Migrating Miss https://www.migratingmiss.com Travel & Expat Lifestyle Blog Wed, 19 Sep 2018 09:00:44 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Expat Stories: What You Should Know About Moving to Sydney https://www.migratingmiss.com/moving-to-sydney/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/moving-to-sydney/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 09:00:44 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4809 The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know! I first visited Sydney as a wide-eyed 9-year-old and was amazed by the bustling streets and the beautiful beaches so close to the city centre. I’ve returned several times since and even lived in Australia for a couple of years, although not in Sydney. However, it is a dream expat destination for many so I’m excited to share this interview with Cally from How Not to Sail a Boat about moving to Sydney and what you need to know! Tell us about yourself I grew up in a small farming town in Canada, where the status quo and the norm is pretty well maintained. The expectation was you graduate from high school, go to college, get a job, buy a house, get married and have kids and settle into a daily routine similar to how you were raised. […]

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Expat Interview: Moving to Sydney Australia

The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know!

I first visited Sydney as a wide-eyed 9-year-old and was amazed by the bustling streets and the beautiful beaches so close to the city centre. I’ve returned several times since and even lived in Australia for a couple of years, although not in Sydney. However, it is a dream expat destination for many so I’m excited to share this interview with Cally from How Not to Sail a Boat about moving to Sydney and what you need to know!

Tell us about yourself

I grew up in a small farming town in Canada, where the status quo and the norm is pretty well maintained. The expectation was you graduate from high school, go to college, get a job, buy a house, get married and have kids and settle into a daily routine similar to how you were raised. If you were adventurous, you might go on an annual overseas holiday, typically to an all-inclusive resort.

I was always different from everyone back home. Always craving more adventure, wanting to learn more about other cultures from what we would experience at a resort, always wondering if that is all there was to life.

But I followed the norm – I went to college right after high school and obtained my Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting. I moved straight onto my career phase becoming a Chartered Accountant and buying my first house.

However, at this point, I had the thought ‘What am I doing? Is this really me?’ and that is when everything changed.

Typical University Graduate

What made you decide to move to Sydney?

Since I had done the responsible career thing, I was lucky enough to be able to find a job overseas before taking off. This was kind of like my crutch of wanting adventure but being afraid to stray away from the norm that I grew up with.

My job hunt started in Sydney because I loved the water. I had been on a sailing trip before, I learned to surf in the frigid waters of Canada on a trip to the coast, I had learned to scuba dive. Sydney was a city with a great Central Business District for work but also a lot of nearby beach suburbs to get the lifestyle and adventure side of things!

I landed an Accounting job almost immediately in Sydney, Australia and rented out my house, packed up or sold all my possessions and left for a country I had never before set foot in.

Tell me about the cost of living in Sydney

I think that the longer you are in a place the more you become accustomed to the prices. I think that Sydney seemed normal to cost of living in Canada in terms of things like groceries, drinks out at a bar etc (where a beer might cost $6-8 at a pub, a cocktail would set you back $14-18). However, when my family visited they were a little shocked by the price of things.

Housing is a whole separate thing! Rent is by the week in Australia and in a beach suburb like Manly you might find a room in a 3-bedroom apartment for $350 per week.

However, regardless of these prices I was paid very well, much more compared to my counterparts doing the same job back in Canada. So I felt it all evened out in the end. If anything, I think I saved more money than I would have living back in Canada!

Living in Sydney - Sydney Harbour Views

How did you find the job seeking process?

Australia is a country that is really lacking in skilled labor. Therefore, if you are degree qualified (or more, like me) the job hunt was really quite easy!

In accounting, there are recruiters constantly seeking to place you, and I managed to ‘transfer’ from my Canadian firm because we had international affiliates. My best tip would be to look at websites like seek.com.au as recruiters and employers both advertise on the site.

Do you need a visa to live in Sydney?

You definitely need a visa and I was given a great tip by a recruiter before I landed my job:

“Either you are here in person to interview and you may get a sponsored visa job, or you get your own visa and you may get hired via Skype before you get here.”

I can see, in retrospect how right this was. Obtaining a working holiday visa for the first few months (easy and affordable) would enable your prospective employers to meet you and get a feel for you. You may even get a temporary position in your field to get some in-country experience.

Alternatively, if you have certain skills and can obtain your own permanent residency visa prior to your arrival, it’s less of a hassle for the employer who no longer has to worry about visa sponsorship and helps to remove one big obstacle to hiring you to be a part of their team.

Visa laws are constantly changing in Australia, they have already changed since I became a permanent resident so if you are doing anything more than a working holiday visa consider talking to an immigration lawyer.

What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?

Sydney draws expats from all over the world, as do many cities in Australia, so the social scene is great! I lived in a small suburb by the beach, but I was only ever a 20-minute ferry ride away from some incredible nightlife and foodie scenes in the city.

Making friends I would say is easier than in many cities around the world because so many people are in the same boat as you are!

Living in Sydney - View of Sydney Ferry Commute

What’s the hardest thing about living in Sydney?

For me, it is being away from family. I have a few incredibly cute nieces that I only get to see once a year (other than Skype) because Australia really is located on the other side of the world from everywhere!

But it is a place that feels more like home than my real home ever did because it feels like I belong. And that is a feeling that I cannot believe I ever went without. Life is all about sacrifices I guess!

What’s the best thing about living in Sydney?

The water. The coastline is stunning, the surf and snorkeling are incredible and the weather just entices you to take part in it year round (well most of the year, you have to love it for some of the chillier winter days)!

Living in Sydney - Weekend Scuba Diving in Manly

How is your new home different from your old one?

Culturally Australia and Canada are pretty similar, however, I found that the people drawn to Australia and to its incredible beaches and outdoor activities are people who are a lot like me. So while in many ways both of my ‘homes’ are the same, the feeling is like nothing I can describe.

It really made me look at myself and take a good hard look at what I am interested in and what I want out of life. The norm expected back home was definitely not for me, so Australia let me explore all those things that I might be interested in that were not available back home.

It only further magnified my love of water, and the end result is that after four years in this incredible country, my boyfriend and I are leaving Australia on a multi-year trip to sail our newly purchased, secondhand sailboat around the world. Bit of a different adventure I am living that I envisioned for my life when I was living back in Canada!

If we had just one day in Sydney what should we not miss?

The food and the ocean.

Start your day with an amazing breakfast in the city, no one does avocado on toast better than Australia. And in Sydney, Pablo & Rusty’s in the city has the best Heirloom Tomato Avocado Smash I ever could have dreamed of.

Enjoy views of the famous Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as you jump on the iconic Manly ferry.

When you get to Manly, be sure to take a stroll down to Shelly Beach and bring your snorkel and beach gear as it is a marine protected area and one of my favourite spots to look for cuttlefish, stingrays, and weedy sea dragons.

One day in Sydney - Diving

Lunch in Manly should be something simple like the Manly Style Lentil Momo’s at the Manly Momo Bar (or a Poke Bowl from the same place). Or if you are not craving that, wander up the main street called ‘The Corso’ and find almost anything you could be craving!

Spend the afternoon on a quick hike up into the North Head National Park and take in the views from the top of the North Entrance to the harbour. The same place where Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay so many years before. If you want even more history, make your way down to Quarantine Beach – the beach where new arrivals to the country were quarantined to ensure new diseases were not introduced to the country (better yet as a night tour as they offer a haunted ghost tour).

In the evening, make your way back on a sunset ferry to the city and take in one of the many cool eateries or bars. You can go to cool like venues in suburbs like Newtown or hit up a classy restaurant in the Rocks or Barangaroo area.

The perfect day in Sydney… <3

Moving to Sydney - National Park Views Over Manly Beach

When you think of your expat home, what comes to mind?

Whether it is thinking about Sydney or thinking about Australia I always think of the book ‘In a Sunburnt Country’ by Bill Bryson. His stereotypes about the country, the culture, the politics, the sports history and more is so spot on.

I first read the book before ever setting foot in Australia, and I have read it twice since living here. Whether having a Prime Minister who was lost at sea while swimming, to Bryson’s commentary on cricket. It never stops being incredibly funny or infinitely true!

Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live?

In Sydney, there is a suburb for EVERYONE. So, when you move there know what you are looking for. If you are looking for nightlife, you might choose Newtown. If you love the beach, look at places like Manly and Bondi. If you want more of the city life you can always opt for somewhere like Darlinghurst or Surry Hills.

The more you think about what you want and choose where you live based on that, the more you will probably fall in love with your new home.

Better yet, so many of these suburbs are a reasonable commute from the Central Business District, whether by ferry or train!

Moving to Sydney - Manly Beach

If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Sydney what would it be?

Do it, there will never be a perfectly right time to make a move across the globe. And you never know how much it could change your life. It certainly completely changed mine!

You can follow Cally and her partner John’s adventures on their blog How Not to Sail a Boat, or on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube

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21 Epic Hikes in Iceland (For All Levels!) https://www.migratingmiss.com/hikes-in-iceland/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/hikes-in-iceland/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 16:37:15 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4784 Iceland is an outdoor adventure paradise, and not just for hikers. Much of the stunning scenery can be viewed simply by driving around the island, but if you want to get out amongst in it then finding the best hikes in Iceland is essential. Luckily, there are so many opportunities for hiking that you’ll be able to find everything from easier day hikes in Iceland to more difficult and challenging multi-day hikes. With the help of some fellow travel bloggers, I’ve listed 21 epic hikes that you should consider for your next Iceland trip! I last visited Iceland in November, which meant I had less chance of taking advantage of many of these awesome trails. Although it’s possible to hike in Iceland in winter, there are limits to the trails available, plus you need to have a lot more experience and take a LOT more caution. The best time for hikers to visit Iceland is definitely in the summer months! Read on to find out about some of Iceland’s best hiking trails, how to find them, how long they take, and when you should go. Glymur Waterfall By Laurence from Finding the Universe Location: One hour’s drive from Reykjavik in […]

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Iceland is an outdoor adventure paradise, and not just for hikers. Much of the stunning scenery can be viewed simply by driving around the island, but if you want to get out amongst in it then finding the best hikes in Iceland is essential. Luckily, there are so many opportunities for hiking that you’ll be able to find everything from easier day hikes in Iceland to more difficult and challenging multi-day hikes.

With the help of some fellow travel bloggers, I’ve listed 21 epic hikes that you should consider for your next Iceland trip! I last visited Iceland in November, which meant I had less chance of taking advantage of many of these awesome trails. Although it’s possible to hike in Iceland in winter, there are limits to the trails available, plus you need to have a lot more experience and take a LOT more caution. The best time for hikers to visit Iceland is definitely in the summer months!

Read on to find out about some of Iceland’s best hiking trails, how to find them, how long they take, and when you should go.

Glymur Waterfall

By Laurence from Finding the Universe

Location: One hour’s drive from Reykjavik in Hvalfjordur fjord in West Iceland
Length of hike: 7.5km round trip
Approximate time: 3-3.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Season: All year to see the waterfall, although river crossing not recommended/possible in winter when log bridge is removed.

Glymur is one of my favourite hikes in Iceland. It’s a fairly challenging hike that will take at least three hours, but the payoff is worth the effort.

Glymur is one of Iceland’s highest waterfalls. Until 2011, it was thought to be Iceland’s highest waterfall, but a retreating glacier revealed a higher waterfall. Still, it’s pretty hard to get to the other waterfall, so Glymur remains as the highest waterfall you can get to.

The hike starts around an hours drive from Reykjavik, or a short distance off Iceland’s ring road, where there’s a large parking lot, and a trail map with signs and instructions. Depending on when you visit, the trail will vary slightly, as the track goes along two sides of a river, and in winter the bridge to cross the river is removed.

Whilst you can do the hike in both summer and winter (I have done both), the best time of year is summer, as you really need to cross the river so you can get a good view of the waterfall. Crossing the river involves wading through fairly fast-moving water, as well as navigating a lot, all whilst holding onto a wire for balance. It’s fun, but not for the faint-hearted. From the log bridge, the trail then rises steeply to the viewing point and includes sections where you have to use chains to pull yourself up.

As I said, this is a fairly challenging hike, but the views of Iceland’s second highest waterfall make it worth it!

Hikes in Iceland - Glymur Waterfall

Svartifoss Waterfall/Sjónarnípa Trail

By Jurga from Full Suitcase

Location: Skaftafell National Park
Length of hike: 7.4km
Approximate time: 2.5 – 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Season: In summer, although possible in winter depending on trail conditions and weather.

One of my all-time favourite hikes in Iceland is the hike Svartifoss waterfall and Sjonarnipa in Skaftafell National Park.

Svartifoss, aka ‘Black Waterfall’, is a well-known landmark and despite a rather steep climb, is really popular with tourists. However, this part of the hike isn’t all that special and the only real highlight is the spectacular waterfall itself.

I strongly recommend to hike further and do the whole Svartifoss – Sjonarnipa trail. Sjonarnipa means ‘The Viewpoint’ and what a view it is! But this hike is so much more than just the famous viewpoint at the end. The scenery that you experience here is some of the best you can find in Iceland. Snow-capped mountains, views over the glacier on one side and the ocean on the other side. The phenomenal landscapes that you see here are well worth the hike.

We visited in November. Seeing half-frozen waterfalls and the beautiful landscape lit by the golden rays of the winter sun made it an even more special experience and worth adding to an Iceland itinerary at this time of year.

Hikes in Iceland - Skaftafell National Park

Eldfell Volcano

By Vanessa from Wanderlust Crew 

Location: Westman Islands
Length of hike: Around 3km round trip
Approximate time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, steep in parts
Season: Recommended in summer due to slippery paths and weather

Several miles off the south coast of Iceland lies the Westman Islands, or Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic. The most inhabited island, Heimaey is home to the now dormant Eldfell Volcano, which famously erupted in 1973, causing all of the inhabitants to quickly evacuate the island and resulted in the loss of many homes and the expansion of the island as well as a downsizing of the harbor, which was the lifeblood of the fishing community.

One of the best hikes in Iceland is to the top of Eldfell Volcano, the center of the eruption in 1973. The island can easily be accessed on foot or car by a ferry which leaves twice a day during good weather. After entering the harbor, take a stroll through the colorful town and into the base of the volcano where you can begin your hike. This is an easy to moderate climb, about 6 kilometers round trip. The hike can be quite slippery at times so be sure to wear decent hiking shoes. Most of the terrain is composed of igneous rock, or dried lava and is like walking on loose gravel. Once you reach the crest of the volcano the winds can pick up, so dress appropriately and be prepared to be blown away by the views and hopefully not the wind!

Be sure to visit the Eldheimar Museum on your way down to learn more about the eruption and its lasting effects on the community. The museum is literally built around an excavated house that was buried by the eruption where you can see artifacts from everyday life preserved just as they were left in 1973.

Hikes in Iceland - Eldfell Volcano

Djupavik Circle Route

By Inma from A World To Travel

Location: West Fjords
Length of hike: 5km
Approximate time: 2 hours (plus extra for photos!)
Difficulty: Easy, with some uphill sections
Season: Recommended in summer June until September

Just as some Icelandic destinations are swamped with tourists, some areas of the country still get rid of the invasion triggered by Instagram. This is the case of Djupavik, a very small town (in fact 6 years ago only lived there a couple and their dog, Freja, who ran the only hotel in the place) with a lot of charm and perfect to discover on foot, alone, in company or with the ever-present elven community of the island.

To start, I recommend you take a look at the Djupavik circle route, not too difficult (although at first, you have to climb a little) but highly recommended for all lovers of Iceland adventures and landscapes.

Start the route behind the old herring factory to the top of the hills from where the magnificent Djúpavíkurfoss descends. Once up, the view is impressive and you can see the entire fjord, the abandoned factory, the stranded boat, and the neighboring peaks. After enjoying it as long as you want (we were up there until 2 am, it was summer and there was visibility without the need for flashlights), the road continues down again towards the east; completing this circular route and ending in Djupavik again. Enjoy!

Hikes in Iceland - Djupavik circle route

Brúarfoss

By Priya Vin from Outside Suburbia

Location: On the Golden Circle between Laugarvatn village and Geysir geothermal area. Please note the trail used to cross private property and it is now closed to the public. There is a new official parking lot and trail with a longer walk.
Length of hike: 7-8km return
Approximate time: 2-4 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Season: Recommended in summer only as it can be muddy and slippery

Most waterfalls in Iceland is off the ring road and are well marked but Bruarfoss is off the beaten path and a little difficult to get too. Brúarfoss translates to ‘Bridge Falls’ and is a relatively small waterfall compared to many of other Icelandic waterfalls. Labelled as ‘Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall’, it is one of Iceland’s hidden gems. We spent an afternoon following up a stream, hiking through meadows and running into shaggy-haired Icelandic horses till we made it to waterfalls with a help of a couple of locals.

Brúarfoss is roughly one hour and twenty minutes east of Reykjavik. If you are doing Golden Circle, between Geysir and Þingvellir Park, take route 37. Most directions to Bruarfoss point you through a neighborhood of summer homes, which is actually private property and you would be trespassing. Instead of going into the summer house area, stop right before the 355 road, immediately after crossing the bridge. From here you will hike for about 3.5 km to get to Bruarfoss. The hike took us about 4 hours in the summer with a lot of pauses for photos.

If you are going waterfall chasing in Iceland to find this secret water, just be mindful and respectful of the surroundings and the landowners nearby, and enjoy this hike and the beautiful Bruarfoss.

Hikes in Iceland - Bruarfoss

Sólheimasandur (DC Plane Crash)

By Kris from Nomad by Trade

Location: Southern Ring Road
Length of hike: 8km return
Approximate time: 2 hours return
Difficulty: Easy
Season: All year

In 1973, a US Navy DC-3 crash-landed on a remote black sand beach in Iceland. Fortunately, the crew survived otherwise this would feel a bit macabre. After anything salvageable was removed from the plane’s fuselage, it was left there amid a seemingly endless sea of black volcanic sand for tourists to visit. You used to be able to drive almost to the wreckage, but after it spiked in popularity, the road was closed and visitors now must park in a lot just off the Ring Road in Southern Iceland and hike for around an hour. Be careful when crossing the Ring Road!

The good news is that the path there is easy to navigate. It’s a smooth surface and marked off well so it would be very hard to accidentally lose your way. Though there isn’t any particularly notable scenery along the way, looking out at the rolling dunes of black sand in every direction is mesmerizing and makes you feel like you’re on an alien planet.

Once you make it to the plane wreckage, you can climb on the wings, inside it, and even on top if you’re feeling adventurous. We visited on a grey, cloudy day that made our photos look like they were desaturated to black and white even though they were shot in full color, adding to the dramatic sight of the plane wreckage.

The parking lot for the trailhead is located along the Ring Road between Skogafoss and Vik. The round trip is 8 km and takes about two hours. I’d plan on spending around half an hour at the wreckage depending on how crowded it is and how long you need to wait to take the pictures that you want. There is no cost to park or visit.

Hikes in Iceland - Sólheimasandur Plane Crash

Öxarárfoss

By Samah from God and Wanderlust

Location: Þingvellir National Park
Length of hike: Less than 1 km
Approximate time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate. Easiest from the parking area on Road 36, coming from Reykjavik.
Season: Best between April and October

The drive to Þingvellir National Park is a straight narrow road ridden with sheep, surrounded by vastly barren, mountainous land. It’s scenic, especially during sunset. Google Maps points you to a dirt parking lot, off-road. From there it’s a walk to a gate, which can easily be opened.

The land is flat – you can see for miles on a clear day. After the gate is a short hike down a steep rocky trail. Luckily the rocks are huge, so it’s easy to find your footing. After the steep climb down, the rocky trail continues – I went as it was getting dark and after it rained so it was very muddy and slippery – I recommend wearing good hiking boots.

The rocky trail comes to a halt as the boardwalk begins, where it’s a short scenic walk to the Öxarárfoss – a large waterfall cascading down the black rocks. The sight is well worth the 40-minute drive from Reykjavik and 10-minute hike to Öxarárfoss.

