Buruk Vera

Astypalea: A Hidden Island Gem In The Aegean Sea Of Greece.

Spending your summer vacation in Greece is no longer an insiders’ tip. The over 3.000 islands attract millions of visitors every year, simply because the Greek islands are and always will be uniquely fascinating. Our last journey here has been over a decade ago, so it was about time to re-visit history. Crete, Rhodes, Zakynthos or Corfu are familiar faces, but we were on the lookout for something less popular, yet of the same beauty. Only by coincidence did we come across a real gem in the southern Aegean Sea: Astypalea.

Due to its special form and beauty of its landscape, the tiny island is often referred to as “butterfly of the Aegean”. Still due to her manageable form, Astypalea offers quite a lot. Especially for vacationers who long to travel away from tourist crowds, it will be love at first sight. Astypalea is quite, mystical, idyllic, familiar with typical Greek ambience, dozens of beaches and crystal clear water. Yet her name holds no meaning to many – 90% of the islands visitors are Greek. The majority of foreign tourists are yet unaware of this hidden island secret.

Astypalea offers few sights. There are several small villages worth a look, yet Chora is the real highlight. Narrow alleys, traditional windmills and the remains of an old Venetian castle grace the islands largest village. Apart from the castle and the red-hooded windmills, a stroll through the streets is the best way to explore. You will also come across the famous white houses with blue roofs, normally associated with Santorini.

But let’s not forget about the stunning beaches. A holiday in Greece would be nothing without spending at least a couple of hours along the shores. It would be like spending a weekend in Paris, without gazing upon the Eiffel Tower. The beaches of Astypalea don’t have a cosmopolitan vibe or white sands, yet they offer turquoise, light-flooded water, relaxation and peace.

What can we say? Our trip to Astypalea was one of the most pleasant experiences we’ve encountered. Here, everyone knows everyone, which makes the island even more likeable. Only in August could you encounter not finding a room. During all other months, it’s quiet. Cozy. What fortune for island and visitor.

Infos & Tips:

  • Best time to visit: From spring to fall you’ll find temperatures the most pleasant. This is when the water is warm enough to jump in.
  • How to get there: From Athens you can fly to Astypalea in about 40 minutes, or you can take the ferry from Piraeus (even with your own car), which will take about 8-10 hours.
  • Where to stay: The number of hotels on Astypalea is limited. The largest house offers only 28 rooms. You’ll search in vain for hotel bunkers. Instead several families rent out private rooms and apartments.
Chora is the capital of Astypalea, built on the hill slope. On top is a Venetian castle situated, known as the Querini Castle.
Chora is the capital of Astypalea, built on the hill slope. On top is a Venetian castle situated, known as the Querini Castle.

Beatiful That

One Of The Most Beautiful Hikes In The World: The Quiraing In Scotland.

Scotland might just be one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to. Whether you’re young or old, sporty or relaxed, easy going or an adventure seeker, everyone will get what they’re looking for. During our road trip, we managed to travel all across the norther tip of England, with the Isle of Skye as our last destination.

Apart from Scotlands landmark, the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing is a must for anyone who visits Isle of Skye; especially if you’re a travel photographer!

The weather in Scotland can be very unpredictable, so it’s best to come prepared. It looked quite nice when we started the trek, yet it turned on us just before we got to the end where you decide to either turn around, or keep walking to finish the loop. It was really windy (really SUPER windy!) and it got foggy as well so we turned around in the end. We could barely keep ourselves from falling because the wind was that strong! On the contrary, it was nice because the wind pretty much pushed us all the way up. The trek itself is not hard, but we’re just going to let the photos speak for themselves.

A few facts about the Quiraing:
  • Length: 6.8km (the loop)
  • Duration: 2-3 hours (depending on the weather)
  • Difficulty: Easy (unless it’s super windy, then you should be aware of the drops)
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with the most stunning landscape: The Quiraing in Scotland.
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Europe Holidays…

As I buried my face into the piping hot crêpe, I couldn’t help but realize how much I eat when I visit Europe. After gorging on Nutella, cheese, sausage, beer, pasta, goulash, or whatever else is put in front of me as I traverse the continent every summer, my bikini body needs some work. Europe has just too many world-class places to eat, drink, and be merry!

