Here you will find city and country guides to European destinations, travels tips for traveling Europe and practical information about Europe as a whole as well as individual countries.
Our aim is to share fun, engaging articles based on our own experiences to inspire people to explore all corners of Europe!
As We Travel is based in Europe and the authors are experienced European travelers who have traveled to over 35 European countries.
Whether you’re looking to go sight seeing or looking to do specific activities such as going on a yoga retreat in Europe, here, you’ll find helpful information on things that you need to prepare before your trip to Europe.
It also gives a list of things that you should and should not do while traveling.
Europe Travel Experts
With its rich heritage, beautiful scenery, and iconic infrastructures, Europe has been a favorite summer destination spot for tourists.
Before embarking on a European tour, you need to research well on the places that you want to visit.
For starters, you can read through this short intro to traveling in Europe.
Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe – In today’s connected world, it’s more important than ever before to be able to access our network at any time.
Fortunately, these days we have plenty of different options.
You can still use your cell phone while traveling to Europe if you plan properly and use all of the tools at your disposal.
One word of advice: don’t just use your plan without speaking with your provider.
You could rack up hundreds, or even thousands of dollars in roaming fees.
Avoid sticker shock with your next phone bill by being smart and planning in advance.
A lot of travelers prefer to use their own cell phone while traveling to Europe, and some even like to bring their other mobile devices for email, communications, watching videos, browsing the Web and so on.
The good news is, it isn’t that difficult to use your smartphone in Europe (or Traveling to Asia) to access the Internet, make calls or text.
The simplest and most practical option is to use a European SIM card, and you can get these from various European mobile carriers.
In most cases you’re going to have to unlock your phone so it can use the SIM card from other carriers.
The majority of US smartphones are locked, and you may want to get in touch with your mobile company for assistance on unlocking it.
If you’d rather unlock your smartphone yourself, download software that unlocks smartphones and use their codes to unlock your device.
There are several services like these available online and the process is fairly straightforward: pay the fee, provide some info about the phone on the website, and the service will email you the code to unlock your mobile.
Once your phone is unlocked, you can look for a SIM card in mobile phone stores, electronics counters and in some cases, vending machines.
These SIM cards cost anywhere from 4 to 8 euros, and they don’t come with any commitment or contract.
If you want a SIM card with data access good for a month, expect to pay around 13 to 25 euros for the card.
Before you buy, take a look at your smartphone and make sure that the card is compatible.
Some mobile devices like the iPhone use a different type of nano-SIM card, so make certain the card fits your phone.
Talk to the clerk and check the rates for calls and to and from the European countries you will be visiting.
Once you’ve got a SIM card that works with your smartphone, ask the store personnel to install it and do a test call.
Turn your mobile on, enter the PIN and if necessary switch the language to English.
Don’t forget to record the PIN number and ask how to check the credit balance.
In some European countries your SIM card may have to be registered along with your passport for security reasons.
Follow the instructions and after an hour or two you’ll be able to use it.
If you run out of SIM, you can get one in any mobile phone store and tell the salesperson how much credit you want.
The clerk is either going to give you the credit over the phone or you will be given a voucher with instructions.
Charging Your Cell Phone in Europe
One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking that you’ll need a costly voltage converter to charge your mobile.
In fact, the majority of mobile devices, tablets and laptops have battery chargers that can work on 220 volts used in Europe and countries in the world, as well as 110 volts (the US).
Cell phone chargers can work with different frequencies from 50 Hertz to 60 Hertz.
Unless your mobile device specifically says to use a converter, don’t use it because it could actually damage your mobile because it already has a converter.
If you want to know if your cell phone has dual voltage capabilities, read the words on the charger.
If your cell phone has dual voltage you will see something like “Input 100 – 240V, 50 – 60 Hz.”
If your mobile phone is dual voltage you still need to use a plug adapter, but not a voltage converter.
Before going on a trip, you have to keep in mind that all countries have their own electrical system, and that will determine what type of plug adapters you have to use.
In Italy for instance, the majority of outlets are compatible with two round prongs, but bathrooms have three-pronged grounded outlets.
If necessary you should purchase a multi-country plug adapter if you’re not sure which type of adapter to use.
Better yet, you should research the plug adapters that are used in the countries you’re going to visit.
Thanks to the Internet, this should be easy, and if you’re not really sure you can always send an email to the website and get clarification.
If you’re only going to bring a cell phone a single adapter will do, but if you’re bringing a laptop, tablet and other devices, it’s best to have several adapters as your hotel room might only have a few electrical outlets available.
In some cases you also have to plug an adapter into another before you can use it.
For instance you can put plug a two-pronged adapter onto a three-prong European adapter to make it work.
No matter how many plug adapters you buy, make sure the plug fits in properly.
A hotspot will enable you to log into the internet without using local WiFi.
If you want to browse the internet safely and rapidly, a mobile hotspot is really the best way to go.
Many accommodations offer Wi-Fi for free, but in hotels there is usually a fee.
The Wi-Fi signal also varies, as in some places it’s great and in others it is less than ideal, which is the reason why many prefer to get a data plan.
Generally speaking, the speed is almost always good enough to send email and browse the web, but it’s not as reliable for watching HD films or video.
If you have a dedicated data plan however this won’t be a problem.
All these prepaid cell phones can take advantage of Wi-Fi wherever they’re available, and in most cases your best bet will be a café, and Starbucks and McDonald’s also have Wi-Fi.
You can also get Internet access in popular tourist destinations as well as city squares, some public transit hubs and even trains and buses. In some cases you will need to register and get the network password to gain access.
As you can see you can use your cell phone while traveling to Europe in many ways.
With a good data roaming plan plus free Wi-Fi in certain locations, you should have no problem keeping in touch with those around you anywhere they are.
And if you have a prepaid cell phone and need more minutes, you can easily buy more airtime from companies like Recharge.com.
There was a time when using your mobile device and cell phone while traveling to Europe was expensive, but with all the options now available you can save money without compromising signal quality.
TEP Wireless vs Skyroam VS Keepgo When Traveling to Europe
One of the first things that you need to consider before embarking on your next whirlwind vacation to Europe is how you will stay connected.
There are plenty of providers out there, but TEP Wireless, Skyroam, and Keepgo are the top three choices.
Let’s explore TEP Wireless vs Skyroam VS Keepgo when traveling to Europe.
Keepgo is a fan favorite these days and it’s easy to see why.
It offers 4G service that can be used on any corner of the planet, and you can access Keepgo through a variety of different devices.
Get Keepgo SIM cards for your existing smartphone or smartwatch, or use one of their hotspot devices.
The data is a little bit on the expensive side, but it is always reliable and you can access it from almost anywhere in the world, making Keepgo a great option for business travelers.
If you need less connectivity and are worried about your pocketbook, the prices might be a little too steep for you!
ASWETRAVEL KEEPGO offer: 10% off when you use the coupon code ASWETRAVEL for every AsWeTravel.com customer. Internet in 100+ countries. Multiple operators per country. Data SIM card, WiFi Hotspot, Smartwatch SIM. Keepgo
In the battle of the hotspots, Skyroam clocks in at more affordable but less speedy than Keepgo.
It’s a great option for those who want to make sure that they have the internet at their fingers, but don’t necessarily need top speeds.
With coverage spanning the world, Skyroam will relieve you from the hassle of having to tap into unreliable or insecure WiFi when you want to hop online.
It’s a legacy player for a reason, and has amassed something of a cult following since it first came onto the scene!
The only real downside is that you won’t be able to get the speeds that you would with a company like Keepgo.
If you need service for business purposes, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
TEP Wireless has hotspot devices that work with your smartphone or watch.
You can also buy or rent a Teppy device, which acts as its own mobile hotspot and lets you get internet anywhere.
You can also rely on local WiFi for your internet usage.
Use caution when selecting which WiFi options you will tap into.
Try not to put in too much personal information, especially passport numbers, and don’t access banking data or other sensitive websites when you’re tapped into public WiFi.
Assume that everyone can see what you’re doing because that is probably the case!
There are plenty of chatting apps that allow you to communicate with loved ones back home.
Skype, WhatsApp, and Messenger are just a few options!
Public WiFi could be a good option for people on shorter trips who just need a little bit of internet!
My Favorite FREE iPad iPhone Travel Apps for your Cell Phone While Traveling to Europe
FREE iPad / iPhone Travel Apps – I’ve had my iPod Touch for about two months now, and I’m falling helplessly in love with it more and more every day.
It’s my personal assistant, I use it for just about everything.
From reading books, storing recipes and workout exercises to converting currencies, booking hostels and checking the bus/train timetables.
I suppose you could call me an ‘iPad NERD’ – if there is such a thing…
Yeah, I admit I have also found some awesome applications which ONLY work for the iPhone, so I won’t lie and say I never wish I had one of those as well – but then again I like my cellphone, it’s pink!
Anyways, today I am going to share with you the best FREE Travel Apps out there right now!
An application that finds you the best deals by searching through every hostel website, all over the world.
You have Hostelbookers, Hostelworld etc. all in one place.
From here you can book your stay from anywhere.
I love it, very easy and simple.
If you are an avid HostelWorld fan and just want to book through them, they have their very own application for you to book your stays.
With this on your iPod you’ll never have to carry another of those brick-like-heavy books in your backpack ever again!
You can download hundreds (probably more) of books for FREE on your iPod (yes, in all genres).
Finds many outdoor activities (walking, mountain-biking, skiing etc) for you to do, anywhere in the world
Shows countless types of knots and how to make them step by step, a skill that can be crucial to know when hiking through the jungle etc… trust me – you never know when you’ll need it!
Scenic Drives in the UK – It’s no secret that the UK has some of the most beautiful landscape, and together with its long history and charming culture it’s an amazing country to explore. The best way to make the most of your time is to explore the country by car, as you simply can’t reach and experience many of the best gems by train or bus – and many drives are worth the trip alone for vacation in the UK
Where to begin when planning on traveling to UK and want to make the most of it?
When planning your travel schedule, you want to maximize your time there.
Our Traveling to UK articles, with their easy-to-read format, will inspire you.
Find what is most interesting to you, depending on how long you have on holiday in the UK. England Travel Guide
Traveling to UK
It may seem overwhelming to decide between visiting England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Maybe you will be lucky enough to have time to visit all the countries in the UK.
Once you narrow it down, you get to decide what to do in each country.
Learn about infamous sites as well as out of the way places.
Get a real feel for areas in the UK, including topics such as where to go if you have one day in Liverpool; fun ways to enjoy Wales; the best beach towns in the UK; child-friendly things to do in London; exploring Scotland, and much more.
Travelling for a Good Cause in the UK
Travelling for a Good Cause and Combining volunteer work with travel has boomed in the last decade, and most people refer to it now as ‘voluntourism’.
If you’re visiting the UK anytime soon, there are a lot of opportunities to give back to the community while enjoying the country.
The UK’s is a stunning place to visit, and you can explore it on foot as you participate in a charity event.
Travelling for a Good Cause in the UK – (image: Pexels)
• Work with well-respected non-profit organisations and not companies that use volunteerism as a marketing ploy • Beware of scams like ‘orphanage tourism’ which use children as tourist attractions • The longer the involvement in a community, the better and more sustainable • Plan your travel around the organisation’s schedule • Don’t be afraid to ask the charity how they’re spending your donation, and survey the local community if the impact of the volunteer work is actually promoting their welfare • Don’t post pictures of children on social media • And lastly, fully immerse yourself in the community
Living like a local not only provides a more authentic experience, it also enriches your perspective of the world and encourages you to give more.
Scenic Drives in the UK Cornwall
Here are The Best Scenic Drives in the UK
Scenic Drives in Cornwall
Named one of the world’s most beautiful drives by National Geographic, Cornwall has everything it takes for a scenic drive; rugged coastline, whitewashed seaside villages, lush green countryside and Celtic ruins.
The long and winding road along the north Cornwall coast known as the “Atlantic Highway” is a must, where you drive through some of the country’s most dramatic coastline.
Bedruthan Steps, Constantine Bay (B276) and the lighthouse at Trevose Head are three of the highlights along the way.
The Scottish Highlands
Scotland is beautiful at any time of the year, but I found autumn to be absolutely spectacular.
The landscape almost looks like it’s on fire in a hundred shades of gold, and early autumn (such as September) are also some of the drier times of the year in this otherwise very wet area, so I highly recommend going there then!
The drive from Loch Lomond to Glencoe is especially beautiful!
Keep in mind however that many of the roads in the Highlands are curvy and tricky and not for the hesitant driver.
You can use “Carole Nash routes to ride page” to find popular routes and the levels of difficulty for each route (as well as where to find petrol stops).
Lake District is one of the most popular destinations in the UK, and was the inspiration to many of the country’s best known romantic poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth.
The Lake District has to be one of my most favorite places in the UK.
The lakes are surrounded with beautiful green fell land, a spectacular array of Flora and Fauna and with an air of tranquility that could calm even the most stressed of soles.
It’s easy to see why it’s been labelled as an area of outstanding natural beauty and receives hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
For a truly scenic and memorable drive, take the circular route which begins in Kendal (on the A5284) and passes through Ambleside, Keswick and Windermere, taking in the variety of lakes to be found in the area.
The 30-mile stretch (A591) between Kendal and Keswick is one of the most beautiful drives in the district, as it’s the only road that runs through the heart of the National Park, passing meadows, peaks, the famous Grasmere and five lakes.
The drive from Penrith to Haydon Bridge (A686) has been named one of the best drives in the world by AA Magazine, thanks to its wild nature and scenic views from the Hartside Top Cafe (on a clear day you can see as far as Scotland).
With an estimated 22 million visitors per yeat, the Peak District is said to be the second most visited national park in the world, after Mt Fuji.
Even those who have never been there are very familiar with the beautiful landscape if they’ve ever seen the movies Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice, which were filmed there.
This area is full of history and charming British culture, with lots of picturesque village and spectacular landscapes.
UK’s Most Scenic & Interesting Drives
When it comes to beautiful scenery and stunning vistas, the UK has much to offer drivers.
From the spectacular lakeside scenery of Cumbria’s Lake District, to the visual feast of Dover’s white cliffs and everything in between, there are many scenic drives awaiting you.
If you fancy getting into your car and heading off on a road trip within the UK, here are my top drives to excite your eyes:
Black Mountain Road (Powys, Breacon Beacons National Park)
Arguably one of the most stunning drives to be found in the UK, a short but beautiful 5 mile stretch running through the Black Mountain Range and giving drivers elevated views of the surrounding countryside.
The Breacon Beacons National Park in it’s own right is well worth a visit if you want to experience some of the UK’s best scenery.
At its highest, the road reaches 1,617 feet above sea level and there are of plenty of places to stop for some truly spectacular photos.
Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.
With many a quiet and solitary glen, loch’s galore and scenic roads a plenty, the Highlands should definitely be on your wish list.
After all, who hasn’t heard of Loch Ness (and the Loch Ness Monster)?
There’s plenty to see and do; castles and forts, fascinating hydro-electric power station’s and dams, and scenic road after scenic road awaits you.
To really experience the changing scenery from bustling city to isolated wilderness, take a drive from Glasgow on the A9, through to Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.
The Snowdonia National Park contains some of Wales’ most spectacular scenery and many picturesque villages can be found whilst you wind your way through the area on its scenic roads.
The mountains of Snowdonia provide a majestic backdrop to the coastal scenery – an area that has been shaped by the activity of humans over countless millennia, it is classed as a semi-natural wilderness that over time, has become steeped in legend and myth.
The Snowdonia National Park was created in 1951 with the sole aim of identifying ways to preserve and promote the wild beauty of the area and weave the context and the threads of the lives of people who have lived there, with the myths and legends that have been passed down through the ages.
Any visit to the area can be enhanced by some knowledge of the myths and legends, tales of mortals and immortals, giants and goblins and other fables passed down through the mists of time.
Here we list some places to visit and link them to the myths and legend that are associated with them…
King Arthur is perhaps the best known legendary figure associated with the area.
There is a stone on the bank of Lake Barfog near Betws y Coed that is said to bear the footprint of Arthur’s horse Llamaraii that was made during a notable event when Arthur and his horse dragged a monster from the depths of the lake.
Other lakes that are linked to the Arthurian legend are those of Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen.
All of them at one time or another have been thought of as prime candidates for the location of the magical sword Excalibur.
If you ever find yourself at the summit of Mount Snowdon you might ponder the fact that King Arthur has been there before you when he fought a battle to the death with the giant Rhitta; a fearsome warrior who used the beards of his enemies to make a giant cape for himself.
Arthur killed the giant at the summit of the mountain and had his men bury the corpse under a cairn of huge stones.
A search for Merlin might take you to Bardsey Island off the coast of the Llyn peninsula.
A place that many people think could be the mystic land of Avalon.
The magician Merlin, a key figure in Arthurian legend is thought to be buried there in a glass coffin.
At the Southern end of Snowdonia stands the iconic mountain of Cadair Idris.
It has three peaks; Llyn y Gadair (Head of the Chair), Cyfrwy (the Saddle) and Mynydd Moel (the Bare Mountain).
Legend has it that this is the seat of Idris the giant.
There are three large stones at the base of the mountain that Idris is supposed to have kicked down the mountain when he got angry.
Legend has it that the lakes surrounding the mountain are bottomless and locals say that it is haunted and that anyone spending the night there will end up going mad or … becoming a poet.
Rhys and Meinir
This is a very sad legend based around Nant Gwyrtheyrn where it is said that cousins Rhys Maredudd and Meinir Maredudd fell in love and were due to be wed at Clynogg Church.
During their courtship their favorite meeting place was under an old oak tree in the valley between the farms they were each brought up on.
In those days the bride had to hide from the groom’s friends until once found she gets escorted to church by them.
After searching and searching they never found Meinir and so went on to the church expecting her to be there but she was not.
She had obviously found a very good hiding place. In the event, she never did turn up to church and wasn’t found.
A distraught Rhys took to walking the countryside with his dog Cidwm.
One night a storm broke when he was out looking for Meinir and he took shelter beneath the old oak that used to be their favorite meeting place.
A huge bolt of lightning hit the tree and split it in two to reveal the skeleton of Meinir still in her wedding dress.
Rhys was so shocked he dropped dead.
His faithful dog Cidwym lay down beside his body, went to sleep never to rise again.
If you are considering heading for Snowdonia, these are just a few of the places you might like to visit to get a feel of this amazing area that has inspired not only these legends but many more besides.
To experience the best North Wales has to offer, why not start your journey at Conwy Castle on the coast and make your way through the winding A & B roads, passing through Snowdonia (why not stop to take the Welsh Mountain Railway to the summit of Mount Snowdon), the beautiful village of Betws-y-Coed and travelling on to the spectacular tourist village of Portmeirion (once used as the film set for The Prisoner).
Cheddar Gorge (Somerset)
Cheddar Gorge (Somerset)
The second greatest natural wonder in the UK, Cheddar Gorge is a spectacular cleft in the landscape caused by melt water flooding during the last ice-age.
The scenery is quite literally other worldly as you drive on the B3135 that passes through the gorge.
Also home to a spectacular cave system and visitor center (definitely one to bring the kids along for), it’s well worth a drive through the gorge to take in the 27 cliffs, steep green slopes and variety of wildlife to be found there.
Top Scenic Bicycle Routes in England
England is a fantastic country to see by bike due to its varied and mostly flat terrain, lush countryside, and the preponderance of pubs and cafes along the paths.
From lazy family outings to serious ascents, England’s cycle paths have something to offer everyone.
Here are five scenic bike routes where you can experience the beauty of England.
hile some will take more than one day to complete, cycling portions of them is also rewarding.
C2C or S2S
Whether you call it the Coast to Coast or the Sea to Sea, this 140 mile (230 km) route connects the Irish Sea and the North Sea, and traditionally starts and ends by dipping your bike’s wheels in water.
C2C or S2S
Riding east to west is recommended, as the wind will be in your favor.
Moody moors, old mining towns, green valleys, and the dreamy Lake District are featured along the way, and make this a rewarding, and challenging, trip.
Isle of Wight
The 62 mile (100 km) route around the island is easier if completed in a clockwise direction, but with plenty of paths and shortcuts to explore the interior of the Isle of Wight, cyclists are free to make up their route as they go.
Choose between scenic coastal views and charming country lanes, or tackle the hills out of Shanklin’s Old Village.
There is an annual cycling festival held in early autumn, which provides great information and entertainment for biking enthusiasts.
London to Cambridge
The 60 miles (96 km) between London and Cambridge is the final leg of the British portion of the Tour de France, and can be ridden in either direction.
Often used for charity rides, this route winds through the flat, scenic, countryside, although it does begin to climb as you near Cambridge.
Riding out, exploring the ancient city, and taking the train back to London is completely acceptable!
Penzance Circular Route
This 23 mile (37 km) showcases Cornwall’s dramatic landscapes and is one of the best coastal routes in the country; its quiet routes and picturesque villages make this circular route a popular one.
Penzance Circular Route
The Grand Tour of Pendle
At 35 miles (56 km) long, and with 4,286 feet of ascent, the Grand Tour of Pendle is a hilly but enjoyable circular route through Pendle’s rugged terrain.
It’s not recommended for beginners, but is ideal for road biking enthusiasts seeking a challenge.
It’s important that you choose the right road bike from someone to get the most out of this route.
The Thames Path
There are loads of long-distance walking paths in the UK that can cover 100 to 200 plus kilometers of fascinating country.
The Thames Path is one such long-distance adventure that covers more than 280 kilometers starting at Cirencester and ending in London.
The entire path can take up to around 14 days or more depending on your pace.
It switches from one bank to the other and its start is easily reachable from Birmingham airport.
For those less adventurous walkers, it is possible to walk just a portion of the trail.
The path covers the entire length of the river and goes through cities like Oxfordshire and Wallingford to name just a few.
A map for the path can be found online on the National Trail website.
There are hostels, pubs, and restaurants all within easy reach of the various stopping points along the way of path.
The route takes you through some of the most beautiful villages and towns in the country.
Those looking for shorter routes can take the five mile walk from Goring to Pangbourne, or the just over six mile route from Reading to Shiplake.
Both can be found within easy reach of the local train stations, and allows backpackers to get a taste of the walk without spending all 14 days on it.
Once it’s reached Goring-on-Thames, the path meets up with the Ridgway, and goes through some of the most beautiful woodland in the area.
Goring is easily reachable by bus or taxi from here.
There are great restaurants to be found here like Masooms and Jan Marie, plus the standard local pubs.
The Thames starts to widen through this area meaning little towns and villages become more frequent.
The last leg of the trip brings you within easy distance and the flight home.
The last leg is also the most populated as it brings you closer to London.
The path goes beneath Windsor Castle and also provides a stunning view of Hampton Court as well. It goes all the way into London finally ending near Greenwich.
The last section also provides a great view of many of the docks and quays to be found in London amongst the warehouses.
Exploring England’s Most Scenic Destination
Green hills, quaint cottages, lakes and mid eval towns sound like the English paradise right?
Well – it can all be found in Lake District Park, the largest national park of England – known as the most scenic destinations and drives in the country, tourists flock the small little villages around the park every year to go for walks, picnic by the lakes and stroll around the towns.
Fishing at Windermere
‘Fishing at Windermere – image by Cumbrian-Cottages.co.uk’
Lakes & Fells
The main attractions are the lakes and fells in the area – there are as many as 16 lakes and several “waters”, which are all unique in their own way.
Windermere is the largest one, and is also the largest natural lake in the country – it has been one of the country’s most popular holiday places every since 1847.
There is no shortage of accommodation in Windermere, and it’s the perfect place to base yourself while exploring the area.
The fells (a local name for hills or mountains) are England’s only true mountain range, and although it’s not very high compared to other mountain ranges in the world, it’s still a nice hike, and there are so many routes and paths to choose (and get lost in!), so don’t forget a map…
The highest one is also the most visited, so if you want a more quiet and peaceful hike, I suggest you go to the smaller ones, some of them actually have nicer views than the big one..!
Another popular place to stay in the Lake District is Ambleside, which is just a short busride away from Windermere.
It’s located on the northernmost point of Windermere lake, and can also be reached by boat.
Lake District is Ambleside
This small little town has been around since Pre- Roman times, and this is where you’ll find the most photographed site in the region:
The Bridge House (built in 17th century as an apple store).
Ambleside is a very traditional town full of traditional artifacts, houses and culture, with most of the Ambleside cottages are kept traditional, which is really part of the charm of Ambleside.
Keswick, another town in the area, is the place for nature lovers – both artists and photographers mix with hikers and climbers to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
A great thing about this town is that there are other things to do than scenic walks and climbs – if there is a rainy day (which is, let’s face it, common in England), you probably won’t want to go out hiking.
England’s Most Scenic Destination
So luckily there are quite a few nice pubs to spend a few hours, and live music is also very popular around. There is also a very active theater by the lake if you want a more cultural night out.
You will find cute Keswick cottages everywhere, but since it’s such a popular place it’s good to book a place to stay at in advance – also note that few places have car parks, so the best way to visit would be by bus.
There are a couple of pay and display car parks in the town center, and another close to the lakeside, but on busy days it might still be difficult to find a spot.
Feel tempted to go yet? 😉
Exploring The Best Of Britain
With London being the focus of the world for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II, many tourists may be considering a trip to the British Isles – this coupled with the Olympic Games being held in London this summer, tourists are bound to be flocking to the ‘Big Smoke’.
Whilst London has a lot to offer tourists, there are many, equally impressive hidden gems in the capital and around the rest of the country.
This year, you’d be forgiven for thinking everything going on in Britain has something to do with the London Olympics – press coverage of the games has brought unprecedented worldwide attention to the city and, as so many people flock to the capital, it’s easy to forget just how much Britain has to offer beyond the showpiece of the games.
If you’re planning a getaway this year, why not explore the British countryside – and find the events, destinations and activities that are right on your doorstep?
Two of its most popular attractions are the Falconry and Gundog schools – working with the hotel’s own specially-bred animals – and trained professionals – you’ll have the chance to master two ancient sporting disciplines in a test of agility, skill and animal handling.
It’s a special experience – and a unique introduction to Scotland’s rich sporting heritage.
It is hard to imagine that London, one of the world’s most famous cities, has anything left to hide.
