San Diego Attractions at Night

San Diego Attractions at Night

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

San Diego isn’t necessarily known for things to do at night, however, in conjunction with its warm, mild weather & long stretches of beaches are an equally fun amount of things to do and enjoy at night. Even for those who may not be into the club & bar scene.

Below is a list of San Diego attractions at night that you can’t miss!

Best things to do in San Diego at night

OUTDOORS

 

Host a campfire on the beach

A combination of smores, cozy blankets & good friends around a campfire is an ideal way to spend a night in San Diego. The best part is you can either bring your own campfire supplies or hire someone else to do all of the work for you!

The Beach Fire Guy is a great option when you’d rather just show up with your s’mores ingredients & have everything taken care of for you. He’ll set up campfires in Coronado, Mission Beach, Mission Bay, Pacific Beach, Bay Park & La Jolla that last for three hours.

Cost: starting at $80 with options for add ons 

Year-Round

Watch the city light up

While San Diego may not have the skyline imagery comparable to that of Manhattan NYC, there is quite a beautiful view of downtown San Diego and it’s neighborhoods that can bring a smile to anyone’s face.

My two suggestions to view San Diego’s skyline at night are from the top of Mount Soledad or from an evening Hornblower Cruise

Mount Soledad: Mount Soledad is a mountain landmark in San Diego that is known for its sunset views and the large cross that stands at the top of it (a Korean War memorial). There is parking available up here, and views on either side with grassy areas and steps to sit on.

Hornblower Cruise: Hornblower cruises are well known along the California coast (and in New York). Their evening & sunset cruises are a great way to view downtown San Diego at night. Plus being greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne isn’t a bad way to start your evening.

Cost: varies on the type of cruise you select, prices range from $28-$125 per person

Year-Round

Catch Summer fireworks

Every summer Seaworld hosts evening fireworks shows. The best views of this are from Fiesta Island where parking is free & there won’t be too many people to block your view.

Cost: free

Summer

Enjoy First Friday at Liberty Station market

The first Friday of every month, Liberty Station in Point Loma stays open late from 5-9pm where guests can enjoy live performances, artists work and visit museums & galleries throughout the area.

Cost: free

Year-Round

Pretend you’re halfway across the world by taking a gondola ride

Yes, you read that correctly. The Gondola Company in San Diego gives gondola rides around the Coronado Cays (a small area apart of the peninsula of Coronado). These rides are both romantic & family friendly with options to bring your own wine & snacks or purchase them there.

Cost: starting at $95 for two people, prices vary depending on the type of ride you select

Year-Round

MUSICAL & LIVE PERFORMANCES

 

Catch a live musical performance

Each year more & more high profile artists are coming to perform in San Diego. Which means there are more opportunities to see awesome music shows at a handful of great venues in the city. There are also plenty of local talent that are hosted at these venues as well.

Here are my top recommendations for venues to visit for live music shows:

Music Box, Little Italy

The Observatory, North Park

House of Blues, Downtown: which also has a few free themed events throughout the year

Belly up Tavern, Encinitas

Cost: varies on the show & venue

Year-Round

If you really like live music, then check out

 

Enjoy your music on the water

The Half Moon Inn on Shelter Island hosts outdoor music performances year-round at their venue, Humphreys Concerts on the Bay. If you’re lucky to have a boat or brave enough to paddleboard your way out there, you can catch these performances live for free!

Cost: varies on the performer

Year-Round

Check out availability at Half Moon Inn HERE

Old Globe Theatre

If you’ve ever been to London then San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre may remind of something. It’s fashioned after Shakespeare’s Old Globe theatre in cheery old London. Guests can enjoy broadway-style performances here throughout the year.

Cost: $95-$134

Year-Round

Duel & Dance

For a unique & energetic evening out, be sure to check out Shout House in downtown San Diego. 7 nights a week there is a dueling piano performance that is driven by the audience requests. Enjoy a cocktail, or even dinner, all while singing along to the dueling pianos.

Cost: free reservations Monday-Wednesday, $5 reservation fee/person Thursday & Sunday, $12 reservation fee on Fridays

Year-Round

Enjoy the San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony is a wonderful way to enjoy your evening in San Diego. They host unique performances year-round, I’m just bummed I missed the Harry Potter-themed nights!

In the summer months, the Symphony also hosts Bayside Summer Nights where guests can enjoy the West coasts only waterfront concert venue.

Cost: $23-$65, prices may vary depending on the show

Year-Round

See sunset & a show

Every summer the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla hosts a concert series on Wednesday nights from 6-9pm, called the Green Flash Concert Series. Enjoy a live performance with views of the sun setting over the Pacific.

Cost: $33-$150

May-September

MOVIE THEATRES

 

Jump back in time at a Drive-In movie theatre

Drive-in movie theaters always make me think of 1970’s Grease (do you remember the scenes at the drive-in theatre?), and while there isn’t nearly as much drama at our drive-in movie theatres as Sandy experienced, they are definitely great places to catch the latest movie releases under the moonlight, with the sound coming through your own radio!

There are two drive-in theatre locations in San Diego: South Bay & Santee

Cost at South Bay: $9 for adults, $7 for kids (5-9 years old)

Cost at Santee: $9 for adults, $4 for juniors (4-12 years old)

Year-Round

 

Rooftop Cinema Club

The Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego hosts the Rooftop Cinema Club in San Diego. A cinematic experience where you can enjoy a night under the stars watching your favorite feature films. With add ons like bottomless popcorn, love seats & student discounts this is sure to be a unique way to experience San Diego.

Cost: $15.30-$24

Year-Round

Cinema Under the Stars

Enjoy classic cult favorites & new releases at Cinema Under the Stars. Their rainproof dome features a 20-foot screen projector with love seats & recliners.

Cost: $17-$20

Year-Round

Or turn your movie night into a stellar date night at The Pearl

The classic hotel, The Pearl, hosts a weekly Dive-In Theatre experience. Guests can either find free open seating around the pool or can dine in their restaurant while watching the film.

Cost: Free for open seating

Year-Round

Head to a schmancy pants indoor movie theatre, The Lot

Featuring reclinable chairs and full drinks and food menu inside of this sparkly theatre, The Lot is a perfect place to spend a night in San Diego. Be sure to find their vintage images of the space, which was previously used as a training facility for the navy.

Cost: $18-$22.50

Year-Round

UNIQUE BARS

 

Visit one of San Diego’s speakeasies.

A tradition from the 1920’s prohibition era, San Diego has quite a few hidden gems providing the highest quality cocktails and fun flair.

Cost: Depends on the location & your drinks, I’ve seen upwards of $18 per cocktail

Year-Round

Bowl with a beverage

Southern California has stepped up the average night out standards for many. This includes our bowling experiences. Instead of a typical bowling alley, why not have great music, neon lights, a full-scale restaurant & bar and a mix of other games at your service? Here are two locations in downtown San Diego that bowlers can check out:

Tavern & Bowl: Tavern & Bowl has lots of great happy hour specials!

Punch Bowl Social: These guys really stepped up their game and not only provide bowling, but private karaoke, a classic arcade, and all of the table games you could want

Cost: depends on what activity you choose

Year-Round

Speaking of beverages…

 

Cheers friends with a local brewski

San Diego is one of the country’s leading local brewery cities. We are boasting with fresh, unique styles of beer to try at one of our local breweries. Rub on some hops for perfume & share a conversation over a pint.

