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Lucca, Italy: Most Charming City in Tuscany!

The enchanting city of Lucca is a real travel highlight in Italy. Situated halfway between the popular cities of Pisa and Florence, this little town is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Tuscany. A walk through the historic old town reveals many beautiful attractions, picturesque alleys and charming squares. The landmarks here are Torre Guinigi, the famous tower with the trees on top and the imposing 4 km long city wall, one of the best preserved in Europe. But also the surroundings of Lucca are really lovely and invite to go on exciting excursions.

In this travel guide we give you all the important information & tips about Lucca in Italy. Furthermore, we show you the best things to do in Lucca, the most beautiful pictures and where you find the best places to stay.

Good to know!

There are some amazing things to see around Lucca, so a few days here are definitely worthwhile. The beautiful old town of Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Garfagnanada Valley and the snow-white Carrara Mountains are all within easy reach.

Moreover, the city is only located about 30 kilometers from the coast. Beautiful beaches near Lucca can be found, for example, in the chic seaside resort of Viareggio, where a pretty promenade also entices tourists to come.

Around Lucca there is a great choice of accommodations. The popular Ai Santinelli, a charming pension with a nice pool and parking lots, is really recommendable.

Really fantastic city tours, as well as bike tours, cooking classes and wine tastings are offered on GetyourGuide. Perfect if you are looking for a special Tuscany experience.

General information about Lucca

The city of Lucca with a population of around 90,000 is located in the west of Tuscany and is the capital of the province of Lucca. This city is known for its textile industry, for its excellent olive oil and for its historic old town, which is still surrounded by a well-preserved city wall. Lucca is also known as the “city of 99 churches”. And really, almost at every corner at least one small church is hidden. But the most important attraction is the tree-covered tower Torre Guinigi, which towers majestically over the roofs of the historic city.

The history of Lucca dates back to the Etruscan period, in the 8th century B.C. Later, the Romans came and founded a Roman colony in 177 B.C. From the 3rd century onwards, the first city wall was built, although remains from this period can still be seen today. Later in the 16th century this Roman wall became a huge fortification.

 

Best Things to Do in Lucca

In Lucca you can expect a multitude of fantastic things to do and there are countless other attractions besides the famous city wall, the many churches and the high towers. The charming landscape in the surroundings with picturesque gardens and villas also holds surprises in store for you. Here is a summary of the best things to do in Lucca:

San Michele in Foro

One of the most beautiful attractions in Lucca is the church of San Michele in Foro, which is located on the old Roman marketplace. This magnificent church dates back to the 12th century and was built by the famous architect Diotisalvi. Unique here is, above all, the snow-white exterior façade in Carrara marble, which is decorated with countless details, playful columns, cornices and rosettes. Inside you can admire a rather simple Romanesque architectural style. The cross made in 1200 and the terracotta Madonna and child on the side altar are interesting to see.

Around the church building is the Piazza San Michele with its countless cafés and restaurants, which invites to linger. Just like in the Roman times, Piazza San Michele is still the center of public life today!

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is one of the most beautiful places to see in Lucca and its ambience is truly unique in Tuscany. This picturesque square was founded on the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater and, thanks to the beautiful restoration, it spreads a mix of historical charm and pure Italian feeling! Beautiful is the ensemble of oval-shaped yellow townhouses, which form a round courtyard with countless cafés and restaurants. One of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful square in Lucca!

Tip: Recommendable here is the ice cream parlor “Gelateria Anfiteatro Lucca“, which offers extremely tasty ice cream varieties from their own production.

Torre Guinigi

Another highlight and probably the most important attraction of Lucca is the tower Torre Guinigi.  This 44-meter-high tower, planted with trees, has a significant impact on the cityscape and climbing the tower is one of the most popular activities during a city trip. This so-called gender tower is one of the last from the Middle Ages. At that time, in the early 14th century, more than 250 of these towers had been built in this city.

Unique are the centuries-old holm oaks on the top of the tower, which owes its special appearance to the Guinig Tower. By planting the trees, the then patrician family Guinigi was able to proudly call their tower the highest tower of Lucca.

Tip: Still today you can climb Guinigi Tower. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a fantastic view over all of Lucca.

Lucca Cathedral

The Cathedral of San Martino was built between 1196 and 1204. Today it is one of the most beautiful church buildings in the city. It is located on Cathedral Square, near the southern city walls. The façade, richly decorated from the outside, is uniquely beautiful but the interior of this cathedral church with its impressive ceiling mosaics is also worth a visit.

Here you can see precious monuments such as the sarcophagus of the Ilaria del Carretto by Jacopo della Quercia from 1406, which is a true masterpiece of the early Renaissance. Also the crucifix Volto Santa, which was carved from Lebanon cedar, is worth seeing.

Lucca City Walls

Probably the most important place to visit in Lucca is the imposing, completely preserved city wall. It has a length of about 4 kilometers and completely surrounds the historic center. Several gates, including 6 ancient city gates, grant entrance to the city. In some places the city wall is even up to 10 meters high and offers beautiful viewpoints over the roofs of Lucca. Really beautiful is the circular path running above, which is a real recreation center thanks to the many trees. In the past, the wall was used as a defense system, but today it is a popular place for joggers or to take a long walk in the fresh air.

Tip: If you want to visit the Lucca City Wall, it is best to rent a bicycle or a family tandem and cycle around the historic center. A fun experience at a reasonable price!

Palazzo Pfanner

One of the best things to do in Lucca is a visit to Palazzo Pfanner, especially if you are interested in beautiful gardens and palaces. This imposing building was built in 1660 for the wealthy Moricani trading family. However, the palace is named Pfanner after its current owner, who has owned the property since the middle of the 19th century.

Visiting the palace makes you feel as if you travelled back in time, especially when you walk through the picturesque ornamental garden and through the historic rooms of the palace. The heart of this complex is the square with the beautiful fountain in the middle of the garden, which is decorated with countless statues and flowers.

Palazzo Mansi (National Museum)

Palazzo Mansi is located in one of the most magnificent mansions in the city and is a true jewel in Lucca. Now a national museum, it is possible to visit the beautiful rooms, decorated with precious frescoes, ancient furniture and tapestries. The most important monuments here are the Salone della Musica (Music Hall), the Hall of Mirrors and the extensive Art Gallery with impressive paintings from the collections of the Medici and the Grand Duchy.

Puccini Birthplace

One of the most famous sons of the city is world-famous Giacomo Puccini, who has the title “the greatest composer of Italian operas after Verdi”. He was born in 1858 in the Casa di Corte San Lorenzo, where today the Puccini Birthplace Museum is located. Here, various collections of old photographs, opera costumes, textbooks, manuscripts and other documents of Puccini are exhibited. A real highlight for all Puccini and opera fans.

Tip: Puccini was once a regular guest at Caffé Di Simo in Via Fillungo. Even today, you can still enjoy a lot of nostalgic flair here because much of the former interior has been preserved.

Church Chiesa di San Frediano

The church Chiesa di San Frediano was built at the beginning of the 12th century and is one of the oldest churches in Lucca. Of particular interest here is the impressive mosaic on the front of the church, which depicts the “Ascension of Christ”. This church can also be visited from inside. It houses, among other things, the glass sarcophagus of Santa Zita, who is still the patron saint of the city.

The small square Piazza S. Frediano is also very charming, with cozy cafes and restaurants great to enjoy a break.

Torre delle Ore (Clock Tower)

One of the most beautiful viewpoints of Lucca can be found on the top of Torre delle Ore, the so-called clock tower. The climb is quite strenuous, but once you reach the top you have a fantastic view far beyond the historic center. A real highlight is also the clockwork, which still works and strikes the bell on time.

Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden forms a small green oasis in the middle of the center. It is located on the southeast side of the old town and covers an area of two hectares. The history of the park dates back to 1820, when it was built at the request of the former Duchess Maria Luisa of Lucca. Even today, botany fans marvel at a whole variety of plants, medicinal herbs and flowers. But the highlight for many tourists is the small lake, where countless turtles cavort.

Piazza Napoleone

During a city walk through Lucca, a detour to the beautiful Piazza Napoleone, also known as Piazza Grande, should not be missed. This beautiful square had also been the center of political power in history. Even today the buildings of the provincial administration, like the Palazzo Ducale, still occupy a large part of this square. Especially in the summer months, many cultural events and concerts take place here, including the Lucca Summer Festival and the Italian Speciality Market.

Sortie San Paolino

An insider tip for Lucca is the underground tunnel system of the city wall, which is located in the south-east of the old town, at the so-called Sortie San Paolino. The special thing about it is that it regularly hosts cultural events and exhibitions, which gives this passageway a unique atmosphere.

