Things to Do in Bangkok During a 24-Hour Layover

Guest post by Alice Ross at For Travelista

Many travelers have to change aircraft at the airport in Bangkok and end up with some free time in the city.

 

Most flights going through the Bangkok airport have connecting flights scheduled pretty close together, so you don’t need to wait too long for your next flight. But what if your layover is longer than a few hours? Or maybe you’ve got 24 hours to spend in the city before you fly out? You don’t want to wait at the airport for too long! We all know lounges can be expensive and massage chairs are not always enough to keep you comfortable. One of the best ways to use your free time is to explore Thailand’s capital city.


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Getting There

It’s easy to get to the main city of Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Not only is the Airport Rail Link fast, but it’s also affordable. For only 150 Baht, you can take the 30-minute ride from the airport to Makkasan Station. As the closest station to the main city, it will be your starting point.

Another option is riding in a taxi. They easily are available from the airport’s ground floor. While not as cheap as taking the train, taxis are a more convenient way to get around. However, you have to know that rush hour and rainy days are not the best times to take a taxi as you might spend hours sitting in it. Also, ask your driver to turn on the meter before hopping in it, unless you want to get ripped off, of course.

Things to Do in Bangkok

Attractions

So, where should you go? It’s best to make the attraction you want to see first your direct destination from the airport. Note that some places, especially temples, may refuse your entry if you’re not wearing proper clothing. Do not wear flip-flops, sleeveless shirts, or shorts. This strict rule applies to both genders. If you happen to forget to wear the right clothing, there are many shops targeting tourists that will allow you to buy or rent a sarong or shoes.

You can start by soaking up some of the local culture. The Grand Palace is an amazing example of Thai culture and probably the most iconic landmark in Bangkok. This complex is where you will find Wat Phra Kaew that houses the famous 14th-century Emerald Buddha. The small architectural details and Buddhist shrines make the Grand Palace a tourist attraction that no foreign visitors should miss. The city’s cultural heart is a fascinating attraction that offers unique insight into the country’s history.

If the weather and time allow, you may want to take a tour from the River City complex on the Chao Phraya’s riverbank for an opportunity to see quickly see some of the city’s historical monuments. Weaving between the houses along the waterways of Bangkok and passing by the remarkable temples, such as the majestic Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn, you get a feel of authentic life in Bangkok. The tour will bring you up the river by longtail boat, and you’ll get to the calmer rice barge, where you’ll you can try some of the delectable cuisines.

Things to Do in Bangkok

Afternoon Shopping

Your trip to Bangkok is not complete if you haven’t experience exploring some of its many shopping markets. Considered as a shopper’s paradise, you can find anything you can think of here. Make sure to bargain for the best price for the products you want to take home with you.

Siam is the ultimate shopping district in Bangkok. Here, you will find rows of mega malls sitting that house some of the biggest brands in fashion. You can spend your whole day walking around the malls and still not see them all. So, if you have limited time in Siam Paragon, you may want to check out Siam Center and Central World first, as they offer the best combination of designers, high street brands, and boutiques. While MBK is infamous among travelers, it is the best place to go if you’re looking for cheap trinkets.

Another place you may want to go is in Platinum Fashion Mall located in Pratunam. Platinum is a one-stop shop for those who are looking wholesale finds that specializes in fashion brands. The many options available might be intimidating for some, but if you’re looking for something special, it is a worthwhile stop.

Things to Do in Bangkok

The Nightlife

And of course, you cannot truly experience Bangkok unless you see its nightlife. If you have a low to mid-range budget, you can find a lot of affordable bars that target tourists. Khao San Road is probably the most popular street in Bangkok, if not, in all of Thailand – partly for having the most bars per square foot in the whole country.

Another popular area for lowball partygoers is Silom Soi 4. In this area is where you will find Langsuan, which is popular for its live music. Sukhumvit Road, on the other hand, has a lot of Irish, British, German, and American-style pubs. You can enjoy live DJ music here as well.

If you are looking for bigger, more upscale clubs, then you must check out RCA. You will find six big clubs located close to one another. While many bars don’t have a dress code, you might still want to dress well, just in case.

As the main hub of Thailand, Bangkok offers travelers plenty of opportunities to have a lot of fun even in a short amount of time. If you have a flight connection in this exciting city, be sure to check out the many things to do in Bangkok during a 24-hour layover.

Alice Ross ForTravelista


Alice Ross is a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. You can read about her travels at For Travelista.


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things to do in bangkok

Take a Day Trip through the Lavender in Provence

June through August each year, the Provence lavender fields come alive.

 

From muted mauves to vibrant violets, the lavender in Provence, France, is a rich array of colorful hues and refreshing scents that tantalize the senses. It was my dream for many years to see the lavender fields in bloom, and when that dream finally came true, it was one of the loveliest trips I have ever taken. In just one day, you can visit several small provincial towns and villages, stopping along the route to walk among fragrant fields of lavender or gaze at the stunning landscapes.

If you’re in France throughout the summer months, I highly recommend renting a car and heading to Provence for a day or two—I promise you won’t be disappointed. In addition to lavender, you’ll find no shortage of heritage, history, culture, and cuisine.

Lavender in Provence

When to Go

Typically, the lavender begins to bloom in June and is harvested in August. Of course, it’s up to Mother Nature to decide when the fields will be at their fullest, but if you visit sometime between the end of June and late July, you should have a good chance of seeing the lavender in all its glory. I visited at the end of June, and the lavender was at its prime. If I had visited any earlier, I think the blossoms would have been a lot less dense.

Lavender in Provence

Where to Stay

To make the most of your visit, you’ll want to hit the road early, so it’s a good idea to stay overnight in the area. Cavaillon is a small town in the center of the action. Located in Luberon National Park, it’s surrounded by beautiful vistas and quaint provincial towns. While there isn’t much to do in Cavaillon per se, it’s the perfect jumping off point for visiting many nearby attractions. I stayed at the Inter-Hotel Cavaillon Hôtel Du Parc, and I kid you not, it was the most delightful experience.

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

Situated just off the main road, there is plenty of free parking right outside the hotel, which is ideal since it’s necessary to have a car for your stay if you want to visit the surrounding communities and take a tour through the lavender. Upon entering the adorable inn, we were immediately greeted by the owner. She was eager to show us around and gives us tips on what to see during our stay. She was helpful, friendly, and very knowledgeable. The pride she had for her inn and community were absolutely infectious. And we absorbed every bit of advice she gave us like the good little sponges we are.

Lavender in Provence

The charming decor is exactly what you would expect from a hotel in Provence, with antiques and other adornments filling every empty space. There’s a huge breakfast room where, for about 10 Euros, you can enjoy delicious pastries, teas, and other goodies each morning. The spacious rooms are immaculate, cozy, and offer all the amenities you need for a most amazing stay.

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

Lavender in Provence

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Map Out Your Route

I am all about advance planning, but there are so many possibilities for things to see and do in this region of France that it’s hard to narrow things down. I had a high-level idea of the types of things I wanted to see and do but nothing concrete. I told the innkeeper my ideas, and she quickly went to work highlighting several routes on a map, giving us a variety of options for places to visit. She included the top spots to see the lavender, as well as great places to grab a bite to eat and check out the local culture. All of her suggestions were spot on.

The map shown here details the exact route we took. Click the “More options” link opens up step-by-step driving instructions so you can follow the same route on your visit to the Provence lavender fields.

Morning – Lavender Museum

Start your day with a visit to the Lavender Museum just a 15-minute drive from Cavaillon in the community of Coustellet. Here, you’ll learn all about the history of lavender farms in France and the evolution of the distillation process. You’ll also find out how to tell authentic lavender from synthetic products. The cost is just 7 Euros-ish per person, and it includes a self-guided audio tour.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Plan to spend about 45 minutes exploring the museum, which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from May through September. Be sure to arrive early to get ahead of the crowds. We got there just after opening, and by the time we left, tour buses were starting to arrive and carloads of people were pulling into the parking lot.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

In addition to the exhibits, Le Chateau du Bois boutique sells locally made lavender products. After you’ve picked up a few souvenirs—I grabbed a sachet for my closet—head outside for a first glimpse at the lavender in bloom. There is a small but wonderfully fragrant field where you can snap a few shots. It’s also where we learned from the “Beware of Snakes” signs that vipers like to hide out beneath the lavender bushes, so watch your step when you’re wandering through the fields (or driving the back roads, as I well learned).

lavender in provence

Mid-Morning – Sénanque Abbey

Next, make your way to Sénanque Abbey on the fringes of Gordes, a stunning hilltop town. It’s just a 20-minute drive from Coustellet along scenic country roads that wind around Gordes for phenomenal views of the village that is considered one of the most beautiful in all of France. It was about 11 a.m. when we arrived, and it was already packed. We lucked out and quickly got a parking space near the entrance to the entrance, but be prepared to walk a ways or wait a while for a good spot.

lavender in provence

The abbey is the quintessential stop for lavender enthusiasts. In fact, when you Google lavender fields, the iconic image that comes up is one of the stone abbey surrounded by fields of purple flowers. It’s every bit as beautiful in person as it is in pictures, though don’t expect to walk through the lavender. At best, you can view it from behind a tall stone wall or from the side.

