Best things to do in Geneva, Switzerland


Geneva is a stunning city in Switzerland that lies on the glacier-fed shores of Lake Geneva. 
It is surrounded by the snowy Alps and Jura mountains, with magnificent views of the dramatic Mont Blanc (the Alp's highest mountain).

Geneva has a very strong French influence, from the language to the cuisine and it is the Headquarters of Europe’s United Nations and the Red Cross.
It is also the home of Swiss knives, watches, chocolate and fondue (that alone is reason enough to go there!).

If Geneva is on your bucket list, here are some of the very best things to do:


Walk along the shores of Lake Geneva


No matter what the season, a stroll along the shores of Lake Geneva is a must. It is the largest lake in Central Europe and being surrounded by the mountains is a truly spectacular sight. The colours of the water are vibrant shades of blue, green and turquoise.
Grab some of the world's freshest air and enjoy the tranquil sights.


See the Jet d'Eau


The Jet d'Eau is one of the tallest fountains in the world. It pumps out five hundred litres of water per second propelled to a height of 140 metres.
It is one of Geneva's most famous landmarks, being featured on the city's official tourism website and on the official logo for Geneva's hosting of the 2008 UEFA Championships.
Originally built in 1886, soon after the fountain was finished it became the symbol of strength, ambition and vitality of Geneva and Switzerland.


Explore the beautiful Old Town


Take a walk through Geneva’s colourful old town and be transported back a thousand years.
You will discover an ancient maze of charming pedestrian streets and squares, lined with quaint cafés and restaurants, galleries, museums and historical sights and architecture.

In the very centre of Geneva's Old Town is Bourg-de-Four Square - a must-visit square and the oldest place in Geneva, where the Roman marketplace used to trade its wares.


Climb the Tower at St. Pierre Cathedral


The St. Pierre (or St. Peter's) Cathedral stands tall in the Old Town of Geneva on the site of an ancient Roman Temple from the 4th century and is the church where John Calvin lead the Protestant Reformation
Work began on this spectacular cathedral in the 12th century. It was originally built in a Romanesque style with some Gothic influence, but today the cathedral displays a fusion of different styles.
Climb the many stairs to the top of the two towers for the best panoramic view of Geneva.


Go skiing or hiking


From Geneva, the Alps are readily available to be explored. A visit to Mont Blanc is the perfect day trip from Geneva - it’s only an hour away!

Chamonix, Mont Blanc is a popular resort area renowned for skiing, bordering France, Switzerland and Italy. Year-round, cable cars take visitors up to several nearby peaks with incredible panoramic views.

GVA's Geneva to Chamonix transfers specialise in private Geneva Airport transfers to and from all ski resorts in the French and Swiss Alps.
Outside of the ski season, they provide summer excursions and day trips to some of the most famous regional areas like Chamonix Mt Blanc, Annecy, Montreux/Lausanne, Gruyere, Interlaken, Evian and Yvoire.

Whether you ski or hike, it is some of the most beautiful natural scenery you will ever lay your eyes on.


Visit the United Nations


No trip to Geneva is complete without a visit to The European Headquarters of the United Nations.
To many, the name Geneva is associated with peace and human rights. A particular state of mind prevails with the locals and gives Geneva a unique aura, known as the 'Geneva Spirit'.

The large complex is in constant use, hosting thousands of intergovernmental meetings each year, but it is open for hour-long guided tours that are available in 15 different languages.


Soak up history at a museum


Geneva is home to more than thirty museums and galleries offering a wide range of cultural, modern and historical offerings.
You can visit the International Red Cross and Crescent Museum, Maison Tavel - the museum of history of Geneva, the Natural History Museum or enjoy the largest art museum - The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire and many more.
You could easily spend hours and hours museum hopping among these fine buildings.


Indulge in the local cuisine


In Geneva they take their food seriously! With over one thousand restaurants, the city is the undisputed capital of cuisine in Switzerland. 
Local specialties include fondue, raclette, lake fish dishes, smoked sausage and a variety of casseroles. 
As an international city, Geneva also offers plenty of choices from all around the world. Don't forget to try the chocolate either!

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Have you been to Geneva? Let me know what your favourite thing to do there was or if you're planning to go there soon!

Happy Travels,

*This post contains images that are not my own.

L O N D O N | 25 Top Spots to visit!


London is such a fascinating, vibrant and eclectic city. Being so large and diverse, there are countless amazing things to see and do, so this post focuses on my top tourist attractions and spots to visit, particularly for first-timers.

This is part two of my London guide, check out: L O N D O N | Top 10 Travel Tips if you haven't already. Of course, absolutely do whatever you wish to in London - these are just some of my favourite places and recommended things to do that I really enjoyed myself, to give you some ideas and inspiration.


1. Natural History Museum

This is easily my favourite museum I've ever visited and it's a must-see for anyone!
Most famous for its impressive dinosaur displays, there's an enormous range of exhibits showcasing specimens from all throughout history. You could easily spend an entire day here and best of all it's totally free.



2. Tower of London 

Officially known as 'Her Majesty's Royal Palace' and 'Fortress of the Tower of London', visiting this historic castle is worth the money. Book online to save a little bit of money.
Full price adult tickets cost £24.00 and this includes access to the Tower and the Crown Jewels display, many exhibitions and the always entertaining Yeoman Warder guided tour. While you're in the area, don't forget to check out the Tower Bridge.



3. Big Ben 

One of the most famous clocks in the world, Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. Seeing one of the major iconic symbols of London with your own eyes is a must-do for any first time visitor. 



4. Trafalgar Square

Ever since the Middle Ages, the iconic Trafalgar Square has been a central meeting place. It's a great place to hang out and admire its wonderful fountains and architecture.
It's surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings and being the largest square in London, it is thought of as the heart of the city.



5. Buckingham Palace 

Seeing Buckingham Palace is an essential part of any trip to London. It has served as the official London residence of the UK's sovereigns since 1837 and today it is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch. Make time to see the Changing of the Guard, for times and dates check the website here.



6. Westminster Abbey 

Don't miss seeing the gorgeous Westminster Abbey, one of the world's great churches with a history stretching back over a thousand years. Admire the Gothic abbey from the outside or if you wish to visit properly, book tickets online for £20.



7. The British Museum 

The British Museum is dedicated to human history, art and culture and houses an impressive collection of historical world art and artifacts including the Rosetta stone, iconic sculptures from Ancient Greece and Egypt and many more. Free to all visitors, you can again easily spend an entire day exploring the many rooms full of treasures.



8. Harry Potter studio tour

This attraction does of course depend if you are a fan or not - but if you are then this Warner Brother's tour is an absolute must-visit! Well worth the £39, book your date and time slot in advance here to enter the magical world of Harry Potter and see the authentic sets, behind the scenes and making of the films.



9. St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral with its world-famous dome is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Head inside the seat of the Bishop of London to see the Anglican Cathedral's beautiful interior and uncover fascinating stories about its history. Optional guided tours are £18, for more information visit their website.



10. Covent Garden

Just on the fringes of West End, Covent Garden offers excellent shopping, theatres, restaurants and pubs. Inside the marketplace, you can find the most wonderfully talented buskers who come to perform in the hopes of making it big.



11. Notting Hill

Notting Hill in West London is an iconic and captivating neighbourhood. There's a reason why so many films are set here. It's wonderful to walk through the quaint streets filled with rustic townhouses and especially great on a Saturday when Portobello Market comes to life. 



12. London Eye

Also known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye is the world's tallest Ferris Wheel.
It is officially the United Kingdom's most popular paid tourist attraction and offers breath-taking views of London from high above the River Thames. Be sure to book your tickets and a time slot in advance online, as the queues can be hours long. Ticket prices start at £23.



13. Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is a free national art museum housed in the Bankside Power Station built after World War II. Enjoy a most impressive collection of international modern and contemporary art ranging from the 1900's to the present day.



14. Camden Town

If you like alternative places then you will enjoy this area. Find unique fashion and accessory shops, great live music, eclectic dining, plenty of piercing and tattoo parlours and many cool pubs - my favourite is the World's End pub.



15. Camden Market

While you're in Camden be sure to visit the very cool alternative markets with over 1000 shops and stalls selling fashion, music, art and food next to Camden Lock. Open every day of the week - don't miss the 'Cyberdog' store for a very surreal shopping experience!



