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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24 Hour Layover Guide To Hyderabad

Hyderabad is somewhere I knew very little about, and when I thought about travelling to India it was somewhere that never even crossed my mind. I was lucky enough to get a layover in Hyderabad with work, and was so surprised at how much I fell in love with this vibrant city.

This South Indian city which is the largest city and capital of Telangana state is very much under the tourism radar, which makes it the perfect place to explore as it isn’t spoilt by mass tourism. Locals are extremely friendly and love coming up to talk to you, finding out where you are from and getting a selfie with you.

The city has plenty to see and do with historical palaces, monuments, temples, and many markets and bazaars. It’s also where the Biriyani rice dish originates from so that is an absolute must try while in Hyderabad! It’s also well known across India for its bangles, and many Indian women travel to the city to purchase their bangles for special occasions, events and weddings etc.

Hyderabad is also a business hub in India and well known for its IT sector and pharmaceutical companies based there, so it doesn’t attract many leisure tourists, but more people travelling for business trips.

India is somewhere that has a piece of my heart, and when I’ve been to India before I’ve always had such a great time, and Hyderabad was no exception! We had such an amazing time roaming around the city and meeting the lovely locals. If your strapped for time and there for a layover or a work trip, here is what you could easily squeeze into 24 hours in the city.

Sights & Activities

Birla Mandir

Birla Mandir is a Hindu temple set upon a hilltop which overlooks the city, the temple was built back in the 1970s and took almost 10 years to finish. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is built with white marble. We visited towards the end of the day and got some amazing views over the city and the sunset. We didn’t enter the temple as it was getting quite late so just walked around it and admired the views. The temple is free to enter and you can spend between 1 to 2 hours exploring it.

Birla Mandir HyderabadBirla Mandir Hyderabad

Charminar & Laad Bazaar

Charminar is a monument and mosque in the centre of the city and is an iconic landmark of Hyderabad. The structure was completed back in 1591, the reason as to why it was built is still a bit of a mystery and has many theories as to why it created. One belief is that this structure was created by the sultan at the time to celebrate the end of a plague that gripped the city, another theory is that it was built in honour of the sultans wife as well as many other speculations.

The large four pillared monument can also be entered for a small fee, and you can climb the stairs to the top. We decided to just wander around the outside of it as it was a hot day and all of us were pretty tired from working the flight over and hadn’t had much sleep. I would like to go back and visit Charminar and next time walk up to the top.

Charminar is located in the heart of the old city in a large open square surrounded by the Laad Bazaar which is famous for selling traditional Indian bangles along with many other stalls and vendors selling a whole range of items. Wandering around you can see lots of craftsmen creating the traditional bangles and you can purchase them in a whole range of styles and colours. There is so much hustle and bustle in this area and so much going on, but this area of the city is a must if you really want to see an authentic side to Hyderabad.

Charminar HyderabadCharminar HyderabadCharminar HyderabadLaad Bazaar Hyderabad

Chowmahalla Palace

Entrance Fee: 200 INR

Chowmahalla Palace is one of Hyderabad’s top attractions, the construction of the palace began in 1750 and was completed in the mid 1800s. The grounds are comprised of 4 palaces which are Tahniyat Mahal, Mahtab Mahal, Afzal Mahal, and Aftab Mahal. There are also courtyards, gardens and fountains in the grounds, as well as lots of artefacts and antiques which can be viewed. The palace was built by the Nizams which were a monarchy in Hyderabad which ruled the Telangana state for almost 2 centuries from the 1700s to the 1900s. We spent just over an hour exploring the palaces and the grounds. No trip to Hyderabad would be complete without a visit to one of India’s most famous palaces.

Chowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace HyderabadChowmahalla Palace Hyderabad

Chowmahalla Palace Hyderabad

Mir Alam Mandi

Mir Alam Mandi is a wholesale food market and sells lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a whole range of traditional spices and cookware. This area is a great place to visit to view a traditional way of life, and if you want to purchase some spices to take home this is the place to come. The area is so colourful and vibrant and we really enjoyed exploring the streets around this district seeing the variety of stalls and what they had on offer.

Mir Alam Mandi HyderabadMir Alam Mandi HyderabadMir Alam Mandi HyderabadMir Alam Mandi Hyderabad

Food & Drink

Hotel Shadab

Hotel Shadab is well known across the city for its traditional Hyderabadi biryani, we went upstairs to the air coned restaurant which feels like stepping back in time to the 1970s. With its brown patterned tablecloths and old fashioned grandfather clock by the stairs, but don’t let the decor put you off, honestly I had one of the best Indian meals of my life in there!

The food was incredible and service was warm and friendly, we had to wait 15 minutes for a table as the place is popular with locals. We had to try the biryani so ordered a vegetable one to share as the portions are huge, and ordered a few sides to share. We chose the paneer 65, gobi manchurian and mixed raita and they were all out of this world delicious. I also had the Kashmiri coconut naan which was also incredible. We had so much food and in total it came to about £5 each when we split the bill. You must visit this restaurant as the food is amazing and such good value, and honestly I can’t stop thinking about how tasty the food was there!

Hotel Shadab Hyderabad

Transport & Getting Around

Hyderabad is a really easy and cheap city to get around although there is quite a lot of traffic it is nowhere near as bad as other cities in India. There a public buses and also an air conditioned metro rail, which runs on elevated tracks above the city. There is also plenty of taxis and tuk tuks which are readily available.

I was recommended a man called Sadam by some of my colleagues, he’s a tuk tuk driver and is really reliable and really well priced, and you can just WhatsApp (+91 863 9641629) him what you would like to see and do and he will put an itinerary together for you and make suggestions.

