Diving in Koh Tao Thailand: What You Should Know

For many the island of Koh Tao is a diving Mecca. It’s the second most popular diving place to learn in the world, as well as the go-to destination for more experienced divers. And after a couple of dives there I could easily see why this island is so popular. There’s abundant marine life, somewhat healthy coral and warm water temperature all year round, plus it is buzzing and very budget friendly. Yes, please!

The reefs of Koh Tao are some of the most diverse in the Gulf of Thailand. However, like in many other places, they are heavily threatened by human activities and climate change. But despite this, surprisingly it is possible to find abundant marine life. About 365 species of coral reef fish have been recorded around Koh Tao to be more precise. Including black tip sharks and whale sharks which you could encounter (if you’re extremely lucky)

There’s also plenty dive centres and diving resorts to choose from for a relatively small island. So, you’re certain to find one that suits your needs.

Some of my favourite dive sites in Koh Tao were: Chumphon Pinnacle, White Rock, Hin Pee Wee and Twins. Where I spotted all the marine fauna you will see below.

Lion Fish and Coral Diving in Koh Tao

However, it is important to bear in mind a couple of things about the island. Koh Tao has a decent nightlife scene (If you want to just chill try to find accomodation far from Sairee Beach). There are lots of scooters, is noisy and crowded all year round. Expect to find an interesting mix of tourists, like backpackers, divers, families and just everything in between. In general terms is safe, and just a bit of common sense is enough to get you out of trouble.

Diving in Koh Tao Coral yellow blue Fish

Useful things to know before you go diving in Koh Tao, Thailand

  • Fun dives cost around 700-1000 Baht (£18-£30) depending on how many you want to do and if you have your own equipment. Typically packages are cheaper.
  • Getting travel and diving insurance is a MUST, specially because if you need medical care the nearest decompression chamber is located on another island (Koh Samui). And the costs could get higher due to transportation.
  • You don’t need to rent a scooter to get around unless you want to be super mobile and explore the island a bit more.
brown fish underwater
Photo By Franceso Ungaro
  • While it’s true that black tip sharks and whale sharks can be seen in Koh Tao, spotting them frequently is a myth sadly. Don’t get your hopes too high and you might get surprised.
  • If you’re Padi certified you’ll probably want to check out Padi Travel I find it really useful. For the SSI certification there’s plenty of centres with this method available on the island too.
Black Spotted fish diving in Koh Tao Thailad
  • Do lots of research to find the Dive centre / resort that’s right for you. Accomodation and food is generally very cheap in Thailand and Koh Tao isn’t the exception. I stayed at the Tarna Align which was a good resort but their Dive Centre was chaotic and unprofessional, so sadly I can’t recommend it.
  • Think about the type of dives you’d want to have. Do you prefer dive masters who can speak your language? Do you like big, medim or small size groups? This will depend on the size of the dive centre and their boats. So choose carefully.
Daniela Diver Diving in Koh Tao
  • Wear a full suit to be safer around coral (I didn’t and paid for it on my 3rd dive). Or in case you come across a territorial Titan Trigger fish (don’t get too close or they will get pissed) 🙂
  • Visibility is reduced dramatically during monsoon season which is Nov-Dec.
Titan Trigger Fish Diving in Koh Tao Thailand
Titan Trigger Fish

Well, that’s it for me here. I hope that this guide has been both fun and useful for your next diving trip to Koh Tao, and to those of you who don’t dive, you don’t know what you’re missing! Yew

Discover Oaxaca: Handcrafts & Folk Art

This guide explores the Mexican state of Oaxaca for its unique handcrafts and folk art. From pottery and woven rugs to wooden carvings and embroidered clothing pieces.

For some, the name “Wahaca” rings a bell thanks to the UK fast-food chain that sadly sells anything but actual food from Oaxaca. Yet, this southwestern Mexican region is famous for its cultural and ethnic diversity. In fact, Oaxaca is the leading producer of handcrafts in Mexico, thanks to the abundance of raw materials and the numerous indigenous communities based in this area.

Whilst, other Mexican regions also produce fantastic craft-work —like Michoacán for textiles or Taxco for handmade silver pieces. It is Oaxaca the region that has got the widest variety across all artisanal trades in the country. Every little village in this region specialises in a particular craft. So, having an idea of what each village has to offer is crucial to be able to find what you’re after.

