Bangkok travel guide Day 01

Bangkok Travel Bible - The Perfect 5 Day Guide (Day 01)

For some time now, Nuno and I wanted to create a travel guide with all the essentials of Bangkok. Basically, the guide we’d like to have found before our trip to Thailand.

So with that in mind we created a complete itinerary, divided it into 5 parts, and organized it by days to make it easier to digest. The order in which you start is up to you, and if you don’t have 5 days to visit Bangkok, just pick the days that best suit your traveler profile.

Each day of the itinerary is sequentially planned with all locations mapped in the most convenient order for you. We’ve considered the time it’ll take you to visit each site, as well as moving within the city from point A to point B. Oh, and we’ve also included launch breaks and suggestions of places to eat. It’s all covered.

Welcome to day-one. Let’s do this! ✊

 

Mario and Nuno in the Grand Palace

 

Bangkok Itinerary Map for Day 1 | The temple day

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keaw

Entrance fee

Tickets cost 500 baht.
If you don’t want to waste time on queues, buy your tickets online at: www.royalgrandpalace.th/buy-ticket

Opening hours

The Grand Palace opening hours are 8:30 to 15:30.

We encourage you to wake up early and to be there in the first hour of the morning. Being a very popular site, be prepared to encounter a lot of people at the entrance — and we’re not just talking about tourists.

 

Grand Palace exterior 

Swindlers love to hang right outside the palace like vultures flying over a carcass. We still remember being approached several times by people telling us the palace was closed for foreigners that day (lie), or that we had to buy special clothes otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed in (half-truth). 

As the Gran Palace and Wat Phra Keaw are considered sacred, all visitors must dress according to the stipulated rules: trousers or long shorts, and no sleeveless t-shirts. If the staff members consider you’re revealing more than you should, you’ll be guided to a booth near the entrance that will lend you the appropriate cover up. The lending service is included in the ticket price.

⏲️ A proper visit will take you at least 2 hours.

 

Grand Palace buildings

Wat Prakeaw Bangkok

 

Lak Mueang

Near Wat Phra Kaew is a shrine called Lak Mueang that represents the guardian spirit of the city. Inside is the foundation pillar raised in 1782 when King Rama I established Bangkok as the capital of Thailand.

Thai people come here regularly to leave offerings and to pray. Traditional Thai dances are performed daily and are free to watch.

Lak Mueang is open from 6:30 until 18:30.

Lak Mueang Bangkok
Lak Mueang Pillar




Wat Ratchabophit

With a typical Thai exterior reminiscent of the Grand Palace, this temple has an interior with clear European influences similar to a gothic cathedral. Here, are also stored the ashes of several members of Thai royalty.

It’s open from 9:00 to 18:00 and free to enter.

Wat Ratchapradit

A very beautiful temple close to Wat Ratchabophit that stands out for its Khmer influenced prang structures — like the ones you can find in the Angkor Thom Temple in Cambodia. 

Opens from 9:00 to 19:00 and admission is free.

 

Wat Ratchapradit

White Prang at Wat Ratchapradit
Wat Ratchapradit Buddha

Wat Pho

By now, you’ve probably seen countless pictures of a humongous golden reclining Buddha somewhere in Thailand — here’s where it is.

 


Wat Pho is just a 10-minute walk away from the Grand Palace.

It’s open from 8:00 to 17:00 and tickets cost 100 baht. However, don’t think you’re only paying to see the famous Buddha. The temple grounds and gardens are beautiful.

 

Golden Buddhas in Wat Pho

Wat Pho Bangkok

Wat Pho is also one of the best schools of Traditional Thai medicine and massage, so if you’re interested in a quality massage here’s your chance! These are the prices:

Traditional Thai massage

• 420 Baht for 1 hour
• 260 Baht for 30 minutes

Foot Massage

• 420 Baht for 1 hour
• 280 Baht for 30 minutes

For more information on what to expect from a Thai massage at Wat Pho visit: www.thaizer.com/getting-a-thai-massage-at-wat-pho-bangkok

 

Lunch Break

If you started the day early like we suggested, it’s probably lunch time by now and you’re likely to be hungry. 

Grab lunch in the square right behind Wat Pho by the Tha Tian Pier. There are plenty of street food stalls to choose from. After lunch you can catch the ferry to Wat Arun right there at the pier.

 

Pad Thai Street Food





Wat Arun

Open from 8:30 to 17:30. The admission fee is 50 baht.

Being one of the most visited temples in Bangkok, stopping by Wat Arun after lunch is a smart move and here’s why: since the internet decided that Wat Arun was a popular spot to watch the sunset, many tourists started to cross the river in the late afternoon.

That’s why we assigned the visit to Wat Arun after lunch, because we know it would be a particular quiet time in the day.

Tip: If you’re not following the sequence in this itinerary, early mornings are also a good time to visit.

Ferry Boat to Wat Arun

 

Climbing Wat Arun’s central prang will give you a privileged panoramic view of the river and the old part of the city. Last time we visited it, the prang was under restoration, so send us some pictures if you can. Thanks!

Crossing the Chao Praya River to Wat Arun

To get to Wat Arun (on the other side of the river)  you have to take the ferry departing from Tha Tien Express Boat Pier every 10 minutes or so. The trip takes around 5 minutes and gets you right by the temple for a 5 Baht fare.

 

2 extra sites close to Wat Arun (to visit if the day is going as planned)

1. Santa Cruz Church and the Kudeejeen neighborhood

Santa Cruz Church is one of Bangkok’s oldest Catholic churches, built to cater the religious needs of the Portuguese community that lived in this part of town. 

For 200 years, the peaceful communities of Catholics, Buddhists and Muslims that settled around the church co-created a unique multicultural neighborhood (Kudeejeen) that is definitely worth exploring.

If you’re interested in a bit more history on the Portugal – Siam relations, read: www.tour-bangkok-legacies.com/santa-cruz-church.html

 

2. Wat Prayoon

This temple stands out for its epic 80 meter high Chedi, the red iron fences made by ancient weapons, and the surrounding turtle pond and rock garden. 

The peaceful temple grounds have many benches near the pond for you to relax. However, if you’re not into contemplative rest, visit the Buddha Images Museum. It has thousands of amulets, images and artifacts that were found inside the base of the Chedi upon its restoration.

Wat Prayoon is open from 9:00 until 18:00 and there’s no entrance fee.

 

Bonus visit of the day

Artist’s House or Baan Silapin

It’s the farthest place on the map, but worth a visit if you have time to spare.
Open from 10:00 to 18:00, this 200 year old Thai wooden house it’s a creative space located along one of the main canals of the Chao Praya River.

 

Artist House in Bangkok

 

It’s a great place to chill after an hectic day in the city. So grab a coffee, enjoy a traditional thai meal by the river, or watch the free daily Thai puppet shot at 14:00.

The easiest way to get here is by taxi, but if you want to save some money (and don’t mind walking for a little bit) there are buses that can get you close-by. 

Buses to the Artist’s House

From the city center 🚌

Hop onto the bus nº 68 and get off at the stop Wat Tha Phra. From here you’ll have to walk an extra 20 minutes.

From Wat Arun 🚌 

If you’re at Wat Arun, take bus nº 710 to Bang Wa BTS station. Then, get off at Petchkasem 14 Tha Phra Intersection. From there walk 20 minutes north. See map above.

