You searched for roadtrip - Bruised Passports Offbeat Travel and Fashion Blog Fri, 23 Feb 2024 07:33:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A memorable day road trip in Turkey : Istanbul & driving along the Aegean coast Tue, 01 Aug 2023 14:13:09 +0000 A road trip in Turkey is truly the stuff of dreams. The best part about planning a short road trip...

The post A memorable day road trip in Turkey : Istanbul & driving along the Aegean coast appeared first on Bruised Passports.

A road trip in Turkey is truly the stuff of dreams. The best part about planning a short road trip in Turkey is that you can get everything from mouth-watering food and amazing beaches to ancient historical sites and bustling cities, all in one road trip! This itinerary will take you from Istanbul to Izmir to Pamukkale to Sirince to Bodrum to Antalya – it can easily be covered in 7-10 days but if you have longer, there are endless places where you can spend a week or two travelling slowly and enjoying that Turkish beach life.

A road trip along the Aegean Coast of Turkey is a wonderful way to explore the stunning landscapes, historical sites, and delicious cuisine of the region. Here’s a suggested itinerary for your road trip, including information about the best things to eat and the most beautiful beaches:

We hope you’ll find everything you need to plan a road trip in Turkey in this article. If you have any questions leave them below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can


Our suggested itinerary for a road trip in Turkey – read on for details


Flying into Istanbul and renting a car

No matter where you’re coming from, chances are you will fly straight into the busy capital of Turkey. You can easily compare prices here and rent a car in Turkey here. If you’re planning to spend a few days in Istanbul, then we would recommend renting the car on the day you’re supposed to leave Istanbul. This is because of 2 reasons – firstly, Istanbul is quite crowded and driving can be a hassle! Secondly, public transport is quite good in Istanbul. So a car isn’t necessary to explore the city.


MSC Preziosa review ports
The Roman Ruins of Ephesus in Turkey

Days 1: Check into your hotel in Istanbul

Like any other big city, it is easy to spend weeks exploring Istanbul. But if you’re on a schedule, then we would recommend spending at least 2 days in Istanbul. Istanbul is a vibrant and historical city that straddles two continents. This makes it a captivating destination for travellers. There are endless hotels for all budgets in Istanbul but since your road trip in the Turkish countryside will feature many modest and extremely-affordable hotels, we would recommend splurging on a luxurious hotel when you’re in Istanbul.

If you love amazing views or you’re celebrating a special occasion, then we would recommend Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. Located steps away from Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, the Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet boasts stunning panoramic views of these architectural wonders. It also has a gorgeous rooftop bar, which offers amazing views of the city. If you want next-level opulence, consider Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, a luxurious hotel housed within a restored Ottoman palace on the shores of the Bosphorus. The hotel’s rooms offer great views of the waterway and the Asian shore. Finally, if you want a truly centrally-located hotel, close to everything, then InterContinental Istanbul, located in Taksim Square, is also a great option.


Days 2-3 Explore Istanbul

Istanbul is a city with an extremely rich history and an abundance of iconic landmarks. We suggest exploring at least some of these places in your 48 hours in Istanbul

  • Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque): Start your day early with a visit to the Blue Mosque, one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks. Admire its stunning blue tiles, impressive domes, and six towering minarets. Arrive early to avoid the crowds and to experience a sense of tranquility in this beautiful architectural marvel – this is usually the first stop for most visitors in Istanbul
  • Hagia Sophia: Right across from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia, a former cathedral and mosque that now serves as a museum. Marvel at its massive dome and intricate mosaics, which represent the blending of Christian and Islamic art.
  • Basilica Cistern: Just a short walk from the Hagia Sophia, visit the Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir that once supplied water to the city. Explore the eerie atmosphere and admire the rows of ancient columns and the famous Medusa heads.
  • Topkapi Palace: Head to the Topkapi Palace, the former residence of Ottoman sultans. Explore the opulent rooms, lush gardens, and impressive collections of artefacts, including treasures, jewellery, and weapons.
  • Lunch at a Local Eatery: Enjoy a delicious Turkish lunch at a local eatery. Try traditional dishes like kebabs, mezzes (appetisers), or a hearty bowl of Turkish lentil soup.
  • Grand Bazaar: After lunch, make your way to the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Get lost in its labyrinthine alleys filled with shops selling everything from spices and textiles to jewellery and souvenirs. Make sure you bargain with the friendly shopkeepers to get the best deals.
  • Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar): Located near the Galata Bridge, the Spice Bazaar is a sensory delight with its aromatic spices, dried fruits, nuts, and Turkish delight. Stock up on some unique flavours to take home.
  • Bosphorus Cruise: Treat yourself to a relaxing Bosphorus cruise. This boat tour allows you to see Istanbul from a different perspective, sailing between Europe and Asia and passing by picturesque waterfront mansions, palaces, and historic sites.
  • Galata Tower: If you don’t mind a bit of exercise, climb to the top of the Galata Tower to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city, especially at sunset. This medieval stone tower offers a perfect vantage point to witness the golden hues cast over Istanbul’s skyline.
  • Dinner with a View: Head to a rooftop restaurant or a waterfront eatery for dinner and enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the glittering lights of the city or the serene waters of the Bosphorus.
  • Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue: After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along Istiklal Avenue, a bustling pedestrian street filled with shops, cafes, and street performers. The vibrant atmosphere here captures the essence of Istanbul’s modern energy
  • Enjoy the nightlife or a Turkish Night Show: You can spend your evenings exploring Istanbul’s vibrant night life or if you want a more traditional evening, then there are several entertaining Turkish Night Shows, where you can watch traditional dance performances like the energetic belly dancing and the enchanting whirling dervishes.


These are a few places everyone explores in Istanbul. If you’re still not tired of exploring or simply enjoy going offbeat, then here are a few unconventional suggestions of things to see and do in Istanbul

1. Explore the Princes’ Islands: Escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul by taking a ferry to the Princes’ Islands. This cluster of small islands in the Sea of Marmara offers a serene and car-free environment. Rent a bicycle or even a horse-drawn carriage to explore the charming streets lined with historic wooden houses and lush gardens. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and breathtaking views, and don’t miss sampling the islands’ famous seafood and delectable desserts.

2. Visit the Miniaturk: Step into a tiny world at Miniaturk, a theme park featuring over 100 miniature models of famous Turkish landmarks and historical sites. Wander through this fascinating outdoor exhibit, which showcases Turkey’s rich heritage, and marvel at the attention to detail in the scaled-down replicas of palaces, mosques, and ancient ruins. This is a good stop, especially if you’re with kids!

3. Uncover Street Art in Kadikoy: If you enjoy street art and hipster districts, head to the vibrant neighbourhood of Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul. The colourful murals and graffiti adorning the walls offer insights into the city’s contemporary culture and creativity. You can also join a street art tour to learn about the artists behind the masterpieces and the stories they tell through their art.

4. Turkish Coffee Fortune Telling: Experience a fascinating aspect of Turkish culture by partaking in a traditional Turkish coffee fortune-telling session. Many cafes and restaurants in Istanbul offer this ancient practice where a skilled fortune teller interprets the patterns left by the coffee grounds in your cup. It’s a fun and insightful way to gain a glimpse into your future and the meanings hidden in the symbols.

5. Wander through the Chora Church: While the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque draw most of the attention, the Chora Church (Kariye Museum) is also quite the gem. It houses unique frescoes and mosaics that depict religious scenes with incredible artistry and detail. Stepping into the Chora Church is like stepping back in time to the golden age of Byzantine art and architecture.

6. Take a Ferry to Anadolu Kavağı: Escape the city’s urban hustle by taking a leisurely ferry ride to Anadolu Kavağı, a charming fishing village at the northern end of the Bosphorus. Hike up to the Yoros Castle, an ancient fortress with panoramic views of the strait, and enjoy a traditional seafood meal at one of the village’s waterfront restaurants. If you’re doing the rest of this road trip, you can skip this as you will see many similar villages on the rest of this road trip 🙂

7. Visit the Istanbul Toy Museum: If you’re travelling with kids, the Istanbul Toy Museum is a delightful and quirky attraction, housing an extensive collection of toys from various eras and countries. It is also a nostalgic place for adults as you rediscover toys from the past.

9. Sufi Music and Whirling Dervishes: Experience the spiritual side of Istanbul by attending a Sufi music and whirling dervishes performance. The mesmerising ritual provides a unique insight into the city’s religious heritage. It is truly a spell-binding experience – highly recommended!

10. Hammam Experience at a Local Bathhouse: Instead of visiting the well-known touristy bathhouses, seek out a local hammam for a more authentic and affordable experience. Enjoy a traditional scrub and massage in a centuries-old setting, indulging in a rejuvenating and culturally rich spa experience.

We hope these few days in Istanbul will provide an introduction to Turkish culture, people, and food. Once you’ve had your fill of the city and experienced everything from the Grand Bazaar to mystical Sufi performances it is time to get your amazing week long road trip in Turkey started. Rent your car and get ready to leave Istanbul and drive almost 5 hours to Izmir

Our love affair with Turkey
Hookahs for sale at Grand Bazaar in Istanbul


Learning about the historical monuments of Turkey in Istanbul


Day 4 – Drive to Izmir

Izmir is Turkey’s third-largest city and the perfect pit-stop on your road trip in Turkey. We suggest spending 2 days here. First check into your accommodation – make sure the hotel offers parking. A couple of great options are Zeniva Hotel and Ramada Suites. You can also opt for a gorgeous beach-facing and affordable apartment such as this one in the neighbouring Cesme if you enjoy self-catering accommodation.

Izmir is a lively city – make sure you visit the Konak Square and see the iconic Clock Tower, a symbol of the city. Stroll along the Kordon Promenade, a scenic waterfront area with beautiful views of the Aegean Sea. Don’t forget to try traditional Izmir cuisine at a local restaurant. Especially Kumru, a popular sandwich filled with sucuk (spiced Turkish sausage) and cheese. You can also try some delicious Izmir Kofte, spiced meatballs unique to the region. Even if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you will find several restaurants catering to you in Izmir.


Our love affair with Turkey
Little known gems in Izmir
Driving on your road trip in Turkey


Days 5 & 6 – Explore Cesme & Alacati

You can easily continue to stay in Izmir and take a day trip to Cesme, a pretty seaside town in Turkey. Cesme is known for its stunning beaches and thermal baths, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen and your swimsuits.

Explore Cesme Castle, spend a lazy day at Cesme Beach, a long and sandy stretch offering crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. If it is too crowded, you can always drive along the coast to a quieter stretch of beach as well. Enjoy a seafood dinner at a local restaurant by the harbour. You must try some grilled Aegean fish or a plate of fresh seafood mezze if you enjoy local flavours.

You can devote an entire day to Alacati or combine it with your drive to Cesme to Alacati, a charming town famous for its narrow cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, and vibrant local market. Explore Alacati’s quaint streets, art galleries, and boutique shops. Indulge in a traditional Turkish breakfast known as Kahvalti at a local café. The spread typically includes olives, cheeses, jams, honey, and freshly baked bread – truly one of the yummiest breakfasts in the world!

Cesme, Turkey has unlimited photo opportunities and stunning beaches
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Day 7 – Head to Pamukkale and Hierapolis

After a couple of relaxed days at the beaches of Turkey, it is time to head inland to Pamukkale and Hierapolis, located in southwestern Turkey. This is where natural wonders merge with ancient history. This unique UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit destination for travellers even though it has recently started to get really crowded thanks to some viral social media posts. Hotels in Pamukkale aren’t the best but Herakles Thermal Hotel and Pam Thermal Hotel both make for a good base to explore the area

Pamukkale, which translates to “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is a breathtaking natural wonder that captivates visitors with its surreal landscape. This geological marvel consists of terraces of white mineral-rich travertine, formed by the flow of thermal waters cascading down the hillside. The result is a series of milky-white, calcium-rich pools that resemble cotton cascades, creating a magical and otherworldly sight. Pamukkale’s thermal waters are also believed to have healing properties. So it provides, not just an aesthetic experience but a unique and therapeutic one

Adjacent to Pamukkale lies Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city. Hierapolis was established to take advantage of the thermal waters of Pamukkale for their therapeutic benefits. Today, visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins of Hierapolis, including the stunning grand theater, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman bathhouses, and the necropolis. One of the most fascinating features of Hierapolis is the ancient pool known as the Cleopatra Pool, believed to have been frequented by the Egyptian queen herself. The warm, mineral-rich waters still invite visitors for a relaxing swim amid the historical ruins.

The stark contrast of the dazzling white terraces against the backdrop of historical ruins makes this site an extraordinary and picturesque experience.

Day 8 Sirince

Sirince is a beautiful laid-back village, straight out a picture postcard. You can make this a quick pitstop or spend a relaxed few days here, depending on how much time you have at hand. We suggest staying in a unique experiential hotel listed here
From taking in the view of the hills to exploring the vineyards and tasting its signature mulberry juice, there are endless things to do in Sirince. But you must spend a morning at the ruins of Ephesus, which are a short drive away from Sirince, just outside Kusadasi. These are one of the most iconic Greco-Roman ruins in the world, so you must not miss them at all.
Sirince in Turkey is STUNNING
Photo Credit:


Day 9 – Drive to Bodrum via Lake Bafa

As you check out from a couple of quiet days in Sirince, it is time to drive to the party capital of the Aegean Coast – Bodrum. Make sure you drive via Lake Bafa Natural Reserve – take a quick pitstop for a picnic or some photos – and drive onto Bodrum. Akkan Hotel is a good option as it offers scenic views. You can also opt for a gorgeous beach-facing apartment such as this one if you’re travelling with family or friends.

Spend the day exploring Bodrum’s beautiful beaches. Bitez Beach and Gumbet Beach are great options for relaxing and swimming. Bodrum Castle is an impressive medieval fortress overlooking the harbour. It also offers some nice photography opportunities. You can also visit the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, located in Bodrum.

In the evening, enjoy a seafood dinner at one of Bodrum’s seaside restaurants, paired with a glass of Turkish Raki. Or try some traditional Turkish kebabs or Lahmacun, a thin and crispy Turkish pizza – so good! But make sure you aren’t too full because Bodrum really comes alive at night. You can go partying or dancing at one of the many places in town.

