I never do hotel reviews; namely because I don’t think a hotel is what makes your trip. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule where your accommodation is really the crux of your trip – I’m thinking glass igloos in Finland and luxury safari lodges in the Serengeti!

Because of that, I don’t splash out on hotels and the two things that I really look for during the booking process are a) good location and b) cleanliness. I’m an easy to please sorta girl!

So, you might be wondering why I’ve decided to write about a chain restaurant? Well, the Marriott group have excelled themselves with the Renaissance Toronto Downtown Hotel. Primarily because the location is so unusual, but also the AH-MAZING food.

Location

suite_bi_level_bed_6291Photo Credit: Photo of room with stadium view is taken from the Renaissance Toronto Downtown website

This hotel is located partly INSIDE the Roger’s Centre (home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team) which is pretty unique in itself.

The window in my parent’s room looked into the stadium – so if you’re an avid baseball fan, you’d be able to catch all of the action from the comfort of your bedroom!

Myself and my sister had a somewhat less appealing view of a railway line from our window – so if you’re not into baseball and want fantastic window views, this may not be the hotel for you. Although, maybe don’t disregard it so quickly, it has a lot more to offer!

If you’ve ever been to Toronto, you’ll know that The Roger’s Centre is directly next to the CN Tower, so this hotel is a great for a lot of the tourist attractions including the CN Tower, Aquarium, Steamhouse Brewery etc.

Given that the the hotel is close to the waterfront and Toronto is a large city, depending on the time you have and your walking capabilities, you may need to get a taxi to some of the more Northern tourist attractions such as Casa Lomas.

Rooms

IMG_3870 v2.JPGIMG_3866 v2.JPGThe combination of modern decor, high levels of cleanliness, ample space and all the amenities you could need make for a very comfortable stay.

My absolute favourite thing about the rooms were the beds. Those things were so damn comfy – if I could have packed the pillows, duvet and mattress in my case, I definitely would have!

Restaurant

IMG_3888 v2IMG_4090 v2

Now, this is where the review gets really good (and not because of the small Starbucks inside the hotel – however, that was convenient). The hotel has a Mediterranean restaurant called Arriba inside and the food is out of this world (mainly at breakfast).

Most people have heard me say that hotel breakfasts are, in many cases, overrated (and I still stand by that statement). however, Arriba really pulls all of the stops out in the morning. It’s not the cheapest breakfast in the world, but the money is well worth it when the food is so good that you go to bed excited to wake up and eat!

My favourite breakfast was the banana bread french toast stuffed with bacon cream cheese with sliced banana, bacon crumbles, fresh berries, toasted almonds and maple syrup (it would be rude not to have maple syrup whilst in Canada after all!)

We did also eat in Arriba one evening and the dinner menu was much smaller than the breakfast selection but the food was great regardless!

Overall

Location
Food
Cleanliness
Staff

 

Yes, it’s a chain hotel. Yes, hotel’s don’t make your entire experience while travelling. Still, would I recommend this hotel to a friend? Most definitely. If you’re interested in booking this hotel, be sure to check out prices here!

Have you ever been to Toronto, what is your favourite hotel?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (although it does contain affiliate links) and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1



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London Winter Pavement LightsLondon Oxford Street LightsLondon Winter Snow Big BenLondon Harry Potter Studios HogwartsLondon Festive Afternoon Tea B Bakery

Where photos are not my own, the watermark shows the credited author. Please click on the photo to view the original source.

Working in London means I take it for granted and don’t go out of my way to enjoy what the city has to offer. I rarely visit London at the weekends seeing as I have to do the 3 hour round commute every week day already! However, London is the perfect place during Winter (despite the bitterly cold weather).

So in an attempt to get myself out and exploring this beautiful city, here is the ultimate Winter London Bucket List!

