Still not convinced?

We challenge you, not to fall in love with Lake Bled. Our first time was in 2012! Two subsequent visits later in 2016 and 2018 and we still rank it as one of our best central European destinations. Love it like we do? Do you intend to go? Planning a trip? Do you agree? We want to hear your comments below.

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Top 10 best things to do in Java 51

Top 10 best things to do in Java

The island of Java is still relatively unknown in terms of mass tourism and is a gem of cultural sites and treasures. Read about the best things to do in Java and make sure to add it to your must visit in Indonesia list!

Quick Index

                

where is Java?

Java is the most populated island of the Indonesian archipelago, which comprises over 1000 islands. Java is in South East Asia. Java is surrounded by the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean.

        

Interesting Java facts

Java is the economic heart of Indonesia. Just over half of Indonesia’s 250 million people live on Java. The island of Java is still relatively unknown in terms of mass tourism. In fact, when you do an internet search for Java, the computer language is the number one result! Most tourists will skip Java and head to the tropical island of Bali. In fact, if you ask  a lot of people, they will probably say Bali is Indonesia. 

        

Why go To Java?

Often overlooked and unknown, Java is definitely worth a visit. So, next time you think of heading over to Indonesia, head on over to Java! It’s more than a cup of coffee. Secondly, Java is the least visited of the inhabited islands. Hardly any Western tourists and relatively quiet compared to the island of Bali. Not known for its beaches, Java is the cultural centre of Indonesia, in terms of indigenous, religious and ex colonial architecture. The National Museum is located in Java and has a very impressive facade. The most upscale shopping malls and hotels are found on Java. In short, there are plenty of things to do in Java!

        

When to go to JAVA

Firstly, there’s no bad time to go to Java, although, you might want to avoid rainy season as dirt roads become impassable, storms make flying very scary and lots of boat services will not operate. Also, sitting for hours on end in your chauffeur driven car with the rain pelting down on you isn’t that exciting. Having said that, rainy season in Asia doesn’t mean it rains all day long. Often, the downpours are very tourist friendly and limit themselves to late evening and early morning! The dry season is blissfully  non busy, so anytime is really good to go to Java.

        

Getting Around JAVATraffic jams in Jakarta are constant things to do in Java

 

PLANE

Your arrival into Java will be through one of the main cities. There are plenty of international connections through the capital Jakarta. Regional connections are served through Yogyakarta, Bandung and Surabaya. 

TRAIN

There is an extensive train network on Java and it is very cheap. However, the trains are painfully slow and first class is not the standard you would expect in the west. We took a train from Yogyakarta to Bandung in First class and the journey was 8 hours for about 450kms. Also the toilets were the squat and drop type. This practice is difficult enough to manage on terra firma, can you imagine the fun on a moving train??!!

ROADS

The roads in the big cities are choked full of traffic from early morning to evening. There doesn’t seem to be a rush hour, it’s always full on the roads. You haven’t experienced a traffic jam, until you’ve been to Jakarta! Moreover, you are better off walking but the pollution, humidity and dust, doesn’t make it a very attractive option. In fact, locals tend to be either on a moped, in a public ‘bus’ or in a car. Overall, it is very rare to see locals on foot going about their everyday life.

        

Top 10 things to do in Java

Only1invillage brings you our guide of the top 10 things to do in Java!

10 Go shopping crazy Shopping Jakarta - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

 

Malls and more Malls

Coming in at number 10 for things to do in Java is shop until you drop -The big smog  of Jakarta is home to mega malls, monumental traffic jams and the national museum. Glam on an Asian scale. 

Grand Indonesia is without a doubt the newest and biggest mall. So big in fact, it has an East and West side. Prices are the same for luxury brands. No haggling. A great range of restaurants, cafes, fashion, jewellery, electronics, arts and crafts.The cinema here is first class with their ‘Gold Class’ equivalent product (fully reclining seats like on a business class flight and a blanket) for a fraction of the price you would pay in your home country. Click here for a map of Grand Indonesia Mall.

Bandung is the place to go for bargains especially clothing at local markets. Finally if you love batik (a special art of wax resistant dying in bold ,bright patterns on natural fabrics such as cotton) you must head to Yogyakarta.

 

9  Get wet at tumpak sewu waterfall Tumpaksewu_waterfall - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

 

Number 9 of things to do in Java is marvel at Tumpak Sewu waterfall – Spectacular cascading water reachable by a bit of a trek. Or, stay at the top, you’ll still get to see this magnificent natural wonder. Wear good non slip shoes and watch your footing as you hold on to rickety handrails. The whole staircase is made from bamboo and doesn’t feel that sturdy. It will never pass health and safety inspections in your home country!

The path down also means you have to clamber over rocks with water flowing over them. Consequently, it will be very slippery. Persist as the sight at the bottom is awesome. When in the Bromo area, a definite must see. Again many tours at competitive prices with or without a guide. Some say the most beautiful waterfall on Java. Judge for yourself.

 

8 Visit a traditional village Kampung Naga village - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

 

Kampung Naga– 3 to 4 hour drive from Bandung or Yogyakarta. Hilton booked. Same price as going via a tour agency. Only1invillage were the only 2 in the village! From the car park there are about 400 steps to walk down. Banana trees, rice fields and terraces, free ranging chickens and rice threshing. Apart from seeing Havaianas on the feet of villagers, it does feel like a quintessential traditional Javanese village. Contrary to claims, there is electricity here, in the form of batteries and the villagers have mobile phones.

