Ultimate Tasmania Itinerary: 10 Days In Tasmania

Ultimate Tasmania Itinerary: 10 Days In Tasmania

Tasmania, Australia used to be the butt of many Aussie jokes. But it's not quite like that anymore. As people everywhere are learning about the magnificence of this island state, it is blossoming into a tourism, foodie and outdoor adventure mecca. With remote wilderness landscapes, expansive surf beaches, an emerging café scene, and regular music and arts festivals, now is the time to visit Australia's island state (before the secret's well and truly out about Tasmanian holidays).

 

As a Tasmanian myself, I often hear people saying "I have always wanted to go to Tasmania, but never had the chance", or "one day I'll go to Tasmania". It might be the southern-most point in Australia and the edge of the world, but with incredibly cheap and quick flights from the mainland there is no excuse any more. Only 1 hour and $50-$100 by plane from Melbourne and you are transported to another world. A world of tranquility, the freshest air, and the most exciting adventures.

 

You can be forgiven for wondering "what would a Tasmanian holiday actually look like?" Well, here is a Tasmania itinerary I prepared earlier. Jam packed full of the best this beautiful state has to offer.

 


READ MORE: 40 BEST Ways To Spend Your Summer In Tassie


Tasmania Itinerary

A subterranean walkway at MONA (photo from Sahra via Flickr)

 
 

Day 1: Hobart


So you've arrived in Hobart. Welcome to Tasmania's exquisite capital city -- the perfect place to start your journey!

 

After sorting out a rental car (trust me, in Tassie you'll need one) and checking into your accommodation it's time to hit MONA. MONA is the Museum of Old and New Art and it has been getting some serious attention recently. This museum is guaranteed to make an impression with the attention-grabbing art. You can even see an artificial poo machine... now that's something you don't see that every day.

 

A walk around Sullivan's Cove and the wharf is a great way to spend a pleasant evening in Hobart. This area extends into Salamanca so there are plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you occupied. Make sure to try some of Tasmania's well-renowned whiskey, wine, and seafood if you can.

 

tasmania itinerary


Saturday markets at Salamanca (photo from Robyn Jay via Flickr)

 

 

Day 2: Hobart or Bruny Island


Head down to the beautiful sandstone-clad Salamanca Place in the morning. Locals know that Salamanca is the place for brunch. The pick of the bunch would be the Machine Laundry Café or Smolt in Salamanca Square, or head up to nearby Battery Point to eat at Jackman and McRoss or Pollen Tea Room.

 

Hot tip 

If you're in Hobart on Saturday then you should make sure you wander around Salamanca Market. This market is Australia's largest open air market and is full of fantastic stalls. Salamanca Market has oodles of fresh Tasmanian food, local musical talent, and trinkets. The atmosphere is unforgettable!It runs from 8:30am - 3:00pm on Saturdays

 

In the afternoon, pay Mt Wellington a visit for the (uncontested) best view of Hobart. It’s a comfortable 20min drive from the CBD and the road takes you to the summit. All along the mountain there are plenty of places to stop and admire including Secret Falls at the Foothills, having a bite to eat at the Fern Tree Tavern, or walking the Pipeline Track. A full list of walks around the mountain area can be found at Greater Hobart Trails. I would recommend a stop at the Organ Pipes walking track on the drive down. It only takes 20mins walking until you're right up close and personal with the imposing rock spires.

 

If you're heading up in winter there is regularly snow and the road might be closed (plus it's freezing cold eek!), so be prepared!

 

tasmania itinerary

The view of Hobart from Mount Wellington (photo from Adam Selwood via Flickr)

 

For the best evening vibes head to the suburb of North Hobart. North Hobart boasts a restaurant strip that puts all others to shame and it continues to get better and better. Along the North Hobart strip you can indulge in a drink or two at Room For a Pony, grab some mouth-watering food at Pancho Villa or Capital, or see some live music at the Republic Bar.

 

ALTERNATIVE: If Mount Wellington and Salamanca don't tickle your fancy, a trip to Bruny Island may be a great alternative.

 

 

Day 3: Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur


 

It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Hobart and start exploring further from the capital. Where's the best place to venture to first? Well it's gotta be the Tasman Peninsula. This is the epicentre of rugged landscapes and Tassie history. Drive on down to Eaglehawk Neck which will take about an hour and a half. At Eaglehawk Neck you will find extensive views out to Tasman Cape.

 

In the Eaglehawk Neck area there is plenty to see. If you're on Instagram you have most likely already gawked at the geometric patterns of the Tessellated Pavement -- now it's time to see them in real life. Also it is worth seeing Tasman Arch and the Blow Hole. These are all only a couple of minutes away.

 

tasmania itinerary

The Port Arthur Penitentiary (photo from Andrew Braithwaite via Flickr)

 

Next, head to the former convict settlement of Port Arthur. Here you can uncover Tasmania's fascinating convict past. Many of the sites are well-preserved plus there are plenty of picnic spots to enjoy a packed lunch. If you're feeling a bit spooky then there are ghost tours at night around many of the old prison buildings. This tour gets the nerves going and also provides some more intriguing insight.

 

You can buy tickets for the Port Arthur Historic Site here

 

Once you've had your dose of convict history, drive down to the start of the Cape Hauy walking track. There is a well maintained camping area at Fortescue Bay located amongst picturesque bushland and beaches. This is a spectacular place to camp (assuming the weather is good) and it at the starting point for one of Tasmania's greatest short walks.

 


READ MORE: Tasmania's Best Short Walks


 

 

Day 4: Tasman Peninsula and the Capes


 

Today is going to be a big day so start early. It's time to pack up the campsite, put on those hiking boots and start this epic day walk. The Cape Hauy walk is a relatively leisurely 3.5/4 hours return. This hike will show you dramatic and jaw-dropping sea cliff views. Since the Three Capes Track was developed the infrastructure here has improved a lot so the tracks are a lot easier now. Keep your eye on the ocean too because pods of seals and dolphins are commonplace around here!