An evening on Rambuttri Alley

Rambuttri it’s a chilled and bohemian street enclosed with cool bars, lighted trees, and a mellow vibe that’ll make you want to hang out for the evening — especially after a full day.

 

Rambuttri Alley

 

If you want a super affordable meal, we suggest any food stall along Rambuttri Alley for dinner, drinks and dessert. However, if for some reason you feel a little iffy about food stalls, most bar terraces will serve meals, just expect a more touristy price.

 

Rambuttri Alley at night


Not tired yet?

If you don’t feel like slowing down just yet or manage to thrive around chaotic energy, there’s also the famous Kao San Road, parallel to Rambuttri Alley. There’s plenty of loud music, vodka buckets, and food vendors selling fried insects in their push-carts. Why not try some?

 

Fried bugs Thailand

 

Day 02 of the itinerary is coming soon!


View gold stupas in Mandalay

What to visit in Mandalay Archeological Zone

To help you make the most out of your time in Mandalay, here’s our selection of temples and sites you shouldn’t miss. Most are within walking distance of each other — like the ones at the foot of Mandalay Hill — and the farthest ones are only a quick taxi or bicycle ride away.

 

Mandalay Palace


⏱️ You’ll need at least 2 hours to see the Palace complex.

Ticket fee

If you’re planning to visit more than just the Mandalay Palace, you can purchase the Mandalay Archaeological Zone Combo Ticket for €6.15 (10,000K). It’s valid for one week.

It’s not clear what monuments this ticket gives you access to. And even though it should be stamped at the entrance of every monument you visit, our tickets were only checked at the entrance of the Royal Palace and the Shwenandaw Monastery. 

The Palace Complex

Located near Mandalay Hill, the Palace is inside a walled fort and surrounded by a 20-meter wide moat. Visitors can only use the entrance on the east side through a gate guarded by armed men. 

These days the palace complex consists of several wooden buildings rebuilt in 1990 after it’s destruction during World War II. Nevertheless, most buildings remain closed to the public, and the few ones opened are poorly lit, completely empty and a bit smelly.

 

Mandalay, Myanmar

 

Even though it’s an important part of the country’s history, we found the complex to be uninspired and dull. However, we felt like the view from to the top of the watchtower compensated for all other visit restrictions.

 

Mandalay Palace Complex





Mandalay Hill

Entrance fee

It’s supposed to be free, but if you’re a foreigner you’ll be charged 1000 MMK (€0.63) for a permit to take photos.

Climbing the hill on foot (not an easy task)

Right at the beginning is a sign asking you to climb the stairs barefoot — do so.

Along the way, you’ll find several stalls: some selling knick-knacks, some selling snacks. You’ll see small temples with buddha images, viewpoints overlooking the city, and stairways that never seem to end.

 

Stalls at Mandalay Hill

Buddha at Mandalay Hill

 

After 20 minutes we guarantee that you’ll regret your decision, as the 240 meters climb of stairs will feel like hiking through the Kilimanjaro. Yet, if you’re lucky to do it on a mild day, you can reach the top in 30-40 minutes. 

What’s up there

At the top of the hill is the Sutaungpyei Pagoda, where you can rest and observe the many locals practicing the Buddhist ritual of pouring water over the Buddha statues.

 

 

But the real reward for the struggle of climbing the hill is the stunning panoramic view that stretches for miles. The big Irrawaddy River reflecting the sun, the city melding with the trees and the green with the gold of temples and stupas.

 

Mandalay View

Alternative transport to get to the top (easy task)

If you’re short on time — or simply pass the quad workout from climbing all those stairs — share a motorbike taxi for 1000 MMK (€ 0.63), or 5250 MMK (€ 3.07) to go alone. It’ll leave you at the top entrance.

 

Temples at the foot of Mandalay Hill

The surrounding area of Mandalay Hill is also rich in Buddhist sites and monuments. Here are the 5 temples we recommend (our tickets weren’t checked at any of these):

Atumashi Monastery a.k.a. Atulawaiyan

 

Atumashi Monastery Mandalay

Atumashi Monastery in Mandalay

 

Shwenandaw Monastery

An all-wood monastery decorated with low reliefs of animal figures, floral ornaments, and Buddhist stories. This temple was brought from Amarapura and rebuilt here.

Shwenandaw temple
shwenandaw kyaung wooden temple

Kuthodaw Paya

A beautiful temple referred to as “the world’s largest book” where the pages of Tripitaka (the guiding principles of Theravada Buddhism) are engraved in marble blocks. The blocks are protected by 729 small white altars, organized around the large central golden stupa.
A must-visit.

 

Kuthodaw Pagoda Stupa

Kuthodaw Pagoda white altars

 

Sandamuni Paya

The Sandamuni temple bears a resemblance to Kuthodaw, but it’s known for housing the largest iron Buddha image in Burma. 

 

Golden buddha inside Sandamuni Paya

 

Kyauktawgyi Buddha Temple

At the south entrance to Mandalay Hill is the Kyauktawgyi Buddha Temple. There’s a statue of the seated Buddha carved into a single block of pale green marble, extracted 19 km from Mandalay and brought here by the force of men.

 

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

 





Must-see temples around town

Maha Myat Muni Paya

One of the most visited temples in the southwest of Mandalay, known for its 4-meter gold-covered Buddha statue, believed to be 2000 years old and covered by a 15 cm layer of gold. The Buddha’s face is polished daily at 4:00 pm.

For about 1600 MMK (€ 0.98) you can add one gold leaf to the statue. But only men are allowed to do it.

 

 

Shwe In Bin Kyaung Temple

In the south of Mandalay, you’ll find the far less popular (but equally beautiful) temple of Shwe In Bin Kyaung. The temple stands out for its beautiful wood carvings and teak structure.

 

Shwe In Bin Kyaung, Mandalay

 

Note:

All temples mentioned above can be visited with the Mandalay Archaeological Zone Combo Ticket.


Mandalay City Riverfront

Mandalay City Survival Guide

The great city of Mandalay is one of the main gateways into the country — especially for tourists arriving by plane wanting to stay close to Bagan. 

Visiting Mandalay was wonderful, and despite Nuno’s fears about safety, we never felt insecure. We actually experienced the opposite as we were constantly greeted with kindness, politeness and a smile.

 

Burmese boys

Photo by Thomas Schoch

To visit the city properly, we suggest at least a 4 days stay.

If you are looking for practical information on how to get into Myanmar, go to:
Entering Myanmar (Land borders, airplanes and limitations).

 

Transportation

From the airport to Mandalay city

Shared taxi

Nuno and I shared a taxi with other two travelers we met on our flight to Mandalay. As we were 4 on a 6 person vehicle, we had to wait for other passengers to fill the taxi. No one came, so we left after 30 minutes.

The ride to the city took 50 minutes and cost € 3.04 each.

Private taxi

You can accept a tout in the post-customs arrival area, or by signaling one of the taxis parked outside the airport. Prices are the same.

A private taxi with AC will cost €9.00 and without AC for €8.00.

 

Moving Around in Mandalay

Bicycle

Our favorite way to move around is by renting bicycles. Renting one can cost you €1 or €2  a day, and most hotels provide this service.   

But be careful, traffic in the city can be chaotic.