Villas & Gardens of Lucca

All around Lucca, nestled in a hilly landscape, there are precious villas with magnificent gardens to explore. Some of these pompous complexes have been renovated and can be visited as a museum today. Probably the most beautiful and impressive is Villa Reale di Marlia. The villa has a splendid garden, which is decorated with countless small lakes, pavilions, statues, a grotto and impressive flower gardens.

Other interesting villas near Lucca are Villa Mansi, Villa di Camigliano, Villa Torrigiani, Villa Garzoni, Villa Grabau and Villa Olivia.

Ponte della Maddalena (Devil’s Bridge)

Another important monument in the surroundings of Lucca is Ponte della Maddalena, the so-called devil’s bridge from the 14th century. This arched bridge is a 30 minutes’ drive from the city center and is a popular photo spot along the Serchio River. Many combine a visit to the bridge with a trip to the Garafagnana mountain range.

 

Where to stay in Lucca

In the old town of Lucca, but also in the surrounding area there is a fantastic choice of accommodations. From budget hotels to apartments, bed and breakfast and agritourism with pool, everything is available. If you are looking for a recommendable accommodation in Lucca, then we can give you these accommodation tips…It’s worth a look!

Boutique Hotel: The Lucca in Villa Lucrezia is a small, cozy boutique hotel with private parking and a super central location. Also the breakfast is delicious!

B&B: The B&B Il Giardino Del Pettirosso is a small bed and breakfast that scores with charming rooms and free parking, only 300 meters from the city wall.

Hotel in the old town: The San Luca Palace is a small hotel in the historic old town. Here you stay in a lovely palazzo with incredible flair! Breakfast is also top of the bill here, leaving nothing to be desired.


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Wat Pho: Reclining Buddha Temple in Bangkok

Wat Pho in Bangkok, or better known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the most important Buddhist temple complexes in the Thai capital. On a temple tour you will discover many beautiful things: colorfuly decorated chedis, golden Buddha statues, a massage school, beautiful mural paintings, stone statues and many different temple buildings. In case you get tired, you will even have the opportunity to relax while having a temple massage. The ultimate attraction of the Wat Pho temple, however, is the approximately 46-meter-long sleeping Buddha, which attracts thousands of visitors every day and so a visit is one of the best things to do in Bangkok.

This blog post is a guide about what to expect when visiting Wat Pho temple in Bangkok. In addition, we give you all the important tips on tours, history and opening hours and prices.

Good to know!

A visit to Wat Pho is worthwhile in any case, because it is one of the most beautiful temple complexes of the city and one of the most important temples in Bangkok.

A strict dress code is required for a visit to Wat Pho. When choosing clothes you should consider that knees and shoulders are covered. Open shoes are allowed.

In the immediate vicinity of Wat Pho are some of the best places to stay in Bangkok. Very recommendable are the Chakrabongse Villas, a true oasis of peace, which are perfect for exploring thanks to their great location.

General information about Wat Pho

The official name of the Wat Pho temple is actually Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchawaworamahawihan. But locals and tourists always call him by his short name Wat Pho. This beautiful temple is located directly in the historical center of Bangkok, not far away from the river Chao Phraya and the ferry station Tha Tian. The highlight and the most important attraction of the temple complex is the 45 meter long Reclining Buddha, but many more interesting things to see will await you during a visit to the temple.

The history of Wat Pho in Bangkok goes back to the 17th century. The temple was built 1688-1703 in the Ayutthaya period. At the end of the 18th century it was restored and extended under King Rama I for more than 10 years, between 1789 and 1801. In further consequence there were renovations for 16 years under King Rama III. Today it is a Royal Temple of the First Class.

 

Visiting the Wat Pho Temple

On a visit to Wat Pho in Bangkok, you will enjoy unbelievably beautiful highlights. In addition to the well-known main attraction, the resting Buddha, many more amazing things are waiting for you. About 100 chedis, beautiful belfries, a small museum, the massage pavilion, mystical stone statues and countless golden Buddha statues are just a few of the other interesting attractions of this famous temple complex.

Tip: The best time to visit Wat Pho is early morning from 8:00 am. At this time you can escape the crowd and take some really amazing pictures. From 10:00 am it gets really crowded.

Stupas & Chedis

Across the entire temple area, you can see various beautiful stupas and chedis. The 5 chedi Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn are with a height of 42 meters the largest ones. Beautifully decorated with different colored Chinese mosaics, they are one of the main attractions in Wat Pho. But also the 71 smaller 5 meter high stupas (Phra Chedi Rai) are remarkable. They contain the ashes of the royal family and are located around the monastery and temple buildings.

The Buddha Statues

Also, amazingly picturesque Buddha statues are located at Wat Pho. Very interesting is the Phra Buddha Lokanat, a standing Buddha in original Sukhothai style. But also the 150 statues inside the monastery and the 244 buddha statues on the outside are beautiful and offer magnificent photo opportunities. Another attraction is the Phra Buddha Chinnasri statue, which was brought by King Rama I from the city of Lopburi.

Main Temple of Wat Pho (Phra Ubosot)

The main temple of Wat Pho is not, as many believe the Viharn of the reclining Buddha, but it is the Phra Ubosot. This building is the holiest site in the temple complex and the place where the monks perform their most important ceremonies. Inside the Phra Ubosot you can see a beautiful seated Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Theva Patimakorn, perched on a three-tiered golden pedestal decorated with crystals. With a little luck you can watch the monks praying there.

The Reclining Buddha

The main attraction and best thing to see of Wat Pho is the Reclining Buddha, the Phra Buddha Saiyas. Visitors are thrilled by this approximately 46 meters long and 15 meters high golden Buddha statue. The Reclining Buddha is the largest sleeping buddha Bangkok and the 3rd largest in Thailand. The recumbent position symbolizes the entry of the Buddha into Nirvana – the end of all rebirths. The Buddha consists of bricks, which were covered with plaster and then painted in gold. Especially beautiful are the 3 m high and 4.5 m long feet of the Buddha. The soles of the feet are ornately decorated with mother-of-pearl.

But not only the reclining Buddha is interesting, the entire temple hall with the impressive mural paintings and the many golden bowls is very lovely.

Massages

Another highlight in Wat Pho are the professional temple massages. Right in the temple area there is an excellent medical and massage school, which is even considered to be the cradle of traditional Thai massage. Perfect if you want to have a massage during a long sightseeing trip through Bangkok.

The prices are a bit higher than somewhere on the beach, but for that you get top quality. An hour Thai massage or foot massage at Wat Pho costs around 600 Baht. The reservation takes place directly on site.

How to get to Wat Pho

Wat Pho is located in the Old City of Bangkok, very close to the Royal Palace and Wat Arun. For a sightseeing tour, you can easily combine these 3 sights. Just remember for getting from Wat Arun to Wat Pho you will have to take the boat.

From the river, it is best to reach the temple by express boat at Tha Tien stop. From there it is only a few minutes’ walk to Wat Pho.

Of course, you can also reach the temple by taxi, but for a cheap price make sure the taximeter is switched on. The temple is not yet connected to MRT or BTS.

Opening Hours & Entrance Fee

Wat Pho is open daily from 08:00 am to 6:30 pm. The best time for visiting is either in the morning or just before the temple closes.

The entrance fee is 200 baht per person. With the admission ticket a small bottle of water is included.

Temple Tours

Another great option is to visit this temple as a part of a guided tour. Such temple tours are really popular in Bangkok and a great way to see a lot in one day and to learn so much about the interesting facts. Here are the best tours in town:


Find the best Accommodation and Hotel in Bangkok:

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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


 

Wat Arun: Guide to the Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun in Bangkok, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, is located on the western side of the Chao Phraya River. Due to its amazingly beautiful architecture and the most iconic location right on the river, a visit is a must do on every Bangkok trip. Besides that, also the boat ride for getting there is overwhelmingly beautiful and a unique Bangkok experience. Particularly scenic are the approximately 70-meter-high pagodas that characterize the riverside, and which are beautifully lighted at night. Many consider Wat Arun as one of the most beautiful temples in Bangkok and so a visit is highly recommended.

In this travel guide we give you all the important information about Wat Arun, how to get there, costs and opening hours. Of course, we share our experiences, give you useful tips and show you the most beautiful images of this temple jewel.

Good to know!

A visit of Wat Arun is worthwhile in any case, because it counts to the most interesting and absolutely best things to do in Bangkok.

Right in the surroundings of Wat Arun there are some of the best places to stay in Bangkok. Very recommendable is the small, lovely hotel Sala Arun with a cool cafe, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the temple.

For the visit of Wat Arun one should pay attention to appropriate clothing. The dress code says: knees and shoulders must be covered! Open shoes and flip-flops are allowed.

