Travel Tips To Help Plan An Awesome Euro Trip
Last Updated June 15th, 2020
Planning a Vacation to Europe | Euro Trip
Europe is а unique and very diverse region with several countries each representing a unique past and special place in world’s history.
Joint us as we discover this continent. Some of the unique features are:
- It is not surrounded by water from all directions and,
- It has an overland border with neighboring Asia.
- Physiographically, it occupies the northwestern part of the large landmass known as Eurasia and surrounded from the north by the Arctic Ocean, from the west by the Atlantic Ocean, from the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and from the southeast by the Black Sea.
- It is commonly delineated by the Ural Mountains in Russia, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus Mountains.
Europe is made up of Fifty one (51) independent states. Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey are transcontinental countries, partially located in both Europe and Asia. Armenia and Cyprus politically are considered European countries, though geographically they are located in the West Asia territory.
Europe’s largest country is Russia (37% of total continent area), and the smallest one is Vatican City, which occupies only a tiny territory in the center of Rome in Italy.
If you are planning a trip to Europe, you have made a great choice as you are about to have a wonderful experience. Europe offers visitors an abundant of wonderful countries with many incredible destinations.
The most visited European travel destination is France with its capital Paris as the best place of interest, followed by Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany.Whether it is cruising the Mediterranean, exploring London, or traveling such countries as Germany, France, Spain , Portugal or another exciting European country, you will experience beautiful cultures, delicious food, fascinating historical sights, magnificent scenery, as well as lots of shopping, entertainment, festivals, and other unique activities and attractions.
How do I plan an affordable trip to Europe?
When taking a Euro trip, it is important to properly plan so that you have an incredible experience and make many wonderful memories.
Choosing European Destinations
Because Europe is very large, diverse and full of such incredible delights, it is helpful to create a list of all of the places you would like to visit. By doing so, you will be able to narrow your selection to the places you really love and will fit in your trip time-frame.
The internet is a great place to start, or you could acquire a hard cover European travel guide or use an online travel website/blog like the one you are reading to gather useful travel information.
Paris is always a popular choice and Switzerland and Amsterdam offers tourists many things to see and do. Many travel experts suggest spending a day or two in each place, particularly if you are planning to visit many different places across Europe.
Joint was as discover the, who, the what, the where and how in planning that picture perfect getaway to the old continent – Europe.
Where in the World is Baku? Baku Travel guide
Baku? Never heard of it? It’s the capital of Azerbaijan, but where is that? The plot thickens. Most of the country is mountainous, existing on the mountain range known as the Caucasus Range. The other half is on the Caspian Sea, with the Baku peninsular and its many Baku hotels jutting out onto it, as well as ‘Oil Rocks’, the man-made city, and the Baku Archipelago, situated within Baku Bay.
But where are those places. Well, the Caucasus Region, so named after the mountain range, comprises three countries. These are Azerbaijan itself, and its neighbours Armenia and Georgia. These three are sandwiched between the Caspian Sea to their East and the Black Sea to their West, Russia to the North and Turkey to the South.
Azerbaijan Baku Center city
These countries are difficult to place geographically. Some sources have been known to call the area Central Asia. Others insist that it is within Europe, while further more claim that the Caucasus countries are a part of the Middle East. So, where is this illusive yet such sought after line between Europe and Asia? And what on earth constitutes the Middle East and its boundaries?
Most sources claim that Europe as a pre-defined continent ends definitively at the Bosphorus Straight, which divides Istanbul and the rest of Turkey. This creates problems defining Turkey, as it is a country in two halves, geographically and culturally, just as Istanbul is a city of two halves.
Baku Travel guide
Meanwhile, the border between Europe and Asia above the Black Sea is harder to find. Many rivers and so on have been cited as the border throughout history, but none stretch far enough to cut it in two, as it were. It would seem that the mysterious border doesn’t exist at all, that Europe and Asia is one continent, and that it only arose out of short-sightedness and flaws in historical methods of geography.
A hotel in center of Baku would put you in the centre of this cleft. Culturally, Azerbaijan is neither Europe nor Asia, but an intangible mix of the two. Like its location, it is impossible to define.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bruges Historic City in Belgium, West Flanders
Bruges is the capital and largest city in the West Flanders province of Belgium. Measuring an area of 138 square km, Bruges is a historical city center of Medieval Europe and a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO since year 2000. The city is oval in shape and is built on a canal based system and is one of the cities referred to as “The Venice of the North”. Bruges is a popular tourist attraction in Europe today and is famous for its charming historical houses and beautiful canals surrounding it.
- Historic center of Bruges – World Heritage Site area where you can walk on foot and enjoy the beautiful medieval buildings around it.
- Basilica of the Holy Blood – Built in the 12th century and houses the venerated relic of the holy blood believed to be collected by Joseph of Arimathea.
- The Markt – A square in the central of the town and home to hundreds of gift shops and lots of restaurants.
- Minnewater Lake – A beautiful and quiet place to relax with its scenic surroundings
- Groeninge Museum – Collection of artworks by painters living and working in Bruges since the 14th century
First traces of human activities in Bruges date back to the Pre-Roman Gaul era where fortifications were built after the Roman conquest of Menapii in around 100 BC and have been an important fortification in the Flemish coastal area to prevent Viking incursions. Bruges received its city charter in 1128 and new walls and canals were built. Gradual sliting since 1050 caused the city to lose direct access to the sea but access was resumed in 1134 naturally by a storm that created the Zwin channel and it soon became the commercial outpost of Bruges.
At some point during the 15th century, it was the chief commercial city of the world thanks to its port until sliting denied access to the sea again at the beginning of the 16th century. The city soon fell being Antwerp and gradually declined until tourism picked up in the 19th century and it was soon the world’s first tourist destinations attracting wealthy British and French.
The nearest international airport to Bruges is the Ostend Bruges International Airport (OST) located in Ostend which is 25 km away from the city centre of Bruges; however it only serves airports from few countries on a seasonal basis. The major airport located near Bruges is the Antwerp International Airport (AMR) which is 86 km away from the Bruges city centre.
Walking Central Sofia – Must See Landmarks
A spectacular cathedral, Roman ruins, restored markets and delightful gardens are just a few of the joys of central Sofia, Bulgaria’s interesting capital. My wife and I arrived knowing little about the city and we discovered a place which we really enjoyed. We left vowing that we would return to explore further before long.
Military parade at eternal flame, Sofia
Sofia’s main sights are nearly all located within a short walking distance of each other. We were staying at the Radisson Hotel on Narodno Sabrainie Square so it made sense to start there. It proved to be the ideal starting point for a walk that will appeal to everyone. These are some of the highlights along the way.
Tsar Osvoboditel monument
National Assembly Building, Sofia
Across the road is this grand Neo-Renaissance style white structure from 1885 which houses the parliament. It is depicted on the Bulgarian 20 leva banknote. In 1997 the building was stormed and damaged, leading to the eventual downfall of the then ruling Socialist party. The words on the facade translate to something like “United we are strong” while on the roof are a row of Grecian-style urns. The interior has been refurbished several times but its original appearance has been basically preserved.
Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia
One block north brings us to what is without a doubt the most spectacular building in Sofia. The Neo Byzantine style building is said to hold up to 8000 people. There are five aisles and three altars, some lovely stained glass windows, Venetian mosaics and dramatic murals. It is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. It was started in 1882 but was not finished until 1912. The crypt below the cathedral is part of the National Art Gallery and there is art from the 4th to the 19th centuries. The focus is primarily on icon painting.
St. Sofia Church
It is just a hundred metres or so to another important church. This is the oldest Eastern Orthodox Church in Sofia and the contrast in style could not be starker. The simple red brick church dates back to the 5th century and it gave its name to present day capital back in the 14th century. During the Ottoman period it was turned into a mosque, but it was restored as a church after the liberation. Just outside the church burns the Eternal Flame of the Unknown Soldier where we watched a dignified military tribute taking place.
Russian Church, Sofia
We now head back to Tsar Osvoboditel Bld., known locally as the ‘Yellow Brick Road’. On the corner sits the small and beautifully ornate Russian Church with its five golden onion domes. It was apparently built for a Russian diplomat who was afraid to worship in Bulgarian churches. While the outside is lovely, the interior, which is currently under repair, is quite dark. You can see the box where people place notes and wishes hoping for a miracle.
National Art Gallery
This former Royal Palace has been partial renovated in recent times. It houses the national Art Gallery and the Ethnographic Museum. On entering the building you will see the impressive staircase that leads to the rococo-decorated rooms. The gallery space is very limited but there are some nice works on display.
We hear that a brand new museum of art is being built. After viewing the art, go to the cafe at the back of the building which serves good tea and coffee in the peaceful garden with old trees.
National Theatre, Sofia
Cross the road and walk through the park to the neoclassical theatre building which opened in 1907. It is imposing from the front with its large pediment supported on six white marble columns. Behind this rise twin towers crowned with sculptures of the goddess, Nike. On a nice day the area outside has stylish street cafes and when we visited there was an orchestra playing. The theatre has three stages with the main one able to seat 750 people. The building has been damaged by fire and bombs over the years but a restoration project a few years ago has returned it to excellent condition.
A little further west along the yellow brick road is this museum, the oldest in Bulgaria. It has been in this location inside the old Bujuk Mosque since 1899. The mosque itself dates back to the 15th century. The highlights include the Valchitran gold treasure from the 14th century BC, pre-historical monuments, many icons and the more recent Thracian gold discoveries. Quite a few of the exhibits have English descriptions, but the Thracian gold room has excellent and extensive English explanations.
St. George Rotunda
Cross the road and enter the courtyard of the Presidency building. The 4th century round red brick church sits amongst the excavations of an ancient Roman town called Serdica. This is Sofia’s oldest preserved building and it is open to the public. The highlight is the three layers of frescoes under the dome, the earliest dating back to the 10th century. These were painted over during the Ottoman period, when the building was used as a mosque.
St. Nedelya Church
We are now in the centre of Sofia and this church lies directly above the crossroads of ancient Serdica. It was established in medieval times but in 1863 a new temple was built over the foundations of the old church. In 1925 it was almost completely destroyed in a political coup organized by the communists against Tsar Boris III. After the assault, the church was rebuilt to the present design with its large central dome and the icons that survived the bomb attack were returned to the church.
Easy Day Trips From Zadar
Is Zadar worth visiting?
Zadar encapsulates the very best elements of Croatia’s sterling cities. It enjoys a beautiful coastal location, boasts a stunningly well preserved Old Town, all manner of entertainment at affordable prices and without the same influx of tourists as many of the other coastal cities. Impressive architecture and history abound and the lifestyle here celebrates some of the best things in life; good food and good company.
Whilst a trip to Zadar has more than enough to keep you occupied, it’s sometimes nice to escape the city limits and explore a bit further afield. With that in mind, here are some easy day trips from Zadar that are well worth considering…
What are the most popular things to do in Biograd with kids?
Located in northern Dalmatia and once the capital of medieval Croatia, the slight but attractive city of Biograd makes for an alternative and interesting day trip. Nestled on a small peninsula, the crystal clear waters are easily accessible making it an ideal location for secluded swimming, whilst the core of the city attests to the rich historical heritage with a variety of ancient buildings to discover.
What are the top attractions to visit in Biograd na Moru?
At just a little over 30 minutes away by car straight up the coast, you can spend as much time as like exploring Biograd’s delights.
Kornati Islands National Park
What are the top attractions to visit in Kornati Islands National Park?
A total of 147 uninhabited islands collaboratively create the Kornati Islands National Park, which floats in an area just over 220sq km in size in the Adriatic Sea. Best explored by boat of course, a trip to the islands is both exciting and relaxing. There are no ferries between the mainland and the islands however, so you would need to book a tour to visit them, of which there are plenty of options.