 

Traffic in Myanmar

Photo by Jakub Halun

 

Motorbike

You can also rent a Motorbike directly though your hotel for € 7 to € 9 a day.
Have in mind that there are no gas stations outside the city, but you’ll be able to find improvised stalls selling gasoline in glass bottles for €0.60 (1000 MMK).

 

 

Taxi

Considering that buses in Mandalay are not very reliable, taxis are a good way to get around town. It’s usually easier to ask your hotel reception to call one (as the vehicles are hard to identify), then just negotiate the fair with the driver.

 

Taxi in Mandalay

Photo by Jakub Halun

 

Motorbike Taxi

If you prefer feeling the wind in your face signal a motorbike taxi.

For reference: a day of sightseeing costs around € 6. You can book it for a “3 day tour” and visit Sagaing, Amapura and Inwa. It will cost from € 9 up to to € 12 (15,000 to 20,000 MMK).

 

Bridges over Irawadi

 

Mandalay City

Mandalay has an interesting cultural blend due to the large Chinese and Indian communities living there and contributing to the development of the city. Walking around you’ll find something under construction in every street.

 

Street in Mandalay

 

Motorcycles and bicycles run through the wide dusty roads and street markets still manage to attract more people than malls — fortunately.  

 

Mandalay street market

 

Climate

Mandalay has a subtropical climate, and the best time to visit is from November to February (winter), which coincides with the peak of tourism.

Summer lasts from March to May which is hot and heavy in rainfall.





Hotel in Mandalay
Photo by Clay Gilliland

Accommodation and Amenities

Hotels

Accommodations do not abound, so expect prices to be higher than other southeast asian countries. Always book a room in advance.

In the center of Mandalay, hotel prices range from € 5 to € 40 a night. Most budget-friendly accommodations may not include AC or wi-fi, but luckily they all tend to include breakfast.

We stayed at the Fortune Hotel, and the breakfast included bread, coffee, tea, jam, butter and eggs.

Homestays

Homestays are considered illegal in Myanmar, meaning that foreigners should only stay at licensed hotels and houses. 

Monasteries

In exchange for donations (starting at 5000 MMk/ €3.07), many monasteries in Mandalay receive men and women providing a humble bed on the floor and food.

But here’s our 2 cents on this subject:
Even if these temples accept a donation from tourists, let’s not forget that these rooms are meant for pilgrims. Therefore, they should not be seen as a cheaper accomodation alternative for travelers.

 

Food

We can’t say we found a great variety of restaurants. However, buffet-style family restaurants are common all over the city. You’ll be able to find them on the ground level of many houses.

 

IMG_1405

 

The price of a simple meal starts at € 0.90 up to € 3.00.

A western food meal is around € 4.50 to € 9.00. And as you may expect by now, meals around tourist spots will be pricier — the more western the meal, the more international the price will be. Also, have in mind that restaurants close early at night we learned this the hard way.

 

Nightlife

Mandalay is not a city for those who enjoy nights out. All businesses close early. 

Internet Connection

Around here the internet connection is a bit more limited than in other southeast asian countries. There aren’t many businesses with Wi-Fi available to customers, and when there are, the connection is weak and slow.

Bakeries and cafes will be your best options to find free Wi-Fi.

 

Daily average expenses in Mandalay

Accommodation: €7,21 each
Water (1,5L): €0,13
Launch: €1,08
Dinner: €1,56
Afternoon snacks: €1,14
Bicycle: 1,52


Archaeological Site of Italica in Seville Spain

Quick Guide to the best Museums and Historical Sites in Seville, Spain

Some people find museum visits to be boring or unnecessary — and we do know that the experience of enjoying art is quite subjective. However, the 2000 years of history that the city of Seville holds, equipped it with an amazing cultural offer that should definitely be admired.

That’s why we made a roundup of the city’s best museums and historical sites.

 

Pabellón de la Navegación and the Schindler Tower

It’s a modern building on the south side of the Guadalquivir River that served as a pavilion for the Seville Expo ‘92. Today it’s a museum dedicated to the Age of Discovery and the host for many itinerant exhibitions.

 

Pabellón de la Navegación 011


Check the museum program when you’re in Seville at www.pabellondelanavegacion.com

When you visit, go up the Schindler Tower for one of the best panoramic views of the city.

 

Canal de Alfonso XIII - Seville - Schindler Tower

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vientocero/6637853559

Entrance fee
 €4.90

Museum hours
• Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m to 7:30 p.m.
• Sundays from 11:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m
• Closes on Mondays.

👪 All the lights and interactive displays of the main exhibition makes the Pabellón de la Navegación a family friendly museum.

Getting there
🚌 Get on the buses of the C1 or C2 lines and hop off at the Inca Garcilaso Station, right in front of the Expo Sevici building.

Centro Cerámica de Triana

A new space conceived from the restoration of the old ceramic factory of Santa Ana, right in the center of the Triana Quarter. It’s a small museum and archaeological site on the history of ceramics and its influence on the economic and cultural development of Seville.

You can add this museum to your daily itinerary as it is located right next to the Triana market and many tapas bars.


Museum entrance

Entrance fee
General public pay €2.10.
Students and groups of 10 people pay €1.60.

Museum hours
• Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m.
• Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.

Now, even though we believe that this is a must-visit museum, we wouldn’t call it “family friendly” as kids would probably find it boring.

Tip: If you buy the general ticket to the Alcazar of Seville you can enter the museum for free.





Cristina Hoyo’s Flamenco Dance Museum

Located at the heart of Barrio de Santa Cruz this museum provides a great way to explore the historical roots of Flamenco Dancing through videos, music, and artifacts.

Museum entrance fee
Adults pay €10, children €6 and students €8.

Opening hours
• 10H00 to 19H00.

Tip: Every Friday and Saturday at 19H30 visitors of the museum can attend a flamenco show for a discounted price.

Flamenco shows ticket cost
To attend the regular shows adults pay €22, children €12, and students €15.
Tickets to the most intimate shows (44 people max.) adults pay €30.

Flamenco shows schedule
17H00, 19H00, and 20H45. On high season there’s an extra show at 22H15.

Museo De Bellas Artes (Museum Of Fine Arts)

It’s a museum housed in a former nunnery from the XVII century, that holds an amazing collection of Spanish art. Most of it is of religious inspiration, and it’s organized on 14 chronologically ordered rooms, and divided by different artistic styles (from gothic to XX century modern art).

 

Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

 

In here you’ll find extraordinary art pieces from famous and influential artists like Velázquez and El Greco to name a few.

Entrance fee
European citizens get in for free.
For everyone else, tickets cost €1.50

Museum hours
• Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m to 9:00 p.m.
• Sundays and holidays from 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.

More info at www.museosdeandalucia.es

Itálica Archeological Site

9km from Seville is the Archaeological Site of Italica — once one of the main Roman cities in the Iberian Peninsula due to its great strategic importance to the Roman Empire. It was here that Trajan and Hadrian, two great Roman emperors were born. And it’s also likely that you’ve seen Itálica on an episode of Game Of Thrones.

 

Italica Roman Amphitheatre

 

On your visit, you can walk through a huge Roman amphitheater (that seated 25 000 people), stroll along the ancient streets and enter some of the houses and public buildings from 206 BC.

 


Photo by D.Rovchak
Italica Roman Ruins
Photo by Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA.

