Itinerary: Krakow, Poland (2 days)

Itinerary: Krakow, Poland (2 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Krakow, Poland by A4A guest writer, Darrell Whaley.

Since Chantell and I recently moved to Germany, we wanted to take a trip before I started school, but also a trip that wasn’t going to break the bank. So, what better place in the world to travel to than towards Eastern Europe?

Our trip started off in Krakow, Poland and as soon as we got there we knew we should have planned to stay longer. We made the most of our 2 full days in Krakow and jammed it with as many of the best things we could find. If you only have 2 days to see the city, this will easily help to smooth things over.

Heading to Europe? Check out posts on Slovakia and Hungary.

Birkenau

Day 1

Krakow Old Town

Krakow is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. The evidence of Krakow’s beauty also lies in its complex history of government control. Being taken over by many different countries throughout history also brought with it different styles of architecture, which is seen all throughout the city and especially in the Old Town area. As this was our first time in Krakow, we wanted to learn as much as possible about this historically rich city, so we set to find a walking tour. The Free Walking Tour Company in Krakow is one of the most informative guides to the history of the city. They are easy to spot with their yellow umbrellas, beginning in the north part of Old Town and venturing all the way down to Wawel Castle. I can honestly say that without doing this tour, we would not have been able to learn about not only the different styles of architecture and where they came from, but also how and why the city was formed to how it is today.

Krakow Old Town

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Just outside of Krakow lies the most known concentration camp established by the Nazis during World War II. Auschwitz was a place of terror with over 1.1 million people dying at Auschwitz. It is believed there were a significantly larger number of deaths at Auschwitz than 1.1 million, due to records being destroyed or simply not kept. The memorial and museum established at the Auschwitz-Birkenau site is a tribute to those who suffered here. I was able to book a tour with a guide, which I would highly recommend. Our guide, who is from the area, shared experiences of locals who lived through the time of Auschwitz’s existence. The entire experience definitely left me heavyhearted. As somber as it may be to visit Auschwitz or any past concentration camp, I truly believe everyone should take the opportunity to go. It is a simple reminder of how we as people should never discriminate, or judge, or spread hate and fear.

Auschwitz

Day 2

Wawel Castle

On the southern edge of Old Town sits Wawel Castle. Built in the 13th century for King Casimir III the Great, it has been rebuilt and had many additions constructed ever since. Now serving primarily as an art museum, it is the perfect location to see history, take in views of the city, relax in the courtyard, and even see the Dragon’s Den, home to the legendary Wawel Dragon.

Wawel Castle Side View

Oskar Schindler Factory

Just across the river in the southern part of town sits the factory of Oskar Schindler. Most people know of Oskar Schindler from Steven Spielberg’s film, Schindler’s List. The factory has been turned into a museum with a permanent exhibition on Krakow under the Nazi Occupation from 1939 through 1945. I felt this was one of the best history museums I’ve ever been in and definitely a must visit. Every Monday has free entrance, but the wait can be long and filled with more people than normal.

Jewish Quarter

When we arrived in Krakow, we were told to explore the Jewish Quarter. We quickly found out that the Free Walking Tour Company also gives an in depth tour of the entire Jewish Quarter, so we joined them for their afternoon tour. Our guide gave us insight to life in the Jewish Quarter before the Holocaust, during, and even after. She even pointed out certain locations where Schindler’s List was filmed. It is truly incredible how strong and giving the Jewish community is in Krakow, even today, especially after everything that happened to them throughout Krakow’s history.

Jewish Quarter

Yarden Aparthotel

During our time in Krakow we stayed at the beautiful Yarden Aparthotel. After a short walk from the main Railway Station, we were welcomed by Yarden’s hospitable reception who are available all hours of the day and will help with anything and everything. They were especially helpful in giving ideas of what to see during our short time there.

Yarden Double Room

There are 48 varieties of rooms to choose, ranging from Double beds to Family Rooms, all with a number of amenities. A wonderful buffet style breakfast is included, filled with Polish meats and cheeses, breads, coffees, and so much more.

Yarden Breakfast

Yarden has a beautiful garden area perfect for breakfast or lunch, enjoying a drink in the perfect weather, or just simply relaxing in the inner city. This beautiful atmosphere is the perfect way to start your day as many people would fill their breakfast plates and quickly head towards the garden. Yarden is a unique and beautiful aparthotel perfect for any type of traveler.

Location: ul. Długa 35, 31-147 Kraków, Poland

Website: http://yardenaparthotel.pl/

Yarden Garden

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Yarden Aparthotel, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


Budget breakdown: Krakow

All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (Polish Zloty). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. We always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with our readers. If you know of a better deal, tell us about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: Yarden Aparthotel offers multiple room choices for different group sizes. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rooms

Food: Yarden Aparthotel includes breakfast in all their pricings.

Arrival – dumplings (24zl), water (1.79zl)

Day 1 – water (5.13zl), lunch (39zl), dumplings (34zl), sipping chocolate (37zl),

Day 2 – water (2.78zl), Polish cookies (13), food in Jewish Quarter (16zl), 2 beers (8zl), coffees (13.90zl)

Activities: Tips for 2 Free Walking Tours (40zl), Auschwitz Tour (45zl)

Transport: train from airport to Krakow for 2 people (16zl), bus to Auschwitz (28zl), 6x city tram trips (16.80zl)

Average daily spend: 85.10 Polish Zloty each* ($22.25 USD and $29.33 AUD as of 9 October 2016) excluding accommodation.