We paid roughly £10 each plus a small tip for the day and he came with 2 tuk tuks for all of us and took us everywhere around the city. We had such a good day with him and he walked us around the markets and sights to make sure we didn’t miss a thing.

Tuk Tuk HyderabadTuk Tuk Hyderabad

Top Tips

When visiting India try and go as prepared as possible, as some of the streets can be a hard to navigate and sometimes there can be a slight language barrier, so go armed with google translate, guide books, maps.me app etc. I always have maps.me downloaded as it’s a great app that works offline and when I’m walking around or in taxi I always check it to make sure I’m heading in the right direction.

Other tips for India would be to always carry a scarf or pashmina for ladies that would like to enter various temples, also dress modestly when exploring India, such as long maxi dresses, or loose fitting trousers and T-shirt etc.

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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A Day Trip To Ayutthaya From Bangkok

Ayutthaya is the former capital of Thailand when it was the kingdom of Siam, from 1350 it was a prosperous city and international trading port, until it was destroyed in the 18th century by the Burmese. It is located approximately 50 miles north of Thailand’s capital – Bangkok.

This once important city of global diplomacy and commerce, is now an archaeological ruin and now forms a large UNESCO world heritage site. The area of Ayutthaya is vast and is a huge archaeological site full of ruins, temples and buildings.

You could easily spend a few days exploring this former capitals ruins and the surrounding area. However anyone who is limited on time then there are plenty of options of day tours or you can get to Ayutthaya easy enough from Bangkok. It is a long day on the tour probably about twelve hours in total but so worth it!

We honestly loved Ayutthaya and seeing such an interesting historical site was just amazing, and would really recommend venturing out of Bangkok for the day to visit the many sites and excavations.

Sights & Activities

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace

Entrance Fee: 100 THB / or included in price of tour

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace is also referred to as the summer palace, and is just 20 minutes from Ayutthaya and located along the Chao Phraya River. It was constructed in 1632, but fell into disuse during the late 18th century, until King Mongkut began to renovate the grounds back in the mid 19th century. Although the palace is full of Thai style acrhitecture there is also some European influence shown in several of the buildings around the palace as well as several statues and sculptures dotted around the area, these were added in during the restoration, which were inspired by palaces from England and France.

The palace is spread out over a huge area and features small canals that run through the grounds to the river. The gardens of the palace are full of grassy lawns, water features and beautiful ornate buildings. Today the palace isn’t really used by the royal family and they only really use the palace for special occassions and royal banquets. The palace is immaculately kept and is a tranquil and peaceful place to visit, even though its a tourist attraction many tourists seem to skip the palace and just visit the archaeological ruins in Ayutthaya, however a lot of tours from Bangkok include the palace as an add on. We paid a little bit more for our tour and we stopped off at the palace before returning back to Bangkok.

You can also reach the palace easy enough by train from Bangkok if you didn’t want to opt for a tour. Honestly though when visiting Ayutthaya I would recommend a visit to the palace preferably at the end of the day as its a great place to wind down after a day of sightseeing.

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace AyutthayaBang Pa-In Royal Palace AyutthayaBang Pa-In Royal Palace Ayutthaya

Chedi Phukhao Thong

Chedi Phukhao Thong is surrounded by rice paddies and just outside of Ayutthaya in a small village, the temple was established back in 1387 and over the centuries with various invasions the temple changed hands several times, and so parts of the buildings were added to and modified. Today as the structure stands it incorparates both Thai and Burmese styles, you can climb half way up the stupa which provides views over the surrounding areas.

This temple is much quieter in comparison to many of the ruins in and around Ayutthaya. Since we visited the Chedi Phukhao Thong it has under gone some restoration work, so looks drastically different to when we visted, as it has been freshly painted white and renovated to perfection to give you a glimpse of what it would have looked like hundreds of years ago. This was our first stop on our tour as it is slightly out the way,  thats what makes the place a good place to visit as its not overrun with tourists.

Chedi Phukhao Thong AyutthayaChedi Phukhao Thong Ayutthaya

Wat Lokaya Sutha

Wat Lokaya Sutha translates to Temple of the Earth, the temple and monastery are one of the main sites of Ayutthaya. One of the highlights of these temples ruins is the 42 meter long reclining Buddha which is still in fairly good condition. There isnt much known about the temple and monastery but as its in close proximity to the Royal Palace ruins it is thought the temple would have held some form of importance.

Its founding date is also unknown but is believed to date back to the very early days of Ayutthaya. As well as the large recling buddha the site has plenty of other archeological ruins to see such as ruins of assembly halls, chedis (Thai stupa) and prangs (Buddhist spires/towers). Wat Lokaya Sutha is a must when in Ayutthaya as its crazy to see how many ruins there are dotted around this one area, the site is free to enter and most tours will stop here too. The site is also close by to other major historical locations such as Wat Phra Sri Sanphet.

Wat Lokaya Sutha Ayutthaya

Wat Mahathat

Entrance Fee: 50 THB / or included in price of tour

Wat Mahathat is one of the most important temples of the Ayutthaya kingdom, the name translates to The Temple of the Great Relic. This large royal monastery and temple was once the centre of buddhism in Ayutthaya, and was located close to the palace. The site was created back in 1374 and the site has many features and intricate details. The temple stood in this site for about 500 years before the invasion of the Burmese which saw much of Ayutthaya destroyed and turned to rubble. Today the ruins are all that stands but some are more preserved than others. It has a similar ruins to that of Angkor in Cambodia, many of the ruins are out in the open and the grounds are absolutley beautiful with so much to see and explore.