Cost: varies on location

Year-Round

Dine at a drag show

Look no further for an epic dinner & show experience than Lips. For an adult outing or even a bachelorette activity, you can experience San Diego’s premier drag show here. *Reservations are required

Cost:$5-$10 cover charge & $15 per person minimum food purchase.

Year-Round

Step back in time & enjoy a shot of tequila in Old Town

Old Town is San Diego’s historic center where visitors can soak up some Hispanic culture and charm. At night, Old Town has plenty of fun Mexican restaurants, performances and shops to walk through.

Cost: varies on what you decide to do

Year-Round

Spend a night in the wild

The San Diego Safari Park hosts an adult sleepover camping experience inside of the park called Roar & Snore. This is an actual slumber party at a safari park, how cool! There are campfires, hikes & animal viewings, plus the adults-only version has a cash bar.

(While I may not be a huge fan of zoos, I have personally visited the Safari Park and can say that 90% of the animals have crazy large ‘enclosures’ and that they do so much wonderful conservation work.)

Cost: $145 per person

Year-Round

Experience something new & enlightening at Trilogy Sanctuary

Trilogy Sanctuary is part vegan cafe, yoga studio & event space. A bohemian dream! They host monthly events and are a great place for La Jolla sunsets.

Cost: varies on your activity

Year-Round

SPORTS TEAMS

 

Catch a Major League Baseball game at the Padres stadium

The Padres stadium is definitely worth a visit. MLB games are always more fun in person, and the Padres stadium guests have access to so many San Diego food & drink options. Plus multiple wine bars and a mini grocery store. There is also outdoor space for open seating, kids activities and more!

Cost: varies on your seat

March-October

Chill out at a San Diego Gulls hockey game

Did ya’ catch my pun there?

The San Diego Gulls are our local hockey team apart of the American Hockey League. Always a fun game to attend for reasonable ticket prices.

Cost: $22-$103

September-April

Cheer on our newest sports team, the San Diego Seals

Part of the National Lacrosse League, the San Diego Seals is the newest addition to our sports team line up. Check out these fast-paced games when in town!

Cost: $15-$90

December-April

 

ACTIVE

 

Take a burlesque class!

Ohh La La has weekly classes to help bring out your inner sassy-self. Check out their schedule & consider joining them in their annual showcase.

Cost: $25/class

Year-Round

Try your feet at salsa dancing

Cafe Sevilla in the gaslamp district of San Diego hosts FREE salsa lessons & open floor dance times every week. It’s also a restaurant where the chef has proudly been making traditional & delicious Spanish dishes for years.

Bonus- they have a secret vegan menu you can ask for when you’re there for dinner beforehand.

Cost: free

Year-Round

Salsa under the stars at The Headquarters

The Headquarters is located in Seaport Village near downtown. They host free salsa dancing once a month with live music.

Cost: free

Year-Round

Vent out your pent up energy with some axe throwing

What started as a Canadian backyard pastime, has turned into an exciting outing for many Americans, and now San Diegans can enjoy it as well. There are a few axe throwing locations in the city:

Bad Axe Throwing, Pacific Beach

Axeventures, North Park

Cost: varies on location & group size

Year-Round

With so many things to do in San Diego at night, what are you doing still reading this? Go check one of these out!

Have any questions? Leave a comment below & I’ll answer.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger & photographer, sharing real and honest information about travelling & how to do so sustainably

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Ultimate Italian Bucket List

Ultimate Italian Bucket List

Dear Italy,

I have to be honest, you’ve been my not-so secret, but also not so talked about on social media, love obsession for years now. Ever since my first visit to Rome back in the spring of 2008, I’ve been head over heels for you.

And while I vowed to visit you often since that first trip, I’ve also cheated on our relationship as you opened my eyes to the world outside of my home. You were the one who showed me that there is beauty in the small things, that the world has more to offer than what I knew by staying put in one place, and that food should not be considered in calories but in mouth watering moments over a bottle of chianti among friends and strangers.

Maybe it’s because my ancestral past stems from the shores of your coasts, but I find myself dreaming of you frequently. More often than I should, or care to admit. With each trip that I plan, I consider my options to come back to you instead, but there is so much in the world to be explored by little me. But just know, I plan to to plant roots to you at some point during this life, and am determined to breathe in the beauty of each place I have on this list.

I haven’t let on to this too much on social media, but I have a slight obsession with Italy. Maybe it’s because of my Italian heritage, maybe it’s because I love to eat great food, or maybe it’s because I’m in love with beautiful places, but no matter how I spin it, Italy will always be my favorite destination.

Now, this love for this beautiful country stems not from the typical touristy reasons to check off something as seen, but because the entirety of its culture is magnifico (in my opinion).

So, in order to share my love for all things Italiano, I’ve put together an epic Italian bucket list of places to visit and what to do there (especially what to eat… I’m a girl who really loves food).

I hope these places become additions to your saved destinations and inspire you to explore even more!

 

*In order of area, north to south

Here is THE

Ultimate Bucket List for Italy

Hike CINQUE TERRE:

Made up of five beautiful coastal villages (cinque means five in Italian), each town is more colorful than the next.

Stroll along the canals of VENICE: 

While you can always take a gondola ride, they tend to be fairly pricey, so I say burn off those italian carbs & meander the streets of Venice by foot. Plus, the small local places won’t be seen or reached from the gondola canals anyways.

Watch glass be made on the island of MURANO: 

A quick boat ride from Venice is the colorful island of Murano. This island is known for its glass blowing artisans. A much more calm place to explore if visiting Venice and the pieces you purchase here will be unique to you.

Drink the best Prosecco one can find in the region of VENETO:

I’m not sure why bubbles make a drink feel more festive and celebratory, but I do know drinking Prosecco from its originating region of Veneto is worthy of clinking a few glasses together in celebration.

Relive a tragic love story in VERONA:

Verona is famous for its connection to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. You can visit her home to see the balcony she beckoned to Romeo from… and also cop a feel on her statue below.

Find more of my best sustainable travel resources here!

Marvel at LAGO DE SORAPIS & LAGO DI BRAIES:

Both lakes are within the Dolomites and stunningly bright blue. Hidden gems among all that Italy has to offer.

Hike the DOLOMITES & stay in the cute town of BELLUNO:

If you’ve ever wanted to hike somewhere breathtaking, this would be the place to do it. And after your hiking, you can stay in the town of Belluno. Which is known as the largest town in the Dolomites with wonderful panoramic views.

Transform into a classy individual at LAKE COMO: 

The entire area of Lake Como is considered an upscale resort area, with beautiful hotels and the Alps for backdrops. Put on your best formal wear and enjoy!

Take a food tour in BOLOGNA: 

The city known for gastronomy, you can book food tours that will take you to a Parmigiano Reggiano and a balsamic vinegar factory!

Enjoy a vegan lifestyle in TURIN: 

Back in 2016, the mayor or Turin, Chiara Appendino publicly stated she wanted Turin to be Italy’s first vegetarian city. With over 30 vegetarian & vegan restaurants it seems like a perfect place to enjoy italian food made for those who support animal rights, the safety or our environment their own flourishing health… the close proximity to the Alps in the winter months doesn’t hurt either.