If you enjoy scenic spots or photography, do drive from Bodrum to Datca one day. Datca is a tranquil and scenic peninsula with beautiful bays and crystal-clear waters. Relax at one of the serene beaches in Datca, such as Aktur Beach or Palamutbuku Beach.


Our love affair with Turkey
Kebabs in Turkey = Culinary Heaven

Day 10 Ending your road trip in Turkey and more suggestions

This ends a spectacular road trip in Turkey. If you have some more days in Turkey, then you can drive onto Antalya and explore even more of the Aegean Coast. You can also drop your car in Bodrum for a small surcharge and fly to another Turkish hotspot Cappadocia.

If not, it is now time to drive back to Istanbul and drop your car at Istanbul Airport before catching a flight back home. No matter what you do, you will end this trip with amazing memories of countless scenic drives, little villages, Turkish culture, and the delicious flavours of Aegean cuisine

Our love affair with Turkey
Colourful Restaurants in Turkey

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5 Unbeatable Reasons to Plan a Road Trip in Karnataka, India Tue, 25 Jul 2023 13:17:19 +0000 There’s something magical about hitting the open road, and Karnataka, a state in southern India, offers a plethora of stunning...

The post 5 Unbeatable Reasons to Plan a Road Trip in Karnataka, India appeared first on Bruised Passports.

There’s something magical about hitting the open road, and Karnataka, a state in southern India, offers a plethora of stunning destinations that make for an unforgettable road trip. From majestic waterfalls and colourful flower fields to luxury retreats and rich historical sites, Karnataka has it all. Here are five unbeatable reasons why planning a road trip in Karnataka should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

If you’ve already made up your mind about a road trip in Karnataka, then read this detailed guide to a road trip in Karnataka. You can also check car rentals and compare prices here 

Karnataka is ideal for a road trip

1. Waterfalls in Karnataka: Natural wonders by the dozen 

Karnataka boasts some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in India, and embarking on a road trip allows you to witness nature’s symphony at its finest. One must-visit destination is Jog Falls, located on the border of Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts. Cascading from a height of over 800 feet, Jog Falls is the second-highest plunge waterfall in the country. The roar of the water as it plunges into the rocky gorge below is a mesmerising experience that will leave you in awe.

Another gem is the stunning Abbey Falls near Madikeri in Coorg. Surrounded by lush greenery, the water plunges into a picturesque pool, creating a postcard-perfect scene. The drive to reach these falls is an adventure in itself, with scenic routes cutting through coffee plantations and misty hills.

Karnataka has beautiful waterfalls

2. Flower Fields in Gundlupet: A Kaleidoscope of Colors

If you have a penchant for vibrant landscapes, a visit to the flower fields in Gundlupet is an absolute must. Located at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, Gundlupet is renowned for its vast stretches of colourful flower fields, especially sunflowers and marigolds. These fields paint the entire region in a kaleidoscope of colours during the month of August. The exact date of bloom varies from year to year, but the month of August is a safe option to plan this trip!

The best time to witness this breathtaking sight is during the winter months when the flowers are in full bloom. A road trip through Gundlupet will not only captivate your senses but also provide an opportunity to capture picture-perfect moments amidst the blossoms

Flower fields in Gundlupet, Karnataka

3. Evolve Back Coorg: Luxurious Retreat in Harmony with Nature

No road trip is complete without a bit of indulgence, and Karnataka’s luxury hotels, such as Evolve Back Coorg, offer sustainable opulence amid the tranquil surroundings of Coorg’s coffee estates. Formerly known as Orange County, this lavish resort takes pride in its commitment to ecological conservation, providing guests with an exquisite stay that embraces the beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

Evolve Back Coorg allows you to unwind in private pool villas that blend seamlessly with the natural environment. From rejuvenating Ayurvedic spa treatments to fine dining experiences that showcase local flavors, this sustainable luxury hotel ensures you experience the best of Coorg’s charm and elegance. There are also so many coffee and spice plantations int he area, so make sure you reserve a day for exploring those.

Sunset at a luxury hotel - Evolve Back, Coorg
Sunset at a luxury hotel – Evolve Back, Coorg

4. Ideal for Romantic Honeymoons and Family Holidays

Whether you’re planning a romantic escape with your significant other or a fun-filled family adventure, Karnataka’s road trip destinations cater to all types of travelers. The picturesque landscapes, serene backdrops, and myriad of activities make it an ideal destination for honeymooners seeking intimate moments.

For families, the region’s diverse offerings ensure that everyone has a memorable time. From wildlife safaris in Bandipur National Park to trekking opportunities in the Western Ghats, every member of the family can find something that piques their interest.

Karnataka is the ideal place to plan a romantic getaway or a family holiday

5. Amazing Views and History in Hampi

For history buffs and landscape admirers, a road trip to Hampi is a treasure trove of wonder. Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once the capital of the historic Vijayanagara Empire. Today, its ruins stand as a testament to the empire’s grandeur and architectural brilliance.

Exploring the vast expanse of Hampi on wheels allows you to witness awe-inspiring views of ancient temples, royal complexes, and rock-cut monuments. The iconic stone-chariot of the Vittala Temple and the Virupaksha Temple’s towering gopuram are among the must-see historical marvels.

As you drive through the surreal landscapes of Hampi, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time, surrounded by the remnants of a glorious past

Karnataka has history and views for days


To sum it up, a road trip in Karnataka is an adventure like no other. From witnessing natural sites like waterfalls and flower fields to indulging in luxurious retreats and immersing yourself in history, Karnataka’s diverse offerings promise an unforgettable journey. So, fuel up your vehicle, pack your bags, and hit the road to discover the true essence of this captivating Indian state. Whether you seek romance, family fun, or a rendezvous with history, Karnataka welcomes you with open arms and boundless beauty.

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Wine country : Plan a relaxing holiday or honeymoon in Tuscany, Italy Sat, 15 Jul 2023 12:52:03 +0000 Tuscany, with its rolling hills, picturesque landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, is a region in central Italy that has a...

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Tuscany, with its rolling hills, picturesque landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, is a region in central Italy that has a firm fan club in pop culture – you’ve probably seen it in countless TV shows and movies. But let me tell you – it deserves all the hype – and more!  A holiday to Tuscany offers an excuse to experience Italian life beyond popular cities like Florence and Rome.

Tuscany offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a truly Italian way of life – La Dolce Vita. The best way to experience the region’s charm and authenticity, in our opinion, is through rustic stays and exploration of offbeat villages. In this article, we will delve into that perfect road trip in Tuscany and the concept of agritourismo. We will also highlight some offbeat villages that unveil the hidden treasures of Tuscany. Let’s go….

Views for days – Tuscany makes for the perfect road trip in Italy 🙂


Renting a car in Tuscany

If you’re keen to explore authentic Italian life in Tuscany, we highly recommend renting a car from the airport you land at. You can compare prices and book a car here


Hotels and Agro Stays in Tuscany

Agro stays, also known as agriturismo, provide a distinctive opportunity to experience Tuscany’s rural life firsthand. These accommodations are often charming farmhouses or country estates, where visitors can stay and embrace the region’s agricultural traditions. Agro stays offer comfortable lodging, traditional Tuscan cuisine, and a chance to participate in farming activities like grape harvesting, olive picking, or cheese making. Do not underestimate the luxuries offered by these stays – a lot of hotels in the area walk the fine balance between maintaining their rustic charm while offering bespoke luxury really well.

The most popular region for agro stays is the Chianti region, famous for its vineyards and wineries. Staying at a Chianti agriturismo allows guests to witness the winemaking process, taste exquisite wines, and enjoy breathtaking views of the vine-covered hills. An amazing option here is Villa Sassolini. But since Chianti is one of the most popular options, it can often be quite expensive during peak season! This is why we would recommend visiting Chianti on a day trip and staying elsewhere, especially if you are visiting Tuscany during peak season.

A couple of such options include Conti di San Bonifacio Wine Resort or Borgo San Vincezo in Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its picturesque landscapes. Agriturismos and hotels in this area provide a serene escape amidst rolling hills, cypress-lined roads, and vibrant sunflower fields. Guests can relax, enjoy farm-fresh meals, and explore nearby villages, making it an idyllic retreat. We stayed in the hamlet of Castelnuovo Barardenga and would highly recommend a cute villa in this part.

If you are on your honeymoon or budget is not a constraint, we highly recommend a stay at Castello Di Velona – a truly special hotel that captures the essence of Tuscany! It is the kind of place you wouldn’t want to leave – and truth be told, you needn’t leave it. The views, the experience, and the food will leave you spellbound!

Agrotourismo hotels in Tuscany are perfect if you enjoy rustic luxury


Iconic sunsets in offbeat villages – this is Agriturismo Baccaleno

Offbeat Villages in Tuscany

While larger Italian cities like Florence and Milan often steal the limelight, Tuscany’s offbeat villages offer a glimpse into a quieter, more authentic side of the region. These hidden gems are brimming with history, local traditions, and charming architecture. We highly recommend exploring a few of these during your time in Tuscany

  1. Pitigliano, also known as the village with ancient caves. Visit the Orsini Fortress, explore the Jewish Quarter, and indulge in local delicacies at the village’s quaint eateries.
  2. Montepulciano, a medieval hilltop town known for stunning views. Stroll through its narrow streets, visit the beautiful Piazza Grande, and explore the ancient wine cellars that produce its famous Vino Nobile wine.
  3. Volterra, a testimony to the rich history of Tuscany. Visit the Roman Theater, the Etruscan Arch, and the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum. This will give you an opportunity to witness traditional alabaster craftsmanship, a specialty of the region.
  4. Anghiari, a charming village famous for its medieval character. Wander through its stone-paved streets, admire the 13th-century walls, and visit the Museo della Battaglia. It is so peaceful here, you’re bound to fall in love
  5. San Gimignano: Known as the “Town of Towers,” San Gimignano is famous for its medieval skyline adorned with 14 remaining towers. Explore the UNESCO-listed historic center, sample the local Vernaccia and drink in the Italian air!


Things to See and Do in Tuscany

Tuscany is a region of extraordinary beauty, where every corner seems like a postcard-worthy scene. From rolling hills and vineyards to medieval villages and breathtaking coastlines, Tuscany offers countless photogenic spots. Here are some beautiful and photogenic locations in Tuscany:

  1. Val d’Orcia: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a photographer’s dream. The gentle, undulating hills, cypress-lined roads, and charming farmhouses offer a quintessential Tuscan landscape that you will definitely want to photograph.
  2. Pienza: Known as the “Ideal City of the Renaissance,” Pienza offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The Piazza Pio II, with its well-preserved architecture and panoramic vistas, is a must-visit spot for photographers.
  3. San Gimignano: Famous for its medieval towers, San Gimignano’s skyline is an enchanting sight. Explore the narrow streets, capture the ancient architecture, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the top of the town.
  4. Cinque Terre: Although technically not in Tuscany, the colourful villages of Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast are a short distance away and you can combine a visit to Cinque Terre with your trip to Tuscany. The vibrant houses perched on cliffs, overlooking the azure sea, provide endless opportunities for stunning photographs.
  5. Florence: Chances are you will land at Florence airport in order to reach Tuscany. So do spend a day at the beginning or end of your trip exploring the birthplace of Renaissance. Florence offers iconic landmarks like the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Piazzale Michelangelo. The city’s architecture, art, and picturesque streets make it a treasure trove for photographers.
  6. Montepulciano: This medieval hilltop town is not only famous for its wine but also for its photogenic qualities. The Piazza Grande and the surrounding streets provide captivating backdrops for capturing the essence of Tuscany.
  7. Lucca: Encircled by medieval walls, Lucca is a charming city with narrow streets, picturesque squares, and well-preserved architecture. The city’s unique atmosphere and stunning views from the Guinigi Tower make it a photographer’s paradise.
  8. The Leaning Tower of Pisa: Located in Pisa, this iconic monument is a must-visit spot for photography enthusiasts. It is also easy to combine a visit to Pisa with a relaxed vacation in Tuscany. Play with perspectives and capture creative shots with this famous leaning tower.
  9. Abbey of San Galgano: The roofless abbey, with its Gothic architecture and a legendary sword in the stone, provides a dramatic and mystical setting for capturing ethereal images.
  10. Saturnia Thermal Baths: The hot springs in Saturnia offer not only relaxation but also a stunning natural backdrop. Capture the cascading waterfalls and steam rising from the thermal pools for a unique photography experience.
  11. Everywhere you go you will find olive oil, wines, cheeses, and pastas sources from local vineyards and groves. Make sure you take your time to relish all the local food as it is truly the highlight of any stay in Tuscany.


Tuscany boasts of so much history


One thing is for sure – you will fall in love with the slow life in Tuscany and not want to leave


And that’s it. Everything you need to plan an amazing trip to Tuscany. Tuscany is a visual feast, offering countless photogenic spots at every turn. Whether it’s the landscapes, historical sites, or cultural gems, Tuscany’s beauty will leave you so inspired. One thing is for sure – you will definitely not feel like coming back!

Have a few extra days? You can combine this trip to Tuscany with the most scenic roadtrip in the Dolomites, Italy


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Planning a Unique and Offbeat Road Trip In Tunisia Thu, 27 Apr 2023 13:10:19 +0000 A road trip in Tunisia is probably one of the most laid-back and unique road trips you will take in...

The post Planning a Unique and Offbeat Road Trip In Tunisia appeared first on Bruised Passports.

A road trip in Tunisia is probably one of the most laid-back and unique road trips you will take in your lifetime

There’s nowhere like Tunisia. Sure its souks reminded us of Morocco, its villages reminded us of Greece, its food has both African and Middle Eastern influences, but the country is a unique mix all its own. It is easy to plan a road trip lasting anywhere between a 7-14 days in Tunisia. You can choose locations depending on whether you enjoy history, culture, or beaches. One thing is for sure – you can expect beautiful views and good food wherever you go!

The tourism sector isn’t too developed (just yet), so you just have to work that little bit harder to plan your trip. But we did all the research and got you covered. Read on for all our tips about Tunisia.

Pros of a road trip in Tunisia

Tunisia is a beautiful country with lots to see. It is also super affordable, has amazing food, and friendly locals.

Lots of smiles 🙂

Cons of a road trip in Tunisia

The country is chaotic and you need to choose services such as day trips and car rentals with care as everyone is out to make a quick buck at the expense of tourists. However we have included lots of tips below that will help you avoid this.

