Travel? I would love to! But I don’t have the money… Going somewhere during the upcoming holiday? Sounds great, but I don’t have the time…
Unfortunately, we often lose the motivation of going on a trip because it looks like such a big deal, like an enourmous monster is ahead of us and we can only travel by plane, stay in an all-in hotel and go on a spend-it-all-vacay mood. There are other alternatives, too. Short trips make you get the best out of a destination while maximizing your time and not digging too deep into your wallet. Whether you’re strugglng with finding time to travel or travelling on a budget, this article features five tested ways to travel cheap and maximize your time.
After applying these tips, you will be able to travel cheap, gain more out of a destination and utilise your time to the maximum.
Hop on a overnight bus
In Europe, it has gotten quite easy and cheap to travel around. Crossing borders with major bus companies such as Flixbus, Busbud or Rede Expressos have more advantages than you think. Reduce your carbon footprint and enjoy less stricter luggage rules by choosing a bus or coach for your next trip. Also, there are almost always free Wi-Fi, plugs, aircon and a bathroom available.
A trip on a overnight bus is the easiest, since you sleep all night and arrive at your destination in the morning. I took a bus from Lisbon to Porto (and saved more than €100), Lisbon to the North and South of Portugal for €9 one-way and I even went from Lisbon to Malaga twice for a price of €60 return in high season (august).
Opt for a green train ride
Trains are great, eco-friendly options for long-distance travels. If you plan to visit a further destination, you can even get a private cabin to catch a good night’s rest. Trains often offer dining carts, free Wi-Fi and it’s a fast and reliable method of travel. From Lisbon, there is an overnight train to Madrid. From Brussels, you can get easily to Amsterdam, Paris or London, etc. Omio gives you the best option for bus, train or plane rides.
If you’re really low on time and budget, opt for a trip inside your country. Trust me, you’d be surprised where a train trip might take you! Often, we focus too much on big destinations or big cities. Remember how unique and beautiful unknown destinations can be. Don’t be afraid to let yourself wander off the beaten path. I’ve often travelled by train, especially in Belgium.
Don’t ditch the plane, step up your game
Airplane tickets can be expensive, but they can also be ridicously cheap. You have to know when to look for them and how to look for them. Last year, I went to Seville for €9.99, from Seville to Barcelona for €30 and two year ago, I went from Barcelona to Mallorca for just €5.99 one- way, makin a total of €11.98 return tickets. There are crazy deals ot there, you just have to look for them.
Start by looking for plane tickets on incognito mode (private mode) on your mobile phone or laptop. Aso, look for flights on calm hours: don’t look for them on a Friday night, but start your search on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or during unpopular hours such as in the middle of the night.
However, planning a trip by airplane all depends on what you already know. There are many websites who offer you good prices, but on some flights you’rebette off with one supplier than the other. So, to explore the best options, you need the best search engines. I’ve listed them right here, depending on your situation.
If you don’t know the date or destination
Skyscanner lists the cheapest flight for all dates per destination from your preferred airport
Google Flights has a tool to look up flights for a weekend, one week or two weeks. Underneath the search bar, scroll down and enter the world map. Move your mouse onto where in the world you would like to go and zoom in to explore more options!
If you know your available dates, but you don’t know where to go
Fly Me Anywhere: just enter your location and the dates and this website will give you the cheapest flights to any place.
Google Flights: enter the dates or the length of your trip and your leaving point, hit search and explore your options. Handy tool: you can add the option of hand luggage an it calculates the extra cost for you.
Skyscanner: again, enter your location and preferred travel data and Skyscanner will give you the cheapest options.
If you know the destination, but you don’t know the date
Google Flights: click on the world map and look for the cheapest flight to a certain destination in the next 6 months. You can adjust the length of the trip and decide on which month you would like to go (but it’s not necessary). Another option is to go to the search bar, choose a day span on a random date and then scroll further to see the prices of the other months.
There are so many websites that offer you great deals, but it’s easier and less time consuming if you use the biggest search engines who lead you to the best deals.
Choose your accomodation wisely
Holiday time = treat yourself. I agree 100%. But it doesn’t neccesarily mean that you have to book a fancy hotel room or all-in resort. Why not book an Airbnb room or apartment or even better, a hostel. This a great way to socialize, keep your budget low and do new experiences.
If you do want to stay in a hotel, you can find the best prices directly in their webite. Yes, I said it. Booking.com or Expedia only have better deals in case they “buy” a hotel room on advance at a lower rate or in case of exclusive member rates. But in most cases, the hotel offers the best price, also for their members, and even some extras such as romantic packages etc.
When I went to Porto by bus, I stayed in the most gorgeous hostel – a gallery – where I had a comfortable bed with everythin I needed: plugs, sockets, light, a locker to keep my stuff secure, a modern and big bathroom and breakfast included for not even €20 a night.
Even during my trips to Cape Town and Buenos Aires, I stayed in hostels. It saved me so much money and allowed me to meet so many interesting people from all over the world.
Seas the day!
Traveling by ferry or boat is a great way to start your next adventure. In Argentina, I took a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay. It wasn’t only better for the environment, it was also a fun experience and qute easy and fast.
When I was a kid, my family vacation used to be a roadtrip to Italy and from Italy we took the boat to Greece. It was a small adventure. And it was fast and easy to do, we could even take our car with us and we had our own cabin. If you want to make your whole trip an adventure and you love being on the sea, opt for a ferry trip or a boat ride!
Even in Malta, you can take a ferry to the nearest isand. The same is for Corfu, Croatia, Venice and many more destinations. Often, these ferries cost only a few euros. Think about it: where would you head out if you took the nearest ferry or boat?
No matter where you live, there are always great alternative and cheap ways to travel around. If you have weekend off and you feel that wanderlust coming up, look what your best options are.