The main image associated with this well known site is the Buddha face entwined in the roots of a banyan tree. You cannot visit Ayutthaya without visiting Wat Mahathat its an absolute must, and was by far our favourite area to explore, the temple were incredible. I would imagine most if not all tours stop here as its one of the most recognised sites of the ancient capital.

Wat Mahathat AyutthayaWat Mahathat AyutthayaWat Mahathat Ayutthaya

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet & The Royal Palace (Wang Luang)

Entrance Fee: 50 THB / or included in price of tour

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is another major site in the ancient capital and is most famous for its distinct pagodas which appear on many of the photos of the old city, and are an iconic image for Ayutthaya. The temple was constructed back in 1448 by King Borommatrailokanat who ordered the construction of the temple for his own personal use. The temple was also used for royal ceremonies. The pagodas were constructed after the death of the king to hold his remains and various other kings of Ayutthaya. Over the years smaller chedis were added to the site to hold the ashes of other members of the royal family.

There was a large 16 meter high gold buddha which stood on the site, but when the Burmese invaded in 1767 all the gold and valuables were taken, when Bangkok was identified as the new capital city of Thailand in 1782, the king arranged what was left of the Buddha to be moved to the Wat Pho which is a famous temple and tourist attraction in Bangkok.

Ayutthaya was founded back in 1350 and Wat Phra Sri Sanphet sits on the original site of the wooden palace, a new palace was built a little later just north of the temple, and was adapted and expanded over the years by the various kings. Today nothing much is left from the Royal Palace (Wang Luang) just a grassy area which has some outlines of some of the old walls of the palace. If you go to Ayutthaya’s historical centre there is a display of what it would have looked like. Close by is also Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit which is an active temple that houses one of Thailand’s largest bronze Buddha images, when visiting Wat Phra Sri Sanphet make a stop there too, as both can easily be visited in the same morning or afternoon.

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet & The Royal Palace AyutthayaWat Phra Sri Sanphet & The Royal Palace Ayutthaya

Transport & Getting Around

Most people tend to visit Ayutthaya from Bangkok on a day trip, however some people spend a night or two there and explore, depending on how much time you have I would recommend booking onto a day tour from Bangkok as it’s really straight forward to do! We booked our tour through our hotel it cost us about £35 per person and included pick up and drop off in Bangkok, and all the entrance fees into the various sites and lunch. We had plenty of free time to explore on our own and as we got driven to each place we didn’t have the hassle of having to get from one place to another.

However if you are on a budget there are trains that run from Mo Chit Station in Bangkok and takes about 90 minutes by train to reach Ayutthaya, there are also buses available too, and once there you can explore many of the sites by foot or there are several places to hire a bicycle and bike around. If the hot weather is too much for you, you could also flag down a taxi or tuk tuk to take you between each of the sites once in the city.

You can also get a taxi to Ayutthaya from Bangkok however it isn’t much cheaper than taking a tour and you won’t get the entrance fees and lunch included so by the time you pay out for everything else it works out about the same cost as one of the tours.

Top Tips

Many of the sights in Ayutthaya are outside and exposed so make sure to wear light and comfortable clothing, but also clothing that covers your shoulders and knees as many of the sights are temples so dress modestly. Take plenty of sun cream, a hat and sunglasses to help with the midday heat and plenty of drinking water.

There are still elephants available for tourist rides in Ayutthaya, please avoid this at all costs! The elephants have to endure a process called Phajaan also known as the crush, where they take baby elephants and brutally torture them for days and weeks at time to break the elephants spirit, so that they can be controlled by humans. It’s a really traumatic practice and unfortunately until tourists realise what actually happens to make these elephants allow people to ride on them the practise will continue. I personally have ridden on elephants in the past before I knew what they went through, and now personally I would never ride on one again as it’s truly heartbreaking what they must under go.

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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3 Days In Bohol & Panglao Island

Bohol is an island and province in the Philippines and situated in the Central Visayas region of the country. The province of Bohol consists of the main island Bohol along with several other smaller islands that surround it. Bohol is a great place to visit, for such a small island it has a huge variety of things to see and do. Bohol is most famous for its quirky geological formations, coral reefs and its most recognised little primate – the Tarsier.

The island of Bohol had a short stint of independence at the turn of the 19th century, so many of the locals still refer to Bohol as the Republic of Bohol. When visiting Bohol you can see the island is steeped in history and has been influenced over the years which appears in its Spanish colonial architecture.

Bohol has something for everyone whether you want to go jungle trekking, cave exploring, wildlife spotting, admiring history and architecture or chilling on beautiful paradise beaches, this tiny province in the Phillipines really does have it all.

Sights & Activities

Babclayon Church

Entrance Fee: Museum 50 PHP / Church is free to enter

Babclayon Church is the oldest christian settlement in Bohol and second oldest church in the Philippines. Located only 4 miles away from Tagbilaran City which is Bohols Capital. It was created back in 1717 and was built using coral stone. It has undergone some major renovations over the years as its encountered various damages over the years, but endured most of its damage from the 2013 earthquake.

The church is also part of the UNESCO world heritage, next to the church is an old convent that is home to the church’s musuem which houses lots of religious artefacts and antiques. We visited after going to the Loboc River as it’s not too far from there, and had a wander around the outside and inside of the church.

