close

Europe

How to spend a weekend in Bournemouth

England Sunset

When we talk about UK getaways, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that London often tops the charts. For as long as the world spins round, and whether or not the UK is in or out of the European Union, this is something that is never going to change.

In some ways, this is highly unfortunate. After all, while nobody can take away the immense tourism power that London has, let’s not forget that there are plenty of other destinations in the UK that often go unnoticed. Sure, locals know about them, but they are hidden gems to everyone else.

Bournemouth certainly falls into this category. It’s regarded as one of the more premium coastal regions of the UK, although it does have plenty of hotels at excellent value. Bearing this in mind, today’s post is going to delve into Bournemouth in more detail and show some of the top things you can do if you take to this city.
Bournemouth

Take to the piers

There are actually two piers that form part of Bournemouth, with both worthy of a mention. The first comes in the form of Bournemouth Pier itself. This has been going strong for nigh-on 140 years and still attracts plenty of attention. In fact, in the peak times at least, you sometimes have to pay to get on.

If you’ve never visited a pier on the English coast before, this should be the one you target. It has everything you’ve heard about, whether it be traditional games, an arcade and even a play area for children (this used to be a popular theatre). Then, when it comes to Boscombe Pier, this is a little more low-key. It doesn’t have all the attractions, but it is a restored Victorian pier and provides some stunning views across the sea.
Bournemouth

Have a go on the West Cliff Lift

If you do make it towards Bournemouth Pier, try and get to the West Cliff Lift as well. This has been running since 1908 – and you can almost tell by the facade. Nevertheless, it’s an incredible sight and experience, with the railway carrying up to 12 passengers up one of Bournemouth’s cliffs. Unsurprisingly, the views are second to none.
West Cliff Lift, Bournemouth, Dorset

The Oceanarium

The sea is a major attraction that forms part of Bournemouth, and the aquarium just buys into all of this. The centre has established ten different environments within itself, meaning that whether you are looking to see what resides in the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon, you won’t be disappointed. More recently, they have also added penguins.
Bournemouth Oceanarium

Peppa Pig World

OK, this final suggestion might not be for everyone, but if you happen to have little people in your family, we are pretty sure it is going to go down a storm.

While not strictly in Bournemouth itself, Peppa Pig World happens to be a short drive away. It’s actually part of Paulton’s Park, meaning if you have slightly older children as well, they are going to have the time of their lives when they visit as well.
Bournemouth East Beach - land train - Peppa Pig World

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Bournemouth by Phil Beard; (2) Bournemouth Pier by Diamond Geezer; (3) West Cliff Lift by Alwyn Ladell; (4) Oceanarium by Lebatihem; (5) Peppa Pig Train by Elliott Brown
read more

The Perfect Paris Itinerary for Female Travelers

paris sacre coeur

Not sure you can see the best of Paris in only a couple of days? Don’t fret: I am here to help you maximize your time in Paris! Whether you spend as short as a day (yes, there is such a thing as a Paris in a day tour) or as long as a month, you can see all the famous sights of one of the most popular and romantic cities on the globe.

Paris has so much to offer to tourists and as a woman who is visiting Paris for the first time, you’re likely to fall for Paris just as Audrey Hepburn and so many other women. From the delicious food to the fascinating history and the breathtaking monuments, there’s something for everybody in Paris.

In this article, I am sharing the perfect Paris itinerary for female travelers. This itinerary will help you visit the major attractions in Paris without feeling overwhelmed. If you’re going to stay in Paris a little longer, don’t rush around the city – take your time and see Paris off the beaten path, too.

To make this Paris itinerary extra special, I’ve tailored it to suit the taste and finesses of any woman who wants to savor the finest of Paris. I recommend getting the Paris Pass when you arrive – this pass will give you access to over 60 popular landmark attractions in Paris, river cruise and even a public transport card, and buying the pass is much cheaper than paying for each attraction individually.paris chez marie cafe

So, let’s jump right into it!

Paris itinerary

Stop #1: The Eiffel Tower

Why not start the tour of Paris strong with one of the most visited sights in Paris – the Eiffel Tower?

This wrought iron structure was named after the engineer who designed this masterpiece, Gustave Eiffel. The tower overlooks the beautiful Champ de Mars Park where you can witness marriage proposals as well as declarations of undying love pretty much every day.

You can enjoy the view of the tower from the Trocadero Gardens located across the Seine River or you can have a lovely picnic at Champ de Mars gardens while you gaze at the Eiffel Tower’s beauty. You can also check out the view of Paris from one of the floors inside the Eiffel Tower, giving you a stunning panoramic view of the City of Love.

Stop #2: Seine River

A Seine River cruise will give you an fantastic view of Paris from a unique angle. The best part of it all is that you get to see most of the iconic landmarks from the boat – without having to walk a single step.

Some of the sights you get to capture a glimpse of are the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Pont Neuf, Musée d’Orsay and Le Louvre. Going on a Seine River cruise after viewing the Eiffel Tower makes sense because the cruise ships depart near the Tower.

The tour of Paris on the Seine River is especially magical at night. So, whether you do the cruise in the day or at night you’re guaranteed to have a memorable experience. Have your camera ready!paris from eiffeltower

Stop #3: Le Louvre

You must have already spotted the glass pyramid from the Seine River. Le Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the entire world – naturally, this is a must on your Paris itinerary. It’s home to some of the most famous artwork on the planet, like Venus de Milo and of course the Mona Lisa.

If you’re not in a rush, take your time at the Louvre. The feeling of being in the midst of so much history and such magnificent art is incredible. If you don’t have much time in Paris, make sure to book your tickets in advance – the lines can get quite long, and you don’t want to waste hours waiting in a queue for tickets. If you have the Paris Pass, it includes a Skip-The-Line ticket for the Louvre. If you’re planning on staying a little longer in Paris, you can spend an entire day in the Louvre – it is a large museum that takes time to fully explore.paris louvre

paris arc de triompheStop #4: Arc de Triomphe

From the Louvre, head over to the Arc de Triomphe. Not only will you walk past the gorgeous Tuilleres Gardens, but walking to the Arc will grant you the opportunity to do some shopping at the Champs Elysees before you get to the Arc de Triomphe. There you can shop for beautiful souvenirs and gifts to bring home, and window shop at the luxury brands.

The Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon and was the largest triumphal arch in the entire world for the longest time (North Korea built a bigger one in 1982). The monument commemorates those who died during the French revolution and celebrates its victories. You can read the names of noteworthy successes during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods at the top of the arch. Underneath the Arc de Triomphe is the “Tomb of the unknown soldier” – a soldier who lost his life during World War I.

There are sculptures skillfully etched in the walls of the Arc – take a moment to wander around the arch and take in the fresco, writings and . If you want another view of Paris (with the Eiffel Tower in your picture), you enjoy fantastic views from the top of the monument. However, you will have to climb about 280 stairs to the top. I say the views are worth the climb and the admission (13).

paris notre dame

Stop #5: Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral is another of Paris’ world famous monuments. You’ll be enthralled by the detail of architecture, the elegance of the stained-glass windows and the vastness of it all. Sadly, the cathdreal can’t be visited anymore after a devastating fire destroyed part of it in April 2019 (and it’ll be closed for at least another five to six years), but just the very sight of Notre Dame will have you in awe.