  1. Visit the ultimate Christmas London destination – Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
  2. See the Covent Garden decorations because who doesn’t love a giant reindeer?
  3. Ice skating at Somerset House (once I stop being a wuss)
  4. See the amazing window displays on Oxford Street
  5. Eat festive treats at Borough Market (… and the non festive treats… JUST EAT EVERYTHING)
  6. Explore the lights of Kew Garden After Dark
  7. See a Christmas show on the West End – Cinderella pantomime anyone?
  8. Stumble across Christmas Markets
  9. Take a frosty walk around the many parks – who knows, you might be lucky and get snow!
  10. See Trafalgar Square’s  giant Christmas tree (which apparently resembles a gerkin this year lol)
  11. Grab a mulled wine… or two!
  12. Splurge on loved ones in Harrods and Hamley’s for the little ones!
  13. Curl up in a cosy English pub to escape the cold because there’s nothing better than a hearty pub lunch!
  14. Treat yo’self to a luxury Christmas decoration from Liberty (and then cry when it comes out of the loft broken next year)
  15. Explore the WHOLE Christmas floor at Selfridges (and probably the other floors too, just for good measure)
  16. If Somerset House isn’t your cup of tea, head to Canary Wharf for futuristic skating surrounded by skyscrapers
  17. Experience a luxury Fortnum and Mason Christmas Hamper
  18. Go for a festive afternoon tea
  19. Get squished in the crowds watching the New Years Eve fireworks
  20. Eat your way through the Taste of London Festive Festival (which is stupidly in November and I have now missed)
  21. Go behind the scenes of the films and visit the Harry Potter Studios for “Hogwarts in the Snow”
  22. Hit the Boxing Day sales (… if you’re brave)
  23. Drink in a rooftop WigWam surrounded by Winter Nordic Viking decor at Queen of Hoxton
  24. Shop, eat and Drink at the Southbank Winter Market
  25. Test your cold threshold by taking a drink at The Ice Bar
  26. Just explore and enjoy all of the pretty twinkly lights!

RELATED: Want to see my all-year round London bucket list? Be sure to read this!

I absolutely love the city at this time of year and definitely want to take a trip one weekend in December – is there anything else you love doing in London?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.

Danielle1


It’s no secret, I bloody loved Edinburgh. We booked the trip as a surprise for my friend Grace‘s 21st birthday and it was one of my favourite trips this year! In total, we spent 4 days in Scotland and here’s all the things we recommend you should do!

Day One

Check Into Hotel and Then Head for Lunch at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern

We quickly checked into a private 4 bed room at Edinburgh Safestay Hostel and then headed out on the search for food before our first activity!

I can’t recommend Deacon Brodie’s Tavern enough. The food was incredible and definitely set us up for a full day of exploring! Anywhere that does macaroni cheese as a side is a winner! P.s. Everywhere in Edinburgh does macaroni cheese – it’s incredible.

Become Familiar With the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the centre of the action in Edinburgh and is where you will find most of the main attractions (or they will be nearby at least)! Our hostel was perfectly situated just off of the Mile, so it was in the prime location for some great restaurants (I can’t count the number of hearty pubs and cute cafes on this one road!) as well as shops (it took a lot for me to resist buying complete tartan outfits).

Take the Sandeman’s Free Europe Walking Tour

It wouldn’t be an Escaping Essex city guide without a recommendation for a free walking tour really would it?

We had Max as our guide and he was brilliant (so much so, that we booked another tour with him the following day).

Sandeman’s New Europe are one of my favourite tour companies, and as always the tour covers the majority of the free sights you will want to see in the city.

The website lists the following sights within the 2.5 hour tour, but it felt like we saw much more!

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • St Giles’ Cathedral
  • Heart of Midlothian
  • The real Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • William Wallace and the Stone of Destiny
  • Greyfriars Kirkyard (cemetery) and Greyfriars Bobby
  • The Royal Mile
  • Edinburgh’s Old Town
  • Mercat Cross
  • National Museum
  • Covenanters’ Prison
  • Martyrs’ Memorial
  • The Scottish Writers Museum
  • Grassmarket
  • The original ‘Hogwarts’
  • The Hub

Grab Some Food and Head For a Drink

As we arrived in the city mid-way through the day and were completely exhausted, we wandered around for a while after the tour before heading to a local shop, picking up a pack of cards and heading back to the hostel bar to chill obviously!

Even if you’re not staying at The Edinburgh Safestay Hostel, you can go to Bar 41 for cheap drinks and good food (they also had events on throughout the week – we respectively failed the pub quiz).

If you’re more at home in a pub, do not fear, Edinburgh has a pub basically on every corner to fill your needs!

Day Two 

Browse The Royal Mile Market

 

Located inside the historic Tron Kirk is a gorgeous market filled with independent crafts, arts and fashion traders. My friend picked up a pretty epic pair of tea-pot earrings and I was almost drawn in by some cute prints (before realising I have no wall space left for more prints!)

Make the Most of The Long Walk To The Botanical Gardens

We underestimated the long walk to the botanical gardens, it was looooong (made slighly better by the fact that Edinburgh is amazing for Pokemon Go… lol). While the walk is long, there are some good little photo stops along the way! My favourite being the Scott Monument (you can’t miss it, it looks like a giant rocket), this is the largest monument dedicated to a Scottish author (Walter Scott), so it’s pretty special. With the backdrop of Princes Street Gardens, it’s definitely worth a photo stop and if you’re feeling a little bit more active, there are 287 steps to the top!

