Why should you get tickets to Top of the Rock in New York? There are several observation decks in New York, but here are my reasons why that beautiful skyline is best seen from Top of the Rock.
You’re in the heart of midtown New York! If you have time to kill before or after, take a stroll past Radio City Music Hall, the ice skating rink, Magnolia Bakery, or Saks to see their infamous holiday windows. There certainly isn’t a lack of things to do around this area where the charm is always present. If you’re really intrigued with what midtown has to offer beyond Top of the Rock (and the history behind it all), consider a New York Midtown Walking Tour that includes your Top of the Rock ticket; It will help you learn about that concrete jungle you’ll be viewing from above.
From 70 stories above the city and only a glass panel between you and the horizon, you’re sure to get crystal clear pictures without those metal grates that the Empire State Building offers you. Speaking of, you’ll probably want to get the most iconic building in NYC in your photo (which means being on it may not be the best strategy). Skip the Empire State Building and take a gander at it from an angle you can appreciate.
This one is a biggie. Pretty much the equivalent to a Fast Pass at Disney World. Your ticket to Top of the Rock has a time for entry, come back from exploring New York at that time and take the next elevator up. It’s that easy. No lines, which is somewhat unheard of for general ticketed attractions in New York. You’re also able to stay on the deck for as long as you like although the typical stay is around 45 minutes. This is built into our Midtown Walking Tour, with entry time lining up right when the tour ends. Let us take care of the timing!
The going rate for a non sunset Top of the Rock ticket is $39.20 ($36 + tax). For sunset hours marked on their ticketing page, the total is $50.08 ($46 + tax). There is also an option to upgrade to “sun & stars” which allows you to visit once during the day and return after sunset. With this option, the ticket is roughly $59.
Sunset hours are clearly and more expensive, but worth it! Our midtown tours that end during sunset hours include a normal ticket price to Top of the Rock, so travel with one of our evening groups for a deal on your sunset ticket and a tour of the area!
New York is full of options for similar experiences, but for a view of the skyline you’ll want to get the absolute best. Be sure to pack your camera and your walking shoes if you’ll be joining us on a tour. Top of the Rock and Midtown are not to be missed when you visit New York!
If you’re looking for a food tour to explore some of Greenwich Village’s best eats, sit down and prepare to feast.
Living in the city these days means Caroline and I spend most of our time either working on our walking tours or eating at home to save money. We only treat ourselves to the delights of New York City eats every now and again. When the opportunity came up to take a food tour and explore the Big Apple through it’s Greenwich Village restaurants, we jumped at the chance.
Foods of NY Tours is an incredible local food tour business here in the city. They’ve been around since 1999, which means I was barely feeding myself when they began sharing the best food in New York City with the world. So they know a thing or two about food!
While they offer many different food tours around Manhattan and Brooklyn, we chose to join their Greenwich Village “Heart & Soul” tour because it’s one of their most popular experiences.
So What Was It Like?
Our day began with meeting our group at a classic Italian family-style restaurant in the heart of Greenwich Village’s bustling Macdougal St. Joanna, our guide greeted us and instantly made us all feel welcomed. She prepared us for what we were about to experience in the next three hours of our day.
PS… Joanna was a rock star guide who really made us feel like old friends!
After introductions, we headed to our very first stop, Cafe Dante. In an effort to not ruin the allure and surprise of the stops for you, this will be one of the few restaurants I will name in the review. You will have to join them on a future tour if you want to know all the fun stops first-hand!
We kicked off the many tastings with my personal favorite on the tour: Cafe Dante’s Burrata cheeseFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. with Sea Salt on honeycomb, cranberry, and pecan sourdough flatbread. If that doesn’t get your taste buds salivating then the photo below may.
One slice of this stuff was not enough for me, but I quickly learned to pace myself as we had seven more tastings to go. The burrata cheese was so soft and flavorful that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to traditional mozzarella ever again.
Once we finished with our first tasting, our guide Joanna took us around Greenwich Village. She shared not only the history about the food we were tasting, but also the surrounding areas such as Washington Square Park and the like.
From exploring the Village’s fast-casual Indian cuisine…
Exploring where to get the best coffee beans…
Finding a hidden gem to grab fresh spices, tea, and honey…
To all kinds of desserts and cookies…
Every fifteen minutes we were trying or exploring something new. It made the tour so endlessly exciting!
And last but certainly not least, we need to mention the empanadas. Those sweet, sweet Empanadas.
Caroline’s favorite and a close second fav for me were the empanadas from a place called Cuba.
There, we had a variety of traditional Cuban foods. The crust on the empanadas was perfectly crunchy and thick, while the fillings of spinach, cheese, and beef made for an almost out of body experience.
I wanted to eat more of these but at the tail end of the tour, my stomach was telling me that wouldn’t be wise.
After sampling more than ten different foods, I left this food tour stuffed and extremely satisfied.
Being a New Yorker, I often find myself getting stuck in a routine and forget that there are hundreds, no thousands, of new restaurants and activities I have yet to explore. This food tour was no different. Now Caroline and I have a list of Greenwich Village spots that we must return to for full meals.
At a price of $54 per person, this food tour doesn’t disappoint!
In fact, I am stunned at how affordable it was for just how much food you get during the tour. Alcoholic beverages are not included in the price, so be sure to bring an extra $10-$20 if you’d like to enjoy some wine or mojitos along the journey.
You’ve done it. You’ve booked your ticket to a winter wonderland, where the city never sleeps and pizza is always acceptable to eat. But how to create a New York Packing List for Winter? Your picturesque NYC Rom Com is just one packing item away from being totally disastrous (and cold).