General information about Wat Arun

The full name of this temple is actually Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamaha Wihan. Locals and tourists call him, however, always with his short name Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn. This beautiful temple complex is located on the western bank of the river Chao Phraya and can easily be reached by river ferry or cab. On the opposite side is the famous Wat Pho and also the Wat Phra Khaeo.

The history of Wat Arun goes back to the Ayutthaya era. But at that time this temple was called Wat Makok, translated the olive temple. The name of the today’s temple was named after Aruna, the Indian god of the dawn. Therefore also temple of the dawn. Architecturally the temple is based on a representation of Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. In the first half of the 19th century, the temple was restored by King Rama II, and the towers, which were only 16 meters high at that time, were raised to about 70 meters.

 

Things to see at Wat Arun

For a perfect visit to Wat Arun you should plan some time, because the temple area is a quite large and so there are many beautiful buildings, pavilions and statues to discover. The best time for a visit is in the morning or late afternoon. At this time it is most quiet and idyllic.

The Entrance of the Ordination Hall

A particularly great place to take amazing Wat Arun images is the famous archway with the crown, which is the entrance to the Ubosot. The two huge statues, the Yakshas, ​​are beautifully decorated and give access to the ordination hall of the monks. Go there early and you will have this scenic area to yourself.

The Main Temple

This area of ​​the temple complex is considered the holiest part of Wat Arun. Especially the beautiful corridors with the Buddha statues made us fall in love with this lovely temple. Additionally, there are amazing photo opportunities – no wonder that it is considered to be one of the most instagrammable places in Bangkok! Another highlight of the temple is the marble-clad courtyard. Numerous Chinese stone sculptures show lions, dragons, warriors and other mystical figures.

Tower Phra Prang

Wat Arun is famous for its beautiful Phra Prang. This landmark of Wat Arun is a 70-meter-high temple tower, a stupa-like pagoda. Even from afar you can see it shining brightly in the midday sun. This white temple is decorated with beautiful mosaics of porcelain and shells, which make up thousands of floral patterns. Steep stairs lead up to the temples and it’s hard to believe that this dizzying ascent was once allowed to be climbed by visitors. Today, you can still visit the Phra Prang but climbing the temple is forbidden.

Sunset at Wat Arun

Wat Arun at sunset – you can hardly experience anything more magical than this temple. Opposite, on the other side of the river, you will find several rooftop bars from where you can admire the best view of the temple. The absolute best view of the Wat Arun for watching the sunset you will definitely have from the roof terrace Eagle Nest in the hotel Sala Arun, one of the best of the rooftop bars in Bangkok.

From up here one can take beautiful pictures of Wat Arun and enjoy the sunset from 6:00 pm. Wat Arun is really amazing to see at night when the temple is brightly illuminated.

Tip: Also not hotel guests can visit the bar Eagle Nest of the Hotel Sala Arun.

Opening Hours & Entrance Fee

The Wat Arun opens daily between 08:00 am to 5:30 pm. The best time for a visit is before 10:00 am, because at this time one can count on rather few visitors.

The entrance to Wat Arun is in principle free of charge, however, if one would like to visit the famous temple tower Phra Prang, then an entrance of 50,- Baht per person has to be paid at Wat Arun.

How to get to Wat Arun

This temple is located very centrally near the most important attractions of Bangkok and so the journey to Wat Arun is relatively uncomplicated. The best way is to organize a cab and to get to the Tha Tien Pier near Wat Pho.

Afterwards you best take the ferry from the Tha Tien Pier. This ferry takes you to Wat Arun for only 3 Baht. The boat trip does not take long, but it is still a wonderful experience.

Tours

Another option to visit Wat Arun is as part of a guided tour. Bangkok temple tours are becoming more and more popular. They are a great way to see a lot in only one day. Click here for the tours:

 

Conclusion: The Wat Arun in Bangkok is definitely one of the most beautiful temples in the city and one of the things for what is Thailand famous for. Its architecture, the pretty decorations and the unique location next to the river make this temple a Must-see Temple in Bangkok.


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Wat Saket: Golden Mount Temple in Bangkok

The Wat Saket temple, or better known as the Golden Mount in Bangkok, is a Buddhist temple in Thailand located in the district of Pom Prap Sattru Phai. This impressive temple complex is certainly one of the most beautiful attractions in Bangkok. A 318 steps pathway leads up to a marvellous golden Chedi and from the top you will get spoiled by scenic ambience. Here, from the terrace you can enjoy a breath-taking panoramic view across the rooftops of Bangkok. The ascent to Wat Saket is also worth the effort; beautiful bells, mystical statues and the many details make this temple really worth a visit.

In this travel guide we have summarized the most important information about transport, opening hours and entrance fees for the Wat Saket. In addition, you get some amazing insider tips for an unforgettable visit to the Golden Mountain!

Good to know!

The best time to visit Wat Saket is either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Also popular is a visit towards evening, where you can admire a fantastic sunset from the temple above.

Right in the surroundings of Wat Saket there are some of the best accommodations in Bangkok. Not far away is the cool Old Capital Bike Inn, a family-run small hotel with a chic design.

The dress code at Wat Saket is not quite as strict as in other temples of the city. Nevertheless you should pay attention to appropriate clothing. Important: Knee and shoulder must be covered.

 

Wat Saket – Golden Mount Temple

The Wat Saket in Bangkok is located at a height of 79 meters and is know to be one of the best temples in Bangkok. In order to reach the top of the temple 318 steps have to be climbed. Honestly, it`s not that tiring, the low steps are easy to walk. The way up is really idyllic! Take some time for the walk and enjoy the beautiful surrounding. You will pass exotic plants, beautiful Buddha statues, small streams and also some bizarre figures. Especially lovely to see are the bells of Wat Saket, which are part of the prayer ritual.

It is also interesting that the full name of the temple is actually Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan. But locals and tourists always call him by his short name Wat Saket. Also as the temple of the Golden Mountain or as Golden Mount Temple it is often known.

At the top, the mood is just magical! Such an amazing place of peace and quietness. Only the small bells  ring in the wind and only the monks’ prayer ceremonies can be heard out of the speakers. A large golden chedi is located right in the middle of the upper platform and you can watch the faithful as they circle them with their offerings. The meditative silence invites to linger for a while, so make sure you take your time for the visit. Without a doubt, the absolute highlight of the temple is the brilliant view all over Bangkok.

But the absolute highlight of the temple is without question the brilliant view over Bangkok. From up here you have a 360 degree panoramic view over the roofs of the city.

Tip: This viewpoint is especially popular in the evening. From here you can experience unforgettable sunsets!

History

The history of Wat Saket goes back to the time of the Ayutthaya Empire from 1350-1767. Once the temple was located outside the city walls and in the 18th century it was used as a cremation site and later as a dumping place for the approximately 60,000 plague victims. Because of the bad smell in that dark era, people made a large turn around the temple. It was not until the reign of King Chulalongkorn that the Golden Mount was completed. Today, this temple is an important pilgrimage site for believers and undoubtedly one of the most popular temples in Bangkok.

Festival

Every year, during Loy Krathong, the Wat Saket Temple hosts a huge temple festival in November. During this time, the golden chedi is covered with a red cloth and candle lights line the temple entrance. At the foot of the Golden Mount there are many stands and food stalls. From early evening until late at night believers come to attend the festival at Wat Saket. During that time, you should visit the temple early in the morning, as it will be full later on!

How to get to Wat Saket

Getting to Wat Saket is uncomplicated to organize. The temple is located in the historic centre of Bangkok, just 2 km walk from Khao San Road, but cannot be reached by metro or BTS.

Also, you could get there by public bus or with the inexpensive taxis. Another option is to get to Wat Saket by boat: Take the stop at the pier (Phanfa Bridge Station) at the Golden Mount Temple.

Opening hours & Entrance Fee

The opening hours of Wat Saket are from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm, all week from Monday to Sunday.

The entrance to Wat Saket is not free for tourists. The price is currently 50 Baht per person and has to be paid in the cashier’s house at the entrance of the temple.


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Umag in Croatia: Comprehensive Travel Guide

The Town in Umag is probably one of the most popular holiday destinations in Croatia. It is located in the north of Istria and delights travelers with its charming old town, the numerous interesting attractions and the beautiful surroundings with many fantastic places to visit. Along the coast, you will find really beautiful beaches and lovely bays where you can unwind completely. In the hinterland of Umag there are small romantic mountain villages, picturesque vineyards and green olive groves that embellish the landscape.

In this guide you will find all the important information about the best things to do, beaches and excursions for Umag in Croatia. We also share our experiences, the best recommendations for hotels and accommodations and show you what you can experience during your holiday.

Good to know!