Founded in 1148 by Cistercian monks, the abbey is home to a small community of monks who make their living growing lavender and tending honey bees. You can purchase some of their products in the abbey boutique, as well as a delightful selection of other lavender-related products. Here, I picked up some homemade honey, a brick of soap, perfume, another sachet, and a tote bag. Expect to spend less than an hour at the abbey.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Lunchtime

By now, your stomach will likely be grumbling. Make your way back to Gordes and park in one of the public stalls in the center of town. It costs just a few dollars for the entire day, but you likely won’t spend more than an hour or two. It will take only five or ten minutes to walk into town, which is defined by the white stone buildings that rise from the high above the cliff side and the labyrinth of winding cobblestone streets.

lavender in provence

Take some time to explore the local shops, which sell much the same lavender products as the abbey and every other boutique in Provence. Then, grab a bite to eat at one of the many street-side cafes. We opted to grab a Caprese sandwich and a lemon meringue tart from a local bakery, which we ate sitting on a rocky stairwell in the middle of the action and watched the world go by—one of my favorite things to do. After, we wandered around a bit more and enjoyed the beautiful views of the farms below the village before heading back to the car to continue our road trip.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Afternoon

My trip to this part of France was solely inspired by my desire to see the lavender fields in bloom so we continued our road trip north toward Sault. Since the development of synthetic lavender, many farmers have stopped growing the good stuff—it’s a lot of work for not a lot of reward (as we learned at the museum earlier in our trek). However, many farmers between Gordes and Sault still earn a living growing lavender, so it’s a must for anyone who shares my passion to see the fields in bloom. The drive takes about an hour, and there isn’t much to do in Sault once you arrive, but the beautiful vistas en route are worth every mile you put on your rental.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

We stopped numerous times along the highway to frolic in lavender fields and take pictures of the purple panoramas beneath the twisting road. I’m not going to lie, there’s a steep drop at times, and there are numerous turns on the impossibly narrow two-way route, but it’s not a long drive by North-American standards. You can take a break when you reach the top. Parking is a bit trickier here—you may need to circle around a few times before you can find a spot on a side street.

Sault itself is a small community. There are a handful of boutiques selling the tried and true lavender staples. Our fun find here was a nougat shop with the most delicious selection of flavors, including lavender, which we just had to try. Simply tell the shopkeeper how much you want, and she’ll chop off a chunk. You pay by weight.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

We also went to a nearby lavender distillery on the edge of town called Aroma Plantes. Here, you can take a tour of the facility to see how farmers extract the essence from the lavender. There’s also a small, interactive exhibit and a well-stocked shop filled with everything from lavender-infused essential oils to hair products. Our favorite feature was the on-site cafe serving up lavender-infused beverages of all kinds, as well as a selection of delicious snacks. I had the apple lavender juice and a lavender honey crepe. Both were divine. Plan to spend about a half hour wandering through Sault and an hour or so at the distillery.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

Early Evening

I love packing my days as full as I can when I’m on vacation, so we decided to make one last stop before returning to Cavaillon. Located at the base of the Mont de Vaucluse, Roussillon is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s truly a gem. About a 40-minute drive from Sault, the lavender landscape gives way to majestic red cliffs and magnificent ochre quarries. There’s a public parking zone on the edge of the city that costs just a few bucks.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

We arrived around 5 p.m., which was early enough for the shops and restaurants to still be open but late enough that the crowds had died down a bit. We grabbed a gelato to tide us over and then made our rounds through the red stone streets. Roussillon looked quite different from the other towns we’d visited during the day, and we thoroughly enjoyed its uniqueness. Hands down, the most spectacular feature of this quaint community is the striking view of the vibrant cliffs jutting up over the towering trees and into the bright blue sky—amazing to behold. We spent about an hour and a half in Roussillon, which was plenty of time to walk through the maze of streets.

lavender in provence

Evening

The drive back to Cavaillon takes about 30 minutes. If you follow the same route we took and spend about the same amount of time in each location, means you’ll arrive back in Cavaillon around 7 p.m. Like most sleepy provincial towns, just about every restaurant is closed by this time. So I offer a few options to close out your evening with a delicious meal.

Across from the Roman Arch in the center of town, you’ll find a pizza truck. I know, you didn’t go all the way to France to eat pizza from a truck, but it’s good…like really good. They offer a ton of toppings, bake it fresh when you order, and it only costs about 10 Euros for an entire pie. There was a long lineup of people waiting for their orders when we arrived, so we figured it was worth a shot. We sat on the steps of the arch to eat and enjoyed a little more people watching.

Alternatively, make your way to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorge, a small but adorable community about 15 minutes from Cavaillon by car. Most of the restaurants close early, but there are a few who keep their doors open past 7 p.m.

lavender in provence

lavender in provence

If you want to see the lavender in Provence, follow this jam-packed itinerary, and you can’t go wrong. Driving through Luberon is as easy as pie, so it makes for a peaceful and relaxing journey. If you’d rather let someone else do the driving, there are plenty of great—and affordable—day trips you can take, too. For me, this was a bucket list trip and one of my favorites of all time. Considering I have been to more than 50 countries and hundreds of cities, it takes a lot to impress me, and I would happily do this trip again and again and never get bored.

Did I miss anything? Are there other places to see the lavender in Provence you’d recommend? Leave a comment here to share your ideas!

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lavender in provence

 

Plan the Perfect Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

A day trip to Windsor Castle from London is a fun and easy way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city for a few hours.

 

Located just 30 miles from London, Windsor is a cozy community steeped in a rich royal history. Home to the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world, as well as a bevy of unique boutiques and bistros, Windsor is the kind of place where you can while away the hours simply strolling the charming city streets or enjoying high tea in the afternoon.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

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Getting There

Making your way to Windsor Castle from London couldn’t be any easier. Trains run every 30 minutes from Paddington Station, one of the busiest train stations in the city. You’ll find easy-to-use electronic ticket kiosks inside the doors of the station where you can purchase your ticket to Windsor & Eton Central station. If you need assistance, simply locate one of the many staff members, and they’ll happily lend a hand.

Once you’ve purchased your ticket, look for the departures boards to find out when the next train arrives and which platform to catch it on. Some trains leave later but make more stops, so be sure to look for the fastest overall route. After about 30 minutes onboard, you’ll need to transfer trains at Slough station. It’s a very small station with only four platforms, so it’s pretty easy to get around. Upon arrival, check the departures signs to find out when the next Windsor-bound train arrives and which platform it will be on. They run very often, so if you just miss one, don’t fear. Another one will come soon, and the ride from Slough only to Windsor takes only 5 minutes. The entire trip takes about 40 minutes total, including the transfer.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

windsor castle

Pro Tip: If your schedule is flexible, purchase a ticket for off-peak travel. The trains will be less crowded and more affordable. An off-peak return ticket costs only about £12.

Things to Do

With of population of just over 32,000, Windsor has all the charm of a small town, but thanks to its very important royal residents, it’s got no shortage of things to do. Of course, Windsor Castle, best known these days as the site of Prince Harry and Meghan Marke’s nuptials, is the city’s main attraction. As one of the three official homes of the queen, the stately 900-year-old castle is a sight to behold.

windsor castle

When you get off the train, basically all you need to do is walk forward straight out of the station, and you’ll be within steps of the castle gates. Just follow the signs—it’s that easy. Depending on the time of year, the hours of operation change ever so slightly, but you can typically expect to find it open between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the peak season.

windsor castle

Though I’m born and raised in Canada, my grandma was from England, so I’m all about the royals, but I opted not to go inside. By 10 a.m., the line to get in was about a block long, and the cost of admission is hefty at more than £21 per ticket. I settled for a long-distance look from outside the castle walls. If you do intend to go inside, expect to spend between 90 minutes and three hours exploring the castle.

windsor castle

windsor castle

Shop Til You Drop

Aside from the castle, you’ll find plenty of ways to spend your hard-earned cash in Windsor. All around the castle, you’ll find sho-lined streets where you can purchase royal-themed souvenirs or one-of-a-kind gifts. The railway station itself is home to Windsor Royal Shopping. Open seven days a week, the shopping center features 40 brand-name retailers and a solid mix of restaurants and cafes.

windsor castle

windsor castle

Be sure to hit up Peascod Street, which is steps away from the train station and runs south-west from the entrance of Windsor Castle. The pedestrian street boasts a number of unique boutiques and eateries. In addition to cute side streets and alleyways, other nearby shopping streets include High Street and Thames Street.

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

windsor castle

windsor castle
windsor castle

windsor castle

Windsor Yards Shopping Centre is located in King Edward Court, just steps away from the central train station. A variety of well-known retailers, such as Zara and Topshop, have set up shop here.

windsor castle
windsor castle
Afternoon Tea

Before heading back to London, enjoy afternoon tea at one of the many local eateries. I highly recommend pampering yourself with a mouthwatering meal at the luxurious Madame Posh on Peascod Street. I just dare you to walk by the window featuring all of the restaurant’s decadent delicacies without stopping to try one. I can’t even tell you how long it took me to get a picture of the window without a hoard of people ogling all of the desserts inside. While the restaurant does offer a delicious afternoon tea, I was in the mood for a savory crepe, or galette. And I simply couldn’t pass up the lemon meringue tarts. I ate outside at one of the faux-fur-lined tables. Both the atmosphere and the food were to die for. It was the perfect way to top off our day trip to Windsor Castle from London.

windsor castle

windsor castle

windsor castle

Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

Pro Tip: Plan to spend anywhere from four to eight hours roaming the city’s main attractions and another hour for travel time on your day trip to Windsor Castle from London. We left Paddington Station at around 9:30 a.m. and returned at about 4:30 p.m. 

Windsor is just one of the many great day trips you can take from Paddington Station in London. For this reason, I recommend staying in the vicinity if you’re planning to get outside the city several times during your stay. The Point A Hotel London Paddington is a budget-friendly hotel that’s only a 5-minute walk from the station. Though it has only a two-star rating by hotel standards, most reviewers give it four or five stars on TripAdvisor. The rooms are spacious, clean, and recently renovated. If you like a little more luxury, I highly recommend Hazlitt’s Hotel. Located in Soho, it’s a bit of a trek to Paddington Station, but you’ll love its haunted history and quirky charms.