Entrance fee
European citizens can enter the premises for free.
Everyone else pays €1,50 to get in.

Opening hours
• From April to June 30 opens from 9:00 a.m to 9:00 p.m Tuesdays and Saturdays. And 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m on Sundays and holidays.
• From July to September 15 opens from 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m and closes on Mondays.
• From September 16 to March 31 opens from 9:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m Tuesday to Saturday. And from 9:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m on Sundays and some holidays.

Getting there
🚌 At the Plaza de Armas, in the center of Seville, hop on the Bus M-170 (Seville > Santiponce) or the M-170B (Seville > Las Pajanosas).

🚗 If you have your own vehicle, take the N-630 road towards Merida.

👪 Family friendly

More info at www.museosdeandalucia.es

Cover photo by Diego Delso, delso.photo, License CC-BY-SA.


Seville Spain

Experiencing Seville in 3 cultural traditions

As travelers, we all hope to live deep cultural experiences when we travel to a new country. But that’s something we can’t get from just visiting the monuments and landmarks highlighted on a travel guidebook. So, in order to enrich your visit to Seville, we’re going to show you 3 local and living traditions that you can actually get involved in.

 

1. Flamenco

Influenced by Moorish, Jewish and Gypsy cultures, Flamenco is considered one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

flamenco#1

 

One of the perks of being in Seville is that you can experience flamenco dancing in various intimate settings venues, bars, and tablaos around town. Which means that you can do so while enjoying a glass of wine and the typical Spanish tapas.

 

La noche larga de los Museos

Rocío Molina 2

Show de Flamenco - El Palacio Andaluz

 

The Flamenco Biennial (September/ October)

For almost a month (September to October) professional and amateur dancers come together to dance Flamenco in its most traditional form, and in more contemporary expressions.

 

Rafaela Carrasco-II Bienal de Flamenco


The festival takes place on many stages scattered around town, and although some shows are free, most tickets start at €10 all the way up to €40.

Find more info about the program and prices here: www.labienal.com

 

Cristina Hoyo’s Flamenco Dance Museum

Located at the heart of Barrio de Santa Cruz this museum provides a great way to explore the historical roots of Flamenco Dancing through videos, music, and artifacts.

Tip: Every Friday and Saturday at 19H30 visitors of the museum can attend a flamenco show for a discounted price.  

Museum entrance fee:

Adults pay €10, children €6 and students €8.

Museum opening hours:

10H00 to 19H00.

Flamenco shows ticket cost:

To attend the regular shows adults pay €22, children €12, and students €15.
For the intimate shows (44 people max.) adults pay €30.

Flamenco shows schedule:

17H00, 19H00, and 20H45.
On high season there’s an extra show at 22H15.





2. Easter Holy Week / Semana Santa (March/ April)

If you are traveling through southern Spain in the months of March and April (check the precise date here: Seville Holy Week), don’t miss the opportunity to experience how the Holy Week is celebrated by Sevillians.

It’s a unique cultural manifestation in the world, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Hindu, Buddhist, or an atheist. The Seville Holy Week is the greatest religious event in all of Andalusia — and perhaps all of Spain.

After weeks of preparation, thousands of people gather on the main streets of Seville to be part of the celebrations. Men dressed in creepy long tunics with pointy hats (“creepy” due to the resemblances with the KKK tunics, but not related) carry on their shoulders heavy altars with images of Christ and Mary.

 

Holy Week Seville

 

The city gains an eerie atmosphere as the strong incense smell that follows the processions blends with the scent of orange blossoms in the sidewalks. At night, there are music concerts all over town.

 

Altar and procession in Seville Holy Week

 

Tips for the Holy Week:

• Most processions begin at 7:00 p.m.
• Some processions are done in absolute silence, so turn off your phone.
• Choose wider streets and follow the procession for about 200 or 300 meters to see, listen, and feel the intensity of the ritual.
• During Holy Week it’s mandatory to book accommodation, restaurants, and events in advance.
• Respect people’s faith and dedication to these processions.

 

3. Seville fair (April)

The Seville Fair is one of the largest and most famous fairs in Spain.
Marking the beginning of spring, the fair kicks off in April (usually 2 weeks after Easter Holy Week) in the neighborhood of Los Remedios.

 

 

At the fair, you’ll find horse parades, flamenco music, and dancing, bullfighting, and Sevillanos dressed to the tee on private tent parties — this is Seville most exclusive party after all.

 

Seville Feria de Abril 2012 015

 

The tents (called casetas) are privately owned by religious groups and rich people — does the name Duchess of Alba rings any bell?

 

2013-04 Spain 164

 

So unless you’re able to bribe the concierge, the only casetas you can enter are the ones run by the municipality.

How to get to the Seville Fair

🚇  Metro:
Hop on the metro in the city center and get off at the station 
Blas Infante.

🚶  By foot:
If you don’t mind the walk, you can reach the fair in 20 minutes from the city center.

🚌  By public bus:
During the week, public buses operate 24 hours a day, and the fleet is reinforced — yet they’re likely to be crowded anyways. Hop on the bus C1, C2, or 41 and get off at
Recinto Ferial.

Tips for the Seville Fair:

• Avoid the weekend if you can. If the weekdays are busy, the weekend is PACKED!
• Visit the fair during the day. At night everyone gathers inside their casetas and if you didn’t score an invitation by a member, you’ll be left outside alone — and at night, nothing happens outside them.
• The first Monday at midnight is the Alumbrado: the moment in which the major turns on the lights of the beautiful Portada, and the rest of the fairground. We’d say this is only night that is worth to be at the fair.

 


• Food and drinks are expensive, so eat before going.

For a more detailed explanation of all that goes down at the fair visit: www.sunshineandsiestas.com/feriasevilla

Cover photo by Seville Congress & Convention Bureau


Seville Cathedral in Spain

10 Must-Visits and Must-Sees in Seville, Spain

The Moorish, Romans, and Christians that passed through Seville left in the city an incomparable cultural legacy that still lives on. This past heritage that can be seen all over town — in the arts, language, and architecture — is a big part of what makes Seville, to this day, one of the most vibrant cities in Spain.

And that’s why we wanted to put together information on the best spots, monuments, and landmarks that you can visit when you’re in town.

P.S. Since monuments tend to have a large tourist influx, buy your tickets online to avoid the queues.

 

1. Seville Cathedral

UNESCO World Heritage site.

Its real name is Saint Mary of the Sede Cathedral, and it’s the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world.

 

Cathédrale de Séville

Seville Cathedral

 

One of the most interesting facts about the Cathedral is that it was built over a Muslim mosque right after Seville was reconquered by the Christians from the Muslim Moors. However, the real ex-libris of the building is the La Giralda tower: an old Moorish minaret that was converted into a bell tower.

Still the tallest building in Seville, La Giralda was the highest tower in Europe for many centuries. Its 104 meters of height is not the only impressive thing about La Giralda. The tower is so wide that it could be climbed by a man on horseback.

 

Seville cathedral, Spain

 

From the top of the tower, you’ll get the best view of Seville and El Patio de Los Naranjos — one of the remains of the old mosque.

There are 2 types of visits available:

• The interior of the Cathedral for €9 (locals, the unemployed, and under 14 pay €4)

• “The Roofs of the Cathedral”, a guided tour through the roof of the Cathedral, that also includes a visit to the interior afterward. The price is €15 and lasts an hour and a half.