Explore the Botanical Gardens

There’s something so god damn relaxing about being in botanical gardens, I loved my visit to one recently in Cologne and Edinburgh was just as good. As an added bonus, bring a friend who works in horticulture to show you around and pronounce all of the funny plant names. The gardens are pretty huge (especially if you pay to enter the greenhouses too) and with the long walk there, this is easily a half-day trip.

RELATED: Read about my time in Cologne’s Botanical Gardens here

Head Back to the Royal Mile Visit the Castle

With my friend’s love for horticulture now suitably satisfied, it was my turn to inflict my love of castles on the group! Edinburgh Castle can easily take up another half-of your day as there’s plenty to see in the castle (including a graveyard to the army dogs – which melted my stone cold little heart).

We visited a few days after The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the stage was still in place which blocks the main view of the castle when you are walking towards it – so if you’re a photography buff, you might want to avoid Edinburgh at that time!

RELATED: Do you love castles too? Read all about my latest castle jaunts here

Optional Extras Near The Castle

The castle is at the far end of the Royal Mile, so when you’re in the area you might as well see everything else that the area has to offer. After a long day of gardens and castles, we were shattered and in desperate need of food, but if you have some more energy than us, the main two attractions are:

  • Camera Obscura – A world of optical illusions which sounds like a fun day out for all ages! Apparently there are some epic views of the city from the roof!
  • The Scottish Whisky Experience – Directly opposite Camera Obscura is the ultimate place to try Scottish Whisky! With none of us being big Whisky drinkers and one of us actually being allergic to alcohol, we decided to give this one a miss but I’ve heard great things!

St Giles Cathedral

On our walk back down the Royal Mile to the hostel, we made sure to pop into St Giles Cathedral which is absolutely gorgeous. When we visited (September 2016), a boat used in the current refugee crisis was on view, a really harrowing sight.

The Dark Side Tour & Calton Hill 

As if we hadn’t walked enough today, we decided to take another walking tour. We loved Max so much after our Free Walking Tour in the previous day that we booked onto The Dark Side Tour for the following evening!

Edinburgh has a very spooky past and the stories were great (especially when told by Max)! I would highly recommend this tour if you like to hear a little horror story (and if you don’t… don’t worry, I’m a wuss and I was fine)!

During the tour, you’ll tick another of Edinburgh’s bucket list items off of your list – Calton Hill! What’s even better is that you will visit the hill at sunset which is really gorgeous in early September.

Day Three 

Take A Day Trip Into The Scottish Highlands

Whilst Edinburgh is absolutely incredible, sometimes it’s nice to head out into the countryside. We decided to take the FREE Scottish Highlands Tour with The Hairy Coo and I couldn’t recommend it more.

The company were so incredible that they deserve their own blog post and you can read all about our experience here.

Learn From Our Mistakes

We decided to go for a wander in the evening as one of my favourite times to explore a city is when they are lit up at night… apparently not all that much of Edinburgh is lit up (unlike some of my favourite evening cities such as the view of Parliament from Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest or the view of the Castle in Prague from across the river or the Wesminster area of London). The castle was lit blue but was very hard to photograph!

Day Four 

National Museum

With some time to kill before our flight home that afternoon, and a number of options to chose from in the city, we decided to go to the National Museum (we were mainly swayed by the giant posters of turtles outside telling us that the National Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition was on…. turns out we read the signs wrong and it was next week, oops).

I’m not usually a big museum fan, but this one was great! There were plenty of interactive exhibitions and it reminded me of the London Science and Natural History Museums – a good day out! Plus… did you know that a mega sloth once existed?!

Eat in The Elephant Cafe

I am a huge Harry Potter Fan, so a trip to the Elephant Cafe was an absolute must! This is the cafe that J K Rowling began writing the famous novel series in and for good reason – the food and drinks are great! Make sure you peep into the toilets to see the messages that fans have left scribbled on the walls!

RELATED: Want to find more Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh? Read all about them here!

Shop in Cute Independent Stores

Edinburgh is a creative city. It can be felt in the aforementioned memorials to Scottish writers, J K Rowling’s inspirational presence, the Scottish Writers Museum, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the sheer number of crafty independent stores. The arts are really celebrated in this amazing city and it’s amazing.

We headed up Victoria Street and the surrounding roads popping into cute shops, my favourites were Miss Katie Cupcake (specialising in handmade jewellery) and Museum Context (a shop for creative unique interiors).

The Things We Missed

After exploring the shops and getting some food, it was time for us to head to the airport to catch our flight home. Edinburgh is an incredible city and there were a tonne of other things we could have spent our time doing, so to make this post as informative as possible, here’s some other really great options to fill your days in Edinburgh!