In Umag you can expect many beautiful bays, which are perfect for swimming from around May to October. Even the magazine National Geographic chose Umag as one of the 10 best summer destinations worldwide. Here you can continue to the most beautiful beaches of Umag.

Umag offers a wide range of sports possibilities and was even awarded the title of European Sports City in 2018. Cycling, mountain biking, tennis and golf are just a few of the most popular activities you can do during your holiday here.

Campsite fans also appreciate it here, especially the spacious Camping Park Umag with its pool landscape, beautiful beaches, cool mobile homes and glamping tents.

General information about Umag

Umag is situated in the north of Istria, not far from the Slovenian border, and is therefore also known as the “gateway to Croatia”. Thanks to its ideal location and, of course, its unique flair Umag has become one of the most popular destinations in the country.

The holiday region consists of a picturesque old town and of the many holiday villages that have settled around the center. On a coastline of about 45 kilometers, a true holiday paradise awaits you, including great beaches, top accommodations and magnificent landscapes in the hinterland.

 

Highlights & Old Town in Umag

Uniquely beautiful and one of the best things to do is a visit to the picturesque old town in Umag. The history of the town center goes back to ancient times and was later discovered by Roman noblemen. Even today, remains of the town walls and towers can be admired during a stroll through the enchanting historical old town, which was also greatly impacted by the Venetian style.

Beautiful and definitely worth a visit is the picturesque seaside promenade with the Croatian stone houses, where fantastic restaurants and cozy cafes with a wonderful view of the sea are lined up. Here you will also find the small city beach Dante, where you can cool down a little.

The main square, Trg Slobode, is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the city center. Here you will find some cozy cafés and very good restaurants where you can enjoy local dishes in a fabulous atmosphere. But the most important attraction there is the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, whose free-standing church tower St. Pellegrinus offers a view over the entire old town of Umag.

The small romantic stone alleys are also enchanting, forming a labyrinth in the old town with small restaurants and wine bars. The alleys then also lead to the town’s museum “Gradski Muzej”, where various archaeological exhibits from the Roman period are displayed.

Lighthouse Savudrija

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Umag is the Savudrija lighthouse, which is situated about 9 kilometers from the town center. This building was built almost 200 years ago by the architect Pietro Nobile from local white stones from the coast. The lighthouse, which is almost 36 meters high, is beautifully situated on a cape whose wild and romantic rocky beach is perfect for a few relaxing hours of swimming by the sea.

Sunsets on the beach Savudrija

Only 300 meters south of the famous lighthouse is the beach of the same name Savudrija, another attraction of Umag. Typical here are the boats hanging on wooden pillars, which have become a landmark of the region. A real insider tip is a visit in the evening during sunset, when a splendid play of colors forms in the sky.

The sunken city Sipar

The sunken city Sipar, one of the most beautifully situated archaeological sites in Istria, is only about 4 kilometers from Umag. It lies on a narrow headland near the Polynesia beach and can be reached by a walk at low tide. Based on the archaeological remains, it can be said that the area in and around Sipar had already been inhabited in the early Iron Age. Later, the Romans established a settlement here, the remains of which can be admired today in the Umag Museum.

 

Best Beaches for Holidays in Umag

In Umag you will find some beautiful bathing places. Most of them are pebble or well-kept concrete beaches, but there are also beautiful hidden bays and sandy beaches that invite to have a swim. Here are the most popular beaches in Umag, which are ideal for a holiday.

Beach Punta

One of the most popular places to spend your summer holidays in Umag is the Punta district with the beach of the same name. This is a beautifully arranged sandy beach partly with concrete areas and small pebble coves. Thanks to its central location, a short walk along the coastal promenade will take you to the historic old town and the port in just 1.5 kilometers. Punta has also some fantastic accommodations, such as the popular Hotel Sol Sipar.

Beach Laguna Stella Maris

The beautiful Laguna Stella Maris is another popular beach in Umag. This beautifully designed lagoon is located in the Resort Stella Maris, a holiday village with apartments, restaurants and many sports facilities. The ATP stadium “Goran Ivanisevic”, where the ATP tennis tournament takes place in July, is also in the immediate vicinity.

Beach Canova Park (Camping Park Umag)

The beach Canova Park in Camping Park Umag is very popular among campers. In this huge 4-star campsite you will find everything a camper’s heart desires: pool facilities, restaurants, mobile homes, glamping and numerous beautiful beach sections, which score with crystal clear water and top water quality.

Sandy beach Zambratija

The beach Zambratija is a real insider tip for those who are looking for a natural sandy beach in Umag! Especially families with children appreciate this place. The sea here is crystal clear and very shallow, so you can wade through the water. The best way to spend your holiday here is in one of the privately run holiday apartments.

Beach Polynesia

Beautiful and another beach highlight is the picturesque Beach Polynesia just north of Umag. Here a real dream beach with almost kitschy turquoise sea colors awaits you. Next to it, on a headland, is the sunken city of Sipar, a Roman excavation site with an exceptionally beautiful scenery.

Best excursions around Umag

Thanks to its good location, you can discover some of the best attractions of Istria in the surroundings of Umag. Here are the most beautiful trips you can make during your holiday:

There are many charming mountain villages around Umag: Motovun, Grožnjan, Buje and Hum – the smallest town in the world – are just some of the highlights in the hinterland.

Another great excursion destination is the famous Baredine Cave, but also the smaller Mramornica Cave is really worth visiting.

Especially popular with families are the Aquapark Funtana and the Dinopark Funtana, which are both only about 40 minutes away from Umag.

Also the picturesque coastal towns Novigrad and Porec are not far from Umag and are really worth a trip.

 

Where to stay in Umag

In Umag there is a very good offer of hotels, resorts and private run apartments. Many of these accommodations are in top locations directly by the sea, which is especially appreciated by sun-seeking beach holidaymakers. We have compiled our accommodation recommendations here… It’s worth a look!

  • Hotel by the sea: The Hotel Sol Sipar for Plava Laguna ranks among the best hotels in Umag. Here you can enjoy a top location directly by the sea, delicious breakfast and lovely rooms.
  • B&B: The B&B Carmela is a beautiful pension with clean and nice rooms. They also offer a varied breakfast.
  • Apartment: The tasteful Apartments and Rooms PUNTA are situated in a quiet area. The harbor, the old town and some lovely beaches are within walking distance.
  • Holiday Home: We also recommend the Holiday Home Old Barn, a very well equipped typically Istrian stone house with 3 bedrooms and pool.

Find the best Accommodation in Umag:

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More about Istria in Croatia:

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


 

Top 15 Amazing Things to Do in Pisa

The city of Pisa with its world-famous Leaning Tower is without question one of the most important places to see in Italy. However, not everybody knows that there are many more exciting things to do in Pisa. A picturesque old town, the fantastic scenery along the river Arno and interesting museums are only some of the important attractions that you should not miss during a vacation in Tuscany. Furthermore, the beautiful beaches of Pisa invite to spend a few relaxing days by the sea.

In this travel guide we have summarized all important information & tips about Pisa in Italy. We also show you the best attractions, the most amazing beaches and where to stay during your vacation in Pisa.

Good to know!

For many visitors, standing on the top of the Leaning Tower is one of the highlights during a trip to Tuscany. Since access is limited, you definitely should reserve your ticket for the Tower ascent online days in advance.

In Pisa and the surrounding area there is a great choice of accommodations. The Rinascimento Bed & Breakfast in the center is highly recommended. Also the B&B Borgo di Pratavecchie with pool just outside the city is a great choice!

Also near Pisa there are many other interesting things to see! The beautiful old town of Lucca, the snow-white Carrara Mountains and the long sandy beaches of Viareggio are just a few of the most beautiful places to visit.

General information about Pisa

The city of Pisa, with its 91,000 inhabitants, is located in the western part of Tuscany. The most important attraction here is, of course, the Leaning Tower, which makes Pisa one of the most famous places to visit in Tuscany. Pisa is also a popular student city. Almost half of the inhabitants are students, which gives the city a youthful flair. In the charming alleys you can find a lot of stores to do some shopping, casual restaurants and cool cafés, which also attract with low prices.

The city is located near the coast, only 10 kilometers away from the sea and the pretty beaches. A popular seaside resort here is Marina di Pisa, where beautiful beaches invite to swim. Unique are also the surrounding natural parks, such as the Natural Park Migliarino San Rossore, which give the very industrial Pisa a green touch.

 

Best Things to Do in Pisa

During a trip to Pisa there are a lot of beautiful attractions to discover. Some only visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What a pity! The charming old town as well as the surrounding area offers countless other fantastic places to see. So that you don’t miss anything during your vacation, here is a list of the most amazing things to do in Pisa.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is probably one of the most famous attractions in Italy and a visit is part of nearly every trip to Tuscany. It is located in the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli, the so-called Square of Miracles, where, in addition to the famous bell tower, there are various other attractions. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, about 55 meters high, is not only a popular photo motif; during a visit you also have the opportunity to climb this architectural wonder.

