3 Must Do Things On A Day Trip To Holkham & Wells-Next-The-Sea

The beach at Holkham is a beautiful long stretch of sandy beach backed by beach huts, sand dunes and pine woodland. The award winning picturesque beach is perfect for a day trip or a UK getaway. There is so much to see and do in the area as well as the area of North Norfolk. The small harbour town of Wells-Next-The-Sea is walking distance from the beach and the nature reserve. The harbour is protected by salt marshes from the open sea and used to be one of the great ports of eastern England in Tudor times. The harbour is still active today and mainly used by sailing and crabbing boats.

We visited Holkham and Wells-Next-The-Sea on a day trip, we set off early from our hometown of Milton Keynes and made the most of a warm sunny day (a rarity in the UK). If you don’t live far you could easily spend a whole day there, however if you’re also seeking out a potential UK beach break then Holkham would be a great place to stay for a few nights or a week as there is so much to explore along Norfolks North Coast. So here are my must do things while visiting Holkham and Wells-Next-The-Sea.

Holkham National Nature Reserve

Holkham National Nature Reserve is a huge area and spans across 9158 acres which start from Wells-next-The-Sea and goes all the way to Burnham Overy. The area is made up of a unique variety of habitats including salt marsh, sand dunes, pine woodland, beach and grazing marsh. The majority of the landscape is man-made and was reclaimed from salt marshes back in the 17th and 19th centuries. Holkham is also home to lots of wildlife in particular birds, the area attracts a large number of flocks but also single rare migrant birds also.

Holkham National Nature Reserve is a must visit, we parked at Holkham Hall and the parking was only £4 for the day, and only a short walk to the beach, there is parking slightly closer which is about £9 for the day. Once you walk over to The Lookout Centre there are two options; a route which takes you straight down to the far end of Holkham beach, or a slightly longer nature trail walk which also takes you to the beach but closer to the pretty harbour town of Wells-Next-The-Sea.

We opted to take the more scenic route and walked along the nature trail towards the beach and Wells-Next-The-Sea. The nature trail is really peaceful and took about 40 minutes to walk along the gravelled path, which is surrounded by lots of trees, flowers and foliage and you can hear lots of birdlife. There are lots of different nature trails in the Holkham National Nature Reserve, however if your only visiting for the day, I would recommend doing this short nature walk at the start of your day, so you can have the rest of the day free to relax on the beach.

Holkham National Nature Reserve NorfolkHolkham National Nature Reserve NorfolkHolkham National Nature Reserve Norfolk

The Beach, Beach Huts & Sand Dunes

The Beach stretches between Wells-Next-The-Sea and Holkham and is honestly one of my favourite beaches in the UK! The beach itself is huge and spotlessly clean and easy to spread out from others and find your own little spot to relax on. With its soft powdery sand backed by pine woodland and sand dunes, it has something for everyone to enjoy. After lunch in Wells Town we sat down at that end of the beach for a while relaxing, then decided to walk past the many beach huts before reaching the grassy sand dunes towards the Holkham end of the beach. We walked through the sand dunes and dipped our toes in the cold sea.

Walking from one end of the beach to the other is a must do as there’s so much to see and you can take in the whole landscape by doing so. We walked the full length of the beach before heading back to the car, towards the Holkham end it was slightly quieter and had more dunes, woodland and wildflowers backing the beach. The beach that end is still sandy but with more shells and pebbles. Spending some time on the beach there is an absolute must and was our favourite part of our day spent there.

Wells-Next-The-Sea Beach NorfolkWells-Next-The-Sea Beach NorfolkWells-Next-The-Sea Beach NorfolkHolkham Beach NorfolkHolkham Beach NorfolkHolkham Beach Norfolk

Wells Quay

Once we reached the beach from the Holkham National Nature Reserve we decided to walk into the town of Wells-Next-The-Sea to get some lunch before getting settled on the beach. As you walk from the beach you can see the salt marshes straight away which act a barrier to shelter the town from the open sea. Once in the town visit the Wells Quay which is home to an array of little independent shops selling a whole range of things from gifts, sweets, beachwear and accessories and much more. Two shops which I loved and if your a girly girl like myself or your partner is then check out Natural East and Glitter and Mud which are next door to one another and overlook the harbour.

As well as lots of cute little shops there are some great places to grab some food from including several fish and chip shops, we saw lots of families sat along the wall at the harbour front delving into bags of fish and chips. My husband and I are both vegetarian so decided to eat in the Wells Deli as they had lots of vegan options, although some of the fish and chip shops we could see had some vegetarian and vegan options available too.

When you have had some lunch then take a little time to explore the narrow lanes and streets of the town before heading to the beach for the rest of the day. We loved Wells-Next-The-Sea it is a gorgeous little town. If you’re not feeling like the 20 minute walk back to the beach then you can hop on the Wells Harbour Railway, which is a miniature railway which carries passengers from Wells Town to the beach for only £1.50 per person. The short train journey is great for families with children, but also great if you have had a big lunch and just went to get to the beach quickly as we did.

Wells Quay NorfolkWells Town NorfolkWells Quay NorfolkWells Harbour Railway Norfolk

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How To Spend A Long Weekend In Norfolk: Norwich, Norfolk Broads & The North Coast

Norfolk is a county in the East of England and is part of East Anglia. It’s a county which is bordered by Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. The county of Norfolk is surrounded by 90 miles of coastline and its famous for the Broads National Park, countryside, forests and the historic city of Norwich.

The county of Norfolk can sometimes be overlooked or associated with posh old people, but I can honestly say the past few times I have visited Norfolk I have been pleasantly surprised and asked myself why I hadn’t visited sooner?! I am the worst person at always jetting off to exotic locations rather than exploring my own home – the UK. Coronavirus this year has made us all slow down and appreciate just what we have on our doorstep.

My husband and I decided we fancied a little break after lockdown and somewhere that wasn’t more than 3 hours drive away from our home. So we opted for 3 days in Norfolk, and left our home Friday morning and spent our first day in Norwich, our second day kayaking and sightseeing around the Norfolk Broads and our last day doing a mini coastal road trip (a typical English weather day on our last day and it poured with rain for most the day). If your looking for a long weekend away then head to Norfolk it really does have something to suit everyone.

Norwich

Norwich is steeped in history from over the years and this still shows vividly through the cities unique and charming architecture and is the most complete medieval city in the UK. It’s been a city since 1094 and is the county town of Norfolk. Norwich used to be the largest city in England after London during the middle ages and right up until the industrial revolution. Norwich has two universities and has a hipster vibe to the place, I was really surprised at how cool and quirky Norwich actually was full of stunning buildings and cute shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see, do and eat in the city, even if you don’t spend a weekend in Norfolk, if your not too far away from Norwich it would also make an excellent day trip, just set off early so you can make a full day of exploring this pretty little city.

Sights & Activities

Cow Tower

Cow Tower is one of the oldest artillery blockhouses in England, and was constructed in approximately 1398 and was to assist with the cities defence. The inside of this brick tower is closed to the public, however you can wander around the outside and there is an information plaque just by it. It’s close to the city centre and within walking distance of Norwich Cathedral, Pulls Ferry and situated next to the river which is lovely to walk along.

Cow Tower Norwich

Elm Hill & Tombland

Elm Hill is a medieval street in the heart of the city located in Tombland, this cobbled street is the most famous street in Norwich and full of historic charm with merchant houses, thatched roofs, arts and crafts shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see and do and you can even do a self-guided walking trail (pick up a map from the tourist information centre or from specific shops in the cathedral quarter). The streets a great place to visit all year round and has a quintessentially traditional English feel to it, and lots of great spots to snap pretty photos.

There was a big fire back in 1507 which destroyed a huge majority of the street, but the street and it’s properties were rebuilt shortly after. The only surviving building from that fire was The Britons Arms which was originally a Tudor inn, but today is a family-run coffee shop and a must visit.

Tombland is in the very centre of Norwich and used to be the hub of activity before 1066 before the Normans arrived. There are lots of historic architectural gems to see in the area such as Erpingham Gate, Ethelbert Gate, Tombland Alley, Augustine Steward House and The Maids Head Hotel to name a few so pin these places on your map and seek them out.

Elm Hill NorwichElm Hill NorwichErpingham Gate Tombland NorwichTombland Norwich

Norwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Royal Arcade is a beautiful shopping arcade which was built towards the end of the Victorian era. The Royal Arcade is in the city centre and full of cafes, specialist shops, vintage boutiques and gift shops. If you enjoy shopping but prefer shopping from independent shops then this is the place to come!

Norwich Royal ArcadeNorwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Castle

Entrance Fee: £9.90 Per Adult

Norwich Castle is one of the cities famous landmarks and is perched on top of a hill overlooking the city. The castle was built over 900 years ago by the Normans as a royal palace. Today it stands as a museum and art gallery, there is a range of displays from various natural history, archaeology, fine art and much more. When we visited the museum was closed due to COVID-19 so we just had a walk around it to admire the building itself.

Norwich Castle

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral is another one of the cities famous landmarks, the cathedral’s construction began in 1096 and was completed in 1145. The cathedral is run by the Church of England and is one of the most complete Norman cathedrals in all of England. The cathedral is a grand and stunning building with lots of intricate details both inside and outside. The cathedral is free to enter and explore and there are lots to learn about the cathedrals 900 years of history. There are some gardens, a cafe and lots to explore around the cathedral and visit the cathedral quarter of the city.

Norwich CathedralNorwich Cathedral

Pulls Ferry

Pulls Ferry is set along the River Wensum and is a 15th century watergate, the channel running up to the gate is much older. A canal used to run under the arch of the building and was built by monks to help with transporting stone and building supplies to build the cathedral which would have been offloaded there. The building is privately owned and you can access the outside of the building and walk around it, there isn’t much else other than a sign with information on about Pulls Ferry. I would recommend stopping by here as the walk along the river is a really enjoyable and relaxing thing to do in the city, and you can see many of Norwich’s famous landmarks which are closeby.

Pulls Ferry Norwich

The Lanes

Norwich Lanes are a must when in the city, these beautiful lanes, alleyways and courtyards are full of quirky appeal and lots of historical architecture. These narrow lanes are mainly pedestrianised and have lots of traders from boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries, museums and even an independent cinema and community theatre. We loved exploring the lanes and seeing what specialist shops were selling, the whole area has a real buzz about it.

The Lanes Norwich

Norwich Market & Jarrold Department Store

Norwich Market is an attraction in itself and is one of the oldest and largest markets in England. The market is bright and colourful and situated in the heart of the city. It doesn’t just sell your typical wares you would find on a market, but a whole range of unique stalls selling vintage fashion, crystals, homewares, homemade goods and lots of food stalls and delicatessens as well as your more obvious market stalls selling fruit, veg and flowers etc. We loved wandering through the market and found lots of cool things to buy.

Just a stone’s throw away from the market is the independent 250 year old department store – Jarrolds. This family-run business is a great little place to have a browse and shop, they have several other shops dotted around Norfolk but the one in Norwich is their flagship store.

Norwich MarketJarrold Department Shop Norwich

Food & Drink

Alchemista Coffee

Alchemista Coffee is a unique independent cafe in the city centre and serves up amazing food and drink, and specialises in quality coffee. Try out one of their speciality coffees or signature cocktails. We visited in the morning before we headed to the Norfolk broads and we got there just in time before there was a queue out the door, this cafe seems really popular with locals. I had the black toade coffee and it was delicious!

Alchemista Coffee Norwich

Erpingham House

Erpingham House is an absolute must visit if your vegetarian or vegan they offer a full plant-based and plastic free menu. Not only do they have a really good sustainability ethos and menu but the restaurant, bar and cafe themselves are stunning, the decor is very insta-worthy and very feminine, I dragged my husband there for dinner. It’s set in a beautiful old building and spread across three floors. I opted for the hoisin jackfruit pancakes which were amazing! Erpingham House is the perfect place to come and has a luxe vibe to the place. The service was also really good, add this restaurant to your Norwich itinerary!

Erpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House Norwich

Little Shop Of Vegans

Little Shop Of Vegans is the cutest shop and full to the brim with vegan products that I didn’t even realise existed. It’s a great place to come to pick up kitchen staples but also a great place to pick up lots of vegan snacks too. They also have a plastic free section too selling lots of sustainable toiletries. We bought a few items to take home with us to try and some snacks for the weekend. My husband and I are both vegetarian but dabble in veganism and love finding places like this as it gives us lots of ideas to make some more simple vegan switches.

Little Shop Of Vegans NorwichLittle Shop Of Vegans Norwich

Thai Kitti

Thai Kitti is a family-run restaurant and is a great place to come in the centre of Norwich serving up Thai comfort food. We went there after our day out on the broads, they have a lot of choice on the menu with a variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes as well as meat dishes.

Thai Kitti NorwichThai Kitti Norwich

The Tipsy Vegan

The Tipsy Vegan was our absolute favourite place we ate at all weekend in Norfolk! It’s set in an old pub in the lanes area of the city and serves up delicious vegan comfort food, tapas and cocktails. It’s an intimate restaurant and the staff were really friendly and helpful. We opted for the tapas for lunch and selected several dishes from the menu all of them were cooked to perfection, my absolute favourites were the bao buns and coconut crusted tofu bites which I still dream about to this day! This small restaurant is a great place to visit any time of day for either brunch, lunch or dinner or just a few cheeky cocktails, make sure this place is on your must visit list.