But, as I took that second bite, I thought, “Screw it. Bring me a second crêpe. You only live once!”

And so I continue eating my way across the continent.

A few years ago, I listed my favorite restaurants in Europe, but since that time, I’ve eaten a lot of food at a lot of new restaurants. I’ve been to new cities, countries, and locales that deserve some culinary attention, so today, it’s time to share a second list of eateries in Europe that — while they may ruin your bikini body — will bring you a lifetime of bliss and memories:

Note: I included a few favorites from my old list (which you can visit here) because I eat at them over and over and over again!

Le Dit Vin (68 Rue Blanche, Paris)
I stumbled across this restaurant while looking for a place to eat near my Airbnb. I spied lots of wine bottles on the wall and someone eating cheese and thought “PERFECT!” It was an incredible find. The prices are reasonable (under 15 euros [$16 USD] for a meal), there is a large wine selection (it’s Paris, of course!), and the food is rich, savory, and delicious. The menu changes daily depending on what’s fresh, so all I can really recommend as a constant is the cheese plate.

Moeders (Rozengracht 251, Amsterdam)
Meaning “mothers” in Dutch, this restaurant is famous for serving traditional Dutch cuisine. It’s a small place (you’ll want to make reservations) filled with portraits of people’s mothers (feel free to add to their collection!) with outdoor seating in the summer. The best value is the Dutch sampler for two, where you can sample a heaping of traditional Dutch food, including lots of potatoes, cabbage, and meat. The fish of the day is always a winner, as is their carpaccio, spare ribs, and hotchpotch (a thick stew with vegetables and meat). A main will set you back 15-20 euros ($16-22 USD) but it’s worth the price!

U Medvídku (Na Perštýn 7, Prague)
This restaurant is one of the oldest in the city and somewhere I take my tour groups every year. Czech food is heavy on the meat and potatoes, and this spot is no exception. Here you can find a mouthwatering selection of home-brewed beer, heavy goulash, thick potato dumplings, duck, and perfectly cooked pork. Portions are huge (the pork knee is really for two). Prices are 120-200 CZK for a meal. (Another excellent place that serves traditional food is Kravin (Námstí Míru 109/18, Prague), which is a popular after work drinks destinations).

Eastern European goulash dinner - Prague

The Naschmarkt Vienna
Centrally located near the main ring road of Vienna, this outdoor market is lined with restaurants, cafés, and wine bars and is popular with locals and — thanks to lots of mentions in guides and blogs — tourists alike (yes, I’m doing my part!). You’ll be able to choose from a selection of kebab vendors, snack shops, and vegetarian restaurants. (You’ll also find food stalls selling vegetables and deli goods, but prices are higher than other markets in town so I wouldn’t recommend getting those things here.) On a warm day, I love coming here and eating outside and having a glass of wine.

Der Wiener Deewan (Liechtensteinstraße 10, Vienna)
This all-you-can-eat, pay-what-you-want Pakistani restaurant is popular with students (and cheapos like me; most people pay 5-10 euros for their meal). It’s also insanely tasty, serving up daal, naan, salads, chicken, chutney, and at least a few other dishes (usually around six total) each night. Because it is so cheap and tasty, it is always crowded, so if you’re a big group or going during peak eating hours, you’ll most likely need to wait for a seat. I visit every time I’m in Vienna.

Aneka Rasa (Warmoesstraat 25-29, Amsterdam)
There’s a lot of Indonesian food in Amsterdam, given their past colonization of the country. While there are many options in the city, I like this one the best because you get a lot of food for your money and it’s a great place for groups. You can order the sampler platter (about 10 dishes) for 20 euros ($21 USD) per person. You’ll leave full and with leftovers for later. I’m especially addicted to the rice cakes they bring out as an appetizer.

Leo Burdock (4 Crown Alley, Temple Bar, Dublin)
This well-established restaurant (over 100 years old!) serves fantastic fish and chips. It’s simple, easy, and delicious. Unlike a lot of other fish-and-chips shops, I didn’t find the food here too oily; it was perfectly fried and crisp. They don’t have an extensive menu, instead focusing on making a few dishes incredibly well. At 10 euros ($11 USD) for fish and chips, it’s a delicious place for an affordable and filling lunch. There are four Leo Burdock locations in and around Dublin.

