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Your Guide to Travelling Europe on a Budget

Bavarian village, Germany

When it comes to experiencing Europe on a budget, there are a lot of wonderful ways to do it. Travellers across the globe have ‘backpacking through Europe’ on their bucket list, and it’s not without sound reason. It’s a huge milestone for any traveller, and there are countless things to do in Europe.

If you wish to go on a backpacking trip to Europe on a budget, 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 a major way to save money on your trip. While you may think hostels are only meant for young people, you would be surprised to know that people from all age groups prefer staying in hostels on their backpacking trips.

Some hostels may even provide single rooms for people who don’t like sharing their accommodation with other travellers.

Camping in Europe

The only cheaper option than living in hostels is camping. There are a lot of campsites in every major city in Europe, and they also offer facilities like bathrooms and cooking areas.

abraham hostel jerusalem roof terrace

2 Eating Cheap in Europe

Cook Your Own Meal

Staying at a hostel or a campsite would mean that you would probably have a cooking facility. And considering food is one of the major expenses while travelling, the best thing you could do is to buy fresh ingredients and cook for yourself. It may not be feasible all the time, but you would be saving a lot of cash to spend elsewhere.

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 expensive at tourist places). Eating like a local can prove to be an important life skill.milan pizza arugalaEat Street Food

While travelling 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.potosi chocolate crepe

3 Finding Budget Transportation in Europe

European Rail Pass

When you begin your journey through Europe, one of the first things you should do is to get a rail pass as there’s hardly a better way to witness the beauty of Europe than riding a train.

You get a variety of options; from a single country pass to a complete pass that will let you ride trains anywhere in Europe. You may choose a pass according to your travel plans, and this will definitely help you save a lot of travel money.

Tourist Passes

Apart from a rail pass, many European cities offer tourist passes that let you avail public transport at a nominal cost. Some cities may also offer entry to tourist spots, sightseeing tours etc. along with unlimited travel and these are benefits you must take advantage of.italian high speed trainCycling or Walking

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.

Budget Airlines

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.flying

Get International Travel Insurance

Travelling to unknown places involves risk, and you can never be too careful, hence, you should get yourself international travel insurance that will come to your aid in case of a mishap.

You may spend a lot of time planning the perfect European vacation, but don’t overlook the importance of getting good international travel insurance.

You are more vulnerable to accidents and illnesses while travelling in a strange land. Although international travel insurance cannot help you avoid misfortunes during your travel, it will offer relief in the form of monetary compensation.dani camino de santiago

5 European cities to travel on a budget

You may have heard about the expensive European cities, but there are a lot of places where you can go on a shoestring budget. Here are five recommended cities when it comes to travelling on a budget:

    • LEÓN, 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: If observing and learning about the culture of the place you visit fascinates you, you should be in Berlin
    • PORTUGAL: It is a small but lovely place for water enthusiasts who would like to unwind around water and watch sunsets
    • TRANSYLVANIA, ROMANIA: If adventure and adrenaline rush is what you are looking for, Romania would be a befitting candidate.

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

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Eight Places You Shouldn’t Miss on a Trip To The French Pyrenees

pyrenees clouds

The French Pyrenees are among the most beautiful regions in France. High mountain peaks, green valleys, stunning waterfalls, dramatic gorges, and little towns dotting the valleys – the French Pyrenees offer a photo op around every corner. In the winter months, there are plenty of ski areas, and in the summer, there is a vast network of hiking trails to be explored. To give you an idea of what to see in this mountainous area of France, I put together eight stunning places you shouldn’t miss on your Pyrenees holidays, ranging from world-famous destinations to lesser known hidden gems:

Pay a visit to The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes

The small town of Lourdes is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage destinations in the entire world, thanks to its famous healing shrine. The miraculous cures that have been said to occur after a visit to the Lady attract around six million visitors every year.Morning in Lourdes, France 3-20-2004 019

Marvel at the Fortress of Montségur

The ruins of the Château de Montségur, a Cathar castle perched at the top of a 3,900 feet high rock formation, are a magnificent sight, and should not be missed by anyone interested in the historic Cathar castles. Many people claim that this the most remarkable Cathar Castle.

Indulge In A Luxurious Spa Treatment In Ax-les-Thermes

Ax-les-Thermes is a small town nestled in the Ariege upper valley right in the heart of the Pyrenees, close to Andorra and the border with Spain. It is famous for its thermal baths and recreational spa, but the town itself has plenty of architectural gems to offer, such as the belle-époque Casino and several medieval fountains. The nearby Orlu Valley is worth visiting for its picturesque villages and the Réserve Nationale de Faune Sauvage, a national wildlife reserve.Traffic Management - The Ax-les-Thermes Bypass, Pyrenees, France

Explore historic Foix

Foix is a medieval town that dates back to 849, and its castle, the focal point of the town’s history, was even built before then. The stunning chateau sits on top of a hill looking over Foix, and is one of the most impressive historic castles in this part of France.

