Australian Adventures – 5 Epic Experiences Down Under

Kestra and I are happy to announce a new guest contributor today. He’ll be sharing his 5 Favorite Australian Adventures. Clayton Miller is an adrenaline junkie who loves the outdoors, traveling, and exploring Australia’s numerous natural playgrounds.

Australia has always catered to adventurers and adrenaline junkies. From its incredible surfing scene to its rugged, mountainous landscapes, this amazing country seems as if it were custom-built to please thrill seekers. If you like your holidays a little on the wild side, then it’s the perfect place to visit. I’ve picked five of the top Australian adventures below!

Hey there! Don’t forget to pin our guide to the Best Australian Adventures for later 🙂

Before we get to them, though, a quick word of warning: many of these activities have specific requirements and some can be quite dangerous. Before you go, you’ll need to ensure you’re physically fit, have the correct equipment for your Australian adventure, and are covered by a good travel insurance plan with emergency healthcare.

With that said, on to the list!

Scuba Diving

The Great Barrier Reef is truly astonishing, and deservedly one of the most famous sights in Australia. Visible from space, this vast living organism is bigger than the Great Wall of China! Naturally, it’s become a huge tourist attraction, and there are now many diving tour operators offering tours for everyone from absolute beginners to seasoned pros. Cairns or Port Douglas are great spots to base yourself while exploring this natural wonder. Feels like the perfect place to kick off our list of Australian Adventures!

Cycling

Just off the southern coast of Australia, the island state of Tasmania has become a mecca for cycling enthusiasts. The varied terrain, stunning views, and moderate climate make this island an ideal spot to explore by bike. Tour operators offer rides catering to every level of fitness and experience, from scenic half-day rides to demanding, week-long itineraries designed to push you to your limits. If you’re after as much excitement as you can pack on two wheels, you can visit ‘the juggernaut’, the dedicated mountain bike trail built at Hollybank Forest Reserve.

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Surfing

No list of Australian adventures would be complete without surfing. From the Gold Coast to Victoria, Australia is packed with incredible surfing hotspots. For the most authentic experience, consider booking yourself into a surf camp. From a weekend to a full seven days, these camps will throw you together with a bunch of amateur enthusiasts, encouraging you to ‘eat, sleep, surf’ while they take care of everything else.

Skydiving

If you’ve ever been sat on a flight and thought “I really fancy jumping out of this plane,” then skydiving is the extreme adventure for you. You can, of course, skydive almost anywhere in the world, but Australia’s stunning natural beauty makes it among the best locations for this high-octane activity. Consider combining your jump with a diving trip at Cairns, so that you can experience the Great Barrier Reef from above and below.

Hiking

Finally, a more sedate but no less exciting Australian adventure comes in the form of a hike. Australia features many interesting trails, but the best of these is to be found just off the coast, on Fraser Island. The largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island also boasts a 90km (56 mile), 7-day Great Walk, though many smaller walks are also available, both for solo exploration and as part of guided tours. Hiking through vast dunes and camping under towering rainforest canopies makes this walking holiday every bit as extreme as the rest of the items on the list!

Almost forgot? Remember to pin our guide to the Five Best Australian Adventures for later 🙂

Adventures abound in the Land Down Under. Our friends picked their 5 favorite Australian Adventures to share with you! Let us know your favorite adventure in Australia and see if it made our list. www.theagapecompany.com #adventuretravel #Australia #AustraliaTravel #VisitAustralia

As you can clearly see, the Land Down Under is a thrill seekers paradise. Perfect for anyone willing to get up and out of their comfort zone! Can you think of any other Australian Adventures we should try? Then let us know in the comments below!

To read more from our Guest Travelers check out:

Cathedrals in Scotland

Why You Should Visit Chicago

Stay Like a Local in Japan

Touring the Windy City – Why You Should Visit Chicago

Kestra and I are happy to announce a new guest contributor today. He’ll be sharing 5 places everyone should see when they visit Chicago, one of his favorite cities. Robbie Handy hails from Fife in Scotland and has been fascinated by trains since he first saw them trundling over The Forth Bridge — one of the engineering wonders of the world. Apart from trains, transportation and travel, he enjoys writing about arts, culture and politics in English, Scots and Jamaican Patois. Hope you enjoy, and as always, please remember to comment and share. God Bless!

