Destination Deep-Dive 16 MINS READ

17 Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Portugal: A Complete Guide

17 Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Portugal: A Complete Guide

Destination Deep-Dive 16 MINS READ

Believe it or not, Portugal is more than a welcoming retreat for foodies and wine lovers. With a rich history that started around 400,000 years ago, the country is adorned with monuments and landmarks, and it’s home to 17 alluring UNESCO World Heritage Sites, from North to South.

Between one pastel de nata and another, why not take some time to visit the wide collection of landmarks that immortalize the history of the country? Portugal happens to be one of the top destinations in Europe for a culture-filled trip, so you’ll have plenty to see during your vacation.

We probably left you itching to uncover Portugal’s scenic — and utterly Instagrammable — landmarks. So, say no more. To help you plan, here’s the complete list of the 17 Portugal UNESCO World Heritage Sites. All of them are worth visiting and guaranteed to take you on a journey throughout the centuries. Spoiler alert: the Alto Douro Wine Region is included!

Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.

Portugal UNESCO Sites

Aerial view of the Douro wine region, in Portugal

The UNESCO World Heritage currently lists 1,092 sites in 167 countries around the world. In Portugal, there are 17 World Heritage Sites in total and, of those 16 are cultural sites, and 1 is a natural site (the Alto Douro Wine Region).

The newest additions to the UNESCO sites in Portugal are The Royal Convent, in Mafra, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus, in Braga, and the Machado de Castro National Museum, in Coimbra, which became World Heritage Sites in 2019. This was considered a reason for “great joy for all Portuguese”, said Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, president of Portugal, as reported by Portugal News.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal: The Complete List

Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroísmo, Azores Archipelago (1983)

Angra do Heroismo is a city located on Terceira Island — one of the 9 Azores islands— and, thanks to its significant maritime function, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Occupying a strategic positioning in the Atlantic Ocean, Angra was an obligatory port of call from the 15th century until the 19th century, aside from being the most important city in the archipelago. The city also happened to be the capital of Portugal during the Liberal Wars (1828 to 1834), and the seat of the Bishop of the Azores.

The historic center of Angra is definitely one of the most fascinating parts of the city, as it was able to maintain its authentic Renaissance urban design, and its 15th and 16th-century road network, even after the 1980 earthquake. Angra also boasts a showcase of Baroque-style religious buildings, including the cathedral of Santíssimo Salvador da Sé, the churches of the Misericórdia and Espírito Santo, and the convents of the Franciscans and the Jesuits.

Other must-see constructions in the historic center of Angra do Heroísmo are the 400-year-old San Sebastião and San João Baptista fortifications, which are unique examples of military architecture.

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Convent of Christ, Tomar (1983)

Aerial drone view of Convent of Christ in Tomar at sunrise, Portugal

Located in the city of Tomar, in Portugal’s central region, the Convent of Christ is part of one of the largest Portuguese monument complexes, whose buildings and rural domains spread within roughly 45 acres. The convent is encompassed by the Castle of Tomar, which was founded by the Templar Knights in 1160, alongside with the Tomar village, on a site that was formerly used for Roman worship.

We recommend visiting the convent at length in order to uncover its unique details. Built over the span of five centuries, and sitting at the top of a hill, the Convent of Christ displays a range of architectural styles, from Byzantine-Romanic and Italian Renaissance, to Gothic and Manueline. The centerpiece — and one of the most fascinating sections of the convent— is the 12th-century Charola (Rotunda), which was the Knight´s private oratorium within the fortress. During your visit, also make sure to explore the Chapter House, whose ornamented windows are one of the finest samples of the Manueline style.

While the Convent of Christ is the main feature of Tomar, also take some time to wander around this quaint little city. Placed on the banks of Nabão River, Tomar is home to a medieval urban area with cobblestoned streets, aside from well-preserved constructions that immortalize Portugal’s history.

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Monastery of Batalha, Batalha (1983)

The monastery of Batalha with gothic towers, in Portugal

Welcome to one of the finest samples of Gothic architecture in Europe. Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, or Monastery of Batalha, was built in fulfillment of a vow by King João to celebrate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota, in 1385.

Located in the city of Batalha, in central Portugal, the Monastery of Batalha is a sight to be seen by architecture and art lovers. This Dominican monastery designed by the English architect Master Huguet boasts a profusion of sculptures, which represent the 12 apostles, numerous Saints, prophets, angels, and biblical figures.

The monastery was built between 1388 and 1433 and finally completed during the reign of King Duarte I. Its interior, which is 80 meters long and 32.5 meters high, is dotted with rose stained-glass windows, and it’s home to a Royal Cloister. This, by the way, happens to be one of the most important features of the monument, as it harbors the medieval tomb of Dom João I and his wife, Queen Philippa of Lancaster.

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Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém, Lisbon (1983)

Aerial photo of the Belém Tower, in Lisbon, at sunset.

The Jerónimos Monastery (Monastery of the Hieronymites) and the Tower of Belém are two historical gems placed in the very city of Lisbon. Commissioned by King D. Manuel I and gifted to the monks of Saint Hieronymus so they would pray for the king, the monastery is linked to the Age of Discoveries, as it was also built to perpetuate the memory of Prince Henry the Navigator. The monastery preserves a breathtaking and ornamented structure, typical of Manueline art, and it’s home to a two-story cloister built in the 16th-century.

Within a walking distance from the monastery and overlooking the Tagus River sits the Tower of Belém, one of the most prominent examples of Portuguese power during the Age of Discoveries. Erected between 1514 and 1520, this Manueline-style tower was designed by architect and sculptor Francisco de Arruda, and was strategically positioned to defend the city against attackers.

A quick tip: the perfect way to end your tour is by going to Pasteis de Belém, a traditional bakery cafe that has been making the famous Belém custard tarts since 1837.

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Historic Center of Évora (1986)

The Roman Temple of Évora, also referred to as the Templo de Diana.