This guide explores the best places in the Oaxaca region to source beautiful unique handcrafts. Everything from pottery and wooden carvings to embroidered pieces and artisanal woven rugs.


Even though it is not impossible to find handcrafts in Oaxaca’s city centre, is in the small villages outside the city where the production takes place. So, finding a local guide or a small agency to take you there is essential.


hand-carved and hand-painted fox by artisans from Oaxaca Mexico San Antonio Arrazola
Photo credit: alebrijes.co

This small town is home to the colourful wooden-carved pieces called alebrijes (pronounced: ah-leh-brie-hes). These pieces are typically animal figures, carved with wood from Copal trees since it’s softer and easier to work with.


I found this work very interesting. The artisans make their pottery with local black clay. Using a technique called openwork and burnishing which gives every piece a nice sheen.


Some of these carefully knitted and handwoven designs represent their gods and sacred animals. And the colours and dyes they make come from natural sources like plants and insects. So, almost every piece feels organic and natural.

However, many Fashion brands and Home & Decor firms blatantly copy the patterns that belong to their culture without giving them credit. So, it’s very important to support them to keep their art alive.


People know this town for the embroidered textiles made with a backstrap loom. You can find artisans in the main square selling belts, handbags, embroidered items, sarapes (table runners) and huipils (traditional blouse).

Wearing a traditional handmade Oaxacan blouse

I would also recommend visiting the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca, the Art of Oaxaca Gallery and the PreHispanic Art Museum which are located in the city centre. Their collections show the most relevant and recognised contemporary Oaxacan artists and incredible PreHispanic pieces.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know down below which of these crafts is your favourite and which pieces caught your eye the most. Also, if you are planning a visit to Oaxaca, let me know if you buy any handcrafts at all! I’d love to know.


Lofoten: Nordic Paradise for Outdoor Adventures

Just when most people in Europe head south during the summer months I travelled north to the Lofoten islands. In search of the great outdoors, sunlight, fjords, hikes and kayaking.

Did you know there is a place above the Arctic circle where you can go on all kinds of outdoor adventures with warm weather and endless sunshine? Probably not, right?

While most people would expect (not entirely without reason) that the Northernmost parts of Scandinavia remain cold and a bit rainy during the summer. There is an archipelago of islands in Northern Norway, called Lofoten that is not quite like any other place with this latitude (68 Degrees north for those of you wondering!).

This geolocation makes the Lofoten Archipelago special for two main reasons. First of all, incredibly warm temperatures during the summer thanks to a strange phenomenon that makes the convergence of the Gulf Stream with two other currents. On the other hand, the extended levels of sunlight which literally means that the sun NEVER sets.  So, there’s no reason to worry about darkness spoiling your outdoor adventures!

Lofoten Islands - Norway Map

The many islands that make up the Lofoten Archipelago have all one thing in common. A dramatic landscape, characterised by white sand beaches, towering mountain peaks, breathtaking fjords and turquoise waters. All of which makes this place the perfect summer destination for those seeking outdoor adventures and friluftsliv. Here are some of the best outdoor activities you can expect when visiting this Nordic paradise in the summer.

1. Kayaking in Arctic waters exploring the fjords

I am not going to lie, this was was of the main reasons I was drawn to Lofoten. And it was beyond worth the effort to get there. Honestly, paddling in the midnight sun in the Norwegian fjords was one of the things I wanted to do since I started taking this sport more seriously.

Kayaking midnightsun lofoten norway

If bringing your equipment isn’t an option, you can easily rent it at reineadventure in Reinefjord. There are levels for everyone, and you can either go on guided tours or rent it individually (You will need to show a certificate though, Norwegians like their safety).

Kayaking in Reinefjord lofoten norway

2. Midnight sun hiking

There are many incredible hiking trails for any level in Lofoten. However, I highly recommend doing the Kvalvika Beach trail because the scenery is from another world.

Hiking Kvalvika Lofoten Norway.jpg

The trail starts from Fredvang in the island of Moskenesøya and lasts about 2.5 hours until you descend to the beach. Another option is to do the Reinebringen trail which is far shorter but more challenging, it takes about 3 hours but you will be rewarded with amazing views afterwards.

Kvalvika Beach Lofoten Norway.jpg

3. Wild camping with a driftwood fire

In Norway, (and the rest of Scandinavia and Iceland too) you are allowed to roam, make a fire, forage and wild camp with very few restrictions. It is something Norwegians refer to as Allemannsrett. Although this is very common in the summer, you should be aware that camping on cultivated land isn’t permitted. Also, you are required to move after a couple of days, other than that you are good to go.