Watch the sunset over FLORENCE: 

From the Piazza Michelangelo: Florence is filled with impactful historic sites and museums, but nothing beats the sunsetting over the city from Piazza Michelangelo. It’s not wonder it was a hub for the Renaissance with all of that beauty.

Shop at Ponte Vecchio in FLORENCE: 

It’s here where you’ll find the jewelry of your dreams… just be prepared to window shop or break your budget

Tour the town of SIENA: 

Best known for its annual horse races (I have not done any research on the ethics behind this tradition, and wouldn’t promote going for that reason), Siena is a charming Tuscan town with a great center piazza for enjoying a warm, relaxing afternoon outside.

Step back in time in SAN GIMIGNANO: 

This medieval town is known for its towers within the Tuscany region of Italy, and well worth a few days visit.

Stay in a villa TUSCANY & enjoy lots of chianti wine: 

Enough said on this one.

Have a sunrise soak at TERMA DI SATURNIA: 

Natural hot springs located in Tuscany.

Heading for a LONG flight soon?

Check out these carry on items to ensure a comfortable flight

See the beauty of ELBA from the POV of Napoleon:

Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military general during the French Revolution was exiled to Elba, and while that in itself sounds like a fascinating reason to visit, Elba is known for much more. Lush landscapes mixed with pristine beaches and Europe’s largest marine park.

Enjoy the Italian Riviera town of PORTOFINO:

And maybe spot a celebrity or two.

Then take a boat to SAN FRUTTUOSO:

A tiny bay and hidden gem in the Liguria region of Italy reached only by hiking or boat.

Take the iconic leaning tower of PISA picture:

Yes, everyone looks ridiculous doing it, and yes you need to do it too because it’s hilarious and we all need to laugh at ourselves more often

Breath in the fresh air of CASTELLUCCIO:

It’s the highest village up in the Apennine Mountain Range

Set up a home base in the Eternal City, ROME: 

This is 100% a personal bucket list item of mine, but I would suggest it to whomever I could. While I could state the obvious ‘tour the coleseo’ or ‘eat gelato’, I firmly believe that there is SO much to experience in Rome.

From underground capuchin bone churches to breathtaking vistas in manicured gardens, layers of history buried in the ground to delicate high fashion around every corner, Rome is a city to fully experience not just planned as a layover pit stop.

Take a cooking class in Rome: 

Learn from the best, Andrea Consoli. We took his full-day cooking class in the heart of Roma & fell in love with the experience. The chef, Andrea was fantastic!  You can’t get food much fresher than in this class.

Step into two different countries within Italy, VATICAN CITY and SAN MARINO:

Vatican City is a country, and San Marino a small independent nation. Both are within the country of Italy, and while you may not get a new stamp on your passport, you’ll have witnessed incredible history.

Get baci (kisses) in PERUGIA: 

The city of Perugia is most well known for its chocolate, due to the popularity of Baci chocolates. Plus it’s beautiful.. As is all of Italy if you’ve been reading this entire post.

Pay tribute to Saint Francis in ASSISI: 

The hill town of Assisi is home to the birthplace of the patron saint of Saint Francis, who is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment.

Tan in Italian style on the beaches of SPERLONGA:

Known for its pristine beaches. All you need to do is rent a beach chair, put on a large fancy hat and relax in style.

Enjoy pizza perfection in NAPLES:

There seem to be misconstrued ideas that the city of Naples is covered in trash (due to workman strikes), but there is so much beauty in this city to be experienced and Neapolitan pizza (yes, food can be beautiful) is one of them!

Discover the brothels of POMPEII:

A ruined city thanks to Mount Vesuvius – that’s both a sarcastic thanks because hello, an eruption of lava destroyed the entire place, and a literal thanks because that destruction created a well preserved, historical landmine for us visitors.

There are so many historic spots in the city of Pompeii to explore, but if you aren’t going with a guide, you are choosing to wander through a petrified CITY on your own. Meaning the place is massive.

So you should go with a plan, and why not have finding the preserved brothels of Pompeii on your plan?

Eat lemon candies in SORRENTO:

Known for their delicious lemon groves, Sorrento has lemon-flavored items exploding from every storefront. While limoncello liqueur is an international favorite, for those who want something for everyday enjoyment I’d suggest the lemon candies many stores sell.

Cliff Jump in CAPRI:

and visit the Blue Grotto (be a pro-Italian when you visit, by pronouncing it the Italian way – emphasize the ‘a’ in Capri, not the ‘i’).

Rent a boat in POSITANO:

The stunningly picturesque town of Positano leaves all first-timers speechless with its buildings carved into the cliffside. Take in all of its beauty from the comfort of your own boat.

Spend a colorful weekend on the island of PROCIDA:

A Mediterranean haven for color & coastal beauty, Procida is just a boat ride away from Naples.

Visit PIETRAPERTOSA, the town carved into stone:

I’m not sure how Europeans were able to build towns right into rock surfaces, but I sure can marvel at it.

Learn all about olive oil in APULIA:

Apulia is Italy’s main region for olive oil production with plenty of thousand-year-old olive trees.

Spend a summer soaking up SICILY:

Sicily seems to be an underrated part of Italy, but meowzahs does it have some stunning places to visit (and some of the most delicious Italian food I’ve ever had). Soaking up all the island has to offer requires a few months of time to truly immerse yourself there.

Spend the following summer indulging in SARDINIA:

Just like Siciliy, Sardinia is not to be missed. Surrounded by beautiful beaches, Sardinia is a must-see summer destination for all

This ultimate Italian bucket list will continue to grow, as I find myself reading about the country, so be sure to come back to see what’s been added every few months.

And if you think I’ve missed one, comment below and let me know!

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger & photographer, sharing real and honest information about travelling & how to do so sustainably

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How to get to Secret Beach, San Pedro

How to get to Secret Beach, San Pedro

Detailed directions to Secret Beach San Pedro, Belize with pictures on how to get there

This post contains affiliate links to products that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

If you’re looking for a hidden paradise then look no further than Belize’s Secret Beach on San Pedro island.  An oasis tucked inland of the island, accessible by small boat or driving through barren unmarked paths via rented golf cart.

Secret Beach is one of the San Pedro locals favorite beaches and still somewhat a local secret. So, while I’m tempted to keep this haven true to its name- as a secret! -I want to help you skip over the confusion and waste less time getting lost.

This way you can enjoy even more time lapping up the stunning clear waters, fresh coconuts and sea breeze at the beautiful Secret Beach.

If you’re staying in San Pedro, find out how to travel to the island stress free

What is Secret Beach?

(and what makes it so special?)

San Pedro island Belize is known for its eatern shoreline of coral reefs, fishing, marine life and nightlife. Only 10 years ago did a developer lay down a road that stretched to the western side of the island. This made the western side accessible for the first time and it exposed a breath-taking set of beaches and waters.

How long does it take to get to from San Pedro to Secret Beach?

The drive from Secret Beach to San Pedro can take up to two hours driving one way. It depends on if you spend any time getting lost while driving there, and how fast your golf cart can go… as well as your ability to withstand the bumping up and down a golf cart on an unpaved, dirt road for over an hour.

Why should you visit Secret Beach in San Pedro?