Stop #6: Musée d’Orsay

You might think that seeing one museum is enough, but if you love art, you cannot miss this museum. It’s not too far from Notre Dame (about thirty mins), so you can even walk there – it’s a lovely walk along the Seine River. The Musée d’Orsay is a masterpiece on its own – a Beau-Art building which used to be a railway station. You can see the work of some of the most celebrated painters in the world here: Monet, Renoir, Manet, Toulouse-Latrec, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin, and Sisley. The Musée d’Orsay is one of the largest art museums in Europe, home to paintings, sculptures, photography and more, so plan in some time here. Note: Paris Pass holders can skip the line here.paris metro

paris for female travelers

Stop #7: Versailles

A trip to Paris for female travelers would be incomplete without a trip to Versailles, about 40 mins from central Paris by train. Versailles is a breathtaking palace and as you walk through it, you won’t be able to stop yourself from picturing how it would have been to live here as a royal in the 17th century.

The large halls, intricate paintings and sculptures, plus all the incredible fittings will make you wish you could move into to this opulent palace. The vast and lush gardens, which took forty years to complete, are just wonderful to behold. By the way: Versailles is included in the Paris Pass, which also includes a travel card for public transportation.

Stop #8: Department stores on Boulevard Haussmann

Your Paris itinerary wouldn’t be complete without doing a bit more shopping. Paris is not just known for being romantic. It is also known for being a fashion hub!  Which is one of the things that makes Paris great for female travelers.

Boulevard Haussmann is a long beautiful tree-lined boulevard lined that runs all the way from Boulevard Montmartre to Avenue de Friedland near the Champs-Elysées. This boulevard is known for its many department stores as well as some of the most elegant shops in all of Paris – there’s no better place for an afternoon of shopping! Don’t miss the famous Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, a department store where the architecture is almost as interesting as all the things you can buy, and where, from the terrace on the 7th floor, you can enjoy sweeping views over Paris.paris france

read more

The Beauties of Croatian Coastline

dubrovnik

Croatia is a beautiful Central European country that is fortunate to border the Adriatic Sea. Long, beautiful coasts, over 1240 stunning islands filled with amazing flora and fauna, breathtaking views and unforgettable landscapes attract almost 20 million tourists every year.

Even if you had a month, it still wouldn’t be enough time to fully enjoy and visit all the beautiful places in Croatian coastline. Unfortunately, not everyone can get vacations this long. Are you’re thinking of travelling to Croatia, but you’re limited on time? You have to plan your staying in advance, to get the most out of your visit there.

Due to the country shape, it’s recommended to travel there using the yacht. It’s not only incredibly convenient form of transport, but also the fastest way to visit and explore all the places you wanted to see. Obviously, you don’t have to own a yacht to be able to travel this way. If you’d like to know more about why this form of transport is the most popular amongst tourists, you can check it here.

The variety of stunningly beautiful places that you should see in Croatia is so wide that it’s pretty much impossible to visit them all. Because of that, we made a list of the most beautiful places that you can’t miss!

Dubrovnik

Nakovana Ghost Town

If you love exploring abandoned places, the ghost town of Nakovana is a place you have to see! In the past, it was a vibrant farming village, but most inhabitants had to leave the city, because of the Italian and German troops invasion during the Second World War. An event that eventually finished the town off was the national civil war in the 1990s. Nowadays tourists can wander along cobblestone streets and feast their eyes on abandoned houses. Go there and feel like you travelled back in time. Don’t forget to bring some food and water, because there’s no shops or restaurants in this area.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. This city offers you so many possibilities that you’ll have a hard time to choose what to do. You can start your journey with the city walls walk. It won’t take more than 2 hours, and you’ll be able to see beautiful landscapes and make tens of photos. Also, make sure to take a ride on the Dubrovnik Cable Car. It was built in 1969, and millions of tourists use it to enjoy marvellous panoramic views.

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Even if you’ve never been to Dubrovnik before, you might feel that you’ve already seen some of these places before. It is because the city was the main location for King’s Landing, the largest city and capital of the Seven Kingdoms. If you want to sit on the Iron Throne, make sure that you visit this picturesque city.Dubrovnik

Korcula Island Vineyards

A place that every connoisseur of the vine has to see. Vineyards extend to the horizon, and you can admire this stunning landscape, and indulge yourself with a tasting tour. It’s a place that you’ll never forget. But vineyards are not the only tourist attraction that you’ll find on this island. Rumours says that Marco Polo was born in Korcula town, so if you want to know more about this famous merchant, you have to visit Marco Polo museum.Korčula

Odysseus Cave in Mljet Island

Odyssey is something that most of us read. According to the legend, Odysseus shipwrecked on Mljet Island, and Nymph Calypso, who ruled this island, kept him in captivity for seven years. This legend is now attributed to Maltan island of Gozo, but it’s still worth visiting Mljet, as you will find a great, perfect for swimming place, known as Odysseus Cave. It’s recommended to go there during midday hours because sun rays provide this place with exquisitely beautiful illumination.Out of Odysseus's Cave

Brac Island

It’s most known for the Zlatni Rat, which is described as the best European beach. Unfortunately, it’s very crowded, so it might be a good idea to explore the coastline and find other beaches that are less-visited, but just as stunningly beautiful as Zlatni Rat. If you’re a fan of passive recreation, this is the perfect place for you. Spend your day on the beach, enjoy the sunbaths, and swim in the crystal clear, turquoise water.Сrystal clear water III

Konavle

It’s a small region, located south-east from Dubrovnik. In Konavle everyone can find something fun to do. The area is perfect for hiking and cycling. But arguably the biggest tourist attractions is amazing waterfalls and long beach coastlines. Turquoise waters and palm trees attract many tourists. Visit Konavle, and you’ll be stunned by the beauty of this place.

It’s not a coincidence that Croatia became one of the most desirable tourist destinations. With so many tourist attractions and loads of picturesque landscapes, it’s a country that you necessarily have to visit.Konavle Viewpoint

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Dubrovnik by Michael Gwyther-Jones; (2) Dubrovnik cable car by Luca Sartoni; (3) Korcula Island by Kate Tann; (4) Out of Odysseus Cave by Laurie Ray; (5) Brač Island by Nicolaj Potanin; (6) Konavle viewpoint by Miroslav Vajdic
read more

Your Guide to Traveling Europe on a Budget

Bavarian village, Germany

Travelers across the globe have ‘backpacking through Europe’ on their bucket list, and it’s one trip I recommend everybody takes – especially Americans. You can experience so many different cultures, so much history, so many countries – all just a stone’s throw away from each other. It’s a huge milestone for any traveler, and there are countless places to explore in Europe. The best thing about Europe is that most countries are inexpensive, and with some money-saving tips, you’ll be able to travel Europe on a budget.