Whether you’re not used to the frigid temperature or you have general packing anxiety, here’s a packing list that will keep your Frozen experience in a Broadway theater and not on the New York City streets.
New York Packing List Item 1: Comfy Walking Shoes
On average New Yorkers walk about 6 miles a day, and that’s without going on one of our NYC walking tour to make sure they don’t miss any of the essential city sights.
If you refuse to dress like a mom at Disney World (no shame in it!), leave your sneakers at home and start your winter New York packing list with some cute boots that will look good in all the photos. The secret is to make sure they give you arch support and a non-painful heel strike when you’re pounding the pavement.
My go-to boots are my ClarksFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. – They’re cute with a dress/tights or jeans and I can wander for hours in them!
If you don’t want to buy new boots, consider an insoleFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. that reduces your risk for shin splints. One hour on the concrete in your flat riding boots, and you’ll be quite a bit slower for your second day here!
Check the weather right before you head to the Big Apple. Even if there is a small chance of rain, DO NOT forget waterproof shoes! In New York, there is no escaping the rain (or snow) if you’re caught in transit. Trust me, there is nothing worse than knowing you have a day full of walking in front of you + wet shoes. A space hog, but an essential packing list item!
To save room in your suitcase, and a bit of effort when walking around, you’ll want to have ankle rain boots as opposed to full ones. Asgard bootsFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. are amazing, and you’ll fit right in with other New Yorkers wearing them! Don’t forget your umbrellaFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. either!
New York Packing List Item 3: Oversized Scarf + Hat
I know that not everyone is a scarf and hat person.
But in New York, you will be out of necessity. These two items are crucial for keeping you nice and toasty to stay outside and get your NYC bucket list accomplished. Here’s my strategy:
Choose a hat that’s a neutral color and can go with multiple outfits in your go-to Winter packing list. This way you can wear the hat all day with any of your outfits (because, beanie hair is real). The right beanie will keep you warm even if you’re wearing a tee shirt in the snow. Ear coverage is a game changer. My favorite is Eddie Bauer.
Two words – Blanket. Scarf. Go crazy with the colors here. To spruce up your Winter New York packing list, I prefer a nice plaid with some fall tones mixed in. The bigger the better, you’ll be thanking me long after your trip to New York.
If you have a rough Saturday night, just throw on this puppy with a plain long sleeve (or literally anything), some big sunglasses, and a top knot – Boom. You look like a movie star with no hangover whatsoever.
Life Hack – they’re warm too. Who said you have to be cold to look cute in those outdoor Central Park pictures?
New York Packing List Item 4: A Mary Poppins Bag (with pocket on outside)
No, not a literal carpet bag (well maybe). You need a bag that you can tote whatever you need without being uncomfortable.
When the sun comes out and that blanket scarf may be a bit much, stuff it in the bag.
Carrying a water bottleFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.? Stuff it in the bag.
Cliff bars so you don’t get hangry and start acting like Betty White pre-Snickers? (Also essential to your Winter New York Packing List) Stuff it in the bag.
Band-AidsFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. needed from ignoring my hint about comfy shoes? Stuff it in the bag.
Tip: Maybe bring a bag that has an easily accessible zipper pocket on the outside. You don’t have to go digging just to grab and swipe your subway metro card.
My suggestion is either a cross body bag or small backpackFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. so you can swing those arms and keep pace with New Yorkers’ walking speed.
New York Packing List Item 5: A Winter coat that you won’t hate outdoor pictures in
It’s going to be cold, but you don’t want to look like this:
You can’t go wrong with a classic peacoatFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. to pair with your hat and scarf. You’ll feel like a quintessential New Yorker in Winter. Get something that will dress up your park play-clothes, and only enhance your nicer dress for those Broadway shows.
Note: Be sure it’s actually warm, and you can fit a comfy sweater underneath. Things your mom always told you, but are actually useful!
Those are the bare essentials in our Winter New York Packing List. Now I won’t tell you what clothes to wear under all of these recommended items; That’s entirely up to you and the activities you’ve planned. My overall New York aesthetic tends to be functionally cute. You can never go wrong with leggings and an oversized sweater! Be sure to go on as many walking tours as you can, take a ton of pictures, and live in the moment. Check out some of our other guides (Read: How to navigate the NYC Subway) to see what to do when you get here!
Whether you’ve accidentally wandered too far north in Central Park, or live in the city and are just looking for new places to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Upper West Side (UWS) is a land of cute bakeries, shops, and adventures.
There are plenty of incredible options to get your sugar fix on the UWS, but we visited our top five favorite dessert locations even though we’ve been multiple times (just to be sure, you know?). Here were our thoughts on places you must visit:
Located at 69th and Columbus, this is only one of Magnolia’s locations (their original location is in West Village).
But don’t worry, it still holds it’s yummy quality and quaintness! Per their standard, you can always see their buttercream being made behind the counter and you are greeted by lovely, friendly bakers!
Although their cupcakes have been featured on Sex and the City and other TV Shows/movies, their most popular dessert is the banana pudding. Amidst a whole bakery full of the most beautiful cakes, cookies, and cheesecakes, we had to take the recommendation of the public and went with the classic banana pudding.
Let’s just say there is a reason it’s the most popular.
If you’re looking for a dessert that still feels somewhat light, but has a complete richness equal to your grandmother’s pudding (and grandma was a top-notch baker), this is your dessert. And it’s banana based, how bad can it be for you?