 

The Cape Hauy walk is the easiest (and quickest) of the cape walks but provides equally spectacular views. If you are looking for something more challenging then Cape Raoul or Cape Pillar might be for you.

 

In the afternoon, settle back into the car and head up to Tasmania’s East Coast. It's now aptly named the "Great Eastern Drive" and you will soon see why. The coastal scenery is spectacular! Aim for Coles Bay which has a huge range of camping and other accommodation options. This is about a 3 hour drive from Cape Hauy so plan accordingly.

 

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Day 5: Freycinet National Park


Now you're in Coles Bay you can access the many amazing day hikes nearby. People come here is primarily to see Wineglass Bay so you should, too. There are several walks which get you to Wineglass Bay or to some amazing views. There is the traditional saddle walk over the Hazards Mountains with a half-way lookout point, or you can climb up Mount Amos for a view with some serious height advantage.

 

If you just feel like quickly seeing Wineglass Bay and then heading back and relaxing then I would recommend doing the lookout walk (1hr return) and then coming back to Honeymoon Bay. Honeymoon Bay is within the borders of Freycinet National Park and is a secluded, peaceful beach. It is the perfect place to kick back and read a book. Sunsets and sunrises anywhere around Freycinet National Park are bold and worth watching.

 

Coles Bay is a great base for kayaking and fishing if you want a break from hikes. For surfers, Friendly Beaches is only a short drive away and gets great waves.

 

tasmania itinerary

The view of Wineglass Bay from the lookout

 

 

 

Day 6: East Coast of Tasmania and Bay of Fires


 

Continue making your way up the coast. When going through Bicheno don’t forget to stop for a pie at Blue Edge Bakery - they're pretty famous in Tassie! Bicheno itself is a pleasant seaside town with a beautiful beach. It is worthwhile taking a break from driving and hanging out here for a while.

 

If you are looking for a break from the coast, taking a side trip to Douglas Apsley National Park is a good option. This National Park is packed full of waterfalls and has a famous watering hole. The watering hole is the perfect place for a refreshing dip.

 

The stretch of coastline that steals my heart is the Bay of Fires, just north of the Binalong Bay along the upper sections of the Great Eastern Drive. It is easy to spend hours strolling along the vast empty beaches admiring the striking coastline. Much of the coastline is an orange colour due to the lichen and it gives a spectacular effect.

 

Tasmania Itinerary

 

 

 

Day 7: Launceston


 

Today aim for Tasmania’s second biggest city: Launceston. Along the way there is an excellent dairy at Pyengana that produces delicious award-winning cheeses and ice cream. All these joys can be found at their Holy Cow Café.

 

Only a few minutes' drive from the dairy is St Columba Falls, one of the highest water cascades in Tasmania. The waterfall is only a short walk to reach from the carpark. The rolling farming hills around Scottsdale are very picturesque to drive past as you continue on to Launceston.

 

When arriving in Launceston head to the Queen Victoria Museum. This place has some great exhibits on Launceston's railway heritage, blacksmith factories and Tasmanian fauna. For lunch, the café on site has affordable food and seating inside an old railway carriage. If museums are not your thing, driving along the Tamar Valley just north of Launceston is another option. This region is full of rich farmland with many wineries, berry farms and lavender fields. Many businesses sell products right from the farm or cellar door, so stop off at any that take your fancy.

 

Tasmania Itinerary

Green surrounds of the Tamar Valley (by dal48 via Flickr) 

 

In the evening grab some BBQ items from a supermarket (along with anything you picked up in the Tamar Valley) and head to the Cataract Gorge. This canyon is only a few minutes drive out of the town centre and is a pleasant picnic spot with free BBQs on site. It's one of Launceston's icons and a great place to spend an evening. You can go swimming in the pool or Gorge itself for free, so pack the swimmers and go for a refreshing dip.

 

 

 

Tasmania Itinerary

The Cataract Gorge - a great picnic or BBQ spot (photo by Atsushi Kase via Flickr)

 

 

 

Day 8: Cradle Mountain and Liffey Falls


 

Time to head to one of Tasmania's most famous locations: Cradle Mountain. Pay Liffey Falls a visit along the way for a gorgeous pitstop. It's a peaceful waterfall nestled amongst lush Tasmanian rainforest and worth some time.

 

There are many styles of accommodation within the Cradle Mountain National Park. You can choose between camping, cabins or lodges. There are many stunning walks for all abilities and capturing the beauty of Cradle Mountain is possible with most of them. Easier walks such as the Dove Lake Circuit are accessible and stunning. If you're game then you can try the Cradle Mountain summit which gets pretty steep towards the end but is comfortably a day walk. Visit the Information Centre on site for a comprehensive list of walks and check the weather before leaving, conditions can change quickly!

 

 

Tasmania Itinerary

Many tourists miss Liffey Falls -- don't make that mistake! (Photo by Scott Cresswell via Flickr) 

 

Tasmania Itinerary

A spectacular view of Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake (photo by Chris Baxter via Flickr)

 

 

 

 

Day 9: Stanley and the North-West


 

When you feel satisfied with what you've seen at Cradle Mountain you can pack up camp and make your way along the Northwest Coast. There are many great locations to stop and take in the views, such as Table Cape which is a lighthouse-topped landmass with tulip fields bursting into colour during spring.

 

Boat Harbour is another spot worth checking out. This place is a small seaside town with a calm sheltered beach perfect to have a picnic on. Stanley is a unique location to visit made famous by 'The Nut', a large rock landmass towering above the fishing village below. Climbing The Nut is a bit of a Stanley rite of passage.

 

 

Tasmania Itinerary

Stanley and 'The Nut' (photo from Eli Duke via Flickr)

 

 

 

Day 10: The Hardest Part (Leaving)


 

On Day 10 you will probably have make your way back to wherever you're leaving from and this can be done in several ways.

