The Algarve – 5 Great Places to Visit This Summer

Faro The Algrave

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The Algarve is a stunning region in southern Portugal which is blessed with excellent weather all year round.

It is a popular holiday destination for tourists and locals and there are more than thirty million visitors to the area annually.

Because of this, there are plenty of holiday homes and villas in the Algarve which are in great locations and are perfect for family holidays, romantic retreats or group holidays.

The Algarve Region Of Portugal
Algarve Region Of Portugal

5 great places t0 visit in The Algarve this summer

The Algarve Lagoa

Lagoa is a municipality in the Portuguese region of Algarve and it is known for its beaches, cliffs, tunnels and great nightlife.

Visit Praia da Rocha to indulge in its popular fish and chips and enjoy the great nightlife of this vibrant and lively resort town.

You should visit Praia da Marinha which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and has clear turquoise waters and rocks and cliffs formed from orange limestone.

Be sure to visit Benagil, a fishing village in Lagoa that is the home of the popular Benagil caves which can be accessed only by a boat, kayak, paddle boat or by swimming.

Be sure to spend a day at the Slide & Splash seasonal water park which offers slides, pools, falconry, bird and reptile shows.

Go for a stroll at the Algar Seco where you will find caves, stunning views of the sea and rock formations, and a fabulous restaurant that is perched upon the rocks by the sea.

Tavira

Tavira is a city that straddles the Gilao River which flows to the sea through the inlets of Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Tavira attracts flamingos, spoonbills and other birds which makes it a great place for bird enthusiasts.

Be sure to visit Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo, a national monument that houses the tombs of seven knights that were killed by the Moors.

You can walk to the bell tower and watch the spectacular scenic views of this beautiful city around you.

You should also visit Cabanas Beach which is accessible only by taking a boat ride through one of the inlets.

The beach is known for its pristine surrounding and it has basic amenities available.

Make sure that you visit Tavira Castle where you can see stunning views of the city, stroll along flower lined paths, and relax in serenity.

Be sure to visit Salinas, a complex of salt pans and salt processing facilities where you can learn the process of salt preparation and see salt pyramids.

There are lots of great restaurants in Tavira serving authentic food, but be sure to book in advance as they are in high demand.

Vilamoura

Vilamoura is in the central area of the Algarve in Portugal and it offers golf courses, a casino, sandy Vilamoura beach and a large marina.

You should visit Praia da Rocha Baixinha a beach known for its cliffs that is a popular location to sunbathe or swim in clear waters.

Be sure to explore the Roman ruins at the Cerro da Vila, the remnants of an historical Roman villa.

You can visit the Family Golf Park which offers two 18-hole mini golf courses with an ancient Roman theme, restaurant and bar.

If you are visiting with children, renting a villa might be the best option so you can cook meals for the family to make sure there is something everyone likes.

Oliver’s Travels have lots of villas throughout the Algarve area, especially in Vilamoura, so that is a good website to check out.

Whilst in Vilamoura, be sure to visit the Water Sports Center, Nauticdrive, to indulge in activities such as parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, pedal kayak and other water activities.

You should also make sure that you visit popular Praia de Vilamoura, a beach that is known for its golden sand and stunning views of the marina to the west and Quarteira harbour to its east.

Faro The Algrave
Faro The Algrave

Faro

Faro is the capital city of Portugal’s Algarve region and is known for its cobbled streets, beautiful neoclassical architecture and sandy beaches.

You should visit Ria Formosa Lagoon which is a system of barrier islands that connect to the sea through six inlets.

The area is popular for viewing sea horses and you can go scuba diving or snorkeling to see these unique animals. B

e sure to visit Quinta do Lago, a residential estate and a golf resort that also has a beach, shopping centers and is a great place to enjoy bird watching.

Explore the stunning Cathedral of Faro that has a modest exterior but a stunning opulent interior that will leave you awe.

You should visit the Castle of Silves which is a hilltop castle with Moorish architecture that has spectacular views of the city and also offers a cafe if you wish to relax after the journey to the top.

Be sure to visit the Garden of Alameda João de Deus a quite place to relax and have an up close encounter with peacocks that walk freely with no worries about the people around them.

Spend some of your trip at Praia de Faro, a popular beach that is lined with restaurants, cafes and inexpensive beachfront hotels that offer up a fabulous view.

Portimão

Portimão is a port city in southern Portugal that is popular for its many beaches, the old quarter and a busy marina.

Cruise ships often dock here, as it is such a lovely place to visit.

The popular Praia da Rocha is a great beach to visit that has a good nightlife scene and tasty fish and chips.

Três Irmãos is a stunning beach area which has many large rock formations to walk through as well as caves and tunnels that you can explore.

The area of Vau Beach is a great place to stay and it has several beachfront hotels, and restaurants that offer spectacular views of the stunning beach with rock formations.

If you wish to spend your time playing golf in a luxury resort you must book a stay at the Penina Golf and Resort which has three golf courses, a spa and four restaurants.

The Museu de Portimão is a museum that you should visit to get a glimpse of the history of the sardine fishing industry and the canning traditions of Portimão.

Be sure to visit Fort of Santa Catarina at dusk to enjoy a beautiful sunset with views of the ocean.

Be sure to book a boat trip and enjoy different tours conducted by marine biologists.

You can enjoy dolphin watching trips where you can learn more about these magnificent creatures and even interact with them.

Best Surfing Towns in Europe – Not-So-Touristy Surf Spots

Best Surfing Towns in Europe

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Let’s face it when you think of best surfing towns in Europe does not jump to mind as a hot surfing destination, you’d probably think of Hawaii, South Africa and California but believe it or not Europe does have some worthwhile surfing towns.

Best Surfing Towns in Europe

Best Surfing Towns in Europe
Best Surfing Towns in Europe

Bundoran, Ireland

This surf town made it onto the National Geographic’s list of top 20 surfing towns in the world!

The water may be cold and it may rain a lot but seasoned surfers love to take on the challenge of this surf town’s sea. Surfers call it “Europe’s cold-water Indonesia” and a “surfer’s paradise”.

Swells come in from the North Atlantic and crash onto the beaches, reefs and rocks of this ancient fishing village’s rugged coastline.

One of the waves that swells here even has a name – The Peak and the coast offers stretches of beach suitable for experienced, intermediate and beginner surfers.

Mundaka, Spain

Situated in the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai at the foot of Mount Katillotxu, Mundaka in an ancient port town in the Basque country.

The town is renowned for its surfing as high waves roll in from the Bay of Biscay and hit the town’s rocky coastline.

Many surfers and travelers take ferries from UK to Bilbao, and either base themselves in Bilbao and take day trips to Mundaka, or continue from Bilbao with the bus to Mundaka.

There is a direct car ferry between Bilbao and Portsmouth, and here are the Bilbao Ferry Timetables and Prices.

There is a natural sandbar that is formed by the estuary of the Errekatxu stream flowing into the sea, this makes hollow waves, perfect for adventurous surfers.

The World Championship Tour of Surfing has been held here and world names in the surfing world have surfed here like Bobby Martinez and Kelly Slater.

Biarritz, France

Another town which is on the National Geographic list and often called the “birth place of European surfing”.

In the South West of France the water is thought to be the warmest in Europe and there are two favorite surfing beaches – La Cote des Basques and La Grande Plage.

There are a number of annual surf competitions here as well as the Biarritz Surf Festival.

The quaint town has a blend of French elite culture and laid back surf culture.

The town is famous for Napoleon III’s visit in 1854 and the palace he subsequently had built here. Today the palace is a fancy hotel facing the sea.

September to November are the best months to surf here when the swells rush in from the Atlantic but the surf is more suited to intermediate surfers rather than experienced pros.

San Sebastian, Spain

Another surf town on the National Geographic list of top surf towns of the world.

The romantic town has many cozy restaurants and bars, it is in the heart of the Basque country and has a reputation for cultural events and venues.

There is a beautiful Old Town and a gourmet food culture.

The town at the mouth of the River Urumea is surrounded inland by mountains and forests.

The best time to visit is from June to November when the water is warmest and the waves high.

Within convenient distance from northern Spain’s ferry ports, you can easily reach San Sebastian by taking one of the many ferries to Santander or Bilbao, and then continue by bus to the surf city.

There are many benefits with ferries to Spain – book a ferry to Spain and chances are you can bring more surf boards along than if you fly, sometimes without any extra cost!

San Sebastian’s best known beaches are the centrally located 2km long Concha Beach in Concha Bay; La Zurriola is the most popular with surfers and Zarautz Beach which is a long stretch of golden sand.

Newquay, England

The famous beaches of Newquay are at the foot of rugged cliffs, there are eight beaches within walking distance of the town.

Watergate Bay Beach gets large swells rolling in on the 2 mile long beach; Mawgan Porth Beach is wide and popular with families and surfers; Holywell Bay Beach can reach a mile long at low tide; Towan Beach is centrally located and is best for beginner surfers, these are only a few of the many beaches in the area.

There are world class waves at Little Fistral near Pentire Head and North Fistral has some of the best waves in the country.

Best Beach Towns in France

Visitors to France will be spoiled for choice of excellent beaches and beautiful beach towns, here is a short list of some of the best.

Best Beach Towns in France

St. Tropez Beach Town in France

If you want to see and be seen this is the place.

The town boasts celebrities and beautiful people as well as everything that kind of person could want.

Situated along the Cote d’Azur the beach town was made famous by Brigitte Bardot.

Don’t be surprised if you see a film star stepping off one of the huge yachts in the impressive harbor or dining in one of the exclusive restaurants.

Apart from the quality stores, hotels and restaurants the beach itself is a wide expanse of soft sand looking onto crystal clear water.

St-Jean-de-Luz Beach Town in France

Taking a break from the more obvious Cote d’Azur this quaint historic town is up against the border with Spain in the Basque country, and even the street signs are in both French and Basque.

Visit the fish market, take a half-day fishing excursion and then sample some of the day’s catch in one of the local restaurants.

Visit the church where Louis XIV married Maria-Therese of Spain in 1660 and see the historic architecture in the town including Louis XIV’s former home which has been furnished with period furnisher.

Don’t forget the wide sandy beach which is perfect for families.

Calvi, Corsica Beach in France

The French Island boasts some of the nation’s finest beaches and beach towns whether you’re looking for secluded coves or expansive sandy beaches.

Calvi has Corsica’s largest beach spanning 8km and is overshadowed by the hilltop fortress which rises above it and has mountains as a backdrop.

The town is also known for its quality cuisine made with fresh produce from the nearby mountain villages.

Calvi is thought to have been Columbus’ birthplace and apart from the history the town has luxurious modern amenities and attracts the rich and famous.

For a day trip travel off shore to the UNESCO site of Scandola where you can see frolicking dolphins.

Beach in Antibes Along French Riviera

Along the French Riviera, between the Bay of Cannes and the Baie des Anges the town has both an old historic part as well as modern beach town amenities for the mainly French tourists.

The ancient port of Antibes and the Fort Carre have a rich history, the town has been home to many world famous artists (visit the Picasso museum) and writers and the beach offers all the sun, sea and fun that tourists could ask for.

You can meander through the old town, visit the Marche Provencal (covered markets) where you can find fresh produce as well as freshly caught fish.

There are also plenty of boutique stores and elegant restaurants and hotels.

La Baule-Escoublac Beach Resort

Located in Brittany this beach resort has been a popular travel destination for decades, it has the charm of an exclusive seaside town from the early 1900s.

It has the longest beach in Europe at 12km and affluent visitors and residents have established a number of sophisticated restaurants, attractions and hotels.

There is a casino, night clubs and one of the most beautiful bays in Europe.

Not-So-Touristy Surf Spots Around The World

Taking a vacation to a beautiful and semi-remote surf spot seems dreamy and often out of reach for most of us inland boarders.

While it may seem more possible to take frequent trips to the local coast to catch weekend waves during the season, there are actually a few lesser-known “swell” spots that are more accessible now than ever before.

Trade in a couple of regular weekend road trips for a week or two at one of these outstanding and affordable vacation wonderlands.

Check out these three not-so-touristy wave rider dream destinations for a peek at new culture, new terrain and most importantly, new adventures for you and your board…

Hongo Reef, Nicaragua
Hongo Reef, Nicaragua

Hongo Reef, Nicaragua

Hongo Reef, also called Puma Reef, is a short ride from the town of Gigante.

Because of current economic conditions, U.S. visitors can find flights to this area of Central America for very low rates.

This reef is for experienced surfers and SUP boarders only, so amateurs beware.

You can live or vacation here for about 10 U.S. dollars per day, if you plan and budget carefully, and spend most of the day riding beautiful swells and eating homemade Nicaraguan cuisine.

Water in this area is swimmer-friendly year-round, so venture here when your local water is too cold. Spanish skills are a major plus!

Bundoran, Ireland
Bundoran, Ireland

Bundoran, Ireland

This is Ireland’s surf Mecca.

Your most serious expense here will be a plane ticket (unless you live in Europe); however, it is a small price to pay for cheap lodging, cheaper surf and SUP equipment and a chance to ride some of the greatest year-round waves in the world.

The best boarders visit Bundoran because, while it may not be a palm-tree-typical tourist paradise, the wave conditions are supreme.

And if you already speak English, you will be able to communicate with the locals.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

This North Coast surf spot is best from September through March.

The water is warm and you can find plane tickets to the Dominican Republic during these months for as low as $100.

A-frame reef waves range from 100-300 meters, so more experienced boarders can feel free to bring their novice riders along to learn on the smaller waves.

Vacationing in the Dominican Republic can range from super-budget hostel living to full-service resort accommodations, depending on your budget and style.

Also enjoyable and nearby are Sosúa and El Batey, short rides from Puerto Plata, for more intermediate-level waves.

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to travel with your board is to purchase an inflatable SUP board.

These boards are made for traveling, are lightweight, and can roll up into a compact bag, not to mention extremely durable.

Treat yourself and take a trip to some of the world’s most breathtaking spots with your best board at your side.

3 of Ireland’s best surfing destinations

When it is time to choose a surfing destination, the mind often wanders to faraway lands, often in the distant southern hemisphere.

However, you don’t actually need to travel that far in Europe to enjoy great surfing conditions, not even in places that feel a world away from surfing.

Here are 3 of Ireland’s best surfing destinations, which, depending on where you live in Europe, could be just under an hour away by plane.

Bundoran

Surfing in Ireland
Surfing in Ireland

The best surfing in Ireland can be found in and around the north western coast – after all, last year’s Eurosurf competition was held in the area, and for very good reasons.

Bundoran is the country’s prime surfing sport – at Bundoran’s beaches, waves are consistent, offshore wind conditions are excellent, and the swell height is almost always over a meter high.

The average sea temperature stands at 10°C, so you would need a full-body wet-suit to last more than a few minutes!

Bundoran is a laid-back town geared towards surfers, where those looking to take lessons can choose from a surf academy and a considerable number of schools offering everything from beginner lessons to improve weekend courses.

If you want to stay in Bundoran during your surfing trip you can reduce your accommodation expenses by taking advantage of the many surf lodges in town that offer discounted “surf and stay” packages.

Easkey

Located in the north west of Ireland, the village of Easkey is blessed with some dramatic geological features, and is a stunning place to stop for any reason, but particularly popular for surfing in Ireland.

Easkey is also unique in that it has two reef breaks: Easkey Right and Easkey Left, just under a mile apart from each other.

The waves break over the rocks at both, providing surfers with a swift sea surf.

Nonetheless, most people agree that Easkey Right is more challenging.

Easkey’s fully exposed beaches and continuous offshore winds create the perfect conditions for a demanding yet rewarding surfing practice.

Swell heights easily reach 2 meters (7 feet), and heights of 3 meters (10 feet) are not unusual.

The Irish Surfing Association recently chose Easkey as its permanent base, so if you happen to be in town, pop into their premises and check the many events they organize throughout the year, they also offer surfing instructor courses, typically during the spring months.

Inishowen

Close to the border with Northern Ireland lies the peninsula of Inishowen.

Since the peninsula is encircled by the Atlantic Ocean, the existence of appealing surfing spots is guaranteed.

Buncrana, the largest town in the peninsula, is home to a fully insured surfing school that makes the most of Inishowen’s superbly consistent waves.

Buncrana’s main beach is Lisfannon beach, a 3 mile-long stretch of sand which has blue flag status.

Twenty miles to the west of Buncrana you will find Culdaff beach, a favorite among surfers and other water sports lovers.

Here you can expect wave periods of up to 16 seconds, and an average swell height of 1,5 meters (5 feet) – these conditions make of Culdaff an ideal beach for beginners looking to go surfing in Ireland.

Before you decide on where to go surfing in Ireland, remember that having comprehensive insurance during your surfing adventure is as important as choosing a location – shop around for an insurance provider that guarantees medical cover, board damage and personal liability.

(photo credits: 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 1)

How to Explore Marbella on a Budget Guide in Spain

Explore Marbella on a Budget

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Explore Marbella on a Budget, Marbella Spain is known for being a hub when it comes to glamour and excess but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience luxury for less.

With this in mind, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to exploring Marbella on a budget.

Top 5 Road Trips in Malaga Spain

When to go for the best deals to Explore Marbella on a Budget

The time of year can affect the price of your holiday significantly and so if you want to get the best deal, a bit of careful planning is in order.

One way to save money on your Marbella holiday is to avoid peak travel times.

Flight and accommodation prices sky rocket around the months of July and August, not to mention the Easter holidays.

The sunny climate boasts 320 days of sunshine each year, so you can visit in the cheaper months of June and September without compromising on the beautiful weather.

Explore Marbella on a Budget
Explore Marbella on a Budget

What to do in Marbella Spain Activities

Marbella has many activities in the leisure resort town on the coast of Spain.

From golf to go-karting, stuffing yourself with tapas, or simply lounging on the beach, there’s something for everything in this coastal town.

Sporty types should be sure to check out golfing in Marbella, click here to get the best tee times Spain.

Golf, cricket, football, rugby, and tennis are all popular activities here, and there are classes for adults and children alike.

Best golf courses in Spain Golf
Best golf courses in Spain Golf

Golfers will particularly enjoy the best golf courses in Marbella. There are 60+ courses to choose from.

Located in the Costa del Sol region of Spain, Marbella has it all. Here you will enjoy the scenic coast along with boutique shops, magnificent architecture, and local, family-run restaurants in town.

There are museums and galleries to explore as well. CAC Malaga (Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga) is a modern art museum showcasing works from the 20th and 21st centuries. 

The Cortijo Miraflores is a cultural center located in a former cane sugar mill. The building dates back to 1704. 

Another museum is the Museo Automovilistico de Malaga. It boasts over 80 modern and vintage automobiles. 

The Centre Pompidou Malaga is a pop-up space occupying three floors. This interactive gallery has hands-on activities for children and teens.

Where to Stay in Marbella on a Budget?

Accommodation is a cost that you can’t avoid, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay over and above to stay in Marbella Spain.

The great thing about this luxurious hot spot is that despite the glamorous reputation, there is truly an option for every budget – from affordable hostels to budget friendly self-catering villas, there is something for everyone.

If you are travelling in a large group, a private villa may be the most cost-effective option as you can divide the cost of the accommodation evenly between you.

The larger the group, the bigger the saving.

If you are happy to cook for yourself, you can make huge savings by stocking up on pocket friendly ingredients from the local supermarket, rather than spending money on eating meals out.

If you are a solo traveler, you may want to consider a hostel with kitchen facilities as this will work out far cheaper than a hotel, and you can choose to save money by cooking for yourself throughout your trip.

You might be lucky and score a night at a hostel that is only steps away from the beach.

The best money saving option will depend both on your group size and your personal preference.

A top tip – just by changing the dates of your stay to the shoulder months, rather than July – September, you can save more than half the price on accommodation!

For example, you can get a beachfront private villa that sleeps 4 people, for £34 a night in April.

In August, this same apartment gets bumped up to £83 a night!

Things to Do on a Budget in Marbella Spain

Experiencing all that Marbella has to offer doesn’t come cheap, especially with entry fees for most nightclubs sitting at around the €20 mark.

However, there are plenty of ways to save money while enjoying this town to the full.

Marbella is home to some extraordinary beaches (23 in total) that don’t cost a penny to explore.

Although, a sun lounger and an umbrella on the Golden Mile will set you back around €6 per day.

Why not go for a stroll around the city? Head to the charming Old Town and see the sights.

Explore the side streets and you will find row upon row of unique boutiques, so why not take some time out to window shop with friends?

No visit to Marbella is complete without a trip to Alameda Park where you can while away the hours, people watching as you stroll through the grounds without spending a penny – only stopping to marvel at the spectacular fountain.

Sightseeing is an affordable way to keep the cost down during your trip, so why not explore the nearby town of San Pedro de Alcantara?

If it’s art you’re after, there are a number of free art galleries to explore including The Municipal Exposition Gallery, The Bonsai Museum and the Casa Grande.

However, you don’t have to visit an art gallery to soak up the culture.

You can see a plethora of street art – as well as multiple statues by Salvador Dali – on the Avenida del Mar.

If you do want to spend the day at a luxury beach club, Plaza Beach is by far the most affordable with beds available from €20 which is a lot cheaper that the €100 price tag that Ocean Club offer.

Budget Places to Eat in Marbella Spain

Eating in fancy restaurants can quickly demolish your holiday budget so try to opt for restaurants and cafes that are located off the seafront.

One way to save money on food is to seek out restaurants that locals flock to as opposed to tourist hotspots.

For the cheapest eats, head to the Old Town.

Here you will find excellent tapas and Spanish cuisine that won’t make your eyes water when you get the bill.

La Taberna del Pintxo is a popular choice for its unique ordering options.

Waiters walk around with trays of small bites, each one with a price tag – a novel way of monitoring your spending.

Although it’s not always advertised, a three-course ‘menú del dia’ (menu of the day) is offered in most cafés and restaurants for lunch.

So be sure to ask the waiter for it! You’ll be able to bag a three-course meal – usually with a drink – for under €15!

Budget Friendly Marbella Nightlife

Marbella is a party town and if you want to mingle with the A-Listers, you will have to pay for the privilege.

Yes, going to a nightclub isn’t cheap but a night on the tiles doesn’t have to break the bank.

One great way to save money is to visit your local supermarket and stock up on spirits to drink in your villa or hostel before you go out.

If you are prepared to go out early, many nightclubs including Tibu offer free entry for guests that arrive before a certain time.

Some bars in Puerto Banus have no entry fee, such as Linekers.

So, there you have it, if you are travelling to Marbella on a budget, these tips will help you to make your money go further.

(Photo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Best Things To Do In Scotland

Things to do in Scotland

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Things To Do In Scotland – With over 20 million visitors per year, Scotland is a popular destination with visitors from all around the world, and with so many things to do in Scotland it comes as no surprise.

Things To Do In ScotlandThe capital city of Edinburgh is the most visited city in the UK outside of London.

With such a small country having such a vast number of visitors each year, it can be hard to escape the tourist trail and experience Scotland off the beaten track.

Things To Do In Scotland

As both a local girl, and a travel writer, I thought it would be useful to combine my knowledge of my home country and experiences as a traveler, and give you my top things to do in Scotland. England Travel Guide

Things To Do In Scotland
Things To Do In Scotland

Visit Stirling Castle

Every year, thousands of tourists visit Edinburgh Castle, and from the outside it is really a stunning sight, but trust me when I say the 14 GBP entry fee is really not worth it!

The inside of Edinburgh Castle is mediocre at best, and the fact that you can gain free and/or cheap entry to most of Scotland’s other more beautiful castles is as good a reason as any to venture elsewhere.

Stirling Castle is only 31 miles from Edinburgh city center, and is simply stunning!

Remains were also found in Stirling Castle recently of an old Scottish Knight, and the Castle continues to provide much of an insight in the history of Scotland.

Do In Scotland
Do In Scotland

Go Skiing in the Cairngorms

Scotland is by no means a warm and sunny country!

In most cases this would be a huge downside, but what it does provide is some great opportunities during winter to do some skiing in the Cairngorm Mountains, and National Park.

Aside from just being a beautiful place to visit in the Scottish Highlands, and situated near to the picturesque town of Aviemore, the Cairngorm mountains also offer some black slopes for some of the most experienced skiers.

Eat some mince ‘n’ tatties!

One of the popular things to do in Scotland is to try out some local Haggis.

Internationally it is the one dish signified with Scottish culture, but in reality, most local people only eat Haggis on Burns Night (Robert Burns Night) or on a special occasion.

If you want to try a dish that Scottish people eat regularly then try some traditional mince ‘n’ tatties! Mince ‘n’ tatties is a dish that families in Scotland have eaten for hundreds of years.

It’s basically just mince, potatoes (tatties), and gravy all mashed up.

It may be basic, but I literally don’t know any Scottish people (apart from vegetarians) who don’t have this in their top 3 meals of all time!

It’s the kind of thing your granny or mum would serve you!

To Do In Scotland
To Do In Scotland

Visit the Tunnocks chocolate factory

Tunnocks is a company that has been around in Scotland since before war time, and I can honestly say they produce the best biscuits/cakes in the world!

Tunnocks tea cakes in particular are simply yum, and the wafer biscuits are also good too!

They are unique to Scotland, with one large chocolate factory based near Glasgow.

Waiting lists to get a tour of the chocolate factory are over a year long, so its unlikely you will get to do the tour if you are only here for a little while, but most shops in Scotland sell the biscuits so be sure to give them a try!

Things To Do In Scotland - Irn Bru
Things To Do In Scotland – Irn Bru

Drink some Irn Bru!

Like Tunnocks, Barr’s Irn Bru has been around in Scotland for over 50 years!

For those who don’t know, Irn Bru is the only soft drink (except from a beverage in Mexico) which outsells both Coke and Pepsi in its homeland.

It’s something which is very unique to Scotland, and is regarded as Scotland’s national (non-alcoholic) drink.

Most locals love it, and most tourists hate it, but it’s something I definitely recommend you try, and that is unique to Scotland.

Visit the Isle of Skye

One of the things to do in Scotland that just can’t be missed are the Scottish Highlands.

You can’t come to Scotland and not take in the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands.

In particular, my favorite area of Scotland and offering some of the most beautiful scenery is the Isle of Skye.

To describe Skye would be an injustice to its beauty. The best thing I could say is just to see it for yourself.

Places to Visit in Scotland

Just a hop, skip and a jump from Bristol, after a night at one of the many Bristol Airport hotels and you will find yourself in Edinburgh to start your journey through some of the best places to visit in Scotland.

10 places to visit in Scotland

One of the many cathedrals and chapels of Edinburgh, particularly Rosslyn Chapel, made famous, perhaps mostly by The Da Vinci Code novel.

The Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, a royal residence that is host to the Queen’s Gallery which contains art from the Royal collection.

One of the top places to visit in Scotland for nature lovers is to walk up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that offers a incredible panorama of the city from the summit.

When it comes to festivals, one of the very best places to visit in Scotland is Edinburgh, especially in the summer.

Home to over ten festivals during the summer, including the Fringe Festival, the International Festival, the Military Tattoo, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival to name just a few, Edinburgh is often called the city of festivals.

The Tall Ship, or the Glenlee, which was built in 1896 and is one of the only five Clydebuilt sailing ships left in the world that are afloat and restored.

It is now berthed at the Riverside museum which is part of Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel.