While you should not rule out visits to the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and Tower Bridge, you could see the whole lot in one go.
To the North of the city lies Regent’s Park – the park itself is full of natural wildlife and is the ideal visit on a nice day.
But the main attraction is Primrose Hill where which stunning views of the London skyline can be seen.
Exploring The Best Of Britain – The Lake District
The Lake District lies to the north west of England and while it is a well-known tourist spot, it has to be classed as a hidden gem because every visitor discovers something new each time they visit.
Whether that is the district’s largest lake Windermere, or the towns of Ambleside and Keswick – everyone has a personal favourite.
For me, it’s getting back to basics in the stunning and picturesque setting of Langdale where you can really get drawn into the natural beauty.
Equipment is key for adventures like this and I would advise sleeping hammocks from RV Ops to really be at one with the countryside.
British Countryside The Lake District
The Lake District is a hugely popular destination for water-sport enthusiasts and offers the opportunity to try out activities like kayaking, water-skiing, wind-surfing and power-boating.
Explore vast, open lakes against a backdrop of rolling hills and mountains – the perfect setting for an action-packed aquatic experience!
Whether you’re already an expert, or still a novice looking for something new to try, getting out on the water is a fun, exhilarating option for all ages and abilities.
Yorkshire Gaping Gill
As the nation’s largest county – Yorkshire has a lot to offer.
Whether that be the historic city of York, the modern metropolitan that is Leeds, the breath-taking east coast or the industry, culture and UNESCO world heritage site of Saltaire in the city of Bradford – Yorkshire has everything.
But in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, at the bottom of the second highest peak Ingleborough, is Gaping Gill.
A relatively unknown site and not one for those scared of heights.
Gaping Gill is a huge cave and one of the largest known underground chambers in Britain.
It also holds the record for the tallest unbroken waterfall in England and is accessible via a winch down the shaft and 344ft to the bottom – not one for the faint heart!
The West Country
The West Country has many unique attractions, from ancient wonders of Stonehenge, the historic Roman settlement of Bath or the town and Tor at Glastonbury.
There is also a natural wonder hidden away towards the coast.
Cheddar Gorge is accessible by a road going right through the heart, meaning you can see Britain’s biggest gorge via your car.
The stunning 450ft cliffs, nature reserve and caves provide a really great day out.
On the border of England and Scotland lies the northernmost county of Northumberland.
This is the most sparsely populated county in England with the majority protected as a national park.
The most impressive attractions are largely man-made however.
In terms of man-made sights to see for tourism in Northumberland, the Roman fortification Hadrian’s Wall is the obvious attraction that comes to mind.
However, for a complete mix of natural and man-made wonder, the tidal island of Lindisfarne is a must.
Also known as Holy Island, the tide determines whether Lindisfarne is accessible by foot or car as low tide reveals Pilgrim’s Way which acts as a natural bridge from the mainland.
Once on the island you will be able to access the stunning castle situated on the top of the mount.
Deer Stalking – Northumberland
A practice stretching back hundreds of years, deerstalking is a crucial part of maintaining populations of deer across Britain.
Northumberland has a rich hunting tradition, and for those searching for that authentic historical experience, deer stalking offers a unique perspective on the natural world.
If you think you’re up to the challenge, tracking deer through the quiet, forested hillsides of northern England is a tense and unforgettable experience.
Canyoning – Gloucestershire
Canyoning – Gloucestershire
Take on the south west’s roughest terrain the hard-way with a canyoning trip that brings you closer than ever to the natural environment.
Guided canyoning tours take you over, under and through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country and present an impressive range of obstacles – mixing climbing, body-rafting and spelunking.
Not for the fainthearted, canyoning is an exhilarating adventure for anyone looking for a physical challenge.
You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy the summer of 2012 and, if the Olympics just isn’t for you, don’t spend the time moping – get out there and find something to make your summer a memorable one!
Alternative UK Holidays to Try This Summer
Tired of the usual UK city break? Craving for something different and memorable for your vacation in the UK?
If yes, keep on reading and we will provide you with recommendations on five of Alternative UK Holidays that can be taken into consideration for your UK holiday this year:
Alternative UK Holidays
Log Cabin Holiday in Cotswolds
When you are in Cotswolds, forget the idea of staying in a lavish and crowded hotel. Instead, you should settle with a log cabin, which can offer a more authentic experience.
Its narrow streets can lead you to some of the best restaurants you will ever find.
Somewhere Unique to Stay on Your Travels?
That title question isn’t rhetorical – are you currently looking for some lesser known places to stay in the UK as you make your way around the United Kingdom, but perhaps a little fed up with staying in your everyday, average hotel?
Do you fancy something a little different from the rather predictable norm?
If you answered yes to our questions, then you have definitely come to the right place, friend!
We’ve been looking out for the more unusual places to stay for some time now, ever since we got a bit tired of staying in the same old places every time we went for a weekend away.
We feel that the place you stay should be every bit as interesting as the city or town you’ve gone to visit, so we decided to start collating some of the better locations.
Now we’re sharing those lesser known places to stay in the UK with you, you lucky, lucky guys.
Castle Snug in Edinburgh
Lesser Known Places to Stay in the UK
The Castle Snug in Edinburgh
Only about 200 metres away from the more famous of Edinburgh’s castles (known as er… Edinburgh Castle), the Castle Snug is a rather more subdued affair.
It was formerly the home of a James Boswell, and has been stayed in by a number of esteemed individuals, including Dr Samuel Johnson (the dictionary guy).
It’s set inside James’ Court, which dates back around 400 years, and proudly shows off the original, exposed stone walls and a beautiful cedar wood ceiling.
Edinburgh It’s a great place for a nice romantic getaway, relaxing in the leather seats as dinner simmers away on the cast iron stove.
Cottages of Portmeirion Village
Portmeirion is a lovely little village, almost like a slice of the Italian riviera was plonked down in Wales one summer’s day, and was the brainchild of the wonderful architect, Mr Clough Williams-Ellis.
With bounteous beautiful beaches, colorful homes and gorgeous sights galore, it’s a fantastic place to spend a long weekend, which makes it fortunate that there are plenty of cottages to stay in!
Cliff House offers up some pretty spectacular views, the Chantry overlooks the entire village, and White Horses sits on the waterfront – you’re spoiled for choice!
Chocolate Boutique Hotel in Bournemouth
Man oh man is this the absolute dream location for any chocoholic!
Located nicely within Bournemouth’s most fashionable Soho Quarter, the Chocolate Boutique Hotel is a Grade II listed building housing just thirteen bedrooms.
This is no bad thing – it gives the place a charming, homely and intimate feel, and quality is always superior to quantity is what we say!
Each and every bedroom shares a similar theme, and that theme is (yep, you guessed it) chocolate!
They all house some fantastic furnishings and décor, with super comfy beds just waiting for you to jump right in.
Voted one of the six best novelty hotels on the planet by the Sunday Times Travel mag, it is the only chocolate-themed hotel in the world, and they sure take their passion seriously – just book yourself into one of their truffle-making workshops to see for yourself!
We hope you enjoy these lesser known places to stay in the UK.
Also, we encourage you to check out this awesome infographic on the Denbighshire area.
Quirky Places in the UK
Some of my favorite places and attractions I remember from my travels are not the most famous ones that are high on every “must-visit” list online, but the small and quirky places that most guides don’t even bother to mention.
While many travelers only pay attention to the most famous attractions, there are many quirky attractions that give value for money in the UK August holidays which most people don’t even know about.
Here are five awesome quirky places to visit in the UK this summer …
5 Quirky Places in the UK
Mother Shipton’s Cave
This cave contains a well (named the Petrifying Well) with such high mineral content in the water that it turns everything in its path into stone.
It leaves behind mineral deposits that build up over time and form a crust of new rock: you can see shoes, teddy bears, a hat belonging to John Wayne and Agatha Christie’s handbag hanging from the rock face, all with a thick rock crust around them.
Where: Prophecy Lodge, Harrogate Rd, High Bridge, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
When: Daily in April – October between 10am and 5.30pm. Only on weekends in February and March.
Phone Box Museum
Definitely one of the smallest museums in the world, the phone box museum in Wales, is exactly what it sounds like: a small museum inside a red phone box on the side of the road.
The phone box is a tiny gallery dedicated to a local photographer Tom Matthias who lived very close to the phone box.
Where: It’s located just outside of Cilgerran at the junction of Garnon’s Mill Road. When: 24/7
Kinema in the Woods
If you’re a sucker for all things retro and nostalgic, you will fall head over heels for this little cinema.
The Kinema is a traditional 20’s cinema showing all the latest flicks, complete with intermissions, old-fashioned paper cinema tickets, a lovely sweets counter and a Compton organ that plays during the intervals (coming up out of the stage floor).
When: It’s open whenever there is a movie showing (check their movies and book online here).
The box office opens approximately 15 minutes before the showings.
Blackpool Model Village
A favorite among kids, this miniature village transports you back to bygone days where imaginary stories unfold before your eyes in each of the 40+ village scenes.
It’s a great choice of entertainment in the August bank holiday and you also get a quiz to fill in while walking around which gives hints and clues to things in the villages you otherwise would have missed.
Where: East Park Drive Stanley Park, Blackpool, Lancashire
When: March to October, daily from 10am. Price for an adult is £6.95.
Smallest House in Great Britain
From one small attraction to another, a tiny red house in Conwy, Wales, is famous for being the country’s smallest house (once a whole family lived there!).
The last resident who lived there was a fisherman called Robert Jones, who at 6”3 understandably struggled to live in the tiny house which surprisingly had two stories.
He was forced to move out in 1900 when the local council declared the house unfit for human dwelling.
For 75p you can enter the house and look around.
Where: The Quay Conwy LL32 8BB
When: April – Oct: Mon-Sat 10am to 5.30pm. Sun 11am to 4pm
Fun Things To Do In Manchester
With its mixture of fantastic shopping, buzzing nightlife and fascinating museums, there are so many fun things to do in Manchester, which makes it perfect destination for a short break.
So, if you’re keen to get away from it all for a few days, and you are looking for a few short breaks in the UK – there are few better places to head to than Manchester!
The city is world-famous for its musical heritage:
Oasis, The Smiths, Joy Division and The Happy Mondays are just a few of the acts who started out playing in small venues across the city before going on to sell millions of records.
So if there is one fun things to do in Manchester that shouldn’t be missed, it’s checking out the live music scene during your break you may be able to see the next big band in action.
From smaller venues such as the Roadhouse and the Night and Day Cafe to the MEN Arena, the Bridgewater Hall and the Manchester Apollo which seat thousands of people, you will not be short of places to see the hottest names in music take to the stage.
After watching a live band, why not carry on your night by going to a bar or club?
The Deansgate area of the city contains a number of trendy drinking spots, as well as high-end restaurants.
If you want a stylish night on the town, be sure to head here.
Oxford Road and its surrounding streets are home to a number of bars and pubs that are popular with Manchester’s student population, while you can dance until the early hours of the morning at one of the nightclubs in the Printworks complex.
Fun Things To Do In Manchester
For the sport fan visiting Manchester, the things to do in Manchester most definitely involve football.
As well as its top-quality nightlife and fascinating museums, Manchester is also a top destination for sport – particularly football.
The city’s two world famous teams – Manchester City and Manchester United – are fierce rivals and you can see some of the world’s best players at either of their grounds.
To get a further insight into the city’s football history, why not go on a guided tour of Old Trafford or the City of Manchester stadium?
Lancashire County Cricket Club also play their home games in Manchester, so whatever your sporting interests you are sure to find something for you.
Manchester People’s History Museum
If you’re looking to take in a little history and art culture, you will find that Manchester is home to a wide array of art galleries and museums, including the People’s History Museum in the Spinningfields area of the city.
Alternatively, you may want to visit the Museum of Science and Industry, the Manchester Gallery and the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester.
Meanwhile, a trip to the Imperial War Museum North could be ideal if you’re a history buff and are keen to find out more about Britain’s past in armed conflicts.
If you’re looking to indulge in some retail therapy, then you will find Manchester to be the perfect place to splash the cash.
The Arndale Centre is home to some of the biggest high street names, while the Afflecks retail unit – located in the Northern Quarter – contains a variety of independent stalls and boutiques.
Whatever your budget, there’s accommodation to suit your requirements during your stay in Manchester.
There are a huge number of Manchester hotels to choose from which cater for all needs.
If you’re after an affordable hotel then you may be able to find accommodation for under £15 per person based on a couple sharing a room.
For those after a slightly more luxurious stay in Manchester, there are some fantastic hotels in Manchester that are renowned for their superb all around service and quality accommodation.
No matter where you stay, one thing that is for certain is that you will fall in love with this great city.
How To Spend A Night Out In Newcastle, UK
Many of those who’ve never been to Newcastle think that the city is all about coal and industry, in other words: not much fun.
But Newcastle has changed a lot during the years, and has turned into a really cool, stylish urban city perfect for travelers looking for some awesome nightlife – because if it’s one thing they know how to do in Newcastle it’s to party.
The best way to enjoy their famous nightlife is to stay in the center, and if you book early you can definitely find some great deals on Newcastle hotels in good locations close to bars, clubs and restaurants.
There are more bars and pubs in this city to count, but here are my 5 favorite places for a night out in the “toon” (Newcastle lang for town)
Brewdog – For The Beer Lover
Sam Jacks – For The Rodeo King
Located right in the middle of the action, in a heaving nightlife area of Newcastle, Sam Jacks is part of the Gate Complex on Newgate Street.
It’s a two-floor venue, with a capacity of 1000 people; no wonder it’s said to be one of the busiest venues in the “toon” – open six days a week and all day on a Friday and Saturday, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of fun here.
With a built in rodeo bull, available to ride for £1 a go, and the UK’s only “Dentist’s Chair”, where you clamber on stage, sit in the chair and drink a signature smoking cocktail for a bit of good-spirited fun.
The Cluny – For The Artist Wannabe
Definitely a bar for more of the artistic type, The Cluny is found by the river, on Lime Street, in a converted warehouse.
With a gallery at the rear of the venue, and regular new exhibitions, combined with live music frequenting the stage, this chilled out bar is an artistic hub of the city and well worth a visit if you’re after a bit of down time away from the hectic Haymarket.
Browns – For The Super Stylish
Part of the popular chain of bars, this new establishment is on Grey Street in the city center.
Super stylish, offering good food as well as quality drinks, Browns is already building a fabulous reputation for itself.
Ideally located if you’re seeing a production at the Theater Royal, it is often heaving with diners and drinkers, local or otherwise, and has easy listening piano music played throughout the day.
Brewdog – For The Beer Lover
The Scottish beer bar is new in Newcastle and is well worth a visit to sample some of their quality bottled and draft beers.
There’s surely something to suit your taste and, despite being found in the center of sport-loving Newcastle, there’s not a TV in sight.
With two bars to choose from, including one on the mezzanine level overlooking the main entrance, Brewdog is a refreshing addition to the toon pub scene and should be checked out if you’re in the area.
Trillians – For Rockers & Metal heads
One for the alternative types among you, Trillians is a rock and metal bar with DJs on Friday and Saturday nights and live music events during the week.
Popular during the day with occasional drinkers and at weekends by the seasoned rocker, it’s believed by some to be the only rock bar in Newcastle so is a must for rockers and metal heads.
What is your favorite city in the UK for nightlife?
Reasons to Holiday In Dartmouth, UK
Does summer still seem like it’s ages away?
Are you desperate for some relaxation or a much needed holiday or long weekend?
Why not consider taking a break in a holiday cottage in Dartmouth?
This charming, maritime town boasts an array of award-winning restaurants, quaint cafes, art galleries and eclectic boutiques.
Take a wander along the town’s cobbled streets and marvel at the tranquil River Dart and you’ll soon see why this town has such a huge and ever increasing fan base.
Here’s a snapshot of what’s on offer in Dartmouth and the surrounding area…
For Lovers of the Great Outdoors
If you’re a fan of the countryside, then you will be spoiled for choice by what’s on offer in Dartmouth and the surrounding areas – seasoned hikers should try the 10 mile route from nearby Kingswear to Brixham, which takes in breathtaking views of the River Dart and Kingswear Castle.
Those preferring more casual saunters are also catered for, with a varied choice of short strolls available in this beautiful area.
For Old Romantics
For couples looking for a special evening, seek out the renowned restaurant The Seahorse in Dartmouth situated adjacent to the River Dart.
This indemand restaurant run by well known chef Mitch Tonks serves up a variety of exquisite locally sourced seafood and shellfish and is the perfect destination for an intimate dinner for two.
Dine on freshly prepared crab and lobster accompanied by a selection of fine wines.
For those watching their wallet, a two course menu for £20 is also offered.
For Naval Fans
Why not take take a guided public or private tour of Britannia Royal Naval College?
The College is the initial officer training establishment of the Royal Navy and has a stunning hilltop location.
2013 marks the 150th anniversary of Royal Navy Officer training in Dartmouth and tours are available in May and throughout 2013.
For The Family
Woodlands Theme Park near Dartmouth offers a host of rides and activities within its sprawling 60 acre grounds.
This all-weather adventure park is hosting fun-filled performances every day during the Half Term with the park playing host to themed entertainers including clowns and jugglers.
Plus the admission fee includes indoor play centers, a petting zoo and a falconry center.
The award-winning Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh has planned a host of activities for the Half Term week.
These include ferret racing and pond dipping.
The week also sees the return of the Two Legged Gymkhana and the daily miniature pig racing – guaranteed to entertain children and parents alike!
For Sailors (or would be sailors!)
Dartmouth is synonymous with sailing, with the River Dart providing a great setting for a day on the water.
Seasoned sailors can charter a yacht and complete novices can learn the basics from one of the many sailing schools.
Have these ideas whetted your appetite for taking a holiday in Dartmouth, South Devon?
One of the best places to enjoy a romantic getaway in the whole of the United Kingdom is the Dorset coast.
Located along England’s southwestern shores and bordered by the English Channel, Dorset’s coastline is visually stunning.
In fact, it’s the perfect setting for enjoying long, intimate strolls while soaking in the gorgeous sights.
Best Luxury UK Cottages – Packed with literary and historical significance along with some of the most charming cottages found anywhere, Dorset is an ideal escape for new lovers or for those looking to rekindle a romance.
Romantic Holidays to Dorset
Cottages are by far the best accommodation choice along the Dorset coast.
An amazing assortment of cottages is found throughout the shire, and nearly any of them promise the perfect setting for a romantic escapade.
Choose from a Dorset Holiday Cottages set amid colorful fishing villages or a house that’s perched above the rocky shore.
Dorset Coast’s Knoll Gardens
Either way, guests are certain to enjoy lovely gardens, homey décor and all of the modern conveniences wrapped in historic structures.
Many of the cottages are converted barns or stables that have been extensively renovated.
Loaded with charm and with comfort to spare, these cottages are perfect for a weekend, a week or even longer.
Among the typical amenities in Dorset coast cottages are gourmet kitchens that make it simple for guests to prepare delicious homemade fare for every meal.
However, many of these accommodations are situated conveniently close to local pubs and restaurants, so letting someone else do the prep work and cleanup is always an option.
Bedrooms are frequently spacious and always well appointed.
Guests will find top of the line bed linens along with luxurious mattresses that offer the perfect night’s sleep. Many properties are just big enough for two with plenty of cozy niches to ensure romantic evenings.
Your toddler can rock the Eddie Vedder look while you sport a Nirvana t-shirt.
Another great example of buying essential items that are still cool is the ubiquitous minivan.
Yes, minivans are amazing vehicles for growing families, but no, they do not have to be boring rides.
For example, if you are in the market for a new mom-mobile, you may want to check out the Chrysler Pacifica.
The Pacifica is a great option for a cool mom like yourself; it comes with awesome features like touch screens, a 20-speaker sound system (to play the aforementioned Pearl Jam while driving the kids to school), and the ability to go from zero to 60 in under 7 seconds.
Get to Know What They Like and Join In
If you ever felt like your parents had no clue about what shows you liked or music you listened to, you can break this cycle by joining your kids in their interests as much as possible.
Spend time asking your kids about what they like to do, and then take part in the activities as often as you can.
For younger kids who adore video games, resist the urge to let them play in the family room while you catch up on chores.
Ask your son to teach you about his favorite game and say that you’d like to play too.
He will probably be delighted to share everything he knows about Mario or Crash Bandicoot.
If your daughter loves to play golf, talk with her about her lessons, practice sessions and upcoming tourneys and truly listen to what she has to say.
Suggest a mom-daughter golf outing; she may cackle at your inability to putt, but she will be thrilled that you are taking an interest in what she loves to do.
Give Them Some Space
As much as your adore your kiddos, a great way to be a “cool” mom is to back off from time to time and give your precious kids some space.
Probably the most ‘normal’ day out on our list, Knowsley is pretty standard, as far as safari parks go, but the animals are weird and wonderful.
From Egyptian fruit bats to the feathery Rheas.
Expand your wildlife knowledge with the kids in tow, and marvel at how evolution must have been drunk when it created the Pink Fairy Armadillo.
National Space Centre
National Space Center
So…the UK isn’t exactly famous for its exploration of the universe…unless you count our surplus of sci-fi writers.
But hey, you can still look at some retro astronaut suits at the National Space Center.
We may not have the credentials of NASA but it does have a planetarium (yay, stars!) and a 3D simulator.
And who knows, you may have the next Neil Armstrong on your hands!
Family Fun Days Out in Blackpool
Family Fun Days Out in Blackpool
When you think of Blackpool, you think of a seaside town in Northern England, quintessentially British with battered fish and chips eaten with wooden forks followed by multicolored sticks of rock.
Images of the Pleasure Beach fill your mind, with ear-piercing screams of thrill-seekers riding the Big One.
Visions of the Illuminations filling the skyline once a year.
There’s a lot more to Blackpool though, not least of which is the fantastic zoo and sea life center that attract tourists all year round.
A perfect day out for you and your family, Blackpool Zoo and Sea Life Center are too large to do all in one day.
Have a browse through the available Blackpool hotels and make a base for your family overnight to ease the madness of doing everything within a measly time frame.
Start with Blackpool Zoo.
Celebrating 40 years this year, this fantastic site offers a huge range of things to do including seeing animals from all over the world.
Be sure to check out the largest primate in the world, the majestic gorilla, in the custom built Gorilla House which opened in 2000.
With the latest addition to the gorilla family, Meisie, being born in 2010, you’ll be able to watch as she grows in a human like fashion.
Watch as she tantrums, runs rings round her mum and explores her fabulous home.
Explore the Lost World and come face to face with terrifying dinosaurs of the prehistoric age on a dinosaur safari.
Explore the theories as to what made these gigantic beasts extinct all those years ago.
Isle of Arran
Also available at the zoo is an experience of a lifetime.
Get up close and personal with some of the world’s most beautiful creatures with an animal encounter.
Meet Zambar, a stunning Amur tiger, or learn the secrets of an animal trainer on a Trainer for the Day experience which is available until the end of September.
Play with the lemurs and the tapirs and treat your family to a fabulous rendezvous with some fabulous characters.
If you can wait until new dates are released, you could also organize to be a Keeper for the Day and see what it really takes to care for the animals in Blackpool Zoo.
Although these experiences are fully booked for now, 2013 dates will be available to book from the 3rd September and costs £175 or £325 for two people – well worth it considering the treats that the program has in store.
The following day, make your way to the Sea Life Center on the Promenade.
New is the Turtle Shelter and Behind the Scenes tours, where you team up with an expert guide to learn more about what it takes to be an aquarist.
Check out the interactive rock pool and the shark-infested waters that a tunnel will guide you through, before letting the kids loose in the soft play area and pirate adventure golf course.
Fabulous days out for the whole family, you can’t go far wrong with high quality zoos and sea-life centers and Blackpool has both!
Barcelona vs. Madrid – Spain is an amazing country that has a lot to be proud of in terms of incredible things to do, remarkable places to revel in, and a rich culture to soak up.
Travelers who want to venture to the beautiful land of Spain are usually confronted by a dilemma of which city to visit between these two, and weighing down pros and cons can be a feat, since both have so much to offer, and both are remarkably different from one another.
What is evident between this Barcelona vs. Madrid battle is that it all really boils down to personal tastes—ask yourself what is more important to you, and what are the things you find yourself you enjoy doing the most when you travel.
Do you prefer a bustling, active nightlife, or visiting museums?
Do you thrive in busy, edgy, urban atmospheres, or prefer a laid back vibe by the beach?
Both cities are great on their own, which makes deciding between the two of them immensely difficult, and a common debate between travelers.
But, if you don’t have the time or resources to pull off both cities during your trip to Spain, hopefully this article will help you decide which city will be more enjoyable and worthwhile for you.
Barcelona is located on the northern part of Spain in an autonomous area in the Mediterranean, and it is closer to the border between Spain and France.
Barcelona is a larger city, with beach scapes and surrounded by a mountainous area.
It experiences a subtropical Mediterranean climate, featuring humid summers and rainy seasons.
Spain’s capital Madrid is quite landlocked, as it is located in the geographical center perched on top of a plateau, and it is also the highest capital in Europe.
With this said, climate here is extreme, and Madrid experiences really chilly winters and very hot summers.
Madrid’s city center is much smaller than Barcelona as well, but you can arrange several trips to other parts of Spain such as Salamanca, Segovia and Toledo, using Madrid as your home base.
Both cities have great international airports that do service a great deal of international flights, but if you’re travelling by land, and coming from France and nearby European countries, you can easily rent a car and drive there and cross the border yourself, or you can take a train or a bus.
Barcelona is a great, convenient stop for travelers who are doing a land-based Euro trip.
Since Madrid’s location is higher and more centralized, unless you will be flying going here, it will take you more time to go to this city land-based as it is further away from the rest of the Europe.
Barcelona Sights to See
The most common thing people will instantly associate Barcelona with is with the mention of Antoni Gaudi, a world-renowned architect noted for his remarkable stunning Art Nouveau buildings found all over Barcelona, such as La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, and several structures ranging from parks, to residential buildings, which all have Gaudi’s signature style and masterful details.
Gaudi’s architecture alone is worth visiting Barcelona for.
Barcelona also has a lot of beaches to soak up some sun in, and this is what greatly differentiates the two cities apart.