16. Leicester Square

A famous pedestrian square in the West End of London, it's the home of entertainment with plenty of great shows in the area. There are also many great restaurants and cool shops including the giant M&M's World, which is a must-see.



17. Hyde Park

One of the largest parks in London, Hyde Park is a particular favourite to stroll through. The Royal Park covers 350 acres and is home to a number of famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Aside from squirrel-spotting you can go cycling, open water swimming, boating and even play tennis.



18. Oxford Street

Oxford Street is known to be the UK's favourite High Street, with more than 300 retailers from designer outlets to department stores and is the most visited shopping street in Europe. You could find anything you are looking for here and with the beautiful architecture and great nearby restaurants, it's a must for any shopping lover. One of my favourite department stores is Selfridges.



19. South Bank

One of my favourite areas is South Bank along the river Thames. It's perfect for a stroll on a nice day and there are plenty of entertaining things to see and do along the way.
It's home to the London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe, the London Dungeon, and the National Theatre just to name a few. You just can't beat the views of seeing some of London's most iconic buildings across the river.




20. Baker Street

If you are a fellow Sherlock Holmes fan then don't bypass 221 B! On Baker Street is the Sherlock Holmes Museum where you can step back in time. Tickets for adults cost £15. It's also very close to Abbey Road and Madame Tussaud's if any of those interest you. (Next time I return I want to see Benedict Cumberbatch's wax figure!).



21. Borough Market

One of London's most well-known food and drink markets, Borough Market is fantastic for fresh produce and goods and a large variety of international food stalls.
Open from Wednesday to Saturday and located next to London Bridge, it's perfect for a lunch stop or quick shop if you're out and about in the area.



22. The Shard

The Shard is home to some of the best offices, restaurants and hotel rooms in London - along with breathtaking views. The 95-storey skyscraper is Western Europe's tallest building. For the best views over London head to The View, the highest viewing platform. Book in advance online to save 15%. Prices start from £15.95.



23. Greenwich 

One of the earliest established districts of London, Greenwich is a great place to spend the day. Many people enjoy seeing the famous Meridian timeline up close, from where you can enjoy magnificent views over London. There are beautiful parks, the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark ship, Greenwich markets and plenty of great eateries and shops.



24. Kings Cross

Again, if you are a Harry Potter fan then head to the Kings Cross station to line up for your picture taken at the Platform 9 3/4 spot! There is also a souvenir shop selling plenty of merchandise if you can't make it to the studio tour.



25. Harrods

Visiting one of the world's most famous department stores, Harrods is a must for any shopping lover. It's incredible just for browsing (and drooling over) the high-end goods or spending all of your money in the cafe or chocolate section.




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As mentioned, there are so many more wonderful things to do and top spots to visit, this is merely some of my favourites that I would recommend to someone going on a first or second trip to London.
Do you have a favourite place not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to read them.

Happy Travels,

P A R I S | Top Travel Tips!


They say you either instantly fall in love with Paris or stay completely indifferent to the city for good. Before my first trip several people warned me saying:
"Paris isn't all it's cracked up to be, it's just famous because of the Eiffel Tower."
"Paris is so dirty."
"The people are all rude and snobs."
Well, let me tell you - I am so glad I'm not one of those people that let others form an opinion for me before deciding for myself.
Because all of those preconceived ideas or stereotypes are just out of the mouths of those who may have had a single negative experience, but you simply cannot judge an entire city from that.

Honestly, I couldn't tolerate a thought about not loving Paris. Paris is so close to being my favourite city in the whole world - with London only just nudging into first place.
I first visited in November 2014 for a week and instantly fell in love with it.
I was lucky enough to visit again in July 2015 and I'm glad I got to experience two different seasons (as both Summer and late Autumn were lovely times to visit).

This is my second post on Paris which are guides, particularly for first-time visitors. For my top recommended things to do check out my first post: P A R I S | Top Things To Do!
Here are my top travel tips for those visiting the city of love.


Getting Around

Walking around the city is my favourite way of getting around (if it's not too far!). I can't get enough of the beautiful cobbled streets and awe-inspiring architecture.
Otherwise, the Metro is an easy, comprehensive and safe way to travel around Paris.
You can download a free Paris metro map app for your phone to make it easier to navigate.
A river cruise along the Seine on a nice day is the perfect way to see Paris. There are hop on hop off boats called Batobus with nine different stops near the main attractions and highlights of Paris, which you can get one or two day passes for.

Enjoying a Batobus ride

Museums, art & history

Paris is home to many of the finest art galleries in the world, a large number of monumental churches and around 130 museums. If you love your history then you are in for a treat!
Aside from the obvious must-sees Louvre and Notre-Dame (featured in my first Paris post), I can particularly recommend the national military museum - Musee de l'Armee, which holds an impressive collection of weapons and uniforms, plus the famous Napoleon's Tomb.
Musee d'Orsay is another grand museum devoted to all the arts between 1848-1914.
Sainte-Chapelle is an impressive royal Gothic-style chapel that has stunning architecture and amazing stained glass windows. There is a lot - so be sure to do your research and pick your favourites to see if you're only going for a short time.

The Dôme des Invalides, which contains Napoleon I's tomb

Shopping

Let's be real - who wouldn't want to come to Paris and do some shopping! Parisians are forever well-dressed and chic - they take real pride in their appearance. Being the fashion capital of the world, there is no shortage for your retail therapy needs.
Visit Galleries Lafayette for the ultimate department store shopping experience.
Tip: head to the rooftop for great views over Paris!
The Champs-Elysees is like the Times Square of Paris and is a shopping-lovers haven, studded with many high end and designer stores. For independent eclectic boutiques- the Marais is the place to go.

Les Arcades Des Champs-Elysees

Cheap & free things to do

If you are a student then do bring along your ID card. You can get discounts and freebies on everything from transportation to museum admissions.
Paris is filled with many beautiful parks. Luxembourg Gardens, in particular is absolutely stunning. Take a picnic on a nice day and enjoy the surroundings.


To discover Paris on a small budget Sandeman's Free Walking Tour is a great way to get acquainted with the city. The guides are full of interesting facts and stories and walk you through several neighbourhoods and to most of the famous sights. They ask for just a small tip at the end, whatever you can manage and what you think the tour guide deserves for their time.
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery is a popular free tourist spot. See the graves of Oscar Wilde, Chopin and Jim Morrison among many more.


French etiquette

French may have the reputation for being rude, but it's more accurate to say they are formal and minimise interaction with strangers. Don't expect them to strike up a random conversation with you.
Try to speak as much French as you can - even if that is only 'bonjour' (hello), 'merci' (thank you) and 'au revoir(good bye). In France, this is basic manners they teach to their children from a young age, and being foreign doesn't exempt you. Failing to do this may earn you a rude treatment in return. 'Parlez-vous Anglais' (do you speak English?) is an expression you should try to learn off by heart before asking a question.



Avoid the queues

Many places let you book tickets online in advance, such as the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower and many more. This is a smart option to choose a particular time slot, especially in the busy Summer months to cut down on waiting in line.
Otherwise, I would highly recommend heading to your attraction slightly before the opening time, because lines can potentially take hours up of your day, and time in precious!


Food & drink

Parisians take real pleasure in their food and drink along with good company.
During the day they love their coffee and you can find a cafe on practically every corner, as well as Patisseries (French bakeries) for fresh bread, filled sandwiches and baked goods.
Said Patisseries are an absolute must-visit - they are the best in the world! Everything in there is perfection - the baguettes, chocolate eclairs, croissants, layered custard slices... I could go on and on. Paris is also well known for their chocolat shops and of course their macarons.

Trying French treats on my first day in Paris!
The French are very social and spend hours enjoying their meals sitting outside in the quaint streets, drinking wine well into the hours of the evening with their friends (can I please be Parisian?). They tend to eat dinner at 8 pm or later. You may not find many restaurants open until this time, although the ones that are may offer an 'earlybird' special if you don't mind eating earlier.
French cuisine is flavoursome and hearty. If you're not sure what to order try some typical famous dishes like escargot (snails!) or duck l'orange (roast duck with orange sauce). Their soupe à l'oignon (French onion soup) is also obviously delicious!
I highly recommend ordering a fromage and bread platter at least once - their cheese and bread -  no words.
Their wine is also top-notch. Ask the waiter for recommendations if you're unsure of what to order on a menu - they'll usually set you right.
If you do have the time I would recommend doing a food and wine tour, it's great to learn more about their cuisine and they always give you their best quality goods to try.
A great option for lunch is to have a traditional crepe. You can choose your fillings, savoury or sweet and it's usually very large and filling for a reasonable price.