If you want to go on a backpacking trip around Europe, follow these tips to help you save money while exploring exquisite travel spots throughout Europe:paris sacre coeur

1 Budget Accommodation in Europe

Hostels and Dorms in Europe

Staying in hostels and dorms is my #1 tip for traveling Europe on a budget. You may think hostels are only meant for young people, but you’ll be surprised to know that people from all age groups prefer staying in hostels on their backpacking trips. Some hostels even provide single and double rooms for people who don’t like sharing their accommodation with other travelers, so don’t be put off by the thought of sharing a room with other people.

My favorite thing about hostels is that there is usually a common area or lounge, which is great for meeting other travelers, and they often offer social activities such as pub crawls or free walking tours of the city you’re visiting – so if you’re traveling solo but you’d like to connect with other travelers, I highly recommend staying in hostels. Staying in hostels is something everyone who backpacks around Europe does.

abraham hostel jerusalem roof terrace

2 Eating Cheap in Europe

Cook Your Own Meal

Staying at a hostel or an Airbnb means that you have a kitchen. And considering food is one of the major expenses while traveling, the best thing you can do is to buy fresh ingredients and cook for yourself. It may not be feasible all the time, but you will be saving a lot of cash to spend elsewhere. If you want to travel Europe on a budget, you shouldn’t eat out three times a day – plan on making at least one meal a day in your hostel / Airbnb.

Eat Like A Local

Avoiding restaurants and eateries at tourist spots and finding the ones located a few blocks away will get you the best deals on food (as the food is always more expensive in touristy areas). milan pizza arugalaEat Street Food

While traveling across Europe, you will easily spot food stalls around you all the time. Europe has a rich street food culture, and you could easily grab something to eat, like a slice of pizza or a crepe without having to shell out a fortune. Indulging in seafood across different countries may also prove to be a delicious experience. In Germany, you can get a kebab for as little as €3, in England you can get the popular supermarket ‘meal deals’ that include a sandwich, a drink and a bag of chips or fresh fruit for around £3, and in many cities in Spain you get FREE tapas when you order a beer or a glass of wine (which shouldn’t be more than €3).potosi chocolate crepe

3 Finding Budget Transportation in Europe

Getting Around Europe on The Cheap

I have already shared my best tips on how to get around Europe on the cheap in detail, but my number one app to book cheap transportation in Europe is Omio. This app lets you put in the city you leave from and your destination, and shows you every possible way to get there (bus, train, plane), and how much each option will cost you. This app is my go-to app every time I backpack around Europe.

travel Europe on a budget

Cycling or Walking in Europe

Exploring a city on your feet or on two wheels is an immersive experience, and a must try. It doesn’t only help you save money, but also keeps you fit while on the road. Most European cities have bikeshare systems that cost little money, and many cities now also have electric scooters that enable you to get around faster and cheaper than ever before.

Budget Airlines in Europe

A little research before booking your air tickets could get you cheap flight tickets. Hence, it is advisable to book your tickets in advance as they tend to be cheaper when booked months before. WhichBudget is a great tools that tells you which airlines cover the route you’re planning to take.flying

4 Cheap Luggage Storage In Europe

The great thing about Airbnb is that you can rent a room in someone else’s apartment for very little money – but the disadvantage is that you usually cannot store your luggage if you have a flight that leaves long after your check-out time, because usually the next guest is checking in right away or the host may not be around to hand over your luggage to you. But luckily, a number of companies have sprung up to solve this very problem, which is excellent for anyone who wants to travel Europe on a budget.

LuggageHero is one of the companies with the best coverage in European cities, for example:

Two more luggage storage companies that operate all over Europe are:

In addition, you find luggage storage in almost every train station in Europe.

5 Free Walking Tours in Europe

If you want to save money on sightseeing, I recommend starting your exploration of each city you visit with a free walking tour. I take a free walking tour in every city on my very first day, because not only do these tours give you a great overview of the city, but the guides are usually very budget-savvy themselves and always have great recommendations for cheap eats, happy hours and bars with cheap beers. The guides are a wealth of information for anyone backpacking around Europe, because many of them go on backpacking trips themselves when they’re not working. Here are some of the companies that I’ve used in Europe – make sure to book a spot online, because they tend to get very busy, especially in the summer, and DON’T FORGET TO TIP YOUR GUIDE!! (They have to eat, too.) An appropriate amount would be 10 – 20, depending on how much you enjoyed the tour.

  • Free Tours By Foot is one of the largest operator of free walking tours in the entire world, they cover most European cities.
  • Sandeman’s New Europe: one of the most popular operators of free walking tours in Europe, offering free walking tours in Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Liverpool, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Munich, Seville, and more!
  • Good Tours operate in three cities: Vienna, Prague and Krakow

These tours are not free, but Get Your Guide is an aggregator of tours and attractions worldwide, worth checking for skip-the-lines tickets and tours that take you ‘off the beaten path’:

 

Don’t Forget: Get International Travel Insurance

Traveling to unknown places involves several risks: missing flights, losing luggage, getting sick or getting into an accident, or being mugged. I can’t stress it enough: you should always get international travel insurance when you plan a trip. This is a cost that you have to factor into your travel budget, and something you shouldn’t forgo in favor of a few beers or nice dinners during your trip.

Although international travel insurance cannot help you avoid misfortunes during your travel, it will offer relief in the form of monetary compensation.backpack around europe

Five budget-friendly cities you have to visit when you travel Europe on a budget

Yes, some European cities aren’t cheap – especially in Scandinavian countries, or Dublin – but there are a lot of places where you can go when you travel Europe on a budget – without breaking the bank. Here are five cities that are great for anyone traveling Europe on a budget:

    • Leon, Spain: If you consider yourself a foodie, this should be on your list
    • Krakow, Poland: Party animals will find themselves at home in Krakow as it’s undoubtedly the party capital of the world
    • Berlin, Germany:: If observing and learning about the culture of the place you visit fascinates you, you have to visit Berlin
    • Portugal: It is a small but lovely country for water enthusiasts who would like to unwind around water and watch sunsets
    • Transylvania, Romania: If adventure and hiking is what you are looking for, Romania is the perfect candidate.

So, stop making excuses! Pack your bags and get planning. Europe is waiting for you!

 

 
read more

Three must-do day trips from Krakow

krakow

Poland’s second city has a lot to offer in itself, with a stunning medieval Old Town that was declared World Heritage by UNESCO, a remarkable mix of architecture (including Gothic, Renaissance, baroque, Romanesque and art nouveau), a Royal Castle and a Jewish Quarter turned bohemian neighborhood, plus a cultural calendar so packed that it could keep you busy for weeks. But if you have a day or two to spare, there are actually a number of places outside of Krakow that are worth a visit. Read on for the best day trips from Krakow, how much time to spend there and how to do it:

1 Auschwitz

A visit to Auschwitz is not the most joyful of days, but educating yourself about the horrific experiences Jewish prisoners had to endure in this (and similar) concentration camps is something I believe everyone should do. Auschwitz has become the most important representation of the Holocaust, representing the brutal extermination of an entire religion, with over six million people unscrupulously murdered – over one million of which died in Auschwitz – and it is more critical than ever to be informed about genocide and the brutal regime of the Nazis. It is heartbreaking to read about the events of the Jewish prisoners and to see images as well as personal belongings, but a visit to Auschwitz should be on every Krakow visitor’s itinerary.Auschwitz

Trip Duration: Even though Auschwitz is not far from Krakow (65 km (40 mi) west of the city), it will take you hours to see both parts of the concentration camp, one of which now houses an extensive museum. This is a full day trip from Krakow.