Depending on road conditions, the drive to Þingvellir National Park can be done during winter, however, the hike may be dangerous to do in the snow as there is a steep, rocky incline at the beginning. If you have good winter hiking gear, it may be possible.

Hikes in Iceland - Öxarárfoss

Seljavallalaug Pool

By Paige from For the Love of Wanderlust

Location: Off the Ring Road on road 242 marked Raufarfell.
Length of hike: 3km return
Approximate time: 15-20 minutes each way
Difficulty: Easy with a small stream crossing
Season: All year but the pool is not very warm and care should be taken in winter with the right gear

One of my favorite hikes in Iceland is the hike to Seljavallalaug Pool. It’s a natural geothermal fed pool tucked into the foothills of the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. It’s located in the southern part of the island, very close to Skogafoss waterfall. You’ll find the road to Seljavallalaug pool just off the Ring Road. It’s a small gravel road and you’ll see small homemade signs that simply say Seljavallalaug.

From the parking area, it’s a quick 1 mile hike each way. This trail leads you to the oldest manmade pool in all of Iceland. I love a hike with a big reward at the end. Usually, a view is a big enough reward for me, but getting to take a nice little soak in a geothermal pool while looking at a fantastic landscape is an even greater reward!

The hike to Seljavallalaug is pretty flat, so it would definitely be doable in any season. We did it in the summer, but I’ve heard that the water can be a bit chilly in the winter, and even if it doesn’t freeze, it’s not as hot as other geothermal pools and springs around the island. It’s a definite must-hike for any trip to Iceland, even if you don’t swim.

Note from Sonja: Seljavallalaug Pool is maintained by a group of volunteers. Please be respectful of the pool and the surroundings to preserve it for future use. Don’t consume alcohol and keep the area clean. There can also be algae in the pool.

Hikes in Iceland - Seljavallalaug Hot Spring

Dynjandi Waterfall

By Patrick from Adventographer

Location: West Fjords
Length of hike: 1km
Approximate time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy but uphill
Season: All year

Iceland’s West Fjords are home to more than just isolated villages and rugged coastlines. Dynjandi, considered by many to be the most impressive waterfall in Iceland (and the biggest in the West Fjords) is one destination that needs to be on evertourist’sts list!

The short but strenuous hike to the base of the falls provides an impressive look into the powerful forces of nature at work in Iceland and leaves you with a sense of bewilderment. Assessable year round this short 1km trail begins at the Dynjandi parking lot just off of route 60 and with recently completed trail work is now quite well maintained.

While the view is decent from the parking lot, the effort expended to reach the top really does pay off… Besides, when you’re done you can check out one of Iceland’s hotsprings to soak your achy muscles!

Hikes in Iceland - Dynjandi Waterfall

Svinafellsjökull Glacier Hike

By Christine from Christine Abroad

Location: Southeast Iceland
Approximate time: 3-4 hours dependent on season, with 2-3 hours on the ice.
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate but you need a guide
Season: All year weather dependent

Svinafellsjökull is one of the best places in Iceland for Glacier Walking. If you’re going to Jokulsarlon this is a great stop before as it’s just 50 minutes from the famous Glacier Lagoon. I recommend to join one of the guided tours that are offered by various companies. Most of them have a starting point at Skaftafell Visitor Center where you get geared up and have some safety information before you jump into a car and drive a few minutes away to the starting point to Svinafellsjökull.

It’s a fairly easy walk if you’re in good health and you don’t need any specific skills as long as you’re accompanied by a professional guide. I went with Mountainguides.is and I can heartily recommend them. However, it’s good to know that it can be potentially dangerous if you walk on your own. At the glacier, you could walk into holes covered by snow with falls of several meters down into the glacier.

But don’t worry, the guides are experienced and always walk first, so just follow their steps and you will be fine and have an amazing Glacier Walking experience. The highlight when we went in March was when we roped our way down into an ice crevasse where I was able to touch a huge ice block. We also went down into some canyons and walked on top of the Glacier of Svinafellsjökull.

At this particular Glacier, you will recognize the mountain top which has been featured in the popular movie Interstellar and the TV series Game of Thrones. You can go Glacier walking both during summer, spring, autumn, and winter, but I really recommend spring as you will be able to walk down into ice crevasses before the ice starts to melt too much, and the weather will also be a lot nicer. If you come here during summer, it’s also spectacular and worth the visit.

Also, don’t worry about bringing gear if you join a guided tour. They have everything, and if you need hiking boots, you can rent this as well if you give them notice beforehand.

Hikes in Iceland - Svinafellsjokull

Skógar to Þórsmörk (Fimmvörðuháls Trail)

By Kaila from Nylon Pink

Location: Southern Iceland, off the Ring Road
Length of hike: 25km
Approximate time: 8-12 hours
Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging depending on weather and whether you split into two days
Season: Mid-June to mid-September, only when the buses run.

This gorgeous trail is located in the south of Iceland and is an absolute must for any hiking enthusiast. Also known as Fimmvörðuháls, the trail takes you between two huge glaciers and also past volcanoes and waterfalls.

Due to its location between the glaciers, the trail is only accessible during the summer months (June-September). It goes on for 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) and can either be done in one stretch (8-12 hours), or hikers can spend the night in the Fimmvörðuháls cottage and split the trip in two.

The price for using the cottage is 6,500 ISK per person, which is roughly €50 or $60. Alternatively, if you have your own camping gear, putting up a tent just outside on the mountaintop is definitely an option as well.

As well as the two amazing glaciers, you’ll see the newly formed volcanic mountains Magni and Móði, which came to be during Eyjafjallajokull’s eruption in 2010.

To stand on these lands, which few have stood on before, and still feel the heat of the lava under the earth is a truly unique experience that should be on every hiker’s bucket list. Remember to dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly!

Hikes in Iceland - Fimmvörðuháls

Laugavegur Trek

Location: Can start at Landmannalaugar, Skógar, or Þórsmörk
Length of hike: 55km
Approximate time: 3-5 days
Difficulty: Moderate. Suitable for most hikers with some demanding areas.
Season: Mid-June to mid-September, only when the buses run.

The above Skógar to Þórsmörk hike can also be extended into an approximately 3-5 day hike known as the Laugavegur Trail. It is the most well-known multi-day hike in Iceland and rated by National Geographic as one of the best hikes in the world. You can actually start the trek in Landmannalaugar and end at Þórsmörk, with the hike to Skogar added on the end if you like!

There are huts along the hike that book out quickly, so you can also camp. Some people hike in and spend more than one night at a hut in order to explore the area surrounding it more thoroughly, and especially at Landmannalaugar where there is the only hot spring along the route. The roads to the hike are open from around mid-late June until sometime in September, depending on the snow. The track crosses the orange mountains of Landmannalaugar, black sand, rivers, and snowfields.

Hikes in Iceland - Landmannalaugar

Mount Esja

Location: 10km north of Reykjavik
Length of hike: 7km
Approximate time: 2-4 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Season: Warmer months only. It is possible to reach the Steinn in winter with the right weather, equipment, and experience.

Mount Esja, also called Esjan, is a great option if you’re looking for an easy hike in Iceland. It can be done within a half day trip from Reykjavik. When you’re in the city and look across the water it’s the mountain you can see! There are two options – an easier, less steep trail or steeper trail! The goal is to reach the Steinn, a large stone, but you can continue on to the top as well.

Hikes in Iceland - Mt Esja

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

By Emily from Kids and Compass

Location: Southern Ring Road
Length of hike: 2km
Approximate time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Season: Possible to access in winter although the road is not always cleared

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a small canyon found along the south coast of Iceland, not far from the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. It’s easy to find as it lies just off the ring road and can be reached with a 2WD.

The canyon was carved from the bedrock by glaciers and water flowing over it, and a small stream still runs through the canyon today. It’s quite shallow and so you can easily wade quite far up the canyon, although it gets deeper the further in you walk and there’s a waterfall at the far end.

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a slash in a grassy field from the top. The hike alongside it is an easy walk; the canyon is about a mile long and the paths are well worn. You don’t need any equipment for this hike, just a pair of walking shoes. The views from the path are fantastic though, and when you reach the far end there’s a viewing platform which lets you peer all the way through to the canyon’s mouth. You also get a great close-up look at the waterfall.

As with many places in the south of Iceland, Fjaðrárgljúfur is becoming more and more popular. When we visited the edge of the canyon was roped off in parts to protect the environment, although it wasn’t very crowded. However it was still one of our favourite sights in Iceland, and a great stop along the ring road to stretch our legs!

Hikes in Iceland - Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Location: Only reachable by boat from Ísafjörður
Length of hike
Approximate time
Difficulty: Challenging due to location, trails, and needing to carry a lot of gear. GPS recommended and experience with maps and a compass.
Season: June/July

Located in the northernmost part of the West Fjords, the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is full of beautiful natural scenery. There are several hiking options, although it is only really accessible from mid June to the end of July. You can choose to take guided hiking tours that range from one day to 8 days, or go it on your own from 4 to 6 days.

There is no reception in the reserve and boats can sometimes be delayed so it’s always advisable to carry extra provisions. For ferry schedules check West Tours and Borea Adventures.

Reykjadalur Valley

By Elisa from World in Paris

Location: Hveragerði
Length of hike: 7km return
Approximate time: 1.5-2 hours return (plus time for bathing)
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Season: Not recommended in winter due to the trail and the water temperature

Reykjadalur Valley is a nice area to explore in Southwest Iceland. It is a highly active geothermal area with lava fields and natural steaming vents. In Reykjadalur there is a hot river where you can bath in and which is reached through an easy, 3 km hike. I am used to walking long distances but in a country which sees all the seasons in one single day, I don’t mind being not far from the car park when it starts raining hard!

The hike up to the river starts from the parking lot just in front of a restaurant called Dalakaffi. You will walk through the Reykjadalur hot steam valley and it will take about 45 minutes, more if you stop every 5 minutes (like I did) to take pictures. On the first part of the trail, there are several hot springs and mud pools to the left. There are warning panels everywhere to stick to marked paths if you don’t want to grill your feet so it is funny to see all the goats wandering around fearless. The hike finishes at the hot river, a popular spot amongst locals and tourists so you won’t be alone. However, the river is long so there is space for everybody.

I don’t think this trail is closed during the low season but if you want to have a bath, you want to do the hike during the summer when the temperatures are nice. You don’t need special gear to do the hike, just bring your swimsuit and a light towel for the bath.

Hikes in Iceland - Hot River

Arnarstapi to Hellnar

Location: Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Length of hike: Approx 2.5km or 5km round trip.
Approximate time: 30 minutes one way or 1 hour return
Difficulty: Easy (flat)
Season: Recommended in summer due to the trail

While it is possible the visit the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in a long day from Reykjavik, spending more time there gives you the opportunity to explore more of the sites and the hiking trails. One of these is the walk between the villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar. It follows the coastline, crosses a natural rock bridge called Gatklettur arch, and also a lava field.

Hikes in Iceland - Arnarstapi

The Seljalandsfoss Trail

Location: Seljalandfoss off the southern Ring Road
Length of hike: Less than 1km
Difficulty: Easy
Season: All year

This is more of a walk than a hike, but it makes it more accessible and one of the walks on the Ring Road in Iceland that everyone can have a go at, weather dependent. Once you reach the waterfall just a short distance from the parking lot, the track splits into two. One takes you up behind Seljalandsfoss, and it’s amazing to see the waterfall from behind! Note this will be closed in the winter due to ice, and although we saw a lot of people attempting it anyway I certainly wouldn’t want to slip and fall in!

The second part of the trail goes across the river (joining up with the behind the waterfall trail) and continues along until you reach another small river/stream, where you can hear the thundering of a waterfall behind the rocks. Take a peak through the gap and you’ll see Gljúfurárfoss! It is possible to go through the split in the rocks to see the waterfall close up if you are wearing waterproof boots and the water level isn’t too high.

Hiking in Iceland - Seljalandsfoss Trail

Hverfjall Crater Rim Trail

Location: On the road south of Lake Myvatn there is a turn off. Drive 5 minutes long a gravel road to a parking lot.
Length of hike: 1.3km
Approximate time: 1.30-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Season: Approximately June to September, due to issues reaching the parking lot

The Hverfjall Crater is thought to be about 2800-2900 years old. It was formed by a volcanic explosion and is almost a perfect circle, measuring 1 kilometre in diameter and 140 metres deep. It is a steep climb of about 15 minutes from the parking lot to the top of the crater rim. If you want to walk around the entire outside it will take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes, and then back down to the parking lot again. Alternatively, you can just walk part way around to the highest part for the views of the crater and the surrounding colourful landscape.

Hikes in Iceland - Hverfjall Crater

Námafjall Mountain Hike

Location: Mývatn
Length of hike: 2.4km
Approximate time: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Challenging due to the trail
Season: June to September

On the east side of Lake Mývatn is the Námafjall Geothermal Area, also known as Hverir. It contains smoking holes and boiling mud pools, and was used as a Game of Thrones filming location. There is also a hiking trail up Námafjall mountain, one on the left and one on the right closest to the road, which it’s recommended to take because it’s less steep. The trail can also be very lose due to the dirt and rocks. Walking up Námafjall Mountain is a bit like being on Mars!

Hikes in Iceland - Námafjall Hike

Hvannadalshnúkur Trek

Location: Vatnajökull National Park
Length of hike: 24km
Approximate time: 12 – 14 hours
Difficulty: Challenging
Season: April to August

If you have experience and are looking for a really challenging hike in Iceland, then consider the Hvannadalshnúkur Trek, climbing the highest peak in Iceland at 2110 metres (6923 ft). The panoramic views from Iceland’s highest mountain are like no other, but you will need to trek over difficult terrain to get there, including across ice bridges and up very steep terrain. You need a guide due to the fact you’ll be hiking over a glacier and there are crevasses and parts to avoid.

Hengifoss Hike

Location: East Iceland
Length of hike: 5.4km return
Approximate time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Season: Possible all year but extreme caution should be taken in winter due to falling ice from the surrounding cliffs.

Hengifoss is one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland, at 128 metres high. It is striking because of the surrounding red and black cliffs. The first part of the trail leads to Lítanesfoss, another beautiful waterfall worth stopping to see before you continue on uphill to Hengifoss.

Hikes in Iceland - Hengifoss

Tips for hiking in Iceland

You’ll notice that most of these hikes are best done during the summer/warmer months, so if you’re planning a hiking trip in Iceland then it would be best to visit between June and September. However, some of them are available to walk during winter, if you have the right gear and take the right precautions! You should always check the weather forecast, particularly for a longer hike, and you can also stop into information centres to ask the conditions of the trail.

Coming from New Zealand I have seen many instances where unprepared hikers have ended up needing rescuing, or worse. It’s a similar situation in Iceland the elements can’t be underestimated!

Weather

The weather in Iceland is unpredictable at the best of times, especially during the winter but even during the summer! This means that you need to be prepared for all conditions and to keep a close eye on the forecast. If in doubt, it’s better not to set out.

Guided hikes

Consider a guided hike if you’re not very experienced or for peace of mind. While it’s possible to do many of the above without a guide, you can also learn a lot from a local and enhance your experience. Not to mention your safety.

Public transport

It is possible to take public transport to many of the track starts, especially the Laugavegur Trek. Check out timetables and how to meet the bus when you finish BEFORE you set out.

Camping and huts

Iceland has several huts along longer trails where you can pay to stay, or to camp and use the facilities. These are owned by different companies so look into what is available on your chosen trail to see what works best for you.

Here a couple of the companies:

Always let people know where you will be

This is a worldwide rule of hiking, and Iceland is no different. You should always let someone know where you will be and when to expect to hear from you next, so they can raise the alarm at the earliest possible time if you don’t make contact. Obviously, on many of the shorter, popular Iceland hiking trails, this isn’t strictly necessary, but for any long treks and multi-day excursions, you should.

Snacks and water bottle

Take snacks and a water bottle with you on all hikes. Iceland isn’t short of water and you’ll often have the opportunity to refill your water bottle too, but check if you’re doing a longer hike how much you’ll need.

Proper gear for hiking in Iceland

Even in the summer months, you should make sure you have the proper gear with you for any hikes. This includes waterproofs!

  • Comfortable, broken-in hiking boots
  • A comfortable, well-fitting backpack
  • Waterproof pack cover
  • Trekking poles (preference)
  • Crampons (preference/condition dependent)
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Woollen socks
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Water bottle or Camelbak
  • Sleeping bag and headlamp for overnight

Hiking in Iceland can be an epic adventure, with some of the most amazing scenery in the world. So pick the right trail for you, take the right gear, and prepare for the trip of a lifetime!

Sonja x

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The Best Hikes in Iceland

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Expat Stories: Moving From the UK to Norway https://www.migratingmiss.com/expat-moving-uk-to-norway/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/expat-moving-uk-to-norway/#respond Thu, 13 Sep 2018 10:15:32 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4746 The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know! A few years ago I visited Norway in winter and was struck by how beautiful the scenery is and the delicious food I had in both Oslo and Bergen. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to return, but I have recently interviewed David about his experience of moving to Norway. Originally from the UK, David Nikel is a full-time freelance writer who moved to Norway in 2011. He runs a popular website for expats in Norway and is the author of the Moon Norway travel guidebook. Tell us about yourself? I’m a British guy, living with a Mexican in Trondheim, Norway’s third largest city. I feel I am a very different person from when I arrived seven years ago. For one thing, I now work for myself as a writer. I also own a house (well, 50% of […]

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Moving to Norway

The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know!

A few years ago I visited Norway in winter and was struck by how beautiful the scenery is and the delicious food I had in both Oslo and Bergen. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to return, but I have recently interviewed David about his experience of moving to Norway.

Originally from the UK, David Nikel is a full-time freelance writer who moved to Norway in 2011. He runs a popular website for expats in Norway and is the author of the Moon Norway travel guidebook.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m a British guy, living with a Mexican in Trondheim, Norway’s third largest city. I feel I am a very different person from when I arrived seven years ago. For one thing, I now work for myself as a writer. I also own a house (well, 50% of one anyway!), something which I never thought possible when I lived in England.

What made you decide to move to Norway?

I used to work as an IT contractor in the U.K. and fancied a new challenge abroad. I was offered contracts in Oslo, Bern & Riyadh, and chose Oslo as it was the only place I was able to visit during the interviews.

As much as I loved living in Oslo, I hated the industry and two years later began to work for myself so I could stay in Norway. Around the same time, I relocated to Trondheim to move in with my partner, and haven’t looked back since.

Norway Expat Interview

Tell me about the cost of living in Norway

As I describe in detail in a post I wrote about the cost of living in Norway, this is a topic that surprises many people. For as much as Norway is an expensive country to visit, the actual cost of living relative to income isn’t so bad. You need a lot of cash to get yourself set up here, but once you’re fully in the economy and earning money in kroner, things are much more affordable.

That said, there are a lot of relative differences in living costs. Cars, eating out, and alcohol are all considerably higher here.

How did you find the job seeking process?

Although I work for myself, I’ve just published a book with a recruitment consultant on how foreigners can find work in Norway! It’s a real challenge.

The biggest hurdles are the language – being a native English speaker is no advantage in a country full of highly-educated people who’ve been speaking English pretty much since they learned to talk. Norwegians also value genuine references, so building a personal network is critical, but that’s something that takes time to do.

I would go as far as saying it’s worth spending one month making personal contacts in the industry in which you’re seeking work before you even start applying for jobs. So many jobs in Norway are not advertised, and a personal recommendation and/or introduction goes a long way.

Expat Living Norway

Do you need a visa to live in Norway?

If you’re from an EEA country, then no. Although not an EU member, Norway is subject to the same freedom of movement legislation as the rest of the EU because of their membership of the EEA. Of course, things might change for Brits if and when Brexit happens, but that’s not a worry for me as I now have permanent residency.

What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?

Norway is not a party country and it can be very difficult to make friends with locals. We often invite people over to our house for dinner but often it’s only fellow expats who return the invite. The key is simply to stick at it.