You can explore the Tall Ship and of course the museum as well.

If you love animals and zoos, you’ll love visiting places like the Edinburgh Zoo, particularly to watch the Penguin parade.

Take a walk along the Glasgow Green which was founded in 1450 by a royal grant and is home to Nelson’s Memorial, The Peoples Palace and The Doulton Fountain which is the largest terracotta fountain in the world.

If you want several places to visit in Scotland in a short period of time, take a ride on the West Highland Railway, where you can go from Glasgow to Crianlarch and back.

One of the most beautiful train rides in the world, you’ll see castles and meadows and the River Cylde, you’ll pass under Erskine Bridge.

The train ride also takes you past Loch Lomond and Locklong.

A short day-trip from Glasgow, the Isle of Arran is often considered to be Scotland in Miniature and allows you to enjoy gardens, Brodick Bay, a castle and a variety of archaeological artifacts that are around the island.

This is one of the best places to visit in Scotland if you want to experience the essence of the country.

Visit the city of Stirling which is considered the spiritual home of Braveheart, you’ll also want to check out the castle while you are there.

To make your return trip easier and less stressful, stay at one of the Edinburgh Airport hotels and get a good rest the last night before an early morning flight, but if you’re sleeping at one of the Glasgow Airport hotels  be sure to call ahead to ensure your reservation is completed correctly.

Quick Guide To Inverness, Uk

Known as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is a lively city which has much to offer visitors and makes the perfect destination for a short break.

The city has a real ‘buzz’ about it with fabulous places to eat and drink, excellent shopping opportunities and a real sense of history.

Quick Guide To Inverness, Uk
Quick Guide To Inverness, Uk

Attractions in Inverness

Inverness Castle is a stunning building, which today functions as the Sheriff Court.

The sandstone structure was built in 1847, replacing an earlier building which was destroyed by the Jacobites in 1746.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery has a wide range of exhibits including wildlife, Pictish stones and a display of weaponry.

Inverness Places to Visit

Inverness makes an excellent base for those who want to explore the Highlands as some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscape is within easy reach.

Don’t forget that no visit to the Scottish Highlands would be complete without an excursion to Loch Ness to search for ‘Nessie’ the Loch Ness Monster!

Inverness Restaurants and Night Life

Kitchen provides good quality, locally sourced food in stunning surroundings: the glass-fronted building has spectacular views over the river.

The Castle Tavern has a good selection of real ales and an outdoor terrace.

G’s is a popular nightclub with a 3 am licence, playing commercial tunes on Friday and Saturday nights.

Inverness Accommodation

There is no sign of the twee tartan décor once synonymous with Highland hotels in the Rocpool Reserve Hotel, where rooms are named Hip, Chic, Decadent or Extra Decadent and come with their own coffee machines and hot tubs.

A previous winner of the title of Top Boutique Hotel at Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards, the Rocpool doesn’t come cheap, but is well worth splashing out on for a real treat.

Those on a budget may want to investigate the Premier Inn, which is central and provides excellent value for money.

Getting To Scotland

Inverness airport is 8 miles east of Inverness, with excellent transport links into the city center.

The airport serves the main UK airports and an expanding number of international airports.

Flights from Inverness to Gatwick leave regularly making Inverness a convenient destination for those travelling from the South of England.

There is also a train station in the city center, with direct services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and London from the south and Aberdeen from the east.

It’s also worth checking out the bus operators CityLink, Megabus, National Express and Stagecoach Bluebird that also do routes in and around Inverness.

Take a Tour of Bristol, UK’s Most Beautiful Churches

Getting in touch with the history of a city is often times easiest when viewed through a stained glass window – if you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the High Street, then take a tour of Bristol, UK’s most ancient and awe inspiring churches …

Bristol, UK St Mary Redcliffe Church
Bristol, UK St Mary Redcliffe Church

Bristol, UK St Mary Redcliffe Church

Described by Queen Elizabeth I as ‘The fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England’, the gothic splendor of St Mary Redcliffe Church cannot be over stated.

The first church on this site was likely constructed during Saxon times, when Bristol first became a strategic port city.

As its name might suggest, the church is situated atop a red cliff above the River Avon.

In medieval times, its towering presence was a comfort to seafarers who said prayers to the Virgin Mary upon departure and gave thanks upon their safe return.

The present building is likely the fourth or fifth church that has been built on this site, and parts of the existing church date back to the early 12th century.

Temple Church
Temple Church

Temple Church

Unfortunately this once beautiful church (with a rather colorful past) was heavily bombed during World War II.

The ruins of Temple Church now stand in rather stark contrast the surrounding contemporary architecture.

However, Temple Church is probably best known for hosting the sensational 1778 exorcism of George Lukins, who was said to be possessed by 7 demons.

Nonetheless, a walk among the remaining walls allows visitors to take step back in time to the world of the Knights Templar who founded the church in the mid 12th century.

Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral

Open tours are given on Saturdays for those interested to learn a bit more of the history of Bristol Cathedral, which dates back to 1148 when Robert Fitzhardinge founded it as the Abbey of St. Augustine.

The impressive cathedral is most certainly worth a visit, if for no other reason than to hear its beautiful organ, originally built in 1685.

Pop in on any Tuesday during term time for a free lunchtime recital and a chance to hear the stunning acoustics of this grand Cathedral.

St James Priory
St James Priory

St James Priory

It was illegitimate grandson of William the Conqueror, Robert Fitzroy, who founded the Priory of St James in 1129.

Local legend has it that every 10th stone brought from Normandy to build the great Norman castle was set aside to build the Priory, making it Bristol’s oldest building still in use today.

This modest priory has continuously served as a place of worship for nearly 900 years.

Church of England Mortuary Chapel
Church of England Mortuary Chapel

Church of England Mortuary Chapel

Located in the idyllic Arnos Vale Cemetery, this Grade II listed neoclassical chapel is certainly a peaceful place of rest on the cemetery grounds.

While wandering among graves may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this gorgeous green expanse just outside of Bristol is a favorite among dog walkers, ramblers and history buffs alike.

While you’re strolling past the many graves in a state of picturesque disrepair, don’t miss the opulent Tomb of Raja Rammohun Roy.

And if you’re looking for a hotel in Bristol this winter, consider a stay at the Holiday Inn Bristol Filton hotel for a convenient, great value accommodation option.

Scotland – Moody Weather & Amazing Scottish People

We knew Scotland would be beautiful even before we stepped off the plane – just from what we saw 2000 ft in the air was enough to know that this spontaneous trip would give us experiences of a lifetime.

We decided to leave the backpacks behind this time and travel with roller bags instead, just to see how we felt about it.

We don’t like to see ourselves getting comfortable with only one way of travel, but want to try out different styles all the time.

Although we have been traveling mostly in a backpacker way I wouldn’t mind experiencing a bit more of that luxury travel style, and although we are not the typical hikers we don’t mind trying that out either.

The only thing is that we are just never prepared for it – although we have become better over the years, like don’t go hiking in flip flops in the Austrian Alps anymore, we still looked like the odd ones out, and in Scotland, once again we were not prepared …

Scotland - Moody Weather
Scotland – Moody Weather

The Moody Weather

I have never seen such a moody weather anywhere else in the world.

The weather can change from sunny to rainy, windy to calm, freezing to warm – in a matter of hours!

Sometimes it seemed as though it did all that at the same time, and without any rain gear things got a little complicated… but I guess it’s the weather that has contributed to the amazing nature in Scotland.

scenery in Scotland
scenery in Scotland

The Amazing Nature

The scenery in Scotland is simply breathtaking – the highlands is a dream landscape, with mountains, lochs and glens, and the vibrant autumn colors just made it even better.

The grey stone cottages along the roads just enhanced the scenery – these cottages were built for sitting in front of the fire, sipping tea and dipping short bread all day, the perfect situation for cozy Autumn luxury holidays.

But the one thing that struck me the most about Scotland, what changed my whole perspective on things – were the people we meet.

The Friendly People

I always used to believe that the way the people acted was a reflection on how the weather was – the people from northern Europe like Scandinavia are in general very quiet people whom are difficult to get to know.

You won’t see them start conversations on the bus stop or street with strangers, you will notice that they prefer having an empty seat next to them on the bus etc.

Scotland
Scotland

During summertime, that changes a little, and the people become more outgoing.

So I used to think that it had to do with the weather.

But when I arrived in Scotland, I was proven to be terribly wrong – Scotland has the strangest weather in the world, mostly quite miserable – yet the people are among the warmest and friendliest I have ever met.

Nowhere else has it been so easy to meet people and strike up conversations with strangers.

No matter where you were, on the bus, walking down a street or in a supermarket, people from all ages would talk to you.

It’s all in the little things.

In many ways Scotland reminded me of Vanuatu, where people laughed and smiled more, and where rather than giving you a strange look when talking to them, they actually tarted talking to you.

It will take some time to let all our impressions sink in, but I will write more about Scotland and our experiences – and I will be back, for sure.

Stirling Loch Lomond Scotland Travel VIDEO

When Rabbie’s Tours offered to take us around Scotland for a few days we thought a 1 day tour to Stirling and Loch Lomond would be perfect.

The first stop was Stirling Castle, one of the most important castles in Scottish history.

You could actually visit the chamber and dining halls of the Royal family who used to live there.

We also made a quick stop over to check out Doune Castle where “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was filmed!

Day Trip To Stirling & Loch Lomond Scotland

Squeezing as much as possible into a travel itinerary is not ideal, so if you want to see as much as possible of Scotland in a short period of time, it’s best once you have arrived and after the right currency exchange rate has been checked to either rent your own car or go with a great tour company so they can take you to the best places.

So when Rabbie’s Tours offered to take us around Scotland for a few days we thought a 1 day tour to Stirling and Loch Lomond would be perfect.

Stirling Loch Lomond Scotland Travel VIDEO
Stirling Loch Lomond Scotland Travel VIDEO

The Guide And The Tales

The tour began at 9 o clock in the morning, and after an amazing cup of mint hot chocolate from Chocolate Soup (thanks for the tip Anthony!) we met up outside their office on the Royal Mile.

The guide, Mac, dressed in kilt, t-shirt and calf high socks in tartan material wrapped with leather strings, was a charismatic guy who had such a strong passion for Scotland.

During the long drive passing stunning scenery on selected off the beaten track roads, we sat with our ears and eyes wide open and took in the scenery while listening to the crazy stories and tales of Scotland’s history and the people who made it what it is today.

Mac shared the history behind the many famous thieves, and royalties who shaped Scotland, talked about how life used to be for the people in this land, and the reason why there are only 5 million Scots in Scotland and about 20 million around the rest of the world.

Scotland’s history is brutal but so fascinating, we learned about everything from the most important events in the country’s history to small details like how the word black mail and mailbox derives from historical events in Scotland.

The Route

The first stop was Stirling Castle, one of the most important castles in Scottish history.

You could actually visit the chamber and dining halls of the Royal family who used to live there.

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle

We also made a quick stop over to check out Doune Castle where “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was filmed!

If you have seen the movie, you would recognize the castle in the movie more than once, as they pretend the castle was several different castles when it was in reality just one castle, filmed from 3 different angles – you have to love their solutions to budget and convenience..!

We then drove through the Trossachs, often known as the ”highlands in miniature” because of its beautiful scenery with mountains and glens.

The final stop was Inversnaid, a secluded little place north of Loch Lomond, Scotland’s largest loch (lake).

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

We climbed up many narrow wooden stairs and walked through the green nature which is so distinct to Scotland, and a few minutes later we were facing a powerful, beautiful waterfall.

Usually waterfalls seem to disappoint me due to their weakness, and small size but this one (on the right —>) was actually one of the best I’ve ever seen.

We really enjoyed our tour with Rabbie’s, the guide was amazing, he taught us so much more about Scottish history than we could have imagined – and it really was a great way to spend a day in Scotland.

Fort William Scotland Travel VIDEO

About a week ago we decided that it might be fun to take a trip to Scotland – it was a very spontaneous thing, which seems to be the way we do things these days.

We will be spending about 9 days exploring different parts of Scotland, from Edinburgh to Fort William, Glasgow and Stirling – but besides being a spontaneous trip, Scotland really is a place we can’t wait to explore.

The highlands seem amazing, and there are so many places we want to see that it has been difficult trying to narrow it down and make it fit into our trip.

It seems to be very popular taking one of those Caledonian travel tours, and see a large part of Scotland in one day,  or we might take one of those for a day as well – but in the meantime our our itinerary looks like this: Edinburgh, Fort Williams, Glasgow and Stirling.

Fort William is promoted as the adventure capital of the UK and the nature seems amazing, for some awesome mountain biking action & Boat Cruises so we can explore the beauty of the highlands from the water.

I’ve never thought of Scotland as a place to live, but now that we’ve been looking into it – it seems to have everything you could want:

Amazing scenery, adventure outdoor things like skiing, mountain biking and even surfing – plus Edinburgh seems like a great city.

We stayed in Fort William, known as the gateway to the Highlands and the adventure capital of UK.

Sitting at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in UK, and at the head of Loch Linnhe, a sea loch, the beauty surrounding this town is unmistakable.

When asking the locals in Edinburgh what their favorite place in Scotland was, they all said with dreamy eyes that nothing beats the highlands.

Fort William Scotland Travel VIDEO

Fort William, Scotland – The Adventure Capital Of UK!

After three days in Edinburgh, with the most amazing summer weather and getting the most out of our press passes from VisitScotland, we headed further inland to one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland – the Highlands.

We stayed in Fort William Scotland, known as the gateway to the Highlands and the adventure capital of UK.

Sitting at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in UK, and at the head of Loch Linnhe, a sea loch, the beauty surrounding this town is unmistakable.

When asking the locals in Edinburgh what their favorite place in Scotland was, they all said with dreamy eyes that nothing beats the highlands.

And then, finally, when it was right before my eyes, I could see why – the scenery spreading out far into the distance was absolutely stunning.

Muddy Mountain Biking

But walking down the main street in Fort William one thing became very clear to us: everyone else must have known something which we did not, as they were all fully equipped with enough gear and clothing to go mountaineering for days, ready to tackle any weather.

Muddy Mountain Biking Fort Williams
Muddy Mountain Biking Fort Williams

Sure enough the next day, the weather had switched. It was cold, rainy and windy, and the mountains were hiding behind the mist.

We were going on our first adventure: mountain biking.

The Ben Nevis range is world famous for its great mountain biking, and Nathan who loves mountain biking talked me into it.

We grabbed some bikes and when we arrived at the start of the mountain bike track the weather suddenly changed again. The mist was gone and the sun came out.

But many of the tracks were still muddy, and with no experience whatsoever I was up for quite a challenge.

At first I actually walked down with my bike (pretending to having biked down to Nathan) because I was so scared of the steep hill, but then I pulled myself together and decided that I was going to do this, falling and hurting myself or not (which I eventually did), I would not chicken out.

Aonach Mor
Aonach Mor

And like I’ve said before, if you try something you’re scared of you might actually find that you like it.

Fast forward 10 minutes later and all I could say was WOW – it was so much fun, and the track was awesome.

With many hills going down and not so many going up, it was less challenging for the condition and more for the skills, but it was still hard not to look away from the windy road to appreciate the green forest and the river running next to you.

View From Aonach Mor

We finished the day by taking a gondola up to Anoach Mor, a big mountain with incredible views over Ben Nevis, the Great Glen and the Inner Hebrides.

While seeing the landscape from below is great, seeing it from above was definitely the best way to truly appreciate it.

The view you see is that of the first picture in this post.

Cruising The Loch
Cruising The Loch

Cruising The Loch

The next day we went on a cruise on Loch Linnhe with Crannog Cruises.

The morning started out windy, and the sun and clouds were fighting each other for attention.

It was quite spectacular to see the patches of sun and shadows playing over the smooth rolling hills around us, and with the sea being everything but calm, the little boat was up for a bumpy ride.

Having been in Fort William for only three days, I had quickly understood why everyone else had so much gear with them – the weather could change from one moment to the other, and we actually experienced three seasons in one day..!

Most Scenic Train Journey In The World?

We left Fort William with some awesome experiences, and took the West Highland Line to Glasgow, which was voted the most scenic train journey in the world on Wanderlust magazine. So, was it true?

West Highland Line to Glasgow
West Highland Line to Glasgow

To tell you the truth, the scenery was definitely one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and since the Europe Train Challenge we have been on a lot of trains..!

Most of the time the landscape was very remote and it kept changing all the time, which made it very interesting.

This is a great way to spend a few days in the Highlands and I would love to go back and see more.

Exploring Edinburgh, Scotland Travel VIDEO

One of the reasons I love Europe so much is because of its amazing history, or more precisely how easy it is to experience part of European history even today.

In Europe, history is all around us, and Edinburgh was no exception:

The Auld Reekie (smokey city), like it was once called, was a city bursting with history.  VisitScotland

The black stains on the buildings in the Old town marked the evidence of just how polluted the city once was, and the narrow closes (alleyways), leading the curious visitor into a labyrinth of small streets, are still there preserving the town’s medieval layout.

Edinburgh is often referred to as the most haunted city in Europe, perhaps because around every corner there is a story to tell.

I don’t think I have ever learned so much about a city’s history through stories and tales as I have of Edinburgh.

And the fact that the city has preserved so much of its medieval architecture and style made it easy to imagine what it must have been like living back then. Attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an unforgettable experience

Edinburgh Scotland History

Edinburgh is often referred to as the most haunted city in Europe, perhaps because around every corner there is a story to tell.

Edinburgh Scotland History
Edinburgh Scotland History

I don’t think I have ever learned so much about a city’s history through stories and tales as I have of Edinburgh, and the fact that the city has preserved so much of its medieval architecture and style made it easy to imagine what it must have been like living back then.

But Edinburgh brings the past even closer than that – in fact there are even streets and rooms that have remained untouched since then: a close called Mary King’s Close.

Mary King’s Close

Mary King’s Close is a warren of underground streets and spaces, a place which has remained frozen in time since the 17th century when it was open to the skies and full of life.

It was amazing to see how everything was still there, how the narrow street where people used to trade their goods was still intact, how even the wooden toilet of one of the families who used to live there was still standing right where they had left it, some 300 years earlier.

Mary King's Close
Mary King’s Close

The ceilings in the rooms were covered in plaster made of horse hair and the ashes of human bodies who died in the plague, and in Mary King’s Close plague was so common that they had to quarantine the close, which is now the most haunted place in Scotland!

It gave you a very real impression of life in the days when people threw their waste out on the streets and had to walk barefoot in it themselves because they were too poor to afford shoes.

Edinburgh Scotland
Edinburgh Scotland

The Edinburgh you see today is a mixture of the best, it has the same cozy atmosphere, but cleaner and safer, and with some incredible green gardens and family villas to escape to as well.

We left Edinburgh with a fascination of the city’s past, but so happy to be there in the 21st century..!

Our trip through Scotland was in general filled with stories from the past, of how Scotland came to be, of William Wallace, and the Scottish pride and shame.

The Scotts seemed to love their tales, and like the Scottish proverb goes ”a good tale never tires in the telling”.

It’s been great to see so much of Scotland and get to know its history.

Next time I’m back in the UK I’d like to do the same with England, visit the “heart of England”, indulge a bit and stay in one of those traditional thatched luxury Cotswold cottages and learn more about the stories and tales from England, which make it what it is today.

Staying In Edinburgh With Roomorama

After a busy week traveling around Scotland, we were exhausted and in need of a place where we could just sit back and relax.

It doesn’t matter how cozy a hostel dorm is, if you’re sharing a room with strangers you simply don’t have the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want.

So instead of staying in Glasgow for the day, we hurried on to Edinburgh to enjoy the most of the apartment we had booked with Roomorama for 2 days.

It was the first time we had stayed in an apartment booked online via Roomorama, but they made the booking process easy, with many apartments to choose from and “checking in” to the apartment without a reception or someone to meet you was a breeze.

The apartment itself was amazing.

We stayed in Leith, a district in northern Edinburgh, with its own distinct character and once we had settled in – we felt at home right away:

Staying In Edinburgh With Roomorama
Staying In Edinburgh With Roomorama

The 2-bedroom apartment was luxurious and stylish but without losing that cozy touch –  the kitchen had everything you could possibly need for cooking, and the living room was spacious and light with large sliding balcony doors in glass, a comfy couch and flat screen TV.

In the hallway there was even a workout area for those wanting to work out, but we took the opportunity to use the high speed WiFi to catch up on work while enjoying a nice glass of red wine instead.

Edinburgh is a fantastic city with so many amazing things to see and do, but for one night we allowed ourselves to do nothing at all, which is somewhat of a luxury when it comes to traveling the way we normally do.

It’s amazing how great you feel after a good meal, a hot bath and a bed with plush pillows, and the next day we got up early, watched the sunrise and headed out on a new adventure to take a day tour to Stirling and Loch Lomond.

Europe Holiday Locations – The Winter Edition

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is in our opinion one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and while the weather might not always be the best with the cold winds and rain – there are so many things to see and do there in any type of weather so it doesn’t really matter when you visit.

Some highlights on a trip to Edinburgh is to stroll around the narrow cobbled streets of the old town, visit Greyfriar’s Kirk, check out Mary King’s close and the Edinburgh castle.

But there are many more things to see and do, two good places to warm up in and escape the cold are the Camera Obscura and the Botanic Gardens – the first is both fun and interesting, with the oldest tourist attraction in the city.

The Botanic Gardens has a huge glass house area where you can explore flora and fauna from all over the world, from the desert in Australia to the Amazon jungle.

Scottish Holiday Experience

The travel industry has changed drastically in the last few decades, with higher standards of excellence and an increase of low-budget travel operators all competing for the best deals on the travel hypermarket.

Demand is up, and supply is struggling to match it.

But the simple fact remains: you can’t put a price on luxury.

Of course, you’ll have to number crunch and scout out the best location for the type of holiday you want – a romantic getaway, a family weekend, a retirement retreat – all of these come with very different criteria.

But when it comes to a base, even the most intrepid traveler, I’m sure, would be hard-pushed to turn down some luxurious extras.

If Scotland’s your destination of choice, then whether you’re planning a castle tour, hiking through the glens or sampling the urban nightlife, a luxury Scottish hotel might just be the perfect place to rest, retreat to, rejuvenate, ready for the next day’s activities, as strenuous or as luxuriant as they might be.

And if you do decide that you can spare the extra pennies for the convenience of an on-site spa, pool, golf course or whatever else you decide is ‘luxury’ to you, then you’ll want to make sure that the rest of your holiday matches up.

Because it’s not just the hotel that should get a star rating.

Scottish Holiday Experience

Here are my picks for a five star Scottish holiday experience:

Island Living

Scotland’s ‘Misty Isle’ of Skye prevails as one of its most visited places – the road to Elgol takes you to one of the most stunning views anywhere in Scotland; an uninterrupted panorama of the Cuillin Hills.

This is glorious rambling territory, just make sure you come weather-proofed! It’s also great also for wildlife and hidden sandy beaches.

For something a little different, try the Orkney Islands instead.

Princes and Princesses

What’s more luxurious than a taste of the regal?

Scotland boasts some of the finest castles in the world.

Edinburgh Castle is the bastion of medieval grandeur, and the birthplace of King James I.

Entering William Wallace territory, try Stirling Castle and look out onto the ancient battlefields.

The ruins of St Andrews Castle are also impressive, clinging to a rocky outcrop over a small sandy beach.

Scotland Festivals

There are festivals all year round, but for maximum luxury, forget the tent and hire a tipi, yurt or (promisingly) a ‘cloudhouse’ at the Wickerman Festival.

And for high-end culture, try the Edinburgh Film Festival in June or the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.

For alternative chic, try the Hebridean Celtic Festival in July, or the wonderfully eccentric Stonehaven Fireball Festival.

Piping and drumming accompanies a procession of kilted fire-dancers, right to the water’s edge where they hurl the flames into the sea.

I hope this helps you plan your next trip or your study abroad in Scotland!

Exploring The Best Of Scotland

Scotland is a destination that for many years was underrated by travelers, but is now climbing up the ”popularity- ladder” of European destinations to visit.

Exploring The Best Of Scotland

The Scotts often praise and thank Mel Gibson for making both tourists as well as their own people interested in Scotland’s heritage and history with the blockbuster movie ”Brave heart”.

In fact, when traveling in Scotland today, you will notice how proud the Scottish people are of their culture, traditions and nature, which are all three very different from neighboring England.

Scotland is one of those places which takes you a lot longer to explore than most other places.

There is something to see around every corner, from the beautiful highlands, to the islands and beaches to the beautiful towns and universities.

Two weeks is far from enough to see everything that Scotland has to offer – but it’s enough to see a good bit of it and enjoy some of the highlights.

For us the best of Scotland was Edinburgh and up in the Highlands:

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is making a name for itself as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – the old town, which sits on top of an extinct volcano, is very special.

The medieval architecture and closes (alleyways) are well preserved and there are tons of attractions, from ghost walks and Greyfriar’s Bobby’s graveyard, to royal buildings and viewpoints.

We recommend spending a few days in Edinburgh staying in one of the many Edinburgh cottages featured on: Scottish-cottages.co.uk – close to the Royal Botanic Garden, another place you must visit, to really get the best experience.

After spending some days in the beautiful city, you might want to see some of the nature and landscape that Scotland is so famous for.

The Highlands

The best way to see this area is to head into the Highlands for a couple of days, staying in traditional highland cottages like the ones you can find on: Scottish-cottages.co.uk and go for walks or drive around the area.

The highlands is a very popular place to go hiking, and while some people choose to spend several days hiking, you can base yourself in one place and take day hikes around the area.

Fort William is a good base for nature lovers, as you can also enjoy some mountain biking and in winter even some skiing.

There is also a pretty famous whiskey distillery and cruises that take you to see the highlands from the water.

Have fun in Scotland!

(photo credit: 11 – 3 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 1 – Victoria ReayDaveBleasdaletimo_w2sFull On AdventureILoveMyPiccolo)

Basel Switzerland City Guide

Basel Switzerland

Updated:

Basel Switzerland is a very picturesque city with old buildings, narrow streets and a lot of interesting history.

It is known as an European culture center with over 40 museums, 25 theaters, operas and ballet and countless art galleries.

If you’re interested in that kind of thing you could easily spend a few days here going from museum to gallery to museum.

If this kind of thing doesn’t interest you, there are still quite a few things to see on your trip to Basel.

You can also find many outside art sculptures spread out all over the city, and it’s nice to just walk around the city stumbling upon them.

Basel in general is a really nice city to walk around in, especially in the old town.

It is one of those cities that are nice to look at from afar.

The  best way to do this is to walk over the bridge to the other side (new town), where you can walk along the river, have an ice cream and take some awesome pictures.

Then you can take the little ferry back to the old part of town again.

City Guide – Basel Switzerland

We recommend when staying ANYWHERE in Switzerland to use a rental home.

There are many great choices here for rental homes in Switzerland.

Basel Switzerland
Basel Switzerland

Switzerland Quick Facts:

Location: Switzerland
Language: (Swiss) German
Currency: Swiss Franc
Short History: The earliest documented citation of Basilia, the city at the bend in the Rhine, dates from the year 374.

Basel’s heraldic animal, the basilisk, is certainly of more recent origin.

It is a mythical creature, part cockerel and part dragon, which appeared for the first time around the year 450.