My favourite - ham, cheese and mushroom!

Be aware

Being a popular tourist destination do be aware of pickpockets, as they do prey on tourists in particular. Only carry one card with you and only as much money as you need for the day.
Take an official taxi from the airport and not random offers from people that don't belong to a company, they will charge you a lot more.
Ignore and avoid certain people at busy spots such as the big tourist attractions and train stations. There are many gypsies who are known to try and scam people.
Around these places there is also no shortage of people trying to sell you selfie sticks and cheap tacky Eiffel Tower souvenirs, so do ignore them and be firm if you have to, as some can be a bit confronting (unless of course you actually want to buy one).



Enjoy!

Paris is known to be the city of love and has that romantic reputation for a reason! The only way to truly discover it is by exploring for yourself.
It's an incredible city and one that I will forever hold dearly in my heart and I can't wait until I next return. If you are heading there yourself I hope you enjoy your time there as much as I always do.


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* This post contains some images that are not my own.

Three Greek Islands not to miss on your next trip to Greece



I spent an incredible week cruising through the Greek Islands back in August 2015 and it was the time of my life! I wish I could have spent longer in each place, but our particular trip just got a taster of six Aegean Islands nestled between Greece and Turkey.
It was great on the one hand to see so many different islands and to know exactly which ones I wish to return to next time for longer.
Here are my three favourite islands we went to, which you should definitely not miss out on your next trip to Greece!

Santorini

My ultimate favourite of the Greek Islands - Santorini is incredibly idyllic and absolutely beautiful. Set on a caldera, or old volcano, it was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, shaping its rugged landscape.
Atop the towering cliffs, the views are like a looking straight into a painting. The iconic blue-domed white-washed churches and cube-like houses of its two principal towns, Fira and Oia (pronounced Ee-ya) make this island one of the most breathtaking places you will ever visit.





There is plenty to do for an amazing getaway including exploring the many cobbled alleyways and browsing the quaint shops, renting four-wheelers and scooters, visiting wineries, going hiking/on scenic walks, enjoying the delicious food on offer, relaxing at the many gorgeous beaches and catching one of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever lay your eyes on.
Santorini is a must-visit place for anyone, whether you're with friends, family or especially if you're looking for that perfect romantic holiday destination.

Don't miss the Atlantis bookstore in Oia!



Rhodes

Beautiful Rhodes is the largest and most popular of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, known for its ancient ruins and remnants of its occupation by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades.
A place with long history and rich tradition, the Old Town is among the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, with strong walls, paved paths and an impressive castle.
With 300 days of sunshine per year, Rhodes is also famous for its incredible beach resorts, making it the perfect destination for both history lovers and sunshine-seekers.




Interesting places to visit include the Acropolis of Lindos, the Monastery of Filerimos, the Aquarium and the Valley of Butterflies. 
For the best beach resorts, Kallithea and Faliraki are the most popular places with many great facilities and restaurants. Due to the large size of Rhodes, you can find plenty of beaches for all preferences, even totally secluded places. 
Have some fun windsurfing and kite surfing and jump off the diving board in the open sea on Elli Beach. A drive around this Greek island will also bring you to many lovely spots and picturesque villages. 






Mykonos

Mykonos is a white-washed paradise, popularly known for its summer party atmosphere, the picturesque Cycladic architecture and the fabulous beaches. The row of 16th-century windmills are iconic landmarks perched on a hill above Mykonos town.
There are many exciting things to do for all ages, such as exploring the narrow streets of Chora, watching the beautiful sunset from Little Venice where you can dine on the freshest seafood practically on the water, enjoy swimming in the exotic beaches and stay in gorgeous luxurious hotels. 




Paradise, Super Paradise and Kalo Livadi are excellent places to swim and spend a day in the hot sun. In the evenings head to Mykonos Town and enjoy a night out. Massive dance clubs attract world-renowned DJs and typically stay open well past dawn. Thought to be the 'Ibiza of Greece', apparently you haven't really partied until you've partied in Mykonos.
There are plenty of quiet spots on the island as well, making this popular island perfect for families, couples and party-goers alike.






The Greek Islands are all incredible to visit and I long for the day when I return again.
Do you have three different favourite Greek Islands of your own? Let me know in the comments - I'd love to read them.

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Best of Rome: Three Day Itinerary


Aah, Rome. The Eternal City is one of my all-time favourite places to visit in Europe.
It is bursting with astounding history, incredible art, the world's best pasta and gelato to indulge in, Baroque churches, infamous landmarks and fabulous shopping.
After more than 2000 years in existence, there is enough to explore to keep you busy for years, but if you only have a few days to explore Rome- here is a three full-day itinerary which is perfect for a first-time visitor. 
Of course, do customise it how you like, these are simply top places to visit in central Rome with some insider tips to help make the most of your time there.


Day One

8.00 am Start your day the Italian way and have a standing espresso and a small pastry to fuel up for a big day ahead. (You are charged for 'table service' if you choose to sit down).

8:30 am Begin your epic Roman adventure with a visit to the must-see Colosseum.
(It opens at 8:30 am but do arrive earlier if you don't have a skip the line ticket or especially in the Summer months to beat the queues). Marvel at the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire with its bloody history beginning in 80 AD.


Top TipI highly suggest buying your tickets in advance. For 12  you can purchase a double ticket valid for two days that allows for one entrance to each one of the two sites Colosseum and Forum/Palatine hill. For more information on how to buy tickets visit: here.

11:00 am Once you've taken your time inside head back out to see the Arch of Constantine and walk around the entire Colosseum to get those winning shots.

Top Tip: Near the Colosseo metro station is a free water refill station which has a sparkling water option! Also, do try to make time to see the Colosseum again at night- it's all lit up and looks stunning.

12:00 pm Only a five-minute walk from the Colosseum is a great little Trattoria called Luzzi. It's a perfect place for both lunch and dinner (I've been for both multiple times).
I highly recommend the lasagne, Caprese salad, pizzas and the inexpensive chiantis of red wine.


Top Tip: If you decide to have dinner at Luzzi, do arrive early as it's so popular the lines are usually down the street and the lasagne tends to sell out fast.

1:00 pm Take your time to wander Via dei Fori Imperiali- the road leading from the Colosseum to Altare della Patria and admire Trajan's Column along the way.



Head to the top of Altare della Patria for amazing panoramic views over the city.
It's free at the first point (where the photo taken below was) or pay 7 € to take the elevator to the very top for even better views.


2:00 pm  Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling amongst the incredible ruins of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. See remnants from Imperial and Ancient Rome that dates all the way back to 500 BC.


4:00 pm By now I'm sure you are exhausted after a long day of walking and exploring! It could be a good time to head back to the area in which you are staying for a rest or to find a nice place for an aperitivo before a well-deserved pizza or pasta dinner.

Top Tip: When choosing a restaurant, I recommend taking advantage of local knowledge. Ask the reception or people from where you are staying for their favourite places for example. Try to avoid places that have pictures of food on their menus and are in major touristy areas. They will be overpriced and not as good quality as getting more off the beaten track.

Today's map with pinpoints from left to right: Altare della Patria, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Luzzi.

Day Two

8:00 am Spend the morning in the world's smallest country! Do a morning half day Vatican City tour either with a group such as Viator or if you would rather go through yourself I would still highly recommend buying in advance skip-the-line tickets. Lines can be up to two hours long so it is worth the money to save your time and sanity in my opinion! Check this link for more information: here. Enjoy St. Peter's Basilica and Michelangelo's incredible Sistine Chapel.

Top Tip: It is closed on Sundays and make sure your shoulders and knees are covered or you could be turned away.



12:00 pm Cross the scenic River Tiber over one of the many beautiful bridges and make your way towards Centro Storico.


Have a bite to eat and a rest from the busy morning before getting lost in the countless streets and alleyways where you’ll find churches with Baroque art, boutiques selling everything from carved wooden figurines to jewellery, private courtyards where the wealthiest Romans live and plenty of enticing cafés and restaurants.


3:00 pm If you're up to walking a bit further head to the Pantheon, a former Roman temple and admire the architectural marvel from outside and in.