Wander The Lush Meadows Of Col du Puymorens

The Col de Puymorens is a famous Tour de France climb in the France – Spain – Andorra triangle. Even though the climb, which was first used for the famous bike race in 1913, hasn’t been used for the Tour de France since 1993, it is still a popular place with cycle tourists and road trippers. You can start the drive in Ax-les-Thermes, and if you take a right turn 2.8 kilometers before the summit, you reach the Port d’Envalira, a scenic high road in the Pyrenees.IMGP1722

Free Your Mind On A Walk Through The Green Aston Valley

The small town of Aston is famous for a number of reasons: Gudanes, a majestic château dating from the time of Louis XIV, nestled among the mountains of the Aston Valley, is the most striking sight in the Aston Valley, but the lush green valley itself, flanked by the Pyrenees and covered in wildflowers in the summer months, makes for a memorable hike. And then there is the Grotte de Lombrives, the largest cave in Europe in terms of volume, with a length of 39 kilometers, which was formed more than 20 million years ago. The caves have an immense geological and historical value, with an incredible karst network which was shaped by long glacial periods.

Marvel at the Rock Church Of Vals

Just a short 45-minute drive from Aston you find the historic village of Vals. When you approach Vals, a tiny hamlet with a population of only 86 people, you wouldn’t think that this village is home to one of the most treasured pieces of religious architecture of the Middle Ages. The church is partly carved into a giant rock and dates back to the 10th century. There are several noteworthy frescoes on the ceiling, and the third level of the church, a chapel dedicated to Saint Michel, lies in a defense tower built in the 14th century. Don’t miss the breathtaking vistas over the Pyrenees from the terrace here.

Climb the Roc of Scaramus For The Stunning Panoramic Views

This hike up to the top of the Scaramus Rock is challenging, but the panoramic mountain views over the Pyrenees make the climb worth it. When you reach the top, you’ll get to enjoy some of the most scenic views over the Pyrenees. The entire round-trip is just over six miles and can be done in about six hours, starting near the Col De Marmare cycling route. Note that this is a strenuous trek – not necessarily for beginners.
Refuge d'Espingo, French PyreneesIf you are planning a trip to the French Pyrenees, head to France-Voyage.com and create your own personalized itinerary. You can easily add all or some of the places listed above to your itinerary, or simply find more information and travel inspiration for the French Pyrenees and other regions of France, or find vacation rentals for your trip!

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Lourdes by Bren Buenaluz; (2) Ax-Les-Thermes by Richard Allaway; (3) Col Du Puymorens by Jean-Marie Pival; (4) French Pyrenees by Richard Allaway

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The Five Prettiest Places To Visit In Mallorca

In recent years the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca has moved away from the package holiday crowd with the island’s capital Palma de Mallorca leading the charge with its swanky designer boutiques and Michelin star aspiring restaurants. Elsewhere the rest of the island has followed suit with properties being snapped up by wealthy Europeans looking for a home in the sun.

Mallorca has of course for all intents and purposes remained a summer holiday destination, it’s just that now they want to distance themselves from the bad press of young Brits behaving badly in while out partying in Magaluf. In fact, if you were to stay in the north-eastern corner of the island you would think you were the only one to succumb to Mallorca’s many charms.Mallorca
For Spanish artist Joan Miró Mallorca was all about the pure Mediterranean sunlight and the colors reflected off the mountains and sea which is the inspiration for my top 5 prettiest places to see while holidaying in Mallorca.

The best way to get from Palma’s Son Sant Joan Airport to your holiday accommodation is by taxi transfer. It’s wise to read the tripadvisor reviews about Mallorca’s taxis first, as prices & standards on the island can vary greatly. A list of Mallorca airport taxi transfer prices can be found here on Palma airport website. A taxi provides the most direct, fastest & convenient way to get the around the island to any of the pretty destinations listed below. If you want the reassurance that your airport transfer is fully booked & arranged with a trusted transfer company, however like me, you are a little hesitant about paying for your trip in advance, then Solhop transfers may the better option. Here you can get the reassurance from a reliable source that your booking is fully in hand and yet you have the freedom to pay your driver on the day.in Palma, Ausblick vom Hotel

Almond Blossom

My number one choice may come as a bit of a surprise as it is an event that occurs annually between the months of January and February. I am of course referring to the almond blossom when Mallorca’s nearly 5 million almond trees spring to life with their brightly coloured pink, white and cerulean flowers. Almond trees grow all over Mallorca but the best place to see the trees in full bloom is in the central Raiguer District.Mallorca

Cap de Formentor

The lighthouse at Cap de Formentor offers incredible views out to sea any time of day but comes alive in the evening when people gather to watch the sun gently disappear into the sea. The 20-kilometre drive up from Port de Pollenca is not for the faint-hearted and will have your palms sweating as you grip the steering wheel while navigating the hairpin bends. In the end, though it is worth it when you will feel as though you are standing on the edge of the world.Cap de Formentor Panorama

Calo d’es Moro

As you descend into Palma’s Son Sant Joan Airport you will be blown away by how blue the sea looks from the aircraft’s window and of all the coves and beaches on Mallorca my favourite has to be Calo d’es Moro. Located in the south-east of the island six kilometres from the town of Santanyí, Calo d’es Moro is a small beach surrounded by steep cliffs with some of the clearest turquoise coloured water you will find anywhere on the planet. With limited space available for sunbathing it is best to get there early to claim your spot.Caló des Moro, Mallorca

Fornalutx

Often described as being the prettiest village in Spain, Fornalutx is nestled in the Tramuntana Mountain’s surrounded by orange and lemon groves. The stone village buildings and their red-tiled roofs appear to be locked in a time warp where nothing has changed for hundreds of years. Ideally suited for hikers and mountain bikers the town attracts hundreds of tourists each summer to come and wander around its narrow cobbled streets.Todo principio es duro.

