Explore Ancient Rome | Best Things to do in Rome | Italy

The Colosseum, one of the Best things to do in Rome

Explore

Ancient Rome

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city founded
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colosseum completed
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pantheon completed
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century the Forum completed
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Height of Roman Empire
The Forum, one of the Best things to do in Rome
The Colosseum in Rome one of the Best things to do in Rome
St.Peter's Basilica, one of the Best things to do in Rome

The Top 18 Best Things To Do in Rome

As the old saying goes, all roads lead to Rome. For those fascinated by culture and tradition, food and art, Rome is the place for you. The birth place of western civilization, Rome also is the longest inhabited city in Europe. According to Roman mythology, the city of Rome was founded in 753 BC, however the area has been inhabited for much longer. Over the 28 centuries of Rome’s existance, the eternal city has played a central role in many of the world’s most transformative events as the home to the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire. When the empire fell in the west, signifying the beginning of the middle ages, control of the city gradually shifted into papal control in the 8th century. As the papal capital, the city would establish consistency in architectural and urban planning, and for the next 400 years Rome would become the centre for arts and culture. From the Renaissance to the Baroque and neoclassicism, artists nad sculptors flocked to Rome to inspire and be inspired. Join us as we explore the ancient ruins of the “Caput Mundi”.

What to do in Rome

1. The Colosseum

Constructed between 70-80AD, the colosseum is a amazing testament to the roman empire. The world’s largest ampitheatre hosted gladiators and public spectacles holding over 65,000 spectators. Spend the day discovering the fascinating history and events that took place on the colosseums hallowed grounds.

2. St.Peter’s Square 

A magestic site with major religious significance, St.Peter’s Square is a large public space directly infront of St.Peter’s Basilica. Named after Jesus’ disciple, St.Peter is known as the first bishop of the Catholic faith. Take in the magestic sites within the embrace of the collonades arms of the maternal mother.

3. The Pantheon

Take some time to explore the temple of all the pagan gods. Originally built in 27BC by Marcus Agrippa, the original structure was burnt ot the ground. The Pantheon was then rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian built between AD125-128. Today, the Pantheon functions as an attraction, but also a Catholic church where people come toegether to catch a glimpse of the spectactular building and iconic circular hole in the ceiling.   

4. St.Peter’s Basilica

Known as the holiest site in Christendom, St.Peter’s Basilica is a church dedicated to Jesus most revered disciple. Built in 1506 and consecrated in 1626, the basilica is home to phenomenal art pieces like Michelangelo’s Pieta sculpture. Yhe Basilica can hold up to 20,00 under it’s impressive dome.  

5. Palatine Hill

The most important of the hills in the city of seven hills, Palatine Hill is known as the original seat of the first nucleus of the Roman Empire. Take a day to discover the earliest days of Rome from the place where imperial palaces and rome’s wealthy elite once stayed. Visit the museum and check out hte artifacts. 

6. Trevi Fountain

Make a stop in Italy’s Trevi district to see Rome’s largest Baroque fountain. One of the oldest sources of water to Rome, the fountain dates back to the completion of the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct in 19BC.  As hte old legend goes, throw one coin into the fountain to ensure a return to Rome, two for a new romance and three for marriage,

7. The Forum

At the centre of life in ancient Rome is the forum. This is where everything happened. The forum was the place of politics, religion, legal and social events that shaped the city and the empire. According to historians, leaders of Rome began meeting in hte forum as far back as 500 BC. After the fall of the Empire, the forum was left to fall apart, and was gradually reclaimed by earth. It was not until the 20th century that excavations began and the site returned to prominance. 

8. Sistine Chapel

Find yourself in awe in the Vatican city’s greatest treasure. The Sistine Chapel holds tremendous significance as the place where popes are chosen. The Sistine Chapel is also home to Michelangelo’s masterpieces, like the creation of Adam and Final Judgement.

9. Vatican Museums

Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, the Vatican Museums are best place to experience the extraordinary art works of Rome. The Vatican Museums located in Vatican City house many of the most famous renaissance art pieces by artists like Michelangelo and Raphael to name just a few. The museums contain over 70,000 pieces, 20,000 on display.