Madrid, on the other hand, is a very classy city that has beautiful, majestic European architecture, numerous historical sites, ancient buildings, grandiose Madrid museums such as Museo del Prado, which is the second largest in the world.
Madrid’s streets are considered more picturesque and charming than those of Barcelona’s, and this city is one that begs to be explored on foot as it is very, pleasantly walkable.
The whole city itself is both complex and beautiful with a distinct Spanish authenticity.
Things to Do in Barcelona
Barcelona is notable for having a topnotch nightlife, with its beautiful discotheques, and its party nature.
Since there are beaches here, spending time under the sun along the shore is a major feature that the other city does not have.
The atmosphere in Barcelona is more sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and the vibe is more European.
It’s also more expensive to travel here.
Madrid, on the other hand, offers a lot of cultural activities such as musicals, theater, great art at the Reina Sofia, flamenco, tapas bars, and charming cafes.
The overall vibe here in Madrid is decidedly more Spanish in terms of its gems.
While you can’t hit the beach in Madrid, you can revel in its many beautiful parks.
In terms of nightlife, both cities have an active, bustling nightlife that will blow you away.
The great distinction between both, however, is who are the ones doing the partying.
Since Barcelona draws in more tourists, its partying is also done mostly by the tourists, so the scene is more international.
In Madrid, naturally ingrained in the nature of Madrilenians is partying, so the party scene here is more local, and more vivacious and authentically Spanish.
Both places will not have a shortage of exciting things to offer, and food in both cities are incredible.
Mealtimes in Spain come much later than the rest of the world, as its commonplace here to have lunch at 3pm, whilst dinner can be as late as 10pm.
Going to bars can commence around 12pm to 2am, until the wee hours of the morning.
In both places you will be introduced to the culture of having tapas, which are small plates of food with either meat or seafood to be eaten together with friends and colleagues.
The Spanish are a remarkable people, and are considered to be people who are fun, and they love celebrating the good things in life.
This is evident in their culture of siesta, drinking, vibrant nightlife, and numerous celebrations.
Barcelona and Madrid speak different languages, as Barcelona speaks both Spanish and Catalan, while Madrid speaks Spanish.
If people’s warmth and friendly nature is important to you when traveling, Madrid is the place for you, as the Spanish here are generally more helpful and forgiving towards tourists.
In Barcelona, people can be quite unfriendly and rude, as a lot of tourists have mentioned.
As far as crowds go, Barcelona is way more touristy and is far more crowded than Madrid.
Getting around the city is convenient since both cities have an excellent underground metro station, and the high-speed Eurorail.
Tourists will find the metro system easy to navigate.
However, Madrid’s metro is better in terms of quality, cleanliness, timeliness, and efficiency.
Both cities also have buses and taxis aplenty.
The bus is priced averagely, but will require you to speak a bit of Spanish for you to easily get yourself from one point to another.
Barcelona Cost of Living
While both cities are both in the list of the top most expensive cities in the world and neither are cheap, a lot of tourists do say that Barcelona will set you back by just a little bit more than Madrid.
However, this may be because Barcelona as previously mentioned, can be quite the tourist trap.
There aren’t vast differences between one another in terms of prices of commodities.
It largely depends on what you intend to do in each city, in which your preferences will also determine the perceived value of money in this places.
However, if you are wondering if both cities can be good for budget travelers, the answer is that it can be, if you compare it to the other countries in West Europe.
A conservative budget to set aside in both cities is around €50/day, but it’s very possible to get by with less than that amount if you decide to be more frugal.
There has been a long standing rivalry between Barcelona vs. Madrid, not only between locals but also between loyal visitors who all praise that their favorite is better than the other for one reason or another.
So let’s stir it up a bit and compare the cities with this cool infographic from HostelBookers 😛 – where would you prefer to go?
Barcelona Art and Architecture
Barcelona is a city where the mysterious past and the sleek future mingle in perfect harmony.
Around one corner visitors encounter structures that have stood for more than four centuries.
Around another, they stumble across the jaw-dropping, modernistic marvel that is the Design Hub.
It’s a place where people can wonder at the genius of Picasso by day and dance the night away under a gorgeous Spanish sky at one of the many clubs.
Barcelona is bursting with life of all sorts and descriptions.
It’s no surprise that so many people are anxious to return.
Barcelona’s population of about 1.8 million genuinely enjoy the good life.
Their ancient city is perched on the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea, giving it summers that are dry and warm.
Even winter is beautiful when you visit Barcelona.
Mild weather prevails, and it’s not unusual to experience high temperatures of 63°F during January, the coldest month.
No matter the weather, Barcelona is a hive of activity.
It thrives on commerce, with manufacturing and tourism being major industries.
However, it’s also an exceptionally artistic destination.
Some of history’s greatest artists have called the city home.
Many of today’s foremost artists continue that tradition by taking advantage of the community’s creative energies.
Barcelona is regarded as one of the most livable cities in the world.
Locals enjoy a particularly high standard of life, and that’s something that visitors can take advantage of too.
Hcc Ciutat De Berga Hotel – Barcelona
Enjoying the good life in Barcelona starts with selecting the right accommodations.
HCC Ciutat de Berga just might be the best value in the region thanks to its amenities and outstanding location.
The hotel is found to the northwest of central Barcelona in the charming city of Berga.
It’s a city like Barcelona that comes right out of medieval times, yet manages to balance a thriving textile industry with ease.
Visitors love being able to stay at the Ciutat de Berga.
Its excellent location puts Barcelona, France and Andorra all within easy reach.
Yet this hotel is attractively affordable.
There’s simply no hotel close in to Barcelona that offers so much for such inexpensive rates.
Each room at the Ciutat de Berga is generously proportioned and features the modern amenities that today’s traveler has come to expect.
Free WiFi means guests can always stay connected while a high end heating and air conditioning system guarantees comfort no matter the weather or the season.
Rooms are equipped with full, private baths.
A complete array of toiletries is at hand in case anything has been forgotten at home.
A breakfast buffet is the perfect setting for planning a busy day of sightseeing.
The friendly, informative staff is ready to answer questions or help guests figure out which attractions appeal to them most.
Bar and cafe service are available for the comfort and enjoyment of every guest.
Onsite parking facilities are secure and convenient.
Thanks to all of the thoughtful details at this hotel, guests are free to enjoy the region after a pleasant night’s sleep.
That is excellent news, because Barcelona is teeming with marvelous sights that deserve to be seen.
Most tours should begin with a stroll down La Rambla.
By far Barcelona’s most famous boulevard, La Rambla stretches for a fascinating kilometer of performance artists, restaurants and attractions.
It’s the location of the monument to Christopher Columbus and the excellent La Boqueria Food Market.
Everyone should take a moment to drink from the famed Canaletas fountain along the way.
It’s said that a sip of water here ensures a return to Barcelona.
Picasso Museum Barcelona
The exploring only gets better in the El Born neighborhood.
It’s one of the city’s oldest quarters, dating back to the medieval era. Back then the dark and twisty streets were lined with artisan’s shops.
The scene is more upscale today, although it’s still possible to find outstanding shopping here.
This is also an excellent district for museums.
The Picasso Museum, with its collection of some 2,400 works by the master himself, is found here as is the interesting Textile Museum.
In a city as ancient as Barcelona, it’s only natural that museums command a special place in the hearts and minds of locals and visitors.
Perhaps the best of these is the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya.
A fascinating exploration of the city and Spain, a visit to this museum is an absorbing journey through the past.
The marvelous permanent exhibitions and rotating displays are worth of hours of examination.
Visitors come away with a unique perspective on the city and the people who live there.
Barcelona is a destination that offers something for everyone.
From a pulsing nightlife to awe inspiring museums, it’s a city that’s worthy of a repeat visit. With excellent accommodations at HCC Ciutat de Berga Hotel, visitors are prepared to fully experience this colorful and majestic city.
10 Free Attractions to Visit Barcelona This Summer
The second largest city in Spain, Barcelona differs from other Spanish cities as it is not blistering hot in summers.
Many locals go out of town from late July to early September, making the city quieter and less populated.
Barcelona offers a relaxing mix of everything Mediterranean, which includes months of warm sunshine, delicious food and relaxed pace of life.
Barcelona, A trip to visit Barcelona may not come as inexpensive but there are plenty of tourists’ attractions in the city which can be enjoyed for free. Planning A Quick Trip To Barcelona, Spain
The huge pedestrian-only boulevard running from Plaça Catalunya to the sea is lined with gorgeous buildings and restaurants.
The place is especially crowded during summer.
Street performers and, kiosks selling food, flower and souvenirs occupy the road.
Designed by Gaudí, the park was originally meant to be a ‘garden city’, a place where workers could live.
A section of the park offers amazing view of Barcelona’s skyline.
Parc Guell is a charming blend of mosaics, garden and fairy tale houses.
The site of the 1992 Summer Olympic opening ceremonies, this area has museums, gardens and the National Palace.
Magical Fountain however is, no doubt the most popular with tourists.
The National Art Museum of Catalunya, located on Montjuic, is free on the 1st Sunday of every month.
Spend your time swimming, sunbathing or just taking a stroll along the shore.
Spains beaches can be crowded in summer but are still worth a go.
Seaside Promenade in the Barcelona District
Take a stroll along the promenade to enjoy the enchanting view of the blue waters of the Mediterranean.
Architectural works of Gaudi
Some of the finest work of the famous Catalan architect, Gaudi, can be seen for free (from the outside) around the Eixample district.
The works include La Pedrera, Casa Batllo, and the incomplete La Sagrada Familia with La Sagrada Familia, possibly, the most recognized landmark in Barcelona.
Museums such as Museu Picasso, Museu Barbier-Mueller d’Art Precolombi, and Museu d’Historia de Catalunya are free on the first Sunday of each month.
Museu Maritim is free on the first Saturday of each month while the Museu de la Xocolata (chocolate museum) is free on the first Monday of each month.
Picasso Museum Barcelona
The medieval cathedral, built during from 13th to 15th Century, boasts a Gothic facade, chapels, vaulted interior and has a pretty garden and cloister.
Parc de la Ciutadella
The most central park in Barcelona, it covers an area of 74 acres and houses a lake, zoo and many museums.
The flowerbeds, palm tress, walkways, fountains and sculptures make the park a sought after place in the crowded city of Barcelona.
One of the many famous festivals in Barcelona is Festa Major de Gràcia – a week long community celebration in the streets of Barcelona.
For this, streets in the Gràcia area are decorated by its residents depicting colorful themes.
At the end of September, the five day long Barcelona La Merce Festival takes place.
The festival is a great family event.
City Wars: Barcelona vs. Madrid
This feud could, and probably will, go on forever.
There are good and bad things about both cities, and depending on what you want you will find that one city fits your needs better.
As both cities are extremely popular, you would think that when it comes to finding Cheap Hotels, Barcelona and Madrid would disappoint – but this is surprisingly not the case.
There are many cheap hostels and restaurants to keep your wallet happy.
Another factor we would like to add to this inforgraphic is the “entertainment” factor – Madrid has the better museums, where, for the record, two of the best are free every night of the week.
But Barcelona has that “wow” factor with incredible architecture that you see by just walking down the street.
Its amazing how 2 cities can be vastly different from each other, and these differences make each of these two places unique from one another.
It needs to be noted here that because Barcelona and Madrid have had different histories, there is an ongoing rivalry between them until now between the Madrilenians and the Catalans, for many reasons that go down deep in history.
However, like what has been stated in the start of this article, it all greatly depends on what your preferences are.
Barcelona is great for people, who prefer an active, more European vibe.
It’s for lovers of the beach and the sun, and though this place is heavily touristy, it is touristy for great reasons, most notably the architecture that’s definitely not to be missed.
Madrid is a city that’s for lovers of culture and art, and those who decidedly want a more authentic and classy urban-meets-old world Spanish experience.
It’s a place to immerse yourself in if you would like to absorb more of the vibrant cultural scene and its people.
Whichever your choice is between who wins the Barcelona vs. Madrid debacle, there are no wrong choices to be made either way.
Both cities are great on their own, and they just happen to be in the same country, which is why it is inevitable not to compare them to one another.
Best things to do in Madrid Spain
Things To Do In Madrid, Spain – Madrid is a vibrant city with huge contrasts and diversity; 17th century buildings line up along cobble stoned lanes, next to sky scrapers and wide shopping boulevards, the bullfight traditions live on together with gay pride festivals.
The list of things to do in Madrid Spain are endless, but we’ll try to sum it up with a few of our favorite picks to give you a good time.
Visit The Huge Palacio de Real
A visit to Palacio de Real, the royal residence and gardens, should be high on your list of things to in Madrid.
It is one of the the largest royal palaces in Europe, and 50 of the 2,800 (!) rooms are open for the public.
But it’s not so much the sheer size of the palace, but its stunning architecture, that makes the biggest impression.
The rooms inside, such as the royal pharmacy, the porcelain room, the clock room (I guess they had to find some use for all the rooms) are quite impressive, but unfortunately you’re not allowed to take any photos.
Avoid visiting on Wednesdays as that day is free entry for locals, so it tends to get very busy!
A Day at the Prado Museum
Madrid has some of the best museums in the country, not to mention Europe, that will make even the museum-hater want to visit, especially considering that many of them are free at different days and times of the year.
Out of all things to do in Madrid, a visit to the Prado museum is the most popular.
The Prado has one of the most important collections of 14th-19th century European art in the world, and while the entry is €10 during the days, from 6pm-8pm entry it’s completely free (and apparently also free for “unemployed”).
Other great museums to check out and to give yourself more things to do in Madrid are Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Reina Sofia and Sorolla museum.
Meet Up At Plaza Mayor
One more place that cannot be missed in Madrid is the main square – Plaza Mayor.
It is the classic meeting point for everyone in Madrid, and a great place for people -watching.
This is where the action is, where festivals and concerts are held, and the perfect starting point for exploring the city.
The square surrounded by Baroque buildings and over 400 balconies was built by order of the Spanish King Phillip III.
It was designed by Juan Gomez de Mora, the most famous Spanish architect of the 17th century.
Go For A Tapas Crawl
Architecture and culture in all honor, but one of the most fun things to do in Madrid is to experience the awesome nightlife and amazing cuisine.
They say that Madrid is the most Spanish of all cities, and when it comes to cuisine, this is definitely true.
Going out for tapas (ir a tapear) in Madrid, has become something more than just dining out – it’s a “tapas crawl”.
Just like with bar crawls, you seek out the specialties of each tapas restaurant, have a few picks, wash it down with alcohol, and move on to the next bar.
There are many little cafes and bars where you can have a drink or even a full Spanish meal for a reasonable price, such as Acostiña Madrid, not far from the main square.
Visit Parks & Fountains
A visit to Madrid wouldn’t be complete without seeing the fabulous fountains; fountain of Cibeles, Neptune fountain, fountain of Apollo and of course The Fountain of the Fallen Angel (the only statue to Lucifer in the whole world) are all worth a look.
Madrid is often described as an “open air museum” as every building and every statue in the city is a real masterpiece.
Everything in the city reminds us about its glorifying past.
Other beautiful places to relax are the green, lush parks in Madrid; especially Retiro Park – a big park where locals and tourists alike relax in the shade with a picnic.
Madrid Spain the ultimate Spanish experience
Madrid is the vibrant capital city of Spain, all day and all night long.
Madrid is a city that would require years to satisfactorily explore.
Its lengthy history, mysterious cobbled lanes and startlingly modern skyscrapers beckon to tourists from the world over.
However, most people only have a few days to delve into all that this quintessentially Spanish city has to offer, making it imperative to identify its must-see sights and attractions.
While it might not have the architectural wonders of Barcelona, this is where the true Spanish culture is most vibrant, and there are many ways to soak up the Spanish culture, history and atmosphere.
Madrid is a city that would require years to satisfactorily explore.
Its lengthy history, mysterious cobbled lanes and startlingly modern skyscrapers beckon to tourists from the world over.
However, most people only have a few days to delve into all that this quintessentially Spanish city has to offer, making it imperative to identify its must-see sights and attractions.
Whether you want to spend your days gazing at awe-inspiring 17th century cathedrals or looking for fantastic bargains at the Rastro, you’ll find something fascinating around every corner.
This is one city where the ancient and the modern sit comfortably side-by-side.
It’s possible to enjoy the traditional spectacle of bullfighting by day and then patronize some of the most cutting-edge clubs at night. Experiencing it all is impossible.
Still, there are a few sights that most people agree are the ones that visitors shouldn’t miss.
One of these is the Museo del Prado, Spain’s national art museum.
It is the Louvre’s rival in every way with its stunning collection of European art ranging from the 12th century to the modern day.
Established in 1819, the Prado quickly made a name for itself as the showplace for Spain’s great artists.
It maintains that reputation although the collection’s depth has grown considerably.
Madrid Spain the Ultimate Spanish Experience
Not far from the Prado is the National Archaeological Museum.
It houses collections that were once a part of the Prado but had to be moved to make additional space for art galleries.
This other museum features fascinating collections of art and artifacts from Mesopotamia, Rome, Egypt and Greece.
Together with the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which is where the Prado moved much of its works by Dutch, German and other painters, this complex makes for a fascinating day of exploring art history.
If seeing a castle is high on your list of things to do, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the New Castle of Manzanares el Real.
Built in the 15th century and situated only 30 miles north of the city, the castle looks precisely as a fairy tale edifice ought to.
A breathtaking backdrop of mountains and a sparkling reservoir provide the perfect setting for the crenellations and ramparts of this classically-designed castle.
The village of Manzanares el Real is equally charming, offering a wonderful day trip for lovers of history and culture.
Authentic Madrid can be experienced at Plaza Mayor, a one-time food market that is now the ideal spot for al fresco dining, people watching and souvenir shopping.
Thanks to its excellent acoustic properties, this is also one of the best places in the city to listen to live music.
Visitors seeking unexpected or unusual bargains won’t want to pass up El Rastro found just south of Plaza Mayor.
At this outdoor market shoppers find antiques, junk and everything in between.
Whatever you’re looking for, you’re certain to be entertained.
Madrid is a wonderful city for enjoying tapas, watching exciting flamenco dancing or getting familiar with bullfighting.
Whichever adventures you choose are destined to be memorable.
Madrid Spain the Ultimate Spanish Experience Tapas Bar Crawl
Madrid has perhaps more tapas bars than any other city in Spain, and one of the best ways to indulge in these delicious delicacies is to go for a tapas bar crawl.
You see, every tapas bar is famous for their own specific dish, and rather than picking one place, it’s better to have one dish at one bar, then go to the next for their specialty, and then to the next.
That way you also get to see more of the city and explore different bars and meet lots of people.
The colorful, joyful flamenco can be experienced in many venues across the city.
To get the most authentic experience, watch it at a tablao (restaurant with a stage).
The highlight of the shows are past midnight, which may sound late to many tourists, but it’s actually not until then that the nightlife truly begins in Madrid.
Shop For Shoes
Madrid is a great shopping city in general, but when it comes to shoes, it is one of the best in Europe.
The street where you will find the best buys is along Augusto Figueroa, in the heart of Chueca, which is lined with outlets for factory samples.
Some great shoe brands to look for are Farrutx, Camper and Lowee.
Visit the Parks
One of the most beautiful places in Madrid is the Parque del Oeste in Argüelles, which is a favorite among locals to hang out and relax on sunny summer days.
During summer the whole park smells of roses from the huge blossoming rose garden, and every year there is an international rose contest taking place there.
The park also has views over the Palacio Real and the Egyptian temple Templo de Debod.
Spanish Desserts You Must Try
Spain prides itself on its unique and distinct cuisine, and while their hearty meals will certainly fill you up, we do recommend that you save some space for the desserts – because they’re absolutely amazing..!
Here are five favorite Spanish desserts you must try…
Flan is a type of egg custard topped with caramel sauce.
It’s jelly-like in texture, and melts in your mouth. It’s one of those dishes that you’ll be able to finish no matter how full you think you are after the dinner meal.
This is the Catalan version of crème brulée, with a crispy top of burnt sugar, and a soft pudding inside.
Generally prepared on Spain’s Father’s day, but you can find it throughout the whole year as well.
Turrón is a very old traditional sweet of Moorish (Arabic) origin.
This almond candy / nougat treat is a typical Christmas sweet in Spain.
While almonds and honey are the main ingredients, it also comes in many different flavors and varieties.
Bunuelos de Viento
Spanish fritters have to be among the best fried snacks there is!
Light and fluffy, these fritters filled with egg custard, marmelade or pastry cream literally melt in your mouth!
Another Christmas cookie, the Mantecados are a favorite among locals and something to look forward to every winter.
The rich crumbly cookies have that significant anise flavor that few other cookies manage to balance this well.
Polvo is the Spanish word for dust, and as the name suggests these cookies are very dusty and crumbly in texture.
They’re soft and heavy, made of flour, sugar, milk and nuts – and are very easy to make.
Although traditionally a Christmas cookie, people eat these all year round today.
These are just a few out of many delicious Spanish treats and desserts, you can enjoy in Madrid or Barcelona!
Airport Customs Problem Free – At some point in your life, you have probably found yourself behind one of those people who take forever in security due to poor preparation or, even worse, you have been one of those people yourself.
Although customs and security will never be a fun experience under the best of circumstances, there are several tips and strategies which you can implement in order to make the process an easier one.
So next time you are jetting off, spare a thought for your fellow travelers and use these tips to make your journey, and that of others, a stress-free one.
How To Get Through Airport Customs Problem Free
Slip-on shoes are the best choice and you should avoid metal items such as buttons and buckles as any buckles and other metal items will need to be removed before you walk through the security detector anyway.
If you really want to avoid these issues altogether, opt for a cloth belt instead or a metal buckle and choose a shirt and pants with plastic buttons.
Keep the layers to a minimum. Remove any sweaters or jackets which aren’t necessary before you get to the security line.
Make sure to empty all of your pockets of phones, PDAs, change, and keys before you approach the airport security X-ray machine as removing these in line wastes a lot of precious time.
Choose form fitting pants instead of baggy ones.
Baggy pants are more likely to raise suspicion since, obviously, there are more places to hide illegal and/or dangerous items within baggy pants.
Pack Lightly and Smart
You should make sure that you are fully aware of what you can and cannot carry onto the airplane.
This can be found on the TSA website.
Items should be neatly and clearly labeled within the suitcase and a plastic bag should be used for liquids and toiletries and should be placed in an outer pocket so that they can be easily accessed by security.
Make sure that the liquids are in bottles that are 3 ounces or less per TSA guidelines.
Packing your bag in an organised manner will make the process of searching luggage much quicker and hassle-free for both you and security.
Have your boarding pass and ID in hand and head to the line that is shortest.
There is often a security line or two that many people don’t go to because they erroneously think that the line is only for one airline.
Place everything that you have in your pocket into your jacket or bag and then remove that item.
Only keep your ID and pass with you.
If you are carrying a laptop, unzip the bag.
Once you have passed the point where the ID is checked, remove your shoes. Staying one step ahead of everyone else will help you to breeze on past those who are still rummaging in their pockets in order to collect all their change.
Pay Attention and Follow Instructions
Pay close attention to any instructions that you are given as well as the mistakes that those in front of you make.
Learn from them and be prepared to avoid those mistakes that they make when it is your turn.
This way, you will be able to make the process a lot simpler when it comes to your turn.
If you are required to go through additional screening, don’t make a fuss.
Just do it!
Purchase a TSA-Approved Bag for your Laptop for US Travel
As long as your purchase a bag that is approved by the TSA as “check-point” friendly, you will not be required to remove the laptop from the bag.
Make sure that you also label the laptop as they often get left behind due to poor identification.
Although options for TSA-approved bags are still limited, there are some options which are available, the cheapest and simplest of which is the laptop skin.
The best I can recommend is the Victoriatourist V6002 Laptop Backpack check-Fast Airport Security Friendly.
Avoid Traveling During Busy Periods
Although this is not always something that can be planned for, peak travel times should always be avoided if possible.
These peak times typically include the hours between 6:30 AM and 9:30 AM and 3:30 PM and 7:30 PM.
Avoiding these hours can help in getting through the security and customs much more quickly.
Some times throughout the year, such as sporting events including the Olympics, holidays, and spring break times, will be inevitably bad so you should prepare yourself to be agitated during this time and plan to be there earlier than normal so that you ensure you will not miss your flight.
The process of going through security and customs can be vexing but need not be the tortuous experience that many claim it to be.
Be prepared and don’t be afraid to bypass people who aren’t.
Yes, we are an organised society who lives by the “line”.
And, yes, we are programmed to think that “cutting” is inexcusable.
However, walking past someone who simply isn’t ready will more than likely make the security people happier than they otherwise would be if they had to waste time waiting for the person who is still rooting around for their ID.
Airport Security Quick Tips Help You Zoom Through
Travel is such a fun experience, no matter where you’re headed.
A bad airport experience can quickly change this.
Other than patience, being prepared to zoom through TSA is the best way to go.
Here are some small simple tips to consider next time you fly.
Comfort is key when you travel.
Dress simple – wear pants that don’t require a belt and try not to wear too many layers as you’ll probably have to shed them constantly with every security checkpoint.
Ladies, make sure your garments don’t have beading or metallic applications.
There are tons of shoe options – wear something that is easy to slip on and off without having to stop and buckle, tie laces or straps.
Avoid the bling in Airport Security
Do your best to leave your jewelry at home or pack it separately when you fly.
Having to deal with a watch, bracelets, a necklace, rings, earrings and other items will slow you down when going through Security, not to mention that you may lose something in the process!
You can also just go for non-metallic options that will allow you to zip through in fashion.
If you really need your bling upon arrival, just pack it in your bag and put it on as you reach your final destination.
Keep your electronics at hand going through Airport Security
TSA has become a little more relaxed when it comes to electronics.
Mobile phones and iPads can be kept in your bag and only laptops need to be out of their case and in a separate bin.
Keep your laptop in a case that’s easy to handle – don’t stuff it at the bottom of your carry on and place it where it can be reached easily.
Airport Security Quick Tips – Pockets are your worst enemy
When you’re traveling for hours, its so easy to end up with pockets stuffed with odd items such as coins, tweezers, earrings, pens, rings, memory sticks, etc.