The Basilisk holding Basle’s coat of arms can be traced back in heraldry to a monument reminding of the fatal earthquake in 1356 that completely destroyed the city.

Basel Switzerland
Basel Switzerland

Things To Do In Basel:

Town Hall - Rathaus
Town Hall – Rathaus

Town Hall – Rathaus

This is an amazing building, it really stands out with its vibrant red color, and the hundreds of years old painted details are pretty cool.

It’s been there since the 14th century.

Münster Cathedral –

Brings you back to the old days yet another time.

You will find a great viewpoint of the canal from there!

Take the cable ferry across the Rhine river

These little boats taking you across the river have been going for hundreds of years and are still today very popular and widely used.

The boats are attached to cables so that they won’t get pulled into the strong currents.

The ferryman actually puts the boat on a special angle so that the current pushes the boat across.

3 Corners Of Basel – Switzerland, Germany & France In One Day?

Three Countries Corner in Basel
Three Countries Corner in Basel

The borders of Switzerland, France and Germany come together at the Three Countries Corner in Basel.

The thought of being able to stand with one foot in Switzerland and the other in France is a pretty cool fantasy, but not that amazing in reality.

We decided to take the chance of going to all three countries in the same day (Switzerland, France and Germany), but after the disappointing arrival in France we didn’t even bother to cross into the German border.

No parades, no ‘Welcome’, no pass port check – nothing.

Also I think we ended up in the most boring suburb of France ever, maybe if you would drive a bit further in to a nicer city it would be better.

Yeah, it would have been cool to say that you went to three countries in one day, but the place we ended up in on the French part across the border was just SO dull!

I think it would be awesome to go to France for a croissant breakfast, Germany for a typical German lunch (a descent bratwurst if you like), and dinner in Switzerland.

And I bet I’m not the only one who thinks so, but all we found on the French side of the border was a Chinese restaurant, and back on the Swiss side the first (and only) restaurant around was an Indian one.

The only main difference really was that the houses looked very different, not at all like in Switzerland, and everyone spoke French – all the sudden the prices had also changed from Swiss franc to euro.

Top 10 Things To Do Next Time You Visit Switzerland
What To Eat In Switzerland: 5 Foods Beyond Fondue

WARNING Note:

Nearly everything (shops, supermarkets, cafes etc.) is closed on Sundays in Basel (and Switzerland).

The only supermarkets which you will find open are the high-prices ones in the central train station.

Even the restaurants are closed, however you will find that the street-side Kebab shops are still open, thank god.

Swiss people work like maniacs during the week but when it’s the weekend, they take it seriously.

The same goes with their lunch breaks.

Every day between 12 and 2 p.m the shops close and the staff has a two hour lunch break, and they don’t reopen a second early – just so you know! 😉

Getting Around:

There are trams going basically everywhere, and like everything else in Switzerland they’re very punctual.

Mobility Pass:

All hotels in Basel, including the youth hostels, offer each registered guest a free “Mobility Pass” upon check in.

This gives free unlimited travel in Basel and suburbs (including to and from the airport) for the duration of their stay.

This is easily worth the price of a lunch every day you stay.

If you have written confirmation of a hotel reservation you can also use this to travel from the railway station or airport to your hotel.

At least one respected hotel in Basel advertises this fact on their web site.

This saves you 8 franc per day.

Getting There:

The Swiss train system is the best I’ve ever experienced.

The trains are fast, smooth and punctual, and all the stuff that is usually difficult when traveling by train is easy here.

It can be really expensive traveling with train in Switzerland, but they have countless of great deals and bargains, so you can actually get around really cheap if you ask them about it or read more on their website.

There are two train stations in Basel, the German station (Badischer Bahnhof, BBF) on the northern part, and the Swiss/French (SBB Bahnhof) in the city’s south.

If you get to Basel with a national train it stops at the southern station.

From there trains to Zurich and Geneva leave every hour.

Euro Airport works as the airport for all three corners, both Basel (Switzerland), Mullhouse (France) and Freiburg (Germany). The budget airline Easy Jet flies from here.

Where To Stay – Youth Hostel Basel City

Pfeffingerstasse 8, Basel, Switzerland 4053

The hostel is a part of HiHotels, so for those who are members the rooms are cheaper.

If you’re not a member you have to pay 6 franc extra.

It’s in a great location, only 3 minutes away from the train station, the rooms are clean, you get free linen, free towels and they offer a descent free breakfast, which is good since eating out is expensive in Switzerland.

Enjoy your stay in Basel! 

Basel City Guide

The earliest documented citation of Basilia, the city at the bend in the Rhine, dates from the year 374. Basel’s heraldic animal, the basilisk, is certainly of more recent origin.

It is a mythical creature, part cockerel and part dragon, which appeared for the first time around the year 450.

The Basilisk holding Basle’s coat of arms can be traced back in heraldry to a monument reminding of the fatal earthquake in 1356 that completely destroyed the city.

Basel Switzerland
Basel Switzerland

Basel Switzerland is a very picturesque city with old buildings, narrow streets and a lot of interesting history.

It is known as an European culture center with over 40 museums, 25 theaters, operas and ballet and countless art galleries…one of the most glamorous places to visit in Europe.

If you’re interested in that kind of thing you could easily spend a few days here going from museum to gallery to museum.

If this kind of thing doesn’t interest you, there are still quite a few things to see on your trip to Basel.

You can also find many outside art sculptures spread out all over the city, and it’s nice to just walk around the city stumbling upon them.

Basel in general is a really nice city to walk around in, especially in the old town.

If it’s in the winter, go skiing, Swiss style.

It is one of those cities that are nice to look at from afar.

The  best way to do this is to walk over the bridge to the other side (new town), where you can walk along the river, have an ice cream and take some awesome pictures.

Then you can take the little ferry back to the old part of town again.

Things To Do In Basel:

Münster Cathedral
Münster Cathedral

Town Hall – Rathaus

This is an amazing building, it really stands out with its vibrant red color, and the hundreds of years old painted details are pretty cool. It’s been there since the 14th century.

Münster Cathedral

Brings you back to the old days yet another time. You will find a great viewpoint of the canal from there!

Take the cable ferry across the Rhine river

These little boats taking you across the river have been going for hundreds of years and are still today very popular and widely used.

The boats are attached to cables so that they won’t get pulled into the strong currents.

The ferryman actually puts the boat on a special angle so that the current pushes the boat across.

borders of Switzerland, France and Germany come together at the Three Countries Corner in Basel
borders of Switzerland, France and Germany come together at the Three Countries Corner in Basel

The borders of Switzerland, France and Germany come together at the Three Countries Corner in Basel.

The thought of being able to stand with one foot in Switzerland and the other in France is a pretty cool fantasy, but not that amazing in reality.

We decided to take the chance of going to all three countries in the same day (Switzerland, France and Germany), but after the disappointing arrival in France we didn’t even bother to cross into the German border.

No parades, no ‘Welcome’, no pass port check – nothing. Also I think we ended up in the most boring suburb of France ever, maybe if you would drive a bit further in to a nicer city it would be better.

Yeah, it would have been cool to say that you went to three countries in one day, but the place we ended up in on the French part across the border was just SO dull!

I think it would be awesome to go to France for a croissant breakfast, Germany for a typical German lunch (a descent bratwurst if you like), and dinner in Switzerland.

And I bet I’m not the only one who thinks so, but all we found on the French side of the border was a Chinese restaurant, and back on the Swiss side the first (and only) restaurant around was an Indian one.

The only main difference really was that the houses looked very different, not at all like in Switzerland, and everyone spoke French – all the sudden the prices had also changed from Swiss franc to euro.

WARNING Note:

Nearly everything (shops, supermarkets, cafes etc.) is closed on Sundays in Basel (and Switzerland).

The only supermarkets which you will find open are the high-prices ones in the central train station.

Even the restaurants are closed, however you will find that the street-side Kebab shops are still open, thank god.

Swiss people work like maniacs during the week but when it’s the weekend, they take it seriously.

The same goes with their lunch breaks.

Every day between 12 and 2 p.m the shops close and the staff has a two hour lunch break, and they don’t reopen a second early – just so you know! 😉

Getting Around Basel:

There are trams going basically everywhere, and like everything else in Switzerland they’re very punctual.

Mobility Pass: All hotels in Basel, including the youth hostels, offer each registered guest a free “Mobility Pass” upon check in.

This gives free unlimited travel in Basel and suburbs (including to and from the airport) for the duration of their stay.

This is easily worth the price of a lunch every day you stay.

If you have written confirmation of a hotel reservation you can also use this to travel from the railway station or airport to your hotel.

At least one respected hotel in Basel advertises this fact on their web site.

This saves you 8 franc per day.

Getting To Basel, Switzerland:

By Train: The Swiss train system is the best I’ve ever experienced.

The trains are fast, smooth and punctual, and all the stuff that is usually difficult when traveling by train is easy here.

It can be really expensive traveling with train in Switzerland, but they have countless of great deals and bargains, so you can actually get around really cheap if you ask them about it or read more on their website.

There are two train stations in Basel, the German station (Badischer Bahnhof, BBF) on the northenrn part, and the Swiss/French (SBB Bahnhof) in the city’s south.

If you get to Basel with a national train it stops at the southern station. From there trains to Zurich and Geneva leave every hour.

By Air:

Euro Airport works as the airport for all three corners, both Basel (Switzerland), Mullhouse (France) and Freiburg (Germany). The budget airline Easy Jet flies from here.

Where To Stay in Basel

We like staying at Youth Hostel Basel City – mainly for the fact that it is right next to the central train station, so arriving and leaving is easy.

Youth Hostel Basel City

Pfeffingerstasse 8, Basel, Switzerland 4053

The hostel is a part of HiHotels, so for those who are members the rooms are cheaper.

If you’re not a member you have to pay 6 franc extra.

It’s in a great location, only 3 minutes away from the train station, the rooms are clean, you get free linen, free towels and they offer a descent free breakfast, which is good since eating out is expensive in Switzerland.

Best 6 Places to Visit When on a European Cruise

European Cruise to Barcelona

Updated:

European cruise – The open fjords, the lava caves and the breath taking and continental cities of Europe make it a top destination for cruises.

Europe’s collection of countries differ greatly, not just in terms of language, but landscape too.

If you’re on a European cruise, there are some must-see destinations, which demonstrate the diversity of this small continent.

Relics from ancient civilizations make for sites of interest both visually and archaeologically.

Best Places to Visit on a European Cruise

To look at some of the best European cruises, head over to Bolsover Cruise Club and hunt for the best itinerary, including at least one of these gems.

European Cruise to Barcelona
European Cruise to Barcelona

European Cruise to Barcelona

With some of the most impressive architecture, stunning miles of beaches and a vibrant food market in its center, Barcelona is a European city that has it all.

Including a port, which enables it to be easily accessed on the cruise circuit.

Soak up the sun and the quirky entertainment as you stroll down Las Ramblas or visit Gaudi’s Parc Guell, with its impressive views of the city and cascading bougainvillea.

Getting lost in the backstreets of Barcelona and uncovering some of its quirky restaurants, bars and galleries are all part of the fun.

Like a living gallery, everything in Barcelona is covered in fantastic street art, and the beaches often boat impressive sandcastle structures.

Rome

Sprawling and cosmopolitan these days, Rome is home to the impressive ruins of the Colosseum and speaks of its history in almost everything you see.

Whilst it is vast, there is a lot of Rome you can see on foot and its impressive history lives through its monuments.

Offering some of the most incredible experiences, Rome is a must-not-miss place that frequently crops up on European tours.

From shopping to culture and history to contemporary, Rome has a slice of something for everyone, and of course pizza!

Norwegian Fjords

A million miles away from the cosmopolitan cities and resplendent architecture of the other two destinations, a European cruise with a difference takes in all of the incredible Viking history and dazzling archipelago that make up parts of Norway.

Slowly moving through these deep crevices in the landscape and imaging our Norse forefathers’ fleet maneuvering through them is nothing short of majestic, and is the kind of once in a lifetime experience that a cruise should be.

Offering unrivaled scenery, Norway cruises are a unique way to connect with history.

Visiting Helsinki

Arguably Scandinavia’s most naturally picturesque capital, Helsinki is an energetic seaside city compromised of beautiful islands and vast green parks.

Any one of the 300 islands that compromise its archipelago are worth a visit and none get too crowded although Pihlajasaari is only a short ferry ride from the heart of Helsinki and has all the forest and wildflowers you’ll need to enjoy an authentic Finish experience.

The design scene in Helsinki is also widely regarded as one of the most advanced in the world today, with the boutiques, workshops and galleries that make up its design district contributing to its 2012 status as the World Design Capital.

Ancient Athens Temple of the Olympian Zeus
Ancient Athens Temple of the Olympian Zeus

Dubrovnik

Located in the extreme south of Croatia, Dubrovnik is a stunningly beautiful city with a rich history as well as great modern cultural significance.

Otherwise known as ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’, Dubrovnik became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979, largely because of its majestic Old Town.

Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667 much of the city’s Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, palaces and statues remain and provide the perfect architectural base for King’s Landing in HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.

Filming tours now take place in the old town and offer fans of the show a unique chance to see the buildings that inspired the television version of the Red Keep, Blackwater Bay, Great Sept of Baelor.

Athens

Often regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization, Athens was a cultural hot spot for tourists before many modern-day countries even came into existence.

Today, Greece’s capital is a perfect mix of ancient and contemporary with two thousand five-hundred-year-old buildings standing side by side with state-of-the-art tower blocks.

Home to well over 3 million Greeks, construction for the 2004 Olympics did much to help alleviate the pollution and overpopulation that had become heavily associated with Athens during the twentieth century.

New Metro lines and improved roads helped alleviate traffic congestion and a series of newly constructed pedestrian-only streets help network the city’s most revered and historical sites

Istanbul

The city where East meets West, Istanbul is the point at which Europe and Asia touch.

One of the few places on earth, you’ll see almost as many as holy Christian landmarks as you will holy Islamic landmarks, Istanbul has an embarrassment of historical sights of interest.

Everywhere you visit in the city, you’ll find museums, palaces, grand mosques and churches that attest to the city’s magnificent history as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

No trip to Istanbul is complete without visiting the vibrant and busy Grand Bazaar, located at the heart if Istanbul’s Old City for centuries.

Starting as a small vaulted warehouse, built in 1461, it grew to cover a vast area of neighboring shops and is now the countries’ largest covered market.

Lisbon

Portugal’s busy capital city offers a perfect combination of history, culture, modern architecture and natural beauty.

Its hilly landscape will have you wandering from quiet courtyards overlooking gothic quarters to modern terraces offering magnificent views across the whole city.

Saint George’s Castle is the landmark most commonly associated with the city and can be seen from anywhere inside Lisbon’s perimeter.

The Lisbon locals are renowned for their nightlife so why not join them for sunset shots of traditional ginjinha (cherry liqeur) in their unrivaled cultural hot spot, Bairro Alto, where revelers hit the street to chat, drink and dance before heading to the city’s riverside mega club Lux.

Marmaris to Fethiye Blue Cruise

As if the crystal clear turquoise of the Mediterranean were not enough to convince you that a blue cruise is the ideal way to spend your next holiday, read below for more reasons including discovering historical gems, enjoying luxurious mud baths, and finding romance in a lighthouse at sunset.

Marmaris to Fethiye Blue Cruise
Marmaris to Fethiye Blue Cruise

EXPLORE THE ANCIENT CITY OF KAUNOS

On your cruise from Marmaris to Fethiye, one of the historical highlights is the ancient city of Kaunos.

According to ancient myth, Kaunos was named after King Kaunos who was the son of the Carian King Miletus and Kyane and the grandson of Apollo.

His twin sister, Byblis, developed a deep love for him, and when she told him of her feelings, he fled elsewhere to settle down with some of his followers.

Byblis, crushed with sadness, tried to commit suicide.

The myth claims that the Calbys river is a product of her tears.

Later Kaunos developed into a major port between Lycia and Caria.

Guests can take a river boat trip to see the ancient Lycian tombs, the resting places of Kaunos kings, built high in the rock face.

Overlooking the sea and the delta area, the key things to see include the Acropolis surrounded by city walls, four temples, an agora, a theater, the baths, churches and a cistern.

Even if you are not a history buff and there is much more to this part of the trip than archaeology and old ruins.

Take the trek up to the top and soak in magnificent views of the surrounding scenery.

RELAX AT THE DALYAN MUD BATHS AND TURTLE BEACH

On to Dalyan to take a mud bath and/or relax on Turtle Beach, a protected beach for endangered sea turtles.

Caretta Turtles (logger head turtles) still lay their eggs there.

Dalyan is a city with a lot to offer in and of itself, but one of the most unique and exciting attractions is the famous mud baths and sulfur hot springs.

The mud baths in Dalyan are famous for their medicinal benefit to your skin due to the rich nutrient content of the mud.

It feels very much like the Dead Sea in Jordan as the bath is so densely concentrated with salt that you just float effortlessly on top of the water.

Let the mud dry and enjoy the feeling of toxins being extracted from your skin.

After you’ve had your fill of caking it on, take a quick dip in the lake to wash it off and enjoy your freshly detoxed skin!

Added bonus: If you suffer from Rheumatic diseases, arthritis, eczema or any other similar conditions, the mud is said to relieve symptoms!

Having cleaned yourself up, it’s time to move on to a smelly sulfur bath. Likewise, the sulfur bath is known to relieve rheumatism, hypertension, gout, liver disease, and a host of other ailments.

As the natural spring is loaded with sodium, chloride, sulfur and calcium and sits at a piping 39°C (102°F), try to relax into the healing element and not think too much about the smell of spoiled eggs filtering through your nose.

Extremely fragrant, but a really cool, different experience!

Marmaris to Fethiye
Marmaris to Fethiye

REENACT HISTORY AT CLEOPATRA BAY

A favorite spot for many of the guests on the cruise is Hamam Bay where you can swim among the ruins of a Roman bath called the Cleaopatra Bath.

In this special cove, the volcanic structure of the natural hillside supports theories of the previous existence of a crater lake, which provided warm water to the bath in ancient times.

Cleopatra is said to have ordered shiploads of white sand to be brought here from Egypt to create her own secret paradise.

It’s rumored that Cleopatra herself came here to bathe in the bay and came with Marc Antony especially for their honeymoon.

Another main attraction is the monastery ruins, most of which are located underwater.

Unlike many other sites, Hamam Bay is yet to be protected so it’s possible to totally immerse yourself in the sites and surroundings while snorkelling over the ruins.

The shoreline is lined with a stunning display of pine trees, and, if you hike up Yavansu Hill, you will discover the remains of Lydae Ancient City which includes the ruins of a mauseoleum, cisterns, temple walls, Corinthian columns and inscribed tablets from the Roman and Byzantine periods.

As this area cannot be reached by land or road, and daily boat tours don’t visit this site, Cleopatra Bath was very exclusive to the Marmaris Blue Cruises.

DISCOVER ROMANCE AND BEAUTY AT THE RED ISLAND

Of the group of 12 Islands, one of the most stunning experiences to be has is on Kizil Ada (Red Island).

Here you can enjoy swimming in the crystal turquoise waters, and discover the rocks for some diving fun.

There are small and large rocks alike for the ultimate diving experience. This is one of the best areas on the cruise for diving.

The Red Island is covered in small red pebbles hence its name.

There are many small private coves that you can seek out to enjoy some quiet, personal time.

This is the ideal place to be at sunset as the sun lights up the red pebbles on the beach.

The glowing effect is reflected all over the stones and into the surrounding water creating a breathtaking effect.

Once you have had your fill of swimming and diving in the beautiful waters, head on shore to the lone lighthouse that is the outstanding structure overlooking the beach.

At the top is a restaurant where you can indulge in a gorgeous seafood dinner as you overlook the sunset and glowing stones and sand on the beach while sipping on some wine or raki.

Red Island is known to host some spectacular weddings and it’s hard to imagine that it can get any more romantic than this.

Cruise Ships A Worthwhile Way To Travel

The first time we actually started seriously thinking about taking a cruise was in Norway last week.

We had never taken cruise ships before and hadn’t really considered it an option, until we thought of what an amazing experience it would be to cruise down the whole Fjords in Norway, all the way from top to bottom – or to be honest, any way really, as long as we could experience the Fjords.

Cruise Ships A Worthwhile Way To Travel
Cruise Ships A Worthwhile Way To Travel

After having spent countless of hours on trains through Europe, we thought it would be nice with some change – and the best way to experience Norway seems to be on the water.

We left Oslo with a promise – to return one day soon and take a cruise down the fjords.

As it happens, a few days later, we hopped on our first cruise ship ever, not through the Fjords, but from Stockholm to Helsinki (with the InterRail Global Passes you get a pretty hefty discount).

The ship criss crossed between the islands on the huge Sweden archipelago, and after so many train rides it was really fun to see the nature sweeping past in a different way.

You’ll be amazed of how many Swedish people live on tiny rural islands 4 hours away from mainland!

Cruise Ships Worthwhile
Cruise Ships Worthwhile

Although we only went for one night, it made us curious to try out a real cruise lasting for a week or more.

Unless you’re working on cruise ships, taking a cruise is far from the typical backpacker style of travel, but who cares?

Travel is travel, and I would like to try every angle of it – you never know what something really is like until you’ve tried it.

So we’re thinking of testing it out, either in the beautiful Norway with its many harbor points, woolen jumpers and beautiful nature, or somewhere south where it’s nice and warm and you drink over-sweetened cocktails all day long, perhaps one of those many Mediterranean cruises.

I’ve always liked the idea of doing some island hopping in Greece, so maybe cruising between the islands would be an idea.

But then we have the typical problem that I always have at one point: Where do I want to go?

Sometimes you wish there weren’t so many options to choose from, things would be so much easier then.

Opening your mind to something new is always overwhelming, it’s like a jungle of cruise options out there.

How do we avoid the Hawaiian shirts, line dancing and karaoke cruises?

Can they be avoided?

What kind of cruises do younger people take?

What would a cultural cruise be like? … Choices, choices, choices …Romantic cruise???

What Can You Do On a Cruise?

Cruise holidays may have once been the choice of the older generations and travelers with a passion for bingo and ballroom dancing, but today there is a cruise holiday to suit every kind of adventurer and explorer.

Cruising has experienced something of a makeover in recent decades and modern cruise ships are more like floating resorts than the antiquated vessels of the past.”

Here is just a taste of what you can experience when you book a cruise holiday.

book a cruise holiday
book a cruise holiday

Ice-skating

 If you are looking for activities to cool off, then don’t forget your ice skates!

Voyager of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean, offers ice skating to guests and produces professional ice skating shows for entertainment.

The ship also features a plethora of eateries plus a wide choice of super-stylish bars.”

Don’t take our word for it though, check out the rave reviews of this vessel, written by fellow travelers to help you pick the perfect cruise for you.

Visit a Botanical Garden

If you want to surround yourself in luxury, a Celebrity Cruise is a great option.

Celebrity Infinity conservatory
Celebrity Infinity conservatory

Since its launch in 2001, the Infinity ship has given the industry a few ‘cruising firsts’ – namely the beautiful botanical gardens.

You can escape the sea breeze at the Celebrity Infinity conservatory, which is filled with a myriad of flowers, trees, gardens and fountains to enjoy both day and night.

 Watch a Broadway show

After a hard day glacier trekking in Alaska or snorkeling in the islands, you can relax watching your favorite Broadway musical.

Cruise Broadway musical
Cruise Broadway musical

Creative ship designers at Royal Caribbean, for example, cater to all tastes with their built-in theater productions.

Here you can experience Hairspray, Chicago, or Saturday Night Fever on-board your cruise liner.”

Other Cruise Lines also produce first class shows and entertainment, as well, ranging from the Blue Man Group to Cirque.

With so many liners raising the standards of cruise holidays beyond all previous experiences, the industry is enjoying a fresh influx of younger singles, couples and families.

Top 5 Cruises Around The World
Top 5 Cruises Around The World

Top 5 Cruises Around The World

Have you dreamed of seeing the world without having to unpack?

Maybe you’re expecting a nice rebate from filing your taxes or thinking about a nice summer vacation for the kids.

Cruises are a great way to travel without having to become a nomad.

With careful planning, it is possible for you to cruise away and circumnavigate the world.

Cruising is a cost effective way to see magnificent vistas and experience the rich cultural life at the many ports of call whilst having the highest level of service and amenities available at your convenience.

Cunard Queen Mary 2

This highly rated liner needs no introduction and with its reputation for grandeur and elegance you will enjoy a truly remarkable world cruise.

Discover the unique charm of Asia by visiting Bangkok and Saigon, then spend time in beguiling Hong Kong.

Next stop is Shanghai before heading down under to the rugged coastlines of Australia and New Zealand.

Take in the spectacular scenery of Africa and the Mediterranean and gaze in awe at the natural beauty of the Americas.

Cruising across four breathtaking continents will leave you with lasting memories of your amazing world cruise journey.

Crystal Serenity

Take a journey of exceptional discovery with all-inclusive value.

Complimentary fine wines, premium spirits and gratuities for staff are all part of the Crystal package.

The 74 day cruise is broken up into four exhilarating segments.

Visit Europe, Africa, the South Pacific, the USA and everywhere in between on this exceptional and luxurious cruise.

Regent Seven Seas

Take advantage of your free airfares when connecting with your grand voyage.

As part of your six star luxury cruise you will enjoy complimentary shore excursions, complimentary beverages plus much more.

Cruise to exotic destinations and be spellbound by the aromas, sights and scenery of all there is to explore.

P & O luxury liners

Embark on your odyssey aboard one of P & O luxury liners.

The Azura, Arcadia or Aurora all has in-depth itineraries that will take you on an exotic journey of up to 110 days.

Your cruise will call into 32 ports within 20 different countries.

You will enjoy the classic cruise traditions such as the Captain’s cocktail party and afternoon tea plus exceptional personalized service from dedicated staff.

Holland America

Your fascinating itinerary will take you to stunning cities and intriguing places, whilst enjoying a level of comfort that is only available on a luxury world cruise.

Explore the globe across five continents and visit many exotic ports of call.

You will also visit lesser known ports and view the spectacular scenery of nature at its best.

A world cruise is a commitment to spending endless days at sea, relaxing and enjoying on board activities and then joining in the wide range of on shore excursions. What items are a must for Traveling?

Because of the length of time you are spending on board, you can enjoy things at a slower pace.

Guests on long cruises can take comfort in the fact that they are in a safe environment.

There is no need to rush around as you would do if you were on a shorter cruise.

This type of cruising is for everyone, not just the retired.

In fact, many world cruise passengers are made up of families, retired, semi-retired and those who are still working.

Some people work and then take their long service leave so they can live their dream of ‘a world cruise’.

Popular Europe Cruise Regions and what they all have to offer

Cruising in Europe is very popular as you get a chance to explore so many different countries and cultures in a short period of time.

When planning to cruise Europe it can be difficult choosing which region to cruise in if you don’t know what to expect and what makes them different from each other.

Best European Cruise Regions

Greenland & Iceland

Although not your most common holiday destination, a cruise around Greenland and Iceland is one of the most adventurous destinations in Europe.

Experience the Northern Lights, soak into hot natural pools in surroundings that are well below freezing temperature, and explore the small villages and local traditions.