3:30 pm Reward yourself for a day well-spent at one of the most famous gelaterias in Rome- Giolotti, only a four-minute walk from the Pantheon. It is always packed no matter what time of the day or year but it's worth the wait with over 100 delicious flavours to choose from.


Top Tip: Another excellent gelateria is called Fatamorgana, which you can find at different locations all over the city.

4:00 pm Knackered yet? Find a nice spot with happy hour specials or head back to your accommodation to rest before carb-loading on pasta before your final action-packed day!

Today's map with pinpoints from left to right: Vatican City, the start of Centro Storico, Pantheon, Giolotti.

Day Three

8:30 am Begin your day by tossing a coin in the Baroque masterpiece Trevi Fountain, bright and early to avoid the crowds. (If you get a chance to visit at night, it is beautifully lit up as well). Legend has it that anyone who throws a coin in the fountain will return to Rome.



Top Tip: Not far from the fountain is Enoteca where you can enjoy free limoncello tastings of all sorts of delightful flavours.

9:00 am If you fancy a spot of shopping most of the best stores are concentrated around Via del Corso near the Spanish Steps. Work your way up the street on your way there. If you're looking for (or just interested in browsing) high-end fashion, you'll want to hit up Via dei Condotti. Here you'll find high-end fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci, Prada and various others. For smaller brands, check out streets such as Via Frattina and Via del Babuino for the best boutiques.

11:00 am Head to the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) and climb the famous steps leading to the Trinita dei Monti church to admire the piazza and Bernini’s ship-shaped fountain from above. It's also a great place to kick back with a beer in the late afternoons and people-watch.



11:30 am Literally a two-minute walk away from the steps is where you can find the best tiramisu in Rome at Pompi. It is an absolute must-try and also a great place to have lunch if you can find a table available! Otherwise, you can always eat on the Spanish Steps. (There is also gelato and many other delightful cakes and treats to choose from).


1:00 pm After lunch and a twenty-minute stroll (to help burn it off) from the Spanish Steps is Galleria Borghese. Nowhere in Rome or maybe even the world will you find such a magnificent collection of Baroque art. Tickets must be reserved in advance for slotted times. Prices start from 15 € for a two-hour slot from 1-3 pm for example. Check here for more information.


Top Tip: It is closed on Mondays and there is free wifi available.

3:00 pm I daresay your legs must be tired by now. Time for a pick-me-up espresso or to head back to the hotel for a small rest and pack your things for your next destination. Why not book in advance one of Rome's best restaurants for your final night? You can check them out here. Enjoy your final evening, have a red wine, some more delightful Italian cuisine and a mandatory daily gelato.

Today's map from bottom to top: Trevi Fountain, Via del Corso, Spanish Steps, Pompi, Galleria Borghese.

It's going to be an action-packed three days, but undoubtedly very enjoyable.
If you can stay for longer I would really recommend it as there is so much more to do than just the highlights I have mentioned. Do leave me a comment if you have anything else you would add!

Happy Travels,
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Why You Should Study Abroad (& My Experience)


Studying overseas in a foreign country may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a university student. I studied abroad in Germany 2015 and it was the greatest year of my life. I changed and developed so much as a person, I got to travel all through Europe and met so many incredible people along the way.
If you are thinking about going on an exchange- go for it! Here are five reasons why you should along with snippets of my own experience.


1. Experience a new way of life

You will have the opportunity to properly experience a new way of life.
You're not only visiting that new country and place- you are actually studying and living there, so you get to have that real experience.
You will take in a brand new culture and fully immerse yourself in it. You'll discover incredible new foods, customs and traditions of the locals. There's no better way to develop and learn language skills and get a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history.

Enjoying the delights of Germany!

I studied abroad in Konstanz (at Universität Konstanz) which is in the south of Germany, right on the border of Switzerland. The history of the medieval city astounded me- the first traces of civilisation dates back to the Stone Age!
The city was the most beautiful place I've ever been to- and I'm from New Zealand! Konstanz was one of the few towns left untouched during WW2 due to their close proximity to Switzerland, so the gorgeous Old Town with its incredible buildings and architecture all remain.
Konstanz sits on the crystal blue Bodensee (Lake Constance) of which the Rhine branches off and is surrounded by snow-capped Alps- it is such a magical place and I loved every second of my time there. I really enjoyed using German in every day life (most shop keepers didn't speak English) and learning the differences between southern Germany to the rest of the country.

The beautiful Lake Constance at sunset
Gorgeous architecture


2. You get to travel!

It's the perfect opportunity to see the world. Take that leap and dive into it headfirst!
You get the chance to explore your new country and travel to neighbouring countries as well, especially if you're studying in Europe and Asia with plenty right on your doorstep.

At Konstanz University we got the option to arrive a month before the semester started where we could do an intensive German language course (to get up to scratch- it really helped!) and had the opportunity to take part in loads of trips and activities organised by the university's fantastic international team.
I signed up for every single one and we started by exploring our new city and were taken on a historical walking tour of Konstanz. Throughout the month we visited across the lake to neighbouring Meersburg where we toured their 5th Century castle, to Reichenau, through the Black Forest to Freiburg- all nearby places in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Seeing Neuschwantsein Castle was a dream come true!
Throughout the semester there were plenty of other organised excursions too, including hikes in Switzerland and Austria. My favourite was the trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. I also managed to get away to Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin on days off with friends or by myself.

Internationally, we could literally walk to Switzerland in less than 10 minutes, and France and Austria were only a couple of hours drive away. I absolutely loved having all these countries on my doorstep!
I went to Switzerland (a lot), France, Italy, London and then travelled all over Europe for two months after the semester ended before heading home.

Feuersee and Johannes Church in Stuttgart


3. Personal development

Being on your own in a foreign country is something everyone should experience.
You will be faced with all sorts of challenges- a new living situation, education system, possible language barriers. But you will learn and overcome all of these, and find new interests you may not have been exposed to before.
Being in a new place by yourself might be out of your comfort zone, but it tests your ability to adapt to change and challenging situations which is a great life skill to have.

A new challenge for me university-wise was group work. That was definitely something I wasn't used to and hadn't experienced since maybe Year 9 (age 13).
Group work was required for almost every single paper and credit, so you had to heavily rely on your team and in turn not let them down (which was a lot of pressure!). However, I grouped with some brilliant and hard working German students and we all worked together very well, so I was quite lucky that we all pulled together and got top marks.

The view of Konstanz University

Travelling solo was completely new to me and it really helped my personal development.
Being totally independent and taking charge made me much more confident.
You learn a lot about yourself- what you like, what you don't like, and you get to do exactly what you want without pleasing anybody else. It's a wonderful and freeing feeling which is fantastic to experience.

Lake Constance with the Imperia statue and Alps in the background


4. Make lifelong friends

One of the best opportunities you get from studying abroad is meeting new people from all over the world. I met the most wonderful and kind-hearted people from Estonia, Belgium, Chile, Norway, Turkey, The United States, Sweden, Ukraine- the list goes on and on.
Not to mention the wonderful Germans who I found very friendly and excited to meet us as well. You're thrown into this exciting time with a great bunch of people who are in the same situation as you. You get to travel with them in your time off and have the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships which is invaluable.

I am typically a pretty shy person and quite happy to keep to myself. But on my exchange I was determined to be more outgoing, make new friends and change my ways. I said yes to every invite and opportunity. I hung with my German classmates at BBQs, went on excursions and weekend trips, hung out and partied with my fellow internationals and made real friends whom I miss dearly! 

Regular hang-spot on the Rhine
Typical night out at the local club Berrys


5. Career opportunities

Studying abroad shows that you are driven, independent and open-minded.
When you finish your exchange program and return home, you'll return with a fresh new perspective on culture, language skills and education, all of which are very attractive to future employers.
Many students create ties with their host country and find they love it so much they decide to seek work there. A local experience and education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.

For me- it led to this very blog! I wrote a small blog for my friends and family while abroad about my adventures in Germany and Europe, and when I got home I missed writing (and travelling!) so much- that I decided to create a proper blog which ignited my dream of becoming a professional travel blogger. I've only been at it for less than a year now but I couldn't be happier pursuing my dream career and writing to inspire others to travel and live out their own dreams.

Gorgeous view from the Konstanz Münster

I look back on my student exchange so warmly and Konstanz will forever have a place in my heart. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to study there and I'm forever grateful to Victoria University of Wellington and the Baden-Württemberg scholarship for making it possible, and of course to Universität Konstanz for the fantastic semester and making us international students feel so welcome.