Levain. Le sigh. I have dreams about these cookies at night.
Weighing in at 6 ounces each, Levain’s perfectly gooey cookies are a dessert that will be in your memory forever. To give a little context, the two owners of Levain Bakery perfected their recipe while training for a triathlon, so be sure to exercise a whole lot after eating one (OR just don’t google how many calories are in one). Chocolate Chip Walnut is classic, but you cannot go wrong with any of the cookie flavors.
Spoiler alert: We make a stop here on our Upper West Side Walking ToursFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Buy a few, send some to your friends (they ship), shout it from the rooftops – they’re amazing!
Located at W 74th and Amsterdam, it would be easy for you to overlook the tiny basement bakery if it weren’t for the line stretching down the block. Well worth the wait though, and if you deem that it’s not, there’s a second storefront right around the corner. You’re welcome.
If you visit with a crimson rose and copy of Pride & Prejudice, you may just find love with other fans of You’ve Got MailFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you..
Aside from being famous for the scene where Kathleen Kelly tells Joe Fox he’s similar to the generation of cocktail waitresses with only first names, their desserts are as high quality as this movie.
Located at W 83rd and Amsterdam, their twinkle lights, large french windows, and adorable cafe atmosphere will entice you to sit and stay a while. Grab a slice of their cheesecake (or anything from their full cabinet of goodies), and you won’t be disappointed. They do a full brunch, have a full bar with boozy milkshakes, and even live jazz on certain evenings.
Sit. Snack. Sip. This is what every cafe experience should be.
This place is every little kid’s sugar heaven. If you visit, make sure you watch the Chef’s table episode on Christina Tosi (and have some crack pie nearby in case of a dessert craving emergency).
We popped into the W 87th and Columbus location of Milk Bar for the necessary cereal milk ice cream (add the crunchy toppings, worth it). Seriously, I could eat endless amounts of this stuff. The flavor keeps every bite interesting and you don’t feel sick after eating too much – dangerous.
This location is close to Central Park West, so if you’re visiting the park and want some quality ice cream on a hot day, do yourself a favor, and walk a little further than the normal ice cream stands.
(Also try everything on the menu, because it’s a dream)
This is not your run of the mill bakery. They are a small space with a lot of passion poured into their goodies. Their chocolate ganache cake will melt in your mouth, the loaves of bread are fresh, and the less likely goddess of their menu is the hot chocolate.
Located at W 105th and Broadway, you’ll be able to smell the loaves of bread at least three blocks away. If you’re grabbing something on the go before you start your walk in Riverside Park on a fall day, this will satisfy your sweet tooth and warm your belly. Pair with a cinnamon roll and heaven isn’t too far away.
If you’ve read this far, you can imagine how much pain we were in at this point. The things we do for you, active readers…
We know this isn’t every amazing dessert spot on the UWS, but we chose according to our palettes. Feel free to comment with your favorite! Happy sugar binging, and keep up that NYC walking speed to burn off the extra calories!
You see all these travel bloggers; Their beautiful adventures, perfectly angled, perfectly colored. They’re thin, beautiful, digging into some large exotic street food, enjoying a large brunch spread full of cheese, pastries, and lattes. WOWZA, you want that.
But I want to talk about what really happens on these trips, post-brunch. If you’ve been anywhere, even on vacation, you know what I’m talking about. Shitting… or lack thereof. How are there so many travel blogs out there without even the mention of it? Because for me, the inconsistency of pooping is the only consistent thing while traveling.
I embarked on my first long-term travel adventure last month, knowing full and well that even domestic travel put my sensitive digestive system at risk for constipation. Throw in a little jetlag and a whole world of new foods and I was set for complete catastrophe no matter how much water (or coffee) I drank.
When you’re sightseeing, hiking, beaching, enjoying a beer in an authentic pub, or in no man’s land looking at the glories of the world, you don’t want to be thinking about the last time you spent a solid amount of time in the bathroom (or the last time it was solid). Wondering “how long can I go without shitting before I die” isn’t exactly what I want running through my head when I’m trying to look cute in travel pics. But it’s somewhat unavoidable, so let’s chat about it, shall we?
First of all, this is a completely natural occurrence.
In fact, it’s an evolutionary trait dating back to our hunter/gatherer days. When you’re a real nomad (not the cute, insta-famous ones), hunting for animals, you probably don’t want a predator tracking your scent during your journey. So as soon as your body recognizes that you’re in a new location, it shuts down all colon activity.
Yeah, not so much when the bloating sets in after that lovely brunch spread.
Traveling is also stressful, and your tummy knows it.
Did you know that you have 100 million neurons in your gut? That’s more than in your spinal cord. So if you’re in a gross bathroom, stressed about missing your connecting flight, or overly exhausted from being in airports for 36 hours straight, your second brain in the gut is going to just say no.
Obviously, there are ways that you can keep on your merry loo schedule while you’re exploring.
A few tips (and reasons I failed – lesson learned):
A few days before the trip, I normally start packing my diet with fiber. Kale salads for dinner, spinach smoothies for breakfast. Being on a super consistent schedule leading up to your trip gives your body routine, which will be easier to follow.