        Many of the coastline areas of San Pedro are covered in quite a bit of seaweed. So while the sunrises are spectacular from town, the beaches are not the best for wadding into for a good swim. However, further into the Caribbean Sea are some wonderful snorkeling waters off the coast of Belize. Making Secret Beach a haven place on the island.

  • Once you arrive you’ll notice the pristine waters that are effortlessly calm, and beach goers can wade almost 200 feet out!
  • While you may need some bug spray [here is a sustainable and healthy bug spray that I would recommend], there is no seagrass or seaweed, as compared to the coastal side of San Pedro, that I mentioned above
  • During the busy season, there are multiple bars and restaurants open along the beach, plus there will be options to rent stand up paddleboards and kayaks – perfect for those novice water sport athletes since the water is so calm
  • It still feels undeveloped and like a hidden gem of a destination. Since it takes quite a drive to get to this Belizean beach, not many want to make the trek out here, so there won’t be an overcrowded site.

How to get to Secret Beach from San Pedro, Belize

  • The most convenient way to get to Secret Beach is by golf cart.

  • You will need to first rent a golf cart in San Pedro town. There are quite a few options to choose from, but fear not because if you’re staying at a hotel they will easily be able to connect you to their preferred golf cart vendor. Within 20 minutes of asking, you should have someone ready to have you set up with a golf cart

Looking for a hotel in San Pedro? Compare prices HERE

  • Now, that you have your golf cart and it’s tank is full (important! As it can take up to two hours to get there) you are ready to head out to one of the best beaches in Belize

*Note- you can physically ride a bike to Secret Beach, but I would NOT recommend doing so. The dirt path is very bumpy. Trust me, your bum will thank me later.

Secret Beach Belize Directions

  • There is only one road that can lead you to Secret Beach, with quite a few outlets leading in other directions

  • From town, if you’re facing the Caribbean Sea/ocean side of the island then turn LEFT and head towards the NORTH side of San Pedro island

  • As you begin to leave the main town area of San Pedro you will come to a small bridge. There is a $5 fee you must pay in order to cross. Once paid, you’ll be given a pink slip for your return crossing. Do NOT lose this pink slip, otherwise you will have to pay again to cross back.

  • Cross the bridge and stay on this road for as long as it goes

  • Eventually you will come to the end of the paved road and a dirt path will curve to the left. Go down that path
  • Once you’re at this curve you’ll notice that the land quickly transforms from lush, tropical greens to flat, almost desolate beige mangrove swamp like surroundings. This part of the dirt road will be fairly easy to navigate through based on the visibility of the path and the few half built homes that are spread out in this area.

    *Please note- we were told that there are alligators living in the swamps, so do not wander aimlessly through them

  • After a bit of driving down the desolate path you may start to feel concerned that you’ve gone too far, but don’t worry! You will soon see a small sign that steers to the LEFT

  • From there, there will be small signs close to the ground directing you towards the bars & restaurants at Secret Beach. You have to look down in order to see these signs (see the images on this post), otherwise you may miss them and drive the wrong direction. If you follow these signs they will lead you to Secret Beach

*What helped us was continuing to remind ourselves that Secret Beach was essentially the opposite side of the island from town. If someone you are going there with has a good sense of direction let them utilize their natural compass.

Arriving at Secret Beach, Belize

        You’ll know when you’ve arrived (or at least are very close) to the best beach in Belize as there will be other golf carts parked to the left and right of the beach entrance, and you will see the dock straight ahead.

        Once you park your golf cart, walk over to enjoy the calm and gorgeously clear and teal water. You can rent chairs on the beach if you spend money at one of the bars. We were told that we needed to spend $100  for access to the chairs. Sounds fairly pricey, yet could be managed if you go in a group.

        It was just two of us visiting, and we were comfortable placing our stuff at the end of the dock as we floated nearby there as we could see it from the water.

        Typically there is at least one person slinging the sale of fresh coconuts for coconut water, and they offer adding rum to them as well (hello dolly, this is a perfect tropical beverage combination!).

        HOWEVER, they will put a plastic straw in it. Be sure to tell them ahead of time NO to the plastic straw. I almost always bring my own reusable straw with me nowadays (I didn’t have one for this trip, womp womp) You can purchase a reusable straw here.

        It is highly suggested that you leave Secret Beach around one to two hours before the sun sets. This is so that you can safely drive back to San Pedro while the sun is still out.

        The dirt paths are not lit up at night, and driving them in the dark would be dangerous, even with the headlights on the golf carts – let’s be honest, golf cart headlights are not the brightest, plus you’ll have been driving in dirt paths so they’ll be covered in dust.

What to do at Secret Beach

In years past, visitors to Secret Beach had to bring their own water and food, but now there are multiple bars on the beach you can visit and enjoy a chilled cocktail or beer.

Blue Bayou Bar : a tropical looking bar with beautiful views

Maruba Beach Klub : more upscale bar with lots of cushioned chairs and music

Paco’s Secret Beach : one of the newer bars at Secret Beach

Pirates Not-So-Secret Beach Bar & Grill : they have ables in the water so you can enjoy the calm waters with your food & drinks

Secret Paradise Beach Bar : this bar has the largest beach area with a large bar and volleyball nets

There are are also plenty of people renting paddle boards and electric surfboards. But in my opinion, your time will be best spent drinking from a coconut while you float in the calm, clear waters.

Staying at Secret Beach:

There is only one place to stay the night at Secret Beach called Secret Beach Cabanas. They have quaint apartments cabins that allow visitors to stay to witness the stunning Belizean sunsets.

Planning a trip to San Pedro?

Check out the TOP Things to do on the island

What to pack when going to Secret Beach, Belize

  • Any of your beach essentials
    • sunscreen, hat/s, sunglasses, towels, etc

Here are three reef-safe sunscreens I would recommend using:

All Good Sport Sunscreen

Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen

Amavara Mineral Sunscreen

  • Extra phone batteries and charging ports

  • Cash for the bar

  • Your own snacks if you’re vegetarian or vegan. There didn’t seem to be many vegetarian or vegan options

Fun Fact about Secret Beach in Belize

From the water of Secret Beach you can see an island owned by Leonardo DiCaprio called Blackadore Caye. He is intending to build a complete eco-friendly resort on the island. You can read more about it here and here.

If you’re planning on visiting Secret Beach in Belize you will not be disappointed. The long and bumpy drive will be well worth it once you dip your toes into the warm and clear waters of San Pedro’s best beach (at least it’s the best in my opinion).

If you do go, pretty please let me know! I would love to hear about how much you love it… and see if these directions helped ease the confusing process of getting there.

Happy sustainable travels!

xo Laura

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Eight Reasons why you NEED to visit Interlaken

Eight Reasons why you NEED to visit Interlaken

Many travelers tend to stay put in the major metropolitan cities of Western Europe, which do indeed offer many breathtaking sites. Yet if you step outside of those major cities you will often be greeted with charming towns. Just a short two hour train ride outside of the major cities of Switzerland lies just one of those places, called Interlaken. Interlaken is a namesake town in Switzerland and for good reason, with the best part being that it hasn’t become over crowded with the buzzword term we call ‘over tourism’.

Here are EIGHT reasons

why you need to visit Interlaken:

(1) The Adventure

Interlaken is one a world favorite adventure capital! Many visitors flock here for extreme sports such as skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, canyoning and more! With a mix of mighty Swiss Alps, low lying lakes and everything in between, it’s no wonder this area sees it’s fair share of adventure seekers and dare devils.