The nature in Iceland is among the most beautiful in the world – and not everyone can say they’ve been to Greenland – not everyone does tours to these places has several options for these types of cruises.

United Kingdom

While the Brits have known of the country’s beauty for centuries, others are now discovering just how spectacular the UK is, with a great mixture of cosmopolitan cities and rural natural beauty.

From the pub culture in Dublin to the Beatles nostalgia in Liverpool, there is plenty for every taste.

The Baltic Sea

The beautiful Baltic is emerging as a popular cruise destination, and understandably so as many of the best places can only be reached by boat.

To see the Baltic gems Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga for example, it’s much easier and faster to do the trip on a cruise – there are also some fantastic small places to stop over by, such as the holiday island Gotland and Klaipeda in Lithuania.

Mediterranean

Cruising in the Mediterranean remains the favorite among Brits, and it simply has it all; great weather, delicious food, plenty of culture and spectacular old cities.

Greece and Croatia offers gorgeous beaches and small seaside villages, Italy with its historical cities and the glamorous French Riviera are just a few stops you can choose from when cruising in the Mediterranean.

Split Excursions Every Traveler Will Love

Canary Islands

With its year-round mild climate and sunny weather, the Canary Islands have long been a favorite destination among European holiday makers.

Each island has its own charm, and on a cruise you won’t have to choose just one, but can explore the black volcanic beaches in Lanzarote, the deserts of Gran Canaria, and the lush nature of Tenerife, which also has the largest penguin population outside of the Arctic.

Hopefully this will give you a good indication of what to expect from these different cruises in Europe, and help you decide which one to choose!

Exploring The Mediterranean On Cruise Ship

Mediterranean On Cruise Ship – Backpack on your back, public transport, smelly hostel dorms and sweaty gap-year students not appeal?

Well, backpacking isn’t the only way to discover the Mediterranean in one holiday.

Instead, why not travel the Mediterranean in style, atop the deck of a luxury cruise liner, basking in the hot sun as the ocean sparkles below.

The Right Cruise For You

There’s a great selection of cruise ships that sail the Mediterranean, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that suits your needs.

If you have some specific destinations in mind, then you’ll be able to find a number of ships that pass through them.

You can also find cruises tailored specifically to your wants or interests, whether they’re cultural and historical trips, or something tailored to a family, with plenty of activities and entertainment.

Comfort And Amenities

All cruise fleets are fantastically equipped to ensure that your trip is as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.

There are good quality restaurants on board, along with bars and pools for you to lounge by.

Some even contain quality spa services to help you really unwind after a day of exploring.

There will also be activities and shows to keep you and your family occupied throughout the day, when you’re not at port, and in the evenings.

When some people think of cruises, they imagine cramped little cupboards, but the reality is far from this image; cabins are built to be as inviting and as roomy as possible, with your comfort being of the utmost importance.

Cost of European Cruise

Another misconception is the price. Most people expect that cruises are going to be extortionately expensive, but that just isn’t the case. Mediterranean cruises with the Co-operative offer great affordable deals.

A trip on Royal Serenade of the Seas to the Suez Canal for 15 days will cost only £449 per person.

This is one of Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ships, which offers one of the best ‘at sea’ experiences you’re likely to have.

It’s been built with comfort in mind, with loads of space and sweeping ocean vistas.

There’s also the huge, ten-floored glass Centrum, with glass elevators, which offers magnificent sea views.

There’s also the highest percentage of outside staterooms of any ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Europe Cruise

Whatever you’re looking for – whether you are looking for a long, sea-faring adventure or just a short trip around the Mediterranean.

The Co-operative are bound to have a deal that suits you.

Whether it’s the Greece and Athens in the Eastern Mediterranean that piques your interest, or the great city of Rome, you’re sure to find a trip that does your desired rounds.

(photo credit: 1)

How to Survive the Pamplona Running with the Bulls In Spain

How to Survive the Pamplona Running with the Bulls In Spain

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Pamplona running with the bulls – A holiday in Spain in July is always a good way of guaranteeing sunshine, but why not make it a little different this year and visit Pamplona during the Bull Run while you’re there as well.

The running of the bulls is an iconic event and the town fills up fast.

You can book it as part of a package or perhaps you could make a visit to Pamplona as part of a longer break in Spain perhaps after a relaxing last minute holiday to Catalonia which is not too far from there.

In Catalonia you can visit the four provinces, including Barcelona which the main city.

You will enjoy the architecture, the history, plenty of churches and cathedrals to visit, gardens, and incredible food to taste.

Not to be missed is the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia and Palau de la Musica Orfeo Catala.

And after a great break in Catalonia, you can plan a visit to Pamplona to watch – or even attend – the bull run.

Here are some things you should know…

History of Bull Running in Spain
History of Bull Running in Spain

History of Bull Running in Spain

This fascinating ceremony possibly dates from the early 14th century when cattle were being driven to market.

Young men would prove their courage with reckless acts of bravado by jumping about among the stampeding animals.

This developed over the centuries into a contest in which men would race the bulls, trying to keep ahead of them.

In fact, leaping with bulls is much older than that in other traditions.

The wall paintings at Knossos in Crete show young men somersaulting over bulls in the Minoan period, centuries before the idea of bull-fighting emerged in Spain.

Pamplona Running with the Bulls
Pamplona Running with the Bulls

Where and When Pamplona Running with the Bulls

The Pamplona bull run is the most famous in the world but it is repeated across Spain and Portugal in different fiesta times, not to mention France, Mexico and Nevada.

But if you only ever see one bull run in your life, Pamplona is the one to aim for – as a spectacle it is un-rivalled.

Although bull running takes place in other places nowadays, the Pamplona event is the most famous, taking place during the seven day Festival of San Fermin.

Every July this event is broadcast on two Spanish television channels and begins with a sung benediction – ‘We ask San Fermin, our patrol, to guide us through the Run and give us his blessing.’

Various streets in Pamplona are cordoned off with wooden or steel barriers and a rocket is fired to signal the start of the race.

Runners have to be 18 years old, sober and must not goad or incite the bulls in any way.

What To Wear When Running with the Bulls in Spain

What To Wear When Running with the Bulls in Spain

The runners wear the ceremonial dress of the Festival – white shirt and trousers with red sash and neckerchief.

They also carry a rolled newspaper to ‘steer’ the bulls away from them – although how much help a newspaper is against an enraged bull is something that has never been proven..!

What To Expect While Running with the Bulls
What To Expect While Running with the Bulls

What To Expect While Running with the Bulls

Anything between six and twelve bulls are released and the average run lasts for four minutes.

Non slip surfaces have recently been introduced which makes the run that much faster and more exciting to watch.

There are man-sized gaps along the route so that a runner who may be in trouble can slip through where a bull cannot follow.

Ernest Hemingway watched the run and wrote about it in two books – The Sun Also Rises and Death in the Afternoon and the event has appeared in Hollywood and Bollywood films as recently as 2011.

The Fire Bull Event

A nightly version of the event is the ‘fire bull’  in which runners wearing bull horns with fireworks attached and excited squealing children take the place of the young men and bulls of the day.

In 2008 a quirky copy was held in Pamplona when David Coulthard and Sebastian Bourdais driving Formula One cars ‘chased’ 500 runners along the route of the run.

Flights leave for Pamplona or nearby cities regularly from most UK airports, so if you live out of London you could always choose Manchester Airport, for example, as your starting point, or you could opt for Heathrow, parking there being simple and inexpensive.

If you’re planning a visit to Pamplona to watch – or even attend – the bull run, here are some things you should know.

Have you watched the running with the bulls, or is it something you would want to do?

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4)

Europe`s Best Fringe Festivals

Europe's Best Fringe Festivals

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Europe’s Best Fringe festivals today combine an offbeat vibe with some of the best arts and entertainment shows.

Most fringe festivals originated as alternative events to major, often exclusive, arts festivals in cities across the globe, offering a chance for anyone to perform or put on a show.

Over the last fifty years, festivals such as the renowned Edinburgh Fringe have become common, but nowhere more so than in Europe.

Europe’s Best Fringe Festivals

With many to choose from, here is just a selection of what’s on offer throughout the continent.

Europe`s Best Fringe Festivals
Europe`s Best Fringe Festivals

Edinburgh

The biggest and best-known fringe remains Edinburgh’s – in a city that’s home to as many as 20 different festivals every year.

In August, Scotland’s capital becomes a mêlée of arts performers and crew members of all kinds, not to mention the crowds that flood the city to watch the shows.

The streets themselves become arenas, flyers are handed out in their millions and the atmosphere is electric from morning until night for a whole month of celebration.

Wading through the throngs on the Royal Mile while stilt-walkers and buskers compete for attention from every corner remains an essential part of the experience.

Dublin

In much the same spirit, Dublin launched its own September fringe festival back in the early 90s, the biggest of its kind in Ireland.

Self-styled as a ‘platform’ for the best of contemporary dance, theater and music currently touring the world, Dublin’s Absolut Fringe is also about exposing burgeoning local talent.

With everything from experimental theatre to Irish folk music with a contemporary twist, this autumn festival is hot on the heels of Edinburgh in every sense.

Amsterdam

Across the channel, Amsterdam has its own fringe which lasts 10 days from the end of August to the beginning of September.

It’s already gaining a reputation for edgy, offbeat content and is worth going for the high-energy opening party or any of the Fringe FUEL master classes for performers if you’re a budding participant.

Helpfully, around half of the program is either performed in English or can be understood whatever your language.

Athens

In the somewhat warmer climes of the Mediterranean, Athens Fringe Live is Greece’s answer to the grassroots festival.

This festival is more concerned with the social aspect and has been described as a multi-disciplinary, multimedia network akin to Facebook or Twitter.

Using artistic exchange and celebration as a force for positive change, Fringe Live emphasizes this philosophy of interaction rather than the comedy stand-up that Edinburgh now leans towards.

So alongside the program of physical theater and exhibitions, social and volunteer events also form the core of what this festival is about.

Budapest

In Hungary’s cultural center Budapest, the fringe spirit has created a sideline to the more traditional Budapest Spring festival.

Taking place in April, Budapest Fringe crams a wealth of underground talent and upcoming performers into the last three days of the ‘core’ festival.

The fringe festival is centered on Pest Broadway in the inner part of the city east of the River Danube.

Though mostly a showcase for the local arts scene, the fringe here encompasses everything from Hungarian belly dancing to imports such as Irish dance and Afro-inspired music.

With some of Europe’s best fringe festivals timed so that they follow on from each other, it might be worth seeing a few in a row.

See Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Dublin over the course of a few weeks in the late summer and you could do most of the journey by road and ferry, but don`t set off without a route planner if you’re taking the car.

Central and southern Europe is home to many more festivals in places such as Prague and Naples so if you’re going on a road trip don’t forget to get European breakdown.

Stag Weekend Destinations In Europe

Stag Weekend Destinations In Europe Throwing a bachelor party for your friend’s last days of “freedom” is a long tradition dating back to the 5th century B.C, but the ways to celebrate it has changed slightly over the centuries.

Today, it has become ever more popular to have a stag weekend abroad, and in Europe there are plenty of destinations to choose from.

Best destinations to go for a stag weekend

Stag Weekend Destinations In Europe
Stag Weekend Destinations In Europe

Riga – For The Experienced

Riga Capital City of Latvia With its sensational selection of stag activities to be pick from, and its pretty girls, it isn’t hard to see why so many choose Riga for their stag weekend.

With many years of “stag party experience”, Riga has begun to attract legendary status for its nightlife and stag parties from all over Europe flock to this Mecca of stag activity.

All the best bars are fairly close to one another, so that you can spend more time at the clubs than going between them all, and the locals are known to party until dawn.

But it’s not just for the nightlife that stag groups choose Riga for their stag weekend.

If you’re looking for some adrenaline activities like white water rafting or mud churning time on quad bikes, Riga has it all.

Brno – For The Budget Newbie

Prague is a favorite among many groups for their stag weekend, but it’s starting to feel a bit “done”, and with its raising prices it might be time to look for something similar but different, which brings us to Brno.

As Czech Republic’s second largest city, Brno is kind of the “off-the-beaten-path” destination for stag weekends.

It’s cheaper than Prague, and still offers a huge variety of things to do for the epic stag weekend.

Besides, being a student city you can count on some great nightlife.

Except for exploring the beautiful city center, you can get your hands on some go karting, machine gun-shooting, off-road four wheeling and other classics.

Ibiza – For The Beach Party

Looking to party all night and day in a place where partying simply never ends?

Ibiza is the perfect place for a sun kissed stag weekend, with beautiful beaches, bikinis and an on-going party vibe with some of the world’s best DJ’s.

Ibiza is actually one of the most popular destinations for hen parties, so don’t be surprised if you end up celebrating with a group on their hen weekend!

Apart from partying 24/7, you can do some of the classic things like go karting, paragliding, cruising and paintball.

Amsterdam – For The Classic

Amsterdam is the classic choice for the party group: there are plenty of bars and clubs, some seriously crazy nightlife experiences, a red light tour and a fun city to explore during the day.

The reason why Amsterdam is one of the best choices is that you’re pretty much guaranteed some weird experiences, and remember:

What happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam…

If “Hangover” did another movie, I would love to see them ending up in this city!

For more information on hen & stag weekend destinations around Europe, visit Maximise for a great variety of options and deals.

Top Stag Party Destinations In Europe

With its serene setting, delicious cuisine and friendly people, Europe is the perfect vacation destination.

From beaches to palaces, Europe offers a ton of opportunities for stag parties of all kind – here stag party organizers Stag.com offer a low-down on a few of the top stag party destinations in Europe:

Stag Party Amsterdam

Stag Party Amsterdam
Stag Party Amsterdam

Amsterdam is THE party-capital of the world.

Apart from the Red Light District, there is much more to look around too!

The shops inside the Red Light area offer some exquisite gifts for the fairer sex.

The people are very friendly and if you spend a night here, you will definitely end up with a lot of friends and a lifetime of memories.

This is just the perfect stag party destination!

Stag Party Ibiza

Stag Party Ibiza
Stag Party Ibiza

Ibiza is home to some of the best DJ’s in the world. The party (literally) never ends here.

It is the perfect spot for one to let their hair down and have an amazing time.

Many clubs are open day and night, meaning that you can go partying straight after breakfast at 9 am, and chances are there will be a world famous House DJ continuing the party on the beach at noon.

Stag Party Dublin

Dublin is home to the Temple Bar and the world-famous Guinness factory.

This is a must-go destination for beer lovers.

Because of its scenic beauty and a thriving night-life, Dublin is one of the few cities which provide calmness while partying.

Dublin is also famous for its many adventure trails spread over vast expanses.

Istanbul

Bars, bazaars and beauties daunt the streets of Istanbul.

There are so many pubs and bars located in the city that you would need a proper guide to visit only the most happening places.

With its ancient setting of monuments preserved over ages, the city adds another interesting flavor to the Eastern Europe state.

Bratislava

The capital of Slovakia offers booze at one of the cheapest prices in the continent and the clubs are always full of people dancing and partying the night away.

Mixing partying with adventure sports, the city is a must-go destination for every party animal and adrenaline junkie!

And lastly, did we mention that Slovakian women are among the hottest in the world?

London

One of the oldest areas of the world is definitely one of the sauciest too!

From Soho Road to Trafalgar Square, the Brits know how to get it right.

A Bar Crawl should always be on the cards when in London.

We could name one or two of the best clubs in the city, but then it would not be fair to the dozen-odd super talented DJ’s who play day and night!

From strip shows and lap dances to the smooth accent of suave British men, the place has something in store for both the sexes!

Europe’s Best Fringe Festivals photo credit:  1

Britain – Where To Find The Stereotypical Britain From London to Scotland

British Countryside The Lake District

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Stereotypical Britain – Many people living outside of Britain hold a certain image to the country and its inhabitants. It would be incredibly dismissive to quash these visions as untrue for outside visitors – but they’re definitely all not true for all parts of the UK. England Travel Guide

Where To Find The Stereotypical Britain

Stereotypical Britain
Stereotypical Britain

They say you should never meet your heroes as you will only be disappointed – the same should be said for places you love.

The last thing you’d want is to go to England only to see that what everyone says isn’t true.

It would be cruel to ruin the dream, so here are the best places to go to experience the English stereotypes that you hold dear to your heart.

Now, all you need to explore the land of the Brits is a good camera, a car, a comfortable pair of shoes and maybe you can pass the Life In The UK Test

London

Stereotypical Britain in London
Stereotypical Britain in London

This is the capital for a reason – you’ll find thousands of traditional stereotypes living and breathing here.

Visit the East End for cockney pubs and jellied eels, then travel to the center for a completely different culture.

Seeing past the busy workers power-walking past on angry phone calls, it’s easy to experience the tradition seeped in England’s capital.

In Westminster you can visit the Houses of Parliament and have a peek down Downing Street – and from politics to royals you can visit Buckingham Palace.

And then there are the skyscrapers, big red buses, the London eye, China Town, the Thames, the West End, Hamleys and Harrods, along with so much more.

York

Stereotypical Britain in York
Stereotypical Britain in York

The best word to encapsulate York is ‘quaint’. With winding, cobbled streets, tea rooms and stone walls, this is a very typically English city.

It has old sweet shops and dusty second-hand book shops, as well as The Shambles – one of best preserved medieval streets in the world.

It is filled with tourist shops, tea shops, and aromas of fudge and chocolate…awesome things to do in York!

Lake District

UK Lake District
UK Lake District

With breath-taking peaks, quaint countryside towns and Wordsworth’s grave, the Lake District gives postcards of England their pictures.

With around 15.5 million visitors per year, you won’t be the only one chasing traditional England…

Make sure to visit Keswick for traditional English pubs and cafes.

Scarborough

Scarborough Fish and Chips
Scarborough Fish and Chips

When people think of Britain, they think of fish and chips – whilst the food horizons of many Brits may have broadened, this is still the go-to Friday evening meal for many households across the country.

Scarborough, the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast, is the ideal place to visit for seaside traditions – as well as fish and chips, you’ll find arcades, donkey rides, candy-floss and a nice freezing cold, British sea.

Yorkshire Dales

The county of Yorkshire has strong stereotypes attached to it – and they can all be found in the popular holiday destination of the Yorkshire Dales.

Talkative strangers, farmers, lots of sheep and an abundance of pubs – any village in the Yorkshire Dales will make you feel at home in England.

What is your favorite stereotypical place in Britain?

Cotswold Way Walking Trip Itinerary

Peak District Walking & Outdoor Festival

Spring has arrived, and in Peak District, England, they’re preparing for the upcoming annual Walking & Outdoor Festival later this month.

Peak District, England
Peak District, England

The festival begins the 23rd of April and continues to the 8th of May, and over 100 events and competitions will be held during the festival.

For those who don’t know, Peak District is known for having some of England’s absolute best places for hiking, with many great trails with beautiful views.

The Peak District is the UK’s first national park, and the festival highlights and showcases the best of the area; the lush landscape, picturesque villages and the rare flora (which includes orchids during spring and early summer).

Peak District Walking & Outdoor Festival
Peak District Walking & Outdoor Festival

The festival will be fun for everyone who loves the outdoors, but you really don’t have to be an expert; guided tours, climber lessons for beginners and navigation lessons for beginners are just a few things for those who are like me, and want to try the outdoors sports for a bit without any real experience.

Another fun way to enjoy the natural park is to do it with an ‘artistic’ focus.

There are specialized photography walks and a photography competition (the theme this year is ‘fire and light’) going on.

During the guided walk in the district you’ll learn heaps of history about the area, with all from railway heritage walks to plague village walks.

Ambleside
Ambleside

If you’re interested in visiting The Peak District, I think this is the best time of the year to do it.

Many people have planned their Peak District holidays for months in advance so it might be a bit tricky finding some place to stay in the some of the closer villages.

One way to get around this would be to spend your nights in one of the many pretty Ambleside cottages.

Ambleside is as beautiful as the village in the main Peak District area, and then you can just drive to the festival for a lovely day trip.

There are many nice villages around Lake District as well, In Keswick, renting out one of the traditional Keswick cottages is very popular for weekend holiday makers, and if you find it too far to drive to Peak District from there you’ll find that the nature around these villages is pretty amazing in itself.

Lake District as well, In Keswick
Lake District as well, In Keswick

If this is a bit short of time to plan, don’t worry, since there are festivals in Peak District all year round, the next one, National Forest Walking Festival, begins already May 21st to June 1st, and then there is another autumn festival in September.

So basically, whenever you plan to go here, check out what festival is going on in the near future and go then, a festival always brings out the best of places!

London Travel VIDEO Discover a Wonderful City

We felt like London was a small town which had exploded with people, the buildings were cute, everything was close and we really felt at home even though everyone around us was sprinting around, stressed out of their minds.

The fact that London had so much nature within the city, really gave you a chance to sit down and relax even with all that chaos around you while on your vacation in the UK. England Travel Guide

Incredible Capital Cities

What To Do In London – So you have a ticket to London, now what?

London is a city that basically has it all, but for many it’s often hard to know where to begin.

It has great shopping, beautiful architecture, awesome nightlife, parks, markets and lots of UK Celebration!

A weekend in London will be packed with stuff to do

Getting Around London:

London Travel VIDEO
London Travel VIDEO

Many of the places of interest are concentrated in one area so you can walk between them, however, the public transport is quite good and by using the subway you save a lot of time.

A day pass is a good idea to get, it costs 6£ and is valid from 9.30 am and lasts all the day until 4.30 am the next morning – you can use the pass both on subways as well as buses.

Things to do London: Parks And Speakers Chair

London beautiful parks
London beautiful parks

London is full of beautiful parks to hang out in on a nice day or stroll along the green alleys, so take some time to slow down the pace in the parks between shopping.

St James park and Hyde park are two big parks located right in town which are both very nice.

In Hyde park they have something called ”speakers chair” every Sunday, where  people stand on a stage and talk about whatever they want in a microphone for whoever wants to listen.

If you have the guts, you’re welcome to get up there yourself! St James park is a beautiful park to check out after or before a visit to the Buckingham palace.

Changing of the Guard

The changing of the guard at Buckingham palace at 11.30 every morning is a big tourist attraction.

Don’t hold any high expectations on the actual ”show”, especially not in bad weather (which isn’t too rare here), but it’s worth a look just to experience the crazy crowds.

London Big Ben
London Big Ben

London Eye

The London eye actually gives a great view over London, and it’s especially beautiful at night.

But even the area itself is worth a tour, there is a pretty cool area full of Graffiti art right nearby.

The best view of Big Ben is from the Westminister bridge going between the London eye and Big Ben, and who doesn’t want that iconic photo shot?

London Shopping

Oxford street is the place for shopping. There is something for everyone here, and for most budgets.

But for an actual experience, head to Harrods.

Perhaps buy something really small as a souvenir from this place, or just window shop around this historic, exclusive shopping complex.

Camden market
Camden market

London Markets

London has HEAPS of markets; Small, big, famous and unknown.

Camden market is one of the more popular ones, and it’s a fun place to buy things from local unknown designers.

Covent garden also has a market, and after some shopping you’re likely to see some awesome street performers on the square.

This is the square where famous street performers do their acts.

London Nightlife

For a beer at a cozy pub with good atmosphere and intimacy, The Cittie of York on High Holbourn is a good choice.

The pub has a very traditional design, and you sit in little wooden booths.

For the cheapest beer in town, Ye Olde Cheesire pub on Fleet street is the place to go.

The pub is the oldest in London, and they brew their own beer out of town.

For a real club experience, Cafe  1001 is a cafe and DJ bar on a side street in Brick Lane which we got a tip about from a local guy.

Many tourists don’t know about the place, but it’s a huge hits among the people living in London.

Where And What To Eat in London:

It’s almost more “typical” to eat international food than the traditional British food in London.

Cuisine from all corners of the world can be found here, so make the most of it!

Restaurants that are located a bit out of the central areas are of course a lot cheaper.

The smaller streets around Kings Cross have some good deals, but chances are that you will be in the center for lunch.

There are a lot of  “all you can eat” buffets spread around the city center in London, especially Chinese cuisine, but also a lot of Indian restaurants.

For good Mexican food, Chilango is a great Mexican eatery located at five different places across the city.

We ate at the one in chancery lane 6, and the burritos and nachos were awesome.

Where To Sleep in London:

Clink 78 hostel
Clink 78 hostel

We recommend Clink 78 hostel, a hostel right next to Kings Cross.

It’s located in a nice area with a village feel to it, with small streets and cozy cafes and pubs.

The staff at the hostel are very helpful and informative, and more than happy to share their local tips and favorite spots around the city.

Ask them anything and they will know, if not they will check it up for you.

You get a big breakfast buffet included in the stay, and they also have a pub downstairs which is very popular with the guests.

If you want to cook your own food there is a big kitchen there as well.

A pretty cool detail about the hostel is that it’s actually a restored 200 year old Courthouse with a few authentic prison cells. and a courtroom used as an internet room.

Get out: Take the scenic train to Wales, and experience the Welsh culture only a few hours away.

And since London is, well, London, cheap flights leave the airport every minute!

(photo credits: Trodel – _dChris)

Weekend in London UK in the Capitals Coolest Spots

When you think of London, you probably think of Big Ben, red buses, Buckingham Palace, shopping at Oxford Street and the many theaters of the West End. But this is only just the beginning.

London is a vibrant and fascinating city, steeped in layers of history and culture.”

Like any international city it’s also constantly changing, and finding the newest spots can tricky for a visitor.

So if you’re keen to scratch beneath the surface of this captivating city and have an extra insight into all the coolest happenings, check out some of our suggestions:

Where to Eat in London

A decade ago London’s King’s Cross was one of the city’s biggest problem areas with drug addicts and prostitutes working the streets and bringing an unwelcoming feeling to the area.

Today though, this has all changed and the area has had huge sums of money spent on it.

 London’s King’s Cross
London’s King’s Cross

As a result King’s Cross is rapidly becoming one of London’s most exciting new places to hang out and among other things is now home to a whole host of fabulous restaurants.

We love Caravan at the Granary Building for Mediterranean style foods, Kerb for street eats (very on trend at the moment!) and the fabulous Plum + Spilt Milk at the Great Northern Hotel, which serves up a mix of modern British cuisine in chic surroundings.

Go For Coffee in London

Hanging out in Coffee shops can be a great way to get a feel for how the locals live and Dalston, in London’s trendy East End, is undergoing a revival right now.

It’s home to many artists and creatives and as a result you’ll find plenty of funky and interesting places to go for coffee.

Café Otto
Café Otto

Café Otto, a specialist music café, is a great choice for a latte and a slice of cake and also worth visiting in the evening for one of their gigs.

Tina We Salute You makes the best cappuccino we’ve found and we also love Betty’s for a relaxed yet funky atmosphere.

Hit the Shops in London

When Olympic fever took over London in 2012 the area around the Olympic park benefited in many ways.

One was the building of the fantastic new Westfield Shopping Centre, which makes shopping in London easier than it has ever been.

The center has all of the major stores, as well as a few welcome surprises and basically is a whole lot less crowded that Oxford Street on a Saturday!

top floor of John Lewis
top floor of John Lewis

When you’re there head up to the top floor of John Lewis – no not for any pairs of striped pajamas or 12 piece dining sets.