I failed at this. Packing up your apartment, quitting your job, and leaving for two months led me to some serious stress eating. Constipation – 1, Caroline – 0
Water, Water, Water
As soon as you head to the airport, drink a bottle. Through security? Drink a bottle. Just chug them as often as possible. 8-hour flight? Doomsday. They offer free wine on the plane, and I just couldn’t resist. Then I landed in Europe where water fountains are not a thing, and who wants to spend money on water bottles? Constipation – 2, Caroline – 0
Keep it Moving
Exercise. And this is where it gets tricky. Unless you’re able to maintain the same type of exercise as you’re used to, your body has to adjust. Yes, you may be walking 10+ miles a day when you’re exploring, but if you’re adapted to doing yoga every day, that’s a very different type of movement. No, I’m not going to do yoga every day after wakeboarding and walking a marathon. Sorry. Constipation – 3, Caroline – 0
Fruits and veggies! And preferably fruits that have not been cooked into a jam, resting in the middle of strudel.
avoid eating the whole plate of pastries
Ha. Ha. Ha. You think I’m not going to try every pastry on this side of the world? In my defense, the salad culture that I’m accustomed to isn’t quite as popular outside of NY. Sure, we’ll go with that. Constipation – 4, Caroline – 0
Fast forward to our second stop on the trip and I’m getting desperate. Panic poop mode, if you will. After chugging about 6 bottles of water, I start pulling out all the stops for things that are my go-to’s:
Coffee: Ended up dehydrating me even more. Next.
Soft Serve Ice Cream: Flickering memories of my childhood, but still nothing.
Activia: If it works for Jamie Lee Curtis, why not me?
Kale: Okay, you know it’s bad when Kale doesn’t work.
And right when I was about to order some Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears, I realized that I was past the point of no return and it was time to fold. My boyfriend and I started a 3-hour long venture to buy laxatives. Let me tell you, you know it’s love when a man asks the convenient store worker for laxatives in Hungarian after using google translate on every box in the store.
Travel Tip: Most laxatives can only be purchased in proper pharmacies, not your average Walgreens. But have no fear, either buy them and pack ahead of time or purchase there, you won’t need a prescription!
So here are my recommendations (to pack & and to buy in emergencies):
Metamucil (To pack)
A gift from the heavens! For those with potential to reach a desperate situation, but able to catch it early enough. The equivalent of 5 kale smoothies ready to hit your digestive system in the form of fiber pixie dust.
Pro Tip: Since it’s orange flavored, mix it with some Emergen-C to get the total travel package.
This baby is technically a “stool-softener” but the sound of that title sends shivers to the insides of my colon. Let’s just say it loosens things up in a nice way without completely dehydrating you into a prune.
Pro-Pro Tip: Colace + Metamucil + Emergen-CFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.. You. Will. Be. Invincible. Go climb Mt Everest.
In short, these are not fun to talk about since they go in the opposite direction of how you want most bodily items to flow. But they work. I’ll let you decide how you feel about them. They aren’t for everyone.
Pro Tip: I say that you can pack these, but I could easily see them not being the best to travel with. Google it. Proceed at your own risk.
Dulcolax (To buy, available in lots of countries)
For those of you with the desperation level of wishing a solid dose of food poisoning on yourself. The normal version says to take it before you go to bed and things will start rattling about 6-12 hours after you take it. Convenient. Have your morning coffee and take a seat, my friend. This puppy works.
Pro Tip: Drink SO SO SO much water after. Lax attacks pull all the water in your body to aid the process and leave you feeling like a raisin. So if you get a headache a few hours later, just chug.
That’s the shitty side of traveling. The moral of the story is that it’s bound to happen, so let’s not pretend that it doesn’t (even to those pretty little #wanderlustgirls). Here’s to many more trips where laxatives aren’t the necessary option for you, but if so, pack in preparation and cheers to flushing!
Ireland is arguably one of the most picture-perfect summer road trip destinations. Come to Ireland to see breathtaking scenery, come for the friendly people, come if you want to slow down and get lost in the beauty of the simpler things in life: a cup of morning tea with fresh milk, a stroll through the market stalls, a self guided tour of abandoned castles, a laugh with friends over a pint at the local pub… the list goes on.
Ireland Road Trip Routes
You could easily spend an entire week in Dublin alone. But what’s the fun in staying in one city when you can rent a car and explore some back roads? Best of all, it’s possible to drive across the entire midsection of Ireland from the East coast to the West coast in about 2 hours.
When deciding the best route for your Ireland road trip it is going to be a tough call! Northern Ireland is known for its epic landscapes: dramatic cliffs, picturesque blue sea, and mythical rock formations. No wonder Game Of Thrones shoots scenes there! The capital, Belfast, is trendy with loads of history. It’s also home to the Harland and Wolff shipyard, the construction site of the Titanic.
However, if you are traveling from Dublin up to Northern Ireland things can get complicated. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom and you will need to pass through border patrol, pay in Pounds instead of Euros, and spend extra on rental car fees.
My advice for first-time visitors would be to start in Dublin, head down South, and make your way to the West coast. You will be able to see a number of world-famous sights, get a taste of traditional Irish cities, and discover your own hidden gems along the way.
Ireland Road Trip Itinerary
For your road trip, I recommend that you give yourself a minimum of 7 days to complete the itinerary that I’ve put together. If you’re tight on time, then adjust your route as needed because let’s be real… any number of days in Ireland will be well worth it!
Day 1 – Dublin
Explore the shops of the Temple Bar neighborhood, watch live music at Dublin’s oldest pub – Brazen Head, or take a brewery tour at the Guinness Factory.
Day 2 – Kilkenny
Visit the grounds of the Kilkenny Castle, wander down the Medieval Mile, and grab a pint at Smithwick’s brewery.
Day 3 – Cork
Follow in the footsteps of Winston Churchill and kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle, sample lots of delicious foods at the English Market, and admire the local architecture.