Travel is forever worthwhile the journey and adventure, whether you’re alone, with friends, family or your lover. That last option may be even better since Valentine’s Day coming up. If you have something to celebrate or not, treating your loved one to a shared adventure abroad is the best way to bond and enjoy your time together to the max.
I’ve listed a countdown of Europe’s secret & most romantic destinations – the anti-stereotypes, the destinations you have yet to discover. This blog is available in three languages: English, Dutch and French. Simply click on the language you wish to read in and you will be redirected to the blog.
5. Sevilla, Spain
There’s a good reason Sevilla, the birthplace of flamenco, is the capital of Andalusia: its charming city centre, welcoming locals and delightful cuisine will make your romantic stay a great one. Come to relaxation during an evening stroll through plaza de Espana accompanied by the sparkling city lights and enjoy homemade paella or Spanish tapas in the heart of this seductive city.
There are a few romantic spots in Belgium, but the combination of the medieval styled centre, the cobblestoned squares and the city lights reflecting this view on the calm waters of Bruges makes this town top them all. With its endless amount of medieval castles (50 in total), opt for a night in one of the many special Airbnb’s or hotels in this UNESCO World Heritage sight. Stroll through the city and capture the swans swimming in the canals, the many bridges and waterlanes, and stop at a local beer pub to taste some of the best beer in the world, accompanied by a worthy dessert – Belgian chocolate of course!
Croatia is one of the many pearls at the Mediterranean Sea and it conquered many hearts these last few years with its lagoon blue waters, stunning scenery of mountain landscapes and delicious local cuisine. However, if you feel like choosing an off the beaten path this Valentine’s Day, opt for a stay in Crikvenica, a small village located at the Eastern coast of Croatia.
This undiscovered coastal gem enchants you with its sunset views over the harbour and the impressive mountains in the background make this scenery worth a visit. Hop on a boat tour to spend be the perfect romantic Valentine’s night together with your lover. Afterwards, treat yourselves on a budget friendly and tasty Mediterranean meal at one of the many restaurants in the picturesque town hub. The currency is kuna, which equals to €0.13.
Malta’s capital Valletta has been marked as Europe’s capital of culture of 2018, the same year I first set foot on this island. The marks many colonists and foreigner immigrants left in this country since 5900 BC, shaped it to be one of the most diverse islands and countries in the European continent.
What makes Valletta in particular so romantic and a perfect choice for a Valentine’s Day visit is the hilly construction of the city, which leaves you to bump into beautiful decors and stylish restaurants with a harbor seaview. The style of the city is a mixture between ancient roman architecture and British influences, topped of with a hint of Arabic architectural (and linguistic) traces. The friendly inhabitants will welcome you in English, Italian or Malti.
At the very top of our list of Europe’s most romantic secret destinations, we have Guimaraes. This lowkey Portuguese medieval town takes you back in time with its well preserved, iconic X-th century architecture. The enriched history goes back to the foundation of Portugal’s first capital, and as such, some UNESCO World Heritage sites are to be discovered on your visit to this charming city. What makes Guimaraes so romantic is the all-year-round christmas lights brighten up the cozy and historic Gothic city centre.
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” –John F. Kennedy
The beach is a place where all of us love to spend time at. It is a place of pure peace, beauty and serenity – which we all need from time to time. I find myself in a need of beach (water at least) wherever I live or travel to. Us humans are extremely good in naming things, so I will introduce myself with the proper address: a thalassophile: lover of the ocean, beach, sea.
Since I’m calling Portugal my country of residence since a good year, I have traveled around and found some of the most stunning paradisiac ocean shores I have ever encountered in my life. And for such, I won’t be keeping these a secret for you no more, so I’ve listed the top 7 of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Portugal.
1. Praia do Portinho da Arrábida
My absolute favorite beach in the entire country must be Portinho da Arrábida. This beach is part of the natural park of Arrábida – which an sich is a delight for your eyes – and a dream come true for anyone who loves to do a roadtrip through lush green forests and lagoon blue waters.
Begin your road trip in Sétubal and drive towards Sesimbra at the coastal side. On your right, scenes of paradisiac beaches will flash before your eyes, so enjoy the trip and pull over in time for a pit stop at one of the beaches (and make sure to stop at Portinho for sure). I recommend paying a visit to praia da Figueirinha and Galapinhos as well, as both views from the side road, cliffs and down at the beach are the most rewarding.
How to get there: by car
2. Praia da Foz
Find this untouched piece of nature in the west coast of Sesimbra. It’s well hidden, so it requires some descending after you parked your car at the top of this gorgeous beach. You have to pass a plain of rocks to actually get to the water – but once you get there, the caves surrounding the crystal clear water make an unforgettable visit out of this small beach.
How to get there: by car
3. Praia das Bicas
What makes praia das bicas so stunning isn’t the formation of stairs leading towards it, or the great, stretched size of the untouched natural beach, nor the different levels of waves coming and going, and coming and going… it’s a combination of all three.
Don’t forget to enjoy the panoramic views of the cliffs from the parking lot before descending – having a total view of what awaits you makes this whole visit even better.
How to get there: by car
4. Praia de Melides
Praia de Melides has that summery relaxation on your holiday-kinda vibe. Instead of untouched nature, caves and rocks, this beach actually has silky soft sand, dreamy palm trees and parasols available for you. Since it’s so large, there is always plenty of space for you to find that perfect spot.
If you’re hungry, visit the beach bar right in front of the beach – they have burgers, toasts and even a swing – that last one just topped it, didn’t it?
How to get there: by car
5. Praia de Benagil
This postcard-picture-perfect beach has to be one of the most famous beaches in Portugal, if not the most famous. Benagil is most known for its cave, the Benagil cave, which you can enter with a kayak or small boat and enjoy the beautiful cave formations and the sun shining through the gap at the top of the cave.