Fish and chips close up Ireland

The Laundromat Café (Austurstræti 9, Reykjavík)
This cute café right on the main drag is famous and serves what I can only call American fare: burgers, pasta, sandwiches, and salads. While expensive (it’s Iceland, yo!), it’s also damn tasty. They offer excellent coffee and pastries, and you’ll find lots of people reading and writing in their comfy chairs and at tables.

Sægreifinn – The Sea Baron (Geirsgata 8, Reykjavík)
Turns out one of my readers in Iceland happens to be a government official, and when she took me here, I knew it had to be good. This tiny, hole-in-the-wall seafood place serves thick lobster soup with huge chunks of lobster and nice creamy broth. I’ve since heard it’s pretty famous, but when we went, there were no crowds and only Icelanders there. Regardless of who frequents it now, it’s delicious and shouldn’t be skipped.

Berlin’s Thai Market
I’ve been a Thai food snob ever since living in Thailand. Even the best places in the world make me go “meh,” but this weekend food market (though there are some weekday vendors) sees Thais setting up mini stalls and selling street stall–style food just like they do back home, unencumbered by German regulation. It’s the most authentic Thai food I’ve found outside Thailand (and it’s super cheap at only a few euros per dish). Here you can gorge on pork noodle soup, som tam, Thai ice tea, and real street-style pad gra pow! Heaven!

Thai lady serving thai food in a market in Berlin

Vinograf Míšenská (Míšenská 8, Prague)
More of a wine bar (featuring hundreds of Czech vintners), they make the list because they do serve a yummy cheese and meat plate, too! The small, intimate setting with walls covered in wine bottles offers a quite respite from the noise of the streets.

Txalaka (Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, Girona, Spain)
Oddly located near a big car park and away from the town’s downtown, this restaurant serves buffet-style tapas: you just go and pick what you want. Most dishes are only a few euros and the selection is extraordinary — it’s pretty much every tapa you can imagine (I especially liked the shrimp). Grab some food, sit out side with your friends, drink a glass of wine, and eat at one of the best spots in the city.

Hermans (Katarina, Sofia Fjällgatan 23B, Stockholm)
This is an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet overlooking the harbor. Even though meat isn’t on the menu, the food is worth coming for. You have a wide selection of ever-changing options: healthy salads, home-cooked warm breads, hot dishes, a smorgasbord of fruits, and lots of desserts. Their 100 SEK ($11.50 USD) lunch buffet is extremely popular and fills up fast. Get there early. If you have a large group, you’ll need to make reservations. During the summer months, there’s outdoor seating.

La Crêperie des Arts (27 Rue Saint-André des Arts, Paris)
Located on the Left Bank near the Saint-Michel–Notre-Dame train station, this tiny to-go crêperie is the best one in all of Paris (in my opinion). The banana Nutella crêpe is my favorite. Cheap, savory, and with large portions — you can’t go wrong here.

Sweet strawberry crepe with powdered sugar

Pancakes! (Berenstraat 38, Amsterdam)
This spot serves traditional Dutch pancakes: large thin, crêpelike pancakes with tons of tasty toppings (I’m a big fan of the strawberries and whipped cream!). It’s small, so try to avoid peak eating times as the wait can get quite long. Large portions make this place worth your time and money. Most pancakes are around 8 euros ($8.50 USD).

Café de Jaren (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22, Amsterdam)
Serving typical café food (soups, salads, sandwiches), this place is located on the main Amstel canal, with an incredible view of the city. It has an awesome outdoor area, serves beer, and has Wi-Fi in case you want to work! I love coming here to sit, relax, and enjoy the view!

Jeanne A (42 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Paris)
This eat-in épicerie and wine shop offers country-style food (especially meats and cheeses) and is my favorite spot in Paris. The prix-fixe menu offers the best value at 30 euros ($32 USD) for dinner with an appetizer and main dish. Be sure to try their lamb and duck — they are famous for it!