In the heart of the south-central Alentejo lies Évora. The city boasts a rich history that dates back to the Roman domination when it was an important town praised for its abundance of wheat and silver. In fact, until the present day, there are remnants of the Roman occupation in Évora, including the Temple of Diana, which is believed to have been built around the first century A.D.

Over the centuries, Évora was also ruled by the Moors, the Visigoths, and played an important position in the Portuguese reign during the Middle Ages, serving as the home of King João III.

The city center is compact and easy to explore on foot. You can start on Praça do Giraldo, an ancient market during the Moorish period and now the city’s main square, and head to the Roman Temple of Diana. Then, visit the Évora Museum, and the Sé de Évora, which is the biggest cathedral in Portugal. If you have time, go to the Chaple of Bones, located next to the entrance of the Church of St.Francis. The chapel, which is one of the best-known monuments in Évora, was built by Franciscan monks in the late 16th century, and it’s entirely conveyed by bones and skulls.

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Monastery of Alcobaça (1989)

Aerial view of Alcobaça Monastery, in Portugal

The Monastery of Alcobaça was founded in the 12th-century by King Afonso I as a gift to a Cistercian monk, Bernard of Clairvaux (Saint Bernard), after Portugal’s conquest of Santarém from the Moors, in 1152. Set in a rich and fertile land, the monastery was actually built only 25 years later, in 1178, and its layout was designed to evoke the abbey of Claraval, the Cisternian’s Order’s mother church in France.

Within the monastery, sits a stunning church that is considered the largest Gothic religious structure in Portugal. Its interior, which is more than 20 meters high, is crossed by an imponent central nave, and it features a transept that houses the twin tombs of King Pedro and Inês de Castro. The Monastery of Alcobaça also plays host to 13th and 14th centuries Chapter House, a Refectory, Monk’s Rooms and Dormitory, and the Cloister of Silence, commissioned by King Dinis in 1382, and the largest medieval cloister in Portugal.

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Cultural Landscape of Sintra (1995)

National Palace of Pena in Sintra,  Portugal.

Sintra might be a famous day-trip destination for those who visit Lisbon, but this quaint little village has enough sights to keep travelers busy for an entire week.

With immense natural beauty, this picturesque village is covered in both Mediterranean and northern European flora and encompasses the Sintra-Cascais Nature Park and the 10-kilometers long Sintra Mountains, which has been linked to prehistoric astral cults. This lush vegetation perfectly frames Sintra’s cultural sites, including the National Palace of Pena, the city’s most prominent feature. Placed at the top of a hill, in the Sintra Mountains, this colorful palace is believed to have been built on the site of the Moorish alcazar of Sintra, and it displays the largest collection of Hispanic-Moorish tiles in Europe.

In the 15th-century, Sintra became a famed summer retreat for the affluent people in Portugal, and later on, during the 19th-century, Sintra became the first center of European Romantic architecture. Dating from this period are the Pena Palace, the Monserrate Palace, and Quinta da Regaleira, among others.

When exploring this picturesque cultural landscape of Sintra, don’t forget to stop by Casa Piriquita. Founded more than 150 years ago, the bake is particularly famous for protruding the famous “travesseiros de Sintra” (en: Sintra’s Pillows), a dessert made of puff pastry with a filling of almond cream.

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Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar (1996)

Aerial view of the Luís I Bridge, the Douro River, and the centre of Oporto.

Overlooking the Douro River, the Historic Centre of Oporto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the postcard-worthy Luiz I Bridge and the Monastery of Serra do Pilar. Porto is certainly one of the most charming destinations in Portugal, and its city center is one of the oldest in Europe, with a 2,000-year history.

The city features a slew of well preserved architectural gems, which you can perfectly uncover while exploring the city on foot. During your errands, you’ll certainly come across stunning buildings erected over the past centuries. Make sure to visit the Romanesque-style Porto Cathedral —the city’s oldest surviving structure —, the Monument Church Of St Francis, the most important Gothic monument in Porto, and the Baroque-style Clérigos Tower.

Aside from historic religious buildings, the city also features three bridges, the most prominent being the Luiz I Bridge that spans the Douro River and connects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. When it was completed, in 18886, the bridge had the longest span of any metal bridge in the world.

To experience the best Porto has to offer, cross the Luiz I Bridge —just make sure to quickly stop on the bridge and check out the best view of the city — and go to Vila Nova de Gaia. Filled with world-class wine cellars, the city is also home to the Monastery of Serra do Pilar, the architectural landmark of Gaia. The former monastery was built between 1538 and 1670 and includes a church featuring carved gold leaf altars with Solomonic columns. Bonus? The monastery also has a viewpoint that offers one of the best panoramic views of the Douro and the center of Porto.

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Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (1998,2010)

The Côa River at Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Portugal.

Located in northeastern Portugal, near the border with Spain, the Côa Valley Archaeological Park (PAVC) comprises, along with the Siega Verde Archaeological Park, in Spain, hundreds of prehistorical panels. Both the Côa Valley Park and the Siega Verde are placed on the banks of the rivers Agueda and Côa, which are tributaries of the Douro River, and display rock engravings that date from the Upper Paleolithic to the final Magdalenian/ Epipalaeolithic (22.000 – 8.000 BCE).

Managing a total area of 2 hundred square kilometers, the Côa Valley Park is an immense open air art gallery adorned not only with engravings from the Neolithic and the Chalcolithic but also from the Iron Age, as well as from the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

There are three centers that can be visited in the Côa Park: Canada do Inferno, close to Vila Nova de Foz Côa, which are the first group of engravings to be discovered; Ribeira de Piscos, at Muxagata, and Penascosa, close to the village of Castelo Melhor.

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Laurissilva of Madeira (1999)

View of the island of Madeira Island's eternal spring, laurel forests and levades.

The Laurisilva of Madeira is a green sanctuary located within the Madeira Natural Park. Covering 20% of the Island of Madeira, this is the largest surviving laurel forest in the world, and it houses a unique ensemble of native plants and animals, including endemic species that are only found within the forest.