Also, there are a few signs that some equipment has been left out deliberately for tourists. Overall, ignoring these factors, it does feel like you have stepped back in time, to peek in on traditional Javanese rural life. Erm, there’s no where to go to the toilet in the village. At the top of the car park you can pay 5000 rupiah to squat over a mosquito infested hole. Just thought to mention this!

 

7 Indulge in Beauty treatments facial beauty treatments Bandung - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

 

Be beautified by beauty treatments in Bandung – Get your hair cut, facial, slimming treatment, back massage, manicure and pedicure for the price of a pedicure in your home country. In Bandung, they take beauty seriously! Any of the 5 star hotels will have a spa attached. We like the Hilton Bandung where the atmosphere is just serene for massage and facials. https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/content/BDOHIHI/media/pdf/en_BDOHIHI_Jiwa_Spa_2011.pdf

For other services, like hair, manicure, slimming massage, pedicure and eyelash lifting, we recommend Anata Salon, which also has a little café attached to it. We manage to find one person who speaks English, but really, you know what you’re getting and you can point to make yourself understood. https://www.salonanata.com/

 

6 Hang upside down at Upside Down world  in bandung Upside Down World Bandung - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

Hang out in funny positions at Upside Down World Bandung – hang like a bat and get some hilarious snaps at the same time. There are 8 of these fun houses in SE Asia. Three are in Java, the one we went to in Bandung, one in Yogyakarta and another in the capital, Jakarta. You might need help from the friendly staff as posing upside down isn’t as straight forward as it seems. There are suggested poses for visual learners and if you’re a novice at this, like us, you’ll definitely need to consult these photographs.

Fun for all ages, big kids as well as small one of the funnest things to do in Java! Take a Grab or Uber from your Bandung hotel. Tip – wear clean socks or make sure your feet are presentable for bare foot posing. No shoes allowed inside. https://www.upsidedownworldgroup.com/our-location/

 

5 Get your cup of chai on a tea plantation tour Rancabali tea plantation - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

Coming in at number 5 for things to do in Java is a tea country tour – Rancabali tea plantation and green rolling hills just above from the Kawih Putih Lake.  Take a calming walk along tea fields and then have a meal in a huge ship themed restaurant. In fact, the whole area has become a glamping resort, complete with its own lake and mini farm consisting of cute rabbits and small deer for petting (extra charge). If you want to stay here, you cannot book online. You have to go through a third party tour operator.

 

4 Take in the unique surrounds of sulphorous Kawah Putih crater lake in Cidiwey Kawah Putih crater lake - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

Stare at sulphorous Kawah Putih crater lake in Cidiwey –  eerie landscapes and a smell you’ll never forget.  Public transport is possible, but, again, why bother? You’ll still be seeing the ‘real’ Indonesia. The misty scenery is fascinating and the colours of the water a lovely turquoise/cyan. It’s very beautiful and dramatic with rocks and trees coming out of the colourful water. If you’re lucky you’ll catch locals taking their wedding snaps here!

Contrary to popular reports you don’t need a face mask. If you really need to cover your nose and mouth a scarf will do just fine. If you have been lucky enough to go to Waiotapu, in South Island, New Zealand, like we have, this is sort of like it, but less colourful.

 

3 Climb Mount Bromo or Merapi Mount_Merapi - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

Climb Mount Bromo or Merapi  – These are day treks or tours. Merapi is closest to Yogyakarta and Bromo is closest to Surabaya. People trek the mountain for the fabulous sunrise and the sand dessert at the top. The scenery changes from lush green to barren, moon like landscapes as you ascend. Similarly, Mount Merapi is mostly grey with lack of vegetation. The recent eruption in May 2018 disrupted tours, but all is back to normal now.

When short on time, we opt for the tour for ease and less hassle from transport scams. Both are active volcanoes, so never book from your home country as you may not end up going and getting a refund will be very difficult. If you want to do it by yourself, this site is very useful www.danflyingsolo.com/mount-bromo-without-a-tour-sunrise/

Our other top tip is to wear warm clothes! It is freezing cold up there, it may be volcano, but it isn’t hot! Also, please don’t take a horse ride as the horses look miserable and malnourished.

Unesco World Heritage Sites

Java is often seen as the cultural capital of Indonesia. Here you will find the two biggest temple complexes that draw in international visitors. These two temples come in at number 1  and 2 on our top 10 list of things to do in Java. Naturally both temple complexes are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Both Borobodur and Prambanan are a testament to past peaceful religious cohabitation. They are breathtaking. It is easy to book a tour. You can do it by yourself but, honestly, an air conditioned car is the way to go! We recommend you visit on separate days due to the traffic! Early starts are common for the sunrise shots and your best chance of peace away from the Instagram posers and tour groups. Even so, you’ll never have theses temple complexes to yourself. Spectacular stupa and sculptures await. Plenty of steps to climb so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to take plenty of water and a shade umbrella/ sun hat.

 

2 Prambunan (Hindu) temple complex Prambunan (Hindu) temple complex - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

Prambunan (Hindu) temple complex is nearest to the city of Yogyakarta. It’s over a thousand years old and simply stunning, both architecturally and in sheer size. Dedicated to the Godess Shiva. Built around concentric squares, there are other temples dedicated to Vishnu and Brahma.

If you know your Ramayana ( an epic Indian poem which tells of the struggles of the divine Prince Rama to rescue his wife, Sita, from a demon king called Ravana), then you’ll be familiar with the reliefs that decorate some of the temples. For the less enlightened, you can Google it the night before, so you know what you’re gawping at! From an architectural point of view, you have to be amazed by the stone building technology. This beauty was built over a thousand years ago and still so beautiful.