 

LAUNCESTON

Leaving from Launceston would give you more time to relax and is the best option. Driving to Launceston from Stanley would take about 2:30hrs and can be done via Burnie and Devonport.

 

HOBART

If you're leaving from Hobart you can drive down directly through the Midlands Highway which would take around 4:45hrs but isn't the most scenic route. Alternatively you can take the longer (around 6:00hrs) and winder option which goes down the western side of Tassie. Here you can pass through rugged Tasmanian destinations such as Queenstown and Derwent Bridge (and possibly pop into Strahan).

 


 

Having grown up in Tasmania it is a place that I will always recommend to family and friends. Tasmania is truly unique and will take your breath away. The Apple Isle is packed full of adventure and 10 days will give you a good sample. With a growing tourism industry, the time to visit Tasmania is now. The infrastructure is in place and the numbers are starting to creep up so get in while you can. If you enjoy good food, an emerging art scene, and rugged natural beauty, then this is the place for you. There is so much more than what is mentioned in this Tasmania Itinerary but it is a good start.

 


 

If you've been to Tasmania or want to know more, please comment below! 

 

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Russian Visa: The Interesting Process of Getting A Visa To Russia

Russian Visa: The Interesting Process of Getting A Visa To Russia

posted in: Russia | 3

As you probably remember, my second attempt to get to Russia ended prematurely once again (sadface). I’ll get there one day – but that’s another tale. This time around, however, I did have a Russian visa to show for it. It still sits unused in my passport and is probably the coolest looking thing in there.

 

Quite a few people have asked how the process of obtaining a Russian visa went down because there isn’t a whole lot of information out there. A lot of the information is confusing, and the process is a little different to what we may be used to in Australia. So I’ll quickly run through the steps I took to obtain a visa.

 

As always, this is just speaking about my personal experience and should not replace consular advice. Always make sure you check the Russian government/embassy website for your country before going forth with applying for a visa.

 

A few things to start


Just before we begin, there are a few things to consider before you start your Russian visa process:

  • Dates: you need to decide how long you want to be in Russia and the precise dates. Your Russian visa will only be valid for particular dates. For Australians the tourist visa lasts 30 days and is single-entry.
  • Purpose of travel: if you’re going for tourism purposes then you can get a regular travel visa, for other reasons you may need to apply for a different visa. This article discusses travel visas.
  • Itinerary: the application requires details of precisely where you will go in Russia and on what dates.
  • Accommodation: the application will require the details of exactly which hotels/hostels you will stay in at each destination in Russia

 

Visa types 


  1. Tourist: if you’re visiting for tourism purposes for a maximum of 30 days
  2. Business: if your trip is for professional or commercial purposes
  3. Student: if you are going to Russia to study
  4. Work: if you wish to work during your time in Russia  
  5. Humanitarianism: if you are going to Russia for sport, socio-political reasons, religious reasons, cultural exchange, or humanitarian work
  6. Private: if you are a guest of Russian Nationals
  7. Transit: if you have to pass through Russia to get between two separate nations; not necessary for transiting through an airport

 

Different visa types require different documentation and proof to be provided to the consular offices. For the purposes of the rest of this article I will be talking about tourist visas, as they are the most common and the ones I have experience in.

 

Booking a Hotel


To apply for a visa and get a letter of support, you need to have a hotel booked. Once you’re in the country these hotels confirm that you have arrived and report it to the government, so it is advisable to book a hotel you will actually stay in when you get to Russia. Switching hotels and dates is not advisable.

 

Letter of Support/Invitation


To apply for a Russian visa you need a letter of support. This is by far the most confusing part of the process and is pretty dodgy. You have a couple of options:

  • Your hotel: many hotels themselves provide letters of support for your Russian visa. These tend to be the more high-end accommodation. But many, many hotels and hostels refuse to do this, which you won’t know until you’ve already booked. You will pay a different fee depending on the hotel.
  • Online service: this felt so incredibly dodgy but it worked. You plug in your details, including accommodation details, and pay your fee (of course) and this dodgy looking form comes back to your email in minutes. The sites many people use are: Hotels ProWay To Russia and iVisa Online. The prices vary between sites (usually around $25-30AUD) and there are many more out companies there than I have listed.

Once your letter of support has arrived back to your inbox, you can continue on with the process of applying for the visa.

 

 

Visa Application Form


This is the part where you use the official consular website. For Australians this can be found here. Once you have located the application form, fill it out in completeness and be sure to have your letter of invitation handy.

 

Once the application is finished and printed you need to pay and post the documents with your passport and passport photo. A passport photo needs to be glued onto the application itself.

 

Remember to read through the application and make sure all the details are correct and all required signatures are there.

 

Alternatively, if you live in Sydney you can apply in person at 7-9 Fullerton Street, Woollahra, NSW. This may also be possible in Canberra, Brisbane, and Melbourne consular offices.

 

 

Paying for the Visa


A single entry tourist visa will cost $135AUD or a double-entry for $216 and takes about 10 days to process. The invitation/support letter is an additional cost to this which is paid to a third party rather than the

 

The visa cannot be paid for by direct deposit or credit card online, so needs to be done by bank cheque or money order.

 

 

Sending off your Passport 


You will also need to include a return envelope. I would recommend getting tracked postage so you don’t lose your passports. In your package you need to include the application form with the attached passport photo, your passport itself, a return envelope, and the payment if applicable.

 

The address to send the package to is 7-9 Fullerton Street, Woollahra, NSW, 2025. The visas normally take 10 business days to be processed and one day you will receive your passport back in the mail. They don’t really tell you when to expect it back or when it has been sent, so you just have to keep an eye on your mailbox.

 

Other options


If this is too complicated or sketchy for you then a travel agent should be able to arrange it for you. Travel agents are able to work with you solely for the visa help so don’t worry if you don’t use agents for other things. I contacted both Flight Centre and STA Travel and they offered services, but obviously it is more expensive than doing it yourself.

 

An awesome website for more information on the visa application process is Russia Au – I would recommend you check them out!