Tiber river at night in Rome with St.Peter's basilica in the background

10. Piazza Navona

A lively Baroque style public square with fantastic fountains, vibrant energy and restaurants, the  Piazza Navona is a popular nad well worthwhile stop in Rome. Built on the historic site f Stadium of Domitian, the square would hold 20,000 spectators viewing the athletic competitions of the day. There are three amazing fountains to check out, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers), Fontana del Moro “Seashell Fountain.” and the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune)

11. Piazza di Spagna & The Spanish Steps

Take a break in a truly beautiful spot. Have a seat on one of the 135 steps overlooking the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the ugly boat). The famous Spanish steps and square were built in the 18th century to connect the Piazza di Spagna and the Church of Trinità dei Monti in the seat of the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican.
 

12. Castel Sant’Angelo / Mausoleum of Hadrian 

Built in 139AD by Hadrian the Emperor as a mausoleum to himself, the building would become a military building and by 403 was integrated into the Aurelian walls. In the 13th century a fortified tunnel to the vatican was constructed so that the pope could escape unharmed in the event of an attack. Check out the 5 floors from the cells in the lower levels to the papl residence complete with amazing frescoes nad an impressive collection of weapons from the past.

13. Trastevere

Explore the winding maze of cobbled stone streets in Trastevere. This exciting neighbourhood is built across the river Tiber and over the centuries has developed a ulture of it’s own. Discover the history from Rome’s first synogogue to some of the oldest churches in Rome like the 12th-century Basilica di Santa Maria. Trastevere is also home to world class dining with fantastic restaurants and bars in every direction. 

14. Altar of the Fatherland

Built to honur the first king of Italy after the unification of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. The spectacular building stands at 70 metres tall and offers some of the best panoramic views of the city.

15. Villa Borghese Gardens

Spend some time taking in some fresh air at Villa Borghese, the most popular park in Rome. Known as the green lung, the park is a welcome retreat to peace and nature. The Villa Borghese Gardens can be found on the Pincian Hill, close to Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. The Gardens cover an area of 80 hectares and were developed in 1606 by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who wanted to turn his former vineyard into the most extensive gardens built in Rome.

16. Knights of Malta Keyhole

Join the small queue near the non descript door for a view well worth the wait. Through manicured gardens framing St.Peter’s Basilica, this lesser known view is a part of the property belongong to the Priory of the Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic religious order of crusader knights that originated in Jerusalem in the 11th century. It is the oldest surviving chivalric order in the world and is a sovereign entity under international law.

17. Fiat Tour

Hop into a classic Fiat 500 and discover Rome in an exciting and fun way. Weave down small streets with your caravan of cute cars heading places tour buses could never reach. Uncover mysteries of Rome, learn of the legends and make your own magical memories on this epic three hour tour.

18. Espresso

When in Rome, do as the Romans, begin your day with a perfectly prepared espresso. The coffee culture in Italy is world class nad perhaps the most sophisticated. If you find yourself in need a midday pick me up, stop by a cafe, nad take your espresso like the locals, short, strong, and quickly. Be sure to brush up on the etiquette beforehand to impress the locals. 

When to Go to Rome

Late August: If you don’t mind a little heat and humidity, late August is a great time to visit Rome. Most of the crowds from the peak summer season have been reduced, and the Rome residents are also just returning from holiday, yet most of the shops and restaurants are open. 

Mid-Late November: With still relatively mild temperatures and reduced crowds, Mid November is a great time to visit Rome, especially if you don’t enjoy the heat. With Christmas on the horizon, the city winds down and begins preparations for a busy holiday season.

What to Eat in Rome

Saltimbocca alla Romana: Thought to have originated in the northern italy town of Brescia, Saltimbocca has become a staple dish in Rome. Saltimbocca translates to “jump in your mouth” and it couldn’t be more aptly named. Typically consisting of veal, proscuitto and sage cooked in white wine and butter, this is a dish you will not soon forget.

Pasta Cacio e Pepe:  Pasta Cacio e Pepe has taken off in popularity in recent years due to it’s simplicity of quality main ingreidents of pasta, cheese and pepper.

