Why I Travel

When we ask ourselves, why I travel, the reasons are varied and fascinating. Our intentions and motivations are often different for each trip and most travels encompass multiple whys. To explore this idea further, I asked other travel writers to each share their answer to, why I travel. They all have multiple reasons, but shared just one of their favorites here.

In this article, we will start with some questions we can use to dive into our own whys. Then we share short stories about why others travel. The motivations fall into three general categories that are expanded below: to learn more about the world, to learn more about ourselves, and to connect more with others. I encourage you to use these stories as a jumping off place as you reflect on your own reasons for traveling.

Let’s dive into the fascinating world of why we travel!

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Questions to Explore, “Why I Travel”

When you consider your own travels, both past and future, ask yourself why you travel. What are your intentions and hopes about your next trip and the travel lifestyle you are aspiring towards? Stay curious about yourself as you dig deeper into these questions and let your answers guide you in planning your trips.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • What have I most appreciated about my past travels?
  • How is my life better because of my travels?
  • How have I grown and changed from my past travels?
  • What have I overcome through my past travels?
  • What have I learned about myself through my past travels?
  • How have I better connected with others through travel?
  • What am I most looking forward to about an upcoming trip?
  • What intentions do I want to set for my upcoming trip?
  • What is my ideal travel lifestyle?

These questions are only the beginning. I encourage you to continue exploring them through contemplation, journaling, conversation, or working with a travel coach like myself. By engaging in this self reflection we can make travel plans, as well as life choices, deeply in alignment with our values and intentions. And that can make all the difference!

Why I Travel: To Learn More About the World

To Experience Art

Photo by Waves and Cobblestones

One of my favorite things to do when I travel to new places is to visit a museum.  It’s so awe-inspiring to view famous works of art up close.

When I was in Rome, I was amazed by the painting by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  But I also loved my visit to the Borghese Gallery, where I was able to take my time viewing stunning sculptures by Bernini.  Be sure to look from all angles to appreciate the lifelike details!

Don’t like classical art?  No problem!  There are museums that cover every interest.   One of the most popular museums in Lyon is the Cinema and Miniatures Museum.  It’s a unique combination of props and special effects from blockbuster films, along with an impressive collection of miniature models in 1/12th scale.

Sometimes the museum experience is diminished by people who aren’t there to appreciate the art, but to just get a selfie in front of it.  Don’t be the person at the Louvre taking a selfie with the Mona Lisa!

So, on your next trip, plan a museum visit.  It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon — especially if rain is in the forecast!

Contributed by Lisa Garrett at Waves and Cobblestones

To Learn About History

Photo by Tiny Footsteps Travel

One reason I travel is to learn, and also teach my kids, about history. Being able to learn about history through real-life visuals and experiences promotes more understanding and appreciation for their significance.

Many of us have heard of famous buildings in Italy such as the Colosseum in Rome, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but seeing them in-person allows you a deeper knowledge of why they were built and appreciation for who built them, and those who once used these buildings in their daily lives.

Learning about history first-hand when travelling leaves us with more empathy for people that came before us, and a greater appreciation for the technologies and societies that we live in today. 

No matter where you go, there will be history there; possibly history that you didn’t realize existed. Here are some ways to learn more about history from traveling.

  • Take a walking tour. Walking tours are a great way to get an introduction to an area’s local history. 
  • Take a guided tour of a museum or old landmark. Tour guides often have a more in depth level of knowledge than what you can read about from a pamphlet and can give you lots of great information
  • Read a historical fiction book that takes place in the place you’re travelling to before you go. This can give you inspiration of old landmarks you might want to see

Contributed by Kristen at Tiny Footsteps Travel

To Provide Our Child With a Unique Education

Hobbitenango in Antigua, Guatemala, photo by Our Offbeat Life

Traveling is more than just an escape or break from daily life; it’s our lifestyle, passion, and most importantly, our classroom. As digital nomads, our family has chosen this path for the freedom it brings and the unique global education it provides our son.

The world is our teacher. Through full-time travel, our son learns geography by exploring different lands, history through ancient monuments, and culture by immersing himself in local customs and cuisine. Language is acquired through genuine conversations, not textbooks.

We don’t just show our son pictures of landmarks; we take him there. These experiences bring lessons to life in ways traditional classrooms cannot. And the best part? We learn and experience these amazing things right alongside him.

But it’s not just about the destinations; the journey matters too. Travel teaches patience, resilience, and adaptability – invaluable lessons hard to teach in a classroom.

Contributed by Brodi Cole of Our Offbeat Life

To Try New Food and Drink

Photo by Travel Compositions

One of the reasons why I travel is to expand my palate and try new foods. Discovering what other countries eat on a normal basis and how they flavor their foods is just as interesting to me as visiting their famous historical sites.

I’m all about having a “when in Rome” mentality when it comes to trying foods while traveling. When in Scotland, I tried a haggis sandwich. When in Hawaii, I tried sea urchin with my poke. When in Costa Rica, I tried swordfish ceviche. 

Visiting a grocery store in another country is an attraction in and of itself. It’s fun to see what locals buy for their meals and then find new foods for myself to try that might become a new favorite. Like Ribena, a blackcurrant juice, is something I always crave now.

Besides trying the country’s own foods, eating at ethnic restaurants is also a way of broadening my tastebud’s horizons. Indian food in the UK tastes different than in the US. Or even a McDonald’s hamburger tastes different in France than the US. 

Traveling with a food or drink theme can also help plan my travel itinerary. On my beer themed trip through Germany, I visited off the beaten path destinations just to try a specific beer.

Contributed by Tabitha at Travel Compositions

To Research

Photo by Past Lane Travels

As an author of historical fiction novels set during the Civil War, I started traveling to battlefields, museums and historical sites for research. My readers loved discovering these off-the-beaten-path sites so much that I started to focus on the travel as much as the research. Now, no matter where I go when I travel, I search out the little-known history of the area.

During a recent family beach vacation, I discovered an old fort that was built to defend the coast against pirates. Since the fort was the site of a Civil War battle, it was like finding a treasure from the past, hidden in plain sight.

Everyone can look for hidden gems while traveling and enhance their trips with, history, mystery and new discoveries. For me, these outings into the past have proven to be, not just enjoyable and educational, but also instrumental in crafting authentic, award-winning fiction.

Contributed by Jessica James at Past Lane Travels 

To See Natural Landscapes

Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia looking towards Albania, photo by Map Made Memories

We are fortunate to live in a part of the U.K where we have hills and valleys on our doorstep. However, one of the main reasons we travel is to show our children the diverse natural landscapes that the world has to offer. 

We have taken our children to the snow capped Andes in Patagonia, to glaciers in Switzerland, to waterfalls in Iceland and to Australia’s arid inland. We have snorkelled on coral reefs in Samoa, crossed Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia by boat, ridden bikes on the Mongolian Steppe, hiked in the rainforests of Costa Rica and dipped our toes in Lake Baikal, the deepest and largest freshwater lake in the world. Our highlights include visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina and seeing lava in Hawaii. 

As hoped for, our experiences have molded our children into eco-minded, outdoor orientated individuals. I recommend varying the natural landscapes you see on your travels: it will keep travel fresh but can also impact on your lifestyle and activities at home. Why not try something new next time? Next stop for us is the desert! 

Contributed by Sinead from Map Made Memories

To See Wildlife

Corcovado National Park, Photo by Sally Sees

One reason why I travel is because when I think back to my most treasured travel memories, many of them revolve around wildlife. 

Our world is full of so many fascinating creatures of all shapes and sizes, and travelling across the globe to chance an encounter is one of the main reasons I travel. 

Wildlife watching is slow and thrilling at the same time. It requires a lot of patience. 

There is no guarantee you will ever see an animal out in the wild, but the excitement you get when you finally spot something is electrifying! I have been lucky enough to have many exciting animal encounters around the world, both on land and sea. 

From friendly grey whales in Mexico, swimming with manatees in Belize, seeing orangutans in Borneo and hiking deep into Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica, the most biodiverse place on earth, to spy anteaters and tapirs. 

Each encounter has left me humbled and grateful for the beautiful planet we call home. 

You can add a wildlife-watching element to any destination! Next time you’re planning a trip, take some time to research any native animals found in that country. Any trip that includes wildlife tourism also requires research about our impact on the animals and the ethical practices of any tour groups or guides we work with.

You’ll need to work out the best time to see the animals (some are migratory or seasonal) and where to view them. Some animals can be seen independently, like hiking through national parks, while others require guided experiences like whale watching tours, snorkel or dive excursion or guided walks. 

Contributed by Sally at Sally Sees

To Experience Cultural Events and Holidays

Buddhist Monks in Thailand, Photo by The World Overload

Part of the reason we travel is to experience other cultures, especially when it comes to holidays and cultural events. Each country showcases it’s unique traditions in fascinating ways that we should all experience at least once in our lives. It helps to enrich us in ways we didn’t even know was possible.

I learned this while on my own travels. While in Norway, I was able to celebrate their Independence Day. I not only learned the history of the holiday but also how it’s celebrated with the particular Russefeiring tradition. It’s amazing to see how similar yet so different the normal customs can be in other countries.

It also helps to increase your knowledge and spirituality. In Thailand, Iparticipated in the Tak Bak ceremony with Buddhist Monks. I felt myself spiritually elevated even though it is not my religion of choice. The excitement of just being there and having the opportunity makes me want to travel more.

Incorporate this into your traveling by researching your destination. Find out if there are any national holidays or even just local unknown holidays or events for that region you are visiting. You may be surprised by the gems of other cultures you can find.

Contributed by Nick at The World Overload

To Experience the Wonder of Other Cultures

Cappadocia in Turkey, photo by Happy Little Rover

I travel to experience the incredible wonders of other cultures across the world. From wandering through ancient temple complexes in Chiang Mai to exploring the bustling Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, there are so many sights, sounds and tastes to be savoured. And there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the local culture of another country or region than to visit and delight your senses.

Most of my favourite travel memories revolve around cultural experiences, like being taught how to say thank you in Turkish by the sweetest lady while pouring tea into a tiny, tulip shaped glass. Or seeing the amused reactions of my newfound friends as I tried the salty yoghurt concoction of ayran for the first time.

My best travel tip for experiencing new cultures is to go in with an open mind and respect for the local inhabitants of your destination. Try to go with tours and experiences that are run by locals as opposed to external companies where possible. Learning a few simple phrases of the language and doing a bit of research before you embark will pay off dividends during your travels.  

Contributed by Jenelle Ryan at Happy Little Rover

To Better Understand the Culture of My Own Country

Lord of the Miracles Festival (El Señor de los Milagros) in Peru, Photo by I Travel Peru

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to more than thirty countries. As a child and before getting to know my own country well I had already visited several places abroad and thought they were much nicer than where I live. Because we are so used to where we are from, it’s easy to take all that our country has to offer for granted. However, the more one gets to know a certain place, the more it has the potential to become the most interesting and prettiest of all.

The more I have traveled throughout the years around my country, Peru, and gotten to know the unique traditions of certain regions, some of the hundreds of the Peruvian festivals there are, the beliefs in the natural deities,and the connections people form with them, the stories that the patterns of every textile in every traditional clothing item have to tell, I appreciate it more and more.

That’s why I travel: to keep discovering my own culture and traditions and to keep falling in love with my own country. I invite you to do this as well.

Contributed by Sharon at I Travel Peru

To Tell Stories Through Photography

Photo by Fleurty Girl Travels

Travel photographs are more than just memories of past vacations and trips. By capturing small glimpses into other cultures, history, communities, and social situations, travel photographs tell a story about a place I’ve visited. Often, travel photos will spark a memory of where I was in my life, which allows me to reflect on my own personal journey. 

In this digital world, it’s also beneficial to be able to instantly view pictures while I’m telling a story about a destination.  

I take photographs with my phone camera, an action camera, and a drone. The drone shots are my favorite and come with some challenges, like, the availability to fly in a location and avoiding obstacles.

One of my favorite tools is my tripod selfie stick. I love the flexibility of being able to get the lens down low or sticking up over a crowd. Thankfully, our phone cameras have such great technology and quality, that I can leave my cumbersome DSLR camera at home. This was a tough transition for me, but I’m glad to have the extra room in my carry-on!

Contributed by Stephanie at FleurtyGirlTravels

Why I Travel: To Learn More About Myself

To Challenge Myself and Gain Confidence

Traveling solo, Photo by Periodic Adventures

I have been traveling since I was a kid. Whether I realized it at the time or not, the exposure to the unfamiliar that one can only get while traveling was challenging me to push my boundaries and gain confidence in myself.

Now, I continue to travel as an adult and find that travel still has that incredible effect on me.

For example, it can be quite intimidating to overcome language barriers, navigate the intricacies of the European train system, or even figure out what to order at a restaurant. But, once you do it, even if you stumble through greatly, you did it. It’s done, which means you are capable of doing that and more! This always makes me more confident in myself and my capabilities.

Not to mention, this type of confidence translates directly to my experience at home. Navigating to a new place in town, being unaware of a parking situation, or simply calling to make a doctor appointment – while these may have induced some anxieties in the past, my confidence boost because of traveling makes things like this a breeze!

Contributed by Alanna from Periodic Adventures

To Cultivate a Healthy Perspective

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland, Photo by Gather and Go Travel

In daily life, it is easy to get caught up in the never-ending to-do lists related to work, family obligations, or home management. Then, double down that with interpersonal dramas or conflicts, which can often feel larger than life. 

Travel, especially to beautiful places, offers a way to step away and get respite from both. And it is one of the many reasons I love to travel, even when I feel like I cannot go because my responsibilities are too pressing. Or people are too dependent on me. 

By leaving home and all its detailed demands behind, I can carve out a separate space to get out of my head, forming a buffer between me, my obligations, and the stories I tell myself. 

This physical distance creates a place for perspective. And when I get to combine this with the beauty that I see while traveling, whether from an awe-inspiring structure, like the Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland, or the Seljalandsfoss waterfall later on the same trip, I get a feeling of lift. Essentially—an elevated reminder of how insubstantial my problems are. And of how big, beautiful, and impressive the world can be and how grateful I am to be able to bear witness to it. 

Contributed by Janice Moskoff of Gather And Go Travel

To Have Adventures in Nature

New Zealand, Photo by New Zealand South Island Travel Insider Guide

I travel to have adventures in nature because it’s where I feel most alive. The feeling of being surrounded by the beauty of the natural world is beyond words. 

Many adventures in nature have left me in awe and made me realize there are endless natural wonders to explore and discover in this world.

Exploring rainforest trails is always the highlight of my trips. However, I also enjoy indulging in water sports, such as kayaking, snorkelling, swimming in waterfalls or cruising through majestic waterways, as they allow me to connect with nature. 

Nature adventures like hiking and other outdoor activities allow me to disconnect from everyday life stresses, enhance my mood and health and relax.

To incorporate more nature into your life, you can start by exploring a local reserve or botanical garden.

Adventures in nature offer so many diverse experiences, from animal encounters such as horseback riding or wildlife watching to extreme activities for adrenaline junkies such as bungee jumping, caving, skiing, cycling, ziplining, hang gliding, and skydiving. 

Additionally, there are leisurely experiences such as nature photography, stargazing, hot air ballooning, nature meditation, yoga, and camping.

Have an adventure in nature, embrace the unknown, and enjoy the journey. Experiences in nature can often become the most memorable highlight of a trip.

Contributed by Oli at New Zealand South Island Travel Insider Guide

To Relax

Coastline in Bali, Photo by GuideYourTravel

Travel, for me, is an escape into tranquillity, a journey to unwind the knots of everyday stress. Amidst the hustle of life, I seek solace in the art of relaxation that different destinations offer. One vivid memory takes me to the beaches of Bali, where the gentle lull of the waves became a soothing melody, and the rustling palms painted a serene backdrop. It was there that I discovered the rejuvenating power of disconnecting, embracing the simplicity of a quiet moment.

For those yearning to incorporate relaxation into their travels, consider destinations like the Maldives or the Amalfi Coast, where the rhythm of nature sets the pace. Embrace local spa traditions or simply find a quiet spot to be present and still.

Travel, for me, is a ritual of self-care. It’s about finding balance amid chaos and returning home not just with memories but with a renewed spirit. So, let your next adventure be a gentle embrace, a journey to relax and reconnect with yourself.

Contributed by Victoria from GuideYourTravel

To Better Understand Myself

Namibia, Photo by Two Empty Passports

Traveling has been my ultimate teacher, pushing me to learn more about myself than any classroom ever could. Whether it is exploring for adventure, curiosity, or relaxation, each journey is a lesson in resilience, independence, and self-discovery.

I live with chronic pain and fatigue, so travel comes with additional challenges. I have had to learn how to survive air travel, modify my activities, and adjust my travel style to fit each destination. But I have experiences and memories that I could never have without travel.

Like so many others, it was my dream to go on a safari in Africa, and I did that in Namibia. I wanted to see wild animals, stand in one of the few places in the world where sand dunes meet the sea, and learn about a different culture. 

An adventure this size was more challenging because of my health, but I was stubborn and determined to achieve my lifelong dream. Travel has become the key to unlocking the strength within myself.

Travel is not just about visiting new places. It’s about the journey of self-discovery, an ongoing exploration of your strength, confidence, and willingness to step outside your comfort zone to find out what makes you shine! 

Contributed by Robyn Dirk at Two Empty Passports 

To Escape My Daily Routine

Photo by BeyofTravel

Traveling is one of the most enriching experiences anyone can embark on. For me, it allows me to escape my daily routine and immerse myself in a whole different world, even if it’s just for a short period of time.

I am sure for many people too, this is a usual way to break up mundane activities. People get caught up in their routines, waking up at the same time every day, going to work or school, dealing with responsibilities and obligations. It can all become overwhelming and monotonous. 

When I travel I also plan a digital detox away from my laptops and other screen time. I spend time outdoors, take it slow to relax and get away. Apart from relaxation and rejuvenation, traveling also offers a great opportunity to learn something new. I love using my camera and learning about photography as a way to break the routine. 

You can also book engaging activities like guided tours, walks, and adrenaline excursions when you travel. Trying new things on your trip can also help you break the daily routine and do something fun!

Contributed by Stephanie from BeyofTravel

To Experience Things While I Can

Photo by Uprooted Traveler

I want to experience everything I can before it’s no longer available to me. 

One of my primary reasons for exploring the world is that I’ve known a host of people who had grand plans for traveling and, unfortunately, life—usually, sickness or even death—got in the way. For example, my sweet older neighbor almost boarded a cruise to Antarctica in 2021 that was ultimately canceled due to COVID. When trying to reschedule the trip, he decided that such extensive travel was too hard on his body and he ultimately wouldn’t be able to go. 

As a lover of hiking and the outdoors, I’m taking every chance I can to experience everything I can when I’m relatively young and able. From doing that bucket list road trip I’ve always wanted to take through as many charming Oregon Coast towns as I could find to squeezing in every backpacking trip during hiking season, I want to see and experience as much as I can while my brain, knees, lungs, and mind allow me to.

After seeing one too many loved ones missing their “someday” that they had once planned, I’ve engineered my life so that I can experience and see as much as possible. These experiences don’t have to be huge Antarctica-level excursions. Check out that state park that’s in your backyard, go try that restaurant that just opened. You’ll rarely regret getting to see and experience something. And, at the end of the day, you won’t have to ask yourself any what ifs.

Contributed by Jess of Uprooted Traveler

To Create Work-Life Balance

Monica at maxedoutPTO.com

Working in corporate American comes with many benefits, like a steady paycheck, insurance, and paid time off. But, corporate culture can also lead to things like increased stress levels, burnout, strained relationships, and missed opportunities. Because of these things, one of the main reasons why I travel is for work-life balance.

The best way to clear your mind, rest and rejuvenate from a high pressure and busy work environment, in my opinion, is to travel. Travelling will get you in a completely different headspace then the one you are in when you are sitting at your desk for 8 hours a day. 

Getting away from your office for travel can allow you to spend focused and quality time with your loved ones and can reduce your burnout at work. Improving your burnout and stress levels can even improve your productivity when you return to the office and increase your job satisfaction.

My husband and I attempt to travel every other month, or once a quarter at the least. Spreading out your paid time off for travel will allow you to have something to look forward to and will help you obtain a fantastic work-life balance.

Contributed by Monica at maxedoutPTO.com

To Experience the Mental Health Benefits of Being in Nature

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii, Photo by Trysta at This Travel Dream 

As someone with a challenging job in corporate America, I constantly need a break from the everyday hustle and bustle. 

When I travel, I often leave behind the chaos of my daily life and dive into the beauty of nature. Being in nature is amazing for my mental health, and it’s one of the main reasons I travel.

I spend most of my time vacationing in Hawaii, where I can escape the stress of city life and recharge my batteries. Kauai is my favorite Hawaiian Island because of its breathtaking landscapes, gorgeous waterfalls, and perfect blue waters. Every time I visit, I feel a sense of peace wash over me as soon as I step off the plane.

There are many things to do in Kauai, but my favorite activity is hiking. There’s something special about being in the midst of nature, surrounded by greenery and fresh air. As I hike through lush forests, I feel calm and at peace. 

But why is nature so beneficial for our mental health? Studies have shown that being in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It allows us to disconnect from our daily worries and reconnect with ourselves. Spending time in nature improves my overall mood, happiness, and well-being. 

Being in nature is also a time to connect with my boyfriend. We spend our days exploring the island together, trying unique activities like kayaking and snorkeling. The fresh air, beautiful scenery, and adventure produce a positive mindset.

I recommend everyone take a break from their daily routines and spend some time in nature on their next vacation. Whether hiking through the mountains, spending a day at the beach, or simply sitting in a park, being in nature can do wonders for you.

Contributed by Trysta at This Travel Dream 

To Re-learn Life’s Beauty After Mental Health Struggles

Lou at Hello World, Here I Come

I started traveling the world solo at 18 years old, and for most people, that’s where my story begins. But fewer know that between the ages of 13 to 17, I struggled with severe mental health issues- and that is one of the biggest reasons why I travel today.

I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in primary school and suffered with self-harm throughout high school. This came to a pinnacle in 2020 when I was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. 

From 15 to 17, I was a revolving door patient, either hospitalized or about to be. I was fed through a feeding tube as I couldn’t eat myself. But in the back of my mind, I had a dream of traveling the world, and in many ways that kept me afloat.

Just 10 months after my last hospital admission I dropped out of high school to travel the world and never looked back. My travel is in part about re-discovering the beauty of life and the world after illness and suffering. 

Because of travel, I can say I am almost completely recovered from my eating disorder, dealing with my anxiety, and no longer suffer from self-harm. I am proof that travel can heal!

Contributed by Lou at Hello World, Here I Come 

Why I Travel: To Connect More With Others

To Connect With My Partner

Taylor at Culture Craving Couple

It’s easy to get into the same routine – come home from work, make dinner, watch Netflix – and it’s easy to take each other for granted! However, when we go on trips and snuggle up on a motorbike as we drive through rice paddies in Vietnam, it’s like the start of being married all over again! 