They have a special viewing platform where you get a great view over the Olympic Stadium and on to the rest of London and it’s well worth a look.

Where to Stay in London

The newly renovated Great Northern Hotel at King’s Cross Station is really topping it as London’s coolest hotel right now.

This gorgeous luxury hotel has 91 rooms, all wonderfully chic and beautifully designed and the hotel itself has many quirky reminders of its railway heritage.

There’s a replica train carriage acting as a corridor from the main stairway to the loos and the beds in the most compact size of guest room evoke the classic continental railway sleeper carriage.

All rooms have USB charging points, free in room entertainment and there are pantries on every floor where you can help yourself to home-made cakes and the day’s newspapers.

It’s a fun twist on the traditional railway hotel and we love it.

For Drinks in London

Stoke Newington is rapidly becoming one of the coolest ‘villagey’ places to hang out this side of well… Clissold Park (Stokey’s lovely green space).

Church Street, the main street there, has many nice watering holes ranging from English Pubs, to smart cocktail bars and beyond.

Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington

Try the Baby Bathhouse, the Jolly Butchers and Auld Shillelagh.

A night out there is always fun, can be unexpected and you won’t be far from your lovely hotel when you want to jump in a cab home.

Has this article tempted you to take a few steps off the tourist trail on your next trip to London?

Or do you know of any great up and coming spots that we haven’t mentioned?

Please feel welcome to get commenting – we’d love to know!

Visit London for the Street Food Scene

It would be fair to say that in the last year or so, street food has officially become a ‘thing’ when it comes to travelling.

Going to Goa?

You won’t want to miss out on the samosas, chicken and cool drinks from the street vendors on the beach.

Jetting off to Vietnam?

It’s all about Banh mi sandwiches.

Visiting the big apple?

Well, while you’ve pretty much got your choice of anything, you’ll definitely want to sample a serious hot dog or two.

What about London?

The street food scene in London has taken off in the last year or so.

Everywhere you look, people are selling food from market stalls, vans and open air bars.”

So, if finding fabulous places to eat on trendy streets and at pop up stalls galore is what you’re craving, London could be your perfect travel destination.

There are loads of places to try, but a few top picks include:

London Kerb

Kerb is a street food collective based at Kings Cross – perfect if you’ve just arrived from somewhere else in Britain, or hopped off the Eurostar at St. Pancras.

St. Pancras
St. Pancras

Kerb rotates its traders, so even if you visit every day of your stay in London, you’ll be able to try something new each day!

Check out the selection here.

London Broadway Market

As the coolest East London weekend hangout around, Broadway Market in Hackney is home to some well-established food traders.

Eat My Pies
Eat My Pies

Try the quintessentially British bites at Eat My Pies and the beautiful handmade chocolates and cakes at Cocoa&Me to start off with.

Real Food Festival

Once you’ve hit the London Eye, strolled along the river bank and caught a show at the National Theatre, check out the plaza behind the Southbank Centre (a couple of minutes’ walk from Waterloo station).

Feeling flashy?

Go for lobster and chips from the Whitstable Shellfish stall, or, if you’ve had quite enough fish and chips, try a tiny taste of India at the Horn Ok Please van.

Eat My Pies
Eat My Pies

A trip centered on street food really makes you feel like a local, so check out some short stay London apartments and sort yourself out with your very own crash pad.

That way, when you come back laden with cheeses, breads and other treats from all the amazing markets you’ve been to, you’ll have a fridge to put them in.

Plus, no one will judge you when you decide that a midnight snack really is a great idea!

Things to do in London for free

London has become the most visited city in the world – whether for business or pleasure, London has a lot to offer any traveler, although it’s not always that easy to figure out what things to do in London.

As famous as Buckingham Palace or its iconic black cabs, London is also known for being a little pricey.

However for those who would like to visit on a budget, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a fair few things to do in London that are completely free.

Staying in London doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny either; there are many London city hotels to choose from that keep prices competitive and wallet friendly.

Things to do in London

Things To Do In London For Free!
Things To Do In London For Free!

London Artwork

London has a range of different museums and art galleries, and you’ll be forgiven for thinking that these prime collections of antiques and modern artwork will cost you a few pennies to visit, however in fact almost all of London’s art galleries and museums offer free entry all year round.

There are many available to suit almost every audience, whether you’re interested in modern art, there’s the Tate Modern that displays pieces from 1900 on wards and changes its displays every 1 to 2 years.

For those looking for a little of world history, and more things to do in London, then pay a visit to the British Museum, which is home to over 7 million antiques.

The world famous British Museum has been open to the public since 1753 and to see all the exhibits would take you around a week.

There are many more museums and galleries in London that are free to visit, so it’s worth exploring to see what history this famous city has to offer.

London Ceremony Of The Keys

The Tower of London is the resting place of the Crown Jewels, and is usually open to the public during the day (£17 for adults and £9.50 per child) however in the evening; the Tower of London’s gates must be secured.

This ceremony has been tradition for over 700 years, free to the public, and is performed by the chief yeoman in his red tunic.

If you apply in advance you are able to escort the warden to the gates.

Open House Weekend London

In London there are around 700 different sites that aren’t usually open to the public, including sites such as the City Hall, the BT Tower and the Bank of England.

Every September, Open House London gives you the great opportunity to explore these sites completely free of charge.

There are a few places that require pre-booking, so be sure to check which sites these are before you go.

With all the available sites and great things to do in London, there will be a professional or amateur enthusiast willing to guide you around the premises.

Each volunteer will have a recognition badge to determine which sites they can gain access to.

Some of the available buildings may also have their architect on site, ready and willing to give you information about the building itself.

The Simple Outdoors

If you happen to visit London while the weather is nice, then a pleasant and cheap alternative is to visit one of London’s many parks.

The available parks are of course free top explore and offer a great place to enjoy a walk, a picnic or some family sports.

Many have their own lakes and wildlife, Greenwich Park is the oldest royal park, and is used as the starting point for the London marathon.

This park is also home to the royal observatory and was formerly used by the royals for hunting.

There are many parks in and around London that are guaranteed to offer their own unique experience.

If you’re one for bargain hunting, then London is the perfect place to be, with a collection of markets selling everything from second hand clothes to antiques, London’s markets are great for exploring and are free to roam.

The markets will give you first hand experience into such a vibrant culture.

To visit many of London’s attraction would cost you on entrance fees, however why not see London on foot, and see the city while enjoying a leisurely walk.

The majority of London’s major attractions are within walking distance of each other, and with many free self guided tour guides available, you can sight see around the city without reducing the weight of you wallet.

Also if you take a walk along Regent’s Canal, you’ll also be able to see some of London’s zoo animals for free, including giraffes, okapis and red river hogs.

Big Ben

Known to be the most accurate clock in the world, Big Ben or the Great Bell as it’s officially known by is London’s most iconic landmark.

If you’re a UK resident you know what to do: book in advance you can take advantage of a free tour around the clock tower.

Tours take place Monday to Friday at 9:15, 11.15 and 14.15 with a maximum of 16 per tour.

To get a place on the tour you must request to visit through your local MP 3 to 6 months in advance and you must be over the age of 11.

So, now you know a little more about the city and what to do in London once you’re there.

Discovering London – What to Do and Where to Stay

Some destinations are so packed with must see sights that it’s virtually impossible to select which ones to visit.

London is an excellent example of such a destination.

It’s an ancient city that successfully blends a lot of modern glamour alongside venerable locations.

Experiencing it all would require several lifetimes.

That’s why the Discovering London Tour is such an amazing idea and can lead to an awesome UK Celebration.

Rather than being overwhelmed by the prospect of “doing it all” in London in a short space of time, the Discovering London Tour helps tourists get acquainted in a personalized way, and just maybe you might experience the stereotypical London

It just might be the best value for visitors who only want to hit certain highlights or who want to see what London is like beyond the guidebooks.

Each Discovering London Tour is hosted by Peter Berthoud, an expert on the city’s history and culture.

Every tour is unique and tailored to the visitor’s specifications.

That means no scripted dialog and no inflexible routes.

In fact, people who book a tour have final say as to all the stops that the tour will make.

That’s because each tour is for a small, select group.

They choose which sites they want to see and which sights should be left out.

Moreover, because groups are limited in size, many more destinations within the city are able to accommodate them.

Being able to enjoy a professional tour guide without the hassle of a massive group is definitely a major advantage.

With the help of their guide, visitors can craft a few hours or even a few days of superior sightseeing.

All of the major London attractions can be placed on the itinerary.

Alternatively, people who are looking for a more behind the scenes look at the city can request to be taken to places that are off the beaten path.

The result is a highly personalized experience that no one is likely to forget.

As an expert guide, Peter Berthoud can provide visitors with an insider’s view of London.

He shares stories that most people are unfamiliar with, and his conversational style immediately puts people at ease.

Each tour is conducted at the pace the participants request.

That means being able to stop for breaks or allow for a detour if a sight that’s not on the itinerary catches someone’s eye.

These are authentically customized tours that are designed to save the traveler time, money and energy.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with London, these tours can be a lifesaver.

Chances are good that time in the city is limited, so a Discovering London Tour is the best way to maximize the experience.

However, these tours are also beneficial for locals who are hoping to discover a new side to their city.

Peter has spent years developing familiarity with all of London’s twists and turns, and he loves sharing his knowledge with others.

Discovering London Tour

Whether you are a first time visitor or have lived in the city for decades, a Discovering London Tour can be the ideal introduction to a fascinating destination.

London is full of life, vibrant and busy with amazing festivities for all ages.

Discovering London With many cultural events to explore for little or no cost, you can visit art museums such as Tate Modern, the Florence Nightingale Museum, the National Theatre, and take the kids on Harry Potter Tours or spend a day at the London Sea Life Aquarium or the new London Dungeons.

Discovering London
Discovering London

All situated on the South Bank and Bank Side on the Thames River, great hotels, restaurants, pubs, boutiques and markets await those who visit London.

Art in London

The Tate Modern, one of the most famous museums in London, is located on South Bank.

Offering a fantastic blend of modern and contemporary art, view artists work by Picasso, Warhol, Pollock, Mattise and Dali.

The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern

For nearly 2,000 years South Bank has been home to artisans, entrepreneurs and lovely architecture.

All within walking distance from your hotel, are great restaurants, shops, pubs and beautiful walking paths on the Thames.

Bring the Kids

South Bank is alive with activities for children as well. They will love the Waterloo Carnival, the Sea Life Aquarium, Harry Potter Tours, the Reptile House at the London Zoo and the great underground London Dungeons with rides and shows for all.

London's South Bank
London’s South Bank

In the summertime the streets are filled with activity, particularly festivals with food, amusement park rides and more.

Drink Up!

Just across the Waterloo Bridge on Bank Side, a wonderful busy and vibrant area of London, are pubs once frequented by Charles Dickens- The Rake and The Anchor.

You may also enjoy wine tasting at the Vinopolis, a visit to the Borough Market, an outdoor produce market, and artists shops and book stores for easy browsing.

Borough Market
Borough Market

Catch a Show

Theatres reign in this unique area of London so be sure to take in a show, whether it be Shakespeare or something a bit more contemporary.

Leaving the South Bank area, a stop at Abbey Road where the Beatles made their last album cover is an interesting feature- the Zebra Crossing.

Abbey Road
Abbey Road

London offers tours of the London Rock and the Beatles Site Tours for all Beatles fans.

Without a visit to the many delightful museums, historical sites, musicals, plays, famous parks, shops and restaurants in London, your holiday would be at a loss.

To locate a place to stay in the area of London you’re visiting,

Stay at one of the amazing hotels in London, this city as much to offer and you can find easily find the perfect room that is just an easy stroll to pubs and restaurants.

Memorable sites such as Tate Modern, the Thames River’s South Bank and Bank Side are sure to catch your breath with history dating back thousands of years.

Top Three Day Trips from London

Day trips from London has plenty of sights and scenes to keep any tourist busy.

If you have the luxury of exploring the city for a week or more, you may want rent a London apartment to create a home away from home.

A longer stay will also grant you the opportunity to explore both the city and some great places a short distance outside of the capital city.

Here are three cities you should check out to get a better feel for what all England has to offer:

London's Roman Baths
London’s Roman Baths

Bath

The big draw in Bath is the Roman Baths, built around 2000 years ago.

With interesting exhibits and stunning architecture, the only drawback to this attraction is that you can’t actually jump in!

A better idea is to head just across the street where you can try the unique experience of soaking in Britain’s thermal waters at Thermae Bath Spa, a four story day spa that includes a rooftop pool with sweeping views of the city’s Georgian architecture.

Other famous attractions include the Royal Crescent, which is a series of 18th century houses and lawns and will give you an idea of what life was like in Bath at the time for upper-class residents.

Royal Crescent
Royal Crescent

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, be sure to check out the Jane Austen Center while you’re there.

Brighton

Another place definitely worth checking out if you want to extend your time in London is a coastal trip to Brighton.

A stroll along the beach and the pier offers a breath of fresh air.

The city is also home to the world’s oldest working aquarium.

Brighton aquarium
Brighton aquarium

North Laine and Kensington Gardens are great places to find vintage and flea market treasures, and Brighton’s independent record shops are renown among music lovers.

Of course, one of Brighton’s biggest attractions is the extravagant Royal Pavilion.

It was built for the Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV, with construction beginning in 1787.

Royal Pavilion
Royal Pavilion

The interior design is striking and borrows heavily from Chinese and Indian design and architecture — a stark contrast from the rest of the city.

Oxford

This city is known for the “Dreaming Spires” of its ancient university and medieval churches.

Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library

Bibliophiles should head straight to the Bodleian Library, while sporting fans should try their hand at punting — steering a wooden boat down the river with a pole.

If you visit in late March/early April, you might even catch the University Boat Races and witness one of England’s greatest college sporting rivalries between Oxford and Cambridge.

University Boat Races
University Boat Races

There are also several museums worth visiting and if you love theater, make sure to check out some of the professional theater productions and amateur student shows.

A great way to spend an afternoon in this scholarly town is to peruse the shelves at Blackwell’s Books and the Oxford University Press Bookshop.

5 Money-Saving Attractions In London

There’s never a dull moment for tourists wanting the best of what London has to offer.

With plenty to see and do during the day and London nights out ranging from a cultured evening at the theater to a full-on night on the tiles, it’s very easy for sightseers to quickly lose track of how much they’re spending during their time in the English capital.

Fortunately, there are a plenty of options available to anyone that wants to stay in London on a shoestring budget.

Here are five money-saving attractions well worth checking out:

Camden Markets

Things To Do In London Camden Markets
Things To Do In London Camden Markets

Head down Oxford Street, which is Europe’s busiest shopping street, for a spot of retail therapy and the chances are high that you can spend an absolute fortune in no time at all.

Down at Camden Markets, though, there are bargains galore and all in one of London’s most diverse and interesting boroughs.

Peruse the many shops and stalls or just watch the world go by in one of the vibrant cafes, bars and pubs.

Cost: Nothing, unless, of course, something catches your eye in one of the boutiques.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden
Covent Garden

More glamorous than Camden Markets, Covent Garden is renowned for the street performers that work day and night to thrill the visitors that head there to be entertained as well as wined and dined in style.

If this is not your cup of tea, then just walk around the former fruit and vegetable market, which is now home to many charming and curious independent shops.

And put time aside to watch the artists, jugglers and musicians that line the surrounding streets looking to wow the crowds.

Cost: Free, but you may feel compelled to donate a bit of loose change if one of the street artists impresses you.

Science Museum

Science Museum
Science Museum

An ideal place to head to if you’re holidaying with children or if you’re still a big kid at heart.

Learn all about space travel and more at the Science Museum, where the various hands-on exhibits bring the museum to life.

The Natural History Museum, which is also free, is literally next door and Hyde Park is a short walk away, meaning this particular corner of London is easy on your wallet and fun at the same time.

Cost: Zilch.

Tate Modern

Tate Modern
Tate Modern

Arguably the best of London’s ‘free’ museums is the Tate Modern, which is located right on the banks of the River Thames over the Millennium Footbridge.

The exhibits will divide opinion and provoke healthy debate in a way no other attraction in the city will.

From the beautiful to the outright bizarre, the Tate Modern has it all.

Cost: Free, although you will have to pay if you want to see the major exhibitions.

The Monument

London Monument
London Monument

A hidden gem in London is the Monument, which offers a stunning vista of the city and was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London.

Well, ‘hidden’ is probably not the best word to describe it seen as though it was constructed nearly 350 years ago and is actually the tallest isolated stone column in the world.

Yet it’s commonly overlooked by people that want to see London’s skyline.

However, climb the 311 steps up the mesmerizing spiral staircase and you’ll be greeted by incredible views.

What’s more, it’s a bargain when compared to the fact it costs nearly £20 for an adult to make a revolution on the nearby London Eye.

That’s virtually six times the price for pretty much the same view and by scaling the Monument you also get a bit of exercise thrown in as well, so it’s altogether more rewarding.

3 ways to unwind in London

Given the hustle and bustle of life in London, it’s easy for visitors and locals alike to feel overwhelmed.

Here are the best ways to treat yourself after a hard day’s work or a long day of sightseeing in London:

 Secret Gardens

While not under lock and key, these gardens are lesser known and less well-traveled than some of London’s other parks.

You’ll feel as if you are stepping into a period drama as you explore the Eltham Palace Gardens, with stone bridges over meandering rivers, shady trellises, and great expanses of green lawn.

Eltham Palace Gardens
Eltham Palace Gardens
Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden
Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden

Isabella Plantation at Richmond Park can only be accessed by foot, and the grounds are stunning when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in bloom.

For a bit of green space within in the city, pop into the Saint Dunstan in the East Church Garden; after the medieval church was bombed out during the Blitz, it was filled with climbing shrubs and a fountain that drowns out the sounds of traffic — a perfect green oasis.

 Tea Time

Nothing is more British — or more soothing — than a proper cuppa tea.

British Tea Time
British Tea Time

Make reservations well in advance for afternoon tea at Claridge’s for attentive service and meticulous attention to detail, or opt for a homier visit to the Tea Rooms in Stoke Newington, renowned for their scones.

Fortnum and Mason offers tea service on the fourth floor of its Piccadilly store, and visitors can pick up scrumptious treats and sumptuous accessories for relaxing at home.

Spa Day

A spa day is a refuge from the big city – and there is no shortage of places to get pampered in London.

Catering to locals and visiting spa goers from around the world, London is also a great place to try out one or more unique spa treatments:

Synaesthesia treatment – uses music, color, aromatherapy, and massage to promote relaxation.

Herb-based apothecary treatments, with optional courses on natural remedies

Thai Massage treatment – combines massage with assisted stretching

Futuristic pod treatment – float in ultra-salty water kept at body temperature.

The concept here is complete sensory deprivation.

After turning off the light in the pod, guests feel as if they are floating in mid-air.

Most find it relaxing, although those with claustrophobia should stick with a more traditional spa!

Holyhead in Wales
Holyhead in Wales

Thoughts From A Visit To London

The train ride from Holyhead in Wales to Euston station in London was absolutely stunning.

The country side of England is really special; the stone houses, never ending green hills, golden fields with Rape Seed crops, and farmland with cattle and sheep was a sight far from a bustling world cosmopolitan city like London.

out it wasn’t all that far, since the countryside is only a 20 min train ride away.

But no matter how close it was, stepping off the train in London made that part of England feel very far away.

We didn’t have much time in the city, but only after a few hours we were full of impressions and thoughts about it.

Here is a brief sum-up of how we felt about London and the impressions we got:

The Sprinting People

Holyhead in Wales to Euston
Holyhead in Wales to Euston

”Woah, he was in a hurry!” Was the first thing that slipped out of my mouth as we stepped out of the train station and on to the street.

A man in suit and running shoes ran past us as though he was practicing for a marathon – running late for work, I suppose.

Right afterwards, a woman in high heels came running towards us in the opposite direction from the man, I quickly had to jump to the side to give way for her.

What were they running for at this time of the day?

It was neither rush hour, nor lunch time – but everyone seemed to be in a hurry.

Men and women in suits running for their lives to catch a bus or subway, not stopping for anyone.

Many weren’t stressed, but they were still walking really fast and it seemed as though they did everything faster than normal.

In London people simply seemed to live life at a higher pace than what I’m used to.

It’s a contagious thing, and by the end of the day I was walking twice as fast as normal without even noticing.

Small Town Feel

At the same time London really felt like a small town which had grown in size – it didn’t have the feel of big cities like New York with sky lines and organized streets.

The buildings were from all sorts of ages, dating back all the way to 17th century, and the streets were all over the place – it looked I guess exactly what it was: a small city which suddenly had exploded in size and population.

Places To Breathe

St James park
St James park

If it wasn’t for all the large parks where you can escape the London people would certainly go mad.

But fortunately, London is full of green areas that are well worth a visit, walking down the green alleys around St James park is also a great stroll, and for a moment you forget that you’re in the middle of a cosmopolitan city.

I realized here just how much more of a nature person I am than a city girl.

Big cities stress me out, but as soon as I walk along a green alley, I’m centered again.

Everything Happens Here

London nightlife
London nightlife

For travel, party and fun, I could think of no better place to base yourself in Europe than London.

This is the place you’re likely to find the best travels deals ever.

This is the place where they hold all the awesome concerts and shows.

The locals say that they’re used to it and get very picky, but for a visitor you see all the great opportunities here.

In all, London has it all, but there are consequences.

If you want the awesome nightlife, the many opportunities – you will have to share them with another 8 million people.

London vs New York Which Offers the Better Experience

In the great debate over London vs New York, one concept that many can agree upon is both cities offer experiences unlike any other city in the world.

In essence, each city is a gem, but one may have the upper hand.

London vs New York Tate Museum
Tate Museum

London vs New York: The Arts

You couldn’t visit all the museums and theaters in a trip to either city.

To start, if you’re visiting London, you should visit the Tate as well as the National Gallery, each houses exceptional works of art.

Likewise, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art should be on every visitor’s checklist.

Furthermore, if you’re interested in theatrical events, don’t forget to visit the West End in London and while in New York catch a Broadway play.

When it comes to the arts, London and New York both are winners.

New York USA – A Dream for Shoppers

Thames River
Thames River

London vs New York: Outdoor River Activities

The Thames and the Hudson rivers feature big-city ports, but also the quiet splendor of an upriver setting.

You can take in the Thames or the Hudson while walking, cycling, and boating, but free public events highlight each river’s draw.

All eyes were on the Thames with the excitement of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the grandeur of its flotillas.

Then again, the Hudson has Fleet Week, an annual tradition with visiting ships that take over the river and air shows that take over the skies.

As a result, it’s a draw with both cities taking full advantage of waterway activities.

Roundhouse
Roundhouse

Roundhouse – BBC Electric Proms from LondonTown.com

London vs New York: Live Music and Historical Appreciation

While rich in musical history, each city also offers live music events that rival each other. Nevertheless, the gradual loss of historically significant clubs in New York, such as CBGBs and Fillmore East, is devastating to music fans.

Although Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd played the latter, it’s now an apartment complex.

In contrast, the Roundhouse of North London, also hosting Jimi and Pink Floyd, did not wane into oblivion—despite its decline in the 80s.

Instead, the Roundhouse can hold up to 4,000 attendees for an event.

Moreover, it features rehearsal spaces in addition to recording and television studios for youth projects.

With this effort, London scores for rebuilding history and investing in the next generation.

If you seeking a place to stay in North London go to Hotel Direct for great options and cost.

In the end London vs New York, both London and New York are extraordinary, but the city that appreciates its history and its future is the city that wins overall.

Guide to 4 of London’s Most Haunted Destinations

If you have an interest in the paranormal and love nothing more than going in search of otherworldly encounters, London is the perfect place to indulge your penchant.

Aside from the spooky settings of the Tower of London and the dungeons, there are many more reputedly haunted destinations off the beaten track.

Bleeding Heart Yard

Bleeding Heart Yard
Bleeding Heart Yard

The cobbled courtyard off Greville Street in the historic area of Farringdon reportedly takes its names from an inn sign displayed nearby, showing the heart of the Virgin Mary being pierced by five blades.

However, another story has been reported with regards to how the area received its name; according to urban legend, the name was drafted to commemorate the death of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, whose body is said to have been found in the courtyard in 1626, with her limbs dismembered yet the heart still pumping blood.

The Langham

The Langham
The Langham

London’s prestigious five-star hotel The Langham is known as one of England’s most haunted hotels, home to up to seven ghosts that have been seen by various guests in the establishment’s long history.

Opened in 1865, the site of the hotel was previously occupied by a mansion owned by the third Lord Foley.

Among the guests reporting paranormal activity were members of the BBC, who occupied the building for a period of time.

Guests reported having seen a grey-haired Victorian man said to be the spirit of a doctor who killed himself after murdering his wife during their honeymoon at the hotel.

Another ghost has taken the shape of a footman in blue livery from the 18th century.

The most famous of the spirits said to haunt the hotel is the ghost in Room 333, which was seen by BBC radio announcer Alexander Gordon in 1973.

According to his report, the spirit was dressed in Victorian attire, its arms outstretched and its legs cut off.

City of London Cemetery

The Grade I-listed landscape of London’s cemetery and crematorium dates back to 1856 and is the final resting place of some of Jack the Ripper’s victims, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that reports began flooding in of locals witnessing some strange goings-on at the location.

During the decade, people in the surrounding area reported seeing a bright orange light shining out of one of the tombstones in the cemetery’s western section, but investigations have failed to pinpoint any light source outside the grounds that could account for the occurrence.

50 Berkeley Square

50 Berkeley Square
50 Berkeley Square

Located in Mayfair, 50 Berkeley Square is an 18th century townhouse that was home to prime minister George Canning between 1770 and 1827, becoming known as the most haunted house in London after being mentioned in Peter Underwood’s book Haunted London.

Legend has it that the attic room of the building is haunted by a young woman who killed herself in the building, throwing herself from the window after suffering abuse, and it is reported that she has the power to scare people to death.

Among the tales told of the building is that of a maid who spent the night in the attic and was driven mad, dying in an asylum the following day, while a nobleman who stayed in the room was pronounced dead the next day.

Another rumor suggests a second nobleman was so paralyzed with fear after spending a night in the attic that he could no longer speak, and a sailor was found dead at the property after tripping as he tried to flee.

Climbing and Scrambling for Adventure Lovers in the Lake District
Lake District England

The Lake District offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the UK and provides an opportunity for adventure lovers of all ages to reconnect with nature.

For those searching for holidays that include a real sense of adventure, the Lake District is the ideal destination.

You don’t have to leave Britain to have a holiday fit for even the most daring of thrill seekers.

The Lake District offers plenty of climbing and scrambling opportunities, so if you have a head for heights, don’t hesitate to get involved.

Lake District England

Scrambling in the Lake District for Adventure Lovers

Scrambling is somewhere between walking and climbing. Scramblers can avoid busy routes up mountains by using climbing techniques and due to the use of these skills, it can be a dangerous pastime.

If you’re a beginner, take note of how certain scrambles are graded.

A grade 1 scramble is more like an exposed walking route but as the numbers ruse, you will definitely need the support of a rope.

Scrambles follow lines of weakness in the land, so if you’re unsure of how to start a route, look for the easiest way up, and take that.

If you’re meant to be on a low-grade scramble and the terrain suddenly becomes very difficult to navigate, it’s likely that you’ve veered off course.

