Let’s not beat around the bush, you’ve all heard about Hallstatt by now. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see Hallstatt proudly displayed on my Instagram feed, and rightfully so. If you’re a lover of pretty places, you need to head here.

So, after convincing my two lovely travel pals that we needed to take a trip to Hallstatt during our recent ventures to Salzburg, I was then left wondering “what actually is there to do in Hallstatt?!”

RELATED: Before you can explore Hallstatt, you’ll need to know how  to get there! Read my article on accessing Hallstatt from Salzburg to find it all out! 

 Hallstatt Viewing Platform

As soon as we arrived in Hallstatt, we rushed over to the Hallstatt Viewing Platform. This probably wasn’t our greatest idea given that it was a seriously overcast day and later on the skies brightened up considerably. But hey-ho, you can’t stop a girl who’s obsessed with mountain views. I was getting on that funicular no matter what the weather.

I can only imagine what the view would have been like on a sunny day. If you’ve read my post about visiting Lake Bled on the foggiest day known to man, you probably think that I am cursed with bad luck when visiting the current Instagram-favourite locations – I think you’re right! I need to learn my lesson and give myself more than one day to explore these locations!

Hallstatt Salt Mines

If you’re in Hallstatt for more than a few hours, after visiting the viewing platform, you should also visit the salt mines! Unfortunately we were only in Hallstatt for a few hours (we ended up having to take a guided tour), so we didn’t have time to make a visit, but I’ve heard great things about it! We didn’t mind too much as 2 out of 3 of us had recently visited the salt mines in Krakow (which are great and I would highly recommend)!

Explore The Old Town

Once we came down from the view point, we headed to the main town centre to see where all the action lies. As with any “old town”, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is going to be stupidly beautiful. Hallstatt Old Town is filled with cute colourful decorated buildings and I could have easily spent more time just strolling around (and taking lots of pictures).

The Catholic Church, Cemetery & The Bone Church (Hallstatt Ossuary) 

 One of the most interesting things in Hallstatt is “The Bone Church”. Hallstatt isn’t a huge place and burial plots are sparse. The Bone Church dates back to the 12th Century and skulls would be removed from existing graves once the grave was needed for a new burial. Skulls were then painted according to the family name and also a number of personality traits. Over 600 artistically painted skulls now lie on display. The majority of the skulls are from the 18th Century but there are a few from the 20th Century.

The Bone Church is a really unique and interesting experience. The Catholic Church next door and the adjoining cemetery are also worth a visit – both very beautiful.

RELATED: If you can’t get to Hallstatt, Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic has an Ossuray too! Much larger and much more ornate, you can read all about it here!

Various Other Churches

After exploring the Bone Church, we explored the surrounding area poking our heads into various other churches and cute little shops. Everything is just so god damn cute!

Take in the pretty views

After racing around all the different sights, we spent the last portion of our short time in Hallstatt just enjoying the views. This is a ridiculously beautiful town and you’d be silly not to just spend time enjoying it’s natural beauty.

Now, for the things we didn’t get to do:

  • Waldbachstrub Waterfall – How on earth did I not know that a waterfall existed in Hallstatt?! I would have been straight over to visit if i knew about it!
  • Take a boat trip across the lake
  • Experience the views from the “Five Fingers”
  • Dachstein hiking world
  • Dachstein Ice Caves

Have you ever been to Hallstatt? Did you enjoy it? Is there anything else  you would add to my list?

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If I had to name one place that has captured the heart of travel Instagram accounts over the past year, it would be Hallstatt. I can’t scroll through my Instagram feed without seeing at least one photo of Hallstatt per day.

After booking a weekend away in Salzburg with two of my friends, I decided that we definitely needed to visit Hallstatt during our short stay in Austria  (lucky, they were easy to convince!).

Getting to Hallstatt from Salzburg was one of our main stumbling blocks as we tried to travel on a Sunday. We asked the receptionist at our hotel (Cityhotel Trumer Strube) to explain the best way to access Hallstatt and she said that the Sunday train/bus service is limited, particularly on the day we wanted to travel as there was some construction work taking place.

I found that the internet wasn’t particularly helpful on this topic, so hopefully I can shed some light and make the trip a hell of a lot easier for you!