*This daily amount could be reduced by sticking more strictly to street food or cooking your own meals.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Krakow, Poland. Exploring the Old Town, Wawel Castle, Oskar Schindler Factory and Jewish Quarter.

Have you traveled to Krakow or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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Itinerary: Budapest, Hungary (3 days)

Itinerary: Budapest, Hungary (3 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 3 day itinerary for Budapest, Hungary.

Let me start by saying that 3 days wasn’t enough for us to see everything we wanted. Although we had bad luck with the rain, I still would have loved to stay 4-5 days to explore more of this incredible destination.

Budapest is a vast city brimming with history, culture and delicious food. There is so much to do that it can be hard to decide where to start. This post will help you plan out your Budapest itinerary with ease, while keeping your costs low.

Planning a trip to Europe? Check out our posts for Poland, Slovakia and Germany

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Arrival and check-in

Check in to Gregersen Art Hostel

http://www.gregersenartpoint.com/en/hostel

Our accommodation of choice was Gregersen Art Premium Hostel, conveniently located on the Pest side. We arrived in the evening and were cheerfully greeted at the reception by Csöpi. After a speedy and efficient check-in, Csöpi asked if we would like an overview of the city. He happily gave us maps, marking out suggested landmarks and attractions. It was a lovely introduction to the city.

gregersen-art-premium-hostel-twin-room-budapest-hungary-adoation-4-adventure

Ruin Pubs

Free entrance into most bars in the Jewish Quarter.

For our first evening in Budapest, we decided to check out the famed “Ruin Pubs”. These are basically old buildings in the Jewish Quarter which have been transformed into bars and clubs. Often the bars are below street level and even themed. Based on Csöpi’s recommendation, we headed to the Yellow Zebra which was a low key pub, with a local feel and a nice atmosphere.

Day 1

Pick up Budapest Cards

https://budapest-card.com/en

The Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre offers a 1, 2 and 3 day sightseeing cards. These official city cards provide free admission and discounts for heaps of attractions, tours and restaurants. To make the deal even sweeter, it includes free public transport on all BKK services (this covers buses to and from the airport).

Darrell and I both had the 72 hour Budapest Card and loved how fuss-free it made our visit. We were able to hop straight onto buses or trains, without having to worry about buying tickets. We also had free access to some of the most popular attractions in Budapest.

This card is a very convenient option for visitors to the city, as you can order online and collect from the airport or the Budapestinfo Point in the center of Pest. You can also purchase after you arrive, at one of the various kiosks all over the city (trust me – you will see them everywhere and they are more than happy to help with directions).

For more information and to order your Budapest Card online, go to Buy Now.

budapest-card-budapest-festival-and-tourism-centre-adoration-4-adventure

Central Market Hall

Free entrance.

The Central Market Hall (or Grand Market Hall) is a popular tourist spot. Visitors come here to peruse local produce, buy souvenirs and enjoy a Hungarian meal. Head upstairs to the food vendors and grab a seat, so you can people watch from above while munching on your Langos.

Free Communism Walk

Free walking tour (tips appreciated).

Both Darrell and I are big fans of walking tours. What better way to see the city and hear about history from a local, while getting some great exercise. The free walking tours run by United Europe Free Tours, offer a Budapest, Communism and Jewish District walk. They also have 2 tours in Spanish for the general Budapest tour as well as a “Dictators and Religions” tour.

As we had recently gone on a Jewish Quarter walking tour in Krakow, Poland and were taking a Pest Tour the next day, we opted to go with the Communism walking tour at 3:30pm. During this 2.5 hour tour, our guide provided fascinating insight and knowledge about this difficult period in Hungarian history.

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Sweeney Todd Musical

3000 HUF per person.

While on our 10 day backpacking trip of Krakow, Bratislava and Budapest, Darrell was keen to see a musical performance. By chance we heard about a Sweeney Todd musical in English (with Hungarian subtitles). The show was presented by Eso Theatricals and held at a theater on the Buda side. It was a wonderful experience to watch a mainly Hungarian cast, with a few International actors, in an intimate setting.

Gregersen Art Hostel can also arrange tickets for musical performances such a orchestra, classical and folk.

Goulash and beers

Free entrance into most bars in the Jewish Quarter.

After a long but fun day in Budapest, we were in need of some sustenance. We headed back to the Jewish Quarter and came across a rock-themed bar called “Liquid Pub”. Darrell and I had a blast singing along to rock songs, sipping beers and savoring a bowl of goulash.

Day 2

Classic Pest Walking Tour

Free with Budapest Card.

Cityrama operates walking tours for the Buda (2pm daily) and Pest (10am daily) sides of the city. We took the Classic Pest Walking Tour and found the guide to be courteous and knowledgeable. There was some overlap with the Communism Walking Tour so in hindsight, we would have taken the Classic Buda Tour instead. Although hearing two different perspectives on Hungarian events and politics, from the guides, can also be interesting.

st-stephen-basilica-budapest-hungary-adoration-4-adventure

The Chain bridge and Danube River

Free.

A must-do for anyone visiting Budapest, is to walk across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. This awe-inspiring construction was the first permanent structure to link the Buda and Pest sides from across the Danube River.

Stroll along the Danube River at both night and day for contrasting views of this picturesque city.

chain-bridge-and-danube-river-budapest-hungary-adoration-4-adventure

Buda Castle District

Free entrance to Budapest History Museum with Budapest Card.