How to do it: Buses run regularly between Krakow and Auschwitz from the Central Bus Station, they usually say ‘Oświęcim, Auschwitz Museum”. The main operator is Lajkonik. If they go directly to the concentration camp, bypassing the town, the ride takes around 90 minutes. The longer route can take up to 2.5 hours, so you’ll want to make sure you take a bus that goes directly to Auschwitz. Tickets are PLN13 (US$3.32) each way when purchased online or PLN14 (US$3.62) when purchased from the driver.

You can also take a guided tour from Krakow – they are advertised all over Krakow. Expect to pay between PLN130 and PLN150 (US$33 – US$39). It is also possible to organize your transportation from Krakow individually (i.e. take the cheap bus) and book a guided tour in Auschwitz. Tours run every 15 minutes and take between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. They start at around PLN60 (~US$15).

If you are planning to visit Auschwitz between April and October, it is advised to reserve a guided tour at least one month before your visit. Tours fill up quickly during high season.

Admission to Auschwitz is free.

Important: Note that during high season (between 1 April and 31 October) you can visit one large part of the camp (Auschwitz I) as part of a guided tour between 10am and 3pm due to the large number of visitors. If you prefer seeing the camp at your own pace, make sure to arrive before 10am. Arriving after 3pm would mean a rather rushed visit. Auschwitz Memorial and Museum are open daily from 7.30am – 7pm.Auschwitz

2 Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is a former salt mine where for hundreds of years miners pulled out rock salt which was processed into table salt for pretty much all of Poland.

After the mine closed, talented sculptors gave it a second life by decorating the caves with salt statues so elaborate that you have to go see them with your own eyes to believe it. There is even an entire chapel made out of salt down there – hundreds of meters below ground! The chapel, named Chapel of St Kinga, is so magnificent that it has become a popular spot for weddings and rock concerts. Other highlights of the cavernous maze of underground tunnels include an underground salt lake (which has a higher salt density than the Dead Sea!), a salt sculpture of Pope John Paul II, and a salt-crystal chandelier. There’s even a salt version of Leonardo’s The Last Supper carved into rock-salt wall!Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine has over 200 miles (300 kilometers) of tunnels, spread out of nine levels, of which the deepest is 1,073 feet (327 meters) underground. UNESCO recognized the splendor of the mine by rewarding it World Heritage status in 2010. In addition to salt sculptures, the mine also has displays of historic salt-mining technology and a salt museum.

Trip duration: You can visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine in a few hours, which means this can be done in a half day trip from Krakow.

How to do it: The easiest way to see the Salt Mines is taking a Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour from Krakow. Tours start in Krakow’s Old Town and with a tour you get to skip the line at the entrance, you are shown around by a knowledgeable guide who provides you with background information on the mines and brings you to the most remarkable sculptures and chambers. Tours take around 4.5 hours (90 minutes of which are transportation from and to Krakow) and cost around PLN150 (around US$35). Be aware that the tour includes quite a bit of walking in the mine, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes, and since it’s quite chilly in the mine (the average temperature is  57°F / 14°C ) you’ll want to pack a jacket, even on a hot day.---

3 Tatra Mountains

If you are an avid hiker, you should definitely make the Tatra Mountains part of your Krakow itinerary, but anyone who appreciates nature, scenic landscapes and mountains will enjoy a trip to what is often called the ‘Polish Alps’. Take a bus to Zakopane, a town in a picturesque city in the foothills of the mountains. From there, you can take a cable car up to the mountain top for panoramic views or to start a mountain hike along one of the many trails. In the winter, Zakopane turns into a winter wonderland and becomes a dream destination for winter sports enthusiasts.Tatra Mountains

You shouldn’t miss the Morskie Oko Trail, which brings you to the most stunning lake in the Tatra Mountains: Morskie Oko. This lake was named as one of the five most beautiful lakes in the world by the Wall Street Journal! If hiking isn’t your thing, soak up the atmosphere of Zakopane, wander Krupówki Street (the main street), which is lined with shops and restaurants, and enjoy a traditionally Polish meal at Dobra Kasza Nasza. Try the famous oscypek, a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk that you find only in the Tatra Mountains. If you want to experience Poland beyond its cities, this day trip from Krakow is the one you should take.

Trip duration: Getting to Zakopane / the Tatra Mountains takes about two hours, so this is definitely a full day trip from Krakow, especially if you are planning to go on a longer hike. The Tatra Mountains would also make for a great overnight trip. If you go overnight, book your accommodation in advance – Zakopane can get busy.

How to do it: You can take a bus from Krakow which brings you to Zakopane in two hours and costs only between €3 and €. Book your buses and trains in advance to save money – You can book the bus via the Omio travel app at a discount price. I named this app as my number one travel app in my How To Travel Europe on a Budget article. There are trains as well, but they take longer (about three hours). If you want to be more flexible, you can rent a car in Krakow – car rentals start at around €35 per day.Calm

Photo Credit: Lead image of Krakow via Pixabay. All other images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Auschwitz by Michela Simoncini; (2) Auschwitz by the Anne Frank Trust UK; (3) Wieliczka Salt Mine by Charlotte Powell; (4) Salt Chapel by Tomasz Labuz; (5) Tatra Mountains by Remigiusz Agatowski; (6) Tatra Mountain Lake by Adam Baker
read more

Lakes, Castles and Beaches: A Northern Germany Road Trip

northern germany road trip lake

Over the past few years, my visits to Germany have been looking pretty much the same every time I go: I stop in my hometown to my family, I stop in Berlin because I can’t get enough of the city, and I visit friends in Cologne and Munich. But what about the rest of Germany? Even though I spent quite a bit of time traveling Germany when I was younger and still living in Europe, there are still plenty of places I have yet to visit. On top of my wish list: Spreewald (a biosphere reserve consisting of wetlands and forests southeast of Berlin), the nautical side of northern Germany (including the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven, and Lübeck, which is famous for its brick Gothic architecture, and the coastal region of East Frisia), and a road trip along the Romantic Road which covers a bunch of fairytale-like towns in Southern Germany.

When my friend suggested we could meet up in Germany for a few days during my last visit, and asked me to show her Germany beyond Berlin, I immediately started researching possible trips. A quick search for car rentals in Germany revealed that a rental car would cost us less than $25 per day, and that was for a pick-up right in the center of Berlin (note that rental pick-up at one of the airports would’ve cost around $24 per day), which is an amazing rate. Plus, it meant we could bring my favorite furry travel companion along.Germany Road TripI decide to introduce my friend to Northern Germany and mapped out a route that is perfect if you have a week to spend in Germany, but which can also be driven in five days. I wanted to include the famous Mecklenburg Lake Plateau, the Baltic Sea, at least one of Germany’s fairy tale castles, a grand Hanseatic city and a smaller town in the countryside.