Option A) Public Transport 

Length of Journey: Approx 3 hours each way

Price: 34.8 EUR for a return journey

Overview: If you are looking to use public transport, I found this webpage very helpful. Broadly, from Salzburg, I would have taken Bus 150 to Bad Ischl, then the train from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt railway station and finally used the ferry  to cross the lake to the village.

Pros: By far, this is the cheapest option. For an overview of costs and times, I would recommend this post by Travel Timo. You can also plan your day according to your own schedule,

Cons: As with any public transport system, you can face delays or inconveniences such as limited services on a Sunday or construction works. Also, if you’re looking to relax and catch up on some sleep (I wouldn’t recommend sleeping as the countryside is so beautiful), you might end up missing your stop with 3 changes in your journey. This is also a lengthy  journey, you may therefore wish to consider an overnight stay in Hallstatt rather than a day trip from Salzburg.

Option B) Use an organised tour 

Length of Journey: Approx 1 hour 15 mins each way

Price: 55 EUR for a return journey

Pros: You get an insider’s knowledge on Salzburg, the surrounding area and Hallstatt. There are also often chances to stop off at towns on the way to Hallstatt for photo opportunities, we stopped at St Wolfgang and St Gilgen (both gorgeous). If you’re looking to relax, not have to use your brain and navigate public transport, this option is for you!

Cons: Much more expensive than taking public transport and you only get a limited amount of time in Hallstatt (we had just over 2 hours).

Verdict: We took a tour with Paramount and would recommend this option if you aren’t worried about time or money restraints. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and had a real passion for Austria and it’s history. We learnt a lot and enjoyed our time with him immensely! He also took a different route home than on the drive to Hallstatt, so we got to see more of the gorgeous Austrian countryside!

Option C) Use a Shuttle Service

Length of Journey: Approx 1 hour each way

Price: 50 EUR for a return journey

Overview: When searching for options on how to access Hallstatt, we came across the company Shuttle Cesky Krumlov (which is also the same company as Bean Shuttle) .They offer a few shuttle services between Salzburg and Hallstatt throughout the day.

Pros: Depending on what time shuttles you pick, you can spend a lot longer time in Hallstatt than you would on a guided tour. It is also a cheaper option (although not as cheap as using public transport).

Cons: You need to book this service in advance. We were looking at our options the night before our trip and as such, we weren’t able to book the service. You submit your request for the shuttles online and then wait for an email from the company confirming that those slots are available. Our confirmation email had a mistake (they had quoted Cesky Krumlov rather than Hallstatt)  and therefore we weren’t happy to hand over a deposit before they corrected the booking information. As we were emailing them at around 6pm, the office soon shut and we were not receiving any responses to our emails. We therefore didn’t complete our booking and can’t comment on the reliability/professionalism of this service.

Option D) Take a Taxi (If you’re rich)

And the final option is to take a taxi. Whilst I wouldn’t consider this option due to how expensive it is (Rome2Rio currently estimates that it would cost £150 – £180 each way). But I should include it anyway as it is a feasible option if you’re not travelling on a budget (I don’t think there are many landing spots in Hallstatt for your private jet after all)!

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Recently myself and a friend hopped over to Ohrid (Macedonia) for a relaxing long weekend break. If you want somewhere budget-friendly, relaxing, full of history and culture, good weather (potentially!) and friendly faces galore, Ohrid is the place for you.

So, if you’re thinking about heading to Ohrid for a few days, here’s how you should spend them!

St Jovan Kaneo 

Macedonia Ohrid St. Jovan Kaneo

IMG_0749 v2You’ve all seen the pictures. This is probably THE most photographed area of Ohrid. Whilst the interior of the monastery wasn’t the most impressive, this is the perfect place to relax and get picture perfect shots. The view of the lake is second to none.

Tsar Samuel’s Fortress 

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If you know me, you will know that I love any kind of castle/fortification. So I was VERY excited to learn that Ohrid had it’s very own fortress and even more excited that we had a view of it from our bedroom window. This is the highest point of the city, so expect more incredible views!