It took almost 200 years, from 1173 to 1372, to build this tower, although it was during this time that the inclination had already begun. At first it leaned towards the north. Then it started to sink into the south direction during the further construction in 1272. Finally, for safety reasons, it was renovated from 1990-2001 and straightened 4 degrees. Together with the cathedral, the baptistery and the cemetery, the Leaning Tower is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and of course, one of the best things to see in Pisa!

Tip: You can save time and energy with buying an online ticket, because the queue to climb the tower is usually very long. Especially in the high season, tickets can be sold out days in advance!

The Pisa Cathedral

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, also known as the Pisa Cathedral, is one of the most beautiful attractions in the city. It is situated in the huge green Piazza dei Miracoli and together with the Leaning Tower and the Baptistery it forms a fantastic ensemble that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Like the Campanile, this pompous church had been worked on for about 200 years.

The outer appearance of this building is stunning and the inside of the cathedral is also worth seeing. Here you can marvel at precious marble columns, frescos, mosaics and altar paintings. You should also see the pulpit by Giovanni Pisano from the early 14th century.

Tip: Admission to the cathedral is free and included in the tower ticket!

The Baptistery

Another interesting thing to do in Pisa is a visit to the Baptistery, an imposing building located next to the Cathedral and in the square in front of the Leaning Tower. With a diameter of 33 meters and a height of about 54 meters, this church is the largest baptistery in the world.

Already impressive from the outside, a visit to the interior is also interesting. During a tour, you will see the beautiful baptismal font, which Guido Bigareli da Como built in the 13th century. Furthermore, a “John the Baptist Statue” and a picturesque marble pulpit can be admired.

Tip: Don`t miss to go up to the upper gallery of the building wherefrom you will enjoy an amazing view.

The Monumental Cemetery

The Camposanto Monumentale, or Monumental Cemetery, is another very interesting attraction in Pisa. It is located on the edge of Piazza dei Miracoli and can be perfectly combined with a visit to the Leaning Tower. This imposing cemetery was built in 1277 and, according to a legend, the courtyard is filled with sacred soil from Palestine. Inside you can visit an elongated cloister with round arch arcades.

Especially unique here are the frescoes that have been decorating the walls since the 14th century. The Triumph of Death and the World Court of Francesco Traini and Bonamico Buffalmacco are only some of the most important works of art that can still be admired today during a tour of the Monumental Cemetery.

The Cathedral Museum

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is the Cathedral Museum of Pisa and, above all, absolutely worth seeing for art and culture enthusiasts! It is located in a former convent from the 15th century and was completely renovated in 2019. Here you will find numerous art treasures from various eras, which come from the surrounding buildings of the cathedral district. Highlights here are the sculptures of famous artists from the 11th to 16th century, such as the Madonna and Child by Giovanni Pisano.

Tip: There is a café on the upper floor from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. A real insider`s tip!

Piazza dei Cavalieri

The Piazza dei Cavalieri, or Knights’ Square, is one of the most charming places in the historical center of Pisa. Here you will find unique buildings and monuments from the Renaissance: the Palazzo dei Cavalieri – built in 1560 by the architect Giorgio Vasari, the oldest palace – “Palazzo della Carovana” which today is an elite university, the church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri and not to forget the beautiful clock palace Palazzo dell’Orologio.

Botanical Garden

A small oasis of the city is the Botanical Garden of Pisa. It was founded in 1544 by the botanist Luca Ghini and is the oldest botanical garden of a university in the world. The entrance fee is moderate and there are all kinds of beautiful things to see, especially for botany fans. Various species of cacti, agaves, an evergreen magnolia, date palms, bamboo and the two oldest trees in the park, a ginkgo biloba and the magnolia grandiflora, both dating back to 1787, are just a few of the green highlights.

River Arno & Church Santa Maria della Spina

During a city walk through Pisa, a detour to the banks of the Arno River should not be missed numerous other attractions wait for you. A stroll along the riverbank will allow you to marvel at the countless colorful townhouses and palaces, but many museums have also settled here.

If you cross the historical bridge Ponte Soferino, you directly end up at the church Santa Maria della Spina, a charming little church from the 13th century. Also interesting is the Palazzo Blu, a lovely palace from the 14th century. Also worth seeing is the naval museum “Museo delle Navi Antiche di Pisa”, which is dedicated to the history and archaeology of the city of Pisa.

Carthusian Monastery of Calci & Natural History Museum

A real insider tip among the most beautiful places to see near Pisa is the Carthusian monastery about 10 kilometers away. An absolute must visit here is the Natural History Museum, which was founded in 1596 and is one of the oldest museums in the world. The exhibits are more than comprehensive and can easily keep up with the huge natural history museums of the big cosmopolitan cities!

In more than 400 years, curiosities from all over the world have been collected here, well sorted and are now exhibited on an area of 5.000 m². Among the absolute highlights here are the exhibitions of bears and wild animals, but also the gigantic collection of birds.

The heart of the museum, however, are the giant whale skeletons on the top floor, which you hardly see anywhere else. Even a blue whale skeleton over 30 meters long is on display here.

Migliarino San Rossore Nature Park

The Migliarino San Rossore Natural Park, with a surface area of 24,000 hectares, is a true natural jewel in Pisa. Just 6 kilometers from the city center, this natural attraction delights visitors with its beautiful landscapes, through which countless cycling and hiking routes run. Famous in this park is the long Tuscan avenue, which invites you to go on long walks down to the sea. There you will also find some natural beaches to swim, since this section is still one of the few undeveloped coastlines along the Italian Tuscany!

The variety of animals living there is also unique. With a bit of luck, you can observe red foxes, deer, wild boars or even wolves in their natural habitat.

Beaches in Pisa

Also worth visiting are the many fantastic beaches of Pisa. The most beautiful part is for sure at Marina di Pisa, about 10 kilometers from the city center. Here you will find a very special ambience with pastel-colored beach houses and snow-white pebble bays. The sea is deep blue and crystal clear and truly invites to take a dip in the cool water. It’s also fantastic that all beaches here are open to public and therefore free of charge! Behind the beach there are also some good accommodations, such as the Sea Breeze Apartment, perfect if you want to combine sightseeing in Pisa with sun, beach and sea.

A little further south, towards Livorno, the sandy beaches line up, which are especially preferred by families with small children. The individual beach sections are divided into private beach baths, the so-called Bagnos. You need to pay a fee, but they are equipped with sunshades and sunbeds.

 

Where to stay in Pisa

In Pisa and its surroundings there is a fantastic offer of accommodations. From well-priced hotels, to vacation apartments, comfortable B&B and villas with pools, everything is available. If you are looking for a recommendable accommodation in Pisa, we can give you these tips…It’s worth a look!

  • B&B in the old town: The Rinascimento Bed & Breakfast is a lovely place in a prime location, which impresses with its comfort and cleanliness, but also with its delicious breakfast.
  • Hotel with pool: The Villa Scorzi – Residenza d’Epoca – con piscina is a real insider tip! The property is situated in a quiet area, just outside of Pisa and enchants with a wonderful garden and a beautiful pool.
  • Budget-friendly Hotel: The Hotel Di Stefano is located in the center and offers rooms with a good price-performance ratio. Fantastic is also the view from the roof terrace to the Leaning Tower.
  • B&B: The Vecchio Granaio is a wonderful starting point to explore Pisa and Lucca and to visit the beaches around.

Find the best accommodation in Pisa:

 Booking.com


More places to visit in Tuscany:

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


 

Pitigliano: Charming Tuff Stone Town in Tuscany!

The picturesque little town of Pitigliano is probably one of the most charming highlights of Tuscany. Situated on a high tuff rock, it towers majestically over the narrow, green valleys of the Maremma. Here the extremely picturesque townscape with its brown-red stone houses built close together up to the rock face is particularly fascinating. The most important attractions in Pitigliano are the medieval stone alleys of the historic old town, the small museums and the Jewish quarter. But there are also many exciting things to do in the area around, thanks to the rich Etruscan heritage!

In this travel guide we give you all the important tips and information on Pitigliano in Italy. We also show you beautiful pictures, the best things to do and where you will find fantastic accommodations.

Good to know!

The most amazing viewpoint of Pitigliano is on Via San Michele near the cemetery. In this street you can also park your car and only in a few steps you are in the old town.

It’s worth spending some days in this region! Because there are other interesting attractions in the surroundings, like Sorano, Sovana and the Saturnia Hot Springs.

Especially popular for a vacation is the fantastic choice of agritourism accommodations in the surroundings of the city. The Agriturismo Eco-Bio Villa Vacasio with its beautiful pool and delicious food is highly recommended.