 

 


As always, these are just my experiences and should not be a substitute for legal and consular advice. Be sure to check with official Russian governmental websites for your country before using this advice. This experience is from an Australian perspective.


 

Do you have experiences with a Russian visa, or have questions? Leave a comment below – would love to hear from you 

 


 

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Travel Websites: The Most Helpful Travel Sites On The Web

Travel Websites: The Most Helpful Travel Sites On The Web

Travel has never been easier than in the Internet age. The web is teeming with travel websites ready to help you on your adventures. If you don’t want to weigh your backpack down with heavy guidebooks then put these sites in your Bookmarks instead. With all the information provided here you won’t need to look anywhere else!

 

I have compiled this list after years slowly figuring out what works. All of these travel websites have been personally tried and tested by Travel Textbook and I swear by them on my adventures.

 

Accommodation 


Travel Websites

Airbnb

When I first tried Airbnb many years ago it was just an up-and-coming website and I was secretly worried to try it. As a backpacker, the allure of cheap apartments in central locations seemed super tempting when compared to more expensive hostels. As the years have gone on, Airbnb has grown into one of the most successful travel brands in the world. After you make a profile you can browse a range of accommodation hosted by locals in various destinations. At a range of budgets and choice of accommodation styles (private room, entire home/apartment, etc.) there is something to suit everyone. I would recommend giving Airbnb a go! Link: Airbnb

 

Travel Websites

Booking.com 

When it comes to booking hotels and hostels, booking.com is my first choice. With a fabulous cancellation policy and plenty of accommodation options to choose from, booking.com is really the ultimate online accommodation booking platform. There is accommodation including top-tier hotels, hostels, guesthouses, lodges and BnBs, and there is cancellation flexibilities available up until the day of the booking (which is good news for us indecisive travellers). Link: Booking.com

 

HostelWorld.com 

When it comes to booking hostels specifically, I really like Hostel World. The clean interface and good user experience make this site great for booking travels. Hostel World has a fantastic selection of hostels and is trusted by many travellers. The hostels available on Hostel World range from the low-end to being so high-end that you don’t even realise you’re in a hostel. Come and check it out here: Hostel World.

 

HostelBookers.com 

If you are specifically looking for booking hostels then Hostel Bookers is another good option. With a good range of hostels (as well as other properties) it is a good website to compare prices on. It has recently updated so now has a much nicer interface to use. Link: Hostel Bookers 

 

Hostels.com 

Hostels.com is another great platform for searching and comparing hostel prices. It is not my preferred platform for hostels but I often use it to check prices and see if there is a better deal. Link: Hostels.com 

Wotif.com 

Wotif often has good accommodation deals which aren’t seen on other websites. This focuses more on upmarket accommodation rather than hostels and student lodgings. Wotif also has a range of deals on flights and holiday packages, too. Link: Wotif

 

Other hotel booking sites

The internet has loooooooads of other accommodation booking sites and it can be hard to sift through them. Trivago, Hotels Combined and Last Minute are just some to consider. Links: Trivago, Hotels Combined, and Last Minute.

 

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a great way to meet new people in the destinations you visit. On Couchsurfing you make a profile and find people willing to host you. This gives you a local experience and is free of charge. Not only does Couchsurfing help with accommodation but you may also find locals that will show you around the city as well as a host of Couchsurfing events. I love Couchsurfing events in cities because you can meet up with fellow travellers and locals completely for free. Obviously, caution is advised when using Couchsurfing. Link: Couchsurfing 

 

 

Transport


Hawaii Photo Diary

Rome2Rio 

Rome2Rio is a fantastic website which shows you all the ways to get from Point A to Point B. Just simply type in where you want to go and Rome2Rio will tell you the methods to get there and how much each option will cost. It is a great resource especially in the planning stages of a trip. It helps with figuring out transport options and budgeting. Link: Rome2Rio 

 

BlaBlaCar

BlaBlaCar is a ride-sharing website which is used particularly in Europe. It can be a great option for transport when routes are either too expensive or fully booked on other methods of transport. Link: BlaBlaCar 

 

Google Maps

Never underestimate the power of good old Google Maps. Maps gives great information on the length of journeys between destinations and the maps of the places themselves. Google Maps also has an offline feature so you can save the maps you need for later when you don’t have internet. Since updating a lot of the public transport sections of Google Maps, it’s also great for figuring out train and bus times. Link: Google Maps

 

 

Flights


Hawaii Photo Diary

Skyscanner

Skyscanner is Travel Textbook‘s favourite website for checking flight prices. Skyscanner compares the flights prices from websites all over the internet and ranks them. This website has an easy-to-use interface and the searches are highly customisable. Link: Skyscanner

 

Google Flights

Google Flights is becoming increasingly useful and I suspect it will continue on its meteoric rise. Google Flights uses a map interface and you can see the cheapest flights on the net as well as get likelihoods about whether the price will change. Link: Google Flights 

 

Momondo

 
Momondo is another flight searching tool which I quite like. It is similar to SkyScanner but also ranks its flights by convenience i.e. layover time, number of flights, and flight times. This feature is fantastic! Link: Momondo 

 

Secret Flying

Secret Flying posts whenever there is an insanely good flight deal or error fares. This is a great website to follow on Facebook or get updates because you never know if you’ll stumble upon the perfect flight. Link: Secret Flying

 

Budgeting


Most of the good things for budgeting come in the form of apps such as Splitwise and Trabee Pocket. For more information on this keep tuned for my upcoming post: Travel Apps I Swear By.

 

 

Working Abroad


Morocco Desert

 

WorkAway.info

WorkAway is a fantastic platform which pairs travellers with with job/volunteer opportunities around the world. After filling out a profile and paying the small registration fee, you can check out all the options. The listings on WorkAway vary drastically and you can get a gig in farm work, hostel work, language teaching, or even helping out on yachts sailing the world. The deal is usually that you work a certain number of hours per day in exchange for free accommodation (and often free food, etc.). All the terms are laid out in the job description.