Enjoy The Lake Views 

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Macedonia Ohrid Lake Boat

As if I haven’t already spoken about “the view” enough already! Ohrid’s main selling point is the fact that it is so god damn beautiful. I uttered the words “it’s so pretty” probably once every 25 minutes for the entire trip. Everywhere you turn will be picturesque (even the drive from the airport to the city!). But of course, the most picturesque area is on the lake-front.

RELATED: Want to know a bit more about this beautiful lake? Take a read of my “Top Things You Should Know Before Visiting Ohrid” 

Church of Saint Sofia 

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Saint Sofia is one of the larges churches in Ohrid and it was the first that we visited. This was our first experience of the Macedonian church frescoes. We were so impressed by how well the frescoes were preserved in places, little did we know that there were even more impressive frescoes in smaller churches around the city.

Boat Trip to Saint Naum 

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If you have a spare day, I would definitely recommend taking a boat trip over to Saint Naum. Make sure that you walk down to the pier the day before your trip to check what times the boats leave the next day. Everywhere on the internet told us that the boat left at 10am daily and when we turned up, the sign said the boat had departed at 9am and we had to wait until the 1.45pm departure – it’s safe to say that we were annoyed! The boat ride across would be amazing in sunny weather – we forced ourselves to sit on the top deck and watch the view even in the blistering wind.

Over at Saint Naum, you can visit the monastery, do a spot of shopping, grab a bite to eat and hire a rowing boat around the springs (pictured above). Oh… and try to avoid the peacocks, according to a sign, they “WILL HARM YOUR CHILDREN”.

Enjoy the Lake Walks 

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One of my favourite areas of Ohrid is the lake-front, particularly a little wooden walkway which follows the cliff edge. Such blue clear water! I kept saying to my friend that it would have been the perfect place for a wedding!


Macedonia Ohrid Wall

Macedonia Ohrid Plaoshnik

Plaošnik is an archelogical site and holy place in Ohrid which is currently undergoing some extensive restoration works. Our favourite part was an ancient ornate hole in the ground…. we thought it was a bath tub, turns out it was a baptistery… but anyway definite #BathTubGoals, maybe minus the swastikas though….

Ancient Theatre of Ohrid 

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Move over Rome, Ohrid’s amphitheatre is the place to be! The stage is still used for events throughout the year although I can’t imagine Justin Beiber playing there anytime soon… With a view of the stage and the lake, who can complain (apart from maybe about the stone hard seats…).

National Workshop For Handmade Paper 

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I shouldn’t be allowed into a cute little shop filled with handmade paper and prints. Especially when the lady working there is lovely and demonstrates how the paper is made and the prints are created. I was strong willed to not walk away with arms filled with prints.

The Icon Gallery of Ohrid

Time to get artsy! Head over to the Icon Gallery of Ohrid for a fascinating look into art throughout the centuries in Macedonia. I’d be lying if I said that art galleries normally hold my interest, I’d rather be exploring the real world, but this one was actually interesting, especially as I visited with an History of Art student (as you can imagine, I made much less intelligent comments about the paintings).

Church of Our Lady Perivlepta 

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Without a doubt, the Church of Our Lady Perivlepta is home to the most impressive frescoes I’ve ever laid eyes on. There’s a lot of construction work happening at the moment but around all of the scaffolding, you’ll be able to see plenty of incredibly well preserved frescoes – I don’t think there’s one tiny segment of the wall that’s not covered!

Walk the City Walls 

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Around  the edge of the city there’s some impressive city walls. And if you’ve read my blog post about my day trip to York , you’ll know how much I bloody love a historical city wall!

Shop in the City Centre

The city centre is where you should head if you want to do some shopping. Whilst I didn’t see many shops that took my interest, some of the restaurants are great!

RELATED: Want to know how much all of this will cost you? Go and read my article “Budgeting For Ohrid” 

  Things we didn’t get to do but sound great! 