The Tipsy Vegan Norwich

Accommodation

Suburban Bedouin Tent

If your looking for an affordable and eccentric place to stay then this Surbuban Bedouin Tent is the perfect place to stay for the weekend. As we visited Norfolk in the summer holidays and during the summer of COVID-19 where no one was really travelling anywhere outside of the UK. We found that a lot of places were fully booked or ridiculously overpriced, which for a UK break I just can’t justify. As I was searching for accommodation in and around Norwich I stumbled across this little Airbnb and it was an absolute gem. It was quiet and comfortable and at only £50 a night it was really affordable.

It’s set less than a 10 minutes drive out of the city centre of Norwich and our host Gary was really warm and friendly and couldn’t do enough for us, and even welcomed us with some traditional mint tea to get us settled in. The tents tucked away his back garden and feel really private and aren’t overlooked. Inside the tent is decorated beautifully and has a proper bed inside and is adorned with soft furnishings and lanterns. The bathrooms are in the house but you could access the bathroom from the back door which we had keys to, we also had access to the kitchen and there was parking available.

If you’re looking for an affordable stay in Norfolk and to be within driving distance of Norwich, Norfolk Broads and Norfolk’s coast, then this really is the perfect spot to stay and something a little bit different to your box standard hotel or bed and breakfast.

Suburban Bedouin Tent Airbnb NorwichSuburban Bedouin Tent Airbnb NorwichSuburban Bedouin Tent Airbnb Norwich

Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads is a huge national park full of waterways, lakes, rivers, marshes and countryside and has unique wildlife, flora and fauna. In between all the water are lots of lovely quaint towns and villages. The city of Norwich is in the national park, so it’s easy to reach the Broads from there. Spend a full day exploring the Broads as there is so much to see and do, especially if the weather is nice then there are lots of lovely walks to do around the area. The weather wasn’t great when we visited so we just opted to drive around and stop at various viewpoints and mills after a morning of kayaking on the Broads.

Sights & Activities

Hickling Broad

Hickling Broad is the largest out of all the broads and is a great location as it’s not too far from the Norfolk coast. Hickling is surrounded by pretty villages, pubs and a whole array of local wildlife that call this broad home. The best way to experience the Norfolk Broads is by getting out on the water either by hiring a boat or by doing some water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing. We decided to hire a double kayak from Norfolk Outdoor Adventure which was £35 for two hours and included all our equipment. We spent the morning kayaking around the broad and saw lots of birds and wildlife. It was such a great way to start our day around the broads.

Norfolk Outdoor Adventure Hickling Broad NorfolkHickling Broad NorfolkHickling Broad Norfolk

Horsey Windpump

Entrance Fee: £7 Per Adult

After kayaking we drove to Horsey Windpump as it’s not very far from Hickling Broad, this mill has been there since 1912 and is one of the more well known mills in the area and is owned by the national trust. Due to COVID, it was closed however you could still walk around the outside and the tea room next to it was still open. Normally there is an entrance fee to go inside the mill so you can get views of the surrounding area.

Horsey Windpump Norfolk Broads

Stubbs Mill

Stubbs Mill was another mill we drove to as it wasn’t too far from Horsey Windpump, this brick mill was constructed between the late 1700s and early 1800s. You can’t enter inside but you can walk around the outside. When we visited we were the only ones there it’s quite hidden away and down a country lane. There also looked like there were plenty of nature trails nearby you could walk on a nice day.

Stubbs Mill Norfolk Broads

Thurne Dyke Mill

Thurne Dyke Mill was built beside the River Thurne in 1820, this was my favourite mill we visited as the surrounding area was stunning and there were lots of boats cruising down the river, there’s also a pub across from it so you can stop here for a drink too. The windmill is closed to the public like many of them are but you can still admire the building and the surrounding areas from outside.

Thurne Dyke Mill NorfolkThurne Dyke Mill Norfolk

Wroxham Barns

We stopped at Wroxham Barns for some lunch there’s a restaurant, tearoom, local arts and crafts shops and shops selling local produce. It’s a great place for families too as there are play areas and animal farms for children. I would recommend coming for lunch and a wander around the independent shops, we spent about an hour or so there in between driving around the Broads.

Wroxham Barns NorfolkWroxham Barns Norfolk

North Norfolk Coast

The North Norfolk Coast is a long stretch of coast with millions of years worth of history surrounding it. There are award winning beaches, salt marshes, coastal trails, pretty villages, seaside towns and inland there is plenty of countryside and nature walks. North Norfolk is also home to a big part of the UK’s largest wetland – The Norfolk Broads. The north coast of Norfolk is a great area to explore either for a day trip or you could easily have a UK holiday in the area and spend days at different beaches. The weather wasn’t great the weekend we visited so on the last day of our weekend away in Norfolk we decided to just drive along the coast and stop at different beaches and towns to sightsee.

Sights & Activities

Mundesley & Overstrand

Mundesley is situated on the eastern corner of the North Norfolk Coast and not too far away from the beach town of Cromer. The beach at Mundesley is backed by colourful beach huts, cliffs and a promenade. The beach is a lovely long stretch of sand and is spotlessly clean, you can easily find a nice quiet spot to yourself by just walking along a little bit away from the promenade. Overlooking the beach is the UK smallest museum which is the Mundesley Maritime Museum which is now used as a coastguard watch. Aside from the large beach, there’s plenty of nature walks and coastal villages to see in the area.

Overstrand is joined to Mundesley beach a little further along and is slightly quieter and again has lovely long stretches of sandy beaches and a backdrop of green cliff edges. Even if you just want to spend the day at one spot I would recommend walking along the coast between Mundesley to Overstrand or you can drive between them within minutes.

Mundesley NorfolkMundesley NorfolkMundesley NorfolkOverstrand Norfolk

Cromer

Cromer is the next town along from Mundesley and Overstrand, it’s a traditional seaside town with a Victorian pier full of attractions. We had planned to spend the afternoon in Cromer but it didn’t just rain it poured so we decided to skip past Cromer and carried on to Blakeney where the weather was much drier. I would recommend either spending a full day in Cromer or allow a bit of time to spend a few hours in the area if you’re doing a coastal road trip like we were. Cromer’s streets are filled with little shops and cafes to explore and if you enjoy shellfish then try some Norfolk Crab which the area is known for.

Blakeney & Morston Quay

Blakeney is an area of natural beauty providing stunning panoramic views over its vast coastline, this pretty village has traditional Norfolk cottages and buildings with lots of gift shops, boutiques, cafes and pub restaurants. It’s especially popular with families who come to try their hand at crabbing. Many people base themselves in Blakeney for holidays due to its central location on the North Norfolk Coast. We stopped in Blakeney for the afternoon and spent some time wandering it’s pretty streets and grabbed a bag of chips for lunch.

Blakeney is also the place to come if you’re interested in taking a boat to see the seal colony out on Blakeney point. I would highly recommend pre-booking your tickets, especially during the summer months as there are only several small boat tours that operate this tour. You can also purchase tickets in Blakeney and then head over to Morston Quay where the boats depart.

We booked through Bishops Boat and it was £13 per adult and the tour is about an hour long. This was an absolute highlight of our trip as you don’t really expect to see such a vast amount of wildlife in one place in the UK. The seal colony and seabirds were great to see and we had so many seals swimming around the boat too, this is an absolute must have in Norfolk.

Blakeney NorfolkBlakeney NorfolkMorston Quay NorfolkBlakeney Point NorfolkSeal Colony Blakeney NorfolkSeal Colony Blakeney NorfolkSeal Colony Blakeney Norfolk

Stiffkey Salt Marshes

The Stiffkey Salt Marshes are an important area of natural beauty and one of the country’s richest areas in wildlife. The area is full of plants and wildlife and the reason it’s so biodiverse is due to the muddy creeks which become flooded by the tide every day. Protected by the national trust the vast expanse of pristine saltmarsh form part of the Blakeney National Nature Reserve. The salt marsh is an important conservation area for breeding birds. You could spend a full day walking and spotting wildlife in this area, however if you are limited on time you could just make a flying visit on your coastal road trip. We drove over to Stiffkey while waiting for our seal tour time slot over at Blakeney.

Stiffkey Salt Marshes Norfolk

Transport & Getting Around

The city of Norwich is incredibly easy to get to and also to travel around. The city is accessible by train, coach and buses from other areas of the UK. Norwich also has its own international airport. We drove from our hometown of Milton Keynes which is about a two and half hour drive. We parked at St Andrew’s multi-storey car park which was cheap to park at for the day in comparison to other UK cities. Once parked we didn’t need the car for the rest of the day, Norwich is a small city and most places are easily accessible by foot and everything is within walking distance. If you did want to use public transport then there are plenty of buses and taxis around to get out of the city and around. I would recommend driving around the Norfolk Broads and the North Norfolk Coast as you can stop as and when you want in places and it’s the easiest way to get around.

Itinerary

Norwich

  • Morning: Grab a coffee and some breakfast at Alchemista Cafe, and spend the morning shopping and wandering around Norwich Market, Jarrolds, The Royal Arcade and The Lanes.
  • Afternoon: Have lunch at The Tipsy Vegan and afterwards visit The Little Shop Of Vegans which is across the street. After lunch head to Norwich castle and either wander the outside of it or pay to enter the museum. Explore Elm Hill and the Tombland area before heading to Norwich Cathedral. Spend the late afternoon walking along the river and stop at Pulls Ferry and Cow Tower for a quick spot of sightseeing.
  • Evening: Head for some pre-dinner drinks at one of Norwich’s many bars or pubs, then have dinner at Erpingham House.

Norfolk Broads

  • Kayak / visit Hickling Broad > Stubbs Mill > Horsey Windpump > Wroxham Barns > Thurne Dyke Mill

North Norfolk Coast

  • Mundesley > Overstrand > Cromer > Blakeney > Stiffkey Salt Marshes

Top Tips

My top tips would be to get up early and make the most of each day so you have a full day exploring each area as there’s so much to see and do! There’s still plenty we would have liked to have done but just run out of time. We found the city of a Norwich and Norfolk County to be a very relaxed and slow paced, not like other places in the UK, we had a really relaxing weekend exploring Norfolk and it really was a perfect weekend away minus the weather.

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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A Complete Guide To A Day Out In Norwich

Norfolk is a county in the East of England and is part of East Anglia. It’s a county which is bordered by Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. The county of Norfolk is surrounded by 90 miles of coastline and its famous for the Broads National Park, countryside, forests and the historic city of Norwich.

My husband and I decided we fancied a little break after lockdown and somewhere that wasn’t more than 3 hours drive away from our home. So we opted for 3 days in Norfolk, and left our home Friday morning and spent our first day in sightseeing around Norwich.

Norwich is steeped in history from over the years and this still shows vividly through the cities unique and charming architecture and is the most complete medieval city in the UK. It’s been a city since 1094 and is the county town of Norfolk. Norwich used to be the largest city in England after London during the middle ages and right up until the industrial revolution.

Norwich has two universities and has a hipster vibe to the place, I was really surprised at how cool and quirky Norwich actually was. It’s full of stunning buildings and cute shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see, do and eat in the city, even if you don’t spend a weekend in Norfolk, if your not too far from Norwich it would also make an excellent day trip, just set off early so you can make a full day of exploring this pretty little city.

Sights & Activities

Cow Tower

Cow Tower is one of the oldest artillery blockhouses in England, and was constructed in approximately 1398 and was to assist with the cities defence. The inside of this brick tower is closed to the public, however you can wander around the outside and there is an information plaque just by it. It’s close to the city centre and within walking distance of Norwich Cathedral, Pulls Ferry and situated next to the river which is lovely to walk along.

Cow Tower Norwich

Elm Hill & Tombland

Elm Hill is a medieval street in the heart of the city located in Tombland, this cobbled street is the most famous street in Norwich and full of historic charm with merchant houses, thatched roofs, arts and crafts shops and cafes. There’s plenty to see and do and you can even do a self-guided walking trail (pick up a map from the tourist information centre or from specific shops in the cathedral quarter). The streets a great place to visit all year round and has a quintessentially traditional English feel to it, and lots of great spots to snap pretty photos.

There was a big fire back in 1507 which destroyed a huge majority of the street, but the street and it’s properties were rebuilt shortly after. The only surviving building from that fire was The Britons Arms which was originally a Tudor inn, but today is a family-run coffee shop and a must visit.

Tombland is in the very centre of Norwich and used to be the hub of activity before 1066 before the Normans arrived. There are lots of historic architectural gems to see in the area such as Erpingham Gate, Ethelbert Gate, Tombland Alley, Augustine Steward House and The Maids Head Hotel to name a few so pin these places on your map and seek them out.