As most Portuguese beaches, the Benagil beach is most impressive because of the returning contrast of the different warm colors of the rock formations surrounding the tropical waters. I think that’s what makes these Portuguese praias so stunning: they are not like the usual beach scene that we all know – palm tree, beach chair and a calm sea. These beaches are made out of and surrounded by unspoilt nature: forests, cliffs and lagoon blue, large waves.
How to get there: by bus (an abundance of buses drive to Benagil) or by car
6. Praia da Rainha
Praia da Rainha is one of those beaches you saw on a postcard or travel commercial, and it’s hard to blame them – this beach truly has it all. A small distance from Caparica beach, this wide stretched paradise is your ideal spot for a sunday afternoon chill – with at the background, the sound of paradisiac blue waves kissing the pale, soft sandy beach.
How to get there: by bus (schedules available on TST) or by car
7. Praia dos Três Irmãos
“The beach of the three brothers” earned its special name thanks to the three legendary rocks placed in and outside of the ocean, looking like three brother with some imagination. The fun part about this place are the different caves and rock formations you can walk through. As the proximity of the water can rise high at times, be aware when picking a spot close to the ocean. Again, do not forget to take some time to appreciate the breathtaking views from the top of this beach that reach all the way to cliffs and a transparent blue Atlantic Ocean.
I hope your first Monday of the year has gotten a little better and hopefully I’ll see you on one of these portuguese praias. Até logo!
The vivid capital of Catalunya is known for its mouthwatering tapas, extraordinary art collections and one-of-a-kind architecture. With Gaudí’s spirit present in every barceloní and barcelonina, it’s not hard to understand why many tourists come to admire the many attractions of the global city in all its defined glory. And for that, it might be confusing to know where to start – not only has Gaudí left outstanding artworks in the city, the football club Barcelona also has many fanatics from all over the world and keeps the fire burning in the modern, spicy cosmopolitan.
If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know I lived in Barcelona for a while. After exploring the city with locals and visiting the best spots, I came to the conclusion that Barcelona has it all: mountains, beaches, parks, malls, castles, viewpoints; whatever it is that you are looking for in a city. To guide you during your next trip to Barcelona, I created an insider’s guide so you can fully immerse yourself in the Catalonian spirit and, like a local, devour delicious tapas, visit gorgeous architectural wonders and come to a relaxation at the most stunning and highest viewpoints.
Parque Guëll is often described as “Gaudi’s playground”, the place where he let all his fantasy run wild and create the most unique and gorgeous works. There is a free area as well, however to access the famous mosaic bench and Gaudi’s house, you must enter the paying area, which has a price of €10.
Entering casa Battló is like immersing yourself in the deep, enchanting blue ocean. With a decor that takes you to your wildest fantasies, a visit to this house is often one skipped by many tourists, however very much worth a visit. Its location on Passeig de Gracia, in the middle of high-end fashion boutiques, represents the spirit of Barcelona very well, mixing the modern shopping street with an authentic showpiece, brought to you by the famous Gaudí.
Casa Milá is the next Gaudí-made piece of art on Passeig de Gracia, however its themes are distinctively different. Casa Milá serves many as a natural wonder, a place for exhibitions and at the same time a foundation for disabled people. Go all the way up to this casa to enjoy the beautifully shaped chimneys, ventilation towers and stairwells.
Casa Vicens was Gaudí’s first gem in Barcelona, built between 1883 and 1885, served as a summer house for the Vicens family. Gaudí started his series of masterpieces with a contrasting styled, extremely detailed and in every way mesmerizing jewel.
This iconic masterpiece of Gaudí earns its worldwide fame to its unique architectural style, however the inside of the cathedral is often not visited by the majority of tourists – but its interior beauty exceeds, like the previous works, the exterior beauty. So make sure you buy your tickets early in advance and save time and money.
Entrance: online ticket prices start at €22.60
The Hidden Gems
Bunkers del Carmel
Higher above Park Guëll, there is a non-touristic part of the city that, in my experience, gives you the most breathtaking view in town: Bunkers del Carmel. Many locals, mostly youngsters, join on this secret spot to enjoy the passing of sunset. Bring some snacks, a good camera and nice company and prepare yourself for sweeping sunset views.
Montjuïc is a magical place an sich. Hike uphill towards the magical fountain that lights up occasionally for a spectacular light show, and continue your road with stunning view of the iconic castle of Montjuïc. When you walk further, you run into a stretched, green park, accompanied by the Olympic stadium and further lays the botanical garden. What is a better way to enjoy a city then to come to rest in its nature, right in the city centre?
This park makes you feel like you’re in that Harry Potter movie – the one with the deadly labyrinth and the goblet of fire. Just one thing: this maze is not deadly. And smaller. But nevertheless worth the visit and the getting lost-part (especially while losing from toddlers that find the exit sooner than you). The ancient architectural gems and gigantic park surrounding the laybrinth make up for the €2.23 entrance fee.
It is hard to miss this food market in the middle of the Rambla, the most visited street in Barcelona. From fresh fruits to southern seafood, nothing lacks this tasteful food heaven. You’ll walk out of it satisfied, with in one hand holding a cup filled with watermelon and in the other one some candy – yes, there’s candy as well.
A balanced combination between traditional tapas and high-end, creative cuisine is the perfect remedy for your appetite while in Barcelona. Try some of the iconic tapas with an extra touch of la Pepita’s style and taste. Their entire menu cart consists out of unique and imaginative Spanish “pepitas”.
If you’re craving delicious, traditional tapas, then Bar Jaica is the place to be. Located in the Barceloneta area, close to the beach and port of Barcelona, this spot is ideal for a lunch break during your day. Every dish is prepared with love, especially combined with the iconic beer Estrella (or try a local type of beer named Clara).
La Taverna de Barcelona takes you to a place where music is only played live and acoustically, while its wooden interior decorated with international flags focuses on welcoming people from all corners of the world. While bringing forth this international spirit, the pub breathes in life from the authentic Catalan fuego, making it very hard for you to sit still during an evening spent here.