Port de Soller

Of all the seaside towns in Mallorca Port de Soller has to be my favourite. Situated on a horseshoe-shaped bay on Mallorca’s west coast, Port de Soller managed to escape the overdevelopment that occurred during the 70s and 80s keeping its traditional old world charm. The town boasts a lovely waterfront promenade alive with restaurants and bars where you can spend a leisurely lunch watching the traditional Llaut fishing boats bob up and down in the harbour. Getting to Port de Soller couldn’t be more fun either with an award-winning 100-year-old wood panelled tram running between Port de Soller and the capital Palma.Port de Sóller

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Mallorca by Kyle Taylor; (2) Mallorca View by PercyGermany; (3) Mallorca Almond Blossom by Tobias Leeger; (4) Cap de Formentor by Vaidotas Mišeikis; (5) Calo Des Moro by Tommie Hansen; (6) Fornalutx by Emilio Vaquer; (7) Port de Soller by John Mason

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East or West From Faro

cascais promenade lisbon portugal

Portugal’s gorgeous Algarve region has a well-earned reputation as a popular destination for sun-seekers. But its capital, Faro, isn’t always at the top of a tourist’s list. Nevertheless, this is a stunning city with a great blend of history and nature that is the perfect place to choose as a home base while you explore the region. Here are the HolidayTaxis teams’ suggestions.

cascais beach estoril

A Trip Back in Time

Faro’s Old Town is well worth a visit if you like history. It’s the perfect chance to escape the hordes of tourists on the beaches. As you wander down the cobbled streets, explore the well-preserved city walls, and admire the glorious Palacio de Estoi, you’ll find yourself plunged into Portugal’s romantic past. You can easily spend half a day enjoying the historical centre of Faro.

Breakfast with a view.

Hidden Treasures in Estoi

This tiny village, nestled 10km to the north of Faro, is the perfect choice for a day trip. Here you can find fascinating ancient Roman ruins, as well as the stunning Palacio de Estoi. This pink palace, built just over one hundred years ago, has been converted into a hotel. Even if you can’t afford to stay the night in such luxury, you can still enjoy the gardens and the wonderful views!

Estoi

A Spooky Surprise

If you really want to do something different on your holiday, then make your way to the Capela dos Ossos, aka the Chapel of Bones. The name will tell you what to expect: inside this little church, you’ll find the remains of monks exhumed from graves around Faro. The bones of over a thousand monks, all on display around the chamber, make this a truly unique experience, and certainly not for the faint of heart!

Capela dos Ossos

Immerse Yourself in Nature

The Ria Formosa natural park is a true highlight of the region, accessible by boat from Faro. Portugal is understandably proud of this beautiful stretch of nature, and works hard to protect it. Seabirds and all manner of sea creatures live here, and you can also see traditional fishermen, who are committed to using the old methods passed down from one generation to the next. Sustainability is the name of the game here, and if you want to get more out of this eco-friendly paradise, you can enjoy excursions by kayak or snorkel, as well as birdwatching.

RIA FORMOSA

A Day at the Beach

Of course, what would a Portuguese holiday be without a trip to the beach? Faro has no beaches within the city itself, but when you get to the Ria Formosa, you’ll find several seaside options. The most famous beach is the Praia de Faro, popular with tourists from all over Portugal and beyond. But if you hate crowds, then you’ll want to go a bit further, and make your way to the Ilha Deserta. Here you’ll find one of the Algarve’s true hidden gems. The name, which means Deserted Island, is definitely well-chosen! Get away from it all and enjoy the 9km of pure white sand, without any of the tourist amenities that can be found elsewhere in the Algarve.

Algarve

Around the Algarve

As the capital of the region, Faro is unsurprisingly well-connected. Heading west, you can find the posh resort of Vilamoura and its more wallet-friendly neighbour, Quarteira. Further inland is Loule, worth visiting on a Saturday for a great market. And if you go east, you’ll find Olhão, a great spot to visit if you want some fresh fish straight from the sea to your plate!

A última do ano velho

Photo Credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Faro by sushibarista; (2) Estoi by Bert Kaufmann; (3) Capela de Ossos by Nerea Villoria; (4) Ria Formosa by Rui Ornelas; (5) Algarve by Consuelo; (6) Olhão by Jose Moutinho

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An Irish Honeymoon For Couples Who Love Art and History

cornwall beach view

Ireland, the perfect combination of history, art, culture and urban vibes the country has everything to offer that will make the honeymoon blissful and memorable. Irish honeymoon is like a distant dream with castles, gorgeous sunsets, breathtaking scenic beauty and nightlife that will make one feel in a different era altogether. It is a country where modern age television series like Game of Thrones was shot and it is also a place where people have a welcoming smile and known for their hospitality. Plan your itinerary with the help of travel agencies and get a package that includes everything from romantic getaways to adventure in budget using vouchers from Bydiscountcodes.co.uk.