You should try the white wine grown in Pitigliano, the so-called “Bianco di Pitigliano” and the delicious Sfratto, a Christmas pastry with a sad history.

 

General information about Pitigliano

The town of Pitigliano, with a population of around 4,000, is situated on a tuff rock about 300 meters high, surrounded by the deep canyons of the two rivers Lente and Meleta. In addition to these natural gorges, there are also many Etruscan cave paths around the city, the so-called Vie Cave, which were carved into the stone by human hands thousands of years ago. There are also numerous archaeological sites of the Etruscan necropolises in the area, which are witnesses of this period.

The history of the city goes back 3,500 years to the Etruscan period and it was first mentioned in a document in 1061. In the Middle Ages, Pitigliano was ruled by the noble family Aldobrandeschi, later from 1312 onwards by the Orsini and from 1604 by the Medici, during which time the Jewish Ghetto was also established.

 

The Best Things to Do in Pitigliano

A visit to the medieval town of Pitigliano is considered to be one of the best things to do in Tuscany and is therefore a highlight of every trip. During a stroll through the alleys of this picturesque old town there is a lot to discover, but also the surroundings with the Etruscan cave paths and the necropolis are interesting and worth seeing!

Old Town Walls

The old town of Pitigliano is partly surrounded by a medieval wall with historical gates, such as the beautiful Porta della Cittadella providing access to the center. At the lower end of the town, a few steps lead down to the Porta di Sovana, another medieval town gate. Just before you get to it, there are some remains of the Etruscan city wall.

Also impressive is the old Medici aqueduct from the 17th century, which with its round arches dominates the cityscape. At that time, it was the first of its kind to be built in the entire Maremma region.

Fontana delle Sette Cannelle

The Fontana delle Sette Cannelle fountain and its surrounding Piazza della Repubblica are among the most important monuments of Pitigliano. This beautiful ornamental fountain dates back to 1545 but was not named Fontana delle Sette Cannelle until the 18th century. Also interesting is the adjacent Medici aqueduct, from which this historic fountain draws its water.

Orsini Palace

Palazzo Orsini is a former defensive complex built by the Aldobrandeschi family in the 12th century, which then became the property of Orsini in 1312. The latter transformed the castle complex and had the high walls joined together. Today Palazzo Orsini houses the Bishop’s see, the Museum of Religious Art and the Municipal Archaeological Museum. Paintings, sculptures as well as goldsmith art can be viewed in the 21 rooms.

Exploring the Old Town Alleys

The car-free old town of Pitigliano is crossed by 3 alleys: The central Via Roma, Via Vignoli in the center and the southern Via Zuccarelli. A stroll through these alleys is the best way to let yourself go and discover a lot of interesting things. Picturesque are especially the ancient stone houses made of the red tuff stone of the region and the many plants and flowers that decorate the alleys.

Jewish Quarter

One of the most important attractions in Pitigliano is the Jewish quarter. In the 16th century, Jews who were expelled elsewhere found a second home thanks to the ruling Orsini family. The coexistence of Christians and Jews was so harmonious that Pitigliano was known as Little Jerusalem. However, after the Medici took over power in the 17th century, the Jewish quarter became a ghetto, including night curfews and persecution. Today, a tour of the museum allows visitors to see the beautiful synagogue, a bakery, the laundry and the wine cellar.

Tip: Some bakeries of the city sell Sfratto dei Goym. The name of this sweet pastry refers to the forced evictions of the Jews and is a popular Christmas pastry today.

Cathedral of Pitigliano

The history of the Cathedral “Santi Pietro e Paolo” goes back to the Middle Ages. Today it has a beautiful late baroque façade and is one of the most important monuments of Pitigliano. The church is also interesting from the inside, where art lovers can admire two works of Pietro Aldi. The Campanile was once a city tower in the Middle Ages and still rises over the beautiful old town.

Piazza S. Gregorio VII

One of the most charming squares in Pitigliano is the picturesque Piazza S. Gregorio VII, which is located at the end of Via Roma and in front of the cathedral. Here you will be enchanted by an exceptionally beautiful flair, including cozy restaurants and small stores selling regional handicrafts and wild boar delicacies.

Vie Cave

Around Pitigliano there are the so-called Vie Caves, which are a unique thing in this whole region. These are ancient hollows, dating back to the Etruscan period, which were carved into the rocks over 3,000 years ago. Some of these Vie Caves are up to 20 meters deep. The purpose of these historic roads is still unclear; they could be communication and supply routes or mystical places of worship. Today countless hiking trails lead through these historical sites.

 

Things to do near Pitigliano

When you travel to Pitigliano you can go on some really recommendable excursions to explore the surrounding area. Here are the best things to do in the region, summarized at a glance:

About 26 kilometers from Pitigliano are the famous sulfur springs of Saturnia. Here you can bathe in the middle of nature and enjoy the warm water of the turquoise sinter basins.

We also recommend a trip to Sovana, a lovely medieval village 7 kilometers away, which also has many Etruscan archeological sites. Another interesting town is Sorano, about 9 kilometers away from Pitigliano, which enchants with a wild romantic old town.

 

Best accommodations in Pitigliano

Pitigliano offers its visitors a small but fine range of fabulous accommodations. From well-kept wineries, agritourism with pool to vacation apartments, there is everything. Here are our recommendations for the most beautiful places to stay in Pitigliano…It’s worth a look!

  • Hotel in the old town: The Le Camere Del Ceccottino is a cute hotel in the medieval center of Pitigliano. Here you will not only be enchanted by the fantastic location but also by the charming rooms.
  • Eco farm with pool: The Agriturismo Eco-Bio Villa Vacasio amazes with its unique scenery as well as the rooms, the pool and the excellent food!
  • Budget Pension: The Country House Maremma Nel Tufo is a small, pretty pension with rooms at reasonable prices, only 2 kilometers outside of Pitigliano.

Find the best accommodation in Pitigliano:

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More places to visit in Tuscany:

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


 

Sovana: Picturesque Old Town & Etruscan Sites

The small village of Sovana is located in southern Tuscany, in the Maremma region, and is famous for its medieval old town, but also for its rich Etruscan heritage. Especially the historic center of this pretty tuff town is considered by connoisseurs to be a real insider tip of southern Tuscany. But there are also many interesting things to do in the surroundings of Sovana! The Etruscan archaeological sites, the Vie Caves, the Saturnia Springs and famous cities like Pitigliano are just a few of the attractions in the area close to Sovana.

In this travel guide we have summarized all important information & tips about Sovana in Italy. We also show you beautiful pictures, the best things to do and provide you with recommendations for fantastic accommodations.

Good to know!

Together with the cities Pitigliano and Sorano, Sovana forms the historic triangle of the Alta Maremma. The beautiful Saturnia hot springs are also not far away and can be visited from Sovana.

It’s definitely worth to stay a few days here and the choice of fantastic accommodations in and around Sovana make a trip just perfect. The small, charming Sovana Hotel & Resort directly in the village is a real insider tip.

In order to park in Sovana, you will have to pay a small fee. There are inexpensive parking spaces directly in front of the town center, only a 2 minutes’ walk from the center.

General information about Sovana

Sovana is beautifully situated on a tufa plateau above the river Fiora and, with about 150 inhabitants, it`s a tiny medieval village in Tuscany. The history of this village dates back to the Etruscan era and nearby there are remains of the Etruscan necropolis and the former trade routes (Vie Cave). Later, in the 4th century A.D. Sovana became a bishop’s see and then, in the Middle Ages, the capital of the county of Aldobrandeschi.

Today, the center of Sovana is a pretty jewel of Tuscany, which has even been declared to be one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Italy.

 

Things to do in Sovana

The heart and at the same time the main attraction of Sovana is the medieval old town. During a visit you will stroll through some kind of open-air museum and marvel at beautiful medieval buildings and the lovely attractions. Hardly a house has been built here after the 14th century!

Piazza del Pretorio

The most beautiful square and also the symbol of the town is the Piazza del Pretorio. Here you will find the small center with cozy cafes, fantastic restaurants and a few cute stores that also sell traditional handicrafts and jewelry. Picturesque is also the Palazzetto dell’ Archivio, the former archival palace from the 13th century, which, with its slender bell tower, essentially shapes the townscape.

Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore

On the left side of the main square there is the small church Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore from the 12th century. This historical attraction is especially interesting on the inside, where there is a marble – ciborium (altar construction) from the 8th century. The beautiful frescos of the church are also worth seeing.

The alleys of the old town

Other highlights in Sovana are the small and narrow stone alleys, which lead through the village and are lavishly decorated with green plants and flowers. In between you will always find a small cozy café to linger and enjoy the charming buildings made of regional tuff stone.