What’s the best thing about living in Norway?

The outdoors lifestyle. It’s healthy and good for the soul! Wrapped up with that is the focus on working to live over living to work: everything from the generous parental leave to the short working hours.

Expat Living in Norway

What’s the hardest thing about living in Norway?

Depending on where you come from, the climate. That said, it’s actually the light that’s a much harder adjustment than temperatures. Both the dark winter days and bright summer nights can really mess with your body clock.

The winters aren’t as bad as I’d feared. It only drops to around -20C once or twice per year, and only seems to dip below -10C for a week or so at a time. Once you learn how to dress properly (layers!) and how to walk on ice, it all becomes normal very quickly.

Expat Moving to Norway

How is your new home different from your old one?

The biggest change is the people. I always thought Brits generally kept themselves to themselves, but Norwegians take that behaviour to a whole new level! It’s not difficult to meet people here, but it’s incredibly challenging to form quality friendships.

Behaviour such as bragging and proving points is frowned upon, a social code that is captured in a concept known as the law of Jante. Things are changing as the country is starting to encourage more entrepreneurship and starting to see the results of a centre-right coalition entering its second term of government, but I hope things don’t change too much. It’s been working pretty well for Norway so far!

If we had just one day in Trondheim, what should we not miss?

Nidaros Cathedral. I’m an atheist but still recommend the cathedral for the incredible carvings on the West Front that makes it reminiscent of many of England’s cathedrals. The adjacent courtyard is also home to an excellent archaeological museum and a lesser-known sight, the Crown Jewels of Norway.

Moving to Norway Expat Interview

If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Norway, what would it be?

Stop converting prices in your head as soon as possible. How much something costs in British Pounds or US Dollars is completely irrelevant as soon as you’re earning in Norwegian kroner. It took me more than a year to realise that! Once you stop converting, it takes away a lot of the stress!

You can find out more about David’s life abroad in Norway on Life in Norway, or Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Mackintosh Tour: Art, Design + Architecture in Glasgow https://www.migratingmiss.com/glasgow-mackintosh-tour/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/glasgow-mackintosh-tour/#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2018 16:36:44 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4753 Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It’s not a name I had actually heard of before I moved to Scotland, but now I’m so glad to have learned about who he is and I’m really excited to share more about him with you. 150 years ago this year, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in the city of Glasgow. He went on to become a renowned Scottish architect and designer and undeniably left his mark on the city. However, his designs are famous all over the world! Travelling to different countries has a way of igniting our appreciation for the contrasts and characteristics that can make a place unique. I’m not just talking about dramatic landscapes and scenery, but also architectural style. Many of us would recognise a picture of iconic cities like Paris, London, or Venice due to their unique appearance. But it’s not just these well-known places that can have recognisable designs that can change how we view our surroundings, but many smaller places too, including in Scotland. The centre of Edinburgh has long been renowned as a beautiful example of historical architecture and culture, while Glasgow has been a bit of an enigma to many. It’s the kind of place you […]

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Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

It’s not a name I had actually heard of before I moved to Scotland, but now I’m so glad to have learned about who he is and I’m really excited to share more about him with you.

150 years ago this year, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in the city of Glasgow. He went on to become a renowned Scottish architect and designer and undeniably left his mark on the city. However, his designs are famous all over the world!

Travelling to different countries has a way of igniting our appreciation for the contrasts and characteristics that can make a place unique. I’m not just talking about dramatic landscapes and scenery, but also architectural style. Many of us would recognise a picture of iconic cities like Paris, London, or Venice due to their unique appearance.

But it’s not just these well-known places that can have recognisable designs that can change how we view our surroundings, but many smaller places too, including in Scotland.

The centre of Edinburgh has long been renowned as a beautiful example of historical architecture and culture, while Glasgow has been a bit of an enigma to many. It’s the kind of place you need to know a bit more about to really get. Like you need someone to show you around and explain its history, architecture and culture before you start falling in love with it.

I’ve spent the last year getting to know how awesome Glasgow is, partly thanks to one artist and architect in particular. I’m not an art or design connoisseur by any means and I never really seek out museums and galleries or particular buildings unless they are an integral part of a city. But Charles Rennie Mackintosh has had me travelling all over Glasgow to see his designs!

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Glasgow

Who is Charles Rennie Mackintosh?

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a talent for art and drawing that began as a young man. After winning awards for his drawings he secured an apprenticeship at an architectural firm while taking night classes at the Glasgow School of Art. He went on to be a part of many building projects around the city under architectural firms and then under his own name, working closely with his wife, Margaret MacDonald.

Born in Glasgow and having spent most of his life in the city, Mackintosh is considered the father of the Glasgow Style. It is his designs we still see around today and that people seem to resonate with and come to love.

Mackintosh at the Willow Glasgow Mackintosh at the Willow Glasgow

What is the Glasgow Style?

From the 1880s art began to move away from historical styles to become more functional and inspired by nature. It began in Britain and was called Art Nouveau (new art). At the heart of Art Nouveau in architecture and furniture design was Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School.

The Glasgow School were a group that included The Four (Mackintosh, his wife Margaret MacDonald, her sister Frances and France’s husband Herbert MacNair), other women artists who now have the name the Glasgow Girls, and male artists who had strong ties to or studied in the city called the Glasgow Boys.

The “Glasgow Style” that this group developed was displayed by Mackintosh at international exhibitions and influenced the development of Art Nouveau across Europe. The style blended Art Nouveau with Japanese elements and symbolism and Mackintosh seemed to be at the forefront of it.

Materials like metal, wood, ceramics, stained glass and textiles that are less common today were used, often featuring roses and other flowers, Celtic designs, lines and squares, birds, and willowy female figures, all drawn in a particular stylised manner they was quite distinct from previous classical styles. Subtle colours like pink, purple and green were common and black and white were used to provide contrast.

When I first saw the style that includes straight lines and curves reminded me somewhat of Art Deco which is known on a wider scale. However, the Glasgow Style actually pre-dates this and technically has more of an arts and crafts element in comparison to the sleeker and more glamorous and clean cut Art Deco style. To me, it makes the Glasgow Style appear modern and ahead of its time.

Mackintosh Tour Glasgow Hill House - Mackintosh Tour Glasgow

In the case of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the elements of the Glasgow Style were incorporated into notable buildings around the city. In particular, he won a bid to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art, designed a series of tearoom interiors for notable local businesswoman Kate Cranston, and large private homes for local businessmen.

What was unique about Mackintosh and his use of the Glasgow Style was that he wanted to design every aspect, down to the smallest furnishings. He was strongly influenced by Japanese design and the way that furniture and design focused on the quality of the space and provided a calming influence, rather than being seen as an ornate display of wealth it has been previously in the west.

Why is he still relevant today?

At the time the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh was largely underappreciated, apart from by a few patrons he designed homes for, and by Kate Cranston. He ended up moving away from Glasgow and focusing more on painting before his death in London in 1928. As is the way with many prominent artists, it was after his death that we truly came to appreciate his unique style and influence on the city of Glasgow.

A concerted effort has now been made to preserve, restore, and refurbish examples of Mackintosh architecture around the city, and to display his artwork for more people to see and appreciate. Over the past year, as I’ve learnt more and more about Mackintosh, I’ve come to realise what an integral part he now is of Glasgow, and I don’t think that any visit to the city is complete without at least understanding and viewing some of what he accomplished.

On the invitation of People Make Glasgow, I recently returned to the city to undertake a self-guided tour of Mackintosh sites, and I want to share with you how to create your own Mackintosh tour of Glasgow, and the top Mackintosh sites to see!

I always travel over to Glasgow via the train because I find it the easiest way to get from city centre to city centre and it takes less than an hour. This trip was no different and I was excited to jump on a Scotrail service early one morning to begin the Mackintosh adventure. If you’re coming in to Glasgow Central train station or walking nearby (like when you go to The Lighthouse) pop into Gordon’s St Coffee and try their special Mackintosh Blend coffee to get you in the mood for your explorations!

Even if you’re not a huge art or architecture lover, it’s hard not to appreciate the work of Mackintosh, plus these are some of the best places to visit in Glasgow and can easily be seen as you wander about the rest of the city.

Mackintosh Tour Glasgow

A Self-Guided Mackintosh Tour of Glasgow

The map below shows all of the locations of the architecture in Glasgow attributed to Mackintosh. Depending on how much time you have in the city you could conceivably see all of it, or choose a few that are of most interest to you. I’ve often found having a deeper reason to explore a city, like seeking out filming locations or particular historical places has made the experience better, and I feel like using Mackintosh as your catalyst to explore Glasgow is a great way to get to know the city!

I’ve detailed each Mackintosh site below to help you choose what to see. The first three are my personal favourites and I would definitely recommend fitting them into your Glasgow itinerary.

 

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is the perfect place to start your explorations of the city and learn about Mackintosh as it’s located in the heart of Glasgow, in a lane just off Buchanan Street. The building was designed by him for the Glasgow Herald but it is now Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture. In the Mackintosh Interpretations Centre, you can find details about Mackintosh and his work to get you started.

There is also a current exhibition by the National Trust for Scotland about Hill House, a house that Mackintosh designed in Helensburgh that is currently undergoing renovation, meaning the interiors are being kept at The Lighthouse.

And don’t miss climbing the spiral staircase for views across Glasgow from the top of the tower!

The Lighthouse is free to enter.

The Lighthouse staircase Glasgow
The Lighthouse view of Glasgow

Afternoon Tea at Mackintosh At The Willow

I’m particularly partial to an afternoon tea, with the atmosphere playing a large part in whether I consider somewhere good or not. Kate Cranston was a Glasgow businesswoman who was a prominent figure in the development of tea rooms (I like her already) and became a patron of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. What made her tea rooms so popular was her attention to service standards and a welcoming atmosphere, cleanliness and high food quality, and in employing the latest styles of decoration.

Enter, Mackintosh, who after working with another designer on Miss Cranston’s new tea rooms in Buchanan Street, went on to design the Willow Tea Rooms and also did further work on other tea rooms. Unfortunately, Miss Cranston later sold her tea rooms and they went into liquidation by the 1950s to be transformed into other stores and shops.

Mackintosh At The Willow Glasgow

In July 2014 the Willow Tea Rooms Trust purchased the building in Sauchiehall Street that held Miss Cranston’s original Willow Tea Rooms. After an extensive refurbishment and restoration, including recreating original elements down to the finest detail, Mackintosh At The Willow has been reopened as a tea room with a visitor centre and exhibition next door.

There are two levels where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea, as we did during our visit. Or, you can pay an extra £5 (the equivalent of the 1p that Miss Cranston charged) to dine in the Salon de Luxe, a stunningly gorgeous room that was originally for ladies to enjoy their tea in private.

It was quite surreal sitting in a place surrounded by the designs of Mackintosh as he would have intended them to be over 100 years ago. It really is a calming and enjoyable atmosphere. The afternoon tea was lovely, with sandwiches, delicious scones and an assortment of sweet treats all served on specially designed china. I’ll definitely be back and splashing out for the Salon de Luxe to try that out too!

Mackintosh At The Willow Glasgow

Please note to avoid confusion, although there are Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street these are inspired by the original, and the newly opened Mackintosh on the Willow is the site of the original tea rooms, including original features that were preserved even as the building changed hands over the last half-century.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

A visit to Glasgow wouldn’t be complete without going to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. It is among the top 15 most visited museums across the world, and I prefer it even to the National Museum of Scotland! There are 22 different galleries but the one you should be most concerned about if you’re on the Mackintosh tour is the one dedicated to the Glasgow Style.

Kelvingrove is free to enter.

Kelvingrove Glasgow
Mackintosh Exhibition Kelvingrove

Mackintosh House at the Hunterian

Just a short walk from Kelvingrove you’ll find the University of Glasgow (which looks straight out of Harry Potter!) and the Hunterian, the oldest museum in Scotland. In addition to a museum and art gallery, it contains Mackintosh House, a replica of the interior of 6 Florentine Terrace where Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret MacDonald lived. I’m not sure I could handle all that white carpet!

Mackintosh House is £6 to enter (£3 for concession and free for students and some other groups) although other parts of the Hunterian are free.

Scotland Street School Museum

Scotland Street School was the last public commission by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, designed between 1903 and 1906. You can spot many unique features in the building within the windows and the stonework. Unfortunately, he battled with the School Board as they wanted a less expensive design.

It was used as a school right up until 1979 when a declining roll saw it closed. Now you can visit it as a museum that depicts 100 years of education in Scotland, with classroom recreations and information about schooling from Queen Victoria through to the 1950s and 60s.

Entrance to the Scotland Street School Museum is free. It can be reached in a short walk from the West Street Subway station.

Scotland Street School Museum Glasgow Mackintosh Glasgow - Scotland Street School Museum inside

House for an Art Lover

House for an Art Lover in Bellahouston Park was built between 1989 and 1996 but was based on a 1901 design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald. There are gallery and exhibition spaces, as well as an events venue popular for weddings (there was a wedding the day we visited!) and a popular cafe downstairs.

It’s a beautiful setting within the park, especially on a nice day, and a great opportunity to view and interact with Mackintosh designs not in a museum. The lunch was delicious too!

The cafe and shop are free to enter. The Mackintosh rooms are £6 for adults but opening times vary based on what events are being held so check the website for details.

House for an Art Lover Glasgow
House for an Art Lover Glasgow

Mackintosh/Queen’s Cross Church

The Queen’s Cross Church was the only church building to be designed by Mackintosh. The design, completed in 1899, has Gothic elements but with the added Mackintosh characteristics in the floral motifs of the windows.

The church was decommissioned in the 1970s and is now owned by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. Sometimes the church is closed for private events like weddings, so check in advance before you head there!

Mackintosh Queens Cross Church Glasgow Mackintosh Church Glasgow

Ruchill Church Hall

Located near to the Queen’s Cross Church, the Ruchill Church Hall was a small work designed by Mackintosh. It includes two halls and committee rooms that are used by the adjacent church, not built by Mackintosh.

Mackintosh Mural

The Clutha Bar 167 Stockwell Street

Glasgow is well-known for its street art, with many stunning pieces throughout the city. One of the latest additions is the giant 60x40ft mural of Charles Rennie Mackintosh above The Clutha. It was designed and created by Art Pistol Projects and Rogue-one, a well-known Glasgow Street artist, after being commissioned by the Radisson RED.

Mackintosh Mural The Clutha Glasgow

Glasgow School of Art

You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Glasgow School of Art, the jewel in Mackintosh’s crown so to speak.

The Glasgow School of Art was founded in 1845 and by 1885 had expanded so much they required a new building. A competition was run to choose the architect and it was Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s design, under the firm of Honeyman and Keppie, that won. However, the design was much more ambitious than the budget allowed and so it was decided just some of the building would be constructed before funds were sought for the rest.

The central and east parts of the building were completed by the end of 1899. It was a further 10 years before the west wing was completed, during which time Mackintosh revised his designs quite extensively, leading to a more dramatic finish.

Unfortunately, in May 2014 a fire broke out that extensively damaged the west wing and some of the studios, Library, and archives. The wooden elements of the design and open spaces contributed to the severity of the fire.

Painstaking restoration work began in 2016, but disaster struck again in June 2018 when an even more damaging fire broke out within the building, resulting in widespread destruction and later partial dismantling of the building due to instability. At the moment the future of the Mackintosh Building is in doubt, as no major decisions have been made regarding whether it can be saved or what can be done to restore it.

Glasgow Art Club

The Glasgow Art Club was founded in 1867 and continues to operate as a meeting place for artists and lovers of art. Although the club is private it is possible for the public to visit when an exhibition is on, or through a pre-arranged guided tour.

In 1893 two townhouses on Bath Street were transformed for the Art Club by Honeyman & Keppie architects, who employed Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He painted a frieze and designed elements of the gallery. Unfortunately after water damage the original frieze around the gallery was plastered and painted over, but it has recently been recreated and is a delight to see.

Glasgow School of Art

Daily Record Building

Occupied by the Daily Record until the late 1930s. It is located between two lanes west of Drury Street and has a more colourful facade than many other Mackintosh buildings. There is a cafe on the ground floor, but the rest of the building is not open to the public.

The Hill House

Located about an hour from Glasgow in Helensburgh is Hill House, designed by Mackintosh and his wife for Glasgow book publisher Walter Blackie, from the buildings right down to the textiles. Unfortunately, Hill House has not withstood the test of time due to the difference in materials used and the exterior has sustained extensive water damage.

The National Trust for Scotland has now decided to encase the entire house in a transparent box in order to save the design. It is currently closed for visitors but you can see the exhibition at The Lighthouse with many of the interiors.

Hill House Exhibition Glasgow
Hill House Exhibition Mackintosh Glasgow

Mackintosh Club

Also in Helensburgh, the little-known Mackintosh Club is a building designed by Mackintosh when he was just 25 and still working for Honeyman & Keppie. It was formerly a billiard and committee room but has now been transformed into the Mackintosh Club by architects Bruce and Nicola Jamieson.

The upper floor is a large open space said to resemble Mackintosh’s later designs for the School of Art. It is used as a gallery and pop-up venue and can be hired for private events.

Martyrs’ School

An early Mackintosh design from around the same time as the Glasgow Herald Building that is now The Lighthouse, the Martyr’s School has decorative finishes and Japanese influences in the inner stairwells. It is not open to the public but you can see the outside from the top of the high street. Coincidentally, it’s built on the street Mackintosh was born on!

Planning your trip to Glasgow

I would recommend two days in Glasgow at the very least, and preferably more! To see even my favourite Mackintosh sites would take the better part of a day, not to mention all of the other awesome things to do in Glasgow. We stayed at the brand new Ibis Styles which is really central and a great base for exploring the city.

Read more:

I was invited to explore the Mackintosh sites by People Make Glasgow, but as always, all opinions are my own. 

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15 Awesome Day Trips From Lisbon (How to Get There + What to See) https://www.migratingmiss.com/day-trips-from-lisbon/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/day-trips-from-lisbon/#respond Wed, 05 Sep 2018 17:02:49 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4726 Lisbon is a beautiful and amazing city to explore and an ever-increasingly popular destination. I honestly fell in love with it while I was there! Once you’ve exhausted yourself of the sites in Lisbon (hard to do when you could wander for days) you may be wondering what to do next. Luckily, there are plenty of day trips from Lisbon which mean that you can continue to enjoy your time in the city while also exploring nearby areas. You could easily spend another few days in the city with affordable public transport like trains and buses available, or day tours from Lisbon if you want to have a guide or see somewhere more remote. The proximity of many of the locations means you can even see more than one within the same day, although each is deserving of its own day trip if you have the time while you’re in Lisbon! I asked some fellow travel bloggers to let me know their favourite day trips from Lisbon and to give advice on how you can follow in their footsteps. Read on for the best Lisbon day trips below! Óbidos By Tiago from The Wise Travellers  Óbidos is this little town […]

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Lisbon is a beautiful and amazing city to explore and an ever-increasingly popular destination. I honestly fell in love with it while I was there! Once you’ve exhausted yourself of the sites in Lisbon (hard to do when you could wander for days) you may be wondering what to do next. Luckily, there are plenty of day trips from Lisbon which mean that you can continue to enjoy your time in the city while also exploring nearby areas.

You could easily spend another few days in the city with affordable public transport like trains and buses available, or day tours from Lisbon if you want to have a guide or see somewhere more remote. The proximity of many of the locations means you can even see more than one within the same day, although each is deserving of its own day trip if you have the time while you’re in Lisbon!

I asked some fellow travel bloggers to let me know their favourite day trips from Lisbon and to give advice on how you can follow in their footsteps.

Read on for the best Lisbon day trips below!

Óbidos

By Tiago from The Wise Travellers 

Óbidos is this little town located on the Atlantic Ocean coast, in the centre region of Portugal, that makes for an enjoyable day trip from Lisbon. The town has well-preserved medieval architecture making it one of the most beautiful places to go in Portugal.