Where are your favorite places to visit in Windsor? What places have you traveled to from Paddington Station? Let us know in the comments section!

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Day Trip to Windsor Castle from London

Things to Do in St. Kitts in One Day — Historic Forts to White Sand Beaches

Though it’s just a wee island in the West Indies, there are plenty of great things to do in St. Kitts in one day.

 

With a population of just 50,000 people, St. Kitts is known for its vast sugar cane fields, warm, tropical climate, and white sand beaches. The capital city, Basseterre, is a popular cruise port for most major cruise lines sailing in the Caribbean. English is the official language of the island, and U.S. currency is widely accepted and expected from visitors.

things to do in St Kitts

Getting Started

Whether you cruise or sail to the island, a great way to get acquainted with St. Kitts is through a taxi tour. At only 18 miles long and 5 miles wide, it’s easy to tour the entire island in just a few hours. If you’re staying on the island for a few days, you’ll get a quick overview of the different things to do in St. Kitts, and you can select the best sites to return to later. Your hotel can help you arrange a taxi service. For cruisers, watch for the “Taxis and Tours” stand at the end of the dock before you pass through the terminal. They’ll have drivers waiting to whisk you away. Taxis may not be metered, so be sure to set a price before setting off on your journey.

things to do in st kitts things to do in st kitts

Pro tip: If you’re on a cruise, get off the ship as soon as you get clearance from the port authority. This way, you can catch an early tour and have all afternoon to lounge on the beach.

What to Expect

Islands tours cost about $20 per person and take you on a one-way road around the perimeter of the entire island, making a photo stop at a few local attractions along the way. You can choose to ride in an air-conditioned taxi or an open-air safari-style vehicle. While you’ll stay nice and cool in the taxi, you’ll get better pictures from the safari vehicle, so choose wisely depending on your end goals. Also, beware that the price of the tour does not include admission to any attractions. This can add up, so if you want to stop in at several of the sites, you may be better off taking an all-inclusive excursion through your cruise line or a tour operator.

things to do in st kitts

Most of the tour consists of driving around the island and taking pictures from the vehicle. However, you will make photo stops at a few locations, including the Black Rocks, where some locals also sell their wares to the visiting tourists. You’ll also drive through an area of rain forest on the way to Romney Manor, see the dormant volcano Mount Liamuiga in the distance, and drive up picturesque Timothy Hill. The driver will also point out other areas of historic and cultural significance as you drive.

things to do in St Kitts things to do in St Kitts things to do in St Kitts

Scheduling Your Stops

The entire journey takes about two-and-a-half hours if you don’t stop for more than a few minutes at each of the photo stops. The driver will take the lead from the group and make extended stops at places like Brimstone Hill Fortress and Caribelle Batik. This can extend your tour time considerably, and costs can quickly add up.

things to do in St Kitts things to do in St Kitts

At some sites, there is no convenient place to wait while other members of your group visit the attractions. Brimstone Hill Fortress, for example, will not even allow visitors to wait in the parking lot. You will be left on the side of the road in a secluded area outside the fort. There are no shops, restaurants, or shady places to take cover from the hot sun.

Pro tip: Unless you’re part of a large group, you will likely be paired with other people on your tour. Before getting in a car, ask the driver to confirm the length of the tour, where it stops, and for how long. You’ll want to be paired with people who have the same interests as you so that you’re on the same page about the places you want to visit and for how long. Otherwise, you may find yourself waiting for a half hour or more in parking lots or on the side of the road.

Beach Visit

At the end of the tour, you can ask the driver to leave you at the beach for an extended stay. It will cost you a few extra dollars on top of the tour price to be dropped off here. The driver will ask you what time you want to be picked back up and will return at that time to get you—also for a small fee. The people in my group who chose this option were charged $4 extra dollars when they were dropped off, for a total of $24 for the tour. The driver charged $4 more to pick them back up.

The beach is only about 15 minutes from the port, and there are a host of duty-free shops to check out upon your return. In fact, it’s a lovely port with lots of great places to check out. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy a drink and pick up a few souvenirs. You can also make a pit stop at the National Museum of St. Kitts to check out the local history and culture.

things to do in St Kitts things to do in St Kitts

Tour Alternatives

With such a warm climate and beautiful natural landscapes, outdoor activities are extremely popular in St. Kitts. As soon as you arrive in port, you’ll see a sign pointing you in the direction of water sports and other fun things to do in St. Kitts in the great outdoors.

For something a little different, take a ride on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway. Once used to transport sugar cane across the island, this train now takes tourists on an 18-mile journey through the countryside. Complete the three-hour tour with a 12-mile bus ride. Sadly, Hurricane Irma had just breezed by the island days before I was there, causing a number of trees and debris to make the rails impassable, but this is my top choice for an excursion on my next visit to St. Kitts.

things to do in St Kitts

If you’re looking for fun things to do in St. Kitts in one day, start with a quick taxi tour of the island to make the most of your time.

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things to do in st kitts

Things to do in Kuta, Bali, in One Day — Beaches, Barong, and Temples

Kuta, Bali, is known for its exciting nightlife and beautiful beaches.

 

If you love to shop, party, and surf, then Kuta is the perfect place for you. Located just a 15-minute drive from Bali’s only international airport, this former fishing village town was one of the first major tourist spots to crop up on the Indonesian island of Bali. Today, it’s part of a sprawling urban area that’s renowned for beautiful beach sunsets and party vibe. There are so many things to do in Kuta and the surrounding area that it’s hard to decide where to begin.

Things to do in Kuta

Tourradar

Where to Stay

If you want to be smack dab in the heart of the action, stay at one of the massive beachside resorts along Jalan Pantai Kuta, such as the luxurious Hard Rock Hotel Bali or Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort. During the day, simply wander across the street and rent a lounge chair on the beach. If kicking back and soaking up the sun isn’t for you, perhaps stroll along the avenue to check out the vast variety of shops, including popular international name brands and local boutiques. At night, enjoy the rhythmic sounds of local bands as the street comes alive with energy.

For my short stay in Kuta, I chose to make my nest a little off the beaten path at the divine Grand Mega Resort & Spa. The four-star hotel offers spacious, modern rooms equipped with every comfort your heart could desire, including both a bathtub and separate shower, plush bathrobes, coffeemaker, and more. An expansive outdoor pool and bar, relaxing spa, and delicious restaurant round out the resort’s amenities.

Things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

The Grand Mega is just a 15-minute from the airport, and everything you need for an enjoyable stay is available on site, which is a good thing since there’s not much nearby aside from a small mall across the street. I didn’t plan on spending much time at the hotel, so it suited me just fine. And because of its location away from the beach hubbub, it was extremely affordable. How often can you find a four-star hotel for under $40 per night? Considering equivalent hotels along the beach cost more than three times as much, the Grand Mega is an ideal choice, especially if you plan to spend most of your time touring beyond Kuta.

Things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

things to do in kuta

Arranging a Ride

While tour companies offer many opportunities for things to do in Kuta, it’s just as easy to make your own tour. Most hotels will be happy to arrange a driver to take you around for the day. If you have only one day to take in the local sites, you’ll want to make the most of your day, so be sure to make arrangements the night before. My driver had a handy-dandy binder filled with pictures and descriptions of the main attractions. He made recommendations based on my personal tastes, and then we agreed on a price. This is key.

Always agree on the price in advance. Typically, a full day tour costs in the range of 700,000 to 800,000 Indonesian Rupiah, which equates to about $50 to $60. Most drivers allow two to three people in the vehicle for this rate, but keep in mind, there is no discount if you’re traveling alone. You will need to pay the full rate.

Pro tip: The rate you agree on with your driver does not include entrance to any attractions. You will need to pay for those separately upon arrival. This is just the fee for driving you around for the day. Also, you are expected to tip at the end of the day.

Starting Your Day

If you’re staying at the Grand Mega, the buffet breakfast is a lovely way to start the day. There is a wide selection of both hot and cold foods, as well as fresh fruit and an omelette station. It costs about $10 on its own, or it may come included with your room.

Things to do in Kuta

A great way to get a glimpse into the customs and heritage of a culture is to take in a traditional performance of some kind. Grab a buffet breakfast at the hotel, and then head to Sari Wisata Budaya to catch the 9:30 a.m. Barong and Kris show. The show costs about $8 and lasts about 45 minutes. As you enter the theater, you’ll be greeted by a stunning Balinese dancer dressed in colorful traditional clothing. It’s the perfect opportunity to pose for a quick picture. While you can use your own camera, a photographer will also snap a photograph, which you can purchase later for about $8.

One inside the performance area, you’ll immediately notice there are no actual seats. Instead, you’ll find stadium seating on an oversized concrete staircase. Simply sit wherever you like, and wait for the show to begin. Just before it does, the gamelan ensemble to the right of the stage begins playing vibrant music on instruments such as xylophones and bamboo flutes. The tunes are catchy and enchanting. And before you know if the performers take to the stage.

Things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Things to do in Kuta

As you enter the theater, you’ll be given a pamphlet explaining the story. Based on a twelfth-century tale of good versus evil, Barong, a mystical spirit in the form of a beast, must protect his village from the with queen Rangda. From Balinese dancing to comedy improv, the show has a little bit of everything. Though the entire show is performed in Balinese, you’ll get the gist of what’s going on. While the traditional dancing and music are beautiful, and the costumes are stunning, the show drags on a little long. And it’s a bit raunchy at times. Still, it’s worth the few bucks you shelled out to see something local.