 

Working or volunteering abroad with WorkAway.info is a great way to become a part of a local community and reduce travel costs. Link: WorkAway.info

 


READ MORE: Experiences Volunteering In Morocco


 

WWOOF

“WWOOFing” is a term you will hear frequently when travelling. WWOOFing is very similar to WorkAway except with a farming focus. WWOOF stands for “Willing Workers On Organic Farms” and is a great place to find work opportunities all around over the world. Link: WWOOF

 

HelpX

HelpX is very similar to WorkAway.info and offers a range of jobs around the world for travellers.

 

Paid work abroad 

There are many options for paid work abroad however I have not personally tried any of them. Some suggestions which have been recommended by friends and fellow adventurers include: Work and Travel Company, and Global Work and Travel Co.

 

Volunteering abroad 

Once again, I haven’t personally vetted any of these programs but some recommended platforms include Gap Medics and IVHQ.

 

Visas and Travel Registration


Smart Traveller

If you are from Australia then SmartTraveller is worth checking out. This government website gives advice on the safety of various destinations, whether Australians need visas, and gives you an opportunity to register your travel plans. Link: Smart Traveller

 

 

Travel Insurance


Having travel insurance before you depart is a must. There are plenty of companies out there offering travel insurance and it is important to pick a plan that is right for you and your planned holiday.

 

World Nomads

World Nomads Logo

Travel Insurance from World Nomads can be found at http://www.worldnomads.com.au/travel-insurance/ and is loved by Travel Textbook (you can read about it here: Travel Insurance From World Nomads). Alternatively, you can see how much it will cost to insure your trip using the handy quote widget below!

 

FastCover

FastCover offers affordable travel insurance to travellers. With a range of plans to suit all different kinds of travel, you should be able to adequately insure your trip. One thing I particularly like about FastCover is their “cooling off” period. This gives you time to change your mind if need be; or if your plans change you can cancel your insurance. Link: FastCover

 

Avant Travel Insurance

If you are also a medical student then Avant offers free travel insurance for up to six months per year. Although the excess is higher than with the alternate options, you do not have to pay any upfront cost. Link: Avant Travel Insurance 

 

 

Miscellaneous


TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is the holy grail of reviews. Basically all activities, restaurants, accommodation and destinations have a place on TripAdvisor. Even if you are booking or organising something through a different site, always look on TripAdvisor to check out how the experience was for other people. This can make sure you’re onto a winner. Link: TripAdvisor 

 

Groupon 

If you are a going away then it is often good to look for deals on GroupOn. This website provides discounted activities, accommodation and flights. It’s awesome to use in your own city too – I use it frequently in Melbourne. Link: Groupon

 

 

Travel Blogs


Each year Travel Textbook compiles a list of the best travel blogs to follow. These blogs have been chosen because of their usefulness, epic adventures, and mind-blowing photography. Each blog has a unique take on adventure and provides practical information from a multitude of perspectives.

 

2017 Best Travel Blogs To Follow
2016 Best Travel Blogs To Follow   

 


Keep Travel Textbook going   Some of these links are affiliate links, so if you book using the links in this article Travel Textbook will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Despite this, all opinions are my own and I would only ever link you guys to websites I genuinely use and endorse.


What travel websites would you recommend? Comment below! 

 


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Montenegro Travel Guide: Europe’s Best-Kept Secret

Montenegro Travel Guide: Europe’s Best-Kept Secret

Before visiting Montenegro back in 2014, I’ll have to admit, I had never really heard of it. The stunning Balkan country lies on the Adriatic Sea nestled in between Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. The landscape is dramatic with tall mountains plunging into the waters below, stunning National Parks, and a host of quaint towns.

 

Tourism is increasing again in Montenegro after it suffered greatly in the Yugoslavian conflict. The region has stabilised and it is now a perfectly safe area to explore. In 2016 Kotor was named as the Top City To Visit In 2016 by Lonely Planet. So, I guess the secret is kind of out now.

 

After spending about a month exploring Montenegro I can safely say a part of my heart was left there. With way fewer crowds but equal beauty, Montenegro is the perfect alternative or adjunct to Croatia. Whether you want your breath taken away in Kotor, to feel small among the mountains of Durmitor, or party it up in Budva, Montenegro has it all.

 

Montenegro travel

 

 

The Basics 


Capital City: Podgorica

Language: Montenegrin, but English widely spoken in touristed areas

Currency: euro

Schengen status: non-Schengen (Read: How To Legally Spend More Time In Europe)

Visa for Australian passport holders: not required, 90 day stay within 6 months


SEE MORE:  Montenegro Destination Guide


 

Getting to Montenegro


Montenegro is connected to other areas in Europe and can be easily accessed. People most frequently travel overland with a cheap bus from Dubrovnik, there are also buses to/from many other Balkan locations. It can often be cheaper to buy a flight to Dubrovnik and then catch the bus to Herceg Novi/Kotor than to fly directly to Montenegro.

 

Montenegro has airports in Podgorica and Tivat. Once you arrive at Podgorica Airport it is hard to get to the coast directly so you need to enter the city and then find transport. Your hotel or hostel in other city might have airport transfer available from Podgorica but be warned: this will cost you. Tivat Airport is coastal but does not service much of Europe.

 

Ferries also run from Bar to Ancona and Bari in Italy. These trips take around 8-10 hours but can be an affordable way to reach the country from Italy.

 

My recommendation is to enter the country by bus from Dubrovnik.

 

 

Travelling around Montenegro


Bus 

The buses in Montenegro are cheap and they service a wide area. Although not always the most reliable, fast or highest quality vehicles, they do get the job done. Bus fares between different cities are usually less than 10 euro. This is the method of transport I recommend. Remember: it’s the journey not the destination 

 

Taxi

Taxis operate within Montenegro but are more costly than catching the bus. Taxi drivers will always try and hustle for the best price.