Visa For Tunisia

While before the pandemic there was no visa needed for Indian passport holders to visit Tunisia, post pandemic you must apply for a visa at your nearest consulate. More information can be found at the embassy’s facebook page.

Getting a mobile SIM upon arrival in Tunisia

Whether you’re planning a road trip or not, we would highly recommend getting a sim card for your phone upon arrival in Tunisia at Tunis Carthage airport. It will help you with directions, navigation, and prevent you from getting lost in a new country. This is convenient and cheap. We purchased one from Orange.

Where to stay on a roadtrip in Tunisia

Tunisia offers a range of accommodation, ranging from small boutique hotels to luxury resorts. The most popular category of hotels is all-inclusive resorts with a beach. We stayed at La Royal Hammamet after reading quite a few reviews. This is advertised as a 5 Star Hotel but to be honest, we didn’t enjoy it at all. We really wouldn’t recommend it. The rooms were passable but the shower in our room wasn’t working and the toilet was grubby. Moreover the food tasted like cardboard on most days – it was so bad that even though our meals were included we ended up eating out most days. This one is a no from us!

But the area of Hammamet makes for a great base to explore the country. For accommodation, we would suggest looking for an alternate hotel in Hammamet such as Royal Azur Thalassa or Hotel Bel Azur. You can also look at a unique like Hotel Bou Fares in a village like Sidi Bou Said which is gorgeous. Choose with care and read reviews thoroughly. And if you’re getting a deal that’s too good to be true it probably is! Sorry to sound like a negative Nancy, but I wanted to share our experience so all of you reading can have an excellent holiday without these problems.

Most properties in Hammammet come with beach access for enjoying these views 🙂

Car rental for a road trip in Tunisia

Another logistic arrangement you must approach with caution are car bookings for your roadtrip in Tunisia. We compared car rental rates here and booked online with Camel Car and the process was seamless. They have a car rental booth at the airport, so it was easy to collect the car. We received a Hyundai Accent. The car was alright – no problem there. But it wasn’t in the best of shapes. Here’s a photo of the seat:

So if you are picky about the kind of car you need on your roadtrip in Tunisia, then we would highly recommend clearing these things when you make the booking. It is hard to make changes upon arrival as English is not widely understood!


Things to see and do on a road trip in Tunisia

girl at cafe in Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia
Get ready for views like these 🙂

Despite these mixed experiences with the hotel and car rental, we ended up having a great time on our road trip in Tunisia. That’s because there is so much to see and do on your road trip in the country. If you’re staying in Hammamet as we suggested, then you can just venture out in a different direction each day. There are dozens of things to do in the area but here are a few things we would definitely recommend

  • Start with the colourful souk in Hammamet. Explore the little alleyways and sit down for a meal at one of the cute cafés lining the Kasbah walls. They offer great views of the waterfront


  • Head to Nabeul for an offbeat day trip. Nabeul’s souk is ideal for a bit of shopping as it is a lot cheaper than places like Hammamet.


  • You must not miss a visit to El jem – the world’s second-largest colosseum, second only to Rome’s iconic colosseum. Unlike Rome, there are very few people here which makes it incredible for a visit. Try to go early if you want to get the entire historical amphitheatre to yourself.


  • If you enjoy history, then don’t forget to plan another day trip to the sprawling Roman ruins at Dougga. This is a UNESCO Heritage Site and it is easy to see why – these are some of the most impressive Roman ruins in Africa.


  • If you enjoy history and culture you must plan a day trip to visit the mosque and medina at Kairouan – the architecture will leave you spellbound. It also makes for some stuffing photographs.


  • If you want to feel like you have walked into a picture postcard, then you must visit the immensely popular yet gorgeous village of Sidi Bou Saïd. It boasts of bright blue doors and white walls, dripping with pink bougainvillea. You can drink in some of the best views of the coast from a cafe called Cafe del delice in Sidi Bou Said. However do beware – the café might have the best view but be very careful about what you order. Food and drinks are overpriced and you might be charged extortionate rates for things like cookies and breads that are kept on the table in addition to your order!


  • If you’re in the mood to laze at a beach, you will find plenty of them in Hammamet itself. However if you want to venture out on yet another day trip, then Monastir has some nice beaches too


  • If you enjoy long drives and gorgeous mountain views, then visit Jebel raseel – you can go hiking in the area. If you’re in the mood for something more leisurely, combine it with a visit to the vineyards and olive groves of Grombalia


  • You could also opt for a short or long desert Safari in case you have a day or two to spare. We skipped this as we had recently been on a desert safari in Abu Dhabi, but you might want to consider it if you want to spend a night under the stars or witness another facet of Tunisia.
The beautiful village of Sidi Bou Said
El Jem – WHAT a gem 😉
The Kasbah Walls at Hammammet
LOTS of colour all around 🙂

I hope this gave you some ideas for a planning a truly unique road trip in Tunisia. If you have any questions or comments, don’t forget to leave them down below! We love hearing from you 🙂


The post Planning a Unique and Offbeat Road Trip In Tunisia appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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Ultimate Guide to a road trip to Spiti: 5 minute read Thu, 02 Dec 2021 15:49:37 +0000 A road trip to Spiti is the stuff of dreams. It boasts of some of the most remote panoramas in...

The post Ultimate Guide to a road trip to Spiti: 5 minute read appeared first on Bruised Passports.

A road trip to Spiti is the stuff of dreams. It boasts of some of the most remote panoramas in the world and some of the highest villages of the world. But it is the visions of monasteries perched on hills and barren nothingness that will leave your eyes reeling with wonder. After our self-drive road trip to Ladakh from Delhi NCR a few years ago we had always wanted to drive to Spiti valley, and glad we could do so this year!

Here is EVERYTHING you need to plan a road trip to Spiti including a day-by-day itinerary. Hope it helps you plan this trip for yourself 🙂

What an unforgettable road trip!

Best time to go on a Road Trip to Spiti

The best months are summer months as all hotels and restaurants are open and most places are accessible. If you are driving yourself avoid monsoon months & extreme winter months (although the landscapes are insanely gorgeous at this time). Try to go during summer months (April-July) or autumn (October-November). There are 2 routes to get to Spiti Valley – one is via Shimla and Kinnaur, and the other via Manali and Kunzum Pass. The route via Manali closes in winter months (usually by end October or Early November). Even in summer months when this route is open, it’s advisable to go via Shimla/Kinnaur side to acclimatise to the altitude and come back via the Manali route.

autumn foliage in Kalpa Himachal Pradesh
All the autumn feels in Kinnaru valley

Cost of a road trip to Spiti

If you are driving yourself from Delhi NCR, then expect to spend around INR 15000 on fuel and tolls for the entire circuit. In addition, expect to spend approximately INR 4000 for mid-range accommodation + meals per night of stay. This cost will vary slightly depending on the hotels you choose. In terms of meals, there aren’t many options around, so the cost of meals & groceries stays constant. So an 8 day road-trip to Spiti from Delhi NCR cost us around INR 47000.

You can also take group tours from Shimla or Manali if you enjoy travelling in a group with other solo travellers. Make sure you check the places you will be staying at and the itinerary before paying for group trips.

You’ll come across a lot of “Highests” 😉

Connectivity in Spiti

Wifi is, at best, patchy on this roadtrip to Spiti. Make sure you have lots of data and an Airtel or Jio connection as both those networks work very well in most large villages and towns . Good 3G & 4G connections in hubs like Kalpa, Kaza etc ensure you are well connected, even in remote places.


What to pack for a road trip to Spiti

In addition to your regular clothes and shoes, we would suggest packing the following items for your road trip to Spiti as this is a remote destination & infrastructure isn’t the best

  • A good quality gimbal for your phone helps in getting better photos & videos. This is the one we use right now – would definitely recommend it
  • Good sunscreen that offers SPF 50 protection. Here is the link to the one both of us used on this trip
  • A hydrating serum for your skin. I packed this one and loved it
  • Your favourite heavy-duty lotion or cream – I’ve been using this one for years 
  • A high-quality lip balm as lips tend to get very dry and a comfortable lip tint that goes with every outfit – Revlon’s Sultry is an old favourite of mine. It’s perfect for most Indian skin-tones
  • Waterproof hiking/ snow boots
  • First-aid kit wand a medicine like Diamox for altitude sickness. In all probability, you will not need this medicine as you are driving and ascending altitude gradually but it is better to go prepared
  • Fully body thermals – Uniqlo Heattech thermals are a good choice – they are affordable and will keep you warm
  • Toilet paper, snacks, some instant meals and instant beverages, tea bags, and some plates and cutlery. There are long stretches of road without a single shop, especially in winter, so go prepared
  • Emergency kit for your car that includes a tyre inflator and puncture repair kit, battery jump start cable, towing rope, and empty 5 litre can for back-up fuel.
Colour always helps 🙂

Road conditions & driving to Spiti

Road conditions in general are pretty good given how remote the area is. However there are some extremely narrow and unpaved stretches and all throughout lots of stretches with shooting stones, so drive carefully. We wouldn’t recommend anyone who is not extremely comfortable with hill driving in India to attempt this drive. You could opt for a group tour instead

If you do decide to plan this drive, then expect the following road conditions (experienced in November 2021)

Delhi- Solan : Excellent
Solan – Rampur : Good
Rampur- Wangtoo : Poor & bumpy
Wangtoo – Nako : Excellent
Nako- Tabo : Bad, mostly unpaved. Roads are being made right now
Tabo – Kaza : Average
Kaza- Langza : Bad
Kaza- Key : Good
Langza to Komic: Excellent but narrow
Komic-Hikkim-kaza: Bad

drive from Langza to Komic village in Spiti
The road from Langza to Komic!!
And you’ll encounter a lot of these “roads” too 🙂

Day by day breakdown of a road trip to Spiti

If you plan this road trip during summer you can drive to Spiti via Shimla and drive back through the Atal Tunnel and Manali. However during winter months, the latter is often snowed under. In that case you will have to drive through Shimla on your way to Spiti and on the way back too.

Day 1 : Delhi – Narkanda

Leave Delhi NCR and drive to Shimla/Narkanda. This is a comfortable, though long drive. You could spend a couple of days in this area or leave for your next stop after spending the night there

Days 2 & 3 : Narkanda – Kalpa

On this day you will drive from Narkanda to Kalpa. We would highly recommend spending at least 2 nights in Kalpa as there is a lot to see & do in the area.

There are many home-stays, cottages, and hotels in the area but we ended up staying at Hotel White Castle because it is conveniently located and offers great views from the terrace. It is supposedly the best in the area, but don’t expect too much! Rooms are basic but clean, service is good, and the view from the terrace spectacular. We paid INR 4000 for a double room, including heater & wifi

Spend your time in Kalpa exploring the Kinnaur area- drive to the iconic Suicide point, the tiny village of Roghi, and go on a short hike to drink in mountain views and panoramas

drone shot of Kalpa
Beautiful Kalpa
The famous “Suicide Point”
night photo of KAlpa with stars
Kalpa under the stars (shot from the hotel terrace)

Day 4 : Kalpa to Kaza

On this day, you will drive to Kaza. Make sure you leave at the crack of dawn as this drive is not long but it is peppered with lots of sightseeing. A few places which you must explore on the way to Kaza include

  1. Nako Lake
  2. Tabo Monastery & Tabo Caves
  3. Dhankar Monastery (must do)
    If you have a couple of extra days, you could also stay in this area and hike to the gorgeous Dhankar Lake or visit Mudh & Pin Valley National Park
Nako lake and village
The monastery at Tabo
Dhankar monastery – you must take a detour to drive to this place


Days 5 & 6 : Exploring around Kaza

At the end of Day 4, you will reach Kaza, which makes for an ideal base to explore the gems of Spiti Valley.

If you visit during winter, then chances are that there will be no tap water in Kaza as water pipes tend to get frozen between November to February. Electricity is also sporadic as power cuts are common and voltage is low. We really did not like the hotel we stayed at, so we are unable to recommend it. However a couple of nice hotels in the area include Dewachen Retreat & Serakhan. Alternatively, there are a lot of homestay options in winter months.

That said, the sights in the area more than make up for these inconveniences. Spend at least 2 full days in Kaza exploring some of the best sights and drives that Spiti has to offer. Some places you must see include

  1. Hikkim, home to the highest post office in the world
  2. Langza, home to a stunning statue of Buddha and some gorgeous hikes in the area
  3. Key Monastery, home to a surreal monastery perched on a hilltop. You could explore the monastery, meet the monks, and even eat at the in-house cafe
  4. Komic, famous for being the highest village in the world
Sending postcards from the highest post office in the world
the giant buddha at the village of Langza in Spiti
Langza – one of our favourite spots 🙂
The famous Key monastery
Making friends at Key monastery…
…and turning it into a snack party 😉
couple at the highest village in the world komic Spiti valley
A new high 🙂

Days 7 & 8 : Driving back to Delhi

After this memorable adventure, it’s time to drive back home. You can break the journey at Rampur or Narkanda if you are driving via Shimla.

If you are driving back via Manali, then take a couple of days to enjoy the area before heading home. You must visit Chandratal Lake (saved for our next trip in summer :))

That’s it! We hope you enjoyed reading this Guide To A Road Trip in Spiti. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and we’ll get back to you asap

The post Ultimate Guide to a road trip to Spiti: 5 minute read appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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Roadtrip from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh: Orchha & Khajuraho Tue, 21 Sep 2021 07:34:10 +0000 This short road trip in Madhya Pradesh is a great option if you are not keen on catching on a...

The post Roadtrip from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh: Orchha & Khajuraho appeared first on Bruised Passports.

This short road trip in Madhya Pradesh is a great option if you are not keen on catching on a flight from Delhi and have 4-6 days to spare. It is ideal for lovers of history, culture, and wildlife. You will see temples, historical monuments, and waterfalls on your road trip in Madhya Pradesh – it really helps to have a car to explore the area, so we would suggest renting one if you are covering these places by flying down to Khajuraho Airport.

sunset across betwa river orchha
Enjoying a gorgeous sunset

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Drive from Delhi NCR to Orchha
Day 2: Explore Orccha and drive to Khajuraho
Day 3: Explore Khajuraho and surroundings
Day 4: Drive from Khajuraho to Delhi NCR

*If you have 2 extra days, you can also add a pitstop at Panna National Park. This is a great place to spot tigers

Best time to go

Winter months – November to February
Monsoon – August end – October. Do beware that it is quite humid at the time but there is greenery everywhere and the waterfalls are lush and full of water


Expect to spend INR 10,000 on fuel if you are driving from Delhi NCR, INR 1500 (or thereabouts) on toll fees, INR 5000 on meals and activities, and approximately INR 10000 on accommodation (of course this is dependent on the kind of accommodation you choose).