In the City

  • Real Mary King’s Close – We tried really to visit this underground city tour on our last day but unfortunately they had a power cut just as we tried to visit!
  • Arthur’s Seat – TripAdvisor lists this as the number one thing to do in Edinburgh and it’s very unlike me to have not completed one of the best tourist attractions in a city! However, we were restricted for time and the hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat wasn’t too appealing on our very worn-out legs but I’m sure the views would have been great – there’s always next time!
  • Palace of Holyrood House – This is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland and it looks VERY grand! If I ever find myself back in Edinburgh, I will definitely be making a visit!
  • The Edinburgh Dungeon – Having visited the London Dungeon’s, we felt like this was an tourist trap we could probably miss!

Seasonal

  • The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – Annually Edinburgh Castle becomes the stage for military tattoos performed by the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International military bands.
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival – In late September, the city comes alive with the world’s largest arts festival!
  • Christmas Markets – As with any European city, supposedly Christmas is a great time to visit!
  • Hogmanay – This is the Scottish word for “New Year’s Eve” and the celebrations in Edinburgh are huge! Their fireworks displays are world renowned!

Day Trips/Excursions

During our time in Edinburgh, I stumbled across some things on the Edinburgh TripAdvisor page that looked great but on further inspection were nowhere near the city centre – if you’re in the area for longer than a few days or have access to a car, these could be the spots for you!

  • Craigmillar Castle
  • Inchcolm Abbey
  • Gilmerton Cove
  • Jupiter Artland
  • Portobello Beach
  • Hopetoun House

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. This post does however contain affiliate links which I may earn a small commission from should you purchase from the respective company.
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Danielle1



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Day One (1/2 Day)

Wahoo, after a very early morning, we were off to Germany! After taking a while to check in to the hotel and subsequently falling asleep for much longer than anticipated, we were off to explore the city for the afternoon!

The Cathedral

Our first stop was obviously the world famous cathedral which is definitely the best place to orientate yourself. There is one word for the cathedral – huge. Like, actually huge. Almost scary huge.

I’ve seen a lot of European cathedrals and this one is definitely up there with the best!

I took millions of photos of the cathedral during our time in Cologne and I can’t believe how much the lighting affects one building, it looks different in each photo!

Botanical Flora Gardens

After searching for food, we headed to the Botanical Gardens as we thought it would be on route to our next destination but it was a much longer walk than we expected! Although it wasn’t a bad walk by the river in the sunshine.

The gardens are beaaaautiful and definitely worth your time if you’re in the area on a sunny day!

Free Walking Tour

After spending some time in the gardens, we headed to the meet point of the Free Walk Cologne tour. I would definitely recommend this company, our guide (who’s name now escapes me) was really informative and funny! Cologne has a lot of history and given the fact it was such an important hub in World War II.

Among all of the mains sights of the city (including the cathedral), you will see lots of little bits that you may have missed while wandering the streets of the city unguided – including the narrowest house in the city (the 2nd narrowest in Europe!) & underground Roman ruins (actually located in an underground multi-story car park!).

Moan A Lot Because You Wore Silly Sandals And Now You Have Blisters

My least favourite activity of the trip.

Day Two

Take a Day Trip!

We all know that I was using Cologne as a base to explore a nearby castle (standard Danielle behaviour). So on our second day in Germany, we headed to Burg Eltz and you can read all about our experience here.

I’ll shortly be writing a post on exactly how to get to the castle because the internet wasn’t very helpful during my research, so let me know if there is anything you want to know!

If castles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other cities/towns that are an easy train ride away including:

  • Dusseldorf
  • Frankfurt
  • Bonn
  • Aachen
  • Trier

Day Three

We were hoping to go on another day trip on day three, but my feet had turned into two giant blisters, so we decided to spend the day in Cologne and try to do as little walking as possible!

Chocolate Museum

I’m normally a history/nature lover while I’m travelling, choosing to avoid more commercialised tourist traps but we LOVED our time at the chocolate museum! A lot of the reviews on TripAdvisor moaned that there weren’t enough free samples – we only got 2 but they were bloody incredible!

Eat Yourself Into Oblivion 

With it being ridiculously hot, we spent some time in a small beer garden near the Chocolate Museum downing steins of cold drink and of course eating my favourite – CURRY WURST!

National Socialism Documentation Centre

Yes, that does sound like a really boring building. But I can assure you that it’s not! The Documentation Centre was previously used as a Nazi prison and the information inside is a harrowing reminder of the holocaust.