This kind of trip definitely required a car, since several towns were small and not on the main bus routes (side note: the buses also take the major highways, instead of scenic byways), and taking the train would’ve meant connecting. I created a road trip that had a couple of stops en-route, meaning we would only spend a couple of hours or an afternoon there on the way to our final destination for the day – which is only possible if you have a car. Train and bus travel are solid options in Germany when you just travel from A to B, but to see more of the country and to get ‘off the beaten path’, you really need a vehicle. Luckily, car rentals in Germany are inexpensive and you can get a small rental starting at around $23 per day, or a medium-sized vehicle starting at around $25 per day. And did I mention renting a car meant I’d be able to bring a dog? 🙂

Here’s the map of our route (I excluded highways so that we would only drive scenic country roads):

Read on for the highlights of this road trip through northern Germany and what not to miss in each of the places you drive through:

Berlin

Germany’s capital has so much to offer, you can easily spend an entire week just there. If you haven’t been yet, get an overview and learn about the comprehensive and complicated history of Berlin during both World War II and the division between East and West Germany on a free walking tour. Go for a bike ride in Tiergarten Park and on Tempelhof airfield, an abandoned airport turned park. Take in the city from above from either Victory Column (only €3, but 270 steps) or the observation deck on top of the Park Inn at Alexanderplatz, right across from the TV Tower (€4).

Eat Middle Eastern food while you’re wandering the streets of Berlin’s trendy Neukölln neighborhood and go flea market hopping on a weekend in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood (don’t miss Mauerpark for the flea market, street food and the largest karaoke event in Germany – every Sunday during the summer months – and the Sunday flea market at Arkonaplatz). Head to the East Side Gallery for fantastic murals, and go barhopping in the vibrant Friedrichshain neighborhood.

Check out my detailed guide to Berlin for more ideas on what to see and do.Berlin

Neuruppin

Drive: Berlin to Neuruppin: 80 kilometers / 50 miles – about 90 minutes

Suggested stop along the way: Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg, a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg just north of Berlin. The visit is a somber but educational experience.

Leave Berlin and drive north towards the lake district. Once you’ve left the city limits behind you, you’ll find yourself driving through lush green parkland and forests, along small rivers and canals. Neuruppin sits right on the shore of Ruppin Lake, and there is a beautiful trail along the lake. The town is known as a garrison town and was mainly built in Neoclassical style – the many pastel colored houses provide gorgeous photo opps. The remarkable minster Sankt Trinitatis, a historic church with adjacent monastery, was built in 1264 (the oldest building in Neuruppin) is the centerpiece of the small town.

If you’re a fan of sauna culture, plan in enough time for a visit to the thermal bath in Neuruppin which is the largest lake sauna for swimming in all of Germany. The views of the Ruppin Lake from the many different saunas are fabulous.Neuruppin Germany

Plau Am See

Drive: Neuruppin to Plau Am See, 90 kilometers / 56 miles – about 90 minutes

The small town is the gateway to the Mecklenburg Lake Plateau, and its name translates to ‘Plau On The Lake’. The city was founded around 1235 and has a lovely historic Old Town with half-timbered houses that’s worth a stroll. The main sights include the historic church, the Neo-classical town hall, the ruins of Plau Castle, and a bridge that is vertically lifted every time a boat wants to pass through the channel below. There is also a historic water mill that dates to 1273.northern germany lake district

Schwerin

Drive: Plau Am See to Schwerin, 73 kilometers / 45 miles – about 1 hour

You’ll drive through the picturesque lake district for about an hour before you reach Schwerin, the state capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The city is famous for its majestic palace, Schwerin Castle, which sits on an island in Lake Schwerin, one of several scenic lakes. Until 1918, the picture-perfect fairytale palace was a main residence of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg, and since 1990, it has been the seat of the state parliament.

Schwerin is the oldest city in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (first mentioned in 1018) and has a well preserved Old Town, including the beautiful Schwerin Cathedral, built in Brick Gothic style (1260 – 1416).Schwerin Germany

Wismar / Kühlungsborn

Drive: Schwerin to Kühlungsborn, 70 kilometers / 44 miles – around 1 hour and 15 minutes

Recommended stop along the way: Wismar

If you have time, stop in Wismar, about halfway in between Schwerin and Kühlungsborn. It’ll add only 15 – 20 mins to the drive, but you’ll get to see the remarkable medieval buildings of Wismar’s well preserved Old Town, which is part of the shared UNESCO World Heritage site of Wismar and Stralsund (another city on the Baltic coast). Both Wismar and Schwerin were major trading centers of the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe, founded in the late 1100s.

As you drive towards Kühlungsborn you’ll enjoy lovely views of the countryside, little hamlets, forests, and eventually, the azure blue Baltic Sea.kuehlungsborn beach

Kühlungsborn is a famous German seaside resort on the Baltic Sea – the main attraction here is the 4 kilometer (2.5 miles) long beach promenade, one of the longest in Germany. There’s not much to do here beyond the beach, but that’s exactly why 3 million people flock to Kühlungsborn every year: to simply soak up some of the salty sea air, take a dip in the freezing cold Baltic Sea (the water temperature in the summer averages a cool 18°C / 64°F).

Spend a day lounging in a Strandkorb (a sheltered straw ‘beach basket’ seat typical for the seaside resorts along the Baltic Sea coast) on its long and wide sand beach. When you find yourself getting hungry, go for a stroll along the promenade and stop in one of the many seafood restaurants for the Catch of the Day.

If you want to be more active, rent bikes and ride along the ‘Kühlung’, the unique a forested ridge, part of a cycling route along the coast. Worth visiting are also nearby Heiligendamm, Germany’s very first seaside resort, and lighthouse Buk, built in 1878. The views over the surrounding area and the Baltic Sea from the top of the lighthouse are unrivaled.kuehlungsborn baltic sea

Rostock

Drive: Kühlungsborn to Rostock, 33 kilometers / 21 miles – about 40 minutes

Rostock is the largest city in the state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern and used to be the most significant member of the Hanseatic League (see above). The city celebrated its 800th (!) birthday in 2018 and is famous not only for its past as an important seaport in the Baltic Sea, but also its striking architecture (many buildings were built in Brick Gothic style, typical for the Hanseatic cities), several grand churches (dating to the 13th century), the impressive harbor and restored gable houses from the 15th and 16th centuries. You can even still see parts of the medieval city wall.Rostock Germany

Warnemünde

Drive: Rostock to Warnemünde, 10 kilometers / 6 miles – about 12 minutes

If you have time, don’t miss nearby Warnemünde, which is a district of Rostock that is located right on the Baltic Sea (Rostock is further inland, connected to the Baltic Sea via the Unterwarnow, the estuary of the Warnow River). Warnemünde has managed to maintain the character of a small fishing village (population 8,400), despite having become a popular cruise ship destination.