Kornat is the largest island and thus one of the most visited but all of them boast beautiful natural scenery with excellent diving in the surrounding waters.
What are the best outdoor activities in Island of Pag?
Interestingly, you can actually drive onto Pag Island which is found approximately 65km from the city. It’s the fifth largest of the Croatian islands and boasts the longest coastline meaning some time spent relaxing on the beach is a must. There are also some great restaurants to enjoy and with more sheep than people inhabiting the island, you can enjoy some peace and relaxation.
Paklenica National Park
Located around 45 minutes from Zadar, Paklenica National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and hiking aficionados. The stunning mountain panoramas are the reward at the end of some gruelling climbs whilst the easier terrain is more suited to beginners and still offers great views. The beautiful flora and diverse fauna will make your time here all the more memorable. Climbing here is also extremely popular and it is the largest site in southeast Europe.
Head south down the coast and in around 1 hour you will arrive in the town of Sibenik, another historical beauty. Famous for its UNESCO World Heritage listed Cathedral which dates back to 1431 and other attractions such as St. Laurence’s Medieval Monastery Garden, the city attracts a number of visitors looking to visit its historical gems along with the attractive harbour area. Be sure to visit some of the local shops and visit a local beach to finish off your visit in style.
Croatia is a truly beautiful country with many interesting towns, cities and areas of natural beauty to visit. These are just a selection of some of the day trips you can make from Zadar but with a little exploration, wherever you venture in northern Dalmatia won’t disappoint.
— VR Experts (@VRPExperts) May 10, 2020
Things to do in Prague
Haunted Prague City Breaks
What are the top attractions to visit in Prague?
From Medieval Bohemia and the prosperous reign of Charles IV in the 14th Century, to the fall of the communist regime during the Velvet Revolution, Prague has a rich and complex history. The capital of the Czech Republic is famous for its historical bridges, the massive Prague Castle and its wealth of museums and galleries.
The winding cobbled streets of Prague are popular with tourists looking for a city steeped in a culture that goes back to 9th Century. So it’s unsurprising that a city with so much history has so many ghost stories and legends.
Turk of Ungelt
What are the best outdoor activities in Prague?
Next to the Church of Our Lady Tyn in Old Town, there are a number of buildings surrounding a space known as Ungelt Courtyard. Back in the 12th Century this square was where the merchants from other countries sold their foreign wares to the people of Prague. It is said that a young Turkish merchant haunts this area.
The legend goes that he was betrothed to the daughter of an inn-keeper, but she loved someone else. In a jealous rage, the Turk cut off her head, and people say that the Turk of Ungelt can be seen haunting the courtyard, holding his fiancée’s head in his hands.
The 27 Noblemen
What are the most popular things to do in Prague with kids?
A true and rather gruesome story of Prague is the execution of the 27 Noblemen that took part in the Uprising of the Estates. The noblemen were all publically executed in 1621; 24 were beheaded and three were hung until they died. Of the 24 decapitated men, 12 heads were hung from the Charles Bridge in iron baskets.
One of the heads was returned to the widow of the noblemen after a year on public display, but the other heads remained swinging on the bridge for two decades! The ghosts of the noblemen are said to rise from their graves to visit Old Town Square and check that all is well in the city of Prague.
Skeleton of Janský Vršek
What should you not miss in Prague?
One of the favourite ghost legends of Prague is the Skeleton of Janský Vršek Street. A spooky black coach is said to ride down the street, pulled by snorting black horses. The occupant of the coach is a headless skeleton covered in flames. Legend says that once the coach reaches the end of the street, the whole thing disappears into the ground. If you don’t spot the skeleton in real life, you can see a re-enactment of the ghostly visit in Prague’s very own Ghost Museum.
Find Out More
Prague has a dedicated Ghost Museum with scary models of the city’s most famous ghost legends, and companies run ghost tours of the city.
Aarhus in Denmark, Midtjylland region
Aarhus is the capital city in the Midtjylland region of Denmark and is also the 2nd largest city in the country. The city measures 91 square km in its urban area and 9997 square km in its metropolitan area with a population of 252, 000 and 1.25 million respectively.
Old town of Aarhus – World’s first open-air museum concentrating on town culture with 75 historical buildings collected from 20 townships all over Denmark.
- AroS Aarhus Kunstmuseum – One of the largest art museums in northern Europe with a rainbow panorama circular skywalk at the top of the building.
- Moesgaard Museum – Museum dedicated to archaeology and ethnography Moesgard Forest – Popular place with the locals, good to go for a walk or hike
The archaeological finding in Aarhus dates back to 1300 years ago during the Viking times and the city is probably older than 770 AD making it the oldest big city amongst the Scandinavian countries. The city suffered significantly during the wars of the 17th century as they were taxed harshly by occupying Swedish troops who occupied the city on several occasions. Towards the modern times, the city prospered as its port grew into the principal port of Denmark
The nearest international airport to the city is the Aarhus Airport which is 43 km from the city centre of Aarhus.
Things to do in Helsinki
Helsinki – A City of Architecture and Wide Open Spaces
Is Helsinki worth visiting?
When planning a city break, for many people it often seems that the focus is on Central Europe and the countries around the Mediterranean. However, don’t neglect Northern Europe, as it hides many gems, all waiting to be explored. A prime example is Helsinki. The capital of Finland, Helsinki was founded in 1550 as a competitor for Tallinn with regards to Baltic Sea trade. As you see the city for yourself, you will appreciate how the streets are steeped in centuries of history, which is reflected in the architecture.
What is there to do in Helsinki today?
Helsinki isn’t just about historic buildings though, contemporary buildings also nestle within the city and this year it won the title of World Design Capital.
A Mix Of Influences
While Nordic minimalism is typical of the city’s architecture, Uspenski Cathedral – Western Europe’s largest Orthodox Church – is a fine example of Byzantine-Russian architecture, which is a feature of Helsinki. The area around Senate Square displays examples of Neo-classical architecture, while elsewhere in the city you can enjoy buildings in the Art Nouveau style; Helsinki boasts the largest density of Art Nouveau in Northern Europe.
Newer buildings include the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma – located in the city centre – and the High Tech Centre, which can be found in the Ruoholahti district.
See The City By Tram
What are the best outdoor activities in Helsinki?
Although Helsinki’s compact size makes it very amenable to explore on foot, the city has a good tram network and this is an alternative way to see the city. For example taking tramline 4 allows visitors to experience the wide array of architectural styles that Helsinki has to offer.
Starting in the Katajanokka district, visit Uspenski Cathedral and take in the Art Nouveau buildings; a former prison here has also been converted into a hotel.
The nearby Senate Square is famous for its buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel in the mid 19th century. Here you can visit the 160 year old Helsinki Cathedral, which is probably Finland’s most famous building. Like the other buildings around the square, its design was based – with some modifications – on the Empire style of architecture seen in St Petersburg.
While here also take time to look at the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland; Sederholm House, the oldest stone building in the city, is also located on the square.
What are the best day trips from Helsinki?
Getting back on the tram, your onward journey takes you to Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, where you can immerse yourself in art from the 1960’s; work by artists from Scandinavia, the Baltic and Russia can all be seen. Take the short walk to Parliament House, which was completed in 1931.
This granite building with its imposing columns is impressive from the outside, but visitors can also take a tour of its interior; of note are the entrance lobby, marble stair cases, the paternoster lifts, the Session Hall and the Hall of State.
Back on the tram again, you are taken to Finlandia Hall; completed in 1975, it is an impressive sight and is aside from its financial and political function, is also host to cultural events. One tram stop away is the National Opera House; situated close to a bay and completed in 1993, this is an example of modern Finnish architecture at its best.
Even if you are not there to see a performance, the building is still well worth a visit.
What are the top attractions to visit in Helsinki?
This tram journey will only have given you a glimpse of what Helsinki has to offer. If your trip to Kiasma has whetted your appetite for further art, there are exhibits displayed in a further 27 museums and galleries around the city. There are also a range of other museums in Helsinki, where visitors can learn more about its past and the history of Finland as a whole; for nature lovers the Natural History Museum is a must.
What is Helsinki famous for?
If however you feel that you would prefer to spend some time outdoors, you are in luck, as a third of the city is devoted to green space. Kaivopuisto Park overlooks the sea and is an ideal place for a lunch stop. Meanwhile a visit to the Winter, Botanical or Tropical Gardens allows you to take in a diverse range of plants from around the globe.
Between November and March visitors can also enjoy ice skating at Railway Square.
There are numerous other attractions geared towards younger members of the family – notably Helsinki’s zoo and aquarium – so everyone is catered for on a trip to Helsinki.
Things to do in Paris
Budget Friendly Bars in Paris
Au P’tit Garage
Does Paris have good nightlife?
This punk rock bar in Oberkampf, which as the name suggests, has been converted from a garage, is a favorite hangout for hipsters looking for loud music and affordable beers. A bare décor of graffiti, posters, and bottles doesn’t stop the alternative crowds from packing into this dive for the rare punk tunes, although there is a backroom that provides a cozy respite from the hectic bar.
For those who don’t mind a little noise, check out Au P’tit Garage, and don’t forget to chat with the bartenders for some quick history lessons in rock.
Where can I pick up girls in Paris?
The Highlander is an authentic Scottish pub hidden down an alleyway in Saint Germaine that always attracts an energetic crowd of ex pats, students, and travelers. The two-story venue has the wood paneling and ironclad lighting of a traditional pub, and an appropriately extensive selection of aged whiskeys, dark, frothy beers, and ridiculously cheap shots.
Patrons file in for the rugby and football matches played on the TVs, but the real attraction is their basement, a raucous drinking den with medieval weapons and shields adorning the walls and even a small dance floor.
It’s one of the few bars in Paris that stays open till 5am (with slashed prices after 2), making the no-frills Highlander a fun alternative to the late-night clubs in the city.
Le Sans Souci
Where can I go bar hopping in Paris?
Le Sans Souci is an ultra hip French bar in the bustling Pigalle distract that brings in a trendy mix of young bohemians with booze and wine prices that are easy on the eyes. By day you’ll find professionals cooling off with a beer and fashionable Parisians toasting champagne, but the classic dive really kicks things off at night. Cool youngsters and pre-clubbers pop bottles within the white walls and tall windows, eventually spilling out onto the patio for cigarettes and conversation.
Where do celebrities go out in Paris?
Even though the vibe is casual, it can be a good idea to dress up for Le Sans Souci, because drunken conversations with a tempting someone can quickly lead into a night of dancing at the club across the street.
The Fifth Bar
Where can I get drunk in Paris?
There aren’t many places where you can find beer pong in Paris (or anywhere in Europe), but The Fifth Bar in the Latin Quarter prides itself on providing casual debauchery with drinking games, theme nights, and, according to them, the cheapest happy hour in Paris.
The little Irish bar brings in a mostly English-speaking crowd of young partygoers that throw back tall mugs amidst the year-round Halloween décor or descend into the dungeon-themed basement to mingle over cocktails.
I have never met an Irish bar I didn’t like, but throw in the house party vibes of the Fifth Bar and you are guaranteed to have a good time.
Cologne in Germany, North Rhine Westphalia
Cologne is located in the state of North Rhine Westphalia in Germany and is the largest city in the state as well as the fourth latest city largest city in Germany. The city of Cologne is home to more than 1 million Germans and has an area of 405 square km. The view of the city from the Cathedral is one of the most beautiful night sceneries in the world.
- Cologne Cathedral – Roman Catholic Church in the city and seat of the Archbishop, this Cathedral is a famous landmark in Cologne and took over 600 years for construction when it started in 1248 but was halted in 1473 and it was until the 19th century where the cathedral was completed.