Carbonara: The most typical of Roman cuisine, Carbonara is made with egg, hard cheese, cured pork, and black pepper. The cheese is usually Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a combination of the two.

Girl enjoy a gelato in Rome
Trastevere, one of the Best things to do in Rome
Vespa parked in old Rome neighbourhood Trastevere

Best Events in Rome

Taste of Roma

The ultimate italian food festival, Taste of Roma brings together the cities best restaurants and chefs for four amazing days and nights of worl-class dining.

VinoForum

WIth 2000 wine labels, and 600 wineries, the VinoForum is a fantasic event to celebrate learn about Italian wine from industry leaders. Beyond wine, there are several top chefs nad restaurants providing incredible foods from around the region.

Citta della Pizza

The City of Pizza festival invites the best pizza makers in Italy to share thier delicious creations with guests from around the world. This three day celebration highlights ingredients nad techniques unique to the different regions of Italy.

Rome Film Festival

A relatively young, yet important festival for the film industry, the Rome film festival brings actors, directors to Rome to debut their creative works at famous venues throughout the city like the Auditorium Parco della Musica.

Visit The Markets in Marrakech, Morocco

brightly coloured bags of coloured incense cones at a market in Marrakesh

Visit the markets in

Marrakech

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largest city in Morocco
people living in the city
traditional markets
craftspeople employed at the markets
Jemaa el-Fnaa became UNESCO world heritage site

Markets in Marrakech: Experience the Bustling Bazaars in Morocco’s City of Colour

Often referred to as bazaars or souks (in Arabic), markets in Marrakech are an experience not to be missed during your trip to Morocco. Marrakech is known as the city of colour thanks to the red clay used to build houses that turns a beautiful rose pink colour as it dries. This iconic soft colour makes the perfect backdrop for the bright colours and patterns seen everywhere at the markets in Marrakech. Traditional souks are a feast for the senses. Scents of rich spices waft through the air; sunlight glistens on mirrored surfaces, and the sounds of bustling market life will have you turning in every direction. Marrakech’s bazaars are definitely an exciting place to be.

large piles of colourful spices at a market in Marrakesh
man with grey hair sits behind a stall at a busy market in Marrakesh
man wearing a white overcoat at a market stand in Marrakesh
stands of local crafts at a market in Marrakesh

What Can I Buy at the Markets in Marrakech?

Bazaars are full of interesting and exciting things to buy. Rugs, leather goods, lamps and spices are among the most popular. 

Moroccan Rugs

Handmade wool rugs are perhaps the most iconic thing to buy at a market in Marrakech. Crafted by different Berber Tribes across the country, Moroccan rugs are traditionally woven for their utility in cooler climates. They are originally made from natural wool fibres that have been dyed with organic vegetables and fruit colours. The colourful and decoratively patterned  carpets (typically with geometric designs) have become sought after around the world.

Moroccan Hanging Lamps

Traditional Moroccan lanterns can be found widely across markets in Marrakech. Traditionally made to hold tealights, these intricately decorative lamps are typically made out of rustic brass or wrought iron with tinted stained glass. The patterns and designs can be simply mesmerising, demonstrating true craftsmanship from the makers. The lamps are designed in such a way that the light shines through the stained glass to create beautiful patterns and colours on walls and sufaces around them.

Leather Goods

Leather work is a tradition that has been linked to many cities in Morocco including Fez, Meknes, Rabat, and Marrakech. Moroccan leather is widely thought to be some of the best in the world. One thing that makes it so unique is that the entire process is done by hand in traditional tanneries. First, the hides are gathered and prepared. Next, the skins are soaked in vats of natural dyes derived from poppies, henna and saffron to name a few. Following this, the leather is hung out to dry naturally in the sun before being sold to craftspeople. Slippers, handbags and footstools are some of the most commonly produced and purchased items.

Moroccan Spices

Morocco is famous for its vast array of spices with intense flavours, aromas and colours. With so many spices available throughout markets in Marrakech you’ll be overwhelmed by the smell and sight of it all. Common Moroccan spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika and saffron, among countless others. The famous Moroccan spice mixture Ras El Hanout typically contains twenty-seven spices, including cardamom, cumin, clove, and nutmeg. The name literally translates to “head of shop”. It is believed that North African dealers created the blend by combining the best spices they each had available.