 

When should you visit


As you are probably aware, I loooove shoulder seasons for travel. You get better prices, fewer people, and the weather is almost as good. For me, I think the best times to visit Montenegro are late May/early June, and September. In the height of summer destinations like Budva and Kotor get really crowded and your experience can consequently get diminished.

 

However, if you are visiting Montenegro for the party and social scene then visiting in the summer period is the way to go. This is when pub crawls run, hostels are full of other travellers, and the party vibes are rife.

 

Montenegro also has opportunities for snow sports. There are ski runs around the Durmitor National Park so if this is something you want to check out then a visit in January is ideal.

 

Where to visit


Montenegro is broken up into several regions with different landscapes and vibes. They are:

  • Bay of Kotor: the famous mountains plunging into the bay, includes Herceg Novi, Tivat, Kotor and Perast
  • Budva Riviera: the area known for beaches and nightlife, where Budva is located
  • Central: a large portion of Montenegro which contains Podgorica, Cetinje, Niksic, Skadar National Park and Lovcen National Park
  • South Coast: takes up a large portion of the Adriatic coastline and includes places like Bar and Ulcinj
  • Northern Mountains: this is my favourite part of Montenegro and it is packed with untouched landscape, includes the Tara Canyon in Durmitor National Park, and the snow sports capital Zabljak

Herceg Novi

Not many people put Herceg Novi on the list but I found it to be a rather charming place to visit. It felt authentically Montenegrin and the beauty of the Bay of Kotor could be enjoyed. Accommodation is cheap in the coastal town and it is connected well to Kotor and Dubrovnik. When you are in the town you should check out the Forte Mare castle which was built in 1382.

 

Montenegro travel

 

 

Kotor

Kotor is the jewel of Montenegro with dramatic mountainous landscapes, a walled old town, and beautiful terracotta roofed buildings. The weather here is moody as clouds can easily descend down the mountains and fill the Bay. The old city walls run up the mountainside and light up at night looking halo-esque.

 

Within the marble lane ways and courtyards of Kotor there are plenty of cafes, bars, and eateries which are affordable and atmospheric. As described in my Quick Guide To Kotor there is also the best burger I’ve ever had only a 5 min walk from the Old Town Centre.

 

If you are looking for a place to call home for the few days you’re in Kotor then look no further than the Old Town Hostel. This is easily one of the best hostels in Europe. With themed nights, incredible staff, pub crawls, and organised tours on offer, there is nothing here that has been missed out. I just kept coming back to Kotor just to stay there again.

 

Where to stay in Kotor: Old Town Hostel

 


READ MORE: Quick Guide To Kotor


Quick Guide Kotor

Quick Guide Kotor

 

 

Budva and Sveti Stefan

Budva is a well-established party destination in Montenegro with epic bars and clubs easy to find. The beautiful Montenegrin essence of Budva has been kind of lost in this mass tourism. The small old town is right up next to huge concrete apartment blocks and the beaches are totally swarming with people. Budva is a place which I enjoyed visiting but felt as though my three days there was too much. If you’re looking for relaxation, this may not be the place.

 

Sveti Stefan is a beautiful town only a short (and 2.5 euro) bus trip away from Budva. Although you can’t get onto the island itself, swimming off the beaches in the water surrounding it is a lovely experience. I would recommend going swimming in the evening as the sun is setting. By this stage most of the sunbathers have left and it feels like you have the whole place (almost) to yourself.

 

 

 

Durmitor National Park

Durmitor National Park is a simply stunning part of the world. Carved out by glaciers and containing Europe’s deepest gorges means that the landscape is dramatically beautiful. The park belongs to the Dinaric Alps and it is the largest protected area in the country. The area has fantastic hiking, canoeing, white water rafting, and climbing opportunities.

 

When I stayed in the area I based myself in Zabljak at a gorgeous guesthouse with a friendly Montenegrin host Sreten (Rooms and Bungalows Sreten Zugic). I sampled some local rakija and hashed out a deal for a white water rafting trip down the Tara River. If you are in Montenegro, visiting Durmitor National Park is a must.

 

Where to stay in Zabljak: Rooms and Bungalows Sreten Zugic

 

Montenegro Travel
Photo by Mercy from Wikimedia Commons

 

Podgorica

Podgorica is the capital of Montenegro and also the largest city with 200000 people. Although it is not the most stunning place to visit in the country, I always feel it’s important to visit the capital cities and see the national museums and places of government. Podgorica, unlike much of the rest of the country, is mostly flat except for the 103.3 Gorica Hill which the city is named after. The architecture here is a mixed and not as uniform as other areas in the country, especially after it was significantly bombed in WWII.

 

Podgorica is home to the National Theatre, the City Museum,and the Natural History Museum which are worth visiting if you are interested. Seeing the Roman Square and the public gardens are also worth exploring.

 

It’s here that you will see less of the touristed Montenegro and more of the people who work to make this country run. With a big industrial area and one third of the country’s population, Podgorica gives you a sense of what life is like for most Montenegrins.

 

Skadar National Park

Lake Skadar (also known as Shkoder, Shkodra and Scutari) is on the border between Albania and Montenegro. It is the largest lake in the Balkan region and is host to a lot of flora and fauna (especially birds). On the Montenegrin side of the Lake Skadar is the Skadar National Park which has mountains, monastaries, and tiny townships. It is a peaceful part of the world and wonderful for outdoor enthusiasts.

 

Montenegro Travel

 

I cannot wait to get back to Montenegro one day and explore more of this stunning country. This list is obviously not exhaustive and some other places I would recommend are: Lovcen, Bar and Ulcinj. If you are heading to the Balkan region Montenegro is my country of choice for travellers. It is stunning beautiful and very easy to get off the beaten path. It offers a unique combination of natural beauty, history, and culture — but beware of too much rakija!