- Koelner Zoo – Plenty of interesting and rare animals around the zoo from all over the world
- Museum Ludwig – Collection of modern art and one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe
- Cable car – Stunning view of the city in the eyes of a bird
- Medieval Gates – Around the city is 12 monumental medieval gates
- Cologne Opera – Productions outstanding for their music and staging ensured by the Orchestra of Cologne
The city of Cologne was originally founded by the Romans in 50 AD and was the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and headquarters of the Roman military. Cologne remained under the Romans until it was occupied by the Franks in 462 AD and flourished as one of the major trade routes between eastern and Western Europe. It came under control of the French Republic in 1801 in the Peace Treaty of Luneville. The economy in Cologne prospered in the 1980s onwards due to the growing number of media firms catered for the Media Park and the permanent improvement of the traffic infrastructure that made Cologne one of the most accessible metropolitan areas in Central Europe.
The nearest airport to get to Cologne is the Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) located in the central of the Bonn region in Cologne and is 15 km from the city centre.
Discover the Cradle of Olympics- Athens, Greece
The Olympic fever has finally ended…or has it? To tell you the truth, ever since it began in 776 BC on Mount Olympia in Greece, it never did end! It just took a few centuries of unplanned vacations until revived by Coubertin in 1896!
The 2012 Olympics ended in true British fashion and flamboyance despite a few raised eyebrows at the costs spent on the colorful extravaganza witnessed by around 80000 spectators! The crowds were hysterical with performances by some of the world famous musicians and Brazil’s 8-minute invitation to the 2016 Olympics displayed through its sounds, costumes and colors.
Olympics- As the fervor gradually melts away, let’s take a trip down to where the oldest sporting event in the world came into existence… in the cradle of Western Civilization- Greece!
Although it looks like a tiny little speck on the European continent, Greece actually comprises of :
• 1200 islands,
• Only 227 of which are inhabited.
• Tourism is a major source of employment and directly and indirectly makes a contribution of 36 billion Euros to Greece’s economy.
ATHENS- a seat of learning
What are the best places to visit in Athens?
Athens is the largest Greek city dominating the Attica region which is one of the 13 regions of Greece. This 3400-year old city is one of the oldest cities in the world and is referred to as the cradle of western civilization. The centre of ancient Greek art and a powerful seat of culture, learning and philosophy, Athens was home to some of the greatest pioneers and minds in Greek architecture, drama, culture, science, mathematics and philosophy. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle together were known as the Athenian school of Philosophy.
When to visit
So whether you are a history buff or a student of art or architecture, Athens would be your seat of learning offering an unforgettable experience. Like most of Greece, Athens enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate most of the year and one can avoid the peak traffic by visiting between March-June or Aug-Oct. The winter months between Oct-April are for hibernating unless you travel to the ski resorts on the mainland.
All Athens Offers- Places to Visit
Athens is a place where ancient settings blend with modern comforts. You can get an accommodation depending on your budget but it is best to pre-book and travel so that you don’t become the victim of changing exchange rates or local touts who seem to be a universal breed anywhere on the globe.
1. The Acropolis Tour
What is the best time to visit Acropolis?
If you travel to Greece and don’t plan on visiting the Acropolis just because you have seen or read too much on it already, you simply don’t deserve to travel to Greece! And yet it is surprising to note that many of the local people have never bothered to climb the steps of one of the greatest historical structures standing in the world today.
Is the Acropolis worth visiting?
Acropolis means a citadel that is constructed on an elevated ground which was a good vantage point for the military in its defense strategy. The Acropolis in Athens was the high point of worship with the famous temples of Parthenon, Erechtheion and Athena Nike built on it. There are licensed guides who organize tours based on your preference of language. As they lead you around, the magnificent view of the city from the top transports you back in time where you may never have felt so present to history itself.
A good time to visit is when you can beat the sun. By moonlight, the Acropolis transforms into a star under the skies!
What was the Propylaea used for?
This is the monumental gateway that marks the entrance to the Acropolis. In 432 BC, after the Persian wars, the sculptor Phidias under the direction of the Athenian leader Pericles and the architect Mnesicles took up the rebuilding of the whole Acropolis. But the Propylae’s construction was never completed.
An ancient Greek temple built between 421-405 BC, it was dedicated to the legendary figures of Poseidon Erechtheus and Athena Polias. The Erechtheion was built by the same sculptor Phidias, who built the Parthenon. The temple is associated with some of the most holy relics of the Greeks. The statues of the Caryatids and many of the other relics have been transported to the New Acropolis Museum and visitors can see the laser restoration works on cameras inside the museum.
The finest and most enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and Classical Greek Architecture, the Parthenon is a temple dedicated to the patron Goddess of the city, Athena. It was completed in 432 BC. Many famous men and women have visited this temple that was converted into a Church in 5 AD, then a mosque during the Ottoman rule, was partially destroyed in 1687 and then restored to what it stands as today, one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.
The temple friezes and pediments depict ancient scenes and legends related to the city’s protector, Athena. Some of the statues that were restored after the destruction are now kept in the London Museum while the rest can be seen in the New Acropolis Museum.
Temple of Athena Nike
What was the purpose of the Temple of Athena Nike?
For those who love the iconic shoe brand, the word Nike in Greek means victory. Athena was the icon of victory in wisdom and war. The temple on the Acropolis was where the citizens offered worship before the long war with the Spartans and also marked the ambition to become the most important Greek state. Built between 427-424 BC, the ruins of this temple stand as a survivor of antiquity along with the Parthenon and Erechtheion.
2. New Acropolis Museum
Built nearby and over the old museum and archeological site, the museum has glass flooring and open spaces where one can view the excavations. It houses every artifact found on and at the foot of the Acropolis that represents the Greek Bronze Age, Greco- Roman and Byzantine Greece. Fifty percent of the statues from Parthenon have been restored and kept here. The modernity of the museum with it contemporary and dramatic design against the backdrop of an ancient city feels a bit queer at first but once you enter the museum, those feelings are laid to rest. Entry into the museum is the best bargain you can get into a glimpse of Ancient history!
3. Plaka and Anafiotika
As you descend down the slope of the Acropolis, visit the towns of Plaka and Anafiotika, the city’s oldest neighborhoods and the past home of the Ottomans. Ambling down Plaka’s narrow paved streets flanked with beautiful architecture, attractive boutiques and souvenir shops, a 19th century Greek House and interacting with the friendly Greeks at the quaint cafes, restaurants and bars, lets you take in the flavor of Athens and the Greek lifestyle. If you travel a bit further, you would come across the village of Anafiotika created by migrant workers. Its lazy cobbled streets are lined with whitewashed cube houses and bougainvillea lacing the walls lend them color and shade. Plaka is a maze you can afford to lose yourself in, for an hour or two.
4. Temple of the Olympian Zeus
Dedicated to Zeus, the greatest and mightiest of all Greek Gods, this temple was meant to be the greatest temple in the ancient world. Unfortunately wars, invasions and change of empires thwarted the building of this great structure. What began in 6 BC finally ended in 131 AD. It was further damaged and what remains now is but a shadow of the original magnificent structure that consisted of 104 Corinthian columns measuring 17 meters in height and a giant gold and ivory statue of Zeus and Hadrian (who got a place there only because he managed to complete the temple!)
5. Theatre of Dionysos
During the golden age of Athens, the theatre held some of the best Greek dramas and productions of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripedes. The 6th century timber theatre was reconstructed in stone and marble between 342-326BC and could seat more than 17000 spectators.
6. Odeon of Herodes Atticus
This is the venue for the Athens festival between May-Oct featuring some of the world class performances in dance, theatre and orchestra. The amphitheatre was built by Herodes in 161 AD in memory of his wife. Today, backlit by the Acropolis, the Odeon is a surreal setting for summertime performances.
7. Ancient Agora
This is the place where democracy was born. Socrates and Plato walked these paths engaging the Athenians in their philosophical discourses. The Agora is identified with every Greek town because it simply meant a central gathering place. The Ancient Agora at Athens consists of many buildings and structures that are important from a historic perspective.
8. Temple of Hephaestus
This is the most complete surviving structure of the Greek Classical Architecture of the Doric order present near the Agora. Hephaestus was the Greek God of fire and forge and legend has it that in relieving Zeus of a headache, he was instrumental in the birth of the Goddess Athena!
In 700 BC it was converted to a church of St George and remained that way until the mid 1800’s. Although they are both of the same architectural style, the Parthenon is still considered the finest example of Doric architecture today.
9. Panathenaic Stadium
Built in 566 BC, there was no place more historic that Coubertin could have chosen to revive the Olympic Games in 1896 than the very place where the games had been held in 4 BC. The Romans later used it as one of their arenas but it was rebuilt in 144 AD by Herodes Atticus for the Panathenaic Festival. Known as Kallimarmaro which means ‘beautiful marble’, the stadium was restored for the 2004 Olympics. Access is limited but the sight of this magnificent structure brings the first ever games and the olive branch wreath alive.
10. Temple of Poseidon
Is Temple of Poseidon worth visiting?
There could not have been a better site than Cape Sounion for a temple dedicated to the God of the Sea himself. Located at the tip of the Attic Peninsula overlooking the magnificent crisp blue waters
of the Aegean, the setting for this temple would have pleased Poseidon himself .
Where is Poseidon’s temple?
A late afternoon drive there would take you to a tiny beach below where you can swim in the warm waters, drink the traditional ouzo, come up to the temple and watch the most dramatic sunset and pay your respect to Poseidon and his sea.
11. National archeological Museum
This is Greece’s largest museum sheltering around 20,000 exhibits of ancient Minoans, Greek, Byzantine, Egyptian and Greco-Roman frescoes, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, a 3600 -year old mask, ancient Egyptian relics, statues, and the list goes on. A 2000-year old prototype of a computer found in a ship wreck off the Antikithera Island leaves you wondering how technically accomplished the Greeks really were. You need a good 2-3 hours here to appreciate and let at least some of it sink in.
12. Byzantine Museum
The roots of Christianity and the history of the Byzantine Empire are encased in the relics and exhibits here. The collection is large and marks an important part of Ancient Greek’s history and its influences.
13. National Art Gallery
How long does it take to go through the National Gallery of Art?
The premiere art gallery in Greece, it explores the Greek art movements from the post Byzantine period leading to the 20th century painters. International art exhibitions are also held here.
If you have the time, stop by the Benaki Museum containing ancient art, manuscripts, historical games, weapons and much more, and the Numismatic Museum, containing around 500,000 ancient coins. A philatelic museum containing stamp collections from the 1800’s would interest hobbyists.
And they never forget the children…
There’s even a Hellenistic Children’s Museum with interactive and imaginative activities for the tykes and youngsters. The Museum of Greek Children’s Art holds workshops for children and exhibits the works of young artists to promote art appreciation and development.
14. Monastiraki Flea Market
What attractions are near Monastiraki Flea Market?
When you are done with history or so filled with it that you need to process it in your mind without looking for more, head to the markets. Monastiraki has the old-world charm wrapped around it in the classical houses and buildings you pass by.
But the main attraction is the market with a chain of shops offering anything from clothing, fur and vintage vinyl records to cafes and taverns where you can relax and sip the afternoon away (to process history, of course!). On Sundays, the hill people arrive with colorful blankets to lay out the contents from their mysterious bags filled with exciting paraphernalia that may catch a prospective buyer’s attention.
15. The Mount Lycabettus
What’s the best way to see Mount Lycabettus?
Here is another place that comes alive in the summers with its cafes, music and mostly its spectacular view. An amphitheatre on top has seen the likes of world famous performers like James Brown, Peter Gabriel and others who visit Greece during the summer festival. There is a train that takes you up the mount so that you don’t worry too much about stressed knees or an extra supply of glucosamine!
16. Gazi and Psiri
Is Gazi worth visiting?
Athens is a safe capital at night and Gazi and Psiri are the places where night life abounds. Cafes, bars, restaurants, singing and dancing, clubs, theatres and galleries, youngsters and tourists everyone, talking, smoking, drinking and eating all at the same time- these sights showcase the hub of where youngsters and night birds want to hang out.