After crossing the Chain Bridge to the Buda side, you will be in the Buda Castle District. This area contains many fantastic viewpoints as well as attractions including the Budapest History Museum, Royal Palace and Fishermen’s Bastion. Darrell and I explored the Budapest History Museum to learn even more about the city.

fishermans-bastion-budapest-hungary-adoration-4-adventure

Day 3

Heroes Square and Vajdahunyad Castle 

Free entrance to the courtyard of the Vajdahunyad.

Take a leisurely stroll up Andrassy Avenue until reaching Heroes Square. A tall column is surrounded by the Seven Leaders of the Hungarian Conquest. An impressive sight to behold. Behind the square, you will find a Budapestinfo Point and the Vajdahunyad Castle.

While in this area, you can also visit the Szechenhyi Baths, the largest and most popular thermals baths in Budapest. Budapest Card holders receive a 20% discount off the entrance fee.

vajdahuyad-castle-budapest-hungary-adoration-4-adventure

Lukács Thermal Bath

Free entrance with Budapest Card.

For as long as I’ve known thermal baths existed, I’ve wanted to visit one. The whole idea of a bath house seemed so mysterious to me. The closest experience I’d had was during our recent trips to outdoor hot springs in La Fortuna, Costa Rica and Copan Ruinas, Honduras.

Lukacs Thermal Baths are located in Buda and easy to travel to via the tram. We decided to leave this experience till our last evening, so we could relax before flying back to Germany. It was very luxuriating with multiple saunas, steam rooms, indoor and outdoor thermal pools. We stayed for almost 2 hours and could have stayed longer, especially if we had of indulged in some of their wellness services or treatments.

As newbies to the world of thermals baths, we weren’t sure about what to bring and ended up having to wear our normal shoes to walk around between baths (you can rent flip flops, towels and swim swear if needed).

To help you be better prepared than us, make sure to pack the following for your trip:

  • Towel
  • Pair of flip flops / thongs to walk around in
  • Swimming costume (bikini, board shorts, etc)

Lockers are available and included with free entrance for Budapest Card holders.

st-lukacs-thermal-bath-and-swimming-pools-budapest-adoration-4-adventure


Gregersen Art Premium Hostel

Gregersen Art Point is a fantastic option for high quality, low cost accommodation in the center of Budapest. The hostel offers single, double, triple and quadruple rooms with a shared bathroom. As well as premium rooms with a private bathroom. This makes it a great choice for all types of travelers from solo backpackers to families.

The hostel rooms and facilities are immaculate, with a shared kitchen to help you keep your food costs down. We appreciated the high speed WiFi so we could get work done during the nights. The staff were always pleasant and accommodating for any questions that we had.

Location: Budapest, Lónyay u. 31, 1093, Hungary

Website: http://www.gregersenartpoint.com/en/hostel

gregersen-art-premium-hostel-kitchen-budapest-hungary-adoation-4-adventure

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Gregersen Art Premium Hostel and Budapest Card, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


Budget breakdown: Budapest

All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (HUF). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. We always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with our readers. If you know of a better deal, tell us about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: Gregersen Art Premium Hostel offers multiple room choices for different group sizes. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Hostel.

Food: Each morning we would go to the local supermarket to buy pastries for breakfast. Tap water is drinkable in Hungary so we did not have to buy bottled water.

Arrival – 2 beers at the Yellow Zebra (900).

Day 1 – 2 coffees (1400), 2 breakfast calzones from a bakery (840), barbecue lunch at Bel Varosi Disznotoros (950), 2 coffees (1130), 2 ice creams (440), 1 cookie (390), 2 beers and a bowl of goulash (2070).

Day 2 – 2 coffees (930), 4 pastries from the supermarket (595), 2 coffees (790), 1 langos (900), 2 beers at the Street Food Show (1600), 2 ice creams (400).

Day 3 – 4 pastries from the supermarket (362), 2 coffees (880), 2 course lunch with soup and pasta (1100 – shared), 2 slices of pizza (400).

Activities: Tip for communism walking tour (1400), 2 tickets for the Sweeney Todd musical (6000), Budapest History Museum (Free with Budapest Card) and Lukács Thermal Bath (Free with Budapest Card).

Transport: Free BKK public transport (including to and from the airport) with Budapest Card.

Average daily spend: 3912.85 HUF each* ($14.33 USD and $18.79 AUD as of 25 September 2016) excluding accommodation, BKK transport and activities covered by the Budapest Card.

*This daily amount could be reduced by sticking more strictly to street food or cooking your own meals.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 3 day itinerary for Budapest, Hungary. Including visits to ruin pubs, castles, thermal baths and walking tour recommendations.

Have you visited Budapest or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

Itinerary: Bratislava, Slovakia (2 days)

Itinerary: Bratislava, Slovakia (2 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Bratislava, Slovakia.

Forget everything that you have ever heard about Bratislava.

And if you have never heard of Bratislava, it is the capital city of Slovakia. Sitting south of Poland, north of Hungary and east of Austria. In fact, Bratislava and the Austrian capital are within an hours’ distance of each other via train, bus or car. It is easy to make a day trip from Vienna, however I would recommend staying at least two.

Going in, I had no idea about what to expect. Perhaps I could have researched more or maybe I just like to be surprised. Either way, Bratislava exceed my expectations in beauty and fun activities to do around this walk-able city.