If you get the chance to go on a student exchange then I recommend it 100%! It will change your life, I guarantee it.

Have you studied abroad? If so where did you go and how did you find it?
If not- where would you like to go?

Happy travels,
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*This post contains some images that are not my own.

10 Stunning Places to visit in Europe


We may be half way through January already, but it's certainly still a new year with the exciting possibilities of adventures ahead!
I absolutely love Europe- with the vast magnitude of places so different from each other, all squeezed in to one epic continent.

I've chosen ten of some of the most stunning places to visit in Europe that I personally loved and would highly recommend to others to inspire your next itinerary.
I didn't want to go for my all-time favourite European cities- which include London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, rather other places that might not necessarily be people's number one place to visit the first time to that country or region.

There's a good mixture of places to match all types of holiday styles- whether you're looking for a tranquil escape, a sunny beach-side town, historical experiences or a big city blowout.
If you haven't yet been to these places- do add them to your bucket list as they are all incredibly stunning and will take your breath away for sure! In no particular order:

1. Santorini, Greece



My ultimate favourite of the Greek Islands- Santorini is incredibly idyllic and absolutely beautiful. The towering cliff-side views are like a painting, the small cobbled alleyways, the quaint shops- there is no other place quite like it!
With fabulous beaches on offer, fresh seafood, history, shopping and the most tranquil sunsets you will ever lay your eyes on- Santorini is a must-visit place for anyone, especially if you're looking for that perfect romantic holiday destination.

2. Bath, England




Bath is a beautiful Roman town in South-West England, most well-known for their famous Roman Baths. People flock from all around the world to experience the healing, relaxing and natural thermal waters discovered by the Celts and Romans over 2000 years ago.
That's not all the city has to offer though- take a walk around the gorgeous scenery of winding canal paths surrounded by rolling hills. 
Bath has a very rich and interesting history, see Jane Austin's house, gorgeous Georgian buildings and marvel at the stunning architectural design of the 7th Century Bath Abbey. A perfect place to visit as a day-trip from London or a short weekend getaway.

3. Florence, Italy




Aah, Florence- one my absolute favourite cities in Italy. You could easily spend a week here in the capital of the Tuscan region and never run out of exciting things to do. 
The city itself is simply stunning- home to world-class masterpieces, Renaissance art and architecture and galleries galore. See Michelangelo's David, the iconic Duomo and medieval streets, bridges and houses. Not to mention the culinary scene- which is sublime
Florence is perfect as a stop to or from Rome for those interested in beautiful cities, art, history and food.

4. Krakow, Poland


It's hard not to love Krakow, steeped in rich history, both glorious and infamous.
It's the place to stop for those wanting to visit Auschwitz, but that is just one of the many sights to see. The city is gorgeous, with quaint streets and historical buildings- walking around is an adventure on its own. It's home to the largest medieval square in the world, the cheapest beer in the world, delicious pierogies and vodka-a-plenty!
You can visit castles and museums, experience roaring nightlife, see the famous Salt Mines, and soak up history and adventure all in the same place.
If you're planning a trip through Eastern Europe- Krakow is not to be missed. Perfect for those seeking budget-friendly travel and history lovers.

5. San Sebastian, Spain


San Sebastian (also known as Donostia) is a beautiful coastal city in Spain's Basque Country. Known for its golden beaches framed by the picturesque bayfront promenade and upscale shopping- it's a wonderful place to unwind for a few days and enjoy some Spanish delights.
There's a multitude of vibrant pintxo bars pairing local wines (or sangria!) with bite-sized regional specialities as well as plenty of world-renowned restaurants to indulge in.
Aside from relaxing on the beach and eating, wander through the cobbled Old Town streets, along the La Concha Beach promenade and climb to the top of Monte Urgull for stunning sea views. The nightlife is energetic and contagious for those wanting a bit of fun as well! Perfect for those wanting a relaxing or romantic beach-getaway somewhere different.

6. Dublin, Ireland




If you need some cheering up- head to Dublin! The people are just so friendly and the city is oh so charming. The Guinness Storehouse is a must-see even if you don't like the drink (but trust me- it tastes like liquid gold in Dublin- there really is something in the water!).
There are beautiful parks and historical buildings, cathedrals and the Dublin castle dating back the the 13th Century, flower-lined streets and welcoming pubs offering hearty meals, local Irish music and generous pints.
Visiting the capital of Ireland is a must and you could easily spend several days here enjoying the atmosphere. Perfect for a fun trip with friends, a city escape and those seeking a great time.

7. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany




One of the most famous castles in the world- Neuschwanstein in Germany is the castle that Walt Disney based his drawings on. Open in 1886 to the public, it is a Romanesque Revival palace atop a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau in South-West Bavaria.
Walking through the castle is like one of those 'pinch-me' moments to make sure you're not dreaming in your own fairytale!
The interior is astoundingly luxurious and the mountainous backdrop of the castle is so picturesque- it's one of the most stunning sights to lay your eyes on.
Perfect as a daytrip from Munich, for those seeking a bit of historical magic and amazing scenery.

8. Saint Jean de Luz, France


Another gorgeous seaside town- Saint Jean de Luz is no exception. Located in the South-West of France near the border of Spain, it is famous for its crescent-shaped bay and the Church of Saint John the Baptist.
What was once the most important fishing port in France and the centre for Basque corsairs in the 17th Century, is now a relaxed beach resort town. It is busy- but not overcrowded, beautiful- but not overly luxurious. The atmosphere is easy-going and the fine sandy beach along with the colourful timbered Basque houses in the Old Town make for a charming and relaxing getaway.
Rue Gambetta offers many stores and cute boutiques selling chocolate and French pastries, local produce, clothes and shoes and the fresh seafood is abundant in the many restaurants.
Perfect for a relaxing family or romantic beach getaway.

9. Edinburgh, Scotland


Edinburgh is one of those exciting capital cities with an enigmatic vibe to it. The compact and hilly city has a medieval Old Town and an elegant Georgian New Town with gardens and neoclassical buildings. Looming over the city is Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny. 
Edinburgh is a joy to explore (even in the rain!) and home to many fascinating historical stories and legends. There are plenty of things to do so come for at least a few days and enjoy the friendliness of the locals, the delightful hearty dishes and the culture and history of Scotland's capital. Perfect for a trip with friends or family for a city escape full of character.

10. Prague, Czech Republic

Last but not least is Prague- another Eastern European gem. The capital city of the Czech Republic is nicknamed 'the City of a Hundred Spires', and is known for its Old Town Square- the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock- which gives an animated hourly show. 
The famous pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints and leads to the magnificent Prague Castle that dates back to 870 AD.
The city is bursting with astounding history and with the fantastic prices, delicious cuisine and beautiful sights- you could easily spend a week here soaking it all in.
Perfect for those travelling on a budget, history lovers and wanting city-exploring escapes.


That brings us to ten stunning places to visit in Europe!
Which place would you most like to go to?

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Favourite beer-drinking spots in Europe!


Hi, my name is Krysti.
And I love beer.
And travelling.
I love trying new beers while travelling.

I am currently sitting here reminiscing that this time last year I was at Munich Oktoberfest- so I thought combining a post about my two favourite things (travelling and beer!) was inevitable!
Europe was an absolute pleasure to travel around anyway, let alone whilst offering the tantalising delights of their top-knotch, world-class beer.
Beer that comes in one litre barrels and has delicious foam on top. 
Beer that is cheaper than water and where you can enjoy on the streets, in parks- out in public! (It is illegal in New Zealand and Australia)... yes, it is fair to say: 
I was in heaven.
Let me share with you some of my favourite beer-drinking spots I have enjoyed around Europe (so far), along with the particular beers that impressed my socks off. 
I'm getting thirsty already.


Germany 

I'll begin with my all-time favourite place! Visiting Berlin for the first time in 2014 may or may not have been the reason I chose to move to Germany in 2015 for my student exchange! (I'm just kidding)...
I can't just choose one particular city in Germany- as I have travelled all over the country and the beer is obviously fantastic everywhere (as it is undoubtedly for the other cities I've chosen, but in those cases they were the specific cities I happened to visit).
Germany, home of the popular Biergartens (beer gardens) rank third in terms of per-capita beer consumption, behind Czech Republic and Austria.