Things to do in Kuta

Alternatively, if the Barong show simply isn’t your style, wake up early, and head down to Kuta Beach for a quiet stroll in the sand before the temperatures rise and the crowds arrive. Aside from the six-foot white sandstone fence built in the traditional Balinese style, there’s not a lot that makes this beach stand out from any other. Still, it’s a nice way to start the day.

things to do in Kuta

When you’re done, head over to one of the many streetside restaurants for a bite to eat. For a couple of bucks, you can get a hearty meal that will keep your stomach sated for hours. For less than $5, I got juice, tea, hash browns, pancakes, fruit, toast, and eggs at the Grand Istana Rama Hotel located just a block or so from the Beachwalk Shopping Center.

things to do in Kuta

After breakfast, head back toward the mall and check out the shops. Then, make your way down Jalan Pantai Kuta, and you’ll get a sense of just how busy Kuta Square gets later in the day. Check out a few more shops, or maybe get a foot massage for a few dollars. Spas are a dime a dozen in this part of the world. You can walk in at any time and expect the royal treatment.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Pro tip: Ask to be dropped off and picked up at the Beachwalk Shopping Center. It’s a solid landmark that’s easy to find and central to the action. Give yourself about two hours to grab a bite, dip your toes in the water, and wander through a few shops.

Mid-Day

After you’ve had a chance to see a show or walk along the beach, it’s time to hit the road en route to the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, but not before a quick stop at a kopi Luwak coffee plantation. This is one of the most common things to do in Kuta and other parts of Bali. In fact, a stop at a coffee plantation will be on just about every tour itinerary you read. I don’t drink coffee, at all…ever…so I wasn’t super keen on the idea, but my driver was insistent on it and told me it wouldn’t take long. I figured he got kick backs on any sales, but I decided to do it anyway.

Coffee plantations are abundant in Bali, and once you know what to look for, you’ll see signs for them on many streets. The one we went to was designed to entice tourists. At the entrance, you’ll be greeted by a representative of the plantation who will take you on a short tour. At this particular plantation, from the moment you walk in, you feel as though you’ve found a lush oasis in the middle of a dusty desert. As you wind your way along the garden path, the tour guide explains that kopi Luwak is some of the most expensive coffee in the world, costing hundreds of dollars per pound.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Kopi, or coffee, Luwak is not a type of coffee but rather a method for processing it. First, Asian palm civets, nocturnal cat-like creatures known locally as Luwaks, roam through the fields of coffee beans at night, carefully selecting only the finest beans to eat. Their bodies digest the beans so quickly that they don’t have time to breakdown. When they come back out, they are nearly completely intact. From here, the beans are thoroughly washed and roasted.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

If you’re an animal advocate like me, your first concern will be for the animals. I was very happy to learn the plantation I was at allows the Luwaks plenty of free time outside of their cages to enjoy the outdoors. I had no idea was I was getting into when I went to the plantation and immediately began asking questions. While this particular plantation placed a high value on its animals, not all of them do. Knowing this, be sure to ask in advance if the plantation you’re going to have quality standards for the care of its Luwaks.

After you’re done the roasting demonstration, you’ll be taken to a tasting area. Here, you’ll be given the opportunity to sample no less than 12 varieties of teas and coffees made at the plantation. Tea flavors typically include mangosteen, ginseng, vanilla, and ginger to name a few. You can sample coconut, chocolate, and Bali coffees, among others. If you want to try the good stuff, you’ll have to shell out about $4. Once you’ve discovered your favorite flavors, you’ll be escorted to a small shop where you can make a purchase. There is absolutely no pressure to buy anything if you don’t want to. The entire experience takes about a half hour tops. Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s an enjoyable experience, so just go with it.

things to do in Kuta

Once you’ve discovered your favorite flavors, you’ll be escorted to a small shop where you can make a purchase. There is absolutely no pressure to buy anything if you don’t want to. The entire experience takes about a half hour tops. Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s an enjoyable experience, so just go with it.

Afternoon

Finally, you’ll be on your way to Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, or GWK as it’s known locally. This park wasn’t on my radar when I was looking for things to do in Kuta, but my driver suggested in, and I was glad he did. The sprawling 150-acre park is about a half-hour drive from central Kuta, but it feels like longer due to traffic congestion and sketchy driving conditions. Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and Garuda, the bird-like creature that Vishnu rides, the park features an amphitheater, shops, restaurants, ATV rentals and more.

When you arrive at the park, your driver will likely drop you off at the ticket counter and leave to find parking. After you’ve paid your admission—about $8—you’ll be given a park map and someone will point you toward the entrance. Then you’ll be on your own. Simply follow the path and the other people, and you’ll be just fine (though I found the map a bit useless, and I’m quite adept at reading maps).

things to do in Kuta

Though still under construction, the main spectacle is the statue of Vishnu riding Garuda. When complete, it will stand nearly 500 feet tall, dwarfing the Statue of Liberty and making it one of the largest statues in the world. Currently, however, only the heads and shoulders of Vishnu and Garuda are in place…and they’re in place a little ways apart from each other. Even though they are only about a quarter complete, both are massive and incredibly impressive to see.  It’s nearly impossible to imagine how these two components will come together as one, but when they do it will be a formidable attraction, to say the least. When I was there, for a small donation, a local man would perform a blessing over you using holy water and rice.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

Be sure to take in one of the traditional dance performances or Balinese parade that takes place each day. In addition, you’ll want to walk through the Lotus Pond. At a capacity of more than 7,000 people, it’s the largest outdoor area in the park and has played host to a number of special events, including concerts by Iron Maiden and Paramore. Also, make a stop in at the shop and art market at the end of your visit. You’ll have a chance to purchase a greenscreen photo of you with Vishnu for about $10. Allow an hour or two for your visit to GWK Park, which is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. A schedule of events is posted on the park’s website.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

By now, it will be early afternoon and time to head for the final leg of your tour, Uluwatu. Located on the southwestern tip of the Bukit Peninsula, Uluwatu is one of the top things to do in Kuta. This picturesque place is known across the globe as one of the world’s best surfing spots, as well as for its cliffside temple, Pura Luhur Uluwatu. The drive from GWK takes less than half an hour.

things to do in Kuta

Once you’ve paid your entrance fee—about $2—you can walk all along the cliffside to the left or right to take in the spectacular views of waves crashing against the rocks. Be sure to walk both ways since the panorama is vastly different in each direction. The entire trip will take you about an hour, with plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the fresh air.

things to do in Kuta

things to do in Kuta

things to do in kuta

You’ll find a few local vendors on your trek selling handmade items. I picked up a hand-woven friendship bracelet for a little less than $1. It’s nothing fancy, but it serves as a reminder of my special day every time I look at my wrist.

things to do in kuta

If you happen to be visiting Uluwatu later in the day, consider staying for sunset and enjoying the Kecak show that takes place at 6 p.m. daily. Though I didn’t have a chance to check it out, I’ve heard from others who did that it was a wonderful experience.

Pro tip: When you arrive at Uluwatu, be sure to leave any loose items in the car. Uluwatu is famous for the Macaque monkeys that inhabit the temple and steal from tourists. Hold onto your phones, cameras, and sunglasses, or you’ll be brushing up on your bartering skills in an attempt to exchange a banana for your belongings.

Evening

After your visit to Uluwatu, you may want to drive over to nearby Jimbaran Bay for a seafood barbecue. I chose to head back to the hotel for a bite to eat at the restaurant and then an extensive spa treatment. I was told I could get a better deal outside the hotel, but I thought $25 for nearly three hours was a great price. I was treated to a full-body massage, an exfoliating green tea body scrub, a soothing facial, and a relaxing milk bath. It was the perfect way to cap off a long, lovely day.

Things to do in Kuta

If you’ve still got some extra energy to burn off, you can always check out the nightlife at Kuta Beach. A taxi will set you back only about $5 each way at most.

These are just a few of the many things to do in Kuta. With so many exciting area attractions, it’s hard to decide which ones to choose.

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things to do in kuta

Things to do in Drumheller, Alberta: Spend a Day With the Dinosaurs

If you’re looking for things to do in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, look no further.

 

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Badlands in central Alberta, Drumheller is the ideal day trip from Calgary. It’s rugged, desert landscape and rich history—which dates back to prehistoric times—provide a unique backdrop for an exciting adventure. 

things to do in drumheller

With a population of fewer than 8,000 people, the community is small, but it has some very big attractions. Also known as Dinosaur Valley, the Drumheller region is known as a hotbed for archaeological activity due to its abundant fossil finds. In fact, thousands of people flock here each year to spend a day walking where the dinosaurs once roamed.

There are a lot of sites to visit in Drumheller, so if you’re planning a day trip to the area, you may want to spend the night in town rather than make the drive from Calgary. There are a handful of chain hotels, like the Ramada, Travelodge, and Quality Inn, that offer a decent place to rest your head for the night. You can also find a selection of bed and breakfasts in town if you like a cozier experience that lets you get to know the locals. It can also be fun to spend the night camping under the stars.

There are several campgrounds right in town, including Dinosaur RV Park and River Grove Campground and Cabins. The sites are located within walking distance of some of the main attractions, but they’re small. If you don’t mind a bit of a trek, Handhills High Country Hideaway offers spacious, well-treed sites, mini golf, fishing, and more. It’s located in Delia, just a 25-minute drive from Drumheller.

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Morning

From the moment you enter the area, you’ll feel like you’ve taken a time machine to the Jurassic period. With the rocky cliffs rising up around you, you can almost envision a time when towering reptilians roamed the land. 