Let’s check out the popular tourist attraction that one should not miss on the first visit to Ireland:

Ireland

    • Cliffs of Moher: Topography of the country is breathtaking and it does not make one feel bored travelling from one place to another. Cliff of Moher is the natural attraction which is an important landmark of the country and its magnanimity is breathtaking. Likewise, there are other natural attractions in Ireland including The Blue Stack Mountains, The Slieve League Cliffs, etc. to enjoy some quiet time amidst nature with your partner.
    • Blarney Castle: Ireland is known for its classic castles and grandeur. If your interest lies in art and history, then Ireland is the perfect place for a honeymoon. Blarney Castle is known for its architectural relevance and of course for Blarney Stone that is believed to give the gift of eloquence if the person kisses the stone but for that he has to be upside down. There are also other castles in Ireland like Ashford castle, Cabra Castle, Dromoland Castle, Waterford Castle and many more were tourists can stay like a royalty.

Ireland, Mullaghmore Castle

    • Phoenix Park: If you are Dublin then Phoenix Park should not be missed. The park is enclosed in the city and is home to the fourth largest zoo in the world. Here, one can stay overnight and enjoy the natural setting of the park, explore zoo animals, especially fallow deer. One can also visit Ashtown Castle which has a beautiful tower house that was constructed in the 17th Apart from the park, Dublin is the modern city of Ireland where tourists can enjoy bar hopping, visiting museums and shopping.
    • Ross Castle: One of the most romantic and beautiful castles, it is haunted and has a painful history. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful castle to visit with your partner and spend some time admiring the artefacts of the castle.
    • Visit to Guinness Storehouse: Guinness Storehouse is the most visited tourist destination in Ireland. It is home to Black Stuff, the world famous beer and now it has become a seven-storey building with a bar on the top to enjoy a beer at Gravity Bar the most popular bar in the world.

"Guinness is Good for You"

The honeymoon is the time where time ceases to exist and one wants to make lifetime memories. But if budget is your constraint then check out Best Hotel deals around UK and Ireland and make prior arrangements, so that accommodation and travel do not kill the vibes of the vacation. Also, while planning a visit to Ireland for honeymoon take out time to explore the country and don’t plan a small vacation.

Ireland

Photo Credit: All photos used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Rock Of Cashel by Elena; (2) Mullaghmore Castle by Vincent van der Pas; (3) Guiness by Griffin Stewart; (4) Ireland by Trent Strohm

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Five Reasons You Should Visit Innsbruck (And Not Just Vienna!)

Innsbruck Inn & Mountains

Whenever I tell people that many many years ago, I used to lived in Tyrol, I often get blank stares. It turns out that while this region of Austria is well known throughout Europe, particularly for its fabulous ski slopes in the winter months, beyond European borders Tyrol isn’t a household name. “Innsbruck?”, I then usually try, referring to the capital of the state, but again – barely anyone has even heard of it. And that’s just such a shame, since Innsbruck is a gorgeous city, sitting in a wide valley, fringed by Alpine mountains on both sides.Driving along the Alps

But the city is usually overlooked or foregone in favor of Vienna and Salzburg, which has made it on the international tourist map thanks to its Sound Of Music fame. Innsbuck doesn’t have to hide behind Salzburg though – and did you know that the drive from Salzburg to Innsbruck is a mere two hours? So if you are visiting Austria and Salzburg is already in your travel plans, do yourself a favor and add Innsbruck to your itinerary.

Here are five reasons why you Innsbruck is worth a visit:
Innsbruck houses & snow-covered mountains

1 Alpine Nature Meets City

Innsbruck offers you the best worlds: mountain AND city life! It’s rare to have this combination, because you usually find cute Alpine villages around the popular ski and snowboard areas – but proper cities? Not so much! Innsbruck, however, has both: within minutes, you are in the mountains, but first and foremost, you can enjoy all the amenities that city life offers: there is great shopping, culture and nightlife in Innsbruck, and in addition, you have plenty of good bars and restaurants, entertainment and art galleries. For city girls like me, Innsbruck is the perfect base for a hiking vacation – it has easy access to hiking trails around the city, and several charming Alpine villages are within an hour’s drive, but you can return to the hustle & bustle of a big city (although, to be honest, with a population of ‘only’ 125,000, most people wouldn’t describe Innsbruck as big.)

