Berlin. Just the mention of the name conjures images of division and unity, war and peace, angst and optimism. While visiting the city, the horrific history is palpable, yet the mood is brightened by the vibrant and expressive side of Berlin. The sprawling center is teeming with sights: museums, memorials and parks. We understand how overwhelming planning a trip to Berlin can be – so we’re helping by sharing a condensed version of our Berlin Sightseeing Guide: A 3-Day Berlin Itinerary. It is ideal for first-timers to Berlin who want to see as much of the city as possible – even on limited time. The condensed version includes all the sights of our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary – and we’ve even provided a link to more information for each sight and a link to Google Maps for each day of sightseeing.
Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula dangles off the northwest corner of the country into the Adriatic Sea. Like much of Croatia, the coastline in Istria is the big attraction. Seaside towns steeped in history line the western shore, each exuding unique character. However, the interior of the Istrian Peninsula is equally picturesque and has a storied past of its own. Medieval hilltop towns and regional delicacies are as much a reason to visit Istria as the translucent waters of the sea. Although we opted to base ourselves on the coast during our stay, we planned a one-day tour of Istria that included both the coast and the interior so that we could experience the must-see highlights of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula.
If Prishtina is the modern face of Kosovo, Prizren is a glimpse into the past. The preserved city center is made up of cobblestone streets, ancient mosques, centuries old churches and numerous bridges that for ages have straddled the Prizren Bistrica River. Overhead, a medieval fortress looms on the hilltop, keeping an eye on the city below.
While Prizren’s old historic center is easily navigated, there is limited (and sometimes confusing and/or conflicting) information provided for tourists. To assist fellow travelers visiting Prizren, we’ve detailed a self-guided walking tour (with map and turn-by-turn directions!) and have also included recommendations for food and drink and accommodations.
We stood on the side of a dusty road on the Osa Peninsula, using our hands to shade our eyes from the morning sun as we peered into a dark, leafy tree. I looked in the direction Juan Carlos was pointing, straining to see the sloth wrapped around a branch. I could only see a shadowy mass resembling a tree knot. We crept into the edge of the forest, searching for a better angle and a spot where Juan Carlos could set up his tripod and spotting scope. Through it, I could clearly see that the tree knot was, in fact, a small, furry sloth – and I could hardly believe that I was actually seeing one in the wild. It lazily turned its face toward us –half-interested/half-amused at the humans below – and then stretched before slumping back into the crook of the limb and dozing off again.
We made a last-minute decision to make a four-night stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland while flying from the Netherlands to Costa Rica. It was our first time to the island nation and our list of things we wanted to see was extensive. We had three full days to explore and we were intent on making the absolute most of our time, cramming everything we wanted to see in our 3-day itinerary for Iceland in Winter.
Our winter visit presented a few challenges. First, we had fewer hours of daylight – about seven hours total each day. On the upside, dark skies are necessary for viewing the Northern Lights, so we considered the short days to work to our advantage in that respect! Second, we had to factor in the weather. While the temperatures are actually more mild than most people would think – averaging 31*F in January – elements like wind and snow could quickly alter plans.
It was our 4th and final day in Reykjavik, Iceland and we hadn’t seen the Northern Lights. On our first three nights, the excursions in search of the green glow in the sky had been cancelled due to cloud cover. The notifications via text arrived each day by mid-afternoon. Getting a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis was at the top of our list when we planned our trip. But, on our last day, we were coming to terms with the fact that we might miss seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland.
In the late afternoon we began making alternate plans for our last night in town. The day had been mostly cloudy and the fierce winds were brutally cold. My optimistic outlook and high hopes that skies would clear were waning. However, as the hours passed and darkness came, we had yet to receive a cancellation notice. Still doubtful, it wasn’t until an hour before the 9:00pm departure that we finally realized the chase for the lights was on.
On our first full day in Iceland, we toured the sights on the Golden Circle. We were blown away by the natural beauty of the country – and we were only seeing a small piece of it. By the end of our tour, we knew we had to experience more of Iceland. On the bus ride back to Reykjavik, we booked a second tour with Reykjavik Excursions for the following day to explore Iceland’s South Coast.
The tour itinerary to Iceland’s South Coast listed five sights and was slightly more adventurous than the Golden Circle (but not so adventurous that we needed special gear). We would see two waterfalls, take a hike through snow to see a glacier, spend time on two black sand beaches and visit a folk museum.
As first-timers to Iceland, exploring the essential sights of the Golden Circle was practically a requirement. From the capital city of Reykjavik, 300 km of road wind in a loop to three of Iceland’s most naturally stunning sights: Strokkur Geyser, Gullfoss Waterfall and the exposed Tectonic Plates at Thingvellir National Park. Our standard approach to sightseeing is to find a do-it-yourself route via public transportation or by simply using our own two feet. In the case of the Golden Circle, however, neither of those options are viable. Instead we had two alternatives: rent a car or take a tour. In addition to our standard objection of driving cars in foreign countries, we had even more encouragement to forego the self-drive option: snowy, icy, winter weather. Hence, we spent a day exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle by tour bus with Reykjavik Excursions.
As slow travelers, we often spend weeks in cities that many travelers only give a day or two. Only on rare occasions do we limit ourselves to a single day in a city and that only happens when our scheduled commitments and flight arrangements put a squeeze on our itinerary. That’s what happened with our visit to Amsterdam. Eager to see as much of it as we could, we set out on a One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour to 15 of the city’s best sights. (Map below!)
Amsterdam is a compact city, but the sights are spread throughout, making it somewhat difficult to organize an easy-flowing self-guided walking tour. To see what we wanted to see, we had to cover some ground, which included a little zigging and zagging. With only one day in Amsterdam, we eliminated stops at museums and didn’t even consider attempting a bike rental. That being said, we left just enough time in our One Day in Amsterdam Self-Guided Walking Tour to sip on coffee, enjoy the views and wind our day down with a few beers.
We visited Sarajevo 20 years after the Siege of Sarajevo and realized it’s a city that is still very much in recovery. Although it seems nearly impossible to visit Sarajevo without at least some knowledge of the war that occurred there, it would be equally impossible to go and not notice the marks left from almost four years of fighting. Everywhere we looked, we saw reminders of war; bullet holes in buildings, hillside graveyards and heartbreaking monuments.