The above-ground floors of the building are used as a museum and do a good job of explaining what life in Cologne was like during the war (although I don’t think the museum was quite as harrowing as places like Typography of Terror in Berlin and House of Terror in Budapest – both of which I would HIGHLY recommend).

Make sure you ask for an English audio guide, many of the displays in the museum are written in German only. The audio guide makes the experience much more poignant with the most memorable aspect for me being the room which explains how minority parties were treated, namely anybody that was gay, disabled or had mental illnesses – really awful stories!

The really harrowing aspect of this attraction are the underground prison cells. The wall carvings left my various prisoners have been preserved and notice boards translate the carvings into English – I’ve never seen anything like it and would highly recommend that you take a visit.

Eat More Food and Do Some (Window) Shopping

To get back to our hotel, we had to walk through a large shopping area (the mains streets being Schildergasse and Hohe Straße), so we spent some time window shopping (and actual shopping for plasters that would cure my broken feet) as well as getting dinner and exploring some more of the streets in the city centre.

Day 4 (1/2 Day)

Take A Stroll Across Hohenzollern Bridge

Hohenzollern Bridge is the iconic bridge that can be seen in practically all photos of Cologne. The bridge is lined with love locks and it’s lovely to stroll across here, taking a look at all of the locks and maybe leaving one of your own!

Get a View of The City From Above

After exploring all of the city at ground level, the best way to get a birds eye view is to head to Koln Triangle and pay the small 3 euro fee to reach the top of the skyscraper. This is where you will be able to get that iconic shot of the bridge, cathedral and city skyline!

Take a Cruise Down The River  Rhine

Our last activity of the trip was to take a cruise down the River Rhine. There are loads of different companies which line the Rhine and run at various times during the day, we picked the one that had people queuing up well in advance of the departure time hoping that they knew more about the reputation of these companies than we did!

Tickets are cheap and it’s a great way to spend an hour. We were a bit stupid however, leaving it to our last day in the city. Our first 3 days were 30 degrees and nothing but sun… our last day was rainy, dark and windy – you win some, you lose some!

And with that, our trip to Germany was over and it was time to head back to the airport before flying back to England. See you soon Germany!

RELATED POST: Is Cologne Worth A Visit? 

Looking for some more great things to do in the city?

Maybe try visiting during these times:

  • Easter – Cologne Carnival – Each year, Cologne is home to the largest carnival in the German speaking area and it sounds mental! If you take the free walking tour mentioned above, they will tell you all about it!
  • Winter – Christmas Markets – Cologne is known for it’s incredible Christmas markets, so there’s no better activity to get you in the Christmas spirit!

Have you ever been to Cologne? What was your favourite thing to do?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1


If you’ve read this post about my recent trip to Germany, you’ll know that my long weekend in Cologne  was booked because I was in search of one particular magical castle. So, I didn’t really know what to expect from Cologne. I won’t lie, it was never at the top of my list of cities to visit in Germany, let alone in the world, but I’ll do anything for a castle.

So Let’s Start With The Pros…

That Cathedral

To say that I’ve travelled to a lot of European cities and seen a lot of churches and cathedrals is an understatement. I can’t remember the last time I visited somewhere that didn’t feature a grand cathedral.

So you’d think that I have a bit of cathedral fatigue now (I’ve even got bored of writing the word in this post). But holy crap, this cathedral blows the socks off many that I’ve seen.

It’s. So. Big. And so imposing. There’s something eerily beautiful about the exterior and the inside is pretty damn nice too.

The Food

I am obsessed with curry-wurst. So maybe I’d be happy with anywhere in Germany but Cologne definitely delivered the goods when it came to dining.

Everything we ate was great – we even ate twice at the same Italian restaurant (not very German we know, but it was so damn good!).

Throw into the mix that Cologne is home to the Lindt Chocolate Museum and you know that you’re in for a treat! And oh my bloody god, that stuff is gooooood.

Christmas Markets

Cologne is famous for it’s German Christmas Markets. Whilst I didn’t visit in Winter, so I can’t confirm nor deny how fab they are, I’ve hear from reliable sources that they one of the best in the country!

A Great Transport Hub

Cologne has a fantastic main train station and is close to some great places – day trips a plenty! If you’re not a fan of moving all of your belongings around regularly, this would be a great base!

We took an amazing day trip to Burg Eltz but there were so many other places that we wanted to try – Aachen, Trier, Koblenz, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Essen and Frankfurt to name a few!

That Laid-Back Care-Free Vibe

Germans have a stereotype of being very strict and organised (my kind of people). You can expect that attitude to go completely out of the window in Cologne!

And On To The Cons…

It’s Not The Most Charming City In The World

Don’t come to Cologne expecting gorgeous rows of fancy old buildings or a charming Old Town city centre like many European cities.