Babclayon Church Bohol

Bilar Man Made Forest & Eco Park

Bilar Man Made Forest and Eco Park is a stretch of man made mahogany forest, and a lot of visitors stop by on route to the Chocolate Hills and Loboc River. The Forest has huge trees which cover the sky completely when stood underneath, the forest can be viewed from the main road or the viewing platforms set in the forest. The forest is so dense and thick that it is much cooler under the trees than outside of the forest which is much warmer.

The reforestation plan was started back in 1953 to combat the huge deforestation that occurred after locals sought refuge during World War II, the damaging slash and burn farming method destroyed much of the original forest. You can’t miss the man made forest you are bound to drive through it at some point on your trip.

Chocolate Hills

Entrance Fee: 50 PHP to enter viewing deck

The Chocolate Hills is Bohols most iconic sight and attraction, the hills cover a vast area in the centre of the island and consists of atleast 1260 hills, but there are many more that are spread out. The hills are covered in green grass which turns brown during dry season, which is where they get their name from.

This unique geological formation has a viewing platform in Carmen Town which gives you a 360 degree view of the hills, which seems never ending. The hills vary in height from 30 meters to 120 meters, and are sometimes considered the eighth wonder of the natural world. The site is also part of UNESCO world heritage. The Chocolate Hills is a must as not only is it one of Bohol’s top attractions, but also one of the top places to visit in the the Philippines.

Chocolate Hills Bohol

Loboc River

Entrance Fee: 550 PHP for buffet lunch river cruise

The Loboc River is one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve ever been to, the rivers source is located in the town of Carmen in the centre of Bohol Island, and takes its course through Loboc and to the south of the island where it then meets the Bohol Sea. The scenery around the river is so green and tropical, with lots of palms, coconut trees, banana groves and vegetation surrounding the river on each side, there are small boats used by locals which you will see passing, as well as local children swinging from trees and jumping into the river.

The river is a popular tourist attraction and has lots on offer for visitors such as standup paddle boarding, paddleboard yoga, bird and firefly watching, river crusing buffet lunches and cultural displays.

When we visited we decided to book on one of the river cruises which serves up a traditional filipino buffet lunch. The river cruise is a great way to see the river and float along on a floating restaurant, they also have local musicians playing traditional Boholano songs, and the leisurley cruise takes you to Busay Falls. Just by the falls is a small floating cottage where a local rondalla group (filipino music which was introduced by the spainish) performs dances and music.

I would really recommend the lunch cruise along the river as the food and the views were amazing and it was a really relaxing and peaceful part of the day.

Loboc River BoholLoboc River BoholLoboc River Bohol

Mag-Aso Falls

Entrance Fee: 50 PHP

Mag-Aso Falls are twin waterfalls which are 25 feet in height and surrounded by wild plants and trees, and located about 30 minutes drive away from Tagbilaran City. The waterfalls are a really nice and quiet place to come and visit as its not one of the most popular tourist attractions.

You can swim in the pools of the waterfalls, however when we visited it had been raining heavily and we were advised to not get into the waterfalls as it may be dangerous as it had higher levels of water. I’d suggest asking at the entrance if its safe or not to get in. Theres loads of stairs and rails to get down to the waterfalls and it is a lovely walk down through the forest. When we visited we were the only ones there, and it was so nice having the area to ourselves to admire the scenery.

Mag-Aso Falls Bohol

Panglao Island

Panglao Island is located to the south of Bohol Island and less than 10 miles away from Tagbilaran, its known for its popular beach resort of Alona Beach. This small paradise island is connected to Bohol island by a road, so is easily reachable. The island has beautiful pristine beaches which attract both local Filipinos and overseas visitors.

Just a few minutes away by banca boat from the beautiful beaches are colourful coral reefs and world famous dive sites. As well as stunning beaches on offer the island is also home to several other sights and attractions such as Hinagdanan Cave, Bohol Bee Farm, Nova Shell Museum and the Saint Augustine Church to name a few. I would really recommend visiting all of these and they can easily be done in half a day!

We loved stepping down into Hinagdanan Caves, it’s a beautiful small cave with a lagoon pool and a real natural treasure! The Nova Shell Museum was also really interesting and a great place to stop at, it showcases all of the shells that are found around the island. The Bee Farm is an absolute must for lunch, if you want healthy organic food with great views it’s the perfect spot!

We visited Panglao for the day but actually wish we had booked accommodation on Panglao and based ourselves there instead of Tagbilaran. If you are planning a trip to Bohol, I would really recommend basing yourself on Panglao Island as the rest of Bohol is easily accessible from there.

Read more about Panglao Island: Best Places To Visit On Panglao Island

Panglao Island

Philippine Tarsier Foundation

Entrance Fee: 50 PHP conservation fee

Tarsiers are the worlds smallest primate and have been around for millions of years, they are tiny with long tails, huge eyes and they can rotate their heads by 180 degress. They are the only primates which are entirely carnivorous and feed on insects, lizards and snakes. There are a five types of tarsier species which used to inhabit many of the worlds rainforests, but today can only be found in certain parts of the Philippines, Indonesia and Borneo.

The tarsiers that can be found in the forests of Bohol are the Tarsius Syrichta species, there are several so called sanctuaries dotted around the island of Bohol, however a lot of them allow visitors to hold them and have their photos taken with them. These places are not sanctuaries and are doing more harm than good, as tarsiers are timid and can be easily scared so handling them can be detrimental to their mental and physical health.

Always do your own research prior to visiting any animal or wildlife sanctuaries to check that they are legit and your not investing your money into nothing more than a tourist trap. I have made mistakes in the past and visited animals in other destinations without researching prior to the visit, and then later realising the animals were mistreated or were not being cared for in the correct way, and as an animal lover was heartbroken when I found out that I had paid into such a cruel system.