 

1 Borobodur (Buddhist) temple complex Borobodur Budhist temple - only1invillage Top 10 things to do in Java

Be bowled over at Borobodur (Buddhist) temple complex. One of our favourite  things to do in Java is this ancient site has many steps and no shade from the relentless Indonesian sun. Marvel at the intricate sculptures and the detail in the carvings as you make your way up to the top. An absolute must see in Java and rightly deserving the number one spot in our humble opinion of things to do in Java.

When you get to the third tier, where the stupa are, the view is just mesmerising. Also, you have to congratulate yourself for making it up so high in the humidity. Look inside each stupa and you will find a statue of the buddha. Get there at 5 am if you want those sun rise shots with hardly any one else in it. Clearly, we are not those people!

 

        

Final Thoughts

There are many things to do in Java that make it a great destination to visit!  Whether you’re a culture vulture, naturist, shopaholic, hiker, budget or luxury traveller there is something for you! It’s pretty quiet on the tourist side so you will often feel like the only1invillage! If you have been, let us know what are your favourite things to do in Java?

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Day trip to Nusa Penida 55

Day trip to Nusa Penida

A day trip to Nusa Penida is a must when in the area! If you’re tired of Bali and want a bit of a change, book a day trip to this unique island. You can also book a day trip from Lembongan.  Nusa means island and hence Nusa Penida means Penida Island. Nusa Penida is one of the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia.

How to see Nusa Penida’s attractions

Penida is best seen on a day trip. It’s an early 8 am start from your resort on Lembongan. You are driven down to the shore by the Yellow Bridge and depending on how many of you there are, your boat will be waiting. Speed across the water and wave goodbye to your water boat ‘taxi’ man. He may, or may not be the same person who takes you back over. Seasoned travellers in SE Asia will be familiar with this scenario.

Once you arrive on Penida, your driver for the day will be waiting for you. Don’t be surprised if there is another local along for the ride. No matter how comfortable the car is, prepare yourself for the bumpiest ride of your life. The roads are shocking and so narrow in some places, there’s only enough room for one car. For those who like to be in the dusty open air and get UV damage, hire a moped! 

Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach

First stop is Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. Amazing crashing waves and a beautiful arch of stone caused by wave erosion. The water here is unbelievably clear with changing shades of aqua, azure and green. Mother Nature definitely makes her mark here. There are plenty of concrete steps to help you get close to the water’s edge. Once at the edge, the path becomes more rugged and natural. Watch your step! The billabong is a pool and varies in colour and depth, depending on rainfall. In our photo below, Angel’s billabong is reasonably full and is green.Angel's Billabong day trip to nusa penida - Only1inVillage

Angel’s Billabong – be careful climbing down and around it.Broken Beach day trip to nusa penida  - Only1inVillage

Broken BeachBreaking Waves near Angel's Billabong day trip to nusa penida - Only1inVillage

Breaking Waves near Angel’s Billabong

Kelingkling Beach

Second stop is THE ultimate place for every Instagram poser on the planet. Kelingkling Beach or KK is, we admit, is a breathtakingly beautiful spot. Warning, when you arrive, you are on the top of a hill where you look down onto KK beach. To actually get to the beach hundreds of metres below, requires a treacherous 1 hour walk. Only strong swimmers are advised to take a dip and there are  of course no life guards at this remote beach. Swimming is only possible at low tide. Most people just jostle for their picture at the top part, overlooking the stunning beach.Kelingkling Beach day trip to nusa penida - Only1inVillage

Crystal Bay

Third and last stop on our day trip to Nusa Penida is Crystal Bay. It may seem familiar to you, if you have already taken a snorkeling or diving day trip from Lembongan. The beach itself is reasonably sandy but looks a bit grey, even on a bright day and suffers from some oil stains due to the many boats. There is an awesome cliff top walk to the next bay if you’re game. Cystal Bay Snorkelling Nusa Penida  - Only1inVillage

There is some excellent snorkeling and colourful reef at Crystal Bay

Cystal Bay day trip to nusa penida   - Only1inVillage

The beach itself isn’t great being a bit grey and oil stained from all the boats that visit

In summary, it doesn’t seem like this would take a whole day, but due to the poor condition of the roads and the traffic from other day trippers, it really does!

Top tips! Take plenty of water and your own snacks. You can of course, stop off for lunch somewhere on your trip. All is negotiable. Bring small change for the toilets, which aren’t the best, but when you have to go, you have to go. Finally we hope you have a great day trip to Nusa Penida! 

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Jungut-Batu-Beach Lembongan-Only1inVillage

Lembongan Island the Complete Travel Guide

Everything you need to know, what to do and where to eat on Lembongan Island, Indonesia. Read on, for the one and only Only1invillage guide!

So dive right in or skip to what you’re interested in…

                                                                          

Where is Lembongan?

Lembongan is a surprisingly unknown tropical island off the South Eastern coast of Bali, Indonesia. It is a 45 minute fast boat ride away.

Most tourists go either on a day trip, or stay one or two nights. However, we think there’s plenty to do for at least 4 nights. Especially true, if you want to visit Ceningan and Penida

                                                                      

when should I go to Lembongan?

Best time to visit is of course the dry season which runs from May to October. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the same as Thailand’s dry season, which, (generally) is from December to March for the tropical islands of Samui and the Phuket area. However, that said, wet season will be quieter and prices will come crashing down.