Found in areas with high humidity and relatively stable, mild temperatures, the laurel forest is a type of subtropical forest that covered much of Southern Europe 15-40 million years ago. Due to the different glaciations in Europe, the “laurissilva” disappeared in a great part of Europe and, now, this lush forest is confined to the Azores, Canary Islands, and Madeira Island.

The Laurisilva of Madeira can be explored throughout a few trekking accessible areas and is a place of importance in Portugal thanks to its biological diversity. Aside from maintaining the hydrological balance on the island, and producing abundant sources of water used by the local people, the forest is home to about 760 plants. Of those, 149, including the Madeira Orchid, are edemic, which means that they grow only on the island.

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Historic Centre of Guimarães (2001)

Our Lady of Consolcation Chruch, Guimarães, Portugal

Placed in the district of Braga, Guimarães is a great day trip from Porto and the perfect pit-stop for those who are taking a road trip from the North to the South of Portugal. Founded in the 4th-century, Guimarães is often referred to as the”birthplace of Portugal” or “the cradle city”, as it was the feudal territory of the Portuguese Dukes who declared the independence of Portugal in the 12th century. The city was also the first capital of Portugal, and the Battle of São Mamede, which was the most important event for the foundation of Portugal, was fought near Guimarães.

Guimarães was elected European Capital of Culture in 2012, as it plays host to a sizzling cultural scene, with a profusion of buildings dating from the 10th, 13th, 14th,15th, and 19th centuries. Its compact historic center can be explored in one day, and worth-visiting monuments include the hilltop Guimarães Castle, which is believed to be the birthplace of Afonso Henriques, Portugal’s first king, and the Baroque-style Our Lady of Consolation Church.

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Alto Douro Wine Region (2001)

Portugal has many things to be proud of. It has 1,794 km of coastline dotted with idyllic beaches, amazing weather all year round, photogenic houses covered in ornamented tiles, and heartwarming food, just to name a few. But one of the country’s most praised staples is definitely the Port Wine. In fact, Portugal is home to the oldest viticultural legal region in the world, the Alto Douro Wine Region, which has been designated a World Heritage site in 2001.

Placed in the North of Portugal, the Alto Douro Wine Region has an ancient tradition of viticulture, and wine has been produced in the region for some 2,000 years. Since the 18th-century, the main product of the Douro Valley is the world-famous Port Wine, a fortified, rich, and smooth-on-the-palate wine that retains the natural sweetness of the grape.

The highly valuable cultural landscape of Alto Douro comprises terraced vineyards, wine-producing farm complexes, villages, slopes covered in schist walls, and deep valleys carved by the Douro River, which flows from central Spain to the city of Porto, in Portugal.

One of the best ways of exploring the great scenic beauty of the Alto Douro Wine Region is by taking the Port Wine Route. If you have time, opt for tracking the hillsides of Douro River’s course by car. Along the way, just make sure you stop at the local vineyards and wine cellars, where you’ll be able to learn about centuries-old wine tradition while sipping on some of the best wines in the world.

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The Landscape Of The Pico Island Vineyard Culture, Azores (2004)

Pico Island Vineyard, in Azores.

The Douro might be the most famous wine-growing area in Portugal, but the country harbors several other premium viniculture regions. The Pico Island Vineyard Culture, in the Azores archipelago, is one of them. There’s just one difference: in Pico Island, the vineyards are planted in black lava grounds.

Pico Island is the second-largest island of the Azores, and home to Mount Pico, a stratovolcano that is the highest mountain of Portugal, at 7,713 ft above sea level. Not by chance, the island is covered by extensive lava fields, which form the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture, listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 2004. Spanning within 987 hectares of Pico Island, the picturesque Vineyard Culture is divided into small plots (called “Currais”), which are surrounded by stone walls, and separated from the other farms by larger walls, the “jeiros”.

Currently, in Pico Island, three noble indigenous varieties are grown: Arinto dos Açores, Verdelho, and Terrantez do Pico. These are white grape varieties are known for resulting in full-bodied and well-structured wines, with a complex aroma of spices.

One of the best places to go for a wine tasting on the Island is at the Cooperativa Vitivinícola da Ilha do Pico (CVIP), which offers a tour where you’ll have the opportunity not only to learn the history of the vineyards but also taste 6 nectars produced on the island Mountain.

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Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (2012)

Built from the 17th to the 19th century, the Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications is the largest bulwarked dry-ditch system in the world. This a World Heritage Site located in the region of Alentejo, near the Portuguese-Spanish border, and has seven components: the Historic Centre of Elvas, the Amoreira Aqueduct, the Fort of Santa Luzia, the Fort of Graça, and the Fortlets of São Mamede, São Pedro, and São Domingos. One of the most fascinating is definitely the Fort of Graça, which sits on the top of a rugged hill and it’s surrounded by a star-shaped defense system.

The fortifications, carefully designed by the Dutch Jesuit Cosmanded and adapted to the irregular topography of Elvas, are the second World Heritage Site in Alentejo. A great idea is to go on a road trip in the region and explore the fascinating cities in south-central and southern Portugal. After Elvas, head over to Évora and then to Reguengos de Monsaraz, which was elected European wine capital in 2015.

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University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (2013)

The courtyard of the University of Coimbra, Portugal

The riverfront city of Coimbra also deserves a place on top of the bucket list for those who are going to Portugal. Built on the banks of the Mondego River, Coimbra is the country’s former capital, and it’s particularly famous for housing the historic the University of Coimbra, the oldest in Portugal, listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2013.

Founded in Lisbon by Dom Dinis, in 1290, the University of Coimbra was permanently transferred to Coimbra in 1537. The university was established in the Royal Palace of Alcáçova, on the hill above the town (Alta), overlooking the Mondego River. Over the centuries, it developed into a series of colleges, but it managed to preserve its stunning features, including the Baroque-style Joanina Library, which houses more than 53 thousand books from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

Fun fact: some say that the black cloak worn by the students of the Coimbra University inspired J.K. Rowling when creating the iconic dress code of Hogwarts.