Here was our itinerary, including budget breakdown, over a two day period.

grassalkovich-palace-bratislava-castle-slovakia-adoration-4-adventure

Planning a trip to Europe? Check out our posts for Poland and Germany

Day 1

Devin Castle

If you like exploring castles and historic locations, then you will adore Hrad Devin. This castle is just 10km (6 miles) outside of the city center and accessible by local bus (numbers 29 or 28). The site dates back to the 5th century and provides panoramic views of the Slovakian countryside, Danube river and across the “border” to the Austrian side. The castle sits perched on top of a formidable looking hill top, however the walking trails are at a moderate gradient, making it easy to ascend. 

After exploring the castle, you can further explore the grounds surrounding it, grab some lunch or even a quick beer for as little as 1.20 Euro. We spent just under two hours at this site, however you could easily spend half a day here.

devin-castle-slovakia

Old Town

Like most major cities, Bratislava has free walking tours. These tours are operated by a company called “Bratislava Free Tour”, based on tips and run twice daily at 11am and 4pm. The meeting place is in front of the Hviezdoslav statue in Hviezdoslav Square. As we visited in mid-September and the days were quite hot, we chose to go at the cooler time of 4pm.

hviezdoslav-statue-hviezdoslav-square-bratislava-slovakia-adoration-4-adventure

Our tour guide was a charismatic theater performer, named Andy.  She guided us through the city center and Old Town districts, taking us to some of the most historic and important sites of the city.  The tour touched on the history of Czechoslovakia’s independence from the Hungarian empire in 1920, as well as the separation of Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

Andy shared with us anecdotal tales from her family and local legends, including insights into the Communist era, Slovak National Uprising and Velvet Revolution. What we really enjoyed about this walking tour, was hearing a local’s perspective on Slovakian history and culture.

church-of-st-elizabeth-bratislava-slovakia-adoration-4-adventure

Slovakian Dinner

Following the recommendations of our walking tour guide, we headed to a restaurant called “Flag Ship”. Here they serve traditional Slovakian dishes, which we decided to sample. Darrell ordered the “halusky” which is a type of small dumpling made out of potato and covered in a sheep cheese sauce with bacon. I had the garlic soup in a bread bowl. Both meals were very rich, especially the garlic soup. I was glad that we decided to share, as I probably couldn’t have eaten all that garlic soup by myself (and I consider myself a garlic lover!). Don’t worry too much about not knowing the Slovakian names, as the menus have English translations and the waiters are happy to help.

flag-ship-halusky-and-garlic-soup-bratislava-slovakia-adoration-4-adventure

Day 2

Bratislava Castle 

The Bratislava Hrad sits above the city of Bratislava and is visible from multiple locations. A gentle 15 minute walk from the city center, the castle is home to decadent gardens which are usually open until midnight. Unfortunate for us, the castle grounds were closed due to an European Union event when we tried to visit. Still, it was nice to wander around outside the castle walls and enjoy the view of the city.

bratislava-castle-slovakia-adoration-4-adventure

Slavin War Memorial

For another great city view, head to the Slavin War Memorial. The monument was built to honor the Soviet Union soldiers who died whilst fighting the German occupation of Bratislava in 1945. Certainly an interesting and important period of Slovakian history.

slavin-war-memorial-bratislava-slovakia-adoration-4-adventure

Slovakian Street Food and Beer

While walking around downtown, you might notice a large shopping mall called “My Bratislava”. Well, I am not one for malls, but it has other treasures hidden inside. Here you will find some cheap restaurants and a range of affordable street food. What makes it even better, is that you can pick up the free WiFi signal from the Tesco while you peruse the food vendors.

We ate here on more than one occasion, after falling in love with Langose. These are a doughy pastry, stretched out into a pancake shape and then deep fried. A thick layer of buttery garlic is smothered on one side followed by an even thicker layer of cheese and any extra sauces you may want (we opted out of sauce and it was still delicious!). Wash it down with either a Budweiser (brewed in Czech Republic) or Kofolo (the Czech / Slovakian version of Coke).

To finish off our last night in Bratislava, we visited Klasterni pivovar Strahov (The Strahov Monastic Brewery). This pub and restaurant is located right next door to Flag Ship and serves beer that they brew onsite.

klasterni-pivovar-strahov-beer-bratislava-slovakia-adoration-4-adventure


Budget breakdown: Bratislava

All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. We always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with our readers. If you know of a better deal, tell us about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: 2 nights’ in a 8 bedroom hotel dorm (€54.60).

Food: Our hostel provided free coffee, tea and snacks. Each morning we would go to the local supermarket to buy pastries for breakfast and lunch. Tap water is drinkable in Slovakia so we did not have to buy bottled water.

Day 1 – Pastries (€4.65), 2 beers at Devin Castle (€2.40), Slovakian dinner at Flag Ship (€9.60), ice creams (€2).

Day 2 – Pastries (€2.52), 1 langose, 1 Kofolo and 1 beer (€3.60), 2 beers at The Strahov Monastic Brewery (€4), 1 Twister pastry with icecream (€3.50).

Activities: Entrance fee to Devin Castle (€6), Old Town Walking Tour (€5 Euro tip).

Transport: Public bus to Devin Castle and back (€3.60).

Average daily spend: 25.36 Euros each* ($28.51 USD and $38.11 AUD as of 16 September 2016), excluding transportation in and out of Slovakia.