Day 4 – Cork with day trip to Kinsale
Check out the abandoned castles and abbeys along the winding country roads, stroll along the Kinsale harbor, and sit down for some Fish & Chips at Dino’s Family Restaurant…Yum!
Day 5 – Cliffs of Moher
Depart early to beat the crowds that flock to the Cliffs of Moher to admire the stunning landscapes that make it Irelan’ds top natural tourist attraction.
Day 6 – Galway
Navigate the buzzing side streets, check out the local artist markets, and listen to the many street performers.
Day 7 – Dublin
Eat a traditional Irish breakfast, stop by Trinity college, and people watch as you walk down the River Liffey.
How to Rent A Car In Ireland
In Ireland and all of the U.K. you sit on the opposite side of the car AND drive on the opposite side of the road. That took me a few days to wrap my head around.
I can still hear my family reciting “Hard left! Wide right!” every time I turned at an intersection. Although nerve-racking at first, I guarantee you’ll feel an indescribable sense of accomplishment when you master driving in a foreign country.
To rent a car in Ireland you will need to provide a valid driver’s license, passport, and credit or debit card. Our total transportation costs were around $500 or $83 per day including the cost of gas and a 6-day car rental. After a quick comparison of rental car companies, we decided to go with Europcar because of its proximity to our hotel and low prices. Overall we received great customer service and a good-as-new rental.
Two tips that could save you big money when renting a car in Ireland is the type of vehicle you choose and whether you purchase rental insurance. In Ireland and most countries in Europe, rental cars are almost exclusively manual. Learning to drive stick shift will save a lot of money. The associate helping with our rental told us that an automatic car would have cost us 2x the daily price of a manual one. It’s also common to pay an extra daily charge for adding drivers to the contract.
Rental insurance is another added expense that you may not need. A little-known fact is that many U.S. credit card companies already provide rental car protection free of charge.
I suggest researching online or calling your credit company to see if your card includes rental car insurance benefits. I personally use the Venture from Capital One because of its many international travel perks and low annual fee.
When To Go On A Road Trip in Ireland
The high season for Ireland runs from June until September. The sun was shining for the majority of our trip in July but we still wore layers because of the unpredictable weather. It was noticeably more difficult to find accommodations during the peak season and for the budget traveler, there may be some initial sticker shock when looking at hotel prices.
Although prices will be high when you get to Ireland, you can find super cheap $300 round trip flights to Dublin by searching Norwegian or WOW airlines.
Truth be told, I hate planning in advance. Two months before our trip, I struggled to secure accommodations because nearly everything had already been booked. With a lot of searching, I still managed to find some last minute steals for around $120 a night for 3 people staying in either an Airbnb or Bed and Breakfast.
Don’t wait until the last minute like I did. Plan your accommodations several months in advance and you will have a much easier time finding affordable lodging!
The most budget-friendly accommodation in Ireland is either a hostel, Airbnb, or Bed and Breakfast. Dublin was by far the most expensive city on our trip. For Dublin, I recommend trying to book a place near downtown so you can be within walking distance of the many city attractions.
If you are traveling during the summer months and are looking for a unique budget-friendly experience, stay at Trinity College. You will be in the heart of Dublin, the campus is iconic, and the prices are fair.
As expected, it is much easier to find reasonable lodging prices in Cork and Galway. Don’t be afraid to stay a bit further out of the main downtown areas and book a place in the countryside. It’s generally a better value and more spacious – plus you’ll have easy parking access and get to experience the local way of life.
What to Expect On Your Ireland Road Trip
On your journey around this magical country, you’ll see why Ireland is a bucket list destination! If you are doing your road trip right, you’ll get a little lost along the way. You don’t need to plan every detail of your trip. Our best days were the ones we didn’t plan. Other than accommodations and flights, make the trip an adventure and see where it takes you.
Don’t be shy! Make sure to ask for tips from your hosts or other local acquaintances that cross your path.
Irish people are friendly and like to have a good time. Strike up conversations with the locals and if they suggest you visit a hidden gem or restaurant in the neighborhood then there’s a 100% chance you should go check it out.
Side note: when you do go out to eat, you can choose to tip servers 10% at a nice restaurant and it is not necessary to tip bartenders or taxi drivers.
Except for the occasional nasty bits of weather that Ireland is infamous for, there isn’t much to complain about. Pack a raincoat and some extra warm layers or just drink lots of Guinness.
Iceland has a surprisingly strong connection to major films and tv shows for an island country with one of the smallest populations. Smash hit TV shows such as Game of Thrones and major superhero movies like Thor: The Dark World and Batman Begins were all shot in Iceland. There is also a collection of critically acclaimed Icelandic movies. We created a list of the films and shows to watch before you go to Iceland to get a taste of the scenery, and have that magic moment where you step into your favorite movie moments in real life.
Game of Thrones has dozens of filming locations in Iceland. On our Life Nomading trip to Iceland, we are staying on the Laxa I Kjos where Drogon burns the sheepherder and his sheep. If you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, we recommend you do! It’s kind of hard to jump into it as the plot is intricate and intertwined. However, if you are familiar and want to catch some Iceland scenery, almost any episode beyond the wall or at the wall is shot in Iceland.