The correct footwear is absolutely essential so choose boots with a stiff, inflexible sole.

These must be worn for scrambling even in warm weather, as they will protect your feet when finding holds in cracked rock and when loose rock falls on them.

For grade 2 and 3 scrambles, take at least 30 meters of role, HMS karabiners and some eight foot slings.

Top scrambling destinations in the Lake District include Leeming Farm in Penrith and More Than Mountains, encompassing several locations around Cumbria is for adventure lovers.

Bowder Stone Lake District England

Climbing in the Lake District for Adventure Lovers

There are plenty of climbing opportunities in the Lake District, and not just on indoor walls.

For climbers who wish to experience some outdoor action, it’s important to remember that most accidents occur due to climber errors.

Always check that the climber and belayer’s harness buckles are doubled back and that the knots are ‘tie-ins’, finished with backup knots. Never climb without a helmet.

It’s important to pay attention to your surroundings while climbing, as a loss of concentration can increase the likelihood of an accident occurring.

Experienced climbers should check out Little Chamonix in Shepherds Crag Borrowdale, Engineers Slab in Gable Crag and Troutdale Pinnacle in Black Crag Borrowdale.

Lake District England

To book your Lake District adventure lovers holiday and experience some real adventure, visit www.sllodges.co.uk

Denbighshire: Jewel of the U.K.

There is so much to do and see in the very historic area of Denbighshire.

The below Infographic is but a snap shot of places of interest and things for you to do on your visit to Denbighshire.

We encourage you to go online and download PDF’s about the history and significant places of interests within Denbighshire.

Welcome to Denbighshire!

Denbighshire Historical Places of Interest

What do you look for in the perfect travel destination?

Great food?

Charming accommodations?

Spectacular attractions?

Natural beauty?

If you’d like to experience all of these things and more on your next getaway, consider vacationing in gorgeous Denbighshire.

It’s the ideal spot for enjoying golf, charming beach side villages and some of the oldest historical sites in the entire U.K. Denbighshire genuinely excels at offering something for every traveler.

The key to making any trip truly great is outstanding lodgings. Fortunately, Denbighshire has plenty of diverse selections.

Most visitors can’t resist the opportunity for a stay in an authentic castle like Ruthin Castle or a grand estate such as Faenol Fawr Country House.

Even travelers hoping for something of newer construction will find plenty of great choices available.

These deluxe accommodations, and others like them, provide all the comforts of home in surroundings of unparalleled luxury.

Enjoy services at upscale spas and gourmet meals that are cooked to perfection.

Many of Denbighshire’s best restaurants source their food from local farmers, crafting a splendid feast that’s fit for a king.

You’ll need the hearty Denbighshire meals to keep your strength up as you explore the glorious countryside and the county’s many fascinating attractions.

There’s the Valle Crucis Abbey that dates all the way back to the 13th century and magnificent Bodelwyddan Castle with its museum, spectacular portraits and practice trenches from World War I.

Even more history is uncovered at the Llangollen Museum, which highlights local events of historical significance.

While Denbighshire’s history is truly fascinating, it’s natural attractions are utterly enthralling.

Gorge walking is extremely popular in the region, with participants taking their chances on an adventuresome journey through Denbighshire’s most challenging terrain.

Visitors who just can’t get enough of the gorgeous countryside also make their way to the Clwydian Range.

It’s been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and people come here to hike, paint or take stunning photographs.

There are also opportunities for whitewater adventures and some of the best fishing in Wales.

For a destination that’s sure to delight every member of the family, you can’t go wrong with Denbighshire.

This small Welsh county is big on charm and features so many things to do that you’ll probably want to return again and again.

From historical attractions to high octane adventures, Denbighshire is an authentic jewel in the U.K.

Holidaying in Devon Captures Hearts of Singles, Couples and Families

Holidaying in Devon
Holidaying in Devon

Holidaying in Devon – It’s time for a well-needed vacation, a real holiday.

If you’re looking for a break from it all and hoping to keep your wallet intact, then a trip to Devon should be on your itinerary.

It’s the place to go whether you’re on your own, with your significant other or with kids in tow.

It offers a wide range of choices to fill your days and nights, ensuring there is something for everyone at this preferred vacation destination.

Complete with gorgeous scenery, eco-friendly activities, games and sports, shopping and museums, it is the ideal vacation spot to escape from everyday life.
 
Alternatively, it’s a great place to meet people, who enjoy the same life experiences as you.
 
Whether you prefer to venture out on your own or meet like-minded individuals along the way, Devon is a single-traveler’s dream trip.
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park

Holidaying in Devon Romantic Getaway

According to the official Devon Guide, three of the top-rated romantic places to visit are Doone Valley, Dartmeet, and Bigbury Beach.

Located in Exmoor National Park, you can indulge in long walks throughout the picturesque countryside of Doone Valley with its eye-catching heather and its rolling hills.

Take a moment to relax by a river and view nature’s splendor in a special moment in time for you and yours.

If you go to Dartmeet in Plymouth, you and your sweetheart can lose yourselves in the vast expanse of Dartmoor National Park.

You can stone-step across rivers while listening to birds and viewing the vast array of flowers.

Lastly, consider visiting the southern coastline to take in what Bigbury Beach has to offer.

Woolacombe Bay
Woolacombe Bay

With its breath-taking views, it’s a beautiful area to take in an after-dinner sunset or a before-breakfast sunrise.

If it’s difficult to choose between these destinations, then take in all three.

You can make Doone Valley, Dartmeet, and Bigbury Beach into a romantic retreat for two for couples to travel together before marriage through the heart of this lovely county.

Family Fun

Devon is an exceptional place to engage the whole family.

There are numerous activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, fishing and cycling as well as watersports including surfing, canoeing, kite surfing and water skiing.

You can take the family shopping on Exeter High Street, and then treat the kids to an underground exploration of the passages below.

Not to be outdone for fun, one of the best caravan-holiday parks for families is Woolacombe Bay.

Your family can avail of caravans, apartments, lodges, or camping on your stay.

In addition, you can arrange to bring the family pet, since Woolacombe Bay is pet friendly.

Furthermore, there are age-specific activities for kids of all ages from toddlers to teens, such as arts and crafts, dance classes and pool-based fun including surfing simulators and water slides.

Woolacombe Bay also focuses on enjoyment for parents with spas, coastal walks, golfing, bowling and nightlife entertainment, including music concerts and comedy shows as well as disco and beach club parties.

If it’s family fun you’re looking for, you’ve found the perfect choice.

Overall, Devon captures the hearts of single travelers, couples and families alike.

If you haven’t had the chance to visit this majestic country, it’s time to book a trip.

What is it about Saint-Malo that tempts tourists to board ferries to France?

What leads them to cross the English Channel in droves?

Top Caravaning Destinations in Southern UK

For those who thought they knew the best travel sights in England, there’s more for caravan holiday travelers than meets the eye!

Caravaning and family holiday parks in South Devon have been popular for decades.

Today, budget-conscious families continue to find caravaning to be a better way to control holiday expenses.

Caravan rentals are available in family holiday parks in South Devon.

Fortunately, Southern England accommodates the popularity of family holiday parks with several locations in South Devon.

Family holiday parks are enjoyed by family members of all ages.

Top Caravaning Destinations in Southern UK
Top Caravaning Destinations in Southern UK

Top 5 locations for caravaning in Southern UK are:

  • Dawlish Sands
  • Riviera Bay
  • Golden Sands Dawlish
  • Landscove, Brixham
  • Waterside

Plan Ahead for a Family Holiday:

The first item on your travel itinerary should be to make arrangements in a family holiday park for caravaning families.

These usually include several deluxe amenities and conveniences.

Families can usually select a family holiday park package and cost for a caravan rental depends on the holiday package selected.

family holiday park
family holiday park

What amenities do you think would suit your family?

Holiday Fun For Everyone:

The next step is to choose one of the five family parks, whichever suit your idea of a fun holiday.

Children can enjoy the many amenities and activities to fill their holiday time.

Parents can relax on the beach while their children play.

A caravaning holiday at one of the five family parks will keep adults and children happily engaged in sights and sounds under an azure sky and bright sunshine.

A great example of this is Riviera Bay with its nautical nuances, large indoor pool, popular restaurant and entertainment mall.

Caravaning families may also enjoy Landscove, Brixham with its scenic beauty.

Nearby in Berry Head is the popular Country Park and Nature Reserve.

Southern England’s Beautiful Beaches:

Within the area of South Devon lie beaches that attract caravaning tourists regularly.

In Dawlish Sands, traveling families delight to the serene blue sea and warm golden sands that slope in the familiar British moor way.

In Golden Sands, Dawlish, there are two family holiday parks to enjoy and there are also several choices of caravans in this popular venue.

Southern England's Beautiful Beaches
Southern England’s Beautiful Beaches

All these locations offer entertainment passes for added holiday savings, make sure you keep an eye out for those.

If you prefer live shows, Waterside Family Holiday Park is a good choice, it earned a Caravan five-star rating among guests who have spent their family holiday here.

Stroll along the pristine beach or swim in the outdoor pool.

Exploring The Stunning Lake District, UK

If I had to choose the most memorable and beautiful place I’ve ever had the chance to visit in the British Isles, I automatically think back to a blissful summer spent exploring the stunning Lake District.

This beautiful area, known colloquially as “The Lakes”, is absolutely awe-inspiring.

Nothing can prepare you for the majesty and beauty of the natural scenery of Cumbria and it’s this wildness and sheer breath-taking backdrop that helps make the Lakes one of the ultimate countryside breaks in the UK.

Eden Valleys

Exploring The Stunning Lake Districts Eden Valley

We spent a few weeks travelling along its border, starting our trip through one of nature’s finest displays in Eden Valley – positioned with the Pennies to the East and the Lake District Fells to the west.

As it turned out Eden Valleys was the perfect starting point for an exciting and well-planned series of short UK sight-seeing trips which we intended to focus around Cumbria.

We soon realized there is one problem with holidaying here – there really is too much to do!

Make sure you plan carefully as unlike other holiday destinations there really is a lot to see that you may find you’ll need longer – perhaps a week!

Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike

Perhaps my favorite afternoon was spent scrambling around Scafell Pike, sometimes confused with the neighboring behemoth, Sca Fell.

From the top you can see for miles, the rugged mountain tops breaking up the horizon, the many glistening waters below, reflecting the moody sky and clouds.

Historic Houses and Lakes

Wordworth’s daffodil fields, The Fairy Steps, Lacys Caves and Hadrian’s wall all help give this stunning part of England an almost other-worldly, ethereal feel which can’t avoid warming even the coldest of hearts!

Apart from the beautiful walks and treks, a highlight of our time at the lakes was the visits we included into some of the beautiful historic houses in the area – Dalemain and Brockhole are both, most definitely, worth a visit.

Carlisle Railway

Carlisle Railway

My memories of Eden Valley include the ten intriguing, seat-like sculptures known as the Eden Benchmarks and a relaxing trip on the Settle to Carlisle Railway which allows you to take in the spectacular scenery.

You’ll be hard pushed to find anywhere more breathtaking on a summer’s day, when the sun sparkles on the clear waters and the hills seem to to roll on forever.

As you’re probably well aware, posts and articles focusing on romantic trips or any kind of short breaks in the UK, regularly highlight the beautiful surroundings and views scattered through Cumbria.

Memories of a summer spent travelling are always fond, but the few weeks we spent travelling around Cumbria’s lakes were magical.

Yes, the fantastic weather helped but ultimately it was the inspiring setting and unbelievably exquisite landscapes that keep the Lake District in my mind when planning other short UK breaks.

Once you’ve visited, it truly is unlikely you’ll ever want to go anywhere else again.

Things To Do In York England

When you think of England, what do you think of?

Narrow streets?

Medieval Architecture?

Dreaming spires?

Whatever it is, you should visit York – you’ll see a taste of it all, and so much more.

York England UK
York England UK

From the moment you step inside the city walls, despite all the signs of modern life, the shops, the traffic, you’re unmistakably somewhere else, somewhere older, wiser even.

One of the first things to do in York is to find yourself a place to stay – York hotels are many and varied, but you’ll want to be placed in the center to make the most of your time.

Here is a list of great things to do in York this summer, and also a few great things to do in York during the up-coming winter months.

Walk Along The City Walls

One of the most popular things to do in York, and a good way to orient yourself when you arrive, is to take a stroll along the city walls.

Dating back (in parts) to the Romans, these walls are the best remaining example of city walls in the UK, and encircle parts of the city center.

As well as getting a taste for the landscape in days gone by, you’ll get a feel for the dimensions of the city, and how modern York has developed.

It’s also just a great walk – the wind in your hair and the sun (sometimes) on your face, there are fewer more enjoyable places to kill some time.

Discover York’s History

Things To Do In York England
Things To Do In York England

Popping in to one of York’s many museums, you begin to appreciate why a city like York would need such impressive walls.

First the Romans, then the Vikings, then it was the center of the War of the Roses, York has been attacked, and attacking, for most of its history.

And you can see that heritage all around you. There’s the Jorvick Centre, the Castle Museum, the Dungeon.

When you visit York, a whole other historic world suddenly open ups.

Every nook and every cranny of this city seems to throw up a little vignette about the city’s history.

Party With The Students

But of course let’s not forget its future – York is after all, a university town, with a student population of approximately 15,000.

And of course those students need catered for, so around the university, you’ll therefore find a range of bars and clubs to ensure that, after an day exploring the sites, there’s plenty of things to do in York once the sun goes down.

Tour The City

River Ouse
River Ouse

But of course not everything about York requires you to be on your feet.

Explore the city by boat with a tour on the River Ouse, or pop on a tour bus and watch the city from the comfort on a double-decker bus.

In fact, the boutique hotel scene in York is enjoying something of a renaissance recently, so why not pop down to one of them and have yourself a little spa?

York was once the center of the national rail network (as explored in the city’s railway museum) so it’s fantastically easy to get to.

Just a few hours from London on the East Coast mainline, it also has regular, fast and direct connections to Leeds, Manchester, and Newcastle so wherever you are, there’s really no excuse – just go and enjoy the many things to do in York.

Things To Do In York – Nightlife Guide

There are many things to do in York, a city which can certainly be a captivating place to visit whether on a weekend city break or as part of a longer vacation.

However, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking that once the sun goes down that means the fun is over for the day.

Things To Do In York - Nightlife Guide
Things To Do In York – Nightlife Guide

In fact, York can be an even more illuminating destination at night-time and you will certainly not find yourself short of things to do and places to visit in the North Yorkshire city during the evening.

And if you’re keen to start off your evening with a few drinks and something to eat, York will certainly not disappoint.

Just outside the city is the Black Swan at Oldstead restaurant, which was awarded three AA Rosettes in January 2011.

As the only eatery in Yorkshire to be given such an accolade, this could be the perfect place for a spot of dinner before heading into York and checking out its various night-time attractions.

Most York hotels have a restaurant, however if you’re looking for a place where most of the tables in the bistro offer views of the stunning York Minster and have been given two AA Rosettes then you should try the Dean Court Hotel’s dining establishment.

York Minster
York Minster

Alternatively, the Biltmore provides a choice of two restaurants – one that serves contemporary French and English cuisine and the other that specializes in pizzas and seafood.

Should you be keen to check out some of York’s public houses, why not visit the Judges Cellar Bar?

Thought to be one of the oldest beer and wine dispensing cellars in the city, not to mention one of its last independent pubs, here you will be able to sample a variety of locally-brewed ales and hearty British cuisine.

Judges Cellar Bar is situated in an 18th-century grade one Georgian townhouse, built on the site of St Wilfrid’s Church, so a visit here means you may not only get to try some fantastic food and drink but also have something of a history lesson!

For an equally historic drinking experience, you might also wish to visit the Old White Swan pub.

Situated in a 16th-century building, the public house not only provides a range of cask ales for you to sup but also has regular live music and quiz nights.

As with many other drinking spots in the city, you can be sure of receiving that warm, friendly welcoming atmosphere that Yorkshire pubs are famous for.

York Nightlife
York Nightlife

But if you wish to really make a night of it, you can dance into the early hours of the morning in York’s numerous bars and clubs.

Many of these are open during the week as well as at the weekends, so whenever you decide to go on a holiday to York you can certainly have a great evening out.

If you prefer spending a night watching some live bands than you might wish to make Fibbers your first port of call.

Situated in Stonebow House, the venue regularly puts on gigs and club nights encompassing all kinds of genres of music.

The Duchess and Stereo are just two of the city’s other live music venues, so whatever your tastes there should be plenty of opportunity for you to get to a gig.

Meanwhile, a trip to The Basement on Sunday will give you the chance to take in some stand-up comedy.

York Theatre Royal
York Theatre Royal

If you’re something of a culture vulture, and would like to find some cultural things to do in York, you could be well advised to spend at least one evening watching a performance at the York Theatre Royal.

The Grand Opera House – which is situated a ten-minute walk from the train station – also showcases a wide variety of performances throughout the year.

Morecambe and Wise, Charlie Chaplin and Vera Lynn are among the big names to have trodden the boards over the years with many of the largest stars in the UK entertainment circuit regularly performing at the opera house to this day.

With so many things to do in York during the evening, you will certainly not find that you are bored during a holiday to York.

In fact, the range of attractions and activities on offer means that you may want to spend a few more city breaks in York just to take everything in!

Why Spend Christmas In Wales Beautiful Countryside

If you’re thinking about spending Christmas week somewhere exciting and beautiful or you’re looking for a short break away before Christmas, then Wales could be a great option for you.

We’ve highlighted just some of the interesting traditions, events and plus points of taking a Christmas cottage holiday in Wales.

Why Spend Christmas In Wales?
Why Spend Christmas In Wales?

Wales is a stunning region in summer but is even more stunning in Winter.

The snow covered mountains and hills create a stunning backdrop whilst gentle ice covered trickling streams and animal prints in the snow dominate the foreground.

The hills in Wales hold onto their snow for quite some time but remain picturesque throughout the season.

Why not consider renting one of the many country cottages in Wales and enjoying the fantastic beauty of Wales firsthand?

Welsh Christmas Traditions…

Wales really comes alive at Christmas and the Welsh really know how to enjoy the festive period – carol singing or ‘Eisteddfodde’ is extremely popular in many villages in Wales and can even be accompanied by instruments and dancing.

Taffy making is also a strong tradition, this chewy toffee is very popular with locals and visitors to the area and you should be sure to sample some on your festive visit to Wales.

Fantastic Christmas Events In South Wales…

Fantastic Christmas Events In South Wales
Fantastic Christmas Events In South Wales

If you’d like to stay in a bigger city or town for your Christmas holiday and join in carol singing in some of Wales’ best Cathedrals.

Not to mention enjoying a festive mince pie, then perhaps South Wales is your ideal Christmas location.

There’s plenty going on in both Cardiff and Swansea – so check out a few of the great events below:

Swansea’s Waterfront Winterland…

The Swansea Waterfront Winterland offers everything from a santa’s grotto to real ice skating, with a fantastic Christmas market also available for last minute xmas buys – everyone will enjoy this festive event and it’s the perfect  place to purchase some great Christmas Hampers.

Date/Time: 18th November – 8th January (10am – 10pm)

Location: National Waterfront Museum in Swansea

Admission: Free (individually activities priced as appropriate)

To find out more visit

The Traditional Christmas Pantomime…

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a Christmas pantomime and Wales has struck gold with Jimmy Osmond making a star appearance in Aladdin at the Grand Theatre in Swansea.

This show is going to be guaranteed fun for kids and adults alike! Let’s face it Christmas isn’t complete without traditional “oh no he isn’t” and “he’s behind you” comedy!

Date/Time: 16th December – 15th January (Showings at 2pm and 7pm)

Location: National Waterfront Museum in Swansea

Admission: Typical Tickets Prices – £21.50, £20.00, £18.00, £14.00, £10.75, £8.50

To find out more visit: http://www.swansea.gov.uk

Visit A Truly Welsh Christmas Gallery…

Do you need some inspiration for your Christmas gifts?

Then this event could be just what you’re looking for, local crafters will be putting together a truly exciting range of products to get you inspired to create one of your own Xmas Hampers.

They’re perfect for friends and family or perhaps you’d like to treat yourself to a beautiful Christmas gift.

This event is suitable for all ages and everyone is sure to enjoy seeing the delightful creations on display.

Date/Time: 11/12/11 – 17/12/11 (Monday – Saturday 10am-4pm)

Location: Corn Exchange Gallery, Guildhall in Cardigan

Admission: Free

Find out more here

Spend Christmas In A Cottage In Wales…

Getting away from it all and relaxing in a traditional holiday cottage in Wales is an excellent idea, with so many fantastic holiday properties available you’re sure to find festive Wales Cottages you’ll love.

Have you been to Wales during the Christmas period?

What did you think?

Exploring UK’s Top Christmas Markets

Throughout the month of December Christmas markets spring up all over the UK, and are the perfect substitute to a romantic European holiday if you don’t have the time or the cash to head over to the continent.

Lasting anywhere from a few days to 6 weeks these magical markets are a great place to find some unique gifts for your family, while you stroll through the stalls with a warm glass of mulled wine in your hand.

Is there any better way to do your Christmas shopping?

Edinburgh

Exploring UK’s Top Christmas Markets
Exploring UK’s Top Christmas Markets

If it’s variety that you’re looking for then head to Edinburgh, a city that’s known for throwing celebrations on a grand scale.

With 7 markets happening over November and December there is sure to be something to suit everyone’s taste.

For a taste of tradition look no further than the Highland Village Christmas Market at East Princess Street Gardens, where you’ll find local Scottish treats to eat, quirky clothes, and uniquely Scottish gifts.

Manchester

The Mancunians know how to celebrate Christmas big style, and with a Christmas market that has been voted as one of the top ten in the world you are unlikely to be disappointed.

Running until December 22nd, the Manchester market brings a taste of the continent to Britain with traders offering everything from Dutch cheese to Italian confections and everything in between.

Take your time wandering through the city center visiting some of the over 200 stall holders and being entertained by festive lights and music while sipping some mulled wine or British ale from your eco friendly glass!

Bath

Set in the shadow of Bath Cathedral, in one of the most historic cities in the country, you’ll find Bath’s award winning festive gift market. Heading into its 10th year of trading, this year’s market runs for 18 days.

More than 130 wooden chalets transform the streets of Bath into a shopper’s dream, and provides the perfect excuse to take a romantic break in a cottage and discover what the rest of the region has to offer.

Locally handcrafted items abound at this unique market, so you’re sure to find that extra special gift or ornament that will make this Christmas extra special.

London

In the middle of the hustle and bustle of London you’ll find a German style Christmas market, and you can enjoy this exceptional experience right up until Christmas Eve.

This Christmas season 60 chalets line the banks of the Thames between the London Eye and the Southbank Centre and offer something to warm the festive spirits of young and old alike.

This may not be the biggest market in the country but you can’t beat it for ambiance, with the scent of roasted almonds and spiced cider wafting through the air you just can’t help but feel the magic of the season.

If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay while visiting any of the UK’s Christmas markets, take a look at the self catering cottages offered – with thousands of holiday cottages to choose from they are sure to have the perfect option for you and your family this holiday season.

Where to go in the UK for a big celebration

UK for a big celebration… Weddings. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Family Gatherings.

These are just some of the celebrations that you can host in the locations we discuss below.

These venues will surely provide you with the accommodations and amenities required to plan an event that will be truly memorable.

Waterwynch House

With a sleeping capacity of 28, this venue is located in Tenby.

This palatial residence is set in the middle of greens, making it a relaxing venue.

The best thing is that it will provide you with direct access to a secluded beach.

There is also an expansive garden, which can be an excellent place if you are looking for a venue fitted for outdoor celebrations.

Inside the house, guests will surely be entertained as it has billiard tables, therapy rooms, and even a gym.

Click here for more information.

UK for a Big Celebration
UK for a Big Celebration

Stuckgowan

This holiday house in Scotland is in a dreamy setting, located in the middle of a lush forest.

It is equipped with 9 bedrooms and has sleeping accommodations for up to 21 people.

The 1820’s mansion is reflective of charming, old age exteriors, but the interior is contemporary.

One of its best features is a seven-seater hot tub, which is best enjoyed while sipping a glass of wine.

It also comes with a breakfast bar that can seat up to 14 people, allowing guests to start their day with a hearty meal and a heavenly view.

Thornbury Castle

Situated just about two hours from London, and half an hour from Bristol, this is another lavish UK venue that will be perfect for different celebrations, especially weddings.

This is popular because it is the only Tudor castle that also provides accommodations.

It comes with 28 bedrooms.

They have designed each bedroom with lavish interiors; most have four-poster beds.

It has a medieval architecture and a dramatic hall, making it perfect even for celebrations that exude elegance.

From the interior to the exterior, from the courtyard to the bedrooms, you can expect nothing but the best from this extravagant venue.

Lismore Castle

If you are planning to hold a special celebration in Ireland, this is one of the venues that should be on the top of your list.

The castle was built by King John in 1185, making it very interesting in terms of history.

It has a sleeping capacity of 27 guests.

There is also a banquet hall and being it can accommodate up to 75 people, it makes an excellent venue for a special celebration.

The best thing is that it is only an hour away from the Cork International Airport.

Carberry Tower

This 30-bedroom venue is found in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Aside from lavish bedrooms, it offers public spaces that are perfect for socialization.

The venue has its own marquee seating.

It can accommodate up to 180 guests making it the perfect choice if you are planning a large celebration.

The outdoor courtyard area will make an excellent place for a wedding.

You can use it to host year-round as well. For more information visit www.carberrytower.com.

These top 5 of the best places in the UK for a big celebration are all worthy of consideration.

Whatever your event, you and your guests will delight in your surroundings.

Best Luxury UK Cottages

Enjoy the tranquil ambiance provided by some of the United Kingdom’s most beautiful regions by staying in a country cottage.

Rather than spending a holiday cooped inside a stuffy hotel, renting a luxury UK cottage offers privacy and space for guests with the comfort of first class accommodations.

Book your next trip with the best luxury UK cottages throughout the UK.

Best Luxury UK Cottages
Best Luxury UK Cottages

Praaloha Sands Beach

Take a stroll on the mile-long white sandy beach in Praa Sands.

Located between the towns of Penzance and Helston in southwest Cornwall, Praa Sands makes for the perfect beach holiday.

If you have your eye on Praa Sands then the Praaloha stands out as one of the best luxury UK cottages in the area.

The Praaloha Sands Beach comes with luxury amenities like a heated pool overlooking the ocean and private beach-front gardens.

The spacious house has a total of five bathrooms, five bedrooms, two kitchens, and two sitting areas.

Bruern Holiday Cottages

Right in the heart of Oxfordshire sits Cotswold, a region of England known for its historical towns and charming countryside.

If you’re looking for a home away from home, and one of the top luxury UK cottages with a touch of leisure, then you’ll find it at the Bruern Holiday Cottages.

The community has 12 private, self-catering cottages, but guests still enjoy their own privacy and independence.

When you arrive, the kitchen has all the basics plus some nice cheeses, homemade desserts, and a bottle of bubbly.

Spend a holiday swimming in the pool, relaxing in the spa, or taking some air in the gardens.

Dipper and Otter Boathouses

Located in the remote and picturesque Scottish Highlands, the Dipper and Otter Boathouses are two luxury UK cottages perfect for a romantic getaway.

