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Imagine sitting at the edge of Sri Lanka’s wildest jungle surrounded by fireflies, and with elephants and wild leopards just beyond the fence, as you tantalise your tastebuds with a five-course feast by candlelight.

It sounds magical doesn’t it? Basically the ultimate date night, and that was our reality when we were lucky enough to stay at Yala Safari Camping during our month-long trip to Sri Lanka. The three days we spent living in the jungle were beyond anything we could have dreamed, it really was a true taste of paradise and gave us a whole other experience to just going on a day safari, this way we were as close as you could get to jungle life. It’s not every day you get to live an experience worthy of honeymoon standard with your boyfriend, and it’s one that will stay with us forever.Sri Lanka | The dream safari experience - Luxury Safari Camping at Yala National ParkYala Safari Camping is the creation of Mahesh Kumara, who along with a team of friends, has grown up in the area alongside nature and has spent the last few years turning a plot of his family’s land into a truly unique safari camp experience. Starting out several years ago by offering luxury camping trips into Yala National Park, his team offered an experience like no other, but Mahesh had a vision for ultimate in luxury safaris which has now been realised on the very borderline of the national park. After designing and building the luxury safari tents himself, Mahesh has now finally seen his dream become a reality with the formation of a beautiful luxury camp just metres away from the park entrance. Think huge tents with private bathrooms and four poster beds, sunken bath tubs in the floor of the tent and fantastic room service – as Mahesh describes it, a real “heaven in the wilderness”.Sri Lanka | The dream safari experience - Luxury Safari Camping at Yala National ParkWe were expecting great things after everything we had seen on the website, but when we arrived at the camp we were genuinely bowled over by the sheer luxury and beauty of the site. Our tent, which you’ll see from the gorgeous pictures, was huge and had everything and more we could have ever hoped for. The sunken bath in the floor was absolute bath goals to the extreme and trust me, one of the first things we did was to have a lovely long bubble bath – a real treat for long term travellers. Our tent was set alongside a watering hole which we were told was often used by wild leopards and other jungle creatures during the dry season – I couldn’t help but wake up early each morning to see if I could spot any wildlife. This was a really magical few days of going to sleep to the sound of tree frogs and crickets chirping, and waking to the sounds of deer rustling in the bushes. The fact that you are just so close to the national park really does set Yala Safari Camping apart from other safari experiences in Sri Lanka, this is the closest you can get to staying in the jungle while still being treated to every luxury and more.

Read: Sri Lanka 2 week itinerary from Colombo
Sri Lanka | The dream safari experience - Luxury Safari Camping at Yala National ParkSet away from the nearby town, you stay in total isolation with nothing but wildlife for up to 10 km. The eco-friendly campsite uses solar power for their entire power supply and has cleverly used building techniques and special leaves for roofing to keep the tents cool and ventilated. The campsite also features a lovely lounge and dining area for the meals which are cooked by the incredible chef onsite, think mouth-watering traditional Sri Lankan cuisine with plenty of international options cooked to a 5* quality. Trust me, we couldn’t get enough of the food, it was some of the best we had while travelling in Sri Lanka and introduced us to a whole selection of local dishes we hadn’t yet tried. The chef even grows a lot of his own vegetables and herbs on site, so everything is freshly prepared for every meal, cocktail and snack.Sri Lanka | The dream safari experience - Luxury Safari Camping at Yala National ParkLooking to fill your time while staying at Yala Safari Camping? There’s endless options for trips and safaris to keep you entertained and the team are eager to show you the area. While there, we spent a whole day on safari exploring Yala National Park which was really magical and we even spotted wild leopards deep in the jungle! The team have a Land Rover Defender Puma on hand to handle all the rough roads and to take you to parts of the jungle you might not otherwise see. You have a choice of which area you would prefer to pinpoint and what sights you want to see – from the coastal parks of the park, to the deepest jungle where the elephants and leopards hide. We had the best day spotting monkeys swinging through the trees and elephants gorging themselves on plants, then enjoying our lunch out by the beaches and visiting a nearby fishing village before heading leopard spotting in the afternoon. Our guides were fantastic and obviously knew the area much better than the other safari guides we saw who continually asked ours for help to find the leopards. There were also opportunities for bush walks, mountain hikes, bird watching, visiting nearby sights and temples and much more. Check out some suggested itineraries here.

Sri Lanka | The dream safari experience - Luxury Safari Camping at Yala National Park

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit somewhere as incredible as Yala Safari Camping, and I’m even happier I had the chance to experience it with someone as special as my boyfriend. It’s the perfect place to visit with a loved one, or even take the whole family and fill up all the safari tents for a totally unique Sri Lankan experience.

Find out more and click here to book via the website.

Have you stayed in any unique accommodation? What’s the most unusual? Are you more of a camper or a glamper?

Sri Lanka | The dream safari experience - Luxury Safari Camping at Yala National Park

For road trippers, car checks are a vital part of ensuring your vehicle survives the trip. And yet they can often be the one bit of preparation that is forgotten. Eager to get on the road, many are quick to head out without looking under the hood. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from over five years of solo travel and vanlife, it’s to always be prepared. Travel is a learning curve and the best way to become a good traveller is to learn quickly from your mistakes. That means wising up when things go wrong and seeing what you could have done to prevent it.

We’ve all had our fair share of travel calamities and I’ve definitely had quite a few when it comes to road trips. But the most important thing is to keep your sense of humour when these things happen. Accept that things can always go wrong and you can only be so prepared. The more you can adapt and pick up skills you can use the next time you travel – the better. So because I know I’m just as guilty of doing this. I wanted to share this post on the simple car checks you can do before a road trip.

Read these road trip posts:

Sunset over lake, road trip Western Australia

My worst road trip experiences:

That time the wheel fell off

Driving Australia’s West Coast with a group of travellers, from Perth to Darwin. It was no small road trip with over 4,000km to cover. My friend had taken her car for a service and check-up before the trip to ensure it was safe. But the garage must have forgotten to screw on one of the bolts for the wheel. We were driving along the highway when she noticed something was wrong. Then suddenly the wheel fell off and the whole car was lop-sided. Thankfully they had been pulling over to park at the time so no-one was hurt. But it could have been very dangerous, and it was expensive to get towed and fixed.

When the engine went up in smoke

An ex-boyfriend was driving up the West Coast to meet me in his van so we could drive the rest of the way together. But spookily, around the same area where the wheel fell off for my friend, his van suddenly broke down. He was stuck on the highway with the engine billowing black smoke. Now only did he have to get towed back to the town. But he ended up having to trade his van for a car! We still finished the road trip and loved that car.

The trip that stopped before it started

I planned a road trip across Bulgaria with some friends and we had just picked up the hire car, parking it on the street. We went to get a bite to eat and returned five minutes later to see our vehicle was clamped. Luckily the fine wasn’t too bad but we did end up wasting a lot of time.

Read: 15 reasons you should road trip across Bulgaria

Breaking down on the M25

This one was hilarious but a total pain in the arse. I had just spent a weekend in Brighton with an ex-boyfriend and we were on our way home. It was a hot day, and we had the top down in his convertible as we cruised down the M25. We couldn’t hear the noise at first but after a while we noticed the grinding, scraping sound of metal and we had to pull over. When I looked under the car, the entire exhaust had fallen down and was dragging under the car. It was a mess, a long wait for recovery, very expensive and still three hours from home on a bank holiday. Not ideal.