Wild Camping in Lofoten Norway

I headed to Bunes Beach taking a ferryboat from Reine towards the small village of Vindstad. This beach is very isolated, perfect for setting up camp and the hike is very mild, it only takes about 3 hours both ways. Make sure to bring everything you need with you, as there’s nowhere to buy supplies in Vindstad.

Bunes Beach Lofoten Norway.jpg

5. Swim in cold waters then relax in a hot tub

If there was one time I embraced the Scandinavian concept of friluftsliv was when I swam in the freezing cold sea in Lofoten. Actually, it was more of quick dip followed by a few screams, but I have to say I felt great and would do it again. A great place to combine a surf sesh and a hot tub is at UnstadSurfing which offers both cabins and board rentals.

Beach Lofoten Norway.jpg

6. See the white-tailed sea eagles hunting

Jump on a ferry boat excursion towards Trollfjord to get the best chances of spotting the white-tailed sea eagles diving for fish. There are a few companies that you can choose from to do this.

white-tale sea eagle lofoten Norway
Foto credit: Getty

7. Go fishing and learn more about Lofoten’s fishing community

Lofoten was basically shaped by the fishing culture since the Viking age until the modern days of the big fishing industry. You can learn more about facts such as the Arctic cod going to the islands once a year to spawn during the winter and many other interesting things in the Fishing Village Museum

Fishing Community Lofoten Norway.jpg

8. Cycle between fishing villages and discover Lofotr the largest Viking longhouse ever found

Lofotr Viking Museum Lofoten Norway.jpg

Cycling is a great option to explore your surroundings and some places offer rentals. Also, if you are thinking about going to Lofoten you should definitely try to stop by Lofotr the largest ever found Viking house which was reconstructed into a museum. Every year in August there is a Viking festival with many cool activities.

Wood carvings Lofotr viking museum Norway.jpg

Best time to go to Lofoten? Late Summer in August when the biggest crowds of June and July dissipate.

How to get there?  There are few options depending on the budget and time you have got. You can either fly to the small Airport in Svolvær or take the ferry across from Bodø or drive (3h 30 min) from Narvik.

Where to stay? It can get fully booked very fast during the summer, so try to book at least 4 months in advance. I can recommend staying at a nice b&b called Catogården in Reine which is run by lovely Runhild.

Cabin rorbu Lofoten Norway

Kayaking in Fjord Lofoten Norway

Other things you should know:

  • There are tons of flies, especially in Reine Fjord where there’s plenty of stockfish. Also, bring mosquito repellent.
  • Sometimes the weather is fickle. Pack waterproof and warm clothing and a wetsuit if you want to “swim” in the sea.
  • For more detailed information about the Norwegian outdoors, trails and routes for hiking check out your new best friend the DNT Norwegian Trekking Association.
  • Food and alcohol: are very expensive and if you are vegetarian like me it is a real struggle, as it is very hard to find vegetarian/vegan options. Most popular foods tend to be any kind of fish and whale steak. Not cool, tell me about it!

I hope my suggestions for this Nordic paradise have inspired you to go exploring, reconnecting with nature and embracing the great outdoors like Scandinavians (and in particular Norwegians) like to do. Let me know in the comments section what your favourite outdoor activity is.

Happy exploring!

10 must-dos for San Francisco first-timers

Possibly, the coolest city in the US. San Fran is hip and vibrant and full of things to do.

You’ve been known to roll your eyes at fellow tourists running around with their maps frantically ticking off every single touristic attraction in town. The idea of jumping on and off any city bus makes you cringe. I get it, I’d personally prefer to blend in and act less like a tourist. But when you visit San Francisco for the first time, there are a few touristy things you are certainly going to want to do, like getting on one of those city buses. This 10 must-dos guide will help you not to miss the key places on your first trip to San Francisco.

1. Golden Gate Bridge

Connecting San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge is possibly the most photographed landmark in the entire city and without a doubt the number one must-do in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco

It can be crossed either by bike or by foot as there’s a lane for pedestrians. There are many bike rentals and it is somewhat inexpensive to rent one for a day, around $20.