Elm Hill NorwichElm Hill NorwichErpingham Gate Tombland NorwichTombland Norwich

Norwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Royal Arcade is a beautiful shopping arcade which was built towards the end of the Victorian era. The Royal Arcade is in the city centre and full of cafes, specialist shops, vintage boutiques and gift shops. If you enjoy shopping but prefer shopping from independent shops then this is the place to come!

Norwich Royal ArcadeNorwich Royal Arcade

Norwich Castle

Entrance Fee: £9.90 Per Adult

Norwich Castle is one of the cities famous landmarks and is perched on top of a hill overlooking the city. The castle was built over 900 years ago by the Normans as a royal palace. Today it stands as a museum and art gallery, there is a range of displays from various natural history, archaeology, fine art and much more. When we visited the museum was closed due to COVID-19 so we just had a walk around it to admire the building itself.

Norwich Castle

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral is another one of the cities famous landmarks, the cathedral’s construction began in 1096 and was completed in 1145. The cathedral is run by the Church of England and is one of the most complete Norman cathedrals in all of England. The cathedral is a grand and stunning building with lots of intricate details both inside and outside. The cathedral is free to enter and explore and there are lots to learn about the cathedrals 900 years of history. There are some gardens, a cafe and lots to explore around the cathedral and visit the cathedral quarter of the city.

Norwich CathedralNorwich Cathedral

Pulls Ferry

Pulls Ferry is set along the River Wensum and is a 15th century watergate, the channel running up to the gate is much older. A canal used to run under the arch of the building and was built by monks to help with transporting stone and building supplies to build the cathedral which would have been offloaded there. The building is privately owned and you can access the outside of the building and walk around it, there isn’t much else other than a sign with information on about Pulls Ferry. I would recommend stopping by here as the walk along the river is a really enjoyable and relaxing thing to do in the city, and you can see many of Norwich’s famous landmarks which are closeby.

Pulls Ferry Norwich

The Lanes

Norwich Lanes are a must when in the city, these beautiful lanes, alleyways and courtyards are full of quirky appeal and lots of historical architecture. These narrow lanes are mainly pedestrianised and have lots of traders from boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, galleries, museums and even an independent cinema and community theatre. We loved exploring the lanes and seeing what specialist shops were selling, the whole area has a real buzz about it.

The Lanes Norwich

Norwich Market & Jarrold Department Store

Norwich Market is an attraction in itself and is one of the oldest and largest markets in England. The market is bright and colourful and situated in the heart of the city. It doesn’t just sell your typical wares you would find on a market, but a whole range of unique stalls selling vintage fashion, crystals, homewares, homemade goods and lots of food stalls and delicatessens as well as your more obvious market stalls selling fruit, veg and flowers etc. We loved wandering through the market and found lots of cool things to buy.

Just a stone’s throw away from the market is the independent 250 year old department store – Jarrolds. This family-run business is a great little place to have a browse and shop, they have several other shops dotted around Norfolk but the one in Norwich is their flagship store.

Norwich MarketJarrold Department Shop Norwich

Food & Drink

Alchemista Coffee

Alchemista Coffee is a unique independent cafe in the city centre and serves up amazing food and drink, and specialises in quality coffee. Try out one of their speciality coffees or signature cocktails. We visited in the morning before we headed to the Norfolk broads and we got there just in time before there was a queue out the door, this cafe seems really popular with locals. I had the black toade coffee and it was delicious!

Alchemista Coffee Norwich

Erpingham House

Erpingham House is an absolute must visit if your vegetarian or vegan they offer a full plant-based and plastic free menu. Not only do they have a really good sustainability ethos and menu but the restaurant, bar and cafe themselves are stunning, the decor is very insta-worthy and very feminine, I dragged my husband there for dinner. It’s set in a beautiful old building and spread across three floors. I opted for the hoisin jackfruit pancakes which were amazing! Erpingham House is the perfect place to come and has a luxe vibe to the place. The service was also really good, add this restaurant to your Norwich itinerary!

Erpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House NorwichErpingham House Norwich

Little Shop Of Vegans

Little Shop Of Vegans is the cutest shop and full to the brim with vegan products that I didn’t even realise existed. It’s a great place to come to pick up kitchen staples but also a great place to pick up lots of vegan snacks too. They also have a plastic free section too selling lots of sustainable toiletries. We bought a few items to take home with us to try and some snacks for the weekend. My husband and I are both vegetarian but dabble in veganism and love finding places like this as it gives us lots of ideas to make some more simple vegan switches.

Little Shop Of Vegans NorwichLittle Shop Of Vegans Norwich

The Tipsy Vegan

The Tipsy Vegan was our absolute favourite place we ate at all weekend in Norfolk! It’s set in an old pub in the lanes area of the city and serves up delicious vegan comfort food, tapas and cocktails. It’s an intimate restaurant and the staff were really friendly and helpful. We opted for the tapas for lunch and selected several dishes from the menu all of them were cooked to perfection, my absolute favourites were the bao buns and coconut crusted tofu bites which I still dream about to this day! This small restaurant is a great place to visit any time of day for either brunch, lunch or dinner or just a few cheeky cocktails, make sure this place is on your must visit list.

The Tipsy Vegan Norwich

Transport & Getting Around

The city of Norwich is incredibly easy to get to and also to travel around. The city is accessible by train, coach and buses from other areas of the UK. Norwich also has its own international airport. We drove from our hometown of Milton Keynes which is about a two and half hour drive. We parked at St Andrew’s multi-storey car park which was cheap to park at for the day in comparison to other UK cities. Once parked we didn’t need the car for the rest of the day, Norwich is a small city and most places are easily accessible by foot and everything is within walking distance. If you did want to use public transport then there are plenty of buses and taxis around to get out of the city and around.

Itinerary

  • Morning: Grab a coffee and some breakfast at Alchemista Cafe, and spend the morning shopping and wandering around Norwich Market, Jarrolds, The Royal Arcade and The Lanes.
  • Afternoon: Have lunch at The Tipsy Vegan and afterwards visit The Little Shop Of Vegans which is across the street. After lunch head to Norwich castle and either wander the outside of it or pay to enter the museum. Explore Elm Hill and the Tombland area before heading to Norwich Cathedral. Spend the late afternoon walking along the river and stop at Pulls Ferry and Cow Tower for a quick spot of sightseeing.
  • Evening: Head for some pre-dinner drinks at one of Norwich’s many bars or pubs, then have dinner at Erpingham House.

Top Tips

My top tips would be to head there for the morning and make the most of a full day in the city. Even though I’ve added a rough itinerary to this blog, go with the flow and allow plenty of time to just wander aimlessly around the pretty streets of Norwich. We found the city to be a very relaxed and slow paced, not like other UK cities, we had a really relaxing day exploring Norwich and it really was a perfect day away.

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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A Day Trip To The Isle Of Skye From Loch Ness

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotlands top destinations to visit and after visiting I can clearly see why! Isle of Skye is connected to Scotland’s northwest coast by a bridge, and is 50 miles long and the largest of the Inner Hebrides archipelago. This island has so much to offer its visitors from its rugged landscapes, quaint fishing villages, medieval castles and lots of wildlife such as eagles, seals, otters, dolphins, whales and deer to name a few!

We visited the Isle of Skye in just one day, however you could spend days and days roaming this island especially if you are into hiking trails. If you come in the summer there are lots of whale watching tours and wildlife kayaking tours available to book. We started off our day early as it took approximately 2 hours to drive to the Isle of Skye from where we were staying by Loch Ness.

There is so much to see and do on the Isle of a Skye I really wish we had more time there as there was still plenty to see. Even if your short on time on your highlands trip be sure to keep one day spare for a visit to the Isle of Skye.

Sights & Activities

Broadford

Our first stop on the Isle of Skye was in Broadford and we visited the cute and quirky Market Square there, it’s a few small units which sell lots of antiques, souvenirs, crystals and trinkets as well as serving hot drinks. We had a look around and grabbed a hot chocolate before venturing off to explore the rest of the island. Broadford is the first stop after the bridge onto the island, and a popular stopping point for many tourists.

Broadford Isle Of Skye

Duntulm Castle

In the northeast of the island there is lots to see we drove upto Duntulm Castle which is just fragments and ruins left of the castle, but it provides beautiful views over the coastline and the landscape behind. We stopped there briefly and also wandered down to the rock pools below.

Duntulm Castle Isle Of SkyeDuntulm Castle Isle Of Skye

Dunvegan Castle

Entrance Fee: £14

As the day was coming to an end we decided to make one last stop before heading back to the mainland, and we drove over to Dunvegan which is on the west coast of the island and famous for Dunvegan castle. The castle is stunning and has been well preserved, and is the only Hebridean castle to be continuously occupied by the same family for 800 years – the Macleod Clan.

The gardens and grounds of the castle were created in the 1800s, and are an oasis compared to the barren moor lands that surround the castle. As we came late in the day we didn’t have long before the castle closed so we walked in and around the castle, and only went through some of the gardens. Dunvegan Castle is an absolute must visit when on the Isle of Skye as it is an important and typically Scottish landmark on the island.

Dunvegan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

As we reached the mainland after being on the Isle of Skye we made a quick stop at Eilean Donan Castle to see it lit up at dusk, the 13th century castle is perched on top of a small tidal island where 3 sea lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. It’s about half a mile from the village of Dornie. The castle is open to visitors too, and has been featured on several films and tv series and is one of the most photographed castles in all of Scotland.

Eilean Donan Castle Scotland

Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen is an area covered in small grassy hills with lochans (ponds) in between which makes this place look like a scene from a fairytale.

Fairy Glen Isle Of Skye

Highland Cows

Most visitors that visit the Isle Of Skye expect to spot lots of highland cows everywhere, but they aren’t as common as your may think. While driving around we saw one heard of highland cows so pulled over to get some photos, we only saw these ones and didn’t see anymore after that. I would suggest if you want to get a photo of this famous highland animal to grab your chance as and when you do see some!

Highland Cows Isle Of SkyeHighland Cows Isle Of Skye

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

In the Trotternish Peninsula there is Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls which both can be viewed from the same viewing point. Kilt Rock is 90 meters of sheer cliff drops. It gets its name as it resembles a pleated kilt. The Mealt waterfall plummets over Kilt Rock from the top of the cliffs to the rocky coast below and is fed by Mealt Loch.

Kilt Rock Isle Of SkyeMealt Falls Isle Of Skye

Old Man Of Storr

One of the Isle Of Skyes top walking routes is up to the Old Man Of Storr, which is situated on a large rocky hill, and is a large rock formation that stands tall. We visited the Old Man Of Storr but from a distance as the walk up to it can take over an hour. Just as we got there it started to rain and the clouds started coming in. So we walked a little bit up to get a better view but then came down before we got soaked.

Old Man of Storr Isle Of Skye

Portree

The day started to go by so quickly and before we knew it, it was mid afternoon so we headed to get some lunch in Portree which is the islands capital and largest village. Portree looks like a postcard with its pretty pastel coloured buildings over looking the natural harbour. There are a few boutiques, a visitor information centre and some restaurants all serving up fresh seafood. We grabbed a quick bite to eat there from one of the chippys and strolled around some of the shops.

Portree Isle Of Skye

Skye Musuem Of Island Life

Entrance Fee: £3 per person (cash only)

North of the island is the Trotternish Peninsula where the Skye Musuem Of Island Life is located which is an original highland village, and gives visitors a chance to see what island life was like 100 years ago. The museum has lots of information, artefacts from days gone by and was really interesting to see what the villages would have looked like.

Skye Musuem Of Island Life Isle Of Skye

Other Sights…

If you have longer on the Isle Of Skye then why not check out some of these sights too;

1 Day Itinerary

    Broadford
    Old Man Of Storr
    Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls
    Duntulm Castle
    Skye Musuem Of Island Life
    Fairy Glen
    Portree (Wander around and grab a late lunch)
    Dunvegan Castle
    Eilean Donan Castle (When getting back to the mainland stop at the castle at dusk to see it lit up)

Top Tips

My top tips for visiting the Isle Of Skye is to pack for the weather make sure you pack plenty of warm and waterproof clothes and hiking boots with you. As much as I hate hiking boots as I think they are the ugliest invention known to mankind, they are highly functional on the Isle Of Skye.

One other tip is to research before you go and maybe download maps.me and pin out where you want to visit, as when we went to the Isle of Skye we went without a plan and ended up driving back on ourselves as we realised we had missed one of the major sights. If your time constraint then planning out an itinerary will mean you make the very most of your trip too.

Helpful Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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How To Spend A Weekend In Margate

I had never really ever considered going to Margate and I hadn’t really heard much about it, other than when it was in the Only Fools and Horses episode when they have their disastrous jolly boys outing to Margate.

A little a while a go one of my oldest and closest friends asked me to be her maid of honour at her wedding, so straight away I knew I had to organise her an epic hen weekend with the other bridesmaids. When I asked my friend where she would like to go on her hen do her reply was ‘I really fancy going to Margate’ shocked at her response half expecting her to say somewhere hot and exotic abroad or a big city in the UK, I decided I best get to work researching this small British seaside town.

Margate is a small town in Kent which sits on England’s southeast coast. While googling I was pleasantly surprised at how trendy Margate seemed to be, with lots of cafes, bars and vintage shops on offer, the hen do planning had officially begun!