                                                                  

How to get to Nusa Lembongan

Rocky Ferry to Lembongan - Only1inVillage
Yes you are getting wet

We recommend a fast boat. Rocky Cruises provide a professional service with pick up to the port in Sanur and drop off to accommodation in Lembongan. They provide transport from many spots in Bali to and from Sanur as part of a round trip. You can of course, take a local boat, but, this is a hair raising and very wet experience. Even the fast boats do not guarantee a dry experience, unfortunately. Wear shorts or be prepared to lift that dress, because this is boarding your boat Indonesian style!

 

taxi to hotel included in Rocky Ferry ticket - Only1inVillage
The luxurious taxi convertible takes us to our hotel

After arriving in Lembongan you will be assigned to a taxi group. Don’t forget to pick up your flip flops/thongs or sandals! After a short walk of about 100 metres, you will get to the taxi waiting point.  An open air taxi, for example in the picture below will take you to your accommodation. Likewise, they will pick you up for the return journey included in a round trip.

 

                                                                  

Getting Around Nusa Lembongan

It’s not a particularly large island and many attractions are in the southern half of the island. So, if you are up to the challenge of walking a few hours that is certainly possible. Taxis are around, if not the best value option. Push bikes can be hired, although  only a few people do this due to the heat. Hiring a moped is the most common option and only about 100,000 IDR a day or cheaper. As much of the island is unpaved there are spots cars just can’t go, i.e, the Yellow Bridge that connects Lembongan to Ceningan island and the mangroves in the north. Hiring a golf buggy is a another option with the same limitations as cars.

                                                                

THINGS TO DO on Nusa lembongan

Mushroom Beach

One of the main beaches on Lembongan and a drop off point for the fast boats from Bali. It’s around 150 metres in length has soft sand, plus a nice crescent shape. In addition, the water is calm and warm. There are however many boats that make it impractical to swim on most of the beach. About a quarter of the beach has reef, so you can swim over it as long as it’s not low tide. Unfortunately, most of this reef is dead. It’s not all doom and gloom however, there is hope for snorkellers at the next beach! At low tide in the morning much of the beach is underwater.

Mushroom Beach Lembongan - Only1inVillage
Mushroom beach would be great if there weren’t so many boats

There are plenty of restaurants and bars over looking the beach which makes for a picturesque setting. Also, a main  street with lots of dining, bars, shopping, diving shops and accommodation options. A small town has grown around Mushroom Beach so it’s more than just a beach. 

 

Secret Beach

Secret Beach Lembongan - Only1inVillage
Semi Secret Beach if you ask about it you will find it

With only a handful of people present at any one time, Secret Beach can be accessed in one of two ways. Firstly, you can walk around the rocks at the far north end of Mushroom beach. The second way is through the village and a path near Nanuk’s bungalow. Uncrowded with nice sand and no boats. If you swim out from the north side of this beach you will find some decent coral and fish life. It’s best accessed at high tide, as the coral can be quite shallow otherwise. Note, this is a different Secret Beach  to the one on Nusa Ceningan. 

 

Dream Beach

The most beautiful of the beaches on Lembongan. It has wide and fine sand which makes for great photos. Getting to the beach can be a bit of a trek, although, there are signs and plenty of people headed that way. It is unpaved road most of the way, however. You can get there by motorbike, taxi or walking. There is a steep stairway down to the beach.

Dream Beach Lembongan  - Only1inVillage
A beautiful beach but not great for swimming

Swimming is treacherous due to tides and rocks, so, it’s more of a place for a dip and lying on the sand. If lazing on the sand isn’t your thing, there is an infinity pool and a restaurant which are part of a hotel on the cliff top. This is open for non hotel guests and visitors for a fee. That is to say, if you want to stay, you pay! Probably the most spectacular views over the beach from this viewpoint. 

 

 

Devil’s Tear

Devil's Tear Lembongan - Only1inVillage
There are no rails or fences so be careful and don’t get to close!

Around the corner from Dream Beach and often done on the same day by the many day trippers and tourists is Devil’s Tear. Similar to a blowhole, water rushes in from the ocean and crashes spectacularly against the rocks, sending high jets of water into the air. Be careful where you stand and don’t risk your safety for a selfie as the area is not roped off. It’s good to visit just before sunset, as you can then meander towards Sunset Beach for great sunset shots. 

 

Spectacular sunset pics at sunset Beach

Sunset Beach Lembongan  - Only1inVillage
Sunset Beach has a few nice restaurants to dine at while watching the sunset

About 200 metres further along past Devil’s Tear is a cliff top overlooking Sunset Beach from which you guessed it, you can get some great sunset shots! There is a pop up bar at the top of the cliff,  where you can enjoy a beer and then walk down to the beach itself. Sunset Beach  has a popular restaurant/bar called the Sandy Bay Beach Club if you’re after a more upmarket venue to watch the sunset from. 

Jungut Batu beach

Jungut Batu Beach - Only1inVillage
Upmarket dining options and accommodation can be found on the cliff path overlooking the water

This is the beach where most of the fast boats from Bali dock, including Rocky ferries. The water is crystal clear and as you approach the island, there are great views of a hillside with picturesque restaurants and accommodation overlooking the water. The beach itself isn’t really a beach to hang around, due to the many shells and boats. There are however pontoons further out where you can snorkel and swim. Around this area is  where you will find many restaurants that will pick you up for free when you dine with them. 

Yellow Bridge

Yellow Bridge Lembongan - Ceningan Island - Only1inVillage
Yellow and narrow the bridge only provides access to bikes and pedestrians no cars

The bridge that connects the two islands of Lembongan and Ceningan are connected via a yellow bridge which can only take motorbikes and pedestrians. You can’t miss it, as it’s er, bright yellow! 

