Top 5 Destinations Around the World for Homestays

A homestay can be an incredibly rewarding experience both for the homeowners and visitors. Typically, students use homestays as safe, affordable accommodations when traveling on a tight budget. But it’s also a great way to practice language skills in a comfortable environment and receive insider information on the best areas to explore in their travel destination—homestays are especially suited to solo female travelers

  1. Yuvacali, Turkey

In Turkey’s southeast region, in the village of Yuvacali, visitors receive a raw experience of what daily life is like for local Kurdish families. Traditional life means hard work for families living here, most only survive off a few dollars a day. Though struggling financially, these families offer a culturally rich experience for anyone interested in a unique holiday. A handful of families in the small village offer accommodation under the starry skies of Yuvacali in a nomadic canvas tent adorned with vibrant paintings or in a traditional, mud/brick house. Guests help out on the farm, learn to cook traditional dishes on an open hearth, and enjoy swapping stories with locals. This is no five-star hotel (in fact, it’s far from it) and families here, though extremely friendly, present an opportunity to work together, not offer hotel-like services. If you’re up for the challenge of helping out, Yuvacali has plenty to offer any curious, open-minded traveler.

  1. Tighza Valley, Morocco

Throughout Morocco, there an abundant number of opportunities to experience a homestay with a local family. One particularly magical place is within the breathtaking Tighza Valley where many Berber families open their homes to foreign visitors, offering simple, clean rooms within family owned homes. The arid valley, dusted with cacti and leafy green foliage, is within the high-reaching Atlas Mountains, far from the turbid, bustling cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Rabat. This is rural Moroccan life at its finest: simple and scenic. Within the valley, most guests take to the alpine trails, hiking throughout the valley and enjoying mountainous routes filled with endless snap-worthy scenes: Berber women cultivating fields, shepherds watching after flocks of goats and sheep, and boisterous children playing imaginative games. Life definitely happens at a slow pace, which is not for everyone, but the Berber people are exceptionally welcoming and on point with keeping guests occupied and well-fed.

  1. Old Havana, Cuba

Becoming familiar with the words “casa particular” or “casa particulares” is a great advantage when traveling to Cuba for an independent holiday. The term means “private house”, and upon booking, will land you either a private home or room. The Cuban government issues special permits for renting out privately owned homes, or rooms in family homes, and they are advertised through bright blue signs out front with the words “Arrendador Divisa”, it’s a rental permit showing which casas are legal. Prices vary and depend on the travel season, area of Cuba, amenities offered, square footage, and so on. One of the best places for casas is in Old Havana, where friendly owners give a healthy measure of gossip and tips on the lay of the land. You’ll get great insider information on Old Havana’s top music clubs, festivals, and bars, and most often the owner will treat you just like family.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal

In Portugal, “Solares de Portugal” is an interesting idea introduced to bolster tourism within houses laden with charm and unique character, called “Turismo de Habitação”. The concept is aimed at preserving rich heirlooms of the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. This type of accommodation is not a guesthouse or hotel, but a genuine homestay. Accommodation comes in various forms such as rustic farmhouses, elegant estates, and grand country homes restored to their original luster for welcoming guests from around the world. Most homestays can be found in Lisbon, but others are in Porto, Faro, the southwest islands, and other small Portuguese cities and towns. The Solares exemplify hundreds of years of Portuguese culture and history (a large part of the magnificent 17th and 18th centuries manors are owned by descendents of the original owners). Taken quite seriously as a representation of their country, the Portuguese are dedicated to providing exceptional experiences to foreign visitors.

  1. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

If you’ve ever had the desire to explore the deepest reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, a Brazilian homestay could be an idyllic experience. Easily planned in Manaus, you can book a trip and be paired up with an indigenous family. You’ll score a room in an eco-lodge or camp under the forest canopy—it’s entirely up to you. Lodges are simply constructed from locally sourced, natural building materials and designed in traditional style. Think “fancy” thatch hut with some modern conveniences and you’re not far off. Ideal for intrepid spirits, planning a trek through the lush, magical landscape is authentic, eye-opening, and lands you where wildlife is richest. Friendly indigenous guides offer a healthy dose of insight on the rain forest ecosystem and teach guests survival tips in a natural environment. You’ll also be treated to some amazing local eats and be privy to some Amazonian cooking secrets too.