What is there to do in Piraeus on a cruise?
When it’s all been said and done… sail away with me to another world- The lyrics of these two famous songs are apt to describe the journey by boat from the Port of Piraeus. As you leave the port and gaze back at the hillside scattered with whitewashed houses, perfectly geometrical rooftops and windows that form an interesting symmetry on the slopes, the Acropolis and the temples look alluringly at you, inviting you back to land. But you turn away and sail off for another one of the Greek Isles, to discover that Athens was only the tip of the iceberg. Greece indeed has much more to offer.
What are the most popular activities for a Piraeus vacation?
A tourist has three main reasons to travel- curiosity, comfort (relaxation) and a thirst for adventure. Greece offers a perfect getaway to a tired traveler’s soul. It invites you to probe into her history that is one of the oldest in the world, to stoke your curiosity with ancient Greek myths and legends and relax and refresh yourself amidst her natural beauty. The Greek Isles, mountains and pine-scented hills overlooking an azure blue Aegean Sea can unmask the coldest of hearts to surrender to its charm. Horace well described this sentiment when he wrote about the Roman invasion, “Greece, although captured, took its wild conqueror captive.”
Ireland on the Clock: A Week In The Emerald Isle For The First Timer
What are fun things to do in Ireland?
It is a harsh reality for those without time on their side. Traveling around Ireland warrants more time than 168 hours. I spent a month driving the whole way around the country, stopping in as many places as I could along the way. Sadly, we don’t all have time on our side.
What can you do in 3 days in Ireland?
When a friend asked me to list an itinerary for a first timer to Ireland with only one week to spare, I paired down a few of my favorite sights, sounds and classics of Ireland for the quick itinerary. If you are apartment hopping in Ireland for a week, make sure you hop on over to these stops.
Day 1: Dublin
What are the top attractions to visit in Dublin?
Dublin bathes in scenes of Victorian era pubs and rows of Georgian townhouses. You could spend a lifetime appreciating its colored doors and laid back style. However, if you only have a week in Ireland, Dublin is doable in a day for first timers looking to see some of the major sights. The national museums are free for visitors including the National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology and the National Gallery.
After seeing Dublin’s interior, its exterior unfolds at St. Stephen’s Green.
What are the best outdoor activities in Dublin?
It seems all of Dublin and its visitors come here to soak up the nine hectares of manicured grounds. Paths weave in and out, presenting an ideal afternoon stroll.
What are the most popular things to do in Dublin with kids?
The Guinness conscious of the world will want to cap off a visit to Dublin by seeing the city from above with Guinness in hand. The Guinness Storehouse sets up like a 7 story pint, every beer drinker’s fantasy. At the top of the brewery tour is the Gravity Bar where you are amply rewarded for your journey to the top with a panoramic view of the city and a glass of Guinness.
Day 2: Wicklow Mountains/Glendalough
What are the top attractions to visit in Vale of Glendalough?
The drive south of Dublin begins to narrow to sidewalk proportions. The hair-raising thoroughfare is worth the stress for the Wicklow Mountains out the window. Heather speckled moors, bogs and mountains make up this stretch of Ireland. The name is a bit generous for the highest peak is just over 900 meters. Whispering through the desolate peaks and valleys, the Wicklow Mountains downplay their lack of towering mountains. They are peaceful and poetic in their own right without having to be mighty.
What are the best outdoor activities in Vale of Glendalough?
Once you reach Glendalough, the trance is complete. Glendalough marks the site of the former monastic settlement to Saint Kevin. The saint came to the area to get away from the world and live like a hermit in 570 A.D. Little did he know, the masses would follow him. What remains today are a series of churches, several hikes and a graveyard filled with haphazard tombstones. Getting the chills due to Glendalough’s eeriness is a mandatory tick on the itinerary.
Day 3: Kilkenny City
Is Kilkenny Ireland worth visiting?
If the peace and quiet of the Wicklow Mountains has you hungry for a bit of noise, Kilkenny City isn’t far away. Bursting with pubs, shops and restaurants, one of Kilkenny’s highlights includes the Kilkenny Castle with its 1100 foundations.
The Castle was eventually purchased by the Butler family and sold to the city for a measly £50. A look inside takes visitors through recreated furnished rooms along with the first toilet in the city and the Long Room, thought to be the second longest room in Ireland. Post tour, you can catch Kilkenny from above at St. Canice’s Cathedral.
What is Kilkenny famous for?
On the grounds stands the Round Tower, a 100-meter structure from 849. An intimidating wooden staircase invites you to make the climb to the top. The views of classic Kilkenny gray rooftops and buildings make the death-defying climb justifiable. Now getting down is a whole different story.
Day 4: Castles in Cashel and Cahir
What attractions are near Cahir Castle?
Cahir might look like a small town with nothing more than a few streets of shops, but circling the town is the Cahir Castle, one of the largest castles in all of Ireland. Complete with a moat, massive walls, towers and turrets, it almost seems as though Rapunzel might let down her long hair as you stand in its presence. Also working the Irish fairytale nerve is nearby Cashel.
The market town boasts Ireland’s most famous rock, the Rock of Cashel. The archaeological site is made up of a round tower, 13th century Gothic cathedral and a 12th century Romanesque chapel. Long an emblem for kings and clergymen, now drones of visitors roam these ancient fortifications in wonder.
Day 5-6: Western Coastal Drives
Where should I go on a road trip in Ireland?
The Ring of Kerry, otherwise a circuit of the Iveragh Peninsula, is easily one of Ireland’s most famous drives. It is popular for good reason with mountains, beaches and stretches of road so typically Irish. With celebrity, come tourists by the busload. Once you have traveled the loop, head on up to a more peaceful Dingle Peninsula, right above the famous finger of land.
Where should I go on the west coast of Ireland?
The peninsula centers on the town of Dingle, home to its own dolphin mascot, Fungie, a resident of the harbor since the 1980s. Aside from colorful authentic pubs, those that still function as hardware stores or bait and tackle shops, the peninsula follows dramatic Slea Head Drive.
How long does it take to drive the Wild Atlantic Way?
The drive is littered with ancient sites, including the Dunbeg Fort. The fortress shows traces as far back as 580 B.C. Close out the western drive tour by cutting through the heart of the peninsula and perhaps your own by driving Connor Pass, Dingle’s true highpoint.
Day 7: Cliffs of Moher and The Burren
The Cliffs of Moher require no introduction. Dropping vertically around 200 meters into the ocean, the flanking cliffs make for the classic shot of Ireland. The masses enjoy the view with you, which could cause any visitor to become little jaded about their notoriety. The surrounding landscape of the Burren provides a more intimate look at County Clare. The scenery resembles something out of the Mediterranean, making it easy to see why the area is a Special Area of Conservation.
Have you spent a week in Ireland? Do you recommend any other doable stops for 7 days?
Things to do in Belfast
A Weekend In Belfast
What is there to do in Belfast city Centre?
The days of Belfast being a less than appealing place to travel are gone. However the biggest city in Northern Ireland is almost still a secret to the casual traveler. On a weekend visit with Belfast, I was able to find a much softer side to the city than the one I read about in high school history class and across television screens growing up. From political statements across outdoor art alleys to the delight of Victorian pubs, Belfast will fill up a weekend easily, so much so that you might want to stay on for more.
The Ulster Museum
What are the top attractions to visit in Belfast?
If you only have time to visit one museum while in Belfast, the Ulster Museum should be your stop. Free to enter, the museum details the history of Ireland and Northern Ireland through a multitude of exhibits. From dinosaur bones to costume displays, the floors of the Ulster Museum each cover a variety of topics throughout time.
One of the most intriguing is easily the exhibit on the 1588 shipwreck of the Spanish ship Girona just off of the Antrim Coast.
The Belfast Murals
West Belfast was not always the place to be in Northern Ireland’s capital. However today it is a big draw for tourists looking to see the murals that tell its complicated story. Once a war zone, today the murals track that period of civil unrest and terrorism in the country and across the city.
You can join a popular Black Taxi Tour to take you through the murals or just walk along Shankill Road and Falls Road.
The Crown Liquor Saloon
If all of that walking through West Belfast has you a bit thirsty, head on over to the Crown Liquor Saloon for a beverage. This is not your average pub in Belfast. The Crown Liquor Saloon dates back to 1826. Many contend it is the finest example of Victorian Gothic décor in all of Northern Ireland. Today the National Trust who helped restore it to its Victorian glory owns it. You might have trouble keeping a conversation here however.
The Crown Liquor Saloon leaves so much to look at and observe, from stained glass windows to its elaborate mosaic flooring to its tin ceiling. This pub is all about color and design.
What are the most popular things to do in Belfast with kids?
Heading back to school might be far from the traveler’s mind while exploring Belfast, but Queen’s University makes you forget the dread and drudgery attached to getting an education. Easily Northern Ireland’s most prestigious university, the main building of the institution is worth a gander of its Tudor Revival style. The area surrounding Queen’s university makes for a pleasant place to get lost in the quiet of the city and the energy of college students. Queen’s University also set up right near the Belfast Botanic Gardens.
The City Hall
What can you do in Belfast for free?
One of Belfast’s best free attractions is the City Hall. The public is free to roam the building on tours Monday through Saturday. Belfast’s City Hall building comprises of granite, marble and stained glass. You won’t have trouble locating the building. The grand classical Renaissance style building is easy to spot for its 53-meter high dome. Also a somewhat disgruntled looking Queen Victoria statue stand watch in front of Belfast’s City Hall.
Check out our complete travel guide to Italy here: Italy Travel Guide
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— VR Experts (@VRPExperts) June 9, 2019
Old Orhei in Moldova, Orhei
Old Orhei is an archaeological complex located in the commune of Trebujeni in the Orhei district of Moldova. It is a natural historical site built in the open air and combines the natural landscape and traces of ancient civilizations that once inhabit the area.
First traces of human activities found in Old Orhei were the Geto-Dacian fortress built between 100-600 BC. There were also orthodox Christian monasteries of the 14th century and the Moldovian town of Vechi since the 15th to 17th centuries.
The nearest international airport to Old Orhei is at the Chisinau International Airport which is 60 km from the attraction.
North Macedonia (formerly Macedonia)
Fun in the Fjords on a March Vacation in Norway
Found up high in the northernmost part of Europe, the natural beauty and historic importance of Norway make this nation the perfect tourist location for any traveler. Whether you are drawn to one of the many ski resorts situated in the mountainous countryside or you want to learn more about the Vikings, Norway is waiting and March is perfect month to see it.
Fun in Norway
Norway is often overlooked when compared to the other nations of Europe, but the small coastal country is regularly ranked among the best in the world for its outstanding achievements in human development and promotion of peace.
Natural beauty dominates the Norwegian Landscape
The majority of the Norwegian countryside remains unspoiled by urban sprawl. The coastlines, dotted with fjords, are a major attraction and a sight of natural beauty that can rarely be seen even in other coastal countries. Norway has many lakes, waterfalls and forests, which are a welcome sight for a tourist from a big city.
The 600 foot high Voringfossen waterfall located in Eidfjord is a sight to behold and was the most popular natural tourist attraction in 2006. A winding highway that passes through many long tunnels in the hills serves to connect cities and attractions as well as providing a great way to see the countryside while vacationing in Norway.
Nordic Sports provide endless fun
In the month of March, the mountains add to the picturesque splendor of Norway and also provide tourists with as much skiing and snowboarding as they can handle! Norwegians are famous for the talents on the skis and they are willing to offer any tourist a hand in learning this wonderful winter sport. Whether cross country skiing, downhill skiing or even ski jumping, both the facilities and the professional help are available to make you a natural on the slopes.