Let’s make this clear – Chicago is a beautiful city. Anyone who is lucky enough to visit Chicago will probably think, ‘I’d love to live here. This is my kinda place.’

If you have family ties elsewhere, that might not be a possibility. Regardless, whether you’re here for a week or a year, there’s enough urban beauty to last you a lifetime.

If you haven’t been able to visit Chicago, then we’ve got a fantastic treat for you. To lure you into vacationing in Chicago, we are going to share our five favorite places in the windy city!

You’ll read, you’ll be tempted and you’ll book a flight to this Midwest metropolis– we guarantee it.

Hey there! Don’t forget to pin our Favorite Places in Chicago for later 🙂

O’Hare International Airport

Is there anything better than an airport that welcomes you with open arms? We’d say no, mainly because a half-decent airport is such a rare surprise.

O’Hare International Airport is one such hub, and it’s arguably a holiday in itself.

When you drive up to its doors, you’ll be met by valet parking providers like Looking4.com, then, once you’ve made your way through security, it’s time to shop till you drop with the host of retail and restaurants available.

That’s not all: O’Hare Airport goes one step beyond the call of duty with a yoga room, on-site hotel, aeroponic garden, art gallery, and even a health club. This is less like an airport and more like the exclusive member’s club you’ve always dreamed of.

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The Art Institute of Chicago

Founded in 1879, The Art Institute of Chicago is the city’s premier outlet for high culture, including classical paintings, sculpture, literature and much more.

Down every corridor of this labyrinthine building you’ll see awe-inspiring works of art, whether your tastes sway towards American gothic, cubism, or classical.

You could spend weeks here and still not see all it has to offer, such is its magnificent scale.

Willis Tower

In a land of skyscrapers, Willis Tower is monumentally high, stretching over 1,450-feet (that’s 110 stories, fact fans).

Height isn’t all the Willis Tower has to offer. Travel to the top of this looming building and you’ll be gifted with a view that, on a clear day, spans over four states.

Surely not one for vertigo sufferers, but a real treat for everyone else.

Adler Planetarium

For any budding stargazers, the Adler Planetarium is the hottest ticket in all of Chicago. A museum dedicated to astronomy and astrophysics, this fascinating attraction is situated on Northerly Island. You’ll need to commute out of the city center, but it’s well worth the effort.

Buckingham Fountain

If you’re visiting the city on one of its many warm days, a visit to Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world, is guaranteed to cool you down.

Located in the center of Grant Park, this is the ideal way to round off a day spent milling around.

Almost forgot? Remember to pin our 5 Favorites Places to Visit in Chicago for later 🙂

That’s our list! Can you think of any other great things to do when you visit Chicago? Then let us know in the comments below!

To read about our other favorite cities check out:

25 Things to do in Tampa

5 Free Things to do in Reykjavik

16 Incredible and Cheap Summer Vacations

Cathedrals in Scotland – Religious Buildings Everyone Should Visit

Kestra and I love visiting churches and religious sites on our travels, and while we haven’t had the chance to visit the Cathedrals in Scotland but our friend L is a native to the region. As a mental health advocate (who also loves to travel!) she has been kind enough to share her favorite Cathedrals in Scotland.

Again, thank you L for your contribution. You can help thank L by checking out her blog here: One More Light. Hope you enjoy, and as always, please remember to comment and share. God Bless!

Scotland has a long history of Catholicism and Protestantism, and although violent at times, the heavily Christian influence in Scotland has left a variety of beautiful religious buildings all across the country. They are spread throughout Scotland but some of the most iconic buildings are in central Scotland such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. I love the various Cathedrals in Scotland and I think they add such beauty and culture to increasingly modernizing cities. In this post I’m going to talk about my favorites of the ones I’ve visited in central Scotland, and places I think you should visit if you’ve ever in Scotland.

Remember to pin L’s picks for the best Cathedrals in Scotland!

St. Gile’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

St. Gile’s Cathedral dominates the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and it’s absolutely iconic. A beautiful building inside and out that’s a jewel in the tourist hub of Edinburgh city center.