The promenade is lined with colorful houses, hotels, restaurants and little shops, and the main canal, Alter Strom, is lined with beautiful boats. The historic lighthouse, built in 1898, is worth the climb (135 steps) for the glorious coastal vistas.baltic sea boat

Tip: If you haven’t set the dates for your road trip yet, try to head to Rostock and Warnemünde during the second weekend in August, when Hanse Sail takes place. Hanse Sail is a huge maritime festival with up to 1..5 million visitors, celebrating maritime traditions and culture. Around 250 sailing ships of all types and sizes from different countries sail to Rostock for the festival – a truly unique spectacle. (If you’re planning to spend the night – book your accommodation well in advance!).kuehlungsborn strandkoerbe

Final Stretch: Circling Back to Berlin

Drive: Rostock to Berlin, 240 kilometers / 150 miles, about 4 hours

If you decide to head straight back to Berlin from Rostock, it’ll take you about four hours to get back to where you started. If you have time for an additional stop on the way back, I recommend to break up the drive in either of these two places:

Waren

(88 kilometers / 55 miles, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Rostock; 152 kilometers / 95 miles – about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Berlin)

Waren sits right on Lake Müritz and is known for its historic town center, boasting a large number of historic buildings and monuments. It’s a pleasant city for a wander around town or along the lake. Lake Müritz is the second largest lake in all of Germany and the largest one in the Mecklenburg Lake Plateau, an Müritz National Park stretches the long eastern shoreline of the lake.Northern Germany Road Trip

Neustrelitz

(134 kilometers / 83 miles – about 2 hours and 10 minutes from Rostock; 111 kilometers / 69 miles – about 2 hours from Berlin)

Neustrelitz is also located right in the Mecklenburg Lake District, sitting on the shores of Lake Zierker See. The historic town center is known for its stunning Baroque architecture, with a wide open market square. While the palace of Neustrelitz was destroyed during World War II, the palace gardens are still intact, and they are delightful!northern germany country road

read more

Six Offbeat things to do in Porto, Portugal

Porto Portugal

When it comes down to discussing tourist destinations, Porto is one of the most popular places to visit in right now, and since it’s less hours from Lisbon on the train, why not add a stop in Porto to your trip to Portugal? And while Porto may not be as popular as Lisbon just yet, don’t think you’ll get away from tourists – Porto is still a touristy spot, however, if you want to do something ‘off the beaten path’, I recommend to find private tours in Porto with locals.PortoIn this article, I am sharing a few of the less talked about things to do while visiting Porto – once you’ve seen the main tourist attractions, check out these cool things:

Book a film show at an independent theater

Independent films and watching them around in Porto is quite the tradition. If you wish to experience something similar, the best way to go about with it is by visiting Cinema Trindale. It does offer some of the most amazing set of choices and that too at an amazing price as well. You don’t need to worry about the language barrier because there are subtitles for the movies you watch.

Visit Casa da Musica

Apart from the breathtaking beauty of the white and glass in the swerving walls of Casa, the Casa da Musica is one of those offbeat spots to visit around which offers an immaculate experience. The building itself is a must-see for architecture lovers, while the performances inside will wow not just lovers of classical music. The orchestral shows in there are nothing short of amazing and are one of the best things to do while in Porto. If you miss out on getting tickets to a concert, the cafe in the basement is worth a visit too. It is also an amazing spot to witness the skaters swerve through the slopes.Casa da Música, Porto - Portugal

Visit the Cat cafe

Cafes are everywhere to be found around Porto but the one that stands out is the cat cafe. It is not just one of a kind but quite a fun place to hang around in. It is called O Porto dos Gatos (The Port Of Cats) and is one of the only cat cafes in all of in Europe. The interior of the place is quite serene and has cats everywhere you turn. The cafe serves 100% vegan food which is fantastic for vegans – but also non-vegans will love the food here – the cakes and brownies are to die for!

Explore Ribeira

Something you shouldn’t miss while you are in Porto is exploring Ribeira, which is one of Porto’s liveliest neighborhoods and UNESCO World Heritage site. It is known for its architectural grandeur and the beauty it bestows. The name of this place translates to Riverside which is literally where it is located, hence the name. It is one of the most beautiful and charming areas of Porto, so take an afternoon and go for a wander around Ribeira. Use this excellent guide to Ribeira as your starting point to explore the neighborhood.Ribeira

Sign up for an art class

Irrespective of whether or not you are good at art, you can take an art class while you are in Porto. There are several local artists who offer amazing art classes that you can take. Not just the brush strokes, they often explain everything about the equipment too. You don’t need to have any kind of prior experience. All you need is to be enthusiastic about art.

Visit the Tram Museum

The Tram Museum in Porto is one of a kind and makes you travel back in time. Not only do you learn about the history of each train, but you can also find out why each one has a different surname. This museum is often named as a kids’ favorite.Tram 163, Porto Tram Museum

If you want to venture beyond Porto, I recommend taking a trip to Douro Valley. It takes only about an hour and a half to get there and the beauty of the Douro River is worth this road trip. If you have time for a day trip in Douro valley while you’re in Porto, don’t miss this breathtakingly beautiful part of Portugal.

Douro Valley
 

Photo Credit: Lead image of Porto by Nathsegato via Pixabay. All other images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Porto by Simplethrill; (2) Casa de Musica by Paolo Margari; (3) Ribeira by Miquel Bohigas Costabella; (4) Porto Tram Museum by Nigel Menzies; (5) Douro Valley by Porto Convention & Visitors Bureau
read more

Five Things You Have To Do When You Visit Budapest

budapest

Budapest has seen a steady rise in popularity over the last couple of decades and is now one of the most popular capitals in all of Europe. If you’re on a Euro trip, make sure to add Hungary’s capital to your itinerary and let the city charm you with its grand historic architecture, beautiful landmarks, and lively nightlife.

The city is made up of two distinctly different parts: Buda, which is western of the Danube River perched atop a hill, topped by an imposing castle, and Pest, on the eastern side of the river, dominated by the stunning Parliament Building on the riverfront.

To get a good overview of the city, visit the main sights and have time to try some delicious Hungarian food, I recommend spending at least two nights in Budapest, but no matter how much or how little time you have – here are five things you HAVE TO do on your visit:The magnificent Budapest Parliament

1 Take in the breathtaking views

Since much of the Buda part of the city sits atop a hill, the city offers several viewpoints that offer sweeping vistas over the entire city and the Danube River which divides Buda and Pest. A panoramic view requires a bit of an uphill march, but trust me, it is worth the pain.

Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya) is one of the best viewpoints in Budapest, including a spectacular view of the remarkable Parliament Building. While you’re there, go for a stroll in the surrounding streets – there are plenty of nice cafes and bars.

If you don’t like crowds, I recommend heading up there early in the morning – this place gets busy, but it’s popular for a reason.2013-09-25-10h19m10Another great viewpoint is Gellért Hill, named after Bishop Gellért, who was thrown to death from the hill by pagans in the fight against Christianity in 1046. You’ll find a monument erected in his honor atop the hill, as well as another famous statue: Budapest’s Statue of Liberty, visible from everywhere in the city. The big citadel on Gellért Hill is a popular tourist attraction now, also worth a visit, if you have time.