Start your day with a visit to the World’s Largest Dinosaur. Standing nearly 90 feet tall, the Tyrannosaurus Rex looms over the Red Deer River valley like something out of a 1950s horror flick. You literally can’t miss it. For a fee of $4, you can walk the 106 stairs to the top of the T-rex to take in the views of the vast expanse of the surrounding badlands.

things to do in drumheller

When you’re done, head back downstairs to check out the souvenir shop and pick up some brochures at the tourist information center. When you’re done, be sure to relax a while in the adjoining park and check out the fossil shop across the street. 

things to do in drumheller

Downtown Drumheller is just a five-minute walk from the dinosaur, and it seems to have been frozen in time. The houses, shops, and restaurants all have a mid-century vibe that’s reminiscent of the Twilight Zone. Keeping with the town’s theme, every business has at least one concrete dinosaur on the front lot—perfectly posed for a prehistoric selfie. 

If you’re into antiques, you’ll find several shops to suit your fancy. There are also a few clothing stores and gift shops, as well as at least four tattoo parlors. If you’re thinking of getting some ink, this might be the time to do it. A triceratops, perhaps?

Grab a bite to eat in town or wait until your back on the road headed toward your next pit stop, the suspension bridge, to dine at one of the greasy spoons along the way, like Asteroid or Rosedale Cafe & Market. 

Afternoon

When you’re exiting the parking lot of the World’s Largest Dinosaur, you’ll notice a street sign indicating the direction and distance to all of the areas major attractions. Make a left, and drive along South Dinosaur Trail toward the Star Mine Suspension Bridge.

Built in 1931 for local coal miners to get to work, the nearly 400-foot-long bridge is only a 10-minute drive from the T-Rex. Walk from one side to the other and back, if you dare, and enjoy the scenery as you cross over the Red Deer River.

Next, continue in the same direction along Dinosaur Trail for about 10 minutes, until you reach the Hoodoos Trail. Hoodoos are tall, thin rock spires that rise out of the rocky badlands terrain. Made of soft rock and ranging in size from 5 to 150 feet tall, hoodoos are typically capped by a harder rock that balances at the peak and helps protect the spire from erosion. Park your vehicle, and spend some time wandering around the unique rock formations. Climb up the man-made platforms to check out the area from a different angle. You can be in and out in 10 minutes, but it’s also a great place to relax and have a picnic if you’ve got the time.

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Once you’re done hiking through history at the hoodoos, head south on Dinosaur Trail for another five minutes, and you’ll find the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site. Here, you can take a guided tour that gives you the opportunity to climb up the wooden tipple—the last of its kind in Alberta—and learn all about the history of the mine. There are a variety of tours you can take, and each one lasts about an hour.  

By now, it will be late afternoon, and though you’ve already put in a full day, you’ve yet to visit the pièce de résistance, the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Head north on Dinosaur Trail for about 25 minutes, and you’ll reach the highly esteemed home of countless amazing archeological finds. Drumheller is said to be the dinosaur capital of the world, and it’s at the museum that you’ll find out why. 

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Housing one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur bones, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is a premier destination for paleontology enthusiasts. Even if you’re not a fan of museums, check this one out. The creative exhibits are fun, educational, and interactive. You won’t be disappointed. 

The museum is open until 9 p.m. in the summer and 5 p.m. in the off season. If you’re just breezing through, you’ll need about one to one and a half hours to walk through the entire museum. There’s also a cafeteria—and Starbucks—on site if you’re feeling a bit peckish. The food is actually really good.

things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller things to do in drumheller

Evening

It will be five or six o’clock by the time you’re done taking a trip back in time at the Royal Tyrrell. Drumheller is a pretty sleepy little town, so there’s not much to do after the sun goes down. If you’re camping, tune into one of those old-time radio shows while you roast marshmallows around the campfire. Or if you’re staying at one of the local hotels, now might be a good time to relax in the hot tub after a long day of walking. Then, if you’re up for something a little more, maybe check out a movie at the Napier Theatre in the heart of downtown. It may look like something from a bygone era, but it shows all the latest blockbuster hits.

things to do in drumheller

If you happen to be in Drumheller in July, you may want to consider buying tickets to the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Considered one of the top 100 shows in North America, it tells the story of Jesus’ life. The stage and surrounding seats are built into the surrounding Badlands, helping to immerse the audience into the story and lending it a greater sense of authenticity. Even if you’re not a Christian, it’s a unique experience you won’t find anyplace else on Earth. 

Pro Tip: If you opt to take in the Passion Play, it shows at 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. Opt for the earlier showing and go there right after the coal mine tour. You’ll have time to take in the museum after the play instead.

What are your favorite things to do in Drumheller? Leave a comment to let us know how you would spend a day with the dinosaurs. To catch a glimpse of my perfect day in Drumheller, check out my Facebook Live video from the base of the World’s Largest Dinosaur, and be sure to “like” my page to experience more of my adventures live.

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Disneyland in One Day: Attractions to Entertainment

Think it’s impossible to do Disneyland in one day? Think again.

Who says Disneyland is just for kids? As much as I love to travel the world and immerse myself into new cultures, I also like to let loose and have fun sometimes. Disneyland is magical, no matter how old or young you are. In fact, there are so many things to do at Disneyland that it’s hard to know where to begin. And if you only have a single day to take it all in, you’ll want to be sure you choose wisely. Take it from someone who visits Disneyland for at least one weekend each year—you can pack in a lot of rides, food, shopping, and entertainment if you know how to plan your day properly.
So if you’re planning to do Disneyland in one day, and you’re overwhelmed by the number of things to do, follow this handy guide to make the most of your fun-filled day.
Disneyland in One Day
Pro Tip: If you’ve been thinking about trying a solo trip, it’s the ideal location. It’s safe, there are tons of things to do, and you’re never really alone—simply strike up a conversation with the person next to you in line if you’re feeling a little lonely. It was where I took my first solo trip back in 2000, and it opened my eyes to a whole new world. Since then, I have traveled solo to countless countries.

Getting Started

First, it’s important to understand all of the different parks and attractions that make up the Disneyland Resort. Located in Anaheim, California, it’s made up of two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, as well as the Downtown Disney District and three Disney-themed hotels, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll focus on Disneyland Park specifically.
Disneyland in One Day
Pro Tip: If possible, spend an entire weekend in Anaheim, and purchase a Park Hopper Ticket. This allows you to “hop” back and forth between the two theme parks at will.
Stay someplace close to the park. There’s no shortage of hotels, ranging from the upscale and pricey Disney offerings to the Good Neighbor hotels. While these hotels are officially a part of the Disneyland Resort, they are all endorsed by Disney, within walking distance of the resort, and typically meet certain standards. Some, such as Super 8, are easy on the budget, while others, such as Marriott, come with a loftier price tag. Use Google Maps to check the walking distance from your hotel to the Disneyland Park entrance (not the resort or the Downtown District—it can be a fair distance to the park from here).
I’ve stayed at half a dozen different hotels in the area over the years, ranging from budget to beautiful. Last time I was in Anaheim, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Anaheim in Walnut Street. The staff was extremely helpful, and the hotel as very clean. There is an onsite restaurant, swimming pool, and shuttle service to Disneyland. And it’s about a 10-minute walk if you cut through the Downtown Disney District.
Disneyland in One Day
If it’s in your budget, head to a character breakfast early in the morning. These elaborate all-you-can-eat buffet breakfasts include every kind of food you can imagine. Eggs, waffles (in the shape of Mickey’s head), pancakes, breads, cakes, cereals, pastries, and fruit are just a few of the items on the menu. But the real treat is that your favorite characters interact with you while you eat. It’s a blast and a great way to get pumped up for your day at the parks.
Disneyland in One Day
I like to book Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel for 7 a.m. By the time we’re done eating, the park will be about ready to open, and we don’t waste any time getting right to the rides. But beware…the breakfast doesn’t come cheap. You’ll pay a pretty penny for the privilege of partying with Goofy and his friends.

Main Street U.S.A.

When you first enter the park, take a few minutes to soak up the atmosphere. It truly is the happiest place on Earth, and the feeling of euphoria that washes over you the minute you walk through the gates is almost surreal. From the seasonal decorations and colorful building facades to the old-fashioned trolleys and barbershop quartets, the energy is infectious. It’s like stepping into another dimension where you simply can’t keep the smile off your face.
Disneyland in One Day
Once you get past the inevitable gush of excitement, it’s time to set your feet in motion. The first place you’ll find yourself is Main Street U.S.A. Modeled after a typical mid-1900s American town, it’s like taking a time machine to bygone days. Only there’s a bit of a catch—aside from a few eateries, Main Street is mostly a shopping extravaganza. And all of the stores are open until one hour after the rides shut down. For this reason, skip the stores until the end of the day. This will test your will power. Even if you’re not a big shopper, there’s something about Mickey Mouse merchandise that reels you in. Not to mention they pump out sweet smells from the bakery to tempt your tummy. But you’ll have plenty of time to take them in at the end of the night, I promise.
Disneyland in One Day
However, I recommend on an exception to this rule. If you’re planning to purchase a pair of mouse ears, stop in at the first store on the right-hand side of the street if you’re facing the castle. It’s called the Mad Hatter, and you’ll find all shapes styles, and sizes of hats, from mouse ears to ball caps and fascinators to replicas of the hats your favorite characters wear—like Goofy. They’ll even embroider your name on the side (remember that when strangers mysteriously greet you later in the day). There will be other opportunities to purchase hats throughout the park, but if you buy it early in the day, you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Trust me, the crazy Toy Story topper that seemed super cool in the park won’t seem quite so nifty once you get back home. You’ll really only wear it in the park, so you might as well wear it all day.
Disneyland in One Day
Pro Tip: Depending on the type of ticket you purchase for the park or where you are staying, you may be entitled to enter the park one hour early on certain days of the week. Magic Mornings, as they’re known, are a great way to capitalize on a limited timeline since the park is often fairly quiet in the early morning, and there are few—if any—lines for even the most popular rides.
Next door to the Mad Hatter, there’s a small theater that features Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. While there’s no doubt that Honest Abe was a remarkable figure in US history and the animatronics Disney uses to create a lifelike representation of Abe are also remarkable, it’s about 15 minutes long, and it gets stale after about five. Unless you’re a huge history buff, keep walking. Before you get too far, take a few minutes to look at the brochure you received when you walked through the gates, and establish a game plan for the day. You can also view the current brochure and park maps online to prepare for your trip in advance.