Café Père & Fils (86 Rue Montmartre, Paris)
Located in the heart of Paris, this is a Parisian brasserie and coffee shop with outdoor seating for lunch and drinks. It gets busy on warm, sunny days when all the nearby office workers take over the patio for lunch. There are daily happy hours and brunch on Sunday.

Good Websites For Travelling!

Australia-based Torre DeRoche runs this blog, and her name may be familiar to many of you, since I interviewed her about her book earlier this year. I love her deep thoughts on travel and the personal nature of her blog. You really get a sense of the ups and downs of travel through her writing. It’s comforting to read about someone working through the same nervous fears you are.

oneika the traveller blog screenshot

Oneika the Travller

One of my favorite blogs as she talks about the “real” side of travel and is not afraid to get political, talk about racial prejudice when she travels and discusses life as a black female traveler. So much of travel writing is from a white perspective, it’s really great to hear from someone else. Not only that, but her tips and tricks are super useful and her writing and photos stellar too.

never ending footsteps blog screenshot

Never Ending Footsteps

Lauren is the most accident prone traveler I know. Anything that can go wrong usually does go wrong when she travelers. She’s one of the unluckiest travelers I know. But all that misadventure leads to some amazing travel stories and her blog is filled with funny tales that will keep you captivated for hours. Additionally, she provides some wonderful practical tips on travel and detailed expense breakdowns on how much she spends in each place.***
So there you have it. The best travel blogs on the web (besides mine) that I read. This is an ever-changing list so I’ll be updating as time goes on! After all, new travel blogs start every day. Go read these ones, laugh, learn, and be inspired!

Are you looking to start a blog too? These posts can help you do that:

If you’re looking for more in-depth advice, I have a very detailed and robust blogging course that gives you a behind the scenes look at this website and features case studies, expert interviews, monthly webinars, tech support and help setting up your blog, and a lot more. You’ll learn everything I know about creating a successful blog. If you’re interested, click here to get started now.

Good Place

There is no denying that Airbnb has changed how we travel. It got people out of the hotel/hostel quandary, gave locals a way to monetize their extra rooms and earn more income, and got tourists into different parts of cities, spreading the benefits of tourism around to a wider part of the community.

It wasn’t the first company to do this, but it made this kind of travel widespread and socially acceptable. The idea of “renting someone’s home” is now seen, not as weird or unsafe, but as a perfectly normal way to see a destination.

I’ve been an Airbnb user since its early days (it began in 2008) and have had some wonderful experiences using the service: the Swiss couple who made and shared dinner with me, the folks in Paris who left me wine as a welcome gift, the retirees in Tours who put a candle in my breakfast croissant for my birthday, the couple in NZ who gave me veggies from their garden, and countless other wonderful experiences where I got to meet locals and learn aspects of life that I might not have otherwise. (I’ve also hosted some really fabulous people too. The site works both ways!)

Over the last few years, I had gotten out of the habit of using Airbnb, instead staying with friends, in hostels, or hotels on points. However, while I was on my book tour over the summer, I decided to start using the service again.

I was nervous about doing so though.

From overtourism to hosts with multiple listings to companies using it to run hotels to a general “whatever” attitude toward complaints, there are a lot of problems with Airbnb. It is no longer the whole “people renting out their room for extra money” service it markets itself as.

I’ve read all the stories. I’ve seen the data.

With over six million listings, Airbnb is one of the biggest booking sites out there. In the first quarter of 2019, it booked 91 million room nights. By comparison, Expedia booked 80.8 million.

But I figured there had to be some gems on the site.

And what kind of travel expert would I be if I didn’t know Airbnb’s current state?

I went in determined to not rent places that were not people’s homes — that is, any rentals run by folks with multiple listings or property management companies, which have the effect of raising rents for everyone. While Airbnb has a lot of problems, the “commercialization” of the service is the biggest.

The growing number of people buying property just to rent it out on Airbnb is driving rent up for locals1 and forcing them out of the city. A recent study from the Institut d’Economia de Barcelona shows that rent in Barcelona’s most touristy areas has increased by as much as 7% between 2012 and 2016.2

Furthermore, in 2016 (the most recent data I could find), true home sharing, where the owner is present during the guest’s stay, accounts for less than 20% of Airbnb’s business in the United States; 81% of Airbnb’s revenue nationwide — $4.6 billion — comes from whole-unit rentals where the owner is not present.