2. Fisherman’s Wharf & Pier 39

Fisherman’s Wharf is San Fran’s historic waterfront district. It offers a wide selection of attractions and things to do. From the Maritime Museum (free entrance) for a historical overview of the city to visiting WWII Pampanito Submarine, Hyde Street Pier, Ghirardelli Square, watching the sea lions swimming freely at Pier 39, or the somewhat freaky Musee Mecanique if you are into playing antique coin-operated mechanical instruments & vintage arcade games.

Sea lions resting in the sunshine at Pier 39 in San Francisco California

There are many restaurants in this are but I highly recommend trying a crab sandwich from the market. From Pier 39 you can take the ferry to go to Alcatraz (If you’re interested although is highly overrated and overpriced).

US WW II Pampanito Submarine
WW II Pampanito Submarine

3. Ferry Building

Historically a fascinating place, since its opening in 1898 it was the primary portal of the city, as most travellers and commuters could only reach the city by ferryboat. Nowadays,

The Ferry Building in San Francisco

The Ferry Building functions as a public food market with a wide selection of independently owned shops, fresh local produce, great restaurants, and other interesting local shops. I highly recommend Blue Bottle Coffee for a great coffee, Bookpassage bookstore and Miette Patisserie for delicious desserts.

Also, the ferry terminals operate from here if you’re interested in taking a ferry outside the city.

4. The Presidio

The area around Presidio is where the city of San Francisco started. Actually, the word presidio in Old Spanish means military fort. And that is precisely what this area was circa 1700 when the Spanish built this fortification to protect its new territories.

The Presidio Park and a cute little poodle dog

After it passed to Mexico, a new settlement called Yerba Buena, later known as San Francisco was started. Interestingly, the Presidio served also as a US army post. Nowadays, is a beautiful national park that offers not only a rich history but also great green area for picnics, hikes through the forest, scenic views of the GG bridge at Crissy Field, the Palace of Fine of Arts Theatre and from up the hill there’s a viewpoint called Lyon Street Steps offering great views from the top of the hill.

Palace of Fine Arts Theatre


  • 24hours (1day) – City tour bus (hop on / off) is a great way to have an overview of your surroundings at least for the first day of your trip. Remember is very hilly and sometimes you can’t just walk everywhere. Price: $52.99
  • Free entrance to museums is the first Tuesday of every month
  • Buses take forever and only exact change is accepted. Also, the cable car fare isn’t cheap. A one-way ticket costs $7 and again only exact change is taken, so I highly recommend getting the Clipper Card or the CityPASS and sharing rides in Uber which works great there.

5. Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco California

This park is another must-do really and simply enjoying walking in the park is great. However, I’d also recommend visiting the Japanese Tea Garden, Strawberry Hill and enjoying the tulips located in the western section of the park.

6. The Castro and Mission neighbourhoods

The Castro is synonymous with gay culture, its rainbow-coloured views, adult shops, bars and drag queen shows make it almost impossible to miss. This district is bustling pretty much all day long, however, it is at night that it really comes alive. The Castro Theatre and the GLBT historic Museum are the 2 main landmarks.

The Castro in San Francisco California

The Mission district is just next to the Castro and although it is super close it can’t be more different. It’s a residential area with many Victorian houses but it has sort of a hipster artistic vibe to it. It has become quite famous for its colourful street murals and graffiti paintings about Latin American culture, little cafes and restaurants. You can’t miss Dolores Park, Roxie Theater and of course the Murals at Balmy and Clarion Alley.

Victorian houses in the Mission San Francisco

7. Russian Hill

View from Lombard Street, Russian Hill District San Francisco California

Russian Hill name after a burial site of Russian hunters back in the 1800s, is nowadays quite an upscale residential area with fantastic views of the city, including the Bay and the Golden Gate. It is also famous for the crooked Lombard Street which is an iconic spot in San Francisco you can’t miss.

Lombard Street in Russian Hill District San Francisco California

8. Nob Hill

Nob Hill is another upscale area where practically all the posh hotels are located. There are a few iconic places worth visiting, such as the Cable Car Museum (below) where you can learn more about the city’s iconic way of transportation. It is also free for everyone to enjoy which is a plus.

Cable Car Museum in San Francisco California

Other must-dos are the Gothic-style Grace Cathedral, the charming Huntington Park, Union Square (further down) and of course China Town where you will certainly find many interesting things to photograph or buy.

9. Pacific Heights and Fillmore St.

If you happen to be looking for local designer shops where you can find different and authentic items you have got to head towards Fillmore Street around the Pacific Heights area. There are also many restaurants and bars with great international food.