You can buy your tickets online here:  www.articketing.vocces.com

Timetables

Monday: 11h to 15:30h
Tuesday to Saturday: 11h to 17h
Sunday: 14:30 to 18h

Exceptional timetables (July and August)

Monday: 10:30 to 16:00
Tuesday to Saturday: 10:30 to 18:00
Sunday: 14:00 to 19:00

2. General Archive of the Indies

UNESCO World Heritage site.

Right next to the cathedral is the Archivo General de Indias, a building where all the documents referring to the Spanish colonies and overseas expansion are stored. Perfect for anyone who likes history — plus, the entrance is free.


Timetable:

Monday to Saturday das 9:30 às 17h
Sundays and holidays 10:00 às 14:00h.

 

3. Alcázar of Seville

Located near the Cathedral in the heart of the city, is the oldest royal palace still in use in all Europe. The upper levels are still used by the Spanish Royal Family as the official Seville Residence.

For all the Game of Thrones fans: the palace was used as set for Water Gardens at Dorne.

Day-visits ticket cost: €11.50 (students up to 25 y.o pay €3). Free for under 16 and locals
Night-visits ticket cost: €14.

You can buy the tickets online here: www.realalcazarsevilla.sacatuentrada.com

Timetable:

October to March from 9:30 to 17:00h
April to September from 9:30 to 19:00.

 

4. Barrio de Santa Cruz

The Barrio de Santa Cruz is an old Jewish Quarter that flourished by the mosque — now the Seville Cathedral. It’s a charming and complex labyrinth of narrow streets, alleys, and squares painted by colorful houses and the flowers on pretty much every patio.
In case you get lost, find a bar with a terrace and grab a drink. You can find your way back later.

 

Bar Las Teresas 001

 

5. Barrio de San Bartolomé

The neighborhood of San Bartolomé is a less visited but equally picturesque neighborhood located around a church with the same name.

Here, we recommend a visit to the ancient Moorish palace Casa de Pilatos. Ticket cost to visit the entire palace is €12. The cost to visit just the ground floor is €10. Both visits include an audioguide.

 

Casa de Pilatos

Casa de Pilatos (Seville)

Timetables to Casa de Pilatos:

November to March 9:00 às 18:00
April to October 9:00 às 19:00





6. Plaza de España and the Maria Luisa Garden

A 10-minute walk from the Cathedral is the Plaza de España. Built on 1929 for the Ibero-American exhibition, it gained interplanetary recognition when it appeared as planet Naboo in Star Wars Episode II.

Plaza de España

 

Right in front of the Plaza de España is a large park perfect for a bike ride or for a walk on the peak heat hours of the day. Along the park, you’ll find statues, fountains and the Mudejar Pavillion that serves as the Museum of Arts and Traditions of Seville.

If you are a European citizen you can enter de Pavillion for free. Other nationalities pay a €1,5 fee.

Timetables for the Mudejar Pavillion

June to August it’s open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 to 15:00.
The rest of the year it’s open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9:00 às 21:00. Sundays and holidays from 9:00 às 15:00h.

 

7. Seville Aquarium

Right by to the river, near the Maria Luisa Park is the Aquarium of Seville. Great for families with kids.

Ticket cost:

Adults pay €15
Kids 4 to 14 pay €10
For family discounts, group rates and timetables check:  www.acuariosevilla.es/en/hours-and-rates

 

8. Barrio de Triana

Another typical neighborhood next to the Guadalquivir River and a must-visit for those wanting to experience the genuine atmosphere of Andaluzia.

During the day check the local Triana Market, and at night have a drink at one of the many bars in Calle Betis or Calle Pureza. If you’re interested in attending a genuine Flamenco show, go to Casa Anselma. Drinks can be expensive around here, but the Flamenco is the real deal.

 

Seville 2017

 

Public Transport to Barrio de Triana

Catch the metro and leave it in Plaza de Cuba and Parque de Los Principes, or hop on the bus nº5,6,40,43, C1 or C2.





9. Metropol Parasol

This controversial building that many Sevillians refer to as “the mushrooms of Seville”, has four different levels that you can visit.

 

Metropol Parasol - Sevilla

 

At level 0 you’ll find an Antiquarium with Moorish and Roman remains. At level 1 is Seville’s old central market with fresh produce, a bar, and restaurants. On the second level are the panoramic terraces usually used for concerts venues. And finally, the last level on top of the structure is a great viewpoint over Seville.

 

Vista aéra Metropol Parasol

 

The Antiquarium can be visited from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00 and on Sundays and holidays from 10:00 to 14:00 The price of the ticket is € 2.

To access the top level, you’ll have to pay a €3 fee and can only do it from Sundays to Thursdays 9:30 to 23:00 and Fridays 9:30 to 23:30.

 

10. Palacio de las Dueñas

After a 15-minute walk from the Cathedral is a very eclectic palace (which still belongs to Alba’s house) filled with large collections of Spanish paintings and artifacts. The buildings and courtyards were influenced by Renaissance, Gothic and Moorish styles, making it a major historic home of Seville.

 

Ticket cost:

€10. Children and students under 25 pay €8.
You can book your tickets here: www.lasduenas.es/tickets

Timetable:

From April to September it’s open from 10 to 20h, and between October and March, it’s open from 10 to 18h.

Cover photo by Matt Kieffer.


Myanmar at night

Entering Myanmar (Land borders, Airports, and Limitations)

Now that you know what needs to be done to get your visa, let’s talk about the most common ways to enter Myanmar.

Getting into Myanmar by land

Currently, travelers are only allowed to walk into Myanmar through Thailand as the land borders with Bangladesh, Laos, and China are closed to foreigners. If you’re coming from India (Moreh, Manipur State) you must acquire a permit which is obtained separately to your visa.

Read Myanmar Visas for Foreigners where we’ve gathered all the info on Visas so that your trip can get off on the right foot. We covered all the bases: from the application process to required documents and costs.

Crossing Thailand – Myanmar land borders

If you’ve applied for a Myanmar e-Visa and intend to cross the Thailand-Myanmar border,
you can only do it through the following land ports:

• Mae Sai / Tachileik
• Mae Sot / Myawaddy
• Ranong / Kawthaung

 

Getting into Myanmar by Airplane

In case you’re coming from overseas, Myanmar has 3 airports receiving international flights:

• Yangon International Airport (aka Yangon Mingaladon Airport)
• Mandalay International Airport
• Nay Pyi Taw International Airport.

As many airlines fly to Myanmar from Bangkok, you are likely to make your layover there. And it’s possible that you’ll have to change airports (from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to Don Mueang) if your next flight is on a low-cost airline. If so, there are free shuttle buses linking the two airports.

For more info and timetables on the Free Shuttle Bus service go to www.thaizer.com/free-airport-shuttle-bus.

Standard airlines such as ThaiSmile, Bangkok Airways, and Myanmar Airways International always depart from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

 

Airplane flying Myanmar
Photo by Papa Dos.

Flying from Bangkok to Yangon

Low-cost flights from Bangkok (Don Mueang Airport) to Yangon take about 1h20 and cost between €100 and €150 — depending on the time of year.

The low-cost airlines with the most frequent flights are:

• NokAir
• Air Asia*

*Tip: install and check the Air Asia app for deals that can’t be found on the website. You can save up to 20% off.