So this 4 day road trip should cost INR 26,500. If you choose to extend it and visit Panna National Park, add another INR 10000 for naturalist guides, entry fee, safari etc.

Day by day breakdown for a road trip to Madhya Pradesh with details & tips


Day 1: Drive from Delhi to Orccha

Start early from Delhi-NCR and drive to Orchha. The drive is a smooth one and highways are in decent shape. The drive to Orccha will take around 8 hours

Quick tip – top up your fuel tank before entering MP as Petrol is considerably more expensive (over INR 12-15/litre more than neighbouring states, correct as of September 2021)

Enjoy sunset in Orchha on the day you reach

Day 2: Exploring Orchha

Check into your hotel in Orccha. We had a really bad experience staying at Orccha Palace Resort, so please don’t book that hotel! It is touted as a luxury hotel and Rooms are spacious but so dated. Mirrors were stained, pillows were limp, the phone was not working and the list goes on! Moreover it is a few kilometres away from the centre of Orccha

Unfortunately there isn’t too much choice in the area but we would suggest booking something like Amar Mahal or Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s Betwa Retreat (nothing fancy, but right next to most of the attractions) by the river so that you are at walking distance from all the monuments and can easily explore them on foot

Orccha is a small place, with most historical attractions concentrated at the centre. So you can easily explore it in 1.5 days. Be careful of the monkeys, langurs, and cow dung when you are walking around. Here are some things we suggest doing when you visit Orccha on this road trip to Madhya Pradesh:

  • You will be tired from driving. On the first evening, watch sunset by the Betwa River taking in the view of the Chattris (cenotaphs) followed by dinner
  • On Day 2, explore the Chattris (cenotaphs) from inside for gorgeous examples of Bundeli architecture. They open at 8 am (you can try and go there earlier around sunrise and check if the guard lets you in). Entry tickets for these attractions are to be bought from the Orchha Fort complex
  • If you enjoy history, you should visit Orccha Fort Palace & Jahangir Fort Palace – the historic compounds tell of times gone by
  • If you’re a foodie, try out local Bundelkhandi foods such Dal Bafla, Matar Ki Kachori, and tikra (thick rotis) – they are many small restaurants and vendors that sell these things
  • Visit Chaturbhuj Temple – the historic building is quite dilapidated and not in the best of shapes. But if you are a photography buff, make sure you go to the top of the temple via a staircase in the main compound – barely anyone goes there but it’s perfect for a birds eye view of the area
  • If you have some extra time in Orccha take a short trip to Datia, approximately one hour drive from Orccha to see Beer Singh Palace, on top of a rocky mound. Make sure you climb seven storeys to get a birds eye view of the surroundings. Datia is also home to many beautiful temples and is often known as ‘small Vrindavan’. You can also visit Sonagiri’s Marble Temples, 15 kilometres away from Datia
Orchha Chhatris
Beautiful sunrise on the ghats of river Betwa
Climb up one of the Chhatri for some gorgeous views
Chaturbhuj temple
Dare devils 🙂
Raj Mahal – really beautiful right after sunrise
Lots of colour everywhere
Getting ready for the morning rush 🙂

Day 2 evening: Drive to Khajurao

Since you have spent a tiring day exploring Orccha, you might want to rest in the evening. In that case you can spend this night in Orccha.

But if you are with a driver or not feeling too tired, you can also drive down to Khajurao during the evening on day 2 itself. The drive takes around 3 hours and roads are mostly smooth, with a few rough stretches

Check into your hotel. Khajuraho has plenty of options including Raddison and Ramada. For a budget-friendly option check out Hotel Isabel Palace – it is close to the temples and boasts of clean rooms and good service

Day 3: Exploring Khajuraho and surroundings

If you have half a day to explore the temples of Khajuraho, we suggest visiting the Western Complex. It has some of the most beautiful & well preserved temples in Khajuraho.

Lakshmana Temple is incredibly well-preserved and usually the first stop for most visitors in the area and Kandariya Mahadev Temple, the largest of temples in Khajuraho is a must visit.

Some of the temples that stand out are:

  • Vishvanatha Temple
  • Parshvanatha Temple
  • Chitragupta Temple
  • Varaha Shrine

If you love going offbeat, reserve an evening in Khajurao for exploring Raneh falls, often known as the Grand Canyon of Madhya Pradesh. There is a small crater formed in the centre of the canyons, accessible via a Nature Trail, which must not be missed. Entry is INR 600 per car up to 6 people and a fee of INR 100 needs to be paid for a compulsory guide. It is open from sunrise to sunset each day except Wednesdays

Dhubela Museum or Mastani Mahal, around an hours drive away from Khajuraho is also a truly scenic and offbeat spot. It was made for Mastani, who went on to marry Bajirao.

Beautiful architecture!!
Intricate carvings – such an insight into history
Exploring the western group of temples in Khajuraho
Gorgeous Raneh Falls
Walk to the natural trail number 1 with your guide and be rewarded with these views
Dhubela lake and Mastani ki Chhatri

Day 4: Drive to Delhi/ Panna National Park

You can enjoy sunrise in Khajuraho and leave for Delhi. This is a long drive and takes upto 12 hours, so don’t leave too late. If you wish to stick around in Khajuraho for another day or continue onto Panna National Park & Pandav Falls (highly recommended)

That concludes our short road trip to Madhya Pradesh from Delhi. If you have longer, the state also has many other gems such as Jabalpur, Mandu, and Indore. We will surely be planning another trip to Madhya Pradesh soon 🙂

If you need more ideas of where to travel in India, do check out all our trip suggestions for India 

LOVE these long weekend road trips – do you?

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An Epic New Zealand Road Trip – Itinerary, Tips, and Planning Sun, 05 Jan 2020 17:21:19 +0000 This is Part 1 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate New Zealand road trip. We will cover every...

The post An Epic New Zealand Road Trip – Itinerary, Tips, and Planning appeared first on Bruised Passports.

This is Part 1 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate New Zealand road trip. We will cover every aspect – itinerary, accommodation, packing, driving, budgeting – of planning an unforgettable drive through the north and south islands in New Zealand:


Read Part 2 – Where to stay in New Zealand (opens in new tab)

Read Part 3 – Travel Fashion – What to pack for a trip in New Zealand (opens in new tab)

Read Part 4- How much will that Road Trip in New Zealand cost (opens in new tab)


They say a road trip in New Zealand shouldn’t be the first one you go on because it spoils you rotten. It offers so much that any other road trip you might take in the future just leaves you hankering for more. Having driven through the length and breadth of the country, we can tell you it’s true!


I travel for images. When I think of our summer in New Zealand I think of bees buzzing over symmetrical rows of fragrant lavender, magnetic fuchsia lupins sprouting from the ground, sun-soaked beaches, hissing volcanoes and geysers spitting steam to fields full of flowers, and perfectly-preened alpine villages. It truly doesn’t get more scenic than this!


Highlights of our New Zealand road trip

Here are some things you shouldn’t miss for the world when you are in New Zealand:

  • Turquoise lakes in Pukaki and Mackenzie country
  • Drives and hikes around Queenstown, especially Coronet Peak and Crown Range
  • Thermal wonderlands in Rotorua. Spitting volcanoes, geysers, mudbaths, and steamy fumaroles – Rotorua has it all.
  • Clouds suspended over South Island’s lakes each morning
  • The coffee! New Zealand is a coffee lover’s paradise. You will find great coffee everywhere, even at gas stations.
  • The night sky over Lake Wanaka
  • Picnics amidst sun-drenched landscapes with freshly-picked berries and Kiwi wine. We loved locally-produced Pinot Noir.


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary
Views on a summer road trip in New Zealand


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary queenstown night sky
Thousands of twinkling stars and the Milky Way in Queenstown, New Zealand


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Otago winery
Vineyards in Otago near Queenstown


This is the route we followed while we were in New Zealand. Our day by day account will give you further details of our road trip. The official New Zealand tourism website also has great options for hikes, day trips etc. It’s worth consulting when you’re in the area. Let’s go:


New Zealand road trip itinerary map
The route we took while driving through New Zealand


Day 1: Fly into Auckland and gear up for your road trip

Write away this day as you’ll fly into New Zealand – we flew in from Fiji to Auckland and flew out from Christchurch to Sydney. Flight connections into and out of New Zealand are very good – we always use Skyscanner to compare flight prices. The long flight is bound to leave you tired, so spend the rest of the day collecting your rental car and stocking up on groceries for your trip. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before beginning your road trip in New Zealand.


Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about renting a car in New Zealand:

    • Unlike Iceland, you don’t need a 4X4 for New Zealand unless you’re travelling in a large group and need a spacious vehicle. A basic car will suffice as roads are in excellent condition and all landmarks are accessible via paved roads.
    • Camping is extremely popular in New Zealand and there are tons of free/affordable camping sites in the country. Most car rental providers have a number of motorhomes and campervans on offer.
  • You will need to drop off your rental car at the ferry terminal in North Island before boarding a ferry to South Island. You can pick up another car at the ferry terminal on South Island. We rented an economy car with Hertz – it’s always a good idea to compare car rental prices – we suggest doing that here. We booked the car online before flying to New Zealand. We picked up our first car at Auckland Airport and dropped it at the ferry terminal on North Island. We took the ferry, crossed over to the South Island and picked up our second car at the terminal itself. The process is seamless. Our ferry was delayed by an hour but the Hertz office at Picton remained open beyond official opening hours. We dropped off the second car at Christchurch Airport before boarding our flight back home. All in all, a seamless experience with Hertz when it came to car rental.


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary driving
Our Hertz car – loved driving through New Zealand 🙂


Sleep – We got to Auckland at an unearthly hour (2.30 am), so we slept at an airport hotel. We stayed at Ibis Hotel Auckland Airport. It’s a 5 minute cab ride/15 minute walk from the arrival gates. There’s a large supermarket next door where you can stock up on groceries and snacks.


Day2: The fun begins in Auckland

Explore the city of Auckland during the day and drive to the rugged Muriwai beach in the evening. A gorgeous drive through pick-your-own farms and picturesque pastures takes one to Muriwai beach. The beach is just 40 minutes away from Auckland but its stark wild beauty stuns. It is home to an impressive colony of Gannet birds between August & March. Forces of nature are at their best and fiercest here: huge waves crash against rocks as nesting birds rest on clifftops. Muriwai’s dramatic coastline is especially stunning during sunset. Entry: Free, Parking: Free


Sleep – We stayed at a private ensuite room at Haka Lodge, Auckland City.


New Zealand road trip budget
A colony of gannet birds and a stunning sunset near Auckland, New Zealand


New Zealand Road Trip Auckland drive
Drive to Muriwai Beach just outside Auckland


Day 3: Drive to Rotorua via Coromandel Peninsula

If you love your roadtrips as much as we do, then take a long-winded detour to the Coromandel Peninsula before ending up in Rotorua. Sure you’ll be on the road for 3 extra hours, but it’s worth it!


The Coromandel Peninsula, jutting out at the eastern corner of the North Island, is home to spectacular beaches and woodlands. Leave Auckland early in the morning, picnic along the way, and head to the one of Coromandel Peninsula’s famous beaches for the afternoon. We spent most of our time at Cathedral Cove, a dramatic cerulean beach framed by volcanic rocks. There is a park-and-ride facility to ferry visitors from the car park to the entrance. Entry is free and the park-and-ride ticket costs NZD 5/person. The beach is a 40 minute walk from the entrance.


You could stop at the little town of Tairua for a cup of coffee and head onwards to Rotorua. If you drive through the Coromandel Peninsula, you’ll reach Rotorua in the evening. Sleep early and get a good night’s rest after a long day on the road 🙂


Sleep – We stayed at Shula Lake House on Days 3-5, a quaint and beautiful B&B overlooking Lake Rotorua


New Zealand road trip itinerary Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove Beach at Coromandel Peninsula – worth a long detour!!


New Zealand road trip itinerary Cathedral Cove Coromandel Peninsula
Walking to Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula


Day 4: Explore New Zealand’s Thermal Wonderlands In Rotorua

Locals joke that you can smell Rotorua before you see it and it’s true. The town is famous for its sulphur pools and bubbling geothermal areas and you can smell the sulphur EVERYWHERE. Rotorua is the site of incredible thermal activity. Unfortunately you will have to pay entrance fee to enter all geothermal reserves in New Zealand. Unlike Iceland or Bolivia, most Geothermal Areas, especially the dramatic ones, are all charged here 🙁


But Rotorua’s geothermal areas are astounding and you shouldn’t miss them for the world. In fact, they were one of the highlights of our road trip in New Zealand. There are many options to choose from, so we chose 2 based on locals’ recommendations:


1. The aptly named Hell’s Gate is one of the most dramatic geothermal reserves we’ve ever visited. This is because the heat source is very close to the surface of the Earth here: the Earth’s crust is extremely thin in certain places here, so visitors are constantly warned not to steer off the designated paths. There are bubbling sulphurous springs, volcanic mud pools, steaming fumaroles, highly acidic Sulphur baths, a unique cooking pool, and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot waterfall. The temperature of the pools ranges from 40 degrees celsius to a whopping 145 degrees. The bubbling lava, hissing steam, inferno pools and unique mud volcanoes will have you marveling at Mother Nature.


Maori people used these naturally occurring sulphurous and acidic waters for treating aches, pains, and war wounds. Today it’s not possible to touch these formations. But if you want to get deep and dirty, it’s possible to take a dip in the adjoining mud baths at Hells Gate. The mud here is said to have healing properties, so slather away…..


2. We also visited the popular Wai-o-tapu reserve, also known as a Thermal Wonderland. Wonderland is the right word because here at Wai-o-tapu it’s possible to see some incredibly colourful manifestations of thermal activity – entire pools of orange, green, and yellow lie next to steaming geysers and dreamy white terraces. These unique natural formations left us completely gobsmacked. I couldn’t get enough of the Artist’s Pallette, a large pool deftly coloured in shades of blue, green, yellow, and orange by naturally-occurring minerals. The intensity of the colours keeps changing according to water levels, the direction of the wind, and sunlight, so I found it hard to tear myself away from it.