When we arrived into Margate we were so amazed at how lovely everything was and it was so good to see a Great British seaside town being bought back to life, and small businesses booming in the area. We honestly had such a great weekend in Margate and it really exceeded our expectations, so much so I really would love to go back for another weekend in the future. If your looking for retro seaside kitsch – then don’t delay and head to Margate!

Sights & Activities

Dreamland

Entrance Fee: Unlimited ride wristband from £8

Dreamland is one of Margate’s main draws, like many British seaside towns Margate has its own amusement park. Dreamland is along one of the main streets and directly opposite the beach. It has something for everyone from rides, entertainment , art installations, arcade games, food and drink vendors, music venues and even a roller disco. We didn’t really know what to expect from Dreamland half expecting it to be your usual tacky seaside amusement park, well it did not disappoint one bit!

While from the entrance it doesn’t look particularly appealing, once your in its full of vibrant colours and a really relaxed atmosphere. It was also really good value for money, and I would recommend purchasing the unlimited ride wristband. We spent a few hours on the rides and wandering around. We were lucky when we visited as queues weren’t too bad, however I can imagine in the height of summer the park being a lot busier. Dreamland is an absolute must when in Margate!

Dreamland MargateDreamland MargateDreamland Margate

Haeckels

Haeckels is a shop and spa which promotes coastal natural ingredients as well as conservation and beach clean ups. This small luxury skin care brand showcases many of Margate’s coastline natural ingredients. I stumbled across this little shop overlooking the seafront just before heading home, and wish I had known about it before as they offer a variety of spa treatments onsite too. If your a girly girl like myself then make sure you pop into Haeckels for some skincare retail therapy or even try out one of their spa treatments.

Haeckels Margate

Margate Clock Tower

Margate Clock Tower is in the centre of town and was constructed to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in the late 1800s. When walking along the Margate Main Sands or heading to Dreamland this beautiful Victorian clock can’t be missed! It’s one of Margate’s stand out landmarks.

Margate Harbour Arm

The Harbour Arm is a concrete pier in Margate overlooking Margate Main Sands and the beach front high street. The pier was created in the early 1800s for its lighthouse. Today as it stands it’s a small extension of Margate’s trendy scene with a few small cafes, restaurants, galleries and even a micro pub (The Harbour Arm) and showcases many art exhibitions and music events which run during the summer, check individual businesses for opening times during the winter period.

A symbol of Margate also stands at the end of the Pier, Mrs Booth is a famous statue in Margate. It is also known as the shell lady, and is a large scale replica of the shell lady ornaments sold in all of Margate’s souvenir shops. The Harbour Arm is a lovely pier to walk along (although very windy) and you get amazing views over the seafront.

Margate Harbour ArmMargate Harbour ArmMargate Harbour Arm

Margate Main Sands

Main Sands is Margates main stretch of beach and has its own tidal pool. The beach is really clean and well kept and a sandy beach too. The promenade is great to walk along both during the day and the evening. The beach is really popular with dog walkers and families and during the summer has beach bars and seafood stalls. Just by the Turner Contemporary by the Harbour Arm are some steps to sit on and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and beach views.

Margate Main SandsMargate Main SandsMargate Main Sands

Old Town

Margate is a regenerated seaside town and when stepping into the old town you can see why so many hipsters are attracted to this trendy part of town. All of Margate oozes retro seaside chic. The old town is really quirky and full of buzzing cafes, galleries, vintage shops, junk yards and niche shops and has lots of colourful street art.

The old town really is the hub of Margate and you can easily spend hours wandering the old streets and dipping in and out of its many eccentric shops. Some of the shops that stood out in the old town were Peony Vintage, Madam Popoff Vintage, Pothead, Little Bit, The Light Keeper, Kings Emporium, Handsome Freaks and Fort Road Yard to name but a few. It’s really great to see so many independent shops and businesses open, it’s so refreshing to see and a nice change from your standard high street chain shops. A trip to Margate wouldn’t be complete without a meander through its colourful old town!

Margate Old TownMargate Old TownMargate Old TownMargate Old Town

Shell Grotto

Entrance Fee: £4.50

The Shell Grotto has to be one of Margate’s more kooky attractions, it was discovered in 1835 and is still steeped in mystery to this very day with so many unanswered questions who, what, why and when?! These once hidden passageways are covered in millions of shells, and its definitely one of Margate’s more eccentric attractions. The Shell Grotto is a must go and see, it really is such a cool place to visit, I have never been to anywhere quite like it before!

Shell Grotto MargateShell Grotto MargateShell Grotto Margate

Food & Drink

Beet Bar

Beet Bar is a little hidden vegan oasis tucked behind a street in the old town. This quirky cafe delivers the most delicious healthy vegan food, juice drinks and health shots, the service was really welcoming too. The avocado on toast with sun dried tomatoes was just what we needed for a hangover cure and it came with a small dessert of your choice, I chose the mango sticky rice and it was just delicious! I really liked the decor in Beet Bar and its just really cool cafe to visit, and has great food and drink at affordable prices!

Beet Bar MargateBeet Bar MargateBeet Bar MargateBeet Bar Margate

Fez

Fez is a wacky bar located on Margate’s high street, this micro bar has a friendly atmosphere, and the decor is very off the wall with a floor covered in sand, and bric a brac covering the walls, ceiling and every surface going. We popped into this cool little bar in the afternoon for a quick drink, and we did try to come back in the evening but got there too late as last orders are at 11.30pm.

Fez MargateFez MargateFez Margate

GB Pizza Co

GB Pizza Co is situated looking out on Margate’s seafront and is small little locally owned restaurant which serves up delicious fresh wood fired pizzas. We came here for a late lunch/dinner and the pizzas were just fab and they have prosecco on tap too, what more could a girl ask for?!

GB Pizza Co MargateGB Pizza Co Margate

Harbour Cafe Bar

Harbour Cafe Bar is a cute and cosy cafe overlooking the sea and serves up cooked food as well as a selection of hot drinks and cakes. It’s a great cafe to have a pit stop in for a slice of cake and a drink.

Harbour Cafe Bar Margate

Mar Mar

Mar Mar is the new place to go in Margate and is honing in on the recent trend of plants and succulents. Stepping into this cafe/shop is liking walking into an exotic jungle set just on the streets of Cliftonville. A selection of cakes are made daily onsite. I had a delicious chocolate and coconut flapjack and chai latte, and afterwards did some plant shopping to bring home some cute little succulents, which hopefully I don’t kill! As well as selling lots of plants they also sell lots of cute stationary, accessories and books.

Mar Mar MargateMar Mar Margate

Sundowners

Sundowners is Margate’s only LGBT bar, club and restaurant and overlooks the coastline. Set in an old building we headed there for a few drinks before we were meant to hit another club in Margate, but we all ended up having such a good time in Sundowners we ended up staying. The night we visited they had a Boy George tribute act on which was fantastic. It had such a great vibe and everyone both staff and punters were so friendly, everyone just gets along and starts up conversation in this place.

The Bus Cafe

The Bus Cafe sits on the promenade and overlooks the beach. This old 1980s double decker bus has been converted into the cutest cafe and cooks up delicious fresh and seasonal food and uses as much local produce as possible. The cafe also does lots of good within Margate’s community and supports lots of local charities, and as well as doing all this also ensures it’s not creating to the waste problem and uses only biodegradable and recyclable packaging. This cafe has gorgeous views of the beach, delicious food and great staff. The Bus Cafe is also next to a few little street food stalls and Ziggys Bar which during the summer months I can imagine are really popular.

The Bus Cafe MargateThe Bus Cafe MargateThe Bus Cafe MargateThe Bus Cafe Margate

The Old Kent Market

The Old Kent Market used to be a cinema and bingo hall years ago, and has been lovingly restored, and still holds lots of its original charm. The market has a range of different stalls selling food and drinks, as well as some micro pubs and bars. There are also some units selling crafts and a variety of products and services.

The Old Kent Market MargateThe Old Kent Market Margate

Accommodation

Sea View Terrace Air Bnb

As Margate is a seaside town it has a good selection of hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest houses to choose from. As we were a group of 11 we opted to search on Air Bnb, and we stumbled across the most beautiful 4 storey beach front townhouse situated in Sea View Terrace. It was perfect for our group with 6 bedrooms all with en-suites, it was great for 11 girls trying to get party ready! The downstairs space was also amazing and meant we could have pre-drinks and hen party games without feeling like we were crammed in. The house was in such a great location we could walk into the town centre within a few minutes, and it was a refreshing stroll along the beach promenade.

Sea View Terrace Margate Air BnbSea View Terrace Margate Air BnbSea View Terrace Margate Air Bnb

Transport & Getting Around

Margate is really easy to get around once you have arrived, I would recommend going around the town on foot, as everything is easily walkable and you get to walk along the seafront and take in Margate’s cool and quirky vibe.

Top Tips

The only tip I would have is for girls with long hair, oh my god Margate is windy (or it was when we were there), so expect to look windswept the whole time or just wear your hair up so you can actually see where your going!

Important Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

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Oslo Travel Guide

Oslo is Norway’s capital city and located on the southern coast in the Oslo Fjord. The city has so much to offer its visitors with a huge arts scene, lots of museums, Viking landmarks, stunning nature and plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops too.

My husband and I are a bit obsessed with anywhere in Scandinavia, and it’s our favourite area in Europe. We have been to other cities in Scandinavia, and I have been lucky enough to travel to Oslo before with my work and had a short layover there. My husband has always wanted to go to Oslo, so for his birthday I decided to book some flights and accommodation, and gave him a guidebook to unwrap. His birthday is in September and I booked our trip for January as We love visiting Scandinavia in the winter months, and thought January is always such a crappy month so what better way to cheer up January than jet away for city break!

We went to Oslo the last weekend of January and spent 2 nights in the city which is plenty of time. I would recommend no more than 2-3 days in the city centre as you can easily see everything, and what with Oslo being so crazy expensive unless you have an unlimited budget costs can just spiral. We spent about £400 in 2 days for 2 of us. This did include trains to and from the airport, food, drink, boat tour and sauna etc. You can get flights and accommodation quite reasonably priced but do expect you will spend quite a lot on spending money while there.

Even though Oslo is super expensive we both really enjoyed our trip and fell in love with the Fjord and the area Bygdøy in the city. We made the most of our trip and didn’t hold back on things we wanted to do because of the cost. Oslo makes an excellent city break as it has such a good mix of urban life as well as lots of nature to enjoy.

Sights & Activities

Aker Brygge

Aker Brygge is an upmarket district set along the waterfront, and provides al fresco dining in the many restaurants that line the boardwalk. Not only are there lots of restaurants, cafes and bars but also a good selection of shops. It’s a really lovely area to take a stroll and there is always something happening in this area. We had a little stroll along Aker Brygge and it had a really good vibe and buzz to it.

Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress is a castle and fortress which is located just back from the waterfront, and has stood overlooking Oslo since the early 1300s, and withstood many sieges over its times. The castle was however modernised in the late 1500s by King Christian IV who had it changed to a more renaissance style, and made it into the royal residence. It’s free to wander around the castle and there is a visitor information centre there too. Guided tours are available to visitors but only during the summer months.

We visited the castle after lunch at Vippa and had a walk around it and admired the views of Oslo Fjord which it looks over. To be honest it’s great to visit as it’s one of Oslo’s main historic landmarks but it’s not very big so can easily be explored within 30 minutes or so, but when in Oslo it should be on your city itinerary.

Bygdøy

Bygdøy is located west of the capital and is a peninsular which is mostly residential and home to several of Oslo’s most popular museums such as the Norwegian Maritime Museum, Kon-Tiki Museum, Viking Ship Musuem and The Fran Museum to name but a few. We aren’t really Musuem people we came to Bygdøy to explore this peaceful peninsulars beaches and beautiful landscape more than the museums.

We did pop into the Viking Ship Museum but just to view one of the ships which you can do from the gift shop, so if your not massively into museums and don’t really want to pay to enter then you can just nip into this one, obviously if you wanted to see more of the Musuem you would have to pay to enter.

Bygdøy has lots on offer for any visitors we loved all the beaches and small coves. The most popular beach is Huk which is a small beach popular with locals and residents during the summer months and there is a volleyball court too. Our trip to Oslo was in winter but we still enjoyed walking along the beaches and they were all pretty quiet with just a few locals walking their dogs. There are plenty of walking and cycling trails too, but I imagine these would be much nicer to do in the summer months.

As well as having beautiful beaches and museums this area of Oslo is mainly residential however we loved walking around and seeing locals going about their day, and also seeing the typical Norwegian style of housing. Bygdøy is easily reached by regular buses or during the summer months there is a 15 minute ferry ride which takes you there. We got dropped there on our Oslo Fjord tour, and got picked up again on the tour. So if your planning on booking a boat tour of the Fjord and would also like to spend some time in Bygdøy then I would suggest combining the two together. This was our favourite area in Oslo, so really recommend visiting this surburb of the city.