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The Ultimate Experience of Markets in Marrakech

There are eighteen markets in Marrakech, each offering a distinct experience and specialising in different types of goods. If you have plenty of time, you could spend hours getting lost in the souks, taking it all in as you go. For those with less time, it could be a good idea to get a local guide to show you around, especially if you have certain things on your shopping list as they’ll know exactly where to find them.

Traveller’s Tips

1. If you do ask a guide to show you around, make sure they are licensed.

2. Take a map of the souks or use GPS so that you can find your way back to the main streets when you inevitably get lost down the narrow alleyways of stalls.

3. If you do get lost and want to ask for directions, try to ask a family or a female. Young males are more likely to insist on showing you where to go, and will expect a hefty tip in return.

4. Haggling is expected at the markets in Marrakech. Keep it friendly and have some fun, but know that it’s also ok to walk away if you don’t agree on a price you’re happy with.

 

 

 

 

 

sun sets over busy markets in Marrakesh
red patterned rugs hang across the front of a building at a market in Marrakesh
markets in Marrakesh selling Moroccan rugs

Which Markets Should I Go To?

Djemaa el-Fna

Djemaa el-Fna is the largest and most well-known market in Marrakech. Located in the largest square in the Medina quarter, or old city, this bustling market is used by locals and tourists alike. There are plenty of street food stalls and orange juice vendors. Djemaa el-Fna is definitely best experienced at night.

Mellah

Located in the Jewish Quarter, Mellah is steeped in history. Although some the buildings look a bit old and tattered, the vibe is slightly less chaotic and somewhat more authentic than the more popular Djemaa el-Fna. Mellah is particularly known for selling a vast selection of colourful fabrics and ornate clothes-making accessories.

Souk el Attarine

Souk el Attarine is the place to go for Moroccan scents and spices. The market is much smaller than some of the others, but there’s no shortage of goods to browse. This area has also become a popular place to buy metal goods such as traditional lamps ands decorative mirrors.

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Visit Angkor Wat | Cambodia

Angkor Wat Buddhist Temples in Cambodia, seen from across the water at sunrise

Visit

Angkor Wat

th
century city of temples
sq kms of Angkor ruins
major temples
UNESCO World Heritage Site
years to build Angkor Wat temple

Visit Angkor Wat

A Discovery of the Ancient Khmer Civilization

Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat is an experience like no other. Given that it’s set in a location that is nothing short of magical, spending a day here should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. This guide has everything you need to help you prepare for your visit to Angkor Wat.

About Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is considered to be the largest religious monument in the world. Interestingly, the temple was originally constructed as a Hindu place of worship in the early 12th century, by the Khmer King Suryavarman II. Built on a site measuring 1.626 km2, the 5 iconic towers of Angkor Wat represent the peaks of Mount Meru, home of the gods. Then at the end of the 12th century, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist place of worship, which it remains to this day. It is now often referred to as the ‘Hindu-Buddhist temple’.

Visiting Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Undoubtedly the best time to visit Angkor Wat is at sunrise. Watch as the sky turns all shades of pink, orange and yellow, as a bold silhouette of the beautiful temples is reflected in the water before it. Visiting Angkor Wat at sunrise is a magical experience. Some embark on a spiritual journey as they delve into the history, religion and culture of Cambodia’s most iconic Buddhist temple. Others visit simply to take in the view of the temple as the morning light creates a blissful silhouette of the 5 magnificent towers in the still moat.

rock formation as part of the ruins at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
corner of the Angkor Wat temple, seen at sunrise
silhouette of Angkor Wat towers against an orange sunrise sky
soft warm light over Angkor Wat temple at sunrise

 

 

 

 

 

The Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Wat is just one specific temple in a complex of many. Actually, the Angkor temple complex consists of 72 major temples in addition to hundreds of smaller ones. Once the capital city of Khmer Empire, this enormous site is thought to have been established between the 9th and 15th centuries. The entire area covers approximately 400 Km2. A mind-blowing site by any measure.