Snorkelling or diving TRIPS

Snorkelling Lembongan  - Only1inVillage
a good variety of sea life in these crystal waters

The best way to appreciate the abundant underwater life is to get out on a day trip by boat. The island is famous for its  giant manta rays which you may be lucky enough to see in a dive or snorkelling trip. Colourful fish can be found in Crystal Bay, Penida, when you book a snorkelling trip. 

DAY TRIP to NUSA Penida

Nusa Penida day trip from Lembongan  - Only1inVillage
Don’t forget the camera!

Lembongan is the place to book tours to Penida or  Nusa Penida, which just means Penida Island. It’s the same place. Penida is rugged wild and beautiful. You can stay on Penida, but, options are much more limited than on Lembongan. 

                                                                

Where to eat and drink on Lembongan Island Indonesia

A surprisingly vast number of establishments exist on Lembongan. You can get Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Italian and Modern European. There’s also really good coffee, made with fresh milk in some places too! You’re certainly spoiled for choice on Lembongan for dining options.

Hai Bar and Grill - Lembongan - Only1inVillage
The best dining option at Mushroom Beach

Hai Bar and Grill is attached to Hai Tide Beach Resort, the high end establishment in Mushroom Bay. Always busy as a result of its beach views. Consequently book for dinner, especially if you want that view! They also have their own boat called Bali Hai which they use to transport guests from Bali and take out on day trips for snorkelling and lunch. The coffee here is great, definitely up to Italian standards. The food is fantastic.  A vast array of salads, steaks, seafood and Indonesian food. Something for everyone and prepared in hygenic conditions. Slighly pricier than other establishments. 

Restaurant at Dream Beach Lembongan - Only1inVillage
They do a great seared tuna salad

Dream Beach snack bar on the beach. Not the one with the pool on top of the hill. Good salads and snacks. Cheap prices. 

Seaweed Seafood and Grill - Lembongan - Only1inVillage
Family run cheap and good quality out of town but close by bike

Seaweed Seafood and Grill. A little walk up from the Yellow Bridge and drop off point for Nusa Penida. This awesome place has great seafood and the fresh seaweed that is painstakingly farmed, in front of you from the restaurant terrace. 

L Good Bar and Grill - Lembongan - Only1inVillage
Decent live music most nights

LGood Bar and Grill in Mushroom Bay is good for the free music that is on every night. The description of the food doesn’t quite match what you get, but the ambience is good. Also the chairs are very comfortable!

Mushroom Espresso - Lembongan - Only1inVillage
Really good road side coffee

Our favourite coffee joint is Mushroom Espresso in Mushroom Bay. An imported Italian coffee machine with fresh Greenfields milk, guarantees a tasty latte, espresso or capucciono. The baristas are super friendly too. 

                                                                

Where to STAY on Lembongan ISLAND

Damara Hotel Lembongan - Only1inVillage
One of the best value 3 star places we stayed at in Indonesia

We stayed at Damara Hotel which is a mid range hotel. It has a great pool, location, staff , nice rooms and a fantastic price. Breakfast can be improved however. The staff here can organise your Penida day trip tour.

Budget Accommodation  Pange Hostel

Luxury Accommodation Hai Tide Beach Resort              

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Bali Airport Taxi tips don’t get ripped off!

Here’s only1invillage’s guide on how to survive the taxi mafia at Bali International Airport. Our top tips for a ‘fare’ rate (pun intended) to start your holiday without a sour taste in your mouth. Getting a Bali Airport taxi is quite an experience. 

Grab and Uber can’t get into the terminal which is very frustrating. Taxi drivers and all manner of anyone who can drive love this fact!

It’s really hard to get your Uber, Grab or Go-Jek app to work as the drivers cannot enter the airport without paying a 10,000 rupiah parking charge, just for entering the airport grounds. There is great opposition in Bali towards ride sharing apps with reports in the media of violence and aggression towards the internet based drivers.

Number one tip 

DO NOT USE The official taxi stand. It isn’t official at all! Particularly true if your flight lands in the evening. It’s a disgrace. It’s a scam in itself, never use it. As  frequent visitors to Asia, we recommend leaving the arrivals hall area.

So, you approach the Bali Airport taxi stand after saying “no thank you” to at least 10 drivers holding their id card out. You have done your research and believe that AN OFFICIAL TAXI operator inside an international airport will be official and honest.  Of course not! When you tell them the name of the hotel, they change the price accordingly. So, if you say “I am staying at the Hilton” they’ll say 200,000. Say you’re back packing or mid range, then a “good” price, (winking heavily) is 150,000 IDR which is about AUD20 or US14 or eleven GBP. Walk away.

Number two tip 

On your way out you will see that the price drops the further you walk. So a 200,000 rupiah fare can become 100,000 rupiah in a couple of minutes. Your Grab application tells you the fare is only supposed to be 10,000 rupiah for a 5 minute drive, but hey, you’re a tourist in a developing country, it’s only one way and these guys don’t make that much money.