Fillmore Street in San Francisco

Also, if you walk further down towards Fillmore District you will find the street where the famous row of Victorian houses called the Painted Ladies are located.

Colourful Victorian houses in San Francisco California

10. Wine tasting in Napa Valley and Sonoma

No trip to San Fran is complete without experiencing some good wine tasting in Napa Valley, although in order to do this, you are technically going outside the city. If you have the time I highly recommend spending a day visiting two of my favourite wineries: Carneros and Domaine Chandon.

I happen to have friends in Vallejo (a city in Napa) with whom I stayed but if you aren’t as lucky as I was, the best thing to do is arranging a price with an Uber driver who can take you to the wineries and drive you back to the city afterwards. Remember, renting a car to get there makes no sense as you simply can’t drink and drive and a normal taxi will cost a fortune.

Bouchon Bakery located in Yountville California

If you decide to go wine tasting I highly recommend paying a visit to the famous Bouchon Bakery in the little cosy town of Yountville, about half hour from Carneros you won’t regret eating those pastries, I promise. Well, unless you’re on a diet.


Cable Car ride in San Francisco California


Californian sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge


Californian Volkswagen Beetle

So, hopefully, this post has given you some ideas on the things you shouldn’t miss when you visit San Fran for the first time. And for those who have been already, I hope this article makes you want to go back. Let me know in the comments section what your favourite place in San Francisco is.

Galápagos: The Complete Wildlife Observation Guide

Where else are you going to swim next to marine iguanas and sea lions or see penguins catching fish next to you?

When I landed in Galápagos it felt as if I wasn’t supposed to be there. I remember reading so much about it and watching dozens of documentaries to kickstart my dreamed wildlife observation journey, but nothing could have prepared me for what lied ahead. It was all too surreal. Sea lions hanging out at the entrance of my hostel as if they were street dogs, and birds that weren’t scared of humans! (Later I discovered the birds’ behaviour was down to a lack of predators). It was such a humbling experience and at that point, I could really understand why Darwin and even Attenborough were so fascinated with the archipelago.

I visited the archipelago for 7 days with a yacht cruise called ‘The Montserrat’ which had comfy rooms, good food, helpful crew, and most importantly a very knowledgeable and friendly tour guide. Below is the itinerary with all the islands I visited, the must-see places and best spots for wildlife observation and diving.

Wildlife Observation Guide

San Cristóbal Island and Cerro Brujo

My trip started on San Cristóbal island where I had the chance to go for a quick explore around Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Punta Carola beach before jumping on my boat. Once on board, we arrived at Isla Lobos which is home to a big colony of sea lions.

Sea lion swimming with me

The island is named after them in Spanish, lobo marino. There is a protected channel where you can go snorkelling with them as shown above. This area is also an ideal place to watch nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies.

Cerro Brujo Hill Galapagos

Other interesting places nearby are ‘mirador Cerro Tijeretas’ (viewpoint) and Cerro Brujo  (shown above) which is located on the northern coast of San Cristóbal Island. It is a great place to watch marine iguanas swim (while they snort salt from their nostrils), or visit a tortoise breeding area in the highlands with lots of endemic flora.


Española Island

One of the oldest islands in the whole archipelago at around 4 million years old, La Española is actually dying and with time it will become a barren land with no vegetation. Having said that, this is great spot to see waved albatrosses, and if you are extremely lucky like I was, the blue-footed boobies mating dances.

Blue-footed Booby

I also explored a lovely sandy beach in Bahía Gardner and wrapped my day up watching the bird colonies at Punta Suárez.

Waved Albatross Galapagos
Waved Albatross

Highlight: There’s an epic blowhole in Punta Suarez that you can’t miss!

Blowhole Galapagos Punta Suarez

Floreana Island

I had the opportunity to dive at a fascinating site called the “Devil’s Crown”, it’s an underwater volcanic cone with schools of fish, sea turtles, sharks and sea lions, and many epic coral formations.


Punta Cormorant is also a must, only a short walk past a lagoon to see flamingos, rays, sea turtles and lots of Sally Lightfoot crabs.

Turtle swimming Galapagos
Green Turtle from Galapagos

Santa Cruz Island

Here’s where you visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the incredible giant Galápagos tortoises roaming freely. Puerto Ayora hosts the largest human population in the entire archipelago and it is a great place for chilling at a beach bar.