The Holmenkollen Ski Jump is over a century old, and remains a very popular tourist spot. It is attached to the world’s oldest ski museum, which contains skis that date back to the days of the Viking as well as more modern innovations.
Fun in the Fjords on a March Vacation in Norway – Ski
Cultural Spots in Norway
For the traveler looking to experience the Scandinavian culture, many museums can be found across Norway. The Norsk Folkemuseum is an open-air museum in the capital city of Oslo, which provides a snapshot of the country’s culture through the ages and includes historic buildings over seven centuries old. Norway is home to a fascinatingly diverse culture, as their ancestors were often removed from the influence of other European nations due of the cold and mountainous terrain. Also in Oslo is a Viking Ship Museum, which showcases many restored boats that had been used by Norsemen hundreds of years ago.
Norway has its fair share of amusement parks, such as Tusenfryd (translated as “a thousand joys”) and the Hunderfossen Familiepark in Lillehammer, the host city of the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Located as far north as it is, a March vacation to Norway might require the purchase of an extra pair of mittens and maybe a new coat to replace the threadbare one you have now, but the trip to this winter paradise would be a vacation that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Top Vacation Spots in Poland
What is the most visited place in Poland?
Poland is an old and magical country rife with diversity, natural beauty, and history. You can travel to the west of Poland and be amazed at the stunning mountains that tower high into the sky; however heading east brings you to flat lands that are filled with amazing flora and fauna. While there are a myriad of other countries in Europe to visit, Poland has always been and will remain to be one of the top destinations due simply because there is so much to do and the people are welcoming and kind.
Whether you’re a single traveler visiting Poland on business, or you’re backpacking with a group of friends across Europe and stopping by Poland, there is simply so much to see and do! Below we have some of the top destinations in Poland for you to vacation at – each with its own unique feel just beckoning you to come and explore the secrets and wonders hidden there!
Top Travel Destinations In Poland
The city of Krakow
What is the most beautiful city in Poland?
Krakow is by far the top destination to vacation at in Poland because it’s so incredibly diverse and has a stunning mixture of cultural activities and natural beauty for visitors to enjoy. At Krakow you’ll find the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which is an old salt mine built back in the thirteenth century and is still in operation today!
It’s so expansive inside that you can wander for days visiting the stunning chapel inside of it and even viewing all of the sculptures carved from salt that reside in there.
Krakow is also home to the Wawel Castle which is a stunning feat of architecture built back in the 1300’s upon the command of Casimir III. Enjoy looking at all of the various structures that make up this fabulous gothic style castle, and enjoy viewing it all from the central courtyard during your exploration!
Last, but definitely not least, you should visit the main market square in Krakow. It is built in the Old Town of Krakow and its dominating feature is a large building called the Cloth Hall which is back from the days of the Renaissance!
Holiday in Europe pic.twitter.com/dLwkqLaBLI
— VR Experts (@VRPExperts) April 7, 2019
Masurian Lake District
What places to visit in Poland?
Poland is known for many things, but one surprising fact is that it features a lake district with thousands of lakes dotting its surface! The Masurian Lake District is a stunning part of Poland and reputedly has around three thousand lakes all variously connected by different canals, rivers, and waterways. The landscape in the Masurian Lake District is absolutely stunning in its natural beauty because the forests and trees near the lakes are virtually undisturbed and you can enjoy it all through a variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, horseback riding, biking, hiking, and more!
Fortunately there is more to the Masurian Lake District than just outdoor activities. The land is littered with historic towns and villages – each featuring their own wonders and sights. For those looking to enjoy the best of Poland, a trip through the Lake District is a must because you will be absolutely stunned by its natural beauty and by the historic towns you come across along the way!
The city of Gdansk
What is the best month to visit Poland?
Gdansk is an old coastal city whose buildings reflect its age and allow you to seemingly step back into a time hundreds of years ago. There is so much history in the city itself that you cannot turn a corner on a street without some historical landmark or building being within your sights. Famous locations such as St. Mary’s Church, the Oliwa Cathedral, the Green Gate, and even the stunning Golden Gate all are within the city of Gdansk.
More modern attractions that may catch your fancy include a myriad of museums (the national Museum, and the Museum of WW II are there), the PGE Arena is available with world famous football matches held there, and even a world famous fair – the St. Dominic’s Fair – are located in Gdnask.
Overall you’ll be stunned by the historical and natural beauty of the city as it truly is one of the oldest in Poland and yet somehow brings history alive and combines it with modern day for a multicultural place anyone can enjoy!
Travel Tips on Portugal
Top Tips For Renting A Holiday Villa In Portugal
Are you planning on renting a holiday villa for your holidays this year?
How much money should I take to Portugal for a week?
Renting a villa has many advantages over a hotel room. On the surface it might seem more expensive, but when you do the math and realize that you are getting several bedrooms and your own private pool it can actually be a better deal. You can save even more if you share the cost of your villa rental with another couple or another family.
Having your own villa also offers a great deal of privacy and gives you plenty of time to enjoy your holiday on your own schedule. It also gives you the freedom to cook your own meals so that you can experience living like a local and save money on your restaurant meals.
What is the best part of Portugal to holiday?
When you are renting a villa for your holidays, if you go somewhere like the beautiful Algarve region of Portugal, it’s always better to be prepared and be aware of what’s ahead.
Here are some villa renting tips to keep in mind:
Don’t leave your villa rental arrangements to the last minute, or you might find that you are not faced with much choice. If you want the best selection, arrange your holiday at least a few weeks in advance so that you have the time to research the different villas available and choose the right one.
Know What You Want in Advance
What should I know before traveling to Portugal?
There are so many different types of villas to choose from in the Algarve, so to narrow down your search you will need to know what you are looking for in advance. Think about how many people will be coming on holiday with you and what their needs will be.
- Do you prefer to have a larger and more spacious villa or are you looking for a place which suits a small budget?
- Is a swimming pool important?
- Would you rather be only a short walk away from a town or city, or in a peaceful and quiet rural location?
These considerations will help you to narrow down your villa search to an area which works for you.
If you have any special requirements for your villa, make sure to make the rental company aware of this in advance so that you can find a villa that fits.
For example, older and disabled travellers will want a single-level property so that they don’t have to use the stairs. Families traveling with children might want a cot in the room and other kind supplies.
Negotiate a Better Rate
When you are making the final negotiations for your villa rental, there is no harm in trying to talk the owner into a better rate. During the shoulder season or the off season, villa rental owners and agencies are usually willing to offer slightly discounted rates. Also, if you are staying for more than a few weeks you can probably talk your way into a cheaper weekly or monthly rate rather than the daily rate. It never hurts to ask!
Always Put Things in Writing
How much money do I need per day in Portugal?
When you are making the arrangements to rent the villa for your holiday, make sure you sign a standard contract. This protects you and the owner and specifies all of the rules for the rental of the villa, such as what would happen if you accidentally damaged the property. Having everything written down ensures that there cannot be any conflicts afterwards.
Booking a villa in the Algarve can be just what you need to create your dream holiday. Keep these tips in mind to ensure that the villa rental process goes smoothly and that you find the holiday home that suits you and your family the best.
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The incredible beauty of Scotland’s east coast
There are at least one or two areas of natural beauty in just about every region of the world, but it has to be said that few can compete with the sheer scale of spectacular scenery that’s on show on Scotland’s east coast.
Although this wonderful corner of the United Kingdom has a growing band of enthusiastic fans, it still remains something of a hidden gem.
Where should I go on the east coast of Scotland?
The reason for that is the geographical location, and the fact that most visitors to the UK tend to visit London and the surrounding area. While the capital city is rightly celebrated as one of the world’s very finest cities, those tourists who make the effort to head north and explore Scotland will be rewarded with vistas and memories that will surely last a lifetime.
Throughout the area you’ll find a wonderful collection of bustling historic towns and quaint fishing villages, all complimented by a backdrop of rolling hills, iconic lochs and beautiful seascapes. And if you’re looking for a base from which to commence your daily explorations, the city of St Andrews is the perfect choice.
Anyone for golf?
What can you see in Scotland in 5 days?
Home to the most famous golf course on the entire planet, this historic location offers the visitor a tempting selection of restaurants, bars and hotels in which to relax and take stock of the day’s adventures. The rolling fairways of the most celebrated 18 holes of all nestle comfortably beside a wind-swept beach, right in the heart of the city.
If you take to four wheels to visit the surrounding area, be sure to check out some of the stunning fishing villages that are located along this spectacular piece of coastline.
Many of them have changed little over the decades, and a stroll through the small harbours will take you back to a more peaceful age. One of the finest, St Monans, is just three miles from the town of Anstruther in Fife.
When should I visit the Scottish Highlands?
Further inland, the region is home to some highly impressive hills and, for lovers of photo opportunities, a number of breath-taking lochs. One of the most beautiful of all, Loch Leven, is to be found a few miles north-west of Kirkcaldy, and should be a feature on the itinerary of every visitor. On a summer afternoon, there’s nothing more relaxing than taking a boat ride across this mystical body of water.
And if you’re in the mood to enjoy a little more glitz and glamour during your stay, the city of Edinburgh, one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, isn’t too far away. As well as a broad selection of historic buildings, churches, monuments and avenues, you’ll also be able to visit the fascinating Royal Mile, a steady climb that features Edinburgh Castle at its apex.
Top 10 Kids Activities in Glasgow
What are the top attractions to visit in Glasgow?
Glasgow is a great city for children. One of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe,
Glasgow is also home to many open spaces and areas designed specifically for children, as well as locations that are ideal for family days out.
Among the best places to visit for kids within the city are the Glasgow Science Centre, Jungle in the City, the Scotland Street School Museum, Tollcross Children’s Farm, and Kelvingrove Park.
Most of these destinations are located within Glasgow’s city centre, and within each reach of hotels. Others can be found just outside the main city limits.
1 – Glasgow Science Centre
What are the best outdoor activities in Glasgow?
Located on the South Bank of the River Clyde, the Glasgow Science Centre has extensive exhibits dedicated to the study of science. The centre contains many interactive displays and a planetarium within its Science Mall, as well as an IMAX cinema that screens 3D and other movies.
2 – Jungle in the City
What are the most popular things to do in Glasgow with kids?
A soft play area that is ideal for small children, Jungle in the City can be found on Gardner Street, and is open from 9.30am-6pm. The centre also sells healthy snacks for children and adults.
3 – Glasgow Botanic Gardens
One of the best public spaces in Glasgow, the Botanic Gardens in the West End contains a world class arboretum, as well as glasshouses and the Kibble Palace. An excellent choice for a family day of wandering around its grounds.
4 – Scotland Street School Museum
This museum was once a school, and is now dedicated to the history of childhood and school education. Recreated classrooms and costumes are available for children to explore, while the Museum puts on regular exhibits. Forthcoming exhibits include one dedicated to Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter.
5 – Kelvingrove Art Gallery
A good day out for older kids, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery on Argyle Street is one of the best art spaces in the city, and provides a wide range of different exhibitions. The Art Gallery is also centrally located near the River Kelvin, and a visit can take up most of an afternoon.
6 – Tollcross Children’s Farm & Visitor Centre
Part of a larger set of gardens that include Rose Gardens and Winter Gardens, as well a Nature Walk, the Children’s Farm itself contains Shire horses and Shetland ponies, as well as Highland cattle. A Victorian style ‘secret’ garden is also located nearby.
7 – Police Museum
Dedicated to the history of Glasgow’s police force, the first in the UK, this museum can be a good trip for a few hours with older children, and features photographs, uniforms, and other exhibits on changes to the police over the years.
8 – The Creation Station
More of a moving event that can be booked within Glasgow, The Creation Station puts on arts and crafts parties, and offers party entertainment. Shows encourage children to experiment with art, and can be booked at short notice for trips in the city.