Why is German beer so good? Perhaps it's the 800 years of brewing history combined with their Reinheitsgebot (purity decree), sometimes called the "German Beer Purity Law" or "Bavarian Purity Law" in English.
This is a regulation for beer-making in Germany which allow only a few certain top quality ingredients to be used, ensuring only high quality beer is produced.
Germans are known for their beer culture and they sure know how to brew good, pure beer.
My absolute favourite which I dub 'liquid gold' is the Hefeweizen or practically any Weizenbier (wheat beer).
It is a meal in itself though so quite hard to drink after a couple!
Their pale and dark beers are also excellent including Helles, Kölsch, Bock, Dunkel, Pilsener and Märzen- the latter being the traditional beer served at Munich Oktoberfest
If you love your beer and haven't been to Germany- book a flight today!
You sure are missing out. It has been a whole year since I have last had a beer on German soil and it breaks my heart every time I think about it (including right now).
It really is that good and I miss it so very much!

Enjoying one of many litres of Märzen at Munich Oktoberfest last year
My favourite "liquid gold" Weizenbier
Enjoying the delights of Früghlingsfest in Munich
Pouring my own Pilsener at a cool pub in Berlin where each table has their own taps!

Prague 

Czech beer is world famous for its Pilsner and the Czechs are the most avid beer drinkers in the world- downing 165 litres per person every year!
Before visiting Prague I had lived in Germany for six months and heard rumours that Czech beer was 'the best in the world.'
I thought this simply can't be true (as I believed German beer was the best) so I just had to see for myself.
I did a beer tasting tour that I really enjoyed and I tried a variety of different types throughout my stay. After four nights of sampling many beers I concluded that- yes it is excellent- but not the best in the world! I could not go past a good Hefeweizen.
The biggest players in the local beer industry are Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus and Bernard. They are smooth and delicious tasting beers and also one of the cheapest in Europe, going for around a glass. Perhaps this is why Czechs drink so much of it!

Beer tasting tour in Prague
A delicious golden foamy Pivo

Dublin

Ireland's capital is most famous for Guinness, a dry delectable stout with a dark rich flavour. Since it first started making beer over 250 years ago, the Guinness brewery has become the largest in the world and Ireland's biggest export product.
Visiting the Guinness storehouse is a must for any beer lover passing through Dublin!
I absolutely love the rich flavour of Guinness, and I'm not kidding- it is actually TEN times better in Dublin than anywhere else!
They say there is something in the water and it is true. Even my non-beer-drinking friends tried it and found it delicious! So if you're not a fan, don't write it off until you've tried it in its homeland.

My friends and I before heading into the brewery
Delicious in a cup

Krakow 

Apparently only 10 years ago almost all of Krakow's pubs served one of four beers, and they were all indistinguishable and not very good at all.
Today, a craft beer revolution is in full swing in Poland and Krakow is the best place to experience its fruits.
Beer has once again become the most popular beverage of choice (overtaking vodka) and the present-day Polish beers mostly resemble German lager.
Some of the best beer includes Zywiec, Okocim and Tyskie. I found them to be very delicious, and quite light and refreshing after spending the day walking around in the sweltering 45 degree sunshine (I was there during a heatwave!).
Perhaps the best thing about it- Krakow is the cheapest place in the world for a beer, going for around  a glass in a pub or bar, or you can pick up single bottles from a local store for around .50 €.

Sitting outside a pub in the Old Jewish Quarter
Quenching my thirst with a Piwo

Italy

This might be a surprising top beer-drinking place- but I really enjoyed the local beers in Italy. Italy is known to be part of the wine-belt of Europe, however their beer- particularly mass produced pale lagers are very common in the country and especially enjoyed as the ideal accompaniment to pizza.
Beer is always best on tap- but they are so crisp and refreshing even in a bottle or can, bought from a local shop or vendor.
Top Italian beer includes Gran Riserva, Birra Moretti and Peroni Nastro Azzurro.
I loved the experience of being able to enjoy a beer in the sun at the sights- sitting on the lawns in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, on a gondola in Venice, on the Spanish steps in Rome and at the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking the view of Florence.
It made it all that little more special.

A Peroni in Rome
A cheeky birra because, when in Venice
Cheers to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

There we have my top favourite beer-drinking spots in Europe so far!
Of course I know of Bruges and Leuven in Belgium and Amsterdam which are two more of the top European contenders, so they are definitely on my list of places to go next time I 'pop' over to Europe!
Let me know in the comments what your favourite places and types of beer are- I'd love to read them. Time for a well-deserved beer now I'd say!

Thanks for reading,

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Barcelona on a Budget | Travel Guide


Barcelona is a beautiful laidback city sitting on the Mediterranean Coast.
Much of the cities architecture is famously designed by Antoni Gaudi and it is incredible to see in real life.
I was lucky enough to spend a week in Barcelona last Summer, I had been on a France and Spain Contiki tour that spent 3 nights there and that's where it ended.
I stayed on for a further 4 nights by myself and I had a brilliant time. I was into my final month of travelling around Europe so I was on a pretty tight budget, as I still had Greece, Italy and Germany yet to come on my big trip. You can read all about my solo travel trip here: Solo travel | My Experience & Thoughts.
This fabulous and fun Spanish city was a joy to explore and very easy to do so even on a budget. Here is my ultimate travel guide with top money-saving tips to help you get the most out of Barcelona.


TRANSPORT

From the airport:

From the airport there is a handy shuttle bus called Aerobus that picks up from both Terminal 1 and 2 and drives directly to the city centre, which takes around 35 minutes.
It runs every day of the year and departs every 5 minutes. It costs 5.90 .
This is the easiest and cheapest way to get both to and from the airport, as taxis would cost at least 30 €. It stops and picks up from three of the most strategic points in Barcelona. Here is their website for more details: www.aerobusbcn.com/en.

Around the city:

Barcelona can easily be explored on foot, but for those attractions a bit further away there is an underground metro which is easy to navigate.
A single ticket costs  so if you plan on venturing about for the whole day it might be better value to purchase a day ticket which gives you unlimited rides for 6.95 .
If you are in Barcelona for a while, the best deal would be to get a 10 ticket book which you can use over any number of days, which costs 9.25 .


FREE THINGS TO SEE & DO

Park Guell

The famous Park Guell is one of the most impressive public parks in the world.
Designed by Gaudi himself, it is full of beautiful gardens and showcases many of his major works in Barcelona. The architecture is amazing and there are nice walks you can take around the area.
However you do have to pay to enter the Monumental Zone. I didn't do this due to the three hour waiting time, and also I was rather impressed with everything I saw without having to pay! I spent a good hour and a half there walking around and enjoying the park which is very large.
If you do want to buy a ticket it costs 7  and I would recommend purchasing it in advance online to avoid the major lines and waiting time!





La Rambla

La Rambla is a famous street in Barcelona and one of the major city centre points.
Popular with tourists and locals alike, it is a great street to stroll along and browse the many stalls, pop-up markets and street performers. The tree-lined street stretches for 1.2 kilometres and on either side it is lined with many shops, bars and cafes.



Admire the architecture

There is an impressive amount of architecture in Barcelona practically everywhere you turn your head! Some notable buildings and places to check out include:

Barcelona Cathedral- located in the Gothic Quarter is the stunning Gothic Revival Roman Catholic church built from the 13th-15th centuries.



Casa Vicens was Gaudis first important building. Built between 1883 and 1888, this was an imaginative residential project made for a wealthy family that owned a ceramic factory.



Le Pedrera (or Casa Mila), is another modernist residential building designed by Gaudi. You can pay 20  to go inside, but if you're on a budget like me- you can just admire the architecture from the outside!



Casa Batllo is the result of an old conventional house built in 1877, restored by Gaudi in 1904. It was highly criticised by the public at first, but soon went on to win being one of the three best buildings of the year.



Torre Agbar is a 38 story bullet-shaped skyscraper and a new attraction in Barcelona. The tower represents a water fountain that constantly changes its appearance.
Depending on the light- the tower changes colours and is lit up brilliantly at night as well.



There are so many more dotted all around the city. I'm not sure of the name of the building below but it was across the road from a big mall quite close to La Rambla.


In the distance

The beach

The coastline stretches for 4.5 kilometres and offers a wide variety of excellent beaches.
Barceloneta is the closest beach to the city and you can walk there from the city centre in 20 minutes, or it is one stop away on the metro.
The beaches are a popular hot-spot in the warmer months and are well maintained and kitted out with sun beds and lifeguards. There are plenty of restaurants nearby and places that offer refreshments.