From museums to churches, there are so many things to see here. The castle is now a luxurious hotel, the ‘Porta da Vila’ entrance gate with a tiled chapel and the aqueduct constructed in the 16th century are just some of the incredible sites you can’t miss.

Óbidos lagoon is the most extensive laguna system in the coast of Portugal. It is rich in fauna and flora and is also a good place for water activities. You can choose from windsurfing, kiteboarding, jet skiing, stand up paddle boarding, canoeing and rowing. The locals use the lagoon to go fishing and catch mollusks with the typical boats from the region, called ‘Bateiras’.

You can’t leave Óbidos without walking the fortified town walls and watching the sunset. Then if you feel thirsty after try the traditional ‘Ginja’, cherry liquor.

Óbidos is a town full of life, with so many events throughout the year. In July the castle hosts a traditional ‘Medieval Market’, recreating the spirit of medieval Europe. Generally, in March/April there is a ‘Chocolate Fair’, and at Christmas, the town has decorations and activities for families.

If you want to reach Óbidos from Lisbon, there is an inexpensive bus service (Green Express) daily, operated by Rodotejo company for €6-8. The train is between €7-14 or you can rent a car.

Visit soon as this little corner of Portugal has seen a large increase in tourism in recent years!

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Óbidos

Day Trips from Lisbon - Obidos

Alentejo Fishermen Villages

By Inma from A World To Travel

I still can’t get my head around the fact that it took me so long to discover the Portuguese southern region of the Alentejo and Costa Vicentina, that begins just outside Lisbon towards the South, and continues before reaching the Algarve. Whether it is for the fishing villages that dot the coast, the seafood and finger-sucking fish, the people that invites you to connect in any tavern, the charming accommodations or the many routes to discover it on foot; please believe me if I tell you that the Alentejo is well worth a visit.

To uncover some of the best coastal spots and fishermen villages, we’d like to propose you a route from North to South, visiting towns and coastal places such as Comporta, Cais Palafitico da Carrasqueira, Troia, Sines, Porto Covo, Vilanova de Milfontes, Cabo Sardao, Porto das Barcas and Monte do Zambujeiro.

For a day trip from Lisbon, choose 3 to 5, depending on how much time you’d like to stay in each one. You’ll either need to hire a car for the day or join a day tour from Lisbon.

Best of all is that this area, being away from the main tourist circuits of the country – such as Lisbon, the Algarve, Oporto and the islands of Madeira and the Azores; is still not too expensive and can be enjoyed without breaking the bank.

Here you have a short Alentejo guide to get you started.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Alentejo

Day Trips from Lisbon - Alentejo

Estoril

By Elisa from World in Paris 

Lisbon is a great city with many things to see and do. However, the surrounding areas are as beautiful as the capital so if the weather is nice, I recommend hopping on a train and visiting Estoril for some sun and sea.

Estoril is cute coastal town located in the municipality of Cascais, 18km West of Lisbon. It is less popular than its neighbor Cascais but this is great because you can enjoy the same sea and beach but without the crowds.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Estoril was one of the chic places to be in Southern Europe. Places like its beautiful casino or the spa (Termas do Estoril) were frequented by elegant and glamorous people.

Apart from the beautiful Casino de Estoril, the town has other interesting sights like four forts and beautiful houses designed by Raul Lino da Silva. Raul Lino da Silva was a Portuguese architect famous for combining successfully the Portuguese tradition with the most innovative European trends of the beginning of the 20th century.

Given that Estoril is by the sea, you won’t want to miss a fine lunch or dinner based on seafood in one of Estoril’s many restaurants. If you are traveling on a budget, go for tapas or grilled sardines and if you combine them with a bottle of vinho verde, then it’s heaven.

Estoril is an easy day trip from Lisbon by train. Trains leave Lisboa Santos station every half an hour. The journey takes only 34 minutes and the train ticket costs around 2-4€.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Estoril

Day Trips from Lisbon - Estoril

Palace of Queluz

By Pamela from Travel Like a Chieff 

The Palace of Queluz is the perfect stop if you are planning a day trip from Lisbon. This 18th century Royal residence is also known as the Versailles of Portugal. It is located in Sintra and can be visited on your way to the Palace of Pena. You’ll need about 2 hours to see the exterior and interior of the Palace.

I recommend purchasing your ticket for the Palace of Pena while at the Palace of Queluz since it is less crowded. I visited while on a private tour from Lisbon, but you can also get there by taking a taxi or by train. You can hop on the train heading to Sintra via Queluz at Rossi Station in Lisbon’s city center. The service runs frequently and is only a 20-minute ride, plus it’s only €1-3!

There is a fabulous collection of baroque, rococo and neo-classical pieces inside the palace that are worth seeing. You can also stay at the Pousada Palácio de Queluz, a historic hotel, where you can channel your inner royal. The exterior of the Palace does not showcase the opulence of the estate rooms that make up the interior.

Once you’ve seen all these incredibly ornate rooms inside the palace, you can make your way onto gardens. This is where you’ll see fountains, grandiose statues, beautifully groomed landscapes and stroll amidst the lakes.

The Palace of Queluz shouldn’t be missed, and since it is only 20 minutes from Lison, it makes for the perfect day trip!

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Queluz

Day Trips from Lisbon - Queluz Palace

Setúbal

By James from Portugalist

Every weekend during the summer months, Lisboetas flee the sweltering city and head towards the cooler coast. Some head to nearby seaside locations like Cascais and Estoril, but many head a little further afield and often towards Setúbal.

Setúbal is located just under an hour by car from Lisbon City Centre, and it is home to some picturesque towns, scenic countryside, and natural parks, beautiful beaches, and great seaside restaurants. As great as the first three things are, the thing that really drives many people from Lisbon here is the food.

Setúbal is known for its seafood, and in particular for its chocos fritos (fried cuttlefish). These are similar to squid but thicker and often chewier. They’re usually battered and then fried in much the same way as calamari is. Often it’s not as delicate as calamari though, so, if your teeth don’t feel like braving it, consider ordering something else like grilled fish.

If you want to try this popular Portuguese seafood dish, though, Setúbal is definitely the best place to do it. Afterward, there’s plenty to see and do nearby such as visiting the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park, Sado Estuary Natural Reserve, and the nearby São Filipe Fortress.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Setúbal

Day Trips from Lisbon - Setubal

Sintra

By Anisa from Two Traveling Texans

Sintra was once Portuguese Royal Family’s favorite area to escape the heat in Lisbon. Now, it’s a place where tourists flock to see palaces and beautiful gardens. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Start out your visit at the oldest castle in Sintra, the Castle of the Moors. It dates back to the 8th or 9th century and is now just ruins, but definitely worth a visit. You get amazing views doing the castle wall walk, plus you can visit the cistern that was built in the 12th century to catch and store rainwater.

The most famous palace in Sintra is the colorful Pena Palace, which has been transformed from ruins of a monastery. The surrounding park includes a statue of King Fernando II overlooking his palace, lush fern gardens, and amazing views over the palace.

In the historical town center, you will find the National Palace of Sintra, the summer residence of the monarchs from the 15th to the 19th century. Its two conical chimneys can be seen for miles. Inside, you will see some impressive tile work and period pieces.

If you have any additional time, you could also visit Quinta de Regaleira, Monserrate Palace, Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla, Capuchos Convent, Palace of Seteais, or the Sintra Museum of Modern Art.

You can easily do a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon (or you may want to stay longer). The best way to get there is to take the train which takes less than an hour. Catch the train from the Rossio Train Station in Lisbon, it runs every 30 minutes and costs about €2-4.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Sintra or book your Pena Palace skip-the-line ticket

Day Trips from Lisbon - Sintra

Cascais

By Julie from Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal

Located at the mouth of the River Tagus, Cascais is close enough to Lisbon for an easy day trip and appealing enough to be a seaside resort town in its own right, thanks to King Luís who turned the citadel into his summer residence back in the 19th century. The wealthy elite soon followed suit and the town quickly sprouted a number of little palaces and villas.

A string of small sandy coves surround the historical town centre, attracting beachgoers, and there’s a pleasant coastal path for strolls, bike rides and jogging. If it’s surf you’re after, simply continue a little further along the coast to Guincho. Even if you’re not into riding waves, you can watch them pound against the rocky shore and through a blowhole at Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth).

Cascais has far more to offer than beaches. There are several quality art galleries and museums, such as the Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães and Paula Rego’s Casa das Histórias. The patterned cobbled streets are fun to walk around and lined with shops, cafés, and restaurants to suit all tastes. The revamped market comes alive twice a week with a massive farmers’ market to complement the permanent produce stalls and the food hall. Another popular spot is the charming Marechel Carmona Park with paths, ponds, and sculptures.

Trains to Cascais run every 20 minutes from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre station with a journey time of around 40-45 minutes and cost €2-4.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Cascais

Day Trips from Lisbon - Cascais

Évora

By David from Travel with Little One

Évora is an easy and very rewarding day trip from Lisbon. It’s the capital of the rural Alentejo region that covers much of the south of the country. The historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with layers of Roman, Moorish and medieval Portuguese history to be uncovered.

It’s also very compact, and you could comfortably walk around the main sights in a few hours.

The best place to start is the Templo de Diana, a beautiful ruined Roman temple dating from the 2nd century AD. It’s in a lovely quiet square, opposite a kiosk in a park, with a wonderful whitewashed church, the Convento dos Loios to one side and the Cathedral behind.

Portugal’s favourite form of decoration seems to be the azulejo, or tile. The Convento church is a great place to see them, with azulejos covering the walls. It’s a stunning sight.

The Capela dos Ossos – the Chapel of Bones – has a very different form of decoration. The bones of around 5,000 exhumed monks cover the ceiling and walls, and the sign above the door states, ”We bones await your bones.”

After this, head for the Praça do Giraldo, the busiest square in the city which has some lovely outdoor cafes.

Regular Rede Expressos buses run from Lisbon’s Sete Rios bus station and take 1 hour 45 minutes for around €11-14, and four trains make the journey to Évora daily from Oriente station in 1 hour 25 minutes for around €9-18.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Evora

Day trips from Lisbon - Evora

Baleal

By Clemens from Travellers Archive

Leaving the beautiful city of Lisbon behind is a tough one. But going on a day trip towards the countryside is absolutely worth it. Just a nice 2-hour-drive away, you will end up in a sleepy town that lives off the beach, waves, and surf. I’d recommend you hire a car for this trip if you want to complete it in one day because the train and bus take around 3 hours 20 minutes each way.

We started in the early morning, driving across the picturesque bridge in Lisbon and headed up North. Mostly, the roads in Portugal are quite empty. Also, they are easy to drive and you won’t have any problems missing the exit.

The little town Baleal is closely located to the much more famous beach town Peniche. Most tourists will stay in Peniche and surf here. We, however, prefer Baleal way more. It’s calm, it’s beautiful and it has some of the best beach bars you can imagine.

A day here will pass by easily but with our few tips, you can definitely make most of it. Start your day by renting out some surfboards at Bruno’s beach bar. Hit the waves until you’re ready for a much-needed drink. Bruno’s is an awesome place for coffee, cake and, well, a refreshing glass of beer.

Once the sun sets, you might want to walk down the beach and check out the “Taberna do Ganhao“. This cute little restaurant not only serves the best octopus salad, but it is also the very first restaurant here. Enjoy an amazing dinner, while you watch the ocean and refuel before you head back to Lisbon.

Day trips from Lisbon - Baleal

Fatima

By Priyanko from Constant Traveller

Fatima is one of the most religious places in Europe. The Christian place of pilgrimage is where three little shepherd children reported seeing apparitions of Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917. The atmosphere around the entire religious complex is quiet and sombre. You will find nuns in deep prayer, devotees walking barefoot, some of them haunched on their knees and giant flames of candle smoke in a corner.

The place is divided into different places of which the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary that contains the tomb of two of the shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco is the most important place to visit.

A little further away from the main complex is the Chapel of the Apparitions that marks the exact spot where the shepherd children saw the apparitions. A modern church is also located within the Fatima Sanctuary where services are held at fixed timings.

It is the outside environs that attracted me the most though. The giant rosary, Christ on a cross, the constant stream of devotees and the charring black smoke of molten wax are etched in my mind forever. Take some time and just witness the devotion of those who come to Fatima not as tourists but as part of a pilgrimage to truly feel the heft of this place. Fatima is one of those places that will always be with you if you decide to make the journey in the first place.

Getting here is easy from Lisbon’s main bus station Sete Rios with buses on the hour to Fatima. The cost is between €10-14. You will be dropped half a mile from the sanctuary with shops and souvenirs directing you to the entrance. Do not go to Fatima train station as its quite further away from the main sanctuary. Alternately, take a guided tour to Fatima for half a day from any reputable tour company in Lisbon.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Fatima

Day trips from Lisbon - Fatima

Cabo da Roca

By Frankie from As the Bird Flies

Cabo da Roca is the most western point of mainland Europe and is easily accessible from Lisbon either on an organised tour (that usually takes in Sintra too), by public transport (on a bus from Sintra or Cascais) or by hiring your own car. The journey from Lisbon is about an hour in total and it’s definitely worth the time in the car as you will be rewarded with quite some views at Cabo da Roca.

Once upon a time it was called “The End of the World” because those who stood on the shores of Cabo da Roca – which literally translates to Rocky Cape and you’ll see why! – had no idea that other lands existed beyond the ocean’s horizon, and you can see what they meant as the blue seas stretch for miles and miles and miles.

Once at Cabo da Roca, you can walk along the peninsula’s edge to take some photos or you can pop up to the red-roofed lighthouse to find out more about the history of the landmark. Personally, after a few hot and busy days in Lisbon where temperatures were high and the streets busy, I found it a very welcome escape and enjoyed just wondering along, taking photos and breathing in the sea air. You may not want to spend a whole day at Cabo da Roca but an hour or two added on to the end of a day trip to Sintra or Cascais is well worth doing because it won’t be every day you see the “end of the world”.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Cabo da Roca

Day Trips from Lisbon - Cabo da Roca

Peniche

By Bruno from Amass Cook

Peniche is a sunny coastal city in the district of Leiria, idyllically set upon a peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic ocean and within a day trip from Lisbon. The region has a strong maritime and fishing tradition, so the local gastronomy specializes in seafood dishes like the famous grilled sardines and the caldeirada de Peniche (fish stew).

Peniche is also known for its magnificent beaches, namely Baleal and Almagreira. The Supertubes (formally Medão) beach is home to some of the world’s most impressive waves—known as the European pipeline—and hosts several international surfing championships.

But the trip you simply cannot miss is a visit to the archipelago of Berlengas. A 30 to 40-minute boat ride will take you to the main island of Berlenga, a jaw-dropping paradise that is a UNESCO protected nature reserve. Here you can also visit the Forte de São João Baptista, an imposing 17th-century fortification accessed by a stone bridge over the sea, where you can also stay overnight. Moreover, you can discover the impressive rock formations and grottos by boat, or dive into the crystal-clear waters and spot the local marine fauna and flora.

Back to the mainland, at the very edge of Peniche, you’ll find Cape Carvoeiro, where the dramatic limestone pavement landscape offers amazing views over the ocean. Local cultural traditions include the complex art of Renda de Bilros (bobbin lace), and the region features the only school in Portugal dedicated to this technique. Peniche is around 2 and a half hours by bus from Lisbon at a cost of €8-11.

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Peniche

Day Trips from Lisbon - Peniche

Costa da Caparica

By Kaila from Nom List

This amazing beach located only 10 kilometers from Lisbon is loaded with things to do. No matter if you want to stay active or just relax, Costa da Caparica has it in store for you.

It’s only a half hour ride by bus from Lisbon, which is an easy mode of transportation and only costs €2-3. You can enjoy the scenery while you ride.

You definitely need to go here because of all the options for fun. Surfing is huge here. Even if you’ve never been surfing, you can easily sign up for a lesson or even a surf camp. Another great tourist attraction is called Transpraia, which is a beach train. You simply buy a ticket and ride along the coastline, taking in the scenery. I found it a bit bumpy though, so keep that in mind.

If you are traveling with kids or even young teens, be assured that this beach certainly has lifeguards on duty. The beach itself is clean and well-maintained. Bring your camera to capture the beauty.

Once you have worked up an appetite, take a visit to Princesa restaurant. It’s got a full menu and is open until 10 pm for even the latest of adventures. Eat on the outdoor patio for more fun!

Although Lisbon is an awesome city to explore, there are also so many beautiful areas and places to see around it. So plan in at least one of these day trips from Lisbon to your itinerary!

Day Trips from Lisbon - Costa da Caparica

Tomar

By Mikkel from Sometimes Home

I wanted a day trip from Lisbon that was a little bit lesser known and visited than other cities, like Sintra. The history of Tomar has was so appealing: the hundreds of years old connection to the Knights Templar was intriguing and mystical and so it’s where we went.

It was very easy to get there. We hopped aboard the regional train line from Lisbon in the morning, traveled about two hours, or 20 to 25 stops, to Tomar and hopped off. It costs between €8-17, or the bus is €11-14.

The town of Tomar is incredibly walkable from the moment you arrive at the train stop and we enjoyed a city with very limited tourists and congestion for the day. Castelo de Tomar and the Convent of Christ are two absolutely not-to-miss sites.

If you have the time it’s certainly worth a trip out to the famous Pegoes Aqueducts from the 16th and 17th centuries. We had the place to ourselves after a tuk-tuk tour drove us there! Lastly, I recommend stopping at Praca de Republica. Its black and white “checkered” stone floor is beautiful and definitely deserving of several photos.

I have such wonderful memories of Tomar. We were thrilled with this day trip and would recommend it to anyone looking for an area a bit quieter than key tourist cities near Lisbon, who can engage in a bit of walking throughout the day, and who appreciates the beauty of historic architecture!

Check out day tours from Lisbon that include Tomar

Day Trips from Lisbon - Tomar

Troia

By Denise from In Het Vliegtuig

Troia is only a 40 minutes drive, 50 minutes bus, or 55 minutes by train away from Lisbon. It’s a small village with beautiful cliffs, nice beaches, and a charming harbor. Go golfing or take a relaxing boat tour. Troia is one of the few places in Europe where you can spot wild dolphins. And that’s something that only a few people know!

From the harbour, you can take the boat with Vertigem Azul. They will show you the beautiful beaches in the area and the wonderful fortress of Santiago do Outão. After an hour you will hopefully begin to see the first dolphins. It’s a group of 29 bottlenose dolphins, with some really young ones, that have been coming back to the area since 1998. They like the surroundings so you have a 99% chance of spotting them. The captain can recognise each and everyone one of them by their fin!

The boat leaves 2 times a day from Troia, so make sure to book your seat. It will take 3 hours to do the whole tour and you can do it all year round. The tour is eco-friendly, as they only observe the dolphins for research, and they don’t get too close. Otherwise, the dolphins can get stressed out.

Day Trips from Lisbon - Troia

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The Best Day Trips from Lisbon

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Expat Stories: The Realities of Moving to Japan https://www.migratingmiss.com/expat-stories-the-realities-of-moving-to-japan/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/expat-stories-the-realities-of-moving-to-japan/#respond Tue, 04 Sep 2018 08:30:27 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4719 The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know! I studied Japanese in highschool for two years. It’s actually a pretty common language to learn in New Zealand thanks to our tourism industry! Unfortunately, I quit before the school organised a trip to Japan and I’ve still not managed to travel there on my own. However, it’s somewhere that I’m endlessly fascinated by and super curious about what it’s really like to live there. So I’m super happy that Thais from World Trip Diaries agreed to share what it’s really like! Tell us about yourself I started my expat life as a child. My parents decided to try their luck in Japan when I was 9. We returned to Brazil after a couple of years, but I was always wanting to move. We finally did it when I was married and had 2 kids. We moved to Spain, […]

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The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know!