 


READ NEXT: Complete Croatia Travel Guide 


 

Been to Montenegro or have questions? Comment below — I would love to hear from you  

 


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Summer In Croatia: Croatia Travel Guide

Summer In Croatia: Croatia Travel Guide

Croatia, also known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic", draws phenomenal crowds during the summer season. Beautiful terracotta roofed houses hug the Adriatic coast and the azure ocean always beckons you for a swim. Further inland there are beautiful towns, gushing waterfalls, and Lonely Planet’s Top European Destination for 2017 – Zagreb. Whether you're after a Central European city feel, walled Roman cities, or relaxing on a yacht, I can guarantee you'll find it in Croatia.

 

However, with all of its popularity come the effects of mass tourism. I was in Croatia for a total of one month around May and early June. There was a huge difference in the crowds as it entered June. As the Croatia sailing experiences ramp up, Ultra Music Festival happens, and more people enter holiday phase, the tourist population skyrockets. It can become a bit unpleasant to be around the coast (Hvar, Dubrovnik, Split, etc.) at this time. I would recommend visiting in May before all of this really takes off but you still have nice weather.

 

To get a full Croatian experience you need to get off the beaten path. But never fear -- this is not hard to do (especially as Croatia boasts 1,100 islands). Croatia is one of my all-time favourite places to visit in Europe and this country made for some of the best travel memories. So here is my Croatia Travel Guide containing all the tips and tricks to make your adventure memorable, stress-free, and stunning.

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

 

A bit of history and culture 


History

Croatia has a long and complicated history which began being recorded before the Roman era. Changing hands between Greeks, Illyrians, and Romans, means that there is a whole lot of interesting architecture still remaining. Eventually the Romans took control of the Dalmatian Coast and shaped a lot of the architecture, cities, roads, and infrastructure, and this remained the case for many centuries.

 

Many tribes came together at the collapse of the Roman Empire and by 900AD there was and independent Croatia. This did not last long and soon enough Croatia was ruled over again (by Hungary, Venice, Napoleon, and then Austria).

 

Between WWI and WWII the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed; but after WWII Croatia became a part of Yugoslavia. Croatia was run under Tito's Yugoslavia. It remained a part of Yugoslavia until 1991 when it declared independence and the war ensued. By 2013 Croatia was a part of the European Union. All of these events in Croatian history have shaped the country you will see today when you explore the region.

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

Culture

The official language is Croatian/Hrvatski but impeccable English is usually found in touristed areas. The majority of the population is Roman Catholic. I found the Croatian people to be incredibly open, hospitable, and friendly. The culture has deep roots and Croatia's position in the Adriatic blends many cultural spheres.

 

Before you leave 


Visas

If you are Australian you do not require a visa to be organised before visiting Croatia. Upon arrival your passport will be stamped and you can stay for up to 90 days; and you can leave and re-enter Croatia. Croatia is not Schengen so staying here will not contribute to your cumulative Schengen time (hooray!).


READ MORE: How To Legally Spend More Time In Europe


 

Money 

The currency in Croatia is the kuna. There are frequent ATMs around the country and money can be obtained at the airports and ferry terminals. As with most places, changing cash at the airport exchange terminals will get you the worst rate. I would recommend getting money out of ATMs as you need, but maybe having €50 (just in case) to change at the airport if you need to arrange an airport transfer. A lot of things still require payment in

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

Downloading map apps 

It can be easy to get disoriented in Croatia's old towns so downloading an offline map is helpful.

 

Book accommodation 

If you are planning to visit Croatia in summer then it is advisable to book your accommodation in advance for the hotspots. At bus stations and ferry terminals there will be lovely ladies running guesthouses advertising their rooms which are generally really nice and a good backup. But if you want a guaranteed place to sleep and closer to the epicentre then book in advance.

 

Get travel insurance

Despite Croatia feeling like paradise, things do still go wrong and it is recommended to get travel insurance.

 


EXPLORE NOW: Insuring Your Travels With World Nomads 


 

Getting to Croatia 


Croatia is well-connected to the rest of Europe and is a great place to base yourself if you are planning on exploring more of the balkans. With several airports and plenty of ferry terminals, you can end up in Croatia with ease. The frequency of flights, buses, and ferries, increases over summer and the shoulder seasons.

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

Plane 

Flying to Croatia is a good option, relatively inexpensive, and definitely the quickest method. Many European destinations fly directly to Croatia but a lot of places require one change. There are some places which you think would be easy to get to (like Greece) that actually don't have very good connections.
The main airports are Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar. And there are plenty of other smaller ones dotted throughout the country to enable access.

 

Ferry 

Being mostly coastal means that Croatia is fully equipped when it comes to ferry transport. With many ferries leaving Croatia and then connecting in Italy, you are within reach of most seaside destinations.

 

Ferry transport has gone out of fashion recently so it can be a cheap (and quite relaxing) way to travel. If you're on a budget then the price is very affordable as it counts for a night of accommodation plus it's transport.

 

Overland

There is a good bus network around Eastern Europe and the Balkans. This is a cheap way to travel and they are very efficient. Popular routes involve Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Slovenia.

 

You can also enter Croatia overland by car.

 

Train 

Train networks are not well-established in Croatia. Most of the networks are in central Croatia rather than the coast, with Zagreb serving as the major hub. So you can get to Zagreb from other European destinations by train. Within Croatia there are connections to Split and Rijeka from Zagreb which could also be useful. The bus network covers far more area.

 

 

Getting around Croatia


To get around Croatia itself you have several options. As a budget-conscious student, the best way is bus. The network is very extensive and it is affordable. The buses are generally faster than the trains as well (with the main train routes being Zagreb-Rijeka and Zagreb-Split).

 

Hiring a car is also a good option as it gives flexibility (particularly when it comes to getting to places like Plitvice) but costs more. Always make sure to check your insurance for driving.

 

To get around the islands you can either do so with privates boats or with ferry companies such as Jadrolinija.

 

Map of the country


 

 

Where to visit


There are so many places to see in Croatia each with a unique identity and atmosphere. It is up to you to decide what kind of vibe you are after: historical, beach-side, nightlife, nature, or a little bit of everything. My personal style is "a little bit of everything" so I was itching to get out and see as much as humanly possible.