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Royal Building of Mafra – Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and Hunting Park (2019)

After a full immersion in Lisbon, we recommend a day trip to Mafra, which is located only 40 minutes from the capital. The city is mostly known for the Royal Building of Mafra, which encompasses a Palace, a Basilica, a Convent, a Garden, and a Hunting Park (Tapada Nacional de Mafra). Designed by the German architect Johann Friedrich Ludwig, the Royal Building of Mafra was ordered by King John V in 1711, and it became not only a Baroque masterpiece but also a symbol of the king’s power.

One of the most notable features of the complex is the National Palace of Mafra, which was the summer residence of the royal family, and built thanks to the Brazilian gild that poured into the country. Covering an area of almost four hectares, the palace is the most important Baroque building in Portugal, and it’s home to 1.200 rooms, more than 4.700 doors and windows, 156 stairways, and 29 inner yards and courtyards. The largest and most prestigious room and the building is the National Library of Mafra, with wooden Rococo bookshelves that hold some 36,000 books dating from the 14th to the 19th centuries.

To gild the lily, pay a visit to the Basilica, which houses a set of six organs, altarpieces by the Italian artist Alessandro Giusti, and the most significant collection of baroque sculpture outside Italy.

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Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, Braga (2019)

Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary located in Braga, Portugal

A sculptured stairway with 573 steps leads to the top of a hill, where the Bom Jesus do Monte Church sits. Developed over more than 600 years, the staircase and the church form the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte, in Braga, which is surrounded by a densely wooded verdant area.

The stairway is adorned with symbolic fountains, statues, and Borque-style decorative elements, which represent the Stations of the Cross, the Five Senses, the Virtues, Moses receiving the Commandments and, at the top, the biblical figures that contributed to the Condemnation of Jesus.

Whether you choose to take the stairs or reach the top by funicular, make sure you take in the view from the bottom of the Stairway, where you’ll have a jaw-dropping view of the granite fountains placed on the various landings. Once you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with another breathtaking view: the scenic landscape of the city of Braga, in the north of Portugal.

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The 30 Most Instagrammable Places to Visit During the Summer

The 30 Most Instagrammable Places to Visit During the Summer

Destination Deep-Dive 13 MINS READ

Do you travel around the world looking for the best spot to take the perfect photo? If this is something up your alley, then you will love checking out this list of the 30 most Instagrammable places to visit during the summer. From London’s Tower Bridge to Malaysia’s steps to Batu Caves to the Duomo di Milano, there are so many places to fall head over heels for. Many of these monuments, cities, islands, and landmarks are also UNESCO Heritage Sites. Pack your camera, tripod, and video gear because these Instagram-worthy destinations cannot be beaten. Scroll down the list to plan your trip to the world’s most jaw-dropping photo spots. You will want to add each one to your bucket list after seeing them all.

Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.

halong bay vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

If you have ever wanted to visit Southeast Asia you most likely came across pictures and stories about Halong Bay. There are over 1,600 islands in the bay scattered through the emerald waters. The islands are actually limestone karst landforms, which were worn down by 500 million years of tropical downpours and look like arches and pillars shooting out of the water. The bay is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the best Instagrammable spots in Vietnam. For some Insta worthy pictures, a great tip is to take a junk boat tour to explore the bay’s islands, caves, and floating villages.
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the duomo in milan

Duomo di Milano, Italy

The Duomo di Milano is a national treasure in Italy, and one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Aside from being a highly Instagrammable spot, the Duomo is Milan’s main cathedral and welcomes millions of worshipers and tourists annually. The cathedral, which has over 90 gargoyles and about 3,400 statues, took almost six centuries to be built. It is also the largest cathedral in Italy, the second-largest in Europe, and fourth-largest in the world.
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golden gate bridge in san francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA

If you go to San Francisco, you must take a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. Connecting San Francisco City to Marin County, the Golden Gate it’s one of the longest and tallest suspension bridges in the world and is one of California’s most well-known attractions. The American Society of Engineers considers the bridge to be one of the Modern Wonders of the World. Tip for taking the best photo of the Golden Gate bridge: head over to Baker Beach, during sunset. Also, make sure to check the weather forecast to avoid cloudy or foggy days. Mornings are better when shooting the bridge from the east.
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view of oia in santorini

Oia City, Santorini, Greece

The beautiful city of Oia on Santorini Island is one of the most jaw-dropping Instagrammable places in the world. People travel far and wide to get a picture of the white-washed houses and bright blue rooves, which are definitely Instagram worthy. During your trip to Santorini, don’t forget to take a boat ride around the island and soak up the sunshine and friendliness of the Greeks. This ride will not only provide you with amazing photo spots, but also a great relaxation time under the Greek sun.
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rainbow mountain peru

Rainbow Mountain, Peru

Rainbow Mountain is not only one of the 30 most Instagrammable places in the world, but also one of Peru’s most picturesque natural landmarks. While it may seem that the mountain was painted by hands, the colors are actually a result of minerals in the ground. The Rainbow Mountain, which is over 5,000 meters above sea level, is enjoyed by thousands of visitors daily and it’s becoming the main attraction to see after or before Machu Picchu. Listed as one of the“Top 100 Places To Visit Before You Die” by National Geographic, the mountain is made of 14 different minerals, which have a wide range of colors, such as turquoise, lavender, and gold. The Rainbow Mountain is also known as Vinicunca in the local Peruvian Quechua language, which translates to “colored mountain”.
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tower bridge in london