The adjoining Champagne Pool is no less dramatic. Greens, oranges, and metallic outline the pool and complement the bubbling CO2 : the result is a surreal formation that seems to have walked right out of a postcard. Then there is Devil’s Bath, a cloudy green lake, that keeps changing colour with the wear. One thing’s for sure – you, like us, won’t forget your visit to Wai-o-tapu for a long long time


Top Tip: Wear sturdy shoes to explore geo-thermal areas and go early to avoid crowds. We reached Hell’s Gate at 9.00 am and almost had the entire reserve to ourselves.


New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary rotorua geothermal park
Rotorua’s thermal areas – steam, fumaroles, volcanoes, and geysers everywhere!


New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary rotorua geothermal park
The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu is green & orange as a result of naturally occurring minerals. Yes that’s steam rising from the water.


New Zealand Road Trip Rotorua geothermal reserve devil's lake
An electric GREEN LAKE housed inside a volcanic crater!


Day 5: Enjoy Rotorua’s Free Attractions and relax at a spa

Fortunately there is also plenty of free stuff to be enjoyed in Rotorua. Drive by Ohinemutu to see a modern day Maori Village for yourself. This isn’t a cultural attraction perse, so it’s a good way to peak into the real lives of Maori locals in 21st century New Zealand. Kuirau Park has some sulphur activity and it’s free to witness : however it is nowhere near as dramatic as the geothermal activity in the paid parks.


We recommend spending the better part of the day driving along Lake Rotorua, the famed Blue and Green Lakes, and Lake Tarawera. Picnic by the banks of the Blue Lake and spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the absolutely dreamy Redwood Forest. The Redwoods are home to tall trees and boast of dozens of walking trails.


Spend the evening at one of Rotorua’s famed thermal pools. We spent it at Polynesian Spa, which is a bit of a legend in Rotorua. It is home to naturally acidic waters, said to vanish aches and pains. Local rugby players are said to swear by these hot pools. It also boasts of alkaline pools with antiseptic properties – according to local legend, this water is the elixir for ageless beauty! We don’t know about the veracity of those claims, but a dip in Rotorua’s thermal spring water did leave us invigorated. Polynesian Spa has a variety of pools – we rented one of their tiny private pools, at quite a reasonable rate (NZD 27/person for 30 minutes).


New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary Rotorua
Exploring lakes and woodlands in Rotorua 🙂


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Rotorua polynesia spa
Naturally-healing waters at Polynesia Spa in Rotorua


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary redwood forest
Dreamy trees at Redwood Forest


Day 6 The Thermal Explorer Highway and Taupo

It’s time to leave your hotel in Rotorua and get back to the road. However New Zealand’s geothermal areas don’t end with Rotorua – geysers, mudpools, hot springs continue along the route known as The Thermal Explorer Highway.


Evidence of volcanic activity and sulphur springs is everywhere to be seen. Drive down to the bustling town of Taupo via the Waireki Terraces. The chalky silica terraces, surrounding bright blue pools of bubbling water, are one of the most unique things you’ll see in New Zealand. The complex also has some rather beautiful thermal pools but we skipped them as we’d had our fair share of soaking in thermal pools in Rotorua. Entry to the the terrace walkway costs NZD 12.50 and there’s an additional charge for using the pools.


Instead of the thermal pools, we chose to spend our evening at Huka Falls. There are various scenic points overlooking the falls and there is a pleasant 1 hour walk around the falls if you’re craving some activity. Both entry to the falls and parking are free


Sleep: We slept in a private room at Haka Lodge, Taupo on days 6&7


New Zealand road trip itinerary Huka Falls taupo
Huka Falls


New Zealand road trip itinerary Waireki silica terraces taupo
Waireki Terraces: White silica terraces with steam rising from them in Taupo, New Zealand


Day 7: Explore Taupo

Lake Taupo (toe-paw) was formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption. Its volcanic character ensures a proliferation of steaming mud pools, silica terraces, and thermal valleys. The Lake itself is the focal point of all activity: its shores are lined with restaurants, cafes, and bars. We were in Taupo on a dreary grey day, so we spent it lazing on the shores of the lake, enjoying a languorous lunch in the town, and devouring one too many cups of coffee at Ozone Coffee Roasters (highly recommended).


In case you’re in the mood for something more adventurous, Taupo is the getaway for a gorgeous 17 km hike to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We didn’t get a chance to go on the hike but heard great things about it from fellow travellers.


New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo at sunset


Day 8: Interislander Ferry Terminal via Wellington

This was a long day that took us through some of the most scenic panoramas on the North Island of New Zealand. Taupo’s volcanic environs give way to a sensational stretch of highway through a desert, which in turn swiftly gives way to fields of flowers and vineyards, with towering mountains on the horizon. This part of the drive through the North Island of New Zealand is sure to cast a spell on the most skeptical of tourists – sunlight spills over through the windows as the car glides through villages dotted with picture-perfect cottages, orchards laden with fruit, and bright purple flowers billowing in the wind.


Plan your route for the day depending on the schedule of the ferry that will take you to the South Island. We booked an afternoon ferry with Interislander – we left Taupo early in the morning and had a gorgeous brunch in Wellington, walked around and finally reached the ferry terminal by 1 pm, dropped our rental car, and checked in our bags. If you’ve booked a rental car with international providers such as Hertz then you will have to drop the car off and pick another vehicle on the South Island.


Our ferry was delayed a bit. Don’t think of the ferry crossing as a mere commute – the Interislander ferry passes through the scenic Cook Strait and there are great vistas on offer. There’s wifi on board, so I spent a bit of time indoors. Needless to say, Vid was on the deck clicking photos throughout the 3 hour ferry ride. Urgh photographers 😉


Top Tip: Have a leisure lunch at a winery in Hawke’s Bay on this day. If you don’t want to splurge at a winery in Hawke’s Bay or find a restaurant in Wellington, pack a picnic because there are plenty of opportunities along the way.


Sleep: We slept at at a ‘luxury’ apartment in Picton, but it was quite a let down, so we can’t recommend it. But we would recommend spending this night in Picton (search for accommodation here), where the ferry pulls up, instead of driving onto Kaikoura.


New Zealand road trip itinerary drive
Driving to the ferry terminal on North Island, New Zealand


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary ferry crossing
Views from the Interislander Ferry – crossing over from North Island to South Island isn’t a chore, it’s fun!


Day 9: Whale watching and hiking in Kaikoura

Kaikoura is THE place to go whale watching on your road trip in New Zealand. We were there on a day when the probability of spotting whales was low and most tours were cancelled, so we had to give it a miss. Oh well!!


Instead we went for a long rambly walk on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway – the well-maintained walkway traverses the cliffs of Kaikoura and offers stunning views of the Kaikoura Peninsula. There’s a colony of seals, rare birds (sparrows, titis, albatrosses) and plenty of flora along the way to keep you occupied. Golden fields overlook the azure ocean, ensuring an invigorating experience. We were there on a grey, dreary day and still loved it. I can imagine it being absolutely spectacular on a clear day. Parking and entry to the walkway is free. The entire walk takes around 3 hours but you can turn back anytime. Take your camera, water, and raincoat.


Once you’ve worked up an appetite and made your way back to the car park, head to town to sample Kaikoura’s fresh seafood. There are plenty of restaurants in town but Kaikoura Seafood BBQ seems to the most popular. The take-away has been featured in Lonely Planet and locals love it too.


Top Tip: Don’t book your whale watching tour in advance. Kaikoura’s weather is notorious and tours get cancelled at the last minute quite frequently. It’s best to enquire about whale-watching conditions once you are there and then book a tour.

Sleep: We slept at Brook House B&B for the night.


New Zealand road trip itinerary Kaikoura
The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway on a grey day


New Zealand road trip itinerary Kaikoura
The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is perfect to spot sea lions and birds


Days 10 & 11 –Arthur’s Pass National Park (New Zealand You BEAUTY!!)

This part of South Island is where the fun truly begins for any road trip enthusiast. We have no qualms in admitting we enjoyed the scenery of South Island much more than North Island. As far as drives are concerned, this is the stretch where the magic begins. The drive along the Great Alpine Highway is sensational – clouds suspended over mountains and lakes dilly dally with daisies and lupins.


You will cross Castle Hill, where Maori and European settlers cleared the forest centuries ago. The huge limestone boulders are said to have provided shelter for Maoris. The boulders are unmissable and definitely worthy of a stop. Castle Hill, home to one of the most scenic public toilets in the whole wide world. If it seems familiar, it’s because portions of ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ were shot here.


Arthur’s Pass, nestled in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, is the highest pass across the Southern Alps. It will definitely be one of the most scenic places you will see on your road trip through New Zealand. Arthur’s Pass Village, an alpine village surrounded by forests and mountains on all sides. Just 5 minutes from the village is the spectacular Bealey Valley. You’ll find glacier views, entire fields full of flowers, stunning drives, and forests in the area. It offers a lot of hiking and photography opportunities and we stayed in a rustic cabin overlooking the valley.


We spent the afternoon walking to the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. The return loop takes about 1 hour. If you want something shorter and less strenuous, try the Millennium Walk:This walks takes you over a little stone bridge where you can see Avalanche Creek Waterfall. If you want something longer, look up the stunning Bealey Spur Walk.


Sleep: We slept at The Bealey Hotel – they’re comfortable (not luxurious) and the location is exceptional.

New Zealand road trip accommodation
Individual self-serviced cottages at Bealey Hotel – look at THAT scenery!


new zealand road trip itinerary arthurs pass national park
Bright purple lupins peeping out of the Earth


new zealand road trip itinerary arthurs pass national park
Vid at Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfalls.


new zealand road trip itinerary arthurs pass national park
Drives at the Arthur’s Pass National Park


new zealand road trip itinerary arthurs pass national park
Stop and stare – The Arthur’s Pass National Park is sensational!


new zealand road trip itinerary arthurs pass national park
The riverbed right next to The Bealey Hotel


Day 12 – Wanaka via Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, and Franz Jozef Glacier

It’s hard to get enough of the pristine Alpine beauty of this area of New Zealand. Barren river beds, glacial valleys, New Zealand’s characteristic purple lupins swaying in the wind, daisies peeking out of rugged cliffs, and gorgeous villages populated with colourful cottages along the way. This is where the drive becomes truly special. Stop for a picnic and take a short helicopter tour and hike at Franz Jozef Glacier. The drive to Wanaka through Lake Matheson, Fox Glacier, and Franz Jozef Glacier is a long and tiring one – you might consider breaking it and spending a night around Fox Glacier.

Sleep: We slept in a private ensuite room at Base Wanaka for 2 nights in Wanaka. It was rather busy and noisy, so if you’d prefer some peace and quiet, we’d suggest looking at some other options for Wanaka


new zealand road trip itinerary fox glacier
Can you see Fox Glacier in the distance?


new zealand road trip itinerary fox glacier
Our picnic spot overlooking Fox Glacier


new zealand road trip itinerary drive to Wanaka
THOSE clouds – The drive to Wanaka will leave you gobsmacked!


Day 13 – Explore Wanaka

After the long drive on Day 12, it’s best to relax on this day. However if you’re feeling active (and we were!), opt for a short trek to the Diamond Lake lookout or Lake Hawea lookout. We chose for the former. The Diamond Lake circuit is just 45 minutes long but you can continue onto the Wanaka lookout point. We went all the way upto the Wanaka lookout and the entire circuit took about 2 hours.


Wanaka is a compact town and it’s easy to explore on foot. Spend a leisurely morning walking along the lake – you could also go kayaking or sunbathe on the shores. Try the scrumptious coffee and ice-cream at Patagonia Chocolates. Make sure you grab an afternoon nap because we recommend going star-gazing at night. The night-sky at Lake Wanaka on a clear day is mesmerising – in fact, we’ve never seen so many stars even when we were deep in the Bolivian Wilderness


New Zealand road trip itinerary lake wanaka
Glistening waters at Lake Wanaka


New Zealand road trip itinerary lake wanaka
Lake Wanaka’s famous solitary tree


New Zealand road trip itinerary diamond lake wanaka
The Diamond Lake from the Diamond Lake lookout point


New Zealand travel fashion hiking
The view from the Lake Wanaka lookout point on the Diamond Lake trek


That wanaka tree lake wanaka night sky
The night sky over Lake Wanaka


Day 14 – Drive to Queenstown

Queenstown is a short drive from Wanaka but it’s one that takes ages. That’s because you will feel compelled to stop and take photos every 2 minutes. There are 2 ways to get to Queenstown but make sure you take the Crown Range route to Queenstown –  this is the highest main road in New Zealand and it’s a beautiful drive. There are plenty of lookout points as you drive through New Zealand’s Lake District. This drive offers a bit of everything – glistening lakes, ice-capped peaks, and stunning roads. Try to spot keas (mountain parrots) and enjoy the journey – it truly doesn’t get better than this. You’ll also pass Cardrona, a small township where you can stop for coffee.


Sleep: We slept at Lake’s End Lodge for 4 nights in Kingston, close to Queenstown. However, this place has now closed (during the pandemic). However, there is no dearth of accommodation options in and around Queenstown


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Queenstown drive
Driving from Wanaka to Queenstown – spectacular and then some!


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary
New Zealand’s glistening lakes *sigh*


Day 15: Explore Queenstown

Choose lake-side accommodation and you could wake upto clouds suspended over Lake Wakatipu. Spend a leisurely day exploring everything that Queenstown has to offer: drives, picnicking in the countryside, and panoramic points of view. Queenstown is so picturesque, it will definitely leave you gobsmacked! If you’re into adventure sports, Queenstown is also extremely popular for bungee jumping and sky diving.


If there’s one thing you need to do see in and around Queenstown, it’s Glenorchy. I know I said that drives don’t get better than Wanaka-Queenstown  –  I lied! The 40 minute drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is probably the most scenic drive you’ll ever experience. No wonder then, there’s a place called Paradise just up the road from Glenorchy. A number of movies including The Lord of The Rings and Wolverine have been shot here – one look at the grand landscapes and you’ll know why!! On your way back from Glenorchy to Queenstown, take a li’l detour on a gravel road for Lake Moke. It’s a perfectly secluded picnic spot – we loved it!