  • National Park Galicica – unfortunately the national park can only be accessed by car. Something we should have researched before we arrived in Ohrid! If you fancy exploring the national park for a day, think about hiring a car or a driver for the day – Macedonia is super cheap after all!
  • National Ohrid Museum – we heard great things but simply weren’t in the “museum mood” and instead chose to explore by the lake and eat good food in our few spare moments!
  • Bay of the Bones Museum – We should have visited the museum on our way to the Monastery of Saint Naum but the weather was bad, the lake was too choppy and the boat couldn’t stop at the museum :-(.
  • Vevchani Springs – This is actually something that I didn’t see advertised at all while we were in Ohrid. When I got home and was browsing my internet favourites, I stumbled across this TripAdvisor link which I’d obviously saved months ago and completely forgotten about – it looks gorgeous and is about a 30 minute drive from Ohrid.

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So US National Park week is coming to an end (16 April – 24 April 2016) and I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about my current favourite place in the US.

The Grand Canyon is incredible – there’s no two ways about it. I visited back in 2010 (hence the slightly dodgy hair in the photos) and I would recommend it to anyone. We were staying in Las Vegas and made our way to the Canyon for a day trip.

I know that a lot of people say you can’t see the Grand Canyon without flying over it – I beg to differ! There were 7 of us on the trip, so not only would this be ridiculously expensive, it would also have been inconvenient given you can’t fit 7 people in a helicopter!

We settled on the Grand Adventures Sunset Tour and it was the perfect day! You leave Vegas early and make your way to the Hoover Dam for a quick photo stop (my top tip is to not accidentally lean on the metal railing around the dam when it’s a billion degrees outside… I practically suffered third degree burns on my leg…).

You then hop back into the minibus and have a few more stops in local Arizona towns – a really interesting insight into rural American lifestyle.

Then you arrive at the big finale! The Grand Canyon! I really don’t think pictures do this place justice (especially mine as they are taken on a 2010 DSLR which isn’t half as good quality as cameras these days!). I would love to go back and take the time to photograph and wander around more.

Given that the name is the “sunset tour”, you obviously get to see the sunset over the Canyon and it’s safe to say that it is a beautiful sight!

One of the things that made our tour really special is that our tour guide George was a professional photographer and made us pull all sorts of crazy poses, meaning we got some really great family photos! If I remember rightly, it was announced on Facebook that George left the company a few years ago, but I’m sure the other tour guides are just as great!

If I was in the US over the past week, I would have absolutely loved to take advantage of National Park Week! Who wouldn’t want free entry into some of the most beautiful areas of the states?!

There are so many ways that you can see the Grand Canyon – just to name a few, you should look into hiking, flying, the skywalk, the grand canyon railway, horse riding and water-rafting!  So make sure you do your research and find something that works for you.

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? How did you experience it?

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So, you’re finally going to visit Aushcwitz. Given the response I got from people when I said I was going, this has either been on your bucket list for forever, or you think this is a horrible idea and you’re being dragged by a loved one/feel like you have to go because you’re in the area. Who wants to spent time walking around a concentration camp after all? Me apparently! I fall heavily in to the former category and have wanted to visit Auschwitz forever. I love history and have studied this area heavily.

Entry to the camps is free, however you can pay to have a guided tour. From my understanding, in the peak months you have to join a guided tour. Our hotel had organised for us to have a whole day tour with Discover Cracow in which we were picked up from our hotel in Kraków, taken to Auschwitz for the morning (where the internal tour guides take over this section of your tour), returned to Kraków for lunch and then headed to Wieliczka Salt Mine for the afternoon. It was a long day but seriously worth it.

Auschwitz is split into three camps: Auschwitz-I, Auschwitz-II-Birkenau and Auschwitz-III-Monowitz. Auschwitz-I is where your tour will begin where the buildings are set up in museum-style with each one highlighting a certain area of life in the camps.

The most disturbing “exhibitions” in my opinion were the ones showing the victim’s belongings. Piles of abandoned suitcases, piles of human hair, piles of discarded shoes, piles of Jewish prayer mats, piles of tangled glasses. Once the Nazis knew that the Soviets were on their way, the Nazis tried to destroy as much evidence as physically possible. It’s hard to imagine that the piles of belongings on show are only a fraction of the total that were once there.

Another element that I found quite disturbing were a corridor lined with photos of victims, in an almost “mug-shot” like fashion. Rows and rows of victims. All in their striped uniforms, tattooed with a serial number, their names forgotten.

After you’ve been guided around the first camp, it’s time to jump on a bus and head to Auschwitz-II-Birkenau. The scale of this camp is absolutely insane. Rows upon rows of barracks which allow you to comprehend just how many people were held here.