*This daily amount could be reduced by sticking more strictly to street food or cooking your own meals.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Bratislava, Slovakia. Exploring castles, tasting Slovakian food and learning more about the rich culture.

Have you visited Bratislava or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

Itinerary: Bocas del Toro, Panama (3 days)

Itinerary: Bocas del Toro, Panama (3 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 3 day itinerary for Bocas del Toro, Panama by A4A guest writer, Darrell Whaley.

Just south of the Costa Rican border, on the Caribbean side of Panama, sits a piece of paradise. The province of Bocas del Toro consist of multiple islands and is considered Panama’s top destination. Here you can experience everything from wildlife, beautiful beaches, snorkeling, surfing, and so much more.

On our recent trip through Central America, Chantell and I heard so much about Bocas del Toro from other travelers we came across. Bocas soon was included to our list of places to visit along the way. Although Bocas del Toro has enough to keep you busy for weeks, we elected to stay 4 full days. One of the days we were there, we were rained out, which happens in the rainy season. Because of this, our recommended itinerary is for three days of serene beaches, relaxation, and sloths!

Planning a trip to Central America? Check out our posts on BelizeGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Day 1: Isla Colon

Bocas Town is a perfect hub to explore the area. Set on the southern tip of Isla Colon, the main town of the islands host numerous hotels, bars, and restaurants serving cuisine from around the world. From here it is possible to rent bikes to roam around the island, take a shuttle to one of the many beaches, or a boat taxi to a nearby island.

Starfish Beach (Playa Estrella)

Playa Estrella, known as Starfish Beach, is one of the many beaches on Isla Colon. Easily accessible by local bus or shuttle (we chose the shuttle because it was leaving quicker) to Playa Boca del Drago, it is a 30 minute ride away from Bocas Town. Upon reaching Boca del Drago, walk along the path next to the water and reach the unique Starfish Beach within 20 minutes.

In the banks of the water, not 15 feet from the shore, you will be able to see starfish living in their natural habitat. The clear water makes it possible to see starfish of every color while wading through the ocean. Seeing as these creatures are in their natural habitat, they should be only viewed and not touched. There are many signs posted that do say not to touch the starfish, yet people ignore these signs and endanger the marine life this beach has been named for. If you see this happening, feel free to remind the guests (either in Spanish or English).

It is possible to spend the entire day at Playa Estrella. Lined up and down the beach are restaurants with some offering beach side service including beach chairs with umbrellas. There are also options without any fee, with open space on the sand to lie a towel on and enjoy the view.

Walking to Starfish Beach

Day 2: Tour from Bocas Town

There are multiple tours leaving daily from Bocas Town, each including their own unique destinations. By taking some time to look at all the options that were available, we found the perfect one for us. One of Chantell’s dreams was to see a sloth in the wild, so this was the starting point for us. Luckily, there is a place called Sloth Island nearby Isla Colon and it was included in part of a tour. We ended up finding a tour including Dolphin Bay, Sloth Island, Hollywood Beach, snorkeling at Crawl Cay, and Cayos Zapatilla.

Our first stop at Dolphin Bay began with an up close experience with a number of dolphins. After a short time all of the dolphins left except a mother and her calf, who seemed to be curious about the boats. They both often swam right up next to the boat and even chased us a bit when we were leaving.

Dolphins in Dolphin Bay

Next we cruised through Hollywood Beach. Here you can lean over the side of the boat and see starfish everywhere! Although a brief site to visit, the ocean looked like glass and the view was incredible. On-wards we went to Sloth Island, in hopes of seeing at least one of these rare creatures. Lucky for us, we saw five different sloths. They are truly unique creatures and it is only possible to see them in this area of the world. Since this was the main reason we went on the tour, we were definitely excited.

Sloth Napping

Once our boat visit around Sloth Island was over, we made our way to Crawl Cay. Snorkeling in Crawl Cay is a good experience to see the local fish and coral life, but don’t expect it to be as brightly colored as the reefs to the north near Honduras and Belize. Snorkeling here can be a bit of a challenge, as fins are not typically allowed due to the shallow waters. The force from kicking with fins could damage the fragile ecosystem of Crawl Cay, so make sure to be cautious when moving around.

Our final stop for the day was Cayos Zapatilla. This small island has one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire region and is the perfect stop off for a packed lunch and afternoon swim. The tour stopped here for nearly two hours giving plenty of time to explore or just relax.

Cayo Zapatilla

Day 3: Isla Colon

For our last day in Bocas Del Toro, we wanted to go to the east side of Isla Colon. That morning, we hired bikes from a local shop and rode out towards Playa Bluff. Around eight kilometers from Bocas Town, Playa Bluff is known for its intense waves. However there are some days where the water isn’t too strong to swim out in, which we were lucky to have experienced.

Bluff Beach is seven kilometers of beautiful golden sand facing towards the Atlantic Ocean with nothing in its way. At first we had the entire beach to ourselves at Playa Bluff, which was extremely peaceful. Even with the arrival of a family of three within view far down the beach, we still felt rather secluded here. It’s perfectly possible to make a day of Bluff Beach by bringing along food and drinks by bike or even on the shuttle van from downtown.

Playa Bluff


Sun Havens Apartments and Suites

During our stay in Bocas Town, we stayed at the pleasant Sun Havens Apartments and Suites. Just a short walk away from the docks and main streets, Sun Havens is perfectly situated close to everything, yet far enough away to have a peaceful nights rest. There are multiple options for room sizes, accommodating as little as two people or as large as six.