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Queenstown drive
Look at that road! The Queenstown-Glenorchy drive is amongst the best in the world!


New Zealand road trip accommodation
The tiny settlement of Glenorchy has a quaint feel to it


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Queenstown drive Lake Moke
Lake Moke is worth a little detour on a gravel path


Day 16: Milford Sound 

Help me, I’m running out of superlatives here! Leave your hotel in Queenstown early for a drive to the heart of New Zealand’s Fjordland on Day 16. Milford Sound was referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling, so we had high expectations from it. As with everything else in New Zealand, it delivered!!


The drive to Milford Sound is a long and scenic one. Make sure you stop at the reflective Mirror Lake to stretch your legs. Grab some snacks and get your fuel tank topped up at Te Anau because there are no gas stations or supermarkets between Te Anau and Milford Sound.


You’ll start spotting hand rugged cliffs as you inch closer to Milford Sound. Once there, Mitre Peak, the distinctive mountain you’ll spot on most postcards, will greet you. That’s the cue to look around and absorb jaw-dropping 360° views of New Zealand’s Fjordland. The views multiply manifold as you hop on a short cruise at Milford Sound. We took an afternoon cruise with Cruise Milford, which allowed us to get up close and personal with waterfalls, rainbows, sea-lions, and the gorgeous scenery at Milford Sound. The landscape here reminded both of us of the Norwegian Fjords.


Optional: We’ve spent a lot of time exploring fjords in Scandinavia, so we opted for a short afternoon cruise at Milford Sound. However if this is your first time exploring Fjords or they simply fascinate you to no end, you could opt for a long multi-day trip to Doubtful Sound.


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Queenstown drive mirror lake
Mirror Lakes on the way to Milford Sound


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Milford Sound drive
Driving to Milford Sound – we stopped way too many times!


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Milford Sound drive
Cruising along Milford Sound in New Zealand


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Milford Sound cruise
A sea-lion stares at a waterfall at Milford Sound in New Zealand. A cruise gives tourists the opportunity to get extremely close to waterfalls!


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Milford Sound cruise
Milford Sound is overwhelming – check out the size of the boat compared to the fjord and cliffs!


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Milford Sound cruise
Glistening waters, rainbows, waterfalls, and a fjord at Milford Sound


Day 17: Otago’s wineries & scenic drives in New Zealand

Now that you’ve had your fair share of glistening crystal lakes and craggy peaks, it’s time to enjoy the finer things in life. Spend the morning exploring Otago’s wineries. Book a wine-tasting tour or simply drop by a winery (Amisfield and Mt. Difficulty are two of the most popular options!) for a leisurely lunch. Sample some wines as you go along. If wines aren’t your thing, walk up Queenstown Hill or take the Skyline Gondola for stunning views of Queenstown.


Spend the evening in Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town. Take Gorge road from Queenstown towards Arrowtown  and go up Coronet Peak for some incredible views. Once you’re in Arrowtown, just walk around the charming historic settlement full of vintage candy shops, restored cottages, and restaurants. You could also explore gold-mining sites or the Chinese settlement by the river before you grab dinner in Arrowtown. End your stay in Queenstown with a spot of star-gazing – you can spot the elusive Milky Way on most clear nights.


Optional: Spend two days in Dunedin to see yellow penguins and visit the Otago Peninsula for the Albatross Colony.


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Queenstown drive
Drive around Queenstown for gorgeous views


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Otago winery
An overview of a vineyard in Otago


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary queenstown night sky
Night skies in Queenstown, New Zealand


Coronet peak Queenstown
Enjoying panoramic views near Coronet peak


Day 18: Drive to Christchurch via Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo

After 4 nights in Queenstown, it’s time to leave it and drive onward to Mt. Cook National Park, famous for its flora. The drive will take you through Lake Hayes, perfectly-manicured vineyards and wineries in Gibbston, and fruit farms and orchards in Cromwell. Spend the afternoon exploring the unmitigatedly turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki (check out this short video we recorded at Lake Pukaki). This entire area is overrun by bright purple lupins in the summer and it will cast a spell on you! Spend the entire day exploring the flora of Mackenzie and Canterbury and driving through Mount Cook National Park. Check into your hotel in Christchurch at night.


Optional: If you have an extra day or two spend it in a hotel near Lake Tekapo. The night skies here are legendary because it is a part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve.


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Mt. Cook National Park lavender field
Lavender field on the drive to Mt. Cook


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Lake Tekapo
Purple lupins near Lake Tekapo, New Zealand


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary
Driving to Mt. Cook – Views on a summer road trip in New Zealand are incredible


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Lake Pukaki
Lake Pukaki in all its glory 🙂


Day 19: Snooze in Christchurch

I’ll be honest. 4000 kms and so many new places later, we just wanted to sleep in Christchurch. We ventured out only to sample some amazing coffee at Pure Café and grab some eats.  We spent a lazy afternoon walking through Hagley Park, observing tourists punting on the Avon, and acquainting ourselves with dozens of varieties of roses at Central Rose Garden. If you are craving another jam-packed day, there is no dearth of things to do and see in Christchurch.


Sleep: We slept in a spacious serviced apartment at All Stars Inn Bealey Quarter in Christchurch


Day 20: Fly back to your home country

20 days and 4000 kms later, it’s time to fly back home. We’re sure you’ll spend the flight back home dreaming of crystal lakes that act as mirrors to surrounding glaciers, winding roads that hide secret lookouts, romantic long-winded walks, countryside lodges laden dripping with flowers, and New Zealand’s night skies that you experienced on your epic road trip. We don’t blame you one bit! 🙂


New Zealand Road Trip itinerary Christchurch couple travellers
That was our memorable road trip in New Zealand


Here’s a short video of all the fun we had driving in New Zealand 🙂


Has our New Zealand road trip itinerary convinced you to book your flights to this breathtakingly gorgeous corner of the world? If you need more convincing, have a look at all our New Zealand posts.


Read about all our favourite road trips from around the world 🙂


The post An Epic New Zealand Road Trip – Itinerary, Tips, and Planning appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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How To Plan A Trip To Azerbaijan: Itinerary For A Week Tue, 22 Oct 2019 13:19:10 +0000 Why did we enjoy our week-long trip to Azerbaijan SO much? In the day and age of the mighty internet,...

The post How To Plan A Trip To Azerbaijan: Itinerary For A Week appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Why did we enjoy our week-long trip to Azerbaijan SO much?

In the day and age of the mighty internet, it is hard to find surprises while travelling. Every little attraction has been documented or photographed by someone or the other. Perhaps that is why we enjoyed our trip to Azerbaijan so much – it was after a long time that we visited a country where there were surprises at every corner. We went expecting high-rises in Baku and historical treasures in the countryside. But we met amazing people, saw natural wonders, visited the northernmost villages of Europe, and had some of the best meals we’ve had in a while travelling. The best part? A week-long trip to Azerbaijan is affordable and offers a variety of experiences in one short trip!

As a former member of the USSR, Azerbaijan has a fraught history. The capital Baku has undergone a huge resurgence over the past 10 years. Shopping malls, high-rises, luxury hotels, and a picture-perfect promenade – you’ll find it all here. But driving out of Baku is like stepping back into time. You will find historical treasures without another tourist in sight, natural wonders untouched by tourism, and charming little mountain villages that seem to have walked out of a postcard.
Here’s a detailed guide to Azerbaijan and a day-by-day itinerary for a planning your week long trip to Azerbaijan. THIS is Azerbaijan through our eyes!

Candy cane coloured mountains in Azerbaijan
Beautiful Azerbaijan


Visas and arriving in Azerbaijan

Citizens of most countries need to apply for an Evisa prior to visiting Azerbaijan. This is a seamless and straightforward process but it helps to have hotel bookings and a rough itinerary before applying for a visa.

You will fly into Baku international airport. Most international flights land at the brand new terminal, which makes for an amazing first impression. We flew on AZAL, the national carrier, and the flight as well the service was excellent. The airline operates direct flights to Baku from New Delhi and London. The airport is about 30 kilometres from the centre of the capital and it’s best to take a taxi to your hotel. There are many other airlines that now have good connectivity to Baku. We suggest comparing prices and booking here.

Baku airport
Swanky airport at Baku
Azerbaijan airlines premium economy cacbin
Great flight with AZAL


Getting around in Azerbaijan

If you’re planning to stay in Baku and do a couple of day trips around Baku, we would not suggest renting a car. That’s because traffic in Baku can be nightmarish. Moreover public transport is decent and taxis are readily available. You can also use Uber to get from one place to the other.

For day trips and even 2-3 day trips, we would suggest opting for a tour guide. This is because English is not widely understood, especially in the countryside and exploring independently can be a bit challenging. Tour guides will rent a car with a driver for you and pick you up and drop you back at your hotel. This makes it really seamless to explore places. One day trip from Baku that we would highly recommend is to Shamaki (details below)We lucked out and found an amazing tour guide in Baku. Roman is knowledgeable, flexible, and extremely punctual. He also has amazing knowledge of local food joints and historical treasures. We would highly recommend him if you want to plan a short or long trip around Azerbaijan. He doesn’t have a website but you can drop him a WhatsApp message on +994 70 367 51 39 and he is extremely prompt to respond.

If you’re there in Azerbaijan for more than 5 days and enjoy independent and travel, then we would recommend renting a self-drive car after you’re done exploring Baku. We did this on our last 3 days. Read our experience below:

Beautiful panoramas await the moment you drive out of Baku


Suggested itineraries for Azerbaijan

4 days

Explore Baku
Day trip to Shamakhi
half-day trip to Ateshgah and Yanardag

7 days

Explore Baku
Day trip to Shamakhi
half-day trip to Ateshgah and Yanardag
3 day trip to Quba and Xinaliq

10-14 days

Explore Baku & everything it has to offer
Day trip to historical treasures of Shamakhi
half-day trip to Ateshgah and Yanardag
3 day trip to mountainous villages Northern Azerbaijan – Quba, Xinaliq, Laza
Explore Sheki
Visit Ganja and Lake Goygol


Budgeting for a trip to Azerbaijan

The amount of money you spend in a country depends heavily on the kind of hotels you stay in, the type of restaurants you visit, and the amount of shopping you do. However Azerbaijan is an extremely affordable country in general.

You can find nice luxury hotels for less than $100 per night. Hostels can be hit or miss, so

Food is incredible everywhere you go. You can get delicious street food for $2-$5. Sit down meals at nice restaurants cost approximately $15 per head.

Renting a car with a driver costs approximately $100 for 1 day. You can negotiate cost of excursions with tour agents or guides. Rates are competitive and affordable. For a self-drive rental, expect to pay around $30-$40 per day for an economy car.

Take a tour or rent a car but definitely explore the countryside


Food – what to eat in Azerbaijan

I feel like I was to pen poetry for Azeri food. To say it’s good would be the understatement of the year. Make sure you try local drinks such as Ayran (yogurt-based drink), Feijoa juice (pronounced fek-ua, the local fruit is used in drinks all over Azerbaijan), and aerated pear juice. Don’t forget to stop at one of the many supermarkets along the way to sample local fruits and vegetables. Most of the fresh produce in Azerbaijan is organic and tastes incredible.

If you eat meat, you’re in for a treat in Azerbaijan. Try the Lyulya/Lule kebabs (mince-meat skewers), dolmas (steamed grape leaves stuffed with minced meat), and chicken kebabs. Stick to local specialities and avoid ordering fish as it is expensive and not the best.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, there are lots of options for you too. Try vegetarian dolmas, qutab (flatbreads stuffed with spinach), fresh curd, vegetarian piti (soup), local cheeses, and pilaf (rice, seasoned with local flavours).

We’re going to miss the scrumptious lunches had at a languorous pace <3
LOVED the food in Azerbaijan
Oh the Baklava – could go back in a heartbeat for this 🙂


Best time to visit Azerbaijan

The best time to visit the country is between March and June and then from September to November. This is because it gets very hot during peak summer months (July and August) and a lot of the mountainous roads are blocked or snowed under during winter months (December- February). However if you want to visit just Baku and Shamakhi, then December is also a good time to visit as the roads in this area are good and you can witness snow-laden panoramas.


Packing for Azerbaijan

This is tricky. We visited Azerbaijan in October and got everything from bitterly cold and windy days to scorching heat. I would suggest packing at least one light jumper and one jacket, irrespective of when you visit. Pack more if you’re going during winter months. It can get really windy in Baku as well as the countryside so carrying a light windcheater definitely helps.

Azerbaijan is a fairly progressive country, so you will see locals wearing short skirts and sleeveless tops, especially in Baku. However conservative clothing is preferred in the countryside. We would recommend packing at least a few dresses and trousers that cover your knees and arms, especially for trips to the countryside and visits to mosques.

Make sure you carry some covered clothes for visits to religious places


Some tips and warnings for exploring Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a super safe country to explore. Azeris are friendly and while English isn’t widely understood, they are always willing to help

However do keep a couple of things in mind. Restaurants often tend to overcharge tourists by bringing “specials” to the table or including caviar in a mixed platter of kebabs etc. For this reason, we would recommend ordering only off the menu and taking a screenshot of the menu for reference in case there is a discrepancy in the bill

Similarly, always set a fixed rate with taxi drivers before you get into a local taxi or they might overcharge you for the shortest of distances. You can also avoid this altogether by using Uber or moving around with a tour guide.


Day by day breakdown of a trip to Azerbaijan

Days 1-3


I’ve never really seen a city like Baku. One minute you’re surrounded by glittering high-rises and luxury hotels, the next you have tiny eateries and colourful carpet shops in a local market. You could think of it as a mix of Abu Dhabi & Marrakech. We suggest spending at least 3 days in the city.

Accommodation in Baku

We stayed at Intourist Hotel in Baku. The luxury hotel has spacious rooms and a great location, right opposite the Baku Eye. Service and breakfast buffet is mediocre. So you might want to choose another hotel such as Fairmont Baku (located in one of the flame towers) or Four Seasons Baku if you enjoy your luxuries.