Walking the boardwalk on the way to the beach



La Monumental

One of Barcelona's newest attractions, this used to be the Old City Bull Ring. As of 2012 bull fighting was banned in Barcelona and the old stadium has since turned into a trendy shopping and lifestyle complex.
On the top floor you can find restaurants and an observation point with excellent 180 degree city views.




Montjuic Magic Fountain

Just up the road from La Monumental is the Montjuic Magic Fountain. This is a free show at night which is a spectacular display of colour, light, motion, music and water acrobatics.
Times and days of the shows are dependent on the season. Check the website to find out when it is on: Magic Fountain website.
This is a must-see when you come to Barcelona and highly recommended. Try to get there earlier to get a good viewpoint- but don't stand too close or you'll definitely get wet!




Montjuic viewpoint

Close to the fountain is the hill Montjuic, which offers fantastic views over the city.
The hill features a large number of other attractions too including The Spanish Village, MNAC- one of the cities most important museums, the National Palace, gardens, a fortress and much more.
It's a bit of a hike to get to the top but the lookout points over Barcelona is worth it! Otherwise, you can pay to take a cable car to the top.



Free Walking Tour

A few companies offer free walking tours around Barcelona, but one that I myself went on- Sandemans is one I can fully recommend! The tour was fantastic- you get taken to many of the main attractions and highlights, and the guides are full of interesting facts, information and stories.
It's a fantastic way to start off in a new city as you get your bearings and learn where all the main landmarks are by walking. They offer help at the end of the tour if you have any questions at all, and do just ask to give a small donation for what you think the tour was worth- as it is their main job.
They also offer many other well-priced tours such as bike tours, Gaudi architecture tours, a tapas experience and so on. Here is the link to their website for more information.


ATTRACTIONS WORTH THE MONEY

La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona's most famous attraction! This is my number one most recommended thing to do here- it is an absolute spectacle and worth every penny to admire from the inside as well as out.
I have been to many cathedrals in my time- but this is without a doubt the most amazing one I have ever been to.
Although incomplete, the building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can learn all about the history, construction and Gaudi's visions inside.
A basic entry ticket costs 15  and it is highly recommended to book a time-slot online in advance.





Camp Nou

If you're a football fan then you would probably love to do a tour of Camp Nou- home to the world-famous FC Barcelona. 
The stadium is the largest in Europe and is one of the cities most popular tours.
Each year thousands of football fans from all around the world come to visit the grounds and football museum. Tours start from 24 €.



Hop on Hop off tour

Like many major cities Barcelona offers this bus tour which is a great way to see a lot more of the city than just by foot or underground metro.
It stops at all the major attractions and you can get on and off as you please. It also includes free wifi and an audio guide so you can learn all about the city while you ride.
You can purchase a 24 or 48 hour ticket and you can get discounts if you're a student.


 ACCOMMODATION

For budget friendly accommodation, hostels are a great option. For my first three nights in Barcelona I stayed at the Generator Hostel.
I highly recommend it- I'm pretty sure this is the best hostel I've ever stayed at.
The decor was modern and cool, it was in a great location, was clean and had great facilities.
Prices for a mixed dorm start at around 20  a night.
For my other 4 nights I booked a private room for myself at Residencia Universitaria.
I found the place on Trip Advisor and basically it's university residences that are available to book out over the Summer and other holidays. I chose here because it was well-priced and I got my own self-catered room. It was also just one street over from La Rambla, so it was very central and in perfect walking distance to everywhere.
The room was 32 € a night but worth it in my opinion to have my own room for a little bit since I had been sharing for the last two weeks and was about to again for another three!
AirBnB is always a great budget-friendly option as well to filter through places to stay in your price range and location wise.

Hostel fun at the Generator bar

FOOD & DRINK

Make use of the discount supermarket chains to save on eating out for every meal.
Carrefour Market Ramblas is a large supermarket I made frequent use of on La Rambla with everything you could need: groceries, products, fresh food, fruit, baked goods and there's even a stall making fresh paella at the entrance (which was delicious!).
I was all over the fruit and salads here as I had been eating out a lot prior.
A popular market I enjoyed going to on La Rambla was La Boqueria. If you've ever been to London's Borough Market- it's very similar to that! It offers different sections such as fresh seafood, meat, fruit, pastries, sweets, you name it.
It's also a hot-spot to come for lunch as there is plenty of delicious food made on site as well.

La Boqueria Market
Some must-try local food to have in Barcelona includes the famous paella- a delicious Spanish rice dish usually made with fresh seafood.


Tapas bars are all throughout Barcelona and a popular place to fill up on many tiny bites with a glass of wine.
Being on the coast, seafood in restaurants is abundant and good quality.
Churros can be found at street stalls and many restaurants and is a delicious dessert.
Of course trying sangria is mandatory and you can find this refreshing drink everywhere!
The local beer and wine here is also very good.


FINAL TIPS

Siesta Hours

Barcelona, like most places in Spain has very different business hours compared to the rest of the world. Many stores open from 10 am and close at 2 pm for a 'siesta' break.
Stores then re-open at 4:30 pm until 8:30 pm, with larger chain stores in the city often staying open until 10 pm.

Meal Times

You don't have to abide by the Spanish meal times, but if you would like to- it usually goes like this:
08:00+ Breakfast
11:00+ Morning snack
13:30+ Aperitivo
14:00+ Lunch
17:30+ Afternoon snack
20:30+ Drinks & Tapas
21:00+ Dinner
23:00+ Copas

Be Aware of pickpockets

Apparently Barcelona is the worst city in Europe for pick-pocketing so do be aware!
I never felt worried or unsafe but I did make sure to keep my bag secure at all times.
Try to choose a bag with hidden zippers or if you have a backpack, a small padlock might be a good idea. I had a bag that I strapped across my chest and I always kept one hand on the top when I could to stop any 'flap-lifting.'

Enjoy!

Barcelona is perfect for a coastal getaway and a good dose of Spanish! The locals are extremely friendly and English is widely spoken.
The shopping is fantastic, the nightlife is renowned- if that's your thing. The streets are beautiful and clean, the bathrooms are free, the food is delicious, the attractions and amazing architecture makes Barcelona so unique- all of this makes the city a wonderful place to visit and I'll definitely be back and look forward to it.



I hope this guide has been helpful! I have plenty more budget travel guides in-stall so stay tuned for those! As always feel free to comment your thoughts or if you have any questions or tips of your own you may have.

Thanks for reading ,

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Berlin on a Budget | Travel Guide


I absolutely love Berlin. The city has an infectious energetic vibe to it, full of rich history and a dark past from which the city has completely turned itself around and become, well, cool.
It's an eclectic melting pot of culture and creative talent.
The capital of Germany is a great city to explore and is very easy to do so on a budget.
Here is my travel guide with top money-saving tips to help you get the most out of Berlin without burning a hole in your pocket!


BERLIN WELCOME CARD

The Berlin Welcome Card is a great way to save money. Starting from 19.50 Euros for 48 hours, it comes with many great discounts on museums, tours, shopping and restaurants, it covers transport, includes heaps of maps, booklets and information about attractions and things to do in Berlin. For more information here is the website link.



TRANSPORT

Berlin has very good public transportation that is easy to navigate. 

From the airport:

From Schönefeld Airport follow the signs to the train station which you can catch directly to the city centre. You will need to get a full 3-zone (A, B and C) ticket which only costs 3 Euros (so make sure you already have some Euros on you).
You can purchase the ticket from an automated machine and then validate it at the small poles set up on the platform before you get onboard. 

Berlin runs on an honesty system on all of their public transport- but do make sure to always buy a ticket. It's not worth it to be caught without one- you will get a hefty fine, and they do check on occasion.

From Tegel Airport it is located closer to the centre and you can catch a TXL Express Bus or the Express Bus X9. These stop right outside of the airport terminal and cost 2.70  per ticket.

Using the train and bus system is fuss-free, easy and much cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport, which will cost around 50 Euros!

Around the city:

To get around the city you can buy day passes that covers the S-Bahn (overground subway), the U-Bahn (underground subway), the trams and buses
Berlin is a huge city (six times the size of Paris!) and so has three different tariff zones. 

Single and day tickets cover the first two A and B but if you are venturing out further than the central areas you will need to pay extra to go to C.
An unlimited day ticket for one person (Tageskarte) covering zones A and B costs 7 Euros.
A single ticket costs 2.70 € and is valid for 2 hours.