Somewhere in the middle of La Rambla, you find Placa Reial, an exotic square filled with restaurants and bars, connecting the most popular street in Barcelona with the old neighbourhood: the Gothic Quarter. In the corner of Placa Reial, you find Jamboree. However, don’t enter the first level of the club, but descend until you find yourself in a Rnb/Jazz/Hip Hop heaven, with the finest selection of DJ’s playing your favourite and most soulful tracks from the 80’s until now. Pay attention to their Facebook page, as they often give away tickets or offer a possibility to put you and your friends on the guestlist in advance.
The world-wide famous Pacha Club has a franchise in Barcelona as well. The all-white themed luxurious night club offers various theme parties with a variety of music genres, such as: techno, hip hop, rnb, disco, etc. Be sure to buy your tickets online in advance to avoid lines, waiting times and more expensive tickets.
Seville’s charms put a spell on me – read all about the magic of Andalusia’s ancient capital here – and who would I be to keep this charming and seducing city unknown to my dear readers? After my recent travel blog about Seville, this is a more practical guide to the blossoming Andalusian capital, sharing with you the three best places to visit, the three best dishes to try (and where to try it), and the best accomodations – whichever kind of traveler you might be. Because whether you rest you eyes on a king size bed or a bunk bed in a hostel: travel is for everyone, and the sightseeings and local dishes still stay the same. And that is why I have created yet another Triple Travel Guide. Enjoy, or, as the Spanish say, disfruta-lo!
Feeling like a true king isn’t difficult in this Moorish decorative and ornate collection of beautiful royal rooms, immense and fresh green gardens, also known as the Real Alcazares. It served as a set location for the serie Game of Thrones, which made this location immensely popular – more than it already was. The general entrance costs €11.50 and you pay extra for other add-ons, such as the royal bedroom, which is €4.50. Buy the tickets in advance on the official website and avoid queues of +2 hours.
Plaza de España €
One of the most iconic plazas in Spain is undoubtedly Plaza de España, built for the Ibero-American exposition in 1929. A visit to this monument won’t leave you without a grand history lesson: this plaza surrounds four bridges, each representing the ancient kingdoms of Spain. Furthermore, the brilliant Alcoves of the different Spanish regions shine beautifully in their ornate of colourful tiles, each telling their own story about the history of Spain’s different provinces.
Las Setas de Sevilla (the mushrooms of Seville) are a unique landmark, visited abundantly by curious tourists and locals too. As largest wooden structure in the world, built on Roman ruins, now serving as an archeological museum – included in the ticket price -, these “mushrooms” are worth paying a visit to. Since Seville is relatively flat, you can enjoy stretched views all over town, providing you with a splendid oversight of all the city’s churches, cathedrals and other iconic buildings of matter.
Pan con tomate y jamón is a must-try when in Seville, usually eaten around 11a.m. as a late breakfast. If you like to sleep out (as I do), wake up slowly with a aromatic cup of coffee and taste a crunchy, warm pan con tomate y jamón and enjoy splendid views in front of you on the Plaza Ministro Indalecio Prieto, with in the background the sound of horses galloping rhythmically, transporting carriages throughout the old city centre.
This restaurant is known for its famous, traditional secreto Iberico (Iberian secret), a piece of meat originated from Iberian pigs, keeping the meat tasty and juicy inside, covered by a crusty layer on the outside.
An ecological restaurant with nothing but fresh, tasteful biological products, where the friendly and helpful staff’s only intention is to meet your needs as good as possible and treats you like family – and not to mention the wine collection is deliciously tantalizing.
For You Hostel is a hostel of the hotel group Zenit Hotels. The benefit of a hotel group launching its first hostel? An experience that makes you feel the ease and luxury of a hotel, yet gives you the low rates of a hostel, and a comfortable and fully furnished bunk bed, inclusive of bathroom amenities, a reading light, curtains, international plugs and a soft pillow. Equipped with a bar, patio, kitchen, and other communal areas, feel free to socialize in this modern hostel, as the staff will be happy to help you if you have any needs.
My quest to a paella con pollo for one person led me to Café Pompeia. This modern and delightful bistro offers a wide range of classic Spanish dishes at a reasonable price, a warm smile from the staff and, above the fact you can have paella per person here, cozy uptown vibes with a location on the vivid calle Adriano. Above this bistro, you’ll find the charming hotel Adriano Sevilla, a chic, sophisticated, luxurious hotel with small prices for the quality you receive.
As multiple times winner of the Trivago National Awards, earning its title as best hotel in Spain, this lovely boutique hotel combines both relaxation and luxury while immersing you in the ancient history of Seville and at the same time being located in the heart of the Andalusia’s capital.
Seville. A magical gateway to the early Middle Ages inspired by the fairytale marriage of the Moorish architectural style palaces, castles and buildings, together with the Spanish, traditional flamenco-infused spirit, interrupted by the modern, vivid city centre and balanced out evenly by the flourishing green city gardens with its stunning statues, dreamy views and in the background accompanied by subtle strumming on the Spanish streets artists’ guitars.
Spending only two days in this city was a bare minimum – I crossed off the top items on my bucket list, such as visiting the Real Alcazares, Plaza España , las Setas, Parque Maria Luisa, and in the meanwhile, my trip didn’t lack some occasional, mind-clearing peaceful strolls through the city.
When visiting Seville, make a clear planning of what you want to visit. As popular attractions are rapidly sold out and waiting lines tend to lengthen quite easily, you might want to be sure to not miss out on any precious sightseeing time and book your tickets in advance.
Entering the Real Alcazares of Seville is a true journey in time and a taste of different cultures coming together in one ode to history, coherency and the royal class. As there are many royal rooms, tranquil baths and decorative patios, an organized map of your itinerary will help you visit the seeings you want to see most. Don’t forget to look up, down, to your left and your right, as the designers have spared no effort of creating effortless symmetry, detailed decorations and mesmerizing patterns.