If you would like to see tarsiers then make sure to visit the Philippine Tarsier Foundation non profit sanctuary and conservation program which covers 167 hectares of protected timberland area and covers three areas – Corella, Sikatuna and Loboc. We went to Corella and a guide took us through to some of the woods where we could spot some tarsiers living wild in the trees and bushes. You are allowed to take photos but the flash must be off, and you have to be really quiet and you are not allowed to touch them. This was a real highlight of our trip to Bohol.

Philippine Tarsier Foundation

Sevilla’s Twin Hanging Bridge

Sevilla’s Twin Hanging Bridge are two bamboo constructed bridges which hang over the Sipatan River and located in the town of Sevilla, each bridge has a one way system you cross over on one, and walk back over on the other. Originally these bridges were just made of bamboo and rope, but as its tourist numbers have increased steel cables have been added for extra safety. Originally the bridge was used by locals to cross the river, but today is one of the islands top attractions as it has views over the river and the surrounding greenery.

Sevilla's Twin Hanging Bridge Bohol

Shiphaus

Entrance Fee: 20 PHP

Shiphaus is a pretty quirky attraction and located not too far away from the Chocolate Hills. This strange building is shaped like a shipping vessel and its owner is a local ex mariner captain. It was created back in 2011 and has some hotel rooms which you can book into which continue the nautical theme. There is a roof deck and all staff are dressed in sailor uniforms, when we went they also insisted that we dressed as sailors too, I left the photos out of this blog as they were so cringey! The staff pretty much had us doing one of those cheesy couples photo shoots, it was all part of the fun I guess. If your visiting the Chocolate Hills its worth going to as its something a bit different.

Shiphaus Bohol

Tagbilaran

Tagbilaran is the capital city of Bohol, its the only city on the island and the hub of commerce. The city is busy with traffic and people, there is a variety of malls, shops, cafes and restaurants as well as a few sights such as St Josephs Cathedral which showcases Spanish colonial architecture. There are also a few statues and monuments one of the most popular ones being the Blood Compact monument which depicts a friendship treaty between the natives and the king of Spain back in 1565.

While in the city also take a wander into some of its museums such as the National Musuem of Bohol which house lots of Bohol memoribilia and historical information and artefacts. I would suggest going into Tagbilaran one afternoon to have a browse, but dont expect to be blown away by the sights as there are much nicer areas all around the island. We went into the city shortly after we arrived in Bohol to grab something to eat and had a walk around to see what it had to offer.

Food & Drink

Bohol Bee Farm Resort

Bohol Bee Farm Resort is located on Panglao island and is an absolute must visit, this gorgeous organic farm has the most beautiful restaurant built onto a small cliff overlooking the ocean, and serves up fresh organic dishes. Before your food is served they provide squash bread and pesto and mango spreads which were amazing. I ordered the honey glazed chicken which was delicious and beautifully presented with flower garnishes.

There is a cute gift shop selling souvenirs and locally made products and produce, and a small ice cream shop. We had a look around the gardens and went down to the sun deck which provides stunning views of the sea. You can also stay overnight as there are suites and chalets available to book. There are beehive tours you can go on at selected times too. I would really recommend visiting for lunch and to wander around the resort, it really is a lovely relaxing spot to visit.

Bohol Bee Farm Resort

Garden Cafe

The Garden Cafe is a Tex Mex and American food restaurant with a cowboy theme, which may seem a little out of place in the Philippines, but this restaurant employs deaf waiters and chefs and the menus provide a beginners guide to sign language. Its a great little place to come and visit for comfort food, while also providing job opportunities for the hearing impaired.

Gerarda’s

Gerarda’s is a family run restaurtant in Tagbilaran and is well known by locals, it serves traditional Filipino food in a traditional setting. The service was friendly, and we saw lots of locals coming in for big family meals. We tried a few dishes and the waiter recommended the Binagoongan Baboy which is a Filipino pork dish, all the food was really tasty and filling. If you want to try some typical Filipino cuisine this is the place to come!

Payag

Payag is another authentic Filipino restaurant which is set in a Spainish styled home in Tagbilaran. The restaurant is famous for its chicken inasal which is chicken marinated with several ingredients such as lime and coconut, its basically Filipino barbecue chicken. We opted for some lechon which is an extremely popular pork dish in the Philippines and some sizzling gambas. All the food was delicious and fresh and the setting was traditional and homely. Payag is another great place to go if you want to try a variety of Filipino dishes, and are staying close to the city.

Payag Bohol

Accommodation

Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel

Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel is situated next to the Blood Compact Monument in Tagbilaran, and is an ocean facing hotel with an infinity pool. Unlike other areas in South East Asia, I have to admit you don’t get as much bang for your buck or nowhere near the same level of accommodation in the Philippines. So make sure you set your expectations as I found accommodation in the Philippines to be similar or a little more expensive but without the same high standards of other places such as Indonesia, Thailand etc.

Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel was a lovely hotel however, and the public areas were clean, slick and modern. The rooms are a bit more basic, nice enough but nothing particularly special. I wouldn’t quite call it a boutique hotel unless referring to the public areas. The location was great though, and not too far from the city centre, and the hotel had amazing views over the ocean and you could see Panglao in the distance. The hotel also has a bar and restaurant which serves tasty food and drinks and had a relaxing atmosphere.

The cafe area in the hotel was fantastic and served the most delicious cakes, and was nice to sit and have a drink and cake after a long day exploring. The staff were really friendly and helpful too. If you want to base yourself in Tagbilaran then I would recommend booking into Ocean Suites.