Giant Tortoises Galapagos Wildlife Observation
Giant Tortoises or Galapagos

Tortuga Bay is a beautiful and very long sandy beach where you can not only swim but also spot white tip reef sharks close by a natural mangrove that’s only a short walk from the beach.

Giant Tortoise Galapagos
Giant Tortoise Galapagos

Playa El Garrapatero is a nice beach to spend some time at after a long day exploring. But possibly the highlight for me on this island was hiking up to the Los Gemelos (The Twins) craters to see some very old rock formations. Also places like ‘Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado’, Galápagos Beach at Tortuga Bay, and ‘Reserva de Tortugas El Chato’ are great to learn more about the giant tortoises.

Fun fact: the Spanish named the archipelago after the giant tortoises that once roamed the islands. As in Spanish “galápago” translates to giant tortoise. 

Top Tips for Wildlife Observation in Galápagos

Galapagos penguin catching fish



How to get there?

There are two ways to get to the Galápagos archipelago, either flying to Baltra or to the San Cristóbal Airport from Quito (via Guayaquil) which is the option I went for. There are three airlines flying daily to the archipelago: Tame, Avianca, and Lan. 

What currency?

The official currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar. Generally speaking, it is very cheap to travel around Ecuador. However, prices on the Galápagos are much higher than on mainland. Also, make sure to take cash out before arriving in the Archipelago as sometimes cash machines on the main island aren’t reliable.

Top place for diving and seeing sharks and rays

I was on a mission to find all the marine fauna I could possibly see around the islands, and most of the time I was very lucky. And Kicker-Rock or León Dormido  (in Spanish) is where I enjoyed diving the most, I got to to see some reef sharks, hammerheads and stingrays and mantas. 

Stingray resting Coral Reef Galapagos
Stingray resting Coral Reef Galapagos

Kicker Rock Galapagos

Galapagos is one of the most extensive marine wildlife diversity preserves in the world. But diving here isn’t always pleasant like in South East Asia, because the water is SERIOUSLY cold, so make sure you pack a very thick winter diving suit. 

Galapagos Reef Shark
Galapagos Reef Shark

Last but definitely not least, its really important to limit your interactions with the wildlife. While you should enjoy your wildlife observation trip, you should know that increased tourism to the national park have a negative impact on this fragile ecosystem. Human presence affects their natural behaviours! So, let’s all try to keep it as pure and wild as possible. 

Let me know in the comments below what you thought of this post and what are you most excited to see when you go to Galapagos!

The Best of Croatia’s Natural Wonders

While its coastal towns are soaring in popularity most of Croatia’s natural heritage is surprisingly less known. From majestic mountains, river canyons and caves to charming lakes and waterfalls. This guide is packed with inspiration for your next retreat in nature.

Croatia is so naturally beautiful that it is almost unfair when compared to another European country. Surely, I’m leaving aside all the impressive man-made constructions and a whole lot of historical places (worth visiting) out of the package but it is done kind of on purpose. The focus here are the natural wonders of the country which are surprisingly less known.

Something that struck me during my Croatian quest for nature is that you don’t need to search too much to find it. If you shift your gaze from the ground chances are you will spot a majestic mountain, go further inland and you are greeted by river canyons, caves, picturesque lakes and a gazillion waterfalls, and as if that’s not enough, you still got incredible coastal towns with waters that invite you to swim under the Adriatic sun.

I could go on… but in all honesty if you are interested in not-so touristy places (except for Plitvice which is a well known UNESCO World Heritage site) where you can disconnect, breathe-in the fresh air, capture picture-perfect landscapes combined with a few cultural options then you seriously need to consider what Croatia’s natural heritage has to offer. Whether you are up for an active holiday doing some outdoor sports, like hiking, kayaking, climbing and such or a more chilled one, I’ve got you covered with some of the best, unspoiled and less visited Croatian natural wonders that without a doubt will give you a few ideas for your next retreat.

Krka National Park

A true natural paradise that makes your jaw drop with its vistas over the mountains along the Krka River. The many waterfalls and pedestrian-only zones such as the Orthodox Monastery, Skradinski buk and Visovac island are a definite must.

Krka is a great spot for nature lovers and anyone looking for a good hike as there are well defined trails for this purpose, or simply for enjoying wonderful views and the cultural heritage of Croatia. It is also important to mention that Krka is one of the few national parks where you can actually swim close to the waterfalls. There’s also bicycle trails and boat excursions to some interesting sites within the park, such as the Franciscan Monastery and Roski Slap waterfall.