Pass a stroll through Parque Maria Luisa to discover a tranquil assembly of gorgeous green gardens, orange trees and fountains, and find yourself in the midst of traditional horse carriages passing through the park. Make you way through the park and end up at Plaza España, of one Spain’s most iconic plaza’s, mixing up different styles of Spanish architecture, in a way an ode built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Hard to miss are the alcoves against the walls, each representing a different province and designed in colourful details, bounded by the pair of a book cover, holding information about each province.
The Metropol Parasol, also known as las Setas de Sevilla (the mushrooms of Seville), is the world’s largest wooden structure built on ancient roman ruins – also interesting to visit the archeological museum during your visit to this attraction in the capital of Andalusia. To fully enjoy Seville and its countless churches, squares and cathedrals, make your way to the top of las Setas and enjoy the stretched city views.
Let’s talk food. Seville’s mouthwatering tapas include berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey), fried ansjovis, and the classic bites such as patatas bravas, salada russa, pan con tomate y jamon – which is also a typical dish to eat for late breakfast around 11 a.m. together with a coffee and splendid views on a patio or terrace, surrounded by sky-high palm trees and the subtle sound of flamenco dancers on the background. Be sure to stop by the ecological restaurant Estraperlo, where I had a tasteful and all-biological lunch, just outside the crowded Maria Luisa park, in the quiet, local neighbourhood el Platinar.
Getting around Seville is pretty simple: it is very walkable, I did not use public transport – except for the handy aerobus that brings you direction aeropuerto for only €4, and occasionally a requested Uber or city taxi, whose prices often combat each other. Furthermore, be sure to beat the crowds by getting up early and buying entrance tickets online – even for Metrosol Parasol, an entrance ticket is needed, so a little preparation in advance will save you a lot of time.
Visiting the charming city of Seville will capture you quickly in its magic, ancient Moorish history and architecture, while at the same time being the modern capital of Andalusia, a touristic hotspot for discoverers and Spain lovers. Taste the Spanish flavours, watch a flamenco show and lose yourself in the many attractions of this southern city.
Guimaraes, the first Portuguese capital, built in the 4th century, earns its a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its well preserved medieval city centre. My visit to this city was like a journey back in time: to the Middle Ages.
Welcome to another Triple Travel Guide, curious travelers. This Triple Travel Guide features three hidden gems to visit, taste and stay at in marvellous Guimaraes. Scroll down to the end of this blog to see my Triple Travel pocket-sized Guide of Guimaraes.
What to visit
Choosing the three best places to visit in Guimaraes is hard. Even though it is a small, medieval village, there are a lot of beautiful squares, monuments, castles, churches and viewpoints to visit. I listed the three hidden gems when it comes to sightseeing, cuisine and accommodation.
Montanha da Penha
For impressing and high views stretching over Guimaraes, Braga and Penha, the miradouro da Penha or the Santuario da Penha is your go-to. You can easily take the cable car up and down between the woods in the city until the top of the hill, where the 20th-century, art-deco sanctuary is located. If you want to enjoy the sunset, be aware: the cable cars close before 7pm. In this case, your best option is to go by Uber: cable car up and Uber down.
Largo da Misericórdia
Forget Paris, forget Venice, forget every romantic destination you know about: Guimaraes tops these well-known romantic destinations easily. The historical centre offer a range of romantic, cozy, medieval squares, accompanied by christmas lights everywhere – all year round. After a local recommended me a to go to a restaurant on this square, I stayed there sitting for a few hours, admiring the colourful sunset and enjoying local dishes and a glass of regional, red wine.
Largo República do Brasil
If you couldn’t make it to a sunset on Montanha da Penha or Largo da Misericórdia, there is an even worthy alternative: the central point of Guimaraes, Largo República do Brasil. This long stretched flower field, with at its ending the church of Guimaraes, and at its beginning a fountain, offers you magical sunset views. Enjoy a drink while overlooking Guimaraes’ modern city centre as you watch locals and tourists pass by.
After being recommended by a local to visit this restaurant, I ended up in this traditional Portuguese diner – and it sure was worth it. Typical Portuguese dishes are served in this restaurant located right in the middle of Largo da Misericórdia. I see myself as an enthusiast of the Portuguese cuisine and I have tried out all one dishes in several restaurants, namely alheira – a type of sausage mixed with several types of meat, served with fried egg and rice. As a self-made alheira expert, I have to admit: the alheira here is worth the try!
Regional products such as pastries and sweets are the specialities of this Portuguese pastelaria. What distinguishes this one from the thousand other pastelarias, you might wonder? The artisanal products and the love which they are served with gives a extra taste. And while you’re in Portugal, you’re allowed try out as many pasteís as possible, without a single feeling of guilt – you have to truly discover the taste of the country, am I right?
Try out one of the most popular Portuguese dishes, Bacalhau a Bras, in this beautifully styled and elegant restaurant. If you’re looking for a different setting than the traditional pastelarias in Guimaraes, but still receive high quality food, this restaurant might be your best option.
Hotel Fundador is a budget-friendly hotel, located close to the train station of Guimaraes. Easily reachable by foot from the centre and offering nice hotel rooms for a very small price, this is the perfect accommodation if you’re traveling on a budget and looking for a well located and decent hotel.
Feel the medieval spirit of Guimaraes in this well-preserved National Bank turned into a centrally-located boutique hotel. Luxury and budget come together in this renovated building, with very reasonable prices for the comfort, location and service that is offered to you.
If you really want to travel back in time during your trip to Guimaraes, then complete your trip with a stay in this 12th-century Augustinian Monastery. Relax after a day of citytrippin’ in the 9-hectare garden and release your inner medieval highness in one of the luxurious rooms.