If your’e able to dress in items that don’t have pockets, all the better.
Nothing worse than being sent back to clean out your pockets into a little bin.
The right bag is your best asset
With so many changes in fees and rules about taking a carry on, your best bet is to take a simple bag with the bare essentials.
Choose a bag that has wheels, can be strapped to your back or hangs across your shoulders, especially if you’re carrying a heavy laptop and other electronics.
The best bag for Airport Security we have found is the Think Tank Airport Security V 2.0 and the Victoriatourist V6002 Laptop Backpack check-Fast Airport Security Friendly
Make sure the bag has an outer pocket where you can keep important documents at hand, this way you don’t have to constantly dig in to find your boarding pass, ID or passport.
Last but not least, read up on the latest rules on liquid items, this will help you know which toiletries are good to carry with you (or not).
Patience is key to ensuring a smooth process – and so it paying attention.
Do your homework, keep an eye out for signs, and listen to the TSA personnel… put on a smile and get on with your day!
Travel Cheat Sheet for Europe – Europe is a great place to travel to and you will find this Travel Cheat Sheet for Europe very helpful. Covering amazing cities such in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, London or Prague, this guide will inspire your travel ‘must-do’ list.
The architecture, the culture and the food are only a few things that makes it worthwhile exploring.
But where can you find the real city vibes away from the usual sightseeing tour?
Momondo launched this great ‘Travel Cheat Sheet’ that will share local knowledge accumulated from locals and travel experts in Europe.
The guide shows you where the trendiest neighborhoods are, best night-life spots to go and even teaches you some local phrases so you can blend in with the local crowd on your European Trip.
Out of all the trips in the world, I personally think a trip back in time would be the most amazing of all – today we can travel almost anywhere, even into space, but can we travel back in time?
Well, perhaps not the way that we ultimately would like to – but there are a few places that at least leave the impression that you have traveled back in time, and with a bit of effort from your side you can make it feel that way even more…
These days a popular way to re-experience a world from the past is to go on escorted holidays, where they take you around to historical places, tell its history and mix it up with some themed dinners and other experiences to make you feel like you really are experiencing the past.
Here are a few wonderful places which I think definitely makes you feel as though you have taken a step back in time…
Tallinn, Estonia – Medieval Spirits
There are many well preserved medieval towns in Europe, but when it comes to remaining the charm, Tallinn has managed to do it the best.
The city with its stone wall surrounding old buildings with colorful wooden doors, narrow cobbled streets and long history is a great place to dream yourself away to the past, and all the wooden stalls and restaurant waiters dressed in medieval outfits make it even easier.
Founded in the 12th century, Tallinn with its ancient city walls, high church spires and red roof tops it was an irresistible sight.
Walking around on the cobble stoned streets and alleyways lined with medieval houses in mixes of German, Russian, Swedish and Danish architecture, you feel as though you have stepped back in time.
To add to the experience, shopkeepers and restaurant waiters are all dressed up in medieval outfits.
Some people might have found it a bit tacky, but personally I think it enhanced the feeling and made it easy to imagine what life would have been like a few hundred years ago.
To read more about our time in Tallinn, make sure you check out:
Tallinn Estonia the Capital City of Estonia – As We Travel Europe
We’re going to start the morning by visiting the beautiful Town Wall.
The Town Wall dates back to the 14th century, and it’s one of Europe’s best preserved medieval fortifications.
It’s really impressive. It used to be 2.4 kilometers long, and today, 1.9 is still standing.
I think it’s what gives Thailand its beautiful, medieval, fairy tale charm.
I think it’s so cute.
When you’re a kid you hear about the fairy tales, and the knights, and the castles and the Princes, and you think it’s this wild imagination, but here in Tallinn, it’s real.
It’s so cute and it’s so amazing.
Your imagination becomes a reality.
Apparently, in the 17th century, this church behind me was one of the tallest buildings in the world.
Let’s go and have a closer look.
We were about to go in the church.
You said it was the tallest building in the 17th century?
We can’t go inside because there’s a wedding being held in there.
I’ve never seen a steeple so tall before.
It’s so long.
Apparently, it’s been hit by lightning like for or five times, and each time it’s been burnt to the ground, so I’m really not sure why they built a steeple so high.
We’re in Raekoja plats, the town square, which was a popular meeting place for locals and a few executions.
One of the most famous executions was that of a priest who was served a really bad omelet, and he killed the waitress with an ax.
Not exactly a good reason.
Anyway, today there’s a lot of cafés around, so we’re going to go try and find some lunch.
Something I think really enhances the feeling of this Old Town are all the people here dressed up in medieval traditional clothes.
I think it’s really cool.
I just bought some roasted almonds from one of them, and they taste really nice.
What Estonian people miss the most when they’re on holiday is the black bread.
It’s Estonian rye bread, and it looks like this.
It looks like a bloody brick.
It’s so heavy.
We bought—for two Euro, we bought 1.5 kilo of black bread.
And it weighs a ton.
This is crazy.
Apparently, it tastes best with cheese.
Let’s has a bite.
That’s really good.
That’s really nice.
It’s really thick and very dark.
Yeah really thick.
Next we’re going to visit the most beautiful street in town.
They say that this is the most beautiful street in Tallinn, and it really, really is pretty, but to be honest, I think the whole Old Town is just beautiful.
Now we’re going to go check out Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral.
We’re standing outside Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral, a Russian orthodox cathedral which has become sort of an icon of Thailand, which some of the locals find a bit annoying, because they see it as a symbol of oppression from the Russians.
Let’s have a look inside.
Well they wouldn’t let us inside.
We have no idea why.
No, that’s the second time it’s happened today with churches.
I think it looks really cooler from the outside.
Those dome on top are really colorful, it’s a great structure.
Since we can’t go inside, we’re going to walk around the corner and apparently there’s a great view overlooking Tallinn.
I think it’s the best way to finish our day here.
Tallinn Estonia Why You Should Go Now!
It’s amazing how many assumptions we have about places we’ve never been to before, all thanks to TV, media and where we were raised.
Tallinn in Estonia was for me one of those places…
One of my favorite Swedish comedy movies is about a bunch of old single men going to Tallinn to bring home a girlfriend/wife.
Because of this silly movie I used to think that was what Tallinn was about, but I realized very quickly how wrong I was, and actually felt a little embarrassed by my judgments.
Although Tallinn indeed had many gentlemen cafes and bars tucked into the backstreets, the UNESCO world heritage city had so much more to offer.
The Old Town was one of the most beautiful and well preserved medieval towns I’ve seen – and believe me, during the Europe Train Challenge we’ve seen A LOT of old towns..!
Founded in the 12th century, the city with its ancient city walls, high church spires and red roof tops was an irresistible sight.
Walking around on the cobble stoned streets and alleyways lined with medieval houses in mixes of German, Russian, Swedish and Danish architecture, you felt as though you had taken a step back in time.
To add to the experience, shop keepers and restaurant waiters were all dressed up in medieval outfits.
Some people might have found it a bit tacky, but personally I think it enhanced the feeling and made it easy to imagine what life would have been like a few hundred years ago.
Why take everything so seriously?
Play around a little, let go and have some fun!
Amazing History & Wonderful Food!
There was history around every corner, even many of the doors you would find walking around town had a quirky story behind them.
We also had some pretty memorable food experiences:
… eating the biggest pancakes I have ever seen at Kompressor, stuffing ourselves full with big plates of Estonian marzipan and buying several kilos of black bread – we almost felt stupid to be leaving this place which seemed to have everything.
I wasn’t the only one enjoying Tallinn so much so that we gave it a thought of perhaps settling down.
Everyone I talked to was here for the second, third or fourth time, and we were all staying several days longer than planned.
Best Christmas Market In Europe
Tallinn is the Europe Capital of Culture 2011, and there were (and still are) tons of things going on every single day, from folk music dances to concerts to work shops.
But even if though there is only one month left, you can be sure that the final month will be one of the best, with a Christmas market ranked as one of the very best in the whole of Europe.
I must say that I found the people in Tallinn being the friendliest out of the Baltic countries – even those who you could tell were in a bad mood couldn’t help but to help you out anyway!
Have you been to Tallinn, if so what did you think?
Venice, Italy – Rococo and Glamour
Venice with all its bridges and canals, narrow cobbled streets and the beautiful Venetian Gothic architecture makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in the world of ”Giacomo Casanova”.
To make you experience it even more the best time to visit would be during the Venice Carnival when the streets are crowded with people dressing up in traditional Venetian masks and colorful 18th century costumes.
Edinburgh, Scotland – Medieval Ghost Town
Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, with historical closes running like a maze through the medieval gothic houses, covered in black stains from a time when it was one of the most polluted cities and used to be called ”Auld Reekie” (Old Smokey).
But there is something slightly ghostly about this city, especially at night, and the truth is that it’s one of the most haunted cities in the world – so if this makes you slightly worried, make sure you arrange travel insurance before you leave.
To really get into the mood of this haunted city and get a glimpse into the life in the old days, you can take several different tours.
There are many ghost tours at night which take you around the closes and underground, with guides disguised as famous ghosts of Edinburgh.
Vienna, Austria – Rococo And Coffee
Follow in the footsteps of royalty and take a stroll in the huge gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, sip some coffee and take a bite of your Sacher torte in one of the many pretty cafes that look the same as they did 200 years ago, and where famous artists, philosophers and composers used to hang out.
It is easy to pretend you’re in a different era, catching a horse wagon instead of the bus and buying tickets to classical concerts from salesmen dressed in white curly wigs and read coats.
UK is full of history and amazing castles, and today there are many cool variations of tours you can take which have fun themes like Murder Mystery or Haunted Adventures.
There are as many as FIVE haunted places in Kent, which explains the many tours offered:
You can visit haunted castles, and stay in haunted hotels, and in the evening throw a twist on the dinner party and have a Murder mystery play with actors.
Where you try to solve the mystery of who had murdered the victim.
Kent offers a lot of these kinds of tours, and of course one of the most popular is a trip to the most beautiful haunted castle in UK: Leeds Castle.
A Tip To Seeking Out History!
Many places in Europe like to celebrate their history with festivals and carnivals – in Scandinavia and UK you will find many different medieval festivals, in Austria you will find classical music festivals and so forth.
A good way to really experience a country’s history is to attend these kinds of festivals, so before you plan to visit a country, make sure you check if they have any of these kind of events on (usually during summer) – it could be a fun bonus to your trip.
Traveling Through Europe In A Crisis
This summer we spent about 5 weeks traveling around Europe, and everywhere we went, people talked about the crisis and how it had affected their country.
We spoke to a lot of people, and often got to see the results of the crisis first hand – this left a big impression on me, and I learned a lot about how people from different cultures deal with the same situation…
Cuts, Loyalty and Pride
One Portuguese woman we met gave us a great insight into how the Portuguese people dealt with the crisis.
She was a nurse, and in the last three years her salary had been cut with 60%, but she felt lucky that she still had a job at all.
She said that the worst thing for the Portuguese was having to move abroad in search for other jobs, it was a failure beyond having a lousy salary in your own country.
She said that they would rather have a bad paying job and remain in the country, than having to move abroad to survive.
Everyone we met in Portugal had different opinions on their future.
While one person said that the Portuguese would make sure they paid everything back because they were too proud not to, another person said that it was in their history to always mess everything up; “Whenever we finally have a chance to succeed, we always f*ck it up”.
Strikes and Suicides
It was amazing to think of how we had managed to travel by train through 35 different countries last year without ever missing a single train, because this time around we faced problem after problem.
The worst part, however, was not the actual incidents, but how everyone reacted.
When standing on the platform waiting for a train in Belgium, we were told it was cancelled because someone had just jumped in front of it and killed himself.
The first reaction of everyone around us was not shock, not even a tinge of surprise, but: not again…
A guy standing next to me said that people committing suicide by jumping in front of trains “happens all the time” in the country, and is becoming increasingly common.
In Portugal, train cancellations were even more common – our little week long trip in northern Portugal turned out to be a week of strike after strike.
Out of the 4 trains we took that week, all of them were cancelled due to strike (making everyone wait for hours).
The strange thing was how the ticket sales people dealt with it.
When we asked where the train was (nobody EVER said that it was cancelled, or why – unless provoked), one saleswoman even denied that there had ever been a train due to arrive at all.
It wasn’t until we showed her our tickets that she became quiet, left the booth for 10 minutes, then came back and wrote us a new ticket – and finally explained that it was a strike going on (when we asked for a third time).
Matter of Opinion
The fascinating thing about people is how they view the same issue.
One Belgian woman we met, who was (incidentally) working for the government, said that she hadn’t really noticed a big difference in their economy.
A few days earlier, a man who had seen us filming, came up to us and had a very different opinion about the situation in the country – he wanted us to film him giving ‘a message to the people’ that Belgium wasn’t as un-affected as it seemed
The 5 Best Castles To Visit In Europe
What the best thing about Europe was, many people mentioned the castles – Europe has an abundance of incredible castles that are so well kept you feel like you’ve instantly stepped back a few hundred years in time.
Here are five castles in Europe, they all stand out in their own way, are all very different from each other and are unique for different reasons…
The Most Beautiful Castle – Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Choosing the most beautiful castle in Europe is probably the toughest one as we all have different tastes, and our judgments are all based on many different things.
Personally, the biggest is not the most beautiful in my eyes.
Maybe I should blame it all on the hundreds of fairy tale picture books that brainwashed me as a kid, or the picturesque Walt Disney castle I saw every time I watched a movie, but to me a beautiful castle has to have tall spires, and be perched on top of a hill. Disneyland Paris vs Walt Disney World Orlando – Which Is Better?
While traveling by train in the gorgeous Graubunden area of Switzerland, I saw many beautiful castles perched on top of mountains, but the one that best describes a beautiful castle for me is Neuschwanstein in Germany.
The Neuschwanstein Castle is breathtaking with the beautiful snowy mountain peaks in the background, two lakes and the many spires in different sizes.
Not surprisingly, the Walt Disney castle is said to be inspired by this one, which might be why it to me represents everything a castle should be.
The Largest Castle – Prague Castle, Czech Republic
Ok, this one is really hard to define, as many castles call themselves the largest based on different terms and measurements, but I won’t get all nerdy about how it’s measured, instead I will just refer to Guinness Book Of Records.
So, according to Guinness, the largest castle in the world is Prague Castle, in the Czech Republic.
It dates back to the 9th century and is situated with a beautiful view over the city.
The castle district also houses the beautiful St. Georges Basilica and St Vithus Cathedral, with the most beautiful stained glass windows I’ve seen.
The Most Expensive Castle – Bran Castle, Romania
Many castles in Europe are cultural icons and have a long history, which make them priceless.
Putting a price tag on some of the castles in Europe like the Windsor castle in England would be unthinkable, nobody would simply be able to afford it.
However, this is not the case with Bran Castle in Romania.
Archduke Dominic von Habsburg, grandson of King Ferdinand of Romania (and also a New York architect), put the castle up for sale in 2007.
The Bran Castle has been the home of many royalties in Romanian history, most importantly, the home of Vlad Dracula III, nicknamed the ”blood thirsty prince” and Vlad The Impaler, the figure of whom the famous vampire Dracula was based.
They expected to sell it for $135 million, which would have made it the most expensive castle in the world.
However, nobody bought it, so the castle was instead turned into a museum, which personally I think is a much better idea.
Things to Know When Planning For the Perfect European Trip
Planning For the Perfect European Trip?
Look at it this way: You like going on trips, and you’ve decided that this time around, Europe is your destination of choice.
You want to go for a European trip.
However, there are a few things that you really need to consider and keep in mind as you get down to planning for this trip.
Here’s a simple list that you’ll find very helpful:
You Can’t go on a European Trip Without Valid Travel Documents
For you to travel in Europe, you need a passport to enter the various countries in the continent.
You also need a valid visa.
All those documents should be legally issued.
In most cases, you can be allowed entry to a European country only if your visa is valid and indicating an expiry date of between 3-6 months from your date of entry into the country.
Also, be smart enough to get your train and bus tickets validated before you hop into any trains or buses.
You don’t want the train police to run into you and find you with a ticket that’s not validated. You risk a heavy fine for that.
You Should Notify Your Credit Card Company Before Departing
If a credit company finds out that a card is being used outside the country without their knowledge, they could block or suspend it with immediate effect to avoid a bad case of fraud or identity theft.
You avoid this by letting the company know that you’re going for a trip outside the country so they know you’re the one using the card out there.
In addition, you need to load your card to ensure you have enough money to finance your full trip.
It’s also smart to pay for expenses using the local currency.
This will go a long way in lowering the charges added when you swipe your card to pay in dollars in a foreign country.
Downloading The Appropriate Apps Can Be Very Useful
If you really need the best experience during your European trip check out this website Routeperfect find the best and most helpful apps and download them before you start your trip.
For example, Google Maps will help you find your way around tricky streets and highways.
Google Translate will help you translate the local dialects and save you the pains of language barrier.
In fact, Google Translate has been synchronized with Word Lens.
You can now translate streets signs and other texts by just training your camera on them. That’s great!
You Need to Mind the Time Zones
The best way to cope with the time differences during your European trip is to try to adapt to the time zone of your intended destination even before you get there.
You start taking your naps and food at the time that it’s done at the destination.
That way, you’ll have a better chance of adapting fully and faster once you get there.
You don’t want the time zones messing up your good mood for the trip, do you?
Ready Your Travel Accessories And Footwear
If you’re planning a great European trip, chances are that you’ll be moving around a lot, and that means that you need to be well-equipped for the adventure.
To that end, you’ll need good shoes as well as USB adapters and portable chargers.
You don’t want all your electronic accessories getting power-drained and shutting down in the middle of Europe.
Don’t forget to carry a water bottle too.
You can always refill it at the public water fountains.
You also need a small, portable medical kit or medicine bag where you put some emergency basic medications like pills for stomach ache or headache.
Remember to carry a watch too so you can keep good track of time.
Decide on When And Where to Visit
You realize that the whole world goes by seasons, and Europe is no exception when it comes to the warm and cold seasons.
Before you embark on your European trip, first make sure you’re targeting to catch the season of your choice there.
Do you want to enjoy winter or summer in Europe?
Make your choice, and while at it, decide on which fun activities attract you and are active during that particular season.
Also, you need to know where exactly to go to catch the action of the season.
You’re not going for a European trip just to traverse the continent with no fun activities to join in.
That would be both funny and somewhat crazy.
Make Your Reservations Early
The good thing about planning for your reservations early enough is that you get to find the most appropriate places with the most affordable rates.
With a trip planner, you can accomplish this.
A trip planner map can also map your chosen destinations and tourist sites on a map and help you come up with the best and most appropriate route to use during your European trip.
Have A Credible Budget
The worst you can do is go on a European trip without a clear budget.
That’s a sure way of tossing yourself into a financial hole.
First, you need to come up with an estimate of how much you want to spend on your trip, and you do that by doing a rough estimate of the total of the various expenses you expect to incur, and then add some extra money as an emergency fund.
Once you have decided how much you can spare for the trip, you can then set about allocating and reallocating funds to the various activities that you want to engage in while on the trip.
That’s how you come up with a good budget.
Anyone who wants to go for a European trip would surely find the above great points most helpful in their planning.
If you can keep these things in mind, you can expect to enjoy the best trip of your life.
Driving VS. Flying Holidays in Europe
Driving between destinations in Europe is usually not faster than flying between them, but it is often more enjoyable and less expensive. Driving VS. Flying.
Here are some reasons to consider getting behind the wheel on your next trip through Europe:
Memorable Europe Road Trips
Sitting in a cramped seat in coach, or enduring lost bags, delays, and bumpy landings – air travel can be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Taking the time to drive between countries gives travelers a chance to really experience the landscape, from the towering fields of sunflowers in Eastern Europe to the perilous hairpin turns of the Alps.
Watching the scenery change while listening to music on the car stereo is one of the simplest yet most profound pleasures of a road trip.
Driving through Europe allows greater scheduling flexibility.
Travelers can decide to linger another day in a quaint seaside village, or make a spontaneous day trip, without having to worry about missing or rescheduling their flight.
This freedom can be the difference between an ordinary holiday and a once in a lifetime experience.”
Flying down the unrestricted zones of the autobahn in Germany is a dream come true for many gear heads, as is zipping down the Strada Statale 163, the coastal road that connects Sorrento and Salerno.
The Col de la Bonnette, one of the most famous roads traversing the Alps, is the highest road in Europe.
Tackling these destination drives makes travel the focus of the holiday, and not just a means to an end.
Get Away From It All
Air travel is a convenient way to get from one big city to another, but it often means missing out on huge portions of countries.
After seeing the sights in town, visitors can drive out to the countryside for a completely different perspective.
So if you’re planning to go away for the holidays, choose your dates wisely…and check your fares on Airfares Flights
On long trips, driving through and overnight stays in country villages can provide much-needed relaxation, as rural areas are often less expensive, more friendly, and free from tourist crowds.
Depending on the route, a road-trip for a family of four can be many times cheaper then flights.
The team at Motors.co.uk compared the cost of travelling abroad by plane, versus automobile, to some of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations.
The cost of flying a family of four: two adults and two children, departing on a flight from London to Florence – priced at £2097 is well over the comparable price of £730, based on the same size family travelling to and from the same destination in an economy sized car– which includes a ferry crossing from Dover at just £120.
Driving through Europe can make for a very enjoyable holiday, but a small amount of planning goes a long way: GPS, in addition to maps, will help drivers stay on track. Overcome your fear of Flying
Money for and knowledge of toll routes is advisable, as is medicine for motion sickness for passengers (especially on mountain roads).
Learn where congestion is common – for example, many roads in France turn into parking lots as vacationers escape to the countryside in July and August.
Romantic Weekend Breaks in Europe
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!
I thought that since today is the most romantic day of the year, I would inspire you with some cozy places in Europe to take your sweetheart on a romantic weekend break this weekend!
This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday, pretty bad timing stuck in the middle of the week, making it difficult to do anything more romantic than visiting a restaurant.
But instead of just giving your darling a flower bouquet and some chocolate, why not look for some last minute deals and add a little note inside the bouquet with two tickets for a romantic weekend break away?
February is off-season in Europe, which means that you will find some awesome holiday deals and be able to splurge for less than usual, both when it comes to the flight tickets as well as accommodation.
But to make sure you really get it cheap, I’ve put together some romantic places that will keep your wallet happy.
Here are some places that are perfect for romantic weekend breaks even in winter time…
Which is your favorite romantic place to visit?
What will YOU be doing for Valentines day this year?
Save Money Renting a Car
Finding an affordable car rental service in Europe is not difficult.
However, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind to Save Money Renting a Car.
Always remember that the car that you select will directly affect the rate you are charged.
If you select the right vehicle, you will be surprised at how less you have to pay.
Let’s look at a few ways you can select an affordable rent a car service:
Locating a Car Rental Service
The first and foremost thing that you have to consider is finding a good rental car service.
The thing with rental car services it that their do not charge a standard rate.
You may be charged more for a car at one service, while another service may give you a substantial discount on renting the same car.
This mainly depends on the rental service.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to research in advance before making a final decision.
There are many ways you can locate a reliable rental car service.
If you are in Europe visiting a friend, you can always ask them or search on the internet.
Save Money Renting a Car
You may be in Europe for holidays or business.
Either way you should be vigilant in looking for a reliable and affordable car rental service.
The best way to do this is to ask the locals.
They are usually aware of which car rental service is the best.
If you are visiting a friend in Europe, you can ask them to help you with this.
Just be sure to go through a couple of car rentals before you choose the one you think is best.
On the other hand, if you are on a vacation and don’t know anyone there, you should ask a tour guide for help.
You may need to ask a couple of people until you receive the right guidance but nevertheless it is one of the best options.
Make sure you get the names of a few car rentals and then compare the rates they charge.
The one that offers you the best value for your money should be your preference.
Another way to look for a reliable car rental service is search on the internet.
You can do an internet search even before you board a plane to Europe.
Research the company’s reviews online and their rates.
A great idea would be to devise an extensive list with the services offered by each car rental.
This will give you a general idea of the car rental rates in the area.
The main reason you should be doing this is so you are not charged a high rate.
There are certain car rental services in Europe that allow you to book a car in advance.
This facility allows you to select and reserve a car even before you get to the outlet.
You will have a car waiting for you when you get there.
Extensively researching the rental service you want to choose may take some time.
However, you will be able to find the best price possible.
There are instances when the price difference between car rental companies may not be as much.
But even the slightest price difference can go a long way if you are travelling on a tight budget.
Besides that, it is always a great idea to save as much money as possible.
Choosing a Car to Drive
It is important to research car rental services before you make a decision.
However, there is another aspect of renting a car which can affect the final price extensively: the car you choose.
There are quite a few reasons why your choice of car affects the price significantly.
Moreover, you have to vigilant in selecting a car in consideration of your convenience.
There are quite a few things to consider when selecting a car.
If you do not make a wise decision when selecting a car, you could end up paying a hefty amount for it.
Moreover, you could end up ruining your trip.
You may end up getting stuck in traffic every now and then, break down.
In a pinch, we recommend being able to do minor repairs and being able to source parts if need be at wWw.SparepartStore24.co.uk.
Then there is the small matter of having to spend a hefty amount on gas or diesel.
The first thing that you have to consider when selecting a car is its size.
This is one of the most important aspects.
There are many places in Europe where driving a large car can be a problem.
The streets are narrow and if you are driving a big car, it would take you a lot of time and effort to get through.
Small cars are easier to maneuver.
Even on the wider roads, you will be able to maneuver a small car easily.
You can save a lot of time when travelling from one place to another.
Since you will not be stuck in traffic, you will save a lot of money on gas as well.
Cars consume more gas if they are being driven in low gears, which is the case when you are stuck in traffic.
Another thing that you absolutely have to consider is the type of transmission you select.
Do keep in mind that the type of transmission you select will significantly affect the price.
If you are in Europe, you have to select a manual transmission car to keep the rental costs low.
This is because automatic transmission cars are more expensive to rent.
This is mainly because European cars are mostly available in a manual transmission.
If you rent an automatic transmission car, it will be kind of a luxury option.
Moreover, you may not even find an automatic car at a regular rental service.
The rental services mostly provide auto transmission cars on special order.