One of the reasons why I travel is that it gives us time away from the same old pattern and we can spend more focused energy on continuing to learn about each other because you always are – even after being married 10 years!  When we’re at home, it’s easy to not put as much effort in. When we’re snuggling up in a cozy cocktail bar in Denmark or have hours on the road to ask each other couples-focused road trip questions, in Iceland we have memories of unique experiences and have time to develop a deeper bond! 

I think that our best years of marriage have been since we started traveling and I encourage couples to slow down on their trips to be able to focus on not just the scenery, but each other!

Contributed by Taylor at Culture Craving Couple

To Strengthen Our Relationship 

Soca Valley, Slovenia, photo by Ticket 4 Two Please

Travelling as a couple can be stressful, but when you do it right, it is guaranteed to create memories that last a lifetime and strengthen your bond together.  

Travelling full-time together has many advantages, each of which helps solidify your relationship and creates relationship resilience that you can take forward with you into your life outside of travel. 

If you can survive being hospitalized in Bolivia (when neither of you has a single word of Spanish between you), as happened to us back in 2019– then there’s a good chance that the next time a small challenge arises back in the real world, that you’ll be able to figure out a solution quickly and without any stress. 

Whether you’re experienced travellers that have navigated the globe together, or at the beginning of your travelling journey and looking for some gap year inspiration for couples, travelling together allows you to learn to manage your finances in tandem, learn to live in close proximity for an extended period of time and learn to overcome hurdles together. Best of all though, travelling is able to strengthen your relationship and make you a stronger couple, which is why we continue to travel together to this day. 

Contributed by Ben at Ticket 4 Two Please

To Give My Child Experiences

Photo by Hey Micky Travel

It all started with a trip to Walt Disney World.  When I was a kid I was 
a huge Disney fan.  I am talking playing hooky from school so I could 
binge-watch the Disney channel. The one thing that I always wanted was a 
trip to Walt Disney World.  But being a kid from Minnesota in the 80’s 
and 90’s, a trip to Florida just wasn’t in the cards.

Fast forward 20 years later.  I was a new mom to a little girl of my own 
and watching her fall in love with all things Disney just as I had done. 
I desperately wanted to give her the Disney World experience that I 
never got to have as a child.  So we booked the trip and did a big 
countdown and we spent 3 glorious days in the Most Magical Place on 

Little did I know how much giving that experience to my daughter would 
spark something in me.  How many other experiences could I give her that 
I had never gotten myself? Since that time we have been coast to coast 
and so many places in between.  From national parks to beaches; small 
towns and big cities.  Nothing has been off-limits. And each time we 
travel I am broadening her worldview and giving her the confidence to go 
after the things she wants most.

So my advice to you… book the trip, make the plan, and just do it!  
Start with destinations driving distance from where you live. Do just 
one overnight or a long weekend.  You don’t need to jump right into a 
big trip, but I promise that any travel experience you can give your 
kids is the best investment!

Contributed by Tina Tolbert at Hey Mickey Travel 

To Connect With Friends

Amber from Amber Everywhere

I love to travel with my friends. Often, spending time with friends at home looks like sharing a meal at a restaurant and then going our separate ways. It’s nice, of course, but I rarely feel like we created new memories together. 

Travel, on the other hand, is all about making new memories and having experiences. I’ll never forget hanging out in a pub in Ireland or hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland, both memorable experiences with two wonderful friends. 

I also relish the chance to spend largely uninterrupted days with my friends, another rarity in my daily life. From sunup to bedtime, we have hours to talk, share stories, cultivate inside jokes, and deal with the fact that we’re mildly annoying each other. 

When planning a trip with friends, always discuss a budget and itinerary beforehand. There’s nothing worse than being on the road and realizing that the plans are a financial stretch for someone in the group. 

I also recommend keeping your trips to a maximum of four people because the more people on a trip, the more dynamics to manage. 

Contributed by Amber from Amber Everywhere

To Meet New People

Friends made at a hostel in Washington D.C., Photo by A Backpacker’s World

The reason why I travel is to meet new people. I’m a strong believer that the world is full of good people, you just have to find them, and travelling has proved this to be true.

Whenever I’m travelling, I always try to speak to people, hear their stories and get to know them a bit. For example, I recently took a trip to Washington D.C. and since it’s the US capital, there are police everywhere. I had five or six amazing chats with cops. 

It can be hard knowing how to start a conversation out of nowhere, so I always approach people with a question in mind. Once they’ve answered, the conversation just carries on. People always ask tourists “Where are you from?” and the conversation goes from there.

One way I’ve found it really easy to meet new people is by staying in hostels. Everyone is in the same position and has similar mindsets. I’ve met people in hostels who have become genuine friends that I speak to regularly. You never know who you’re going to meet- so always have a smile on your face and be friendly to people. 

Contributed by Josh at A Backpacker’s World

Why Do You Love Traveling?

I hope you have found some interesting and inspiring ideas about the whys behind travel in these stories and questions. Our reasons are often much deeper than we initially recognize and it can be especially helpful to keep asking ourselves for the why behind each answer. Why do I want adventure, relaxation, or connection? What is it I am really looking for?

If you are looking to explore these questions more fully, I offer travel workshops and coaching where we dive into these questions further. You can learn more here or book a free discovery call with me here.

What is one reason why you travel? If you reflect on the why behind your travels, how has that already impacted your trips and your life? I would love to hear in the comments!

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Cultivating a Heart of Gratitude for Better Travel

One of the most powerful things we can do to enjoy better trips is to cultivate a heart of gratitude long before we walk out the door. Both our own personal experiences and numerous scientific studies show that gratitude enhances our lives and our travels.

Many people spend thousands of dollars to travel to some of the most captivating places on the planet, yet they are unable to experience deep joy or growth through the trip. Why is that? Often it is because they have not learned to cultivate a mindset of gratitude and mindfulness.

Through the Trip Scholars blog, classes, and coaching I focus on supporting travelers in learning more about the world and themselves through travel. A key to this is building our ability to practice gratitude. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of gratitude and practical tips to weave it into your life and your travels.

This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for your support!

Benefits of Gratitude

Cape Roca, Portugal | Photo by Trip Scholars

Gratitude is much more than just being polite and saying thank you. It is a powerful and often intentional state that can positively impact our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. When we approach life with a heart filled with gratitude, we open ourselves up to a myriad of benefits including the following:

  • Reduced Stress
  • Increased Happiness
  • Enhanced Overall Well-being
  • Improved Relationships
  • Better Sleep
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Greater Resilience
  • More optimism
  • Greater Life Satisfaction 

Benefits of Gratitude for Travel

Photo by Trip Scholars

Setting out on a trip with a mind focused on gratitude can remarkably enhance every facet of your travel experience. It has the power to shape your perspective, enrich your interactions, and elevate almost all aspects of travel.

1. Enhanced Mindset

  • Gratitude fosters a positive mindset, allowing you to approach challenges with resilience and an open heart.
  • By focusing on the positive aspects of your travel experiences, you create a mental framework that amplifies joy and minimizes stress.

2. Deeper Connections

  • Expressing gratitude cultivates a spirit of appreciation for the people you encounter during your travels.
  • Whether it’s family and friends, locals, or service providers, acknowledging and thanking them fosters meaningful connections and cultural exchange.

3. Heightened Awareness

  • Gratitude encourages mindfulness and can help create transcendent experiences.
  • Being grateful for the landscapes, sounds, and flavors you experience keeps you present and makes your memories last longer.

4. Increased Resilience

  • Gratitude acts as a buffer against the inevitable challenges of travel.
  • Instead of viewing setbacks as obstacles, a grateful mindset enables you to see some of them as opportunities for personal growth and learning.

5.Transformative Learning

  • Gratitude encourages a mindset of continuous learning and personal growth.
  • Viewing each encounter and experience as an opportunity for learning adds depth and meaning to your travel, turning it into a transformative educational journey.

Tending Our Thoughts to Create a Heart of Gratitude

Photo by Trip Scholars

It helps to think of our mind as a fertile field. Whatever thoughts we plant will grow and likely thrive. This is challenging because the human mind has evolved to be alert to danger and threats, we fixate on the negative and mistakes. This well documented pattern is an example of the negativity bias. We exist today because these thought patterns were well honed in our ancestors keeping them safe and alive.  But it also means that the seeds that are naturally planted in our own minds are often negative and filled with worry. 

Most people bypass what is good and refreshing in their lives, and habitually focus on the unpleasant, bad elements.


When we think of our minds as fields and thoughts as seeds, it is easy to see that left untended, our thought patterns can grow into a thorny and dangerous place where the world looks frightening and other people are adversaries filled with faults. 

Cultivating gratitude is a way to tend the garden of our own mind. Countless thoughts land as seeds but we can pull the weeds and nurture those that we want to thrive. Mindfulness with an intentional focus on gratitude allows us to tend these thoughts. 

Learning to do this over many moments, days, and years, we can grow our thoughts to focus on gratitude and growth instead of judgment and fear. When we bring this mindset of thankfulness to travel we dramatically enhance our experiences.

Growing a Heart of Gratitude as a Conscious Choice

Isaac Hale Beach, Hawaii | Photo by Trip Scholars

Cultivating a heart of gratitude is often misconstrued as wishful thinking or adopting a Pollyannaish view of the world. However, at its core, practicing gratitude is about operating at a higher level of awareness—one that empowers you to choose your response to the many situations you encounter during your life and your travels.

Choosing gratitude is not about ignoring the challenges or complexities that life may present. It’s about acknowledging them with a discerning eye and choosing how you want to perceive and react to them. You will not always choose to be thankful. 

Being grateful doesn’t mean that you ignore the horrific atrocities and great suffering in the world. But it can give you strength and motivation to try to solve these challenges and it offers a proven way to create respite and calm in your mind.

The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.

― Brother David Steindl-Rast

Why Grow a Heart of Gratitude Now?

Rock climbing in Norway | Photo by Trip Scholars

Shifting our thought patterns takes time and effort. It is much easier to do when life is easy, but will prove to be invaluable when life is difficult. I’ve been tending my thoughts to cultivate gratitude since I was first introduced to the idea as a teenager. I’m 54 years old now and continue to learn and grow in my practice. I’m very far from perfect, but my efforts have profoundly enhanced my life.  

Recently,  my younger sister and both of my parents died. At the same time one of our children also endured a very painful medical condition that had them bed-bound for years.  If I hadn’t done the internal mindset work during the good times, I would have been rudderless under the weight of these tragedies. It certainly did not make it easy and there were plenty of experiences where I was not focused on gratitude. But it was one of the powerful tools to help me get through the most difficult time in my life.

On a more manageable scale, all seasoned travelers know that there are aspects to travel that are uncomfortable, frightening, and difficult. After our child’s recovery we recently were finally able to take a long awaited international family trip. They were healthy enough to realize their dream of rock climbing in Norway. Unfortunately, we all got our first cases of Covid while we were traveling! 

Thanks to plenty of gratitude work, we were still able to appreciate our trip and be grateful for much of what we were experiencing. Building this strength while home and in the comfort of what is known and easy, makes it easier to adopt this mindset while in the midst of travel stresses.

How to Cultivate Gratitude

Bee in the yard of the author | Photo by Trip Scholars

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as if everything is a miracle.

– Albert Einstein

There are many things we can do to cultivate a heart of gratitude while we are still home so that we are able to continue it while traveling. Here are some ideas to try now.

1. Practice Mindful Appreciation

  • Engage your senses and be fully present in each moment of your routine.
  • Take time to appreciate the sights, sounds, and scents unique to your home environment.
  • Mindful appreciation enhances your awareness and allows you to find gratitude in the simple yet profound aspects of your daily life.

2. Express Thanks

  • Vocalize your appreciation to those you interact with in your everyday life.
  • When saying thank you, pause and think about what it is exactly you are thankful for. Dig deeper and consider sharing those reasons with the recipient of your gratitude.

3. Volunteer or Give Back

  • Engage in acts of kindness and service at home and during your travels.
  • Volunteer for local initiatives, support community projects, or simply lend a helping hand to those in need.
  • The act of giving back not only cultivates gratitude within you but also contributes positively to the destinations you visit.

4. Keep a Gratitude Journal

  • Dedicate 5-10 minutes each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life and your travels.
  • Document specific moments, people, or experiences that you are thankful for in a travel journal.
  • This written record serves as a tangible reminder of the richness and abundance present in your journey.

5. A to Z Gratitude List

  • Create an A to Z gratitude list specific to your life or your travels.
  • From the awe-inspiring architecture of a new city (A) to ziplining with your family (Z), this exercise encourages you to find gratitude in the details of your journey. 
  • By focusing on the unique aspects of each destination, you foster a deeper appreciation for the diversity the world has to offer.

Grateful Travel Quotes

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, United States | Photo by Trip Scholars

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

– William Arthur Ward

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness, doubled by wonder.

– G.K. Chesterton

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.

– Brene Brown

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Thus is your time on earth will be filled with glory.

– Betty Smith

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.

— Ralph H. Blum

Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence, we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training for the heart.

– Larissa Gomez

Reasons to be Thankful for Travel

Author in Pompeii Archeological Park, Italy | Photo by Trip Scholars

There are many reasons to be thankful for traveling. Next week’s post is one of my favorites. I’ve asked other travel writers why they travel and they have shared fantastic stories of what they are thankful for. Stay tuned for this article!

Cultivating a Heart of Gratitude for Travel

View from the houseboat where we recovered from Covid | Photo by Trip Scholars

I hope this article has helped you find inspiration and ideas for cultivating more gratitude in your life and your travels. I join you in this life-long pursuit and hope that it motivates us all to be kinder, more engaged in seeking justice and equity, and more able to deeply enjoy and profoundly appreciate our lives and our travels.

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Chihuly Garden and Glass Review With Tips From a Local

In this Chihuly Garden and Glass review, I’ll share lots of tips as a local Seattleite so that you can get the most from your visit to this remarkable exhibition. The museum and gardens showcase the incredible work of world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. From stunning chandeliers to intricate glass sculptures set in an enchanting garden, it offers a unique and visually stimulating journey into the world of contemporary glass art. 

I have visited multiple times and recently celebrated my birthday by visiting the museum. On this last trip, I asked the tour guide and docents for their advice and best tips so that I can share them all with you. This guide will provide all the essential information for planning your visit to Chihuly Garden and Glass.

This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for your support!

Is Chihuly Garden and Glass Worth It?

Winter Brilliance Gallery

The first question most people ask is, “Is Chihuly Garden and Glass worth it?” Unless you are on a tight budget, the answer is yes! It is such a visual delight and unique experience, that it is definitely worth including in your trip to Seattle. 

That being said, it is relatively expensive for its size, so I also encourage visitors to get their ticket as part of a combo pass. Stand alone tickets range from $26-$35 per person but if you plan to see many sites in the area,  use the links below to purchase a combo ticket with the Space Needle or get a Seattle City Pass with admission to multiple local attractions.

Get Your Tickets Now

I also recommend that you visit the website to confirm the hours on the day you plan to visit.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Wall of Native American blankets from Dale Chihuly’s personal collection

Dale Chilhuly is arguably the most famous glass artist in the world. He was born just south of Seattle in Tacoma, Washington in the United States in 1941 and fell in love with glass while studying Interior Design at the University of Washington. After a career that brought his stunning and easily recognizable installations to hundreds of sites around the world, he was asked about opening a museum at the base of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. 

Chihuly Garden and Glass opened in 2012 and the 1.5 acre site includes the Exhibition Hall, Glass House, and Garden. It is one of many world class attractions at Seattle Center, where visitors and locals enjoy museums, performances, playgrounds, gardens,  sculptures, an interactive fountain, and multiple cultural and musical events.

How Long Does It Take to Go Through Chihuly Garden and Glass?

The Chihuly Garden

When planning your trip to Seattle, most people want to know, “how long does it take to go through the Chihuly Garden and Glass?” On average, visitors spend about 1.5 to 2 hours touring the exhibits and the outdoor garden. However, your pace may vary depending on the time you have available, your level of interest, and how much of the museum you want to enjoy. 

In this Chihuly Garden and Glass review, I suggest planning for 3 hours so that you can watch the glass blowing demonstration and short films. This also gives you time to take a free docent-led tour, grab a bite in the quirky cafe, and find time for quiet contemplation on the benches throughout the exhibit. If you finish early, you’ll have a wealth of interesting options to choose from at Seattle Center.

Chihuly Museum: What to Expect

Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center

You will start your Chihuly Museum experience at the entrance where you can purchase tickets in person either at the desk or from kiosks. Again, I recommend getting a combo pass and these can be purchased in advance. There is also a coat check where you can drop off jackets and large bags. Umbrella strollers are allowed, but not larger ones. There are also wheelchairs available for use.

Chihuly Audio Tour

The Persian Ceiling Gallery

Every museum docent I asked for advice from recommended that visitors listen to the Chihuly Audio Tour. I agree that it makes for a more a memorable experience!  Download the free Chihuly Garden and Glass audio tour onto your phone. You will delve deeper into the stories behind the artworks, gain insights into the artistic process, and listen to fascinating anecdotes about Dale Chihuly’s life and career. It is narrated by Chihuly and other experts.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Tour 

Chihuly Garden and Glass Tour

When you enter the museum, check the times for the free docent led tours. These are engaging and informative and you can get all of your questions answered about the exhibition. There are multiple tours in English every day.

Exhibition Hall: Chihuly Chandeliers, Baskets, Boats, Bowls, and Mille Fiori

The Mille Fiori Gallery

Exhibition Hall has eight gallery rooms that are a complete visual delight! Dale Chihuly’s signature chandeliers are a highlight of the museum. But the museum’s collection goes far beyond these chandeliers, featuring a diverse array of sculptures, including the iconic glass boats, bowls, and the breathtaking Mille Fiori garden.

Exhibition Hall: Education Station

The Chihuly Education Station

Also in Exhibition Hall, you will find the Education Station staffed by a friendly and knowledgeable docent where you can touch and feel different types of glass and materials used in the glass blowing process. You can also ask questions and get lots of helpful advice.

Chihuly Glasshouse and Glasshouse Hours

The Chihuly Glasshouse

Next you will visit the famous Glasshouse, the centerpiece of the museum. This glass and steel building houses one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures in a dazzling array of reds, oranges, and yellows. There is plenty of seating and this is a wonderful place to enjoy some quiet appreciation of the space. The sculpture also dramatically frames the Space Needle that soars above it, creating beautiful views and photos. 

The Glasshouse is sometimes rented out for private events and is not always open. Because the Glasshouse hours can be different from the rest of the museum, check the website for the actual hours on your intended day.

Chihuly Garden

The Chihuly Garden

As much as I love the indoor displays, the garden is my personal favorite. The design is truly awe inspiring. The placement of the glass sculptures highlights the architecture of the surrounding buildings, including the Glasshouse and the Space Needle. Yet it is the interplay of the sculptures with the natural surroundings that breathes life into the experience. 

The plants enhance each of the sculptures carefully chosen for their colors, textures, and movement in the wind. The Chihuly Garden is relatively small, but there are multiple vignettes that you will want to enjoy.

Get Your Tickets Now

Chihuly Hotshop

Chihuly Hot Shop

Also in the garden is the Chihuly hotshop where you can watch glass blowing artists enjoying their craft. There is ample seating and multiple displays throughout the day as long as the weather permits.

Chihuly Theater

As you exit the garden, take time to visit the theater. There are multiple short films about Chilhuly and his work that will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of all that you have seen in the museum.

Chihuly Museum Gift Shop

Chihuly Glass Museum Gift Shop

If you are looking for mementos to remember your visit stop in the Chihuly Museum Gift Shop. It is a large gift shop with artwork, clothing, stationary, jewelry, and more. They offer many items with Chihuly artwork on them as well as those thoughtfully crafted by local PNW artists.   

Chihuly Garden and Glass Restaurant 

The Bar at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Even if you aren’t hungry,  take a peek into the restaurant called, The Bar at Chihuly Garden and Glass. It is decorated with over 25 of the artist’s collections ranging from tin toys to plastic radios. This creates a quirky and unique dining experience. They have an extensive drink menu, much of it locally sourced, and the food is inspired by the Pacific Northwest.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Free Photos

Free photo taken by a professional photographer

In this Chihuly Garden and Glass review, a good tip is to keep your eyes open for the professional photographers. They will take your photo and you can download free copies from this link when you get home. Just be sure to keep your ticket, which has a code that will allow  you to retrieve your photos.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Photos

Macchia Bowl with opaque layer of glass

This museum is photography friendly and you will likely want to capture a lot of the experience on camera. Tripods and selfie-sticks are not allowed. 

To allow yourself to stay present to the artwork, consider enjoying each room fully before going back to particular pieces you want to photograph.

Both indoors and out, you are allowed to use your flash. In fact, in the final gallery room called the Macchia Forest, you will find a fantastical collection of bowls. He mastered the art of adding an opaque layer of glass inside of each bowl. 

When I asked one of the docents what she wished people knew about the museum, she was happy to teach me about the impact of lighting on these bowls. She used her phone’s flashlight to show how dramatically different the colors are with different angles of lighting. It was striking and observing with your flashlight  is allowed by the museum.

Chihuly Glass Museum Parking

I have found parking near Seattle Center hundreds of times, and my best advice is to give yourself plenty of time to find a parking space or take public transportation. 

There are parking garages and lots all around the area, as well as street and valet parking. Most parking throughout downtown is expensive and is usually paid for with parking apps through your phone.

If you are visiting Seattle from out of town and staying in the downtown area, the best way to get to the Chihuly Museum is public transportation. In fact, you can take the monorail which is probably the least expensive attraction ticket in the city!

Best Time to Visit Chihuly Garden and Glass

Sun and weather impact viewing in the garden

The best time to visit Chihuly Garden and Glass is during the week when it is less crowded. Crowds are also smaller in the morning and after 5:00 PM. The most crowded times are weekends in the summer.

The outdoor sculptures are beautiful but different in sunlight and the dramatic nighttime lighting. 

Learning More Before and After Your Trip to Chihuly Glass and Garden

The author enjoying the gardens

If you are planning a trip to Seattle, I have a whole article dedicated to helping you make the most of your visit to my hometown. It’s filled with activities, books, movies, sites, and more. You can learn more here.

Looking for tips about visiting museums? I’ve got you covered in Museum Tips: How to Make the Most of Visiting a Museum. 

Chihuly PBS Special and Hot Shop

Ikebana and Float Boats Gallery

Learn more about Dale Chihuly’s journey and artistic process by watching the PBS special dedicated to the artist. Gain a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of his masterpieces, including a glimpse into the famous Chihuly hot shop where molten glass comes to life.

Watch on Youtube Watch with Amazon

More Glass Art In Washington

A short drive south of Seattle will bring you to the world-famous Museum of Glass and the adjacent Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma. If you enjoyed Chihuly Garden and Glass you will also love this museum.

Seattle has multiple glass workshops where you can make your own blown or fused glass artwork. Our family has done this a couple of times, but the studios we worked in are no longer open. You can find some to consider here.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Review Conclusion

I hope this Chihuly Glass and Garden Review helped you plan a fantastic trip!  With the information provided in this guide, you can plan your visit with confidence, ensuring that you make the most of your time at this spectacular Seattle attraction. The Chihuly Garden and Glass promises an unforgettable experience and I wish you a wonderful visit.