After the fall of the Khmer Empire, the temples of Angkor were abandoned for centuries. Since the ruins of Angkor are located in forests, many of the ruins were reclaimed by nature. Nowadays gigantic trees tower overhead, their roots clinging to the ruins below them. A light moss covers most surfaces, giving the entire place a very natural and calming ambience. Bodies of water reflect silhouettes of the carefully crafted temples, as fallen rocks create a cascade of stone from the ruins to the water. Due to the historical and cultural significance of the site, in 1992 Angkor Archaeological Park was recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.

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Planning your Visit to Angkor Wat

How do you get to the Angkor Archaeological Park?

The Angkor temples are located 5.5km north of Siem Reap in Cambodia. Conveniently several airlines fly directly into Siem Reap, and depending on your citizenship, you can get a 30 day visa on arrival for $30. Alternatively, buses and minibuses connect Siem Reap to other cities around Cambodia, and even from neighbouring countries.

From Siem Reap, we recommend hiring a tuk tuk with a driver to take you from the city to the ruins, and then between the ruins during your visit. Since the archaeological site covers such a large space and there are so many temples to see, using a tuk tuk to move between them only makes sense. Many tuk tuk drivers also offer their services as a guide which can be a great option if you’re interested in learning more about the ruins and perhaps seeing some of the lesser known ruins.

tuk tuk drives down a road between tall trees at Angkor Archaeological Park, Cambodia

What time does Angkor Wat open?

Angkor Archaeological Park is open between 5am and 6pm each day. If you’re planning to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat temple, we recommend either arriving incredibly early (around 4.40am) to get there before the crowds and find your spot by the water. Alternatively, consider going around the other temples first and stopping at Angkor Wat at sunset on your way out of the park. Obviously you won’t get the iconic pink sky photo this way, but there will definitely be far fewer people. Either way, sunrise in the Angkor park is incredibly beautiful, with soft lighting and the peaceful sound of the jungle waking up to start the day.

people watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat across the water, the silhouette reflecting in the water

How much does it cost?

Entry to the Angkor Archaeological Park costs $37 for 1 day, $62 for a 3 day ticket, or $72 for a week long pass. Be sure to keep your ticket on you at all times, as visitors may be fined for failing to show it upon request. With an early start, you can see a good number of temples in one day. If you’re particularly eager to delve deeper into the history and ruins then you may prefer to  spread your visit over several days.

young monk blesses a female tourist inside the temples during a visit to Angkor Wat

Receive a Blessing from a Buddhist Monk

A memorable activity to partake in during your visit to Angkor Wat is to receive a blessing from a Buddhist monk. Monks are present around the sacred ruins offering their blessings to visitors. Take off your shoes, sit on the mat, and donate what you can. Then, open your heart to the spiritual blessing your about to receive. You will be splashed with holy water as the monk chants a blessing for a happy life and good luck, a ritual that is often accompanied by the burning of incense. To conclude the blessing, the monk will tie a coloured string around your wrist. This string should not be removed, it should be worn until it falls off.

Top 10 Temples of Angkor

There are so many ruins at Angkor that it’s highly unlikely you’ll have time to see them all. For a selection of the most unique and impressive architecture, we recommend visiting the following temples: 

• Angkor Wat
• Bayon Temple
• Angkor Thom
• Ta Prohm
• Ta Keo
• Banteay Kdei
• Pre Rup
• Preah Khan
• Phnom Bakheng
• Banteay Srei

Temple ruins surrounded by water and jungle at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
delicate flowers in the water, lit by soft light at sunrise

Etiquette & Customs

• Keep your shoulders and knees covered at all times
• Respect the temples, and the fact that this is a religious site
• Be polite when taking photos
• Do not smoke whilst in the park
• Respect the monks – ask before taking a photo, and never touch or get too close to a monk
• Say no to begging – children are often seen asking for money or sweets. Giving is tempting, but it simply feeds into the cycle of poverty
• Prepare for the heat – bring sunscreen, a hat or umbrella, and plenty of water
• Wear comfortable shoes (sandals are allowed)

Celebrate Holi Festival in India

Girl covered in colourful powder smiles during celebration of Holi festival
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since
Indian states celebrate
main colours
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day celebration
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global pop. are hindu

Holi Festival

Celebrate the festival of colours in India

Holi is a popular ancient Hindu festival, also known as the Indian “festival of love”. Nowadays the festival has become widely recognisable for being so bright and colourful. Although Holi originated in India it is now celebrated and enjoyed around the world.