Only choose an automatic transmission car if there is no other option available.
If you know how to operate a manual transmission, it is best to stick to it and save some money.
Use the above mentioned tips to select a car and you will be able to manage your expenses easily. Photo Credits (1, 2, 3 – 2)
With thousands of performances in hundreds of venues over a span of 25 days, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a massive arts celebration.
Taking it all in is utterly impossible.
What is possible is devising a sensible plan that makes it possible for anyone to enjoy the highlights that matter most to them.
Planning on attending Edinburgh Fringe Festival Top Tips
If there is a particular show or performer you’re dying to see, make certain to buy tickets in advance.
Actually, it’s possible to buy advance tickets for many events, but it makes sense not to overbook yourself.
One of the most wonderful facets of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is its spontaneity.
Leave yourself some time to relax and talk to people in pubs.
Also, leaving yourself with plenty of free time makes it possible for you to enjoy the impromptu parties and events that seem to spring up out of nowhere without having to worry about sticking to a schedule.
Get your hands on a festival program as soon as you can.
Get really familiar with it so you’ll know which performances are must sees and so you’ll be able to locate venues easily.
The program is free and you can order it in advance to study before leaving home.
Keep it with you throughout the festival to help you plan your days.
While you may have a favorite plan for each day, keep several contingency plans in mind as tickets tend to sell out quickly.
Festival fatigue is a common problem in Edinburgh.
Fight it by wearing comfortable shoes and clothes.
This is not the time to try out sky high heels and miniskirts.
Aim for sensible shoes, jeans, T-shirts and perhaps a raincoat.
Carry a tote with a water bottle and a few portable snacks.
The festival is huge and chaotic, making it easy to lose track of meals and proper hydration.
Those who are attending the festival alone need have no fear of remaining so.
The convivial atmosphere and spirit of inclusion quickly make everyone feel at home.
You’ll meet a few lifelong friends in addition to some temporary drinking buddies.
However, the festival is also welcoming to whole families.
Check out the program to discover a multitude of performances geared specifically toward children.
Attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an unforgettable experience.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place in August every year and there’s already a packed program of shows, plays and other events that can be viewed and booked on the festival’s official site.
What Is Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city.
Every year thousands of performers of all kinds perform on stages all over Edinburgh.
From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes theater, comedy, dance, physical theater, musicals, operas, music, exhibitions and events.
Tickets & Deals
Although you can buy tickets online already now, it’s worth noting that you’ll be able to pick tickets up from the box offices during the event – assuming they haven’t sold out – and there’s also a huge range of free entertainment in venues and on the streets.
It’s quite hard to escape the fun of the Fringe!
Half-Price Hut and Free events:
If you don’t have any particular plans for the day you can always swing by the Fringe Half-Price Hut during the festival and see what tickets are on offer for half of their usual price that day.
There are also plenty of free shows on offer during the festival, not to mention all the discounted tickets and 2 for 1 ticket deals.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival Accommodation
Unsurprisingly, finding somewhere affordable and cool hotels in Edinburgh to stay during the festival gets more difficult as August approaches.
With this in mind, it’s best to decide when you are going to visit and make bookings as soon as possible.
There are a number of hostels situated in and around the city center which offer great value, some of these even offer private rooms.
Again, these can book up very far in advance during peak season so you’ll need to sort your place now, another option is to stay in apartments in Edinburgh, which we did last time we were there.
Staying outside of the City is an option for those who want to pay less or who have left it too late to find suitable accommodation in the center.
You could choose to stay in the nearby Port of Leith, which is within easy bus and even walking distance of the action.
Or, for a country holiday feel, pitch up at a glamping or camping site outside of the city – this is a great idea for those who want to combine the busy festival life with some wind down time and you can go as basic or glamorous as you like, thanks to specialist facilities like this Wigwam camp.
Edinburgh is often associated with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest art & comedy festival, but it’s not this festival alone that has given the city its nickname as the “festival city”.
In fact there are over 12 festivals taking place in Edinburgh every year.
Rather than shining the spotlight on the already well known Festival Fringe, we’ll share some other great festivals in Edinburgh coming up next month that are well worth checking out …
Edinburgh International Festival (9th August – 2nd September)
With the first festival taking place just after the horrors of World War II, the event’s founders aimed to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”, and enrich the cultural life of Scotland.
Now staged primarily in The Hub, a truly breathtaking building just next to Edinburgh’s famous castle, it is one of the most famous festivals in the world.
Drawing in the finest purveyors of classical music, opera, theater and dance from all over the globe, it’s helped put Edinburgh on the map, with many repeat visitors wooed by Edinburgh’s jaw dropping architecture and undeniable charm.
This year’s festival looks back to the founder’s original intent, to uplift the human spirit – and with a triple-dip recession looming, we could all use a little of that.
Highlights for 2012 include visionary theater director Silviu Purcărete’s take on Gulliver’s Travels, a chance to catch the dance stars of the future with an exciting triple bill from New York’s famous Juilliard School, a playful and innovative take on My Fair Lady in Meine faire Dame – a Language Laboratory, and a return performance from one of the world’s greatest opera singers, Waltraud Meier.
Edinburgh Art Festival
2nd August – 2nd September
Despite the International Festival running for over 60 years now, the visual arts tend to have been neglected.
In 2004, the Edinburgh Art Festival set out to change all that, with the help of the EIF.
The vast majority of events and exhibitions taking place as part of the month long festival are completely free, designed to encourage as many people as possible to discover the latest and greatest artists from around the globe.
This year’s festival is the biggest yet, with a series of new public art commissions and more than 45 major exhibitions taking place throughout Edinburgh’s many established and independent galleries.
Alongside exhibitions covering the work of David Hockney, Picasso’s contemporaries and 100 works selected from the rarely-glimpsed Royal Collection, emerging artists take over the city, including a new exhibition from someone you’ll usually catch on the Fringe, comedian Harry Hill.
Edinburgh Book Festival 11th – 27th August
Britain’s biggest book festival, even more ambitious in scale than the famous Hays Festival, this celebration of all things literary sprang to life in 1983.
Founded by publisher Jenny Brown, its existence earned Edinburgh the coveted title of UNESCO’s first City of Literature in 2004.
From its humble beginnings, where it played host to just 30 authors, today’s festival now offers up more than 800 writers and events.
From encouraging new writing through its commissioning program, to encouraging first-time writers through a fascinating series of talks and workshops with established authors, it’s one of the most popular festivals in the country and sells out sharp.
This year’s event welcomes more authors than ever before, including William McIlvanney, Simon Armitage, Iain Banks and A.L. Kennedy.
Fantastic Food Festivals In The UK
The summer brings with it many delights – the chance to shed a few cumbersome layers of clothing, time to be outdoors, the opportunity to catch up with friends who live just that bit too far away to visit in the blustery depths of winter and of course, food festivals and other UK Celebration!
If you’re anything like us, the latter will be of great importance as you plan where to head to best line your (not so bikini ready) belly with the best mouth-watering treats around.
Here are the food festivals we dare not miss out on this summer…
Llangollen Food Festival, Wales, 19th-20th October
From Farmhouse made chocolates, to award winning smoked Anglesey wild sea bass, to the finest local honey, you’ll find many expected and surprising nibbles at the Llangollen food festival.
There will also be cooking demonstrations and workshops throughout the day and the chance to pick up a variety of new recipes, to give you some ideas to try out in your own kitchen. website: llangollenfoodfestival.com
Rock Oyster Festival, Cornwall, 21st- 23rd June
Taking place over the long midsummer weekend in Rock, north Cornwall, is this fabulous celebration of all things delicious that come from the sea, and more – from the best oysters you’ll taste all year, to pulled pork sandwiches still hot off the spit, to Peruvian cuisine the festival is a true celebration of tasty delights.
Set in the grounds of the wonderful 17th century Dinham estate, you also get a view of the Camel Estuary, which in our view can’t be equaled…
NB – just as an aside – if you’re tempted by the lure of Oysters – The BBC Good Food Guide are offering the chance to win entry to the festival PLUS a 3 night stay in a luxury cottage with Latitude 50 – find the full details here on the BBC site.
Isle of Wight Garlic Festival, 17th – 18th August
As the name suggests, you will find rather a lot of garlic at this friendly and informal food festival.
This is not all though; as the festival also boasts mixed food stalls, baskets of wonderful produce to take home, a generously sized beer tent and more besides.
Falmouth Oyster Festival, Cornwall – 10th-13th October
Don’t let the name deceive you, as this thriving festival set in the pretty harbor town of Falmouth is a feast for all the senses and there’s more to this one than oysters.
Try oodles of shell fish, lobster and crab fresh from the boats, to the sound of sea shanty singing, warm chatter and boats races.
There are also marquees brimming with crafts and edible produce to take away with you.
This is a jolly affair: we recommend bringing the whole family or plenty of friends to getting involved in the party.
If you’re a fan of the cheese then this festival will send you be right up your avenue.
From Wensleydale, to Cheshire and Stilton, and even some more experimental cheeses, such as chocolate chip cheese(!), you’ll be impressed and delighted by the quality and range of produce on show here.
Many celebrity chefs attend and besides the main event there will be plenty of other produce such as honey, horticulture, floral art and livestock to see, with everything else from shire horses to stunt men!
A truly English day out.
Let’s hope to Great British summer provides the weather!
Though we’re sure you’ll enjoy these fabulous festival come rain or shine.
Stuck At Heathrow Airport – A long airport layover can be a pain no matter the country, the airport or how prepared you are. Of course some airports are better than others when it comes to finding ways to entertain yourself for 8 hours, 12 or more.
Heathrow Airport is just a few miles away from Central London, it’s location, amenities, activities and possibilities certainly take the win.
Heathrow airport hotels offer you many options to catch up on your sleep, get going with your work or just have a place to relax.
The airport’s fantastic location also makes it possible to take a quick day trip to do some exploring on extra long layovers.
Ideas to do when stuck at Heathrow Airport
It also boasts excellent duty free shops where you can pick up perfumes, liquor, cosmetics and more at enviable prices.
With about 85 stores to shop, shopaholics won’t be bored.
Shop ‘til you drop
If it wasn’t already an airport, Heathrow could be one of London’s glitziest shopping centers.
Walk the bookstores, pick up your souvenirs and, if your budget allows it, visit some designer labels like Alexander McQueen or Zara.
Heathrow is also a great place to relax or indulge. Journey to Terminal 5 and wander through T5 Gallery to view a remarkable art collection.
This calm and reflective place is the perfect spot to gather during a hectic day of travel.
Spas are located in several of the terminals, with services like massages, manicures and professional makeup application being widely available.
You can also perk up your shoes with an old fashioned shoeshine!
Go on a whirlwind tour of London
There is so much to do and see in London!
No matter if you have 40 minutes or 3 hours, there are so many available tours that will take you through Central London.
Visit historic landmarks such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square or even the area of Windsor.
The options are endless and you can even venture out on your own if you’re brave enough to take a train into Paddington Station or the Underground.
Grab a bite to eat at Heathrow
Sitting at an airport café or restaurant is a great way to spend time during a layover – Heathrow airport has many great options that also offer fun people watching.
Curb your hunger by visiting eateries that specialize in everything from gourmet coffees to upscale seafood.
You can grab a quick bit to go, dine in style, feed the family or sip a good Guinness at a busy pub.
an authentic British experience, try bangers and mash or fish and chips at the Dining Street Restaurant.
Have time to venture out for some great food? Head to “Little India” for some authentic Indian food.
Treat the kids
Hanging about an airport with children can be incredible stressful for the entire family.
Other than booking a local hotel, parents usually have few options to keep kids entertained during a long layover.
Heathrow Airport is just a jump away from top amusement parks such as Thorpe Park and Legoland.
Thorpe Park is packed with thrill rides while Legoland offers plenty of entertainment for little ones and big kids alike.
Whether you stay at the airport or choose to venture farther afield, Heathrow’s perfect location and many transportation options makes it easy to enjoy even the longest of layovers.
You’re heading to distant lands of creeping jungles and mysterious shanty villages.
You’ll head there and trek through wet marshlands, endless rain forests and stunning mountain ranges.
But not yet – because you’re trapped in an airport.
Indeed, if you kick around an airport for long enough, you’ll start feeling unsettled.
The clean, clinical corridors; ghostly figures chugging coffee in a percolated daze; baggage spinning round and round the metal carousels – if there’s anything more likely to put a dampener on your holiday, it’s an airport.
But there are plenty of ways to make your time at the terminal fun – you just need to arrive prepared.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few ways for you to make your airport stay enjoyable.
Take a look and enjoy.
Fun Things to Do When Stuck At Heathrow Airport
Trying to find a parking spot in an airport is like negotiating Daedalus’ maze.
You could drive almost endlessly and still struggle to park your car.
Not to mention that you’ll have to park so far from your terminal that your trek to the airport will become a Lord of the Rings-style quest.
But the cream of the airport crop can offer you airport meet and greet services that will lighten your load.
These services will pick up your car at the terminal, and drive it to a safe location until your return.
Just imagine being able to head straight to your departure area without the hassle of parking.
It’s an airport user’s dream.
Plug and play
You’ve come prepared – you boot up your laptop and get started on your latest World of Warcraft adventure.
But what’s this?
Your battery indicator is flashing and there’s no plug in sight.
And then, with a phutting noise, the screen dies.
Before you lounge in your terminal, find a seat close to a plug socket.
These are the most prestigious chairs in the departure lounge, so guard yours like a dragon guards gold.
If you’ll be setting up camp in international airports, invest in some universal adaptors.
That way, your precious laptop will always have some juice.
Stuck in the Airport VIP Lounge
If you choose the right airport, you don’t have to take root in a dodgy departure lounge.
For a small fee, you can upgrade your time to gain a VIP experience.
What will the extra pennies get you?
A luxury lounge, free drinks and snacks, Wi-Fi, a big-screen telly and even gaming systems to keep your kids quiet – it’s so luxurious, you won’t even want to board your flight.
When going on a trip or on vacation, you always have a lot to organize and to remember.
This applies to all methods of travel – car journeys, bus trips and train rides – but there’s nothing more stressful than flying.
With the check-in, strict hand luggage requirements, security checks, passport control, navigating the airport and ensuring that you don’t miss your flight, flying can be stressful at the best of times.
Here are just a few tips on how to make the whole flying thing a little easier…
Check-in online before you get to the airport
Most airlines now let you check-in online, allowing you to print off your boarding pass at home or to have it sent to your smart phone.
Checking-in online is simple and straight forward, and it means that you no longer have to queue at the check-in desk or have to get to the airport super early.
If you want to check-in hold luggage, typically airlines will have a baggage drop-off where you can simply drop-off your case.
Nevertheless, you should be at the airport about 2 hours before take-off to be well relaxed.
Try to pack as light as possible and be realistic about what you will and won’t actually need on your trip.
It can be tempting to pack for all possible occasions and weather eventualities but in those cases, you’re not going to use half of what you’re carrying.
If you’re flying budget and your trip is only for a short period, try sticking to just taking hand luggage.
This will save you having to pay to check-in luggage and save you the hassle of having to check it in and then wait to collect it at baggage reclaim – and you won’t have to worry about lost luggage!
If you do have to check baggage in, then keep your hand-luggage to a minimum, using a smaller bag you can fit under your seat.
This will save you the stress of fighting for space in the overhead lockers for a larger bag and from having to carry around excessive luggage to the gate.
However, trying to travel carry-on can sometimes turn out being more stressful than simply checking in your luggage, since you will be charged a hefty fee if you’re not allowed to bring your bags as carry-on.
The best way to stop worrying is to buy an approved “carry-on sized bag” so you know the measurements are correct, and bring a digital luggage scale with you so you can make sure your bag weighs under the maximum limit.
Arrange airport transfers before you fly
The third important step towards a stress free and long awaited travel is the airport transfer.
For most flyers, the biggest concern is whether they will arrive get to the airport on time to catch their flight and whether they’ve given themselves enough time.
Particularly when you’re relying on public transport, you have the added pressure of having to catch the bus or train in question on time to reach the airport in a timely manner.
To save you this added stress, a good option is to opt for a private airport transfer service like the one from Blacklane.
That way you can relax knowing that you will be picked up on-time, that you don’t have to worry about carrying all your luggage and that you can leave your driver to navigate you directly to the airport in the comfort of a luxury vehicle.
In the same way, this also applies to your onward journey once you’ve landed at the airport and want to reach your desired destination.
Having these three essentials in mind, there is nothing keeping you from exactly what a nice trip should be – a stress-free and relaxing vacation.
How to Survive Being Stuck at the Airport
Flying isn’t a rare opportunity like it used to, especially thanks to all the special deals and discounts you can get, coupons or other sources that make it more affordable than ever.
However, sometimes, for reasons out of our sphere of control and power, our journey might go not the way we wanted it to and we may find ourselves stranded at the airport for hours or even days.
If that happens, how do you survive the ordeal?
Do you get stressed about it, complain about it for the entire period and start planning to sue somebody or start a boycott campaign?
Before all that you will have to manage to stay alive and well for some period and not bore yourself to death, though.
So, how do you survive the possible absence of modern amenities?
Here are a few helpful tips from somebody with good experience:
Curve out your territory
Can you sit down on an airport waiting chair for two days?
Therefore, stake out your territory for the next few days you’re going to be stranded.
And do it early enough!
Start setting up plenty of padding down on a strategic corner of the floor- it’s going to be your “home” for the next few days.
Trust me, you’re going to need a great deal of the scarce comfort to survive this.
Lay down your scarfs, hats, even some of the pants you’re wearing to create a temporal bed space.
And remember to stay as close to a power outlet as possible – who who knows, you could even meet a potential date as his or her iPad gets dry and they start coming for some extra power from your “power-corner kingdom”!
Make some friends and acquaintances
This one is connected in a way to the point above, and it’s not to be taken lightly.
When you’re at a strategic position like near a power outlet, you’ll be better placed to make lots of new friends and acquaintances.
Then you can while time away by discussing what would possibly happen in the next season of Game of Thrones or why the production of Sons of Anarchy should never have ended!
You could also discuss some politics, for instance, about the latest developments in North Korea and the nuclear-armed Indian Subcontinent.
And while at it, don’t forget to request the cute Eastern European damsel seated across you for her phone number!
Jot down something about your travel escapades
Stuck in the airport VIP lounge
Even if you’re not a travel blogger, you could make good use of the current downtime to start documenting some of your globe-trotting adventures in the past few years.
Remember that dream you had five years ago of becoming a part-time writer?
That near-death experience with Bushmen in the jungles of Papua New Guinea?
Trust me, somebody will love to hear about it somewhere.
Maybe it’s time you had your own travel blog, by the way!
Try and find other innovative ways to pass the time or revive older past-times
Apart from the above three ways of whiling away time while stuck at the airport, other tips include:
Playing airport gourmet
Use your own meal budget to collect random items from airport food services and put together a culinary airport masterpiece.
Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a thing or two about the airport and the local cuisine as well.
Every day we learn something new.
Whip out your deck of cards
When is the last time you played a good game that wasn’t digital?
Whip out that deck of cards stuck in your backpack and have some quality time with your friends or even new acquaintances!
Finally, don’t forget to make elaborate plans for stocking supplies, you never know what can happen.
Try to avoid lots of airport food and get some exercise from time to time.
All in all, you are going to have plenty of free time, so better find something to do that you can spend hours on and be passionate about.
And pray your next airport to get stuck in to be Hong Kong International Airport – a 4D theater, a Playstation getaway, and an aviation discovery center where you experience virtual airplane flying in a cockpit simulator are some of the packages here!
Road Trips in Malaga Spain, For some fun in the sun, a day trip to the beaches of Costa del Sol may be in order.
Whilst in Malaga, Spain you can take a short road trip to the mountainous village of Ronda, divided by the gorge of the Tajo River it has the oldest bull fighting ring in the country.
Another excellent day trip for those who love ancient architectural handiwork, lovely gardens and magnificent views- Gibralfaro Castle and La Alcazaba Palace.
Exploring Spain is such a big part of travel, why not hire a car in Malaga and go for a visit to Marbella, visit art galleries and quaint bistros, a busy, bustling city that has an amphitheater and many historic buildings. Granada is also a must see for its lovely 9th century palace.
Road Trips in Malaga Spain
Here’s 5 great road trips you must consider when traveling to Malaga, Spain:
The Beaches of Costa del Sol
Crowded beaches during the summertime do not stop visitors from enjoying a day in the sun.
Off season, the beaches aren’t quite as crowded.
Stop at the bay to enjoy a day of fishing and some peace and quiet and enjoy fresh fish or gazpacho for lunch at one of many restaurants to complete your day trip.
Costa del Sol’s Gibralfaro Castle and La Alcazaba Palace
To get to Gibralfaro Castle you’ll have to climb a bit, but once there the views below are gorgeous, especially the night lights.
Take a tour of the Moorish fortress, La Alcazaba Palace, it’s noted for its ancient watch towers, lovely gardens, patios and beautiful architectural design.
Ronda’s Plazada Toros
The village of Ronda is vibrant, with many historical sites such as Plazada Toros, the oldest bull fighting ring in Spain.
A day trip nearly 2 hours west of Malaga is well worth the drive, the mountain views are breathtaking.
Visit this bustling village’s museum to learn about the ancient sport of bull fighting, check out the historic landmark, the Town Square, and visit the Church of the Holy Spirit while in Ronda.
Marbella, an Artists Dream
Art galleries and shops lining the streets give Marbella its charm and lovely character.
These are just some of the attractions Marbella has to offer.
Take in a show at the amphitheater, have lunch at one of many Spanish bistros, and stop to enjoy the beautiful view of the coast.
Granada, The Alhambra Palace
Tourists and residents alike enjoy a tour of the gorgeous Alhambra Palace.
This lovely old palace overlooks the city of Granada.
Walk around the gardens adorned with wild flowers, enjoy relaxing on the patios, and take in the ancient early 9th century architecture of one of the oldest palaces in the country.
Explore Marbella on a Budget
How To Do Malaga On A Budget
Malaga is a large city in the southern Spanish region of Andalucia and capital of the Malaga Province – the largest city on the Costa del Sol, Malaga offers beaches, hiking, architectural sites, art museums, excellent shopping and cuisine, which can turn into a very expensive vacation if you are not prepared.
So, firstly make sure you allocate yourself a budget for each day and really try to stick to it – sort out budgeting before your holiday and research what you’d like to do each day.
Pre-Book For Discounts
Try to find potential online discounts that can be used to buy tickets in advance.
For example, when buying tickets for the water park ‘Aqualand’ in Malaga you can save a total of €12 on tickets if you buy in advance online allowing you to enjoy your day further either saving the extra money or treating yourselves to an ice cream cooling you down in the summer sun.
If you are booking with a large travel agent then I always recommend asking them for free advice. They will be used to giving out advice and would know where the best and cheapest attractions are.
Shop Like A Local
Go to the markets to buy fruit, vegetables and presents etc.
Malaga has a huge market every Thursday bustling full of people trying to give and offer you the best deal.
Make sure you haggle as much as possible even if you struggle with the language barrier.
As long as the seller is making a slight profit they’ll be happy to sell.
Leather bags for example could have a price tag of €40 but it’s often likely that if you haggle and smile sweetly the price will easily lower to around €15 helping you save money and stick to a budget.
When you see a product you like, set a price in your head of how much you can afford to pay and ensure you pay no more.
With so many similar products it’s likely that they’ll be a stall that will haggle down to your lowest offered price.
Get The Meal Deals
Choose to eat in as much as possible.
There are loads of supermarkets like ‘supersol’ offering family meal deals costing as little as €5 for a family of 4.
This is a huge reduction from the likely €50 you’ll spend if eating out saving you 90% of your funds.
I would also suggest visiting Atarazanas Market, an attraction in itself, but also a great place to buy fruits, vegetables, bread, meat and fish.
However, I can totally understand the specializes of eating out and would advise choosing an area such as the Mariana in Benalmadena where there’s high competition and therefore you’ll always be offered competitive low prices and potentially free drinks or cocktails helping you to save as much as possible.
Enjoy The Free Stuff
One of Malaga’s biggest assets are the beautiful beaches, that are free for everyone to enjoy.
Spend some time in the morning, relax in the sun and go for a couple of swims, and after lunch you can check out some free attractions in town.
There are some things that are free every day, but many attractions have certain days where they offer free admission to visitors.
If you plan ahead, you can find out which days to visit each place to get in for free.
Malaga’s center for contemporary art, CAC, is a great museum with free entry every day, and a stroll around the Botanical Gardens in the city park is free and always enjoyable.
Then you have Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castle which are free on Sunday afternoons, which are an absolute must to see.
Never Accept The First Club Price
You have to remember that Malaga is not a typical romantic getaway.
You may find more party animals than loving couples.
So if going out to enjoy the nightlife in the evening, people will be desperate to get you into their bar, never accept the first deal they give you.
Similarly to the markets, make sure you haggle as much as possible helping you to stick to a budget.
Also, bring a specific amount out that you’re prepared to spend as to avoid coming home totally bankrupt.
An example of bar deals is being charged €15 to go into an ice bar and then being charged to buy drinks on top of that when actually they’d happily give you 2 free cocktail and entry into the bar for just €5.
As long as the business is making a slight profit margin they’ll be happy to give you a deal, not only is it good business for them but also means you’re more likely to return or recommend the place to friends.
Finally, the best piece of advice I can give to doing Malaga on a budget is to pre-plan everything, you can find deals in Malaga online, from ticket entrance fees to the flights and hotel booking.
Look online to find a Low cost holidays discount code or go on search engines and see what other travelers are getting deals for.
If you’re searching for a city break like no other this year, look no further than this historic capital of the Czech Republic – Prague!
Offering two amazing towns, each spectacular in their own right, there’s so much to see and do here it’s hard to know where to begin.
Not only does Prague offer sometime for the entire family, but it’s also a great place to dwell in the romance of the city with a loved one for a day or two.
Surrounded by European heavyweights, Prague’s cuisine has been influenced throughout the years, and there’s a great selection of dishes to try too.
Let’s take a look at the top attractions of the Old Town and the new, and see if you can be persuaded to book your ticket to Prague this year!
Prague Czech Republic
Prague: The Old Town Vs. The New
Prague’s Old Town Square is one of the oldest places in Europe, and dates back over 700 years.