This is where you will find the infamous train tracks, a very eery sight.

We were informed that there is very little left of the 3rd and final camp and therefore it’s not open to visitors.

On the whole, I found the guided tour of the camp quite rushed. We were in a large group and were marched through the camp, seeing all of the sights but very quickly. An elderly couple on our tour struggled to keep up and I thought this was quite unfair. While you could tell the tour guide was very passionate about the subject, you could also tell she was restricted with time and had to get you around the camp as quickly as possible.

Because of this, I felt like I didn’t quite grasp quite the horrors that have happened at the camps. More time to wander at your own pace, reading plaques, soaking in the information would have been good. As many of the buildings are now empty, I found it quite hard to visualise what things would have been like, especially when moving at such a fast pace.

But perhaps that’s also due to the complete atrocities that happened here, it’s almost hard to imagine that anyone could be capable of such devastation.

While concentration camps aren’t the happiest of places to visit and you’ll walk away feeling a bit depressed (some people I know have been utterly disturbed after their visit). I think it’s important that people continue to visit sights like this. Facing the reality of these sights is important, it helps us to recognise the cruelty within the human race. And after all, studying the past makes for a better future.

Have you ever visited Auschwitz or another “dark history” location? How did you feel afterwards?

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Malta isn’t somewhere that I had really thought about visiting. My grandparents visit the country most years and absolutely love it, however I don’t know too many other people that have been there. Therefore in my head it always seemed like a relaxed location for retired couples!

They had a week long trip planned to Malta in October 2015 and I had some holiday days left at work for the year. I hadn’t seen much of my grandparents during the year, so decided to fly to Malta for the last 3 days of their trip. I instantly fell in love with the place and I’m now sitting dreaming of being back in the 30 degrees Celsius sun while it’s freezing here in England!

Before my trip, my Grandparents reassured me that the country is very well linked transport-wise and therefore we could jet around seeing wherever we wanted whenever we wanted! On their arrival, they were told the old bus company had gone bust in July 2015 and the new ones were slower, more expensive, less frequent and generally much less reliable. So while I didn’t get to explore as many places as I’d hoped, the places I did explore really were special!

So without further ado… here’s my favourite places from my whistle-stop trip to Malta!

St Julian’s Bay / Sliema

This is my Grandparent’s favourite area to stay in, so obviously it gets mentioned first! St Julian’s is a small town that used to be a fishing village which has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years and therefore is much more touristy nowadays. It is also home to “Paceville” which is the hub of night-life in the area featuring many restaurants, bars and clubs. I obviously wasn’t in the area for a clubbing holiday, however if you are, this is the place to be! Otherwise, the area is lovely to walk around, get fresh food and generally relax.

My Grandparents absolutely love the Hotel Juliani (it has a beautiful rooftop pool!) and they recommend asking for a room that faces Spinola Bay (pictured above) with a balcony. It’s beautiful, especially at night! If you are looking for accommodation on a budget, I opted for a small guest house called Sogdiana which was basic but very modern and the staff were ever so helpful!


There isn’t all that much to do in Mosta other than see the Rotunda (The Church of the Assumption of our Lady), the main reason for this is that the towns and villages of Malta are all so close together that by the time you’ve come into Mosta, you’ve driven out the other side without even realising, everything seems to blur into one! However, the Rotunda is DEFINITELY worth a visit. It gets quite busy in the high-season, so be sure to get there early. The building is absolutely gorgeous and is one of the few churches/cathedrals in Europe that I’ve enjoyed photographing the outside as much as the inside!


Dingli isn’t on most tourist’s maps as a place to visit. It’s a small town with only circa 3,000 people living there, however, I think the views definitely make this a great stopping point! This is one of the highest point in Malta, so be ready for cliff-top sea views a plenty!


We stopped for lunch here on our day exploring all of the different towns at a little restaurant called “Grapes” who offer a Maltese speciality dish for a low price, I would highly recommend trying the food, it’s delicious! Rabat is a lovely town with the main two tourist attractions being St Paul’s Church and St Paul’s Grotto/Catacombs – definitely worth visiting!