If you have any questions or thoughts about your visit, let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!

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The Best Movies About Norway to Watch Before Your Trip

Stave Church Norway

In this article, we have gathered the best movies about Norway to watch before your trip. By enjoying them before you leave you will ensure your trip is as meaningful and enjoyable as possible. Learn more about the history, culture, language, and extraordinary natural beauty of Norway before you arrive and you will enhance many parts of your trip.

I’m a travel education specialist and support curious travelers like you in finding ways to learn more about their destinations. This summer our family was finally able to enjoy a dream trip and visit our ancestral homeland of Norway. We spent months learning about the country before we went and it improved our trip dramatically.

In this post, I’ve asked other travel writers to share some of their favorite shows and movies about Norway and why the recommend them to other travelers. I hope you find some great films to add to your watch list and that they help you have an even better trip!

Norwegian Documentaries and Docudramas

Kon-Tiki (1950)

Watch on Prime

Before leaving on your trip to Norway, be sure to watch the documentary Kontiki (1950). It is directed by the explorer himself, Thor Heyerdahl. He and his crew set out on a wooden raft to test his theory that the Polynesian Islands were originally populated from Peru, not Asia. 

Kon-Tiki won the 1952 Academy Award for the year’s Best Documentary. The film chronicles a daring expedition 101- day journey across the Pacific, reflecting the Norwegians’ spirit of exploration and adventure. As you witness the challenges faced by the crew, you’ll gain insight into the country’s maritime history and the tenacity of its people.

To deepen your connection with the film, visit the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, housing the original raft and artifacts. The Bygdøy Peninsula, where the museum stands, also features other maritime gems like the Fram Museum, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, and the Viking Ship Museum (closed until 2027). These sites offer a captivating glimpse into Norway’s seafaring heritage, providing context for the documentary.

Kon-Tiki (2012)

Watch on Prime

Fast forward to 2012, where directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg reimagine Heyerdahl’s epic tale in a feature film. Watching “Kontiki” (2012) brings the narrative to life with stunning visuals and a contemporary perspective.

It was nominated for an Academy Award for the Best Foreign Film of the Year and won multiple other awards. While the film takes some creative liberties for dramatic effect, it remains remarkably faithful to the spirit of the original journey.

The Kontiki documentary-docudrama duo serves as a cinematic gateway, enriching your travel experience with a deeper understanding of Norway’s rich heritage and adventurous spirit.

22. July (2018)

22. July is a compelling and emotionally charged docudrama based on a true story. It offers a harrowing yet important cinematic experience. Directed by Paul Greengrass, the film delves into the horrifying events of the 2011 Norway attacks, primarily set in Oslo and Utøya.

While the Norwegian film uses actual events as its basis, it includes some fictional elements to enhance the narrative. Starring Jonas Strand Gravli, the movie effectively captures the resilience of the survivors and the nations response to the tragedy. It’s a gripping and well-acted account of the attacks and their aftermath.

22.July is one of the best movies about Norway to watch before a trip because it will enhance the viewer’s experience. It provides historical context and a deeper understanding of the resilience and unity of the Norwegian people in the face of adversity.

Travelers will gain insights into the country’s culture, values, and how the nation came together during a dark period. This film offers a unique insight into the human spirit and the power of solidarity in the face of tragedy.

Contributed by Victoria at Guide Your Travel

Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway (2023)

Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway is a movie loosely based on Sagarika Chakraboty’s memoir, The Journey of a Mother. It tells a story about her battle to fight the Norwegian Child Welfare Service for her children’s custody after they were forcibly taken from their family house and moved them to foster home. 

Set in Stavanger, the movie follows the story of Debika and her husband Aniruddha. They get a visit from the Norwegian Child Welfare Service (Velfred) employees. 

The Chatterjee family moved to Norway from India and, during these Velfred visits, there were some obvious cultural differences that resulted in Velfred’s decision to take custody of their children. Some things that are common in Indian culture such as feeding their children with their hands or letting the kids sleep with their parents, were seen as unfit by the Norwegian authorities. 

Starring Rani Mukherjee as Debika, the movie highlights some interesting aspects of Norway that most people wouldn’t see otherwise. The media often portray Norway and other Scandinavian countries as picture-perfect places to live, but this movie highlights the flaws and struggles that immigrants could face due to cultural differences. 

The movie is suitable for families with kids, especially if they plan to move overseas. It will highlight the importance of knowing the basic law implemented in the country that you’re going to. 

It is one of the best movies about Norway to watch before your trip because culture shock is real. The best thing you can do is be prepared for it because something common in your culture can result in the involvement of law enforcement elsewhere if you’re not careful.

Contributed by Marya at The BeauTraveler

Norwegian World War 2 Movies 

The Heroes of Telemark (1965)

Watch on Prime

Based on a true story from the second world war, most of the film is true to fact. However, this Norwegian World War Two movie has been given the Hollywood treatment through adding a few elements to make it more dramatic.

The story is about a group of resistance fighters trying to sabotage a plant manufacturing heavy water which is used in atomic bombs.

The film starts with two Norwegian resistance fighters traveling to Britain where a raid against the plant is planned together with British intelligence. Unfortunately the plane carrying the English officers to Norway is shot down. To ensure the Germans don’t get access to the heavy water the Norwegian resistance fighters decide to undertake the operation on their own.

Much of the film is shot in Telemark and shows what Norwegian winters can be like. Although it showcases Norway’s mountain scenery, that is not the main reason to watch the film.

Watching the film before traveling to Norway will give you some understanding of Norwegian history. Norway is a relatively young country and therefore acts of bravery like this are viewed as important historic events. Being Norwegian myself I used to watch this film at school. I have watched it several times, as have most Norwegians.

Contributed by Kristin at Scotland Less Explored

War Sailor (Krigsseileren) (2022)

War Sailor is a gripping WWII series that tells the tale of Norwegian sailors fighting for their country’s freedom. The show brilliantly intertwines factual events with a rich narrative, revealing the undying spirit of the Norwegians during a tumultuous time. Its breathtaking cinematography paints a vivid picture of the scenic beauty of Norway, particularly the picturesque city of Bergen.

Visiting Norway after watching this series will give travelers a unique perspective. The streets of Bergen, portrayed with so much historical significance in the show, will come alive as you walk them. The series introduces viewers to the country’s wartime past and deepens their appreciation for its enduring beauty and resilient spirit despite the difficulties of their lives.

In essence, War Sailor is more than just a historical drama; it’s a bridge to Norway’s past. Whether you’re a history buff, a fan of well-crafted stories, or someone planning a trip to Bergen, this series offers a moving and immersive experience. It’ll linger in your thoughts long after the credits roll, making your connection to Norway even more profound.

Contributed by Odo at caribevibes.com

The King’s Choice (Kongens Nei) (2016)

Watch on Prime

The King’s Choice is a multi-award winning historical drama that offers insight into a crucial chapter of Norway’s past. Directed by the renowned Norwegian director, Erik Poppe, the film portrays the events of April 1940, when Nazi Germany invaded Norway. 

It primarily revolves around the difficult choices faced by King Haakon VII (grandfather of Harald V, the current king of Norway). The king is played by Jesper Christensen, and he grapples with the decision to resist the German occupation or surrender to avoid bloodshed. The film is based on real-life events but takes some creative liberties in the telling of the story. 

There is a focus on the king’s personal and political struggles instead of a heavy emphasis on action and battle scenes. Set against the backdrop of Norway’s scenic landscapes and historic sites, The King’s Choice beautifully captures the country’s rich history and its role during World War II. 

It is one of the best movies about Norway to watch before your trip because it will enhance your understanding of the country’s resilience and its people’s commitment to their sovereignty. It provides a poignant perspective on the challenges faced during a tumultuous period in Norwegian history. History enthusiasts and those interested in the human aspects of wartime decisions will find The King’s Choice an engaging and thought-provoking film.

Atlantic Crossing  (2020)

Watch on Prime

Atlantic Crossing is a different interpretation of the same events that inspired the previous recommendation, The King’s Choice. Eight episodes tell a longer version of the complex story of diplomacy, espionage, and the impact of World War II on Norway and the United States. Created by Alexander Eik, the show is recognized as a more fictional account  but still offers a riveting look at a lesser-known chapter of history and the personal lives intertwined with the fates of nations.

At the center of the series is the relationship between Norwegian Crown Princess Märtha and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Their connection is framed by the backdrop of global conflict. Cinematic liberties showcase the personal sacrifices and political maneuvering that shaped the course of history.

To delve deeper into Norway’s World War II history, travelers can explore sites like the Norwegian Resistance Museum in Oslo, the War Museum in Narvik, and the Norsk Krigsleiemuseum in Narvik, where exhibits and artifacts offer a tangible connection to the era depicted in “Atlantic Crossing.”

Atlantic Crossing is a captivating portrayal of a little-known facet of history. This series not only provides viewers with a dramatic narrative but also deepens our understanding of Norway’s unique role during World War II. It’s a must-watch for history enthusiasts and travelers seeking to uncover the intricate relationships and events that shaped Norway’s past and its place on the global stage.

Norwegian Dramas

Thelma (2017) 

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Thelma is a fascinating and thought-provoking Norwegian drama that expertly blends psychological drama and supernatural mysteries. Through fiction, this film skillfully mixes the supernatural with a struggle for identity. It causes the audience to question the boundaries between the real and the imaginary. 

The movie is directed by Joachim Trier and is about a college student who starts experiencing extreme seizures while she is studying at a university in Oslo. It follows the journey of her violent episodes and how they are a symptom of dangerous supernatural elements.

This Norwegian film stars Eili Harboe as the main character. She gives a fascinating and subtle performance that perfectly captures the core of Thelma’s internal problems and emotional agony. 

It provides viewers with a breathtaking visual depiction of the captivating natural landscapes of Norway in Europe. It focuses on the charm of Oslo and its surrounding areas in particular. 

The film portrays Norway’s stunning beauty and explores Norwegian culture and society. It is an excellent introduction to the country’s rich legacy and mesmerising landscapes. 

It provides a unique opportunity for travellers considering a trip to Norway to immerse themselves in the country’s fascinating ambience and develop a greater appreciation for its cultural intricacies and picturesque places.

Contributed by Lavina D’souza at Continent Hop

Varg Veum (2007 – 2012)

Watch on Prime

Varg Veum is a wonderful Norwegian crime television series by Lumiere. It’s the perfect series to watch if you are a fan of “Nordic Noir” or if you are interested in watching crime series in general. Not only the suspense of this show is great but it also intrigues with an authentic portrayal of Norwegian culture and scenery. 

The television series centers on Varg Veum, a private detective based in Bergen, the second-largest city in Norway. Set against the backdrop of Bergen’s iconic wooden houses and surrounding fjords, Detective Veum tackles a range of crime cases, often delving into the darker sides of Norwegian society. Throughout the series, you get a genuine taste of Bergen’s atmosphere and a glimpse into the complexities of its inhabitants.

The storylines of the series are based on the novels of Norwegian writer Gunnar Staalesen and are, however, completely fictional. 

Several talented Norwegian actors have brought the characters of Varg Veum to life on screen but most notable is Trond Espen Seim who stars as detective Varg Veum. The series has had multiple directors, each bringing their unique style to the episodes.

The series is predominantly set in Bergen, one of Norway’s most historic and beautiful cities. As a traveler, you will surely visit this city as a part of your itinerary. Through the series, you will already be familiar with its streets, squares, and landmarks and feel a sense of connection when you actually visit. 

The series also provides useful insights into Norwegian culture giving travelers a more in-depth understanding of the country’s people, their way of life, values, and the challenges they face. Lastly, the series also boasts various off-the-beaten-path locations in and around Bergen that you can visit on your trip!

Contributed by Annelies from Travelers & Dreamers

Norwegian Action Movies

Troll (2022)

This is an action-filled Norwegian movie that integrates modern life with traditional Norwegian folklore. The trolls are deeply integrated into Norway’s folklore, and in this movie, the legendary giants come to life as they wake up from a deep sleep. They walk from the mountainous areas and into modern cities in Norway destroying everything that comes in their way, while a team of local experts are set to stop them.

The stories and legends about the trolls that are told throughout the movie are all tales that every Norwegian kid has grown up with for centuries, so it definitely gives you a sense of Norwegian roots.

It is directed by Roar Uthaug and stars Ine Marie Wilmann, Kim Falck, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Gard B. Eidsvold, Pål Richard Lunderby, and Eric Vorenholt.

It is not recommended for kids under 13 years of age, but is a great film to see for families with older kids, especially action lovers mixed with the mystery of old folklore. The movie also shows incredible nature which will spark an interest for anyone wanting to go hiking in Norway on their upcoming trip.

Contributed by Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers

The Wave (Bølgen) – 2015

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The Wave was the first of several popular Norwegian disaster movies. It depicts the catastrophic consequences of what would happen when a large piece of the mountain collapses into the narrow Geirangerfjord below. It creates a tsunami flooding through the fjord and towards the village at the end of it.

There are several mountain sections like this in Norway, that are in danger of collapsing and creating such a wave (although not as dramatic). This is what inspired the movie. We follow a geologist, played by Kristoffer Joner, as he races to save his family before the wave hits the village of Geiranger.

Anyone planning a trip to Norway will enjoy this movie, especially if you are visiting the western fjords. Geiranger is a popular tourist destination, and The Wave showcases the Geirangerfjord (one of the #1 attractions in the area) in a new light.

It also introduces travellers to the potential natural disasters threatening Norway; mainly landslides and avalanches. In Norway we live next to these mountains that threaten us in a way that is imilar to how in certain US states people can experience (and are prepared for) hurricanes and tornadoes.

Contributed by Lisa Stentvedt at Fjords & Beaches


Watch on Prime

The television series Vikings is a multi-award winning historical drama that immerses viewers in the tumultuous world of Norse warriors and their legendary explorations. It was a global sensation and reignited interest in Viking history. Created by Michael Hirst, Vikings offers six seasons of exciting television viewing to explore the rich history of the Viking age.

At the heart of Vikings is the enigmatic figure of Ragnar Lothbrok, a powerful character from Norse legends. His quest for exploration and conquest takes audiences on a thrilling journey to distant lands that later became places like England and France.

The series is loosely based on history, in part because of how much is unknown about Viking culture, religious traditions, and ceremonies.  Instead, the striking visual storytelling inspires viewers to do their own research after many episodes. The series also interweaves elements of Norse mythology, portraying gods like Odin and Freyja into the story.

The story is set in the fictional town of Kattegat in Norway. Most of the filming was done in Ireland, but there are many scenes filmed in Norway. Especially as the seasons unfold, filming was done in many other countries. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Scandinavia’s fjords, forests, and coastlines, the show achieves stunning scenic realism. 

For travelers eager to experience the Viking world in person, Norway offers a wealth of opportunities. Visitors can explore historical sites like the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, the Lofotr Viking Museum in the Lofoten Islands, and many Viking living history centers around the country. These locations provide a tangible connection to the Viking legacy portrayed in Vikings, allowing enthusiasts to step back in time and immerse themselves in the history, culture, and heritage of these seafaring warriors.

Norwegian Comedies

Home for Christmas (2019-2020)

This modern Norwegian TV show aired on Netflix and took the world by storm despite being entirely in the Norwegian language (with English subtitles), thanks to its relatable characters and classic Christmas rom-com storyline. 

Filmed in Oslo and the adorable small Norwegian town of Røros, this hilarious series follows the perpetually single Johanne (played by Ida Elise Broch) who is looking for a new boyfriend to bring home for Christmas, purely to divert from the usual family harassment surrounding her single status. Any females in their 20’s or 30’s who have faced similar questions throughout their lives can relate to this great plot line! 

While this Norwegian comedy is complete fiction, the traditions, customs, and societal situations are very true to life in Norway and give you a great insight into the country’s culture in everyday life. Whether you’re dating a Norwegian or visiting during the holiday season, this two season show will absolutely prepare you for what to expect at the Julebord (Christmas table).

Contributed by Kate Fletcher at Bags-Always-Packed


Watch on Prime

Some Norwegian humor can be very entertaining. This is what you will see when watching Netflix’s Norwegian comedy Norsemen. This series combines the pre-medieval Viking culture and lifestyle with modern humor in the character’s day-to-day lives. 

The setting is a fictional village where the Viking characters live and interact with each other. It comedically deals with the issues and problems of that time including slavery, religion, family, sexual orientation, societal expectations, and modernization. With the locations being shot in parts of Southern Norway you get to see part of the landscape beauty of this country. 

If you decide to watch this before going to Norway, it may pique your interest in learning more about the history of the Vikings and their impact on the rest of the world. Learn about their ships, weapons, religion, games, and royalty. Even if it does not make any changes to your perception of Norway, it is always fun to see the different types of comedy from around the world. You may find you enjoy it more than your own.

Submitted by Nick of The World Overload

Norwegian Family Movies

Frozen (2013)

Watch on Prime

With an amazing story and soundtrack, Disney’s Frozen is one of the most successful and beautifully animated musical films ever produced. Set in the fictional Kingdom of Arendelle, it draws inspiration from many Norwegian locations including Arendal and Bergen.

The film follows Princess Anna on an epic adventure as she travels across the Kingdom with her friend Kristof and his reindeer Sven on a mission to end the perpetual winter accidentally brought on by her sister, Queen Elsa.

Idina Mensel and Kristen Bell bring Anna and Elsa’s voices to life with directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee skillfully navigating the film to its emotional conclusion.

Children and adults will love this movie’s mix of catch sing-along songs and its divergence from traditional fairy tale conventions. Visitors to Norway will love looking out for the many architectural and scenic similarities that run through the film. From stunning fjords to traditional stave churches, after watching the film you’ll feel like you have stepped into the world’s largest movie set!

Contributed by Tom and Katie at www.trekkingthedream.com

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

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What makes How to Train Your Dragon a great movie to watch is its universal appeal to both kids and adults. This animated gem, directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, combines exciting visuals, a heartwarming story, and a lovable dragon named Toothless. It’s set in the fictional island of Berk, which draws inspiration from the rugged landscapes of the west coast of Norway. While the film is a work of fiction, its landscapes echo the majestic fjords and coastal beauty that Norway is known for.

In this film, a young Viking named Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, learns about acceptance and friendship as he befriends Toothless, a Night Fury dragon. Together, they strive to change their community’s perception of dragons. 

Watching How to Train Your Dragon can enhance your trip to Norway by sparking a sense of wonder for the country’s natural beauty and curiosity about its past. Families can explore the coastal regions of Norway, and children may imagine themselves on their own dragon-riding adventures amidst Norway’s enchanting scenery. It can also spark conversations and deeper dives into learning more about Viking history and Norse Mythology, where dragons played an important role.

The author and her family hiking Jostedal Glacier in Norway

Movies About Norway to Add to Your Watchlist

I hope you found some wonderful movies about Norway to add to your watchlist in this article! Let they joy of your trip extend far beyond your time in Norway by learning and enjoying as much as you can before you arrive. Trip Scholars is dedicated to helping you make the most of learning through travel so take some time to explore our site and see how we can enhance your travels.

Tell us about your plans for Norway in the comments or your favorite Norwegian films. We’d love to hear from you!

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Museum Tips: How To Make the Most of Visiting a Museum

Museums are often the crown jewels of a place, concentrating valued treasures into a single, exhilarating space. Within their walls we find some of the most vivid and profound windows into the art, history, culture, and natural wonders of our world. But with so much value in one place they are often vast, overwhelming, and expensive, leaving visitors looking for the best museum tips for their visits.

Personally, I have had some of the most meaningful experiences of my life in museums and I know how powerful they can be. I have also organized multiple group visits to museums and have experience helping visitors make the most visiting a museum. In this article, I’ll share how to make your visit as stress free, enjoyable, and meaningful as it can be with tips you can use before, during, and after your trip.

This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for your support!

Museum Tips: Before You Go

The First People, Susan Point

Know That You are Welcome

You don’t need to know anything special to enjoy yourself in a museum. They are made for everyone and your experience will be personal to you. There are countless types of museums, choose one that appeals to you and enjoy it in a way that is meaningful to you. The rest of this article will share many ways to enhance your trip, but the most important thing is just to go! Choose the tips that are best for you and plan your trip to a museum today.

Visit the Website

One of the best museum tips is to visit the website before you go. Most museums have websites and apps that provide detailed information about their collections, temporary exhibitions, special events, opening hours, and admission fees. Look at the maps, suggested tours, and exhibits. Planning ahead allows you to focus on what interests you most, saving time and ensuring you don’t miss out on your favorite experiences while you are visiting the museum.

Plan Your Visit

The most frequent mistake visitors make when visiting a museum is using their energy and time at the exhibits that happen to be closest to the entrance. Research shows that we usually spend the most time and energy with the first exhibits we see. By the time we reach further rooms, we are often experiencing museum fatigue. So spend time before you arrive thinking about what you really want to see and go to those rooms first. You don’t need a detailed itinerary, unless you want one! Instead, choose a few things you are most interested in and head there early.

Planning a trip to Greece Minoan Ladies In Blue, Knossos Palace, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete, Greece
Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete, Greece

Learn  Before You Go

Use books, blogs, movies, videos, the museum’s website and other resources to familiarize yourself with the collections. Many museums offer a section on their website for educators or parents with activities and resources to enhance learning before and after the trip. Even if you don’t engage in the actual activities, you will get ideas about creative ways to approach the exhibits.

The more we understand the context of what we see, the deeper our understanding often is. Trip Scholars is dedicated to helping travelers learn more and you will find many resources throughout this website. We also have a free guide with step-by-step activities you can do to learn more before you go. Grab your free copy here!

 Check for Discounts and Special Offers

Many museums offer discounts or free admission on certain days or specific times, especially for students, seniors, and children.  If you are traveling with anyone in these groups, be sure they bring their school or government ID so they can get free or discounted admissions.

Additionally, many libraries have museum passes to nearby museums that  locals can check out with their library card. Some museums offer free admission to underserved communities through programs like Museums for All. 

The majority of  museums also have memberships that provide benefits like free entry for a year, discounted tickets for guests, and invitations to special events. If you plan on going multiple times in one year, these passes are a great deal. There are also reciprocal relationships between many museums, like the North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM), so check your fine print. 

The line outside of the Palace of Versailles that we skipped

Skip the Line if You Can

Some of the most popular museums in the world have entrance lines that can take hours to get through. If you only have a limited time in a city, this can significantly impact your trip. There are frequently multiple ways to skip these lines, but you have to do some research beforehand to take advantage of this museum tip.  

Savvy travelers who plan to visit multiple museums in a city or region find out if there is a local museum pass program. These allow you to visit multiple museums and other sites within a set period of time for one price. If using a multi-site pass that requires picking it up in person, consider picking it up at one of the less frequented sites so you can skip the line. Many can be purchased on your phone in advance.

Another option is to buy timed entrance tickets online in advance. Many entrances will have two lines, one for general entry and another, much shorter line, for timed tickets. You can often purchase the timed ticket from your phone while you are standing in front of the entrance and save yourself lots of time.