Ah, Porto. The birthplace of the Port wine, friendly inhabitants and a charming city centre. What’s not to like about it, you might wonder. I went on a two-day trip to Porto and Guimarães from Lisbon, to escape the hassle of busy Lisbon. In Porto, a whole different atmosphere rules: one that invites you to stroll around the town, relax, grab a glass of wine produced in the Douro region, and watch the sunset at one of the many bridges sights.
Welcome to another Triple Travel Guide, curious travelers. This travel guide features the hiddens gems to visit, taste and stay at in another marvellous city. Scroll down to see my pocket-sized travel guide of Porto.
Let’s start off with my very favorite location in Porto. The Market of Ferreira Borges. Grab a coffee, pick out a nice spot on the terrace, and admire this beautiful view over downtown Porto and the river behind it. I stayed up here, writing, reminiscing, and enjoying the view. This is that special place for – in every city, I find myself falling in love with a certain location. If you recognize this, I would love to hear your experiences.
I visited a lot of churches in a lot of cities, countries and continents. But this church had me staring at the interior for a while, speechless – with its dusty pink walls and impressive golden details, I could sit in this piece of heaven all day. You can visit this church completely for free – you only pay in case you want to visit the tower or other parts of the church.
Get completely lost in this giant mosaique of nature – it’s a collection small gardens, all put together in a big park, where peacocks run around together with pigeons, like they are of the same species. These gardens are perfect for romantic dates, family walks, or just – like I did- running around and finding beautiful viewpoints after every tree. Since it’s uphill, you find yourself admiring many different viewpoints – over the river, over town, over the lower gardens, and many more.
What to taste
Don’t worry, fellow foodies, of course I have some juicy stories and dishes for you as well. I even have three of them.
Mercador Cafe is located in the most flowery and gorgeous street in Porto – rua das Flores. It’s true to its name: a street filled with flowery balcons, beautiful buildings and regional restaurants. Mercador Cafe is my favorite. Make sure to get a seat on the terrace and order one of the many, healthy dishes – I had the rainbow smoothie bowl and although I was craving some eggs with bacon and pancakes, this smoothie bowl fulfilled me and my cravings – and that is a tough job to do.
This winebar also offers – like the name suggests it – a mira (a look) and jazz. And a tasty selection of regional wines and products. Visit it before sunset to get a table on the terrace and enjoy the colours in the sky changing subtly and wait for the night to fall. Do you need any other reason to go?
O diplomata is a true paradise for brunch lovers – here, you will find a fine selection of delicious pancakes, pancakes and more pancakes. You can choose between four menus and combine them with your favourite sweets.
This artistic hostel was my choice of accommodation – a perfect mix between the social aspect of a hostel and the comfort and rest of a hotel. Also, this hostel is a piece of art – literally. Rooms with themes of different artists, a gallery-inspired design and outdoor-and indoor patios, 24-h bar, free cake and a drink during the day, and lovely staff. The price might be €, but the quality sure is €€€.
The iconic InterContinental Porto is one of a kind; it’s a palace, literally. Its location (right in the centre, next to the station Sao Bento) and luxury are everything you need for a relaxing stay in Porto. The breathtaking restored interior will leave you feeling like a king in their palace.
This charming and elite hotel is inspired by the art of theater, and staying in this hotel makes you feel like you’re on your own stage: of refined relaxation and luxury. My room was spacious, styled with dark, warm modern tones – this style is noticeable from the main entrance, that immediately shows you how unique this bohemian hotel is. The breakfast is also worth the try, so even if you’re not a guest, worth checking out.
The South of Portugal has a lot to offer: wide stretched beaches, beautiful lagoon caves and freshly grilled seafood. After living in Lisbon for almost a year, I finally took the leap and went on a road trip through South Portugal. Because this three day trip was more than worth it, here’s my guide to you for a three day road trip through south portugal with exclusive local recommandations, tips on where to stay, eat and go, and much more. If you are planning on visiting Lisbon first, then check out my insider’s guide here.
Driving Down Beach Lane
Today’s direction: beaches! Hop in your car and drive straight to the other side of the river in Lisbon. Offering a whole range of wide stretched Atlantic beaches, the Western Coast of South Portugal will keep you fulfilled for the first day of your road trip.
Some tips regarding renting a car in Lisbon: if you want to return your car the latest as possible, book it at an agency which is located at the airport – the agencies in town often close a couple of hours earlier. If you want to book a rental car without having hundreds or euros blocked on your credit card as caution, book with a company that offers a caution free rent – for example, Centauro (be sure to save time and pick up your car at the main building, you don’t have to wait at the airport). If you don’t have a credit card at all, you can easily use Revolutto create one.
After heading to the South and driving past the West coast, you can drive to your accommodation – whether it be in Portimao, Lagos, or the romantic, beautiful and cozy village of Ferragudo where we stayed.
You can spend your first evening in the vivid and dazzling centre of Portimao. Enjoy some delicious and fresh seafood at Restaurante Marisqueira Carvi, a typical, local Portuguese restaurant.
Surreal Cave Kayaking
Today, be prepared to use those arm muscles, because you are going on a 4-hour kayak or SUP tour around and in the Benagil caves. This is the best and most authentic way to visit the different lagoon caves, as you can enter them with your kayak or SUP – in contrary to other touristic boats which cannot enter them. Book your tour on Experitour, where you are sure of a safe handling of your order and you have an overview of all the best tours available for you.
During this tour, make sure to bring a waterproof camera or a waterproof case for your phone, because it can get wet! Nevertheless, if you go during summertime (June-September), you can be sure of pleasant water temperatures and a dive in the Atlantic ocean after the tour has finished.
But please, a little tip – when attempting to ascend the boat after your legendary jump in the water, don’t accept the help of the boat guide, because it will resonate in pulling him down in the water with you. So please, let us spare these guides because we all need them. Use the rope.