I studied Japanese in highschool for two years. It’s actually a pretty common language to learn in New Zealand thanks to our tourism industry! Unfortunately, I quit before the school organised a trip to Japan and I’ve still not managed to travel there on my own. However, it’s somewhere that I’m endlessly fascinated by and super curious about what it’s really like to live there. So I’m super happy that Thais from World Trip Diaries agreed to share what it’s really like!

Moving to Japan Expat Interview

Tell us about yourself

I started my expat life as a child. My parents decided to try their luck in Japan when I was 9. We returned to Brazil after a couple of years, but I was always wanting to move.

We finally did it when I was married and had 2 kids. We moved to Spain, then to Japan, then to NZ.
So, the truth is: I’ve been an expat for a good part of my life.

Now I have 4 kids and have been living in NZ for a decade. Well, except for the 2 years we spent traveling around the world.

What made you decide to move to Japan?

I had 3 kids. My mom had met my oldest 2 kids, but my dad hadn’t ever seen them live.

I wanted them to meet their grandparents, and have some time to get to know each other. We had the plan to spend around a year there – and we ended up staying for 2!

And I also wanted to share with them the place I loved so much as a child! I had so many incredible memories to show them! Japan is an awesome place for kids and I really wanted to take them there – but not just on holidays, to really live there for a while.

When my husband’s work finally settled enough to allow him to work from abroad, that was our cue!

Expat Interview: Moving to Japan

Tell me about the cost of living in Japan

Japan isn’t a cheap place, compared to other Asian countries, but I find it super reasonably priced if we compare to Europe or even Australia and NZ.

It’s easy to have a full table serviced meal for US$ 10, for instance. You can have a convenience store sandwich with a drink (be that a beer, juice, soft drink, or tea) for less than US$ 5.

You can make rice in the rice machines (they’re super handy and cheap there) and buy all the rest (a meat and a vegetable) ready from the supermarket for US$ 3.

Housing, well, to buy a house is difficult – especially if it’s in a big city – but renting isn’t really too much. It’s difficult, though, if you’re not in a ‘traditional’ family. Solo mothers and immigrants, for instance, may find it difficult to find a place that takes them.

Transport is expensive, and so is entertainment. A train fare costs at least US$ 2 and almost every activity you do, you’ll pay.

It’s easy to balance, though, by eating cheaply and paying for the outings. And walk a lot, as you can walk in Japan safely at any time.

How did you find the job seeking process?

I was writing for a Brazilian parenting magazine then, and my husband was working for his clients, and he works with IT, so it was easy.

We could work from anywhere in the world as long as we had the internet.

After a while, because time zones suck, the husband decided to send out a few curricula around and he got a job in a Japanese company, but we could’ve kept working online easily.

In Japan, you’ll most likely need to speak at least a little bit of Japanese to find a job, and you will need a visa that allows work. You can, as the husband did, just send out curricula around and see what happens. Some companies are OK helping you with the visa, but most aren’t.

Expat Interview: Moving to Japan

Do you need a visa to live in Japan?

It depends where you’re from. Being Brazilian, we needed the visa and it took around 5 months for them to complete the application and warrant the visa. But with the NZ passport, we didn’t need anything at all (except a valid passport) for short trips. For longer stays (over 3 months), yes, a visa is needed.
To work, though, you do need a visa with a work permit.

What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?

The Japanese are mostly great people!

It’s not too easy to get to them, but once you do, it’s incredible!

I’m an introvert, so it’s really hard for me to go out and make friends but I made many great friends there. It was easy, as I saw the same people every day (they are very tied to their routine) and we could improve the conversation little by little. Also, they were very curious about us, which helped break the ice a bit.

The husband, on the other hand, found great friends at work easily.

What’s the best thing about living in Japan?

Japan is an INCREDIBLE country!

There are so many best things, I can’t really choose one!

It’s beautiful and diverse, from stunning beaches to snowy mountains, from modern cities to small, very traditional villages, it just has everything.

The people are great and helpful; services are almost always perfect; it’s one of the safest countries in the world, and the food is the best in the whole world. Just is.

Expat Interview: Moving to Japan

What’s the hardest thing about living in Japan?

I wasn’t prepared for the super hot summers and the super cold winters. And the natural disasters: hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis.

I spent most of my first year scared – but eventually, we figured out how they prepare for these things and started relaxing.

It wasn’t nice, though, waking up in the middle of the night and running to the middle of the street because of an earthquake.

How is your new home different from your old one?

Houses in Japan are usually very, very small. It wasn’t hard for us at first, because middle-class apartments in Brazil are also very small, but comparing to our home in New Zealand, yes, it’s hard.

When we go to Japan, which happens every 18~24 months, we always have a hard time sharing such a tiny space between the 6 of us. I can’t imagine living like that anymore.

Also, they do prize the silence a lot and with 4 loud kids, it’s super hard and ends up being stressful.

Security-wise, it was heaven. I could leave the door open if I wanted to, the kids in the car while I did something, or the kids at home while I ran an errand. I didn’t though! Some fears run deep.

But it was great knowing that even though I’d forgotten the phone on the passenger seat, nobody would care nor try to steal it.

If we had just one day in Japan what should we not miss?

Don’t miss the food. Eat the real Japanese food, not just sushi and sashimi.

One day is way too little in Japan of course, but cram as many meals as you can and have some street food too. Try some home-style meal (like at Ootoya), a conveyor belt sushi place (or a fancy Michelin starred sushi place if you can afford it), an ice cream parfait, and a ramen. Just never forget the ramen – not the instant noodles, the real ones, where you buy the ticket from the machine and sit at the counter. If you’re up for it, try wagashi, a Japanese traditional sweet made out of rice and/or beans.

Have a ninja or a samurai experience, because it’s Japan, after all.

And ride a bullet train!

When you think of your expat home, what comes to mind?

I’m tattooed. My husband and I have various tattoos all over us.

We knew tattoos aren’t very welcomed in Japan, but it was a hot summer day and we had the day off, all of us – which was very rare – so we went to the beach.

Even though it was very crowded, we had a huge space around us and we didn’t really understand why but we appreciated it and we enjoyed our whole day. I even thought we were smelling.

Until, well, we realized people were scared of us and our tattoos. That’s when we decided to cover up as much as we could (with our t-shirts and towels).

It was done, though, we were almost going home anyway, but it was funny when we found why we had so much space around us – the look on people’s faces!

We didn’t do that again. Ever since that day, we try to be as modest as we can. It gets hard during the summer months.

Expat Interview: Moving to Japan

Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live?

I always tell women to use the Japanese squat toilet. The lines are usually shorter and it’s SO much easier to do what you have to do without touching anything!

Walk a lot, get lost, find yourself entering the small stores, the tiny restaurants (some of them fit 5 people at most!), the unknown alleys. They are the best places to see.

Even during summer, bring at least a cardigan because the air conditioning is super cold.

And don’t be afraid to talk to people.

The last one: keep an emergency bag near the door with water, a first aid kit, and some clothes. You just never know when you’ll need it.

If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Japan what would it be?

Learn at least a bit of Japanese, because the Japanese English is… different.

It’s a very different culture to the Western one. They are reserved, organized, quiet, and modest.

But they are friendly and helpful too.

Be on time, be respectful, and be open!

That’s, I believe, how to get the best of it!

You can find out more about Thais and her family’s adventures living abroad on their blog, World Trip Diaries, or on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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How I Became a Full-Time Travel Blogger https://www.migratingmiss.com/how-i-travel-blog-full-time/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/how-i-travel-blog-full-time/#comments Mon, 03 Sep 2018 14:02:37 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4712 When people ask me what I do for a living I have many different answers depending on who I’m talking to and how much explanation I feel like giving. Travel Blogger, Content Creator, website owner, self-employed, travel writer, online business owner, freelance writer… Unfortunately, all of them inevitably lead to more questions. Although travel blogger is often the most easily understood it also seems to be the one that people feel most inclined to ask more questions about. It’s not quite understood how something that started out as people documenting their trips abroad for friends and family has turned into a profession that actually enables you to earn money, and enough money to do it as a full-time job. How to earn money as a travel blogger is a frequent question but not one I’m going to answer in this post (don’t worry, I will in another). Instead, I want to share my path to becoming a full-time travel blogger, or whatever you want to call it! Why should you care how I became a full-time travel blogger? Maybe you don’t! That’s ok. But I do get a lot of questions about it. So if there’s a teensy bit of […]

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How I Became a Full Time Travel Blogger

When people ask me what I do for a living I have many different answers depending on who I’m talking to and how much explanation I feel like giving.

Travel Blogger, Content Creator, website owner, self-employed, travel writer, online business owner, freelance writer…

Unfortunately, all of them inevitably lead to more questions.

Although travel blogger is often the most easily understood it also seems to be the one that people feel most inclined to ask more questions about. It’s not quite understood how something that started out as people documenting their trips abroad for friends and family has turned into a profession that actually enables you to earn money, and enough money to do it as a full-time job.

How to earn money as a travel blogger is a frequent question but not one I’m going to answer in this post (don’t worry, I will in another). Instead, I want to share my path to becoming a full-time travel blogger, or whatever you want to call it!

Why should you care how I became a full-time travel blogger?

Maybe you don’t! That’s ok. But I do get a lot of questions about it. So if there’s a teensy bit of you that’s curious then why not read on?

It also still surprises me that this is what I do sometimes, and it’s not something I’ve widely spoken about or advertised even to friends and family. I’m sure some of them have no idea what it is I actually do or that I do it full-time! So this is an announcement of sorts and a telling of my story and path to full-time blogging. I wish I could say it was a lovely linear one but it’s rather a mess I’m afraid.

The short story would be that I started this website thinking because I needed a distraction and it would help me to learn some new things and get a better job. Then I learned a lot more and started earning money and here we are. But that’s leaving out a whole bunch of detail and the good stuff. So get ready…

Starting out

Most bloggers fall into one of two camps, they start out with the idea to make money and a business from it or they don’t but at some point in time decide to do so. I fall into the latter.

Often people who start a travel blog are going on an extended trip and want to document their experience or try and find a way to continue to fund it. For me, starting my blog came AFTER I did the big trip. Sure I’d dabbled in blogging before but not like this…

I remember the first free website I ever created around age 13 (yes, we’re going that far back) had the beginning of Song 2 by Blur on repeat in the background. I was so proud I made a homepage! Although I couldn’t tell you what was on it now. For a few years as a teenager, I blogged anonymously on Teen Open Diary and Open Diary. I loved the creative outlet and messing with the HTML to change the text and page to how I wanted it to look.

Then forgetting about it…

Fast forward the rest of my teenage years and through university, where I completely moved away from anything computer related and never considered it as a career or something I wanted to do. I moved to the United States on an AFS exchange at the age of 16 and seriously caught the travelling and living abroad bug, before enrolling in a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Art’s back home in New Zealand. The analytical aspects and challenges of studying Law and Criminology kept me occupied and I studied abroad for a semester in Canada to fuel the travel bug.

Studying Abroad in CanadaLife in Canada

Quarter-life, post-university crisis

Finishing university in the middle of the recession meant jobs weren’t exactly in large supply, and despite having spent four years and a small fortune on studying I wasn’t sure I was ready to jump into being a lawyer. I had commitment issues and a cold sweat at the thought of being locked in a job in New Zealand “getting experience” before I could travel again. I was 23 and I’d been studying and working hard to fund my travels and life, and I was ready to enjoy my 20s! There was time for serious work later…

My bank account, however, was not so keen on world domination. I’d come home from living in Canada, travelling the US for a few months after, and completing a full-time course to be admitted to the bar with a fair amount of debt. So I took a decently paid job in education for the New Zealand government and spent a year pinching pennies while still trying to have as many New Zealand adventures as possible.

Then I jumped the ditch to Australia as soon as I was in the green on my bank account and had paid off my credit card. But I still didn’t get into blogging. Instead, I took a much higher paying job working in a university, slept on a fold out couch in the corner of my parents living room, and saved like mad to fund my dream of moving to the United Kingdom, like so many Kiwis and Aussies on their big OE (Overseas Experience) before me. In the meantime, I went on holiday to Vietnam and added backpacking South East Asia as something to do en route to the UK. Before the year was out I was on my way!

Backpacking South East AsiaGorgeous Thailand

Moving to Scotland (the first time) and blogging again

It was at this point I got back into blogging again. I’m not sure why, but 2012 seemed to be a popular time for starting a blog. Except I had no clue what I was doing so my friend and I started a free Blogspot blog to document our South East Asia travels and I started my own in anticipation of wanting to share my European experiences.

Turns out I had absolutely no clue what I was doing moving abroad when I wasn’t going with a program or to study and even though I’d saved a fair amount of money I hadn’t anticipated how much travelling through South East Asia for a few months followed by establishing myself in the UK and looking for a job for a few months would deplete my funds. I think the week I started a job and the week my bank account ran dry were fairly close.

The next two years were a whirlwind of travelling through Europe as much as my meager wages from an admin job and time off would allow me to. Luckily, I discovered the Skyscanner Everywhere option and mostly went wherever was cheapest, and definitely developed my love for travelling in off-season and winter in Europe! After every trip I religiously uploaded photos and a trip report to my little blog, sharing it on Facebook and feeling proud of myself when I looked at the number of people I could see reading it (really not that many…).

Scottish HighlandsRoad trips around Scotland

I realise this is a long story, but I feel like it’s important to share the background part of how I came to a decision to start this website and how it fully developed! So now we’ll get to the actual starting stuff…

Second adulting crisis

By the time my working holiday visa for the UK was ending I was really over working whatever job I could get to fund my travels and being limited by said job as to how much I could travel. It had been around 4 years since I finished studying and although I’d travelled all over the place and had some amazing experiences, I was kind of at a loss as to what to do next.

Did I keep moving to different places and finding jobs to fund my travels? Did I try and settle down somewhere for a bit longer? Did I want to be a lawyer? Or try to have an actual career and stop paper pushing? I considered moving to Ireland on a working holiday visa for a year. I thought about applying to teach English somewhere. Or moving to somewhere cheap in South East Asia to work in a hostel. But I felt like all of these options led to me ending up in the exact same place I would currently be in. Just a little bit older and still confused.

Ultimately I ran out of money and returned to my parents in Australia (thanks, Mum and Dad). Before we had lived in the Gold Coast but while I was away they’d moved to Perth. However, they were planning a move back to the Gold Coast, so one of the first things I got to do was drive all the way across Australia while having an existential crisis. The wide open road and stark Australian outback gives you quite a lot of time for thinking…

Back on the Gold Coast, I applied for jobs like a madwoman, with hundreds of applications completed by the time I landed another admin job at another Australian University. Not exactly living the dream, but the money was good. Australia is kind of a funny place for me. It’s always been good to me, in terms of giving me the opportunity to earn money and work on my own personal and mental health. I seem to eat better and feel better there, and I hit and meet personal goals like I never have anywhere else. Maybe it’s the mind frame and determination to move on I’ve had both times I’ve lived there, who knows.

Driving Across AustraliaDriving across Australia

What next?

In any case, I was back doing something I didn’t want to really be doing, but that would help me get to where I wanted to be.

Which was apparently Spain.

I don’t really remember the thought process but I think I wanted a target for the end of my time in Australia, to feel like I was moving forward.

I’d always wanted to learn another language and also to teach English, so I figured I could do both at the same time and applied for the Auxiliar de Conversacion program which I heard about through a friend. It meant I would be given a job as a Language Assistant working alongside Spanish teachers somewhere in Spain, with a modest monthly salary and a visa for EUROPE. Where my heart wanted to be.

The intervening months in Australia were spent once again saving money and travelling as much as I could justify. I ticked off bucket list items like learning to dive, paddle boarding, and running a half marathon. And I saved far more money than the first time I left the country!

Learning to DiveLearning to dive on the Great Barrier Reef

Did someone say digital nomad?

Playing on my mind was a conversation I’d had with a friend back in the UK. It was after my work visa ended and I was ticking off a few things I wanted to do before leaving the country. We were on a train from Edinburgh to York and she was telling me about digital nomads and people who earn money from their websites or online skills while travelling and doing whatever they want. She is a self-published author and was encouraging me to look into doing something like starting my own travel website so I would have the freedom I craved. It sounded amazing. And completely unattainable. I nodded along but had no real clue of how such a thing was possible and even if it was, didn’t see how it was possible for me.

But it must have struck a cord because I went home and bought a domain name and started trying to set up a website. It seemed all too difficult and I still didn’t get how it was going to earn me cold, hard, cash. I shelved the idea while I dealt with leaving the UK and moving back to Australia. But once the dust settled and I was working a job that I didn’t particularly enjoy (except for the people) and coming home in the evenings to twiddle my thumbs I started thinking about it again.

Sure I had plans to move to Spain and teach English, but what was I going to do after that? It wasn’t a job I was considering forever and there were only so many times I could renew within the program anyway. I was terrified of being in a position like I had been at the end of my UK visa again. No money, no career, no idea what to do but go crawling back to my parents. I was getting into my later 20s (eeek!) and the idea of constantly yo-yoing back home didn’t hold a ton of appeal.

So I enrolled in an Internet Design university course. Traditional study and working for someone else was what I understood, and I figured no one was going to employ me in some sort of online or remote business without any experience, so I better get some.

Getting serious about (starting) blogging (again)

And THIS was my turning point. Well, one of them. My travel blog from Europe had died when I left and wasn’t exactly the most amazing thing to start with, and although I’d looked at other travel bloggers websites I really didn’t get how they made money and made it all work. Plus there seemed to be a few big names dominating the space and how was I supposed to compete with them? Then I was tasked with coding a website from scratch for my course and I had to research other similar websites to do so. Of course, I chose a travel blog, and in the course of my research I realised there were THOUSANDS of blogs out there. If all of these people could give it a go, why couldn’t I?

I processed to devour every “How to Start a Travel Blog” post I could find and signed up to the Travel Blog Success Course to give me a jump start (which it truly did, I HIGHLY credit it with starting me out on the right foot. Sadly the course is no longer but has been absorbed into Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging, which I haven’t personally done but have heard is also good for beginners).

I still didn’t see myself becoming a full-time travel blogger who earned money from my own website. Instead, I saw it as a way to teach myself a huge range of new skills and present them in an online portfolio, enabling me to apply for a remote job, or marketing or travel jobs. All things that had been out of my reach before.

It was around the end of August or beginning of September 2015 that I accidentally made my website live. It was a good thing too or I probably would have messed with it forever trying to make it perfect (it’s still not). From then on Migrating Miss was on the internet!

Blogging on Gold CoastOne of my first blogging pictures taken on the Gold Coast

Year one of blogging (and living in Spain)

My first year of blogging was a whirlwind. I learnt a ton in a short space of time but always felt like I was on the back foot still. I made some awesome friends online who I have since met in person and still chat with today. I made my first income from my blog around the 7 or 8 month mark but I didn’t really know what I was doing and I still saw it as a way to learn and get other work than a source of income in and of itself. After almost a year I went to TBEX (a conference for Travel Bloggers) where I landed some awesome opportunities and had two sponsored trips back almost back to back.

Throughout this time I’d been living in Spain teaching English. The job itself was only 12 hours a week which gave me plenty of spare time which I filled with teaching adult students to earn some extra money, learning Spanish, travelling around Spain, and blogging. I definitely wasn’t working full-time on it but I was focused on content creation for the website and growing my social channels, and I was happy about the opportunities that were coming from having my website. It was what I had wanted!

Blogging in SpainBlogging in Spain

Oh and something else…

Now I sort of left something important out of this story, and that’s my (now) husband. We met back when I was on a working holiday visa in the UK and he was part of the reason it was so tough to leave. But when neither of you can live in the other’s country and those countries are literally around the world from each other it’s kind of tough.

While I was in Australia we didn’t speak a whole lot, but closer to me moving to Spain we started to speak again, and given I was passing through Edinburgh en route to Spain it was kind of natural that we met up… and the rest is, as they say, history! Long distance between Spain the UK is still hard but doable, plus I had the whole summer off teaching English to spend back in Scotland. And that first summer in 2016 we got engaged!