Personally if I were to return to Bohol in the future and knowing what I know now, I would suggest looking at accommodation options on Panglao Island. I didn’t realise how close and accessible the island was prior to going to Bohol, but as it’s connected to Bohol by a road it is extremely easy to reach all of Bohol’s main attractions, and after a day of exploring you can sit on the beach with a drink and watch the sunset!

Ocean Suites Boutique Hotel Bohol

Transport & Getting Around

There are several options to reach Panglao you can get a flight to Panglao International Airport which only opened back in 2018, it’s a small airport and there are just a several flights going in and out daily from Manila, a few other places around the Philippines and direct flights from Seoul in South Korea.

It’s now much easier to get to the island, we visited when it still had the older airport at Tagbilaran, and there were no flights from Cebu that we could find. So we took the ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran. The ferry is easy, regular and cheap and takes about 2 hours and costs less than £15 each. We went with Oceanjet ferries and booked in advance.

Bohol is pretty easy to navigate around and there is a variety of options to get around the island. When in Tagbilaran city everything is within walking distance, however when exploring the rest of the island I would suggest booking a driver for the day or booking onto a day tour for ease, and to go and see all the main sights.

We booked a driver for two days, one day we got driven all over Bohol and the second day we went to Panglao. It’s really affordable to do and personally would recommend this rather than booking a tour group, as you can spend as little or as much time as you want in certain places, and have more flexibility. When going short distances just hop in one of the many tricycles zipping about the streets.

3 Day Itinerary

  1. After arriving grab lunch explore Tagbiliran and it’s sights and attractions.
  2. Visit Bohols main sites; Philippine Tarsier Foundation / Bilar Man Made Forest & Eco Park / Chocolate Hills / Shiphaus / Sevilla’s Twin Hanging Bridge / Loboc River / Babclayon Church.
  3. Start your day at Mag-Aso Falls before heading over to Panglao Island then visit Panglao Islands top attractions; Hinagdanan Cave / Bohol Bee Farm / Nova Shell Museum / Saint Augustine Church / Alona Beach.

Top Tips

My best bit of advice for visiting Bohol would be to base yourself on Panglao Island, I really wish that’s what we had done. It’s so close and convenient when exploring the rest of Bohol, but you have the beautiful beaches to chill out on after a day of sightseeing.

When visiting Bohol avoid the so called Python Sanctuary at all costs! When we were driving around the island our driver took us there, we hadn’t done any research prior to going and as the driver said it was a sanctuary we agreed for him to take us there, which now I regret! The place is like hell on Earth for the animals living there. Monkeys are kept in tiny cages and the conditions are just heartbreaking, as soon as we stepped in we decided to leave straight away. I emailed several animal charities afterwards to see if I could get these animals help, but didn’t have much luck! Seeing the animals kept in those conditions still haunts me to this day, and made me feel so helpless, and I’m so annoyed that we paid into this awful place!

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

3 Days In Bohol and Panglao Island - Pinterest Pin

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Best Places To Visit On Panglao Island

Panglao Island is located to the south of Bohol Island and less than 10 miles away from Tagbilaran, its known for its popular beach resort of Alona Beach. This small paradise island is connected to Bohol island by a road, so is easily reachable. The island has beautiful pristine beaches which attract both local Filipinos and overseas visitors.

Just a few minutes away by banca boat from the beautiful beaches are colourful coral reefs and world famous dive sites. As well as stunning beaches on offer the island is also home to several other sights and attractions.

We visited Panglao for the day but actually wish we had booked accommodation on Panglao and based ourselves there instead of Tagbilaran. If you are planning a trip to Bohol, I would really recommend basing yourself on Panglao Island as the rest of Bohol is easily accessible from there.

I would also recommend allowing some time to visit other close by islands, we didn’t have enough time to visit them but really wish we did. I’ve heard it’s better to book a private tour boat, and head to Balicasag Island and Virgin Island to spot wild dolphins, snorkel, dive or swim and stroll along Virgin Islands pristine white sand bar. You can book to see these islands on a half day tours.

Panglao Beaches

Most people visit Panglao island for its beautiful beaches, marine life and slower pace of life. There are plenty of beaches to choose from all around the island, I always recommend when staying on any beach always walk along the beach as you always stumble across something new such as another area of natural beauty, a cool restaurant or little beach shack, you can’t beat a good beach walk. Here are just a few of Panglaos beaches to explore;

  • Alona Beach: Is one of the most popular beaches with tourists, and has lots of resorts, cafes, restaurants, bars, dive shops and water sports all available along the beach front.
  • Danao Beach: Is a mix of white sand and rocky shores and has a more natural feel to it, it’s not too far from Alona Beach either.
  • Doljo Beach: Doljo Beach is a long stretch of white sandy beach lined with palm trees and isn’t very developed and isn’t too far from Momo Beach.
  • Dumaluan Beach: This beach is similar to Alona Beach and is not far from it, but it is much quieter. This beach is a great place to base yourself as it’s a good alternative to Alona Beach and you get the best of both, close enough to all the amenities in Alona but the quieter more serene beach of Dumaluan.
  • Momo Beach: Momo Beach is one of the quietest beaches and hasn’t got lots of hotels and resorts, it’s a great escape for people that want to get away from tourists.
  • Panglao Beach: Panglao Beach is only a small stretch of beach but a beautiful one, and doesn’t have many resorts along the beachfront.
Alona Beach Panglao

Bohol Bee Farm Resort

Bohol Bee Farm Resort is located on Panglao island and is an absolute must visit, this gorgeous organic farm has the most beautiful restaurant built onto a small cliff overlooking the ocean, and serves up fresh organic dishes. Before your food is served they provide squash bread and pesto and mango spreads which were amazing. I ordered the honey glazed chicken which was delicious and beautifully presented with flower garnishes.