A search on the website Inside Airbnb shows that a high percentage of units are rented by people with multiple listings: in Venice, out of 8,469 listings, 68.6% of hosts have multiple listings; in Barcelona, out of 18,302 listings, 67.1% of hosts have multiple listings; and in Los Angeles, out of 44,504 listings, 57.8% of hosts have multiple listings.

That doesn’t really scream the “just a person renting out their extra space” model the company likes to tout.

And I found avoiding that a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Even having spent hours trying to weed those kinds of homes out, I was fooled in London, DC, and Santa Monica: those listings existed solely to be rented out on Airbnb. Those pictures that made it seem lived in? Faked. (And the place in London, which was supposed to be a room in a guy’s house, was just a room…but in a house for Airbnb guests.)

All that time spent trying to do the right thing…and I still failed!

As this happened over and over again, I thought to myself: Is it time to break up with Airbnb? Was using Airbnb was worth the cost it exacts on residents and the time spent trying to find gems in vain?

Being a responsible traveler is really important to me — but not contribute to the problems Airbnb causes.

Airbnb is one of the biggest drivers of overtourism. It has created a lot of new accommodation for travelers, which in turn contributes to higher tourism numbers.3 On the one hand, that’s good: cheaper accommodation = more tourists = more revenue. But, when unregulated and combined with the issues highlighted above, increased tourism kills the very places we love. It becomes a vicious cycle: more tourists = more money = more properties on Airbnb = fewer local residents. However, thankfully, as I highlight in this article, a lot of locales are fighting back and beginning to restrict the service.

Moreover, the company doesn’t really take action against hosts behave badly. From spying on guests to denying last-minute bookings to substandard conditions to fake reviews, complaints against hosts go unattended until they become news stories like this:

As such, I’ve found the customer service to be really terrible and slanted toward hosts. There are a lot of protections for hosts but not guests. If I cancel, I have to pay a fee. If the host cancels, there’s little punishment. When talking about my recent experiences with Airbnb on Twitter and Facebook, I found I was not alone. A lot of people have noticed a decline in the quality of the service lately. They still use it, but I was surprised that so many people didn’t do so as much as they used to. Here are some examples:

Top 20 Travel Bloggers You Should Be Following

There are so many travel bloggers out there, how do you decide who to follow? You’re in luck! Our staff has rounded up the best of the best so you don’t have to…

As a travel blogger myself, The Social Girl Traveler, there are several travel bloggers I admire for their amazing creativity, talent, and sense of adventure.

These travel bloggers literally influenced me to ‘get out and travel’. 

Whether it was through their writing or creative media, they’ve inspired me to travel the world. 

Here are the top 10 travel bloggers you should already be following.

1. Dan Flying Solo

Daniel is a British bloke who works with Skyscanner and LonelyPlanet on the regular. 

He’s an amazing writer with tons of useful tips, and is an even better photographer. I had the privilege of traveling with Daniel and working with him in India. There was never a dull moment! 

His photography has also been published in Beautiful Destination, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic, Travel Channel and Matador Network.

2. A Broken Backpack

Melissa is a Canadian doll. She has no filter and is such a warm hearted individual. 

YOU MUST catch her on Snapchat or Youtube. She’s either hitchhiking though SE Asia or sharing her travel shenanigans.

She’s such a talented individual and has truly proven that hard work pays off. 

Melissa has been published on Huffington Post, Matador Network, Thought Catalog and much, much more. She’s a true female backpacker and an inspiration!

3. Lili’s Travel Plans

Lili is a Belgian chick who is another kick ass travel blogger! 

She was recently named #25 Top Travel Blogger To Follow In 2016. Lili also has no filter and does a wonderful job at sharing her opinion about travel. 

She’s also a fellow Travello App travel blogger.

4. The Blog Abroad

Gloria (aka glo) is an Arizona native and is the realest of the realest! 

Never afraid to voice her an opinion, she is a talented writer who creates great content. 

She also has a great eye for photography. She’s worked with top travel photographers and writes for Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and Matador Networks.  

She’s also one of the BEST selfie-takers I know. 