The plan was for us was to get married in the UK, enabling me to apply for a visa to move back to and stay in Scotland once again. It’s an insane process that turned out to be one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done (still never written about it!) but at the end of the day, I was able to move back to the UK in early 2017 just in time for the wedding. After a year of living in Spain I was sad to leave, but it was a temporary sort of life and I was excited to build a more concrete future together, whatever that meant.

We got married in Scotland in May 2017 in front of friends and family from all over the world with a relaxed ceremony and barn BBQ reception that was just perfect for us. But what was I going to do now? The thought of going back to an office job after the freedom of teaching English and having more time of my own wasn’t exactly appealing (read: DID NOT WANT) but I wasn’t sure what else to do.

My blog had started to pull in a tiny bit more money from various sources but it wasn’t anything to actually live on and I didn’t see it escalating quickly. We also had a six-week honeymoon to New Zealand planned for the end of 2017 into 2018 (read: no one wants to give me a job with all that time off).

Married in ScotlandA mini-moon in Scotland

In Scotland (again), freelancing and year two of blogging

And this is where things really started to work for me. I landed a job as a remote blog editor for a United States based company. I was in charge of writing all their blog posts for them, and I got the job because of my own blog! It wasn’t full-time but it was decent money, plus the small earnings from my website, a supportive husband, and taking on the odd temp office job meant I was able to survive (data entry in a windowless room should be listed as a method of torture by the way).

Scotland became a more permanent base for me, although we still travel as much as possible and I love exploring new places here too. I’d always said I’d look for a proper job after our honeymoon if I needed to. But by the time I reached year two of blogging my website and the freelance blog editor job were giving me enough money that it didn’t seem to make sense. That didn’t stop me from panicking and taking on a part-time job briefly and interviewing for a full-time job, but hey, keeping my options open?!

Year two of bloggingThe end of year two of blogging

The decision to go full-time on my own website

By around April or May of 2018 I was realising that the time I spent freelancing for a set amount of money was taking away from the time I could be working on my own website to earn even more money. My website was looking like it COULD be a viable source of income and really for the first time I was considering that it could be and all the work I’d put in over the years had led to this, rather than to working for someone else’s dreams instead. It was time to dive into full-time blogging…

There are many diverging paths to becoming a full-time blogger. Some say the best way is to jump in no matter your income and you’ll have to make it work. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’ve researched a ton and really know what you’re doing.

Others say you should wait until you have earned a level of income you’re ok with or that matches your current income and you can afford to leave. This is the more cautious approach and closer to what I actually did, but it’s also more difficult because, in my opinion, it’s hard to earn full-time money as a blogger if you’re not putting in full-time (or MORE) hours. I didn’t have the best level of income, but I knew unless I gave myself more time I’d never get it either.

As soon as I quit my remote job I was amazed at how much more time I had, despite it not being a ton of hours, and I started getting offers for work that I wouldn’t have been able to consider or would have been super stressed to fit in before. I don’t believe in “The Secret”, but the Alchemist, however, is my favourite book…

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho

That’s not to say it’s been all la-de-da, sunshine, and rainbows. Working for yourself is STRESSFUL. You only have YOU to rely on and to motivate yourself. Running a website is also a business, and with a business comes pesky things like taxes and invoices and chasing people to pay you. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m trying to rock my #girlboss entrepreneurial side (read: doing lots of Googling…).

In New ZealandIn New Zealand not too long before I went full-time

So here I am today, writing half of this post in a cafe where I had a leisurely lunch and half at home at my dining table. I’m not raking in the dosh by any means but I am earning an ever-increasing amount and the flexibility I have in working for myself is the real dream for me. I can’t say I got here easily, with great planning, or even any kind of strategy at all. But I got here in my own meandering way.

Some people quit their jobs to travel the world and never end up going back because they make their website work at the same time. Others work for years on their website alongside a full-time job and quit when they can sustain themselves. I did both and neither at all. Because no one ever said I made things simple or easy!

I’d love to say I’ll never step foot in an office again but the internet is a fickle place and I have no idea what opportunities might arise or what the future will bring. But I’m definitely content for this to be my job at the moment. Even if I don’t know what it’s called!

Sonja x

If you liked it, pin it!

Full Time Blogging

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New Zealand: South Island Itinerary Ideas for 1-4 Weeks https://www.migratingmiss.com/new-zealand-south-island-itinerary-ideas-for-1-4-weeks/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/new-zealand-south-island-itinerary-ideas-for-1-4-weeks/#comments Thu, 30 Aug 2018 15:32:06 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4692 Middle Earth. That’s what many people compare New Zealand to and the breathtaking scenery of the South Island is a huge reason for that. Oh and those films of course… Planning an itinerary for the South Island of New Zealand can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed because there are so many amazing and beautiful sights to see and things to do. I know because when I was planning on going home to New Zealand for our honeymoon I felt that way, and I’ve lived in the country most of my life! I spent hours pouring over South Island road trip routes and things to do that I really wanted to compile them all in one place to share with you, and make your trip planning easier! It is so incredibly hard to choose just one South Island itinerary route, so first I’ll go through all the best places to visit in the South Island with tips on how long to stay, where to stay, and what to do, and then some different itinerary ideas! That way you can make up your mind for yourself which places interest you the most and then schedule in what fits with your timeframe. […]

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New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Middle Earth. That’s what many people compare New Zealand to and the breathtaking scenery of the South Island is a huge reason for that. Oh and those films of course…

Planning an itinerary for the South Island of New Zealand can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed because there are so many amazing and beautiful sights to see and things to do. I know because when I was planning on going home to New Zealand for our honeymoon I felt that way, and I’ve lived in the country most of my life! I spent hours pouring over South Island road trip routes and things to do that I really wanted to compile them all in one place to share with you, and make your trip planning easier!

It is so incredibly hard to choose just one South Island itinerary route, so first I’ll go through all the best places to visit in the South Island with tips on how long to stay, where to stay, and what to do, and then some different itinerary ideas! That way you can make up your mind for yourself which places interest you the most and then schedule in what fits with your timeframe.

Ideally, you should have at least 2 weeks for the South Island (or even 3-4!) but I know many people split their time in New Zealand between the North and South Islands, and have limited holiday time. Luckily, you can still see a lot in the South Island in one week!

Below I’ve outlined all the best places to visit in the South Island from north to south before giving the itinerary ideas at the end. All driving times are estimates and you should always drive to the weather conditions. Use the table to contents to see whatever you like!

Marlborough

Marlborough encompasses a large area of the northeast of the South Island of New Zealand. It’s best known as the largest wine growing area in the country and many of the wine you’ll see abroad from New Zealand, especially sauvignon blanc, is from this region.

If you catch the ferry over from the North Island then Marlborough is where you’ll start your South Island road trip journey. Many people drive on through to destinations further south but if you’re staying for longer consider at least a day in the area to appreciate it and longer if you plan to do the Queen Charlotte Track.

Things to do in Marlborough

Wineries

When you see New Zealand wine overseas it’s often from Marlborough, particularly if it’s a Sauvignon Blanc that put New Zealand on the world wine stage. As the largest wine-growing region, there plenty of wineries with cellar doors and restaurants to visit. You can explore the wineries on your own, or join a tour that means you don’t need to designate a driver!

Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte Track in Marlborough is usually a quieter option than the Abel Tasman if a little steeper in parts. The coast is less beach than Abel Tasman and there’s more varied accommodation along the track. Unlike the Abel Tasman Track, Queen Charlotte also allows mountain bikers. Some people choose to walk small sections of each!

Where to stay in Marlborough

I used Booking.com to book the majority of our accommodation throughout New Zealand, and I would always recommend checking them for the best deals and to compare locations. Always check the cancellation policy, but many also offer free cancellation 24 hours before!

Marlborough covers quite a big area so there are lots of accommodation options. You can get away from it all in a remote cottage or lodge in a scenic location, consider staying amongst the vines, or on the shore of the Marlborough Sounds. Check options on Booking.com!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Marlborough Sounds

Nelson

Drive time from Picton: 1 hour 45 minutes

Nelson is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand and the second-oldest settled city. It’s often used as a base to explore other places in the area like Abel Tasman and Malborough, but it has its own beautiful beach, a slice of New Zealand history, and craft breweries and wineries.

Closely located to Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson is often seen as a stopover on a longer journey or as a base to explore nearby. Add it to your itinerary if you’re driving over to the West Coast or want to spend more time at some beautiful south island beaches.

Things to do in Nelson

  • Visit the huge Tahunanui Beach and sim, paddle board, or kayak
  • Stand on the centre of New Zealand
  • Wander through the Founders Heritage Park, a living example of a pioneer village
  • Sample some beer in the self-proclaimed craft brewing capital of New Zealand, and wine in nearby Richmond

Where to stay in Nelson

Nelson is a small city, and staying near the beach means you’ll be able to take advantage of it and the local amenities. Holiday apartments are popular if you’re planning a longer stay, although I would recommend branching out to stay closer to Abel Tasman or Golden Bay as well. Check Booking.com for Nelson accommodation that suits your budget.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Nelson

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park may be the smallest national park in New Zealand, but it’s certainly big on beautiful beaches and scenery. It’s well-known and popular with hikers looking to do the Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. However, its also possible to kayak alongside the track, or take a boat in and out of the isolated coves for a day.

Things to do in Abel Tasman National Park and nearby

  • Hiking (Tramping)
  • Kayaking
  • Visit nearby Kahurangi National Park
  • Visit Golden Bay & Farewell Spit
  • Diving at Tonga Island Marine Reserve

Where to stay in Abel Tasman National Park

At just over one hour from Nelson, many people choose to visit Abel Tasman on a day trip, however, it’s definitely worth spending longer in the region if you want to relax and enjoy the coast and beautiful beaches, or go hiking.

If you walk the Abel Tasman Coast Track, kayak alongside, or take a boat in then you can stay in one of the many campsites or huts along the way. Be warned though that these book out in advance, especially during the peak summer season so you’ll need to plan in advance! Check the Department of Conservation website for more information.

If you don’t want to stay in the park itself then there is plenty of accommodation just outside in places like Kaiteriteri or Marahau, but you’ll also need to plan aside during summer as its a popular destination with locals and tourists. There are campgrounds, holiday apartments, and beautiful hotels and resorts. Also, consider the northern side of the park if you want to be able to access Golden Bay and Farewell Spit as well!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Abel Tasman

Kaikoura

Drive time from Picton: 2.5 hours

Kaikoura is a small town located on the east coast of the South Island, known for its proximity to amazing wildlife. Travellers often stay in Kaikoura when heading south off the ferry from the North Island, and take the opportunity to connect with nature and see as many different kinds of wildlife as possible.

Things to do in Kaikoura

  • Whale Watching Tours
  • Take the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway to see Fur Seals
  • Swim with dolphins in the wild
  •  Take a Seabird Tour, or watch out for them while you’re on another boat trip

Where to stay in Kaikoura

The population of Kaikoura is only just over 2000 people, but owing to its inclusion on many South Island itineraries there is a range of accommodation on offer. Try campgrounds, hostels, B&Bs, and farm stays, motels and apartments, or even luxury lodges like The Factory, Manakau Lodge, and Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Kaikoura

Hanmer Springs

Drive time from Kaikoura: 2 hours
Drive time from Christchurch: 1 hour 45 minutes

Hanmer Springs is an alpine resort town, like Banff in Canada but on a much smaller scale. Surrounded by mountains and home to natural springs that fuel the Hammer Springs Thermal Pools, it’s a favourite weekend escape for many South Islanders. Hanmer is a relaxing addition to your South Island itinerary, and somewhere to visit if you want to experience the hot springs in a mountain resort town.

Things to do in Hanmer Springs

  • Walk up Conical Hill for one hour to see the views
  • Take the Weka Pass Railway historical journey on a steam and diesel-electric engine train
  • Mountain bike or walk through Hanmer Forest Park
  • Relax at the Thermal Pools

Where to stay in Hanmer Springs

As a resort town, Hanmer has fantastic heritage and historical accommodation, as well as the usual backpackers, motels, apartments, and spa hotels.

West Coast

Driving time varies as it’s a large area that can be reached via the north from Nelson or the east coast over Lewis or Arthurs Pass. 

The West Coast of New Zealand is one of the most remote parts of the country, and least populated. It’s a beautifully rugged place where you can experience at least a little of what it would have been like for early settlers coming to New Zealand, plus take advantage of the gorgeous scenery and epic adventures you can have there. Greymouth is the largest city with around 13,500 people, but it’s really about getting out and seeing the wild West Coast!

What part of the West Coast you add to your South Island itinerary will depend on where you’re coming from and going to. If you’ve travelled to Abel Tasman and Golden Bay then you may end up driving the whole length of the coast from the north, passing through or stopping at all the places below. However, many people cross from the east coast to the west through Lewis or Arthurs Pass (more on those below) and end up turning left and heading south towards the bottom half of the West Coast and the Glaciers.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - West Coast

Things to do in the West Coast

Karamea limestone arches

There are a number of arches and natural wonders at Oparara Basin just north of Karamea. There is a size restriction on vehicles on the gravel road (large motorhomes and buses will not fit) but once you reach the carpark the caves are an easy walk.

Westport

If you’re driving down from the top of the South Island then you’ll pass through Westport which is about 3 hours from Nelson. It is predominantly a mining town, but also one of the best surf spots in the South Island. There are also mountain biking trails and plenty of walkways to explore.

Greymouth

Another mining town and underrated destination along the northern part of the West Coast! In Greymouth you can learn more about the New Zealand mining industry at the Brunner Mine Site, visit Lake Brunner, or visit the home of Monteiths Beer, amongst other adventure activities like surfing, cycling, and quad biking.

I also loved visiting Shantytown just 10km south of Greymouth, a town created to resemble the gold mining towns of the 19th century. You can even pan for your own gold!

Punakaiki

Punakaiki is a tiny community that gets very busy in the summer, thanks to the nearby Pancake Rocks, which are given their name due to looking like giant stacks of pancakes. These natural wonders can be seen in a 20-minute loop walk from the main highway.

Many people stop only to see the rocks and blowhole but consider helping out the local community by making it your stop for the night too.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Punakaiki

Hokitika

Hokitika is often just a pit-stop for weary travellers looking for somewhere to rest after driving down the West Coast or over one of the passes from the east coast, however, there are plenty of things to do there too!

Visit the stunning Hokitika Gorge with its mile blue waters, watch a gorgeous sunset on the beach, or learn to carve your own pounamu (New Zealand jade).

Frank Josef & Fox Glacier

These small townships are the draw for many people adding the West Coast to their South Island itinerary. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers that give them their namesake are two of the most accessible glaciers in the world. What makes them so amazing is the fact they come down from high in the mountains into the rainforest and end so close to the coast. Sadly, like many glaciers around the world, these two are shrinking. You can walk to viewpoints to see the glaciers, and these are constantly being moved closer as the glaciers recede further.

The best way to see the glaciers is the take do a Heli Hike Tour from one of the small townships by each, which go by the same names. You’ll be flown up onto the glacier in a helicopter and taken on a hike over and through crevasses and maybe even through an ice cave before being flown back down again. We did the Franz Josef Heli Hike Tour and it is seriously one of the BEST things I’ve ever done! You also get to relax back in the town in the lovely Franz Josef hot pools after your epic adventure.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Franz Josef

Curly Tree Whitebait Company

Just 10 minutes north of Haast you’ll find the Curly Tree Whitebait Company, and it’s well worth the stop! The family-owned and operated company source whitebait (small juvenile fish around 4-5cm long) from some of the best spots on the West Coast, and make delicious whitebait fritters in a small stall next to the river. Whitebait fritters are a must try food when you’re in New Zealand and why not try them from one of the best!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Curly Tree Whitebait Company

Haast Pass

Haast Pass in a mountain pass over the Southern Alps that allows you to travel from the West Coast to Wanaka. It began as a rough track and wasn’t actually fully sealed until 1995! Give yourself plenty of time to drive the pass, due to the winding road and the opportunities to stop and take in the beautiful scenery. You’ll also need to check the weather in the colder months as sometimes the pass can be closed in heavy rain or snowfall, or when rock falls occur.

You’ll spot lots of signs for walking tracks along the way, including Faintail Falls, Thunder Creek Falls, and Roaring Billy. However the most popular is the Blue Pools walk. The walk is fairly flat and takes around an hour return. Many people stop at the pools to swim or have a picnic. Note there are no bathroom facilities, the nearest being a 25-minute walk at Cameron Flat Campsite or a 5-minute drive further down the road.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Haast Pass

Where to stay on the West Coast

Although this area of New Zealand is considered to be some of the most rugged and remote, there are also lots of things to draw tourists and locals to the area. This means you can find all sorts of different accommodation along the coast, depending on where you choose to break your journey. We travelled over from the east coast via Arthur’s Pass and stayed in Hokitika and Franz Josef before travelling through Haast Pass.

Check out accommodation options in Westport, Greymouth, Hokitika, Franz Josef, Fox Glacier, and Haast.

Lewis Pass

Lewis Pass is the northernmost of the three passes over the Southern Alps (Lewis, Arthur’s, and Haast). Usually, travellers choose to go through either Arthur’s Pass or Lewis Pass when travelling between Canterbury and the West Coast. If you are adding Hanmer Springs to your South Island itinerary then it makes more sense to cross over via Lewis Pass, as Arthur’s Pass would mean backtracking.

Lewis Pass is slightly lower than Arthur’s Pass and therefore the scenery is a little less dramatic, but in the summer, in particular, the Beech forest is beautiful!

Arthur’s Pass

Arthur’s Pass is the highest of the mountain passes in the South Island, reaching more than 900 metres. It has the most dramatic alpine scenery and is considered to be one of the best drives in New Zealand. You can stop for a break at Arthur’s Pass village and take Devils Punchbowl walk to see a stunning waterfall.

Keep an eye out for Kea’s, the only alpine parrot in the world. If you stop anywhere in Arthur’s Pass you might see them hanging around. Beware they ’re cheeky and very curious, and won’t hesitate to come close to investigate your car and belongings. Please DO NOT feed them.

On the way to or from Arthur’s Pass, I’d highly recommend a stop at the pie shop in Sheffield. New Zealand meat pies are delicious and these ones, in particular, were SO good!

It’s also possible to travel through Arthur’s Pass on the TranzAlpine Train between Christchurch and Greymouth. Many people choose to get off the train at Arthur’s Pass village and explore for 5 hours before catching the return train to Christchurch.

New Zealand South Island itinerary - Arthurs Pass

Christchurch

Drive time from Picton: 5 hours
Drive time from Kaikoura: 2 hours 35 minutes

Christchurch is the biggest city in the South Island and often an entry or exit point for travellers. The city is known for it’s similarity to England, with a comparable climate to the south, punting on the Avon River, lots of green parks and gardens and many heritage buildings including the Christchurch Cathedral making it feel reminiscent of the motherland”. Sadly, after devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, many of Christchurch’s historic buildings were destroyed and the heart of the city was closed.

Although you will still see signs of the earthquakes around the city, as there are empty lots and the ruins of the cathedral still there, there has also been a lot of rejuvenation.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Christchurch

Things to do in Christchurch

  • Visit Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens. Christchurch isn’t called the Garden City for no reason!
  • Visit Quake City to learn more about the recent earthquakes and what has happened to the city since
  • Go to the beaches of Christchurch, including New Brighton with its long pier
  • Walk around the Port Hills
  • See the new cardboard Christchurch Cathedral and the nearby empty white chair memorial to the 185 people who lost their lives in the earthquakes
  • Browse the markets that are found across the city all year round
  • Try some delicious food at the Little High Eatery, a unique food hall with 8 different businesses and bars to choose from
  • Shop at the Re:START mall made out of shipping containers
  • Ride the Christchurch Tramway between attractions

Where to stay in Christchurch

Like any city, Christchurch has a lot of accommodation options and caters for every budget. Staying in the city centre means you will be close to most of the major attractions. We stayed at the new Southwark Apartments and found they suited us for our short stay and we could walk everywhere we wanted to go.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Christchurch

Aoraki/Mount Cook & Surrounds

Drive time from Christchurch: 4 hours

Aoraki/Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, and the surrounding Mount Cook National Park is well worth a stop on your South Island itinerary. Driving towards Mount Cook Village alongside Lake Punakaki is one of my favourite drives in the South Island.