Damstredet & Telthusbakken

Damstredet and Telthusbakken are both small streets located in the city centre. Both streets have well preserved inhabited wooden houses which date back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. Damstredet is a small cobbled street and was just adorable and really olde worlde, this was my favourite out of the two streets. However Telthusbakken was also lovely and the traditional wooden houses were gorgeous. I would recommend visiting both streets as they aren’t too far apart from one another, and it’s great to see the traditional style homes being well persevered and lived in.

Greenboat Sauna

Greenboat Sauna was one of my favourite memories made in Oslo, I honestly cannot recommend this activity enough. What’s more Scandinavian than a sauna?! Greenboat Saunas are floating saunas on the waterfront of Aker Brygge, they can easily be found and are visible from the promenade. The saunas can be hired privately or open to the public during set hours. Check the website for times as they do vary. We knew we wanted to visit a sauna and had originally looked at some of Oslo’s other saunas such as Oslo Fjord Sauna and KOK Sauna but both didn’t really have public open times which suited us, as ideally we wanted to finish our day in the sauna, and not go in the morning.

We had a google and discovered greenboat saunas which were a little more expensive than that of Oslo Fjord Sauna however there are 2 saunas at the site which meant it didn’t feel overcrowded, and essential oils were available as well as drinking water and kayaks and paddlboards were available if you wanted to use them and no time limit on when you had to leave!

We paid NOK 200 each which is approximately £16, and we arrived at 3pm and left about 5pm so we thought it was pretty good value, we spent plenty of time in the sauna and plunging into the ice cold fjord. My husband Sean jumped from the sauna roof into the fjord or if your a wimp like me when it comes to the cold, you can climb in from one of the ladders outside or there are hatches in the cabins which you can climb down into the water.

All you need to take is towels and swimwear, the changing rooms are open and mixed so if you don’t like the idea of trying to change with a towel wrapped around you I would suggest wearing your swimsuit underneath your clothes prior to arriving, although we managed fine with just getting changed behind our towels. If you can I would recommend going before sunset as it was so relaxing sat in the sauna watching the sun go down, and as the saunas are cozy you end up chatting to other visitors and it just had a really great atmosphere! This is an absolute must when in Oslo, we had such a great time I can’t rave about it enough!

Grünerløkka

Grünerløkka is Oslo’s hipster area full with lots of street art, indie boutiques, design shops, markets, cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants. The area sits east side of the River Akerselva, and has lots of green spaces and parks to explore. If art is your thing this is the area to come to as it’s home to lots of independent art galleries, I love street art and loved wandering the streets and discovering unique art, sculptures and murals on the city walls. Markveien is a popular street in the area lined with many of Oslo’s vintage and second hand shops a long with other niche shops, when visiting Grünerløkka be sure to check out Markveien!

Karl Johans Gate

Karl Johans Gate is the Main Street in Oslo and is busy with lots of high street shops, restaurants and cafes. The street is really central and great if your a shopaholic like myself, although we only went to a few shops. One of my favourite shops is Monki and every time I visit a Scandinavian city I seek one out! There are aslo lots of gorgeous scandi home shops too if your an interiors lover!

Oslo Fjord

A boat tour around Oslo Fjord is a must do! I had read mixed reviews prior to our trip, but I always decide to try something for myself rather than go by the reviews, and I was so glad we did go. During the winter months there isn’t as much choice with boat tours and only one tour seemed to be running which was operated by Norway Yacht Charter Båtservice. They only have a few tours running through the week we decided to do the 10.30am Saturday cruise which was a 1.45 hour cruise of the Oslo Fjord, and then dropped us at Bygdøy, and then picked us back up a few hours later and returned us back to City Hall.

The tour we went on was on a traditional style boat, and it was a really relaxing tour with gorgeous views over the Fjord and small villages. It wasn’t too over crowded and the boat had a bar on where you could purchase food and drinks, and the crew also provided blankets for everyone which made it feel cozy on a cold winters day. The tour is quite pricey as it was almost £34 each but we had a really good time and like everything in Oslo nothing is cheap!

It’s an amazing trip and so nice to escape the city, I would recommend if going in the winter to wrap up warm and try and arrive to the ticket desk in plenty of time to ensure you get a ticket and don’t miss the boat, as there isn’t a huge choice of tours available in the winter months, and I would suggest opting for the tour that drops you in Bygdøy especially if you were considering going there anyways.

Oslo Harbour Promenade

Oslo Harbour Promenade stretches almost 6 miles along the city’s waterfront and has lots going on along the waters edge with street art, food, shops, sport activities, boat trips and views of the city as a backdrop. Oslo Opera House, Akershus Fortress and Vippa Street Food are some must visits too! There are large orange information towers which mark the walk along the Harbour Promenade to help you find your way.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo’s Opera House is Norway’s National opera and ballet theatre. The large white angled building offers visitors the chance to walk onto its slanted roof which provides panoramic views over the city. The modern building is one of Oslo’s top architectural attractions, and it’s a great spot for sunrise or sunset too, there are also good views of the ‘She Lies’ sculpture which floats in the water just by the Opera House which is made of glass and stainless steel.

Storting Building

The Storting Building is the Parliament building of Norway and has been there since 1866, tours are available book however it’s a nice building to walk around and a lovely square which it overlooks, which had an ice rink while we visited. There are also lots of beautiful buildings and trees that line the square.

Food & Drink

Heidis Bier Bar

Heidis Bier Bar was located across the road from our hotel and has a huge selection of beers which was great for my husband! I’m not a beer fan so ended up with an alco pop as they didn’t sell any rose wine. The bar is part of a chain and is great place for any beer lovers!

Kafe Fjord

Kafe Fjord is located in the Norwegian Maritime Museum in Bygdøy. There aren’t many options for places to eat in Bygdøy, and after walking around we wanted to get some lunch before getting back on the boat to city hall. So we went into Kafe Fjord as it was quick and easy, and somewhere warm to sit and wait for the boat to come back and has a view over the pier. We had a vegetarian quiche each and a hot drink, which was about £30 so it is expensive but everywhere is in Oslo. The food was nice but overpriced but there aren’t many options for cheap eats in Bygdøy so we didn’t have much choice and this was still the cheaper option compared to another restaurant we saw there.

Oslo Street Food

Oslo Street Food is a huge centrally located indoor street food hall with lots of choice of stalls and bars. It was popular with lots of locals that looked like they had come for after work dinner and drinks. We visited on our first night in Oslo which was a Friday and the place was heaving, we found a table in a quiet corner and opted for veggie gyros and grabbed some drinks from the bar. The food we had was delicious so really recommend coming here for either lunch or dinner.

Mathallen

Mathallen is another food hall with a variety of vendors selling food and drink along with speciality shops selling a variety of niche food. Mathallen had a bit more of an upmarket vibe to it, and many of the vendors had sectioned areas for seating. We came here on our final night and decided to eat at the Noodles stand as we both love Asian food, and this small eatery had a really nice seating area and was beautifully decorated (definitely aimed at girly girls). It had a restaurant feel to it rather than street food, as you ordered from your table with one of the staff. It was quite pricey but again food in Oslo is not cheap! We had a bao to share to start with and then had a stir fry each, all of which was delicious!

Stockfleths

Stockfleths is a famous coffee shop in Oslo and has been around since 1895, and now is a chain and had several placed all around the city. We visited the one in Karl Johans Gate for a chai latte and cinnamon pastry. The service was really good and the staff were really friendly. It’s great for a quick pit stop when exploring the city.

Vippa

Vippa is a sustainable street food court situated along the waterfront in a converted storage warehouse. The food hall has a selection of food stalls serving a variety of food which is all ethically and sustainably sourced, and Vippa focuses on composting and recycling to ensure it stays green. There is a also a huge focus on community projects and helping locals and people from all around the world to learn new skills. We arrived for lunch just as it opened so it was really nice and quiet! There is an outside undercover seating area too which is really nice as it has views over the fjord.

We decided to order a few dishes and tried some vegetarian dumplings and got some tacos and nachos all were so tasty! This was my favourite street food venue we visited in Oslo as it was really quirky and I loved how ethical and sustainable everything was!

Accommodation

Hotel Verdandi

Hotel Verdandi is a new modern centrally located hotel, and only a few minutes walk from the waterfront. Many of Oslo’s main attractions are also within walking distance. The hotel itself is clean, modern and really well decorated. We booked a small economy double which cost about £150 bed and breakfast for 2 nights which we thought was good value for Oslo.

The room was snug but stylish and comfortable with a bathroom which was small but had a good shower and was spotlessly clean. The breakfast was located across the road in the Foodie Restaurant, it was tasty and had a really good choice available with hot food, continental items, pastries and all the usual components you find at breakfast buffets. We enjoyed our stay and would definitely recommend it.

When booking accommodation in Oslo try and opt for a breakfast inclusive option as food is so pricey in the city it’s good to not have to go out and buy breakfast. If you want a modern hotel with a good location then Hotel Verdandi is a great choice!

Transport & Getting Around

Oslo is a really pedestrian friendly capital city and you can easily reach most places by foot. Public transport is really good in Oslo and efficient with buses, trains, trams and ferries. We used the Flytoget Airport Express train which runs every 15 minutes or so between Oslo airport to Oslo Central Station and only takes about 20 minutes, it cost about £17 per person each way. We didn’t even consider a taxi as this seemed like a quick and easy option which is was.

Top Tips

My top tips for any visit to Oslo is to download the Visit Oslo app. It really helped us plan our trip and find things to see and do, its free to download and great to have to hand when exploring the city for plenty of inspiration.

Oslo is probably the most expensive city in Europe we have ever visited and food and drink prices are extortionate! If your on a tight budget I would recommend booking accommodation that includes breakfast. We met a couple in the sauna that we got chatting to who said they made up a packed lunch from their hotel breakfast. I thought it was a good idea as you can easily make a sandwich up at breakfast as there is always bread, cheese, meat and sometimes salad etc, and take some fruit and there you have it – a free packed lunch. If you are going to do this then go prepared and take a Tupperware box of something to pack your lunch in.

There are also plenty of 7-elevens in Oslo if you wanted to get snacks and bits for lunch, however even the food in there was still pretty expensive we bought 2 bags of sweets and that cost about £6! So maybe just see what the difference is between grabbing food from supermarkets and shops to that of restaurants and some of the street food places. We opted to try all the street food places in Oslo as we thought it was a good in the middle choice as it was nice to eat out better than grabbing food from shops but then not quite as expensive as eating in restaurants.

Important Information

Brussels Travel Guide

Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and is the most richest and populated city in the country, and its centrally located. The city is home to the EU headquarters, and lots of other larger businesses. The capital isn’t just a hub for business but is steeped in history, culture and gastronomy. The city is a real melting pot of mixed cultures, it has its French speaking nationals known as Walloons and its Dutch speaking Flemish nationals, as well as having many other cultural influences from the many migrants that live and work in the city.

I had always fancied visiting Belgium and especially wanted to travel during the festive period. So decided to search for some flights for a quick weekend break, as I only had 2 days annual leave left I decided my husband I could do a night stop in Brussels and tie in visiting the Christmas markets. We got some pretty cheap flights from London, we paid about £50 each return, and booked 1 night in a hotel, so the trip itself is very inexpensive. However when your in the city it can be expensive for eating and drinking etc so bare that in mind when booking.

We flew out first thing on a Saturday morning and flew home Sunday night, and visited the first weekend of December. I’ll be honest I’m glad we visited Brussels but I wasn’t completed blown away by the city, and in comparison to other European cities I didn’t feel like this was the best city I’d ever visited. However don’t let me put you off as I’m great believer in visiting places for yourself to decide. I have travelled all around the world and found places that I absolutely love and when speaking about it with other people they said how they hated that particular place. So always go with an open mind, I just like to give my honest opinion on my blogs.

I think timing had a lot to do with our visit as we visited during one of the busiest times of year, so found the city extremely busy and you could barely move around the Christmas markets at night, and then when we revisited the markets during the day just found it all to be a bit tacky and unauthentic. Even though we thought the markets in all honesty were a bit naff there was still plenty of great places to visit in the city, and if your looking for a cheap getaway and somewhere not too far you can easily do this.

Sights & Activities

Agora Square

Agora Square is a small square which has the Charles Buls fountain (Belgian politician and mayor of Brussels back in the late 1800s) set in the centre of it. In the 1980s a few crafters and artists started a small artisan market in the square, and today still has several stalls dotted around it. The square is overlooked by the most beautiful traditional Belgian buildings too. When we visited there were some buskers and street performers, this little square has a really good buzz on a weekend and a great place to stroll around.

Brussels Christmas Markets

Brussels is famous for its Christmas Markets and during the month of December there are pop up markets sprawled out all over the city with a variety of stalls selling gifts, food and drinks aswell as having fair rides. The main and largest market is Winter Wonder which is located at Plaisirs d’Hiver. There are also several other smaller markets throughout the city located by and around De Brouckere, The Bourse, Eglise Sainte Catherine Church, Tour Noire and Marché aux Poissons.