(2) The Hiking

Interlaken’s centrally located setting between the Swiss Alps and lakes makes it a perfect setting for beautiful hikes. We loved how the hikes ranged in length and difficulty so that anyone visiting Interlaken would feel comfortable getting outside and hiking.

(3) The Natural Beauty

There is a reason the Swiss Alps are internationally known. The natural and pristine beauty that accompanies the reputation of the Alps will leave anyone speechless. And Interlaken has a wonderful combination of lakes and mountains, with idyllic swiss homes nestled in between.

(4) To feel on top of the world

We’ve been mentioning seeing the Swiss Alps in Interlaken, now imagine being able to go up to the top of them and see below. There are cogwheel trains that take visitors to the top of the Swiss Alps, such as Jungfrau and Neiderhorn. And once at the top you’ll feel as if you’re on top of the world looking down on the valleys and surrounding mountains.

(5) The Castles & Legends

There are a handful of beautiful castles near Interlaken. Few can compare to the breathtaking Oberhofen Castle curled up on the coast of Lake Thun, except for maybe the Thun Castle, which is settled high up in the town of Thun, Switzerland. Both are filled with lots of history and beautiful views. There is also the legendary St. Beatus caves in between these two castles. Visitors can visit inside the caves where legend tells of a saint defeating a dragon who once inhabited the area.

(6) The Central Location

The convenient location of Interlaken is stellar for those who want the convenience of being near a city without the hustle and bustle. Interlaken and its surrounding lakes are close to the country’s capital, Bern, only a two hour train ride from international hub, Zurich and the up and coming city of Basel. You would be hard pressed not to find time to visit Interlaken if you are staying in one of these nearby cities.

(7) Perfect for Day Trips

While Interlaken is conveniently close to the major cities listed above, it is also great for exploring even further into Swiss country. There are hotels, AirBnbs and more in the surrounding areas of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Thun.

(8) It’s self contradicting

Interlaken’s activities are known for having variety and contrast – casual hikes along Lake Thun to skydiving thousands of feet above. Yet, it’s landscape is also vastly unique from one end to the next. With bright turquoise water lakes to white snow-capped mountains, and vibrant green forests in between. And of course it’s colorful small towns with picturesque Swiss chalet homes and storefronts.

People from all over the world flock to the Interlaken area to soak in its beautiful scenery and marvel at all of the possibilities for outdoor adventure. If you’re considering a trip to this area of Switzerland check out this ultimate guide to Interlaken.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger & photographer, sharing real and honest information about travelling & how to do so sustainably

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Foolproof Visitor’s Guide to Interlaken Switzerland

Foolproof Visitor’s Guide to Interlaken Switzerland

An Ultimate travel Guide for Interlaken, Switzerland!

Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view our disclosure page for additional details

The stunningly pristine alpine village of Interlaken, Switzerland is one that visitors to Central Europe must add to their destination bucket list. Nestled between two alpine water lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and epic views of snow capped Alp mountains, this area of the Canton of Bern, Switzerland continues to be a breathtakingly beautiful stop for visitors. It is also home to one of the world’s thrill-seeking capitals. Imagine having access to turquoise waters for windsurfing and kayaking, and being in proximity to major Alp mountains like the Jungfrau, for extreme sports. With so much to see, do and explore in Interlaken I guarantee you’ll leave wanting to come back to this paradise in central Switzerland.

How to get to Interlaken

        No matter what destination you are coming from, getting to Interlaken is quite easy. By taking one of Switzerland’s timely and efficient trains, you can arrive to the center of the town of Interlaken and begin your exploring soon after.

        There are two train stations in Interlaken – Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West. Interlaken Ost is closer to the Old Town part of the city, while the Interlaken West station is closer to Lake Thun. I visited Interlaken after a long weekend in Zurich, and with one easy to make connection in Bern, found ourselves at the Interlaken Ost train station (as it was closer to our AirBnb) marveling at the beautiful mountains right behind the train station. Which were dripping in natural waterfalls and springs. You can look up Swiss train schedules here.

        There is also an airport in the area called Belp Airport. However, it is typically much cheaper to fly into a major airport, like Zurich International, and take a train, rather than spend an exorbitant amount on a flight to a smaller airport like the Belp Airport.

        And of course you can reach Interlaken by car. Depending on where you are staying this may be a great option so that you don’t have to rely on public transportation (however, public transportation in Switzerland is very reliable). You can utilize the Sepp app to find and pay for parking in Switzerland, and here is a map of where you can find parking in the central part of Interlaken.

Where to Stay in Interlaken

        Deciding on where to stay can be a challenging feat for any trip. You want to have balance between great location, price, value and more. Since Interlaken is known for more beyond its city lines, such as outdoor adventure sports, there is an overwhelming amount of options. Here are quite a few options for travelers on different budgets visiting Interlaken:

    Looking for traditional Swiss architecture?

    Stay in Interlaken City. This is the urban part of Interlaken, and is very walkable. This is also where a lot of the adventure sport companies will have visitors meet near.

    Lodging in Interlaken City

      Looking for lake views?

      Stay on one of the lakes that hug Interlaken, Lake Thun or Lake Brienz. We stayed at a beautifully renovated AirBnb that had stunning views of Lake Thun (and heated bathroom floors, second best feature next to the lakeside views!)

        Looking to stay outside of Interlaken?

        Here are a few options for wanting to stay somewhere that isn’t in the main part of Interlaken:

        • Lauterbrunnen- only a few kilometers south of Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen is best known for its quintessential Swiss chalet style homes, and beautiful landscape views.

        Lodging in Lauterbrunnen

          • Grindelwald- the mountain village of the Eiger mountain, there are lots of activities to participate in here for both summer and winter months.

          Lodging in Grindelwald

            • Thun- the main town that Lake Thun was named after. Thun felt much more traditional Swiss than the (quite frankly) over touristed area of Interlaken City. It also felt like there was much more to see if you weren’t doing outdoor adventure activities during your entire time to this area of Switzerland.

            Lodging in Thun

              Looking for convenience to travel elsewhere?

              Stay near Interlaken Ost, which is the east side of the town. It is close to the larger train station. It is also near the touristy areas; meaning lots of souvenir shops and over-priced/under value eateries.

                While I could link to multiple different hostels, hotels and B&Bs, I understand that it’s important to look at all of your options, so instead I would suggest making your own independent decision (as you know your travel style better than I ever could). I typically book through AirBnb or Booking.com.

                Hafen Lodge, AirBnb

                Where to stay in Interlaken, Switzerland

                When should you go to Interlaken?

                The best Time of Year to visit Interlaken

                        The best part about Interlaken is that it’s always a good time to visit! It really depends on what you want to do while you are there. If you’re looking for winter sports, then you can’t beat skiing or snowboarding in the Swiss Alps. If you want to be able to casually walk around and enjoy the european charm and beautiful landscapes then springtime and summer are great. And yes, it does warm up in Interlaken, even though it is near the Swiss Alps. It can get up to the mid-70s during the summer months.

                        I would suggest that you keep your budget in mind when deciding when to visit Interlaken (or any part of Switzerland for that matter). It is a fairly expensive country, and can become even more expensive during busy seasons such as mid-summer months and major holidays like Christmas.