Innsbruck st jacob's dome & inn

2 Stunning Hikes and Mountain Views

The best way to see Innsbruck is to hike up one of the surrounding mountains and look down at the city from the top. If you’re not a keen hiker, don’t fret – you can also take the easier route, via cable car, which conveniently leaves from the center of town and brings you all the way up to Karwendel Nature Park. There are several stops along the way up the mountain, but Seegrube (at 6,250 feet) and Hafelekar (at 7,401 feet) are the most remarkable viewing points. If you do enjoy hiking, you’ll want to make time for an extensive hike, following one of the many hiking trails on top of the mountain.Mountain & valley

Another option is to take the Patscherkofel cable car to the top of the Patscherkof Olympic Mountain (7,369 feet) and hike along the Stone Pine path, or, if you don’t want to go all the way up into the mountains, the popular short hike from Arzler Alm to Hoettinger Alm. The Bergisel Ski Jump is yet another impressive lookout over Innsbruck. You can find a list of the most popular hikes around Innsbruck here.Innsbruck houses & mountains

3 Tyrolean Specialties

One of the best thing about visiting Innsbruck is that you’ll find yourself in the heart of traditional, hearty Tyrolian cuisine. Some of the dishes you have to try during your visit are Speckknoedel (dumplings with pieces of bacon), groestl (roasted potatoes, speck, and onions topped off with a fried egg), and kaesespaetzle (egg noodles sautéed with a variety of mountain cheeses and topped with fried onions). Don’t miss the Markthalle, Innsbruck’s beloved indoor food market. To try some of Tyrol’s famous cake, head to Café Munding, which has been run by the same family since 1803.Dumpling & mushroom sauce

If you happen to visit around Christmas time, you’ll love the Christmas market right in the center of town, where you can sample dozens of regional foods and mulled wines at the food stands.

After gorging on all the delicious Tyrolian foods, you’ll understand why hiking is such a popular pastime around here 🙂
cake

4 Nightlife and Culture

Of course you can’t compare the art scene in Innsbruck not with Munich or Basel, which are both a few hours away, but considering that it is a moderately sized city, the art and culture scene is remarkable. The annual ART fair (held in January) is even the second biggest art fair in all of Austria! From fine art to contemporary artworks – Innsbruck has something for everyone!

Thanks to its considerable student population, Innsbruck also has a great bar and nightlife scene – obviously not comparable to Vienna, but there are several places that will make night owls happy: Bar 360, aptly named after the 360 degree views of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains, Moustache Bar, right in the Old Town and famous for their Deadly Moustache Cocktail, and Tante Emma Club, an EDM nightclub that is a favorite among the local dance crowd. If you feel like going on a bar crawl, check out Culture Club’s Top Ten Bars in Innsbruck.cocktails

5 Golden Roof

The Golden Roof, or Goldenes Dachl as it is called in German, is the most famous landmark in Innsbruck, made with 2,657 copper tiles gilded with six kilos of gold. The tiles are still the original ones, dating back to the year 1500! Where else in the world can you see a roof like this? The roof was gifted by the Emporer to his wife during Austria’s Imperial days and there’s always something going on around here. Street performers, other striking Gothic and Rococo buildings, covered in historical murals, and the Christmas market during the Holidays – make sure to stop in one of the many cafes (which all have outdoor seating during the warmer months) and take in this unusual roof and the hustle and bustle surrounding it.Golden roof innsbruck

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The Five Most Romantic Autumn Breaks To Take In the UK

new york fall foliage road trip leaves3

There’s no doubt about it – autumn is here! The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping. We may long for these long, sunny summer days right now, but autumn is actually a wonderful season for romance and togetherness. A stroll through the park during peak leaf changing season? Snuggling by the fireplace? Having an excuse to stay in bed on a rainy day? No other season is as romantic as autumn.

If you are thinking about booking a weekend getaway for you and your loved one: now is the time! Here are five ideas for romantic autumn breaks in the UK:poughkeepsie autumn colors hudson river walkway

1 A spa weekend

A spa weekend is the perfect way to spend a rainy autumn weekend – a little pampering helps make you feel better and look better, and it helps enhancing your mood if you are prone to November Blues. During a spa weekend, you and your partner can enjoy a couples’ massage, you can heat things up with a visit to the sauna or steam room, and there is nothing wrong with breakfast in bed in your fluffy white hotel robe.

An indulgent spa break is great for self-care as well as spending quality time with your partner. And it doesn’t have to be expensive – many spa hotels offer special weekend spa getaway deals, especially during the winter.grand hyatt playa del carmen cenote spa towels

2 Leaf peeping in the Peak District

If you want to experience the changing leaves and mystic autumn atmosphere in their full glory, head to the Peak District for long walks through the moorlands which turn burnished brown at this time of year, and along trails lined by trees with colorful leaves. Mist lingers in the valleys until long after sunrise, providing an incredibly romantic backdrop for walks with your loved one. To enhance the romance factor even more, stay in a self-catering cottage. Check out these 10 cosy places to stay in the Peak District.bear mountain fall leaves