Tower Bridge, London, England

Often mistaken as London Bridge, this famous monument in England’s capital is the Tower Bridge. The bridge is located between the Tower of London, Borough Market, and Westminister Abbey, a is a must-visit place for the perfect London photo shot. Also, going to Tower Bridge will put you in the middle of London’s most famous photo-spots, like the City Hall, the Tower of London and The Shard. Cross over to get an incredible view of the Thames River.
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salt lake in bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Located in the middle of the Bolivian Andes, in southwest Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni is every photographer’s paradise. The Salar is the world’s largest salt flat and its bright-white salt surface spans over 3,900 square miles (10,000 square kilometers). Its unique formation is a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. On the surface, there are few meters of salt creating its flatness. The rainy season, which is from December to April, is the best time to visit the salary to witness the mirror effect and, of course, take amazing photos. This mirroring phenomenon happens because the nearby lakes overflow and a thin layer of water transform the flats into a reflection of the sky. Thanks to its endless horizon, Salar de Uyuni’s allows travelers to take creative pictures by playing with depths and perspective, and it soon became one of the most Instagrammable places in the world. Curious fact: in 2017 it was one of the film locations for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

havana cuba view

Havana, Cuba

People fly to Cuba from the farthest parts of the globe to see the colorful streets of Old Havana. Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century and was a very important location for the Spaniards during the conquest. Over one million international tourists visit Havana a year to not only experience the city’s lively culture but also to see its eclectic charm. Havana harbors richly-decorated mansions, colorful houses with Moorish-style roofs, and Art Deco constructions, such as the Fausto Theatre on Paseo del Prado. And, like many of the Instagrammable places on this list, Havana was also the location for many films, such as Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, and Buena Vista Social Club: Adios. Travelers can rent one of the colorful vintage cars and take a ride while snapping pics of the old town.
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palm island view in dubai

Palm Islands, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Have you ever seen anything like this? Consisting of three artificial islands, the Palm Islands is a very popular tourist attraction to see in Dubai, especially up from the sky. The creation of the artificial islands began in 2001, and it required 5.5 million cubic meters of rock brought from 16 different quarries in Dubai, 700 tons of limestone, and 94 million cubic meters of sand from deep sea beds placed 6 miles from the coast of Dubai. Often regarded as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ the Palm Islands are the largest human-made islands in the world and created to drive more attention to Dubai. Also known as Palm Jumeirah, the islands are home to thousands of waterfront apartments, residential villas, some 60 luxury hotels, spas, and dive sites. If you go to Dubai, we recommend taking your bravery up to new heights and going skydiving above the islands.
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the rainbow stairs in batu caves

Batu Caves, Malaysia

Who wouldn’t want to get a picture in front of the rainbow steps leading up to Batu Cave? Located in Kuala Lumpur the 272 steps lead to the caves which also serve as a temple. The golden statue is the Hindu deity Lord Murugan, who stands to protect the temple and stairway. It is truly a bucket list spot to visit.
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the blue lagoon in malta

Blue Lagoon, Malta

Known for its crystal blue waters and incredible views, the Blue Lagoon is Malta’s most famous and popular attraction. Visitors can rent a boat for the day or take a ferry to spend hours exploring the bay and Comino Island, which lies between Malta and Gozo Islands. If you like to swim, there is no better place to do explore the coves and caves of the island.

Sintra portugal view

Sintra, Portugal

Sintra’s castle lives above the clouds. Located in the region of Lisbon, Sintra is very famous for its many UNESCO World Heritage sites and its castles and palaces. This cultural landscape is a hot spot not just in Portugal, but all of Europe. Everyone who visits calls this romantic village a fairytale, and once you go you’ll see why.

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Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan

Have you ever been to Kyoto’s incredible Bamboo Forest? Get lost in a sea of greenery and bamboo stalks that extend hundreds of feet into the sky. While the whole walk can be done in one hour, visitors often spend hours in the forest admiring the natural park. Be sure to add it to your Japanese bucket list. You also have to try the delicious teas in the nearby tea houses.

cappadocia turkey hot air balloons

Cappadocia, Turkey

If you have ever dreamt of taking a hot air balloon ride, there is no better place to experience it than in Cappadocia, Turkey. People folk there to get beautiful colorful photos on top of the “fairy chimney” mounds and beautiful balloon backdrop. Turkey has so many unique places to explore so be sure to add Cappadocia to the list.

bondi beach view

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Bondi Beach is easily one of the most instagrammable places to visit in Australia. Visitors can surf, whale watch, and enjoy views of the gorgeous blue waters from the pool that appears as if it is in the ocean. Explore and discover Sydney’s other picture-perfect locations when visiting the pristine Bondi Beach.

the pyramids in egypt

Egyptian Pyramids, Giza, Egypt

The Egyptian Pyramids in Giza are the last remaining original wonder of the world. The first mention of the pyramids dates as far back as the Early Dynastic Period. History says the actual pyramids are from the 3rd dynasty. They are truly a world wonder demonstrating the sheer strength and capability of humans from such an early point in time. The pyramids were originally built as tombs for the pharaohs and are now visiting by millions of tourists a year.

blue city in morocco

Blue City, Chefchaouen, Morocco

One of Morocco’s most visited locations is the gorgeous blue city of Chefchaouen. It is located in the northwest part of Morocco and is near Tangier, one of Morocco’s more connected cities to Europe. When the Jewish people were trying to escape the Spaniards in 1492, they flocked to Chefchaouen. It was then that they began painting the walls blue and it remains a tradition ever since. Tourists love exploring the blue town in search of the perfect nook to snap their shot with no one around.

northern lights in iceland

Northern Lights, Iceland

Millions of people visit Iceland, Norway, Canada, Sweden, and more every year to have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. But Iceland offers something truly spectacular and from winter to spring you can stay up all night to take in the spectacular green, blue, purple, and yellow colors. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Skyline Queenstown, New Zealand

Enjoy a panoramic view of Queenstown from the Skyline Complex. Visitors can take a short gondola ride up to the structure to dine with a view of the city, mountains, and  Lake Wakatipu. While you can choose to hike or take the gondola up, to go down you have to try the luge. A visit to this incredibly Instagrammable location pairs well with adventure.