One of the best features of many tours is that they allow you to skip the lines. Get Your Guide has options for most major museums, with some offering just a skip the line option without an actual tour.

I have found some of the best skip the line options by reading travel forums like Tripadvisor, Rick Steves, and Fodors. Use the search feature and see what you can find. We were able to skip the enormous line at Versailles by eating breakfast in a restaurant that exited directly into the entrance to the palace. We have also learned about less well known entrances that have shorter lines and a quicker entry on these forums.

Not all museums require a skip the line option though. Read up before you spend money and find out if these skip the line museum tips are really needed.

Chihuly Glass Museum, Seattle, Washington

Consider Timing

If you want to avoid crowds when visiting a museum, consider visiting during non-peak hours, such as weekdays. Keep in mind that schools often have field trips during the week, so early morning and mid afternoon on those days often have fewer visitors. Sensory-friendly hours are being offered at more museums too, often before museums open to the general public and you will find fewer crowds and lessened stimulation. 

Free admission days or times are often the most crowded, so plan accordingly if avoiding crowds is important to you.

Museums frequently close on specific weekdays (most often Mondays), so be sure to check the website. Additionally, check if the museum has special events or exhibitions during specific times that might interest you. 

Also choose a time that is good for you personally. Ensuring that you and your companions are not hungry, thirsty, tired, or sick will make for a much better trip.

Wear comfortable shoes so you are ready for a lot of walking

Dress Comfortably

Wear comfortable shoes because you will likely do a lot of walking and standing on hard ground. Layers of clothing are a great idea, as museum temperatures can vary. Some, like the Vatican Museums, have a dress code so check before you go especially if it is a religious museum.

Understand the Etiquette 

Each museum has its own set of rules and policies. Some may have restrictions on large bags, food, or drinks, while others may not allow strollers or backpacks. Knowing the rules in advance of visiting the museum will help you prepare accordingly. Many offer a coat and bag check so even busy travelers can visit enroute to their next destination.

Photography guidelines vary considerably, sometimes even within a single museum. If you plan to take photos, look up the guidelines before you go.

Common courtesy will serve you well in museums just like anywhere else. If there are many people around an exhibit, wait patiently but don’t be shy about approaching a piece closely when it is your turn. Enjoy the experience, then step back after viewing if others are waiting. You can always circle back or linger and wait for a break in the crowds. In fact, there will often be  waves of crowds at the most popular sites. On multiple occasions, I have waited for the wave to pass and appreciated viewing mostly to myself.

Tile Museum, Lisbon, Portugal

Museum Tips: While You are There

Start with a Map

Museums are some of the biggest buildings in the world! When you arrive at the museum, pick up a map or use an app if available. Familiarize yourself with the layout and identify the areas or exhibits you’re most excited about. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by the vastness of the space. Feel free to meander, but use a map to help you get to the sites you most want to see.

Take in the Big Picture

When you arrive in each room, take a moment to step back and take in the big picture. What catches your eye? You don’t need to stop at every piece. This can also be a fascinating opportunity to watch others interacting with the exhibits and notice the flow of the space.

Javanese Art, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore

Take Your Time

Spend as much or as little time as you need in each section, absorbing the history and culture behind each piece.  A study shows that the mean time visitors spend with a piece is 29 seconds. It is not possible to take in a piece fully in that amount of time, so instead, dive deeper into the pieces that you are drawn to.

Notice your natural reaction to a piece and spend time reflecting on how it makes you feel or what it makes you think about. Wait to read the label and honor your own thoughts before reading what others have to say about it.

Audio tours are a great option

Choose Your Tours Carefully

Tours can greatly enhance a museum experience by helping visitors understand the historical and cultural contexts of the exhibits. 

Many museums offer audio tours.These can be a fantastic option because they are affordable and you can choose which exhibits you want to learn more about. Some have their audio tours available for free download before you arrive, allowing you to skip the audio tour checkout  line inside. There are also third party sites like Rick Steves that offer free and paid audio tours for popular museums. Consider bringing your own earbuds that you can use with some audio guides. 

Tour guides, who are often gifted at bringing the exhibits to life, can be another valuable option. Many museums offer free and paid guided tours and it is worth checking the website to see what time they offer tours in a language you speak. While guided tours can be informative, don’t feel obligated to stick with the group the entire time. It’s perfectly fine to break away and explore at your own pace if you find something particularly fascinating. There are also third party sites that have tour guides available for hire and these are often the best choice for private tours.

You can also act as your own tour guide by doing research in advance. This not only allows you a much richer understanding of what you are seeing, it also gives you the space to be fully present. Visitors sometimes have transcendent experiences in museums and that can be more natural when standing alone next to a piece instead of being in a large group listening to a guide.

Share the Museum With Others

Visiting a museum can be enhanced both by time alone and time with others. Depending on your trip, you might want some of both.

Museums easily ignite curiosity and new ideas so they are ideal places to share with others. As Adam Gopnik shares in an article in The Walrus, “Talking in museums is one of the things that makes them matter.” I’ve enjoyed fascinating conversations with loved ones, students, and strangers in museums and have grown from many of them. 

Finding a quiet corner

Consider Going Solo

Time alone in a museum can be transformative. This is known as the numinous museum experience and in the words of K.F. Latham at Kent State University  it is, “characterized by deep engagement or transcendence, empathy, and a feeling of awe or reverence.” To reach this psychological state it can help to be alone with the exhibits. Giving ourselves the space to dive deep into our thoughts while standing in front of a Van Gogh painting or touching a massive meteorite can bring us to rapturous tears and is well worth finding some time alone when visiting a museum.

Time alone in a museum also allows us to find our own rhythm and spend as long or as little as we want with each piece. We can find a quiet corner or bench in front of a favorite piece to nurture our reflections or move quickly through spaces that don’t pique our interests.

Sketch or Journal

Bringing a sketchbook or journal when visiting the museum can be a creative way to engage with the collections. You don’t need to be an artist, jotting down your impressions can deepen your connection to the exhibits.

Lunch titled “Still Life” at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam where even the food is a work of art!

Take Breaks

The human brain has limits on how long we can concentrate, so if you are at a museum for an extended period add in some breaks. 

Many museums have cafes, some quite beautiful and inviting with menus inspired by the collections. They can be a wonderful place to connect with family and friends and share what you have been seeing. If you are visiting solo, they are a great place to process what you have been experiencing and make decisions about the rest of your visit.

Another good place for a break is the gift shop. Even if you choose not to buy anything, you might find books, films, or activities to enjoy once you are home.

Many museums have a garden, sculpture garden, or other outside space that offers a quiet place for contemplation and rest. Some are even offering rooms that serve as meditation of yoga spaces. You can also often find a film or amphitheater that will give you a chance to rest in between exhibits.

Finally, one of the best options is often a quiet corner or bench away from the crowds. It can be fascinating to watch others interact with the exhibits  while you are appreciating the museum and resting.

Jeff Koons, Venus with the author taking a photo reflected in the piece

Keep Your Phone in Your Pocket

One of the best museum tips is to keep your phone in your pocket. Museums allow us to enter a state of flow where we can be fully present. Our phones distract us and break this opportunity for deeper thought and connection.

It is common to find many visitors taking multiple selfies in front of famous works, only to quickly move on to get their next photo. All without appreciating or being fully present to what they are seeing.

Yet, museums allow us to experience in person things we have thought about for years before arriving and it is natural to want to capture it in a photo. What is the best way to navigate these competing ideas?

One idea is to decide in advance not to take photos. Some museums restrict all photography so the decision will be made for you. In this case, you can decide instead to get books, postcards, or prints to enjoy at home instead.

Another option is to control our impulse to take out our phone while we enjoy an exhibit and only upon leaving the room, decide what to go back and photograph. This keeps us in the present moment, but also allows us to capture a few pictures to remember the day.

Museum Tips: After Your Visit

Reflect on Your Experience

After leaving the museum, take some time to reflect on your visit. What did you find most captivating? Did any particular piece leave a lasting impression? 

Continue the Conversation

Share your museum experience with friends, family, or fellow art, history, science, or nature enthusiasts. Discussing your visit with others can deepen your understanding and appreciation of the artworks and artifacts you encountered.

Museum gift shops provide opportunities to continue learning at home

Explore Further

If a particular exhibit or artist piqued your interest, consider delving deeper. A great museum tip is to read books, watch documentaries, or attend lectures related to the subject. Learning more about what you saw can enhance your appreciation. Trip Scholars offers a range of ideas in this free guide.

Keep the Memories Alive

There are many ways to continue nurturing the thoughts and feelings you experienced in the museum. Share your photos in static or digital frames, create photo books and collages, or share them on social media. Journaling or sketching once home can let you dive much deeper. The gift shop will likely have home decor, clothing items, holiday decorations and much more that will serve as vivid reminders of your visit. 

Inspired by your museum visit, try your hand at creating art or exploring a new hobby. You might discover a latent talent or find a new way to express yourself. You will often find activities that you can bring home in the gift shop whether it is a set of watercolors, a science kit, or a field guide to bring out on the trail. 

Keeping museum memories alive

Become a Member

Consider becoming a museum member. Museums rely on community support to thrive and continue to offer valuable experiences. 

Members often receive free admission for a year, discounted or free tickets to share with others, behind the scenes information and newsletters, and invitations to special events. If you plan to visit more than once a year, museum memberships can be a fantastic choice especially because you can enjoy short visits on multiple occasions.

Consider giving the gift of museum memberships to friends and family. These can be very thoughtful and useful presents. Memberships are often ideal for families and people who prefer experiences to things. I have been both the grateful recipient and gift giver of museum memberships and know that they are some of the most memorable of all gifts!

Making the Most of Visiting a Museum

Visiting a museum can be a truly enriching experience if you take the time to prepare, engage, and reflect. By following these museum tips before, during, and after your visit, you’ll not only make the most of your museum trip but also develop a deeper connection with the diverse array of human creativity and expression on display. What tips do you recommend to others? Tell us in the comments or let us know what questions you have about your next museum visit!

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Destination Inspiration: Where to Next?

Destination Inspiration boat in clear water near a small island

Are you looking for destination inspiration and wondering, “Where should I travel next?” With a world full of incredible destinations you want to learn about, it’s natural to seek inspiration for your next travel adventure. Finding your next travel destination can be an exciting journey in itself.

Keep a running list of the places you hope to visit. One of the keys to frequent or affordable travel  is flexibility. If you already know where you want to go, you can take advantage of deals and opportunities when they arise.

If you are traveling as a family, with your partner, or with friends, be inspired by their dream destinations too. So, where can you turn to for that much-needed travel destination inspiration in ways that are authentic to you, your dreams, and your values? Let’s explore some sources that can help you answer, “Where to next?”

This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for your support!

1. Books

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Books have the power to transport you to different worlds, both real and imaginary. Dive into travel literature, memoirs, or novels set in exotic locales. Trip Scholars is filled with book recommendations related to many destinations that might spark your interest. Learn how to plan your own trip inspired by your favorite books or authors in, How to Plan a Literary Trip.

2. Movies and Television

Film has the ability to capture the essence of a destination. Watch travel documentaries, movies, animated series, historical docudramas, international television shows and more. They will showcase breathtaking landscapes, highlight local actors, directors, and writers, and peak your interest about the rich cultures of your destinations. Check out these inspiring films in Hawai’i, Greece and France to help you answer the question, where to next?

3. Music

Flamenco dancing in Madrid, Spain

Music is a universal language that can evoke feelings and memories of a specific place. Create a playlist of songs from your favorite travel destinations or listen to local music from countries you’re interested in. Let the rhythm guide you to your destination inspiration.

4. Games

Video games and board games can be a surprising source of inspiration. Games like “Assassin’s Creed” are known for their stunning, immersive worlds that inspire travel. Board games such as Seven Wonders and Ticket to Ride might spark an interest in the historical and cultural aspects of a location. The Best Video, Card and Board Games– Travel the World From Home offers dozens of travel inspired games.

5. Curiosity

Perhaps one of the most significant sources of inspiration is your innate curiosity. What questions do you have that could be better understood by experiencing them in person? What inspires you to learn more about our world? Plan a trip around your questions for some of the most impactful travel experiences.

6. Personal Growth

Sometimes, the desire to travel is driven by a desire for personal growth and self-discovery. Seek destinations that challenge you, push you out of your comfort zone, and help you grow as an individual. If you are traveling to heal or rest, choose places of rejuvenation.

7. History

The past can be a treasure trove of inspiration. Explore the history of different regions, learn about their ancient civilizations, and be captivated by their stories. Historical sites often make for fascinating travel destinations. Get ideas about visiting archeological sites and visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites in our inspiring articles. For a unique and much deeper understanding consider Ideas for Timelines: Organize Your History Travel Studies.

8. Nature

Grand Canyon Of The Yellowstone
Grand Canyon Of The Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA.

For those who find solace in the beauty of the natural world, nature itself can be a powerful source of travel inspiration. Whether you’re drawn to towering mountains, pristine beaches, lush forests, or arid deserts, there’s a world of wonder waiting to be explored as you decide where to next. Find more inspiration from our natural world by including astronomy travel, nature photography, and nature journaling into your travels.

9. Art

For art enthusiasts, the world is endlessly intriguing. Explore destinations with renowned art museums, street art scenes, or and galleries. Find inspiration for your own creative expression and pack your sketchpad and pencils on your next trip.

10. Food & Drinks

One of the most delightful aspects of travel is the opportunity to indulge in the culinary delights of different regions. Exploring food and drinks can often be a powerful source of travel inspiration. If you’re a foodie, let your taste buds lead the way to your next destination.

11. Heritage and Ancestry Travel

Morocco music travel education
Instruments in Morocco

For those seeking a deep, personal connection to their heritage, ancestry travel is a compelling option. Explore the lands of your ancestors, discover your family’s history, and connect with your cultural roots in a profoundly meaningful way. Heritage Tours: How to Plan Your Own Ancestry Travel provides an easy to follow step-by-step guide.

12. Performances

Live performances around the world are often the cornerstones of the best travel itineraries. From Broadway shows in New York to traditional theater in Tokyo or the Globe Theater in London, experiencing performances in their cultural context adds a unique layer to your travel experiences.

Carnival, Venice, Italy

13. Festivals

Learning about the local culture through festivals can be intriguing. Experiencing unique traditions, celebrations, and religious events can be a significant factor in choosing your next travel destination.

14. Sports

From the World Cup to the Olympics, sports can be a passport to thrilling destinations. Plan your travels around sporting events or pursue your passions like golf, surfing, or hiking in iconic locations.

15. Connect with Family

Seeing family is one of the most popular reasons to travel. Visiting relatives in their hometowns can strengthen bonds, create lasting memories, and provide an authentic local perspective that traditional tourism often can’t match. Consider meeting up in a new location with relatives or planning a reunion to connect multiple generations.

16. Volunteering

Consider travel that makes a difference. Volunteering opportunities worldwide allow you to immerse yourself in local communities, contribute to meaningful projects, and leave a positive impact. Unfortunately there are unethical voluntourism organizations, so it’s imperative to research carefully.

Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal

17. Well-Traveled Family and Friends

Your loved ones who’ve explored various destinations can offer firsthand recommendations and insights. They can share their experiences and help you decide where you should travel next.

18. Travel Blogs and Podcasts

Follow travel blogs and podcasts you are drawn to. They provide in-depth information about various destinations, including travel tips, local experiences, and must-see attractions. The best are created by passionate and well informed travelers and who will inspire some of your most unforgettable trips.

19. Online Forums and Travel Communities

Join travel forums and online communities like TripAdvisor, Rick Steves, or Reddit. FaceBook has many useful travel group specific to particular kinds of travel. Fellow travelers often share their experiences and recommendations, and you can engage in conversations to gather insights.

20. Social Media

Travel Education Site
Mount Fuji, Japan

Humans are visual animals and in today’s digital age, social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are treasure troves of travel inspiration. Follow travel influencers and bloggers who share captivating images and insightful information about their adventures. Keep in mind that much of what we see is not an accurate representation of what we might see in person.

21. Travel Points and Deals

Leverage travel rewards programs and keep an eye out for special travel deals and discounts. Sometimes, the opportunity to visit a new place can come down to the cost, so being savvy about points and deals is crucial.

Destination Inspiration

In the end, inspiration for your next travel destination can come from anywhere. The key is to remain open, curious, and ready to plan travel that will create lasting memories and enrich your life in countless ways. How do you like to answer the question, “Where to next?” Tell us in the comments, we would love to hear from you!

Happy travels!

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How to Plan an Itinerary: Your 9 Step Guide to Amazing Trips

Person writing in a notebook with a map, passports, camera and phone on desk showing how to plan an itinerary

Are you excited about your next trip, but confused about how to plan an itinerary? You’re not alone, planning the itinerary is challenging! In this post, we’ll break it into easy to follow steps and dive into the best way to organize a travel itinerary, how to write one from scratch, and even explore tools and templates that will make the process fun and easier!

If you are wondering how to write a travel itinerary, it all depends on your preferences and the kind of trip you want. Some people prefer to be spontaneous, some like things scheduled by the hour, and many people prefer something in-between. Local and slow travel can often have looser plans than once-in-a-lifetime dream vacations. 

At Trip Scholars we focus on learning through travel so these steps will also highlight how you can learn more about your destination (and yourself!) through planning your itinerary.

Ready to make your travel itinerary? Let’s get started!

This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for your support!

Step 1: Decide On Your Destination

Deciding on your destination is an exciting, but sometimes daunting, first step. It can be helpful to keep a running list of places you want to visit. As you plan each new trip, look at your list while considering how long you will be traveling. Also think about when you will travel. Weather has a big impact on travel plans and seasons play a major role in costs and crowds.

Step 2:  Define Your Travel Goals

The most important  step when deciding how to plan an itinerary is to clearly define your travel goals and reflect on what you hope to get from the trip.  Ask yourself some key questions:

  • What do you want to see and do on your trip?
  • Why do you want to take this trip? Are you seeking relaxation, adventure, cultural immersion, connection with your family or friends, self exploration, or a mix of these?
  • Who will you be traveling with? What are their hopes and needs?
  • Do you have physical and mental health concerns to consider in relation to the trip?
  • How will your values impact your travel choices?

By being self-reflective and having a clear understanding of what you hope to experience, you can tailor your itinerary to your specific needs and preferences.

Step 3 : Create a Travel Budget

The next step in creating your itinerary is to create a travel budget. At this early stage, decide how much you have available to spend on your trip. 

Grab our free budget planner or make a document with the different categories of trip expenses: transportation, lodging, food & drinks, activities, gear, education, etc. The biggest travel expenses are usually transportation and lodging so look at these first. Fill in estimates for each category as you research and the other steps in this guide.

To stay within budget, you will need to trim expenses in one category in order to splurge in another. 

Track your actual expenses while traveling and make adjustments as needed. When you return from your trip, take time to compare your expected with your actual expenses. This will help you make adjustments for your future travel budgets.

There is enormous variability in the costs of travel depending on location and travel styles. If your travel budget is especially frustrating, consider changing your destination, length of your trip, or your travel style.

Grab our free Travel Budget Planner here!

Step 4: Research Your Destination

Thorough research is the foundation of a successful itinerary. Start by gathering information about your destination, including:

  • Attractions and landmarks
  • Local nature, culture, and history
  • Weather conditions during your travel dates
  • Recommended accommodations, restaurants, and transportation options

Trip Scholars offers many resources to help you learn more about the nature, history, and culture of your travel destinations. Get your free guide with activities you can start enjoying today here.  Your richer understanding of the destination will help you find the perfect activities and get the most out of them in person while traveling.

You can also use guidebooks, travel websites, blogs, and more to gather insights and recommendations.

Step 5: Book Your Transportation

If you are flying, you can generally find the best prices 1-3 months ahead for domestic flights and 2-8 months ahead for international flights. If you have very specific travel dates or you are traveling during peak times, get your tickets earlier.

Use flight search tools like Google Flights or Skyscanner to compare your options. Consider setting up an alert so you are notified when prices drop. When you find the flight you want, book it directly with the airline so that if there are delays, cancellations, or other disruptions, you can communicate directly with the airline.

Step 6: Reserve Your Accommodations

Select and book accommodations that suit your budget and preferences. Consider the proximity to your top sites and public transportation.

Step 5: Create a List of Activities

Start a brainstorming list where you can add sites, activities, performances, events, festivals, restaurants, lodging options, interesting transportation ideas and more. If you are traveling with friends or family, invite them to add their ideas too. Include the hyperlinks so people can learn more about each potential itinerary activity.

Once you have a list of all the things you might want to do, the best way to organize a travel itinerary is to prioritize the experiences that matter most to you and your travel companions. Identify your must-see activities and let everything else be a bonus if you have time. Research hours, prices, closures, and discounted or free options for the places you want to visit. Attraction websites and travel forums can often provide useful tips. 

FOMO is real, and it can help to assume you will return someday. Keep in mind that overloading your schedule can lead to exhaustion, so strike a balance.

Prioritize your favorite activities like visiting the Viglands Sculpture Park in Oslo, Norway.

Step 6: Plan an Itinerary for Your Trip

With your goals and research in mind, it’s time to create your itinerary. Decide on the number of days you’ll spend at each destination and allocate time for key activities and attractions. 

Once you have your top picks and know when sites are open, you are ready to plan each day of your trip. First add any events that can only happen on a specific day such as performances or difficult to get reservations. Then group activities in similar areas together.  

Some people prefer to assign specific time slots to activities while others prefer to loosely plan around a couple of key activities each day. Try different options until you find your own travel style.

Transportation between activities often takes longer than expected so you can use maps, navigation apps, and public transportation options to get accurate times. Don’t forget to add meals, grocery shopping, laundry, and relaxation to your plan.

There are many formats to choose from to create your actual itinerary. Whether using paper and pen, spreadsheets, maps, or apps, there is an option for everyone. Keep reading to see many tools to choose from below in this article.

Step 7: Make Your Reservations and Purchase Tickets

Gone are the days of seeing popular destinations without a reservation. Reservations are now required at many of the world’s most visited national parks, museums, campgrounds, and sites. To avoid disappointment, even those who love spontaneity now book these in advance.

Occasionally, these may sell out months in advance and within minutes of going on sale. In this case, take this step much earlier in your itinerary planning.

If you are visiting a major city, consider getting a pass that includes admission to major sites and local transportation. These often allow you to skip long lines at attractions, although you may still need to secure reservations for the most sought after sites.

This is also a good time to get reservations at popular restaurants you want to visit.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is one of many places where reservations are required far in advance.

Step 8: Expect the Unexpected and Plan Downtime

While it’s helpful to have a structured itinerary, don’t forget to leave room for disruptions and spontaneity. Unpleasant disruptions are often more bearable when we realize that, to some extent, they are an inevitable part of life and travel. And serendipitous discoveries and unexpected experiences can often be the most memorable part of your trip! 

Respecting the physical and mental health of everyone we are traveling with (including ourselves!) is key to making the best use of our itinerary. If people are hungry, overwhelmed, or exhausted, let go of the itinerary and adjust the plans.

