It’s been a minute and now four weeks since I’ve flown back from a short break in Lisbon – not particularly happy about it! To be honest, Lisbon was never really on my bucket list, but it is now up there on the list of my top European cities. I hope you’re ready, this blog post will be a bumper guide for a short break in Lisbon!Read More »
I’ve always dreamed of visiting Croatia. Along with most of the countries I visited, it didn’t disappoint. It definitely had that ‘holiday’ feel, y’know when you can really feel the heat and everything is very slow-paced.
First stop in Croatia was Zagreb, the capital city. It was about a half an hour walk to our accommodation from the train station and it was perfect for what we needed – a balcony to sit out on, a traditional bakery across the road and only a 15 minute walk to the centre of Zagreb.
Taking an evening walk around Zagreb is a beautiful way to see the city, we found an incredible pizza restaurant for dinner and in the centre, there was a music festival.
Museums – similar to our experience in Vienna, there are plenty of museums to choose from. The Museum of Broken Relationships tends to be a favourite within tourist information as it is a really interesting and ‘different’ museum, it displays artefacts, memories and stories from “broken relationships”, showing the many different layers of relationships. The Museum of Illusions is also worth a visit, there are so many different illusions to figure out – probably more aimed at children but nonetheless they can require quite a bit of thought!
Botanical Gardens – Zagreb is home to the oldest botanical gardens in Croatia, as it was founded in 1889, making it well worth a visit. It is definitely one of the best botanical gardens that I have visited and as it homes more than 5000 plant species, there is more than enough to explore. The greenhouses are really impressive, one was dedicated to lily-pads which is amazing!
Next stop in Croatia was Split, where we were based for 4 nights. It was planned as a relaxing end to our trip, easy to access the beach and the bars. But it was too hard to resist exploring so took day trips to Trogir and Braç.
Food & Drink
Firule beach is slightly smaller, but the harbour is beautiful. Another good spot for beach bars and Mediterranean food. The best restaurant we visited in this area was called Kalafatić, the pizzas are DIVINE and as it is located so close to the harbour, its the best place to watch the sunset.
Split Old Town – The city of Split is rich in history with Saint Domnius Cathedral and Diocletian’s Palace, which is perfect to explore when the weather is cooler in the mornings and evenings. It is pretty touristy (as expected I guess, it is beautiful) so going at ‘quieter’ times is probably the best way to explore.
A half an hour bus ride from Split makes Trogir a simple day trip. Similarly, there is plenty of history to explore here as Trogir is a UNESCO site. You do have to pay to explore the historical monuments such as Kamerlengo Fortress in detail, but taking your own walking tour still means that you can see the monuments and experience through history information boards how the two sides of town walls interconnected. We did manage to sought out one of the beaches along Trogir’s coastlines, but thunderstorms hit.
Split is well connected to Croatian islands as there are plenty of islands which leave from the port in Split throughout the day. Visiting the island of Brač worked well for price and ferry time wise. The ferry goes directly from Split port to the city of Supetar, taking about 45 minutes and as we caught an early morning ferry, this maximised our time to explore. There is an ‘informal’ walking tour around the city, with history boards directing you from one place to the next, along the historical cobbled streets to monuments such as Church of the Annunciation.
Supetar’s pebbled beaches are just a stones throw (ha) from the centre and offer stunning views of the mountainous landscape and Split in the distance. This makes the beaches perfect for a chilled afternoon, but I would recommend some kind of water shoes to protect your feet if you plan on going into the sea – the rocks are PAINFUL.
Budapest was one of the first places on our interail list, a city that has always intrigued me. The old mixes in with the new, throughout the city centre and there are plenty of experiences not to be missed when visiting the city.