3 Feel like a King & a Queen for a Weekend

How about pretending you’re a king and a queen for a weekend? Spending a night in a castle is on many people’s bucket list, and the UK has plenty of castle hotels and rentable castles to choose from. Spending a weekend in a castle in the fall means you’ll actually have the perfect excuse to spend as much time as possible inside and you’ll make the most of it. If you’re overwhelmed by the vast selection of available castles, here are some of the most extraordinary ones: Amberley Castle (which is featured on lists of the most romantic hotels in the world all the time), Culcreuch Castle (a 700 year old castle and one of Scotland’s oldest hotels); Hever Castle (all rooms have four-poster beds, and there are monthly Tudor banquets); Star Castle Hotel in the Scilly Islands (star-shaped fortress with sweeping sea views built by Elizabeth in 1593 to defend the Isles of Scilly), Langley Castle (a 14th-century castle with exposed stone walls, suits of armor, wrought-iron candelabras, four-poster beds and a restaurant known for its exquisite cuisine). You can turn this into an even more romantic getaway by whisking your partner away without telling them where you are taking them.

eileen donan castle scotland

4 New Forest

Nature lovers will be in awe when visiting this famed forest with its 500-year old oaks and the wild ponies this area is famous for – there are 3,000 of them! If your lady is a fan of horses, make sure to plan a ride through the area. But there’s more to New Forest than just ancient trees and horses: heaths covered in purple heather, farmland, lush meadows and coastal marshes, and plenty of wildlife. Nothing is more romantic than dinner by the fireplace in a cozy country pub after a long walk through these magical lands. Get some inspiration for the best walks – including some pub walks – here.old oak tree at oak alley plantation

5 The Exmoor Coastline

There are plenty of coastal getaways that are delightful during the most colorful weeks of the year – in Cornwall, Dorset and Kent, there are plenty of beaches and coastal walks to be explored. The unspoiled coast of Exmoor is particularly charming, however, offering the highest coastline in England, including the highest sheer cliff on Great Hangman (244m (800ft). In addition, there are coastal woods and moors, coves and secluded beaches. Exmoor is also home to the South West Coast Path, at 630 miles the longest National Trail in the UK. Walking hand in hand along the beach never fails to evoke romantic feelings, especially on a chilly autumn afternoon.

Cliffs & cottages

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Top foodie destinations in Europe

british pub food

So, Europe. Cobbled streets, blistering sunshine or torrential rain and some stunning architecture probably jumped to mind when you read that word, right? Right. Well, unless you’re a foodie. If you’re a foodie, the chances are your mind jumped to the frankly delicious array of dishes that Europe has to offer. If you aren’t already in the know, what are you waiting for? Pack up your loosest trousers, grab your passport, renew your EHIC and take a look at our list of the top foodie destinations in Europe!milan burata mozzarella

Macedonia

When you think of European food, Macedonia might not be at the forefront of your mind, but believe us when we say that it definitely should be. This frankly gorgeous mix of Balkan, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods makes for quite the unique selection, including an abundance of cheeses, pastries and meats. But don’t fret, you can balance all of this goodness out with even more goodness. Macedonia has quite the selection of super fresh vegetables, and I guess it wouldn’t be a complete experience without a hearty sample of the local wines.mdina fruits

Greece

So, Greece is probably pretty high up there on your ‘first thought of’ list. Greek food is fresh, it’s healthy, and the best part is that it doesn’t necessarily taste healthy, if you know what we mean. Feta cheese can be found on every corner, fresh fish is available by the bucket load, and filo pastry has never tasted as good as it does in this stunning location. Tender lamb and an abundance of dill and mint as staple herbs are all a result of over 4,000 years of culinary history. The dishes are simple, but rustic, so trust us when we say it’s well worth the visit – the beaches and plentiful culture are just a bonus.israel olives

France

Ah, France. Home to frog’s legs and snails. But French cuisine is so much more than that. French chefs are known for creating some of the most amazing, exquisite food in the entire world, so it’s no wonder that the nation is so proud of what it can produce. Take Paris, for example. This city is lined from border to border with bistros, cafes and restaurants, a breathtaking amount of which are Michelin-starred. Haute cuisine is very popular, but side-street bistros can give you the authentic taste of France while the plentiful markets will give you access to fresh ingredients that are perfect for picnics or creating your own dishes. And let’s not forget the Macaroons. You have to try the Macaroons.hong kong passion by gerard dubois

Italy

We couldn’t have a list of the best foodie destinations in Europe and not include Italy. Okay, so Italian food has wandered a long way from Italian soil, but no pizza or pasta will be anything like the ones you can find in an Italian street. But Italian cuisine goes so much further than the two aforementioned favorites. The entire country is filled with vineyards, orchards, olive trees and so much more to give you the best fresh taste you could hope for on European land. Cheese, wine, risottos, Limoncello… the list really is endless when it comes to Italy. We could talk about it all day, but trust us when we say that it’ll be better if you sample it all yourself. Rick Steves has some great tips on how you can find inexpensive eateries in Italy – along with some other useful advice on eating in Europe. keste pizza

Germany

German cuisine is unlike anything in Italy or France. If you go to Germany, you go to eat, and you go to eat well. From Spätzle – a traditional swabian egg noodle dish – all the way through to Currywurst – a pork sausage with ketchup and curry powder – the Germans know how to do good, hearty food. Try the schnitzel, a thinly sliced piece of veal meat that is covered in flour, egg and bread crumbs before its deep fried in oil or butter. Trust us, you won’t regret tasting it, and it’s one of the most traditional, well-known German dishes around the world. In short, German food will leave you feeling warm, fuzzy, and very, very full, but it’s more than worth it!Pretzels, pretzels

Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of European countries that have an incredible selection of cuisine you need to try, but these are just a few good places to start on your European trip. Happy eating!