And, as tempting as it is to see every site, build in downtime as you plan an itinerary. You’ll be able to reflect on and appreciate your journey as well as rest and rejuvenate yourself in the midst of your adventures.

Step 9: Enjoy Your Well Planned Trip!

Now it’s time to enjoy the trip that you have so thoughtfully planned! Use the digital or physical tools below to make the most of your itinerary while you travel.

Example of a Travel Itinerary

For a clearer understanding, let’s take a peek at an example of a travel itinerary:

Example of Travel Itinerary

Plan an Itinerary: The Best Tools

Many travelers use a combination of tools to make the most of their trips. I use a combination of Google Maps, a spreadsheet for the details, and TripIt to hold and organize all of my reservations and tickets.

In this digital age, creating a travel itinerary is easier than ever. Here are some valuable tools and templates that will keep important information well-organized and easily accessible during your trip.

Free Travel Itinerary Apps

If you prefer a mobile solution, there are several free travel itinerary apps available for download. Apps like TripIt, TripCase, and Roadtrippers, are designed to streamline your travel planning and many offer real-time updates on flight changes and delays.

Creating a Travel Itinerary Map

Consider creating a visual map of your itinerary using Google Maps. If you are planning a road trip, here is a great guide. It’s a great way to see the locations of your planned activities.

Create a Travel Itinerary Template

If you’re a frequent traveler, creating your own template is a smart move. You can tailor it to your specific needs, ensuring that your future trips are organized seamlessly. 

Glacial lake in North Cascades showing the value of planning an itinerary
Road trips benefit from itineraries too, helping you see sites like Diablo Lake in Washington.

Planning a perfect itinerary is a balance of careful planning and the flexibility to adapt to the unexpected. By following these steps, you can craft a well-thought-out travel plan that maximizes your experience, minimizes stress, and ensures that you make the most of your precious time exploring new destinations. Remember that the perfect itinerary is the one that aligns with your travel goals and allows you to savor every moment of your adventure. 

What steps would you like more support with? Tell us in the comments and so we can get you the answers. Happy travels!

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Worldschoolers Book

Erica Forrest, author with her book Worldschoolers: Innovative Parents Turning Countries Into Classrooms

Worldschoolers Book

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

I’m one of twenty-two authors in the best selling and inspiring anthology, Worldschoolers: Innovative Parents Turning  Countries Into Classrooms! Benefit from the wide range of experiences and lifestyles to find creative and exciting travel ideas for your own family. The incredible breadth between the covers of this book invites the reader to jump around and find what will work well for their own family.

There are also loads of helpful ideas and tips readers can use. Many of the authors support worldschooling and traveling families professionally, like I do, so there is access to a wealth of additional resources.

The common themes are powerful and uplifting! Despite the wide range of approaches, there is considerable overlap in the choices the authors made and the ways in which they talk about families, respecting their children, learning, and traveling. 


You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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Travel Coach Certification

travel coach certification program

The Travel Coach Certification Program

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Are you interested in becoming an internationally certified travel coach yourself?  I highly recommend The Travel Coach Certification Program! 

Do you want to:

  • Inspire and educate people on how to travel with intent and purpose
  • Help others transform their life in a profound way through the power of travel 
  • Reshape a certain area of the industry such as remote work, business travel, corporate wellness, black women travel, family travel, eco-tourism, voluntourism, student travel, or more
  • Empower others to achieve their dreams or travel goals
  • Guide others to their own internal clarity, happiness, and peace so they can connect with themselves, others, and the world around them
  • Guide others on travel-related topics to ease their travel journeys and help them realize that having meaningful and transformative experiences is possible
  • Empower others to use travel as a tool for self-growth, wellbeing, healing, relationship growth, internal balance, self-development, work-related goals, and more
  • Have the freedom to work for yourself, live, and travel anywhere in the world
  • Inspire others to live more mindfully and purposefully
  • Combine your love of helping, inspiring, and empowering others with what you know and are most passionate about travel
  • Turn your love of travel into a meaningful career as a travel coach

Then The Travel Coach Certification Program is for you!

The TCCP is the first and only International Coach Federation accredited program that certifies you as a Travel Coach, no matter what niche you specialize in: wellness, transformative travel, sustainability, solo female travel, black women travel, and more.

This well-rounded program doesn’t just focus on sculpting you into the coach that your clients need but it also turns you into the entrepreneur that you’re destined to become.  The Travel Coach Certification Program helps you build your travel-related business from start to scale all while making the impact in the tourism industry that is most authentic and aligned with you.

Learn more about becoming a travel coach !

Here is the link to learn more about becoming a travel coach yourself.

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You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

The Best Books of Hawaii: What to Read for an Excellent Trip to the Islands

The Best Books of Hawaii: What to Read for an Excellent Trip to the Islands

Are you traveling to the Aloha State and looking for the best books of Hawaii?  Discover what to read to ensure an excellent trip to the islands. You will find the top travel guides to plan an amazing vacation. Curl up with some of the best fiction– either at home or relaxing on the beach while you are there. Discover more about Hawaii’s rich history so that you can appreciate its complexity while you are there. Then enjoy some classics with your keiki, we have choices for preschoolers through teens.

Our family lived in Hawaii and I have some favorite books I always recommend to friends and family when they visit. I have also asked other travel writers to share their top picks. Whatever your interests, if you take the time to learn more about the islands before you arrive, you are guaranteed to have a better trip!

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Travel Books on Hawaii

Maui Revealed, The Big Island Revealed, Oahu Revealed & The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook by Andrew Doughty

The books in this series are my top picks for books about Hawaii travel. When we lived there, we eventually wore ours out with almost weekly use, planning our adventures and learning more about the islands. In fact, we often give friends a copy for the island they plan to visit because we know it will improve their trip considerably. These highly informative books are by Hawaiian local, Andrew Doughty, who writes in a very personal style with an entertaining, easy going humor.  

Because there is a book for each of the four most visited islands, you have comprehensive information about any of the sites you want to visit. You will find highly detailed maps, inspiring photos, countless tips, multiple insets with factual information about Hawaii, and lots of honest reviews that have all been done anonymously. 

The books have grown in popularity, which means many of the hidden gems are no longer hidden and have become popular sites. There is also an app available (free with in-app purchases) that offers up-to-date weather, surf and snorkel conditions, and much more. These books make a great choice for first time visitors and kamaaina alike.

Lonely Planet's Best of Hawaii by Adam Karlin, Kevin Raub & Luci Yamamoto

Lonely Planet Best Of Hawaii is a guidebook that gives a great overview of the whole state and would make an ideal first book to read in the early stages of your travel planning. It will continue to be helpful through the trip itself, with included tips that save you both time and money. 

You will find out the best  time of the year to visit Hawaii, the weather, packing list ideas, the top places to visit, accommodation choices, transportation, and a lot more– all in one book. You also have the times of operation and contact information, all updated since the Covid crisis began. 

Another reason why this book can make your travel experience exceptional is by educating you about your destination. You can read it beforehand to learn more about Hawaii’s rich history and traditions. It is a great tool to help you navigate the state like a local and avoid getting into difficult situations based on misunderstanding cultural cues by being knowledgeable about them. 

Contributed by Ossama Alnuwaiser at Awesome Traveler Blog

Fiction Books About Hawaii

Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport

Written by a Native Hawaiian author, Shark Dialogues is an epic and sweeping story that spans multiple generations and touches on many aspects of Hawaii’s complex history, from the exploitative sugar industry to whaling, leper colonies, and the annexation by the United States. The book is largely set on the Big Island, but also offers vignettes from Maui, Oahu, and Molokai.

At the heart of the novel is Pono, a Native Hawaiian matriarch and prophet with magical powers (she can turn into a sea creature!)  and her four estranged granddaughters, who married non-Hawaiians and are seeking to come to terms with their heritage and with Pono herself.

The story is interwoven with flashbacks, ancient myths, and the Hawaiian language, providing educational touchpoints along with the immersive and luscious narrative. Additionally, the book highlights tourism’s negative impact on the islands and its incredible culture- while it may be a tough pill to swallow, understanding this perspective will hopefully make you a more respectful and responsible visitor.

Contributed by Jessica Schmit of Uprooted Traveler

Honolulu by Alan Brennert

Honolulu is a historical fiction novel that follows Jin, a young “picture bride” who is brought to Hawaii from Korea to be a wife to a pineapple plantation worker. Set in 1914, Honolulu is in many ways a classic coming to America story told by a lesser-heard voice. 

Born a girl named “Regret” in Korea, the novel accompanies Jin as she navigates her new life and new relationships in early 1900s Honolulu with unrelenting determination.

Honolulu weaves together reality and fiction as you follow Jin through many of the formative events of the 20th century, including both World Wars and the Spanish Flu outbreak. 

Anyone traveling to the Aloha State should read Honolulu to get a unique perspective from the immigrants that built modern Hawaii. Another book by by the same author that readers will likely enjoy is Moloka’i.

Contributed by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com 

Books About Hawaii History

Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson

Polynesia is one of the most intriguing destinations in the world. The vast triangle that stretches from Hawaii to Easter Island to New Zealand is home to epic voyagers. Until European explorers arrived in the 1500s these explorers were the only people to have ever lived there. That leaves the question – where did these people come from? How did they get there? And why? All of these questions are explored in depth in this book.

While the book is non-fiction, it doesn’t read like a traditional historical book. The author reveals bit by bit what has been discovered about Polynesia in chronological order. Over time, as scientific knowledge progresses and our sociological studies improve, we learn more and more about the people of Polynesia. It’s a captivating journey through time.

Not only do we learn the history of Polynesia, but about the traditions and cultures of the “sea people.”  It was interesting to learn about the different types of canoes used on different islands for different purposes. If you’re unaware of the history of Hawaii, and Polynesia overall, then this book is perfect to read before your trip to Hawaii! 

Contributed by Pamela at The Directionally ChallengedTraveler 

Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, Queen Liliuokalani

One of the best books about Hawaiian history was written by Queen Liliuokalani. It’s a first-hand account of what happened during Hawaii’s illegal overthrow and annexation from Hawaii’s last reigning monarch. 

Most people on the mainland never learned about this in school, but it’s an enormously important part of Hawaii’s history. Visitors to Hawaii benefit from reading books about this complicated time in American history. You may see protests and signage around the islands talking about this issue. You’ll also get a deeper understanding of some of the conversations about tourism in Hawaii. 

After reading this book, you will be inspired to visit Iolani Palace in Honolulu. This is the only royal palace in the United States, and you can take a tour to see exactly where Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned.

Contributed by Marcie Cheung of Hawaii Travel with Kids

Kids Books About Hawaii

Kaiulani: The People's Princess, Hawaii, 1889 by Ellen Emerson White

Written diary-style, Kaiulani: The People’s Princess, is an installation of the very popular Royal Diaries children’s literature series. 

Following the life of young Princess Kaiulani, the last heir to the Hawaiian Kingdom, 13-year-old Kaiulani navigates the recent annexation of Hawaii by the United States of America. 

A fantastic historical-fiction read, this book is perfect for anyone with children or young teens planning to visit Hawaii because it shows an important part of Hawaii’s history from a first-person perspective, which is easier and more enjoyable for young readers than learning from a history book. 

Kaiulani’s Diary also covers what it was like to be a Hawaiin royal during that time. Even though it is a Children’s book, Kaiulani’s Diary is an enriching read for anyone who wants to learn more about the annexation of Hawaii and the Hawaiian royal family. 

Contributed by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com 

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale

Ho’onani is a children’s book that has been widely regarded as a celebration of identity and gender equality. It follows the story of a young girl, Ho’onani, who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe in a performance at her school. Ho’onani doesn’t define herself by gender, she sees herself as mahu, neither kane (boy) nor wahine (girl). 

What makes Ho’onani special is that it’s based on a true story of one young person’s journey of self-discovery and empowerment, who earns the respect of the people around them.

Hawaiians are very proud of their culture and heritage and it is important to read stories that speak of their culture before visiting. The author has done a great job of highlighting some key elements of Hawaii’s culture in the story in a way that is approachable for children. It also includes some words in Hawaiian, so kids can learn a few words while still at home.

Contributed by Louisa Smith of Epic Book Society 

Too Many Mangos by Tammy Paikai

Too Many Mangos is a sweet story of two Hawaiian children who help their grandfather harvest the mangoes off his very full mango tree. The result is way too many mangos for the small family to use on their own, so the children set off on an adventure to share the mangoes with their neighbors. Each neighbor shares something in return leaving them with a wonderful variety of treats to enjoy when they return home.

This hardcover book is perfect for young children and its colorful illustrations are engaging and thoughtful. Teaching lessons in sharing, thankfulness and generosity, this picture book also gives children a peek into Hawaiian culture as the author shares real-life experiences from his childhood.

Reading this book before a trip to Hawaii will leave children inspired to soak up the beautiful Hawaiian culture as they vacation. It will also leave them with a curiosity for tasting tropical fruits and other foods on the island such as banana macadamia nut muffins, papayas, and mangoes sprinkled with li hing powder. Too Many Mangoes is sure to be a favorite on your child’s bookshelf long after you return from your Hawaiian adventure.

Contributed by Sierra Schmidt at Free to Travel Mama 

Geckos Make a Rainbow by Jane Gillespie

Geckos Make a Rainbow is an adorable board book perfect for the youngest travelers to Hawaii. With simple rhyming lyrics and colorful illustrations, this book tells the story of geckos stuck in the house while the rain pours down. They decide to make a rainbow to hang in the sky to help the sun come out. They build each color with items such as blue surf shirts and red lehua flowers. The final color of the rainbow is green for the geckos themselves.

The sweet book for toddlers and young children will teach colors, introduce Hawaiian words and nature, as well as entertain all ages. The silly illustrations and geckos’ facial expressions are illustrated by Hawaiian cartoonist, Jon J. Murakami and are quite comical. Part of a series, fans of this book can continue their collection with Geckos Surf and Geckos Up Geckos Down.

Reading this book before a trip to Hawaii, will leave children prepared for the fruits to try at the Farmers Market, the flowers to discover in the beautiful gardens, the geckos sure to be spotted on the walls of buildings, and the beautiful rainbows that frequently fill the Hawaiian sky after a refreshing rain. 

Contributed by Sierra Schmidt at Free to Travel Mama

Best Books of Hawaii

I hope you have found a few books here that you can enjoy, both before and during your trip to Hawaii. Let me know what you favorite it in the comments or tell me what book you recomend to others before they visit. I’d love to hear!

You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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Best Movies About Hawaii to Watch Before Your Trip

Best Movies About Hawaii to Watch Before Your Trip

Isaac Hale Beach, Big Island, Hawai’i

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Whether you are planning a trip or dreaming of the islands, enjoy this collection of the best movies about Hawaii! The Aloha state is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful places in the world, in fact over 100 feature films have been shot here. It is also one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world, allowing directors to utilize an extraordinary range of dramatic natural scenery. Grab your popcorn and expect a visual delight!

Our family lived in Hawaii, and we love to bring the beauty, culture, and history of the islands into our lives on the mainland, often through film. I’ve also asked travel writers to share the Hawaii movies they recommend to people planning their own trips.

We start with some fantastic films made by Hawaiians and other residents of the Hawaii. They will help you gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the islands, inspiring you be a more thoughtful traveler. You will also appreciate the exquisite natural beauty of the islands and find inspiration for caring for it while you visit.

You can extend the joy of your travels and understand the country much more deeply by spending the months (or years!) preceding your trip by learning about Hawaii. At Trip Scholars, we offer many resources and ideas to help you dive deep into understanding your travel destinations before you arrive. 

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Table of Contents

Movies in the Hawaiian Language


2020 | NR

This evocative and memorable animated film is one you will want to watch before your trip to Hawaii. It tells the legend of the mahu deities (deities of the third gender, embodying both male and female) who came from Tahiti to Hawaii to share their healing powers. Their healing gifts remain in four Stones of Life, or Nā Pōhaku Ola, on the beach in Waikiki today. 

The eight minute short has won numerous international awards and is narrated completely in Hawaiian with English subtitles. You will be captivated by the animation style and transported with the soundtrack. The story is a haunting reminder of the suppressed history of Native Hawaiians and encourages us to learn more. This same interpretation is also available as a book.

Both adults and children can enjoy this film from home and then visit the stones in Waikiki. You can find the location here to add a visit to the Stones of Life to your itinerary. 

Movies About Hawaiian Culture

The Haumana

2013 | NR

This multi award winning film was written and produced by the Hawaiian actor, director, and hula master Keo Woolford. It is a top movie recommendation because of the realistic portrayal of local Hawaiian culture, engaging acting, and captivating hula scenes.

Haumana is Hawaiian for disciple or student, and this highly enjoyable film allows us to learn and be inspired alongside the main character, Johnny Kealoha. Kealoha hosts a highly commercialized Polynesian show for tourists in Waikiki but is asked by his Kumu Hulu (master hula teacher) to teach the high school boys hula class. As he grows as their instructor, he also expands his own understanding of hula, his culture, and ultimately himself. 

The movie is filmed on Oahu and the cast has many local Hawaiians. We are given an intimate window into learning traditional hula, with a gorgeous soundtrack including contributions from top Hawaiian musicians like Robert Cazimero. The characters navigate blending ancient Hawaiian traditions with being teenagers on modern day Oahu. Add it to your queue today, you will be glad you did!

Documentaries on Hawaii: Culture

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

2012 |NR

Hawaiian music is certain to be a highlight of any trip to the islands and this documentary will give you a much deeper understanding of its influence and importance. Plus, it is an absolute joy to watch and listen to Jake Shimabukuro! The virtuoso is a world famous ukulele player who has shown global audiences what an exceptionally talented and creative player can do with this beautiful instrument. 

The documentary follows Shimabukuro through a season of performing, but also looks back on his childhood and forward to his future dreams. His humility, curiosity, and generous spirit are easily highlighted throughout the film. It is uplifting, not just because of his musical performances, but also because of his inspiring life story.

Start a playlist of Hawaiian music while still at home and include both Shimabukuro’s solo work and his recordings from his earlier band, Pure Heart.  While you are in the Islands, be sure to find some live local music! There are often free performances in shopping centers, parks, and local events.

If you are inspired, I also recommend trying the ukulele yourself. I love to play and have two ukuleles, this is my favorite. It is very forgiving and a great choice for beginners on a stringed instrument, so you can be playing a simple tune your first afternoon.  But, as you have seen in this documentary, the ukulele can play transformative music in the hands of a master.

The Endless Summer

1966 | 11+

Endless Summer is very much what the title says, a trip around the world by two surfers in search of the world’s best surfing and endless sun. Naturally, Hawaii fits them perfectly, being famous for its huge waves for surfing and sunny weather.

Although the movie is not entirely about Hawaii, the segment about it shows the surf scene in Hawaii during the 1960s, which was partially instrumental in the surge of tourism that followed afterwards. Indeed, much of the appeal of visiting Hawaii came about from the images of a relaxed beach vibe and epic waves that purveyed in the surf scene there.

The surfing culture in Hawaii is the most famous in the world due to its ancient surfing traditions among the inhabitants of the area that surfed the waves on longboards going back 1500 years, long before ‘westerners’ discovered it.

The Endless Summer is one of the best travel movies that you can watch, especially if you have an interest in surf, sun, and adventure. Great for watching before any trip to Hawaii.

Contributed by Johnny at Backpackingman

Wayfinders: A Pacific Odessey

1999 | NR

If you have always wondered how the early Polyneisians discovered Hawaii in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, this documentary is for you! It is a PBS special revealing the rare art of wayfinding, the art of navigating the sea using only nature as one’s guide: the stars, sun, weather, sea, and animals. Historically many anthropologists and historians did not think early Polyneisians could have intentionally navigated the massive Pacific to populate the many islands throughout the ocean. However, work by The Polynesian Voyaging Society, Maiden Voyage Productions (who created the film), and many others has proven that wayfinding was an important skill throughout ancient Polynesia.

In the film we are introduced to one of the few remaining wayfinders in the world, Mau Pialug from the island of Satawal. He teaches Nainoa Thompson, a Native Hawaiian navigator, and in turn, a whole new generation of nature based navigators. Herb Kane designed the famous Hawaian sailing vessel, Hokule’a, after a lifetime of studying ancient Hawaiian canoes. It was eventually built in a mostly traditional way, in large part by volunteers in Hawaii. 

We follow along as a new generation from many islands around Polynesia learn wayfinding skills and boat building techniques, while also coming to a greater understanding of their cultural heritage. Patrick Stewart narrates the role of Captain Cook, the famous British navigator and cartographer. The nearly extinct art of wayfinding is put to the test as these modern sailors set out on a 2000 mile journey, with nature, their knowledge, and their history to guide them.

Hawaiian Islands | Filmed in 1906

1906 | NR

This unique footage is a fascinating window into life in Hawaii in 1906. The inventor Thomas Edison also had a film studio and he sent Robert Bonine in the early 1900’s to gather footage of the islands. There are over 30 clips, all of them silent. A few of them include what is thought to be the oldest film clips of surfing in the world. 

This is not your typical documentary, but it is a rare and unique view of many places and cultural touchstones. The youtube description includes the titles of each clip so you can watch just the places you plan to visit– but you will likely be hooked and want to watch a lot more!

Hawaii Documentaries: Nature

Witness the Volcanoes of Hawai'i | National Geographic

Kīlauea Volcano

When we are on the islands we are constantly aware that we are actually on volcanoes: active, dormant, or extinct. Each island arose from the bottom of the ocean floor as it was formed over the hotspot that is currently under the Big Island. Weather erodes them and plate tectonics carry the volcanoes northwest. These exposed peaks form the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Chain, the youngest of which are the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Curious travelers can experience the vastness of geologic forces in real time by visiting an older island, like Kawaii, and comparing the island to what they see on the youngest, the Big Island. 

The Big Island is a dream destination for anyone fascinated by volcanoes and geology. If you are unfamiliar with the subject, a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will likely make you a lifelong admirer. Much of the park, and over half of the island, is on the volcano Mauna Loa. The rest of HVNP includes the youngest above-water Hawaiian volcano, Kilauea. 

These two documentaries bring the viewer up close to learn about the incredible power and beauty of the volcanoes and they are valuable viewing before a trip to the islands. Even if you are not planning to visit the Big Island on your next trip, understanding more about how the islands are formed will enhance your time anywhere in the state. They were both made before the most recent eruptions so that information isn’t included. The films incorporate a lot of interviews with, and footage of, scientists at work in the park. They also include a strong focus on learning from Native Hawaiians about the geologic history held in songs and legends.

Another fascinating Hawaii documentary is Sharks of Hawaii.

Hawaiian History Movies

Princess Kaiulani

2009 | PG

The drama-based movie Princess Kaiulani documents the events that led up to the dissolution of the Hawaiian monarchy. It’s a history lesson for some, a painful event for others. While the movie gained mixed reviews because of its original title of ‘Barbarian Princess,’ it adds excellent incite into the Hawaiian royal family.

Iolani Palace in Oahu sets the stage for the opening of the film. Electricity has arrived in Hawaii, but the upheaval from the King’s advisors has overshadowed the momentous event. With uncertainty in the homeland, Princess Kaiulani, who’s in line for the throne, travels to Scotland for an education and to avoid the tensions.