I would recommend to visit during the week or during the day as the crowds that are drawn by the Christmas Markets are excessive. I have to admit the Brussels Christmas markets were not my cup of tea, I prefer smaller and less busy and commercial Christmas markets, which offer more crafts and home made goods. I did find the Brussels Christmas markets were very touristy, busy and a lot of the stuff being sold was mass produced, however this is just my opinion and my taste, and I have been to other Christmas markets in the Baltic’s and Scandinavia which I much preferred!

Comic Strip Art

Comic Strip Art is all around the city from streets, alleyways, gables and everywhere in between. You can purchase a brochure at the visit Brussels desks for only €2.50 which provides a map of a walking tour. We just decided to stumble across the various artworks while walking around the city, however if your really into comics and street art then I would recommend purchasing the brochure.

Some of the wall murals include some famous characters from comic books such as Tin Tin and Astérix aswell as many others. I think the street art had to be one of my favourite things about the capital, I loved strolling around the streets and coming across the various artwork.

Eglise Notre Dame Au Sablon & Parc Du Petit Sablon

Eglise Notre Dame Au Sablon is a huge gothic church and one of the most beautiful in the city, and is built in similar style to that of St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral. It has intricate and brightly coloured glass windows and just across the road is Parc Du Petit Sablon which is a small garden surrounded by statues of the country’s famous scholars from the 16th century, and has a fountain in the middle, it’s a nice quiet park which is good if you want to sit down and escape the busy streets.

Eglise Sainte Catherine Church

Eglise Sainte Catherine Church is a grand church and the original tower has stood there since the 14th century, and other elements of the church have been added and restored over the many years its been there. The square in front of the church and the area around it also plays host to many of Brussels Christmas markets during the festive period.

Egmont Park

Egmont Park is a lovely leafy little park that is quite hidden away, and has several statues – the most famous one being one of Peter Pan. There is also a former orangery which has been converted into a restaurant. This green space in the city is a great place to take a break from sightseeing it’s a really peaceful space.

Grand Place

Grand Place is in the heart of the city and is a UNESCO world heritage site as soon as you walk into the square you can see why. Its stunning and intricate detailed buildings are some of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen in Europe. Originally it was constructed in the 15th century housing market halls, trade guild houses and the town hall. The Grand Place was almost completely destroyed by the french back in 1695, but was fully restored in less than 5 years, that’s why there is a variety of different architectural styles.

During the festive season the Grand Place has a huge Christmas tree and a light and sound show which runs every hour on the hour and every half an hour on Fridays and Saturdays. The light and sound show is truly dazzling and not to be missed!

Jeanneke Pis

Jeanneke Pis was created in 1987 and is found down a dead end alleyway, this small statue is of a small girl peeing. To join the theme of peeing statues in the city a dog peeing against a post was also created in 1998 called Zinneke Pis, which I only found out about the dog statue after our trip, so if you can and have time I would recommend trying to visit all 3 of the peeing statues.

Mannekin Pis

Mannekin Pis is a public mascot for the city of Brussels and is a fountain of a small boy peeing into it. Very little is known about the history of the fountain, and there are many myths and stories surrounding this tiny statue and how the small boy came about?! The statue was first mentioned back in archives back in 1452 and was known then as ‘Petit Julien’. The statue has also been stolen several times over the years and the current statue dates back to 1965 after the mannekin had been stolen again.

The small statue has over 800 outfits and costumes as its tradition to dress up the statue for special occasions and events. This small statue is a must see when in Brussels as it is the symbol of the city and you will see lots of souvenirs with this little guy on, visit early morning to try and beat the crowds of tourists surrounding the small statue.

Mont Des Arts

Mont Des Arts means ‘hill of the arts’ it’s a walk way and garden which provide great views over the city, and is home to many of the cities art galleries and museums. While we were there they had a art light installation called Submergence which was thousands of hanging lights which lit up to the rhythm of music, which was just at the top of of Mont Des Arts steps.

Place Royale

Place Royale is set in the royal quarter of Brussels and is a neoclassical square which was created back in 1775 through to 1782. It is surrounded by many of the cities most popular museums. If your into history and museums then this is the area to come!

Royal Gallery of St Hubert

Royal Gallery of St Hubert is the most beautiful Victorian shopping arcade located near to the Grand Place, it’s a great place to wander through. There is also a Neuhaus chocolate shop too if you wanted to stop for a quick sugar hit, as well as lots of other shops and cafes to explore. We visited the arcade both during the day and night and in the evening when it’s lit up is when it’s at it’s best.

Royal Palace & Brussels Park

Royal Palace and Brussels Park are some of the most famous landmarks in Brussels. The Royal Palace hasn’t been occupied by the Belgian royal family for over a decade, but today it is the headquarters for the Belgian constitutional monarchy. Brussels Park is next to the Royal Palace. You don’t need to spend lots of time visiting we walked over to the Palace had a look around the outside and then went and had wander around Brussels Park, I have to admit I wasn’t mesmerised by the Brussels top sights and attractions, but as this is such a famous building in Brussels we decided to pay it a visit.

St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral

St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in Brussels and was originally built back in the 9th century, but was replaced by a Romanesque church is 1047. Throughout the centuries the church has had many remnants added to it, and underwent several renovations back in the 1980s and 1990s. The cathedral has the most detailed stained glass windows which date back to the mid 1500s! This is a really lovely cathedral to visit and really calm inside.

Thetre Royal De Toone

Thetre Royal De Toone is one of the major attractions in Brussels and is loved by both tourists and locals. This puppet theatre was opened in about 1830 by Toone Genty, when the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands was in place and all theaters were closed to prevent the actors from raising political pieces against the Spanish rulers. As a result, doll shows started to pop up as it was easier to tolerate the fierce dialogues when pronounced by lifeless dolls. More than 180 years later, this popular entertainment has grown into a Royal Puppet Theater.

There are only shows on certain days and times, however you can visit and have a look around which is free to enter, we had a little look around, although have to admit I’m not a massive fan as I find puppets spooky! I have a slight fear of creepy dolls and puppets so if you do to this place might not be for you either!

Food & Drink

Balls & Glory

Balls and Glory is situated in the heart of Brussels and creates a variety of giant meat balls and vegetarian balls which have a liquid filling, and served with Stoemp which is a traditional Belgian dish consisting of pureed mash potatoes and root vegetables.

We ordered the vegetarian dish, it was definetly a unique take on home comfort food. The sauce that it came with was kind of like a Thai sauce, it was a strange combination but was really tasty. If your on a tight budget then I wouldn’t recommend this place as it was quite expensive for what you actually got. We paid almost £40 for 1 drink each and a vegetable ball dish each.

We did enjoy our meal here and if your rushed for time the service here is really quick you order at the desk and they bring it to your table within a few minutes. It’s kind of like a hipster fast food restaurant. It’s a great place to come and visit if you want to sample traditional Belgian food with a twist!

Cheese Kot

Cheese Kot honestly was one of the best places we visited in Brussels for food, something so simple but tasted delicious. This small cheese shop with a few stalls to sit at offered raclette baguettes, which were a bargain at only €6 each, and made a fantastic brunch bite, it’s also a great place to visit for lunch too, or if your just a cheese fan.

The sandwiches are made fresh to order and you choose your cheese which is then melted straight from the cheese wheel and scraped into your baguette, and you can choose 2 additional fillings. I ordered the mushroom cheese and added fig jam and gherkins, and my husband ordered the garlic cheese with fig jam and friend onions. They were both so tasty that we kept craving them for the rest of the day!This place is a must visit when in Brussels for cheap, delicious and authentic Belgian food this is the place to go!

Gaufres Waffles

Gaufres Waffles is located in the beautiful Royal Gallery of St Hubert. It serves up traditional sweet and savoury Belgian waffles. We decided to stop in here and ordered the original waffle which is just dusted in icing sugar. To be honest I’m not a massive fan of Belgian waffles I find them a little dry and bland compared to American waffles. If you do have a sweet tooth maybe opt for one that’s covered in chocolate sauce and ice cream as the traditional ones are a bit tasteless.

Neuhaus

Neuhaus chocolatiers are famous all around Belgium and date back 1857 by Jean Neuhaus, a Swiss immigrant. The first shop was opened in the Royal Gallery of St Hubert. Neuhaus grandson was also the inventor of the praline, which you can purchase in store. There are lots of Neuhaus shops located all over the city and it’s great to pop in and purchase some traditional Belgian chocolates. They sell a variety of ready to go boxes and gifts, as well as ones from the counter.

The Judgy Vegan

The Judgy Vegan was a great find in the city and cooks up comfort food. We visited the cafe just before we headed to the airport for our dinner. The cafe has a cosy feel to it and the food was amazing I ordered the autumn tofu and vegetables which were delicious, and my husband ordered a hot dog. The tofu they used was incredible and had a really nice texture. If your looking for an affordable and filling meal this is a great place to visit!

Accommodation

Vintage Hotel

The Vintage Hotel is a retro chic boutique hotel situated in the neighbourhood of Saint-Gilles. We really enjoyed our stay at the Vintage Hotel the public spaces were really well decorated and had a really nice feel to them. The rooms are decorated in funky retro prints but are very basic, but as we were mostly out exploring what the city had to offer and only spending 1 night it didn’t really matter. There is also an air streamer located in the entrance courtyard of the hotel for anyone wishing to do a spot of glamping in the city.

We booked the hotel in advance and got a really good deal of £100 for the night which is cheap for Brussels especially around Christmas time, however rates always vary. The rooms were really clean and quiet and included WiFi. They also offer a reasonably priced breakfast at €10 per person for a continental breakfast buffet, we had a sleep in on our second day so missed it, and opted for brunch in the city, but the breakfast sounded reasonable for a Western European city where normally hotels charge double that for breakfast!

I would recommend the Vintage Hotel to anyone visiting Brussels especially if you want something a little quirky and unique rather than your box standard chain hotel, and the location is great in a quieter end of the city but with lots of cafes, restaurants and shops near by. The city centre can be reached by foot of by a nearby underground.

Transport & Getting Around

The best way to get around the Brussels is by foot it’s quite an easy city to walk around and by doing so you can take in the cities beautiful architecture and come across the many parks and green spaces. We did use the underground metro a few times which cost approx €2 each per trip, which we took from nearby our hotel into the city centre.

There is also a train which runs from Brussels Zaventem airport to Brussels Central Station every 10 minutes between 5am and midnight everyday of the week. The train takes 18 minutes and costs just over €12 per person, which is quite expensive for public transport but was still cheaper than a taxi transfer which we did take on the way back as we cut it quite fine on time, and it did cost us €50 for a 20 minute car journey so it just depends on your budget.

There are also frequent trains to other major cities all around Belgium such as Bruges and Antwerp, which can easily be reached in very little time.

Top Tips

My biggest tip to visiting Brussels over the festive period would be to try and visit during the week as it should be a bit quieter, if your visiting over a weekend like we did then go prepared and don’t be shocked by the crowds of people. Try and visit the Christmas markets during the day as they are much quieter compared to the swarms of people during the evening.

If you love mulled wine like we do then go prepared and take a reusable coffee cup with a lid for it to be put in, as it was so busy we found we almost spilt our drinks with people knocking into us, it was just too busy not to have a lid on as we almost ended up wearing the wine. The stall holders do provide reusable cups for a small deposit and when you return them you get your deposit back, but we used our own instead and meant you didn’t have the worry of having a spillage down yourself.

I would recommend that if you have 3 days in Brussels then try and get the train over to Bruges to spend a day, I really wish we had booked an extra day as I have now been recommended Bruges and told how much nicer it is compared to Brussels.

Important Information

What To See & Do In The Scottish Highlands In 5 Days

The Highlands of Scotland are located in the north west of the country and spreads out to the many islands off the coast. The Highlands offers the ultimate wilderness break, and if solitude is what your after, then look no further! These areas are sparsely populated and full of so much natural beauty it’s the perfect relaxation getaway and great for a digital detox too.

Scotland’s natural playground really does have something to offer everyone from vast empty coastlines, mountains, lochs, historical castles and monuments and so much more, the landscapes are truly breathtaking!

My husband, myself and our two friends managed to get some cheap flights up to Inverness, hired a car and booked a glamping geodome for all four of us to stay in. We did so much in 5 days however there is so much more to see, and if you go in the summer months then there are lots of wildlife tours you can book onto too. We visited the first weekend of October so unfortunately many of the wildlife boat tours had stopped running.

We honestly had such an amazing trip and were so surprised that a domestic trip could be so good. Normally I am the worst for jetting off to exotic far flung countries, but after our break in the Highlands I definitely want to make a more conscious effort to explore more of the UK!

Sights & Activities

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK, situated in the north west Highlands and part of the Grampian mountain range. It is close by to the town of Fort William, and attracts many tourists and hikers from all over. We checked the weather before going and worked out which was the best day for us to hike up it, we only made it half way up as the weather conditions changed. It became very windy, so we made it to a lake which is about half way up the mountain and stopped there for a bit and started to head back down.

The walk up is amazing and you get the most incredible views of the mountains and the natural beauty that the Highlands have to offer. To hike to the very top of Ben Nevis would on average take between 4-5 hours, however this is fitness and weather dependent. Make sure when you visit you wear walking/hiking gear, and take plenty of water and snacks with you as once you start the hike there isn’t anywhere to stop and buy anything. However the water from the streams is so clean you can drink straight from them. If you plan on hiking up to the top be sure to allow for a full day to get up and get back down again.