9 – Kelvingrove Park
A historic park located in the West End of Glasgow, and home to the previously mentioned art gallery, Kelvingrove Park contains acres of land, benches, and sculptures to explore, and also has a skatepark.
10 – Scottish Football Museum
Found at Hampden Park stadium, the Scottish Football Museum is devoted to the history of Scottish football and its players, and is open seven days a week. The Museum also puts on children’s birthday parties.
Slovenia is one of the most beautiful countries we’ve visited. The scenery is breathtaking, the food delicious and the people very friendly. It’s a hidden gem!
We stayed for 3 nights in a guesthouse near Lake Bohinj and planned to spend a day around Lake Bled and a day by Lake Bohinj. These two lakes are just 35 minutes away from each other. Lake Bohinj is the largest lake in Slovenia, and Lake Bled is the most famous and touristy, and both were fantastic.
As we drove north from Croatia we were speechless with the landscape before us, it was simply stunning. The Alpine mountains, hills, countryside and streams met us, as we made our way to our home for the next 3 nights. We had brilliant weather and spent four days walking and lying in the sunshine, taking in the scenery.
Bled in Slovenia, Upper Carniola
Bled is a town located in the Upper Carniola region of Slovenia and lies among the Julian Alps mountain range and also alongside the famous Lake Bled with a population of around 5000. It is a major tourist attraction of Slovenia with the most famous being the glacier lake named Lake Bled and the iconic Bled medieval castle.
Bled has been a settlement area since the Mesolithic times and was first mentioned as Ueldes. The Bled castle was mentioned since 1011 during a deed of donation by Emperor Henry II to the Bishops of Brixen. In 1278, Bled was ceded to the Rudolph of Habsburg after winning the Battle on the Marchfield in 127. From 1364, it became part of the State of the Holy Roman Empire till 1919 as part of the Duchy of Carniola.
The nearest airport to the town is the international airport of Ljubjana known as the Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport (LJU) which is 39 km away from Bled.
Undiscovered Europe: Slovenia
Slovenia is one of those often overlooked areas of Central Europe. With neighbours including the tourist giants of Italy and Germany – it’s easy to not notice the little speck of land that sits nestled neatly beside the Adriatic Sea.
However Slovenia packs a punch – with one of its most popular destinations being “Lake Bled”. I admit this doesn’t sound all that attractive – but how does the Emerald River Adventure sound?
Various agencies (notably 3glav, Life Trek and OSA) offer this package to budding adventurers for around 150 Euros. The deal involves an 11 hour hiking and swimming trip intro Triglav National Park – but can also involve horseback rides and rafting. The tour is recommended for independent travellers or small groups – more experienced travellers can choose to take a more mountainous trek for just that little extra.
These tours are situated on and around Lake Bled – with its island in the middle and the reported healing properties of the lake itself, it has proved to be a popular tourist destination for decades.
During the summer paddle boats are a popular way to see the island for 15-20 Euros, or you can swim to the island in the centre for a truly refreshing escape from the summer sun.
Maze Bled is another popular attraction.
Made from corn and only opened when the corn is high enough for you to get truly lost in – the maze takes you in and out of forested areas as you try to stumble your way out. Do not despair however as the maze does sport facilities throughout including interesting spots like optical illusions.
Whilst you’re still in Bled – make sure to stop in at Bled Castle.
This “fairy tale castle” sits on a rock jutting over the lake and boasts spectacular views across the surrounding area. Literally perched upon a precipice – this ancient castle (the oldest in Slovenia) still has its own drawbridge and moat.
To any Disney fanatics it looks fairly similar to the one Prince Eric inhabits in the Little Mermaid. To those who consider themselves slightly more sophisticated than that, the castle sports an impressive wine cellar which many a review does not fail to mention. So after that long day visiting the hidden gem of central Europe – you know where to end up.
Check out our complete travel guide to Spain here: Travel to Spain
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Scintillating Switzerland shines as a May Vacation Destination in the Alps
Switzerland has always captured the imagination of people who admire natural wonders and a May vacation in the Swiss Alps has it all.
The sheer natural beauty of Switzerland is enough to make people fall in love with the country and the manmade structures just add to the attraction. So if you want to travel to a place that is serene and mesmerizing, do visit Switzerland. From the god-gifted Alps to the constructed cities, Switzerland has a lot to offer.
The allure of the Swiss Alps
Switzerland is extremely popular for its mountains and slopes. The majority of the tourists visiting the country head straight to the high altitudes to get a taste of the ‘real’ Switzerland and May offer both a taste of warmth and winter in the region. The Swiss Alps are the most gorgeous range of mountains and perhaps one of the best found in Europe.
Not only do they boast of having great peaks and points, the Swiss Alps also are popular for the recreational facilities. From winter games like skiing to specialized spots dedicated to film and photo shoots, the Swiss Alps have them all. So no matter what the purpose behind your travel, you will enjoy to your heart’s content in the Swiss Alps.
The Famous Cities of Switzerland are a Great Place to Vacation in May
Switzerland has some of the most beautiful and modern cities in the world. The famous Swiss cities are:
Zurich – One of the biggest and most popular cities of Switzerland. It has a wonderful mix of heritage and contemporary flavors and is therefore on every traveler’s schedule.
Geneva – Another major city in Switzerland, Geneva is the place that is home to the arts and culture of Switzerland.
Berne – Berne is the capital of Switzerland and is a hot favorite with tourists because of its old-world feel.
Specialties of Switzerland
Watches – Switzerland is one of the best places to buy watches. All of the top watch brands of the world originate from here, making it a watch collector’s paradise and a vacationers shopping haven.
Cheese – Apart from watches, Switzerland is also very popular for its dairy products, cheese being the most sought after product. Do not forget to pack your share of Swiss cheese while you travel to Switzerland in May.
Chocolate – Think about Switzerland and the first thing that will cross your mind, perhaps, is chocolate. Known for its rich chocolates, Switzerland is a land that sells some of the best and most exotic chocolates in the world.
Getting Around the Swiss Cities and Countryside
It is very simple to travel within Switzerland. While you can travel by air, many tourists prefer taking the legendary ‘Euro rail’ that takes you all across Switzerland. You can also drive around, or even better, hire a bicycle!
Communicating with locals in Switzerland is usually easy as the people there speak a number of languages that vary from English to Spanish, from Italian to French. You will not have much difficulty getting around and since the people are very polite and helpful, you will even find further assistance.
It is really simple to get to Switzerland as well, with specialized tours, travel plans and vacations on offer. Opt for any of these or just plan your own Switzerland vacation. Do not miss the opportunity to go to Switzerland especially in May as it offers the better of two seasons. Switzerland truly is a magical land that will leave you longing for more!
Beau-Rivage Palace, Switzerland Review
For anyone who is looking for a truly unique and unforgettable spa experience, the Beau-Rivage Palace offers that and much more. The Spa itself, called Cinq Mondes is one of the features of this resort that has placed this lovely resort on the map, so to speak.
There are a wide variety of pools and steam baths from all over the world making this a truly relaxing and uplifting experience for anyone to enjoy. If luxury is what you are looking for then this resort will not disappoint. From the moment to arrive at this hotel you are greeted with the most friendly and competent staff members who make it very clear that they are there with the sole purpose of making your stay as wonderful as possible.
When you enter the room, the first thing you will notice is the grand feel that the décor provides. The architecture and design is truly something to be reckoned with. The gorgeous views of the mountains and lake, particularly on a day are without parallel something dreams are made of.
To call this place a palace is almost an understatement. There is something for everyone and the staffs are right there at all times to be sure your every need is met and that your stay at their hotel is not something you will forget anytime soon.
For anyone traveling to Switzerland, this hotel is a highly recommended destination that everyone should stay in at least once during their visit to Europe.
Check out our complete travel guide to Turkey here: Travel Guide to Turkey
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United Kingdom (UK)
Check out our complete travel guide to the United Kingdom here: Travel Guide to the United Kingdom
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Vatican City (Holy See)
Several of our readers ask and others I know being waiting to see this Vatican City post. So, here it is. I was there on the weekend, Saturday to be precise. The weather in Rome was phenomenal. T-shirt weather during the day at least. I truly love enjoying Italian gelato on a daily basis it is so good.
Saint Peter’s Square is stunning. There are so many places to look around and you could never remember or catch all of the details of the Vatican City. When you walk into the museum entrance it is at the back of the city, and into the garden area which really catches your breath. The gardens look perfect and the buildings all around you; even though some are being refurbished they are still beautiful.
Of course there are many places of Vatican City that the public does not have access to sadly. Also note whenever there are special events happening in the city the no access is allowed in the city. Vatican City is actually its own country. You pass into a different country when you are inside the walls of the Vatican, which is kind of cool.
Paid or Self Tour?
I chose to do a paid tour of Vatican City instead of doing it by myself. A decision I normally would never do. I am more of a “do-it-yourself” tour guide. I’m not a fan of tour’s personally and don’t even really recommend this one. I decided to do it for the information and for the fact of getting shown around and not losing time.
The tour did pay off in fact. I met some of the most amazing friends so far from this trip. It was also a small tour just the three of us so there was no guide speaking to 50 people all at once. I would recommend if you are going to Vatican City that instead of buying a tour that you just buy a Guidebook to Vatican City, and focus on the parts that you want to see.
The Place is Amazing
It was quite beautiful inside, and totally worth doing if you are ever in Rome or even Italy nonetheless. As I said above when you first walk in you are best off to go and see the piece of the garden’s that you are allowed to see. It is really pretty and there are some amazing iron gates. There are a few statues as well and some of ancient Rome’s sculptures.
One of the pillars has a sculpture on the bottom of it that is the same as three others I saw in Rome city.
The Vatican has some pretty amazing artwork and museums as well. They are definitely worth a walk through, even if you aren’t into art so much it is worth seeing. It would be like going to the Louvre in Paris and not seeing the Mona Lisa. There are some well known artists, and sculptures too. Some of it has even been given to the Vatican over time.
Every painting, every piece of art, every rug, and every sculpture in Vatican City has some sort of meaning and history behind it. It is also quite normally based to religious stories and Bible history.
There were rug’s made that symbolized when The King decided to have all baby boys in the cities slaughtered because he had received news that a new king had been born. Some of these pieces of art and carpets are actually quite graphic.
I also found it quite interesting as I walked around the city that some statues had their private areas covered, and some did not. Our guide said that it depended on the time that the statue was made, and also who the statue or painting was of.
Venus, the famous sculpture, never had to wear clothes. Michelangelo though painted some of the ceilings in Vatican City and had naked bodies in the paintings. He got scolded for this on some of his works. After he was done some of them the Pope had to appoint an underwear painter, to cover up the naked bodies.
The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is quite something. The art work and the paintings in there are phenomenal. You really can’t help but stand in awe of it. Technically one is not allowed to take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel… I did manage to sneak a couple though, and I also got in trouble for it. Then I didn’t risk it anymore, but you can see the ones I did get.
It’s amazing to see though the spot where all of the previous Pope’s have been elected. The Sistine Chapel also has some very thick walls around it. That chapel I think could withstand a nuclear attack by its walls. The Sistine Chapel you get to walk down the Royal steps. The steps that the new pope gets to walk down once he is selected. Then you move onto St. Peter’s Basilica.
St. Peter’s Basilica
It is beautiful. There are magnificent paintings everywhere. First inside the Basilica is the statue of the Virgin Mary, holding her son, Jesus after his Crucifixion. A number of years ago someone brought a hammer into the Basilica and charged the statue to try to break it and successfully did some damage before the guards caught him. Ever since then they have made a glass wall and nobody can get close to the statue, other than through the glass.
We also accidentally almost got stuck in the Basilica for mass. Which made things quite hectic, but it was kind of cool to see how they started mass there, and how important it is to them. You aren’t allowed to cross in front of the altar while mass is starting or going at all. Therefore one is basically locked on the one side of the church. Underneath the altar is the tomb’s of previous popes as well. We couldn’t gain access down the cellar sadly. Although I have heard that it is a really cool thing to see.