There is a cute gift shop selling souvenirs and locally made products and produce, and a small ice cream shop. We had a look around the gardens and went down to the sun deck which provides stunning views of the sea. You can also stay overnight as there are suites and chalets available to book. There are beehive tours you can go on at selected times too. I would really recommend visiting for lunch and to wander around the resort, it really is a lovely relaxing spot to visit.

Bohol Bee Farm Resort Panglao

Hinagdanan Caves

Entrance Fee: 25 PHP / Bathing Fee 100 PHP

Hinagdanan Caves are small tucked away caves and can only be accessed by some small ladder steps which has to be done in single file. We loved stepping down into these beautiful caves with crystal clear lagoon and limestone stalactite and stalagmite formations. With the caves growing popularity there are several souvenir shops and cafes located nearby. These caves are a must visit, I would recommend going early to avoid the crowds, and wear shoes that have good grip as it can be quite slippy in the caves. There’s a small entrance fee to enter the caves, and an extra cost if you wanted to swim in the caves lagoon.

Hinagdanan Caves PanglaoHinagdanan Caves Panglao

Nova Shell Museum

Entrance Fee: 50 PHP

Nova Shell Museum this quirky little museum is a really good place to visit its really interesting and a great place to stop off at. It showcases all of the shells that are found around the island and other areas of the Philippines. It’s only a small museum and doesn’t take much time to look around the huge variety of seashells. I would really recommend adding the museum to your Panglao itinerary, as it’s a really sweet and eccentric little space.

Nova Shell Museum Panglao

Saint Augustine Church

Saint Augustine Church is great place to stop at to admire some of the islands history. This Spanish baroque style church has mural ceilings, a watch tower and ruins. It’s interesting to see and learn about the church’s history and understand about the Spanish colonisation in the Philippines.

Saint Augustine Church Panglao

Transport & Getting Around

There are several options to reach Panglao you can get a flight to Panglao International Airport which only opened back in 2018, it’s a small airport and there are just a several flights going in and out daily from Manila, a few other places around the Philippines and direct flights from Seoul in South Korea.

It’s now much easier to get to the island, we visited when it still had the older airport at Tagbilaran, and there were no flights from Cebu that we could find. So we took the ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran. The ferry is easy, regular and cheap and takes about 2 hours and costs less than £15 each. We went with Oceanjet ferries and booked in advance. From Tagbiliran you can grab a taxi easy enough that can take you to Panglao.

We booked a driver for the day and visited Panglao, it’s really affordable to do and personally would recommend this rather than booking a tour group, as you can spend as little or as much time as you want in certain places.

1 Day Itinerary

  • Hinagdanan Cave
  • Bohol Bee Farm
  • Nova Shell Museum
  • Saint Augustine Church
  • Alona Beach

Top Tips

My best bit of advice for visiting Bohol and Panglao would be to base yourself on Panglao Island, I really wish that’s what we had done. It’s so close and convenient when exploring the rest of Bohol, but you have the beautiful beaches to chill out on after a day of sightseeing.

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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What To Do In Baku

Azerbaijan is a country which is wedged in between Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, the Caucasus Mountains and sits on the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan was once part of the Soviet Union and this can be clearly seen in some of its architecture that still stands today.

Baku is Azerbaijan’s capital city and situated on the Caspian Sea. Baku is famous for its oil refineries, hosting the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest and its medieval old town. This Eurasian City is a real melting pot as there has been many influences over the years, and you can really see where east meets west, it has modern architecture mixed with its beautiful old town. The culture has lots of Middle Eastern and Arabic influences mixed in with a Russian and Eastern European vibe.

I really fell in love with this quirky city and I can honestly say it’s like nowhere I have ever experienced before! There is so much to explore and if you fancy a city break with a difference it makes a great long weekend escape, or if you booked a twin centre trip to Azerbaijan and Georgia it would make an excellent cultured getaway.

Sights & Activities

Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum

Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum is a strange sight to behold the building is shaped like a rolled up carpet, and the museum celebrates the art and technique of carpet and rug weaving, which is Azerbaijan’s national art form, and a huge part of the countries heritage. The museum houses the largest collection of Azerbaijan carpets and rugs, as well as showcasing the tools and techniques used to create the carpets. Entrance into the musuem is only 7 manat which is equivalent to about £4 per adult.

Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum

Baku Boulevard & Bulvar Park

Baku Boulevard is a promenade which runs along Baku’s seafront which over looks the Caspian Sea. The promenade is a national park and was created back in the early 1900s. The Boulevard has the biggest Azerbaijani flag and it’s the biggest flag in the world.

Along the promenade there is plenty to see, eat and do with restaurants, cafes with outside seating, a puppet theatre, mall, ferris wheel and a Carpet Museum. Try and walk along the seafront in the morning to take advantage of it’s fresh sea air and peacefulness. If you more active it’s also the perfect place to go for a jog, run or hire a bicycle and cycle the length of it. There is also a little man made Venice on the promenade where you can take a boat ride.

Bulvar Park is a mall situated along Baku Boulevard with lots of shops, restaurants supermarket, cinema, bowling and a foot court. I have popped into this small several times on trips to Baku as their is a good choice of cheap places to eat in the foot court and also the supermarket is a great place to pick up some local Azerbaijani food and snacks to take home.