Noi, The Albino
Country of Origin: Iceland Filming Location(s): Bolungarvik
IMDB Rating: 7.4
Noi The Albino is the most critically acclaimed Icelandic film with over 20 awards. The movie follows Noi who is either a genius or the village idiot. His big dreams of escaping the remote fishing village for which he grew up in rubs some townspeople the wrong way. Including the father of the girl he romances, who is less than enthused by the whole ordeal. He willfully fails in school and attends classes not in person, but through a tape recorder placed at his desk. Tomas Lemarquis, who plays Noi, went on to act major Hollywood films such as X-Men: Apocalypse, Snowpiercer, and Bladerunner: 2049. This quirky film is one of the best Icelandic movies of all time and is a must see whether you are going to Iceland or not.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Grundarfjörður; Stykkishólmur; Vatnajökull
IMDB Rating: 7.3
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an adventure inspiring film any way you slice it. It is not only an ideal movie to watch before going to Iceland, but also a good movie to watch before any vacation. It follows Walter Mitty on an epic adventure that changes his life and results in major updates to his online dating profile. Several scenes are shot in Iceland with full utilization of the surreal Icelandic landscape. It didn’t get the best reviews from critics, but audiences gave it a thumbs up. It’s an epic adventure for the soul and the eyes.
Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Skaftafell; Vatnajökull; Öræfasvei.
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Most of the scenes set in Tibet were shot in Iceland. While this is often considered the worst movie in the Batman Dark Knight trilogy, it is still a great movie and the beginning of the best Batman trilogy. Most of the Iceland footage is in the part of the film where Batman trains with the League of Shadows in Tibet.
James Bond: Die Another Day
Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Jökulsárlón
IMDB Rating: 6.1
Die another day is one of several James Bond movies shot in Iceland. This is probably one of the most famous scenes, where 007 makes an epic escape in a pimped out Aston Martin. Not much of the movie is shot in Iceland, but what it has a ton of action and an excellent utilization of the landscape.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): Vatnajokull
IMDB Rating: 8.8 The force must be active in Iceland. Many star wars movies shot in Iceland – including the two newest films to the franchise: Force awakens and The Last Jedi. In The Empire Strikes Back, all the scenes set on the ice planet, Hoth, are filmed in Iceland.
Country of Origin: United States
Filming Location(s): All Over Iceland
IMDB Rating: 6.0 Land Ho! is almost exclusively filmed in Iceland. A film professor recommended this movie for the list, and it is an excellent movie. It has tons of Iceland footage and explores all around the country. It tells the tale of an Englishman who gets coxed into an Icelandic road trip vacation with his ex-brother in law who is a wealthy southern businessman from the USA.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Country of Origin: Iceland/United States
Filming Location(s): Jökulsárlón, Breiðamerkursandur
IMDB Rating: 5.8 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is one of many major Hollywood movies shot in Iceland. There are several Iceland filming locations including the excellent destination of Jokulsarlon lagoon. While watching the movie note the pars set in Siberia, all those scenes filmed in Iceland.
Country of Origin: Iceland/United States
Filming Location(s): Iceland – Unkown
IMDB Rating: 7.1 The movie Everest which is based on a true-life story was filmed in Iceland. While this may not be a full-blown Icelandic film, it is directed and produced by the Icelandic director, Baltasar Komakur. It follows two mountaineers that make a successful ascent of Mount Everest only to encounter a deadly storm. It stars Jake Gylennhaal and Josh Brolin. It is difficult to determine which scenes were shot in Iceland, but it was reported they shot there for over a month.
Thor: Dark World
Country of Origin: Iceland/United States
Filming Location(s): Thingvellir national park, Landmannalaugar, and Vatnajokull IMDB Rating: 7.0 Norse gods and Thor, the god of lightning, descend from Nordic traditions. It only makes sense for a Thor movie to film in Iceland. Several scenes are shot in Iceland and it is said that the background for the city of Odin, Thor’s home, is taken from Icelandic landscape.
If you want to checkout Iceland for vacation don’t miss out on these awesome opportunities to step into the screen and see where your favorite film moments took place.
Iceland’s weather can be unpredictable, and to figuring out the best time to go and what to pack for Iceland can be difficult. One thing you can be sure of for most trips to Iceland is that it’s going to be chilly and wet. During our last trip to Iceland, it lightly rained the whole time. Our list below covers all the basics from required items like a waterproof jacket to the nice to have things like rain pants.
If you are looking for a specific summer Iceland packing list or winter Iceland packing list, look no further. This list is designed to be comprehensive, and we even detailed the weather patterns based on temperature and hours of sunlight so you can make the most informed packing decisions.
Weather In Iceland
Let’s briefly review the weather. The average is around freezing (32 Fahrenheit, 0 Celcius), with the highs in summer approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit(27 Celcius) and lows in winter at 28 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celcius). What you need to be more worried about is the number of hours of daylight. We created an infographic that has a good summary of the weather below.
Winters are surprisingly mellow with the normal January temperature in Reykjavik (- 0.5°C/31°F) like New York City or Hamburg. It isn’t surprising to see snow in October or April, yet it rarely remains on the ground for more than a couple of days.
The average July temperature in the southern part of the island is 50–56 °F. Some summer days can go up to 68–77 °F. Summers in Iceland can be delightfully warm in addition to the unique Midnight Sun which gives 24 hours of light and the fervor of midnight golf, or early morning club escapades.
Pack light! Having a checked bag lost can ruin a trip to Iceland as most trips are short and buying stuff on an island is expensive! Try to fit all your stuff in a carry on if possible – it will make your life easier and prevent any lost luggage events eating into your vacation time! If you are having packing space issues here are five tips to help!
Think water resistant! If there were a theme that could be applied to anything you pack this would be it! From boots to jackets – water resistance is key for a pleasant, warm, and comfortable trip to Iceland!