Both boathouses have breath-taking views of a loch by Kenmore near Aberfeldy.

The contemporary interiors have a fully stocked kitchen, living room, dining area, fireplace, and bedroom with luxury linens.

Take in the views from the outdoor deck or spend a cozy evening by the fireplace.

During the summer, you can take hikes, go sailing, or visit local historic castles.

Visiting in winter, you can go skiing or warm yourself by the fire.

Castle Hill Cottage

Wake up to the sounds of horses galloping in the distance at luxury UK cottages in Middleham.

Nestled between two rivers, Middleham is a small market town famous for horse racing and having the largest castle in Northern England.

The Castle Hill Cottage has two floors with a large dining room, fully-equipped kitchen, and cozy wood burning stove.

Just up the hill, you can visit King Richard’s 12th century castle.

Also within walking distance you will find many eateries and pubs.

The Forbidden Corner at Leyburn is just 3 miles away and includes a 4 acre garden with a labyrinth of tunnels and follies.

Honey Pot Cottage

The Lake District has become an attractive vacation destination because of its sparkling lakes and craggy hillsides.

It is also famous for inspiring many 19th century English poets and writers like Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth.

The 300 year old Honey Pot Cottage in Outgate near Ambleside used to be part of an estate within the copy hold of the Manor of Hawkshead.

Enjoy your evenings sitting in the outdoor terrace surrounded by honeysuckles or visit the pub and restaurant located just around the corner.

You are sure to enjoy your stay at any one of these luxury UK cottages.

Vacation in the UK and Attend the Edinburgh Festival

Vacation in the UK has always been one of the most popular tourist destinations, not only in Europe, but in the whole world as well. London, for instance, attracts millions of tourists every year.

Other parts of the country are also popular, although to a lesser extent.

Thinking of visiting UK anytime soon?

Keep on reading and learn more about some of the activities that will surely make your holiday fun-filled. Best Luxury UK Cottages

This is one of the best ways to have an immersive cultural experience.

Other than enjoying the line-up of the programs, this is an excellent opportunity to meet other people, socialize, or simply observe the locals as they enjoy their way of life.

It is a festival of art and culture, teeming with color.

For sure, you will fall in love with this festival as you witness various performances that showcase ingenious talents.

Vacation in the UK Edinburgh Festival
Vacation in the UK Edinburgh Festival

Go on a Food Trip in London

Without a doubt, London is the most popular among visitors of the UK.

Here, you will have plenty of options for eating.

From five-star restaurants that are run by celebrity chefs to authentic hole-in-the-wall eateries, the options are endless.

This is a city that will easily captivate the heart of foodies.

Whether you are looking for local dishes or international cuisine, you will have an endless selection when it comes to places to eat.

Visit Stonehenge

Known as one of the most iconic attractions in the UK, this is popular because of its ease of accessibility, especially if you are coming from London and Bath.

This prehistoric monument will allow you to explore the ancient Neolithic life.

One that you should definitely not miss would be the Stone Circle Access, which will provide you with an up close and personal experience of the attraction.

Do not forget to drop by Stonehenge Brewery and taste their fresh beers.

If you are planning a tour of England, visiting Stonehenge is definitely something to add to your itinerary.

Lie on a Beach in Cornwall

Cornwall is the perfect choice for anyone who is looking for a coastal destination in the UK.

Whether you would like to swim, surf, or just go sunbathing, there are plenty of options when it comes to beaches that you can enjoy.

The Watergate Bay is one of the most popular. Here, make sure to catch a filling meal at the Beach Hut Café.

If you want to learn surfing, on the other hand, Gwithian Towans is the perfect destination for you.

Gwenver Beach is a must-see for those who are looking for less crowded beaches.

Romantic Holidays Cornwall
Romantic Holidays Cornwall

Play Golf at St Andrews

Known as the Home of Golf, this is one of the most popular golf courses not only in the UK, but in the whole world.

The most popular part is the Old Course, but players will surely be in for a treat as there are ten other courses that can be enjoyed as well.

All of the golf courses are open to the public.

One of its biggest selling point is perhaps the stunning views that you can enjoy during tee times.

If you are lucky enough to be able to vacation in the UK, make time to check out these top destinations.

Most Popular Countries for British Expatriates

Whether they move for work, for retirement, to be with family, for a better climate, or simply because they’ve fallen in love with another country, there are millions of British expatriates who have chosen to live abroad.

While Australia remains the top destination for British expats, many chose to stay in Europe: Spain, Ireland, France, Portugal, Germany, and Italy are the most common countries to move to, and Hungary and Cyprus are two places that are rapidly growing in popularity.

Given the ease of online banking, transferring money online, and making international payments, it’s easier now than ever to move abroad.

Here are the reasons these countries are so popular with British expats:

British Expatriates Love Weather in Spain in Autumn

British Expatriates Love Weather in Spain in Autumn
British Expatriates Love Weather in Spain in Autumn

The Mediterranean climate and relaxed lifestyle here are the main reasons Spain is such a draw for expats, not to mention the delicious local food culture.

Whilst those living in the UK often dread the start of autumn and the slow, dark and dismal plunge into winter, those who live in the more southerly parts of Europe – including Spain – can still usually count on being blessed with very warm weather.

Rainfall in the UK during autumn can be significant, owing to excess condensation levels in the atmosphere.

Wind speeds can also soar due to Atlantic depressions.

The weather situation in Spain and other southern European countries, however, paints quite a different picture.

Average temperatures in some parts of Spain in October can be as high as 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Even an Indian summer in the UK generally boasts only around 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Besides, for those who had been hoping for an Indian summer in the UK, this year has brought nothing but disappointment.

The sharp divide between the two weather systems has not, however, been lost on many British citizens looking to take a break during the half-term holiday.
Weather in Spain in Autumn
Excessive Rain Sends Brits to Spain

According to car hire comparison site, Comparecarhire.co.uk, the unusually wet and stormy weather experienced in the UK during September led many more in the UK to take an autumn half-term break in countries such as Spain rather than staying in the UK.

Andy Hemmington, of Comparecarhire.co.uk, said that bookings for breaks abroad during half-term have been higher this year when compared with those made in 2011.

Hemmington also claimed that many holidaymakers have further been encouraged by the availability of cheap flights to Spain and other southern European destinations. He said:

“For some families the September storms have dampened spirits and driven Brits to book a break in the sun for half term.

The weather is still warm in Europe’s most popular holiday destinations in October, particularly when compared with the weather in the UK, so it still remains a busy period for the travel industry.

However, this doesn’t mean prices need to be high – there are some great deals out there to be had by holidaymakers.”

Hemmington went on to say that the availability of such cheap flights to Spain and other regions in the area is largely down to the fact that holiday companies are not able to command rates for holiday travel in autumn as high as they can during the peak summer months – when demand is traditionally much higher.

IRELAND

“Popping next door” is a popular choice with British expats, and although there a similarities between Ireland and England, (language, climate, pubs,) many find Ireland to be more friendly and more affordable.

France popular choice with British expats
France popular choice with British expats

FRANCE

Home to vineyards and beautiful cities — the south of France is the most popular destination for it’s sunny climate.

France vinyards
France vinyards

Expats raising children often cite France’s stellar education system as a motivation for moving.

PORTUGAL

Sunny skies and beautiful beaches are a draw for retirees.

British expatriates

If you’re not ready to stop working though, expect that your salary may not be as high in the UK. The good news?

The cost of living isn’t generally as high, so things will likely balance out.

GERMANY

Many move to Germany for work and stay for the lifestyle and education for their children.

France Cathedral
France Cathedral

German cities may have a higher cost of living, but also have a higher quality of living, and salaries here often accommodate it.

ITALY

With classic culture and unbeatable cuisine, it’s no wonder expats would chose to live here.

France

From Tuscan villas to Roman sublets, there’s no shortage of Brits living “la dolce vita.”

HUNGARY

It’s the mix of East and West that makes Hungary an attractive destination, especially in bustling Budapest.

Notre Dame in Paris France
Notre Dame in Paris France

The driving laws are tricky and the language is famously difficult to learn, but the history and culture here more than make up for these hassles.

CYPRUS

With high unemployment and a bailout plan that affects even expats, it’s wise to understand the financial situation before making the move to Cyprus.

For those who can manage it, living on this lovely Mediterranean island is its own reward.

Beach in France
Beach in France

(photo credit: 1 – 1 – 2 – Sheffield Tiger – Tim Green aka atoach – Pilot Theatre – deargdoom57 –  1 – 2 – 3 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 1,2, 3, 4 – Gems of the Mediterranean  – 1 – 1234 – 1, 2, 3 –1, 2, 3, 4 – buggoloSheep Purple – shining.darknesstimparkinson – Lee Jordan – sulokemathai – sharpneil – the yes man– star-one)

The Perfect Itinerary for a Long Weekend in Vienna

Long Weekend in Vienna

Updated:

Long Weekend in Vienna offers an exciting mix of imperial grandeur, cultural gems and lively nightlife.

It’s one of the great European cities and enchants its visitors with an endless list of attractions and iconic sights.

If you’re planning to visit for a few days, you’ll want to explore as much as you can.

For some inspiration, we’ve put together the perfect three day itinerary.

Long Weekend in Vienna
Long Weekend in Vienna

Long Weekend in Vienna

Visiting the city’s major sights and landmarks is a great introduction to Vienna, best done at the start of your long weekend in Vienna when you’ve got plenty of energy.

Sightseeing tours are an easy and affordable way to cram in as many activities as possible in a short space of time.

A bus tour departs daily from the city opera house with many stops along the way, where you can hop on and off at your own leisure.

One of the most popular attractions includes St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

This dramatic piece of architecture was started during the 12th century, but wasn’t fully completed until almost 300 years later.

It houses some precious works of art and you can even experience one of the daily church services.

The square in front of the cathedral, known as Stephansplatz, is a great place to relax and take the weight off your feet.

Marvel at the unique street performers or indulge in one the city’s most famous culinary delights, Sachertorte.

All of the cafes serve up this heavenly chocolate cake dessert with apricot jam, usually served with lashings of whipped cream.

It’s just the sugar rush you’ll need to continue with your sightseeing extravaganza.

From here, visit another spectacular feat of architecture, the Hofburg Imperial Palace which was built in the 13th century.

This opulent building has been home to some of Europe’s most influential royal families, and is now home to a museum which showcases a collection of imperial household objects.

Long Weekend Vienna Palace Monument Building
Long Weekend Vienna Palace Monument Building

Now you’ve got all the sightseeing out of the way, it’s time to enjoy a cold drink at one of city’s watering holes.

Some of the best can be found in the trendy area, Bermudadreieck.

It’s also known as the Bermuda Triangle, where patrons are known to get lost in the many bars, only to stumble out a few days later sporting a very bad hangover.

Of course, you can practice moderation at one of the many pubs which play live music into the early hours.

Long Weekend in Vienna Day 2

It’s now time to explore some of the city’s vibrant culture with a visit to some of its famed museums.

Located close to the Imperial Palace, you’ll find one of the ten largest cultural quarters in the world, Museum Quarter.

This sprawling complex is home to The Museum of Natural History, which has some impressive exhibits including fossils from the ice age and a digital planetarium.

Art fanatics will love an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art or the Leopold Museum—a treasure-trove of masterpieces including the largest Egon Schiele collection in the world.

Once you’ve got your cultural fix, you can enjoy a late lunch or early dinner at the museum’s hip and urbane Café Leopold.

During the summer, the terrace has stunning views over a picturesque courtyard.

In the evenings, the venue transforms into a funky hangout complete with DJ’s and a dance floor.

Vienna Heldenplatz
Vienna Heldenplatz

If you’re looking for something a little more refined, head to the Vienna State Opera House, which hosts a huge range of world-renowned productions.

With a different program every day of either ballet or opera, there’s plenty to choose from but be sure to book in advance so you don’t miss out.

Alternatively, head to the beautiful concert hall Musikverein for a night of classical music from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Long Weekend in Vienna Day 3

For the last day of your long weekend in Vienna, to get an authentic taste of Vienna, explore the city by bicycle, like many of the locals.

The city boasts over 1000 kilometers of bike paths and there’s plenty of tour operators providing rental.

It’s a great way to explore the old city and visit some of the attractions you may have missed on day one, including the Parliament building and the national theater of Vienna.

Be sure to stop at one of the street food stands or cafe which are common throughout the city.

Your trip won’t be complete without sampling one of the local delicacies, Käsekrainer.

This sausage oozes with melted cheese and is best washed down with a cold beer.

If you’re looking for a healthier option, head to the famed deli, Tongues.

Organic veg and locally sourced produce is at the forefront of their menu of hearty, healthful dishes for surprisingly low prices.

To finish your city break in style, why not treat yourself to a shopping splurge.

Mariahilfer Straße is the best spot—a mile of boutique retailers alongside sprawling department stores and high end designers.

Alternatively, pay a visit to the city’s largest open-air market, the Naschmarkt, to grab yourself a bargain.

There’s plenty of food stalls selling delicious produce or you can do your best to find an antique treasure.

It’s also a great place to find that quirky souvenir.

It’s now time to relax, enjoy one last slice of cake and reflect on your awesome break in Vienna.

Three days isn’t a long time to explore Austria’s capital but with this itinerary you can’t go wrong.

Images by jarmoluk, dantetg and Duroy.George used under the Creative Commons license.

Vienna Austria City Guide VIDEO

So the week started in Vienna, the beautiful, clean Vienna which to me reminds me of yummy cup cakes.

Some places are almost too pretty and perfect, like the huge Schönbrunn Palace and park with its perfectly cut lawn.

I could almost see the women walking around the park in the poofy, fluffy 18th century dresses – for me just like cup-cakes.

Nathan and I both have a MASSIVE crush on Austria – last time we were there we spent some time in the countryside, up in the alps, and we fell in love with the country straight away.

The snowy alps with year-round skiing, the green valleys and turquoise lakes, and Vienna with its amazing historical architecture.

The country brings you back to a romanticized past, and you don’t want to leave anytime soon.

More about our time in Vienna Video

Vienna Austria City Guide Video
Vienna Austria City Guide

Things to Do In Vienna Austria (City Guide)

On the surface Vienna is elegant, traditional, and slow moving – however, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that it’s also bohemian, trendy, and a place to party all night long.

Vienna’s elegance and tradition are centrally located in the Inner City, or more formally, the First District.

In its 3.01 kilometer of space you’ll find stunning architecture made up of palaces, museums, theaters, and churches.

Most tourists stay in this small area of Vienna to see the major sights, then head out thinking that’s all there is.

Pity, those people missed out on seeing what Vienna is really about.

To do that, you have to get out of the Inner City and head over to the districts that surround it.

There’s the Naschmarkt (meaning snack market) where to locals go to dine.

There’s the 7th district with its huge shopping street and bohemian flair made up of funky coffeehouses and local designers.

Even further out, in the 19th district, is a strong wine culture with vineyards in the city limits.

After a long day of touring the city, a round of all-night partying awaits in multiple pubs, trendy bars and restaurants, and dance clubs – Vienna is a versatile town that has so much more to offer than people think.

Dining Out in Vienna

The dining scene in Vienna has exploded over the last few years.

The city now offers cuisine from every part of the world to appease every budget.

Traditional Austrian cuisine is a rich, satisfying fare.

Go to Café Central or Bettel Student, both of which are in the Inner City, reasonably priced, and consistently good.

Eating at a würstelstand (sausage stand) is a must.

The best is in front of the Albertina Museum.

Order your sausage with a side of bread and an Austrian Ottakringer beer.

Vienna coffeehouses are an institution.

Go in the morning and order a Viennese breakfast.

In the afternoon go to Oberlaa for the best cakes in town.

If you’re looking for a more formal dining experience, go to Plachutta and order the tafelspitz.

Doing the Tourist Thing

Amazing Austrian Lakes – I really love this pic, it sums up the best memories of when we were in Austria in the spring time.

Amazing Austrian Lakes
Amazing Austrian Lakes

The Inner City contains almost all of the “must sees” of Vienna.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is in the middle of the city and the elevator ride to the top offers a nice view.

The Hofburg – Imperial Palace has multiple tours, but take the Imperial Apartments Sisi Museum tour due to its refreshing honesty about the famous Austrian Empress.

Vienna is the birthplace of the coffeehouse and The Sacher Café is the most prominent with its famous Sachertorte.

Pair the sweet torte with a strong cup of Viennese coffee and the sugar and caffeine rush will keep you buzzing for hours.

To see all the other sights ride the Vienna Ring Tram which is a good value.

There are two important sights outside of the Inner City.

The first is the Schönbrunn Palace.

It offers a 30 and 60 minute tour, but go for the shorter one and spend the rest of the time walking the beautiful gardens.

A little secret about the palace is that it has the world’s oldest zoo on its premises and is a great treat for families.

For hot summer afternoons when touring is done, find the public pool where the chic set of Vienna go to cool off.

The other sight is the Giant Ferris Wheel at the Prater.

Lines can be long and to be honest, it isn’t worth the wait.

Photo opportunities from the ground looking up at the wheel can be really nice though.

Vienna Shopping Demel
Vienna Shopping Demel

Off the Beaten Path

Get off the tourist track to start hanging out where the locals are.  Right outside of the Inner City is the Naschmarkt.

Put up with the crowds and walk at a slow pace to see all the exotic edibles on display.

Buy only nibble sized quantities as prices can be high.

To satisfy your hunger go behind the stalls to the diverse restaurants and dine with the Viennese.

Some of the places can be a good value like Tewa, which is stand 672.

On Saturdays the Naschmarkt expands to include Europe’s largest flea market.

It’s fun to poke through all the dusty knickknacks but the items are overpriced.

Note that the Naschmarkt is closed on Sundays and holidays.

From Naschmarkt walk to the bordering bohemian 7th district which is called Neubau.

Within a few blocks is Vienna’s biggest shopping street, Mariahilferstraße.

The usual suspects like H&M and Zara are present, but the department store Peek & Cloppenburg has a flagship location which offers the best shopping opportunities.

If you want something original, check out young designers on Zollergasse.

Then head east to hit the MuseumsQuartier to grab some culture, coffee, and just hang out.

Experiences & Events

Vienna is a great town to explore on foot.

The Vienna Sight Running tour is a unique experience if you’re a jogger or just need to burn off the Austrian sausage, beer, and tortes.

If the thought of jogging makes you woozy, dance away the night during Ball Season.

Vienna hosts over 450 balls each year and is one of the most authentic experiences a tourist can participate in.

They are a great way to get into sections of buildings that are normally closed to see dazzling displays of imperial interior design.

Despite the formal setting and a very strict dress code (men must be in tuxedos and women must wear floor-length gowns) balls are anything but stuffy.

Prepare for a long night of dancing, live music, and fun.

Vienna Austria
Vienna Austria

Tip: Balls vary in expense and experience.

The Emperor’s Ball is expensive and touristy so skip it.

The Opera Ball might be the most famous but comes off as tacky due to the media circus around it.

The Vienna Philharmonic Ball is the most elegant and despite a high ticket price, is absolutely worth it.

Most Viennese tend to flock toward the Flower Ball, Coffeehouse Owner Ball, and the Bonbon Ball due to fantastic locations and respectable ticket prices.

Vienna Nightlife

Nightlife in Vienna isn’t obvious even though the party week starts Wednesdays and on weekends goes all night long.

25 hours has a laid back bar with a DJ, good vibe, and cheap drinks.

There is nothing special about lutz except for the fact that it somehow manages to be a cool bar, but skip the club scene.

Sofitel is a very sophisticated bar that offers the absolute best view of Vienna.

To go dancing Volksgarten-Pavillon and Albertina Passage are the places to be.

On Fridays and Saturdays don’t show up earlier than midnight.

Getting There and Away

Vienna’s airport is small but efficient.

Ryan Air is a great, cheap carrier that flies to and from Vienna from other European cities.

Train travel is offered by the ÖBB but check out Eurolines first for great prices on clean, punctual buses with laptop plugs and sometimes WIFI.

Vienna, Austria – The Capital Of Café Culture

Nathan and I both have a MASSIVE crush on Austria – last time we were there we spent some time on the countryside, up in the alps and in the cities, and we fell in love with the country straight away.

Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria

The snowy alps with year-round skiing, the green valleys and turquoise lakes, and Vienna with its amazing historical architecture – brings you back to a romanticized past, and and a place you don’t want to leave anytime soon.

Vienna is the capital of Austria, and it’s also the capital of cafe culture.

Few places take their cafe culture as serious as Vienna, and out of all the museums, theaters and opera’s, the Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses) were the one thing I looked forward to revisiting the most.

The coffee house culture is a big part of Viennesse history and culture, and with well over 2,000 cafes in the city you have a lot to choose from.

Coffee has been served in Vienna since the 17th century, making the coffee houses some of the oldest in the western world.

There are all kinds of cafes, from traditional 19th century baroque cafes to modern or futuristic cafes.

Capital Of Café Culture
Capital Of Café Culture

Personally I really loved the traditional cafes, where the waiters are dressed in dinner jackets, the interior is in dark wood and red garment, and with an atmosphere so cozy and welcoming that people sit for hours on end reading, writing and trading gossip over a cup of coffee.

In Sweden – where I’m from – coffee culture is also very important, and in my family we’re brought up to have “coffee breaks” (fika) with cakes at least once a day – so perhaps that was why I really enjoyed how Vienna had not only preserved their old coffee culture and traditions, but truly valued it.

Since I used to work as a barista I know a bit about coffee, but in Vienna I was lost!

The list of coffees to order was endless, and there were some that I had never even heard of before.

Schönbrunn palace
Schönbrunn palace

A must try are the Viennesse cakes, especially the famous Sacher torte.

If not for the taste, then for its history, the Sacher torte has become one of the most famous cakes of Vienna and cafes in town have fought each other for decades over the most ”original” Sacher Torte.

But it’s not all about cakes and coffee in Vienna, the city itself looks pretty like a cake.

The Schönbrunn palace with its gigantic manicured gardens, Burg Theater and Hofburg palace made it easy to dream yourself away a few hundred years back and imagine what things were like then, with Mozart sipping a coffee in a corner cafe, and empress Sisi walking around the gardens of her palace.

Vienna is for the indulging and dreamy type people – in other words, perfect for me… how about you?

Making The Most Of Austria Guide
Making The Most Of Austria Guide

Making The Most Of Austria Guide

Austria is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, with its magnificent Alpine landscape and beautiful villages scattered over the country, not to mention the beautiful cities Salzburg and Vienna.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time in Austria…

Hang out in the Coffee Houses

With its historical buildings, castles, opera houses and theaters, Vienna is a very special city, art and classical music fans especially enjoy it.

But the best way to really get to know the culture is to sit down at one of the many coffee houses with a cup of coffee and one of the famous Viennese cakes like Sacher Torte.

Making the Most of Austria take a hike
Making the Most of Austria take a hike

Vienna has one of the oldest cafe cultures in Europe, and the coffee houses are one of the most important places for the locals to meet, relax and hang out.

Take a hike

The nature in Austria is absolutely stunning, and in the Alps there are plenty of opportunities for enjoying the nature to the fullest.

Summer, late spring and early autumn is perfect for hiking, while you can enjoy some of the best skiing in Europe during winter.

With countless hiking trails, you have a lot to choose from. Some hikes can last for several weeks, while others a day or just an hour.

It’s up to you and what you want to do.

If you just want to take a nice and easy walk and explore the nature, there are many opportunities to do that too.

Stay At The Sound of Music Hotel

Salzburg with its musical festival is a big draw for visitors.

It is also the location where most scenes in the classical movie “The Sound of Music” was staged, and today you can even stay in the very same house that used to belong to the Von Trapp family which the movie is based on!

These are just three of many things to do in Austria, we hope you enjoy your time in this beautiful country!

Things To Do in Vienna Austria

Vienna is such a romantic city, not only does it have the most romantic history, but with so many white buildings, picturesque coffee shops, wineries, beautiful parks and old castles it makes this place perfect for a romantic weekend – even for budget travelers.

Staying in Vienna is cheaper than most other capital cities in western Europe, and there are some great hostels around.

We booked a hotel room for 18,5 Euro per person (which is cheaper than the price of an average dorm in Europe – if you want the name of the hotel, just ask in the comments below), and got great value for the money.

Things To Do in Vienna Austria
Vienna Austria

Things To Do in Vienna Austria Things To Eat

There are some great local delicacies to try in Vienna the Capital of Austria, and you can probably spend a whole weekend going between cafes.

Here are a few of the must-tries:

Viennese Cakes

Vienna is famous for its delicious cakes.

The Sacher Torte is heavenly, and you can try these little dreams in Aida Café Konditorei.

It’s a cafe pastry chain which serves the most delicious cakes, and the environment couldn’t be better – pink, sweet and fluffy decor all around!

Viennese Coffee

Vienna is world famous for their coffee, and you simply won’t get enough of it.

Try their coffee in the typical old fashioned cafe Hawelka or Kaffe Alt Wien.

Here you’ll experience more of the authentic Viennese style cafe with smokey dark wood, and they have kept the old Viennese coffee customs.

Another old cafe in traditional style is Kleine Kafe. Just remember to order the coffee in Viennese style: “Ein kleiner brauner” (Viennese coffee with milk) or “Ein kleiner schwartzer” (back Viennese coffee).

Viennese Wine

Vienna is the world’s only big city with a significant wine industry, with over 700 hectares of vineyards.

You can try the Viennese wine in many bars and restaurants in town.

Viennese Cheese

Austria and cheese go hand in hand, and the cheese is simply amazing.

There are quite a few local tiny markets around, but the Naschtmarket is a bigger and the most famous one.

There you can try heaps of different samples before you choose your favorite cheese – trust me you will find it…

Things To Watch in Vienna

Art, music and culture have a long history in Vienna, and many of the world’s best artists, philosophers, musicians and composers hung out here.

If you want to get an even deeper understanding of the city and get a more broad view of the place, visit an opera, theater or musical show.

This also really enhances the experience of being in Vienna and walking among the same buildings the musicians got their inspiration from – the connection between the city and music is so clear!

Choose between the world’s best classical orchestra; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the many amazing theaters, or why not a typical Viennese operetta?

There are people dressed up in cloaks and costumes on the streets selling concert tickets, sometimes you can get better deals with them if you’re good at bargaining. 😉

Things To Visit in Vienna

Long Weekend Vienna Palace Monument BuildingSt Stephen’s Cathedral

If you’re going to see one church in Vienna it ought to be this one.

It’s a beautiful Romanesque Gothic cathedral with colored tile roof and nice details.

If you get up in the tower you can get a neat view of Vienna.

Schönbrunn Schloss

This big palace that today is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site, used to be a summer house for the monarchs in the old days.

The history of this place dates back all the way to the 17th century.

It has a huge sculpted garden with a maze and botanic flowers.

Coming here you get a sneak peek into what the rich people’s lives were like in the old days.

This is a big tourist attraction so either book a tour in advance or count for a long time in line to get in.

Walking Around Vienna

Just walking around Vienna and looking at impressive buildings is half the fun of being there, the buildings give such a romantic touch and it feels like you’re stepping back in time a few centuries.

I really recommend you to put on some comfortable shoes, bring a map and start walking.