Main points of interest:

  • Skradinski Buk the longest waterfall in the park and the 19th century watermills
  • Hydropower plant which provided electricity to the area before most European cities had done so
  • Visovac Island and the Franciscan Monastery are one of Croatia’s most valuable cultural and natural sites
  • Roski slap waterfall and its beautiful Necklaces (barrier of small cascades)
  • Krka Monastery a spiritual centre of Orthodox faith located in a bay on the river
  • Manojlovac slap waterfall with its 59 m is considered the largest and loveliest waterfall in the park
  • Archaelogical site Burnum a gem of ancient Roman history

Location and access: Krka is located in the central part of the eastern Adriatic coast. The nearest railway station to the park is Sibenik station. However, the best way to access it is by car (A1 Motorway), as you are more in control of the time you dedicate to each area and also because it is quite extensive.

Opening Hours: is open all year round. From April to October all entrances are open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. For more info click here

Brijuni Islands National Park

DSC02887 (2)

Or Brioni in Italian is a beautiful archipelago consisting of two main islands and 12 islets off the coast of the Istrian Peninsula. While most people head south to the popular Dalmatian coast this archipelago is somewhat less known and remains very protected. So much so, that you can only access it by visiting the largest island Veliki Brijuni and from there you can organise other boat excursions to the rest of the islets.

These islands became President Tito’s summer residence from 1945 when they officially became part of Yugoslavia. But above their interesting history you can expect clear blue waters, calm atmosphere with very few tourists, great snorkeling, a zoo, a charming little train that will take you along the shore, among other things on the largest island Veliki Brijuni.

Location and access:  The closest cities from which you can get to the Brijuni islands are Pula and Rovinj. There are daily boat trips departing from a town called Fazana which is only about 8 km from Pula that will take to the main island. For more info Brijuni click here

Paklenica National Park


It’s the absolute heaven for climbers and people who enjoy trekking and mountaineering. The wonderful vistas over the canyons, its flora and vegetation make it a top spot for anyone looking for an adventure, a passion for outdoor sports but it is fair to say that the only way to really see its beauty is by being active in the mountains, so if you don’t feel like working out this natural wonder might not be for you.

An interesting fact I learnt while I was there is that the name Paklenica is believed to derive from black pine sap named paklina used by the locals for its medicinal properties.

The park has many hiking and mountaineering trails and routes with different levels of difficulty for everyone, so don’t worry if you are not a pro. There’s also amenities and view points for taking great shots.

Location and access: the park is located in northern Dalmatia not far from Zadar. The quickest way to get here is by car taking the motorway A1. There’s also good connections by bus from Zadar to Paklenica, it will take about 45 minutes to get there. For info about opening times click here

Plitvice Lakes National Park

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The Croatian wonderland of water. With its interlinked pools, waterfalls and forests it is by far the country’s first national park and one of Europe’s premier natural wonders. Plitvice Lakes extend over 5 miles creating a pool in one and from there flowing into small streams, springs and waterfalls. It has many wooden footpaths that allow visitors to explore the lakes without disturbing the fragile environment. Veliki slap (big waterfall) is the biggest fall dropping 78 meters into a canyon.

Plitvice lakes are perfect to visit all year round and in the summer they offer a great escape from the heat while in winter time you can see natural stalactites formations from frozen water in the lakes. Just bear in mind that swimming is not allowed here due to its UNESCO Heritage Listing but that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the visit.

Location and access: located in central Croatia about an hour away from Zadar. Easily accessed by car or bus from either Zadar or Zagreb. Park is open all year round from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm for more info check here


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Budapest: the pearl of the Danube

Once called the “Pearl of the Danube” for its unprecedented beauty and striking architecture. It remained hidden for years behind the Iron Curtain. Nowadays is a vibrant destination that offers culture, thermal baths, ruined bars and much more.

Continue reading “Budapest: the pearl of the Danube”

5 Reasons to visit Istanbul in winter time

While there is no denying that Istanbul is a stunner when the sun is shinning it can also be a magical place during winter and by that I mean when it’s cold, raining and covered in snow.

While there is no denying that Istanbul is a stunner when the sun is shinning it can also be a magical place during winter and by that I mean when it’s cold, raining and covered in snow. Yes, I’m really not kidding. Continue reading “5 Reasons to visit Istanbul in winter time”