To get to Gellért Hill, take a tram across Liberty Bridge to the base of the hill. That’s where you also find the famous Gellert Baths, one of several thermal pools in Budapest (see below #2). The path to the top of the hill is well signposted.

A third magnificent view of Budapest can be enjoyed from Castle Hill. From here, you can see the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Gresham Palace, and St. Stephen’s Basilica in a perfect line.

2 Take a Bath

A visit to at least one of Budapest’s thermal baths is a MUST when you visit the city. The city is built above thermal hot springs, which is why several of these springs were turned into thermal pools. The Szechenyi Baths are the most famous one and the largest ones – in fact, one of the largest thermal pools in all of Europe! They’re particularly famous thanks to the beautiful neo-Baroque building they’re facing, making it an extraordinary spa experience.

Since the Szechenyi Baths are very popular, it’s recommended to book tickets in advance, especially if you are visiting during the busy summer season (May to October), and if you don’t have much time, go for the fast-track tickets. Fast-track tickets are €21 on weekdays and €22 (roughly US$25) on weekends and Holidays, and this price includes not only Skip the Line Entry but also a private cabin room, and you can spend the entire day in the baths if you want to.Szechenyi bath

3 Drink in a Ruin Bar

Ruin bars, which are basically watering holes inside abandoned buildings, are something Budapest is famous for, and you have to visit at least one of them while you’re visiting the city. Most of the ruin bars are in the Jewish Quarter, where in the early 2000s, many buildings sat empty – and a business savvy local decided to turn one of these ‘ruins’ into a bar: Szimpla Kert. That was the very first one, and soon others followed. Many of these bars have a unique design, several rooms, and some have unique touches like mismatched furniture that looks like it was found on a flea market or at a garage sale (which it probably was.) The best part about them? That you can still get a large beer for $2 or even less!

In addition to Szimpla Kert, Instant, Mazel Tov and Ellátó Kert are worth a visit, too. If you’re traveling by yourself, consider joining a Ruin Bar – there are several tours in Budapest, check Tripadvisor for the best rated tour.Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar Trabant

4 Eat in the Great Market Hall

Budapest’s Great Market Hall (Nagyvasarcsarnok in Hungarian – try to say that word!) looks more like a train station from the outside: a majestic building where you can watch the locals as they shop for fresh spices and produces, but also nosh on some Hungarian specialties. The three-storey market hall has enough to see to keep you entertained for a couple of hours. Budapest, HungaryIf you’re not sure, what food to try, here are some recommendations:

  • Langos, a deepfried dough topped with sweet (honey) or savory (garlic, cheese, sour cream) toppings
  • Sweet strudels for dessert
  • Pogácsa (the Hungarian version of a scone)
  • Hungarian salami
  • Kürtőskalács – the famous Hungarian chimney cake (which you can’t miss if you love cinnamon!)

5 See the Shoes on the Danube

This might sound like a rather odd thing to do, but the Shoes on the Danube promenade are a memorial to the Jews who were murdered in Budapest during World War II. Many Jews were shot by the Nazis right on the promenade, their bodies consequently falling into the river and washed away. Before they were shot, they were asked to take their shoes off and strip naked, hence the shoe memorial. The memorial, found right in front of the Parliament Building, consists of 60 pairs of shoes in all different styles and sizes – showing that absolutely nobody was spared from this horrifying act, not even children. It is estimated that around 20,000 Jews were shot on the shore of the Danube River, and the shoes are a haunting memorial to what was a gloomy time in the history of the city.Shoes

Where to stay in Budapest

ibis Budapest Centrum Hotel

For a stylish hotel at less than $100, consider the ibis Budapest Centrum Hotel, which has functional rooms and is located right in the center of Budapest, as its name suggests. The Great Market Hall is only a couple of minutes away, and you’re close to Liberty Bridge which connects the Pest part of the city with Buda. The Gellert Baths and Gellert Hill are less than 15 mins walking distance, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.

Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge

If you want to splurge, you’ll love the Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge, a luxury hotel that sits right on the Danube River, offering amazing views over the Chain Bridge and the Royal Castle. This hotel has an indoor pool and a wonderful summer terrace and all major attractions are just a short walk from the hotel.

How to get to Budapest

By plane

Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport connects Budapest with all major European cities, and is served by many low-cost airlines (EasyJet, Flybe, Germanwings, Jet2, Ryanair, Wizzair, Vueling, Norwegian).

By train

Budapest is connected to many European cities via rail, and has three railway stations (Eastern, Southern and Western Railway Station), which are all connected to the underground (metro) system. International trains usually arrive at the Eastern Railway Station. There are direct trains from Vienna (2.5hrs), Bratislava (2.5hrs), Zagreb (7hrs(, Prague (7hrs), Munich (7.5 hrs), Belgrade (8hrs), Ljubljana (10hrs), Warsaw (10.5hrs), Berlin (12hrs), Bucharest (16hrs)

By bus

Budapest is served by several low-cost buses – check the following buses for connections to other European countries:

  • Eurolines
  • Flixbus
  • Eurobusways

things to do in Budapest

Photo Credit: Lead image via Walkerssk on Pixabay. All other images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing: (1) Parliament Building by Hans Permana; (2) Fisherman’s Bastion by Byron Howes; (3) Szechenyi Baths by Thierry Kennes; (4) Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar by Nan Palermo; (5) Great Market Hall by Alejandro; (5) Shoes by Pedro Cambra
read more

The UK’s most romantic road trips

northern England

Exploring a new part of the world with your new partner is always exciting, but you don’t have to get on a plane to do so. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the country to get a taste of idyllic scenery. Make the most of your car and country by opting for a scenic road trip when planning your next romantic gesture. As a young couple, it’s a relatively cheap way of seeing a little more of the world before you have the funds later to head abroad together.

Before you set off on your road trip, it’s important you make sure you’re fully prepared for the journey. Grab some snacks for the trip and make sure you have a sat nav at the ready. An emergency breakdown cover policy is an important essential, as well as an emergency kit in your boot featuring items such as a hazard triangle, hi-vis clothing, torches and bottles of water. Most importantly, make sure your insurance and the route you’re going to take is sorted well in advance – nobody wants to cancel a trip because they left the essentials to the last minute.

The Cotswolds

Known for its luscious green hills and charming cottages made of golden stone, the Cotswolds is one of the most picturesque places in the country. A trip to the Cotswolds is perfect for those who want to explore a quaint village before heading to a country pub for a spot of lunch.

Unspoiled and truly traditional, walking through one of these stunning villages will transport you back in time. Make sure you have a spare hour to pop into a tea room for some delicious scones before heading back home.

Spanning nearly 800 miles, it would be pretty much impossible to explore the Cotswolds in its entirety in just a weekend, as much as we’d all love to try. At just 45 miles, the best route for a couple would have to be the Romantic Road from Broadway. If you don’t want to use a pre-set route, it’s worth planning which of the many villages you want to explore rather than driving aimlessly.