Sun Havens Bedroom

Our apartment at Sun Havens included many amenities uncommon to the island, such as high speed WiFi and hot water. It also included air conditioning, a large flat screen TV with cable, and a full kitchen which we took advantage of to save on some money. Daily cleaning is available for a nominal fee.

Sun Havens Kitchen Area

Tomaso, the owner of Sun Havens, was such a hospitable host and a fountain of knowledge on the entire area. He always had the best suggestions on where to go, what to see, and even where to eat. When we first arrived, it had been a long journey with us setting off from San Jose, Costa Rica. Tomaso was waiting for our arrival and quickly showed us to our room to rest up after our long day. Even after we rested a little, he made us a “welcome smoothie” filled with fresh fruits from around the island. It was a perfect introduction to our stay in Bocas and a welcome refresher after a hot day. Tomaso always went out of his way to make sure we had a worry free and amazing stay.

Location: Sun Havens Apartments and Suites, Calle 6a y Avenida Norte, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Website: http://www.sunhavens-bocas.com/

Sun Havens


Budget breakdown: Bocas del Toro

All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (USD). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to AUD. We always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with our readers. If you know of a better deal, tell us about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: Sun Havens Apartments and Suites offers multiple room choices for different group sizes. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Apartments and Suites.

Food: We purchased groceries and bottled water from local supermarkets. For a couple of meals, we ate out at local restaurants and bakeries, and we had one nicer meal with friends we made on our tour. ($86.41 USD)

Activities: Bocas del Toro Tour ($60 USD).

Transport: Water taxi to Bocas Town from the mainland ($10 USD). Bike Rental ($9 USD). Roundtrip shuttle to Bocas del Drago ($10 USD).

Average daily spend: $29.24 USD each ($39.05 AUD as of July 20, 2016) excluding accommodation.

Playa Bluff South End

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Sun Havens Apartments and Suites. Our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s 3 day itinerary for Bocas del Toro, Panama. Including island hoping, sloth sightings, dolphin encounters and serene beaches.

Have you visited Bocas del Toro or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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Itinerary: La Fortuna, Costa Rica (2 days)

Itinerary: La Fortuna, Costa Rica (2 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is a dream destination for many and for good reason. Known for its dense rain forests, unique wildlife, formidable volcanoes and startling seaside, there are so many experiences available to visitors.

During our 9 week backpacking trip of Central America, Darrell and I only had five days of our itinerary allotted for Costa Rica (although we would have loved to spend much longer!). So in the lead up to our visit, I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Costa Rica. I wanted to make sure that we made the most of our short time in this famed vacation destination.

After considering many recommendations, we choose to spend the majority of our time in La Fortuna. Darrell was particularly excited to see Arenal Volcano. A seemingly perfectly formed volcano that dominated the skyline and thick jungles surrounding it. Another positive was that La Fortuna is also very accessible from the capital, San Jose. 

In total, we spent three nights in La Fortuna. As traveling goes, I was sick for the better part of our first day. Therefore, the following is our recommended itinerary for two days rather than squishing everything into one day, as we did. After all, when in Costa Rica you should be on Tico time.

Planning a trip to Central America? Check out our posts on BelizeGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Day 1: La Fortuna

Breakfast on the patio

During our stay in La Fortuna, we stayed in Villas Josipek. Nestled in the lush rolling hills above La Fortuna, Villas Josipek offers cozy bungalows with the option of a fully equipped kitchen. The cabins are available with one and two bedrooms or there is even a four bedroom house available. We choose to stay in the one bedroom with kitchen. This came with a double bed and two bunk beds, so it would be a great choice for small groups or families.

After being on the road for the better part of the past three months, we were so thrilled to have a fully equipped kitchen we could cook our own meals in. My favorite part of the day was sitting on the patio of the bungalow, sipping coffee and looking out into the gardens of Villas Josipek. Cooking is also a great option for those who are budget conscious (aren’t we all?).

Villas Josipek - Bungalow with Kitchen

As I was pretty sick during my stay, I really appreciated staying in a private bungalow with all the required amenities to be comfortable. It was nice to rest in the double bed, under the cool bedroom fan and catch up on recent movies. This is also a great way to unwind after you have had a busy day full of adventure activities. Villas Josipek provides cable TV and WiFi right to your cabin, which is pretty impressive considering we were in the middle of the jungle.

Villas Josipek - Bungalow with Kitchen - Bedroom

Catarata Rio Fortuna

While visiting La Fortuna, you are probably going to want to visit La Fortuna Waterfall or “Catarata Rio Fortuna”. The waterfall is located a short drive from La Fortuna. Alternatively, if you have traveled without a car then you could consider a tour or catching a taxi.

The grounds of La Fortuna Waterfall are well maintained with stairs and a pathway leading through the jungle. It is about a fifteen minute walk from the park entrance to the base of the waterfall. There are quite a few stairs so be prepared with the right footwear. It is also recommended that you take along plenty of drinking water, insect repellent, swimwear, a towel and change of clothes. There are restrooms available near the entrance so you can get changed before descending to the waterfall.

There is an entrance fee, however the waterfall and the view during your short trek are very impressive. Make the most of your money by planning to stay a few hours. After reaching the waterfall, take your time taking snapshots then head into the cool water for a dip.