Hauptbahnhof - Central/Main Train Station

FREE MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Just a quick note first that in the central district of Mitte is Museuminsel or 'Museum Island'. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the five museums here are well worth a visit if you have that in your budget.
If you have the Berlin Welcome card you can save 50% off the entry, otherwise it costs 18 Euros for a full day pass (9 for concession). It's not the cheapest but if you're interested in museums and history it will be well worth your money.
Otherwise- on to the free offers!

Some Berlin museums have free entry on certain days and times. Here is a link for more information: Free Museum Entry Info. Some permanent free entry museums include:

Holocaust Memorial

The haunting Holocaust Memorial commemorates the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The memorial consists of a giant field of 2711 sarcophagus-like concrete slabs varying in height on undulating ground. Underneath it is a small museum you can visit that provides information, photos and tributes to the lives lost.


Topography of Terror

Right where the most feared government institutions of Nazi Germany 
once stood, including the Gestapo headquarters- the Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terror) exhibit documents the chronology of Third Reich terror, while introducing all the main perpetrators. 
From Spring to Autumn read the free articles along the wall to zero in on how daily life changed for Berliners after the Nazi takeover.
For an even more in-depth experience you can take the self-guided tour around the chilling grounds, and there is also an exhibition inside filled with photos and information.




Berlin Wall Memorial

Germany’s central memorial to the victims of the Berlin Wall- the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial) stretches for 1.4 kilometres along Bernauer Strasse, along the actual course of the Wall. 
This is the best place to learn how all the elements of the hated barrier and the death strip fit together, how the border fortifications were enlarged and perfected over time, and what impact they had on the daily lives of people on both sides.





OTHER FREE ATTRACTIONS

Brandenburg Gate

Berlin’s most iconic landmark- Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) was built in 1791 as the royal city gate, but spent the Cold War years as a part of the Berlin Wall- and so became a symbol of the divided nation.
Crowned by an elaborate sculpture of the winged goddess of victory piloting a chariot, it now serves as an important symbol of German reunification.



Reichstag & Dome visit

The Reichstag is home to Germany’s parliament- the Bundestag. Book in advance and you can catch a free lift ride to its roof terrace which offers spectacular views over the city and close-ups of the modern glass dome atop of the historic building. 
Pick up a free audio guide and learn about the surrounding sights, the building and the workings of the parliament while peering up the dome’s spiralling ramp. The glass aims to create a sense of political transparency. 
You can even book for a guided tour through the parliament building - be sure to book well in advance for both by visiting their website. 


Reichstag building
A post shared by Krysti Jaims (@krystijaims) on

The view from the top!

Admire the architecture


The biggest landmark in Berlin is the Fernsehturm or the 'TV Tower' in Alexanderplatz.
It is the tallest structure in Germany and you can pay an entry fee to visit the top if you like, otherwise just marvel at it from below or from many points around the city- it is highly visible and a great landmark if you happen to lose what direction you are in!


Although you have to pay entry to go inside the museums on Museum Island- you can still stroll the island to take in the magnificent architecture of the buildings!




The Berliner Dom (cathedral) is jokingly known to the locals as the 'Eyesore of Berlin', nevertheless us tourists still think it's pretty grand! Also located on Museum Island, you can browse around inside for free and even visit the crypt below it.

Berliner Dom

The French Cathedral, Berlin Opera House, Victory Column and Charlottenburg Palace are a few of many examples of the great marvels of architecture worth seeing around Berlin.

Neue Kirche (left) and Konzerthaus (right)
Charlottenburg Palace
Berlin Victory Column

East Side Gallery

A colourful memorial to freedom- the East Side Gallery sits along the River Spree and is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. 
Not long after its fall in November 1989, more than 100 artists from all over the world turned it into an open-air gallery covered in declarations of peace and other often politically minded murals.
Walk along the 1.3-kilometre stretch and enjoy the 'artworks' that symbolise hope and friendship.





Free walking tour

A few companies offer free walking tours around Berlin, but one that I myself went on- Sandemans is one I can fully recommend. The tour was fantastic - you get taken to many of the main attractions and highlights, and the guides are full of interesting facts, information and stories.
It's a fantastic way to start off in a new city as you get your bearings and learn where all the main landmarks are by walking. They offer help at the end of the tour if you have any questions at all, and do just ask to give a small donation for what you think the tour was worth- as it is their main job.
They also offer many other well-priced tours such as specific history tours, beer tours, pub crawls and more.


Checkpoint Charlie

Although Checkpoint Charlie has mostly degenerated into a tourist trap, it’s still a place to visit if you want to check that off your list.
Once the principal gateway for foreigners and diplomats between the two Berlins, it was here where the world stood on the brink of WWIII when US and Soviet tanks faced off in 1961. A small, free outdoor exhibition chronicles the milestones in Cold War history.
You can even pay a small fee to have your photo taken with the guards that stand there if that tickles your fancy.


Fassbender & Rausch

A little tip for chocolate lovers: you simply must go into Fassbender & Rausch- the largest chocolate shop in the world! In between Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate it is one of those shops you dream about.
Just going in for a browse is a wondrous experience, there are giant chocolate sculptures galore inside- some even hanging from the ceiling! There are chocolate fountains and all of the different types of chocolates you could possibly imagine.
There is even a chocolate cafe upstairs which is heavenly. Fair warning: you may go in and end up spending all of your money like me...



Picnic in a park

In Summer Berliners flock to their favourite parks to tan, picnic and 'Grill' and knock back a few beers. The Tiergarten is a large central city park filled with plenty of open green spaces, paths, ponds and romantic corners.
For something unconventional head to Tempelhofer Park- a former airport turned public park. Grab a disposable BBQ at the supermarket and grill your bratwursts next to the former runway. 

Mauerpark in Prenzlauerberg is my favourite. Forged from the ‘death strip’ once dividing the two Berlins- it is a great hangout spot, especially on Sundays when there is a large flea market on.
It also offers plenty of great food choices and entertainment, and many people flock here to chill with friends, people-watch and enjoy their Sunday.


Mauerpark

ACCOMMODATION

For budget-friendly accommodation, hostels are a great option. Prices can range but you can get a clean bed for as little as 10 Euros a night, for example at Corner Hostel
Search for hostels that are centrally located and with a fully equipped kitchen which can be a big money saver for yourself. 
You can get a pretty decent hostel for 25 Euros a night for example at One80 Hostel. This has a great location with many facilities and social events on every night of the week.
Other popular hostels include Circus Hostel and East Seven Berlin.
I prefer using AirBnB myself, as I prefer sleeping in my own room! This is another great option for affordable accommodation and you can filter through criteria such as where you want to stay, what your budget is and what your preferences are.


FOOD & DRINK

Make use of the discount Supermarket chains Penny, Lidl, Aldi and Netto for groceries and products. Packing your own lunch and cooking occasional meals at your apartment or hostel is a great way to save money.

You can pick up some fruit, bread, cheese and salami for example for a picnic lunch and make your own sandwiches all for around 3 Euros.
Not to mention take advantage of the very cheap beer- you can pick up single 500 ml bottles for 0.70 
 each!

Don't miss out on trying the local German food though- it would truly be a crime!
Döner kebabs are very popular in Berlin and you can find them everywhere- it's a very filling meal option which you can pick up for only 4 Euros. 
The currywurst is famous in Berlin for a reason! It's a great idea for a cheap snack or get it with pommes frites (french fries) for a more filling meal.

Currywurst

Local bakeries are very inexpensive (and delicious!) and offer a wide range of freshly baked bread, pretzels, sandwiches, pastries and sweets for good prices (pick up a buttered or cheese pretzel for only 1).
Berlin has many Biergartens (beer gardens) to enjoy a drink at and most offer traditional big German meals for a reasonable price (I would recommend trying the schnitzel which usually comes with fries and an egg and trying the Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) which usually comes with potato dumplings and sauerkraut- de-lish!).
You can also find many Beer Halls which have very cheap beer and you can even take in your own food and snacks with you to save money. You sit at picnic tables inside and they have a really fun and social atmosphere about them.


I hope you found this Berlin on a budget travel guide helpful! If you are interested in more cost of travel and budget guides to cities in Europe then stay tuned for plenty more coming in the near future.
Feel free to comment if you have any questions or more tips of your own, I'd love to read them.
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