 

Split 

My personal favourite city in Croatia is Split. As Croatia's second largest city, Split has the perfect balance of history and modernity. Nestled against the radiant Adriatic Sea and beneath dramatic mountains, this city well-balances tourism and real life. Once you leave the touristic old town it is easy to get a sense of the real Split -- something that I love this city for, and a way in which is differs from Dubrovnik.

 

The old area of Split is actually the Diocletian's Palace (a former Roman palace) which is not home to shops, boutique apartments, restaurants, and bars. This provides a unique atmosphere of life continuing within the walls of history. You can explore some of the preserved areas of the Palace by heading underground which I highly recommend.

 

When you have finished exploring the historical monuments such as the Cathedral of St Domnius, the Diocletian's Palace, Klis Fortress and the Temple of Jupitur, you can enjoy beaches and beverages. There are plenty of beaches nearby such as Bacvice, Bene and Znjan to relax.

 

One thing you can't forget to enjoy in Split is the nightlife. A highlight of my entire time in Croatia was To Je To Caffe and Bar. The friendly staff and amazing experience made every day in Split absolutely incredible. With good quality coffee, an amazing crowd of regulars, and the best staff imaginable means that To Je To is one of the best things to do in this city. More information on accommodation, food and nightlife can be found in my Quick Guide To Split.

 

Croatia Travel Guide


READ MORE: Quick Guide To Exploring Split 


 

Trogir 

Trogir is a gorgeous town located an easy bus-ride north of Split. The walled medieval town is built upon a small island bridged to the mainland. It is a relaxing destination and has substantially smaller crowds than Split itself. Restaurants, cafés and bars spill out onto the cobblestoned streets as you watch yachts go by.

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

 

 

Dubrovnik 

Dubrovnik is the most iconic part of Croatia. The terracotta roofs, the ancient city walls, and a famed appearance in Game of Thrones. It is easy to spend a couple of days here exploring all there is to see. The main attraction is the walled city and many of the best things to do revolve around getting a good view of it:. Walking the old walls is an enchanting and iconic thing to do in Dubrovnik. You can also get a Cable Car up Mount Srd which gives spectacular views over the city, however I opted for the walk up which is more rewarding and saves you cash.

 

The Old Town itself is stunningly beautiful with small alleyways, palaces, and churches at every corner. Although not large, you could easily spend a day wandering through the Old Town. The use of marble in the buildings and the streets gives the city a shimmer not unlike that which you see on the Adriatic itself.

 

Nearby to the Old Town there are plenty of nestled beaches for snorkelling and sunbathing. You can also climb up to Fort Lovrijenac which is included in the ticket price for the wall walk. This has incredible views and gives a good understanding on how the city had been protected in the past.

 

From Dubrovnik you should visit Lokrum Island which is a lush island just a 10-15min boat ride from the city. With the remains of a monastery and plenty of peacocks, this is a nice break from busy Dubrovnik.

 

In the evening can enjoy a beer in one of the cliff bars and watch brave souls cliff jumping into the ocean. Dubrovnik also plays host to a great nightlife with several clubs throughout the city. Despite the levels of tourism that this city has reached, it still remains to be incredibly enjoyable and an unmissable part of a Balkan adventure.


READ MORE: Quick Guide To Exploring Dubrovnik


Croatia Travel Guide

 

 

Zagreb 

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and was named as the top destination to visit in 2017 in Europe by Lonely Planet. So, if that doesn't entice you then I am not sure what will!

 

A juxtaposition of beautiful Austro-Hungarian and brutalist Communist architecture gives Zagreb a unique feel. There are plenty of cafés to sit back, enjoy a Balkan coffee, and people watch. Being the capital city means that Zagreb has a lot of museums to visit (including the Zagreb City Museum, and the Archeological Museum). If for some reason you're not vibing with Zagreb then maybe you could check out the 'Museum of Broken Relationships' which actually exists here.

 

As with most Croatian destinations, there is a thriving bar and pub scene in Zagreb too -- so make the most of it!

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

 

Zadar

Zadar is another popular destination in Croatia and has incredible nightlife. As well as the medieval architecture, churches, and cafés you've known to expect in Croatian towns, there is also the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation which can be seen here.

 

This city is vibrant and has more of a local feel, so it can be a refreshing change from some other areas of Croatia.

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

Hvar

Hvar is perhaps the most popular of the Croatian Islands to visit and is intensely glamourous. Hvar Town is where all the action is situation and up to 20000 people visit every day in peak season! Again, Hvar Town is a marbled city full of palaces and churches.

 

Hvar is known as Croatia's number one party island. Clubs such as Carpe Diem and Hula Hula ensure the drinks are flowing and memories are being made.

 

But don't be fooled, the island of Hvar is much more than Hvar Town and if you have the time there is plenty to explore!

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park draws up to a million visitors each year - and it is easy to see why! The 16 lakes are arranged in a cascading fashion which is visually stunning. Natural damns separate the lakes in a luscious green. The boardwalk allows you to get close to the action. It costs up to €24 to visit and is one of Croatia's most beautiful sites. I love the Blond Wayfarer's photo essay from Plitvice if you want to see some more. 

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

Krka

Croatia Travel Guide

 

Krka is smaller than Plitvice but still stunning, and it is only about 10km from Sibenik. The Falls are the drawcard but there is plenty more to see at Krka National Park including the small island of Visovac. The Visit Croatia Page on Krka National Park has some great information.

 

Mljet

Mljet is one of the most special islands on the Adriatic and my time here will forever be a fond memory. It is still forested (the most forested island in the Adriatic, in fact) and embraces its natural beauty. National Park makes up most of Mljet and there are many ways to enjoy it: canoeing, riding, hiking, and swimming. There are two salt water lakes which are warm to swim in, and the Island of St Mary can also be seen.

 

 

Croatia Travel Guide

 

 


Been to Croatia or have questions? Would love to hear from you below 



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