Once you are out in St. Peter’s Square, you can see the front of the Basilica, where the pope will initially appear, after being elected. And you can see the huge square and path leading to the Basilica. It is quite a site to see. I could only imagine it filled with people from all over the world. I’m sure it will be filled quite soon on Easter weekend.
That is it on Vatican City, I hope you have enjoyed reading and are inspired to make a trip there yourself.
Locating European Travel Deals
If you are like most travelers, it is important to try to save money when traveling.
Great resources in locating cheap flights and European vacation packages are:
- Online travel retailer.
- On a travel booking site – you can review and compare a wide range of cheap flights to Europe as well as all inclusive vacation packages.
- You can then search and compare to find the right travel deal that meets your travel criteria and budget.
What is the best itinerary for Europe?
Many of these online travel booking sites offer lowest-price guarantees, and others offer price-drop protection. You can start checking airfares a couple of months before the time you want to travel as you can often get a discount for booking early.
However, last minute deals are available for those who can travel on short notice.
In addition, there are often special promotion travel deals offered on these sites.
Obtain Your Passport
If you don’t have a passport, it is important to get one well in advance of your trip. If you have a passport, make sure it has not expired. If it has expired, get it renewed. As well, you should make photocopies of your itinerary, your passport, and your credit cards.
Give a copy to a family member and keep a copy of your passport and credit card info with you but in another place such as a hotel safe.
Obtain Travel Insurance
When traveling out of the country, it is essential to make sure you are protected in the event of an emergency. When buying travel insurance, make sure you have enough medical coverage and that you are protected against theft and loss of luggage.
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Contact Credit Card Companies
A few days before you embark on your trip to Europe, contact your credit card company to inform them that you will be using it in different countries so the charges you make will not be denied.
Transportation and Accommodation Considerations
Europe offers a wide range of Hotels, Motels, and Inns. If you are looking for a good deal on quality accommodations, check out travel discount websites. You will find a wide range of various types of accommodations in Europe at great prices.
If you want to reduce the amount of planning for your trip, consider an all-inclusive vacation package which can include such travel items as flight, accommodations, car rental, etc, for one lump sum. You can save a lot of money.
How do I plan a 10 day trip to Europe?
If you are going to travel to many places in Europe and do not want to rent a car, it is easy to travel by rail.
There are many benefits to getting a European rail pass. Check to see if a Eurail pass will make things easier and cheaper as you travel.
When you board the plane for your trip to Europe, you should make sure that you have your important documents such as passport, airline tickets, car rental agreements, hotel reservation information, credit cards, and other essential items such as any medications.
Eurail pass train travel
- The Eurail pass is the most popular train ticket used in Europe by backpackers, adventure travelers, groups, families and students to travel by rail all across Europe! In most cases, if you want to travel by train in multiple countries in Europe at the lowest discount price available, this European train pass is for you. Backpackers travel cheap and the eurail pass definitely helps maintain the costs of transportation in Europe at the lowest level possible! Surprisingly, you could also travel 1st class at a very low price
- The eurail train pass allows you to travel through Europe by train at a very good price. There are multiple types of passes that allow you to perfectly customize your train travel by allowing you to choose the number of days you travel and the countries you wish to visit in a time period set by you!
This pass is for you if you don’t want to be limited on your train travel days. You can even get a discount if you travel 2 people or more. The EurailPass allows you to travel almost without limits through 17 participating countries by rail and on some major shipping lines in the time period you select!
- The pass is available for continuous 1st class travel in a period of 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months within these countries: Austria, Begium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The pass also offers many travel bonuses like special discount fares on high-speed Premier trains such as Euro star, Thalys and Artesi.
Free or discounted travel on river steamers operated by K.D. German Rhine line for a number of routes on the Rhine and Mosel Rivers. Free or discounted travel for regular paddle steamer service on the lakes of Geneva, Lucerne and many other Swiss lakes. Discounted bus travel on Europabus Lines for the Castle and romantic Roads.
- And much much more! A complete list of bonuses is included on the complimentary map that you receive with your pass.
Things to do in Europe
Top 10 Christmas Markets In Europe
A concept born in the 14th century in Germany, Christmas markets are a long tradition in Europe and have gradually extended to the American territory as well.
Which country is best for Christmas?
Starting the last days of November, most European towns begin adorning their streets and squares with seasonal decorations and colorful lights. Small wooden huts or simple stalls make their appearance and all sorts of products are traded, to the delight of the youngest and of the oldest.
Depending on your Christmas travel plans , don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the best Christmas European markets.
Which European city is best at Christmas?
1. Dresden, Germany
Dresden Xmas marketStrizelmarkt, whose origins go as back as 1434, represents one of the reasons Dresden’s inhabitants are proud of their lovely town and of their long and well preserved traditions.
Although only meat was originally sold in this charming open air market that takes over Dresden’s Old Market (Altmarkt) each year from late November until Christmas Eve, nowadays you can buy here almost anything from delicious culinary products to crafted items, and seasonal decorations.
If you happen to be in Dresden for Christmas, don’t miss the opportunity to soak up the vivid atmosphere, to buy unique souvenirs such as the Pflaumentoffel and to taste traditional dishes like the Stollen yeast cake.
A 14 meters high pyramid is settled in the heart of the market and carols competitions are organized around it.
2. Valkenburg, Netherlands
Xmas marketA truly magical atmosphere is waiting for you in Valkenburg. Spending the winter holidays in this charming Dutch town means attending Christmas parades twice a week (on Wednesday and Saturday evenings), visiting the beautiful castle of Valkenburg aan de Geul and making your Christmas shopping in a unique setting.
Reaching its 29th edition in 2015, the Valkenburg Christmas market is organized in a cave (Velvet Cave).
During your visit, you can stroll among market stalls selling everything from food products to clothes and souvenirs. However, the major attractions are represented by the mural paintings, by the 18th century chapel and by Santa’s bedroom.
3. Strasburg, France
Xmas market 1Ever since 1570, when it was first organized, Christkindelsmärik has become a benchmark when it comes to Christmas markets.
Its size has also grown together with its popularity, going over Petite France and including the neighboring squares surrounded by timbered houses.
Located in Alsace, drinking mulled wine is one of the many things to do while strolling along Christkindelsmärik’s stalls. An interesting tradition refers to picking every year one country to be the focus of Christmas celebrations in Strasburg.
In 2011, it was Switzerland’s turn. Why not taking the chance and discovering what this charming French town has to offer for this year’s holidays?
4. Barcelona, Spain
Xmas market in Barcelona.
Overlooked by Barcelona’s imposing cathedral, stretching on a few streets of the town’s Gothic Quarter, Fira de Santa LLúcia is a traditional Christmas market organized in this vibrant Spanish town since 1786.
Organized in different sectors, Fira de Santa LLúcia is the place to go shopping for Christmas trees, or moss (the green area), music instruments, the Christmas crib, seasonal decorations and the typically Catalan figure – “El Caganer”.
Embodying a Spanish peasant with his pants down, El Caganer is the Catalan symbol of fertility. It is can be seen in all sorts of shops around this Spanish region and they often have the face of famous politicians or other public figures.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Xmas market in Prague. Prague’s Christmas markets are known to be the most romantic in Europe and maybe in the whole world. After all, Prague is a romantic city in itself.
Four of them are really worth mentioning: two big ones organized in Old Town and Wenceslas Squares and two smaller ones in Havel and Republic Square.
Take the opportunity to find great bargains and buy lots of handcrafted objects, jewelry, scented candles, or ceramics.
The delicious Czech sausages are a good dining option and you can accompany this meal by a mug of mulled wine. It will help you fight the tough Prague winter.
6. Vienna, Austria
Vienna Xams market. When the month of December is approaching, all the Austrian capital city’s squares are filled with decorations and lit by colorful lights.
Among the many other things you can do while spending your Christmas vacation in Vienna, these traditional markets constitute a great discovery.
If the city’s Baroque palaces will show you a face of the Austrian history, while strolling through the Christmas market’s stalls you will certainly discover the other one – an exquisite folk art and the some well preserved traditions.
If you are traveling with kids, Christkindlmarkt, organized in the Town Hall’s Square (Rathausplatz) is the place to go. The little ones will certainly enjoy the interactive workshops organized especially for them.
7. Tallinn, Estonia
Xmas market in Tallinn. Although we cannot speak about long history, the Christmas market organized every year since 1991 in Tallinn’s Town Hall’s Square certainly has its share of beauty and romance.
There is no other better place to soak up the Christmas spirit than in the romantic Estonian capital.
If its Old Town’s medieval atmosphere can be felt throughout the year, an extra touch of romance and a fairy tales charm adds up when the winter holidays approach and the whole area is decorated with lights, stars and other seasonal symbols.
Mind your steps as you might run into Santa himself.
8. Trento, Italy
70 wooden huts selling culinary delights, presents, souvenirs and seasonal decorations just fill the square spreading the pleasant Christmas spirit in the whole area.
A great place for a stroll as well as for a shopping adventure, Trento Christmas Market makes a great way of spending your afternoon or evening after a dynamic day filled with outdoor activities.
9. London, UK
Xmas market in London It may sound like a stereotype, but spending Christmas in London is an experience you don’t want to miss.
The city itself is a Christmas show, all covered in lights and glitter and with the London Eye, the Big Ben or the London Tower beautifully decorated and ready for celebration.
A great Christmas market in London can be found in Hyde Park, but other good locations are Greenwich, Borough, Camden Lock and Southbank.
If you are not tired from walking through the Hyde Park Christmas Market’s stalls, try some ice skating at Winter Wonderland.
Our Recommended London Christmas Markets Highlights
- Great souvenir and local products shopping opportunities, London’s Christmas markets are also the right spots where to discover the British traditions and to have a lot of fun.
- If you are traveling with kids, let them enjoy themselves in Santa’s Secret Village while you treat yourself in a traditional German style with some gingerbread and mulled wine in Cologne Christmas Market.
- If you are looking for culinary delights, Borough Market is the place to go.
- Hyde Park is home to an interesting traditional market as well as to the famous open air ice skating rink, Winter Wonderland.
10. Copenhagen, Denmark
When you say Copenhagen, the name of Hans Christian Andersen certainly pops into some people’s minds.
Children fairy tales are the exact description for the Christmas markets organized in Denmark’s capital city, in a very scenic location – the Tivoli Gardens.
All the lights and decorations are just a pretext for the delicious dishes you will savor together with a hot drink.
The park’s lake becomes an open air skating rink that represents not only an opportunity to slide on ice, but also a great way to relax while watching the more daring ones.
Top Things to Do in London at Christmas
Spending Christmas in London is a great way of discovering the British capital at a festive time of the year and of reliving the holiday’s spirit while also having an unforgettable vacation.
Which is the best Christmas market in London?
From impressive shows of lights, to the local flavors to be found in the traditional Christmas markets and going through the ice skating rinks scattered throughout the city or the fun opportunities the British capital holds, London offers a wide range of things to do during this special time of the year.
If you are planning a romantic Christmas getaway, London is the best option as well.
Here are a few of the must-do things to if you choose to spend your Christmas in London:
Which is the best Christmas market in the UK?
Christmas City Tours
In London, the Christmas season starts officially once the special lights and decorations are turned on. Featuring a different theme each year, London Christmas lights offer an impressive show that you can discover during a night city tour. In Trafalgar Square you can admire the Christmas tree traditionally offered by Norway to the British capital ever since 1947.
You can have Santa himself or a private black cab guide your way through Oxford and Regent Street and the nicely decorated London neighborhoods. If touring the British capital on top of a red double-decker bus has always been your dream, you can fulfill it on Christmas day. You will certainly enjoy the unusual silence and ease of traffic for such a big city.