The standard airlines flying frequently to Yangon are:

• Myanmar National Airlines
• Myanmar Airways International (daily flights)
• Bangkok Airways
• Thai Airways International





Transport from Yangon International Airport to the city

As the airport is a 30-minute drive from Yangon, the easiest way to get to the city is by taking a taxi which shouldn’t cost more than 8000 MMK (€ 4.90).

However, buses can save you money if you’re traveling alone or can’t find other travelers to split the taxi fare with. To find the buses, exit the arrival Terminal and cross the parking space. A bus ride to Yangon cost 500 MMK (€0,30).

 

Flying from Bangkok to Mandalay

Low-cost flights from Bangkok (Don Mueang) will take 2 hours to reach Mandalay.

Transport from Mandalay Airport to the city

Mandalay Internation Airport is a 1-hour taxi ride from Mandalay city center. Fares on taxis with AC cost up to 15000 MMK (€ 9,15), but if you can handle the heat, taxis with no AC are a bit cheaper.

Besides taxis, we’re not aware of any other transportation to the city.

 

Old Bagan town

 

Getting around Myanmar (Domestic Flights)

Myanmar National Airlines have many domestic flights — that even locals try to avoid due to a bad reputation. Flights range from € 50 up to € 250, depending on the destination and time of year. In April during the Thingyan Water Festival, flights sell out super fast.

The most common domestic flights are:

• Yangon > Bagan (Nyaung-U)
• Yangon > Mandalay
• Yangon > NayPyiTaw.

Domestic flights are infamous for leaving earlier than the scheduled time. Also, have in mind that while flying can save you time, you’ll spend a lot more money than if you travel by land.

Cover photo by Hai Yang.


Crossing Myanmar Land Border

Myanmar Visa for Foreign Travelers (what to know before you go)

You may already know that foreign travelers are required to have a Visa before entering Myanmar. Meaning that, unless you’re from one of neighboring ASEAN nations, there’s no Visa on arrival for you.

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Thailand anymore.”

As the Myanmar visa application takes some time, paperwork and organizing beforehand, we’ve gathered all the relevant (and updated) information so that your trip can get off on the right foot.

 

Myanmar Visa Application Options

e-Visa

You can apply for a Regular e-Visa or for an Express Tourist e-Visa at evisa.gov.mm. With the Express e-Visa, you can have the application process completed in 24 hours. But considering the number of complaints and that it is a recent service, we recommend doing it at least 3 days in advance. Just in case.

What you’ll need to apply for a Myanmar e-Visa

• Passport valid for 6 months
• A recent digital personal photo (48mmx38mm).
• Regular e-Visa cost (3 days): 50 USD
• Express e-Visa cost (24 hours): 56 USD

You can pay with MasterCard, American Express, Visa, or JCB.

Have in mind that not all passport holders are eligible for applying to an e-Visa. You must be from one of the 100 countries that have an agreement with Myanmar. Know more here: evisa.mm/NoticetoTourists (jump over to paragraph 10 and 11).

 

Myanmar, land of Algerian

 

e-Visa validity and permitted length of stay

After applying, you’ll be sent the e-Visa approval letter to your email inbox. The letter is valid for 90 days from the issued date, and if it expires, your entry into the country will be denied.
By the time you cross the border, you must carry a printed version of the letter to present to the border officials and get your passport stamped.

 

Gate in Bagan, Myanmar

 

After entering Myanmar you’ll have 29 days to visit the country, and you won’t be able to leave and re-enter without acquiring a new Visa. Nevertheless, your stay can be extended for another 14 days, paying 3 USD per day fee to the immigration officers at the border (plus an extra fee of 5 USD if you’re leaving through an airport).

There’s a slight problem with overstaying though. Some hotels may deny service to overstayers (as they would be in for a hefty fine should they be caught for allowing that).

e-Visa Entry Permissions

e-Visas will limit how you can enter the country. Currently, passengers with e-Visa are only permitted to enter via following ports:

✈️  Through airplane 

• Yangon International Airport
• Mandalay International Airport
• Nay Pyi Taw International Airport

🚌  By land

• Tachileik Land Border Checkpoint
• Myawaddy Land Border Checkpoint
• Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoint
• Tamu Land Border Checkpoint
• Rih Khaw Dar Land Border Checkpoint





Paper Visa

In case you’re already traveling in a neighboring country, you can go over to the nearest Myanmar embassy or consulate. Here’s a list of all the Myanmar embassies abroad: www.embassypages.com/myanmar

Each of the embassies on the list has their own hours to handle Visas. Also, application processes can take from 1 day all the way up to 2 weeks.

Required documents (can change according to your location)

• Passport valid for 6 months
• 2 personal photos (35mmx45mm). The photos should be recent.
• A colored photocopy of your passport
• Proof of the bus or plane ticket into Myanmar
• Proof of a hotel booking*

Cost can vary according to the embassy you’re applying — to be paid in cash only.

We made our application at the Myanmar consulate in Chiang Mai and paid 1600 THB (49 USD) to have the visas ready in 3 business days. If you wish to have it processed on the same day, you’ll have to pay 2400 THB (74 USD).

Working hours are a bit odd there: 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM.

* The application form asked us to write down the address of the hotel we would be staying in Myanmar. Not having a reservation yet, we wrote down the city and a hotel name that we managed to memorize from a Google search days before. We were not asked for another evidence.

 

Locals walking on Myanmar temple

 

Is a pre-booked outbound flight necessary to enter Myanmar?

Some travel books allege that to enter Myanmar foreigners must have a proof of a pre-booked flight leaving the country. On the other hand, many bloggers say they don’t.

The truth is that neither at the moment of our visa application nor at the moment of crossing the border we were asked for that. Apparently, the myth exists due to border regulations providing that possibility — even though it rarely happens.

So in the spirit of reducing the likelihood of that happening check out the article: 9 tips and tricks for a smooth border crossing.

 

Vaccination requirements for entering Myanmar

The vaccine is mandatory if you’re arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. Check the updated list to see if you’re required to get it: countries with risk of Yellow Fever.

 

If you have any questions regarding Myanmar visas, use the comments below. We might be able to answer.

Cover photo by James Antrobus.


Beach in south Gran Canaria

The Complete Travel Guide to the South of Gran Canaria

Now that you know all you can do in the North of Gran Canaria it’s time to travel to the South and get familiar with the natural landscapes, popular beaches, and the best food around.

So before you start packing, here’s a tip: pack a pair mountain boots with your swim shorts — you’re likely to wear both at the same time.

 

Weather in the South

There’s a significant weather difference between the north and the south of Gran Canaria. There’s like an invisible dividing wall preventing rain clouds from going south and ruining tourists’ tans.

The south gets over 320 days of sunshine per year, with temperatures between 25ºC and 30ºC. The best time to visit goes from May to mid-October.

To check the weather during your trip go to www.accuweather.com/Gran-Canaria-South

 

Transportation from the North to the South of the Island

Gran Canaria has a great public transport system. Buses are on time, cheap, and the best option to travel across the island.

A bus trip from Las Palmas → Playa del Ingles costs: €6.25
Duration: 45 minutes

Routes and schedules are available in  www.globalsu.net

 

What to do in the South

Faro de Maspalomas

Even though the Faro de Maspalomas is a landmark of the island, you don’t go there for the lighthouse itself — you go for its surroundings.