St. Gile’s was founded in 1124, and is steeped in Scottish history. Having been destroyed and rebuilt twice in the 1300’s during attacks by English military forces. Existing as a Catholic place of worship for 400 years, it changed allegiance in 1560 when the Scottish government declared Scotland a protestant country and Presbyterianism was established.

Today it’s still an active place of worship but also welcomes tourists from all over.

University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel

I recently attended a wedding here and was utterly blown away by how classically beautiful this chapel is. Especially at Christmas with the addition of seasonal decorations. It also sits in the stunning campus of Glasgow University which is the highlight of the West end Glasgow skyline.

Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian

Movie buffs might recognize Rosslyn Chapel from the Da Vinci Code, but it’s so much more than a prop. It’s hidden away in Roslin, Midlothian but is well worth the detour.  Founded in 1446, it still stands as a place of worship today.

Glasgow Cathedral

Standing alongside the old hospital building a stone’s throw from Glasgow’s famous Necropolis. Glasgow Cathedral is said to be built on the burial place of St. Kentigern (or Mungo) the patron saint of the city.

It’s also the only cathedral on the Scottish mainland that survived the aforementioned reformation in 1560.

One of my favorite things about traveling around Europe is visiting the stunning cathedrals and religious buildings each country has to offer, but I never stop appreciating the beauty of the ones in my home of Scotland too. Simply put, the Cathedrals in Scotland are too beautiful not to enjoy!

Have you visited any of the Cathedrals I’ve mentioned? Have you visited another Scottish religious building you think deserves some recognition? Sound off in the comments or give me a tweet and let me know your favorite of all the Cathedrals in Scotland!

Basque Country – Adventures in Northern Spain

We have yet to visit the Basque Country in northern Spain but our good friend Oli is a veteran visitor to the region. He has been kind enough to share his favorite hidden treasures of Spain’s Basque Country. Hope you enjoy, and as always, please remember to comment and share. God Bless!

The Basque country has been coming onto the radar of travelers more and more in recent years. Most visitors to Spain head to picturesque Barcelona and Seville, or the beaches of Andalusia. But the rugged northern coast offers something different for the intrepid explorer looking for a unique experience.

For many, if you find yourself in the Basque country you’re probably on the pilgrimage route, Camino de Santiago, which winds its way across the north of Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

But a trip to Spain’s Basque country (or Pais Vasco if you’re going native) has plenty for the casual visitor. From the bustling art and culture scene of Bilbao to foodie Mecca San Sebastian, travelers will be spoiled with choices.

As a big fan, and return visitor to the region, here are some of the best things to do in the Basque country of Northern Spain. Remember to pin my picks for the best kept secrets of Basque country!

Pintxos

Looking to travel to Spain? You can't afford to miss out on the Basque country. Anyone traveling in Spain should make the trip up to the northern Basque country! Our review will share our favorite Basque country hidden treasures, enjoy! #spain #basque #travelspain #traveleurope #travelblog #europe

When it comes to food Spain is a gourmands dream. Tapas has become a global export but the local Basque variation is a work of art. Pintxos (pin-choss) are bite sized morsels, exquisite and perfectly presented and almost a shame to eat because they look so good.

Often a slice of French stick topped with anything from a simple tuna mayo or slice of tortilla, through to carefully balanced works of art, finding the best pintxos in town can become an obsession.

Walk in to any bar in the Basque country and you’ll see these creations lined up, tempting you to load up your plate.

The Basques go for a bebida y algo para picar (a drink and something to pick), meaning a few pintxos over a beer or vermouth.

Be careful, as much as these tempting delicacies look fantastic, at around €2 each they can soon add up. Most will grab a few pintxos with friends or as an appetizer before a meal.

Txakoli

If you’re a fan of wine or cider then you’ll love txakoli. Pronounced cha-KOH-lee (you emphasize the koh bit and I always get it wrong), this effervescent apple wine is tart and fruity and goes great with a big plate of pintxos. Not only that but the barman has to pour it in a theatrical head height to low glass style, so it’s always quite a head turner.