                How many days should you stay/visit Interlaken?

                        Similar to the best time of year to visit Interlaken, the number of days you should spend in this area is dependent on what you want to while there and your preferred travel style. You could spend a solid three days there and be able to explore Interlaken, have an adventurous excursion, like paragliding, and enjoy half a day on a boat cruise of one of the lakes.

                        If you prefer a slower paced travel experience, then I would suggest taking a week here. That way you can enjoy going to the top of Jungfrau (which you would want to wait to do until the sky is clear, see more about this below). As well as be able to spend an entire day exploring the town of Thun (my favorite place during my trip to Interlaken). You would also have time to go on a few hikes, and feel as if you have experienced all that Interlaken city has to offer.

                How to get around Interlaken & the surrounding areas

                        Interlaken is conveniently compact so exploring the city center is easily done so on foot. However if you are staying outside of the city center you will be able to take their local bus lines.

                        In order to find which route/s to take I would suggest using Google Maps or Rome2Rio. For all of our travels we use these two options. The best part is that most hotels will have free bus cards for their visitors, so be sure to ask the front desk when you check in. Even our AirBnb host had bus cards for us to use. There are of course taxis you can take around as well, but the buses were always on time, and conveniently close to everything we needed.

                        Don’t forget that Interlaken is situated between those two shockingly turquoise watered lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. There are boats that you can take around the entirety of the lakes with multiple stop off points that I would highly recommend (keep reading to find those below!). You can purchase tickets for the boats at the tourist office or at their docks. Here is a map of the stops on both lakes.

                 

                LAKE THUN

                • If you want to explore Lake Thun, then you would board near the Interlaken West train station
                • It takes about two hours to get to the town of Thun
                • Best stop off points: Oberhofen Castle, St. Beatus Caves, Spiez
                • Not every boat that departs from Interlaken West will be a multi-stop boat, so be sure to ask which one will stop at each spot
                • Map of Lake Thun boat docks here
                • Boats operate year round, so you can enjoy a round about boat trip on Lake Thun even in the winter

                LAKE BRIENZ

                • If you want to explore Lake Brienz, then you would board near the Interlaken Ost train station
                • It takes about one and a half hours to get to the town of Brienz
                • Not every boat that departs from Interlaken Ost will be a multi-stop boat, so be sure to ask which one will stop at each spot
                • Map of Lake Brienz boat docks here

                Why should I go to Interlaken?

                Check out this blog post that includes

                Eight Reasons why you NEED to visit Interlaken, Switzerland

                  Things to do in & around Interlaken

                  Interlaken is known as an adventure seekers destination, so there is no shortage of things to do in this area of Switzerland.

                  • Spend time outdoors on a scenic hike

                  Hiking is an all time favorite travel activity of mine, and an excellent way to burn off those vacation meal calories when traveling. Interlaken has so many options when it comes to their hikes. You can find ones that are range in length and difficulty. Wherever I’m traveling to, I almost always use the All Trails app to research and choose which hike/s I want to go on. Download the app here!

                  Cost: Free!

                  • Become a bird, and paraglide!

                    Each morning you’ll be able to see paragliders swinging lightly through the clouds down to the center of Interlaken. So, why not be one of them? This fairly carefree adventure is great for those just beginning to go outside of their comfort zone (which I can say from experience, as I’ve tended to lean towards the safe side until I went paragliding in Interlaken).

                    After reviewing a few companies (based on price, reviews, years in service & level of professionalism) we chose to book with Paragliding Interlaken. Their staff were very accommodating and we loved our guides. Push past those fears of heights and enjoy a birds eye view of Interlaken!

                    Cost: 170 CHF

                  • Step up your game & be a daredevil

                    While paragliding is a wonderful activity, if you’re feeling up for an even greater adrenaline rush, Interlaken also has companies that offer skydiving, canyoning, white water rafting, ice climbing and bungee jumping. Luckily Paragliding Interlaken has lots of options for the adventurous type. *Add in Tripadvisor link if approved for their affiliate program

                    Cost: depends on activity, ranges from 40 CHF to 400+ CHF

                  • See if the legend is true, by visiting St. Beatus Caves

                    There is a legend that says Saint Beatus defeated a dragon that was living inside of these caves. You’ll have to see for yourself if you believe it to be true, but either way you’ll be greeted with stunning waterfalls both in and outside of the caves. The caves are open from March to November. Find more details about visiting here.

                    Cost: 18 CHF

                  • Take a relaxing boat cruise on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz

                    Interlaken is great for providing ways to view this beautiful country from both above the clouds and on the shorelines. A lake cruise is a wonderful way to spend your day and they offer plenty of hop on/off stops for further exploring.

                    Lake Thun cruises depart from the ferry dock near the Interlaken West station, while the Lake Brienz cruises depart of the ferry dock near the Interlaken Ost station. Both are easy to find once you’re at the train stations. You can find the timetables here. The more difficult decisions you’ll make is which lake to cruise on. Both feature turquoise waters and stunning views of the Alps. If you have time consider going on both! Cruises are offered April through October, and there are winter cruises on Lake Thun (only).

                    COST: starting at 35 CHF

                  • Step back in time at the Oberhofen Castle

                    Since you’re already going to take a Lake Cruise (which is my number one suggestion for those visiting Interlaken!), you might as well stop off from the Lake Thun cruise to explore the Oberhofen Castle.

                    My standards for visiting a museum and castle have become somewhat particular … after plenty of travels, I’ve seen quite a few and have decided to spend my money wisely when visiting, as not all are created equal … and I would definitely recommend walking through Oberhofen Castle.

                    We found this 13th century castle and museum to be informative, engaging and loved the way the interior has been maintained. There are also English gardens outside that you can walk around in, for picture perfect moments with loved ones (unlike these hilarious attempts we made here… not quite sure what we were trying, but sleep deprivation probably had something to do with us thinking it was a good idea, haha).

                    Overall it is an enchanting lakeside with beautiful architecture, and remains one of my favorite stops while we were in Interlaken, Switzerland. 

                    Cost: 10 CHF, Oberhofen Castle Visitor Information

                  • Treat yourself to a first class cocktail

                    Put your fancy pants on & enjoy a cocktail at Interlaken’s finest hotel, the Victoria Jungfrau Hotel. In between all of your outdoor adventures, be sure to treat yourself to a high class atmosphere. The Victoria Bar offers traditional English tea times on the weekends as well.

                    Cost: depends on what you order

                  • Walk around Interlaken Old Town

                    There are two sides to Interlaken’s town centre, the main street and the streets north of the main street leading to the river.

                    The Main street is strictly shopping and mostly for tourists. I wouldn’t skip past it too quickly but you don’t need to spend too much time here. If you’re looking to buy some Swiss chocolate, Swiss Army Knives or souvenir type items then this is where to go.

                    After you’ve finished with your shopping, head north through the small collection of streets that lead to the river. Here you will find more traditional buildings decorated with baskets of flowers and colourful window shutters, including the Interlaken Monastery and castle.

                    Cost: free!

                  • Explore the top of a lesser known Swiss Alp, the Neiderhorn

                    Below are the top Swiss Alps to visit when you’re near Interlaken, Switzerland. However, I’ve come to love exploring the lesser known places while traveling and you will not be disappointed by taking half a day (or a full day if you want to hike up) experiencing the top of the Niederhorn. This was suggested to us by our AirBnb host, as was the restaurant that is located at the midway point.