In the central area there are heaps of nice buildings to see:

  • The Parliaments building
  • Vienna Rathaus
  • Hofburg
  • Volktheater
  • Opera
  • Natural History Museum
  • The Stadt park (with over-the-top looking statues)
  • Burgtheater

Pretty much every shop is closed on Sundays, so these days are perfect for some museum touring and simply walking the streets.

If you cook your own food, make sure to buy all you need the day before – it can get pretty hard finding an open supermarket on Sundays – trust us, we spent hours doing this.

Innsbruck Austria Capital Of The Alps!

What was supposed to be a comfortable 1.5 hr train ride through the Alps to Innsbruck, instead turned out to be a 5 hour train ride in the wrong direction.

Because of an avalanche on the track the train had to take a ridiculously long way around, going in the completely wrong direction (via Munich).

The train we would be taking instead also got canceled, and 2 hours later we were still at the same station, wishing we would have hired a car for the day instead.

When we finally arrived late in the afternoon we were absolutely exhausted, but as soon as we walked out of the train station, our mood lightened up:

Many cities don’t live up to your expectations, so we usually try not to have any at all, but when it came to Innsbruck we couldn’t help but to expect something great – and I’m happy to say that Innsbruck definitely lived up to its reputation…

Innsbruck Austria Capital Of The Alps!Innsbruck Austria Capital Of The Alps!

Innsbruck Austria Capital Of The AlpsInnsbruck has everything any other typical city has: an Old Town, museums, tourist attractions and incredible churches – but there is one thing that makes this place stand out from most other cities in the world: The Alps.

Known as the capital of the Alps, Innsbruck is one of the largest ski resorts in the Alps, giving you the best of both worlds: a vibrant city-life and stunning nature.

No matter what direction you look, majestic snow-capped mountains dominate the view, giving you access to 7 ski fields and a great free ride park in winter, and in summer plenty of walking trails along with one of the best mountain bike tracks in Europe.

You don’t really realize how close the ski fields and sport opportunities are until you see people in their full ski gear walking down the main street, on their way to the slopes.

Innsbruck Austria ViewsInnsbruck Austria Views

The abundant nature and beautiful mountains surrounding you makes it impossible even for the most stubborn of urban people to resist the urge to get up high.

Innsbruck is all about the views, and there are plenty of places to get them; Bergsiel ski jump, the City tower and Nordkette are just a few of them.

We took the Nordkettenbahn up to the ski field, sat down in the sun chairs and embraced the view.

There is something about getting above a city and seeing it from a distance that truly makes you appreciate it, and getting a look over the endless number of mountain peaks reaching out to the horizon, makes you feel very small.

Innsbruck Austria Cupcake Buildings & Other Yummy Sweets

Innsbruck Austria Cupcake Building Painted in pastel colors of green, yellow, pink and blue, the buildings reminded me of cupcakes, and the white fluffy decorations made the icing on the cake.

Walking around the warren of cobble stoned streets in the Old Town, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a coffee and cake in the sun at an outdoor seating was a great way to spend a day in the city.

Talking about coffee, Austria has one of the oldest cafe cultures in Europe, and the cakes are to die for!

While the cafe culture really derives from Vienna, it’s flourishing in Innsbruck as well.

The famous cafe in Vienna which invented the Sacher torte can be found in this city too, and on the opposite side of that cafe is another cafe specializing in what Austria is perhaps even more famous for: the strudel…

Innsbruck Austria CupcakeInnsbruck Austria Cupcake

We stuffed ourselves full of different types of strudel (there is more than just apple flavor!), ice cream and cakes until we couldn’t take another bite, and then continued exploring the streets of Innsbruck.

In many ways, Innsbruck reminded me of my home town, which is probably why I felt so “at home” there.

It is hard to pin-point exactly what it was that reminded me of Gothenburg, but I think it was the relaxed and friendly vibe, one that you find more often in places that are larger than towns but smaller than cosmopolitan cities – a vibe that you find in places like Innsbruck.

Innsbruck Kicked Us Out … Where To Next?

After spending 1 month in Innsbruck we realized the city didn’t want us hanging around anymore – it was kicking us out!

Having to take care of thousands of new students desperate for a place to stay, Innsbruck simply didn’t have time to deal with us as well.
Innsbruck Kicked Us Out
So after two full weeks of apartment searching, we decided that while we really liked the city, it just wasn’t meant to be.

Apartments were taken within hours of being put online.

The students were desperate for ANYTHING!

We were not …

This photo was taken in a small village in the Austrian alps.

And is living proof that places like in those old fairy tales still exist today – we loved the outdoor lifestyle there and could hardly leave – Sound Of Music anyone???

Living In The Austrian Alpssmall village in the Austrian alps

We didn’t want to share a room in someone’s home, or pay €1500 extra just to get hold of an apartment – so we have decided to move on, or more precisely, we’re moving north into the wild..!

Ok, perhaps that was a “little” exaggerated, but the place we’ve decided to move to is one of those places you would like to find yourself in when the rest of the world falls apart – so what better place to spend the end of 2012 than in Norway? ;P

Norway is a country we both have been longing to see more of, and we’re looking forward to see if it really is what everyone always claims; the most beautiful country in the world.

Having found a great 2 room apartment in Trysil (Norway’s biggest ski resort) located only 3 mins from the slopes, we decided to just go for it and spend the next 6 months in Norway.

That’s the blessing and the curse with being able to be wherever you want – a blessing because you can do whatever the hell you want, but a curse for the very same reason.

The students in Innsbruck HAD to make it work, we didn’t – so we moved on.

Sometimes, having too many options makes it more difficult than if there was only one way to go.

Getaway with Skyscanner Innsbruck Austria

After our trip to Bergamo in Italy, we continued with Skyscanner to Innsbruck in Austria, our final destination – Innsbruck is an old city surrounded by the Austrian alps, and it really is the perfect city for a wonderful weekend getaway!

Check out our video from a day exploring Innsbruck below:

Getaway with Skyscanner & Going Full Circle

After Portugal, we continued for a 4 day weekend getaway with Skyscanner to Bergamo, before continuing to our “final destination” Innsbruck, Austria.

Flying “Everywhere”

We often find it very time-consuming looking for good flight deals, especially when it doesn’t really matter where you go, only where you travel from.

We experienced this problem again earlier this summer when looking for a flight from Asia to Europe – it didn’t matter where in Europe we ended up, as long as we got there.

Back then we didn’t know that Skyscanner had this “Everywhere” feature where all you had to do was to enter the destination you flew from, and they would find the best deals to destinations all over the world from your airport.

We spent days searching airport to airport to compare the prices, something which would have easily been done in a few minutes with this feature.

This time around, we tried the feature for the first time, and found a great deal to Bergamo, and from there continuing to Innsbruck.

Perfect!

Getaway with Skyscanner Innsbruck Austria
Getaway with Skyscanner Innsbruck Austria

Bergamo – Going Full Circle With As We Travel

It was kind of funny that Skyscanner would be taking us to Bergamo, because this was the first city we traveled to when we first started As We Travel over 2.5 years ago.

Arriving in this gorgeous city brought back a lot of memories from that time, when we had barely enough money to get by, and when As We Travel was nothing but three blog posts and a hope for a better future.

Our journey from where it all began has been long and crazy, and we have treasured every moment, so it was really incredible to be back where we started.

But walking along the streets we both had that strange feeling when a period of your life is about to end, and a new one about to begin.

Everything in our lives have worked in threes – every 3 years, our lives have changed and started going in a new direction.

We have the feeling that things are about to change once again, that we’re about to take a different turn, and our blog will change with us.

Kind of scary, but very exciting at the same time!

weekend in Bergamo

Travelers Settling Down

After our weekend in Bergamo, we continued with Skyscanner to Innsbruck, a stunning city which everyone who visits instantly falls in love with.

With dramatic mountain peaks surrounding you in every direction, a beautiful old town, outgoing people and the most delicious pastries, it’s hard not to love this place.

In fact, we liked it so much we decided to try and settle down to live there for the next six months.

If there is one change we know will happen with As We Travel, it’s the way we travel.

We need to slow things down, stay in places for longer, or simply settle down and take smaller trips from there.

Traveling full time is an incredible experience, but it certainly has its downsides.

Salzburg – It’s More Than Just About Mozart

There are two things associated with Salzburg: the all-time classic movie “The Sound of Music”,  and the legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – and while “The Sound of Music” has some epic scenes shot in Salzburg, and Mozart really fits into the spirit of Salzburg, there is more to this city than just that.

Nevertheless, Mozart is a big part of the city, so let’s start with the influences he had on the streets and history …

The Mozart Obsession

Salzburg is known as the city where Mozart was born and raised, something which they’re eager to point out: with streets named after him and statues built of him, the whole city breathes Mozart.

Salzburg - It's More Than Just About Mozart

His childhood home and the house where he lived later on in life are both attractions to visit (Mozarts Gebursthaus and Mozart Wohnhaus), as well as streets, bridges (Mozartsteg), squares (Mozartplatz), buildings and statues (Mozart Monument).

These however, aren’t the only things named after Mozart – there is even a special sweet dedicated to the composer: Mozartkugeln.

Literally translated to “Mozart balls” (not even kidding!), this tasty treat is a specialty of Salzburg and a must when visiting the city.

With a ball of pistachio in the middle covered in nougat and a chocolate coating on top, this chocolate candy melts in your mouth.

The Mozartkugeln can be bought everywhere, and you usually won’t have to walk more than a few meters down the road until you see a shop filled with Mozartkugeln in different packaging.

But while the shops with the brightest windows might look the most inviting, they usually sell them much more expensively, so if you want ‘more balls for you buck’ just get them at the supermarket instead.

The Old Town

Salzburg’s old town is small, charming and quite confusing.

The narrow, winding streets are like a maze, but part of the fun is to get lost in them and just explore the little alleys, many squares and cafes dotted along the way.

Salzburg’s old town

The beautiful world famous baroque architecture of the Old Town really adds to the atmosphere and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Two streets not to miss are Goldgasse and the Getreidegasse – Gold Gasse is a small, narrow lane well-known for its antique shops, galleries and book shops.

With medieval and baroque buildings lined along the curving street, it looks very picturesque.

Salzburg’s old town

Getreidegasse, also known as Grain Lane, is another beautiful street in Salzburg, and dating back to Roman times it’s one of the oldest in Salzburg.

What makes this street so pretty and unique are the many creative wrought iron signs that hang above each shop.

Each sign illustrates the profession or business of the shop, an old tradition that was used in the days when most people were illiterate.

These signs can be seen all over the Old Town, but no street has as many and as beautiful signs as Getreidegasse – this is also the street where you will find Mozarts Gebursthaus, the house where Mozart was born.

Today it’s a popular museum devoted to Mozart and his family.

Some other great places to visit are Mirabell Gardens (with the quirky dwarf gardens) and Salzburg Castle which provides amazing views over the city and surrounding valleys.

Eating and Drinking

Mozart balls aren’t the only sweets Salzburg has to offer – in fact, for the sweet toothed there is something much bigger – and crazier – on the menu.

Salzburg’s signature dish is a dessert called Salzburger Nockerln.

It’s one of the strangest desserts I’ve had, and I can’t quite describe what it tastes like – only that it kind of disappears in your mouth.

Always made in a portion large enough for two, the Nockerln is a sweet puffy soufflé made of egg yolk, flour, sugar and vanilla, mixed into a big dough with stiff egg whites that is then baked under low heat in the oven.

Often it’s served with raspberry sauce in the bottom of the plate.

Mozart balls aren’t the only sweets Salzburg

Some places that serve Salzburger Nockerln are Zum Mohren (used to have guests such as Mozart and Franz Schubert), S’Nockerl (a new modern restaurant) and St. Peter Stiftkeller (who claim to be the oldest restaurant in Europe, dating back to year 803!).

For drinks, Salzburg has some excellent beer, with many cute little bars and breweries around town.

The oldest brewery in Salzburg is the Stiegl’s Brauwelt, the largest privately owned brewery in Austria which also houses a beer museum.

Dating back to 1492, the brewery has seen many people pass through its doors to enjoy a pint of beer.

According to Mozart’s sister Nannerl, even the composer drank at the Stiegl’s brewery.

In August 1780, Nannerl wrote: ‘… at 3 o’clock the three of us went to the Stiegl brewery to watch a game of skittles…’ – still to this day they deliver their beer barrels with horse drawn carriages to the local pubs in Salzburg.

These are the things we enjoyed most about Salzburg on our visit – have you visited?

Exploring A Hidden Ice Palace in Hintertux Glacier

A few weeks ago we spent the weekend skiing and exploring Tux-Finkenberg and Zillertal 3000, a huge ski area which includes the Hintertux Glacier.

Deep underground only 200 meters from Hintertux Glacier’s highest point at 3,250 meters above sea level, is the spectacular natural glacial crevasse aptly named “Nature’s Ice Palace”.

Discovered by mere chance by Roman Erler in 2007, the underground crystal chambers, corridors and ice galleries hold many mysteries and questions that are yet to be answered, such as just how old the ice really is and for how long the crevasse has been there.

More importantly, why when other glaciers in the world continuously move and change shapes, does this crevasse not seem to change much at all?

Hintertux Glacier
Hintertux Glacier

Roman who guided us around the narrow corridors and sparkling rooms excitedly told us that hopefully this year they will finally find some answers to some of their many questions.

As we slowly made our way past enormous ice stalactites and glacial lakes, the narrow winding tunnels would suddenly open up into huge rooms with the most amazing ice formations.

The largest room and one of the highlights of the tour was the “Ice Palace”, with an impressive height of 15 meters and ice crystals with up to 7 meters in length!

Hintertux Glacier Ice Palace
Hintertux Glacier Ice Palace

The twisting, crystal clear ice stalactites were even more beautiful as they reflected the colorful lights that lit up the rooms and caves, giving the underground Palace a mystical atmosphere.

With -26 degrees and arctic winds outside, the Hintertux Glacier Ice Palace felt warm and cozy in comparison, since temperatures in the caves always stay around 0 degrees no matter how cold or warm outside!

How & When To Visit Hintertux Glacier:

The Ice Palace is open all year round, and is a perfect activity for gloomy days

There are two tours to choose from:

Regular Tour: 45 minutes, at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30 and 15:00. Admission is €8 for adults and €4 for children under 8 years.

Grande Tour: 70 minutes, following the regular tour schedule except for at 2.30 pm and 3 pm. Admission is €16 for adults and €8 for children.

You can do the tour in your ski boots, but it gets a bit slippery at times so if possible it’s better to bring a good pair of walking boots.

Website: http://www.hintertuxergletscher.at/en/experience/natures-ice-palace.html

Spring Skiing in Zillertal 3000, Austria

With over 245 kilometers of slopes covering 900 hectares, the Ski and Glacier World Zillertal 3000 is a huge playground for ski and snowboard lovers – and we had two days to make the most of it.

Our first ski destination was the Hintertux Glacier: an area known for its year-round skiing and an altitude of up to 3,250 meters, it’s one of the best glacier skiing regions in the world.

When Peter, our ski guide, met up with us in the morning and warned us about the 26 degree minus temperatures waiting for us on the glacier, I first thought he was joking.

Minus 26 degrees?

Is that even possible in March?

Then Peter turned to me and said “You’re Swedish, you’re used to it!”

Skiing in Zillertal 3000, Austria
Skiing in Zillertal 3000, Austria

My hopes weren’t very high, but Nathan assisted with some pep-talk: “if you expect it to be cold, you will feel cold.

Don’t think about it and you won’t feel it”.

Maybe I fit the stereotype of a cold-tolerant Swede better than I thought, or maybe Nathan’s advice actually worked – but when we finally got onto the slopes, I was surprised to find that it really wasn’t that bad.

Spring Skiing in Zillertal
Spring Skiing in Zillertal

Nathan’s beard was covered in ice crystals, and my nose was running like a leaking tap, but we didn’t care – the important part was that we were back on the skis, and that was a feeling we both had been longing for all season.

And what better place to get back on the skis than at the Hintertux Glacier and do your first run from 3,250 meters above sea level?!

Bluebird Day at Zillertal 3000

The next day we woke up to clear blue skies and a view of white, snowy mountains from our window.

Our ski guide Peter was excited:

It’s the best day we have had all season!

Perfect weather, perfect snow.

It could not get any better than this!

And it really couldn’t: it was the perfect bluebird day with fresh snow, clear skies and a bright sun warming our happy faces – this was the true meaning of spring skiing!

Skiing in Zillertal Austria
Skiing in Zillertal Austria

Getting up on the mountain, overlooking the breathtaking views over the alps and sunny peaks surrounding us in every direction, I felt like a child bursting with excitement.

Looking around me, I was reminded why I love the mountains so much – there is something about the never-ending views and feeling of being in the midst of nature that can’t be compared with any city in the world, no matter how great it is.

Trying to cover three mountains in one day (Eggalm, Rastkogel and Penken) would seem impossible, but Peter knew the mountain so well he could probably do it blindfolded if he had to.

Peter showed us around everywhere, and in just a day we had skied in pretty much every area – including the steepest ski run in all of Austria: Harakiki…

With an average incline of 78%, it was by far the toughest slope I’ve ever done.

Austria Harakiki
Austria Harakiki

By the end of the day my legs were shaking and burning with lactic acid – happy but exhausted from hours of skiing, we rounded off the day at the local aprés ski bar Hexenkessel with a few cold beers and some good old Austrian Oompah music.
Vienna is a city that cherishes its past, and its landmarks and tourist attractions prove it.

Yet there are amazing things to see and do in the capital whether you’re a history buff or not.

From astonishing architecture and impressive monuments and museums to wonderful parks, entertainment venues and even rather unusual sites, Vienna has a lot to offer to keep you busy for days.

What to see in Vienna

Here are just a few of the top things the Holiday Taxis team suggest you see in the Austrian capital.

Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace was once the imperial palace and the seat of the Habsburgs until the end of the World War.

It was built in the 13th century. Get a glimpse into the life of the Habsburg dynasty by visiting the museums the majestic building now gives home to.

They were the incredibly powerful family that ruled the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Hofburg Palace Vienna Palace Monument
Hofburg Palace Vienna Palace Monument

You will get to see the Imperial Apartments, the Imperial Silver Collection, and the Sisi Museum.

You will also learn about the history and traditions of the imperial court.

The quickest way to the palace is by taxi but you can also use public transport.

The Stephansdom Crypt

Located in the heart of the Austrian capital, the majestic St. Stephen’s Cathedral attracts tourists from all over the world that come to admire its dark, grand architecture.

But below its stone floors lies something far darker and more striking: an underground tomb that gives home to the skeletal remains of more than 11,000 people, as well as the hearts and intestines of emperors, queens and princes.

The place is certainly not for the faint of heart, but those looking for more unusual experiences will certainly want to see the Stephansdom Crypt.

The entrance to the crypt is through as stairway on the left side of the main floor, but the crypt can be accessed by guided tour only.

Prater

Whether you’re looking for some light-hearted entertainment after visiting the spooky crypt or you want your adrenaline levels to jump even higher, you absolutely have to visit Prater.

With ghost trains, roller coasters, carousels, and Ferris wheels, as well as a planetarium and relaxing park areas, Prater is sure to give you a great time no matter your mood or preferences.

What to see in Vienna Brunnenmarkt Market

The Brunnenmarkt

Located in Vienna’s 16th district and boasting over 170 stalls, the Brunnenmarkt is the longest street market in Europe.

Every Saturday, numerous traders come here to delight the locals with their produce.

You can find quite a few of them during weekdays as well.

The market is rich in fresh food.

There’s an excellent array of fruit stalls, lovely flowers, delicacies and seafood, and arts and crafts.

Brunnenmarkt is a gem.

It’s not very well known by tourists.

You may have to change multiple public transport means to get there but it will be worth it.

To ensure you don’t get lost along the way, ask for exact directions or get a cab to drop you off right there.

Art History Museum

One of the very best art museums in the world, the Art History Museum in Vienna is quite close to the Louvre in terms of the grandness and amount of works is hosts.

The building itself is absolutely marvelous.

The collection of European and Egyptian works here is a must-see.

They have also honored famous artists like Rembrandt, Rubens and Bruegel.

While the museum is open to the public most days of the weeks, it’s best to visit on a Thursday.

This will grant you get the opportunity to enjoy a fine dinner on the cupola rotunda.

To get a better grasp of the Austrian capital’s unique culture and explore other important cultural attractions close to the Museum, you might one to embark on one of the organized art tours offered by local operators.

Why Tourists Find Exploring Vienna by Bike Fascinating

Exploring Vienna by Bike: At the turn of the 20th century, cycling was building momentum across European cities.

As automobiles became the dominant means of transportation, bicycles started to lose their ground, only to re-emerge victorious in the 21st century, hovering across the paved streets of the eco-metropolises of the world.

Go Green Go Cycling like is Amsterdam, with its iconic half a million bicycles roaming its 400 kilometres of bike paths, provided by nearly 150 bicycle shops and owned by 75% of residents, has become an inspiration for London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona.

Vienna, Austria’s capital and largest city, is following suit and taking great pride in its bicycle-friendly practices.

Vienna is also one of our 10 Best Countries for Vegetarian or Vegan Travel.

And, Barcelona is one of our 50 Summer Vacation Ideas for Family Travel

If you’d rather avoid the hustle and bustle of the city, Exploring Vienna outskirts have tremendous appeal to bikers, most of whom are flocking from all over the world to see what all the fuss is about.

Exploring Vienna by Bike

Mödling and Wienerwald

Of itself, Vienna doesn’t offer much of a bicycle infrastructure, but when you picture it with its neighboring towns, which have started to merge with it over the years to create suburbs, an entirely new world of possibilities emerges.

Mödling is south of Vienna, nestled within the Wienerwald, or ‘Vienna Woods’, in a forest called ‘Föhren’ (‘Pine’ in German), which is composed almost exclusively of umbrella black pines.

This forest has become a natural reserve and has been dubbed ‘Naturpark Föhrenberger’, a name which has acquired some notoriety among peddlers. But not just any kind of peddler.

This is a haven for those ambitious wheelers with mountain biking skills, because its many windy bike tracks are quite challenging.

Whenever you’re tired, you can stop by one of the mountain huts scattered across the domain, to catch your breath.

For those with an inclination toward less demanding exercise, there are various other activities.

Among its many meadows, the reserve is happy to offer tourists the wonderful Perchtoldsdorfer Heide, a delightful oasis of grassland where you can stop for a picnic and rendezvous with the delightful and mischievous ground squirrels over a backdrop of tall pines.

If you’d like to delve into a bit of Austrian history and you don’t mind the ‘walk’, look for tracks toward Lichtenstein Castle and the Husaren Temple.

If you’re of a more sociable disposition, you can mingle with Viennese residents vacationing at Kaltenleutgeben, a small town in the district of Mödling.

Mark Twain once lived here, and the town was a popular destination for hydrotherapy enthusiasts in the 1800’s.

To reach Mödling, simply take a train from Südbahnhof station.

National Park Donau-Auen and Lobau

The National Park is a well-established cycling route in the environs of Vienna.

It stretches between Vienna and Bratislava and it preserves Central Europe’s last wetlands.

As its name suggests, the park straddles the Danube.

If you’d rather walk than hike, or cycle instead of mounting, then you’ll probably appreciate visiting the former hunting lodge and mountain resort of Charles and Zita, Austria’s very last imperial couple.

At Eckartsau Castle, you can take a cyclist guided tour, roam around the marked walking paths lacing the castle grounds, take in the grandeur of the vast Schlosspark with a panoramic view at the observational hut, or follow ‘Kaiserweg’, the ‘Emperor’s Path’, to get a feel for imperial life.

To start your journey at Lobau, take the U1 underground to Kaisermühlen, and from then on, either cycle or take the bus.

From Lobau onwards, it should be plain sailing, especially as you have the guided tours in Donau-Auen.
Exploring Vienna Austria by Bike

Tulln to Klosterneuburg

Start the day with a train ride from Vienna to Tulln and do a bit of sightseeing before you head on cycling along the River Danube.

Tulln an der Donau is such a fresh and green town, literally brimming with parks, that it has been dubbed ‘The City of Flowers’, or Blumenstadt.

Admire the Bibelungen-Brunnen fountain, erected in celebration of Attila the Hun’s proposal to Gudrun.

Visit the Egon Schiele Museum and the Minoritenkloster convent, and then start your cycling tour along the Danube.

As the town is surrounded by flatland, this is a brilliant location for a leisurely stroll on your bike.

Nobody would think any lesser of you if you returned to Exploring Vienna by train, but if you’re up for another 5 kilometres on the bike, you should find it a smooth ride back.

Wachau

The biker’s Shangri-La, Wachau is a 35-kilometre stretch of valley along the River Danube, between Pöchlarn and Krems.

You can take your entire family to Wachau, as the elderly and children alike find this trip to be quite gentle.

B&Bs will be scattered across the track, and since it should take a few days to leisurely cycle through the Wachau area, it may be best to stop, recharge your batteries and take advantage of their amenities.

Most accommodations will offer locker boxes and repair facilities.
Vienna Austria Bike Lane

Exploring Vienna by Bike

If you’d like to give central Vienna a try, you may find the city’s approach to cycling to be quite appealing.

Recent projects have set out to link the city’s residential areas together by cycle track.

Traffic lights give priority to cyclists and warn them of incoming vehicles.

The second largest shopping street is being turned into a car-free area, with shared pedestrian and cyclist access.

For city breaks to Vienna fans, cycling tourism could be a valid alternative to taking a bus tour.

Not only are most streets currently too narrow for the traffic flow and permanently jammed with vehicles, but urban planners are expecting the situation to worsen.

Policy-makers are starting to grow weary of the ‘one person, one car’ attitude of modern-day living, and their plans for the fastest-growing city in all of German-speaking Europe are taking a different direction.

In reality, it would be a shame to visit this lovely city by bus tour.

Driving past Beethoven, Albert Einstein, Gustav Klimt and Schindler’s house, the United Nations headquarters, the Danube Tower and other historical landmarks without being able to stop for a decent photograph that you can show off to friends and family kind of defies the whole reason for a city trip.

Many of Vienna’s top sights offer bicycle access, so you can wonder around Vienna’s maze of streets at your own pace, knowing that wherever your bicycle takes you, you’ll be able to park it and get on with your day.

Why not take your bicycle to Schönbrunn Palace and stroll across the gravel paths of the enchanting and vast Schönbrunn park?

Visit the Sisi Museum, the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Schönbrunn Zoo, or Vienna’s 5.3-kilometer long Ringstrasse with monuments and landmarks scattered throughout.

Leave your bike in a safe parking area and take the fiakers, the Viennese two-horse carriages, on a short ride through the city centre.

If you’re lucky enough to have your loved one by your side, try the romantic ‘porcelain ride’, the steady coach journey used in days of yore to transport porcelain.

Return to your bikes feeling refreshed and pampered and carry on with your journey across the city.

Whichever way you like to travel, know that the ‘City of Music and Dreams’ is anxiously waiting to show you why it was first awarded the title of ‘World’s most liveable city‘.

There are few sights in this world that are as enchanting as the skyline of Donaustadt at dusk.

You don’t have to attend a Viennese ball to get a feel for what life in Vienna is like.

Just hop on your bicycle and ride to the Hundertwasserhaus to see how quirky and creative the Viennese truly are.