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Bridge Of Oich

The River Oich is part of the Great Glen and has a suspension bridge designed by a brewer turned engineer. The 46 metre Bridge of Oich was built in 1854, a few years after floods swept through the Great Glen and destroyed the original stone bridge.

Bridge Of Oich Scotland

Cairngorms

The Cairngorms is the UKs largest national park and has so much to see and do from mountains, forests, lochs, waterfalls, villages, distilleries and plenty of wildlife. The Cairngorms is also the most popular ski resort in the UK, and attracts many visitors who are interested in snow sports, rock climbing and mountain biking.

We visited the Cairngorms and started off our day in Aviemore which is like the gateway to the national park and is popular with visitors. We had lunch there and a wander around many of its shops before heading off on a road trip driving around the Cairngorms and stopping off to admire the views. You could easily spend your whole holiday in the Cairngorms as there is so much to see and lots of hikes and trails to follow. As we were short on time we just spent a full day there, but I would love to go back and explore some more!

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Commando Memorial

The Commando Memorial is close to Spean Bridge and was created in 1952 to commemorate the British Commando Forces which were put together in World War 2. The monument is a large bronze statue of 3 commando soldiers which overlooks the training grounds of the Commando Training Depot which was established in 1942. It provides amazing views over Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr too.

Eilean Donan Castle

As we reached the mainland after being on the Isle of Skye we made a quick stop at Eilean Donan Castle to see it lit up at dusk, the 13th century castle is perched on top of a small tidal island where 3 sea lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. It’s about half a mile from the village of Dornie. The castle is open to visitors too, and has been featured on several films and tv series and is one of the most photographed castles in all of Scotland.

Eilean Donan Castle Scotland

Fort William

Fort William is a town in the western Scottish Highlands, on the shores of Loch Linnhe. Fort William is great base to explore Ben Nevis. The town has a cute little high street filled with pubs, cafes, restaurants and lots of souvenir shops. We came into town after visiting Ben Nevis for some lunch and a look around the shops.

Isle Of Skye

The Isle of Skye is one of Scotlands top destinations to visit and after visiting I can clearly see why! Isle of Skye is connected to Scotland’s northwest coast by a bridge, and is 50 miles long and the largest of the Inner Hebrides archipelago. This island has so much to offer its visitors from its rugged landscapes, quaint fishing villages, medieval castles and lots of wildlife such as eagles, seals, otters, dolphins, whales and deer to name a few!

We visited the Isle of Skye in just one day, however you could spend days and days roaming this island especially if you are into hiking trails. If you come in the summer there are lots of whale watching tours and wildlife kayaking tours available to book. We started off our day early as it took approximately 2 hours to drive to the Isle of Skye from where we were staying by Loch Ness. Some of the main places to visit on the Isle of Skye are;

We started to head back to the mainland before it got dark, there is so much to see and do on the Isle of a Skye I really wish we had more time there. Even if your short on time on your Highlands trip be sure to keep one day spare for a visit to the Isle of Skye.

Read more about the Isle Of Skye: A Day Trip To The Isle Of Skye From Loch Ness

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Loch Ness & Fort Augustus

Loch Ness is the most famous loch in Scotland and is surrounded by mystery with tales of sightings of a Loch Ness monster living deep beneath this freshwater lake. Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales put together. Loch Ness is about 23 miles in length and offers plenty of natural beauty, with lots of hikes and trails all around the legendary loch. Just behind our Geodome was a gorgeous trail with stunning views over the Loch, my husband and I were even lucky enough to see 2 deer dash out in front of us and into the trees.

There are plenty of cruises and boat tours available on Loch Ness, however we opted to walk along it, and visited Fort Augustus to admire its views over Loch Ness. Fort Augustus is nestled on the most southern tip of Loch Ness and lying on the 60 mile long Caledonian Canal. Fort Augustus is a tourist hotspot and there you can watch boats steering through the large locks. There are lots of shops, restaurants, cafes, tours and cruises of Loch Ness in Fort Augustus too.

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Mallaig, Morar & Arisaig

Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig are all seaside villages/towns located on the west cost of the highlands. We came to these on our last day and drove along the coast and stopped at their harbours and beaches. Mallaig is a fishing port town and is also extremely popular with Harry Potter fans as the Jacobite steam train which runs from Fort William to Mallaig and was featured in the Harry Potter films.

We came to Mallaig first and stopped there for lunch and a saunter around the shops and port, after that we then drove along the series of beaches known as the Silver Sands which dot the coastline from Morar to Arisaig. We stopped at lots of these beautiful beaches and coves and had them all to ourselves, they were so peaceful and rural.

Our last stop before having to head back to Inverness to catch our flight home was Arisaig which is a small village which leads on from Morar and is situated on an inlet in the Morar peninsula surrounded by the blue sea, rocky coves and powdery white sand. I absolutely fell in love with the west coast of Scotland the beaches were absolutely gorgeous and so clean they were hard to believe they were in the UK.

Mallaig ScotlandMallaig ScotlandMallaig ScotlandMorar ScotlandMorar ScotlandMorar ScotlandArisaig ScotlandArisaig Scotland

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is situated on Loch Ness and is one of the Highlands most famous castles. With a 1000 years of history the castle ruins gives visitors a taste into medieval times. As we were driving back to our Geodome from the Cairngorms we saw the castle so quickly pulled over to view it, the castle was stunning and we caught sunset just in time.

Urquhart Castle

Food & Drink

Chlachain Inn

Chlachain Inn is located in Mallaig, there isn’t a huge choice of places to choose from in this little port, but this looked nice from the outside and had a warm fire going inside, we stopped in here lunch and the food was great. I opted for the halloumi burger and it came with the most delicious relish!

Chlachain Inn Scotland

The Bothy

The Bothy is a traditional pub and restaurant next to the Caledonian canal in Fort Augustus. It has lots of traditional Scottish food on offer and the portions are huge! So make sure to go hungry, I had the mushroom pie which was was so delicious and just what I needed on a cold day. The Bothy is also a great place to visit for a drink too, as it’s set in a gorgeous 200 year old cottage and it has a friendly atmosphere.

The Bothy Scotland

The Cluanie Inn

On the way back from Isle of Skye we stopped off in Glenmoriston at the The Cluanie Inn. The great thing about Scotland is that it is full of cosy pubs and inns. We all weren’t massively hungry so stopped in there for a drink and a small dinner. The place was really popular with tourists and had a good range of food and drinks on offer.

The Cluanie Inn Scotland

The Grog & Gruel

The Grog and Gruel is on Fort Williams high street, and is a small alehouse and restaurant. There is a variety of dishes available and lots of American and Mexican food available to order. I decided on the vegetarian haggis which was really tasty. They pride themselves on offering a big choice of local and regional brewed ales and craft lagers and hearty comfort food.

The Grog & Gruel Scotland

The Wildcat

The Wildcat on Fort William high street is a vegan and zero waste cafe, which also has a refill shop at the back of the cafe and sells organic and ethical every day products. We stopped in here for a slice of cake and a chai latte, which was honestly one of the best chais I’ve ever had. The cafe has a very hipster look and feel to it and is a really great place to stop for a pick me up.

The Wildcat Scotland

The Winking Owl

The Winking Owl is a chalet restaurant in the town of Aviemore in the Cairngorms. It cooks up Scottish and international dishes with amazing views over the mountains. We came in here for lunch before exploring the rest of the Cairngorms. There is also a lunch menu available and we ordered the brie wedges to share to start with and they were amazing!

The Winking Owl ScotlandThe Winking Owl ScotlandThe Winking Owl Scotland

Accommodation

Inver Coille Camping & Glamping

When we were originally looking into where we wanted to stay, we knew we wanted something quirky and cosy. We came across Inver Coillie Camping and Glamping which offers several glamping options such as Geodomes, bell tents and pods. As there was 4 of us we opted to book one of their geodomes, and we were definitely not disappointed!

The campsite is nestled in a beautiful wooded area along Loch Ness, and only a 10 minute drive into Fort Augustus, it’s a great location for exploring the Highlands. Everything has been well thought out at the campsite, all the glamping pods are all well spaced out, bathrooms are immaculately clean and heated! When you book a Geodome you are provided with your own allocated bathroom which is code locked, which is great as you can leave all your toiletries in there. There is also a picnic area with fire pit and recycling bins. Just by the bathrooms there is also a communal area of sinks for washing up etc.

The dome we were allocated was gorgeous and we had the woods directly behind and a beautiful stream running just outside the dome. Inside the dome there is a double bed and a day bed which converts into a double. There’s a table and chairs and small kitchen unit which has a hob, and all the kitchen utensils and crockery you need along with a kettle. The dome comes with a starter pack of tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits. They also supply you with a bag of logs on arrival for the log burner, after that you can then buy extra at the reception. The log burner was amazing and made the Geodome so warm and toasty.

There was no WiFi or signal at Inver Coille but actually it was really nice to be able to fully switch off from the world. There was some solar run lights in the Geodome and some battery operated fairy lights but no electricity, however they supply you with a battery pack so you can charge your electricals, and you can leave gadgets charging in their reception.

If your looking for something a little bit different from your average guest house or hotel, and want a truely unique experience then I would definitely recommend glamping in the Highlands and get the chance to experience the outdoors a little more.

Inver Coille Camping & Glamping ScotlandInver Coille Camping & Glamping Scotland

Transport & Getting Around

As the Highlands covers a huge area I would recommend hiring a car, we picked up a car as soon as we landed at Inverness airport and dropped it off before we flew home. Having the flexibility of a car is great and means you can pull over at beautiful spots and find places you didn’t know existed along the way.

With Scotland’s rapid weather changes it’s also good to have a car to escape the rain. The roads are pretty quiet in the Highlands, just be prepared to drive along a lot of country roads, and the weather can take a turn for the worse at any moment.

Hiring a car was pretty inexpensive, just make sure to book in advance to get a good deal. Make sure to check out driving laws in Scotland as well, as there are a few variations compared to other areas in the UK.

5 Day Itinerary

  1. After arriving into the Highlands spend some time exploring Loch Ness and Fort Augustus and grab some pub grub at The Bothy.
  2. Get up early and start the climb up Ben Nevis, if you have any energy left after grab some food and have a wander in Fort William, and make some quick pit stops at the Commando Memorial and Bridge Of Oich.
  3. Set off early and have a full day exploring the Isle of Skye, and when coming back to the mainland at the end of the day stop at Eilean Donan Castle to see it lit up at dusk.
  4. Spend a full day exploring Aviemore and the Cairngorms.
  5. Drive to Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig and spend the day exploring each of these small villages that are all close together.

Top Tips

My top tips for visiting the Highlands is to pack for the weather make sure you pack plenty of warm and waterproof clothes and hiking boots with you. As much as I hate hiking boots as I think they are the ugliest invention known to mankind, they are highly functional in the Highlands.

One other tip is to research before you go and maybe download maps.me and pin out where you want to visit, as when we went to the Isle of Skye we went without a plan and ended up driving back on ourselves as we realised we had missed one of the major sights. If your time constraint then planning out an itinerary will mean you make the very most of your trip too.

Important Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx

What To See & Do In The Scottish Highlands In 5 Days - Pinterest Pin

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24 Hour Layover Guide To Nicosia

Nicosia also known as Lefkosia is the largest city in Cyprus and is also the islands capital city. Nicosia is rich with culture and history and today is the worlds last and only divided capital city. The barbed wire and guardtowers of the Green Line cuts the city into two, with the northern side being the capital of Northern Cyprus and the southern half being the capital of the Republic of Cyprus.

The airline I work for fly to Larnaca and recently I was lucky enough to be rostered a trip there with a 24 hour layover. We stay in Nicosia so I decided I wanted to go and explore some of this city in the short time I had there and wanted to make the most of it.

As I only had a short time in the city, I spent the morning sunbathing at the hotel and then my colleagues and myself ventured out and got a taxi into the centre as we were only a few minutes drive away. We explored the main streets, had the most delicious late lunch and crossed over into the Turkish side of the city. I really liked the atmosphere of Nicosia the locals were all so friendly both on the Greek and Turkish side of this split city.

I really want to come back and visit Cyprus on holiday as I feel this island has so much to offer and I would love to visit the coast and some more of the historical monuments and natural sights.

Sights & Activities

Faneromeni Church

Faneromeni Church is located in the old part of Nicosia, and its one of the oldest churches on the island. It is thought to have been constructed in 1222 as part of a Cistercian monastery for women. The church had to be completely rebuilt in 1715 due to the damage it suffered during an earthquake.

The church is located on a small square which has lots of little cafes and restaurants near by. The inside of the church is very grand with lots of large chandeliers and ornate detailing. This is one of the main historical sites to see in the city centre and is an absolute must when wandering around the city streets.