Number three tip –

Book a transfer with your accommodation. It is really expensive but if you want to avoid the aggressive haggling, you’re tired, it’s dark, you’ve arrived with children, you’ll pay! Assured that 100,000 is a good price including taxes, fees and the heavy traffic. We know we are being overcharged for the short 2km drive, but it’s a one off. When we leave the next morning, the price back to the airport (a 2km journey) has miraculously dropped to 50,000. Of course the Grab we book is only 12,000 and of course they’re illegal, as our happy driver gleefully points to some dubious looking signs outside the hotel. We get in to the 50,000 car as my Grab driver’s time to arrive has increased and we are running late. Needless to say, our Grab driver arrives later( not so illegal after all) we aren’t there, but he gets paid anyway.

number four tip 

Run up to the departures level with your luggage and get into a Bluebird taxi that has just dropped someone off. If the driver doesn’t switch on the meter, set a price. It’s still really annoying that Bali Airport taxi drivers with a meter won’t use it. But grin and bear it, getting out of the airport is the most annoying taxi ride you’ll have in Bali.

number five tip

As a last resort, wave around cash (the amount you’re willing to spend) and see who comes!

summary of Bali airport taxi 

 Moral of the tale if you dislike haggling and we mean aggressive haggling, book transfers through your hotel, know the prices, download some ride sharing apps and NEVER USE the “official”  Bali Airport taxi stand at Ngurah Rai Bali International or domestic.

For reference the Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Rai Airport offers a free shuttle service to and from the airport. It is essential you book in advance so they know how many cars to send. Do not turn up and call. Email ahead.

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Selong Beach one the 5 Best Beaches on Lombok

5 best beaches on lombok 

Firstly, how to get to Lombok? Where is Lombok? Lombok is one of the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia. It is sandwiched between the better known island of Bali and the almost undiscovered West Nusa Tenggara. Land in Bali and then get straight onto another plane to Lombok! Believe us, this is the easiest and most hassle free way to get to the best beaches on Lombok. Secondly, if you’re after a beach vacation only, then Lombok really has the best of the best. In other words, if you’re looking for that picture perfect beach, then Lombok will deliver.

Lombok has so many beautiful beaches. Some are easy to get to,  but, others are a bit of a day trip. Much emptier than Bali’s beaches, Lombok is probably like what Bali was 30 years ago! Our best beaches on Lombok guide is in no particular order. But you must see them to believe them!

Quick Index Best Beaches on Lombok

            

What makes a good beach is different for each person

As half our time is spent in Australia, we have become a bit spoiled as to what constitutes a good beach. For us, it’s clean water and better if it’s warm and doesn’t contain plastic pollution. Fine sand, of any colour with the absence of coral, stones or vegetation debris. You should be able to lie down with just your towel. Flat waves or surf, you pick your beach depending on your activities for the day. The absence of flying and biting insects also makes it into our consideration for our list of best beaches in Lombok. 

            

Selong Belanak Beach

Selong Beach Lombok one the 5 Best Beaches on Lombok
Selong Belanak Beach is a great place to learn to surf or chill out

Is this the best beach on Lombok? Read on and decide for yourself.

This beach, in our humble opinion is the quintessential definition of great! White powdery sand in a crescent shaped bay, fringed by coconut palms. The water whilst not crystal clear on some days is clean, warm, free of debris and has decent surf. As with many Lombok beaches, there is no natural shade in the good sandy spots.  Looking across the horizon you have little hills which frame the sunset perfectly.

Twice a day, local farmers walk their herd of buffalo along the perfect white sand and this makes for a great spot of people watching. Every single first timer quickly gets up, runs for their camera or phone and snaps these magnificent animals, sometimes getting a little too close!  Not too many beach vendors here which is another bonus. There are wide food choices and in general, you get what you pay for. The cheaper seafood dishes like fresh calamari are sold in tiny portions and deep fried. Also not the best quality and prepared in dubious conditions. We’re talking hygiene conditions. However, we are still alive, so it can’t be that bad!

            

Taanjung Aan Beach Lombok

Taanjung Aan Beach Lombok
Taanjung Aan Beach Lombok has great sand calm waters just a few minutes drive from Kuta

Curved bay, white sand, clear water. It sounds a bit like Selong Belanak. Moreover, it looks a bit like it too although with whiter sand! Beach chairs for hire and trinkets to buy. Flatter waves. The vendors here are a bit more persistent and use children and women to turn on the guilt factor. Depending on the tides and time of year, plastic pollution may rear its ugly head. There are plenty of those wooden swings that you find on Gili Trawangan. Another spot for spectacular sunset shots.

            

Mawun Beach Lombok

Mawun Beach one the 5 Best Beaches on Lombok
Mawun Beach Lombok is a quiet and picturesque curved beach

Much less developed in terms of places to eat and sun loungers to rent. Good if you don’t like being pestered. Another crescent shaped beach with fine yellow and white sand. Hills frame the water perfectly on either side of the bay. Small waves. Clean water and that indispensable hash tag sunsets on Instagram!

            

Mandalika aka Kuta 

Mandalika aka Kuta 
Mandalika aka Kuta Beach is right in the town of Kuta

An easy to get to beach from the town of Kuta. Not to be confused with Kuta in Bali! Not that pretty as the Mandalika resort are still building their megolith directly on the beach. The sand is more coarse here and definitely yellow in colour. There are however green hills in the distance as you gaze onto the water.

    

Sengiggi Beach Lombok

Sengiggi Beach one the 5 Best Beaches on Lombok
Sengiggi Beach Lombok has a lot of 5 star hotels

Yellow  or sometimes grey looking coarse sand and busy. This is either a curse or a blessing. A blessing because there are lots of food options and water sports, but a curse, if you’re seeking peace and quiet. Great for sunset views. Some parts of the beach have lots of dead coral. The big plus is the range of accommodation in the immediate vicinity. Decent surf to be had on most days. If working on your tan is more your thing than water activities, you’ll be easily satisfied.