What is Holi?

Holi festival is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. People come together to throw coloured and perfumed powder which represents spreading love and positivity. The powder is known as Gulal and comes in an array of colours that signify specific things. For example, red represents love, blue is for the Hindu god Krishna, yellow is for turmeric, and green for spring. The powders fall on people’s hair, clothes and skin. Water is then mischievously squirted through water guns or thrown in balloons to help the colours stick. Naturally, this a fun and joyous occasion for everyone with people of all ages getting involved.

Learn more about the history of Holi

Two peoples clothing and feet covered in yellow powder at Holi festival
young girl covered in colours during holi festival
Room full of people celebrating holi festival
Dozens of people gather to celebrate the colourful festival of Holi in India

 

 

 

 

 

When Is Holi Festival

Holi Festival takes place once a year across India and is celebrated at the end of winter. Because the date of Holi is based on the Hindu lunar calendar it is different every year. However, Holi typically falls around the full moon in mid March. Celebrations last for a night and a day, starting on the full moon night (Holi eve). Large bonfires are lit to mark the occasion and to burn evil spirits. This is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi. The following day, Holi, is when the coloured powders are thrown. This day is also known as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi, or Phagwah.

The Best Places In India to Celebrate Holi

Different regions across India have their own way of celebrating Holi. Some regions focus heavily on the religious aspects of the festival, whilst others really enjoy the party side of things. Try to choose a location based on what you want to get out of your Holi experience. Here’s a breakdown of how some of the main locations in India celebrate Holi:

• Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh: Traditional Holi
• Jaipur and Udaipur, Rajasthan: Royal Holi
• Delhi: Bollywood Holi
• Barsana, Uttar Pradesh: Holi with Sticks
• Goa: Holi with music, drama & parades

Holi Around the World

The festival of love originated and is predominantly celebrated in India. However over the years it has spread to other parts of the world. In addition to India and Nepal, Holi is celebrated by Indian communities abroad. People in the Caribbean, South Africa, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, North America, Mauritius, and Fiji all celebrate Holi. The festival has also become popular among non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside of Asia. For example, the festival has reached parts of Europe in recent years, becoming a spring celebration of love and colours.

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Travel to Petra, The Rose City of Jordan

building carved into the rocks at Petra, viewed through an arch in the rocks in front

Travel to Petra

the Rose City of Jordan

years of human history
year of rediscovery
%
excavated
royal tombs
named unesco world heritage site

Travel To Petra

Journey through antiquity with this fascinating and enthralling adventure in the south of Jordan. Travel to Petra is an unforgettable experience that should be near the top of every traveller’s bucket list. Discover the ancient civilization of the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab community dating back to the 2nd century. 


Who Were the Nabataeans?

Nabataeans were travellers and traders who saw great opportunity to increase their wealth in Petra due to the location’s proximity to trade routes. They sought to establish Petra as a trading hub, and were able to successfully do so, amassing considerable revenue and then reinvesting in Petra.

The secret to the Nabataeans ability to thrive was their familiarity with living in the barren deserts, which gave them a distinct advantage over their enemies by using the terrain to great advantage in defending the capital.

These Ancient Arab people were particularly skilful in harvesting rainwater, agriculture, and stone carving. As a result, Petra flourished in the 1st century AD, when its famous Al-Khazneh Treasury structure – believed to be the mausoleum of Nabataean king Aretas IV – was constructed. At that time, the population peaked at an estimated 20,000 inhabitants.