                    You can either hike from the bottom to the top, or take the funicular. In fact, you can ride the funicular to different heights of the mountain. So if you want to ride halfway up and hike the rest (or vice versa) you can!

                    Cost: the cost has varied since we visited, I would ask your local lodging to find this for you

                  • Soak up another breathtaking view at Harder Kulm

                    Harder Kulm is a viewpoint in Interlaken. People call it Interlaken’s own mountain as the view looks down directly over the town. Visitors take a quick ten minute cable car up to the top, and can walk out over the extending platform to spectacular views of Interlaken and Unterseen from above.

                    *The cable car cost is a bit pricey, so be sure to plan to go only on a clear sky day. I would suggest visiting around sunset is best. There is also a panoramic restaurant with a glass viewing platform.

                    Cost: (for the funicular) 38 CHF

                  • Visit the beautiful Giessbach Waterfalls

                    On the south side of Lake Brienz are the Giessbach Waterfalls. Arrive either by ferry or bike, then take the funicular to the Grand Hotel Giessbach, which has incredible views. Of course you can always hike up or down instead of taking the funicular, if you want to spend more time outside enjoying Switzerland’s hikes.

                    For more details on the hike, check out this blog post.

                    Cost: 10 CHF

                  Day Trips from Interlaken

                   Just as it’s smart to have a somewhat planned out itinerary for things to do in Interlaken, there are so many beautiful places around the area that you should consider as well.

                   

                  Be enthralled with Thun Switzerland

                  Enjoy your lake cruise on Lake Thun over to the town that the lake was named after, Thun. You can enjoy your time walking through the colorful town, and the uphill walk to the Sleeping Beauty-esque castle, Thun Castle. You may even catch some surfers riding the structured tides at the wooden bridges in the town center. Yes, that’s right, Thun has wooden bridges just like Lucerne!

                  Step back in time at Unterseen

                  This medieval town is walkable from Interlaken, and worth half a day trip for those who enjoy meandering through charming European towns.

                  Explore the famous mountain of Jungfrau

                  Visitors can hop into a cogwheel train all the way to the top of the mountain and take in breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps. There is a Snow Park open during the summer months, which is great for snow tubing, skiing or snowboarding.

                  It takes two hours to get to Jungfrau from Interlaken, and I don’t believe there are any restrooms on the trains. It’s accessible 365 days a year. There is also a Jungfrau pass that’s great for those who want to explore more than one mountain town near Interlaken, as it will save you money if you want to participate in many of those activities. You can purchase the Jungfrau Travel Pass HERE.

                  Battle your adventure fears in Grindelwald

                  No, I don’t mean the J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter novels) evil Grindelwald, I mean the outdoorsy, very popular mountain town, Grindelwald. Not only is the main town of Grindelwald postcard worthy for Switzerland, there are also lots of outdoor activities for both summer and winter months. Here are more details on what to do in Grindelwald.

                  Take postcard worthy images in Lauterbrunnen

                  You’ve probably seen snapshots of this Swiss town with its iconic waterfall falling near the main town. Visitors can easily take a train or car from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, and capture pictures you will cherish for years.

                  Take a scenic train ride

                  There is something magical about train rides that weave you through the countryside, especially a countryside as adorably picturesque as Switzerlands. Take the Schynige Platte cogwheel train from Wilderswil. Only a ten minute drive or bus ride from Interlaken. *Be sure to check the weather forecast before choosing which day to do this, because if it’s cloudy outside then you won’t see the wonderfully beautiful scenery, which makes this trip worth it.

                  FUN FACTS about Interlaken, Switzerland

                  Both Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are turquoise and blue due to glacial particles. These tiny particles drip down the Swiss Alps and sink to the bottom of the lake, purifying the water as they go on their descent.

                  Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                  Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger & photographer, sharing real and honest information about travelling & how to do so sustainably

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                  Start your own blog today!

                  Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

                  Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

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                  Travel Guide to Bern, Switzerland

                  Travel Guide to Bern, Switzerland

                  An Ultimate Guide for what to see & do when traveling to Bern, Switzerland

                  (and what to skip!)

                  Note: this post contains affiliate links to products we love and have purchased ourselves. Clicking these links doesn’t cost you any extra money, and you’re supporting us by doing so. You can view our disclosure page for additional details

                  Experience the effortlessly charming city of Bern, Switzerland. The fifth largest city in the country, and Switzerland’s capital, Bern is a compact but adorably picturesque city. A place that was once home to the physicist Albert Einstein, known for bears, Berenese dogs and the colorful River Aare, Bern is perfect for a city break and is still an off-the-radar gem of Switzerland.

                  Below you will find a detailed travel guide to Bern, Switzerland including where to stay, why you should visit Bern and the top things to do in the city.

                  [If you found your way here through my Sustainable Travel page, then you may just be interested in my findings and viewpoints on Barenpark. Click here to scroll to that section.]

                  Why go to Bern?

                   Why should I go to Bern?

                          There are so many beautiful places to visit Switzerland and its surrounding countries, yet I would still highly recommend a visit to Bern, and here’s why:

                          The city is meticulously preserved, which is most likely why it’s old town (also called the aldstadt) was named a UNESCO World Heritage site all the way back in 1983! Literally every corner you turn there are picture perfect places to soak up. And it doesn’t hurt that life is slower paced than many other major european cities. So, you’ll be exploring a ‘big’ city but enjoying it as if it’s a small town.

                   

                  Fun fact: Bern, Switzerland earned its name from the founder around the early 1900’s after he apparently killed a bear who came too close to the city while it was being built. (More about how this fact led to a not too pretty, in fact very negative, animal rights situation… more on that later. Keep reading to find out!) Since then, the city’s flag and emblem has always shown a bear.

                  Where is Bern?

                  Bern, Switzerland is located southwest of the major city of Zurich, and only an hour train ride from the crisp blue lakes bordering Interlaken. The city is hugged by the beautifully bright & clean River Aare

                    Where to stay in Bern?

                            The city of Bern goes farther beyond the altstadt (old town), so be sure to book your lodging inside of the old town area, as this is where the charming, picturesque part of the city is located.

                            We stayed at the Hotel Savoy Bern and loved it! The location was not only within walking distance to the main train station (which will save you money from having to order a taxi or public transportation), but the rooms were very spacious, had great views and the interior was modernly beautiful.

                            Be sure to check out other lodgings options – I typically use Booking.com as they list more than just hotels. There are luxury homes, B&Bs and apartments. Lodging options in Bern, Switzerland

                      How long should I stay in Bern?

                      We stayed in Bern for three nights and felt like we were able to leisurely enjoy our time here. One day would not be enough, so I would suggest at a minimum two full days and depending on your travel style, at most four nights.

                        If you’re planning visits to other parts of Switzerland, be sure to explore my other posts about this enchanting country here!

                          How to get around Bern:

                                  While there is an airport near Bern, it’ll be much easier to arrive by train. Once you arrive via train, it is a five to ten minute walk to get to the old town part of the city. Bern’s old town is shaped like a horseshoe bend with the turquoise River Aare giving it its shape. Once there you will notice that there are trams and buses available. However, we did not once use them as the city is so accessible on foot. In fact, most of the traffic you’ll see will be pedestrian foot traffic.