The City’s Highlights
Danube River – As we stayed on the ‘Pest’ side of the city, strolling along the Danube river was a perfect way to get our bearings with the city. There are incredible views of Buda Castle and Széchenyi Chain Bridge from this side of the river and you’ll be able to see the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ monument, which is incredibly moving as a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives during the shooting in 1944.Read More »
Vienna. It’s a breathtaking city, rich in history, music, palaces and museums!
Where to Stay – Do Step Inn Central Hostel was probably one of the best hostels during out trip, aligning well with our budget and it was really close to the train station to avoid carrying our rucksacks for too long. There’s a great kitchen to use and supermarkets are close by – we took the opportunity to cook in both nights and save money! It is about a 20 minute walk into the centre of Vienna.
The City’s Highlights
St Stephen’s Cathedral – This is honestly the most beautiful cathedral I have seen. It is known for its intricately tiled roof, standing out in the centre of the city, but as we entered inside the cathedral, it was definitely a ‘wow’ moment. The architecture was stunning, the organ sounded beautiful, creating an incredible atmosphere within the Cathedral.
Hofburg Palace – This is one of the biggest palace complexes in the world and is now home to the Spanish Riding School (which you can see a glimpse of!) and numerous museums. Across the road from the Hofburg Palace, there is also MuseumsQuartier so you will not be short of museums to visit in this area of the city! I’ve heard that you can purchase tickets to see a concert inside Hofburg Palace but it wasn’t something that we did!
Schönbrunn Palace – This palace is considered Austria’s most significant cultural monument and it was another ‘wow’ moment – no pictures will do this palace justice. The grounds are EXTENSIVE and by walking around, you can admire the palace from pretty much every angle. As you walk down the Great Parterre, you’ll find the Neptune Fountain – symbolising how monarchs controlled the destiny of their nations. The gardens continue up to the ‘Gloriette’, where the views of the palace and the city are actually incredible.
Sigmund Freud Museum – There are so many museums based in Vienna, you have to pick one really. The Sigmund Freud Museum is based in his original apartment, which was really interesting to read into parts of his work and observe them as such. The amount of information is slightly overwhelming, it felt like I was reading a huge essay throughout the visit.
Cafe Central – This is a popular destination, but it lives up to the hype. Most likely you will have to wait for a table inside, but they are really efficient at doing so. The interior decor is stunning, a very authentic and classic feel and you might not believe me, but the coffee is worth the price!
Belvedere Palace Gardens – This was a pit stop after checking out of the hostel, before the next train (onto Budapest!). Spending a few hours sunbathing and admiring at a palace was a great way to relax. Inside the palace, there are numerous exhibitions which might be worth checking out!
There is PLENTY to see and do in Vienna and we managed to pack quite a bit into two days so hopefully this gives a good idea of how you can see lots of Vienna in a short space of time!
Prague has been on my bucket list for AGES and it didn’t disappoint. The old town is gorgeous and you can’t go wrong with a Trdelnik (an incredible desert which combines strudel & sweet pastry).
Where to Stay – Our hostel was really close to the old town, the castle and Charles Bridge. It was MEGA cheap (I think £6 a night?) but not the most comfortable stay. I would definitely recommend staying as central as possible, it’s really easy to explore Prague on foot.
Food & Drink – One of the best places for bars is on the stretch between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square, but I would definitely recommend visiting the Dancing House with the rooftop terrace overlooking Prague castle.
A good spot for food & drink (Especially whilst wanting to watch live sport – we HAD to see the England v Croatia World Cup Final) is Pilsner Urquell Cafe. There’s an extensive menu, with plenty of Czech favourites and the waiters are SO helpful and friendly.
The City’s Highlights
Evening walks very quickly became my favourite way to explore on our interail trip, typically it was a quieter and more chilled way to get to know the city. For the first evening, we ventured into the Old Town to see the Astronomical Clock Tower (Unfortunately covered in scaffolding!). Instead we stumbled upon a Bohemian Jazz Festival so had a good boogie.