During her absence, the King’s death and Queen Liliuokalani’s imprisonment bring her back to her homeland to fight for the monarchy. ‘Princess Kaiulani’ allows the watcher to delve into the lives of the people that made Hawaii so special. While the film may be part fiction, it embodies the spirit of her Polynesian heritage. Before traveling to Hawaii, visitors will better understand the history of royal residences such as Iolani Palace and Queen Emma Summer Palace on Oahu, and Hulihe’e Palace on Hawaii.

Contributed by Karen of Forever Karen

Pearl Harbor

2001 | PG-13

Pearl Harbor is a great movie because it takes a moment in American history and brings it to life with intense dramatic performances.  

 Directed by Michael Bay, and starring Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsdale, Pearl Harbor is a beautiful love story set during World War II. 

 Pearl Harbor is a fantastic movie to watch before your first trip to Hawaii beause it humanizes an important moment in Hawaii’s history. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, has been immortalized by the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Oahu. Watching this movie, in addition to visiting the famous memorial, will add a level of relatability for the real people who died and fought on that day for anyone visiting Hawaii. 

Submitted by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com

Hawaiian history movies about the missionary moment to add to your queue are Hawaii and Molokai: The Story of Father Damien.

Hawaii Family Movies

Finding Ohana

2021 | PG

One of the newest kids movies filmed in Hawaii is Netflix’s Finding Ohana. It’s filmed on Oahu with a lot of the adventurous scenes at Kualoa Ranch. The story is all about a mom moving back home to Hawaii from Brooklyn with her teenage kids. The main character is a girl named Pili (played by Kea Peahu) who finds an old journal that takes her on a real-life treasure hunt. 

The movie has a lot of the same vibes as the kids adventure movies from the 90s, so both parents and kids will enjoy watching it. Plus, the soundtrack is pretty fabulous.

What sets this movie apart from other kids movies filmed in Hawaii is that they focus a lot on Hawaiian culture, especially the elusive Night Marchers. This is a really cool part of Hawaiian culture that most people don’t know about before their trip. Finally, you can even do a Hawaii movie tour to see exactly where they filmed at Kualoa Ranch!

Contributed by Marcie Cheung of Hawaii Travel with Kids


1991 | PG

Peter Pan is a classic movie and often a childhood favorite. Hook is what happens after the story of Peter Pan when Peter grows up. It is fun to learn more of the Peter Pan story, and an important lesson about growing up and changing.

Hook doesn’t take place entirely in Hawaii, but the Neverland scenes were filmed in Kuaui, Hawaii. Neverland is a magical place, and of course, Hawaii is a perfect choice for imagining Neverland. We know that Neverland is close to the ocean, as that is where Captain Hook lives. Peter lives on land but visits the mermaids under the sea and flies onto Hook’s pirate ship.

Directed by Steven Speilberg, Hook is filled with well-known actors. Robin Williams played the grown-up version Peter and his sidekick Tinkerbell is played by Julia Roberts. Dustin Hoffman played the role of Peter Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook.

Hook is a great opportunity to discover that there is always more to the story. Plus, it’s fun to learn more about the characters we know and love. Hook is a kid’s movie that adults might enjoy even more than kids.

Who doesn’t want to go to Neverland, at least for a while? If we can’t get to Neverland, at least for now, we can imagine Neverland from the beautiful Kuaui, Hawaii.

Contributed by Lanie van der Horst at Make More Adventures

Hawaii Disney Movies

Lilo & Stitch

2002 | PG

Lilo & Stitch is a funny & unique Disney animated film based in Hawaii. The story is about a young girl who picks up a “dog” at a local pound – only to find out the animal is actually a scientific experiment called 626. Follow along as the girl learns the truth about 626 (Stitch), forms a friendship with him, and works together to avoid his capture by the Galactic Federation.  

The film itself is based in Hawaii. You’ll notice many iconic themes from Hawaiian tradition included in the movie like surfing, hula dancing, ukeles, and more! Writers used the town of Hanapee on the island of Kauai as inspiration. This town is often referred to as “Kauai’s Biggest Little Town” as it is truly only made up of a few streets!

You’ll recognize scenes from the animated movie that mimic the town’s vibe with charming plantation-style buildings. You can walk in and out of many stores and restaurants here in town along the main street. You’ll even find a few murals that locals have painted in honor of the adorable animated film! Missing this small town would be one of the biggest mistakes to make when visiting Hawaii as it truly transports you into the movie Lilo & Stitch! 

Contributed by Lisa Shehan at wanderlustwithlisa


2016 | PG

Moana is set on a fictional island in Ancient Polynesia. The fictional story is based loosely on several stories from Polynesian mythology. The catchy music and powerful female lead in Moana make it a favorite. It comes complete with funny characters and jokes that Disney animated films are known for. In the movie, Moana is the daughter of the chief on a Polynesian island. Her people are struggling and she learns that Maui the demi-god has stolen the heart of Te Fiti. She takes off on open water to find Maui, restore the ocean, and heal her island. 

Moana is a great movie to watch with kids to kick start a conversation about Polynesian culture and history before your trip. Hawai’i marks one corner of the Polynesian triangle and the story of Maui is a common one in all of the Polynesian Islands. The demi-god is known for being mischievous and for using his powers to help humans. As in Moana, Maui is known for his magic fish hook in Hawaii but in other parts of Polynesia, he is known differently. The story in the movie is fictional but with some quick research you can find the different cultures associated with each story about Maui mentioned in the song “You’re Welcome”.  The Polynesian Islands share many parts of their culture but are each unique as well. Watching the fictional story in Moana can open a conversation about Polynesia. The Hawaiians make a great effort to revive, maintain, and showcase their culture; Use Moana to start the conversation before you leave. 

Contributed by Jami at Celiac Travel Pack

Adventure Movies in Hawaii

Kong: Skull Island

2017 | PG:13 

The movie ‘Kong: Skull Island’ is a fun action / monster movie in the newly rebooted King Kong series, starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, and others. In the movie, a group of soldiers and explorers has to go on an expedition to Skull Island to find the giant King Kong and other mysterious creatures.

The movie was filmed in Vietnam and Hawaii, and places where they did filming in Oahu include Kualoa Ranch, Honolulu’s Chinatown, and the Waikane Valley. A visit to Kualoa Ranch in particular is one of the best things to do in Oahu Hawaii since so many movies have been filmed there — more than 80 movies in total!

Even though the plot of Kong may not win any big awards, it’s still a great movie to watch before your trip to Hawaii. It’s loaded with nice tropical scenery and intense action sequences to pump you up for your travels, and if you’re lucky you may get to visit some of the filming locations while you’re in Oahu!

 Contributed by David & Intan at The World Travel Guy

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

2017 | PG-13

For an exciting adventure film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, watch “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” A sequel to the 1995 film “Jumanji,” this reboot is a great comedy-action film that showcases some stunning Hawaiian scenery.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle tells the story of four high school students getting sucked into a video game set in the jungle. To return home, they have to beat the video game by returning a magical jewel to its shrine.

This is a great family-friendly film with tons of action, humor, and character-growth. A lot of the movie scenes were shot on the island of Oahu, and in particular, the Kualoa Ranch. And while there are many incredible Oahu waterfalls, the set of falls shown in the film are located in Papaikou on the Big Island.

Needless to say, watching “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” before a trip to Hawai’i would greatly enhance your vacation! Filled with spectacular tropical landscapes, lush jungles, and soaring hills, watching the film will truly get you pumped to visit Hawai’i. It’ll also provide you with some incredible ideas on what to do in Hawai’i, from touring the Kualoa Ranch to admiring Kawainui Falls.

Contributed by Mia at Walk a While with Me

Another classic Adventure movie to include in your watchlist is Jurassic Park.

Comedy Movies About Hawaii

The Descendants

2011 | R

Starring George Clooney, The Descendants follows Matt King, whose life is turned upside down when his wife is left in a coma after a tragic accident. Not only is Matt struggling with the consequences of the accident, but he’s also been named the trustee of an enormous plot of untouched land in Kauai and is being pressured by his family to sell this incredibly valuable asset to developers. While grappling with these issues, Matt, a busy attorney in Honolulu, attempts to figure out how to be more present for his two daughters while they navigate their mom’s possible death. 

The film is visually stunning and highlights some of Hawaii’s most beautiful landscapes, from the beaches of Oahu to the lush greenery of Kauai. But visitors should watch The Descendants for more than just its imagery- the film highlights the commoditization of Hawaiian land and the pressures locals face to exploit its natural beauty for tourism and other development. The United States’ complex- and often problematic- treatment of Hawaiian land and resources is important context for any visitor to the islands to understand and perhaps Matt’s struggles relating to his duty to protect his ancestors’ land will offer you a unique perspective before your trip.

Contributed by Jessica Schmit of Uprooted Traveler


Forgetting Sarah Marshall

2008 | R

One of the funniest comedies of the 2000s, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a great movie to watch before a trip to Oahu, especially if your trip involves the North Shore! 

The movie features Jason Segel as the forlorn, newly-dumped boyfriend of a famous TV actress, Sarah Marshall. He goes to Oahu to try to find himself and relax — but ends up finding out that she and her new boyfriend, played by Russell Brand, are staying at the same resort he is! Luckily, he unexpectedly makes friends with a bunch of workers at the resort, and they help to save his trip.

The movie is filmed mostly at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu, and it has scenes from different places along the North Shore, including the famous ‘cliff jumping’ scene which takes place at Laie Point, and the surfing scenes filmed on the beaches near Haleiwa. The beautiful shots of these North Shore locales will have you adding it to your Oahu itinerary!

This funny movie is also poignant, and it’ll be especially resonant for solo travelers or people who are taking a trip in order to forget or get over a recent bad event like a breakup or loss. The movie addresses how we can feel lost and look to travel to try to save us, but ultimately, our connections with the people we meet while traveling are what impact our experience the most. For travelers feeling a bit lost, this is a really powerful message to take with you both on your travels to Hawaii and when you return home. 

Contributed by Allison Green of Eternal Arrival

50 First Dates

2004 | PG13

The film, 50 First Dates takes place on the mesmerizing island of Oahu and is charming because of it’s message of true love despite the odds. The movie follows the daily interactions between the main character, Henry who is set on winning over Lucy, a joyful woman who unfortunately forgets what happens every day due to short-term memory loss. 

Fifty First Dates follows the interactions and budding love Henry develops for Lucy as he continues his battle every day to win her over, while also trying to convince her close friends and family that he can make her happy. In the movie, you taste Hawaiian culture in the attire as well as the cuisine, like at Hukilau cafe, where Lucy eats every morning. 

You also get to see some popular historic locations in the movie, like where Lucy and Henry kiss at the famous Makapuu lighthouse, which is a popular hiking destination in Oahu. Lucy lives on the ranch at Kualoa Ranch, a substantial 4000-acre private nature reserve. Another famous Hawaiian location, as seen in the movie, is where Henry works, the real-life Sea Life Park. This renowned park allows visitors to meet the animals up close but still works towards preserving nature and conserving wildlife. The concept of the preservation and conservation of nature is an important focus in Hawaii. All in all, 50 First Dates is not only a cute and funny movie but shows us a glimpse of Hawaii and it’s culture. 

Contributed by Sierra and Yesenia, The Sisters Who Voyage

Hawaii Surfing Movies

Soul Surfer

2011 | PG

The movie Soul Surfer is set on the island of Kaui and follows the story of Bethany Hamilton, an upcoming teenage surfing star who was attacked by a shark one day on the water. The shark bit off her arm but luckily, Bethany survived the attack. The movie focuses on her journey to figure out how to cope with the loss of her arm and also how she overcame that setback in her surfing career. 

It’s a heartwarming and incredibly inspiring film that is perfect for families and anyone who loves a movie about overcoming the odds. Sean McNamara was the director, and Anna Sophia Robb starred in the film. 

The movie showcases the beauty of Hawaiian water and beaches and the strength of the local communities. There are also many scenes of surfing competitions and surfing practice in Hawaii, which is an aspect of a Hawaiian vacation that many visitors are interested in. 

Contributed by Stephanie Rytting of The Unknown Enthusiast

Gidget Goes Hawaiian

1961 | NR

One of the cutest movies that is set in Hawaii is a 1960’s surfer chick-flick called Gidget Goes Hawaiian. The Gidget series follows the story of a small, teenage girl named Francine. Francine longs for a life that is more than just sitting at home, and finds her passion in the waves. In the first Gidget movie, Francine learns how to surf with the help of Moondoggie and his surfer bros. She receives the nickname “Gidget” from them – girl + midget. She falls in love with Moondoggie and surfing and the rest is history.

In Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Francine has the opportunity to go to Hawaii and surf some pretty big waves. Just before the adventure, she and Moondoggie break up, making her Hawaiian adventure now fueled with “post-breakup” vibes. This movie is super cute and shows off multiple Hawaiian hotels and beaches. It will make you want to go to Hawaii, learn to surf, and fall in love. From the beautiful beaches to the cute Luaus, Gidget Goes Hawaiian is the perfect movie to watch before going to Hawaii because it will inspire you to get out there and enjoy everything the Hawaiian islands have to offer.

Contributed by Shannon at Adventuring With Shannon

Other surfing movies to enjoy are the documentaries Endless Summer and Hawaii 1906 shared earlier in this article.

Films About Hawaii

Watching films from this collection is sure to give you a deeper understanding of Hawaii: it’s natural beauty, fascinating culture, and rich history. Hopefully you’ve found some great Hawaii movies to add to your queue!

What are your favorites? Did we miss anything you would recommend? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!



Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers like you! I'm an award winning travel education specialist, best selling author, certified travel coach, and travel advisor dedicated to helping you learn through travel. Through my blog, workshops, and coaching, I help people bring more meaning, connection, and understanding to their journeys-- and their lives.
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The Best Books About Greece to Inspire Your Travels

The Best Books About Greece to Inspire Your Travels

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Be inspired by this engaging collection of books about Greece! Enhance both your trip to Greece and your time at home by extending your discovery and excitement for weeks, months, or years beyond your time in the country! Get started today and dramatically enrich your understanding of Greek history and culture, which will amplify your experience of the country. I have asked seasoned travel writers to share the books they most recommend to other travelers and hope you find a few books on Greece that are perfect for you!

Table of Contents

Books About Greek History

The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life by Bettany Hughes

The Hemlock Cup transports readers to Socrates’ Athens—the fifth century B.C.E. in the heart of ancient Greece’s Golden Age. The 528-page book is packed with historical information while remaining very entertaining and readable, which makes it one of the best books about Greek history.

Essentially a biography of the philosopher who left no writings yet is credited as the founder of Western philosophy, The Hemlock Cup recreates Athens as Socrates knew it during his 70-year lifetime.

The celebrated British historian and television presenter Bettany Hughes creates a vivid portrait of the ancient city devastated by war yet simultaneously giving birth to democracy.

First-time visitors to Athens will be struck by how many ancient structures still exist among the modern-day buildings. As Hughes muses, “Walking through the bleached bones of ancient sites, it is easy to forget how hectic they once were.”

But in The Hemlock Cup, she’s able to bring these remnants of ancient Greece back to life, enhancing your visit to Athens and encouraging you to seek out the streets that Socrates walked so many centuries ago.

Contributed by Carrie Ann at Should Be Cruising

The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone

The Greek Treasure is a historical novel about the German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann and is another of the best books on Greek history. Schliemann is still regarded as one of the most important and controversial archaeologists of all time, despite his lack of formal education in the field. Schliemann excavated the presumed site of Homeric Troy and the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns. His profound love for Greek antiquity led him to live the second part of his life in Athens with his Greek wife, Sophia.

The book follows each step of his improbable marriage with a very young Greek girl and their journeys to unearthing ancient treasures. It also tells the story of their life at home in Athens from the 1870s-to 1890. Those pages will take you back in time. You will hear the horseshoes on Athens’ streets, the voice of the yogurt seller in the morning, and you will smell the fresh coffee in the Plaka neighborhood. 

When you look for the non-touristy Athens, you can make your way to their mansion, now a numismatic museum, and learn more about the couple that dedicated a lot of their lives to Athens and Greek treasures. It will also enhance your visits to the archeological sites and to the National Archeological Museum where many think that the famous “Mask of Agamemnon” was altered to look like Heinrich Schliemann himself!

Contributed by Anda Bartos at Travel for a While

Books About Greek Mythology

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Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is the retelling of the life of the book’s namesake, Circe. Most of us only know her as the witch on the island that Odysseus visited who turned sailors into pigs. But Miller gives her a much larger role in Greek mythology than just that. As the daughter of Helios, the mightiest of the Titans, Circe is destined to live an extraordinary but difficult life. After Zeus banishes her to a remote island, Circe hones her skill in witchcraft and crosses paths with some of the most famous figures in Greek mythology – the Minotaur, Daedalus and his son Icarus, and, of course, Odysseus.

As a lone woman who stands against the wrath of the gods and refuses to conform to their will, Circe constantly finds herself having to make difficult choices to protect what she cares about. Madeline Miller’s story is beautiful, moving, and unlike any other retelling done before.

Circe is an excellent introduction to some of the most famous characters in Greek mythology, which makes it one of the best books to read before a trip to Greece!

Contributed by Maggie at Pink Caddy Travelogue

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold and Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures, Stephen Fry

Mythos and Heroes are modern retellings of classical Greek myths.  Accomplished actor and comedian Stephen Fry has performed extensive research in the field of mythology.  In these two books, he brings these stories to life with a modern, witty, and sometimes irreverent flair.

Mythos focuses on tales of the Greek gods and their ancestors, the Titans.  You’ll find stories ranging from Zeus overthrowing his father to become the king of the Olympians to Prometheus’ creation of mankind.

Heroes spins tales of mythological mortal heroes and their quests.  Some are well known, like Heracles and his labors, or Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece.  Others may be lesser known, such as the tales of Atalanta or Bellepheron, but are no less entertaining.

Mythos and Heroes will paint vivid pictures in your mind of locations throughout Greece –from Crete, the island of Zeus’ birth, to the Minotaur’s labyrinth in Knossos.

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, these are self-narrated so you can enjoy Fry’s delightful British accent along with the myths!

Contributed by Lisa at Waves and Cobblestones

Mythology by Edith Hamilton

One of the most fascinating books about Greek mythology is this classic by Edith Hamilton. Interwoven into the best Greek vacations is an awareness of Greek mythology and how it permeates both ancient history and modern culture.

Taking a deep dive before your trip will reward you with a much more profound understanding of many Greek destinations ranging from archaeological sites, museums, and live performances to the constellations you’ll admire in the night sky (both in Greece and at home). Your study will enhance your understanding far beyond your Greek trip, giving you a greater appreciation of both historical and modern art, plays, operas, plays, movies and more.

Edith Hamilton’s interpretations of the myths brings them to life and make them memorable. She also includes Roman and Norse myths in this collection. They are all digestible and relatable to the modern reader, which connects us more intimately to the ancient Greeks.

Contributed by Erica at Trip Scholars

Travel Books About Greece

Rick Steves Greece: Athens and the Peloponnese

A good travel guide is an inspiring early choice in planning many trips and Rick Steves Greece: Athens and the Peloponnese is one of the top books on Greece travel. Like all the guidebooks in the extensive series it is overflowing with tips, educational snippets, and helpful suggestions for what to see and how best to plan your trip. Even if you don’t like to have an itinerary, it is useful to know what sites are closed or have reduced rates on particular days and how to save money and time as you explore.

As one of the best Greece books, it provides plenty of ideas to kindle your excitement in the early stages of dreaming up your trip, as well as practical tips as you narrow in on your favorites. Just like most of the RS books, it is meant to be taken apart so you can bring smaller sections with you instead of lugging the whole book on each day’s adventures. The included walking tours are a highlight, although you might prefer his audio guides of the tours, which you can download for free before you leave. The downside to this guide is that the coverage of some of the Greek islands and the northern part of the country isn’t as extensive, and in many cases is lacking altogether. There are some color maps and photos, but most are black and white. If you are a visual learner and looking for eye-catching inspiration, consider watching his episodes on travel to Greece as a supplement.

Contributed by Erica at Trip Scholars


Greek Philosophy Books

The Enchiridion by Epictetus

The Enchiridion by Epictetus is a book for those seeking to turn their chaotic life into a peaceful one. Enchiridion means “handbook” and is a compilation of the master’s teachings. Epictetus, a Greek born into slavery, is one of the most important teachers of Stoic philosophy.

This book is a simple guide for a great life. It is divided into short chapters, sometimes just a few sentences long. Each chapter focuses on a common human problem and provides simple yet effective and timeless advice to each. The first sentence of The Enchiridion encompasses Stoicism beautifully: “There are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power.” In an oversimplified nutshell, Stoicism seeks to teach us how to distinguish between those two and what to do with that distinction. It is really that simple and yet so difficult for us humans. No wonder this philosophy became a go-to personal operating system to many people during the pandemic.

Greece is where Stoicism began around 300 BC in Athens. To pay tribute to this practical philosophy visit the ruins of the Stoa Poikile in Athens. But if you wish to see where Epictetus himself taught, go to Preveza and look for the ruins of the ancient city of Nicopolis where this Greek thinker founded his school of Stoicism.

Contributed by Bea Cińska from PackYourBags

Novels Set in Greece

Zorba the Greek

The masterpiece, Zorba the Greek is an excellent book about Greece to read before your trip. Nikos Kazantzakisis is thought by many to be the greatest Greek author of the modern age. Although he is most well-known for Zorba, he was a prolific and controversial writer. His book, The Last Temptation of Christ was banned but he was also nominated nine times for a Nobel Prize in literature.

It is one of the best Greece books in large part because of the memorable character Zorba himself. Zorba’s great zest for life and ability to laugh and dance despite, and alongside, his deep suffering is something most of us can reflect on at a very personal level. Zorba is sharply contrasted against the bookish and intellectual narrator. This difference invites exploration of the philosophical dichotomies of God and man, mind and body, and freedom and responsibility.

It is an excellent Greek book to read before a trip because it will provide a window into life in a small village in post WWII Crete (where the author grew up). It will also acquaint you with Kazantzakisis and his impact on Greece’s intellectual and literary history. If you visit Crete, you can stop to pay your respects at his tomb in Heraklion.

Contributed by Erica at Trip Scholars

Read more about the film, Zorba the Greek and the biopic, Kazantzakis in our article Best Movies to Watch in Greece Before Your Trip.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Kefalonia in Greece became widely known after the moving novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. This beautiful Ionian island provides the perfect setting for battle and romance. When WWII struck, Kefalonia was under Italian rule. But when the Italians switched alliances and joined the Allies against the Axis, the Italian troops stationed on the islands refused to obey German orders to leave. As a result, the Germans slaughtered 5,000 Italian soldiers in retribution, an event that inspired this wonderful novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

While the love story within the book is fiction, the novel itself is based on true events. The peaceful and remote island of Kefalonia, famed for its incredible beauty and light, is shaken to its core when World War II rolls on to its shores.