A Brief History of Petra

Carved into the red-hued sandstone, the prehistoric Rose City is a living museum, switching hands several times over thousands of years. At first Nabataeans ruled the area, then it fell into the hands of the Romans, before Crusaders and Muslims would each stake their claim. By the 7th century, the community was deserted. However, the nearly 1000 caves of Petra have since drawn local Bedouin tribes. Now, visitors from around the world travel to Petra to marvel at the sites.

man in a white shirt sits on a rock looking down at a historical site during travel to Petra
Pink rock formations in desert in Jordan
building carved into the rocks at Petra, viewed through an arch in the rocks in front

 

 

 

 

How to Travel to Petra

• Fly into Amman Airport
• Rent a car and drive 4 hours 
• Tickets available only at the visitors centre in Wadi Musa
• Cost: 90 Jordanian Dollars / 50JD overnight 
• Many hotels offer free shuttles to and from the main gate

When to Visit Petra

Unsurprisingly, Petra can get extremely hot. During the peak of summer temperatures can hit a highs over 35°C.

Optimal Weather Conditions:

Spring: March – May
Autumn: September – November
Travel to Petra during these months will allow you to enjoy much more comfortable temperatures of 18-25C.

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Pack Your Hiking Boots

The best way to explore Petra is on foot, therefore you’ll need to pack a pair of comfortable and lightweight boots. Petra’s impressive site extends well beyond the main structures to include a theatre, caves, monuments and much more. Hiking trails will take you up and down, and across great distances offering spectacular views over the city. Because of this it’s quite possible to walk well over 6kms and spend the entire day exploring, so come prepared.

mountain goats gather on the side of the rocks at Petra

Petra Highlights

• Al-Siq – The Passage
• Al-Kazhneh “The Treasury”
• Ad-Deir
• Great Temple
• Al-Kubtha “The Treasury Vista”
• Al-Madbah “High Place of Sacrifice”
• Bab Al-Siq
• The Theatre
• Winged Lion Temple
• Temple of Dushares

Support the Bedouin

To make the most of any travel experience you have to meet the locals, and Petra is no different. The Bedouin people are warm and engaging. By purchasing something nice to bring home, you’ll help support the local families and community that rely heavily on tourism to get by. Interestingly they are experts at bartering, so expect to do a little negotiating. Have fun, ask questions and get to know more about their way of life. It’s also common to be invited to share a cup of tea or a meal at home with a local family. If you have time, we highly recommend you do. We can’t think of a better way to experience Petra.

Things to do in Lake Atitlan | Guatemala

wooden dock over the water, as the sun rises behind a volcano and over Lake Atitlan

Discover

Lake Atitlan

Guatemala

towns around the lake
m
at deepest part of lake
became a national park
m
height of Volcano Atitlan
last volcanic eruption

Discover Lake Atitlan

There are so many awesome things to do in Lake Atitlan, but first, let’s get to know a little more about this magical place…

It’s rainy season in Guatemala, a time to plot your adventures for early in the day and brace yourself for the ensuing afternoon showers. But in Atitlan, these showers are far from predictable. Torrential downpours flood the streets draining into the lake while thunder rumbles in every direction causing even the bravest among us to shudder in fear of the gods. A quick flash, a pause of realization you’re still on this earth, then a crackle and boom set the hairs on the back of your neck to upright position. You’re in a volcanic microclimate now. The forces of nature are at work here, you’re small in a place like this. In fact, tiny.

It’s this mystical energy that brings Lake Atitlan to life, and surely one of the many reasons it should be on your bucket list. A lot of people only visit Lake Atitlan for a couple of days, but the longer you stay, the more you’ll find to keep you busy. There are several villages and towns around the lake that have a completely different vibe. We’ve put together this guide to help you make the most of your time in Lake Atitlan.

a rickety wooden dock reaches out over the water in Lake Atitlan Guatemala
sun high in the sky over the volcano and water at Lake Atitlan
a U-shaped wooden deck at the edge of Lake Atitlan
boat docked against a wooden dock in Lake Atitlan Guatemala

 

 

The History Of Lake Atitlan

There is an energy in Lake Atitlan that’s palpable and real. In fact, a brief history of the region will leave you in awe. Forces from deep within the earth’s crust rose up and collapsed over millions of years. Earthquakes and eruptions have shaken and resettled the places we walk today. On top of this, tragedy and triumph have prevailed. The Spanish conquest, Mayan rebirth, political upheaval and guerrilla warfare have all left their mark on these lands.