La Fortuna Waterfall, Costa Rica

Day 2: La Fortuna

Baldi Hot Springs

Imagine a luxury spa, natural hot springs and a mammoth water theme park all rolled in one. That’s what you can expect at Baldi Hot Springs. The park is an architect’s delight of strategically placed cascading waterfalls. Starting from the back of the park, the hot spring water erupts from the top of a man made mountain running down through a series of pools.

In all, there are twenty five pools in the park ranging in design and water temperature. Each pool has a sign indicating what the depth and temperature is for the pool. Whether you want to stay ankle deep or be fully immersed under a waterfall, there is a pool for you. For those who fancy a drink without having to get out of the water, there are several swim up bars in the park, including a sports bar showing the current big match.

Baldi Hot Springs, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Families are in luck, as there is a dedicated water park that will keep kids amused for hours. Tall water slides are available for children of all ages. For those looking for some pampering, Baldi Hot Springs has a dedicated spa with many treatments available.

Darrell and I visited on a day pass, and ended up staying over five hours. We had a great time trying out the different pools and relaxing in the sun chairs. If you are visiting and have some room in your budget, consider the “all you can eat” buffet lunch with an assortment of traditional foods as well as soup and pasta. Darrell and I gorged ourselves on a late lunch, finishing with the sweet cakes and coffee. Be sure to come early and, if possible, on a week day. We arrived around 11am and there were only a handful of other visitors. After midday however, bus loads of tourists started to arrive. Although the park is huge and can take many visitors without feeling full, it was still nice to have a pool to ourselves for a few hours.

Baldi Hot Springs

Exploring La Fortuna

The town of La Fortuna is a mishmash of hotels, restaurants and shops selling tours. Large advertisements for adventure activities such as zip lining, hiking, horse back riding and everything in between, call out to you. The town is very walk-able, centered around a cute little park and with a backdrop of Arenal Volcano.

This is a great place to come for lunch or even just a coffee. The restaurants available range from low cost “sodas” (the name for local restaurants) right up to a full service dining experience. Darrell and I enjoyed a relaxed afternoon walking all over the town and treating ourselves to pastries and coffees in a “panaderia” (bakery).


Villas Josipek

Located just 10 kilometers outside the center of La Fortuna and a two hour scenic drive from San Jose, Villas Josipek is a great place to make your jungle escape. The hotel provides a series of bungalows and a house on the edge of the jungle. The resort is also home to a well loved botanical garden, featuring both native and exotic flora.

Villas Josipek made our stay in La Fortuna truly memorable. The staff were so kind and attentive, going out of their way to make sure we had a comfortable stay. Even as we were leaving, the staff were offering recommendations for places to visit in San Jose. It is such a warm and welcoming place to be.

Location: Villas Josipek, Highway 702, Costa Rica (2km north of Chachagua)

Website: www.costaricavillasjosipek.com

Villas Josipek - Cabins


Budget breakdown: La Fortuna

All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (Costa Rican Colones). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to AUD and USD. We always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with our readers. If you know of a better deal, tell us about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: Villas Josipek offers one and two bedroom bungalows as well as a four bedroom house. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rooms & Rates.

Food: We purchased groceries and bottled water from local supermarkets. For a couple of meals, we ate out at a local restaurant and bakery. (2845 Colones).

Activities: La Fortuna Waterfall ($28 USD). We received day passes to Baldi Hot Springs as a gift from a friend. For the current prices for day passes, hotel accommodation, spa and restaurant, please refer to Baldi Hot Springs.

Transport: Initially Darrell and I had planned to travel to La Fortuna by bus, however due to my cold and pinched nerve in my back (did I mention I was sick?), we decided to hire a car at the last minute. Traveling by car to La Fortuna was very convenient and made our trip so much easier. By having the car, we were able to explore the area at our own leisure and easily drive to pick up groceries. When looking for a rental car, make sure to obtain multiple quotes. Also consult with your credit card company as you may already have insurance for car rentals and not have to pay extra for it. ($100.18 USD for 3 days car rental and 13,596 Colones for fuel).

Average daily spend: $39.40 USD each* ($52.45 AUD as of 5 July 2016) excluding accommodation and Baldi Hot Springs. This amount includes car rental for 3 days allowing for travel in and out of La Fortuna.

Villas Josipek - Entrance

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Villas Josipek. We also received day passes to Baldi Hot Springs from a friend as a gift. Our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Including visits to La Fortuna waterfall, Arenal Volcano and Baldi Hot Springs.

Have you visited La Fortuna or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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Itinerary: Backpacking Nicaragua (12 days)

Itinerary: Backpacking Nicaragua (12 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 12 day backpacking itinerary for Nicaragua by A4A guest writer, Darrell Whaley.

.It is always difficult to plan out an itinerary for a country that you have never traveled to before. It can be hard to know which destinations to visit, how much time to spend in each place and most importantly, how much it is all going to cost.

Recently we spent 12 days backpacking through Nicaragua, with stops in Leon, Granada, and Ometepe. This is an overview of where we stopped and what we did on our Nicaragua trip, including a full budget breakdown below. Our route could be used as a full itinerary or modified for any trip type and duration.

Planning a trip to Central America? Check out our posts on BelizeGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Day 1-4: Leon

Leon is located about an hour shuttle or 2 hour local bus ride south of the border of Honduras and Nicaragua. Leon, once the original capital of Nicaragua, is the second largest city in the country. This city is rich in history (the original Leon was buried by volcanic eruptions) and a great place for food. We were lucky enough to be pointed in the best directions for food by Monica of Posada la Gordita and were never disappointed. The Nicaraguan tacos with fresh cream were our favorites.