Intourist Baku – gorgeous views of Caspian sea from rooms

There is no dearth of nightclubs, restaurants, and sightseeing opportunities in Baku. But here are some things you should definitely do in Baku

  1. Walk along the waterfront promenade to acquaint yourself with Baku. From here you can see a glimpse of the iconic Flame Towers, Baku Eye, the Caspian Sea, and many other prominent landmarks of the city
  2. Spend a morning at Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre and admire the gorgeous architecture
  3. Go on a walking tour to the carpet museum, and Little Venice. Drop by Nizami Street for a spot of shopping and lunch. You will find high street shops, designer boutiques, cafes, and restaurants in the area.
  4. You should also spend a few hours walking around the Old City – admire the colourful carpet shops, pick up a souvenir or two, sample Baklava from a hole-in-the-wall eatery, visit the Maiden Tower, and the Shirvanshah Palace
  5. Pack a shawarma and take the funicular to Highland Park at sunset or once it’s dark. It offers an amazing view of the the city’s skyline and the Flame Towers.
  6. There are dozens of amazing restaurants in Baku but 2 mid-range restaurants we really recommend for scrumptious Azeri Meals are Shirvanshah Museum Restaurant and Qaynana restaurant. A meal at either of these will cost you around $15 per person and it’s well worth it. Both restaurants are beautifull, so expect walls adorned with carpets and rooms dotted with traditional artefacts. You will definitely want to take your camera along for these meals.
  7. Visit Hyder Mosque (a bit of an offbeat gem at the moment), especially at night when it’s all lit
  8. Take a half-day tour to Ateshgah and Yanardag. At Yanardag, trapped gas deposits ensure a . Ateshgah is a temple of great significance to the Zoroastrians.
  9. You could also take a day trip to the dramatic cliffs and mud-volcanoes of Gobustan. While this isn’t a particularly scenic part of Azerbaijan, it’s a great place to observe natural phenomena such as spitting mud volcanoes and Palaeolithic carvings. We will forgive you for thinking you are on Mars.
heydar aliyev cultural centre in Baku Azerbaijan
Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre – beautiful design (but very windy here :-D)
Night photography spot in Baku Azerbaijan
Gorgeous view of Baku from Highland Park – perfect dinner spot 🙂
The old city and flame towers as seen from Maiden Tower
The courtyard of Shirvanshah Palace in Old City
Lada russian car in Azerbaijan
Get ready to spot plenty of Ladas in Azerbaijan 🙂
constant fire burning at religious site Yanardag in Baku
The forever-burning flames at Yanardag
Night photography at Heydar mosque in Baku
Heydar mosque all lit at night – one of our favourite places in Baku
carpets and middle eastern decor in a dining room at Shirvanshah Museum Restaurant
The decor and food at Shirvanshah Museum Restaurant was something else 🙂
The martian landscape at Qobustan



Day 4


If there is one day trip we recommend from Baku, it is to Shamakhi. You don’t need to start too early from Baku and can easily leave after breakfast. Stop at the shrine of Diri Baba, a Sufi dervish, who spent his life in a cave, carved into a rock. The fascinating site dates back to the fifteenth century.

Next, stop at the magnificent Juma Mosque. Make sure you are wearing something that covers your elbows and knees. Women also need to carry a scarf to cover their head. The intricate and gorgeous Mosque is a photographer’s delight and the best part is, there are rarely more than a handful of people around.

You could also head to the neighbouring Yeddi Gumbaj, a cemetery overlooking the city of Shamaki. But this is easily skippable as it isn’t anything special.

At this point, you can start your drive back to Baku. But if you have an extra night, we’d really recommend spending a night in Tufandag or Shamakhi, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Shamakhi Palace Hotel is an opulent luxury hotel, as the name suggests. But it is quite affordable coming at under $90. Rooms are spacious and boast of gorgeous views overlooking mountains. Don’t leave without sampling their incredible breakfast spread – you will find everything from fresh fruits and pastries to Azeri style eggs and potato cakes on the menu.

mountain view rooms at Shamakhi Palace hotel
Spacious rooms with gorgeous views at Shamakhi Palace Hotel
Diri Baba mausoleum day trip from Baku to Shamikhi
Diri Baba mausoleum on our way to Shamikhi – hauntingly beautiful 🙂
Juma Mosque in Shamikhi


Day 5

Drive back to Baku

Spend a night in Baku as your trip to Northern Azerbaijan starts next. We’d suggest just relaxing but if you’re up for it you can always walk down to the waterfront promenade or even the highland park.

An evening stroll in Highland Park


Days 6

Quba and Xinaliq

You can book a 3 day trip to Guba and Xinaliq with any travel agency or tour guide.

However after exploring the surroundings of Baku with a guide on our first 4 days in Azerbaijan, we decided to rent a car for this part of our trip. Roads in Northern Azerbaijan (especially between Guba & Xinaliq) can be quite hit and miss with lots of dirt tracks and mountain bends, so we would suggest doing this only if you are an experienced driver. We rented with Avis and the process was seamless. Car rentals start at around $40 per day and fuel is really cheap In Azerbaijan (around $0.5 per litre – perks of being an oil stronghold!).

Quba is a 3 hour drive from Baku. However set aside at least 5 hours for the drive because you definitely need to stop at Candy Cane Mountains on the way. The scenic spot is just an hour away from Baku and comprises of these gorgeous mountains, ideal for a hike and some photographs. The stripey mountains are a unique site but you might have them all to yourself, especially if you go on a weekday. Please beware that there are only 8-10 striped mountains at this spot, so keep a lookout for them while driving

You can stay in an apartment or hotel in Quba. We suggest Shahdag Hotel Guba. You could think of it as a clean 3-4 star hotel, which is the best you’ll get in the city centre. It is affordable, rooms are spacious, and WiFi is good. Breakfast is passable and it even has a terrace restaurant for lunch and dinner. In case you want to venture out for a meal, there are a handful of restaurants in Guba. Of all the restaurants we tried in Guba, a doner shop opposite our hotel and restaurant Sarin (10 minute walk from the hotel) were the best.

Candy Cane Mountains 🙂
terrace restaurant at Shahdag hotel Quba Azerbaijan
Sunset views from the terrace restaurant at Shahdag Hotel Quba


Day 7


Xinaliq is the highest village in Europe and a must stop on your visit to Northern Azerbaijan. It takes an hour and a half to drive to Xinaliq from Quba. But keep lots of time for stopping along the way because the scenery and mountain roads are absolutely spectacular

If you enjoy truly local experiences, then we suggest spending 1 night at a home stay in Xinaliq. They’re extremely humble rooms in locals’ houses, so this is ideal for solo travels and couples. We don’t suggest doing this if you’re travelling with family or have too much luggage. But if you do, you’ll be greeted warmly. Do not expect elaborate meals but there’s no shortage of Azeri tea and flatbreads stuffed with spinach.

If you’re not staying in Xinaliq, just drive back to your accommodation in Quba for the night. The couple of days we spent driving in the Northern part of Azerbaijan made for a special road trip through the Azeri countryside.

road trip in Azerbaijan to village of Xinaliq
Amazing drive from Quba to Xinaliq
Xinaliq village northernmost in Europe
Oh what gorgeousness!!

Days 8-10

Sheki and Ganja

If you have some more time we would highly recommend continuing onto Sheki and exploring the surrounding of Ganca city, especially Lake Goygol National Park. We couldn’t cover this part on this trip owing to paucity of time but can’t wait to return to explore these beautiful parts of Azerbaijan.

Couple on road trip in Azerbaijan
We’ll miss Azerbaijan and can’t wait to return 🙂

I hope this answers all your questions about planning an incredible trip to Azerbaijan. If you have any other questions, leave them down below and we’ll definitely answer them soon 🙂

The post How To Plan A Trip To Azerbaijan: Itinerary For A Week appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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An Epic Road Trip Itinerary For Switzerland Mon, 01 Jul 2019 05:02:58 +0000 Idyllic pastures, iconic mountain peaks, scenic chalets, quaint villages blanketed with snow, hand-crafted cheeses, bespoke chocolates, and some of the...

The post An Epic Road Trip Itinerary For Switzerland appeared first on Bruised Passports.

Idyllic pastures, iconic mountain peaks, scenic chalets, quaint villages blanketed with snow, hand-crafted cheeses, bespoke chocolates, and some of the prettiest drives in the world – a road trip in Switzerland is one of those things you must experience once in a lifetime.

View of Adelboden and the valley from The Cambrian Adelboden
Panoramas that await you on a road trip in Switzerland 🙂


When to go on a road trip in Switzerland

Skiers hit Switzerland during winter months but summer (June-September) is the most popular time to go on a road trip in Switzerland. And it is truly stunning during summer. However it can also get crowded and expensive during summer months, so that is something to keep in mind. If you would like to avoid this, you could also visit during the shoulder season of November-December. The summer hordes have left the country and the skiers are yet to come. Snow-laden panoramas are everywhere to be found and you will feel like you’ve walked into a picture postcard every step of the day.


Renting a car for your road trip in Switzerland

We suggest flying into Geneva and renting a car there for your road trip in Switzerland.Quite expectedly, roads are in great shape in Switzerland, so you needn’t opt for a 4X4 in summer. But if you are planning your road trip during winter months, try to choose a 4X4, equipped with snow tyres and heated seats. As always we suggest comparing prices of car rentals here and opting for the most cost-effective provider through them.

road trip in Switzerland
Road Trips make us happy 🙂


Budgeting for your road trip in Switzerland

Let’s face it – Switzerland is an expensive country! In fact I’ve even ranted about just how expensive it is in our article on 5 Travel Annoyances. So it is almost impossible to plan a road trip in Switzerland on a budget. If you’re on a budget, we suggest opting for a Road Trip in Bavaria or a Road Trip in Slovenia (stunning routes both!). If not, then start charting out your itinerary for a Swiss road trip. Expect to spend at least €250 per day per couple – this cost includes car rental, mid-range accommodation, grocery shopping, occasional meals at restaurants, and entry fees to some sites.


Itinerary for your road trip in Switzerland

We suggest setting aside at least 10 days for the road trip. The itinerary you will roughly follow for this road trip is as follows: Geneva -Montreux – Vevey – Bern – Adelboden – Zermatt – Gruyeres – Lausanne – Geneva – Zurich and Mt. Titlis (optional)


Switzerland on a budget
Road trip views in Switzerland – notice the suspended clouds?


Day-by-day breakdown and tips for your road trip in Switzerland


  • Days 1 & 2 – Land in Geneva and explore Geneva

Geneva is a convenient starting point for your road trip but other than that, it doesn’t have too much to offer. It’s both tough and expensive to find parking in the middle of the bustling city, so we suggest renting an apartment or chalet on Air B&B at the outskirts of Geneva. This is better than booking a hotel in the centre of Geneva if you have a car on you.


Spend Day #2 exploring Geneva but don’t take your car to the centre. Just park it at a convenient parking lot and take the tram into the city. The tram is convenient and stops at most prominent sites in Geneva. Take your time in Geneva to explore the UN Building, walk along the lake, or shop at the dozens of shops lining the centre. If you enjoy speciality coffee, then definitely try out one (or all) of these coffee shops for a perfectly brewed cup of coffee – Coutume, Birdie, and Boréal.


Speciality coffee in Geneva at Cafe Boreal
Cafe Boréal in Geneva



  • Day 3 – Drive to Montreaux and Yvoire

While Lake Geneva seems distinctly underwhelming from Geneva’s centre, it acquires a personality of its own when viewed from Montreaux. The town of Montreaux offers a stunning view of the lake against the famed Chillon Castle. This spot is ideal for some photographs.

While a number of tourists drive to Montreaux for a view of Lake Geneva, literally nobody knows about a romantic French village not far from Geneva or Montreaux. Yvoire is a locals’ secret and we got to it after a chance conversation with a friend who lives in Geneva but we just HAD to share it with you. The car-free village will take you back in time. It offers gorgeous views of Lake Geneva. But that’s not all. The fishing village has so much character, all its own. We’d recommend lingering in Yvoire over a meal.


  • Day 4 – Drive to Adelboden via Bern

The drive from Geneva to the little village of Adelboden takes approximately 3 hours. But we would suggest leaving Geneva early and spending a chunk of Day 4 in the capital city of Bern. Take a walking tour and explore the historical Old Town. It will leave you mesmerised. Make sure you visit The Gurten, which offers an incredible view over the city of Bern or Rosengarten for a panorama of the Old City of Bern.


Drive onto Adelboden and check into your hotel. Adelboden is a little skiing village that wasn’t particularly on the tourist radar till quite recently. The quaint village can get quite busy during ski season but other than that, it’s usually quiet. We would recommend staying here instead of touristy places like Interlaken in the vicinity. Adelboden makes for the perfect romantic getaway during the last weeks of November when it’s covered with a blanket of snow but the skiing crowd hasn’t yet descended on the village.


There is truly no better place to stay here than The Cambrian Adelboden. The sumptuous boutique hotel is easily one of the most scenic properties we’ve ever stayed at! Scenic and spacious suites offer 180 degree views of the surrounding valleys and villages and an unobstructed view of snow-laden mountains. The lounge overlooks the village nestled amidst Swiss peaks. Breakfast is tasty and plentiful – expect an expansive variety of cheese. The wellness area of the hotel truly stand out – expect amenities such as a heated outdoor pool surrounded by mountains on all sides and a thoroughly relaxing sauna area.


Cambrian Adelboden balcony breakfast with views of the valley
Breakfast on our room’s balcony with that gorgeous view – Bliss!


girl in infinity pool in switzerland
Savi at the heated outdoor pool at The Cambrian Adelboden


girl in hotel in Swiss Alps
Gorgeous view from the room at The Cambrian Adelboden


  • Days 5 and 6 – Enjoy Adelboden and Interlaken

It is easy to spend days walking around the village of Adelboden doing nothing but relishing the sights and sounds of Swiss village life. But you MUST take your car out for a drive of two. There is no shortage of things to do in the Adelboden area. Here are some that we would recommend – pick and choose ones that suit your preferences best


  1. Blausee is a little lake ringed by trees and mountains. Not many tourists make it here but it’s definitely worth the visit. The lake’s stark blue water, combined with snow-laden trees during winter months, makes for a panorama like no other.
  2. Engstlige Falls make for a scenic outing. It isn’t the most spectacular waterall you would’ve seen but it offers some great hiking and picnicking oppportunities
  3. Interlaken and Lake Thun are ideal if you want to witness green Swiss pastures . They remain green till December even when the skiing villages are snowed under. Drive to this area for a change in scenery. Combine the visit to Interlaken with a day trip to Grindelwald. It’s stunning!!
  4. Take the train to Jungfaujoch also known as the Top of Europe. There is no denying that the view from here is spectacular. However we are not big fans of the experience as it can get really crowded with tour groups at the top.
  5. In fact if you have an extra day and are keen to see a new country, you could even drive down to the tiny country of Liechtenstein and make a day trip out of it
  6. Go for an Alpine hike – there are so many gorgeous hikes for both amateur and experienced hikers. Choose a trail that suits you and work that fondue off!
  7. If hiking doesn’t interest you, go for an aimless drive instead. This area will leave you hypnotised, irrespective of the direction you choose.
Couple walking in the village of Adelboden in Switerland
Gorgeous walks in Adelboden


Switzerland Road Trip Blausee couple
Blausee during the month of November – winter wonderland!