The Lake District

The beautifully scenic Lake District is famed for its sprawling hillsides, breathtaking lakes and hike-worthy mountains. There are plenty of routes to take, as listed by the Lake District Drives website. One of those most popular is the Windermere Circuit drive. You’ll see all the popular sights in this drive around England’s largest lake as well as the more untouched parts of this stunning part of the country.

The Keswick, Borrowdale, Buttermere drive is considered one of the most romantic, passing through the most picturesque valleys and mountain passes you’ll ever see. At only 38 miles, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the natural beauty of the Lake District on this route. Stop for lunch in the popular town of Keswick before heading off on the rest of your journey.

The New Forest

When people think of the New Forest, the first things that come to mind are the enchanting forest trails and the wildlife that resides amongst the luscious greenery. Stop off on your trip and hike through these trails for a breath of fresh air with a view.

british pub food

If you want your road trip to be filled with nature, take the scenic route to avoid the busy main roads. This route takes you to the more quiet areas of the New Forest, avoiding the areas that are typically packed with tourists. You’ll start in Lymington and end in Frogham with plenty of lovely little villages to visit in between. Keep an eye out for the famous wild horses that roam the New Forest as well as the beautiful deer located in Bolderwood.

Plan one of these romantic road trips this year and enjoy time away from it all, spent together as a couple.

read more

The five best long-distances hikes in England

turquoise water

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know that I am a big fan of long-distance hikes. After the Salkantay Trek in Peru, the jungle trek to Colombia’s Lost City, and the month-long epic walk across Spain along the Camino De Santiago it is time to plan my next long distance hike, and this year, my Camino BFF Kate and I are planning to do one of England’s best long-distance hikes. All that’s left to do is fill our backpacks with our hiking gear, strap on our walking boots and – most importantly – decide which walk to set out on.

When I started planning this trip, I was not aware how many fantastic walking trails there are in England, and after some research, I’ve narrowed down the five best long-distance walks in England, to give you some inspiration for your very own walking holiday in the UK. There’s something for everyone on this list: from short five-day hikes to epic eight-week walking adventures, from coastal walks to hamlet hopping through some of England’s grandest landscapes.

1 Coast to Coast

Location: Northern England – Cumbria to North Yorkshire

Length: 309 km / 192 miles

Duration: 15 days (without any test days)

What to expect: You’ll start on the west coast, at the Irish Sea at St Bees and end the walk in the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. Walking west to east is the more popular direction for this hike, because this way, wind and rain will be at your back, and you don’t walk against the bright evening sun.

Highlights: You cross three stunning national parks on this walk: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors. During the walk, you’ll pass through small villages with cozy pubs, the heather-covered highlands of the North York Moors, medieval castles and abbeys, the breathtakingly beautiful scenery of the Lake District and plenty of unforgettable views.

Level of difficulty: This is a strenuous hikes with many hills and mountains – you have to be an experienced hiker and in great physical condition.

2 Cotswolds Way

Location: South-Central England, Gloucestershire to Somerset

Length: 164 kilometers / 102 miles

Duration: 5 – 7 days

What to expect: The Cotswolds Way is one of the country’s most beautiful walks: You’ll walk through charming villages filled with century-old honey-colored stone houses and cozy pubs, follow the trail through the typical ‘rolling hills’ limestone grasslands that the Cotswolds are known for, through farmlands where you’ll encounter cows and sheep.

Highlights: Every single hamlet you walk through will take your breath away – the Cotswolds were awarded the title of ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ for a reason! And then there are the stately 15th-century Sudeley Castle, charming tea rooms, countless viewpoints with sweeping vistas of green, rolling hills, and finally, the city of Bath with its wonderful 18th-century Georgian architecture, where the walk ends (or begins, either way is possible, but soaking in Bath’s famous Roman thermal spas is a rewarding way to end the hike).

Level of difficulty: Moderate – this trail is doable for less experienced hikers.

3 The Pennine Way

Location: Northern England (Derbyshire) into Scotland

Length: 431 kilometers / 268 miles

Duration: min. of 21 days

What to expect: This popular, yet challenging, hike runs along the ‘backbone of England’: the Pennine Hills through a rather remote part of England. It is often named the toughest hiking trail in Britain, and definitely not an easy undertaking. You’ll walk through the remarkable Yorkshire Dales, lots of hilly terrain, moorland, bogs, wildflower meadows, farmland and wild landscapes – every day is very different. Since you’re passing mainly through untouched terrain, it is important to plan ahead – the Guardian has a great list of where to stay, eat and drink along the Pennine Way.

Highlights: Finishing the challenging Pennine Way with 432 stiles, 287 gates and 204 bridges is a huge achievement in itself, but you will also enjoy the vast panoramic vistas from the high-up viewpoints, some of Britain’s most beautiful, untouched scenery, Hadrian’s Wall and the highest pub in England.

Level of difficulty: This is considered a tough hike – long-distance hiking experience is essential, and you must be in excellent physical condition.

4 The Dales Way

Location: Northern England – West Yorkshire to Cumbria

Length: 125 kilometers / 81 miles

Duration: 5 – 6 days

What to expect: The Dales Way is a well-signposted hiking trail that mainly follows river valleys, cuts through farms and lush green fields, and eventually ends in the foothills of the mountains of the Lake District. You’ll walk through two National Parks: The Yorkshire Dales as well as the Lake District National Park.

Highlights: The Yorkshire Dales National Park offers some of England’s most spectacular landscapes: Moors, river valleys, green hills, farmland dotted with cows and sheep, and historic stone villages.

Level of difficulty: Moderate – can be done by less experienced hikers

5 The South West Coast Path

Location: Southwestern England – Dorset, Cornwall, Somerset, Devon

Length: 1,014 kilometers / 630 miles

Duration: about 8 weeks

What to expect: If you feel like all of the above hikes aren’t much of a challenge, the South West Coast Path is the hike for you. This hike follows the entire length of Cornwall’s and Devon’s coastline, and sections of Devon’s and Somerset’s coastlines. With a length of over 1,000 kilometers, it puts the famed Camino de Santiago to shame. Not only is this the longest hiking trail in the UK, but it is often named as one of the best hikes in the world. However pretty this coastal path with its stunning views is, be aware that there are lots of ups and downs involved, i.e. many drops and climbs. If the length of the hike seems off-putting to you, know that many people walk it in stretches over a number of years.

Highlights: You will pass through two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Jurassic Coast, comprised of the Dorset and East Devon Coast, and parts of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape. You’ll also get to walk along the Heritage Coast in Exmoor National Park with its dramatic coastline, ravines and steep cliffs – including the highest cliff in mainland Britain – and you’ll pass dozens of pristine beaches, castles, small harbor towns and seaside resorts, and the iconic Land’s End: the westernmost point of the English mainland.

Level of difficulty: Pretty difficult – not just because of the length of it, but the total elevation climbed during this hike is 114,931 feet (35,031 m), which is almost four times the height of Mount Everest! You have to be an experienced long-distance walker to finish this hike, and you have to have adequate hiking gear.

read more
1 2 3 20
Page 1 of 20