The main attraction of Leon, for travelers, is the ability to go Volcano Boarding. This is the only location in the world where you can go down the side of a volcano at high speed. Make sure to look around for the best deal, but most companies that provide this experience for around $30 USD.

We used Leon as a low-key recovery location during our 9 week trip. There were many amenities here that we had not seen all over Central America, including a movie theater that showed movies in English. For only a few dollars we were able to munch on pop corn whilst watching the latest X-Men film.

Leon is known for its extreme heat and humidity, yet we only experienced a single full day of the heat. As luck would have it, during our stay, it rained nearly every day. Other activities visitors enjoy include the local water parks, museums and historic walking tours.

Leon Church

Day 5: Travel from Leon to Granada

We took 2 local buses to Granada from Leon with a stop in Managua. All buses leaving from Leon depart from the main bus station next to the market. Our shuttle bus from Leon to UCA bus station in Managua took around an hour and a half and cost 54 Cordobas per person. From UCA bus station it is simple to find the mini bus to Granada. This is an hour trip and cost $1 US dollar per person.

Day 6-9: Granada

Granada is the perfect location to see the variations of Nicaragua without having to go far from the city itself. The city has a very European feel to it and was in fact a Spanish colonial city. Granada is an attraction unto itself with colorful buildings, numerous cathedrals to visit, and perfect places for people watching while drinking coffee.

While here, we joined a night tour to the Masaya artisan markets and to see the current lava flows in Masaya Volcano. This has become one of the top things to do in the area as the lava is highly visible and flowing inside the volcano, which can be seen from the top. We also went to Laguna de Apoyo, a beautiful lagoon about 45 minutes from Granada, which makes for a perfect day trip of kayaking, swimming, and relaxation. Read more reasons why Granada should be your next destination.

Masaya Volcano at night

If you have done everything there is to do and want something more, Las Isletas is an additional option. Las Isletas is a grouping of 365 small islands that were formed when Mombacho volcano exploded long ago. They range from absolutely tiny islands, to ones large enough that people own the land and have built houses on them.

Las Isletas

For a truly unique experience, take a trip to the chocolate spa and museum. This was where we indulged in chocolate spa treatments and even made our own chocolate bars.

Day 10: Travel from Granada to Ometepe

To get from Granada to Ometepe, it requires 2 buses and a ferry. We took the bus from south of the Central Plaza in Granada to Rivas for 31 Cordobas per person. From Rivas we took a quick 15 minute local bus to San Jorge. The local bus can be picked up as it is passing by on the street adjacent to the bus station for 7 Cordobas a person. The final step is an hour long ferry ride to Ometepe for 35 Cordobas per person, but it can vary depending on which ferry you take and the time of departure.

Day 11-12: Ometepe

Ometepe is an island set in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Formed by the two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas, Ometepe is an outdoors destination with most visitors intent on hiking at least one if not both of the volcanoes. Try to visit in the non rainy season as it becomes much more difficult to climb any of the volcanoes and all of the activities are outside.

Many visitors to Ometepe rent scooters or motorbikes so that they can explore the island. We heard stories of people not getting their deposit back or having issues, so just be careful in negotiating these deals. Alternatively, there are many tours you can take to various parts of the island. Unfortunately for us, Chantell was very sick during our stay so we literally were not able to explore at all. Luckily, the ferry ride across provides one of the best views of the island and volcano.

Concepcion Volcano

Want to extend your trip? Consider an escape to the northern beaches of San Juan Del Sur.


Budget breakdown: Nicaragua

All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (Nicaraguan Cordoba) when available. Nicaragua widely accepts USD and often encourages it. See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to AUD and USD. We always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with our readers. If you know of a better deal, tell us about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: We searched on various hostel and hotel websites for the best deals. For more information, read our tips for finding travel accommodation on a budget.

  • Leon – Private room and bathroom for 4 nights ($60 USD)
  • Granada – Private room and bathroom for 5 nights ($85 USD)
  • Ometepe – Private room and bathroom for 3 nights ($45 USD)

Food: We dined on a mixture of street food, local restaurants, convenience store snacks and the occasional mid range cost meal. The most delicious meals were often the cheapest and a sign of a good place will be crowded with locals. We also purchase bottled water, unless filtered refills were provided by the hostel/hotel. (308 Cordobas average per day on food and drink).

Activities: Day trip to Laguna de Apoyo (24 USD), Masaya Volcano/Market Night Tour (40 USD), Leon Movie Theater (110 Cordobas).

Transport: Shuttle from Leon to UCA Managua (108 Cordobas), Bus from UCA to Granada (2 USD), Bus from Granada to Rivas (62 Cordobas), Bus from Rivas to San Jorge (14 Cordobas), Ferry from san Jorge to Ometepe (70 Cordobas)

Average daily spend: $16.43 USD* per person ($21.91 AUD as of 3 July 2016).

*During our time in Leon and Ometepe, we did not do any tours so this amount will vary depending on the activities you want to do. This daily amount could be reduced by cooking your own meals.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s 12 day backpacking itinerary for Nicaragua on a budget. Including stops in Leon, Granada and Ometepe.

Have you visited Nicaragua or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.