The Guggenheim Museum

Looking to travel to Spain? You can't afford to miss out on the Basque country. Anyone traveling in Spain should make the trip up to the northern Basque country! Our review will share our favorite Basque country hidden treasures, enjoy! #spain #basque #travelspain #traveleurope #travelblog #europe

The iconic destination of Bilbao, the Guggenheim Museum has been responsible for transforming Bilbao from an unfashionable industrial city to a global destination. There’s no missing this incredible structure and the artwork inside is equally eye catching. With permanent collections featuring Van Gough and Picasso, you can easily while away a couple of hours browsing.

Even if you’re not ‘into art’ the museum is an incredible structure inside as well as out and is one of the most popular things to do in the Basque country.

To read about more incredible buildings around the world, check out our post here: 5 Free Things To Do in Reykjavik. It lists the Harpa Concert Hall as our favorite free activity in Iceland’s Capital!

La Concha Beach

Looking to travel to Spain? You can't afford to miss out on the Basque country. Anyone traveling in Spain should make the trip up to the northern Basque country! Our review will share our favorite Basque country hidden treasures, enjoy! #spain #basque #travelspain #traveleurope #travelblog #europe

Featuring probably one of the best city beaches in Spain, if not the world, San Sebastian is a popular draw for tourists every summer. In fact, its such a beautiful city it even features a royal palace, The Miramar, for regal escapes.

La Playa de la Concha is a wide sweeping beach that dominates the landscape, and features incredible views. Its made for lazy lounging in the sun and the sheltered bay is perfect for splashing with kids or those who aren’t fans of big waves.

Surfing

Having spoken about how sedated La Concha is, just head around the corner and you’ll find some incredible surf breaks. In fact, pick any spot along the Basque Coast and you’ll find surfer friendly beaches.

Just over the border in France you’ll find Biarritz, which is still in Basque country. This is one of the best known surf breaks in Europe and is a beautiful town, not dissimilar to San Sebastian.

Keen surfers will probably start their Basque country journey in Biarritz and then head to towns like Zarautz and Mundaka (which is set inside a UNESCO recognized biosphere no less!).

Gaztelugatxe

Looking to travel to Spain? You can't afford to miss out on the Basque country. Anyone traveling in Spain should make the trip up to the northern Basque country! Our review will share our favorite Basque country hidden treasures, enjoy! #spain #basque #travelspain #traveleurope #travelblog #europe

Try saying that after a few of the local drinks…! Pronounced gas-tell-luga-chay, this fortress and walkway has become a postcard image of the Basque region.

Fans of Game of Thrones will recognize this rocky outcrop in the sea as, well, I don’t watch GOT but apparently it was featured quite prominently.

The whole coastline is quite spectacular and if you’re on the Camino pilgrimage you will drop by here. But if you simply want to get away from Bilbao for a day, this makes a great outing. The fresh air, the view and the rustic feel in the towns around here gives you a real sense of the Basque country culture.

The People!

It might be a cliché, but the people truly make this region special. Arriving in any bar you’ll find the people tend to be very engaging and even if your Spanish is of the school level variety, they will make an effort to engage with you.

Having said that, although Pais Vasco straddles France and Spain, the local language, Basque (known as Euskadi in the local parlance) bears very little in common with French or Spanish. Don’t worry though, everyone speaks Spanish and English is widely understood, especially in San Sebastian.

If you’re heading to Spain and you want to experience a more authentic side of the country; not just the tapas and party of Barcelona, or the music scene of Ibiza, Basque country is a captivating travel experience.

How to get to Basque Country

The main city and biggest airport in the Basque region is Bilbao. From there you can easily take a train or bus connection to the rest of the region, including San Sebastian. If you’re in mainland Spain, catch a train from Barcelona or Madrid to Bilbao in around 5 hours.

Biarritz in France is part of the Basque country and has good connections to many big cities in Europe including London, Paris and Frankfurt. You can also catch a bus from Biarritz airport direct to San Sebastian. But that would be a shame!

I hope you have all enjoyed my picks for the best kept secrets of Spain’s Basque country! Where would you most like to visit? Have you ever been to Spain? Let me know in the comments section!

About the Author:

Oliver Lynch is the editor and chief writer for GoneTravelling.co.uk and GlobalPlayboy.com. He’s based in London and can often be spotted in random European cities looking for the best budget food or snowboarding badly.