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Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Located in Page, Arizona, horseshoe bend is one of the most famous parts of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. Sit above the clips to get the best photo of the river as it winds around the bend. You can arrive to have the photo opt by climbing a 1.5-mile hike. The view is breathtaking, especially at sunset.

parc guell in barcelona

Parc Güell, Barcelona, Spain

Visitors come to Barcelona every year to admire the incredible colorful artwork by Antoní Gaudi. Parc Güell is one of Spain’s most favorite parks and tourist attractions. The park has been open since 1926 and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located on Carmel Hill, there is no better place to get a breathtaking view of the entire city stretching out to the beach. One could simply spend hours exploring the park and all of its architectural designs.

gates of heaven in bali

Gates of Heaven, Bali, Indonesia

Although the entire island of Bali is filled with instagrammable places, the Gates of Heaven is a must-visit for that once in a lifetime photo. The “gates” are part of the Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang in Karangasem. While many people often criticize influencers and tourists for visiting this spot for the photo, one can’t help but admire its beauty and incredible natural backdrop. Our tip? Be extremely respectful and learn a thing or two about how to contribute to the preservation of Bali’s holiest locations.

the blue mosque in istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey

From the opposing and breathtaking mosques to the culture and colorful streets, Istanbul is a place unlike any other. It serves as both a cultural and historic center for Turkey. Originally named Byzantium and Constantinople, it is the largest city in Europe and the seventh-largest city in the world. If you are looking to learn about the ancient Europan history and its connection to Asia, while getting your picture-perfect moment, then Istanbul is the perfect place for you.

singapore tree garden

Supertree Grove, Singapore

You cannot visit Singapore without taking a picture of the Supertree Grove. This man-made forest is unique for its tree-like towers and verdant greenery. The trees are between 80 to 160 ft tall and belong to the Gardens by the Bay nature park. The park welcomes over 50 million guests a year and serves as a symbol for enriching the quality of life in Singapore. If you are looking for one of the most instagrammable places to visit, this is definitely a fantastic option.

amsterdam canals

Amsterdam Canals, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Take a walk down the charming streets of Amsterdam on your next trip to the Netherlands. The entire city is a collection of Instagrammable places, such as channels, canals, and small elongated houses. Many of the houses have the appearance that they are leaning. This was done on purpose to avoid a collision. Bike culture is very popular in Amsterdam. So hop on a bicycle and snap a few epic photos of the colorful city along the way.

New York, New York

View of the New York City skyline from the Hudson River.

In New York City, at almost every corner you’ll find an Insta worthy place. And, especially during the summer, New York boasts an irresistible and lively atmosphere, which makes travelers want to capture every single moment. The warm weather provides New York with special sunlight, which makes it even easier to appreciate the beauty of the city. In case you’re looking for the most Instagrammable places to take amazing pictures in New York City, a great tip is to start with the basics. You can head over to the verdant Central Park, or photograph the city’s iconic skyline, which is dotted with high-rise constructions, such as the Empire State Building.

But, if you’re looking for off the beaten track Instagrammable places in New York City, make your move to cool photo spots such as Williamsburg, a hype neighbouhood filled with industrial buildings, vintage shops, hippie-chic cafes and elegant speakeasies.

Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro

Aerial view of the Baia de Guanabara, in Rio de Janeiro, during the sunset.

When it comes to Instagrammable places to visit during summer, Rio de Janeiro is undoubtedly one of the best. This beautiful Brazilian city is a quaint paradise, dotted with forested mountains, beaches, and rich architectural heritage. Some of the most Instagrammable spots in Rio de Janeiro include the Arpoador Rock, the colorful Escadaria Selaron, the Plage Cafe located in Parque Lage, and the Sugarloaf Mountain, which rises 396 meters above the Gulf of Guanabara. When in Rio, also make sure to visit the picture-worthy Christ Redeemer, a giant statue listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cartagena, Colombia

A street lined with colorful houses in Cartagena, Colombia.

Cartagena is a true profusion of colors. Placed on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, this historic city founded in the 16th-century displays a showcase of scenic historic buildings, cobblestone streets, colorful colonial houses, and bougainvillea-laced balconies. Not by chance, Cartagena is one of the most Instagrammable places in the world, so you might wanna take advantage of the summer season, which is when the city is the most beautiful. Some worthy places for taking Instagram photos are the walled Old Town of Cartagena, filled with cultural sights, and the lively Getsemani Neighbourhood, known for its colorful houses and street art murals.

Los Angeles, California

Orange sunset at Venice Beach, in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of the most Instagrammable places in the world. But, interestingly, it is. In fact, Los Angeles is home to some of the most Instagram worthy spots in California. In case you want to photograph iconic places in Los Angeles, make sure to include the Hollywood Sign, the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in your itinerary. Los Angeles also plays host to cool artsy Instagrammable places, like The Broad, a contemporary art museum in Downtown Los Angeles, and the Urban Light, a large-scale artwork placed outside of LACMA.

When traveling around Los Angeles during the summer, you can also head over to other amazing photo spots, like the Santa Monica Pier, which is framed by the Pacific Ocean, and the quirky Venice Beach.

Prague, Czech Republic

View of the Vltava River, in Prague, crossed by 4 bridges and surrounded by orange and yellow trees.

Prague is one of the most Instagrammable places in the world at any time of the year. During the late fall and winter, the city boasts a glittering Christmas decoration, with magical open-air markets being held in some of the city’s most iconic areas, such as the Old Town Square and the Wenceslas Square. During spring, Prague gets dotted with cherry blossoms, and in the summertime, the sun illuminates Prague’s ancient buildings, which become even more beautiful and picture-perfect.

So, if traveling to Prague in summer is on the books for you, you might wanna know where to go to take the most amazing photos of the city. The number one photo spot is the Prague Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site founded in around 880, and the largest ancient castle complex in the world. Europe, by the way, is home to thousands of magnificent castles, and you might want to include some of them on your list of the most Instagrammable places to visit.