Cathedral of Sovana

Another important thing to see in Sovana is the imposing cathedral. This Romanesque cathedral was built between the 9th and 11th century and is located at the top of the small medieval town. From the outside rather pompous, you should definitely visit the interior of this church.

Fortress Rocca Aldobrandesca

Also worth seeing in Sovana is the Rocca Aldobrandesca, the old fortress located at the lower end of the city. Built in the 11th century, it once served to defend the city. Since the 17th century it was left to decay; only a ruin can be visited today.

Archaeological Park

One of the most famous attractions is certainly the Etruscan necropolis of Sovana, located about 2 kilometers outside the town. In this archaeological park you can explore a whole series of 2,500-year-old Etruscan tombs, fortified with tufa stone. The main attraction here is the Tomba Ildebranda, the tomb of Ildebrando, one of the most famous necropolises, which resembles a temple.

Vie Cave

In the Archaeological Park, but also in the whole region around Sovana, you can find the so-called Vie Cave, which is a unique thing of the area. These are historical hollow paths carved into the rocks by the Etruscans. Some Vie Caves even have a depth of up to 20 meters. The purpose of these historical roads is still unclear; they could have been communication and supply routes or mystical places of worship.

 

Where to stay in Sovana

In Sovana, but also in the surrounding area, there is a wide range of fantastic accommodations. From the well-kept winery, agritourism with pool to apartments and camping sites, you can find everything here. Here are our recommendations for top accommodations in Savona…It’s worth a look!

  • Hotel in the old town: The Sovana Hotel & Resort is the TOP address in the middle of the old town. A beautiful hotel with romantic garden, inviting pool and great breakfast awaits you here.
  • Agritourism with pool: The Agriturismo San Giacomo delights its guests with very charming rooms and apartments. In addition to that it offers beautiful garden and a quiet location.
  • B&B with view: The Agriturismo Poggio Monte Saturnia is beautifully situated in the hills of the Maremma and impresses with a beautiful pool and with certain seclusion.

Find the best accommodation in Sovana:

 Booking.com


More Places to visit in Tuscany:

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


 

Top 7 Temples in Koh Samui

The Temples of Koh Samui are a highlight of this beloved holiday island. Visiting one of these sacred places is an experience and therefore almost always part of every Thailand trip. Many tourists do know the famous Big Buddha Temple, because it is the landmark of the island. Nevertheless, there are more Buddhist temple complexes which are really interesting and worth a visit. But where are the most beautiful temples on Koh Samui, which site is worth seeing, and where can they be found?

In this travel guide we have summarized the best temples of Koh Samui. In addition, we give you all the important information about opening hours, dress code and tell you some exclusive secret temple tips.

Good to know!

The best way to explore the most beautiful temples of Koh Samui is on your own by scooter. Alternatively, you can hire a car with private driver or a minibus to visit the most beautiful temples buildings.

Besides the countless temples there are many other attractions to discover on the island. Here you can find a summary of the most amazing things to do on Koh Samui at a glance.

Not sure how to get on the island? More about you will find in our travel guide “From Bangkok to Koh Samui“.

If you are still looking for a recommendable accommodation, then check out the amazing Rocky Boutique Resort on the beautiful Lamai Beach, one of the most amazing beaches on Koh Samui.

 

Wat Plai Laem

The Wat Plai Laem, sometimes also called the Lady Monk Temple, is located in the northern part of the island and is, without a question, one of the most beautiful temples in Koh Samui. This marvellous place is absolutely worth seeing and therefore a stop of mostly every temple tour. Beautifully situated in the water, these Buddhist-Chinese buildings are a real eye-catcher. Particularly breath-taking is the 18-armed Guan Yin statue, which is a popular symbol for compassion and mercy. But also, the huge laughing Buddha and all the rest of the temple complex are really beautiful.

  • Opening Hours: This temple is open from morning until evening.
  • Address: Wat Plai Laem, Road 4171, Koh Samui

Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai)

The Big Buddha Temple is the island’s most popular place to see and one of Koh Samui’s most famous temples. A visit to this huge 12-meter-high and in gold shining Buddha statue is almost a must on any Koh Samui vacation. The statue is located in Wat Phra Yai, in the north of the island only a short distance from the Wat Plai Laem temple.

In addition to the beautiful temple buildings and the many colorful details, from the terrace one has an ingenious view to the neighbouring island Koh Phangan.

Tip: For a small donation, a monk gives you a bracelet and blessings along the way.

  • Opening Hours: There are no fixed opening times for the Big Buddha. This temple can be visited from very early until late.
  • Address: Bo Phut, Koh Samui

Wat Ratchathammaram (Red Temple)

Wat Ratchathammaram, or better known as the Red Temple of Koh Samui, is another beautiful sacred site on the island. It is less visited and therefore one of the insider tips for individual travellers. This place has a special atmosphere and spreads pleasant vibes. The terracotta-colored temple impresses with wonderful decorations outside and inside.

Right next to it is a golden pagoda, which shines incredibly impressively in the sun. In addition, a staircase decorated with snake heads leads directly down to the sea. This secret temple is really a highlight and one of our favourite temples on the island.

  • Opening Hours: The temple is open daily at daytime.
  • Address: 60/22 2 Bo Put, Lamai main street, Koh Samui

Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram

If you are planning a temple tour on Koh Samui, then you should definitely visit the Mummified Monk at the Wat Khunaram Temple. The monk, who died in 1973, is sitting in a glass case and does not seem to be decaying. Except for his eyes, that’s why he’s wearing black sunglasses. A lot of meditation and a healthy simple life should be the reason why his dead body is still well preserved. For locals, this place is very sacred and therefore visitors should show a respectful attitude. A bit later we will tell you about the right dress code for temples in Thailand.

Visiting the Wat Khunaram Temple and the Mummified Monk is an interesting thing and should not be missed if you are looking for very special places on Koh Samui.

  • Opening Hours: The temple can be visited from early morning until sunset.
  • Address: Na Mueang, Koh Samui

Khao Hua Jook Chedi (Golden Temple)

The Golden Temple Khao Hua Jook Chedi is a true highlight of Koh Samui. Not only wonderful to look at from the outside, there are also many beautiful details to discover inside this temple complex. Again here, you can be blessed by a monk and you will get a wristband with you on the journey.

This temple is located on a mountain and therefore you can enjoy a magnificent view over the island from the terrace. You can even see over to the Big Buddha and the airport, where you can watch flights on takeoff and landing.

  • Opening Hours: Also this temple can be visited at any time of the day.
  • Address: Bo Phut, near Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui

Wat Samret

If you are looking for a hidden temple on Koh Samui, you should definitely plan to visit the Wat Samret. The atmosphere here is truly unique, an oasis of peace and relaxation. There you can watch monks meditating in the shade under the old trees and enjoy the quiet ambience.

The absolute highlight of the Wat Samret are the stone Buddha figures, who have gathered around a large sitting Buddha and a reclining Buddha.

  • Opening Hours: Open during the day
  • Address: Na Mueang, Ko Samui Amphoe

Guan Yu Shrine

The Guan Yu Shrine is one of the few Chinese temples of Koh Samui. It was only opened in 2016 and is therefore one of the more modern temples on the island. But also this very colorful and modern holy site is really worth a visit. The huge bronze statue “Guan Yu” is about 16 meters high and thus even towers above the Big Buddha of the island. On a temple tour you will discover many pretty details and can take great pictures. Especially popular with Chinese tourists, this sacred place is becoming one of the most important temples of Koh Samui.

  • Opening hours: Open throughout
  • Address: On the main road, south of Lamai Beach

More beautiful Temples on Koh Samui

These were our top 7 temple recommendations for Koh Samui. Of course, there are a few other beautiful temples on the island. Also very interesting are Wat Lamai, Wat Na Phra Lan and the large golden Laem Sor Pagoda, which is located directly at the sea. Another lovely temple is the Wat Sawang Arom, a beautiful white temple complex.

Dress Code & Rules

Visiting a Buddhist temple is a popular part of any Thailand trip. Tourists are welcome but they should pay attention to the following:

Clothing: When visiting a temple, proper clothing is a must. That means, shoulders must be covered, trousers and skirts must have at least knee-length, and of course no swimwear. Flip flops, however, are allowed because all shoes have to be taken off before entering the temple.

Rules: Walking inside of the temple will always be barefooted. You are free to move, but be careful to be quiet. Photography is allowed. Monks must not be touched.