                                  Bern, Switzerland has recently installed bike stations throughout the city, which I would definitely recommend utilizing. You could bike around all of the old town in half a day this way. Check out this map for the location of the docking stations within the old town of Bern.

                            Walk around Berns beautifully preserved old town

                                      The city of Bern has transformed into a metropolis since it was rebuilt after a terrible fire in the early 1400’s. However the aldstadt has kept its european charm and has remained intact since the 15th century rebuild. Known for its 6 kilometers of ‘covered arcades’ – not actual arcades, but outdoor promenades – locals refer to them as “Lauben” – they are the longest weather sheltered shopping promenade in Europe

                                      While you’re walking around, try to find the Kindlifresser statue, aka the Child Eater statue. Yep, you read that correctly. There is a statue with a man eating a sack of babies… no one is quite sure what it depicts, but it should be a great example of the boogeyman tactics for parents to use.

                              Fun fact – there are over 100 fountains in this small old town!

                                Ogle at the Zytglogge

                                          The Zytglogge is a famous astronomical clock. It was Bern’s western city gate back in the 12th century, and is now a major site to see in the old town part of Bern. This 800+ year old clock still functions with all of its mechanical figures, and on the hour you can watch it ‘perform’. There is a museum/walk through tour you can do, but truth be told, I felt this was unnecessary. But I suppose it depends on your love for clockwork.

                                    Walk to the top of the Bern Cathedral

                                              A dominant landmark in Bern, this cathedral is the tallest religious building in all of Switzerland. Not only is it a great workout walking up the 222 steps, but the view is beautiful. I’m personally not always a fan of views from super high up because you miss out on so much detail, but the view from Bern Cathedral is perfect in terms of height without being too far away. It’s also the highest place to view the city from.

                                        Visit the Rosengarten

                                                  Bern’s Rosengarten is great for both a relaxing afternoon in a charming park and vistas of the entire city from across the River Aare. It is an uphill climb to reach the park, but you are rewarded with great views of Bern. There is a statue of Einstein sitting on a bench that is perfect for capturing cute pictures with the historical figures.

                                                  The Rosengarten would be good to visit even in the fall, and for sunset as the sun dips below the city skyline.

                                            Explore the Bundeshaus

                                                      The Bundeshaus is the Swiss Federal Assembly building in Bern. I’ve become particularly choosey when it comes to spending my travel time inside of museums and historical sites, so while I typically wouldn’t suggest going inside of a government building, the Swiss do it justice. They offer FREE tours of inside the Bundeshaus, however will be closed to the public if parliament is in session. You can find the dates they are closed here.

                                                Shop at the Parliament Square weekly market

                                                          In front of Bundeshaus is Parliament Square, which is great for people watching, and where Bern hosts a weekly market. Every Tuesday and Saturday morning you can enjoy local produce and Swiss foods.

                                                          Maybe you’ll feel inclined to buy some treats and then enjoy them while sitting on the steps in the back of Bundeshaus. This part of the building sits against the River Aare so will provide a nice relaxing place to enjoy a morning treat.

                                                    Channel Albert Einstein’s intelligence

                                                              Learn about the famous physicist and his life while he lived in Bern, Switzerland by visiting the house he used to live in. This house museum is where he lived when he developed his famous theory of relativity. Overall, it was a fairly interesting place to visit as Einstein had a unique life and also traveled the world.

                                                              (There is a good cafe directly below it as well)

                                                        Swim in the Aare

                                                                  If you plan on visiting Bern in the summer, than I’d suggest packing a swimsuit as you can swim in the beautifully clean River Aare. I can’t speak personally about this as we visited in the fall, but a local gave us the following information on how to swim in the Aare in Bern : enter at Eicholz recreation area and float down to the Freiban Marzili.

                                                            Enjoy the sunset with a view

                                                                     Grab a bottle of wine or some beers from a local store and enjoy the sun setting over the rust red rooftops of Bern at the Rosengarten or from the back side of the Bundeshaus (Parliament Building).

                                                                Take it slow & people watch

                                                                          I loved the pace of the city of Bern. A city that felt effortlessly slow paced. My suggestion, pick up a cup of coffee in the morning and sit in one of the squares to people watch. There was a square close to our hotel that had a life size chess set. We watched a group of older men play while starting their day with espressos, beers and cigars. It’s moments like these where you can begin to feel the heart of a place you travel to.

                                                                          Another way to immerse yourself in a new destination is to…

                                                                    Take part in a local event or festival

                                                                              As Bern is the capital of Switzerland there are quite a few events that you can attend. We stumbled upon a cultural food festival while there and loved it. You can find more of Bern’s events here.

                                                                                Translated this means the Bear Park. As an animal lover and protector I am always hesitant about visiting and suggesting others to visit places that house (unfortunately, ‘house’ is a light term used here, when often it’s a prison) animals of any kind. I try my best to research prior to visiting and especially spending any money on places like these.

                                                                                Unfortunately, Bern housed a cement bear pit since its inception of officially becoming Bern in the 1500’s. Looking at pictures of what it used to be, which was maintained up until 2009, it makes me feel really sad that that went on for so long. Happily though, the Bern bear pit has been transformed into a bear park. The park is over 65,000 square feet in size, is fitted on a sloping hill with plenty of grass areas for the current bear occupants to enjoy who were transferred from Scandinavia or born in captivity. (Personally, I feel that it’s extremely odd that we ship animals around like property to different zoo’s.)

                                                                                  Barenpark is free to visit in Bern. And while the space provided for them now is much much better than the cement hole in the ground they inhabited for hundreds of years, it’s still limiting for what a wild animal should have access to. For example, bears enjoy water and currently the bears at Barenpark can see the water rushing by but have no access to it. Talk about dangling a treat in front of someone face, and preventing them from having it for their own ‘safety’.

                                                                                  I suggest visiting as you can see for yourself the conditions they’re in, and may it be a reminder, note for the future or nugget of a lesson for you to better understand the rights that animals should have.

                                                                          What are your thoughts on this?

                                                                             Not to end on what may feel like a negative tone, let me conclude by saying that Bern has much more to offer than their Barenpark. If you choose to visit this charismatic city (which I highly suggest you do!), be sure to enjoy it in its entirety by visiting and doing the items I listed above. Bern is great for taking it slow, and is one of the few places in Europe that still feels off the beaten path in terms of popular cities to visit in Switzerland.

                                                                              [Curious about why there are so many people at the same destination as you? Read about Over Tourism here]

                                                                                TIPS for visiting Bern, Switzerland:

                                                                                • Switzerland is expensive, so be sure to visit a grocery store for lunch or breakfast (and maybe some wine) to save yourself from racking up your expenses too high
                                                                                • Swiss German is the language spoken in Bern
                                                                                • Stay in the old town part of the city Bern, once there, everything is walkable
                                                                                • Visit Bern, Switzerland in the summer to swim in the River Aare, visit in the winter months for the Christmas markets
                                                                                • More general facts about the city of Bern

                                                                                  Want to see more?

                                                                                  Scroll through these pictures of from our trip to Bern, Switzerland

                                                                                    Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

                                                                                    Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger & photographer, sharing real and honest information about travelling & how to do so sustainably

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