Ledra Street & Onasagorou Street

Ledra Street and Onasagorou Street are the two main shopping streets in Nicosia and are the busier streets of the capital filled with many big name shops, restaurants and cafes. The streets are also filled with lots of local cats which the locals seem to look after pretty well. Both of these streets are pedestrianised and it is the most lively part of the old town. Most tourists tend to visit these streets as they are another of Nicosia’s top sights.

Ledra Street Check Point

The Ledra Street Checkpoint cuts one of the busiest streets into two with passport control kiosks. It’s a divide that has split the Turkish Cypriot community from the Greek Cypriot community for decades. From the checkpoint the border spreads outwards dividing Cyprus in two. The crossing was closed for many years only several points were opened up in 2003, but in 2008 Ledra Street opened up its checkpoint allowing people to walk across the border. Today it is a symbolic of how divided the island of Cyprus still is to this day.

Crossing the divide should be something that all visitors should witness to understand some more of how life is in the worlds only divided capital. When crossing the border make sure you take your passport as you need to show it when leaving one side of the divide and show when entering into the other side. We went late afternoon after our lunch and the border crossing was pretty quiet and it was also on a weekday, I have read that on a weekend the checkpoint can be busier and sometimes might have queues, so try to aim to cross first thing in the morning or late afternoon.

Turkish Nicosia

Once crossing over into the Turkish side of Nicosia you can straight away see the difference of culture to the Greek side. I really enjoyed exploring the narrow streets and small shops and market stalls.

There was lots of street art around this part of the capital too, and several mosques to see, one of the largest and most grand mosques of the capital is Selimiye Camii mosque with its gothic architecture it really stands out. Just across from the mosque is Bandabuliya which is an old covered market that has been running since the 1930s and is a major landmark in the area, it has undergone some renovation recently to ensure it can continue running and to retain its original features.

You could easily spend a full day wandering around the streets and sights of this side of Nicosia, we only spent a few hours and saw so much and was great to see many of the locals too.

Food & Drink

To Anamma

To Anamma is a small Greek restaurant located on the famous Ledra Street in Nicosia. There is outdoor seating at the front, but what really makes this little restaurant special is it’s pretty little courtyard outback which is decorated with lots of greenery and has a relaxed atmosphere. The staff are so warm and friendly and couldn’t do enough for us and even catered for me being vegetarian.

They have a meze option on the menu for €14.50 per person which includes Greek salad, breads, tzatziki, halloumi, grilled vegetables and grilled meats etc all finished off with a dessert. The food was honestly some of the best Greek food I’ve ever had, and it just didn’t seem to end just when we thought all the food had came out they just kept delivering more. They swapped my grilled meat for grilled vegtable skewered and cous cous which was really great of them to do.

If your in Nicosia then make sure to add To Anamma to your itinerary and make sure you go hungry as you will be given so much food if you opt for the meze option.

Top Tips

When planning your trip over to the Turkish side of Nicosia be sure to catch one of the Whirling Dervish Performances which run daily Monday to Saturday between April through to September, I unfortunately discovered that they had this traditional dance after I had visited and wish I could have caught one of the performances.

If your a crazy cat person like myself then go prepared and take some cat food along with you to feed the many street cats, we took some of our leftover food from the restaurant to feed them which they seemed very happy with.

Important Information

Bratislava Travel Guide

Bratislava is the small capital city of Slovakia which sits on the Danube River, and borders Austria and Hungary. I am always open to finding new city breaks around Europe and giving anywhere new a try, mostly Bratislava is always associated with stag dos here in the UK and Western Europe, however there is much more to this city.

I found some really cheap flights through Wizz air for only £35 each return, so decided to give it a quick google before booking the flights, Bratislava looked really nice in the photos online so we decided to give it a chance.

When we arrived in Bratislava we were pleasantly surprised as we walked through Michaels Gate into the Old Town to find our accommodation, it’s old cobbled streets and dimly lit street lamps were so pretty and not how we imagined Bratislava to be.

Bratislava has a lot more to offer than just bars and clubs to stag dos, although it does have plenty of those if that’s what your after. Bratislava is so much more than a stag do destination, and has lots of historic buildings, cute cafes and lots of restaurants. There is plenty to do here on any weekend break, however as it’s only a small capital city I would recommend that if your coming on a sightseeing break that 1 to 2 days is more than adequate to see everything.

We spent 2 nights and 2 days in the city and found this more than enough time to see all the major attractions and sites, and still take a leisurely pace wandering around the city and stopping in its many cafes and bars along the way.

Sights & Activities

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle is one of the top attractions in the capital, set above the city and on the Danube River on a rocky hill. The castle dates back to as early as 907 but over the years has faced many changes such as wars, borders and empire change overs and much more. There is a museum set in the castle and some well kept gardens to explore. The views at the top also provide excellent views of the city, Daube River and of course the famous UFO in Bratislava. When visiting the city the castle is a must on your itinerary.

Church of St Elizabeth (Blue Church)

The Church of St Elizabeth which is mostly known as the Blue Church for obvious reasons is that everything inside and outside of the church is painted blue. The church is situated in the eastern part of the old town and about a 10 minute walk from the city centre. The church is built at the beginning of the 20th century in true art nouveau style. When we visited unfortunately the inside was locked, so we only got to wander around the outside, and have to say I think it’s one of my favourite church’s I’ve ever visited, it definitely stands out.

Cumil (Man at Work)

Cumil which translates to ‘watcher’ in Slovakian and is actually one of the most photographed objects in Bratislava. Cumil along with a few other statues appeared in the old town in 1997 a few years after Slovakia gained its independence to help polish up the cities image. Cumil is popular with tourists and can’t be missed when visiting the old town.

Grassalkovich Palace

Grassalkovich Palace was built back in 1760 for the chairman of the royal Hungarian chamber and was used for many years for aristocrat society events. Today it’s the official residence for the president of Slovakia. It’s a beautiful and grand building and when we visited at around midday we were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard ceremony, so if you can try and time your visit to catch the event.

Landererov Park

Landererov Park is a small park in the city centre there isn’t a huge amount to see there’s a small fountain and a few seating areas, which on a really hot day was a perfect place to go and sit and enjoy the sun.

Michaels Gate

Michaels Gate is the symbol of Bratislava and it’s old town and was built in the 14th century. It has seven floors which visitors can actually go right up to the top of the building for views over the city. Michaels Gate is also the gate way to Bratislava’s old town and it’s beautiful quaint streets.

Old Town

Bratislava’s Old Town is the historic hub of Slovakia’s capital city. The old town district is home to many of Bratislava’s historic monuments and beautiful gothic buildings and architecture. The old town was one of my favourite places in Bratislava it has so much to see and do, and has a really great atmosphere bursting at the seems with bars, restaurants and cafes.

Opera House & Hviezdoslavovo Square

The Bratislava Opera House is officially known as the Slovak National Theatre. It originally opened in 1886 as the cities national theatre, it’s located on Hviezdoslavovo Square which also has lots of choice for restaurants, cafes and galleries and has lots of outside seating under the tree lined plaza. The pedestrianised street and square also has several fountains and sculptures and street performers too, this area is a must visit when in the city, with lots of options to choose from for lunch or dinner and eating alfresco on warmer days. 

St Martins Cathedral

Bratislava’s gothic St Martins Cathedral is built on the site of a previous roman church which was there from 1221 until 1291 when Bratislava was given the privileges of a town, the church was then rebuilt to become part of the city walls, and its tower served as a defensive bastion The present church was made sacred in 1452. When visiting the old town make sure to visit this sacred church and have a look inside.

UFO

The UFO in Bratislava is an observation deck in the heart of the city just a few minutes walk from the old town. It also has a unique restaurant and bar at the top. We went up to the observation deck which costs only €8 per person, and you can get the most incredible views over the city and the Danube River. After going up to the observation deck we went to the bar where they have amazing cocktails and drinks available.

Food & Drink

Arthur

Arthur serves up a good selection of ice creams and sorbets which are made from natural ingredients and they also have serval vegan options available too. There are a few Arthur ice cream parlours dotted around the city. I tried the salter caramel ice cream which was delicious!

Drak & Finch

Drak & Finch is a small little cafe and bar in the old town and near to Bratislava castle, we popped in to cool down with a drink after visiting the castle. Try the Hugo cocktail which is really refreshing on a hot day.

Enjoy Bistro

Enjoy Bistro is a cosy casual cafe just down from Michaels Gate in the old town. It serves up delicious smoothies and drinks as well as lots of healthy food options. We stopped here for a drink and the smoothies were great. The decor inside is really cute with lots of homely touches.

Fach

Fach is probably one of the coolest places we visited for drinks and snacks and has a very Scandinavian feel to it, it’s decor is ultra modern and up market. It has lots on offer from the bakery as well as a small menu cooking up fresh dishes. Fach is pretty big and has a bar and restaurant as well as the cafe at the front. We sat outside and had some drinks and ordered their freshly made bread and butter and the cheese board, although I misread the menu and the cheeseboard does come with meat so we ate around the meat.

If you want to go there for dinner then reservations are a must! This place has a really sophisticated feel to it and would be great to visit for a special occasion dinner. Fach serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and lots of cold pressed juices and tasty homemade lemonades. The raspberry and rhubarb lemonade was my favourite.

Foodstock

I absolutely loved Foodstock this was definitely one of the best places for vegetarian food in Bratislava. I had the best vegetarian gyozas I’ve ever had before, and we also tried the sweet corn hummus which was to die for. This spot is great for lunch or snacks if your vegetarian or not you must try Foodstock!

KGB Pub

KGB Pub is a themed pub with lots of KGB memorabilia and located next to Slovak Pub. There’s seating outside which is great on a warm day or the pub itself is set in the basement downstairs.

Re:Fresh

Re:Fresh is a really popular restaurant, bar and nightclub in the capital. We visited serval times once in the afternoon for drinks and olives and we came back in the evening for dinner and cocktails. They have an excellent vegan menu which had a several Slovakian dishes as well as lots of western food, so we decided to order several of the Slovakian dishes to give them a try.

Slovak Pub

Slovak Pub is a must visit when in Bratislava it is one of the cities largest pubs and restaurants and is the place to try traditional Slovakian cuisines and dishes, and big selection of drinks at affordable prices.

It’s decorated in old fashioned Slovak decor. We went there late afternoon for a drink and some snacks. We decided to try the garlic soup which is served up in a bread loaf which was amazing! Also the homemade potato chips are a must try, and are cooked up fresh to order. I’m not normally a fan of red wine but decided to try the redcurrant wine which was so good.

UFO

When visiting UFO observation deck be sure to check out their bar and restaurant. We didn’t eat but decided to sample some of the cocktails, the mango passion cocktail was my favourite. We went there in the early evening for pre dinner cocktails and before it got busy.

Urban Bistro

The Urban Bistro in Bratislava’s old town just by Michaels Gate was one of my favourite places we ate at. We went to Urban Bistro for brunch and everything was amazing the food and drink was delicious, the decor is really cool and the atmosphere and staff are really friendly. My husband and I opted for the smashed avo on toast with poached eggs and I had a mimosa. I can’t recommend this place enough for a decent brunch in the heart of the city. We also came back here one afternoon and had some chai lattes.

Vegan Kiosk

The Vegan Kiosk is a great place to pick up some homemade vegan comfort street food. They create a range of hotdogs, burgers and wraps. It’s really cheap which is great if your on a budget and they make the food up really quick, there’s a few small tables put by the stall to perch at while you eat too.

Accommodation

Stay In City Apartments

While searching for accommodation in Bratislava, there seemed to be lots of apartments coming up on my searches, and many of them worked out really reasonably priced and in central locations, so we decided to book Stay In City Apartments which was just located down an alleyway next to Michaels Gate which was a perfect location to being really in the centre, and only having to walk out of the building to find plenty of bars and restaurants. We really couldn’t fault the location and the apartment itself was really well kitted out and had a lovely balcony too.

The only downsides to these apartments is that there is no luggage room! So on the last day the owner kindly let us leave our luggage in the flat until 3pm but after that we then had to wheel around our cabin bag which was a little annoying. Also if you plan on booking these apartments and are arriving after 10pm make sure to email them before to arrange check in, as we had some confusion when we arrived there was no one at the door and all the lights were out, we ended up wandering around trying to find out how to get our keys and eventually we called the owner who then said she was there waiting and had sent an email which I never received. When we got back to the apartments there was a note stuck on the door, which would have been helpful if she had stuck that on in the first place!

I would recommend these modern, comfortable and central apartments just try and make sure you speak to the owner first about check in and maybe travel light if your flight is late so your not having to carry too much around after check out.

Transport & Getting Around

Bratislava is really easy to get around and everywhere around the city is walkable. The only transport we used were taxis to and from the airport. I would recommend when booking your accommodation email them and see if they can organise your airport transfers, as our accommodation organised our transfers and they were only €15 from the airport to the old town. On the way back we assumed that all taxis were the same and jumped in one and it cost us double! So make sure to organise a transfer and price for both arriving and departing transfers so you don’t overpay!

Top Tips

The only bit of advice I have for Bratislava is that to visit for no more than 2 days as it’s such a small city you may run out of things to see and do, stay longer if your coming to the city to party or to venture out and explore further beyond the city.

Important Information