Let’s take a deeper look into why we deemed some of these key items as required. Technically all of these items may not be “required,” but they are if the plan is to see the best of what Iceland has to offer: Hot springs, amazing outdoor landscapes, and ice caves.
Hiking the amazing landscapes and ice caves in Iceland are must-do activities. Pick up some waterproof hiking boots to do it all with dry feet. Almost any brand of boot made of Gore-TexFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. works well, as it is more breathable than a rubber boot but also waterproof.
We recommend layering up with a thick rain jacket or getting a waterproof winter coat. While it can be snowy, having enough layer can prevent needing a full-blown arctic hiking coat – unless you plan to hike in Vatnajokull. We previously detailed the best rain jackets for men, if you are a guy looking to grab one for an Icelandic trip. All in all, after talking with our fellow avid outdoorswoman and outdoorsmen we found that Marmot coatsFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. we’re consistently mentioned as a highwater proof coat.
Iceland uses to Europlug, so any adapter that has a European outlet adapter should work. A universal adapterFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. can be picked up online for less than twenty dollars. The outlet in Iceland is two round plugs and typically slightly indented into the wall.
Grabbing a water-resistant backpack or a waterproof backpack cover is a great idea. Transportation in Iceland is costly so carrying your daily essentials to reduce trips is ideal. On our last trip there it rained the entire time. Having a waterproof backpack will make any Iceland trip much more comfortable.
Let’s review why some of these key suggested items can be so helpful, even though they may not be vital for an Iceland trip.
Depending on when you go – it could be snowing. If you plan to go up north into the highlands, you will undoubtedly encounter snow. Grabbing a pair of light gloves is ideal, and if the plan is to hike in the highlands or go ice caving, then snow gloves are recommended. Pick up a pair of touchscreen gloves so the touchscreen on the phone will still work.
Stay on the go and don’t worry about having to find a plug by bringing an external charger. Having an external charger in Iceland is important because most trips are short and transportation is expensive. Bringing an external charger will prevent trips home to charge and derailments of plans due to dead phones.
A winter hat is another useful clothing item for an Iceland trip. Think of it as another layer that is easier to take on and off. With all the outdoor activities and different weather depending on location (highlands vs the black sand beach), It is nice to have a piece of clothing to warm up that is easy to store and put on.
A good pair of socks will come in handy. The padding in the socks protects from blisters when hiking and keeps your feet warm. Smartwool socks or any other merino wool socks make the best winter socks hands down.
Taking melatonin can keep sleep cycles intact. Most trips to iceland from the USA are redeyes, but even from other places a time change is likely. melatonin is a natural sleep aid that can be used to help sleep on the pain or at night if jet lag is keeping you from falling asleep.
It’s time to buy that awesome gift for your globetrotting friend – or yourself :). We have tested and tried tons of products over the last year, and this list is a culmination of that. When you are looking for the best gifts for adventure travelers, it’s important to keep a few key things in mind: durability, size, portability, and utility. The best gift is rugged enough to brave the outdoors but also useful and convenient.
Maxracy International Travel Power Adapter
I have been using the Macracy international power adapterFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. for a good time now and have really enjoyed it. I put away my USB adapter and use this exclusively. It is super convenient for traveling to other countries – or just around the house. You can plug in two USB devices and a laptop all through one plug. It is super handy for travel or at home.
This inflatable lounge chair rolls up into a small portable bag. The lounge chair does not require a pump and is easy to inflate. It is great for trips, and it even floats. I took mine with me hiking, and it was amazing after a 4-hour hike to be able to lounge at the top and get some rest.
Slacklining is fun, portable, and good for your health. Find a nice park or a beach with some coconut trees and you are set for hours. A slackline doesn’t take up too much space in a bag and is pretty light. The BYA slackline is a good beginner slack line.
The Tribit XSound Go portable outdoor Bluetooth wireless speaker is an awesome buy for any adventure traveler. This is a speaker, that you can easily take with you. For how small it is, it packs a punch and it lasts for 24 hours of playtime on one charge! Also, if you weren’t sure by the look of it – it’s super rugged! I have been testing it in the shower, and even submerged it in the bath, and it still works great a few weeks later.
The DJI Mavic pro is just small enough that it rarely sets off any issues at customs (Drones are a hot issue in foreign countries) with no performance sacrifices. It’s a top drone, and what we use for our videos. If you are want something similar, but cheaper see the sparkFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you..
Most people don’t know Ewen McGregor wrote two awesome books detailing his motorcycle adventures around the world with his friend Charley Boorman. Aside from tracking an epic journey on a motorcycle from the UK to New York, it also explores life lessons and what they learned on the road.
A waterproof Bluetooth speaker that floats? What more can you ask for? Perfect for pool parties, and a few brews in the lake with your buds. Start a party anywhere, even underwater. IPX7 waterproof rating, shockproof, dustproof, and can play up to 10 hours of continuous music on one charge.
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolph Potts is an awesome book. It explores the alternative lifestyle of a vagabond and details his lessons learned and stories on the road though. The book also includes budgeting tips and tricks to finance your 6-week to 2-year journey Vagabonding around the world.
While traveling the world you almost always encounter dust, bad smells, and sweaty situations. Having microfiber bandanas is an awesome tool to help with all these problems. It can be used as a headband, dust shield, sweatband, helmet liner, and many more things.
A waterproof dry bag is a must-have for any beachgoer or boater. I used mine for the last year and it has saved my expensive electronics countless times, while on the road. Another bonus is that they float. This package also comes with a bonus phone bag!