Western Australia road trip cars

So how can you prevent this from happening on your next road trip? Be smart, be organised and follow this checklist I’ve created. It features all the things you should check on your vehicle before any long journey. Spend a bit of time doing this before each trip. It could save you hours of standing by a windy motorway waiting for the AA man to show up after his Sunday roast.

Top car checks to perform before a road trip:

Get it checked

Car checks don’t all have to be done by you. Get a second opinion if you don’t know enough about cars. Schedule regular check-ups for your car or van. Make sure you get any concerns looked at. Don’t like the sound of that noise? Have it checked before you go.

Basic maintenance

Top up the fuel, the oil and even things like brake fluid and window washing liquid. Make sure your brake pads are still okay. Check the tyres have enough tread and if they need topping up.

Make sure your insurance is valid

You’d be amazed how many people are driving on the roads without insurance. So make sure you have a comprehensive insurance that covers you for all situations. This includes third party damage, and if you’re doing any off-roading or parking in unusual spots.

Switch it off

Don’t leave your lights on! This can run the battery down very quickly so be careful to check the inside lights when loading or unloading the car. If you leave the doors or windows open because of the heat then turn all lights off. Always make sure the engine is fully off and don’t let your battery run down.

Give your tyres the once over

Check the rubber for any bulges or tears, drive carefully and avoid broken glass. Also, make sure the tread is still within the legal requirement. If you’re planning on off-roading, be sure your tyres can handle it! Pack chains if you’re driving in the snow.

Don’t forget your emergency box

Always pack for emergencies. On long trips it is smart to pack a torch, first-aid kit, blanket and some basic tools. Plus water and extra snacks in case you get stuck somewhere. Whether you break down, crash or simply get stuck in a mega traffic jam, it’s always good to have supplies.

Choose reliable navigation

If you’re planning a long trip, it can be helpful to have a navigation system. Don’t just rely on your phone unless you’re sure you’ll have coverage everywhere. Garmin are good if you’re looking at getting a Sat-Nav. But it does help to keep a back-up map in the car in case of emergencies.

Don’t overpack the car

Extra weight of overpacking places extra strain on the vehicle and can use a lot more fuel. Pack smart and find ways to reduce the amount you take. If you’re road tripping long-term and have a roof rack full of stuff – arrange it carefully to be as streamlined as possible. Trust me, it makes a HUGE difference to how much fuel you consume.

Plan your journey before you go

Be smart about your travel times. Avoid hitting traffic or rush hour and you could save a lot of fuel and wasted time. Travelling late at night or early in the morning is great, open roads and not a soul in sight.

Important car checks to make before road trips

Here’s the deal if your car isn’t up to par then you’re either going to have to get it fixed up (which can potentially cost a lot of money) or you should sell it and upgrade to something better. IF you happen to take the route of selling your car one option to consider is Junk That Car, they state that they typically pay $500 or more in cash for junk cars. So, if you are thinking of selling it could be a smart choice.

Most importantly, once all the checks are done. Relax and really enjoy every second of your trip! Make it the trip of a lifetime. Even if things do go wrong, it isn’t the end of the world. It just means another funny story to tell afterwards. The most important thing you can pack when things do go wrong is perspective. Take a deep breath, take care of it and then sit back until you’re on your way again.

What was your worst road trip experience? Can you think of any other important car checks before a road trip? What was the best road trip you ever did?

Important car checks to make before road trips

Since I was a little girl I was always captivated by the idea of riding in a hot air balloon high above some beautiful country – gazing down across animals grazing on the Serengeti, or the strange buildings of Cappadocia. It always seemed such a magical way to experience a country, to feel the hush that breathes over the land at sunset or sunrise as you cruise across the sky. It was a bucket list item and one I planned to tick off one day, but never did I dream I would be doing it when I booked my trip to Sri Lanka. Planning the trip, I was keen to get a little surprise in there for the boyfriend to celebrate his birthday which had been the month before. So busy working all the time, we hadn’t had the opportunity for a big celebration so I wanted to really spoil him by sharing an experience we wouldn’t forget in a hurry. I’ve never been the kind of person who cares that much for physical presents, what I really love is sharing an amazing experience with someone I love and seeing their face light up with excitement.Sri Lanka | A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the misty mountains | DambullaSri Lanka Ballooning invited us along to try out their epic sunrise ballooning experiences and we jumped at the opportunity to see both Sri Lanka’s incredible landscape and the Cultural Triangle from a unique viewpoint. Central Sri Lanka is made up on a beautiful combination of wild jungle, misty mountains and huge lakes that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s a spectacular sight from the ground but an almost ethereal sight from the air and one that is sure to take your breath away as you gaze down on elephants roaming freely, birds soaring over the jungle and monkeys swinging from the trees. Despite the early hour, the locals come running out of their homes when they hear the rush of the gas to cheer and wave as you glide effortlessly over the trees waiting for the sun to creep over the horizon.Sri Lanka | A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the misty mountains | DambullaWe were picked up before the dawn chorus had even begun and made our way by minibus to a nearby field where a group of shadowy figures were already hard at work preparing the balloon for take-off. Excitedly, the group of around 16 people were abuzz as they waited to board the craft. Found in Dambulla, the company are based in the middle of the Cultural Triangle and are surrounded by some of Sri Lanka’s oldest and most treasured sights including ancient towns and several UNESCO World Heritage Sights. This cultural centre is a real highlight of any trip to Sri Lanka – I’ll be posting in full about the best ways to experience the area – and how better to experience it than from a completely different perspective?Sri Lanka | A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the misty mountains | Dambulla Operating for over a decade, Sri Lanka Ballooning is owned by chief pilot Justin Patrick Moore, an Englishman who I was keen to meet after reading about his amazing experience of flying hot air balloons around the world for over 30 years – think everywhere from the North Pole to Australia. He has led an amazing life and after falling in love with Sri Lanka, he made it his second home and set up the company which allows him to live his dream life and fly daily over the incredible landscape. With each day starting by witnessing the sunrise over the mountains and champagne at the end of each flight – who can blame him? Interestingly, the company has been a real trailblazer for Sri Lanka – being the first hot air balloon company to host a wedding and a skydive mid-flight, featuring on TV several times and offering some very memorable surprises for birthdays and engagements.Sri Lanka | A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the misty mountains | DambullaI can’t recommend the experience enough, it was without a doubt the most memorable part of our already incredible month in Sri Lanka. We were both completely taken aback by the beauty of the country that had already inspired us daily, but this was a moment I really fell in love with Sri Lanka. As a couple, we’re already lucky to have had some truly amazing experiences together, but this is one that will remain the most romantic and special yet. We both touched down on the ground and instantly wanted to be back up in the air again, it may have been our first hot air balloon ride, but it certainly won’t be our last. A huge thank you to Sri Lanka Ballooning and their amazing team for giving us such an unforgettable morning.

Visit Sri Lanka Ballooning’s website for more information or to book your flight.

Have you been in a hot air balloon – what was your experience like? Have you always dreamed of going in a hot air balloon – where would you like to experience this?