 

Maspalomas


The area probably has the best walkway in Gran Canaria. The fresh air, the wonderful ocean view, and the fancy shops make it the ideal spot for a stroll. When the sun sets, the many bars and restaurants provide a pleasant evening out for dinner and drinks.

Puerto de Mógan

Puerto de Mogán is an idyllic little place by the sea where time seems to have stopped. Around here everything seems perfectly proportioned and perfectly placed. From the crescent-shaped beach, the busy little harbor that manages to accommodate local fishing boats and the yachts of visitors.

 

Puerto de Mogán

 

To the white houses built over the water canals, and the colored bougainvilleas creating natural shadows for people walking in the area.

Gran Canaria

https://www.flickr.com/photos/timove/38580591495

 

Still, this perfect little nugget of a town can get crowded with tourists, particularly on Fridays and weekends. Meaning that the beach gets crowded, the streets busy, and the restaurants full.

 

Puerto de Mogán.Fotos Aéreas "Costa turística de Mogán" Gran Canaria Islas Canarias

 

Getting to Puerto de Mogán by Public Bus

From Playa del Inglés to Puerto de Mogán, get on the Bus nº 1, nº 32 (fast route), or nº 33.
Trip cost: €4.15
Trip duration: 45 minutes

For more info on the trip, check: www.guaguasglobal.com/timetables





Yumbo Shopping Centre

This alfresco shopping center near Playa del Ingles might look a tad generic during the day. But at night it turns into the inclusive gay mecca of Gran Canaria — don’t let the mosque at the entrance fool you.

From around 9 P.M, cabaret bars, karaoke cafes, and nightclubs are targeted to the LGBTQ crowd. Yet the fun atmosphere and popularity of the drag shows, always attract a very mixed audience.

 

IMG_6622

IMG_7524

 

When Nuno and I visited Yumbo all the bars were jam-packed, so we simply stopped by one that was announcing a drag show. To our surprise, we ended up watching 5 in-your-face Spice Girls impersonators on a concert that filled our hearts with 90’s nostalgia.

 

Maspalomas Dunes

The Maspalomas Dunes are a nature reserve of 400 hectares where 3 ecosystems coexist: a palm grove, a brackish water lagoon, and the sand dunes.

 

Maspalomas Dunes Gran Canaria
Photo by Marc Ryckaert.

The desert-like proportions of the sandhills block all wind and sound, allowing the visitor to submerge into complete silence and isolation on one of the most visited coasts in Europe.

 

Maspalomas Dunes
Photo by Himarerme.

For us, the solitude didn’t last long. We only got a few minutes to enjoy the silence before a giant fart out of the ass of another tourist (probably also believing he was alone) echoed through the dunes and ruined the moment.

…and to think that those dunes are the resting place for birds migrating to Africa.
What kind of rest can any bird get under those conditions?

? Viewpoint “Mirador de las Dunas”

 

Popular Beaches in the South of Gran Canaria

Playa del Inglés

In spite of the fact that Playa del Inglés is the most visited beach in Gran Canaria, it has enough space for everyone. The 2.7 km stretch of sand offers different beaches for different folks. There’s a beach for:

• Families,
• Surfers,
• Nudists,
• Loners,
• LGBTQ crowds
Playa del Ingles Map
But if laying on the sand all day isn’t for you, Playa del Inglés has plenty of sports activities like: windsurf, jet-ski, banana boat rides, and sail.

Prices start at €30 for one person.

 

 

If that’s too much action, you can always go for a walk on the Maspalomas dunes to live your Prince of Persia fantasy. If you’re hard to please or feel like walking on sand is bad for your knees, go over to the Paseo Costa Canaria: a 2km promenade by the beach brimming with restaurants, ice cream shops, and cafes.  

? Public Showers and restrooms available
♿ Beach accessible to wheelchair users

 

Puerto Rico

It’s the first artificial beach in Gran Canaria, popular among British and Irish families due to its calm waters and convenient amenities provided by the surrounding resorts such as:

• Sunbeds and sunshades
• Restaurants
• Leisure excursions
• Water sports activities (sailing, dolphin watching, jet skiing, etc)

? Public Showers and restrooms available

 

Playa Puerto Rico

 

Amadores beach

Another man-made beach awarded with a blue flag for the cleanliness of its water and sand.

The white sands sit in a moon-shaped bay where the water is turquoise, shallow, and waves are pretty much nonexistent. That’s what makes Amadores a very popular beach among families with kids.  

 

Amadores beach - Puerto Rico

 

? Smoke-free beach
♿ Disabled-friendly
? Public Showers and restrooms available
?️ Underground parking area

 

Underrated Beaches

San Agustín

A few kilometers from Playa del Inglés is San Agustín, considered to be a very calm beach with fewer tourists than its neighboring beaches.

 

San Agustin Beach
Photo by Wouter Hagens.

Locals usually come here on weekends, so take advantage of the weekdays if you prefer a bit more room to spread out.

It’s an urban beach with a coastal walkway that connects to Playa del Inglés — meaning you’ll find lots of places to eat and drink close by.  

? Public Showers and restrooms available
?️ Free parking





Las Burras

Maybe it’s the wind that can be felt around here that pushes tourists away, but Las Burras beach remains the most local of beaches in the south of Gran Canaria.

Nevertheless, fewer tourists don’t necessarily mean that the beach isn’t busy in months like July, August, and September.

 

Public buses to all the Beaches (mentioned above)


Buses nº 1, 39, 91, 33 can drop you right by any of the beaches. Depending on your starting point, the trip can cost up to €4.

Check the timetables on the guaguas’ Global website.

What to eat


Food in Gran Canaria is always fresh and seasoned to perfection,
after all, we’re talking about the lovechild of Spanish, African and Latin-American cuisines, so you can’t go wrong.

Meanwhile, here are our recommendations:

Papas arrugadas con mojo
• Anything with gofio on it
Bienmesabe
Huevos rotos
• Plenty of mojo rojo or mojo verde

 

Typical Villages to visit in the South of Gran Canaria

Ingenio

A small agricultural village and one of the oldest in the island. Besides a visit to the old quarter, we suggest:

• Playa del Burrero
• The pre-hispanic necropolis on the Guayadeque Ravine
• Caldera de los Marteles natural reserve

 

Ingenio church in Gran Canaria
Photo by Backlit.

Agüimes

If you have time to spear on the island, to the east is the traditional hill town of Agüimes.

 

Aguimes Village
Photo by Martin Falbisoner.

Here in Aimes, we recommend:

• A walk through the old quarter and medieval alleyways
• Festival de Sur, an international theater festival (September)
• Playa del Cabrón as it is one of the best diving spots on the island

 

Interested in visiting the North of the island?
Go to: The Complete Travel Guide to the North of Gran Canaria

Cover photo by Bertram Nudelbach.


Las Palmas cityscape Gran Canaria Island

The Complete Travel Guide to the North of Gran Canaria

The Canary Islands are a popular summer destination for many Europeans due to a combination of great weather, epic beaches, diverse landscapes, and low-cost flights available almost year-round.

Today we’ll be focusing on Gran Canaria. And considering that it’s quite a big island (and we have a lot to write about), we divided the information into 2 parts: the North and the South in 2 different blog posts. In this one, we’ll be covering the northern part of the island.