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Five Weekend Breaks From London To Beat The Winter Blues

Sunset at Brighton Beach England

Let’s face it: the colder seasons can be dreadful in London. It is rainy and grey, sometimes the sun doesn’t show itself for days. It’s easy to get into a funk when it’s chilly out, and summer still seems far away.

Every time I felt the winter blues coming, I knew what I had to do to beat it: Get out of town for a couple of days. No matter if you only have Saturday and Sunday, or if you can add another day and take a long weekend, there are so many places close enough to London that make even a one-night getaway worthwhile.

Read on for my top five winter weekend breaks from London:brighton pavilion

Brighton

Distance from London: One hour on the train

Why go? Brighton is perfect for a weekend of long walks on the beach combined with shopping in the eclectic little shops in Brighton’s Lanes, where you find quirky vintage shops and cute cafes that invite to linger with a book or the newspaper when it’s raining outside. The dining scene in Brighton is exceptional, and there are enough things to keep you busy for several weekends.brighton seagull

Don’t miss: If the weather allows for it, take the bus (12, 12A or 13 bus) to Seven Sisters Country Park and go for a hike along the stunning white cliffs. Stop in a cozy country pub for a Sunday Roast on the way back.

Where to stay? Brighton has plenty of unusual B&B’s and small boutique hotels to offer – among the best ones are the Artist Residence (Rooms start at £90 per night); Snooze B&B (rooms start at £75); and Pelirocco, Brighton’s famous Rock’n’Roll hotel (grab their lovebirds special deal for £99 which includes a bottle of champagne, chocolate truffles and breakfast in bed!snooze brighton bed and breakfast bed

A Spa Break In The Midlands

Distance from London: 2.5 hours by car

Why go? The Belfry in the Midlands, just outside of Birmingham, is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. The hotel spa has undergone a £1 million a few years ago, making it a perfect destination for a spa weekend without breaking the bank and to spoil you with a quality spa experience. Two-night spa breaks at the gorgeous ivy-covered country house hotel in Sutton Coldfield start at only £134 per person per night – including a spa treatment, breakfast, a 3-course dinner and access to the pool area. No better way to spend a chilly winter weekend than by pampering yourself! And if the hubby isn’t much of a spa enthusiast, he’ll appreciate the 18-hole golf course.

Don’t miss: Head to the nearby Kingsbury Water Park with 15 lakes, plenty of walking trails and birds and wildlife.grand hyatt playa del carmen spa waters

The Cotswolds

Distance from London: About 2 hours by car

Why go? The Cotswolds are the quintessential English countryside getaway, with dozens of picture-perfect little villages with rustic stone houses dotted among the green hills. The villages are as traditional as Britain gets – you’ll think you’ve traveled back to the last century!

Don’t miss: One of the many scenic trails – the Telegraph lists the 10 best pub walks in the Cotswolds, and The Culture Trip shares the best hikes in the Cotswolds. Also stop in some of the Cotswolds villages and go for a stroll  – Burford, Blockley, Chipping Norton and Bourton-on-the-Water are among the most delightful ones.

Where to stay? Rent a cottage – it doesn’t matter in which of the villages you’re staying, they’re all equally as charming. AirBnb has cottages for as little as £60 – a steal for a romantic countryside getaway!

Hastings & Rye

Distance from London: 90 mins on the train

Why go? Over the past few years, Hastings has made quite a name for itself as an art lover’s heaven and cultural hotspot. The city has become quite hip, with a thriving art scene, plenty of artisan shops and boutiques, as well as trendy restaurants. The pier has also undergone a major £14 million renovation, and helped turning the city into a busy seaside resort. Visiting off-season has the advantage that you don’t have to deal with crowds, but can still admire the natural beauty while shopping for art in the many galleries.

Rye England

Don’t miss: Only a short 20-min train ride to the East brings you to the small town of Rye, which is famous for its cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses which date back to Medieval times. The annual Rye Bay Scallop Week takes place in late February, so if you are a scallop fan, you should plan your getaway to coincide with this event. The town makes for a nice detour trip from Hastings to peek inside the many little shops and to explore the nearby dunes at Camber, Rye Bay and Romney Marsh on a nice winter walk.

Where to stay: Zanzibar Hotel, praised by Conde Nast Traveler, has rooms starting from £99; The Old Rectory is a gorgeous B&B in the historic center (from £110), and Hastings House is a stylish, contemporary seaside B&B (rooms from £80).

York

Distance from London: 2 hours and 17 mins on the fast train

Why go? York is one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval cities in the entire UK, and with Virgin’s comfortable high speed trains less than 2.5 hours away. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, it is always delightful to meander through the historic alleyways, take a walk on the 13-century city walls and marvel at The Shambles, a narrow street with half-timbered houses that is lined with independent shops and lively cafes. The true showstopper is of course the York Minster, one of the most remarkable Gothic churches in the entire country.brighton cafe cakesDon’t miss: Betty’s Café Tea Rooms – sure, it’s touristy, but it is popular for a reason. This tea-and-cake shop is a York institution and afternoon tea or a quick stop for some tea and scones is a must!