Sri Lanka | A sunrise hot air balloon ride over the misty mountains | Dambulla

I’m really excited to be sharing this post with you guys today, because not only was it a real highlight of my Sri Lanka trip, but it was also what sparked the inspiration behind the trip. Although Sri Lanka has always been a place that really ignited my imagination, it had slipped to the back of my mind and wasn’t really on my list of priorities. But when an email from the team behind Diyabubula Hideaway dropped into my inbox, suddenly Sri Lanka shot pretty quickly to the top of my must-travel list. Talking about the creative atmosphere, the beautiful and historical location, the nearby national parks where hundreds of elephants gather – read more about this here – my imagination was captured and I couldn’t stop talking about it. My boyfriend was curious and eager for our holiday not to end, so he decided that we were going to Sri Lanka after we left Australia, my dreams were becoming a reality and we couldn’t wait to explore this whole new world. Diyabubula Hideaway was the perfect place to celebrate the halfway point of our month in this amazing country and we couldn’t have been more grateful for a chance to spend a few days in this wonderful, natural, creative space.Sri Lanka | Diyabubula Hideaway - the perfect artistic escape | DambullaNormally I would write quite in-depth about the property, but to be honest, I think the pictures speak for themselves. The place was absolutely beautiful from the second you walked through the gates, lush green vegetation adorning every building and inviting you to breathe in the fresh air and the sights and sounds. It was magical, with every luxury you can imagine, plus the freedom and the independence to explore at your own pace with a team who would work around your plans to provide you with the finest food and service. We stayed in an overwater villa which was absolutely stunning and reminiscent of the treehouse experience I had dreamt of when I knew I was coming to Sri Lanka.Sri Lanka | Diyabubula Hideaway - the perfect artistic escape | DambullaThe rooms were peaceful and luxurious with a huge bathroom and walk-in closet, an enormous bed overlooking the balcony where we would watch monkeys play. We were quite lucky to experience all weathers when we were there – both glorious sunshine and one evening a torrential rainstorm which was quite magical to watch through the windows, and to fall asleep to the sound of raindrops drumming on the roof. The room also came with a small kitchen with basic amenities and a lounge area downstairs.Sri Lanka | Diyabubula Hideaway - the perfect artistic escape | DambullaFound in central Sri Lanka, in a town called Dambulla at the edge of the Cultural Triangle, the accommodation is the creation of renowned Sri Lankan artist Laki Senanayake who designed the place as a hideaway to compliment his water garden. With just five villas available at this luxury lodge, it defines “boutique luxury” and offers each guest the finest pace to escape from the busy cities and to explore the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka.Sri Lanka | Diyabubula Hideaway - the perfect artistic escape | DambullaWith some of the country’s oldest temples, ancient cities and astounding national parks right on your doorstep, there is so much to do in the local area and the helpful, and attentive staff can organise transport and guides for you. If you’re less interested in the area and more in a creative escape, you’re in the right place as artist Laki actually lives at the property in his own minimalist space. Each evening guests are invited to join him at his place for an amazing light and music show he has created himself, and to spend the night in discussion with the artist himself.Sri Lanka | Diyabubula Hideaway - the perfect artistic escape | DambullaI was so disappointed to find out Laki was away travelling at the time of our visit as I would have loved to have met him and to have heard more about his vision. But we still had the pleasure of exploring his quarters and enjoying the amazing sculptures dotted around the property, plus his amazing light show each evening. If you’re a creative type yourself, this could be the perfect opportunity to indulge in creating your own art as I’ve heard Laki loves his visitors to try their hand at creating during their visit.Sri Lanka | Diyabubula Hideaway - the perfect artistic escape | DambullaOverall, an absolutely amazing stay that treated us to the ultimate luxury at this beautiful boutique lodge, and some well-needed peace and tranquility. After weeks of travelling non-stop and throwing ourselves into all of the activities, it was lovely to take some time to just relax and to have somewhere so peaceful and beautiful to do it. A huge thanks to all of the amazing staff who were so welcoming and who really made our stay at Diyabubula Hideaway a pleasure.


The rooms have different rates available – for the water villa we stayed in you can have half board for 200 euros a night or full board for 220 euros per night. (There are not many restaurants nearby and the food at Diyabubula is amazing so I would recommend full board) Or, if you fancy trying the tree house or bamboo grove, you can have half board for 180 euros or 200 euros for full board. All of these prices are for a double rather than a single. I personally think this accommodation is worth every penny and will make your stay in Sri Lanka even more magical. I really cannot recommend this place enough and although I received gifted accommodation in this case, all views remain honest and all my own. Click here for more info and to book.

Would you like to stay at Diyabubula Hideaway? Can you recommend any other accommodation in Sri Lanka? What are your priorities when booking accommodation?

Sri Lanka | Diyabubula Hideaway - the perfect artistic escape | Dambulla

Back in the UK now, I’m loving pouring back over photos and memories of my time in Sri Lanka as I write up post after post about my experiences there. I always enjoy reliving every moment so much when I get home, getting to share everything with you guys is incredible because it means I get to experience the joy all over again. But sometimes, there are some memories of a place that make you shudder to recall them, those moments that hurt your heart when you think back to them. This was one of those days, but I must add, the only day I had like this while travelling in what was a truly amazing country. Read my guide here to everything you need to know before you travel to Sri Lanka. But what is important, as a travel blogger, I pride myself on my honesty and giving you guys information that is authentic and genuine so you can plan your own travels, and part of that is telling you about the bad experiences as well as the good ones. So what happened?Sri Lanka | How seeing 100 elephants on safari broke my heartA late afternoon safari which promised me the sight of 100 elephants, a dream come true for a gal like me who has always loved these beautiful, gentle creatures, turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. We’d been staying in the Cultural Triangle, deep in the centre of Sri Lanka, in a tiny town called Habarana, where I had been drawn to after reading about the amazing history, culture and natural wildlife. Our wonderful host recommended we go on safari to a nearby national park where we were told you could see over 300 elephants at one time – it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. During the dry season (July to October) Minneriya Wildlife Sanctuary sees herds of hundreds of elephants gathering for what has been called the 6th greatest wildlife spectacle in the world by Lonely Planet. Arriving in November, we weren’t sure if we would be lucky enough to witness such a spectacle but when we came to Habarana we were encouraged to go on the safari where several people claimed we would see at least 100 elephants. So we went, but we were not prepared for what we would see.

The magic and beauty of nature faded as the engines revved, each jeep vying for the best spot.

Sri Lanka | How seeing 100 elephants on safari broke my heartDriving around the national park was amazing to begin with, we had a great driver who really cared about the animals and could tell us so much about them and their habitat. Different to other national parks we had visited, this one offered vast open plains leading to huge lakes in the distance. As we drove the winding paths in our jeep, we could already see huge herds of elephants dotted across the plains, and our guide stopped so we could watch them from a safe distance. We spent three hours on safari in the park, watching various groups of elephants before they all came together to form one use herd as they made their way over to the lake. An absolutely majestic sight and one I won’t forget in a hurry, but sadly for all the wrong reasons.Sri Lanka | How seeing 100 elephants on safari broke my heartThroughout the afternoon, it had not been a calm experience where we could all peacefully enjoy these creatures from a distance benefitting both us and the animals. Instead there had been countless jeeps racing, overtaking each other and generally terrorising the animals as they competed for the best spot. The groups of eager tourists in many of the other vans were noisy and had little respect for the animals as they cheered and shouted in the back of the jeeps. We even saw  several cars which had been allowed to drive the muddy tracks despite not having four wheel drive and posing a danger to both the visitors and the animals. I was glad to see that our driver seemed not to be like the others and was keen to hang back and watch the animals from a distance rather than crowding them like the others.Sri Lanka | How seeing 100 elephants on safari broke my heart

However, one good driver doesn’t make up for the rest.