This book completely brings out the atmosphere of the era, the Greek idiosyncrasies, and will evoke the smells of pine trees and the ease of island life. It is a story about love and survival, an intimate love story set within massive conflict. It captures the soul of Kefalonia and easily transports you to colourful fishing villages on the edge of turquoise waters like Assos Kefalonia. It is definitely a must read before your next Greek holiday.

Contributed by Nicola at All About RosaLilla

The Island, Victoria Hislop

One of the most poignant fiction books about Greece is The Island, based on the history of a leper settlement in eastern Crete. The book follows the lives of several generations of one family – jumping from the present to the past. The story focuses mostly on the village of Plaka and the nearby island of Spinalonga which was home to a community of lepers during the 20th century.

The Island paints a vivid picture of life in the leper colony as well as life on mainland Crete, covering major events over the last hundred years including the Second World War and the development of medicines to treat leprosy.

This is an excellent book for visitors to eastern Crete – the story depicts Cretan village life, the landscapes and seascapes of Greece in beautiful detail. It is possibly to visit the island of Spinalonga today – easily accessible from resort towns such as Agios Nikolaos and Elounda.

Contributed by Annabel Kirk at Smudged Postcard

The King Must Die by Mary Renault

If you’re taking a trip to Greece, you might hear a lot about Theseus on your travels. He was the mystical king and founder of Athens, as well as a hero in Greek mythology. Mary Renault released the historic fiction novel The King Must Die in 1958 and it was hailed as one of the best historical novels of its time by New York Times critic, Orville Prescott.

It tells the story of Theseus and his adventures, but without the mystical elements – no monsters, paranormal creatures or gods. It’s written in a fictional style, which makes it really easy to digest, but she uses real life events to tell her story. As well as learning about Theseus, you’ll take a literary journey through Athens, Crete and Naxos, as well as other Greek Islands. As you learn more about Theseus, you’ll also learn more about Greek culture and traditions from these tales set in Greece. 

If you find historic non-fiction really dry and hard to read, but you want to learn about one of the most important kings in Greek history, you’ll want to give one of the best books about ancient Greece a try.

Contributed by Louisa Smith of Epic Book Society

Nonfiction Books on Greece

My Ikaria by Spiri Tsintiziras

Did you know one of the many reasons to visit Greece is because it’s home to one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world? These zones have the highest concentration of centenarians and supercentenarians globally – people who are live to be over 100 and even 110, respectively. But what is the secret to their long and happy lives?

Melbourne-based Spiri, fed up with her lack of energy and her daily wife-and-mum routine, realised there had to be a solution for her feeling poorly. Intrigued by the people of Ikaria, a small Greek island considered one of the five Blue Zones, she takes it upon herself to start changing small daily habits and live more like the Ikarians.

Eventually, the chance arises for Spiri to actually head to Greece and visit the Ikarians for herself. She experiences first hand how much more connected people are to each other, their local cuisine and nature compared to her fast-paced lifestyle in Australia.

This is one of the best Greek travel books to help readers appreciate a different way of living, and to gain a better understanding of Greek culture and a new perspective on life. It also shares some delicious Yia-Yia (Greek grandmother) approved recipes and alternatives to modern nutrient-poor snacks!

Contributed by Alyse at The Invisible Tourist

Greek to Me by Marry Norris

Part travel memoir and part reference book, Greek To Me  describes Mary Norris’ love affair with Greece.  This book dives into all things Greek, its origins, words, gods, romances and more. It interestingly captures the beauty and complexity of Greece and its language.

Greek To Me is a brilliant book about the growing interest of the author in Ancient Greek, her travels, experiences with the Greek language and her reflections all described with great insight and humor.  The author also spends time discussing the history and mythology of Greece.

You should read this book before going to Greece if you want to learn interesting facts about the Greek language and how much our culture owes to the Ancient Greeks.  The more you known about Greece before you go, the more you’ll understand it when you’re there.

If you’re a fan of travel memoirs or a language geek, you’ll love this book. After reading Greek To Me, you’ll definitely want to book your flight ticket to Greece!

Camille from Everything Yoga Retreat

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell

The Corfu Trilogy is a series of popular books set in Greece, the first of which is My Family and Other Animals. It is set in Corfu, one of the most beautiful island destinations in Greece.

Written in a memoir style, the book is a light-hearted account of the author’s childhood years spent on the island. Gerald Durrell, the author, beautifully weaves together the misadventures of his British family and the vivid details of the natural world. All through the humorous narration, you get a glimpse into the lives of the Durrell family and their interesting Greek friends.

The book also takes you through the spellbinding landscape of Corfu – its quaint villages, a scenery of olive trees, busy marketplaces, and dreamy beaches. Some of these you can visit with a private tour. The books were also turned into a tv show, which is quite enjoyable as well.

The story will certainly make you long for the idyllic life of Greek villages and inspire you to meet and learn the ways of the island’s locals.

– Contributed by Vidyut Rautela at triplyzer


Perspective: A Greek American Finding His Way in Greece by Peter Manouselis

This book is about a 31-year-old man named Peter who made good money as an investment banker on Wall Street and then unsuccessfully tried his luck as a screenwriter. He decides to leave America and move to his parents’ homeland, Greece, to live with his father on Crete. There he reconnects with his father and his other relatives.

On Crete he embarks on a personal journey, learning a new language and engaging with the new culture. He helps his father harvest grapes and olives, slaughters goats, and now lives a completely different life. The descriptions of the people, the food, and the stunning landscape of Greece are all really beautiful. His observations are often funny but also often emotional experiences, and there is so much adversity in his search for his identity as a Greek American.

The book reads smoothly and in a wonderful way it will show you to the island of Crete. A recommended read if you are looking to embark on a journey to Greece!

Contributed by Martina at PlacesofJuma

Bucket to Greece by V.D. Bucket

One of the best books about Greece to read before your trip is Bucket to Greece. It’s a fun way to learn more about Greek culture, language, and history through a travelogue that feels more like a comic.

Bucket to Greece is a non-fiction book about a British couple who moved to a small mountain village in Greece. They bought a house from someone who left out a few details about the house and the people around it as he sold it to the couple.

There are currently eleven books in this series. So if you liked the first one, there is plenty more to read. It’s best to read the books in chronological order. Though technically, you would also understand the story if you started with a different book.

Reading the books of Bucket to Greece before your trip will give you some firsthand experience before you’ve even arrived. You will feel like you’ve lived in Greece for months.

Contributed by Lara at The Best Travel Gifts

Greek Cookbooks

My Big Fat Greek Cookbook: Classic Mediterranean Soul Food Recipes, by Christos Sourligas, Evdokia Antginas, Angelo Tsarouchas

My Big Fat Greek Cookbook is a great book to read before setting off to Greece as it will not only whet your appetite for all of the delicious Greek dishes waiting for you when you get there, but also provide some insight into Greek food culture! This cookbook includes a variety of recipes for Greek appetizers, main courses, and plenty of desserts. As a vegetarian, my personal favorite is the walnut cake.

I highly recommend reading My Big Fat Greek Cookbook, or any authentic Greek cookbook, before your first trip to Greece – because it will enhance your appreciation for all of the yummy food you’ll get to enjoy! It will add context to which of your dishes traditional classics – engrained into the culture – and which are modernly influenced. It will also enable you to know ahead of time which meals you would like to seek out when choosing restaurants so that you don’t miss any classics! Kalí óreksi!

Contributed by Jill Mascioli at onedaytravelguides.com


I hope you have found a book about Greece you can enjoy today! Even if your trip is months or years away, you can enjoy the wonder of Greece right now. Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? What are your top book recommendations for others who are visiting Greece. Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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25 Famous Landmarks of Greece With Tips to Visit and Explore From Home

Greek Landmarks the Acropolis of Athens

25 Famous Landmarks of Greece With Tips to Visit and Explore From Home

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

Many of the landmarks in Greece have had a profound impact on human history and are integral to legends, literature, and countless pieces of artwork. You have likely been encountering these landmarks of Greece in your studies and and through popular culture throughout your life. Imagine visiting them in person!

Landmarks in Greece connect us to the country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. They inspire curiosity and spark our travel dreams. Discover the most famous landmarks of Greece and learn more about them.

This collection of landmarks is especially for curious travelers, and we have added ideas about how to travel from home related to each destination. You will find entertaining and educational resources so that you can extend the wonder of your trip to the months and years before and after you visit. 

I’ve asked professional travel writers to share their favorite resources related to Greek landmarks so you can better appreciate and understand these fascinating places.

Famous Landmarks of Greece

Table of Contents

Achilleion Palace in Corfu

Landmark in Greece Achilleion Palace
Achilleion Palace, photo by Corina Preda

One of the most beautiful landmarks in Greece is the Achilleion Palace, also known as the Palace of Princess Elizabeth of Austria. Corfu Island is known for its beautiful beaches, but visitors will also want to visit the palace. 

The Empress of Austria, Elizabeth (Sissi), fell in love with Corfu and Greek culture, so she decided to build a palace here. Depressed after her son’s suicide, she bought the land on which Achilleion Palace was built, in Gastouri, 10 km from Corfu town. The palace was her place of refuge, so she left her mark on its decoration. During the world wars, the palace was a war hospital, after that a kindergarten, and later, a casino. Now the palace has become a museum and can be visited both inside and outside. You can reach the gate by car and, after paying the entrance fee, you will receive an audio guide in various languages.

The palace is impressive! It is decorated with motifs from Greek mythology and is dedicated to the Greek hero Achilles (hence the name). You can walk through its rooms to admire the works of art, the objects of the royal families that lived here and elements of Greek culture. The high position offers visitors beautiful views of the Ionian Sea and the green island. 

On hot summer afternoons,  a visit to Achilleion Palace in Corfu is a perfect choice.

Contributed by Corina Preda at Another Milestone

Travel From Home

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A scene from the James Bond movie, "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) was filmed here. Watch it before you visit the palace. 

Travel in Greece

The Acropolis

Landmark in Greece The Acropolis
The Parthenon on the Acropolis, photo by Trip Scholars

The Acropolis of Athens is arguably the most iconic landmark of Western Civilization. Most of the monuments we can now visit on the Acropolis were built during the height of Classical Greek Civilization around the fifth century BCE. After winning the war against the Persians, the great Athenian statesman Pericles (495-429 BCE) initiated much of the construction of the Acropolis. Democratic institutions, art, and philosophical thought all flourished during the Golden Age of Athens. Exceptional artists and architects helped to transform the rocky outcrop into the UNESCO site we cherish today.

The most important monuments on the Acropolis are the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. South of the top platform are the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Theater of Dionysus. The term acropolis is generic and comes from the Greek akron (highest point) and polis (city). There were many acropolies throughout the Greek world, but it is the Acropolis of Athens that has become a symbol of classical civilization. The extraordinary architectural and artistic monuments that surpassed those of neighboring cities survived for modern visitors to enjoy today.

To avoid the very long lines, get the Combo Ticket in advance, use the south east side entrance, and arrive before the gates open or late in the afternoon. Wear good walking shoes, you’ll be walking on marble; and bring water and a hat since there are very few trees offering shade.

Erica at Trip Scholars

Travel From Home

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To learn more about the Acropolis from home, watch, "The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul." The second episode is all about the history of the Acropolis with tips on how to make the most of your visit. Enjoy the 14 day free trial to the Great Courses/Wondruim.

Travel in Greece

Ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaestus

Landmark in Greece The Agora
The Ancient Agora, House of Simon where Socrates reputedly taught, photo by Trip Scholars

The Ancient Agora lies just beneath the Acropolis and was the center of Athenian life during the Classical Age. The Acropolis was only visited on special occasions, but the Agora was where Athenian citizens (free men only) met daily. It was where commercial, social, cultural, political, administrative, and religious activities took place.  

There are many important sites to see within the ancient city center. The Temple of Hephaestus is recognized as the most well preserved ancient Greek temple in the world. It survived in large part because it was used as a Christian church starting in the 7th century. The Museum of the Agora is within the Stoa Attalos and includes exhibitions about life in Ancient Athens. 

Erica at Trip Scholars

Travel From Home

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For an in-depth exploration of the Ancient Agora from home, check out, "The Athenian Agora, A Short Guide to the Excavations" created by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. It is authored by John McK Camp, the current director of the excavation of the entire Agora. It offers details about each of the archeological sites you will visit as well as a broader understanding of the successive cultures that influenced the Agora.

Travel in Greece

Ancient Akrotiri

Landmark in Greece Ancient Akrotiri
Ancient Akrotiri, photo by Monique Skidmore

The eruption of the Theran volcano 3,500 years ago brought an end to the Minoan civilization of Greece and blew up the island of Thera into five separate islands. The most well-known of these is beautiful Santorini.

At the southern tip of this small island, adjacent to the little fishing town of Akrotiri, is an ancient Minoan city that was buried in lava. Ancient Akrotiri has been called the ‘Pompeii of Greece’ but not many travelers have discovered it yet.

The site is covered by a tall roof to protect the site and walkways take you through what has been excavated so far of the city. Akrotiri was a wealthy city, and its residents were able to sail away and take all their valuable goods with them before the lava reached them.

The houses and buildings of this wealthy ancient city were three stories high and are being reconstructed. You can walk along some of these ancient streets and peer through windows into the homes that were so hastily abandoned.

Don’t miss this incredible ancient Greek ruin when you visit Santorini. Of all the locations for the mythical Lost City of Atlantis, this is the most credible place for the myth to have begun.

Contributed by Monique at Trip Anthropologist

Travel From Home

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Kids and adults will love the Akrotiri Board Game by Z-Man Games where players are ancient Greek explorers finding and excavating lost Minoan temples on the island of Thera. Just like modern travelers, Akrotiri board game players have to do a lot of Greek island hopping!

Travel in Greece

Ancient Messene

Landmark in Greece Ancient Messene
Ancient Messene, photo by Elena Sergeeva

Ancient Messene is one of the most spectacularly preserved archaeological sites of Greece. This UNESCO monument is located in the Peloponnese, built on the slopes of Mount Ithome. Those planning to spend some days in the area around Kalamata, should definitely add a visit to their itinerary. This archaeological site is not as famous as some other landmarks of Greece, yet those who do decide to visit this lesser-known jewel will be truly amazed. Ancient Messene is an entire city that was built according to the Hippodameian system. With every passing year, modern-day archeologists bring more discoveries to light from the continuous findings of the excavations. 

The site was built in 369 BC and the city was named after the mythical Doric queen, the daughter of king Triopas of Argos. 

The city was first founded in the 4th century B.C. by Epaminondas, a general from Thebes and soon became the capital of the Messenian state. The is plenty to see here from the theater to the Agora, the Vouleuterion, and one of the most impressive and exceptionally preserved ancient stadiums that have been discovered. Be prepared for plenty of walking. 

Contributed by Elena at Travel Greece Travel Europe

Travel From Home

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For those who might enjoy some extra reading, there is a book by Petros Themelis called Ancient Messene which offers a concise presentation of the archaeological site of Messene by its excavator and head of the restoration program. 

Travel in Greece

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A link to the official site with current admission information.

Ancient Theatre and Sanctuary of the Asklepieion at Epidaurus

Landmark in Greece Ancient Theatre and Sanctuary of the Asklepieion at Epidaurus
Ancient Theatre at Epidaurus, photo by Trip Scholars

The Asklepion at Epidaurus was the most important healing center of the Classical world and served patients for over a thousand years from about the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE.

Epidaurus/Epidavros was thought to be the birthplace of Apollo’s son Asclepius, the healer. Today, the Rod of Asclepius has become the most prominent symbol for healthcare in the world.  Ill people traveled great distances to the sanctuary with the hope of being cured. 

The healing center included surgery rooms, a restaurant, dormitories, healing baths, temples, gardens, a stadium, and a theater. When supplicants arrived, they were brought to the most sacred part of the sanctuary to sleep, and their dreams or visions were interpreted to help plan their therapy. 

Visitors today can explore the archaeological sites and visit the small but fascinating museum with artifacts from the site, including many ancient medical devices. 

The highlight of the sanctuary is the Ancient Theater. Today it is recognized as the most perfect ancient Greek theater because of its remarkable acoustics and outstanding preservation. Visitors can speak softly from the circular slab that was once the altar and be heard by their companions on the top tier of the amphitheater. 

If you are traveling to Greece, consider visiting during the Athens Epidaurus Festival in the summer when live performances, often of ancient Greek plays, are performed. It is living history at its best! Plan to arrive and explore the sanctuary for the afternoon, stay for dinner on site, and then enjoy the performance.

Erica at Trip Scholars

Travel From Home

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To learn more about the scientific sophistication behind the theater’s acoustics, check out this article in, "Nature."

Travel in Greece

Aristotle’s Lyceum

Landmark in Greece Aristotle’s Lyceum
Aristotle’s Lyceum, photo by Konstantinos Livadas

Plato, Socrates, and of course, Aristotle all taught here. The space served many purposes long before it became Aristotle’s school. It was initially a sanctuary and eventually a public meeting place, military training ground, gymnasium, and more. 

After Plato’s death, Aristotle left Athens but he returned in  335 BCE  and began teaching at the Lyceum regularly. This is where he wrote most of his books and also collected books for the first European library. Alexander the Great, his former pupil, sent him books and plant and animal specimens that he used to create a museum/zoo/botanical garden for students and scholars to use in conjunction with the library. His focus on direct observation of nature was pivotal in the history of scientific inquiry. The surviving works from Aristotle’s library provide the foundation for much of our understanding of Classical thought.

Visitors today will find the site inspiring. While it is true that the physical ruins are not nearly as impressive as many of the other landmarks in Greece, the historical significance of the place is overwhelming. It has been enhanced by surrounding the excavations with a verdant peaceful garden and shady benches inviting quiet reflection. Located in the center of the city, it is a wonderful respite from the crowds and heat. It is easy to get to and the admission is included in your combo ticket.

Erica at Trip Scholars

Travel From Home

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Some historical background will greatly enhance your appreciation of the ruins. Reading any of Aristotle’s works beforehand will dramatically improve your visit.

Travel in Greece

Chania Old Town

Landmark in Greece Old Town Chania
Old Town Chania, photo by Exit 45 Travels

You will be captivated from the moment you step foot in the old town of Chania on the island of Crete in Greece. A stroll through the picturesque pedestrian only streets will show the unique blending of historical buildings with traditional and modern architecture.

The town of Chania, first inhabited in the Neolithic period, has had a tormented past with numerous invaders. As a result, the Venetian and Ottoman influence can clearly be seen throughout the town in various buildings and monuments.

The old town of Chania is easy to explore on foot and offers so many things to see, do and experience for travelers visiting Crete. The old Venetian Harbour area is the most popular spot for tourists due to the abundance of history, beauty and amazing cafes, restaurants and Greek tavernas specializing in Cretan food.

A stroll along Kondylaki Street in the Jewish Quarter will showcase the history of Chania. Here you will find Etz Hayyim Synagogue, the only Jewish synagogue left on the island, the Archaeological Museum of Chania, and the famous Leather Street, otherwise known as Stivanadika Street.

Contributed by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels

Travel From Home

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If you are looking for Greek travel inspiration, ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations’ has a great series on the Greek Islands. In this episode, he visits Chania town and raves about the flaky rich pastry dish called bougatsa which is an amazing cheese filled filo covered with sugar and cinnamon. To taste this delicious Greek pastry, head to the restaurant 'Bougatsa Chania' which is also a very popular breakfast spot!

Travel in Greece

Corinth Canal

Landmark in Greece The Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal, photo by pavlemarjanovic at Canva

Another important Greek landmark is the Corinth Canal, a man-made canal connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.

The origins of this man-made waterway are old, the first attempts to make the canal through the Corinth Isthmus were attempted in the first century, but they were unsuccessful. The project was considered for centuries but did not actually begin until 1881. It took eleven years to cut through the sheer rock, and the canal was finally completed in 1893.

The canal is 21 meters wide and runs for 6 kilometers. It is important for transporting goods and passenger ships. It shortened the trip around Greece by approximately 350 km.

The canal is used by cargo and cruise vessels, as well as tourist boats. Containers are rarely transported through the canal due to its tight corners.

The Corinth Canal is a place of great significance for the economy as well as for the social life around it because it is an important trade route between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean Sea. In addition, it is a place one admires as industrial heritage and a gift from the past.

There are seven bridges crossing over the canal, from which you can admire the view. The most intriguing bridge is the entry to the canal, which goes down underwater every time ship is crossing the canal.

Contributed by Ania James of The Traveling Twins

Travel From Home

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If you want to see how Greece and Corinth Canal looked in 1950, I recommend the YouTube video, "Corinth Canal, 1951."

Travel in Greece


Landmark in Greece Delos
Delos, photo by Zoe Elliot

For a famous UNESCO site in Greece, the island of Delos is not to be missed. Located just a short boat trip away from Mykonos, it’s easily visitable for a day trip from the harbour. This important landmark location is a well-known archaeological site, being the mythological birthplace of Apollo.

Once you arrive on the island, there are multiple walking routes available. Choose yours based on the highlights and the length of the route. Also visit the two museums situated on the island: The Archaeological Museum of Delos and The National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Both are accessible for you to enter as they are included in your ticket to Delos.

Contributed by Zoe at Together in Transit

Travel From Home

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Read the book, "Delos-Mykonos: A Guide to the History and Archeology," which is perfect for learning about history of Delos. It's an advantage to understand the past and present of the island.

Travel in Greece


Landmark in Greece Delphi
Temple of Apollo, Delphi, photo by Trip Scholars

One of the greatest landmarks in Greece is the UNESCO site, Delphi. It was recognized as the center of the world by early Greeks and some of their Greek influenced neighbors. The stone monument here, known as the omphalos, was thought to be the bellybutton of the world.

The sanctuary grew around a chasm in the rock that was thought of as the womb of the world and was earlier a place of Gaia worship. In one myth, Apollo slew the snake-child of Gaia who guarded the area, and thus replaced the mother goddess with himself. It became a place of pilgrimage and divination. For hundreds of years, major undertakings and decisions were only made after consulting the oracle at Delphi.

Within the Temple of Apollo, the priestess, also known as the Pythia or sybil, sat in a trance atop a stool and channeled divine thought. The priest interpreted her ecstatic speech into allegorical prophecies that he offered to the supplicants asking their questions. It was then up to the inquirer to decipher the riddles of the oracle and decide how to proceed. It is now thought that the Pythia sat over a crack in the ground that emitted vapors altering her consciousness, although some scholars think the priestesses smoked or chewed hallucinogenic plants.

A large complex grew around Delphi. Greek city-states built treasuries to hold their offerings to Apollo: their tithes, or tenths of the spoils from their war victories. It was also one of the four locations of the early Greek games. The complex includes a stadium, hippodrome, gymnasium and numerous monuments.

Visitors today can walk up the Sacred Way and see these important sites. Get the combo ticket and visit the Delphi Archeological Museum, home to fascinating objects found on the site.

Erica at Trip Scholars

Travel From Home

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For a much richer understanding of Delphi, invest an hour watching the documentary, “Delphi, Bellybutton of the World.” It is by Michael Scott, a classical scholar and documentarian who is fascinating and entertaining.