John Lennon Wall – This was a stones through from our hostel so a very easy one to tick off the sightseeing list. It’s really interesting how creative the wall is as we watched new additions to the wall take place, wishing we’d brought something with us so that we could add to it too!
Prague Castle – There is SO much to see, the castle complex is pretty huge with plenty of courtyards and gardens to wander through. Free admission? Winning. It has stunning views of the city and is definitely worth a visit, although the walk up is pretty steep!
Petrin Lookout Tower – We’d been told that the Petrin Lookout Tower had the best views of Prague so decided to check that out on our second day. We used the Funicular Railway to get to the top of the hill as it only cost 24 Czech Koruna (about 80p!) and saved our energy for climbing the steps in the Petrin Lookout Tower, where the views definitely didn’t disappoint. I am not great with heights, but the views were worth it once you got to the top! The tower’s design was inspired by the Eiffel Tower and has the same altitude as the Eiffel Tower, with visitors climbing about 300 steps to get to the top! As it is surrounded by landscaped gardens, which are really nice to wander around, you can easily spend at least half a day here.
Spending three nights in Prague meant that we had a nice amount of time to explore the city and vaguely learnt our way around the city! The architecture, history, food and nightlife means this city could easily be a favourite for anyone, it is definitely worth a trip.
So, it’s been about a month since I last posted on my blog and if you’ve been following my Instagram account, you will have seen my daily updates from Interail trip around Europe. Over the last three weeks, I’ve explored ten cities (on a budget) so have collated some comprehensive detail to create a mini travel guide. We spent around 2-3 days in each city and will hopefully be returning to our favourites!
Starting the Interail trip with Brussels fell into place really, as the Interail pass includes a Eurostar journey, counting as one of our ‘travel days’. However I’ll admit that before planning the trip, visiting the Belgium capital wasn’t something I had considered.
Where to Stay – Hostel Galia provided quite a luxury start to our interailing trip, with an extensive buffet breakfast included with the room price. Location wise, it’s close to the main train station and a short walk to the city centre, easy to explore Brussels on foot.
Food & Drink – Brussels is well know for fries, chocolate & beer – a winner if you ask me. There is a fries shop on pretty much every corner so for our first night, we had a ‘mitraillette’, a huge baguette overflowing with chips, from Fritland – all for a measly € 5.
Chocolate shops can also be found on pretty much every corner, but there is also the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate where you can see what it is all about. Included in the € 6 entrance fee, there is a demonstration kitchen where the chocolatier shows how pralines are commonly made & you’re able to taste a few of the batches afterwards. The museum is fairly close to the Grand Place, so a good one to pop into whilst you are exploring the area.
Beer sampling was definitely a highlight, we found plenty of bars with cheap beer – often € 1 during ‘happy hour’. The best place to visit is Delirium Village, with 8 bars to choose from and hundreds of beers to sample. This was the perfect spot to enjoy some beers and watch the Belgium v Brazil World Cup game – the atmosphere was SO good.
The City’s Highlights
Architecture – I’m not sure I can actually covey how good the archiecture is, from the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula to Grand Place with the Guildhall buildings, each is designed in a unique way and completely breathtaking. There are plenty of picturesque streets to wander through and if you head to the Royal Palace, that is definitely a landmark to visit and admire the architecture.
Hidden Gems – It is worth mentioning that Brussels does have quite a few hidden gems and it’s definitely worth taking an evening walk in the city to properly explore (and have dinner/beers). On our first walk in the city, we completely missed Mont Des Arts park and garden. It was only when heading back down the hill from the Royal Palace to Grand Place that we stumbled across the stunning views of Brussels from Mont Des Arts.
EU Parliament – Although this is pretty touristy, it is worth a visit. The Parliamentarian visitors centre showcases a lot of historical information about the formation of the EU. You could spend hours reading all the information and seeing the EU Parliament building felt quite monumental.
Brussels is not a city to miss off your European city list and I would definitely like to return to Belgium at some point!