As everyone was driving over to the lake, the elephants were getting more agitated about protecting one of the babies as they walked through a crowd of jeeps. It wasn’t long before one adult became so stressed that she charged the jeeps who didn’t seem to understand they should move out of the way! The elephants made it over to the lake and all the jeeps started to drive round to the other side, but then one of the 2WD cars got stuck in the mud, panic ensued as the elephants spotted it and became aggressive. You could see they were terrified and started to charge the vehicle to try and protect the herd – also terrifying for the group in the car. Other jeeps rallied round to protect the jeep while others pulled the vehicle out of the mud, but in the process the jeeps revved engines and blared horns to scare off the elephants. It was a downright disturbing experience, terrifying and stressful for the animals. Absolutely horrible for me to watch and to be a part of as an animal lover, and each second that went by it just got worse.Sri Lanka | How seeing 100 elephants on safari broke my heartEventually the car was freed and the elephants were scared away, we told our driver we wanted to leave. We’d seen enough. I was dumbstruck by what had happened. As we drove out of the park our guide told us a bit of background to the park, he told us how these 2WD cars were allowed into the park – understandably the locals had to make a living even if they couldn’t afford the right equipment – however this meant that what we had just witnessed was a regular occurrence. Almost on a daily basis these 2WD cars would get stuck and a similar event would happen with the elephants becoming stressed, agitated and frightened by tours. Even worse, our guide told us that within the last few years, one of the jeeps had actually reversed into a baby elephant and killed it which was the reason why the elephants had become so aggressive and nervous around the cars.Sri Lanka | How seeing 100 elephants on safari broke my heartIt was a pretty traumatic experience, and I can’t imagine what those poor elephants go through each day. They live in a national park and should be some of the lucky ones being protected from harm, but if you ask me, a lot more needs to be done to protect these animals. After volunteering at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand, sanctuary founder Lek Chailert always said we all have the power to make a change by raising awareness so by writing this post, I hope it will inform each and every one of you to make a conscious decision to not support this kind of tourism unless you know the animals are being properly protected. I didn’t know what to expect before I arrived, but by sharing my experiences I can hopefully help make a change by letting my readers know what happened.

Have you experienced a safari like this? How do you feel about the protection of elephants across Sri Lanka, and Asia? Would you be put off another safari?

My first trip to Sri Lanka has brought with it some very exciting blogging opportunities, and the first of these was a really luxurious treat and welcome to this amazing country. I was invited to be the first blogger to visit and review the beautiful Dickman Resort – an adults only, luxury resort which has been hailed the first gay-friendly accommodation of its kind in the country. I was thrilled to be invited to somewhere so forward thinking and all-accepting, and couldn’t wait to see what the visit had in store. In the heart of Negombo, the resort is ideal for anyone just arriving or about to fly out and the staff pride themselves on giving the very best welcome or farewell to Sri Lanka. As we pulled up to the resort we were given the warm Sri Lankan welcome as we were invited inside with fresh passionfruit juice and a tour of the property, before being seen to our room and told to relax and enjoy.Sri Lanka | Our room, the Purple Suite overlooked the pool area and gave us a lovely view across the courtyard while still being tucked away neatly to give as much privacy as we wanted. Perfect for a travelling couple, the boutique resort is the perfect place to mingle with the staff and other travellers, or to give yourself complete privacy and alone time. Week-to-week the crowd changes – when we arrived it was many individual gay travellers but when we left there were several couples both gay and straight. But Dutch owner Mr Dickman make sure everyone feels welcome, always stopping to chat to everyone who is staying there and to make sure they have everything they need. Travelling with my boyfriend, we couldn’t have felt more welcome and it really was the most romantic few days. A perfect place for a couple to holiday together, the rooms are pure luxury and have everything you never even realised you deserved from gorgeous outdoor rain showers to a four poster bed, fresh fruits and background music to set the mood.Sri Lanka | Sri Lanka | After more than 48 hours travelling across Malaysia and Indonesia, it was the greatest pleasure to climb into the comfiest four poster bed and finally catch up on sleep. Waking up feeling refreshed, we headed to breakfast where we were greeted with fresh juice and delicious coffee, platters of fruit, omelettes, dhal, sambol and more – their tasty nod to both Western and Sri Lankan breakfast. An absolute feast, the meal was the perfect way to start the day and it was lovely to eat overlooking the beautiful courtyard with chipmunks running up and down the trees and birds calling overhead. A perfect place to spend a few hours reading, writing, or indulging in your favourite holiday pastimes, there are endless hidden corners and comfy spots to find a pew to while away the afternoon.Sri Lanka | Spend your days relaxing by the pool with amazing staff on hand for everything you need from towels and magazines to fresh watermelon, all of them so friendly and kind. Head to the shaded courtyard to lay in the hammock and read, or make yourself comfortable on one of the colourful couches and while away the afternoons. Just up the street are no end of restaurants, bars and shops if it takes your fancy to go for a wander, or talk to the staff and order in your meals for complete comfort. The staff can arrange for spa staff to pick you up and whisk you away for massages and spa treatments at a moment’s notice and are happy to arrange transport if you wish to visit any sights.

Sri Lanka |

It was a complete pleasure to stay at the Dickman Resort and a perfect way to start our Sri Lankan adventure, if you’re looking for a luxury treat then this is the one for you. Just 30 minutes from the airport, it’s a great way to relax into your trip after a long flight. Start your holiday the right way by booking in for a luxury treat here.

Have you stayed at any gay-friendly resorts around the world? Tell me – what is luxury to you? Have you been to Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka |

It feels like Iceland will forever stay on my must-see list. I’ve spent so long in the wrong hemisphere and I’m always planning trips to far-fetched places, but that often means sacrificing the real gems that lie right under my nose. I’m always that girl who can’t resist a tropical island or exploring the jungle in some exciting new land, so it’s hard to schedule in time for a snowy break but I won’t be happy until I have. These last few years, it seems like everyone I know have been off gallivanting around the Blue Lagoon, posting lust-worthy pics of them playing in the snow or eyeing up the Northern Lights – it’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Being back in the UK and experiencing my first European winter in more than three years, I’m embracing it with wide-open arms and I’m loving every second. While the cold was a shock to the system, I’m loving the Christmas decorations, the frosty mornings, the festive spirit, the winter coats and snuggly jumpers. It’s really making me realise what I have been missing these last few years of chasing the sun and perhaps I’m ready for something new now. I’m excited to explore a whole new hemisphere and to find the magic in places that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing.