Find the best Accommodation on Koh Samui:

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More about Koh Samui:

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


 

Top 10 Amazing Temples in Bangkok

The Temples of Bangkok are the main sights of the City of Angel. Imagine, more than 400 of these Wats adorn the cityscape and many of them are among the top sights of the capital. Of course, the choice of which temple to visit in Bangkok is not that easy and a trip to Thailand won`t be complete without seeing at least a couple of them. We have listed the best and most famous temples including pictures, opening hours and entrance fees. In addition to the usual visitor magnets, we also reveal some insider tips and show some temples that certainly not everyone knows.

As a little extra, below you will find useful tips on which clothes you should wear in the temples of Bangkok and what the rules are for a temple visit. Here our guide for the most popular and beautiful temples in Bangkok.

Good to know!

You can visit the beautiful temples of Bangkok either on your own or on a guided tour. A fantastic selection of city and temple tours can be found on GetyourGuide!

Besides the countless temples there are many more exciting things to discover in this city. Here you can find our complete guide about the best things to do in Bangkok, including many insider tips.

If you’re still don’t know where to stay in Bangkok, we can recommend the awesome Amara Hotel with its really amazing rooftop pool and fantastic sky bar.

 

Wat Phra Kaeo & Royal Palace

Wat Phra Kaeo, also called the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is undoubtedly the most famous and, as for many, the most beautiful temple in Bangkok. The huge temple complex is located inside the grounds of the Royal Palace and a visit is almost a must do on any Bangkok trip. Here you can`t stop marvelling: golden chedis, breath-taking ornaments and glittering statues as far as the eye can see. The heart of Wat Phra Kaeo is the Emerald Buddha. Interestingly, the small 66 cm statue is made of jade and 3 times a year, depending on the season, the robes of the Buddha are changed.

  • Opening times: Wat Phra Kaeo opens daily from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.
  • Entrance Fee: 500 baht Admission Fee – the price includes entrance to Wat Phra Kaeo and the Royal Palace.

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

On an extensive temple tour through Bangkok, of course, a visit to the Wat Pho should not be missed. Like most of Bangkok’s worth seeing temples also the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is located right in the city center. The main attraction of the Wat Pho is the huge approximately 46 meters long and 15 meters high golden reclining Buddha. But also the other Buddha statues and the colorful Chedis of this temple will take your breath away.

Tip: Spoil your tired feet with a massage! Inside of the Wat Pho temple complex you will find one of the most famous massage schools in Bangkok.

  • Opening times: Wat Pho is open daily from 8 am to 6.30 pm.
  • Entrance fee: 200 baht

Wat Arun

The Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, is one of the most famous temples in Bangkok. It is located on the west side right of the river and is easily accessible by ferry from Tha Tien Pier. Even the boat tour to get there is an absolute highlight and from the ferry you will have the opportunity to take some great temple pictures. The stunning white temple complex is adorned with shining mosaics of shells, glass and porcelain, which form charming floral patterns. Especially at night, when the lights are on this temple looks really amazing.

Tip: Watch the sunset right on the shore off the river! The scenery is amazing, and the Wat Arun sunsets are some of the best in town.

  • Opening times: Daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Entrance Fee: If you want to visit the Phra Prang the admission is currently 50 baht. The visit to the rest of the Wat Arun facility is free.

Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha Temple)

The Wat Traimit, or better known as the Golden Buddha Temple is really worth seeing and is located in Chinatown. In the temple there is a 5.5-ton Buddha statue which consists for the most part of pure gold and this buddha is the actual main attraction of the temple. The value of this statue is estimated to be more than $ 250 million. Although the Wat Traimit Temple is impressive, just the Golden Buddha alone is worth a visit.

Tip: Visiting the Golden Buddha Temple can easily be combined with a sightseeing tour in Bangkok Chinatown.

  • Opening times: Wat Traimit opens daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
  • Entrance Fee: 50 baht

Wat Saket (Golden Mount Temple)

The Golden Mount Temple or Wat Saket is one of the oldest temples in the city and located on an artificial hill from where you have a fantastic view over the rooftops of downtown Bangkok. The temple is near Khao San Road and can even be reached by foot. Here you can relax and enjoy the unique ambience. Also, the way up over the 318 steps is something very special and so you will pass beautiful bells, buddhas and also some bizarre statues. This temple is really worth a visit and especially the terrace above is one of our favourite places in Bangkok.

  • Opening times: The Golden Mount Temple opens daily from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm
  • Entrance Fee: 50 baht

Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple)

The Wat Benchamabophit, probably better known as the Marble Temple, is a real highlight in Bangkok and another must-see. The contrast between the white marble and the golden ornaments is fascinating. Especially photographers will enjoy their visit to this temple. The Italian marble and an incredibly special design make this sacred site so special. The garden of the complex is a small oasis in the middle of the sometimes so chaotic Bangkok. Here you can enjoy the quiet ambience and the beautiful bridges also offers great photo opportunities.

Tip: If you visit the marble temple in the morning just after opening, you will usually enjoy the temple complex almost all to yourself!

  • Opening times: From 08:00 am to 5:30 pm, open daily.
  • Entrance Fee: 20 baht

Wat Ratchanatdaram

The Wat Ratchanatdaram is located in close proximity to the famous Golden Mount Temple and impresses with its unusual design and an incredibly peaceful atmosphere. The white-shining temple has 37 golden chedis, which shine fantastically beautiful as soon the sun is shining. Also inside, this sacred site is worth seeing and from the top you have a great view over the rooftops of the city center. If you are up for a temple tour through Bangkok, don`t miss this place!

  • Opening times: 08:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Entrance Fee: free

Wat Suthat

Located in the city center, Wat Suthat is one of the largest temples in Bangkok, covering approximately 4 hectares. This sacred place is away from the tourist crowds and so it is usually very quiet and idyllic. Particularly beautiful and impressive are the long corridors with all the golden Buddha statues. The mood is unique at Wat Suthat and so it’s a wonderful temple to spend some tranquil time. This gem is one of our favourite temples in Bangkok and should not be missed on an extended temple tour in Bangkok.

Tip: Nearby is the “Giant Swing“, another top sight of the city.

  • Opening times: 08:30 am – 9:00 pm
  • Entrance Fee: 100 baht

Wat Intharawihan (Standing Buddha)

The 32-meter high standing Buddha in Bangkok, also called Luang Pho Tho, is the main sight of Wat Intharawihan. Compared to other temples in Bangkok the Standing Buddha temple is rather small and quieter but not less worth visiting. Here you can have look around, light some incense stick and enjoy the beautiful Buddha statues and the meditation room.

  • Opening times: Wat Intharawihan is open daily from 06:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Entrance Fee: 40 baht

Wat Phra Dhammakaya

The Wat Phra Dhammakaya is located a bit outside of Bangkok (north) and is an absolutely hidden temple in Bangkok. It is the largest temple in Bangkok area and a real insider tip. The temple complex is one of the largest Buddhist temples in the world and on Buddhist holidays it is used by the eponymous meditation movement for mass meditation. Also, the design is really unique, and it somehow reminds of a golden UFO. Absolutely recommendable is the visit of this gigantic temple during one of the bigger Buddhist holidays. At this time, more than 100,000 believers from all over Thailand come together for communal meditation.

The Wat Phra Dhammakaya is a real insider tip for Bangkok and definitely recommended if you are looking for exceptional places.

  • Opening times: Guided tours on request
  • Entrance Fee: free with guide

Wat Yannawa

Wat Yannawa is a rather hidden temple and if you love temples it is really worth a visit! The unusual shape of a ship or boat is a true eyecatcher and can give some great holiday shots. The temple is beautifully situated right next to the Chao Phraya River and so you can enjoy great river views during your visit. The Wat Yannawa is still an insider tip among Bangkok connoisseurs and we were very impressed by this sacred site. This temple is located near the BTS Station Saphan Taksin.

  • Opening times: 08:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Entrance Fee: Until today, the entrance to Wat Yannawa is still free.

Rules and clothes

A visit to a Buddhist temple is almost a must-do while you are in Bangkok. Here is a quick guide about how to dress for Bangkok Temples and what are the main rules:

Dresscode: When visiting a temple, proper attire is a must. What to wear: With short trousers, provocative skirts or even swimwear you won`t be allowed to enter a temple. Nevertheless, mostly you can borrow appropriate clothing for a small fee in the entrance area. If you are not sure just take a cloth for the shoulders. Long pants are not a must, but the knees should be covered (especially for women). Closed shoes as well as sandals or flip-flops are allowed.

Rules: Inside of temples always walk barefoot, but do not worry, signs will remind you. Mostly you can move around freely and take pictures, just be careful to be quiet. You can also stay a while and sit on the ground, just be careful that your soles are not pointing in the direction of the Buddha. Finally, you have to know that a monk is not allowed to be touched, this is especially important for women.


Find the best accommodation in Bangkok:

 Booking.com


More about Bangkok:

Recommended travel goods:

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.