Entertainment

Things to note are the times for parades that take place at various times throughout the day and the fireworks show that happens in front of the castle. Even if you’re not traditionally a fan of parades or fireworks, Disney takes them to a whole new level. You’ll want to make sure you make it back to Main Street U.S.A in time to catch these awesome spectacles and any other live shows that might be taking place throughout the day, such as character meet and greets, theater performances, and live bands.
Disneyland in One Day
Also, note if the nighttime spectacular Fantasmic! is showing. It typically takes place two times a night on the Rivers of America in Frontierland. Live-action characters reliving scenes from their imaginations, movies playing on screens made from water fountains, and a battle between good and evil play out before your eyes. Words cannot describe this show. Don’t miss it if you can help it. Once you’ve decided the shows you want to see for the rest of the day, you can start making your way around the park. Once you’ve decided the shows you want to see for the rest of the day, you can start making your way around the park.

Attractions

If you’re going to do Disneyland in one day, you need to know which attractions—or rides—are most worthy of your time. Disney does an excellent job of describing each ride on its website, so rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I’ve put together a list of attractions throughout the park and ranked them by priority to help ensure you can do Disneyland in one day. Some are classics you simply can’t miss, even if they aren’t as exciting as other attractions. Others are an exhilarating experience you can’t replicate anyplace else, while others aren’t all their cracked up to be. The Disneyland website does a great job of describing each of the park’s “lands” so you can read all about the rides in more detail.
For whatever reasons, I always turn left when I get to the end of Main Street U.S.A. and start my day in Adventureland. So, I’ve listed the attraction sin order of how I typically encounter them. All rides have been ranked according to how classic, cute, thrilling, an unmissable they are up to a maximum of three in each category. If you plan accordingly and follow these recommendations it is possible to do Disneyland in one day. Of course, this itinerary assumes you don’t have any young children visiting the park with you—in that case, you’ll likely only get through a portion of this plan in one day.
❤️ = classic   🌟 = must see   🐭 = cute   🚀 = thrilling   🚫 = skip
Adventureland

AttractionRating
Enchanted Tiki Room❤️
🐭
🚫
Jungle Cruise❤️
🐭🐭
🌟🌟🌟
Indiana Jones Adventure🌟🌟🌟
🚀🚀🚀
Tarzan's Treehouse🚫
The Tiki Room is cute and classic, but it's a lot of time for not a lot of reward. And the treehouse is nothing more than a steep climb up and awkward trek down. Jungle cruise is a classic that's both funny and cute. It's worth a trip. No matter how long the line, Indian Jones is worth the wait. It's an exhilarating thrill ride.
Disneyland in One Day
New Orleans Square
AttractionRating
Pirate's of the Caribbean❤️❤️❤️
🌟🌟🌟
🚀
Disneyland Railroad❤️❤️❤️
🌟
Haunted Mansion🌟🌟🌟
🚀🚀
Pirate's of the Caribbean is one of the park's original attractions and still an all-time favorite. It lives up to the hype of its namesake movies, and don't be surprised if you find yourself back in line for a second, third, or even fourth ride. The same goes for the Haunted Mansion. Also one of the original attractions, it's ghoulish in a magical way, and its magic has stood the test of time. The railroad actually stops in several parts of the park and is a good way to rest your feet if you want to spend some time just kicking back.
Disneyland in One Day
Disneyland in One Day
Critter Country
AttractionRating
Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Splash Mountain
🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
🚀🚀
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh🌟
🐭🐭🐭
You have to paddle the canoes yourself, and if you don't you won't get back to shore. It's a lot of work, especially if anyone if your canoe isn't pulling their weight. The Pooh ride is adorable, but if you have to wait more than five minutes to get on, move along to the next ride. But Splash Mountain is a must see. In fact, it's my laughing place (you'll get the reference after you go on the ride). From the outside, all you see is the two-story drop, but inside is an incredible and adorable world of animatronic critters singing, dancing, and telling the tale of Brer Rabbit. It's worth getting wet for!
Disneyland in One Day
Pro Tip: Some rides have a single rider line. If you don’t mind being split up from your traveling companions, this is a great way to get on rides faster. On a hot day, the line up for Splash Mountain can take hours, so head to the exit, where you’ll find the line for single riders. Often, you’ll walk right on the ride. Indian Jones typically has a single rider line as well.
Disneyland in One Day
Frontierland
AttractionRating
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad🌟🌟
🚀🚀
Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Mark Twain Riverboat❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Sailing Ship Columbia❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Aside from the thrills and spills of the Big Thunder runaway train, you can skip past most of the other attractions in Frontierland. The Pirate's Lair is nothing more than a playground, and the two sailing ships simply sail around the lagoon. It's a slow journey that will keep you from experiencing some of the other more exciting rides.
Fantasyland
AttractionRating
Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough❤️
🌟
Snow White's Scary Adventures❤️
🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Pinocchio's Daring Journey❤️
🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Peter Pan's Flight❤️
🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride❤️
🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
King Arthur Carousel❤️
🚫🚫🚫
Storybook Land Canal Boats🌟
🐭🐭
Dumbo the Flying Elephant❤️
🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Casey Jr. Circus Train🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Mad Tea Party❤️
🚫🚫
Alice in Wonderland🌟🌟🌟
🐭🐭🐭
Matterhorn Bobsleds🌟🌟🌟
🚀🚀🚀
"it's a small world"❤️
🌟🌟
🐭🐭
So much of Fantasyland is adorable and classic, but it's also geared toward children. Aside from Matterhorn Bobsleds, Peter Pan's Flight, Alice and Wonderland, and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride are the only attractions truly worth the wait (and you will wait 20 to 60 minutes for them). If you have time, Snow White and Pinocchio are similar in style, and you can often walk right on them. Sometimes at night if we have time, we'll come back to ride the Storybook Land Canal Boats, and "it's a small world" is great if you need a few minutes off your feet or out of the sun. Much to most people's surprise, the castle is not a ride—you literally walk through it—so it just takes a few minutes.
Disneyland in One Day
Pro Tip: FASTPASS is great…in theory. But it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be in reality. If you get a FASTPASS for a ride in Adventureland with a return time four hours later, you’ll likely be on the other side of the park when your time comes around. It’s not always practical to return. Since the number of FASTPASS tickets you can hold at any one time is restricted, be sure to choose wisely so you don’t end up wasting opportunities.
Mickey’s Toontown
AttractionRating
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin🌟🌟
🚀
Gadget's Go Coaster🚀
🚫🚫
Donald's Boat🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Chip n' Dale Treehouse🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Goofy's Playhouse🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Mickey's House🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Minnie's House🐭🐭
🚫🚫🚫
Honestly, I don't typically spend a lot of time in Toontown. It's geared toward young children, so there's not a lot for adults to do. Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin is a blast and worth the trip to this part of the park.
Tomorrowland
AttractionRating
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage🐭🐭
🌟
Autopia🚫🚫🚫
Star Wars Launch Pad🌟🌟
Space Mountain🚀🚀🚀
🌟🌟🌟
Star Tours—The Adventure Continues🚀🚀
🌟🌟🌟
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters🐭🐭
🌟🌟
Astro Orbiter🚫🚫🚫
There's lots of fun stuff to keep you on your toes in Tomorrowland. Even if you're not a Star Wars buff, Star Tours is an amazing and immersive experience. If you are a fan of the movies, the Star Wars Launch Pad has lots of cool movie memorabilia and interactive activities. Space Mountain is notorious for being one of the biggest thrill rides in the park. Astro Orbiter is a lot like Dumbo, so choose one or the other if you've got some spare time or the line is short. Buzz Lightyear is actually an interactive ride that allows you to battle against the bad guys. It's super cute and a lot of fun. Nemo is pretty slow going but kind of cute. But skip Autopia—chances are you already have a license and can drive on real streets. The kids driving behind you likely do not, and you may get a bit of whiplash if they rear end you.
disneyland in one day
Pro Tip: On some rides, such as Splash Mountain, your picture will be taken while you’re on the ride. When you get off, take a picture of your picture. It’s almost as good as if you buy the real one. On other rides, such as Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, you can email the picture to yourself for free after the ride.