Things to do in Mount Cook & Surrounds

There are a lot of things to do in Mount Cook including hiking, star gazing in the Dark Sky Reserve, and visiting the Tasman Valley and Glacier. Nearby Lake Tekapo is the home of the small but beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd and some hot springs. Other central Otago towns like Twizel and Cromwell can be used as bases for watersports in the summer and skiing in winter.

Read more: Best Things to Do in Mount Cook

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Mount Cook

Wanaka

Drive time from Mount Cook: 2 hours 30 minutes
Drive time from Franz Josef: 3 hours 40 minutes
Drive time from Queenstown: 1 hour

Wanaka is a resort town on the southern bank of Lake Wanaka. It’s a popular alternative to Queenstown, given its close proximity, and has grown hugely in popularity in recent years. With nearby ski areas and access to lots of adventure activities, it’s somewhere you must stop on your road trip through the South Island!

Things to do in Wanaka

Hiking

There are lots of walking tracks around Wanaka, from just a few hours to whole days or even more. The most popular and a regular feature on Instagram is the Mt Roy hike. It is actually quite long however and can get very busy, so consider some of the other beautiful walks around Wanaka. Try Mt Iron for a shorter walk with beautiful views.

Mountain Biking

Wanaka is a great place to try mountain biking, with lots of tracks available. Our Airbnb hosts were kind enough to let us borrow all their bikes and gear and we headed along the river from Albert Town towards Wanaka itself.

New Zealand South Island itinerary - Wanaka

Adrenalin Activities

Like its neighbour Queenstown, Wanaka is one of the best places to try adventure activities in the South Island. Skydiving, Canyoning, Paragliding, jet-boating, kayaking,

#ThatWanakaTree

Yes, there is a tree in Lake Wanaka that continues to grow and change with the seasons, and it has its own Instagram hashtag. It’s likely you’ll want to head down and take your own picture, but don’t expect to do so on your own! If I had turned the camera around you would have spotted the crowd gathered as the sun went down.

New Zealand South Island itinerary - Wanaka

Winter sports

Within 45 minutes of Wanaka you can be at four different ski fields, Treble Cone, Cardrona, Snowfarm and Soho Basin, making this a great place to stop for snow lovers!

Wanaka Lavender Farm

I LOVED the Wanaka Lavender Farm. Established around six years ago as a family business, the Lavender Farm is best visited in summer when the lavender will be in full bright purple bloom against the backdrop of the mountains around Wanaka.

Read more: How to Visit the Wanaka Lavender Farm

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Wanaka Lavender Farm

Puzzling World

Puzzling World is a favourite attraction for families in Wanaka, and it kept my husband and I plenty entertained too with a giant outdoor maze and lots of illusion rooms.

Cardrona Hotel

One of New Zealand’s most iconic hotels, Cardrona Hotel has been around since the gold rush era in 1863. Cardrona was a hub for gold diggers and actually had 4 hotels, but this is the only one left. Stop by on your drive between Queenstown and Wanaka to see what a real New Zealand historic pub looks like and have a refreshment!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Cardrona

Where to stay in Wanaka

As a popular holiday destination for Kiwis and international travellers alike, Wanaka has plenty of accommodation options. Check out backpackers, motels, hotels, and apartments!

We stayed in nearby Albert Town which had cheaper options but we needed to drive about 5 minutes into town.

Queenstown

Drive time from Wanaka: 1 hour
Drive time from Dunedin: 3 hours 40 minutes
Drive time from Franz Josef: 4 hours 40 minutes
Drive time from Mount Cook: 3 hours 15 minutes

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, with TONS of awesome adrenalin activities to do in the area, as well as the vineyards to explore and day trips to scenic towns.

Things to do in Queenstown

Adventure Activities

  • Bungy Jumping & Swing: Try the original jump at Kawarau Bridge, or something more extreme in Nevis Canyon.
  • Skydiving: Lots of companies will take your skydiving around Queenstown
  • Luging: similar to luging in Rotorua where you head up a mountain in a Gondola and can luge on tracks around the top.
  • Shotover Jet: The Shotover Jet speeds along the Shotover River, narrowly avoiding rocks and cliff faces in extremely shallow water.
  • Skiing & Snowboarding: Nearby Coronet Peak and the Remarkables
  • Whitewater rafting: Travel on a precarious road into Skippers Canyon and then journey back down the river through high-grade rapids and a 170-metre long dark tunnel.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Queenstown

Try a Fergburger

You’ll likely notice the queue before you see the actual shopfront of Fergburger, the most popular burger joint in town. In summer it can be particularly long! Call ahead with an order to avoid waiting, and then head down to eat it on the Queenstown waterfront.

Explore the wineries

There are over 200 vineyards within 40 minutes drive of Queenstown! Many of them have a cellar door where you can try the wines, and also restaurants attached as well. We visited Amisfield where we had the “Trust the Chef” menu, a multi-course option where you have what the chef has decided to cook that day based on available ingredients. You can also have the wine pairing with it. It was a unique dining experience in a beautiful setting and great fun!

New Zealand South Island itinerary - Queenstown

Visit towns nearby

Arrowtown and Glenorchy are two small towns near Queenstown that I would recommend you add into your itinerary. If you’re driving to/from Wanaka then stop by Arrowtown, a historic mining town. The streets will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and you can even hire a gold pan and try it for yourself! Unfortunately, we had no luck. In autumn the town is at it’s most beautiful, with the abundance of trees in the centre changing into autumn colours.

The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is so picturesque that it’s worth doing even if you have no reason to visit the town itself! There isn’t actually a lot there, but it was nice to wander around the lakefront and grab something to eat at the Glenorchy Cafe. If you have more time you can try horse riding or take a tour into Lord of the Rings country.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Glenorchy

Where to stay in Queenstown

We had an unfortunate first night in Queenstown where our accommodation definitely did not live up to expectations, however, we then moved to the Oaks Shores apartments. Accommodation in Queenstown can be very expensive and you need to consider whether you want to have cooking facilities or not as well.

For us, the stunning view of Lake Wakatipu against the backdrop of the Remarkables and having our own kitchen to cook in was so worth it and really made our stay and honeymoon feel special. Check hotels and apartments here.

Fiordland

I truly fell in love with Fiordland on our honeymoon in New Zealand. I think our time there was my favourite of our whole South Island itinerary! For a sparsely populated area, there’s plenty of things to do and see.

Things to do in Fiordland

Te Anau

Drive time from Queenstown: 2 hours 10 minutes
Drive time from Invercargill: 2 hours 30 minutes

Te Anau is often seen as the gateway into Milford Sound and the Fiordland National Park. Many people stay there and drive into Milford Sound and back in one day, given accommodation there is sparse. There’s a lot to see and do on the drive so if you don’t plan on staying in Milford then Te Anau is your next closest option!

The town itself is small but there are a few other things to do there too. Visit the bird sanctuary to see rare New Zealand birds like the takahe, or take a boat to the Glowworms Caves. Te Anau is also the start of the Kepler and Milford Great Walks, multi-day hikes that you’ll need to plan for in advance.

Manapouri

Drive time from Queenstown: 2 hours 5 minutes
Drive time from Invercargill: 2 hours 5 minutes

Manapouri is smaller than Te Anau and located just 20 minutes further south. The lake is the second deepest in New Zealand and is the home of a large hydropower station. It’s possible to arrange tours if you like. Manapouri is also the gateway to Doubtful Sound. We stayed for several days, relaxing and enjoying the picturesque surroundings as well as taking trips to nearby places in Doubtful Sound and to the southern coast of New Zealand.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Manapouri

Doubtful Sound

Many people skip right on by Doubtful Sound in favour of visiting Milford Sound. While I do think Milford Sound is well worth the visit for the epic drive there and the stunning scenery, Doubtful Sound is just the same! Except you travel by boat across Lake Manapouri before driving in a bus over a gravel mountain road to get down to Doubtful Sound.

The sides of Doubtful Sounds aren’t as steeply dramatic as Milford Sound but they are covered in beautiful rainforest right down to the fiord itself. We opted to go kayaking in Doubtful Sound and it was the perfect choice, and not just because we saw dolphins! It is possible to stay overnight on a boat or kayak trip in Doubtful Sound but we, unfortunately, didn’t have time, so just went for one day.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Doubtful Sound

Milford Sound

Drive time from Te Anau: 2 hours
Drive time from Manapouri: 2 hours 10 minutes
Drive time from Queenstown: 4 hours

Milford Sound was a huge highlight for me in our South Island itinerary. Standing on the banks of the fiord watching the sunset behind Mitre Peak was stunning. Except for all the sandflies of course!!! Be sure to bring lots of insect repellent with you when visiting Fiordland, and in particular to Milford Sound.

The drive to Milford can be broken up with lots of stops at places like Mirror Lakes or even with a hike up Key Summit. You also need to drive through Homer Tunnel, which passes through the Southern Alps to allow you to reach the west coast. The whole drive is extremely scenic with the mountains only getting higher and higher as you get closer to Milford Sound!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Milford Road

At Milford Sound itself, most people choose to take a boat trip, as did we. Since we had been kayaking in Doubtful Sound we opted to take a boat trip to be able to see more of Milford Sound than we would have on kayaks, and I think it is the better option. We went all the way out to the ocean and were able to go close to waterfalls pouring down from towering cliffs, thanks to the depth of the fiord.If you’re looking for where to stay in Milford Sound then there’s only one option. The Milford Sound Lodge has a combination of campervan parks, backpacker-style rooms, and luxury chalet rooms. We stayed in the Mountain View Chalets which were beautiful and had a gorgeous view. Staying overnight in Milford Sound meant we had more time to explore when there weren’t a lot of other people around and we didn’t have to worry about the stress of driving in and out and seeing everything we wanted to within one day.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Milford Sound

Dunedin & Surrounds

Drive time from Christchurch: 4 hours 45 minutes
Drive time from Queenstown: 3 hours 30 minutes
Drive time from Invercargill: 2 hours 45 minutes

Dunedin is a city on the southeast coast, known for its university and strong Scottish background. Many of the names of the streets and areas in the city are the same as in Edinburgh!

Things to do in Dunedin & Surrounds

Explore Dunedin

In Dunedin itself, you can visit the Otago Museum and the Otago Settler’s Museum, as well as the steepest street in the world! Baldwin Street is the steepest residential street in the world and a great place to take a photo where it looks like the houses are sinking! Dunedin also has tons of great street art to see as you wander around.

The coastline around Dunedin is also beautiful. Try Tunnel Beach, and keep an eye out for all the wildlife on the Otago Peninsula, like penguins and seals.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Dunedin

Otago Rail Trail

The Otago Rail Trail is actually between Queenstown and Dunedin. It’s the most popular cycling track in New Zealand and follows where the old rail line was originally built to transport goods to and from the gold fields. You can hire bikes and cycle along the trail as part of a tour or self-guided. It takes around 4 days on average but depends on you of course! You can stay in B7Bs and other accommodation in the towns along the route.

The Catlins

Drive time from Dunedin: 1 hour 30 minutes
Drive time from Invercargill: 2 hours

Adding the Catlins to your South Island itinerary takes you off the beaten path a bit, as it’s not a hugely touristy area but is a great stop if you’re driving south of Dunedin towards Bluff.

The Catlins actually straddles the border between Otago and Southland. It’s an art of dramatic scenery with a rugged coastline and remote rainforest. Most of the awesome things to do there relate to the landscape and include visiting Nugget Point for the views, walking to waterfalls like Purakaunui Falls, McLean Falls and Matai Falls, exploring the Cathedral Caves, and much more!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - The Catlins

Where to stay in Dunedin

Consider staying Downtown to be closest to all the attractions, otherwise there is also accommodation at St Clair beach, or further out at Portobello and on the Otago Peninsula but you will want a car for these and will need to travel into the city for the main things to see and do.

Southland

Bluff is the southern-most point of the South Island. It’s known for the delicious oysters that come from there and as the Gateway to Stewart Island, the third biggest and most southern island in New Zealand.

Things to do in Southland

Bluff

Just like at the top of the North Island in Cape Reinga, there’s an international signpost in Bluff that you just have to take a photo with to prove you were there! While you’re in Bluff, do try the Bluff Oysters that are grown in Foveaux Strait as they’re some of the best in the world.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Bluff

Invercargill

Just 20 minutes north of Bluff is the southern-most city in New Zealand, Invercargill. Like Dunedin, it has a strong Scottish heritage and the accent of people in the region even comes with a slight burr or rolling of the ‘R’. Explore the heritage trail round the city and stop to eat some deliciously fresh seafood.

Southern Scenic Route

While we were staying in Manapouri in Fiordland we spent a day travelling south along the Southern Scenic Route. It actually winds all the way from Queenstown down to the southern coast and back around to Dunedin.

Travelling through old forestry towns and down to McCracken’s Rest was a unique experience as we saw far fewer cars on the road than elsewhere around the South Island. Along the way, we stopped at the Clifton Swing Bridge and Tuatapere, the self-proclaimed “Sausage Capital of the World”, but I’d love to go back and see much more!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Stewart Island

One of the main reasons people travel this far south in New Zealand is to journey over to Stewart Island. Only 400 people live on New Zealand’s third largest island, and 80% of it is a national park. Native forest, wetlands and untouched beaches provide ample opportunities for viewing wildlife like penguins and the elusive Kiwi bird. At night, the lack of light pollution means fantastic stargazing and a chance of seeing the Southern Lights.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary - Stewart Island

Where to stay in Southland

Where you decide to stay in Southland will depend on which area you want to explore and how much time you have. It’s actually pretty big! Check out accommodation in Invercargill, the Catlins, and other Southland destinations.

South Island Itinerary Ideas

Ideally, you would have at least 3-4 weeks to plan an itinerary for the South Island, but I know this is far longer than many people have. So here are some ideas for one and two week itineraries, with extra additions if you do have longer (which you should try to!).

South Island one week itinerary

Christchurch Loop one week:

Christchurch – Mount Cook – Queenstown – Christchurch

This would assume you want to spend quite a bit of time in the Queenstown/Wanaka area doing lots of activities there, including a possible day trip to Milford Sound.

Christchurch – Hokitika (via Arthurs Pass or Lewis Pass) – Franz Josef/Fox Glacier – Wanaka – Queenstown – Mount Cook – Christchurch

This would assume you would be spending limited time in each place, but still just enough to do things like visit the glaciers and do activities around Queenstown/Wanaka. It could easily be extended to 10 days or two weeks.

New Zealand South Island Itinerary Ideas

North to South one week:

It’s hard to do a north to south itinerary since it depends if you want to end up in a centre like Christchurch or Queenstown to fly out, or you want to go back up to Blenheim and take the ferry north again! I’ve tried to give a few options to compensate.

Blenheim – Christchurch – Mount Cook – Queenstown/Wanaka – Christchurch

This should allow you plenty of time to do activities around Mount Cook and Queenstown/Wanaka, including a possible day trip to Milford Sound, and end up in Christchurch to fly out or return to Blenheim if you’re taking the ferry back up north.

Blenheim – Nelson (Abel Tasman) – Hokitika – Franz Josef/Fox Glacier – Queenstown – Mount Cook – Christchurch

This is a very long itinerary for just a week and means you only have around a day in each place, but it gives you the highlights! You could easily stretch this into 10 days to 2 weeks and I would actually recommend that.

Blenheim – Westport – Franz Josef/Fox Glacier – Queenstown/Wanaka – Christchurch

This is similar but possibly gives you a little more time in Queenstown and the surrounding area.

If you do only have one week in the South Island and are looking for beaches and beautiful coastal scenery you could cut out Queenstown altogether and concentrate on seeing the north, spending almost the whole time around the Abel Tasman area and wine tasting in Marlborough!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary Ideas

South Island two week itinerary

Christchurch Loop two weeks:

Christchurch – Hokitika (via Arthurs Pass or Lewis Pass) – Franz Josef/Fox Glacier – Wanaka – Queenstown – Manapouri/Te Anau – Milford Sound – Queenstown/Dunedin (somewhere to break the journey to the next stop) – Mount Cook – Christchurch

This gives you more time in each place, generally around two nights, leaving you lots of time to do activities and relax. You might only do a day trip to Milford Sound, or decide to stay in either Wanaka or Queenstown instead of both.

North to South two weeks:

Two weeks is a much more realistic time frame if you’re coming into the South Island via the ferry, as you can see a lot more instead of having to drive for a longer time down to Queenstown. I don’t want to sound like Queenstown is the only place to go but I know it’s high on many people’s list and it is a great base for activities!

Blenheim – Nelson (Abel Tasman) – Westport/Hokitika – Franz Josef/Fox Glacier – Wanaka/Queenstown – Te Anau/Manapouri – Dunedin – Mount Cook – Christchurch

New Zealand South Island Itinerary Ideas

The best South Island itinerary

This itinerary would take around 2-3 or even 4 weeks, depending on what stops and detours you want to add. It starts in Christchurch but could be done in reverse if you take the ferry over to Blenheim, or as a loop from Blenheim.

If you want to start and end in Christchurch and don’t have too much time then from Hokitika you could take Arthurs Pass, or Lewis Pass and add in Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura only if you have the time.

If you have more time then continue from Hokitika up the West Coast, circle around Golden Bay to Abel Tasman and Nelson, down to Kaikoura and to Christchurch, although this means cutting out Arthurs or Lewis Pass.

Christchurch – Mount Cook – Wanaka – Manapouri/Te Anau – Milford – Queenstown – Franz Josef/Fox Glacier – Hokitika – Lewis Pass – Hammer Springs – Kaikoura – Blenheim

Added stops and detours you could make along the way:

  • Punakaiki just north of Hokitika
  • Arthurs Pass instead of Lewis Pass, although that means a little more backtracking
  • See Queenstown in place of Wanaka, and after Milford travel south to the bottom of New Zealand, around to Bluff and even Dunedin, and up to Wanaka and continue to the West Coast.
  • Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park at the end

New Zealand South Island Itinerary Ideas

Our South Island honeymoon itinerary

My husband and I recently travelled to New Zealand for our honeymoon, and I planned the following itinerary for us, which is similar to the best itinerary above but in a slightly different order and beginning and ending in Christchurch. Since I had some friends to visit this made the most sense for us! It worked out fantastically and you could follow this and continue north.

Christchurch – Lewis/Arthurs Pass – Hokitika – Franx Kosef/Fox Glacier – Wanaka – Manapouri/Te Anau – Milford – Queenstown – Mount Cook – Christchurch

New Zealand South Island Itinerary Ideas

There are so many more places you could add into these itinerary ideas and of course you can reverse many of these as well. It’s all so dependent on your starting point, where you want to end up, and the kind of activities and scenery you enjoy, but I hope this gives you some ideas at least!

Map of the top spots in the South Island

Use this to help you visually plan a trip!

How to get around the South Island

Travelling with your own vehicle is by far the best way to see the South Island. It will allow you to stop where you like and see so much more. You have the option of hiring a car, a small van that has been converted into a camper, or a full-on campervan.

Personally, we preferred to travel by car and stay in accommodation to allow us to stretch out and be comfortable driving a smaller vehicle. However, campervan is a very popular way to travel and there are a lot of paid camping sites, as well as freedom camping sites. If you choose to freedom camp, please be considerate of the environment and the local people.

How to get around the South Island New Zealand

Tips for driving in New Zealand

All the driving times in this guide should be taken with a pinch of salt! Driving on New Zealand roads is definitely no picnic and you need to stay alert and be vigilant about weather conditions. There are a lot of tourists driving on the road, especially in the South Island, which means a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the way to go or sometimes the exact rules. It’s always better to err on the side of caution!