I think this is why I didn’t click too much with the city. I love old architecture and charming cities/towns. Cologne is a relatively new city. It was was almost completely destroyed in World War II – the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force alone dropped almost 35,000 tons of bombs on the city.

However, the laid back care free attitude of Cologne means that planning permissions/building regulations in the city’s rebuild programme were very lax and you do stumble across some interesting buildings! On one walk along the river, we spotted a tiny house with a giant turret attached!

A Rough And Ready Vibe

With such higgly-de-piggledy building structures, the city has a much more “rough and ready” vibe than many European cities I’ve been to.

And lets’s face it, Cologne doesn’t have the best reputation as of late given the New Years Eve 2016 assults and the more recent knife and gun attack of August 2016.

We had absolutely NO reason to feel unsafe whilst in the city, but if you’re of a nervous disposition, maybe stick to the uber-charming “nothing bad could ever happen here” looking cities.

Things to Do 

Whilst we didn’t struggle to fill our time in the city, this is mainly because I made some bad shoe choices and ended up with horrendous blisters early on. I was in so much pain that sitting down and spending a lot of time eating seemed like a good idea!

The freak heat-wave we encountered during our time there also slowed us down, we took a lot of time to stop and get a drink/try to cool down.

With all of this taken into account, we spent near enough 3 days in Cologne enjoying the tourist attractions. We then took 1 day to visit Burg Eltz. Had I been on top form however, we could have explored the city much quicker and had more time to day those day trips I mentioned earlier!

In Summary…

If you’re limited on time in Europe, maybe skip Cologne. Most people come to Europe to escape into our beautiful charming cities, and you won’t find much of that here.

It’s ugly (by today’s standards) but it’s also a direct reminder of 20th century history (given that 95% of the city had to be rebuilt in the 50s). Therefore you may still find it worth visiting, because of course learning and understanding the history of the world is important. Unless you are only interested in fairytale-perfect postcard images.

It’s no secret that I find central European cities such as Budapest and Prague the most charming, and the South Eastern region of the Balkans the most beautiful area of Europe. Cologne is a modern city but if that’s what you are after – go wild!

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cheap weekend getaway, this could be the perfect place. If you’re from the UK, Stansted Airport has RyanAir flights flying to Cologne multiple times every day and they are usually dirt cheap. Book in advance and see prices as low as £10 each way. Ours were around £60 return on the August bank holiday weekend – given the popularity of this weekend, this is still pretty incredible! What makes things better is that the flight is little over an hour long – a very easy getaway!

Plus… Burg Eltz is TOTALLY worth it.

Fancy a few more opinions? Britt has written a fantastic post about her not-so-fantastic time in the city which you can read here.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1


Oh the beautiful land of Mozart and The Sound Of Music. When I first started looking into a trip to Salzburg, I’d be lying if I said I knew what there is to do there. In fact, the three of us were so busy at work before our trip, that even when we arrived, we weren’t too sure on what there was to do in Salzburg!

We actually wanted to go to Vienna but accommodation costs were extortionate at the time and Salzburg seemed like the next best fit! As soon as I started looking into it, I knew I would fall in love with the city.

Fast forward a few months and here I am, an avid Salzburg fan, and with good reason! This is how we sent our 3 days in the beautiful city!

Check Into Cityhotel Strumer Tube

Upon our arrival in Salzburg, we hopped in cab and headed to our hotel City Strumer Tube, which I would definitely recommend! It’s cheap and cheerful and the girls working on reception are some of the most friendly and helpful hotel staff that I have ever met!

Explore the Old Town 

After checking in, we were ridiculously excited to get into the city centre and start exploring! As with most Central/Eastern European cities, the “old town” is where you want to start your trip. Gorgeous buildings, amazing architecture and a beautiful river!

Peak Into the Salzburg Cathedral 

There are plenty of cathedrals and churches in Salzburg (particularly around the Old Town) but my favourite is the Salzburg Cathederal. Never before have I seen somewhere so pristine and white. The gorgeous facades inside the cathedral are so ornate and different to anything I’ve ever seen before!

Pick Up a Salzburg Pass

Whilst exploring the Old Town on our first afternoon in Salzburg, we picked up a Salzburg Pass from the Tourism Office – I would definitely recommend this if you want to see all of the main attractions in Salzburg.

RELATED POST: Find out how much money you can save by using the Salzburg Pass here!

Take Cruise Down the Salzach River

The first thing we noticed in the Salzburg Pass brochure was a river cruise, and we just HAD to do it. It’s not often that you get to do a river cruise for “free” – okay, technically it’s not free because we paid for the Salzburg Pass, but you end up saving so much money, the pass pays for itself! Logic ;-).