Eats

There are so many delicious treats at Disneyland. Some favorites include churros, Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream sandwiches, turkey legs, mint julep’s, and pineapple dole whips. For a healthy snack, you can also get fresh fruit and dill pickles at various locations throughout the park.
Disneyland in One Day
If you didn’t fork out for breakfast with the characters, Carnation Cafe is a great place to grab a bite if you like table service. River Belle Terrace also has a decent, cafeteria-style breakfast selection. The Mary Poppins’s themed Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe has plenty of pastries and sweet treats to fill your tummy.
If you follow this guide, by lunchtime, you’ll likely be someplace in the middle of the park. If so, you’ll want to grab a bite to eat in Fantasyland. At Village Haus Restaurant, you can find burgers, flatbreads, and French fries. Walk a little farther in Fantasyland, and you’ll find Troubadour Tavern just outside Mickey’s Toontown. Here, you can grab grub with a German flair, including bratwurst with sauerkraut or pretzel bites.
If you’ve been snacking all morning and want a later lunch, wait until you get to Tomorrowland. Galactic Grill is a space-themed eatery with a wide selection of fast food offerings. Or there’s Red Rockett’s Pizza Port, a cafeteria-style restaurant with all kinds of pasta, pizzas, and other Italian favorites.
Side note…my personal favorite place for lunch or dinner (or both) is Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland. I’m a pesco pollo vegetarian, and I just love the Chieftan chicken skewer. But what I love even more is the tiger tail bread dipped in the Chieftan chicken sauce—so good that my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Be sure to ask for an extra side of Chieftan chicken sauce just for dipping. You won’t be sorry.
Of course, all of these places and others offer dinners as well as lunch, but if you’re looking for something a little more special for dinner, Blue Bayou is an excellent choice. As you sail on Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll notice people dining under the stars right next to the bayou. Specializing in Cajun and Creole fare, Blue Bayou is a unique dining experience you won’t find anyplace else. But be sure to reserve in advance—getting a seat at this exclusive restaurant is no easy feat.

Shopping

Throughout the day, you’ve likely popped in and out of the various shops in each of the lands and picked up a few souvenirs along the way. Some shops carry special items you won’t find in other parts of the park, so it’s a good idea to give them a quick once over. I recommend checking out the Adventureland Bazaar, the shops of Royal Street in New Orleans Square, Pooh Corner, Pioneer Mercantile, “it’s a small world” Toy Shop, Gag Factory – Toontown Five and Dime, and The Star Trader. Each of these places has some unique and cool items you won’t find anywhere else in the park.
Now that the day is done, be sure to check out the shops of Main Street U.S.A. that you skipped past when you first arrived at the park to pick up some last-minute mementos of your visit to Disneyland. Most of the shops are connected on the interior, so you can pass right from one to the next without ever stepping foot outside.
Some of my favorites include Crystal Arts, which has lots of affordable collectibles, including custom hand-blown glass creations and Christmas ornaments. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss the Candy Palace and Candy Kitchen, where they serve up all sorts of tasty treats, including chocolates, lollipops, fudge, popcorn, and more. Emporium is the ultimate one-stop Disneyland shop. It sells just about eery type of Disneyland-themed merchandise you can imagine, such as clothes, hats, mugs, plush toys, trinkets, and more. You’ll definitely want to stop here. And if you’re a true Disney connoisseur, you absolutely must visit The Disney Gallery. Here, you’ll find exquisite collectibles and one-of-a-kind works of art from some of Disney’s most talented artists.
It may sound like a lot, but it is possible to do Disneyland in one day. Expect to get up early and stay out late, but it will be worth every moment of fun you have. What are your favorite rides, shops, and places to eat? Leave a comment to share your ideas.
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disneyland in one day

One Day in Barcelona, Spain: From Gaudi to the Gothic Quarter

So you only have one day in Barcelona, and you want to see as much as possible.

Barcelona is a lively city with lots to see. But if you’re ready to pull up your socks and put in a long day, you can pack in many of the main sights.

Be sure to stay someplace central so you can get off to an early start and be right in the heart of the action. We found the most adorable traditional Spanish apartment on Airbnb that was located right across the street from the Arc de Triomf and Parc Ciutadella. Situated in a trendy, Bohemian community in the heart of the Old Town, it was only about 1 10-minute walk to Las Ramblas and other popular attractions. Use this link for a discount on your booking.

One day in Barcelona

One day in Barcelona

One day in Barcelona

Now that you’ve found the perfect place to rest your head, let’s take a look at how to spend one day in Barcelona so you can see plenty of what this exciting city has to offer.



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Morning

Get up early so you can enjoy the energy of the morning rush as people sip their morning espresso before dashing off to work. There’s an energy alive on the streets of Barcelona that simply isn’t found in other parts of the world. You can literally feel it buzz through you as you wend your way through the city’s streets. You simply have to experience it for yourself. It’s incredible. You’ll find plenty of pastry shops where you can grab a Danish or croissant. If you prefer a full meal in the morning, there are lots of curbside cafes that offer local delicacies or a traditional English breakfast of toast, eggs, and sausage or bacon. If you’re staying by the Arc de Triomf, El Nostre Pa on Passeif de Luis Companys is a great place to grab a bite to eat. You can either enjoy your meal inside the shop or take it to go and walk across the street to eat in the green space surrounding the Arc de Triomf.

One day in Barcelona

Now that your stomach is sated, it’s time to start your journey. If you enjoy walking, this one-day guide has plenty of it, but some sites are quite a distance apart. When you conjure up images of Barcelona in your mind, the one attraction that likely stands out most in Gaudi’s infamous Sagrada Familia. A visit to this fair city simply wouldn’t be complete without making a stop at this towering basilica. This is the first point of interest on our one-day tour.

one day in barcelona

One day in Barcelona

Construction of the UNESCO World Heritage site started in 1882 and is projected for completion in 2026—100 years after the death of its enlightened architect Antoni Gaudi. The site of La Sagrada Familia is perpetually under construction, with large cranes extending out at every angle—something you don’t typically see in the online pictures promoting the basilica. Still, it’s a sight to behold with its detailed sculptures and 18 sky-scraping spires that exude both Gothic and Art Nouveau styles. Each of the church’s three facades is ornately decorated to highlight the story of Jesus’s life, and the interior of the building is equally as impressive.

It will take you about 30 minutes to walk to La Sagrada from the Arc, and you’ll want to spend an hour or so wandering around the site once you arrive. The details are so intricate that it’s impossible to take it all in, but drink up as much as you can before starting off again, this time, in the direction of the Park Güell.

It’s a 40-minute walk to the park from La Sagrada, so you may opt for a taxi to help keep your feet fresh since there’s still a lot left to see later in the day. Spend an hour or so wandering around the public park, which is home to even more of Gaudi’s masterpieces. In 1900, wealthy Spanish entrepreneur Eusebi Güell commissioned Gaudi to build an estate for the elite. Gaudi adorned the area with his unique designs. A few years after Güell’s death, his family gifted the area to the city as Park Güell.

One day in Barcelona

Much of the park is open to visitors to wander around at leisure. However, if you want to get up close and personal with Gaudi’s designs, you’ll need to purchase a ticket for an exclusive part of the park known as the Monumental Zone. Here, you’ll find the serpent-inspired mosaic terrace, the infamous El Drac mosaic salamander and other mosaics, and the main park entrance. An additional ticket is required to visit Gaudi’s house, la Torre Rosa.

Pro Tip: Get in line to purchase your ticket before you begin exploring the public parts of the park. You’ll likely have to wait a while just to make your purchase, and once you do you’ll be given a time to return for entry into the exclusive area. While you’re waiting, you can check out the rest of the park, which includes Gaudi’s colonnaded pathways and bird’s nests. Alternatively, you can pre-purchase tickets that allow you to skip the line.

Afternoon

Once you’ve had a chance to wander around the park, it will be mid-day. By now, your stomach will be rumbling, so be sure to stop for lunch. You can either grab a bite nearby or head toward your next point of interest, where there’ll be plenty of places to whet your whistle.

From Park Güell, you’ll make your way to Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample area of Barcelona. It’s about 40 minutes of walking, so once again, you may want to hail a taxi for this leg of the trip. Passeig de Gràcia is home to some of the city’s finest shopping, including everything from Cartier and Hermes to H&M and Zara. Like the shopping, food vendors runs the gamut from takeout tapas joints to trendy and chic upscale restaurants.

One day in Barcelona

One day in Barcelona

In addition to all types of fashion-forward clothing chains and popular restaurants, you’ll get to glimpse two more of Gaudi’s masterpieces on Passeig de Gràcia: UNESCO World Heritage Sites Casa Milà and Casa Batlló. Walk up one side of Passeig de Gràcia and back down the other until you reach Plaça Catalunya, the place where the Old Town and newer Eixample part of the city meet. If you don’t dawdle, only stop into a few shops, and chow down on street food as you walk, you make your way from one end of Passeig de Gràcia to Plaça Catalunya in an hour or so.

One day in Barcelona

Considered the city center, Plaça Catalunya is a massive that square boasts a number of fountains and statues and is the gateway to many of the Barcelona’s most important streets, including the popular pedestrian street known as La Rambla. Walk south from Plaça Catalunya to reach La Ramblas, the hub of tourist activity in Barcelona. The tree-lined street is approximately three quarters of a mile long and is completely free from vehicles. Here you’ll find street artists entertaining the thousands of tourists that stroll this street every day. You’ll also find dozens of street cafes and boutiques where you can buy all types of clothing, souvenirs, and gifts.

Pro Tip: Be sure to try the churros and chocolate. The local delicacy consists of fried pastry that is dusted in sugar and cinnamon and served with a cup of sweet, creamy chocolate. You can find the combination on the menu at just about every eatery in the area.

one day in barcelona

One day in Barcelona

At the southernmost tip of La Rambla, you’ll reach the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. If it’s still light out, you may want to make your way across the street and walk along the pier a ways. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, from here, it’s only about a 20-minute walk to the beach. Slip off your shoes and dip your toes in the sand for a short stroll along the water before the sun goes down.

Evening

Once darkness falls, it’s time to head to Barri Gotic, or the Gothic Quarter. It’s about a 20-munte walk from the beach, and the main attraction here is the Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia, or Barcelona Cathedral. Its soft lights cast an amazing aura over the area at night. After you’ve taken in this impressive sight, get lost in the narrow and winding streets of the Gothic Quarter. Take your time enjoying the one-of-a-kind offerings at the unique boutiques and pick up dessert at one of the tasty pastry shops.