In Prague, make sure you also make your move to other photo spots, such as the Charles Bridge, spanning the River Vltava, and the quirky Dancing House placed right on the Vltava riverfront.


Now that you know the most Instragrammable places to visit, start planning a trip to capture them all. CuddlyNest has everything from hotels to homes, and everything in between to provide you with the perfect place to stay.

Browse. Book. Stay.

CuddlyNest provides all accommodations to all travelers at the best price. Find unlimited travel inspiration on our blog and social media channels

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Croatia 9 MINS READ

Balkan Nature Wellness Roadtrip Itinerary to Croatia and Montenegro

Balkan Nature Wellness Roadtrip Itinerary to Croatia and Montenegro

Croatia 9 MINS READ

Balkan Croatia Montenegro CuddlyNest blog roadtrip senior nature getaway relaxing

Senior travel in 2019 is great and booming. But while hotels and resorts offer more and more yoga and health, meditation and yoga holidays, some elderly prefer to go on an active holiday and enjoy nature hikes, mountain climbing, and even canoe trips, discovering what Europe has to offer from a different perspective.

Senior Holidays in Europe

If you prefer visiting Europe and its Central European capitals, or travel to Northern Europe for Art Noveau architecture, or visit

other Balkan countries for great food, go and visit some of our previous blogs. But if you want to treat yourself well, and allow your body to relax on holiday while giving it enough active time, keep reading and learn what great Balkan destinations to visit and add to your South-Eastern Europe bucket list when going on winter or spring holidays 2019. CuddlyNest put up an itinerary for your active, adventurous, and yet not too much physically demanding holidays – and we are sure you would love to get some relaxation time with SPA and beauty retreats in between! 

Balkan and Greece Itinerary Plan for Active Seniors

Balkan and Greece itinerary is a great option if you are looking for a laid-back travel destination country and want to go somewhere you’ve never been before. From Croatia to Montenegro, from Greece to Albania, there are well-known and popular destinations as well as harder to reach, much more rural and even abandoned nature-only places.

  1. Split, Croatia
  2. Brac Island, Croatia
  3. Pasjača Beach, Croatia
  4. Vranjina, Montenegro
  5. Locven and Skadar Lake National Parks, Montenegro
  6. Durrës, Albania
  7. Sarandë, Albania
  8. Corfu, Greece
  9. Patras, Greece

Split, Croatia.

Balkan Croatia Montenegro CuddlyNest blog roadtrip senior nature getaway relaxing

Split, Croatia Best SPA and Nearby Beaches

While Split is the capital of Croatia and one of the best-connected cities in the region, there is not much nature around the city, apart from the very well-kept white sandy beach. To relax and care for your health, we recommend staying at SPA apartments and enjoy the Split hospitality for very affordable prices. 

There is a SPA and wellness centre also in Divota Apartment hotel, where private studio apartments in Veli Varos District just 5 minutes from the UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace and the Riva seaside Promenade. The rooms have access to massages and SPA and wellness centres.

If you are more into hotels than private apartments, Hotel Park Split has a seasonal outdoor pool, and couped with SPA and wellness centre Filomena Priska Spa on its underground floor. The center includes a hot tub, sauna and even a gym! Located on one of the Split’ s most famous beaches Bacvice, it is Make sure to try out their 19th century inspired massages, facial and body treatments, as well as services like waxing, manicure and pedicures.

Balkan Croatia Montenegro CuddlyNest blog roadtrip senior nature getaway relaxing

Makarska, Sumartin and Brac Island 

To truly enjoy the wild spirit and sense the Split itself, you must dive into island-hopping even if only for a short time. From Split, you can travel to Makarska, a nearby town just a 1-hour ride away. Makarska is known for its Riviera beaches, and seafront promenade, but to get to less crowded and wilder beaches, we suggest visiting Kačić Square and then continuing to port and getting on a ferry to Brač island.

How to get to Makarska

To get to Makarska, get on a Promet Makarska bus. It will take a little over 1 hour from Split to Makarska. Get your tickets at the bus station, but check the schedule or if you wish to, then book your tickets on their website. The bus goes hourly from 5 am to 10.30 pm daily, and you can get a ticket for 50 HRR, approximately €7.

Sumartin and Brac.

Sumartin and Brač Island are an old and scarcely populated island. Sumartin village is the youngest town on the island, homing around 500 people only. Established in the 17th century, the town comprises Fraciscian monastery, and some other religious buildings, among old farmhouses. When visiting Brac island, take it slowly and enjoy the local wines, food, and other  . If you earlier visited Split and saw the UNESCO inscribed Diocletian palace. Built for Emperor around 4 AD, today it forms around half of Split old town. If you wonder where the material for the magnificent building was taken, then it is just there, in Brac. Near Supertar, there were dolomite Rasohe quarry, in which slaves worked day and night to gather material for the palace. Still today, you can see a small engraving – the legend says the picture was engraved by slaves asking for guidance and strength to Hercules, the Roman hero famous for strenht and other features. When visiting Splitska, Smartin and other places in Barc, you can rent a bike to get around the island faster.

There are also several SPA resorts and nature and eco-travel guest houses offered for staying at and enjoying your holidays in a laid-back, natural atmosphere on this Croatian island.

Makarska to Brač Island ferry

To get from Makarska to Sumartin, you can take a ferry by Jardolinija route 638. The service runs 3 times a day in the off-season, 4 times a day in June and September, and 5 times a day in July and August. The ferry costs 30 HKR for an adult, but you can check more precise ticket information here

Pasjaca Beach.

Balkan Croatia Montenegro CuddlyNest blog roadtrip senior nature getaway relaxing

Best Beach in 2019: Visit Croatia Pasjača Beach

If you are keen to see one of the wild beaches compromising both white sand, pristine blue water and even some cliffs, then look for it no more and head to the now-famous Pasjaca beach. It was claimed to be the best beach in the world in 2019, sporting the 1st place and ranking above the world-famous beaches of Spain and Greece. If you can catch both, we also suggest going to Nugal beach just to see what the hype is about.