Travel in Greece


Landmark in Greece, Knossos, photo by Trip Scholars
Knossos, photo by Trip Scholars

Knossos is often recognized as the first European city, and it is a fascinating Greek landmark to visit on the island of Crete. The site was originally a Neolithic settlement with artifacts that have been found dating back to 7000 BCE. Unlike the Neolithic village cultures that predated them throughout Europe, the Minoans had a cities and palaces. Minoan civilization existed from about 3500 BCE to 1100 BCE and reached its peak around 1700 BCE. Knossos was the largest and most influential palace complex of them all.

The complex includes over 1300 rooms, sophisticated plumbing, a theater, and elaborate, unique artwork. The Minoans were literate, traded widely, and brought order to the region.

The civilization was named by the British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who derived it from the legend of King Minos. He identified Knossos with the myth of the labyrinth, Ariadne, and the Minotaur because of the elaborate underground passageways and buildings at Knossos as well as the prevalent depictions of bull worship and bull jumping throughout the complex.

The techniques used by Arthur Evans in the excavation and restoration of the site highlight the history of archeology and are today seen by many as irresponsible and damaging. He restored parts of the palace complex with brightly painted reinforced concrete, an approach that is shunned by modern archaeologists. Still, Evans enthusiastically devoted thirty years of his life to the site, and we owe much of our understanding to him and his team.

Today visitors can tour the palace complex grounds on their own or with a guide. Guides are available for hire outside of the entrance, but the quality varies. You can also reserve a tour in advance using the link below. Be sure to visit the nearby Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which houses extraordinary treasures from the site.

Erica at Trip Scholars

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Before your visit, watch the documentary “The Minoans, Ancient Worlds,” by the historian Bettany Hughes. She is an author, television personality, and has been a popular history professor at Cambridge and Oxford. Her contagious enthusiasm for the Knossos, and indeed all classical history, will inspire you to want to learn more and book your travels today!

Travel in Greece

Medieval City of Rhodes

Landmark in Greece Medieval City of Rhodes
Medieval City of Rhodes from the port, photo by Roxanne de Bruyn

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Medieval City of Rhodes is probably the first place you’ll go when you arrive on the island. The medieval city makes up the majority of the Rhodes Old Town and its huge walls are still standing today.

The Medieval City of Rhodes was first built by the Knights of St John, who occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523, fortifying the capital of the island. Rhodes is situated in the Dodecanese Islands of Greece, near the Turkish coastline and the city was finally conquered by Sultan Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire in 1522, after a six-month siege.

There are many medieval monuments in both the upper and lower towns and there are also some impressive Islamic landmarks in the city. One of the most significant is the Great Hospital, built by the knights in the 15th Century.

Contributed by Roxanne at Far Away Worlds

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If you are planning to visit the Medieval City of Rhodes, consider watching the Rhodes episode of Julia Bradbury's, "Greek Islands" to get some more insight into the site. It’s an easy and accessible way to learn more about the history of the city, while showcasing the gorgeous scenery and great food.

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Monasteries of Meteora

Landmark in Greece Meteora
Meteora, photo by Haley Blackall

Perched on the top of 600-metre-tall rocks are the picturesque monasteries of Meteora. Centrally located in mainland Greece, the small town of Kalambaka sits at the base of these mighty outcrops. A hike up to the top of these Greek Orthodox buildings gives spectacular panoramas and also makes for one of the best views in the world. 

Of the many Byzantine-designed monasteries, six are still active today and act as residences to a small number of monks and nuns. Amongst the natural beauty of this area, the monasteries are also home to many beautiful artifacts and wall paintings, that helped Meteora reach UNESCO world heritage status in 1988. 

To best experience the monasteries at Meteora, start at the base of the ascension to the Holy Trinity Monastery of Meteora and climb approximately 45 minutes with stops along the way to admire the view. If you have more time, continue the trail to other famous sites such as the Monastery of Varlaam and The Great Metoran Holy Monastery. 

By Haley of Haley Blackall Travels

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To inspire your trip to Meteora, check out the James Bond movie, "For Your Eyes Only," which first premiered in 1981, where the Meteora monasteries were the focus of the filming and plot. The movie showcases beautiful aerial shots, the dramatic tall rocky outcrops and the history of the monasteries themselves.

Travel in Greece

The Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

We've got classics, comedies, dramas and children's films. We also have Greek Language movies films about Greek history and Greek mythology.


Landmark in Greece Mycenae, photo by Trip Scholars
Mycenae, photo by Trip Scholars

The Greek landmark Mycenae has given its name to the entire Mycenean Age, circa 1600 BCE -1100 BCE. The Myceneans were indigenous Greek people who were heavily influenced by the Minoans and other Mediterranean civilizations. They rose in power as Minoan influence receded. Located on the mainland in the region of Argolis, Mycenae was the central and most powerful town of the age.   

According to Homeric legend, Mycenae was the home to Agamemnon, the great Greek king of the Trojan War. It is from here that he planned his ten-year attack on Troy to reclaim Helen, his brother Menelaus’ wife. After his return, it is in Mycenae that he is killed by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover because he had sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia. Again, it is in Mycenae that Clytemnestra is then killed by her children for murdering their father. These stories have been retold in countless books, plays, and artwork—allowing the modern visitor to experience the site with broad and profound reference points.

The actual history of the site is laced with these legends and impacted the archeological discoveries. The archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann believed the Homeric legends were true. When he discovered a golden mask and other grave riches in a shaft grave, he declared he had found Agamemnon’s mask (now displayed prominently in the National Archeological Museum).

Visitors today can see the imposing Lion Gate entrance; the cistern that allowed the fortification to withstand a siege; Cyclopean Walls; burial tombs; the onsite museum; and rooms of the palace that, may indeed, be where Agamemnon and other legendary figures lived.

Erica of Trip Scholars

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Enjoying any interpretations of Homer’s stories will greatly enhance your time at the site. Start with the originals: The Iliad and The Odyssey as audio books.

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Mykonos Windmills

Landmark in Greece Mykonos Windmills
Mykonos Windmills, photo by Dymphe

One of the most famous landmarks in Greece is the collection of windmills on the island of Mykonos. They are at a higher elevation than much of Mykonos Town, so they are visible from many spots. Also, when you come into the city by boat, these windmills are something you’ll immediately see. You can find this hill next to a beautiful area in Mykonos Town known as Little Venice. 

The history of the windmills goes back to the 16th century, when the Venetians ruled the island of Mykonos. In the past, the people of Mykonos used the windmills to mill wheat, which made them very important to the citizens of the island. Nowadays, they aren’t in use anymore, and the only purpose they serve is as a tourist attraction.

The architecture of the windmills is beautiful! Each windmill is round, white, and has a pointy roof, which is very characteristic of the windmills on all the Cyclades islands. The architecture of the windmills makes the hill where you can see the windmills also one of the most Instagrammable places in Mykonos

Contributed by Dymphe of Dymabroad

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"Mykonos Muse" is a great book that will make you want to visit Mykonos for sure. This book is all about the history and culture of the last 100 years, and it includes the windmills of the island.

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Greece Landmarks Olympia
Olympia, photo by Maggie McKneely

Every four years, the world celebrates one of ancient Greece’s most popular creations – the Olympic Games. At the archaeological site of Olympia, modern-day visitors can walk in the footsteps of those very first Olympic athletes who started it all.

Olympia was once the most important religious and athletic center in all of Greece. The area was first inhabited by a cult of Zeus as early as 1500 BC. The first Olympic games were held in 776 BC. Although very few original structures are still standing and it is mostly a collection of ruins, a visit to Olympia is still an awe-inspiring part of any Greece itinerary.

Today, visitors can wander through the areas where the athletes once trained. They can explore the foundations of the Temple of Zeus, which once housed a 42 foot-tall statue of the King of the Gods, one of the seven Ancient Wonders of the World. There’s also the Temple of Hera, where the Olympic Torch is still lit for every modern games before being taken to that year’s host country. The original stadium track, which once held up to 20,000 spectators, is also visible.

Contributed by Maggie at Pink Caddy Travelogue

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Before visiting Olympia, one of the best books to read is, "A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics" by Neil Faulkner. It transports readers back in time to the 338 BC games and is a fascinating look at how things worked in Olympia.

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Panathenaic Stadium

Landmark in Greece Panathanaic Stadium
Panathanaic Stadium, photo by Helen on Her Holidays

The Panathenaic Stadium is a magnificent, horseshoe-shaped stadium in central Athens. The stadium is one of the most important historic attractions in Athens and is the world’s only stadium built entirely of marble. 

A stadium was first built on the site in around 330BC and was rebuilt in the 3rd century AD. 50,000 spectators could be packed into its marble seats to watch pagan celebrations, gladiatorial battles and contests with wild animals. As Christianity took hold and the events held in the Panathenaic Stadium fell out of favour, the stadium was abandoned.

The ruins were rediscovered and excavated in the 19th century, and the stadium saw its first events in centuries at the Zappas Olympics, an early attempt to restart the Olympic Games, before being used as a venue at the first modern Olympics in 1896. The Panathenaic Stadium is still the location where the Olympic flame is handed over to the new host city.

Contributed by Helen on Her Holidays

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To understand the history of the modern Olympics and the role of the Panathenaic Stadium, consider reading, "The Games: A Global History of the Olympics" by David Goldblatt. The book tells the story of the Olympic Games from the 1896 Olympics at the Panathenaic Stadium to the games of modern times, explaining the origin of Olympic traditions like the flame, the torch relay, and winners’ medals.

Travel in Greece

Panagia Ekatontapilliani, The Church of 100 Doors

Landmark in Greece Panagia Ekatondapiliani, Church of 100 Doors
Panagia Ekatondapiliani, Church of 100 Doors, photo by Andrey Khrobostov of Canva

The Church Of 100 Doors is also known as Panagia Ekatontapilliani. It is situated in the capital of Paros- Parikia. 

It is an important historic landmark and one of the best-preserved Christian churches in the country. The church was built in 326 CE. According legend, it was founded by Saint Helen, Constantine the Great’s mother after she found refuge on Paros in a storm on her way to the Holy Land.

It is an exceptional combination of different architectural styles. Some of the pillars are repurposed from earlier classical buildings. The church was renovated by Byzantine emperor Justinian, who added the dome. After that, the church went under various renovations by the rulers across the centuries. It is a prime example of a Greek Paleo Christian church with Byzantian and post Byzantian influences.

A common belief about the church is that it has 100 doors. There are not actually 100 doors, windows, gates, or openings of any kind. Legend has it that there are only 99 doors that are visible and the 100th door will open when Hagia Sofia in Constantinople becomes Orthodox again. 

Exploring the Church of 100 Doors is among the top things to do in Paros. 

Contributed by Paulina of Paulina on the Road

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Panagia Ekatontapilliani is one of many important landmarks included in, "Lonely Planet Greek Islands." This book is an essential addition to planning your trip and learning more about the country from home.

Travel in Greece

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A link to the official site with current entrance information. You may need to use your browser's translate feature.

Santorini Caldera

Landmark in Greece Santorini Caldera
Santorini Caldera, photo by Martha Knight

Santorini, one of the jewels of the Cyclades Islands, is the result of a massive volcanic eruption – and its caldera is one of the most iconic natural landmarks in Greece.

This stunning island in the middle of the Aegean Sea is all that remains from a huge cataclysmic explosion around 1610 BC. This was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history and it created a vast caldera, which was then flooded by the ocean.  What is left today is a circular ring of islands, in the middle of which has since sprung new, much younger volcanic islands called Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni.

Overlooking the caldera and the new volcanoes are picturesque, white-washed towns, scattered precariously along the edge of the circular islands. It seems impossible that these towns have been built on such steep terrain, but when you get there, you’ll be glad they were. The main towns are Fira and Oia, and they’re delightful in and of themselves – but what most people come for is the breath-taking views of the caldera.

The views are wonderful all day, but they are spectacular when the sun sets. The west-facing towns have many restaurants and bars with terraces that allow you to marvel at the scenery – but be warned, they get booked up in advance, especially in peak season, so plan ahead!

Contributed by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust

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If you want to learn more about the creation of Santorini's caldera, National Geographic made a documentary film called, "Doomsday Volcano." This film explores the geological clues that reveal how that devastating eruption unfolded.

Travel in Greece

Syntagma Square

Landmark in Greece Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square, photo by milangonda on Canva

Syntagma means “constitution” in Greek. The square got its name in 1843 when Athenians demanded a constitution from King Otto. It is still the place where Greeks gather to protest social and political issues. 

Around the square are the Greek Parliament building and the National Gardens. Visitors can watch the hourly changing of the Presidential Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For book lovers, the Public Bookstore has a rooftop cafe with a great view of the square.

A unique experience in Athens is watching a movie in an open-air theater. One of the oldest theaters is Cine Aegli just steps from the square. It is quite a treat to watch a movie under the stars!

Contributed by Bernadette Young of Book Retreats


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Syntagma Square is the usual starting point for a tour of Athens since it is a central hub for public transportation. A great audio tour to download is Rick Steves' "Athens City Walk". Of course, the tour starts at Syntagma Square and will lead visitors to tourist hotspots like Monastiraki square for bargain shopping, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Plaka with its narrow cobblestone streets, and the Acropolis.

Travel in Greece

Temple of Apollo, Portara in Naxos

Landmark in Greece Temple of Apollo Portara, Naxos
Temple of Apollo, Portara, Naxos photo by BremecR of Canvas

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic landmarks in Greece on the gorgeous island of Naxos is the famous Temple of Apollo. It is also one of the first views as your ferry enters the port of this Greek island in the Cyclades.

This incredible 2500-year-old marble doorway, also known as the Portara in Naxos, is set on the small islet of Palatia at the tip of the Naxos Port and jutting out into the Aegean Sea. It is believed that Lygdamis, the ruler of Naxos around 530 B.C., wanted to construct the largest and most awe-inspiring temple in all of Greece. Sadly, Naxos soon went to war against Samos which resulted in Lygdamis being ousted around 506 B.C. and the work on the temple came to a grinding halt.

The temple ruin is named the Temple of Apollo as many scholars believed it was meant to honor Apollo. This is because it faces towards Delos, which according to legend was Apollo’s birthplace. Others believe it was built to honor the patron god of Naxos, Dionysus.

Today, all that the remains are the three columned marble archway that you can visit free of charge by walking across the walkway that connects the mainland with the small islet. This is also a wonderful spot to enjoy some incredible sunsets from too!

Contributed by Marco from Travel Boo

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If you are interested in learning more about Naxos, as well as nearby Paros, then you may want to consider reading Denis Roubien's "Naxos - Paros - The Marble Greek Islands" that consists of travel stories, interesting imagery, and maps to depict the history of these beautiful islands. Not only will you learn about the Portara, but also a range of other fascinating landmarks and sights located on these beautiful Greek isles.

Travel in Greece

Temple of Poseidon

Landmark in Greece Temple of Poseidon
Temple of Poseidon, photo by Bernadette Young

For those that love amazing sunset views, the Temple of Poseidon will not disappoint. The centuries-old temple has guarded the Cape of Sounio since the middle of the 5th century BC.

It is a little over an hour away from Athens and a perfect day trip. The calm blue waters beckon visitors and various tavernas dot the shore. There is a parking lot with a small fee and the site has a cover charge. At the end of the day, the sunset bathes the marble temple in shades of orange and the sky slowly turns purple. It is really relaxing but there can be crowds, depending on the time of year. 

The temple is dedicated to the Greek God Poseidon, the brother of Zeus and God of the Sea. In ancient times, people believed storms were signs that Poseidon was angry, so they lay tributes at the temple to gain favor and to protect their sea journeys. 

The temple is also mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey as the place where King Menelaus buried a helmsman, the person who steered his ship. In Ancient Greek Mythology, the area is believed to be the site where Athenian King Aegeus jumped to his death. The sea was named the Aegean Sea after him. 

Contributed by Bernadette Young of Live a Relaxed Life

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To learn more about Greek mythology read Edith Hamilton's classic, Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes.

Travel in Greece

The White Tower of Thessaloniki

Landmark in Greece The White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki, photo by Nisha Dalal

The White Tower is Thessaloniki’s most iconic landmark, gracing postcards and magnets throughout the region. The tower was built in 1430 when the Ottoman Empire took control of Thessaloniki.

Like most historic towers, the White Tower served as a watchtower for guarding the city against enemy ships. Despite the beautiful views and perfect location we enjoy today, during the Ottoman Empire it was a prison and site of mass executions. It was even known as the Tower of Blood.

During the First World War, the tower served as a communication center for Allied Forces.

The White Tower also houses a museum depicting Thessaloniki through different periods. There are six floors in the tower and a rooftop that provides lush views of the sea and city.

The entrance ticket to the museum is a bit cheaper in the off-season. You can also buy a combined ticket that includes the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, and the monument of Rotunda. This ticket is valid for three days and hence perfect for two days in Thessaloniki.

Contributed by Nisha Dalal of Nerdy Footsteps

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Thessaloniki is a delight for history enthusiasts. To read more about the marvelous architecture during the Byzantine era, check out, "Wandering in Byzantine Thessaloniki." It also includes sections on Roman and Ottoman buildings. Apart from the gorgeous images from monuments, it divides the historical attractions into small walking tours.

Travel in Greece

The Trip Scholars website is dedicated to helping curious travelers find the best in trip research. Entertain and educate yourself from home to better appreciate and understand your destinations. If you are interested in Greek Landmarks, you will love our articles How to Create Your Own Archaeological Tour and  Your Guide to Visiting the World’s Most Valuable Places.  If you are traveling with kids or teens, enjoy Travel Education: 11 Inspiring Ways to Plan a Trip With Your Kids.

I hope this collection of landmarks in Greece has sparked your curiosity, both to visit, and to learn more from home! Have you visited any of these landmarks or do you plan to go? What resources do you recommend to other travelers to help them enhance their trips? Have you used any of the resources we’ve shared? Please tell me about it in the comments so we can learn from you!

Plan a Trip to Greece: The Guide for Curious Travelers

This is a supplemental article, discover more you can enjoy before your trip to Greece!


Hi, I’m Erica and I created Trip Scholars for curious travelers like you! I'm an award winning travel education specialist, best selling author, certified travel coach, and travel advisor dedicated to helping you learn through travel. Through my blog, workshops, and coaching, I help people bring more meaning, connection, and understanding to their journeys-- and their lives.
You've landed in the right place! Tripscholars is here to help you extend the joy and wonder of travel far beyond your days on the road. Find travel education tips and inspiration in our ROADMAPS BLOG. Save yourself time and money by using our TRAVEL RESOURCES LIBRARY where we have already gathered top resources for you to enjoy from home. Tripscholars is where curious travelers come for meaningful travel planning and trip research.

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The 35 Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

Movies in Greece, Beach in Greece

The 35 Best Movies in Greece to Watch Before Your Trip

 This post may contain affiliate links which means Trip Scholars may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Read more here. Thanks for helping us keep the lights on!

We have gathered the best movies in Greece to watch before your trip. I have asked a group of experienced travel writers to share their top recommendations of films in Greece to enhance trip planning and enrich your trip to Greece. 

You can extend the joy of your travels and understand the country much more deeply by spending the months (or years!) preceding your trip by watching and reading about Greece. 

At Trip Scholars, we offer many resources and ideas to help you dive deep into understanding your travel destinations before you arrive. This is a supplemental article to our series of articles about all you can do before your trip to Greece. 

Queue these up and let your Greek adventure begin today!

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Table of Contents

The Best Movies in Greece: The Classics

Boy on a Dolphin

Language: English (1957) NR

Boy on a Dolphin was the first major American film shot in Greece and was Sophia Lauren’s breakout role. It set the stage for many films that followed, but is also worth watching because of the scenery, story, music, and history. Most of the scenes were shot on location in Greece in the 1950’s which shows us the country and many of the important landmarks almost sixty years ago. 

The story begins on the island of Hydra with Phaedra (Sophia Lauren) as a strong, stunning, and poor sponge diver. In a beautifully shot underwater scene (that must have amazed viewers in 1957) she discovers an ancient gold and bronze statue of a boy on a dolphin. Working with her lazy boyfriend, Rhif (Jorge Mistral) and the town’s English drunkard doctor, Dr. Hawkins (Laurence Naismith) the three hatch a plan to find a wealthy partner to retrieve the statue.

Phadra travels to Athens and meets both Dr. James Calder (Alan Ladd) and Victor Parmalee (Clifton Webb). Dr. Calder is an American archeologist trying to ensure that archeological treasures are kept in the countries where they are found. Victor, on the other hand, is an unscrupulous wealthy art collector who wants to keep priceless treasures for himself. An engaging story unfolds as the characters struggle between the security of wealth offered by Parmalee and the desire to have it recognized as a treasure of both Hydra and Greece. You’ll see some early inspiration for later Indiana Jones films as the plot unfolds.

As with all classics, this film can be tough to watch through a modern lens. The Greeks are portrayed as uneducated and sharply contrasted against most of the refined British and Americans. The relationships between men and women are jarring to watch for the modern viewer. But, if we can see the film in the historical context it was made within, it provides plenty to think about. Also notable is the lack of Greek actors in the film, which has been a welcome change in more recent cinema.

Boy on a Dolphin is a great film to watch before traveling to Greece. One of the highlights is the authentic traditional Greek music and dancing. There are also many archeological sites featured that will inspire you to add them to your itinerary. It may also spark an interest in watching other American classics shot in Greece.

Zorba the Greek

Language: English (1964) NR

If you haven’t already seen Zorba the Greek, add it to your watch list today! It is based on the best-selling novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, who is arguably the greatest Greek writer of the modern age. Anthony Quinn dazzles us as Zorba, a quintessential Free Man. He vibrantly seizes existence, laughing and dancing in the face of life’s suffering. He expresses freedom (both the best and the worst of it!) more robustly than most characters throughout the history of literature and film. 

Zorba befriends Basil (Alan Bates), a reserved English-Greek writer who is going to Crete to resurrect the family mine. When they arrive, they stay at the hotel of aging Madame Hortense, played by Lila Kedrova, who won an academy award for her role. Most of the villagers serve as a sort of Greek chorus, without much individuation. A stunning exception is the widow, played by Irene Papas, and the mentally disabled character, whose reaction to tragedy in the film sets him far apart from the other main characters.

Although much of it is a comedy, you will also be unsettled and least one disturbing scene will likely stay with you forever. The film depicts life in a small, poor, rural town in Crete around 1930. The women are, for the most part, treated deplorably. Some claim that the film is misogynistic because of this but shining a light on such inequalities instead gives viewers plenty to think and talk about after watching. Kazantzakis frequently brings us to uncomfortable places in his stories, and we are often better because of it.

Zorba the Greek is an excellent movie to watch before visiting Greece. It is set in Crete, one of the most beautiful places in the country. If you are going to Crete on your trip, you will find the scenery especially inspiring. The soundtrack by Mikis Theodorakis is also exceptional, and you will likely want to add it to your music playlist. Perhaps most importantly, it offers a window into Greek culture of almost a hundred years ago– written by the great Cretan writer, Nikos Kazantzakis.

More classic movies in Greece you might like are Never on a Sunday, The Guns of Navarone, and Stella.

The Best Movies About Greece: Comedies