Which brings me to my next ‘Selfie Master’

5. My Life’s A Movie

Alyssa Ramos is a Cuban American (like me!) Florida native. 

She’s a GoPro selfie ninja master! Seriously tho, she even published ‘10 Tips For Getting Travel Photos With No People In Them’. She’s just that GOOD! 

Alyssa is also part of the GoPro family and writes for Huffington Post, Matador Network and other media publications. Catch her on Snapchat as she’s always sharing quick travel tips for packing.

6. Drew Binksy

Drew is another Arizona native. Drew has been traveling the world since he left college and has made a full-time career working for himself. 

He’s known as the Snapchat genius. He’s created his own travel show through Snapchat. He works with several different brands and sponsors, is part of the GoPro Family, and writes for Elite Daily as well as the Huffington Post.

7. The Blonde Abroad

Keirsten is a California native who quit a career in finance to travel the world. She’s been traveling for 5 years and is ‘killing it’. 

This girl has some amazing girl power! She works with top brands and sponsors from all over the globe. Keirsten is also a good writer, content creator, and extremely talented in photography. 

She is also part of the GoPro Family and has been featured on Huffington Post, Forbes, Matador Network, and many more! 

I have yet to meet this beauty but she’s on my list! Such an inspiration.

8. Travel Break

Steph Be is a California native who’s been on CNN and writes for several media channels including, Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Forbes, Matador Network, and many more. 

Steph is an extremely talented writer and content creator. She’s is also a great photographer! Her true talent lies in her knowledge of social media. 

She comes from a marketing background and has taught herself the ins and outs of social media and does it well. She recently published this awesome article, ” 7 Steps To Get “Influencers” to Share Your Product (As Told By One)“.  

She is another Latina that inspires and motivates and another representation of a kick ass female blogger.

9. Backpacker Banter

Chris is British and is currently living in Byron Bay, NSW Australia. 

Chris is a talented photographer and video creator. He’s also snapping candids of his beautiful girlfriend! His most recent Maldives YouTube video will surely make you want to quit your job NOW! 

If he isn’t surfing he’s off traveling the world and recording every piece of it.

10. Nomadic Boys

Stefan and Sebastien are the cutest gay couple! They are both from Europe and are currently traveling Argentina. 

These boys are taking the travel industry by storm. Their mission is to seek out and encourage other gay couples to travel and step out of their comfort zone. They aim to find the best places at the best price with the greatest experiences. Can’t wait to see what South America has in store for them!

How to Save Money on a Budget

two giraffes standing neck and neck in Rwanda

Posted: 10/3/2019 | October 3rd, 2019

In this guest post, Alicia Erickson offers some handy tips on how you can visit Rwanda on a budget! She spent some time living there and, today, is sharing her tips on the country (one I haven’t got to yet!). She’s a freelance writer so I don’t have a blog to link too! Here are her tips:

Rwanda, a tiny nation nestled between Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in the center of the African continent, is filled to the brim with rainforests, wildlife, lakes, and volcanoes. It is aptly nicknamed “the land of a thousand hills.”

Rwanda also happens to be one of the safest and easiest nations to navigate in East Africa. Sure, this nation might have a bit of a reputation that proceeds itself. But the genocide that ravaged the country ended more than 25 years ago. Over the past two decades, innovation, environmental sustainability, and women’s rights have been at the forefront of Rwanda’s rapid development.

You might wonder, is Rwanda budget-friendly? Sub-Saharan Africa in general can be a tricky place to travel cheaply, as it is often perceived as a high-end safari destination. Rwanda is no exception. Much of its recent tourism development has been geared toward high-end luxury lodges and trekking with the coveted mountain gorillas, which costs a lofty $1,500 for a permit.

However, don’t let the hefty price tags associated with gorillas and luxury lodges deter you from experiencing the quiet magic that Rwanda exudes. Having lived and traveled there on and off from 2015 to the present, I have found a number of tricks for saving money and exploring lesser-known destinations that are very cheap and sometimes free! Without a doubt, Rwanda on a budget is absolutely possible, if you don’t mind forgoing some of the higher-end tourist options.