Where to stay: The Churchill Hotel is a small upscale hotel housed in a luxurious Georgian mansion, and it is fabulous! Rooms start at around £85. Hotel Indigo is known for its uniquely styled bedrooms in a redbrick, industrial-chic building. Rooms from £75.England Sunset

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Three Reasons Why Road Tripping is the Best Way to See Iceland

southern iceland dani car

Visiting Iceland was a travel dream come true for me, and as soon as my friend and I had bought our plane tickets, we started looking into planning the logistics of the trip. Which places did we want to see? How would we get there? And where would we stay? It quickly became clear that the places we were most excited about were quite far from one another: The Golden Circle with its geysers and breathtaking waterfalls, the extraordinary Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon in the south, the fjords on the east coast, the lava fields in the north, and Snæfellsnes peninsula with its active volcano in the west of the country.jokulsarlon glacier lagoon ice beach - CopyOnce we started researching the practicalities, we quickly came to realize that the best way to see Iceland would be by car.

So why is road tripping the best way to see Iceland? Let me explain:iceland river1

1 The Ring Road

The Ring Road is a 828 mile (1332 km) long road that encircles the entire island, and driving it is the most convenient way to see as much of Iceland as possible. Not only does the Ring Road go around the entire country, but it also lets you see all of the things that you’d want to see on a trip to Iceland: geysers, glaciers, volcanoes, fjords, waterfalls, lava fields, Icelandic horses, hot springs, and of course, the dramatic landscapes Iceland is famous for.iceland skogafoss waterfallYou can drive the entire circle of the Ring Road in seven days, but ideally you should allow yourself ten days to be able to include detours to the Golden Circle (a 190 miles/300 km route off of the Ring Road that is famous for its massive waterfalls, geyser fields and Kerið volcanic crater) and Snæfellsnes peninsula in Western Iceland.southern iceland fjord & mountainsWe ran out of time for the latter because we only had eight days, and we also didn’t have time for a glacier hike or for a whale watching boat trip which I would’ve liked to do in Husavik, the main whale watching spot.icelandic scenery

2 The Journey is the Destination

It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey to get there.” There couldn’t be a more fitting quote for Iceland, where it is impossible to get bored on a road trip. The scenery is utterly fascinating, not matter where you are, and it changes so frequently that it often feels like you’re on a different island altogether.icelandic moonscape6We were so grateful that having the car allowed us to stop wherever we wanted – and we must have pulled over at least half a dozen times every single day, just to snap some pictures. This freedom alone was worth every single penny we spent on the car rental. In addition, it also enabled us to change our route on a whim whenever we felt like it. While we had a rough route mapped out, we ended up adding a few additional places to our journey, something we were only able to do because we had the car. Car rentals in Iceland are very reasonable, by the way – at EasyTerra Car Rental, a small car starts at €30 per day, and a medium-size car around €40 per day, including excess cover and unlimited mileage.icelandic horses

3 Traveling Iceland Without a Car is Not Easy

The most important reason why we opted to rent a car was that it turned out traveling around Iceland without a car is quite difficult. Yes, there is public transportation, but the buses that connect the towns around the island don’t run very often, so you always have to plan around the bus schedule, and sometimes there are only two buses a day. If you only have one week to explore Iceland, you don’t want to waste your time waiting for the bus.dimmuborgir iceland volcanic rocks daniAnother option would have been to join an organized tour, but that would have taken away from the flexibility of stopping wherever we wanted to, as mentioned in #2. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on the chance to stop whenever we felt like it, including scenic lunches and an impromptu beach stop in search of puffins (which sadly, we didn’t see).iceland dani photographingAn organized tour is great because you don’t have to plan anything and you know everything is taken care of, but it doesn’t give you the chance for these spontaneous stops. Even when we drove the Golden Circle, a route that most visitors do as an organized day trip from Reykjavik, we added a couple of extra stops, and not only that – we were also able to start at what is the last stop for the tour groups, which means we avoided big crowds completely.iceland sheep

Tips for Driving in Iceland

If you’re still unsure about driving in Iceland, take these things into consideration:

    • Write down all of the places you’d like to see while in Iceland and how much it will cost you to get to each one with an organized tour. You’ll quickly realize that the cost of a rental car is actually not more expensive than a tour.
    • Driving in Iceland is easy in the summer months, but it can be challenging in the winter months. The roads only have two lanes (one in each direction) but the traffic is not bad – especially if you go during shoulder season.

southern iceland mountain road

  • I shared my tips for driving in Iceland in this article, including thoughts on 4WD vs. a regular car, the best app to use, GPS and maps, and other things you should know.
  • There are plenty of car rental companies in Iceland, for example EasyTerra, but make sure to book your rental car in advance, because during high season, car rental companies have run out of cars in recent years, and you don’t want to be left stranded without a vehicle.

myvatn geothermal fields iceland

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