Vaduz castle on a day trip to Liechtenstein from Switzerland
A quick day trip to Liechtenstein did not disappoint 🙂


Beautiful vantage points not far from Interlaken


Days 7 & 8 Drive to Zermatt and explore surrounding villages

This drive from Adelboden to Zermatt takes just 2.5 hours. Make sure you pack a picnic because there are dozens of picnic spots along the way. The actual village of Zermatt is both expensive and car-free. That’s why we suggest booking a traditional Swiss chalet, that offers free parking, in a scenic spot outside of Zermatt. You can find plenty of options on Air BnB.


Once you’re all settled in your chalet, take the next 2 days to explore the villages dotting the area. Zermatt should definitely be the first village you explore. It is home to the iconic Matterhorn and some of the prettiest skiing slopes in the world. Its sylvan surroundings are bound to cast a bit of a spell on you. Check out these photos to see what we were greeted with upon reaching Zermatt.


Once you have had your fill of Zermatt, we’d recommend driving further afield to villages such as Grachen, which is home to a stunning alpine lake and the supremely scenic Simplon Dorf, home to the Simplon Pass that connects Italy and Switzerland. When it’s time to eat, head to the busier town of Brig. The Old Town of Brig is ideal for a post lunch gander. If you want to do something truly unique, you could also stick around in the area for an additional night and sleep on a bed on ice in a rare igloo hotel near Zermatt.


Further reading:

6 Must See Villages on your winter road trip in Zermatt

Staying in an igloo and sleeping on beds of ice in Switzerland


Visit zermatt snow
Right out of a fairytale – the village of Zermatt after a snowstorm


Iglu Dorf review
You can sleep in an a real igloo near Zermatt. We chose The Romantic Igloo at Iglu Dorf, Zermatt (Switzerland)


Iglu Dorf review
Fondue lounge at Iglu Dorf, Zermatt (Switzerland)


Road Trip In Switzerland Grachen
Grachen’s hidden Alpine lake is a short hike away from the village centre


Road Trip in Switzerland Brig
The Brig Castle is nestled in the lap of nature


Day 9 – Explore Gruyeres and surrounding villages

We highly recommend spending an entire day exploring the utterly charming village of Gruyeres and the surrounding countryside. Where else in the world would ALL conversations revolve around cheese and chocolate. Take a stroll in the village of Gruyeres, sample traditional Swiss fondue for lunch, and visit a chocolate factory in the area. Visitors have access to unlimited samples of chocolates in most factories in the area – free chocolate is always a good thing right?! ?


Read everything you need to know about visiting Gruyeres on a day trip here (opens in new tab)


Day trip from Geneva Gruyeres
La Gruyere is perfect for a quintessentially Swiss experience


Gruyeres Day Trip from geneva
The gorgeous view from Gruyeres Castle


Day Trip from Geneva - chocolate factory
Raw cocoa beans at The Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc, La Gruyere


Day 10: Drive to Geneva via Lausanne

At this stage, you could go directly to Geneva and catch your flight from there. But if you have an extra day at hand, we’d recommend spending it in Lausanne. The bustling city offers a unique mix of history, culture, marketplaces, and restaurants. Spend some time exploring the Old City and the lakefront district Ouchy. If you like your wine, then don’t leave without stopping at the supremely scenic Lavaux vineyards, overlooking Lake Geneva.



What to pack for switzerland
A Road Trip in Switzerland boasts of scenic panoramas by the dozen


A typical Swiss village- perfect as per usual


Day 11 – Fly out/Drive to Zurich

It’s time  wrap up your roadtrip and catch the flight back home. If you 2-3 extra days, you could combine this itinerary with a drive to Zurich and Mt. Titlis. Watch this video for some ideas about things to do when you are in Zurich


That’s it – everything you need to plan an epic road trip in Switzerland. Hope you have an incredible time driving in the country and don’t forget to read all our articles about Switzerland 🙂

The post An Epic Road Trip Itinerary For Switzerland appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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10 things to do on your winter road trip in Lapland, Finland Sat, 25 May 2019 16:45:11 +0000 A few years ago we visited Finnish Lapland for the first time and from the time we set foot in...

The post 10 things to do on your winter road trip in Lapland, Finland appeared first on Bruised Passports.

A few years ago we visited Finnish Lapland for the first time and from the time we set foot in the icy woodlands at the Arctic Circle, we were smitten. This winter we decided to re-visit Lapland, with a rental car in tow. Over the past few years, areas such as Levi and Ivalo have become increasingly popular, which has led to increased prices and reduced availability. On this winter road trip in Finland, we tried to go offbeat and ended up discovering some real gems along the way.

Couple under Northern Lights in Lapland Finland
When the night sky comes alive 🙂


Renting a car in Finnish Lapland

Lapland is easy to explore using public transport and on our first visit we did exactly that. However we would highly recommend renting a car if you are comfortable driving in Europe. This will give you the flexibility of exploring little-known areas and offbeat nooks and crannies of Finnish Lapland. It is easy to rent a car at the airport or the city centre in Rovaniemi. Make sure you look up price comparison websites to find the most affordable deals on car rentals in the area.  We use this website to compare prices. Rental cars come equipped with snow tyres and heated seats, but we would still recommend checking before booking your car.

Budgeting for your roadtrip in Finnish Lapland

Lapland is a relatively expensive destination and it’s almost impossible to do it on a budget. You can easily cut costs by choosing AirBnB accommodation over hotels and shopping in supermarkets instead of dining out at every meal. However do beware that due to the it being in Scandinavia, Lapland’s remote location, and extreme weather conditions, other things like day trips, car rentals etc tend to be on the expensive side. As a rule of thumb, you should put aside €150-€300 per person per day of stay while budgeting for your roadtrip in Lapland  – this includes the cost of car rentals, hotels, safaris, and dining.

Couple on a road trip in Lapland Finland
We LOVE road trips 🙂


10 things to do on your road trip in Lapland, Finland

  • 1)Start in Roveniemi

Rovaniemi is the most central and accessible part of Finnish Lapland. It is a short flight away from Helsinki.

In fact, if you have just 4 days in Finnish Lapland, we would suggest booking a hotel in Rovaniemi only. From here you can go for reindeer & husky-dog safaris, visit Santa Claus village (famous for being Santa’s hometown on the Arctic Circle), book a Northern Lights tour, and even visit a hotel carved entirely out of ice (more later).

However if you are in Lapland for more than a week, we would suggest spending 2 days in Rovaniemi. Arctic Light Hotel is a luxurious and distinctively Scandinavian hotel with a gorgeous breakfast buffet. It is located in the centre of Rovaniemi with easy access to public transport, restaurants, and the car rental office in case you decide to rent from the city centre. Alternatively you could rent an AirBnB apartment in the countryside around Rovaniemi. There are some incredibly scenic and cheap apartments in the area.

Reindeer sleigh at the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi
Off to Meet Santa Claus in his office 🙂


  • 2) Book yourself a photography session

This is a truly unique addition to your road trip in Finnish Lapland. You will be going on plenty of adventures on this road trip but first how about capturing some memories for a lifetime. Beyond Arctic offer short 2-4 hour photoshoots for couples and families. Their talented photographers will take you to some of the most scenic locations around Rovaniemi and shoot several photographs for you. You can use them to make your friends jealous on social media or simply for photo frames back home.

Couple in woodland near Rovaniemi
Our photography expedition outside of Rovaniemi


  • 3) Stay in an igloo hotel

A few years ago igloo hotels were somewhat of a novelty in Finnish Lapland. In fact I wrote an entire article about our surreal stay at Kakslautten Arctic Resort, the hotel that started the craze! However over the past few years Kakslautten has become too expensive for what it is and is mostly sold out. But don’t worry. There are dozens of other igloo hotels that have come up in the area. However don’t be fooled by the name ‘igloo’ in the title as some of these hotels don’t have great views or good facilities.

We tried a few igloo hotels on our recent road trip in Lapland, and did not like most of them. However we found one gem – Arctic Fox Igloos – located in the wilderness near Ranua. Each igloo is heated and comes with its own little kitchenette. Igloos offer gorgeous views, and if you’re lucky enough, you can even see the Northern Lights while lying down in your bed. The breakfast buffet at Arctic Fox Igloos is pretty decent but we’d suggest picking up a few groceries on the way so you can whip up lunch and dinner for yourself in your kitchenette as there aren’t any supermarkets or restaurants around here.

Here’s a short video from our time at Arctic Fox Igloos:


  • 4) Visit Pyha Luosto National Park

Now comes the fun part. Renting a car in Lapland is the perfect excuse to go off-the-beaten path. Not many tourists visit Pyha (pronounced Poo-ha) but we definitely suggest spending a day or two in the area. Book yourself a couple of nights at Hotel Pyhatunturi. Spend a day driving through the stunning Phyha Luosto National Park and taking a ski lesson. Spend the next day going on a little Arctic hike or horse ride with a local company called Kairankutsu (translating to “Call of Wilderness”). We really enjoyed our time with them because their guides are so passionate about the Pyha area and know it just so well.

Another activity we’d highly recommend here is Ice Climbing. We booked our Ice Climbing Tour with Bliss Adventures and had a great afternoon trying to scale a wee mountain of ice ideal for beginners. This was followed by warm drinks and a snack 🙂

Winter road trip drone shot in Lapland
Spot us? Loved driving through snow covered trees in Pyha


  • 5) Visit Yllas

Another area you should consider visiting is Yllas. Much like Pyha, it is a ski resort that boasts of stunning views, but is located further North in Lapland giving you better chances of spotting the Northern Lights. Spend a couple of nights at Lapland Hotel Saaga and enjoy their extensive breakfast buffet. Book yourself a Snowmobile Safari – it will take you through Finnish woodlands on snowmobiles.

This is also a great area to hunt for the Northern Lights. You could book a night snowmobile tour but you don’t have to book a tour to spot the Northern Lights. You could just drive away from the city lights if the aurora forecast is good and you’ll see the Northern Lights literally everywhere in the wilderness.

Ice wall climbing in Yllas Finland
It’s no Everest but Hey we tried 😉
Snowmobile in Yllas Lapland
LOVED our snowmobile ride through the forests and on to a frozen lake


  • 6) Sleep or dine in an Ice Hotel

Sleeping on a bed of ice is literally as unique an experience as it gets. Don’t worry, you won’t feel cold as ice beds have mattresses or thick rugs and guests are given Arctic sleeping bags each night. Still we would recommend it just for a night! If the idea of sleeping in a room carved entirely out of ice doesn’t appeal to you, you could also drop by the Ice Hotel for a meal.

Two of our favourite ice hotels are located in Rovaniemi and Yllas. You could pick any one of them. Arctic Snowhotel in Rovaniemi is accessible and offers a whole host of activities for families, especially those travelling with kids. Here beds, tables, chairs, and even glasses are made out of ice.

Lapland Hotels Snowvillage in Yllas is another option. This is a unique Ice Hotel because it has a theme each year. When we visited, the hotel was made keeping in mind a Game of Thrones theme. However this changes every year. Take a look at our time at the Snowvillage Yllas:

Game of Thrones themed Ice Hotel in Finland
Sleeping in a Game Of Thrones themed hotel? SURE 🙂


  • 7) Go for a Northern Lights Safari

No road trip in Lapland would be complete without a Northern Lights safari. Safari providers such as Lapland Safaris offer a variety of Northern Lights tours in most towns. You could choose a tour where tourists go hunting for Northern Lights on snowmobiles, in a car, or even on horseback. We would suggest picking any one tour on your road trip in Finnish Lapland. Don’t waste too much money on Northern Lights safaris as you can always drive your car to a quiet area, away from the light and spot them yourself too. We have an entire article with tips for hunting for the Northern Lights here.

Snowmobile tour for Northern Lights in Rovaniemi
We went hunting for Northern Lights on a snowmobile. How FUN 🙂


  • 8) Visit a reindeer farm

Rumour has it that there are more reindeer than humans in Lapland. Chances are you will see plenty of reindeer on your road trip in Lapland. But do try and visit a reindeer farm too! Here you could go on a reindeer safari through the snow-covered woodlands or even try your hand at feeding baby reindeer. Reindeer herders treat the animals as their family – nowhere else in the world have we witnessed such deep bonds between animals and humans as we did in Lapland. On this trip we spent a fair few hours at one such farm besides SnowVillage hotel in Yllas.


  • 9) Go on a husky safari or try your hand at horse riding

This has been a pretty active road trip, considering you’ve been on Arctic hikes, gone ice-climbing, and perhaps even skiing. Now it’s time to let someone else do the work for you. You could try booking yourself a husky-dog safari or a horse-riding session in Rovaniemi, Yllas, or even Pyha. It is easy to book a safari wherever you have a free afternoon. Pick a place and time that suits your road trip itinerary and go marvel at snow covered trees, Finnish forests, and frozen lakes. On this particular trip we spent an afternoon with the huskies at Arctic Husky Farm in Pyha.

Spent the evening with these cuties 🙂


  • 10) A short stopover in Helsinki

In all probability, you will return your rental car at Rovaniemi Airport and fly to Helsinki before flying back home. Make sure you spend a couple of days in the capital of Finland before you fly out of the country. Helsinki is a truly unique Scandinavian capital and you will relish its urban vibe after spending a week in the Finnish wilderness. We have a great guide to a city break in Helsinki here. Make sure you read it before planning your visit.

Coffee and brunch at Loyly Helsinki
Our favourite coffee spot in Helsinki – Loyly 🙂

Visiting Lapland? Don’t forget to read our 4 Part Guide To Finnish Lapland that we wrote after our first trip to the area

The post 10 things to do on your winter road trip in Lapland, Finland appeared first on Bruised Passports.

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