Pop Into Mozart’s Birthplace

If you don’t have a huge interest or passion for Mozart / classical music, I’d maybe tell you to skip this attraction. Unless you have the Salzburg Pass and can therefore get in for “free” like we did! We had heard so many great things about this museum but left feeling slightly underwhelmed. But then again, it would probably be wrong to visit the land of Mozart without visiting his birth place! The one thing that I found particularly interesting to see were Mozart’s original handwritten music sheets.

Explore the Famous Graves and Catacombes of Petersfriedhof

Whilst still in the main city centre, we headed over to St Peter’s Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Austria. It was so beautiful (is that strange to say about a cemetery…?). Whilst it might not sound like the most glamorous attraction, it is in the main city centre and is definitely worth a visit!

Head Back to the Hotel and Attempt to Visit Mirabell Gardens

After flying in and wandering around the whole of Salzburg in one day, sadly our first day was coming to an end. Our hotel was really close to Mirabell Gardens and Palace, so we decided to go there before heading back to our hotel and then going out for dinner.

Unfortunately it decided to absolutely chuck it down with rain – it’s safe to say that the gardens didn’t look all that pretty in torrential rain! Queue spending the evening trying to find more places in our hotel room to hang up our soaking wet clothes….

Wake Up Bright and Early For a Trip To Hohensalzburg Fortress

On our second day, we headed straight for Hohensalzburg Fortress. This is without a doubt, my favourite thing to do in Salzburg! I am an avid lover of castles and fortresses, as are the two girls I was travelling with. We spent hours here and probably could have spent longer!

The Salzburg pass includes one ride up to the Fortress on the funicular, it’s pretty steep, so prepare yourself if you are scared of heights (we let out a few girly squeals…).  But seeing as the fortress is high up, the views are incredible as you can imagine!

The fortress is absolutely huge and we felt lost a few times – a great way to spend half a day!

Take A Bus Over To Hellbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains

Hellbrun Palace is slightly outside of the city centre, so catch a bus from Hohensalzburg Fortress (probably the closest attraction to the Palace). Hellbrunn Palace is absolutely lovely and the gardens are gorgeous in the sun.

I’d also definitely recommend taking a tour of the Trick Fountains. The stories of the King who installed all of these “trick fountains” to make his guests jump are hilarious! Be warned, you will probably get a bit wet!

Make a Quick Stop at the Zoo 

Zoos aren’t my cup of tea, but there is a zoo right next to Hellbrunn palace, so if you’re thinking of doing both attractions, it makes sense to do it in the same day! We popped into the zoo quickly to see the goats in the petting centre – my friend loves goats! Otherwise, I wasn’t overly impressed with the size of the enclosures and we left pretty quickly.

Make a More Successful Visit to Mirabell Gardens! 

On our way back to the hotel at the end of a busy day filled with fortresses and palaces, we tried to visit the Mirabell Gardens one more time! This time was much more successful, the sun was shining (just ignore the puddles on the ground) and it’s a really gorgeous place to explore. And of course, this is another place where the fortress looks particularly impressive (my OCD tendencies absolutely love that the view of the castle is directly in the middle of the garden formation).

Some Unsuccessful Day 3 Planning

On the evening of our second night, we ended up doing some very unsuccessful planning for our third day in Austria. We wanted to make a trip to Hallstatt the next day and deliberated our options endlessly before booking a guided tour.

RELATED POST: You can read all about our decision making and the options you have on getting from Salzburg to Hallstatt here!

See the City from above using Monchsberglift 

Given that our trip to Hallstatt wouldn’t be taking place until the afternoon, we had to find a way to pass the morning away. We took a look at our trusty tourist map and saw that there was a “great view point” listed. As avid fans of “pretty places”, we headed straight over to Monchsberglift! The lift takes you up to one particularly good viewpoint, you can then walk around the woodland area stumbling across other great sights – a lovely walk on a sunny day!

To get to the Monchsberglift, you will probably need to walk down my favourite little street in the city (Gstattengasse). I thought that I was being a bit weird by really liking this street as there isn’t really anything of note here, the buildings are just nicely painted… but apparently not, it’s rated on TripAdvisor as the 47th best thing to see in Salzburg – knew I wasn’t going completely mad!

Shop On Getreidegasse

Getreidegasse is a very traditional-looking shopping street, great for strolling through and having a quick window shop! There’s lots of great shopping areas around the Old Town (including a lot of luxury high-end brands!).

Take A Trip to Hallstatt!