Essaouira Travel Guide

An 18th-century city on Morocco’s Atlantic coastline, Essaouira is one among the nation’s most well-liked beach destinations. White-washed homes sporting cobalt blue shutters offer a scenic backdrop for breezy coast adventures, that embrace kitesurfing and windsurfing. The city’s medina options crafts made using centuries-old techniques, as well as thuya wood carving and cabinet making. The argan oil trade is well established here as well, and the women cooperatives responsible for processing the argan nuts are instantly recognizable from their long white robes.

Essaouira bastionEssaouira, formerly known as Mogador, may be a natural port. It’s been prized as such since the 1st century, when the protected bay provided anchorage for Romans trading for the purpura shells they used to make purple dye. Roman artifacts from the period are on display at the city’s Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum. Fortress walls originally circled the city’s borders,and lots of sections of the walls stay standing these days. Built by the Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah, the fortifications combine European military architecture with African aesthetics.

Essaouira fishingToday, the harbor is one of the major fishing locations in Morocco, and the city’s restaurants and seaside stalls offer an array of fresh seafood, from lobster dishes to grilled sardines. In recent years, Essaouira has begun to achieve a name as a cultural center too. Art galleries are appearing everywhere the city, and every year, town plays host to the Gnaoua Festival of World Music, a four-day event that has multiple genres of music as well because the ancient Gnaoua African music. Whether riding a camel along the beach or touring the bird sanctuary at nearby Falcon Island, Essaouira offers a variety of nice travel experiences.


Image by nikos.moumouris,wonker,travelinknu Under Creative Common License.

Marrakech Travel Guide

One of the biggest cities in Morocco, Marrakech (or Marrakesh) was formerly one of the country’s imperial cities. Marrakech was founded in the 11th century by the Almoravides, a Berber dynasty who turned the town into a crucial center of commerce, religion, philosophy and culture. Under Almoravide rule, red sandstone walls, lavish palaces and Koranic schools were built of which much can still be seen today.

Marrakesh Train StationDuring the Nineteen Sixties, city was called a “hippie mecca,” attracting far-famed celebrities like The Beatles, Yves Saint Laurent and also the Rolling Stones. Comprised of lovely old architecture and courtyards of orange, palm, apricot and olive trees, Marrakesh today is still one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations.

At the heart of the Marrakesh is the Medina, a labyrinth of old walls and slender passageways packed with historic sites, museums, engaging food stalls and colourful souks, or markets. The focal point of the Medina is Djemaa El-Fna, the main square, buzzing with snake charmers, musicians, acrobats, storytellers, magicians and stalls marketing the likes of carpets, leather, pottery, hookahs and spices. Other must-see sites in Marrakesh are the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque, th e Saadian Tombs, Bahia Palace and and Majorelle Gardens.

Marrakesh foodsOutside the Medina is the new district, Gueliz, home to name brand stores, fast food chains and fashionable restaurants serving a variety of cuisines from ancient tagine and couscous dishes to international fare.


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Morocco Travel Guide

For a travel destination that really lives up to the imagination, few places in the world will rival the air and vitality of Morocco. The country’s location on the northwestern tip of Africa makes it simply accessible from Europe’s main cities, yet a vacation in Morocco will still want a visit back in time. Whether rambling through ancient medinas, sampling cuisine at a local souq or relaxing in the sun at a white-washed seaside town, the past is always present in this diverse and colorful country. Shaped by a centuries-long interaction with Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Morocco has nevertheless developed its own unique cultural heritage, one that the politically stable country is dedicated to maintain.

MoroccoMorocco may be a land of diverse landscapes moreover. With the ocean to the west and therefore the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Morocco boasts long coastlines dotted with coast resorts and asleep fishing villages. The Sahara desert stretches across its southern boundary whereas the Atlas Mountain delineates the country’s border with Algeria to the east.

Whether listening to traditional songs played on goatskin-covered drums in the nation’s capital city Rabat, sipping mint tea in a Marrakech café, getting lost in the medina of Fes or lazing in a steam bath in a traditional hammam, a visit to Morocco engages all the senses.

Marrakech caféAdventurous travelers can enjoy camel treks across rolling sand dunes, hikes in the forested Rif Mountains and windsurfing in beach cities like Essaouira.

Morocco is a land of diverse landscapes as well. With the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Morocco boasts long coastlines dotted with seaside resorts and sleepy fishing villages. The Sahara Desert stretches across its southern boundary while the Atlas Mountain delineates the country’s border with Algeria to the east.


Image by andynash,Mark Fischer,16:9clue Under Creative Common License.