Prague Old Town Square
Not only are you taken on a journey of historical discovery just by walking through the square, but the view that surrounds you is something to be savored and cherished.
The Old Town Square is around 5 minutes’ walk from its New Town counterpart – Wenceslas Square.
Prague Old Town
With its magnificent churches, stunning cathedrals and beautiful architecture all around, it’s hard not to feel humbled here.
The Old Town started out life as the city’s central marketplace back in the 12th century, and even since it has been the focal point of tradition in Prague.
Book tickets to Prague and join the thousands of tourists every day that visit the Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque buildings that house cafés and restaurants and the perfect places to sit and watch the world go by.
Prague New Town
Founded by Charles IV in 1348, the New Town isn’t really new at all – it’s just newer than the Old Town!
This part of Prague also offers an array of historical monuments that seamlessly combine with the luxury shops and restaurants for the ultimate city-break experience.
New Town has taken shape over the years with waves of modern development, however the traditional essence of the area remains whole intact.
New Town is a lot bigger than the Old Town, in fact it wraps around it in some places, like the banks of the River Vltava.
Prague River Vltava
Combined with the Castle District and the Lesser Town, these four areas make up the whole of the city.
If it is your first time in Prague, then the New Town is the best place to stay.
The Old Town is only a few minutes’ walk away, so you’ll be able to get your fill of Prague’s history, and all the modern elements of the city are right on your doorstep too!
Be sure to take the tram to the Castle District, as the views from the top of the hill are spectacular.
Prague Castle District
Guide To Vegetarian Restaurants In Prague
We had been told that being a vegetarian in Prague would be boring and even difficult, so imagine our surprise when Prague turned out to have some of the best vegetarian restaurants we’ve been to in Europe.
Walking down the streets of Prague you won’t find a single vegetarian item on the normal menus (except maybe a cheese beer snack!), but there are some true gems hidden in the city.
The trick is to know where to find them, because unless you know where to go chances are you will miss them.
They’re not located on the main tourist streets, but in the corners and side streets.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or are just tired of all the meat plates and feel like something different, here is a guide to some vegetarian restaurants in Prague…
Maitrea is my favorite restaurant in Prague – the menu offers some yummy and interesting choices, and the food is absolutely amazing!
I highly recommend trying the “Traditional Sirloin with seitan, bread dumplings, cream and cranberries”.
They also have some great vegan options, the cake in the photo for example is a raw vegan chocolate fig cake – yum…
The service is friendly and although the beer is above the average price, the food is cheap (around 150 koruna for a main course) and really good quality.
The design in the restaurant is really cozy and welcoming, so people end up sitting for much longer than usual.
It’s a popular place so during lunch hours it can get pretty busy.
Address: Týnská ulička 1064/6
Open: Mon-Fri 11:30 to 11:30 p.m., Sat-Sun 12:00 to 11:30 p.m.
Run by the same people who own Maitrea, Clear Head has to be one of the cutest restaurants ever.
There are two rooms, the one we were seated in had a cute mushroom fireplace and a beautiful roof which looked like a starry sky.
The food was really good and cheap, and they serve a kick-ass half liter home made lemonade!
Address: Boršov 280/2
Open: Mon-Fri 11:30am to 11:30pm, Sat-Sun 12pm to 11:30pm.
Probably one of the cheapest restaurants in Prague, this non-profit Hare Krishna restaurant serves massive plates of mild Indian food for just 90 koruna.
This restaurant has no menu but serves a “meal of the day” instead.
The daily meal only repeats itself after six weeks so it doesn’t get boring.
It’s a little out of the way from the city center, but if you’re looking for a good, cheap and filling meal, it’s worth the extra effort.
Address: Orlická 2176/9
Open Hours: Mon – fri 11am – 8pm
I’ve included Loving Hut in this vegetarian guide because it’s a popular vegan food chain and they have as many as four restaurants in Prague, but to be honest I wasn’t too fussed about their food.
If you’re into Chinese however, you might like the food at Loving Hut.
Address: 20 Truhlářská, London 35, Plzeňská 8, Radlická 117.
Open Hours: 11am – 9pm
Dhaba Beas is also a restaurant chain run by independent owners, so each restaurant works slightly different from the other.
There are five Dhaba Beas restaurants in Prague.
At the one located on Týnská 19 they have a buffet where you can fill your plate with whatever you fancy from the buffet, and then pay by weight.
We really liked this idea over the “all-you-can-eat” buffets or fixed meals, as you really only pay for how much you eat.
On Bělehradská 90 street they have a menu of three different plates (small, medium and large) as well as a daily special.
All their restaurants are very popular and are quite busy during lunch hours.
Open: It depends on the restaurant, generally 11am – 9pm on weekdays, and 12pm-8pm on weekends.
Must-Try Local Food: Dumplings
A must-try food in Czech Republic are dumplings.
The czech dumplings are quite unique and can be made in a various different fillings; from potato dumplings and bread dumplings to sweet fillings such as plums.
Czech Republic dumplings
The fruit dumplings are especially good, and while you will often find it on the dessert side of the menu, it’s very common to have it as a main course as the dumplings are so filling!
Although the city center is usually a place to avoid, there is a great restaurant right on the Old Town square called Straromêstská which serves some great fruit dumplings with different toppings (2 dumplings are enough for one person, and they cost 44 koruna).
It’s not a vegetarian restaurant, but the fruit dumplings are all vegetarian and taste delicious!
I hope you found this guide useful for the next time you visit Prague, and if you would recommend any other vegetarian restaurants in Prague share them in the comments below!
I knew that Prague was a place many travelers visit on their Europe trips, but I never expected it to be such a difference from any other beautiful neighboring city like Vienna, or Budapest.
One of our favorite moments after having explored the medieval squares, gothic architecture and beer, was to cross the river to the park which you can walk through to get up to the Castle District.
Prague Czech Republic Travel Video
The first impression we got of Prague was how both me and Nathan who usually count ourselves quite tall (Nathan with 6’3 and me at 5’9) ended up somewhere on the middle of the scale here – people were generally very tall, and some guys were just gigantic!
It was a beautiful town to stroll around in, and while walking up the hill to the castle district we were suddenly surrounded by fruit trees and thick forest, and surprisingly, not a single tourist around.
Most tourists seemed to go on the so called “free” tours, so even though the city was packed with tourists, they were all quite organized in groups and the city didn’t feel overcrowded.
Prague is a city where many people let themselves go, try the “green fairy” and drink half liter beer pints from dusk til dawn.
With the friendly outspoken people there I can see why so many people go to Prague.
Bone Church of Sedlec: A Freakish Beauty!
While many places around the world are becoming more and more similar to each other – strange places fascinate and stick out even more.
I love visiting strange places because I always feel like I learn something from them, and one of the places I’ve wanted to visit ever since I heard about it was the Sedlec Ossuary close to Prague.
Bone Church of Sedlec: A Freakish Beauty!
Located in a small town called Kutna Hora in Czech Republic, the Sedlec Oussary is perhaps the creepiest place I’ve ever come across.
Beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints, skeleton bones from 40,000 – 70,000 people are artistically arranged in the most incredible formations, adorning the inside of the church in various decorative ways, from lanterns in the corners to long festoons hanging from the ceilings.
Cemetery Church of All Saints
Walking down the steps to the center of the room, a huge chandelier containing every bone in the human body hangs above your head.
The most impressive art-work was the Schwarzenberg coat-of-arms, where a bird made out of bones is picking on a skull resting on shoulders (that are actually the hip-bones).
But nobody can deny that it’s also beautiful.
The bones were once stacked by a half-blind monk in the 16th century, but in 1870 a woodcarver was employed by the Schwarzenberg family to put the bone heaps into order, yielding this freakishly beautiful result.
In today’s modern west when death is becoming something increasingly unfamiliar and distant to people, the Oussary was a great reminder for me how fragile we are and how short our time on earth is.
Exploring Prague Photo Essay
Known as the “Golden City of 100 Spires” and a “Symphony in Stone”, Prague is one of Europe’s best preserved cities.
Unlike most of the other major cities in Europe, Prague managed to escape the devastating bombs of WWII.
The reason for this is that Prague was one of Hitler’s absolute favorite cities.
Apparently Hitler intended for Prague to be the arts and culture capital of Nazi Europe and thus ordered it to be kept intact.
Today Prague boasts beautiful and varied architectural styles ranging from the Renaissance and Baroque right up to the art nouveau and cubist styles of the 20th Century.
Prague Czech Republic
Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most famous icons, dating back to 1357, replacing another bridge that collapsed in a flood a few years earlier.
It is said that egg yolks were mixed into the mortar to strengthen the new bridge.
Since Charles Bridge has survived many floods (including the worst flood in 500 years back in 2002), the egg yolks were perhaps not such a bad idea after all..!
Charles Bridge Prague
Prague has a history dating back more than a thousand years, and perhaps because of its many old buildings and streets that have survived centuries of turbulence, it comes as no surprise that it’s also said to be a haunted city.
The “Mad Barber”, “Headless Lady”, “Begging Skeleton”, “Murdered Nun” and the “Drowned Maid” are just a handful of many ghosts that apparently roam the streets and old buildings.
Symphony in Stone
Even Franz Kafka and his friends apparently heard strange and disturbing tremors, and beating drums underground.
But then again it wouldn’t be surprising if they had flushed down a few Pilsners before.
After all the Czechs are some of the heaviest drinkers in Europe (42 gallons per capita a year), and they even invented the Pilsner..!
Prague Where You Drink Beer Like Water
The first thing that surprised us when we arrived at the train station in Prague was the size of the station: it was massive and felt more like an airport than simply a train station.
Who would have thought that you could learn so much about a city by just looking at the train station?
This place was very different compared to many other Eastern European stations we had seen with its many shops, cafes, several floors, and of course – hundreds of backpackers …
Prague Where You Drink Beer Like Water – Cheap Beer And Tall People
I knew that Prague was a place many travelers visit on their Europe trips, but I never expected there to be such a difference from any other beautiful neighboring city like Vienna, or Budapest.
Both cities seemed empty from tourists compared to Prague, but since most travelers in Prague seemed to go closely together in groups following the ”free” guided tours, the city managed not to feel too overcrowded.
Perhaps all the people were there for the promises of great cheap beer and beautiful girls.
And to answer the question, yes, the beer is great and it’s almost ridiculously cheap.
In Prague you can buy a beer for the same price as a juice or coke, so why not?
Prague Where You Drink Beer Like Water
People drink beer like water here, and if you don’t specifically ask for a small one, you’re guaranteed a liter on the table at any time of the day.
Food is also cheap, especially if you seek out the local hideouts a bit further away from the Old Town.
The second thing we noticed was how tall everyone was.
Both me and Nathan are usually considered tall, but with my 5.8 and Nathan with his 6.3 we ended up somewhere on the average scale in this place, which made me wonder what they had put in the beer…!
Beautiful Views And Peeing Men
One of our favorite moments after having explored the medieval squares, gothic architecture and beer, was to cross the river to the park which you can walk through to get up to the Castle District.
Walking among the fruit trees you get a great view over the Castle district and river, and you feel like you’re miles away from the city.
Another highlight had to be the peeing fountain, or rather, watching other tourists reactions by the fountain.
While people were busy touching the statue of St. John Nepomuk for luck on Charles Bridge, many missed the really weird statues of two men peeing on each other.
Those who happened to see it hidden in one of the squares outside Kafka Museum, however, found it hard to pose next to it in the photo.
As you know, all tourists insist on posing in front of every statue they see.
But how would you possibly pose in front of two moving…”things”?
Playing along or looking disgusted?
The older women had a bit of difficulty getting over their embarrassment, but the photo HAD to be taken..!
Top 4 Places To Visit In The Czech Republic
Home to some of the most beautiful Baroque and Cubist architecture to be found in Europe as well as some of the finest pale beers, the Czech Republic has seen a boom in tourism since the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of the late 80s saw the country cut its ties with Communist Russia.
Recently, it’s been struggling against Prague’s blossoming reputation as a venue for stag parties.
Cheap, sleazy nightlife, coupled with frequent instances of petty crime and raising prices, have put families and culture-tourists off from going there.
But even though travel insurance claims from tourists who have been pick-pocketed by bogus policemen and streetwalkers are common, it’s easy to stay safe, and even though some prices have risen.
If you are willing to dig a little deeper you will still find a great rate of travel money exchange, cheap accommodation and a cultural experience in the Czech Republic that is truly unique!
Visit In The Czech Republic
Here are four of the top cultural places to visit in the Czech Republic:
Moravia for Vineyards
This large region in the East of the Czech Republic is home to 94% of the country’s thriving wine industry.
It’s said that the tradition of grape-growing stems from 200 AD, when the fertile soil and limestone reminded Roman soldiers of home and inspired them to try planting their native fruit.
The lush and relatively flat countryside makes it a great place to cycle.
Bike through thousands of hectares of vineyards, stopping at cellars and co-operative wine shops to try local produce.
Best time to visit is in September, when competitions and festivals are held in the region’s larger towns.
The Sedlec Ossuary: for a spooky experience
Just over an hour from Prague, this small Roman Catholic Church Sedlec Ossuary houses the bones of between 40,000 and 70,000 people.
Artfully arranged to create grisly, intricate décor.
See chandeliers, altar decorations, family crests: all rendered in incredible detail out of every human part, from spines and skulls to the smallest finger bones.
It’s creepy, but beautiful at the same time..!
Prague Castle for ancient and recent history
See the hourly changing of the guard or wander across the Charles Bridge at night to see this ancient building gorgeously lit up.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Prague Castle is the largest in the world and has been renovated and updated over the years.
Resulting in an eclectic but beautiful mix of Gothic, Renaissance and 20th century styles.
Large portions of the grounds are open to the public, with a network of museums and galleries.
Historically the home of Bohemian kings, currently it houses Lithuania’s heads of state and the country’s crown jewels.
Reinhard Heydrich occupied the palace during World War II.
It’s said he succumbed to the temptation of trying on the Bohemian crown, which, according to legend, unleashes a curse on unworthy wearers.
He died within a year of coming to Prague.
Olomouc for the Pivní Festival
Visit this quaintly cobbled city in May to experience the country’s largest beer festival.
A hundred breweries converge for ‘Beerfest’, along with bands, paraphernalia collectors and thirsty tourists.
Don’t forget to take some time out from drinking to take in the large cathedrals and beautiful buildings that are spotted around the 1000-year-old streets.
Prague is a lovely city full of history, architecture and that grittiness that can only be described as charming.
It’s perfect for a weekend getaway at any time of the year, and there is a lot to see and do.
Here are 13 of our top picks of things to do in Prague …
Prague Travel Guide Castle District
Perched on top of a hill with views overlooking Prague’s river and its many bridges crossing over into the Old Town, the Castle District is a wonderful area to spend a few hours in full of Gothic architecture and beautiful gardens.
The castle grounds are free to roam, but some places such as parts of the St. Vithus Cathedral cathedral and the famous “Golden Lane” requires a ticket to visit.
It’s the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m².
Prague Petrin Hill
On your way down from the Castle District, we recommend walking through the Apple orchards on the Petrin Hill.
It’s a very peaceful and tranquil area and in summer when the trees are blooming the city feels a world away.
We did the walk up but it’s fairly steep, so it’s better to take the funicular up, check out the castle district and then walk down instead.
It’s a humbling thought to know that you’re eating in the very same cafe as some of history’s biggest names once did several hundred years ago.
In Prague, there are quite a few cafes that have survived the hardships for centuries, and that have managed to keep their charm.
You would expect these cafés to be overpriced, but we found that they had the same (or even cheaper) prices for coffee, beer and cakes as any other café in town.
Opened in 1914, this café has a beautiful Art Nouveau tiling and original decorations.
Among its guests were Karel Capek, Franz Kafka as well as Albert Einstein during his professorship in Prague.
First opened in August 1884, it quickly became a hot spot for lovers of culture and famous Czech poets, actors, writers and composers used to be frequent visitors at that time.
Keep in mind however that many cafes in Prague allow smoking inside …
Prague’s Charles Bridge
Adorned with 30 statues along both sides of the bridge, Charles Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe.
Built between the 14th and 15th century, this bridge has survived to tell the stories of a long-gone past.
The oldest statue on the bridge is of St. John of Nepomuk, and according to legend rubbing it will bring you good luck and a safe return to Prague.
Who knows if it’s true, but we rubbed it in 2011 and two years later we returned! 😉
Charles Bridge can get pretty busy during peak season and peak hours, so keep an eye on your belongings since pick pocketing is a common problem in crowded areas.
For these reasons travel insurance is always good to have.
Shop At The Weekend Markets
Every weekend there are some great local markets held in different areas of Prague.
These little markets sell some lovely fresh home made food, from cakes and cookies to cheese and bread.
During winter there will likely be a little stall selling hot wine as well.
This is where you will find some great traditional treats that are well worth trying, and the prices are cheap.
John Lennon Wall
This colorful wall really stands out in the medieval atmosphere in Prague, and it has an interesting history.
Beginning with the fact that John Lennon actually never visited Prague in his lifetime..!
The Love Lock Bridge
Close to the John Lennon Wall is a tiny bridge that continue on the same theme of “peace and love”, where hundreds of couples have locked their love onto the bridge.
Old Town Square Tyn Church
Old Town Square
With tall, dark gothic spires, the Týn church can be seen from a far distance, but no view is as good as the one from the Old Town square.
Surrounded by colorful buildings, the square is one of the meeting points in the city, connecting the narrow winding streets that lead off into the different areas of the city center.
There are often street performers on the square, and while many restaurants there are overpriced, Strarometska is an exception and is actually a great place for lunch and fruit dumplings.
One of Prague’s most popular sights, this astronomical clock is not only beautiful, it has an interesting story behind it.
Check out our Prague video to find out more!
Drink Czech Beer
Czech Republic is famous for its extraordinary beer at amazingly cheap prices.
After all it’s hard to justify paying more for a glass of juice than you would for a pint of beer..!
There are many great places to have a beer in Prague, from the Monastery in the Castle district to a murky bar in one of the side streets.
One of our favorite places were at Pivovarský Dům, they brew their own beer and along with their traditional beers you can find some interesting flavors – Banana beer, anyone?
Czech Republic Dumplings
Indulge in Dumplings
Czech dumplings are a must-try when in Czech Republic, and they come in all varieties; from meat to bread to fruit dumplings, they can be ordered as lunch, dinner or even dessert!
The fruit dumplings are quite unique, but keep in mind that they are extremely filling and it’s not uncommon to order the dumplings as a main course rather than a dessert.
Explore The Jewish Quarter
The Jewish quarter is a nice are of Old Prague with a lot of history and some great restaurants and cafes.
The Old Jewish cemetery is also located here, a thought-provoking place where the tombs are layered on top of each other, at one section reaching 12 layers.
If your eyes are sore from all the old buildings and you yearn for something more modern, there is a pretty cool church with the very long name “Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord”, located on Jiřího z Poděbrad Square (where there is also a nice weekend market).
The surrounding area is nice as it’s far from the tourist streets and give you a good idea of what local Prague is like, with tiny pubs and markets.
The Dancing house is also a must, located on Rašínovo nábřeží street.
Another interesting art-piece is the peeing fountain outside the Franz Kafka museum, where to male figures swing their hips from side to side, peeing into the fountain pond..!
Finally, a few last tips …
If you’re worried about Prague being too crowded, go there during the off-season.
We were there in February this year and although there were still tourists there, the streets were much less crowded than last time when we visited in June.
One thing to keep in mind when walking the streets of Prague is to never trust that cars will stop for you at pedestrian crossings.
Sometimes they will, but often they won’t even slow down, and a few even speed up..!
Night Train from Budapest to Prague
I boarded the train from Budapest to Prague without hesitation.
My friend and I had taken public transportation around Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and other parts of Eastern Europe.
By that time, it was something I did without thinking.
We always opted for the night train or bus because we saved money by not having to pay for a night in a hostel.
So here we were in the position of taking the night train from Budapest to Prague.
Little did we know, the Budapest to Prague route is not your typical train ride.
Taking the Night Train from Budapest to Prague
We got to our compartment and hunkered down for the night, determined to be well rested for our first day in the Czech Republic.
I locked the door and closed the curtains.
Exhausted after a day of exploring Hungary’s most well-known city, my friend quickly drifted off to sleep.
I stayed up reading our travel bible of the moment, Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring, in preparation for the next day’s adventures.
The train paused twice not far from Prague to pick up more passengers.
After the second stop, I heard the door handle to our compartment jiggle.
I reached for our tickets, assuming it was the conductor coming by to do his routine check.
But the conductor had a key and whoever was on the other side of the door didn’t.
Someone was trying to pick our lock.
I reached for the curtain and moved it slightly to alert the intruder that I was aware of his presence.
He scurried away.
Shaken, I sat back down on my bench.
What would I have done if he had persisted?
Five minutes passed and I felt like someone was watching me.
I looked at the window to the hall and saw a man’s eye peering in.
He caught my eye and disappeared.
I pulled out the scotch tape we used for scrap booking our travels and taped the curtains to the walls so there were no cracks.
I pulled our backpacks down from the top rack and told my friend to sleep on hers in case the intruder came back.
But that was the last I saw of the persistent prowler.
Needless to say, I did not sleep well that night.
At our hostel in Prague the next day, my friend and I joined in a conversation in the communal kitchen.
It went something like this:
Traveler 1: Whatever you do, don’t take the night train from Budapest back here.
Traveler 2: Oh yeah, that’s an awful idea. Don’t do it.
Traveler 3: Why not? I’ve taken lots of night trains in Europe.
Traveler 1: It’s dangerous. People break into compartments and rob travelers.
Traveler 4: It’s notorious for being unsafe.
[Chorus of agreement.]
At this point, I broke in and shared our experience.
I said I had been scared, but the door had been locked so I wasn’t too afraid of being robbed.
Traveler 1 looked at me pityingly.
Traveler 2 informed me that the keys that open the doors to train compartments are incredibly common in Europe; they’re WC keys and anyone can get one.
The Moral(s) of the Story
Even experienced travelers can walk into dangerous situations, so keep your guard up (within reason — don’t let fear guide your travels).
When in doubt about a night train route, ask your fellow travelers for advice.
If we had asked in Hungary about taking a night train to Prague, we wouldn’t have had to learn its dangers the hard way.
No matter how careful you are when you’re traveling, you’ll find yourself in a sticky situation.
When that happens, use your best judgment and hope for the best.
Use a money belt and secure your belongings at all times.
Taking the night train from Budapest to Prague was a great reminder about using common sense while traveling and staying safe while traveling.
While we all like to save and manage money while traveling, nothing is more important than your safety.
Italy’s Finest Hikes – Experience Italy in a completely new way by lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trail and Exploring the Great Outdoors – on one of Italy’s Finest Hikes
Here are some of Italy’s finest hikes:
Cinque Terre is on of Italy’s Finest Hikes
These five towns are perched on sheer cliffs above the Ligurian Sea and are connected by rail and hiking trails.
It’s best to try and visit in the off-season, as the trails are immensely popular and crowded in the summer.
You can check the Cinque Terre National Park site for the most updated information on the status of all of the trails.
The the towns’ candy-colored buildings and old-world charm are seemingly untouched by tourism.
Be sure to build in time in your hike to explore each of the towns.
A dip in the water at one of the beaches is a great post-hike treat.
Visit The Picturesque Cinque Terre, Italy
If you want to travel to the Mediterranean this year for your holiday, Cinque Terre should be at the top of your list of places to consider.
It’s part of the Italian Riviera and made up of five little seaside villages, namely: Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
The area has been protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Foundation since 1997 which means that the only way of getting around is via a public service of electric buses – cars are not allowed.
A few days holidaying in this part of the Mediterranean offers a really authentic experience too as many of the villagers will rent out their spare rooms to interested travelers.
One thing you must do if you choose to spend your holiday time in Cinque Terre this year is hike from Monterosso to Vernazza along the guided footpath.
It’s a brilliant and natural way to workout while on holiday and the views will make all your exercising efforts worthwhile.
Tuscany offers a series of diverse hiking opportunities covering dense forests, coast cliffs, medieval villages, amazing history and more.
A hike around the Anello del Rinascimento (Renaissance Ring) allows you to take in the nature and history of the countryside surrounding the city of Florence.
While the entire trail is 170 km long, you can utilize public transportation from Florence to enjoy a single section of the trail.
Depending on what part of the trail you experience, you will see country churches, castles, walled communities, and roads dating back to the Medieval and Roman times.
Other trails in Tuscany allow you to meander through the rolling Tuscan countryside and visit some of Italy’s ancient towns.
A trip out to Monte Argentario, a rocky promontory connected to the Tuscan mainland by two huge sandbars, is a great way to see wildlife.
Make sure you pack a pair of Bushnell binoculars when visiting La Feniglia Nature Reserve, which is on one of the sandbars, to be able to spot the wildlife there.
A short trip from Venice or Milan, the Domomites mountains have something to offer everyone.
Some of the paths are wheelchair accessible, while others require serious mountaineering equipment.
It’s possible to take multi-day treks, but remember that pitching a tent is forbidden, so make plans to stay in a refuge and make your reservations in advance!
Also, make sure plan ahead with the right equipment and proper footwear from Uttings Outdoor.
Break your boots in before the trip — a series of short hikes will help get you in shape for your hiking vacation.
For something different, try climbing one of Italy’s famous volcanoes.
Vesuvius is a good day trip from Naples and is the least difficult volcano to climb.
Stromboli is a bit harder to summit, but the island has glimmering black sand beaches to relax on afterwards. The sunset view from the top is hard to beat.
Vulcano is perhaps the stinkiest volcano, with the smell of sulfur apparent as soon as you step off the boat from Sicily, but it also provides a great view of the other Aeolian Islands and the opportunity to peer into otherworldly craters.
As it has recently been prone to belching lava, it may not be possible to climb Mt. Etna, but Sicily’s stunning beaches make for a lovely back-up plan.
How To Visit Venice On A Budget
Getting Around in Venice: To Walk or Boat in Venice
Transportation is pretty binary in Venice, and there aren’t many options when you visit this unique European city.
However, this ends up being the most interesting thing about Venice.