Valletta is Malta’s capital, so it’s probably going to already be on your radar if you’re visiting Malta and rightly so! Be sure to catch the changing of the guards in St George’s Square, stroll around the city, explore the cathedrals and treat yourself to some ice cream in the blistering sun!


Now I am definitely saving the best till last here! Mdina is also known as the “silent city” and is an old fortified bastion. The entire city is enchanting, due to the countless narrow streets, many beautiful churches, zero cars and beautiful houses (this is the most expensive area in Malta to live in!). This area is a UNESCO world heritage sight and you can see why!

Have you ever been to Malta? What did you think?

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Whilst on a trip to Prague last month, we found ourselves with a spare day and didn’t know how to fill it. Luckily, a friend of mine had mentioned a “bone chapel” to me a few months before, so we looked into it and stumbled across day trips to Kutná Hora.

We had a fair amount of CZK left and it was our last day in the Czech Republic, so we decided to sign up for a driven tour from Prague to Kutná Hora and it was really incredible. In fact, I think that this was the highlight of the entire trip for me personally.

However, if you want to see Kutná Hora in the cheapest way possible, trains run from Prague main train station (hlavní nádraží) every two hours in the morning and early afternoon and every hour starting from 3pm. The trip takes about an hour and costs 100 CZK per person (one way). More information on local trains and changes can be found here.

Kutná Hora is extremely beautiful and a lot greener than you would expect a city to be. I could have easily spent a whole day exploring the area and getting my bearings.

Before reaching the centre of Kutná Hora, we stopped off in Sedlec to see the amazing UNESCO world heritage site of Sedlec Ossuary (a.k.a the bone chapel). I’ve never seen anything like it and was stunned at how strangely beautiful the chapel was, despite being decorated with human bones.

Next stop was Kutná Hora! The outside of St. Barbara’s Cathederal is really beautiful. The inside is rather average in my opinion but the outside and the surrounding areas make up for this. Apparently I couldn’t be bothered to take pictures properly at this point because I have no good photos of the inside or outside (stupid Danielle!).

We then went for a wander around the quaint city, you could tell that our guide was as in love with the area as we were all becoming. He took us to the best view points and gave a good insight into the history of the area. If you do want to take a day trip, be aware that many tour companies only do this trip on certain days. We used Premiant who were the only company we found that ran this tour on a Monday (in fact, they run it every day!).

All in all, this is a really picturesque little city and is definitely worth a visit, even if only for a day trip from Prague!

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Chichén Itzá is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world by “New2Wonders Foundation”, so if you’re in Mexico, it definitely should be on your “must visit” list!

We were staying in the Hotel Riu Tequila in Playa Del Carmen and most large all-inclusive hotels like this have organised trips to the local sights planned throughout the week – however they do come with quite a hefty price tag! Seeing as this was our first time in Mexico, and we were staying 2 hours away from Chichén Itzá, we decided that this was probably the best option!

My top tip for this destination is to leave EARLY. This doesn’t mean rolling out of bed a 9am… we left the hotel at 4am to make sure that we arrived at 6am. Not only is this one of the most popular tourist sights in Mexico and I still couldn’t get pesky humans out of my photos (lady with the umbrella, I’m looking at you!), Mexico is also ridiculously hot during the summer months. We travelled during July and by midday, it was too hot to really explore the area and appreciate it.

Another great thing about using an organised coach trip is that you get a tour guide with years of experience telling you all about the area, how it was formed and the history of the Mayan culture – I knew nothing before my visit but I can guarantee you’ll be hooked the entire time!

We also stopped for lunch at an all-you-can eat buffet restaurant (included in the tour price) just outside of Chichén Itzá. At this location there is also a cenote that you can swim in (can be seen in the distance of the last photo) which is a great way to escape the heat! As well as visiting the colonial city of Valldolid which is really beautiful.

Chichén Itza should definitely be on your bucket list. Steeped in history, architecture and beauty, what more could you want! (Apart from a slightly less sweaty experience…)

Summary of My Top Tips:

  • Leave early to avoid crowds (and the heat!)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Do your research beforehand or hire a guide
  • Take a trip to Cenote Hubiku on your way home
  • Enjoy!

Links Mentioned:

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