Whenever Iceland is mentioned, the mind instantly conjures up images of dramatic volcanic landscapes draped in snow and crisp with frost, it’s a magical image. A land both within reach and yet completely separate to everything I have previously experienced, but while we always hear about the same few attractions of Iceland, I feel that there is so much more waiting to be discovered. There is still a wholly unique Icelandic experience waiting for each visitor to capture the charm and the beauty of the country when their visit. Planning a visit to Iceland? I’ve done a bit of research to find the most unique ways to explore the country.15 unique ways to discover the magic of Iceland | Europe

15 unique ways to discover the magic of Iceland:

Visit the Blue Lagoon

All of Iceland’s electricity comes from hydroelectric or geothermal power, and if that doesn’t inspire you enough, the famous Blue Lagoon is a wonderful side effect of this power. Lava fields alongside a geothermal plant were accidentally turned into a spa rich in minerals, sulphur, salt and silica back in the 70’s and now it is one of the country’s most popular attractions. Need some time to relax on your trip and escape the cold, why not take a dip in the blue waters and lose yourself in the swirling mist?

Go dog sledding

Imagine yourself racing through the snowy landscape on board your own sleigh pulled by those gorgeous, energetic huskies. It’s the ultimate arctic experience and one you won’t want to miss, if you’re a dog lover then this is the trip for you!

Visit ice caves

Something you can only do during winter when the caves are truly frozen, you can now explore ice tunnels over 200m long under Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull. Bathed in the ethereal blue light, you can even get married in a special ice chapel under the ice.

Explore the inside of a volcano

The land of fire and ice is punctuated with incredibly unique volcanic experiences where you can explore these amazing geological formations.15 unique ways to discover the magic of Iceland | Europe

Make the most of the midnight sun

During the summer, it never gets completely dark in Iceland, while the evenings are cooler they remain bathed in a stunning mix of sunrise and sunset. Make the most of it and get outside – go take part in activities or go for a hike. Or if you fancy a really unique experience, why not go to the Secret Solstice Festival? Taking place on June 21-24 in Reykjavik, it is the festival of the midnight sun and gives you a perfect opportunity to party all day and all night long.

Go to Elf School

Just outside Reykjavik, it’s possible to learn even more about the mystical folktales that surround Iceland by attending a real-life Elf School.

Go on a snowmobile tour

Fancy a bit more action? Race across the ice on a snowmobile for an experience that will take your breath away.

View this incredible landscape from the air

Why not take a helicopter ride over Iceland and gain a new perspective on the landscape – from volcanoes and geysers to endless fields of snow and ice?15 unique ways to discover the magic of Iceland | Europe

Explore caves with hidden lakes and waterfalls

For the explorers among us, there are endless caves waiting to be explored including Grjótagjá, a volcanic cave lake that looks magical. Or experience the incredible Gljúfrafoss, a waterfall hidden in a cave that can be found in  cracked cliff.

Hike glaciers or go snowshoeing

There’s nothing quite like getting out and experiencing nature in all it’s glory, so why not take the chance to explore by going on glacier walks? With climate change gradually melting the polar ice, the glaciers are also being slowly diminished so one day soon it could be a really unique experience to look back on.

Watch the Northern Lights from your own private igloo

My absolute dream is to watch the Northern Lights – I was so disappointed to not see the Southern Lights while down in Tasmania, Australia. But what would really take this experience to another level would be to watch the lights from one of these adorable bubble rooms at what is known as the 5 million star hotel – what a magical experience! Fancy being out in the open air? Why not watch from your own private hot tub?

Visit some incredibly unique museums

You can view an encyclopaedic collection of mammal penises at the Icelandic Phallological Museum, while The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum explores the area’s history of aquatic cryptid sightings.15 unique ways to discover the magic of Iceland | Europe

Go diving between two continents

At Þingvellir National Park you can find Iceland’s largest lake, Þingvallavatn which is the only place on the entire planet where you can see two tectonic plates, the American and the Euro-Asian plate, gradually breaking apart year by year. It is the only place where the split is so dramatic, and if you’re feeling brave, you can even dive or snorkel between the two plates in Silfra – a gorge filled with crystal clear water.

Haukadalur Geothermal Field

Visit this valley of hot springs and boiling mud pots to find the world record-holding “Geyser.”

Eat putrified shark

An Icelandic specialty, Hákarl originates from the days when food needed to be purified during the long winters. With a taste likened to blue cheese but 1000x stronger in taste and smell, it was originally processed from Greenlandic Shark, then buried under rocks for six months before being hung to dry for another three months. Another local delicacy is sheep’s head.


When I finally get to Iceland, I don’t know how I’ll squeeze everything in – there’s just so many incredible experiences waiting to be had. If you’re planning a trip this winter, I hope this list helps you to make your trip as unique and unforgettable as possible.

15 unique ways to discover the magic of Iceland | Europe

All images supplied.

I love arriving in a new place whether it’s a bustling city, a beachside resort or a mountain top town and feeling my senses tingling. I love that first sense you get of a new place, the first smells, sights and sounds that hit you, the warmth or the freshness of the air. It’s these moments that make a place real, that make it special to you, and that stay with you long after you have moved on to pastures new. I still remember the first time I set foot in Bangkok – the hot air pressed against my skin, the noise of the streets and the vendors, the smells of spices and street food mingled in the air. Ella in Sri Lanka was different, with fresh mountain air, fluffy clouds dotted along the skies and a sense of peace I had yet to find elsewhere in the country. Each place leaves a lasting impression, and those first few hours, or even first few days can really make or break how you feel about a place.Travel | My top 5 ways for exploring a new city

I was inspired to write this post because I’ve spent the last two days in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and it is the first place in a long time that I have felt an instant dislike to. After being high up in the mountains with fresh air and peace, Kandy has been an assault on the senses with too much traffic, too much noise and too much pollution. I’ve felt smothered here and can’t wait to leave today, to get back out into nature – back to exploring the jungle. However, I know that some of the reason I really don’t like Kandy is actually because I arrived here in a bad mood, exhausted and grumpy from travel, with a bad tummy and to a bad accommodation. The first few hours I spent here were feeling ill and wandering the streets trying to find somewhere to eat and giving up in the end. It just shows how much those first few hours or days can really shadow your impression of a place and that’s why I normally try to take control of the situation and to give myself the best opportunity to fall in love with every place I visit.

How do I do this?

Well it’s all about making sure you throw yourself in at the deep end – whether you’re traveling by yourself or with friends or a partner, you have to get out exploring the first chance you get. By not sitting around feeling a bit lost, getting out and seeing the sights, meeting new people and really experiencing the city.Travel | My top 5 ways for exploring a new city

Here are my 5 best ways to explore a new place:

Walk it

My favourite way, and one I use in every new place, is to spend the first day just walking. Especially in a new city, I love to just spend the day exploring on foot either with or without a map, this way I can get lost and find all the really cool stuff hidden away. Plus I end up learning my way around pretty quick from getting lost. I also find I talk to more random strangers and meet some great people along the way as well as getting to see the sights. I had a great day walking the length and breadth of Budapest – it was a great city for exploring on foot and I managed to see all the sights and make some new friends in a few hours.