One day in Barcelona

one day in barcelona

By the time the shops start to close, you’ll be ready to call it a night. It’s a short 20-minute walk from the Gothic Quarter to the Arc de Triomf, where you can kick off your shoes and give your feet a much-deserved rest.

If you only had one day in Barcelona, what would you add to this list? Leave a comment below with your suggestions. We’d love to hear from you.

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One Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: From Corcovado to Sugarloaf

So you only have one day in Rio de Janeiro and you want to make the most of it?

There are so many incredible things to do in Rio de Janeiro that it’s almost overwhelming. But there are only a handful of must-see sites top the list, and the good news is that you can pack most of them into one very full day. You simply can’t visit Rio without making a stop at places like  Sugarloaf Mountain, Ipanema and Copacabana, the Carnival parade route, Maracanã Stadium, and Corcovado Mountain, which is home to Christ the Redeemer.

It’s fairly easy and inexpensive to take taxis or public transportation to most parts of Rio. However, there’s a bit of risk involved—during peak season some of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro can be extremely busy. Some people spend hours just standing in line to on the cable cars at Sugarloaf. For this reason, it’s a good idea to opt for a guided tour.

Pro tip: If you do decide to head to some of the top attractions on your own, consider buying a skip-the-line pass. Depending on the time of year of your visit, it can be a real time saver.

rio de janeiro

At first glance, it may seem like the cost of city tours in Rio is outrageous—it’s certainly much more than you would spend in other parts of the world. But once you start adding up the price of admission to the top sites, as well as cab fare to each one, you’ll realize the price is pretty fair. And leaning on the experts to get you to all the right places is invaluable when you only have one day in Rio de Janeiro. They know the best times to visit each place to guarantee you can see as much as possible. Even if you have more than one day to check out the sights, a city tour is a great way to kick off your trip to give you a feel for the area. Normally, I would recommend a hop on hop off bus to get acquainted with a city, but Rio de Janeiro doesn’t have one.

Pro tip: There are plenty of tour companies offering comprehensive city tours that you can pre-book, or you can ask your hotel for recommendations. At the end of the day, they’re all about the same price and visit the same places, so it’s often more convenient to buy your tour in advance of your trip.

If you’re ready, let’s begin looking at all of the things to do in Rio de Janeiro in just one day.

Morning

Since most city tours won’t do much more than take you for a drive past the infamous Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches, try staying someplace close by so you can take a morning stroll in the sand. For affordable elegance, the Best Western Premier Arpoador Fashion Hotel is a perfect choice. Located on a side street just a five-minute walk from both Ipanema and Copacabana, it’s ultra-contemporary and luxurious decor will make you feel like you’ve spent a fortune on a five-star hotel when you paid three-star rates. But if you’re looking to truly splurge on your visit to Brazil, nothing compares to the ultimate indulgence of the Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

The Best Western offers a delicious—and complimentary—breakfast spread of pastries, cereals, and made-to-order hot dishes that is sure to tickle your taste buds. Get up early to enjoy a quick bite at the hotel and then spend and hour in the soft white sand of Rio’s premiere beaches. If you’d like to try a local eatery instead, you’ll find plenty of full-service snack shacks beachside. You can watch the waves roll in as vendors set up stalls renting beach chairs and local “salesmen” peddle Brazilian sarongs called kangas.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

Most tours offer hotel pick up and will likely arrive between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m., and while you won’t have a lot of time to take in both beaches, it’s still worth taking the time to check them out. Once you’re safely tucked into your seat on the open-top tour bus, you’ll be whisked through the streets of Rio toward the number one tourist attraction in the city: Christ the Redeemer. I’ve written all about what to expect when you arrive at Corcovado Mountain and make your way up to the statue of Christ in a separate post since it’s an experience in and of itself.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

Depending on the type of tour you take, you can either take a bus, train, or car just about to the top of the mountain. For here, you’ll need to climb about 200 steps to the top (there is an elevator if you need it, but if you’re able, I recommend the walk). There are lots of great views on the way up. Regardless of your religion, Christ with his arms outstretched will take your breath away. When you’re done taking pictures of the exceptional views from Corcorvado, you’ll still have plenty of time to browse around the souvenir shops for a memento of your visit.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

As you drive through the streets, you’ll catch a glimpse at the notorious and colorful favelas, or low-income shantytowns that take up a great deal of real estate in Brazil’s urban and rural communities. You’ll also drive by the massive Sambadrome where Rio Carnival takes place each year. As you stop at the side of the building for a closer look, you can almost hear the spicy samba beats and the thunderous roar of the 90,000-person crowd as the heavily adorned dancers and floats pass by. Well, maybe not quite since it’s pretty much a big, concrete park without the glitter and shine of the Carnival, but you get the gist. Touted as the biggest stage on Earth, the tiered seats offer an unparalleled view of the electrifying Samba Parade.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

For sports enthusiasts, the tour makes a quick stop at Maracanã Sium, which was originally built to host the 1950 FIFA World Cup. At the time, it could hold nearly 200,000 people, making it the world’s largest stadium. However, a renovation completed in 2013 decreased its capacity to fewer than 80,000. Still, as the largest stadium in Brazil, it’s an impressive site. It’s at about this point in the tour that the bus will pull up outside a recommended souvenir shop so you have a chance to pick up gifts for friends and family back home.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

Afternoon

By now, the better part of your morning will be over, and your tummy will be starting to grumble. What better wait to sate your stomach than to head to a Brazilian barbecue? And don’t worry if you’re not a meat-eater—I’ve been a pesco pollo vegetarian for more than 20 years—there are plenty of other foods on the menu, including a plethora of salads and side dishes. I promise you won’t leave hungry.

rio de janeiro

For the carnivores in the group, you will be treated to an experience like no other. From the moment you’re seated, a revolving door of servers carrying ready-to-carve meats of every kind will start to approach from every angle, and they won’t stop until you’re walking out the door. Lamb, chicken, pork, beef—you name it, and they have it. And they are careful to also include vegetarians in the experience, bringing specially crafted cheesy buns and fried bananas for you to much on. Many tours include the cost of the meal in your ticket price. The only reason you’ll have to pull out your wallet is if you want to buy a beverage.

rio de janeiro

With your tummy taut from all the delicacies you enjoyed, it’s time to get rolling. After all, there’s no time to spare when you only have one day in Rio de Janeiro. For the next leg of the tour, you’ll spend some time driving around the city and taking in the sights from inside the motorcoach.

Pro tip: There’s often limited space on the top, or outdoor, part of the bus, which is the prime viewing location. At each stop, aim to get back to the bus a little bit earlier than prescribed so that you can be first in line to get one of the outdoor seats. It’s dog-eat-dog when it comes to these things.

rio de janeiro

From here, you’ll head toward the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian. Constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, the church looks like something out of an apocalyptic comic book. Inside, the floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows are a true work of art, lending a sense of beauty to the otherwise unusual structure that is almost reminiscent of a Mayan temple in its shape and design.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

The penultimate stop of the tour takes you for a drive past the Lapa Arches en route to the Selaron Steps. Not every tour includes this stop, but our thoughtful and knowledgeable guide, Julio, thought we might enjoy a quick pit stop here, and it turned into one of the highlights of the trip. Designed as a tribute to the people of Brazil by Chilean artist Jorge Selaron, the 215 colorful steps are covered from top to bottom in a mosaic of tiles and mirrors. Street vendors and souvenir shops line the sides of the steps, which are abuzz with crowds of people. There’s also a great souvenir shop where you can taste a local liqueur as well.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

After a short break at the cathedral, it’s back on the bus for the final stop of the tour, the highly anticipated Sugarloaf Mountain and its high-speed cable cars. If you’re afraid of heights, there’s a lovely green space just before the entrance to the cable cars where you can wait for the rest of the party. You find a few kiosks offering kitschy souvenirs and churros, among other street food. You can even walk down to the nearby beach to watch the surfers ride the waves.

For the adventurers who choose to ride to the top of the mountain, you won’t be disappointed. The views are incredible and well worth the whopping six-minute ride—that’s right, I said six minutes. Honestly, no matter how severe your fear of heights is, you can do anything for six minutes. In the blink of an eye, you’ll be there. And if you time it right, you’ll get to see the sunset over Christ the Redeemer on the other side of Rio. It’s majestic, and you can read all about the experience in a separate post I wrote on Sugarloaf Mountain and the cable car ride. There a plenty of places to eat and shop at Sugarloaf, so don’t worry if you haven’t found a special token to remind you of your time in Rio. You’re bound to find something at Sugarloaf.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

Evening

The sun goes down fast in Rio de Janeiro, so by the time you get back on the bus, it will be just about nightfall. You’ll get back to your hotel between 6:30 and 7 p.m. And if you’re up for it, a fun way to spend the night is at the Plataforma Samba Show. Filled with music and dance, each night performers our their hearts and souls into a high-energy cultural performance. And for the icing on the cake, the performers showcase some of the recent Carnival costumes. It’s a fun way to cap off your jam-packed day in Rio.

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

rio de janeiro

I’ve been to hundreds of cities and towns in more than 50 countries on 5 continents, and I can truly say that none compare to Rio de Janeiro. Its beauty is unrivaled. There are so many things to do in Rio de Janeiro that I can hardly wait to return and take in even more. But if you only have one day in Rio de Janeiro, this guide provides the perfect way to make the most of your time.

Have you been to Rio? What’s your favorite thing about it? What other sights would you put on your must-see list? Leave a comment and let us know.

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One Day in Chicago: From Land to Water Activities

 
chicago
 
Chicago
 
 
 

 

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