It’s the only city in Europe that has remained free of cars or any other type of sizable vehicles.
When planning your trip to Venice, be sure to pack a good pair of sneakers.
You will be walking a lot.
Your choices are to either boat or walk when getting around in Venice.
Getting around in Venice
Everyone who has ever visited Venice will tell you: It’s not if you will get lost.
It is when you will get lost.
It seems to be part of the initiation.
Inevitably, you will lose your way when you stroll through the many winding, narrow roads around this beautiful town.
Walking in Venice
There are a couple of things that are a must when walking around Venice. These tips will help you out.
If you are one of those people who thinks they can wing it and will always find their way around, then you might find your way into a country pasture or a six hour window of large crowds and lost time.
Sometimes this is just what the doctor ordered; however, if you are on a tight schedule, then you need to make sure you are prepared.
Understand the signs
There are many signs (usually white or yellow) to get you to your destination when walking in Venice.
However, it is really not very straightforward.
You need to understand exactly where you are going.
It is worth noting that some streets might share the same name or even be similar to the name you are looking to find.
You also really need to understand the wording on the signs as they are not in English so try to learn some useful Venetian phrases in order to ask directions.
Learn how to travel to Venice on a budget.
Getting Around the Canals
When talking to regulars or someone who has just visited, they almost always speak about the crowds, getting lost, and walking for hours on end.
If this does not seem very appealing to you, then you need to situate a water taxi ahead of time.
It can zoom you around in comfort and style to your chosen destinations.
Tips on Hiring a Water Taxi
Watch for high/low tide which can be difficult for getting off of boat
It can be pricey so you might want to share the price with your group.
Plan for ways to save money on your trip.
Know that when taking a water taxi, it can be a long walk to your destination from the pier
Make sure the driver has a valid driver’s license.
Look for a yellow stripe along with his number.
A great idea is to plan your airport transfer ahead of time.
This is definitely the quickest way to get to your bed when you are tired from your long flight.
When searching the web, you can find sites like Book Water Taxi Venice where it is possible to book a ride online and pay with your credit card or PayPal.
Knowing in advance about getting around in Venice will help you enjoy your stay that much more.
Venice is often referred to as “the sinking city” – a statement which is true, but there is also no major rush to visit before it’s too late, Venice has been sinking for the last 1,000 years.
However, at the time they built the city, there was no such thing as global warming or tourists, so they never prepared for raising water levels and the 20 million visitors that would crowd the small islands some 1,000 years later …
But they are working on it, since Venice needs to be saved – it’s beautiful, unique – and also a money-making gem.
Venice has in a way become a victim of its own popularity, it’s such a beautiful and unique place, but it comes at a price – a high one…
Before I went there I had heard about the exorbitant prices, the crazy amount of tourists and the feeling that nobody lives there anymore – like a ghost town …
Well – you know us, we stopped blindly believing in what we read online a long time ago.
You realize that people online love to exaggerate, and even if they were right about some things, there is always a way to get around those things and still have a great time.
Venice, Italy VIDEO
After leaving Switzerland, it was time to jump back on the train and head to Venice, Italy.
We enjoyed our time in Venice, even though it was pretty expensive & busy – you could also get away and find a quiet corner to relax and also find cheap(er) pizza.
We’re in San Marco’s Square. Sofia’s just been feeding the pigeons. They’re really tame.
That was really cool to seem they were just all over the place.
Standing here and I realized there were cafés all around the square and outside many of the cafés they have live classical music bands who are dressed up in tuxedos really fancy.
These are the places that have a nine Euro cappuccino. So let’s go closer and check out the prices.
Often when you go to a café to relax they’ve got the latest pop or rap music in the background, 50 Cent and Brittany Spears, that kind of stuff. Here in Venice, they do it differently.
You’ve got live classical music, guys and girls wearing tuxedos and formal dress. Beautiful.
It really is like an experience coming to this café.
Like I said though, these are the cafés that have cappuccino for about nine or ten Euro. So let’s go and order one maybe Cappuccino, nine Euro.
It is expensive, but I guess you get what you pay for. It’s absolutely beautiful here.
So we’ve seen the main attraction around San Marco’s Square, and now we’re going to go back into the maze of Venice.
Get away from the crowds and try some Italian ice cream. Maybe some pizza as well.
We went to a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years but for some reason never have had the time to see:
The historical, beautiful city on water that I had dreamed of going to – was right there in front of me – the narrow streets, hundreds of bridges and thousands of Venetian masks were no disappointment.
The only thing that surprised me was that the pizza I tried there just didn’t live up to expectations – maybe it’s just bad luck, but none of the ones I tried in Venice were any good!
And to be rudely honest, the best pizzas I’ve tried have actually been in other countries.
Sure, I give the Italians credit for having invented this awesome thing, but to be honest I think some countries have been inspired and taken pizza to a new level 😉
Maybe I just like people experimenting with food, trying to reinvent something rather than settling for the tradition is more my thing.
The Italians would probably laugh at me if I told them that my favorite pizza is one with banana, curry and peanuts as ingredients… trust me it’s nice!
How To Visit Venice On A Budget
We avoided the expensive hotels by staying at a cheaper one in Padova, a town 20 minutes away from Venice, using our InterRail passes to take a free train to Venice for the day.
We avoided the big tourist crowds by starting early in the morning – at this time the streets were close to empty, and you could enjoy the melancholic alleys and quietness of the town – alone.
We came here before the big tourist season, and the locals hadn’t fled the town, the kids were still playing football in the squares – the town was vibrant and alive with Italian flare.
We avoided the expensive Gondolas and Vaporettos by simply walking – it’s about compromising, and the Gondolas didn’t seem to be worth 79 Euro for ONLY an hour…Getting Around in Venice
We avoided the expensive food by eating away from the touristy areas – a full-sized pizza for only 3 Euro was what we had for lunch.
A cappuccino at St Marco’s square costs a whopping 9 Euro, while a few blocks away it costs 2.5 Euro.
An ice cream went from 2.20 Euro to 1.10 closer to the train station 5 minutes away.
You get the idea – it’s only expensive if you can’t be bothered to look around – so take that time, do a bit of research since Venice really can be enjoyed by anyone on any budget – as long as you make a bit of an effort!
Lost In A Misty San Marino Micro State
Get some useful information about San Marino here to make your trip more enjoyable.
The world is full of exotic locations that stir your imagination – countries that speak languages you’ve never heard of before, food you could never have imagined yourself, and traditions that show you how diverse people really are.
There are big cities and famous destinations like the Parises and New Yorks of this world, but then there are those smaller ones whose name you may have heard for the very first time.
If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable trip to a country that’s small enough to be explored at your own relaxed pace, then San Marino could be the perfect place for you.
Surrounded by Italy on all sides, the enclaved micro state San Marino is the oldest republic and surviving sovereign state in the world – dating back to year 301!
Perched on top of a hill, clinging to steep cliffs, is the country’s capital city “San Marino”.
The World Factbook states that at 61 square kilometers, San Marino is the 3rd smallest small state in Europe, its size being about a third of Washington D.C.
On the day we went to visit, the town which on a clear day offers views from all sides overlooking the hills and valleys of the tiny country, was instead hidden from the outside world by a thick mist.
Although I have to admit I was a bit disappointed to miss out on the awesome views, the misty atmosphere added to the medieval vibe of the town, which by the way was incredibly well preserved.
Reaching over the stoned walls it was impossible to see the ground below through the mist, which made it feel as though the fortified town was floating in the air – it was easy to see why Giuseppe Garibaldi (a leader of the Italian unification movement) chose the secluded San Marino as his hiding place when escaping his enemies.
In appreciation, he let San Marino remain independent when the rest of the Italian peninsula was forced to be unified.
During its long and fascinating history, the tiny country San Marino has survived by charming their way past big leaders like Napoleon – and still today it charms its visitors even on the grayest of days.
Things to do in San Marino
Just because it is small doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in San Marino.
As a matter of fact, there are a lot of attractions that can keep your days and nights busy.
It’s even an advantage that the area is relatively small, because that means you can explore it easily.
Here are some of the best activities and attractions you can look forward to when visiting San Marino:
Visit the Fortresses of Mount Titano
A visit to San Marino would not be complete without heading to its capital, the City of San Marino (locally known at Città di San Marino or simply Città).
There you’ll find San Marino’s highest point, Mount Titano, which has the most splendid views of the countryside, the Apennine mountains, and even the coast.
You can head to three different fortresses: Guaita, Cesta, and Montale.
Each fortress will give you a different part of history.
Rocca Guaita dates as early as 1253 and is the oldest of the three.
Cesta on the other hand contains the Museum of Historical Weapons, where you’ll find around 1,550 weapons from as early as the medieval times.
These fortresses and towers are a must-visit when you’re in San Marino, and the breathtaking views from the top of that mountain are to die for.
Hear Mass at the Basilica del Santo
A neo-classical style first Basilica built in 1826 before it was demolished and rebuilt, visiting this religious site is not only good for those interested in architecture and religion.
It has massive Corinthian columns and a beautiful bell tower, but more than that, it’s significant because this is where you can find the relics of St. Marino.
Explore the Quirky Museums
San Marino in itself is a living and breathing historical artifact, but there are a number of interesting museums you can explore.
You have the Museum of Curiosities, the Wax Museum, the Coin and Stamp Museum, and even the Museum of the Agricultural Culture and Traditions.
Another museum you shouldn’t miss is the Museo di Stato or the National Museum.
Watch the Changing of the Guard
The neo-Gothic Palazzo Pubblico is where you’ll find the heart of San Marino’s political scene.
It contains the town hall and is where all the important ceremonies take place.
The plaza in front of it is the Piazza della Libertà, where you’ll find tourists all day and where you can witness the Guardie di Rocca changing of the guard ceremony.
Sample the Local Cuisine
Food is a very important part of San Marino life, and you should never leave this place without sampling the best that local cuisine has to offer.
Enjoy the locally grown produce and the rich flavors of their Mediterranean offerings.
Local family-owned restaurants will surely tickle your taste buds with recipes passed on from generation to generation.
Make sure you sample the wine as well.
San Marino is the oldest republic and surviving sovereign state in the world
Aside from all these attractions, perhaps the best motivation for paying a visit to San Marino is that it’s actually the oldest republic in the world.
Established as early as 301 A.D., San Marino is also the oldest sovereign state with the oldest constitution that you can find, so visiting it today will be akin to traveling back in time and taking a piece of world history home with you.
With only 30,000 citizens, it is called The Most Serene Republic of San Marino and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It also has the smallest population out of all the countries in the Council of Europe.
It’s certainly a welcome break from visiting countries with dense populations and a lot of people.
Tourism is picking up, so you’ll most likely bump into a lot of tourists and visitors who like you would want to experience the San Marino magic.
Free things to do in Rome
Rome is probably not the first destination you think of when it comes to budget travel, but the great thing is that there are so many free things to do in Rome that once you have found cheap apartments in Rome – the rest of your budget planning is easy.
The city is practically an open-air museum, and there are so many historical sites that won’t cost you a dime – to give you an idea. Here are 7 free things to do in Rome …
Take A Stroll In Foro Romano
Stroll among the ruins of what once was the commercial, governmental and religious center of ancient Rome and its powerful empire.
Used as a venue for public speeches, criminal trials, gladiatorial games, it was the heart of ancient Rome and one of the most important meeting places in history – an ancient beauty not to be passed up!
Toss A Coin In Trevi Fountain
Rome is home to many incredible piazzas and almost as many fountains.
One of the most famous is the Trevi Fountain, where the Swedish beauty Anita Ekberg splashed in La Dolce Vita – a scene that would become one of the most iconic in film history.
The flamboyant baroque fountain was completed in 1762 by Niccolo Salvi, and legend says that if you throw a coin in the fountain over your shoulder you will return to Rome again some day.
Visit The Pantheon
The Pantheon is the oldest standing domed structure in Rome, built in 27 B.C. as a temple honoring the Roman gods (in 609 it was converted into a Christian church).
The structure is the burial place of several famous artists, and the reason for the huge 30 ft hole in the ceiling is still a mystery.
One of the most popular explanations is that the opening was built as a sundial to illuminate the emperor as he entered on important occasions.
It’s the largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the world, and a must see when in Rome.
Try Your Luck At La Bocca della Verita
Literally translated to “the mouth of truth”, this quirky sculpture is thought to once have been a piece of an ancient Roman fountain.
A legend from the middle ages has it that if you put your hand in the gaping mouth of this grotesque sculpture and tell a lie, you will pull out nothing but a stump!
Relax In Nature
For panoramic views of Rome, Park Gianicolo on Janiculum Hill is perfect!
Another great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the huge city are the fardens at Villa Borghese, some of the largest and most beautiful gardens in Rome and a great place for a picnic.
Check Out The Free Events
Summer is the high-season for free events in Rome, with music, film and theater festivals accompany wine-tastings and food events.
The International Urban Theater Festival has plenty of spontaneous and free dance, music and acting performances throughout the city in September.
The main summer festival, Estate Romana, is dedicated to outdoor performances and practically the whole of Rome becomes a stage.
During the festival hundreds of concerts, film showings, art displays and dances are held, many of them free of charge in all sorts of places, from the ancient ruins at Ostia Antica to open squares.
Visit These Two Churches
There are many absolutely stunning churches in Rome, but you can only see so many churches until you get so sick of them that if you see another church you swear you will go mad.
But before that happens, there are two amazing churches in Rome you should take the time to visit – the first one is St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Roman Catholic building in the world and an amazing work of art.
Make sure you rub the foot of the bronze statue of St. Peter before leaving, as it’s supposed to bring good luck!
The second church is San Clemente, which actually holds three churches in one.
Made up of three levels, the lowest one is an ancient worship site, the second level is the first version of the church as a Christian worship site and the third a sanctuary from the 12th century with beautiful mosaics!
3 Amazing Roman Architecture
The rise and fall of the Roman Empire may be ancient history, but Roman architecture is still on prominent display in countless European cities.
From arches to aqueducts, temples to baths, there is no shortage of places to admire the remains of the great civilization.”
While not as famous as the Coliseum or the Pantheon, here are three sites that demonstrate a range of architectural techniques and give visitors a sense of what it was like to live in ancient Rome:
Verona Arena – Verona, Italy
Built in 30 AD, this structure is one of the best preserved Roman arenas, and despite a damaging earthquake in the 12th century, it is still in use today.
Originally built outside the city limits, the arena accommodated up to 30,000 spectators, and Romans would flock to it to watch barbaric gladiator fights and other games.
The Verona Arena is famous for its wonderful acoustics, and it is a currently popular venue for opera productions and rock and pop concerts.
A great option is to stay in local Verona apartments and take in a show.
Villa Adriana – Tivoli, Italy
The Emperor Hadrian’s expansive villa, comprised of 30 separate buildings, is a testament to his appreciation of and influence on Roman architecture.
Built in the early 2nd century AD, Hadrian’s vacation home included vast gardens, multiple pools, theaters, libraries, baths, underground tunnels, and housing for guests and servants.
Especially interesting is the Maritime Theater, a pool with a small island in the center that could only be reached by drawbridge.
On the island was a small Roman house – allowing the emperor to retreat from his retreat!
The Ruins – Pompeii and Herculaneum, Italy
Destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, these Roman towns were buried under the volcano’s pyroclastic flows.
Pompeii is well known for its ruins, but Herculaneum’s ruins were even better preserved: the city was completely buried so even upper stories of buildings remain intact, and the hot ash preserved wood objects such as furniture.
There are bakeries, bars, luxurious homes, and brothels.
Sharp-eyed visitors will notice ancient graffiti and a “beware of dog” sign.”
Visitors can even come face-to-face with the towns’ last inhabitants; eerie plaster casts are all that remain of those who failed to escape the volcano and were quickly overcome by super-heated air.
Rome: History You Can Still Experience
Rome was once the center of a vast empire that spread thousands of kilometers.
While many of the empire’s cities have fallen and artifacts from the era have been destroyed, some are still intact in Rome.
This makes Rome a perfect destination for those interested in the history of the Roman Empire, and a trip there lets you experience the ancient architecture and understand the Roman way of life 2,000 years ago…
Preparing for Your Arrival
Before you can explore the rich history of Rome, you must first plan your trip.
Consider how you will arrive, where you would like to stay and what you would like to do during your visit.
Even if you are not quite ready to make your purchase, start reviewing the price of tickets and accommodations now.
Book your airfare and a place to stay in Rome as far in advance as possible.
Generally speaking, the sooner you make your reservations, the cheaper it will be.
This is especially true if you will be going during the high season, which is June through August.
During these months, airfare and accommodations will be more expensive.
Easter is also a very busy time of the year in Rome, and although you might find somewhere to stay, I would still suggest that you go outside of this holiday to really be able to enjoy your time there.
Essential Historical Sites to Experience
There is an overwhelming number of places to visit in Rome, but to break it down for you, here are some unique and captivating historical sites I recommend:
Easily the most recognizable and famous historical monument in Rome, this was once the world’s largest amphitheater.
Gladiators, lions and criminals were pitted against each other for the entertainment of the emperor and citizens.
It has been well-maintained and offers regular tours, allowing you to see the arena that once hosted life-or-death battles.
As the birthplace of this ancient city, Palatine Hill is home to dozens of historical sites.
From ancient buildings to sacrificial alters, you will be able to absorb the earliest history of Rome in this single location.
The foundation myth of Rome states that the city was founded in 753 B.C. by the twins Romulus and Remus, and they are enshrined throughout this landmark.
As the oldest historical site in the city, simply setting foot on the grounds imparts a sense of awe.
One of Rome’s lesser-known historical sites, it is also one of its best preserved. Ostia Antica was the port of ancient Rome, and this gateway traces its roots to the 4th century B.C. Ancient military camps, temples and the Baths of Neptune are all located in this well-preserved area.
This museum is home to hundreds of artifacts of Rome’s extensive history — from the Renaissance, medieval and ancient periods.
With so much history in the multi-building complex, this is a must-see for those looking to relive the history of Rome.
Perhaps the second most popular historical landmark in the city, Circus Maximus was once the largest primary sports stadium.
This arena hosted the famous chariot races and was capable of holding 150,000 spectators.
Explore Unrivaled History
The Roman Empire was the world’s first civilization of its size.
It spread all the way from Europe to the Middle East.
It originated technology and ideas that we still use today, such as roads and some schools of mathematics.
Rome was a center of commerce and knowledge for centuries.
Fortunately, due to pristine preserved monuments and historical artifacts, you can still experience the rich history of this once-great Empire.
Verona – The City Of A Love That Never Was
Known as the city of Romeo and Juliet, Verona is the location of the most romantic and tragic love story of all time.
Every year 1,600 Japanese tour groups stop for one hour to stand on “Juliet’s Balcony” and rub the boobs of Juliet’s statue on the square below for good luck.
Nobody seems to care (or even know) that the romantic couple never actually existed, or that Shakespeare had never been to Verona.
However, the fighting Capulets and Montague families were inspired by the real families of Capello and Montecchi who lived in Verona at that time.
And despite the fact that Shakespeare had never been to Verona, he could not have chosen a better city to base a love story in.
Dark Alleys & Lovely Piazzas
Romance is everywhere in the little town of Verona, and while Juliet’s balcony is the one people come to visit, there are romantic little balconies decorated with flowers everywhere along the dark winding alleyways that suddenly open up in large piazzas full of life.
Piazza delle Erbe is the most charming of the squares in Verona, and has been a marketplace for over 2000 years.
You can have a seat at one of the elegant cafes or sit grab a gelato and sit down by the 14th century fountain or the 15th century Berlina shrine (once used for public elections and punishments of guilty citizens) while taking it all in.
Past & Present Side By Side
Just like many other picturesque Italian towns, Verona’s rich history blends in with the present; scattered among modern shops and bars are chips of Roman columns, old facades, a Roman theater and medieval reliefs.
There is even an arena dating back to 50 AD (older than the Colosseum in Rome) which is still today used for concerts and events!
Relax & Have A Drink
Aside from the passing tour groups on their way to and from Juliet’s balcony and the train station, Verona has a calming vibe which slows you down and makes you appreciate the small moments of everyday life on the streets.
The outside seating at the many small Trattorias (Italian Café/bars) are full of people enjoying a few glasses of Aperol Spritz and chips in the sun.
A great place for an Aperol Spritz and chips is Attimo Caffé at Lungadige Porta Vittoria 19a, a popular hangout spot among the town’s university students – it has a cute little outside seating area in the sun, and prices are cheap.
In general you’ll find that prices are cheaper on that side of the river than in the city center.
Take In The Views
Walking along the narrow streets (and even narrower sidewalks!) you’ll find little love stories everywhere in Verona, but the most romantic place in all of Verona, is at the Castell San Pietro, a favorite spot for romantic couples.
Climb the steps up the hill to get the most amazing sunset view overlooking Verona with the river and bridges below (including Ponte Pietra, a beautiful bridge dating back to 100BC) and the snow covered alps in the backdrop.
There is much more to see and do in Verona, but these were among our favorites.
What are your favorite things about Verona?
Best Health Resorts in Italy
The best health resorts in Italy will help you to relax and greatly enhance your quality of life.
Most people rush through life taking little time to care for themselves.
They hurry from one responsibility to the next, neglecting to indulge in the relaxation and recreation that could greatly enhance their quality of life.
While the valley, Ortisei and the Dolomites are lovely, most people come here for the wellness resorts.
Foremost among these is the Hotel Adler Balance.
In all public areas and private suites, resort management has provided painstaking attention to detail.
There are no jarring lines and no wrong notes in the color choices.
Everything is designed to soothe and relax.
From the muted music pouring softly from state-of-the-art speakers to the tasteful art collection, the Adler Balance is aimed at producing a calming effect.
It’s virtually impossible to feel rushed here.
Ordinary stress simply melts away under the influence of muted tones and beautifully designed furnishings.
Each suite is luxuriously appointed to cater to an excellent night’s sleep.
Sliding glass doors allow in copious amounts of natural light. Even better is the balcony that lies beyond.
Each is equipped with a comfortable seating arrangement and a breathtaking view.
Back inside, guests enjoy spacious proportions that are enhanced through the use of natural building materials and textiles.
The bathrooms are particularly impressive.
Each has an extravagant wellness tub where guests can soak their cares away.
The tea bar and minibar featuring organic fruit juices are welcome alterations on the usual hotel room offerings.
While it would be tempting to spend inordinate amounts of time in the suites, there are plenty of enticing activities to experience elsewhere.
The hotel offers a number of different packages, each of which is tailored to the guest’s specific health and wellness goals.
Some packages are designed to enable weight loss while others provide helpful strategies for coping with stress.
The main idea is that guests utilize their time at the hotel to learn new techniques and then apply them to their everyday lives back home.
The result is a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle in which the individual is better able to balance responsibilities with taking excellent care of themselves.
Adler Balance achieves this goal using a number of methods.
In the gorgeous dining room, guests enjoy items from a diverse menu of al a carte meals or adhere to a nutrition plan that is personally designed for them by the resort’s medical personnel.
Regardless of which option is chosen, diners can expect superior cuisine that draws heavily on fresh, local produce and traditional dishes.
The theme of health and wellness is also exemplified in the property’s Water and Wellness World.
It’s a sumptuous oasis of indoor and outdoor pools, spas and saunas.
A splendid hay sauna resides in a picturesquely rustic mountainside hut while a decadent salt lake hides deep underground.
The area is dotted with relaxation zones that are ideal for napping and reading.
After a difficult day of spa treatments, there’s no better place to unwind.
Speaking of the spa, the Adler Balance features a spectacularly well-appointed one.
Guests may select from an impressive array of treatments designed to relax, rejuvenate and beautify in a carefully cultivated atmosphere of repose.
Couples may want to choose treatments that pamper both partners at the same time.
It’s a lovely way to reconnect while on vacation.
The health and well-being of guests is reinforced at the resort’s state-of-the-art fitness center. The center features a packed schedule of activities.
Guests may be introduced to yoga, Pilates or specialized classes designed to burn the maximum amount of fat.
There is also an extensive selection of resistance and cardio machines for guests to choose from.
Every activity is overseen by friendly, knowledgeable staff members who are there to help guests gain the most benefit from the experience.
The resort even takes fitness outside with walking and outdoor programs.
In the warmer months, guests may try walks, climbs and bike rides.
When snow covers the ground, skiing and other winter sports take center stage.
Guests may indulge on their own or join a program led by an experienced guide.
The Hotel Adler Balance offers a remarkable experience for guests hoping to indulge in a truly relaxing vacation.
Its unique mix of activities and accommodations make it the most desirable resort in a region known for its breathtaking beauty.
How To Visit Venice On A Budget
Family Friendly Italian Holidays
Italian Holidays ~ Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world for its rich history, stunning landscapes, trendy fashion, art treasures, top-class cuisine and passionate people.
With so many wonderful things to do for almost all kinds of travelers in this country in the southern Europe, it is always difficult to choose which regions to visit in a single trip to Italy.
If you are looking to have some wonderful experiences in Italy with your family, consider the following 5 family friendly places:
Tuscany is perhaps the most popular family vacation destination in the world for its natural landscapes that include cypress trees, vineyards, olive groves, and beautiful rolling hills.
You can find fairy tale style, luxury holiday villas to have some wonderful moments with your family.
There can’t be anything more pleasing to see the wonderful nature of Tuscany sitting on the balcony of a Tuscan villa with your family.
Some other popular activities for family vacationers in Tuscany include exploring Renaissance art in Florence, relaxing in hill towns like San Gimignano.
Paying visits to the leaning tower of Pisa, to the wonderful beaches in Elba and medieval city of Siena all can offer you and your family plenty of unforgettable experiences.
Stretching 30 miles along the southern part of the Sorrento Peninsula, Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular travel destinations in Italy for its picturesque coastline that features multicolored villas, lemon tree gardens, craggy cliffs, ritzy resorts, and shimmering bays.
With scenic mountains, pastel houses, and beautiful pebbled beaches, Positano is one of the most romantic towns along the Amalfi coast.
So, you can have some wonderful moments in Positano as well.
Rome, the eternal city, is perfect travel destination for all kinds of travelers.
There is limitless number of wonderful architecture and arts to explore for travelers visiting Rome.