Get active

Love running? Why not do like I sometimes do and explore a city in your running gear? I did this in Perth and had a fun day keeping fit and running around the city. Be creative with your sightseeing – I’ve spent a day exploring places on a bike or even on a segway – it’s a different way to see the city. I have a friend who really loves skateboarding and she always travels with her board, so she loves to explore every new city by skateboarding around and usually makes some friends along the way. Fancy trying it out? You can pick up skateboarding decks here.Travel | My top 5 ways for exploring a new city

Visit a friend or get someone to show you around

Sometimes, especially if you are traveling solo or are pressed for time, it can be great to meet up with a traveling friend or even a new friend to be shown around a new place. When I visited Amsterdam and Berlin, I met up with old friends there from when I was living both in the UK and Australia – both friends took me under their wing and were excited to show me around their city. I had a place to stay and a tour guide, plus a great chance to catch up with friends and to see a new place. Don’t have a friend where you are going – why not try one of the many groups on Facebook to find someone who might want to host you? I’m part of a Girls Love Travel Facebook group which has almost forty thousand women from all over the world who live or are travelling all across the globe – they are always on hand for advice when travelling to a new place, keen to meet up for a drink, to show you round or even host you!

Hop on/Hop off bus tour or walking tours

A good way to see the sights and explore a new city, if you don’t know where to begin why not join the professional tour guides? When travelling around Europe, I started using Sandemans NEW Europe Tours – they offer FREE walking tours around 18 European cities with fantastic guides who have endless knowledge and enthusiasm for their city. The tours are free but the guides work for tips and you are welcome to give as little or as much as you want – the tours were always so good that I happily 10-20 euros after my tours in Berlin and Amsterdam.Travel | My top 5 ways for exploring a new city

Hostel activities

If you’re backpacking or staying in a hostel – why not take a look at the activities board and see what your hostel might be offering? Not only is it a great way to meet people and get to see the city, but it is often a lot cheaper or even free! When I was in Sydney, Australia, my hostel was fantastic for this and organised events daily including walking tours and wine and cheese nights, further down in Tasmania my hostel organised visits to the nearby mountain and museums for much cheaper than the usual price.

Not staying in hostels? Be smart about your accommodation and make it part of the experience! Renting out a house or apartment for your trip is a different way to experience the destination. Rental companies are making that option easier and safer, from AirBNB to CasaGo, you’re sure to find somewhere that is perfect for you, and will give you a taste of the local culture.

How else do you like to explore a new city? Where will you be exploring next?

Travel | My top 5 ways for exploring a new city

Whether it is because we are trying to look after the pennies or simply because you love exploring the land on your doorstep, exploring our own shores can truly open our eyes just how lucky we are to live in a land with such rich culture.

Although you won’t find the same weather as the Caribbean, nor will you come across mountain ranges such as those in the Alps, but what you will find is a lot packed into what is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively small country. With this in mind, below is a list of five of our favourite places to visit in the UK and Ireland.

Dublin

What a glorious city this is, oozing of Irish heritage mixed in with modern culture, Dublin arguably the greatest city on planet Earth. If you don’t agree with me you obviously have never been and, if not, why not?

The Temple Bar, located a stone’s throw away from the famous Ha’penny Bridge that sits over the River Liffey, is a social hotbed. At all hours of the day there is something going on, whether it is live music or stand-up comedy, this is the bar you want to drink in.

When the sun goes down and night looms over the Irish capital, this is when you see Dublin in all its glory. Paint the town red and get to know the locals, who are some of the friendliest you can hope to meet.

London

If it is ease of travel mixed in with a plethora of tourist attractions you are looking for, then London is your destination of choice. The Underground system is unrivalled by anywhere else in the world, and takes you to the doorstep of London’s favourite hotspots without the need for driving.

Trafalgar Square is the place to go for a night out in London, with restaurants and bars along the streets, and even a casino and cinema for additional entertainment (and it is also here that you will find M&M World!).UK Travel | Five of the Best UK & Ireland Destinations

Nottingham

If British culture and pop fiction are two of your favourite things to experience, then head to the home of Robin Hood. In Nottingham, you will find lots of historic landmarks, such as Nottingham Castle and the cathedral mixed in with a very modern city.

Located in the Midlands, Nottingham is one of the best-connected cities in England and is easily reachable by train or car. Neighbouring Derby, nearby hotels can be found in equal distance to the two cities’ city centres in case you want to broaden your horizons.

Edinburgh

The Scottish capital is just as vibrant during the day as it is at night, and is the scene for one of the most famous New Year’s Eve celebration in the world, Hogmanay. In Edinburgh, you will find the perfect mixture of the gorgeous Scottish countryside and a modern city, packed with places to visit.

Fantastic seasonal markets line the streets of Edinburgh in the winter, making the city the perfect place to visit over the festive period going into the New Year. You have to be quick, though, as hotel rooms are booked fast at this time of year.

Newcastle

Famous for more than a song title and a reality television show, in Newcastle you will find a brimming city packed with events, culture and landmarks. See the Angel of the North in all its glory, visit St James’ Park, the home of Newcastle United, and take in the sight of Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the world’s first and only tilting bridge.

Of course, the city is also well known for its nightlife, and is something that simply should be sampled if you ever have the fortune to visit the northern city.

If you have visited any of the above cities, or if you have been lucky to visit all five, then you will already know just how fantastic our shores are.

A bit of a throwback today, a little break from all the Western Australia posts as we hop back to Victoria and all my lovely days out while I was living down in Melbourne. I’ve already written about Wilson’s Promontory National Park, Phillip Island, bar crawling around the city and much more – but this post is all about a great little day trip you can take if you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours. When I lived in Melbourne at the beginning of the year, I returned there with gusto and a desire to see all the amazing places I missed out on the first time. Working long hours as usual, I was determined to make the most of my days off by getting out to explore the beaches or different nature parks for walks and a change of scenery. Check out my blog post for Wild Melbourne here about all the best places to escape into nature around Melbourne. The Dandenongs were one of the final places I visited before setting off on my travels again, and they were definitely a day well spent with two of my best friends from living down there.Melbourne | A day in the Dandenongs - 1000 Steps | AustraliaThe three of us were inseparable, working together, living around the corner from each other, and spending our days off together – it’s safe to say we had a blast down in Melbourne together. So when two of us had a day off, and the other decided to skive off work for the day, we decided to get out of the city and do something fun. Well I decided, and dragged the other two along with me for some exercise. We caught the train from Flinders Street along the Belgrave line to the Dandenongs and got off at Upper Ferntree Gully Station – the journey took around 50 minutes which we easily filled with silly banter. Once there, we had to walk east away from the station and alongside the railway tracks, then we turned off the main road and walked across the trainline, following the track. After about 15 minutes walking, we came to the entrance to the Dandenong Ranges National Park where we were surrounded by lush, green forest and that incredible fresh air smell that can only be found away from the city.Melbourne | A day in the Dandenongs - 1000 Steps | AustraliaAs you walk in, head towards the beginning of the 1,000 Steps, Kokoda Track Memorial Walk where you will probably see lots of people running around – so many use it as a workout and spend hours running up and down the steps. It’s pretty impressive, I definitely didn’t run them, but it was a nice walk up and down, especially as you can take one route up and another down to change it up. The walk is around 3km overall and is quite steep in places so you will want to take water and wear trainers – also do take a warmer layer as it is quite misty and cool in the trees. It says online that it should take 1-1.5 hours to complete, but you can do it in a lot less if you are relatively fit and aren’t stopping every five minutes. There is also a picnic ground at the top, but sadly no real view to enjoy – this was a bit of a disappointment after the climb up there, but we still managed to have a great day out.Melbourne | A day in the Dandenongs - 1000 Steps | Australia
It’s a beautiful place and lovely for a walk or to work out if, like me, you get bored of working out in the city. You can also do this trip in just a couple of hours – I think we were only gone around 3-4 hours overall so we still had the day to enjoy in the city. Plus it’s a complete change of scenery being in the misty hills after living in busy Southbank and working in a bar all week. Well worth a visit. If you like this, you should also check out Jacob’s Ladder in Perth for a good workout and a great view at the end.Melbourne | A day in the Dandenongs - 1000 Steps | Australia

What’s your favourite place to escape into nature around Melbourne? Can you recommend any good outdoor places to work out in Australia?