Here is how to save money and visit Rwanda on a Budget:

Table of Contents

  1. How to Save Money on Accommodation
  2. How to Save Money on Transportation
  3. How to Save Money on Food
  4. Suggeted Budgets for Rwanda
  5. 9 Money Saving Tips for Rwanda
  6. A Quick Note on Visas
  7. Suggested Budget Resources

How to Save Money on Accommodation

Views over the twin lakes in Musanze and the Virunga Mountain Range

Although there are many high-end hotels and lodges, there are also a handful of hostels, reasonably priced guesthouses, and even some Airbnbs, not to mention camping. I’ve used all these options in both Kigali and destinations across the country.

Budget options tend to be simple but clean. Be aware that water and electricity reliability fluctuates, though they tend to be more consistent than in neighboring countries.

  • Hostels: Hostels are relatively new to Rwanda, but there are a few to choose from. A dorm room in a hostel such as Discover Rwanda Kigali or Mamba Guesthouse runs $10–15 USD/night.
  • Guesthouses: Hotels and lodges tend to cost well over $100 USD/night. However, there are also a number that offer private rooms for about $20-45 USD/night. The Nest in Kigali is a great bed-and-breakfast option, with private rooms costing about $50 USD/night.
  • Airbnbs: Airbnbs are increasingly popular in Kigali, Lake Kivu, and Musanze. Prices for a private room start at $20 USD/night.
  • Camping: Camping is widespread in national parks such as Nyungwe Forest and Akagera and often available on the sites of many guesthouses. Keep in mind that evenings can get cool and that camping is a bit of a challenge during rainy season. Costs run $8–15 USD/person/night. Akagera National Park, Red Rocks in Musanze, and Kitabi Eco-Center in Nyungwe all offer tents for rent.

How to Save Money on Transportation

Views over the hills of Kigali
  • Motorbikes: I found public motorcycles to be the fastest and cheapest way to get around within cities. Motorbike trips within Kigali cost 300-1,000 RWF ($0.40–1.10 USD).
  • Taxis: Taxis are more expensive and harder to find. However, when it rains, motorbikes don’t drive, in which case taxis are the best alternative. An average ride within Kigali costs 2,500-5,000 RWF ($2.70–5.40 USD).
  • Buses: When venturing out of town, public buses are cheap, safe, and relatively reliable throughout the country. The major bus station in Kigali is Nyabugogo. Countrywide buses cost 2,000-4,000 RWF ($2.20–4.30 USD).
  • Car rentals: There are a handful of destinations, such as the national parks, that are better explored by car or motorbike, both of which are available to rent. Renting a car starts at $50 USD/day, depending on type of vehicle.

How to Save Money on Food

a man in Rwanda standing in a supermarket surrounded by fresh fruit

Kigali is rich in international food, though eating out can get expensive quickly. Expect costs to be on par with European or American restaurants.

Unfortunately, street food is essentially nonexistent because it is seen as dirty. Instead, seek out hole-in-the-wall local restaurants serving rice and beans, ugali (a thick, maize-based porridge), brochettes (grilled meat), and potatoes. Wine and cocktails are extremely expensive and are average quality at best, so local beers are your best bet to quench your thirst.

Here are some average food and drink costs:

  • Lunch buffet of local food: all you can eat for 2,000 RWF ($2.20 USD).
  • Dinner at local restaurant: 3,000–8,000 RWF ($3.25–10 USD). In Kigali, head to Car Wash for brochettes and Panorama Ten to Two for grilled lake fish.
  • Produce at local market: 100-1,000 RWF ($0.11–1.10 USD), depending on the product. Fruits such as mangoes, passion fruit, and tree tomatoes are cheap and delicious. Always bargain!
  • Lunch or dinner at an average-priced Western restaurant: 4,000-6,000 RWF ($4.50–6.50 USD). Try Meze Fresh, Borneo, Now Now Rolex, and Baso Patisserie for tasty and filling international cuisine that won’t break the bank.
  • Dinner at an international restaurant: 12,000-18,000 RWF ($13–20 USD). If you’re going to splurge, Kigali has some phenomenal Indian food (Khana Kazana) and French food (Poivre Noir).
  • Local beer: 1,000 RWF ($1.10) for Mutzig or other local beer
  • Wine/cocktail: 5,000-10,000 RWF ($5.50–11 USD)