After the tour, energise yourself and stop for some lunch – not lanche (a Portuguese afternoon snack) at one of the many restaurants in blossoming Albufeira. Albufeira is really touristy, so make sure to keep walking through the touristic restaurants or enters small alleys, where you will find somewhat more authentic Portuguese or Italian restaurants.
Hop back in your car and prepare yourself for more vitamin sea at Praia Maria Luisa. After relaxing at seashore, the choice is up to you: either you drive to Faro and spend your evening there, or you drive through Faro and straight to the South of Spain. Crossing borders on a afternoon is really calm, there won’t be any hassle or waiting in lines.
You can also combine the two: drive through Faro to visit the city sightseeing through your car. Afterwards, you can drive to Isla Cristina, a nearby Spanish marine village, and watch an enchanting sunset at the port.
Loosen Up In Lagos
This beach might be my second favorite from the whole trip. Praia dos Três Irmãos. It earns its popularity well, since this beach has it all: beautiful clear water, warm toned caves and rock formations spread over the entire beach. It almost creates a closed up bay, and attracts huge, long waves. It is mesmerizing just to be standing at the shore, watching the waves come and go.
If you’re feeling an afternoon snack or late lunch, you can always go to the local seafood restaurant Atlantida, located right at the beach. Ask for their homemade sangria, I can assure you, you will be far from disappointed.
Wonderful Wine Tasting
Next up: Wine tasting (to book yours, visit Wine Tourism Portugal, a website that gives you an overview of all the best wineries and activities that they offer throughout Portugal. We paid a visit to Herdade Canal Caveira and it was absolutely amazing. The owners gave us a whole tour of the factory and explained to us in detail the wine making processes. Then they offer you different together with bread, typical Portuguese sausage and cheese.
Praia do Vau
Praia de Carvoeira
Praia da Rocha
These are the final beaches from the winetasting location to Lisbon. You will also pass Setúbal and Sesimbra, as you can see on the map. While in Sesimbra, enjoy some local, fresh food at Lobo do Mar. Choose the fish you want made especially for you and enjoy it with some traditional Portuguese side dishes and wine. Oh and be quick for the desserts, because they may run out off soon! We just missed out on the bolo do chocolate (chocolate cake), I wouldn’t wish that pain to anyone.
Afterwards, simply return your car back to the car center (if it’s Centauro, bring it back at the main office building) and enjoy your last evening in Lisbon. Boa noite!
There are many advantages about living in the authentic and vivid city Lisbon. You can find a couple of them in my previous blogs about Lisbon. One of them is being able to travel quickly outside of the city center, direction praia – a beachy getaway. Or, if you’re more into mountains, move up to the hills of Sintra and see one of the many gorgeous castles in this area.Let’s take a look at seven easy and beautiful day trips from the Portuguese city of tiles.
Belém is the closest and most easiest city to reach from Lisbon. You can take the train, tram, bus, taxi, whatever pleases you most: it is only 2 km from Lisbon and it won’t cost you much.
Belém has a lot to offer. Get out at the train station and start walking on the beautiful riverside promenade, surrounded by the burning sun, birds flying around and the salty smell of the Atlantic Ocean. Must-see attractions are:
Torré de Belem, a beautiful tower surrounded by water
Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument dedicated to the discoverers of Portugal
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, an impressive, 500 year old monastery
Stroll around the village of Belém and make a stop for a meia-de-leite and some delicious pastéis de nata at the famous Pastéis de Belém. This trip is perfect for all year round, since it is so close to Lisbon and you can also enjoy this village in winter time.
How to get there: by tram or train from Cais do Sodré station.
Care for a trip to the beach, do some shopping and eat delicious meals in a wide variety of restaurants? Then Cascais is your pick for a perfect day trip from Lisbon. Cascais’ architecture is one of a kind, you will find beautiful picturesque buildings in this small town. Head over to the beach, small yet cozy and perfect if you’re not int surfing and don’t need big waves, this is a perfect place to relax at the beach.
How to get there: by train from Cais do Sodré station.
Feeling like passing your day off in a fairy-tale village surrounded by dreamy castles, palaces and mansions? Or are you feeling adventurous and in the mood for some hiking? Then head over to Sintra by taking the direct train from Lisbon (Rossio).
While walking in Sintra village, you almost feel like being in a fairytale. Its surroundings are so surreal – especially if you visit the Pena palace, which architectural style is also based on the same elements. Game of Thrones fans, gather around for a hike to the castles of Walls (Castelo dos Mouros) and imagine you’re in the middle of a scene of GOT.
As for the nature lovers; you won’t be left in the dark during this day trip. You can enjoy the tranquility of the Portuguese hills and mountains and instead of driving up from Sintra village to the castles, you can take a hike of one hour to reach the top.
Last but not least, the stunning mountain views overlooking the Serra of Sintra are a feast for the eyes of everybody. So relax, take a break and indulge yourself in the nature of Western Portugal.
How to get there: by train from Rossio station or Oriente station.
My favorite city escape must be the area of Arrábida. The only barrier to overcome here is that you will need a car since traveling by public transport is very difficult in this area.
Arrábida is a region that stretches out from the coast until deeper in the Portuguese mainland. You can either visit the Park or you can go on a road trip, what I like to call: Rocky Road! It is basically one long road at the coastside. While driving past all the beaches, it is hard not to get out every 5 minutes and run to the every beach that you see. But it is definitely possible to do in one day.
The clear, blue beaches are separated from the road by immense walls of beige rocks and in between that you find the soft, light sand which gives you a beautiful contrast to enjoy to the maximum.
If you continue the Rocky Road, you will end up in the Natural Park of Arrábida. So, either way, it is all up to you: beach or park?
How to get there: by car.
Sesimbra is my second favorite destination for a day escape from Lisbon. Why? Sesimbra is a modern. stunning city with a coastline bigger than your goals. Cozy, relaxing and beautiful is how I would describe Sesimbra.