Melbourne | A day in the Dandenongs - 1000 Steps | Australia

I’ve been waiting a long time to write about Fremantle, it’s hard to sometimes find the words to describe a place that you feel in your heart. But this cute little port town really did become an unexpected home from home for me. It’s ironic really, that I travelled to the other side of the world to set up camp somewhere just like home – a little port town by the ocean steeped in history and quirky culture. But perhaps the home we find is in the people we meet and the way that we feel rather than the place itself. After finding Perth a tad impersonal, Freo couldn’t have been more different as it welcomed me with open arms. Read my Perth city guide here.

A good friend of mine drove me from the city to Freo one sunny afternoon, and even as we pulled in amongst the old fashioned buildings and smelt the sea air, I knew this was a place I would love. Walking into my hostel and seeing the family style tables across the courtyard and the group who were keen to invite me in to join them – it was just the kind of place I love to make my home. I was staying at Pirates Backpackers on Essex Street, right in the centre of Freo – it was just a minute’s walk from the weekend markets and the harbour, close to the beaches and the shops. I’ll be reviewing the hostel in an upcoming post – so watch out if you’re looking for hostel recommendations. Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia


Why was Fremantle so special to me?

It was the first place I had been in a long time where I felt I could really relax – Melbourne was full of working and living life to the max, Adelaide was a blur. Fremantle had a slower pace of life and because I wasn’t planning to work, I could really relax and enjoy it, joining in with hostel life and having time to dedicate to my writing. I had a cafe I would go to for breakfast and coffee while I wrote my articles, I would go running each morning around the harbour and to the beaches. I could spend my nights laughing, playing cards and drinking with friends, or go to watch the sun set with a cute boy I met, or even hit the bars. The world was my oyster and I really enjoyed every second, especially those spent with the amazing group of friends I made while I was there, and the wonderful guy I met. I think I had been missing something from my life the previous few months and it was those incredible traveller personalities that really bring something new and exciting to the table. Freo brought that all rushing back into my life and was the perfect way to kick off my amazing Western Australia trip with the best people.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia


Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle

I might love to treat myself every now and again, but I’ll always be a backpacker at heart and I’ll always find ways to explore a new place on a budget. After all, the money you save on activities can always be put towards that next flight, an epic night out or a once-in-a-lifetime experience – I know what I’d prefer to spend it on. When I was in Freo, I knew the money I had saved working in Melbourne was to go towards my epic Western Australia road trip and had to pay for a road trip covering over 1,000km from Perth to Darwin for up to two months, and then setting up a new life in Darwin. So although I wanted to enjoy my life, I was very conscious that I had been waiting my whole two years in Australia to experience this trip and that I wanted to live it to the max. This meant cutting corners where I could to enjoy myself for a few weeks in Fremantle beforehand – here are my top 10 free & cheap experiences you don’t want to miss when you visit:

1. Fremantle Markets

Without a doubt the best way to spend your weekend in Fremantle – running Friday, Saturday & Sunday in the market hall at the top of Essex Street – look no further for cheap, delicious food, live entertainment and fresh fruits and vegetables at great prices. Offering a huge range of street food stalls from all over the world, including the delicious bao buns, the gozlemes and paella, plus fresh teas and juices – it’s the perfect place to pick up a cheap meal ($10-15) as you walk around the stalls. Make sure you walk around the fruit and veg stalls and pick up all the free tasters for your daily dose of vitamins, then head back to the market on Sunday afternoon to get your heavily reduced fresh foods shop. I used to buy all my fruits and veggies there for just $7 for 7 items – perfect for a backpacker budget.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

2. Street performers

You’ll see them all over Freo, whether it’s live music, comedy, magic or something crazy that you can’t take your eyes off. There’s plenty going on around the markets at the weekends, but even during the week you’ll often see performers take to the streets to entertain the crowds. I was gutted to miss the Street Arts Festival by a few weeks, it filled the streets with live entertainment and attracted thousands of visitors. Or why not grab a guitar or a ukulele and hit the streets yourself? I saw plenty of travellers doing just that to earn a few extra dollars and to have fun with their friends – if you’ve got a talent, why not use it?Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

3. Hostel activities

My hostel was great for group activities, the owner made sure there was something going on every night from movie nights to pizza and wine evenings, marshmallows on a log fire, paddle boarding or volleyball afternoons and even wine tours – see my Swan Valley review here. It was great and brought the whole hostel together for some fun afternoons and evenings, it even inspired us to hold our own group evenings like the family dinner one woman decided to cook for the whole hostel. On Sunday’s we would drink for free at Left Bank bar thanks to a hostel organised trip. I got to go on a full day’s wine tour with tastings & travel included for just $30. Another day, I went paddle boarding for the afternoon for just $10 and had a great time with the group. It’s always worth seeing what is going on in your hostel.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

4. Hire a bike

I didn’t realise until some Canadian girls moved into my dorm that you can borrow bikes for free from Little Creatures Brewery (which is just across the park from my hostel). All you need is a passport ID and a credit card for them to keep on file, there is no charge unless you don’t return the bike. We borrowed three cute little bikes for the afternoon and biked all the way from Fremantle to Cottesloe Beach where we sunbathed and relax all afternoon, diving into the waves to cool off in the sunshine, before heading back to Freo. It was a great afternoon and completely free – well worth looking into if you fancy getting out of the town with so many great beaches right on your doorstep.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

5. Visit the beaches

Perth is known for it’s beautiful beaches and I was lucky enough to catch the last few sunbathing days before the weather changed. While I was there I made it my business to explore as many beaches as I could, from the tiny Bathers Beach and South Beach which I went running between every morning. To the vast empty beauty of Scarborough Beach and City Beach – City Beach was actually my favourite by far because we had the whole place to ourselves when we went. And the famous Cottesloe Beach, which sadly was covered in smelly seaweed when I was there, but was still a great place to watch the surfers and enjoy the sunshine.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

6. Take a culture tour

There are so many great historical sites in Fremantle and you can easily spend a day, or two, exploring these for a bit of culture and heritage. Why not check out Fremantle’s Roundhouse for great views across the harbour, then explore The Shipwreck Galleries and Western Australia’s Maritime Museum for a glimpse int the town’s past. Don’t miss a look at the war memorial and then head over to Fremantle Gaol for a wander around – you have to pay for entry to the tours, but you can have a good look at a gallery and the courtyard for free.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