            

Most Over Rated Beach on Lombok is Pink Beach

pink beach 5 Best Beaches on Lombok  - Only1inVillage
Pink Beach Lombok

We don’t like to write negative things, but, sadly the prize goes to Pink Beach. Difficult to get to on horrendous ‘roads’ and not very pink at all! Plenty of dead coral and in the low season somewhat deserted. Great marketing done by the Indonesian Tourist Board, but we’re not impressed.

We hope you liked our list of the best beaches on Lombok. Do you agree? Have you been to these beaches? Leave a comment below and join in the conversation!

While on Lombok we stayed at and highly recommend Bukit Indah Boutique Accommodation

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Turtle Spotting Gilli T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
I have never seen turtles as often as I did here

Go turtle spotting – Our favourite activity and particularly rewarding here in Gili T. Head north from the port about 600 metres so you are in the north east part of the island. From here take a dip into the clear waters. You will almost certainly see turtles every time you go out! If you can’t make it into the sea, Gili T has its own little hatchery (free of charge) to look at these cutest of reptiles.

     

Snorkelling Gili T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
The water is crystal clear with good fish life

Swim and snorkel in the incredible warm and clear waters – Swimming is good at high tide, otherwise you’ll be wading out over lots of coral to cool down. Watch the salt dry on your skin and give incredible volume to your hair when dry! Hiring snorkelling equipment is easy, but if you’re a bit squeamish about germs and where the mouthpiece has been, bring your own!

  

Day Trip Gili T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't underwater statues
This is the first time I have seen underwater statues!

Day trips to amazing underwater features and the other Gili islands – Day trips from Gili T take you to unique underwater statue sites and giant slides. You also get a pretty good view of the amazing waves, crashing against the rocks as you speed past. Practise your free diving and get your GoPro charged because you don’t want to miss these unique sculptures. 

   

Breakfast with a view Gili T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
Is it still a holiday if you don’t lounge around?

Sunbathe on comfortable foam loungers and over sized bean bags – all you have to do is buy a drink at the many establishments on the beach and you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. Relax, after all it’s a holiday isn’t it and if you don’t deserve it then who does?

   

Sunset Gili T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
The best sunsets I have ever seen was right here

Catch breathtaking sunsets – The island is split into two sides – sunrise and sun set. No prizes for which side has the best views for the more lazy of us, who can’t wake up for Mother Nature’s daily 5.00 a.m show! The most popular spot for sunset is actually the south of the island near Pink Coco about 1.25 kms from the port (most people ride a bike there). A couple of places serve drinks and food, plus offer chairs and cushions to watch the sunset.

 

You’re half way through our list of 10 fun things to do in gili trawangan and 1 don’t ………….keeep going!

 

Bike Riding Gilli T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
Do cycle around the island it’s fun and only takes a couple hours.

Get on your bike– With daily rental starting from 80000 IDR it’s a much easier way to see the whole island than by foot.  NO cars are allowed on Gili T. Sound like bliss? There are a few parts where you will have to wheel your bike across narrow paths and sand. Most of the island has decent enough path. Beware there are hardly any street lights at night. Bring your phone and think of ingenious ways to attach it for lighting your way after 7pm. Riding on two wheels is always a fun thing to do on holiday in our opinion!

   

Outdoor Cinema Gili T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
Free movies if you buy a drink or some food.

Laze at the outdoor cinemas – Nightly screenings of classic films at various locations. For food and a film try Pink Coco on the sunset side of the island. Get there before sunset and settle in on one of the comfy lounges. Films usually begin at 8pm and are free. You can also see movies closer to the port at a different venue although these are paid about 100000 IDR.

   

Turkish Shisha by the beach - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
There is plenty of nightlife options

Channel your inner Bob Marley – The Reggae Bar is the place to hang if you’re serious about reggae. Even if you’re not, you’ll hear it! Great bass and powerful speakers ensure the rasta in you will be mellow amongst your fellow holidaymakers. Or, if relaxing is more your style, try a turkish shisha by the ocean.

   

Romantic Dinners Gili T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
Romantic Beach side dinners!

Romantic dinners on the beach – Most restaurants and even cafes on Gili T have an outside section. Dine nightly on freshly caught seafood with the sound of the waves lapping gently on the shore. Be prepared to hiss at the many cats which try to get in on the fish action. Most venues also have live music, which can be an added bonus, depending on your mood!

 

Breakfast with a view Gili T - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't
What a view while you enjoy breakfast

Energise over long healthy breakfasts with a beach view of course – Smoothie bowls and great lattes are de rigeur on Gili T. Yes, even quinoa and chia seeds have shown their faces. Most cafes also offer delicious salads and vegetarian options. If you still crave more health kicks there are yoga classes operating in the northern end of the island from a raised studio with ocean views.

   

Onto our last thing that is not fun to do. Downright dangerous even.

Don’t ever drink cocktails on GIli T and in Indonesia in general. Stick to beer or wine as there is very little chance these have been tampered with. Better still, use this holiday to go tee total and de -tox! Even though Indonesia is a cheap country for tourists, the price of a cocktail is so cheap, it is too good to be true.

The reason is simple. The alcohol in your cocktail isn’t a blend of the famous brand bottles you see on display. The alcohol in your cocktail is a lethal local brew containing a toxic chemical called methanol. Disguised with syrups and juices, you won’t be able to tell your cocktail is potentially poisonous. You could go blind, or worst case scenario, you could die. (check for yourself, google methanol and Gili T)

That wraps up our list of 10 fun things to do in Gili Trawangan and 1 don’t. We would love to hear your views too. Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below! Poison is it in your drink? - only1invillage 10 fun things to do in Gili t and 1 don't

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Lombok Selong Belank beach Best Islands in Indonesia to visit

7 Best Islands in Indonesia to visit

Everyone has their own list of the best islands in Indonesia. Everything depends on your time and budget. Below we give you the lowdown on the 7 islands we visited in Indonesia. Ultimately, where you go depends on what type of holiday you want too. Since the devastating earthquake in  August 2018, which affected Lombok and the Gilis, our sources tell us it’s business as usual for most of the islands (Lombok and Gili T in particular). Do check individual hotels and resorts for the most up to date information.