 

Climate

Subtropical. People say the weather in the Canary Islands is of an eternal spring, making it the best in the world. The average annual temperature is 24 degrees.

To check the weather during your trip go to www.accuweather.com/Gran-Canaria

 

Getting to Gran Canaria
(Inter-island transportation)

Ferry

We usually do the island crossing by ferry due to the cost being similar to commercial air travel, and because we don’t get the chance to be on a boat that often.

There are 2 ferry operators making the connecting routes between island: Naviera Armas and Fred Olsen.

 

Ferry a Tenerife

 

To give you an idea of costs and travel times, here’s the info on the trip from Tenerife to Gran Canaria:

Naviera Armas

Cost: €35
Trip duration: 2h45
Docks in the port of Las Palmas, where a transfer will take you to the city center in 10 minutes (no extra fees).

For the ferry timetables check www.navieraarmas.com/timetables

Fred Olsen

Costs: €40
Trip duration: 80 minutes for the ferry, and 25 minutes for the shuttle bus (no extra fees). The ferry docks in Agaete but a shuttle bus will take you to Las Palmas.

For Fred Olsen ferry timetables check: www.fredolsen.es

Airplane

Canaryfly and Binter have frequent flight connections between islands. Prices are reasonable — €20 on average — depending on the month.

Airplanes land at Las Palmas Gran Canaria Airport, located 19 km from the capital Las Palmas or 30 km from Playa del Inglés in the south.

 

Gran Canaria from above

Photo by Marc Ryckaert

Airport Transfer Buses (for inter-island and international flights)

To get anywhere on Gran Canaria you can hop on one of the blue buses (guaguas as locals call them) parked right outside the terminal.

The ticket cost for Las Palmas is € 2.95 and for Playa del Inglés € 3.50. You can’t beat that!

For timetables and alternative routes check: Guaguas Global

 

Accommodation

As a tourism-dependent island, there’s an array of accommodation options scattered all over Gran Canaria. Prices start at €12 a night in a hostel, up to €120 a night in a four-star hotel.

In the north of the island, most are located near the beach of Las Canteras. We’ve stayed at hotel Pujol (pronounced Poo-whole). ?

 

What to do in Las Palmas

The Historic Quarter of Vegueta

Vegueta is an old neighborhood with the best colonial architecture of the island. You can walk for hours on cobblestone streets, finding new alleys and admiring the historical houses from the 15th century.

Right on the center is Santa Ana square and Cathedral. There’s a fee to go in, but don’t bother, the interior is a bit dull.

 

Santa Ana square and Cathedral

Photo by Jvhertum

 

We recommend instead spending your money at one of the many outdoor cafes in the area eating tapas and enjoying the sun.

There’s a craft market every Sunday.





Calle Mayor de Triana (Shopping street)

Triana neighborhood — also one of the oldest in Las Palmas — has become the main shopping district of the city. Small old-timey shops, popular stores or fancy boutiques are always presented in beautifully restored buildings, making for a beautiful walk even to the most frugal.

 

Calle Mayor de Triana, Shopping Street in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Photo by Matti Mattila

 

Vegueta Market

Vegueta Market is the first market ever built in the Canary Islands back in 1856. And today remains the spot where locals come to buy fresh produce.

Tip: you’ll be tempted to buy some of the glorious tropical fruit displayed on the stalls. If you do, ask for the price beforehand as several vendors tend to overcharge tourists.

 

Museums

House of Columbus (Casa de Colón)

A museum about the relationship between the Canary Island and the Americas.

 

Casa de Colón in Vegueta, Gran Canaria

House of Colombus museum

Location: Calle de Los Balcones, on the historic quarter of Vegueta.
Admission fee: €4 (you can visit the building’s library for free).
Opens: Mondays to Saturdays 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sundays 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

 

Museu Canario

A museum about the prehispanic population and the history of the archipelago.

Location: Calle del Dr. Verneau, on the historic quarter of Vegueta
Admission fee: €5 (free for kids under 12 y.o.)
Opens: Mondays to Fridays 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

 

Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno

Exhibition and activity center of contemporary art from the Canary Islands, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Location: Calle Los Balcones, on the historic quarter of Vegueta (near Casa de Colón)
Admission fee: €5
Opens: Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM

 

Beaches in the North of Gran Canaria

Las Canteras

Las Canteras is the largest beach in Las Palmas, covering a 4 km slice of coast. Being located right by the city, it is the central hub for local life and the favorite spot for surfers and tourists.

 

Playa Las Canteras Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

 

If you’re not up for an entire day just laying on the beach, you can hang out on one of the numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops in the wide promenade by the sand.

 

Las Canteras Gran Canaria

Photo by Pepelopex

Gui Gui

Gui Gui is a secluded beach on the west side of the island (it’s actually two: small Gui Gui and big Gui Gui). Getting there means a 2.5-hour hike or a boat trip from the nearest town of Tasartico.

The long walk to Gui Gui is worth it as the mountains and scenery along the way are just as impressive as the destination. The beach itself is an unspoiled paradise where you can spend the rest of the day and even spend the night (if you do so, take the appropriate gear as the nights get quite cold).

Many hikers that come to Gui Gui and camp overnight say the night sky is breathtaking.

Typical villages on the North of Gran Canaria

Agaete

A fishing village in Puerto de las Nieves, with one of the most picturesque landscapes on the island made of white and blue houses by the sea.

 

Gran Canaria

 

Besides the small town itself, we recommend:

• The necropolis of Maipés
• Las Salinas de Agaete where you can swim in a natural pool

 

Firgas

Firgas is known as the “balcony of the Atlantic”, for having the best viewpoint on the ocean and the entire northern part of the island.





Artenara

It is the highest city of the island and the perfect spot to rest from the beaches of the coast.

 

El mar de nubes en Artenara Gran Canaria

 

Here in Artenara, we recommend:

• Natural Park Pinar de Tamadaba
• The caves of the Guanches
• Acusa Archaeological Park
• Astronomical observatory Vega de Acusa

 

Night Sky in Artenara, Gran Canaria island.

Photo by El Coleccionista de Instantes

Nature attractions

Tamadaba Natural Park

Close to Agaete, Artenara and San Nicolás de Tolentino is the Natural Park of Tamadaba.

 

Tamadaba

 

Here you’ll find the oldest and best-preserved pine forest on the island classified by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve extending from the summit of the mountain all the way to the west coast. Along the park, you can expect some breathtaking views of the Atlantic and the Teide (all the way on Tenerife island), stunning valleys, and little old villages.

?‍♂️ Great hiking and walking site.

Getting to Tamadaba Natural Park by Bus

From Las Palmas bus station, take the hourly Bus No. 102 to Agaete. In Agaete stop at El Lomo and follow the trail to Tamadaba.

 

Rural Park del Nublo

Right in the center of the island is the Rural Park del Nublo, a natural wonder also classified by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve.

 

Parque Rural Nublo

Photo by Tamara K.

 

We recommend visiting:

• The natural lagoons
• The volcanic boilers of Tejeda Valley
• Roque Nublo ravines
• Roque Bentayga
• Las Niñas dam

?‍♂️ Great hiking spot.
⛺ Campground available

 

If you have any question or some extra info to add, let us know in the comments.

Cover photo by El Coleccionista de Instantes