Christmas Sightseeing Cruises in London
The famous landmarks like London Eye, Tower Bridge or Big Ben can make a Christmas tree fade in front of their beautiful decorations. While walking along the British capital’s streets and getting a panoramic view over the city from the famous ferry wheel are interesting things to do while spending Christmas in London, taking a cruise on the Thames from Westminster Pier to Greenwich and back is a must-do for romantic couples.
Christmas Day Trips from London
Christmas may also be the perfect opportunity to tour tourist destinations in UK. After having visited the British capital city, you can take a day trip to discover history traces or the place where famous literary figures like Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare once lived, all while admiring breathtaking landscape the British countryside has to offer.
Christmas Eve Day Trips from London
If you are spending your Christmas vacation in London, take the opportunity to get away a bit from the urban hustle and bustle. Why not spending the Christmas Eve on a day trip to popular destinations like Leeds, Warwick or Windsor Castle? Everything will be more peaceful at this time of the year. Touring the monolithic stones of Stonehenge, Shakespeare’s native place or the historic spa town of Bath with its beautiful cathedral are great ways of spending Christmas Eve.
Boxing Day Trips from London
After an enjoyable Christmas in London, take a day trip to discover the lovely countryside before the crowds invade the British popular destinations.
Lovely castles, Gothic cathedrals, rugged coastlines, rolling hills and historic landmarks can be discovered on a day trip from the British capital.
Then, go have a fantastic time in Europe and return home with many great memories.
Get Ready for Christmas in Birmingham UK
If you have not noticed yet, Christmastime is upon us! It is coming faster and faster each year. I remember when I was a kid it seemed to take FOREVER for Christmas to come and now that I’m older it seems to come so quickly, almost overnight! If you want to experience a great Christmas in Birmingham UK this year then you should realize a few things first!
One thing that you should totally check out while in Birmingham UK this holiday season is the Frankfurt Christmas market! Each year during November 12 until December 23rd you can enjoy this lovely place. This market is in Victoria Square and is one that is not to be missed! The market is open from 10am until 9pm each day for your enjoyment! There is nothing much like the Frankfurt Christmas market for getting your into the holiday spirit! At the market you will see 180 stalls of Christmas gifts and food. This market is no small thing as it attracts around 2 million visitors each year.
Another thing you may want to do while in Birmingham this Christmas season is to host a Christmas party! Birmingham has a wide range of venues in which to hold your Christmas parties. Birmingham UK is a hopping place at Christmastime so there is no where you could go to have your party that would be better. Whether you want to have a sit down dinner with your guest or enjoy a night of Christmas Karaoke there is no place better than Birmingham UK.
Why I Love Winter
For some, the term “Winter is Coming” reminds them all too much of Game of Thrones and often elicits either a few “did you just say that stares” or a bout of giggles.
For others, like myself, when you say “winter is coming” our inner child dances about with joy at the prospect of snow angels, cancellations, Christmas, and more!
What do you love about winter?
As a perpetual optimist I’ve never quite understood exactly why people dread the inevitable winter months. Yes they’re cold and yes sometimes it’s a pain to navigate, but unless you plan on hibernating in a region close to the equator during the winter months, there’s really nothing else you can do about the situation.
So, whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, here’s a list of the absolute best reasons why I love winter to hopefully fill your own inner child with glee and preparing you for the ushering in of the beloved winter months!
The Holiday Season
Christmas and Hanukkah are two major gift giving holidays that people associate with the winter months. The beginning of the holiday season is exciting and often marked by great sales at shops,loads of beautiful decorations being put up around houses and towns, and the overall jolly feeling that sweeps through even the most depressing of places and puts frowns on people’s faces.
While the holiday season is focused around gifts, especially thanks to the extensive marketing companies do during the time, it also means that families come together and people are kind just for the simple reason that they wish to be nice to another person.
Carbs and poor diets are acceptable
What are the best things about winter?
Another fantastic reason to love winter is that any remblance of a diet that you followed during the summer time is off the table! Loads of candy, heavy carbohydrates, and desserts are piled up on tables and no one will judge you when you simply gorge yourself!
The winter months play host to several holidays that are focused entirely around food, and the best part about it is you can wear layers of clothing to hide any extra fluff you may put on!
Warm alcoholic beverages
Adding a dash or two of alcohol to a warm beverage during the winter time is never looked upon with a scowl. Whether you’re drinking mulled wine, spiced hot chocolate, or some eggnog with a bit of a kick to it, no one will look at you strangely – instead they’ll probably ask for a cup of it themselves! Truly one of the best feelings is sitting there warming up frozen digits on a half empty cup of spiced hot chocolate.
Winter vacations make you the envy of all around
Getting a short respite from the cold winter months is highly recommended, and will fill the eyes of your friends and coworkers with immense jealousy.
Nothing beats walking into work after a holiday with a beautiful golden tan and showing off those pictures of the beach, the cruise, or wherever it was that you jetted off to! Be prepared for an overwhelming feeling of smugness upon your return!
Good Things About Winter
Why is winter so important?
Allows you to appreciate the warmer months
Should you be one of those people who simply hates winter, then this reason is definitely one you can try to adopt to improve your outlook on the colder months. If you’re in a seasonal area that changes with the winter months, winter will truly enhance your appreciation for the other seasons. Nothing makes you look forward to those hot summer days again like having to battle the icy winds and deep snow each day on your way to your car!
As a perpetual optimist I’ve never quite understood exactly why people dread the inevitable winter months. Yes they’re cold and yes sometimes it’s a pain to navigate, but ….https://t.co/1hQ1VYvwQ8 pic.twitter.com/2lXRRkCgQC
— VR Experts (@VRPExperts) May 9, 2020
Vacations are cheaper
If you’re not going right during the Christmas break in school, then you’ll find that taking a holiday during the winter months is so much cheaper! Thanks to all the children in school, vacation prices drop dramatically making it easy to afford to go to some of the best winter vacations such as Kauai, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Key West, Bora Bora, and more! Simply drop the kids off with the grandparents and enjoy your discounted vacation.
The beginning of the winter months always means that the ushering in of a new year is on its way. While this does mean you’ll spend about half the year scribbling out the previous year on all your documents, it also means that it’s a time to reflect on yourself, improve who you were, and appreciate what you’ve got. The New Year resolutions are a huge hit and you can always score yourself a great new calendar to help keep you on track!
If you’ve been dying all summer to bust out that fantastic pair of fur boots, turtle neck sweater, or fleece cardigan then you’ll love to hear that winter is on its way! Winter fashion is some of the best because it’s not about how much you can show off, it’s simply about warm and comfy and a tad stylish as well! Enjoy all the great sales both before and after the holidays as well to really score some fashionable winter clothing!
Getting that call that work has been cancelled, or that your university classes are rescheduled is probably the most exciting news people can wake up to in the winter months. Granted, parents with kids may be groaning inwardly if their work isn’t cancelled but the children are forced to stay home, however for the majority of people, cancellations are the best.
Simply curl up with a comfy fleece blanket, a warm drink with a dash of something extra in it, and a fantastic book and you’ll be in absolute winter heaven!
Travel Tips and Stories
Why now is a great time to visit Europe
If you’ve always wanted to visit Europe but worried about the expense, now is a great time to make that trip. Due to the economic downturn in Europe, especially in countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland, the exchange rate is in Americans’ favour and you can experience all the tourist attractions and local traditions for a very reasonable price.
Because less people are travelling to and within Europe, travel companies are offering much more competitive deals to tempt visitors to use their services. This means you can stay in luxury hotels and get first class travel for the amount of money you might normally spend on a budget holiday, especially in the more severely affected countries. With less tourists around, you also won’t have to fight against so many backpack-laden, camera-wielding foreigners to get a glimpse of the Acropolis or the Sistine Chapel!
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According to research by The Huffington Post earlier this year tourist attractions in Greece, one of the countries which has been hit worst by economic problems, are still open and busy, but not as crowded as usual. Tickets for tours of Greece and Athens are selling out, and although the locals’ troubles are evident they are still welcoming visitors warmly to ensure they keep their tourist trade alive and well. In fact, they are generally very thankful to visitors for supporting the Greek economy in its time of need.
Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe due to its fantastic sights and fascinating history, in addition to its sunny weather and relaxed, friendly culture. Famous sights such as the Parthenon and the Delphi Theatre are must-sees during a visit to Greece, but holiday-makers should also take the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful Greek islands such as Crete and Corfu.
Another country which has faced tough economic problems over the past few years is Ireland. Because fewer Irish people are travelling abroad or booking expensive hotels, more are going on holiday within Ireland. which means that tourist attractions are able to open as usual.
There are also more budget hotels and special offers available, to encourage Irish people and foreign visitors to holiday in Ireland.
Ireland offers a perfect holiday mixture of country and city. If you book a holiday in the Irish capital city, Dublin, you can also visit more traditional country villages and even spend a day at the beach during your trip.
Ireland isn’t too well known for its local cuisine, but you can’t go home without trying a proper pint of Guinness at a traditional Irish pub. If you really want to experience the Irish spirit, book a holiday around St Patrick’s Day, where the country comes alive with parades and street parties.
Despite the tense times depicted in the news, you shouldn’t be put off travelling to countries suffering in the economic crisis. In fact, now is the most important time to show them your support and help inject some money back into their tourist trade.
And, if you want to make your trip even cheaper, have a look through the various European tour packages online – they’ll guarantee you a great deal wherever you decide to go!
The French Connection: A Road Trip through the Italian and French Rivieras
Some years ago, I travelled by train from Genoa to Nice, in the South of France. As I trundled west, with the carriage door of the train open – which was allowed at the time and to my left, watching the Mediterranean merge with the French Riviera all along the journey, I vowed one day to return.
What are the top attractions to visit in French Riviera – Cote d’Azur?
And so I found myself with two friends and an ancient, dusty old camper van in Ventimiglia, recently purchased from an even more ancient looking ‘uomo’. Ventimiglia is a quaint old harbor town, within the Gulf of Genoa, and only four miles from the French-Italian border. We had water, we had ciabattas and we had our passports at the ready for the border check.
What are the best day trips from French Riviera – Cote d’Azur?
Travelling on European roads is easier than you might think. Admittedly, left hand driving takes some getting used to, especially when having to remember to go anti clockwise at roundabouts, but pretty soon we were trucking. Well, camper vanning.
We drove on the A10, or the Galleria Del Monte to give the road its more romantic name, before it turned into the Viadotto Valle Latte – and its corresponding village just off it and down the Via della Resistenza. But, there was no time for coffee.
The A10, although a main road, is both glorious and winding. The Galleria Del Monte changes to Galleria Belvedere, Mortola then Grimaldi before meeting the border crossing where it turns into La Provencale.
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We expected the border crossing to be both problematic and congested, however despite several container lorries heading east and west, no doubt swapping baguettes for pasta, and a routine passport check, we were soon driving through France. Essentially, this route consists of facing toward Italy and then turning left. Not trop difficile at all.
The D6007 is the coastal road through the South of France. To get on it, turn off La Provencale onto Route de Super Garavan. Head for Menton, and take a look at the beautiful Basilique St Michel if you can.
Keep driving on the D6007 and head down to Roquebrune Cap Martin for some stunning views of the sea. Keep on driving and eventually you will arrive in Nice. We covered this 240km / 150 mile journey in a little over four hours. From Nice you are ideally located to explore the rest of the French Riviera – the glamour of Cannes and St Tropez or the beaches of Antibes.
What are the most popular things to do in French Riviera – Cote d’Azur with kids?
If you wish you can also head on to Toulon or the sprawl of Marseille. Regardless of which wine and food you prefer – French or Italian – this stunning road trip with its fantastic scenery and ocean views is an absolute must for couples or with your family.
Post by Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an online and offline digital marketing agency that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.
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