 

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan beach with clear waters Best Islands in Indonesia to visit
Gili Trawangan beach with clear waters great for turtle spotting

First up in our best islands in Indonesia is Gili T. Its main draw card is crystal clear, warm waters with abundant opportunities for turtle spotting! Beach activities such as snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing and fishing opportunities abound. Never a dull moment on the liveliest and biggest of the three Gili islands, just off the North Eastern coast of Lombok. Booming reggae bars and barbecued fresh fish jostle for your attention at night. Spend blissful evenings sitting outside waiting for the most colourful and spectacular sunsets. Get on your bike and discover empty beaches and those famous swings in the water!

Where we stayed

Read about 10 fun things to do and 1 not so fun activity in Gili T here

 

Gili Meno

Much quieter than Gili T for couples looking to relax without the partying
Gili Memo is popular for couples

If less people and  weak wi-fi is what you seek, head on over to Gilli Meno! The second most popular of the Gili islands after Gili Trawangan is so close, you can see it.  Word of warning, it may look close, but, don’t try to swim over! Here you can stay in very basic or more up market accommodation. Beaches are pretty much the same as Gili T except wider. You’ll find areas of fine  white sand, but most is coarse and scattered coral abounds. The real magic is, of course, in the water. Teeming with turtles and colourful fish, this is a relaxed island to get your PADI license or go snorkelling.

 

Lombok

Watch the farmers take the buffalo home via the beach
Watch the farmers take the buffalo home via the beach

Incredible powdery white sand bays and beaches, Lombok is still a sleepy island due to the poor infrastructure and the quality of the roads. Mountain trekking on Mount Rinjani and amazing sunsets jostle with picture perfect curved bays fringed by coconut trees. A beach destination whose chilled out vibe is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Bali. Therefore, if you’re looking for peace and quiet, once you get off the plane in Denpasar, get straight onto another one to Lombok!

Where we stayed

See the best beaches of Lombok here

 

Lembongan

Dream Beach Lembongan  - Only1inVillage
A small island an hour by ferry from Bali with lots to see and do

Firstly, Lembongan is incorrectly called Nusa Lembongan. Nusa simply means island in the Indonesian language. You can do a day trip here, but to really appreciate its charm spend at least two nights. Secret beaches, wild coastlines and spectacular sunsets coupled with snorkelling and diving trips make Lembongan one of the best islands in Indonesia to see. Seaweed farming and the jump off point for Penida. Food options are great here too, with some of the best coffee made with FRESH, yes, not UHT milk. Rapidly developing, catch it while it’s still relatively off the Instagram radar! 

Where we stayed

Check out our in depth review of Lembongan here

Penida

Penida Island kelingking beach Best Islands in Indonesia to visit
The island for beautiful nature shots and instagram posts

Often incorrectly called Nusa Penida or part of the Nusa Islands. Nusa is the Indonesian word for island. Sorry to be pedantic, but C is a linguist! Hence, Nusa Dua means two islands and Nusa Ceningan means the island named Ceningan. Home to the most famous spots for Instagram posers at KK Beach and Broken Beach, Penida is best done as a day trip. Be prepared for the narrowest and bumpiest ride of your life whether it be in a car or a moped! Of course there are a myriad of beach and snorkelling opportunities too.We have to admit though, the photos are worth it!

Planing a day trip to Penida? Check it out here 

Bali

Famous Bali has more to it than shopping and partying
Bali has more to it than shopping and partying

 

Mountains, rice terraces, natural springs and waterfalls. Wide beaches, surfers and colourful Hindu festivals and temples. The island of Bali is what you make of it. Yoga retreat, spa indulgence, malls and markets, Bali has it all. Despite negative media coverage of the plastic pollution and sometimes disrespectful Westerners,  Bali is still an easy introduction to SE Asia. Try to go in the low season. Avoid Kuta for the cheap package holiday tourists from Australia and get off your sunbed. Bali has so much more to offer than cheap beer and nasi goreng. Moreover, head off into the hills and villages and get a taste of times gone by. 

Where we stayed

 

Java

Java has many cultural treasures
Java has many cultural treasures

Ancient culture and modern capitalism collide on Indonesia’s most populated island. You haven’t experienced a traffic jam until you’ve been to Jakarta and Bandung. Have the best fun hanging upside down at Upside Down World , it’s not just for kids! Make your own cigars and absorb Indonesian history in the many museums. A few traditional villages remain where you climb down into lush green valleys full of banana trees and giggling children. Of course you’ll need a driver to take you there which ruins the atmosphere, but we don’t recommend public transport to off the beaten track places.

For culture vultures, you can’t miss the temples of Prambanan and Borobudur in the vicinity of Yogyakarta, both naturally UNESCO world heritage sites. Drink the civet poo coffee and delight in the cotton batik clothes which keep you cool on this humid island. Take an eerie journey to a sulphurous landscape and then drink tea from a huge pirate ship in the high country. Shop until you drop in the markets and malls. Marvel at the architecture of the different styles of mosques. 

Where we stayed (Jakarta)   Our Accomodation (Bandung) Where we stayed (Yogyakarta)

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