  • We drive on the left.
  • Most of our roads are only one lane on each side, so you need to be VERY careful to stick to the left, especially when turning onto another road.
  • Add in extra time for travel. It will take you longer than Google Maps says. This is because of the small roads and because of the traffic. Although the rural speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour it’s unlikely you’ll be doing this on a lot of South Island roads. If you’re travelling over the summer it’s likely you’ll encounter a LOT of campervans on the roads and there aren’t always safe passing places.
  • When it comes to passing, there are passing lanes at times, but otherwise, you need to make an educated decision to pass when it’s a safe, straight stretch of road. If you’re not comfortable with it then wait.
  • On the other hand, if you see a build up of traffic behind you because you’re going slower than normal, you should look out for a safe space to pull over on the left and allow the traffic to pass.
  • Double yellow lines means don’t pass, but just because they’re not always there doesn’t mean it’s a safe area to pass either.

I hope this inspires you to create your dream New Zealand South Island Itinerary, fitting in the top spots but considering some of those that are off the beaten path too! Check out the New Zealand section of the website for further trip planning help, or get in touch!

Sonja x

If you liked it, pin it!

New Zealand South Island Itinerary Ideas

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Expat Stories: What You Need to Know About Moving to Singapore https://www.migratingmiss.com/expat-moving-to-singapore/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/expat-moving-to-singapore/#respond Tue, 28 Aug 2018 09:37:14 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4683 The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know! I’ve been to Singapore twice and both times I thought it was somewhere I could see myself returning to and living for a little while. I feel like you’d get to know the city and some amazing spots, plus take advantage of travelling all around Asia from there! Luckily, Marianne from Mum on the Move agreed to share her experience of living in Singapore so we can all find out a bit more about what it’s really like!  Tell us about yourself I’m Marianne and I’m a British Expat currently living in Sydney with my family, including two kids aged 5 and 7. We moved to Sydney just a month ago and before that, we lived in Singapore and Hong Kong for 11 years. I was born in Vanuatu and grew up in Papua New Guinea, and have […]

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The next installment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part or want to see a certain place featured let me know!

I’ve been to Singapore twice and both times I thought it was somewhere I could see myself returning to and living for a little while. I feel like you’d get to know the city and some amazing spots, plus take advantage of travelling all around Asia from there! Luckily, Marianne from Mum on the Move agreed to share her experience of living in Singapore so we can all find out a bit more about what it’s really like! 

Tell us about yourself

I’m Marianne and I’m a British Expat currently living in Sydney with my family, including two kids aged 5 and 7. We moved to Sydney just a month ago and before that, we lived in Singapore and Hong Kong for 11 years.

I was born in Vanuatu and grew up in Papua New Guinea, and have also lived in England, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica and Scotland – so I have been moving around all my life.

What made you decide to move to Singapore?

We chose to move to Singapore after visiting there on vacation. We had a stopover on our way back from Borneo and just fell in love with it. We had had a very active trip to Borneo and so when we got to Singapore we just chilled out and instead of doing all the main attractions, we just took our time to wander around and we got a real feel for life there.

I remember seeing all these expats enjoying the outdoor lifestyle and having alfresco after-work drinks by the river… and we knew we wanted to be part of it! We were living in Scotland at the time, but as I had grown up an expat in a warm climate, this made me realise how much I missed it.

As soon as we got back to Scotland we worked out how to make it happen. Within a year my husband had a job lined up and we moved to Singapore!

Expat Interview: Moving to Singapore

Tell me about the cost of living in Singapore

Singapore is an expensive place to live so you need to be making a good salary to enjoy the good life here. The good news is that salaries tend to be high and tax is low.

Housing costs have come down a lot since we first moved there but still, our last apartment cost more than $6,000 USD per month. This was a nice 4-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city with facilities such as swimming pool, gym and playground so you can definitely choose to live a lot cheaper. But a lot of expats choose to live in this style of accommodation.

Alcohol is highly taxed in Singapore so you will spend around $10 USD on a beer and you can forget buying a drinkable bottle of wine in a supermarket for less than $20 USD. You can counteract this by eating in local hawker centres, where you can get amazing food for very little and using public transport, which is very cheap.

Expat Interview: Moving to Singapore

How did you find the job seeking process or how did you make a living in Singapore?

We were lucky as my husband managed to get a job transfer internally with the bank he was working for. I gave up my business in the UK and started working as a freelance writer when we moved to Singapore.

A lot of expats move to Singapore to work in banking/finance or the oil industry. Other expat friends there work as lawyers, doctors or teachers at one of the international schools.

As a non-Singaporean you need a valid work permit to be resident here, and if you lose your job you only have 4 weeks to find another one or leave the country! (you could exit and re-enter on a tourist visa temporarily). Usually, you will be sponsored by your company for your visa. Some expats choose to become permanent residents to give them more stability.

Expat Interview: Moving to Singapore

What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?

The expat life in Singapore is incredibly social and it is very easy to make friends. The expat community is very transient, with people leaving and arriving all the time. Everyone can remember what it is like being the new person in town and so everyone is always very welcoming.

Most families have live-in domestic helpers, and so even if you have young kids your social life can continue almost as normal, as you have a live-in babysitter! This means that people have very active social lives, with after-work drinks, mid-week dinners etc all commonplace.

Expat Interview: Moving to Singapore

What’s the best thing about living in Singapore?

For me, the best thing about living in Singapore is the weather and outdoor lifestyle. The weather is hot and humid all year round, and although you get big tropical downpours, you also get a lot of sunshine. Because expats often live in condos with swimming pools, it’s a bit of a resort lifestyle. It takes a bit of getting used to because all weekend you feel like you are on vacation! The food is also amazing.

Singapore is super easy if you have kids, there is so much to do with kids in Singapore and you also have help at home, which makes a huge difference to your quality of life.

What’s the hardest thing about living in Singapore?

The hardest thing about living in Singapore is the transient nature of the expat community. While it is great to constantly be able to make new friends, this also means that you are always having to say goodbye to old ones. If you are a long-termer, this can be hard after a while – both for you and your kids.

Expat Interview: Moving to Singapore

How is your new home different from your old one?

We are now living in Sydney and I feel like I have left the ‘expat bubble’ and returned to ‘normal’ life. This has advantages – such as a house with a garden, being able to go on road trips at the weekend, and a more stable lifestyle for the kids, I sure miss my live-in babysitter and mid-week cocktails with the girls!

If we had just one day in Singapore what should we not miss?

Wandering around Chinatown and Little India, eating in a hawker centre, evening drinks in Boat Quay or at one of Singapore’s fabulous roof bars.

When you think of your expat home, what comes to mind?

People often dismiss Singapore as ‘boring’ or ‘sterile’. If you compare it to other crazier Asian cities, then yes it is definitely more westernised, and clean and efficiently run. But you know what this means? It is an AMAZING place to live! It is stunningly beautiful, with amazing architecture, plenty of greenery, fabulous food, good public transport, efficient infrastructure… it may not be as exciting a cultural experience for a tourist, but it is a fabulous environment for its residents.

Expat Interview: Moving to Singapore

Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live?

Singapore is the ‘gateway to Southeast Asia’ – and there are loads of cheap airlines that can connect you to most places in Southeast Asia within a couple of hours flight. Most expats spend their first year traveling like crazy and this is a real bonus of living here.

If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Singapore, what would it be?

Do it! Our 7 years in Singapore were awesome. I would move back in a heartbeat.

You can read more about Marianne and her family’s adventures on her blog, Mum on the Move, or follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Looking for more stories about expat life and moving abroad? Check out the expat interviews section!

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Stunning Game of Thrones Locations in Iceland + Map to Find Them https://www.migratingmiss.com/game-of-thrones-locations-iceland-map/ https://www.migratingmiss.com/game-of-thrones-locations-iceland-map/#respond Thu, 23 Aug 2018 12:02:33 +0000 http://www.migratingmiss.com/?p=4663 Looking for a Game of Thrones tour of Iceland, or want to create your own with a Game of Thrones locations in Iceland map? You’ve come to the right place! Of all the places I’ve been that have featured in the series, Iceland might have to be my favourite. And I’ve been to a lot, by chance! There’s Dubrovnik in Croatia that featured as Kings Landing, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, the medieval city of Girona in Spain and the Moorish Alcazaba further south in Almería – but Iceland is a whole other world. I think it’s because almost every corner you turn around, road you take, or stunning piece of scenery you come across in Iceland feels like it could have featured in Game of Thrones. Travelling around the country is amazing anyway (although it can also be a little difficult in winter!) but if you’re a Game of Thrones fan then you may want to know which particular beautiful parts of the country were used in the series. I asked some other travel bloggers who have also travelled to Iceland to share their favourite Game of Thrones filming location so that you can tick them […]

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Game of Thrones Locations Iceland

Looking for a Game of Thrones tour of Iceland, or want to create your own with a Game of Thrones locations in Iceland map? You’ve come to the right place!

Of all the places I’ve been that have featured in the series, Iceland might have to be my favourite. And I’ve been to a lot, by chance! There’s Dubrovnik in Croatia that featured as Kings Landing, Giants Causeway and Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, the medieval city of Girona in Spain and the Moorish Alcazaba further south in Almería – but Iceland is a whole other world.

I think it’s because almost every corner you turn around, road you take, or stunning piece of scenery you come across in Iceland feels like it could have featured in Game of Thrones. Travelling around the country is amazing anyway (although it can also be a little difficult in winter!) but if you’re a Game of Thrones fan then you may want to know which particular beautiful parts of the country were used in the series.

I asked some other travel bloggers who have also travelled to Iceland to share their favourite Game of Thrones filming location so that you can tick them off your list as you drive around, or check out which ones you’ll see on an Iceland Game of Thrones tour.

There’s also a Game of Thrones Iceland map at the end of the post to help you out!

Dimmuborgir

By Jessica from Independent Travel Cats

Dimmuborgir, which roughly translates into English as “dark castles”, is a large area in Northern Iceland of lava fields that have a lot of unusual geological formations. Many of the dramatic rock pillars, crags, and collapsed lave tubes resemble castles, towers, and cathedrals.

Dimmuborgir is located near Lake Myvatn and is an easy place to visit by car or via a tour and you can access it just off the road. To really explore it though, you need to get out and explore on foot, and there are a number of walking and hiking paths (short and long) within this area. It is a popular tourist attraction and is free to visit, making it great for those traveling to Iceland on a budget!

The Game of Thrones connection is that Dimmuborgir was featured in episodes during Season 3 as it was where Mance Rayder set up his army camp. Many of the lava rock formations and arches are shown as part of the backdrop in these scenes.

The scenes were shot during winter so the area is covered in snow so if you want the full effect from the film, you might want to visit in the winter months. However, we’d recommend coming in summer for warmer weather and to better enjoy the area.

Game of Thrones Locations - Dimmuborgir

Grjótagjá

By Catherine D’Cruz from We Go With Kids

Grjótagjá is a small lava cave located in North Iceland near Lake Myvatn. We visited this filming location for an iconic (but not kid-friendly) scene with Jon Snow and Ygritte while exploring Lake Myvatn with our three kids in June 2017. Grjótagjá is often considered a hidden or secret thermal spring but was labeled on the map we received from the Tourist Information Center. There are two portals the small lava cave that each have a thermal spring filled with blue water, and one was commonly used for swimming. The cave is located on private property, but there was a nearby parking area and no charge to enter.

While all of the visitors were respectful during our visit, the caves were closed in July 2018 due to the inappropriate behavior of visitors who used the caves as bathrooms, washed shoes and dishes in the thermal springs and left trash. This sad closure is a reminder to be careful to leave no trace when visiting any landmark, especially a sight graciously opened to the public by private landowners.

Game of Thrones Iceland - Grjótagjá

Thingvellir National Park

By Laurence from Finding the Universe

Thingvellir, or Þingvellir, is a must-visit in Iceland, even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan. Although fans will be rewarded with a wonderful location from the series as a bonus.

Thingvellir is a national park in Iceland, found on the famous Golden Circle driving route which takes in other highlights including Gulfoss waterfall and the Geysir geothermal park. It’s a UNESCO listed site and is important for cultural and geological reasons. From a cultural standpoint, Thingvellir was where the first Icelandic parliament meetings were held – from the 10th to 18th centuries!

From a geological point of view, the park straddles two major tectonic plates, North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and you can actually see where these two plates are separating at various locations throughout the park. One of these, Almannagjá gorge near Öxaráfoss waterfall featured as the Gates of the Moon – the path to the Eyrie and appeared in Season 1 and Season 4 of the show.

Nearby, the famous scene where the Hound fights Brienne of Tarth can also be found. In addition, when Arya left Westeros for Braavos, she sailed from lake Þingvellirvatn, also found in the park.

Getting to Þingvellir is easy. You can do it as a day trip from Reykjavik, either self-guided or on a tour. It’s also included in many of Iceland’s tours, and every Golden Circle tour will include it. For tour ideas, take a look at our favourite guided group tours of Iceland.

Game of Thrones Iceland - Thingvellir

Þórsmörk & Stakkholtsgjá

Þórsmörk is the landscape that Jon Snow and the Suicide Squad march across when they are going to try and catch a wight in Season 7. The near silent canyon of Stakkholtsgjá near Þórsmörk features as the place where a group of wights are ambushed.

Svínafellsjökull Glacier

By Inma from A World to Travel

This iconic glacier tongue, the largest ice cap in the European continent, was first seen in Game of Thrones Season 2 as Beyond the Wall’s snowy landscapes.

If you take the famous Ring Road for the ultimate Iceland road trip, you’ll come across Svinafells glacier (jökull means ice cap) as this huge ice tongue is seen from it. I was there at the beginning of June but it is possible to get there all year round. Just mind the weather beforehand, as you might know by now, it changes really fast in Iceland.

Whether you take a guided walk to recreate the footsteps of The Dark Crusaders – beginners welcome from May to September – on the surface of this outlet glacier part of the Skaftafell Nature Reserve that comes from Vatnajokull, or simply want to admire it close enough to feel its awesomeness without getting wet or stepping into ice; a visit is highly recommended.

Svínafellsjökull isn’t the only glacier to be used in Game of Thrones of course, with Vatnajökull Glacier featuring as a behind the wall in season 2.

Game of Thrones Iceland - Svinafellsjokull glacier

Black Sand Beach at Vik

By Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear

Eastwatch-by-the-Sea is mentioned throughout the Game of Thrones series but doesn’t actually make an appearance until Season 7, Episode 5. Eastwatch was close to where the Night King was last seen. It is also where Jon Snow and his team of Wight Hunters dock their boat to begin their trek to find a wight walker and bring it back to King’s Landing. The black sand beach (Reynisfjara Beach) in Vik is the filming location for the beach near Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.

This beautiful black sand beach is located on the southern coast of Iceland. It is known for its geometric basalt columns and the Reynisdraga rock pillars seemingly coming out from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The beach is full of smooth dark gravel and is beautiful no matter the season. During the winter it’s even covered with snow and in the summer, seabirds nest on the stacks. Between May and August, you can spot cute puffins, guillemots, and fulmars.

Reynisfjara Beach is approximately 112 miles from Reykjavik and the drive takes roughly two and a half hours on the Ring Road. You can easily visit just the beach in half a day or spend an entire day taking in and seeing all the must-see sights along the Ring Road.

Game of Thrones Iceland - Black Sand Beach

Mytvan

By Karen from Wanderlustingk

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you should try to visit Myvatn. This stunning lake-side town is home to beautiful hot springs, perfect for a dip, and a few Game of Thrones attractions. The area around Lake Myvatn was used for the filming location where the Night’s Watchmen are attacked by white walkers. Honestly, in winter, it’s tougher to find the right spot as the whole landscape feels straight out of Game of Thrones. The snow-covered landscape with the black rock jutting out will transport you straight to North of the Wall.

Notably so, the cave where Jon Snow and Ygrette supposedly had their first romantic encounter is also near here, however, the owners recently closed Grjótagjá cave off to the public after it was routinely abused. The actors did not actually film here as the water is too hot to enter.

Game of Thrones Iceland - Myvatn

Hverir

Hverir is another Game of Thrones location close to Myvtan. The geothermal mud flats are east of Lake Myvtan and the numerous steam vents were used to give the appearance of a thick blizzard that Sam wanders through in Season 3. You can (carefully!) walk through the landscape yourself and see how it looks like you’re standing in a snowstorm. But be warned there is a strong smell of sulfur! Which if you don’t know, is a bit like rotten eggs…

Fjaðrárgljúfur

By Victoria from Follow Me Away

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is one of the Game of Thrones filming location in Iceland that is easy and accessible to visit on your own! Located about an hour from Vik on the south coast, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is less than 15 min from the Ring Road. The canyon was a prominent part of Season 6 as beyond the wall and where Jon Snow fought the night king and his army. You can walk along the bottom of the canyon or climb up the side and walk around the canyon for some of the best views! It is easy to drive to and you don’t need a 4×4 vehicle. It is a lesser known and wonderful location to visit during a trip to Iceland.

Game of Thrones Iceland - Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

Iceland first featured as a Game of Thrones filming location in Season 2, as the snowy and harsh landscape beyond the wall. Mýrdalsjökull Glacier features earlier on in Game of Thrones in Season 2 as the Fist of the First Men. Guided ice cave tours are a popular winter tour in Iceland and it’s now possible to do them at the glacier.

Kirkjufell

By Alex from Swedish Nomad

Kirkjufell is one of the most photographed places in all of Iceland, and it has a certain mystical and dreamy vibe. So, no wonder that it was chosen as one of the Game of Thrones Filming locations.

It’s easy to get to Kirkjufell on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula by rental car or a guided tour from Reykjavik. However, it’s complicated to go there by public transport since it’s a bit remote. There are many beautiful places nearby Kirkjufell as well so a car or tour that includes them would be best.

It’s the actual mountain that’s called Kirkjufell but most people visit the Kirkjufell waterfall where you can get the iconic view of the mountain. I think the best view is from the falls anyway, and there’s not really any fantastic view if you go closer.

Iceland is a vital part of Game of Thrones, and Kirkjufell was featured as a location in Season 7 of Game of Thrones. The mountain is showcased from the scenes ‘North beyond the Wall’ when Jon Snow, The Hound and Jorah Mormont, amongst others, brave the wilderness in hopes of catching an undead wight.

Game of Thrones Iceland - Kirkjufell

Þórufoss

There are many stunning waterfalls in Iceland but if you want to spot one from Game of Thrones then you need to see Þórufoss. Although Gullfoss was used as a scouting location for the series and filming has taken place there it has never been seen on the screen. The area around Þórufoss is the countryside just outside of Meereen, and the waterfall is where Drogon eats the goat in Season 4.

Game of Thrones Iceland Map

From this, you can see that the Game of Thrones filming locations around Iceland are really spread apart! That means if you want to see them all for yourself you’ll need to do a self-guided Game of Thrones tour. But it’s Iceland and road tripping is basically the best way to see the country! If you don’t have the time or don’t want to drive then there are Guided Game of Thrones tours available. You won’t be able to see everything of course but you can get a feel for the landscape and how it was used in the series.

I haven’t included Grjótagjá as it is on private land and no longer open to the public. Also, note that Mýrdalsjökull Glacier looks like it’s in the middle of nowhere because you’ll need to take a guided tour! Please note you shouldn’t access Stakkholtsgjá in a rental vehicle, even a 4×4 as the road is difficult and there are river crossings. Take a bus tour instead that still allows you to hike the canyon or the bus to the Volcanic Huts and arrange with the driver to be picked up on the way back.

The best thing about travelling around Iceland as a Game of Thrones fan is that you’re likely to stumble across a filming location without even trying, and even if you don’t the landscape is so stunning and otherworldly that it’ll feel like you have!

Have you ever travelled to see film or TV series locations?

Sonja x

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Game of Thrones Location in Iceland + Map

The post Stunning Game of Thrones Locations in Iceland + Map to Find Them appeared first on Migrating Miss.

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