Villages around Lake Atitlan

Taking it all in can be a challenge. The lake is dotted with multiple towns and villages, each offering their own unique experience. Luckily a short boat ride will get you anywhere you want to be, so you can immerse yourself in the energy and beauty of lake Atitlan from a variety of angles. Here’s a rundown of the main places to go and things to do in Lake Atitlan.

Panajachel

Panajachel is somewhat of a gateway to Lake Atitlan, and is home to many amenities that both visitors and locals make use of. Ultimately, Panajachel is the place to shop for local crafts, arrange excursions around the area, and eat a wide array of local and international food.

San Marcos La Laguna

San Marcos is the hippie town, known for its mystical pull and consequent widespread yoga scene. It’s a tiny village but has great swimming spots along the lakeside, a nice walking trail, and some cute vegan cafes to relax in after your yoga classes.

Jaibalito

Jaibalito is the smallest and most remote town around Lake Atitlan, and can only be reached by boat or foot. It’s often referred to as the town people don’t want you to know about because it’s so quiet and undisturbed. It’s a great place to stay for a few nights to completely relax and unwind. In short, it’s the perfect lakeside retreat.

man with a backpack amongst the trees, looking out to the water and volcano at Lake Atitlan
San Pedro La Laguna

San Pedro attracts a lot of backpackers with its amazing food, buzzing nightlife, and a chilled out vibe during the day. Interestingly, San Pedro is also home to some of the best Spanish schools in the area. Many offer courses that are several days or weeks long, making this a popular choice for long term stays as people stop to learn the language before travelling through Central America. The hike up Volcano Pedro also begins here, and other hikes can easily be arranged by vendors around the town.

Santa Cruz

A traditional Mayan town that hasn’t been overly influenced by expats. It’s a beautiful town with a nice dock area by the water and quaint houses as you walk into town. Although this is the steepest town on the lake, it’s perfect for wandering with a camera and soaking up the serene surroundings. There’s also a big artisan scene here, with some locals offering insightful craft workshops. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan.

History through art

Get to know more about the history and culture of Lake Atitlan by visiting art galleries and local artisans

Take a cooking class

Learn about traditional cooking methods and local ingredients with an intimate cooking class

 

Check out the local markets

Head to the local market for a taste of village life, offering fresh fruit and vegetables, and so much more

Shop local

Support the local community by buying gifts and souvenirs from the market stalls around the villages

Best Things To Do In Lake Atitlan

Hike a volcano, paraglide over the lake, and scuba dive beneath the surface. Feel the energy of Lake Atitlan

Scuba Dive In The Lake

Explore beneath the surface of these mystical waters for a unique and spiritual diving experience. You’ll be diving down into the crater of a super-volcano that was once home to a Mayan ceremonial town. Lake Atitlan offers a high-altitude, freshwater dive. 

silhouette of a scuba diver underwater, one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan
pink and purple sky behind a volcano at the edge of Lake Atitlan

Hike A Volcano

Take a hike up Volcano San Pedro. The challenging 4500ft of elevation gain is worth every step as you arrive at the 9,908 ft summit with breath taking views over Lake Atitlan and the impressive twin volcanoes Volcán Atitlán and Tolimán.

Paraglide Off A Volcano

One for the adventure seekers. Get a unique birdseye view over Lake Atitlan by paragliding from the top of a volcano. A fitting activity for such a dreamlike destination.

paraglider over the hills at sunset, one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan

Looking for more epic adventures in Guatemala? Check out our complete guide to hiking Acatenango Volcano 

Featured Host

Laguna Lodge

Nature is the new luxury

 

A luxurious lakeside eco lodge nestled amongst a nature reserve on the shore of Lake Atitlan. Inspired by nature and created from volcanic stone, Laguna Lodge captures the true essence of Mayan Guatemala. With a relaxing spa, award winning restaurant and endless activities to enjoy, Laguna Lodge is the obvious choice for a truly authentic and memorable experience.

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