7. Fish and Chips by the harbour

Probably one of the priciest things on this list depending on where you go, but much like having fish and chips on Brighton Beach in England, it’s something you just have to do. You’ll be fending off manic seagulls but the freshly caught fish and chips is well worth it, especially overlooking the water at sunset. There are plenty of places to choose from so enjoy.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

8. Little Creatures Brewery

One of my favourite experiences while I was in Fremantle, visiting the Little Creatures Brewery is definitely something to try. It’s a lovely bar to sit and have a drink and food in, or take a free tour at 1, 2 or 3pm each day. Tastings are available for around $20 and give you an opportunity to taste each of their craft beers and a cider – a pretty good way to spend a sunny afternoon.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

9. Breakfast with live music

Whether you fancy a laid-back breakfast with friends or want somewhere peaceful to work, look no further than Moore & Moore cafe. The food is fantastic and well-priced and they have a lovely sheltered courtyard with heaters for when the weather isn’t great. The wifi is really good for those who need to work, and it’s a nice relaxing atmosphere, often with live music in the background.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

10. Watch the sunset with good friends

Always one of my favourite things to do – pick up some cheep wine and snacks, get a group of mates together and head to South Beach or Bathers Beach and end the day on a high. There really is nothing better than watching a beautiful sunset with people who mean the world to you.Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia


What are your favourite free activities when visiting a new place? Have you been to Fremantle – can you add any suggestions to this list?

Perth | Top 10 free & cheap things to do in Fremantle | Australia

Perth is kind of like Vegemite – you either love it or you hate it.

The city is often the receiver of either rave reviews or disappointing memories for travelers and I know I have heard all opinions from friends over the years. Never letting a bad review stand in the way of me making up my own opinion about a place, I refused to make a judgement before seeing it with my own eyes. After a week in Adelaide – read my city guide here – I hopped on a quick flight over to experience my first taste of Western Australia and to finally start my West Coast adventure. I arrived at the airport and caught a bus straight to my new hostel which had come highly recommended by friends all across social media and was clearly the hot favourite.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Hostel review:

Billabong Backpackers Resort

Not the easiest hostel to get to, there was a real lack of information at the airport regarding shuttle buses, routes and schedules – eventually I managed to find a helpful bus driver who told me I would need two buses to reach the hostel. It turned into a bit of a mission but I made it finally. I was a bit disappointed by the “friendly” staff who barely acknowledged my presence and seemed very bored by their job – not the best welcome to a new city and hostel. I was sent up to my room which was pretty aged and a bit dirty. I’m definitely not a snob when it comes to hostels but this building felt less like a hostel with atmosphere and vibe, it felt more like an old building used for school trips. You could tell this was a city hostel with many people just passing through for a day or two or others who were working and had no time to meet travelers. I don’t want to be totally negative about the hostel – I’m sure it must have been great at points for so many of my friends to rave about it – but I personally found the crowd staying there when I passed through to be quite antisocial and not very friendly to newcomers. It was not my kind of hostel. However, it is in a fantastic location for exploring the city by bus and on foot, Highgate is a great area for nightlife, food and entertainment.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

What to do?

Sunset at King’s Park

King’s Park is a highlight of visiting Perth and one not to be missed, these beautiful gardens are backed by the Botanic Gardens and sit high on a hill overlooking the city. Providing you with a spectacular panoramic view of the city, the park is best at sunset when you can really appreciate the beauty of Perth. You can access the park by bus or road, or you can take the more challenging way – Jacob’s Ladder – a set of steep steps leading up to the park often full of fitness fanatics who run up and down for hours. Take a picnic, water and your camera for a lovely afternoon.

Have a drink at Hilary’s Boat Harbour

I stumbled across Hilary’s Boat Harbour on my wanderings around the city and had the loveliest time down there enjoying a drink overlooking the water while I planned some of my travels. There are lots of places to eat and drink down there and also a range of attractions and entertainment for the whole family, including access to trips on charter/fishing boats or over to Rottnest Island. Fancy keeping it simple – why not take a stroll along the boardwalk in the sunshine?Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Eat and drink in Northbridge

Northbridge is just a short walk from Highgate – where I stayed – and the main city. It’s a fabulous neighbourhood full of quirky places to eat and drink throughout the day and into the evening. I found a great little vegan restaurant called Flora and Fauna, which served the best range of brunches and juices I have found in a long time. Although I didn’t get to go out while in the city – too much work on unfortunately – I’ve heard the nightlife is very good in this area as well.

Relax in the parks by Elizabeth Quay

Take in the views across the harbour and if the weather is good for you, why not grab a book and relax in the parks near Elizabeth Quay? It’s a perfect place to take a time-out or grab some lunch to take down there and sit in the sunshine before going for a stroll among the amusements and across the bridge for great city views.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Explore the suburbs on foot

I like to keep fit and one of my favourite ways to explore a new city is on foot – whether by walking all day long or by heading out for a morning run. I discovered the absolutely beautiful Hyde Park not far from my hostel in just this way, think golden, brown, autumn leaves falling from the trees and benches overlooking a lake – heaven right in the middle of the city.

Step outside the city:

Surf or relax on Perth’s famous beaches

Everyone says “you HAVE to go to Cottosloe Beach” and so, I did. But I couldn’t help being a little disappointed. Yes it was beautiful and yes it was bathed in sunshine when I went. But in my opinion, it didn’t even compare to having the whole of City Beach to yourself, or walking the endless sands of Scarborough watching dogs and surfers frolic in the waves. Definitely get yourself out to the beaches – they are Perth’s sparkling gem – but don’t always listen to what everyone says.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Spend a day in nearby Fremantle

Fremantle is the place that really stole my heart and I’ll be posting in much more detail about life there, but even for those just visiting for a day there is lots to do. There are weekend markets for food and goodies, live music and entertainment in the streets, a brewery for beer and cider tastings, beaches, history and culture to explore. Just watch out – it’s easy to get stuck here!Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Head to Swan Valley for a wine tasting

While I was staying in Fremantle, my hostel organised a day trip around the wineries and local producers of Swan Valley. It was a fantastic day of free tastings and luxury food and drink and is definitely worth a visit if youre staying in the area. It’s a great day on a budget because so many of the tastings are either free or cost just a few dollars – perfect for budget-conscious travelers or backpackers.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

My favourite day in Perth by far was the one I spent walking all over the city exploring – it’s a good city to explore on foot and especially if you’re into fitness like myself. I set myself the challenge of walking as far as possible and took on Jacob’s Ladder – one for the fitness fanatics – as well as walking over 15km across the city and King’s Park then back to my hostel. It was a lovely day to walk in the sunshine and I would recommend exploring the city this way. I also loved my time at the beaches near the city – these were really very beautiful and a strong reminder that Perth’s real charm is outside of the city. Now while Perth may not be my favourite city by far – I really did love my time in Fremantle and traveling up the coast so don’t worry if you’re not a fan – there is a version of Perth to suit all of us.

Have you been to Perth? What was your favourite part? What else did you do when you visited?

Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

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