The Sunland microfiber travel tower takes up little to no space in your bag and has huge value. It comes in handy after a surprise rain, or when staying at a cheap hotel that doesn’t include towels. It drys very fast, and is super absorbent and is a great gift for travelers!
Smart wool socks use a special technology that helps prevent them from holding odors. They are breathable, can be worn a few times, and helps keep your luggage from smelling bad. They have multiple levels of thickness from winter socks to athletic socks. These are great gifts for hikers!
Merino Wool T-shirts make great gifts for adventure travelers. The material promises that it reduces odors, and can be re-worn several times without a wash. They have short sleeves, long sleeves, and shirts for both men and women.
Waterproof hiking pants area great gift for any outdoor enthusiast. They are thick enough to provide some basic protection from water, brush, and small tree branches but breathable enough to be comfortable. I have a pair of these that have come in handy on numerous motorcycle rides and hikes. Let’s be honest, sitting in soaking wet clothes is awful.
A waterproof notebook is great for travelers. It can be used to take notes without the worry of water ruining all your hard work. It is important to note, that you will need a space penFull Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. to write on the paper underwater and in the rain.
Audible is an amazing gift for travelers. It gives you access to thousands of books on audio for a low monthly cost. This is perfect for downtime or those moments when you are stuck waiting in line at the airport. While you are at it, you might as well give yourself the gift of a 14-day free trial.Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
The Spark is all you could one from a drone packed into a small package. It includes all the things DJI is known: Amazing controls, high-quality camera, brand recognition, and a great battery. While it doesn’t have the battery life or performance of the Mavic Pro, it’s a smaller and cheaper alternative.
A camp stove that charges your USB devices. This is quite possibly one of the most useful camping tools anyone could ever have. I am currently saving up to take one on my next adventure. This little thing can keep you warm, help you cook food, work as a fire starter, and charge your devices all at the same time.
You don’t need thousands of dollars to travel the world to become globally competent. A travel blog and tour company telling you that you don’t need to travel the world seems counterintuitive. However, at Life Nomading our passion for travel is driven by our desire to understand different cultures, bridge gaps between people of different backgrounds, and forge into the darkness that is uncertainty.
Story by Oliver Crocco:
Global competence is often times a pleasant side effect of traveling the world or living abroad. It gives you a rare perspective of looking from the outside in at your own country and culture. Having that perspective to view things in your own country from a different angle will make you more relatable and help drive successful relationships with diverse people in your life and career.
What about people who don’t have the privilege to travel internationally or work abroad?
Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP talks a lot about the importance of respect, and authors of Being Global, Unruh and Gabera write that to become a global leader requires a “do-it-yourself mind-set.” So here are four ways I’m learning to help foster respect for other cultures by intentionally seeking out global experiences at home.
Connect with refugees in your area
After college in Spokane, WA, my housemates and I volunteered with a refugee resettlement organization and housed refugees from different countries for 1-3 months at a time. Over the course of the year, we had a family from Bhutan, several individuals from Eritrea, and a man from Iran. We would pick them up from the airport, help them get settled, and teach them how to get around town. Most of them could not speak English or knew basic things about America – like that we flush our toilet paper. Still, they loved sharing their culture with us and were grateful to be in the U.S. One of the members of our house even opened a thrift store business in Spokane (Global Neighborhood Thrift) and employs dozens of immigrants from all over the world. There are powerful ways to volunteer with local refugee organizations or big INGOs like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and it can be extremely rewarding.
Find a popular second language in your area and begin learning some words and phrases
For many of us in America this might be Spanish but it could also be Amharic (Ethiopia), Mandarin, French, etc. Then, when you meet someone who speaks that language, do your best to speak a few words of their native language with them. It is a humbling experience to fumble through and perhaps botch a foreign language – even just “hello” and “thank you.” I recently learned how to say “thank you very much” in Amharic (betam ameseginalehughn) considering the amount of Ethiopians in D.C. There is a community-building energy that comes with doing so, and I believe it demonstrates a level of respect that we need more of in our globalizing world.
Attend cultural events
I live in Washington, D.C. so there is absolutely no shortage of cultural events to attend. From the Thai Temple in Maryland (Wat Thai D.C.) to the Embassy nights and ethnic restaurants, there are many ways to engage with other cultures. This is obviously not true everywhere in the U.S. but there are more and more ways to interact with others cross-culturally popping up. In 2014, I went to the Saudi Arabian Embassy with a Saudi classmate. He has since become one of my best friends and we have had countless deep (and sometimes tough) discussions about culture, religion, and global leadership.
Go out to lunch, coffee, or even ask to be mentored by someone in your organization who has a different cultural upbringing than you.
In Caligiuri and Tarique’s 2012 article “Dynamic cross-cultural competencies and global leadership effectiveness,” the authors discuss having a mentor from another country as one of the indicators for cross-cultural competency. I am sometimes wary of mentoring relationships because of the power distance inherent in them but I like the idea of seeking out relationships with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds in your organization. My mentor, colleague, and friend, Dr. Maria Cseh, is originally from Hungry and I’ve learned a lot about Eastern European culture (and much more!) from our many discussions.
Even if we work on global teams, have multiple international assignments, and speak other languages it does not mean that we will become globally competent. We must always push ourselves to be curious about our global surroundings wherever we are in America or abroad. It requires a humble willingness to learn and see things from other perspectives.
The reward? A certain richness and color to life – and a global sense of belonging.