As for the origins of the beach, it is not exactly a natural beach, as you may expect. Developed from a symbiosis of man and nature, the origins of the Pasjac (or Popovic) beach date back to 1955 when there was a tunnel constructed, leading to the sea. Workers left the excavated rocks just there, and in a few years, the waves crashed against to fill the shore with white sand at the bottom of the majestic cliffs on Konavile. Today, you can, therefore, see both white sand and cliff shore watered by the blue Medditarea sea water.

How to get from Brac to Pasjaca

To get from Brac island to Pasjaca, the easiest way is to go from Supertar to Split by ferry, and then take a bus from Split to Popovic. The whole trip will take around 4 hours, and cost from €31. The bus route is not going by the seaside but is surely a picturesque journey, taking you through the mountainous region of Dio Kanjona Rijeke Cetine, the Dio Canion of the river Cetina. 

Kotori, Montenegro.

Balkan Croatia Montenegro CuddlyNest blog roadtrip senior nature getaway relaxing

Bay of Kotori, Montenegro

To continue your road trip, you can head to the nearby Cavtat caostal town to rent a car and go further on your own into the nature parks of Montenegro. The car drive from Cavtat to Kostanjica in Kotor, just by the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro will take you no more than a 1-hour drive, and the road is simply beautiful, with flat and landscape, small road going through the coastal towns. If you are not in a rush, definitely stop at Igalo Игало in Montenegro, take a dip in the water at Tople, walk the promenade and see the Old Škver Harbor, before heading to Kamenari passing Savina Monastery in Herceg-Novi, on the way overseeing the most beautiful bay in Montenegro, Boka Kortska.

Cavtat Car Rental 

Renting a car at Cavtat Croatia will not cost you a fortune. While some car companies allow you to drop a car off at your hotel in Cavtat for free and renting within Croatia will be around £54 for an economy car but you would have to pay €40 to take it into Montenegro. Axa rental service offers the prepayment to be around £21 for the excess, while for other companies, like iCrahire, it would cost 45 Euros for the green card to take it out of Croatia. There is also another cost you must take into account, hence the insurance To reduce the insurance to zero, you can use iCarhire and reduce the 1500 euro excess to £20 for the week to reduce it to zero. However, the company will still need your card to reserve the insured amount, and 15 euros to reduce the excess. All in all, you will hardly spend over 100 euros for a week of car rental, and the money will get you much further than taking buses. However, we only suggest booking a car after going to the islands, as ferry fees can quickly add up if you want to take your car with you.

Ferry from Kamenari to Lepetani

 To get from Kamenari to Lepetani by car, you cannot take a ferry or ride the walking bridge connecting Kamenari to Lepetani. Instead, you shall ride all the way the scenic route by the inner part of the bay, and going through Dobrota and Kotor towns. Whilst on the road, we recommend also take a chance and enjoy the local cuisine, and get some of the best Montenegro food, ordering either the tasty fish soup or squid-ink-colored black risotto at one of the restaurants in the towns.

Lovcen National Park, Montenegro

Balkan Croatia Montenegro CuddlyNest blog roadtrip senior nature getaway relaxing

Visit Lovcen National Park, Montenegro

Visiting Lovcen National Park is a must if you want to wind off and just enjoy the wild beauty of Montenegro. From weeklong meditation retreats on your own in the 62 km2 area in the central highest part of the mount Lovcen, to wandering the historical buildings, farmhouses and village guvnas, cottages in katuns and more man-made but integrated spaces. The mountainous region is popular with tourists but less so in September and October season. The best time to camp here in July and August, but for a digital recharge, or off-grid life for a few days to relax your senses and get back the health, you may also visit the park in the shoulder season. 

Lovcen National Park Practical Information: Entrance Fees and Accommodation

To enter the National park, you must buy a ticket for £2, but the entrance for children under 7 years old is free. You can also camp here, with your tent or camper. Sleeping in nature will cost you 10€ while there are also several hotels located within the nature park, hence Hotel Ivanov Konak ad Hotel Monte Rosa. The former one also has a bicycle and car rental for your convenience. 

Skadar Lake National Park in Montenegro

After taking time in Cetinje in Lovcen National Park, you can drive further to either Podgorica and Budva, to visit either the capital or one of the best-rated resort towns in Montenegro. However, you can just continue along the road  M23 from Centinje t Podgorica, and take a turn at Meterizi, turning onto a small countryside road going to Skadar. Skadar is well known for its nature, and the lake feels untouched by men.

If you wish to deep dive into nature and relax, then gong for birdwatching either alone equipped with a book and binocular, or in an organized tour, you can spot all kinds of birds all season long. As for other activities, like boat rides, you can relax taking a sunset ride into the beautiful lake.

Rijeka Crnojevića

Before coming to the lake itself, you will pass by the Rijeka Crnojevića, Ријека Црнојевића. To take the most from the local cuisine, we suggest having lunch with the local scallops in the Old Bridge Restaurant, alternatively heading to the nearby Šinđon and get some lake fresh food fro the Eko Restaurant Šinđon.

Balkan Itinerary: Visit Virpazar

Virpazar is one of the smallest villages around the lake, at the same time offering one of the best options for winding off, taking a break from city life and enjoying yoga retreat, off-grid life, and fresh air all day, all night. With a population of a little over 300 inhabitants, both Serbs and Montenegrins, the  village is the perfect place to escape the city buzz. When bored, you can climb up the Besac Castle which is open every day and watch the lake from up.

To follow up on the next edition of the Balkan itinerary, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and share this on Pinterest!

Balkan roadtrip senior nature getaway relaxing

The Balkan nature itinerary will be continued by a trip to Albania and rural Greek islands.