So, you can take your family on holiday to the most popular tourist attractions such us the roman coliseum, the Vatican Museums, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain and so on.
With several small isles, Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy.
It is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
It is a destination which is rich in history and art and boasts of Palermo’s Baroque churches, Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples, and Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano.
Venice is a wonderful archipelago of 118 islands connected with some beautiful scenic canals and bridges.
Although Venice might not be as family friendly as Tuscany and the other places mentioned about, but Venice is a city you can do on a budget.
Getting Around in Venice – Taking a gondola ride with your family along the famous Grand Canal and many other small ones can be an experience of lifetime.
And don’t forget to pay visits to the magnificent Venice landmarks such as Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace and most importantly like Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica.
Cinque Terre Italy Travel Guide
Cinque Terre Italy Travel Guide – Cinque Terre is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque areas in Italy, and it’s impossible not to be charmed by the colorful quaint villages clinging on to the rugged cliffs along the coast and its warm hospitable locals.
Walking around the villages you can easily picture what it must have been like a hundred years ago when the area was so secluded that the only way to get there was by sea or mule paths.
These mule paths have been maintained and used over the centuries and are now popular hiking paths with the most amazing views of the sea-swept Cinque Terre …
You can buy 1, 2, 3 or 7 day passes that are valid on all local trains on the Cinque Terre route – that way you can travel back and forth between all the towns as much as you like for the time period the pass is valid.
A 1 day pass costs €10 per person and lasts all day.
There is also a one-direction pass for €8 where you can travel in one direction, but by the end of the day you’ll still need to return to your city and pay a single ticket, so it kind of evens out anyway.
Single tickets cost between €1.80 and €2 between the villages when bought from the stations.
Cinque Terre 5 Villages
Cinque Terre literally translates to “5 lands”, and includes the five villages Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. While they have many similarities, each village stands out with its own unique attributes and charm.
With a picturesque harbor and stunning views overlooking the village from the walking paths nearby, Vernazza is surrounded by hilly vineyards on one side, and the great ocean on the other.
The cafés are cute and cheap, perfect for a lunch stop.
The waves that clash against the dark rugged rocks that the little colorful houses in Manarola cling to really makes the view over the town one of the most dramatic in Cinque Terre.
Completely surrounded by vineyards, Manarola is a good stop to sit down in a Trattoria and taste the local wine – if you’re feeling for something more refreshing, Manarola has the best Gelateria in Cinque Terre called Gelateria Cinque Terre.
The largest village and also the flattest, Monterosso has two sandy beaches, a rare commodity in the area, it also offers more budget friendly hotels than the other villages and is often the place travelers base themselves in.
Riomaggiore was the village we stayed in, so we naturally spent more time there and loved the cafes and take-away restaurants that lined the steep main street of the village.
We never tired of the view of the houses tightly tucked next to each other on the steep hill.
Set high above the ocean on a hilltop, Corniglia is very different from the other villages that are located by the shores – the narrow, winding alleys in Corniglia charm visitors with its tiny Trattorias, Pizzerias and handicraft shops.
The views overlooking the other villages below and a small village even further into the secluded hills are stunning.
The village is so secluded that locals buy their daily necessities from vans that drive up to the village to sell food, cooking utensils and what not from the back of their vans.
Our Favorite Cinque Terre
Each town has its own charm and special touch, but if we had to choose our favorite, it would be Vernazza – it’s incredibly picturesque, offers beautiful views, and has a great vibe.
What To Eat & Drink in Cinque Terre
The locals are very friendly and open, and the cafes and eateries serve fantastic food for good prices – we were expecting over-priced meals since the villages in Cinque Terre are rather secluded and small, offering few options.
But instead we found that the meals were normal compared to other places in Italy, and we didn’t have one boring meal during our stay (coffee was a bit more, around €2.50).
Cinque Terre is a pesto paradise, and local diners serve all sorts of food smothered in the green deliciousness.
We became huge fans of the “Gnocchi al Pesto” at Te La Do Io La Merenda in Riomaggiore (€6).
Cinque Terre grows a lot of lemons, which is why their dessert wine Limoncino is a local specialty.
Also make sure you try their local wine, which are grown from the unique vineyards you see all over the area clinging to the ocean cliffs and hills.
Cinque Terre was one of the most colorful areas we’ve ever been and we absolutely loved it!
The cornerstone of style, the foundation of civilization, the bedrock of a modern world, yes Italy has done it all.
As one of the most culturally significant places in the world, you won’t be short of things to do.
From the tops of the Alps to the simmer of Southern Italy, all that’s left to do is pick the perfect holiday for you.
Whether you’re a fan of the classic film Roman Holiday, are a history buff, or just have serious wanderlust, there are a million reasons to visit Rome.
Many believe that there’s no better way to get to know a city on foot.
Rome walking tours are a wonderful way to explore the city and feel more like a local than a tourist.
Plus, you’ll get a little exercise in the process — meaning you can binge on as much pizza and pasta as you want later.
What should you know about Rome walking tours, and which areas should you be sure to see on foot?
Read on to find out.
Beautiful Rome Walking Tours
With a Guide or Self-Guided?
The first thing you need to decide is whether you’d prefer to walk with a tour guide and group, or go at it on your own.
Thanks to smartphones, it’s easier than ever to find your way in a foreign city.
If you’re the independent type, and would rather go at your own pace, a self-guided tour may be best.
You can also pick up a travel brochure or book that will tell you a bit about the history of the places you pass by.
Of course, if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll likely choose to do a self-guided tour.
However, if you have the funds and interest, there are several professionally-guided Rome walking tours.
Especially if you’re concerned about getting lost, or are a solo traveler looking to meet others on your trip, a professional tour may be the best option for you.
Plus, your tour guide can make suggestions for the best local places to eat, see, and shop.
Additionally, you may get more personal history from a guide, and you’ll be able to get any questions you have along the way answered.
This isn’t always possible if you’re taking a self-guided tour.
Whichever option you choose, there are a few routes for Rome walking tours that you shouldn’t miss.
Let’s explore a few of them now.
From the Spanish Steps to the Historic Trevi Fountain
Everyone remembers this iconic scene from Federico Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita, where Anita Ekberg dances in the Trevi Fountain.
To see it for yourself, follow this tour!
Start at the very last step of iconic Spanish Steps.
Then, take a left turn, so that you pass the Keats-Shelley museum.
From there, you’ll be able to see the historic Column of the Immaculate on the Piazza Mignanelli.
Once you’ve seen enough of the Column, you’ll notice a fork in the road — head to the right side of the fork to walk up via Propaganda.
There are tons of restaurants on this street, so this is a great mid-day walk.
You’ll also pass the Saint Andrew Basilica, which is well worth a look.
As you keep walking, you’ll notice that the road becomes narrow.
Eventually, the street will turn into Via di Sant Andrea della Fratte.
You’ll soon come across the Collegio Nazzareno, a former palace and current school.
Take a left on Via del Nazarelio, which you’ll follow until it becomes Via del Tritone.
This is one of the busiest streets in the city, so keep your eyes open.
You’ll also start to notice signs leading you to the Trevi Fountain, which will tell you to take the Via della Stamperia.
Get ready to feel those famous Italian cobblestones under your feet!
Soon, the Trevi Fountain will appear right before your eyes.
Resist the urge to jump in and mimic Anita Ekberg, as doing so will cost you a hefty fine!
Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon
Once you’ve had your fill of taking in the beauty of the Trevi Fountain, you can continue your walk to the historic Pantheon building.
The Pantheon is a stunning ancient building, filled with natural light.
It’s also the final resting place of the famed Italian artist, Raphael.
When you’re directly facing the Trevi Fountain, take a sharp left down the Via delle Muratte.
While this street is perhaps a little more of a tourist trap than most would like, it’s a wonderful place to pick up some souvenirs for your friends back home.
Plus, it’s a short street.
Walk along it until you see the Via del Corso across the street.
Soon, Via del Corso becomes the Via di Pietra.
Here, you’ll take a look at the Piazza di Pietra.
This Piazza is home to the famous Temple of Hadrian.
Interestingly, the name of the street translates in English to “The Plaza of Stone.”
This is because the cobblestones you’ll walk along were made from the same stones that built the Temple of Hadrian.
Though the wall along the Temple has certainly had a tough time surviving the passage of time, the part that still exists is stunning.
Luckily, you’ll even be able to see a few of the Corinthian columns that still stand.
Exit the Piazza on the left side, and walk along the Via del Pastini.
Here, you’ll have another opportunity to grab a snack, or even a much-needed glass of wine!
Keep following this street until you see the magnificent Pantheon coming into focus.
The square itself is filled with shops, tourists, and locals alike.
From there, you can enter the Pantheon and experience history firsthand.
Make These Rome Walking Tours a Part of Your Trip
Whether you decide to go with a professional tour guide or on your own, make sure you don’t miss these walking tour routes.
Things to do in Florence, Things to do in Bologna
Of course, once you’ve finished your tour, you’ll want to know what you should see next!
And when you’re planning your trip, you’ll likely have questions about what to pack and how much money you should bring.
We’ve got you covered.
Check out our travel blog for the top tips on things to see and do in destinations all around the globe.
We’ll also share our favorite packing tips with you, so you can cram as much as possible in your suitcase.
Now all that’s left to do is book your flight.
5 Italian Foods You Must Try on our European Trip
Italy is a foodie’s paradise mainly because the Italians like to use the freshest local products when preparing their dishes.
And after you have indulged, take a Rome Walking Tour.
Traditional Italian food is known to most people around the globe but tasting it in Italy, where recipes have been handed down for generations and the ingredients were probably picked yesterday, just a mile away, is a whole new experience!
Apart from prepared dishes be sure to try the olive oil, wine, fresh mushrooms, Italian cheese, garlic and Italian pesto.
Italian food you must try
Any variety will be delicious but the carbonara made with egg yolks, guanciale and pecorino, served with rigatoni is divine, especially when eaten in Rome.
Make sure you’re eating the pasta which has been freshly made on the premises and explore all the shapes and sizes of pasta as well as the traditional sauces.
You’ll discover the many forms the humble pasta can take and the individual flavored sauces depending on what part of Italy you’re in.
You’ll find gelato shops serving creamy ice-cream on almost every corner of every street in Rome and most of Italy.
The flavors are vast and the rich treat is piled high in the display cabinets showing a rainbow of colors.
Enjoy your gelato in a waffle cone or a tub.
The gelato is delicious because of the high quality ingredients used, and no calorie counting is taken into consideration when the gelato is created!
You’ll discover that pizza comes in many forms and mainly in squares (pizza al taglio), but can be in triangles or circles!
Try the Pizza Bianca, a white pizza made using thick, fluffy focaccia bread as the base.
In Rome you’ll find thin crust pizza and in Naples there is a thick bread base.
A good pizza should be baked in a wood oven and they can be piled high with fresh vegetables, meat and basically anything else.
Italy produces the best truffles in the world so why not try them here, even better see if you can join a group hunting for truffles.
Truffles grow in the Piedmonte and Umbria regions, here you can also find truffle festivals.
The most famous truffle festival is the White Truffle Festival of Alba.
They are extremely expensive due to their rarity.
Truffles grow, like mushrooms, but beneath the ground and attached to a tree’s roots.
One truffle is produced a year from each fungi and the flavor of the truffle varies according to the tree it grows on.
You can try the white truffles (the most precious) or black truffles and enjoy the delicacy in its country of origin.
Because of its price truffles are often added in sparse quantities and you can find them on the menus of only the finest restaurants.
Trippa, may sound like an unlikely candidate for this list but for that reason it is here, it is unusual to foreigners!
The stomach lining of a cow’s first stomach is cooked very slowly and served in a tomato or meat sauce it can also be made into a stew.
Tripe became a popular dish because it is cheap, but today it is a respected item on classy restaurants.
So whether you are visiting Italy for a holiday or are studying abroad, be sure to experience this cuisine.
Hadrian’s Wall Walk – With its postcard-perfect panoramic views and historic Roman remains, Hadrian’s Wall is one the most epic paths you can hike on.
The defensive barrier runs from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway on Scotland’s east coast, and hiking the 135 km wall from end-to-end will take around a week.
An excellent way to soak up the vibe and dive into its rich history is to plan your route to take pit-stops at some of the incredible Roman ruins that are dotted along the way.
From famous forts and bathhouses to viewing towers and granaries, we reveal five of the most striking roman ruins that should be on your Hadrian’s Wall must-see list.
Best Roman Ruins You Will See on Hadrian’s Wall Walk
Hang out at Historic Housesteads
Ask any local for their advice on the best Hadrian’s Wall hotspot and they will most likely reply with Housesteads Roman Fort.
After All, this ancient landmark is probably one of the most famous Roman Forts in Northumberland, if not Great Britain.
The imposing fort is perched high above Hadrian’s wall, and a trip there will transport you back to an era when around 800 soldiers manned the barracks.
Prepared to be wowed by the artifact-filled interactive museum, discover more about the Roman Empire at a screening in the mini-cinema, and take a gander at some of the oldest toilets in the country.
You can head to the visitor’s center to view a detailed 3D interactive map of the site and chat with the friendly and knowledgeable staff about Housestead and its intriguing past.
A new North-West Frontier exhibition showcases the life of the Roman cavalry through film and interactive displays.
There is a small admission fee for adults and children, while National Trust Members get free access to the grounds.
Facilities are plentiful with car-parking, a gift-shop and a small cafe available on-site.
An Archeologists Dream: Vindolanda Roman Fort
Another must-see spot — and the only one where you’ll witness archaeologists uncovering Roman treasures right before your very eyes — is Vindolanda Roman Fort.
Constructed around 122 AD, these barracks were filled with a treasure-trove of pristine personal items which archaeologists compared unearthing them to a lottery win.
The artifacts are in such great condition because they were protected by a thick layer of concrete which created oxygen-free conditions to preserve all manner of items including weapons, brooches, tablets, bags, combs and woven cloth.
Wandering the ruins will give you a strong connection to the 1000+ soldiers and slaves who once lived here.
The fort’s newly refurbished museum displays many of the archaeological finds, including an ancient wood-inscribed writing tablet which recorded some of the more personal details of the soldiers and commander’s lives.
Open all year round, Vindolanda Roman Fort does require a small entrance fee, but visitors will have access to a cafe, the museum, the souvenir shop and parking facilities.
Arbeia Roman Fort: Step into a Roman World
Arbeia Roman Fort shines a bright light on Roman culture through its beautiful restorations and reconstructions of original Roman buildings.
The large fort once housed soldiers who guarded the River Tyne entrance.
It was also a river supply center which played a vital role in sustaining troops who were stationed along some of the 17 forts speckled along Hadrian’s’ wall.
It’s here you can marvel at the foundation of some of the earliest granaries in the United Kingdom, take a stroll through the luxurious commander’s office and explore the barrack blocks that come complete with reconstructed beds and furniture.
Excavations are ongoing, and many of the findings are displayed in the on-site museum.
There is also a special interactive TimeQuest exhibition which unravels some fascinating Roman secrets.
Other highlights include a well-preserved chain mail suit and live-action events held throughout the summer months.
The fort and Museum are open from the start of January to the middle of September, and admission is totally free of charge.
Check Out Chester’s Roman Fort
One of the more tranquil spots is Chester’s Fort, which lies on the pretty banks of the North Tyne.
This fort has a large bathhouse, steam rooms, and clubhouse, which once served as a place of rest and relaxation for tired soldiers.
An amazing collection of rare objects await you in the on-site museum, while Chester’s tea room provides a quaint spot to sip on a cup of tea and enjoy a scone or two.
Kids of all ages will be kept entertained at an interactive game experience called Chester’s Fort Takeover, which will get you racing through the ruins on a fun adventure.
Visitors can choose to become an English Heritage member to receive free access to 40 hot spots, including Chester’s Roman Fort, several other historic places along the walls, as well as one-off events.
Non-members will be required to pay a small admission fee to access the fort, and family discounts are available.
You can choose to drive to your chosen Roman ruins and significant parts of the wall that is on your list, but the best way to truly absorb the history and magic of the wall is to hike it.
You can book Hadrian’s Wall Walking Holidays which range from 3 to 10 days in length, and include accommodation, a detailed guidebook filled with a personal itinerary, essential information, waterproof maps and images.
It’s an easy way to explore the best Roman forts, and have everything planned for you before you arrive.
At The End of the Wall: Segedunum Roman Fort
Last but certainly not least on the list is Wallsend Fort, which gets its name from being the last fort on the east end of the wall.
Also known as Segedunum Fort, this wall is the most complete excavated site on the wall.
Unliked Chesters Roman Fort, Wallsend features fully reconstructed Roman baths.
There’s also a reconstruction of the wall which sits just the other side of the main road, and visitors are allowed to climb on it in order to get a true feel for its size.
For birds-eye views of the wall and its pretty surroundings, head up to the top of the impressive 35-meter high viewing tower.
The extensive museum is worth a visit too, as the interactive exhibits tell a vivid story of Roman and pre-Roman times.
Special events are held through the year including fireworks, reenactments and kids fun days.
Check the official website to find out more information on opening hours, and what is on during your trip.
The fort and museum are open year round and there is an admission fee for adults, while concessions are available and children under 16 get in free.
The fort houses a small cafe, and a souvenir-filled gift and frequent lectures and reenactments are held through the year.
So don your best hiking boots, clean your camera lens and get ready to explore one of the most magnificent walls in Europe.
It’s time to steep yourself in the rich history of the area and get lost in a long-gone era.
These five Roman ruins are arguably highlights of Hadrian’s Wall and will impress even the most knowledgeable history-buffs.
Enjoy your trip.
Tuscany Italy – What To See And Do
If you want to go to a place known for its good food and drink, amazing atmosphere and peaceful ambiance, then Tuscany is the perfect destination.
The city of Lucca is a great place to visit in Italy, and has many attractions for its tourists and residents.
The city is enclosed inside a wall, however there are lots of places to rent bikes and go on some splendid walks.
Some great sights to see in this city include the “San Michele in Foro Church”, the “San Martino Cathedral” and also the “Church and Baptistery of San Giovanni and Perparata”.
This is a great place to go if you plan on visiting Pisa.
Pisa is a must see destination if you plan on going to Italy for a trip, it can become very hot in the summer and very crowded especially around the cathedral.
Strangely enough, this is where the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa stands, or leans.
For great views of the surrounding area take the 300 step ascent up to the top.
There’s no need to worry about this bizarre structure giving in to gravity and toppling, for it was leaning during its construction and has been ever since, for over 800 years.
For good measure it also counter weighted by hefty blocks of lead. Lots of them.
This city is around 200 km north of Rome and has some of the best festivals in Italy.
The most famous one is the festival “Il Palio di Siena”, which is a horse race in the square “Piazza del Campo”.
The countryside of Siena is beautiful and unique.
You will encounter small villages and medieval towns consisting of vineyards and impressive olive trees.
There are many beautiful Tuscany villa rentals around Siena, and they tend to be especially popular with wine connoisseurs
Florence is one of the most famous cities in Italy stands a very pretty Renaissance city in the center of Tuscany.
The most popular and famous square in Florence is Piazza della Signoria, which has a great open air sculpture exhibit.
You should definitely make sure you see the “Baptistery” which is of John the Baptist – as its one of Florence’s oldest buildings.
Stop by the oldest bridge in Florence – the “Ponte Vecchio” – which was built in 1345.
Wimdu has some amazing deals on local bed and breakfasts in this city and worldwide – so make sure you find yourself a place to stay before it’s all booked out for the Summer!
You can wander through the huge park and view the wonderful gardens and fountains.
It has a great view of the city from here, so remember to take your camera with you.
Then head to Rome and take a walking tour.
Things To Do In Florence Italy
Things To Do In Florence Italy ~ Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance – Florence is a cultural, architectural and artistic gem.
From visiting world famous museums to sampling local wine in a corner bar, there is plenty to see and do in Florence, and the city will easily keep you busy for a week.
However, keep in mind that with all the entrance fees, the costs can easily add up, but on the other hand you won’t want to miss out on all the great attractions for being cheap.
Instead, spend on the attractions and save on accommodation, and stay in one of the many apartments on – that way you can cook your own meals, which will save you a lot of money!
Museums In Florence Italy
There are a number of excellent museums in Florence, from sculpture museums to science – there is even a museum dedicated to the luxury brand Gucci!
The most famous museum however, is Uffizi, one of the most popular museums in the world, with collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures from classical antiquity.
The entry fee, and it’s not uncommon having to wait in line for hours, so the extra € for booking in advance could very well be worth it, as you will save a lot of time that could be spent in the museum rather than outside of it.
Other popular museums include Bargello, Accademia Gallery and Pitti Palace (with the beautiful Boboli Gardens).
Santa Maria del Fiore In Florence Italy
Also called “Duomo di Firenze”, this is the most beautiful cathedral in Florence, and is the symbol of the city.
It’s possible to climb up to the huge Dome to get a view overlooking the city.
But keep in mind that there are 464 steps to climb!
Ponte Vecchio In Florence Italy
Built in the 14th century, Ponte Vecchio, which literally means “old bridge”, is the oldest and most famous bridge in the city.
Unlike most bridges, this one is known for having shops still built along it, a tradition which was once common in Italy. The little buildings hanging off it over the river can be seen from the Uffizi.
Most of the shops are traditionally mostly jewellers since the days of the Medici.
Boboli Gardens In Florence Italy
Boboli Gardens which are located behind the Pitti Palace, is one of the most beautiful and relaxing spots in Florence.
With fountains, flowers, tree-lined lanes and wonderful views of the city, the Boboli Gardens are not to be missed!
And checkout our article regarding Rome Walking Tours
Things To Do In Bologna Italy
Bologna, the capital of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy is a leading university city and one of the country’s most beautiful.
Together with ancient buildings the city is driven by a modern energy and dynamic cultural life.
Apart from the top five attractions recommended below be sure to try the famous Bologna cuisine.
Sip coffee in the Piazza Maggiore
With a stop at this central square you can see a number of attractions all in one go.
The ancient square is surrounded on all sides by historic medieval buildings and features the beautiful Fontana di nettuno (Neptune’s Fountain).
In the square are the City Hall Building (Palazzo Communale);
Basilica of San Petronio which is one of the world’s largest churches, holds the relics of the city’s patron saint and Charles V was coronation here in 1530 also Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte is buried here.
Portico of Banchi and the 1200 Palazzo del Podesta (Palace of the Podesta) where shops line the double open arcade on the ground level.
Relax in one of the outdoor cafes and enjoy doing some people watching while you sip your coffee.
Climb to the top of one of the Twin Towers
The two towers of Bologna are an iconic landmark in the Piazza di Ravegnana dating back to the 12th century when there were many more towers in the city.
The two towers were used for military and civil purposes.
The Asinelli family funded the construction of the tower where there is a 498 step staircase which can be climbed to get breathtaking views over the city and its red roofs.
The staircase is made of wood and takes you 97, 20 meters above ground level.
A the base of the towers you can see the remains of barracks built in 1448, today there are workshops in these strongholds.
Basilica of San Domenico
Apart from the stunning architecture this church is home to some exquisite artwork.
Here you can see work by Giuseppe Pedretti, Vittorio Bigari, Ludovico Carracci and many more artists.
But the church is best known as the place where Mozart played the organ while studying with Giovanni Battista Martini (1769).
In the pebble paved square in front of the church parishioners used to stand and listen to the sermons given by the priest from the pulpit at the churches corner.
Note the beautiful brick column in the square which holds a bronze statue of St. Dominic.
Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna (National Art Gallery)
This is one of Italy’s leading museums and is home to an impressive collection of regional art spanning the history of art from the 14th to 21st century.
There are thirty rooms displaying the permanent collection which includes work by Reni, Carracci and Raffaello and regular temporary exhibitions as well.
The museum focuses on artists with some association with the city and they strive to preserve the region and city’s artistic history.
Basilica di Santo Stefano
This used to be a medieval complex of seven churches, today only four churches remain.
The relics of San Petronio are kept in Chiesa del Crocefisso and Chiesa del Santo Sepolcro is an octagonal church.
In the next courtyard Cortile di Pilato takes its name from the basin where Pontius Pilate washed his hands after sentencing Christ.
Chiesa della Trinita is next to a small museum and Santi Vitale e Agricola is the oldest church in the city.
Exploring The Beauty Of Venice
There is no denying that Venice is a unique destination – throughout history, the city resisted invasions, sieges, the plague, and ultimately, subsidence.
Still, Venice attracts more than 50,000 visitors every day.
This article will review the Hotel Cipriani, an interesting accommodation choice located in one of Venice’s most charming islands.
It will also provide the prospective visitor with suggestions on the best places to visit.
The Hotel Cipriani sits on the eastern tip of Giudecca island, the hotel offers its guests a 24-hour complimentary boat service that ferries passengers to and from St Mark’s Square.
The Cipriani is also well communicated with Venice’s airport and the city’s train station, via public transport.
The hotel provides only the most exquisite service and facilities.
In fact, visitors could spend their holidays enjoying a swim at the hotel’s heated swimming pool, or indulging in the whole range of treatments available at the wellness centre.
However, it would be a pity to miss the many sights that surround the Cipriani.
The island of Giudecca is nowadays an upscale residential area, but tourists flock to the island to visit the 16th century church of Il Redentore, which holds paintings of renowned Renaissance artists.
Another pleasure offered by the island is the possibility to walk along its pier, while taking in one of the best views of the Venetian city.
As locals say, you must see Venice from La Giudecca in order to get the right perspective of the city.
From the pier, visitors can get spectacular views of St Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, just across the Grand Canal.
You can also cross the Canal to visit the Zattere, just north of La Giudecca.
Here, the ample promenade is the perfect setting for an evening stroll or a romantic dinner at one the many restaurants.
Alternatively, you can visit one of the few remaining gondola-making workshops.
I found it relaxing that a walking tour of Rome.
There is no shortage of historic buildings and monuments in the Zattere, so the tourist could easily spend a whole day taking in the sights.
Back in La Giudecca, the tourist can visit the Mulino Stucky, an impressive neo-Gothic construction which now houses a hotel.
It was here where electricity was first introduced to Italy.
The huge complex is comprised of 13 different buildings, one of which houses the Skyline bar, the perfect scenario to end to your Venetian holiday.