Baku Boulevard and Bulvar ParkBaku Boulevard and Bulvar Park

Flame Towers

Flame Towers are three skyscrapers in the shape of flames to symbolise Baku’s history of worshipping fire. They consist of residential apartments, serviced apartments, offices, shops, observation decks and a hotel. The trio of towers were completed back in 2012 and are some of the tallest buildings in the country, and are now a symbolic icon of the capital. At night they are lit up and perform a light show in a variety of colours and transition between moving images of the Azerbaijan flag, fire and water.

Fountain Square

Fountain Square is located just by Nizami Street and is a public square and is home to several fountains, sculptures and statues. Its a popular area as it’s a great meeting point in the city, and also surrounded by restaurants, cafes and shops. On a warm day it’s the perfect place to sit and people watch.

Maiden Tower

Maiden Tower is the oldest structure in Baku’s Old Town, and many experts believe the tower was finished in the 12th century, along with many other buildings in the walled city. However no one is entirely sure when it was built, or the purpose of it. There is a difference in appearance of the stones that form the foundation, and the first three stories suggests the original structure may date as far back as 600 BC.

There is museum inside the tower which houses lots of information all about Baku and it’s history, and you can also climb to the top of the tower for excellent views over the city and the bay of the Caspian Sea. There is small entrance fee of 10 manat which is about £5 per person. When in the Old Town you can’t miss Maiden Tower.

Maiden Tower

Nizami Street

Nizami Street is the most central part of Baku and and is home to a huge array of shops, entertainment facilities, pubs, restaurants and cafes. Even though the area is a commercial hub of the city it has elegant style and beautiful 19th century buildings which line the street, as well as pretty street lights and chandeliers that hang over the street above. Try and visit the street both during the day and at night to see it all lit up.

Old Town (Icherisheher)

Baku’s Old Town also known as Icherisheher is the cities historical core and is the oldest part of the city. It’s steeped in history and ancient architecture, and an absolute must visit when in Baku. Baku Old Town is a city within a city and surrounded by a curved wall which would have once been protection for the city, originally there were just two main gates to enter, but today there are several openings where pedestrians and cars can pass through.

It has grand palaces and mosques, sunken ruins of old hammams and caravanserais. There are lots of stalls and shops with silver merchants and carpet vendors who have been trading their wares there for centuries. The Old Town is part of UNESCO world heritage and some parts of this old city date back to the 12th century, although there is some evidence which shows some areas may even date back to as early as the 7th century.

The Old Town is my favourite area in the city, you can stroll around the old streets for several hours exploring, browsing traditional trinkets in the small shops, stopping at small authentic tea houses to have a glass of tea and some freshly made baklava. The Old Town is what most people come to Baku go visit, it really is a special place to see.

Baku Old TownBaku Old TownBaku Old Town

Food & Drink

Hilton Baku

The Hilton Baku is a large fancy hotel set overlooking the Caspian Sea and has a revolving bar which provides incredible views over the city especially at night when the city lights up and you can see the Flame Towers light show in the distance. Even if you don’t stay at the Hilton I would highly recommend visiting the revolving bar for a cocktail in the evening and to see the city lit up.

Old Garden Restaurant

Old Garden Restaurant is situated on the edge of the Old Town and is a stunning restaurant set in what looks like some old ruins, you step down some small steps into a garden area that is set out with a pathway of Persian rugs which lead up to the restaurant. You can choose to eat inside or outside in the garden area, or just stop by for a drink.

The menu is reasonably priced and the staff are friendly. I stopped there in the late afternoon and had a tea, it’s such a peaceful place to go and relax, I stumbled across this place before I headed back to get ready for my flight home and wish I would of had the time to stop and have something to eat as the place had a really lovely ambience.

Old Garden Restaurant BakuOld Garden Restaurant Baku

Transport & Getting Around

Baku is a really easy city to explore, I found the best way to get around the city centre was by foot, you can also hire bicycles too. There are plenty of public transport options too though, such as buses and metros which link the city together and connect the suburbs to the city. There’s also an option to purchase a preloaded city transport card similar to that of London’s Oyster card, Baku’s card is called Bakikart. There are also taxis available, the main ones being Baki Taksi which are dark purple London style cabs, and run on a meter and aren’t too expensive and a good option if your just flagging a taxi down and haven’t booked one in advance.

Top Tips

Baku is an amazing place to visit and I never once felt unsafe as female wandering around alone, however something to be aware of if you are a solo female traveller is that you will have men approach you wanting to chat. I was approached several times by various men every time I visited the city. I’m a pretty confident and outspoken person so I was polite back but made sure to end the conversation quite quickly by not giving much back or if they were trying to flirt would tell them I’m married, however if your shy and timid I can imagine this would be quite intimidating. My best bit of advice is just to be polite, and end the conversation or tell them you have a boyfriend or husband even if you don’t!

Azerbaijan is a real melting pot of cultures but as it has quite an Islamic influence and many Muslims I would recommend to cover yourself and not wear anything too revealing, out of a sign of respect but also to avoid any unwanted attention. Every time I visited Baku I was always pretty well covered and unfortunately still got unwanted attention. Don’t let this put you off though, as I have always really enjoyed visiting the city and met some lovely locals too, it’s just something to keep in mind so your prepared.

I have also heard about a lot of scams in Baku, and again something to be wary of, I didn’t experience this myself but have heard that some restaurants might add a bit extra on to the bill for tourists so just make sure to check you bill before paying, and if there is a discrepancy then let the waiter know so they can amend it, like all cities there are always going to be scammers so just go with your wits about you, like you would anywhere in the world.

Important Information

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xxWhat To Do In Baku - Pinterest Pin