Beach and city is the perfect combination for a daily getaway trip and that is what you will find in the Portuguese city of Sesimbra. Walk on the beach side promenade, breathe in the fresh air of the ocean and feel the sun burning on your skin. Look to your right and you’ll see pretty palm trees and Praia da California, Sesimbra’s beach of the Atlantic Ocean. Look to your left and you’ll find local Portuguese cafés, restaurants and shops.
How to get there: by bus (TST) from Praça de Espanha.
Setúbal is the perfect getaway for Southern Portugal vibes, and it is twice as big as Sesimbra. It has a cozy city centre with many locals restaurants, pastelarias and cafés. And, of course, you can also check of the beach, since it has a wonderful coast. So, again, it depends on what you are looking for exactly for your day trip. You can easily make a day or weekend trip to Sesimbra or Setúbal.
How to get there: by train from Oriente station or by bus (TST) from Praça de Espanha.
Last but not least we have Costa da Caparica. This is one of the many beaches in the region of Caparica. These beaches are endless, and that is the amazing thing about this place. On a busy day, you can take the bus or taxi and travel away from Costa da Caparica. Like this, yo you can visit more private beaches, like Fonte da Telha or Praia do Castelo.
The main attractions in Costa da Caparica are the spacious beach bars and restaurants, the long decks and of course the possibility to do some surfing. The main reason Caparica has so many visitors is for water sports, like: surfing, wind sailing, etc. Be sure to visit the centre of Caparica, where you will find shops, restaurants of all ethnics (like a decent Greek restaurant – finally found one in Portugal!) and some hotels if you are planning on spending the night there.
How to get there: by bus (TST) from Praça de Espanha.
So whether you’re living in Lisbon or just on a holiday there and you want a quick getaway for one day or a weekend, then your options are endless. It all depends on how you want to spend your day or weekend. Enjoy the Portuguese nature and hospitality, dear salty soul.
Every traveler’s go-to spot for the newest and trendiest fashion pieces, delicious artisan ice cream, and beautiful views at typical Italian cafeterias overlooking the Duomo di Milano.
Magical mornings in Milan
Waking up in Milan is magical. You wake up, go outside, stop by a small Italian bar, order a latte macchiato and a croissant con Nutella and you start your day. After jumping on a local bus, be sure to look around you and enjoy the sun coming through the romantic, vintage styled buildings of the Milanese suburbs.
Milan is known to be a modern, trendy city, but I experiences that it holds a strong authentic, Italian vibe. You can move through the city using the old trams and the city architecture is beautifully antique. The vintage, romantic Italian style is without a doubt well present in this major fashion hub.
One of the reasons for me to go back to Milan would be the delicious gastronomy. Spaghetti Carbonara, Risotto alla Milanesa, Cotoletta alla Milanesa, … the list of mouthwatering Milanese dishes is endless. After a delicious Mediterranean meal, be sure to drop by an ice cream shop for some homemade gelato – con tiramisu, Ferrero, Nutella, this ice cream doesn’t even match your wildest fantasies. It is safe to say Milan is a mekka for fashion lovers as well as for foodies.
Fear not: the history-, architecture- and even religion-lovers will not be left in the cold. The stunning piece of architecture il Duomo and the fantastic fountains and churches in the city will provide you Instagram-worthy material all year long. Even inside the iconic mall Galleria Vittorio Emanuele has a magical point which you have to pass: the bull’s balls. IN the middle of the hallway, you will find a mozaïc of a bull and on the place where his testicles should be, there is a hole – made especially for your heel. Tradition says that if you rotate backwards around three times, you will have good luck for the rest of your life. Look at that, another advantage of this amazing city!
You will leave with a full stomach, an Instagram feed for the rest of the year, and good luck for the rest of your life. What else would one want?
That summer breeze, that endless ocean, that lagoon blue ocean that is so clear you can see every little fish and sea shell floating on the sand… is there anything better than a good ol’ tropical beach?
Having Greek and Italian roots, my parents used to take me to the most beautiful Mediterranean hidden treasures – small and cozy, yet beautiful villages, relaxed beaches, gorgeous viewpoints and impressing castles – nothing escaped our family vacations.
Now that I am an adult and I travel by myself, it is less evident to find such places – until I ended up in Sardegna last year to visit my Italian family. It was the first time I was there and it is clear that my blood relatives still have this influence on me.
In North-Eastern Sardegna, the most known place is Olbia, a lovely, vivid city that connects the small island Sardegna to the outside world.
Further away from the city, you will cross Maiorca. Basically, Maiorca’s nightlife is of another level. It’s not so much about the clubbing and going out, but more about the social and outside life that is highlighted in this authentic area. The biggest public street is closed down every night just so people can put up their market stalls and walk in peace during the whole evening and night. Restaurants, bars, stores, ice cream shops: everything is open until late night.
In the morning, be sure to get up early and get in your car or jump on your bike, because it is time to explore the most beautiful beach, or – as my Italian grandfather calls it – the Maldives of Europe: Budoni.
Budoni is a hidden pearl, only known to the locals of this small yet charming village. Not only is the water as blue as a lagoon and as clear as the cloudless sky, the sand is extremely soft and a walk on the beach will relax you in the deepest ways. The tropical vibes will hit you while you’re being surrounded by hammocks, sandbanks, little stalls at the beach and, not to forget: coconuts.
If you ever get tired of swimming in the Mediterranean ocean and laying in the hot Italian sun (it’s hard to believe but at some point, you will) you can take a break and walk to one of the local fresh seafood restaurants. Since we’re at the Italian coast, be sure to try the best of the best in this region, which is: any combination of pasta and fish.
At night, you can eat some more of the Italian “la dolce far niente” and take a stroll in the crowded promenade in the center of mesmerizing Maiorca.