And finally we were off to Hallstatt for our final afternoon in Austria – there’s plenty to see and do here, so the town has a whole blog post dedicated to it – you can read all about that here.

After our lovely trip to Hallstatt, we headed back to the hotel to pack up all of our things ready to say goodbye to the lovely Austria in the morning. Austria you were fantastic and I can’t wait to visit again!

RELATED POST: Want to know how much this whole trip cost? Find out how you should budget for Salzburg here!

The Things We Didn’t get to do 

As with all quick weekend trips, there are a few things we didn’t get to do, these are:

  • Untersberg – This is probably the attraction that we were most upset about missing. The cable car up Untersberg mountain wasn’t running when we visited Salzburg but the views look absolutely gorgeous (just have a quick google image search to see for yourself!).
  • Sound of Music Tour – Okay, I haven’t actually seen The Sound of Music (shock horror!), so I would have felt like a bit of a phoney if I actually went on this tour – but hey, I should tell you that it exists!
  • Eagles Nest – My inner history nerd is a bit upset that we never did a day-trip to Eagles Nest (Hitler’s former residence). Whilst this is technically in Germany, you can reach it within an hour when driving from Salzburg!
  • On a similar theme of crossing the German border, I would have also loved to have explored the Bavarian mountains or taken a trip into Munich (probably would have needed longer than a day to fully explore what Munich has to offer!).
  • Mozart concert dinner – yes, you read that right! If you have some cash to splash and want a Mozart concert while you are wined and dined, Salzburg is the place to do it!
  • Stiegl-Brauwelt – Also included on the Salzburg card is a brewery tour! I took the Heineken brewery tour in Amsterdam (read about that here) and I’m not a fan of beer, so felt like I could sit this one out!

    Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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It appears that my “Budgeting For Ohrid, Macedonia” article was popular, so I’ve decided that I will be doing a quick “budgeting” post for all of my current and upcoming travels.

Budgeting is something that I struggle with and when I told people that I was going on a city break to Salzburg, all I heard was “oh my god, it’s so expensive there” but we were pleasantly surprised!

My Trip

  • Destination: Salzburg, Austria
  • Total number of days: 3
  • Total number of nights: 3
  • Date: June 2016
  • People travelling: 3 (some costs such as taxi journeys are therefore divided by 3).
  • Travelling style: Mid-range. We chose to stay in a mid-range hotel, pay more for excursions (see more below) and have a really relaxing trip.
  • Exchange rate used: The exchange rate used for the entirety of this post (EUR to GBP) is 1.29 (accurate during the time of my trip)

So, How Much Did I Spend?!

During my time in Salzburg, I spent 341.87 EUR (265.01 GBP). This total covers accommodation, food, drinks, sightseeing and transport. Pre-arrival costs such as flights are not included as these vary so much!

To see a full breakdown of my costs in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format, click HERE!

Accommodation – £112.87 – 145.60 EUR -43%

We decided to stay at Cityhotel Trumer Stube and we would recommend it to everyone! The location is fantastic (a 5 min walk into the main city), the rooms are modern/clean and the staff working on reception are incredible. All of the girls that we spoke to were lovely, helpful and ridiculously friendly. So friendly that one of my travel buddies said, I think the job description to work here states “must be cute as hell”.

Accommodation is difficult when you’re travelling as 3 adults. You don’t want someone to be in a hotel room on their own and missing out on all the fun! Because of this, we probably ended up paying more per person than a couple or a solo traveller. The total accommodation cost was around £338 and the room could have slept 4 people (2 double beds), meaning the cost per person would have been £84.50 per person if there were 4 of us rather than £112.87 – a considerable saving (maybe not… but when a number goes from above £100 to below £100, it always seems like a good deal)!

If you want to pay less on hotels, you could easily stay further away from the city centre. The bus connections are amazing and travel costs are covered by the Salzburg Card (which you can read my review on here).

Food/Drink – £64.42 – 83.10 EUR – 24%

I travelled with two girls from work, we were all extremely busy at work before our trip and wanted 3 days of relaxation, fun and sightseeing. So, despite the fact we are all 21 and society believes we spend all of our time drunk, not a single drop of alcohol was drunk this weekend, so I can’t comment on alcohol prices!

We opted for easy and quick breakfasts and lunches, then ventured out to a proper restaurant each night. Apart from one night where we were exhausted and bound to our hotel room due to torrential rain… ordering takeaway pizza was the only option.

Food and drink costs were on par with most Western European tourist cities.

Sightseeing and Activities – £79.46 – 102.50 EUR – 30%

For exploring the city, I would wholly recommend the Salzburg Card. We saved around 38 EUR on sightseeing by purchasing this card, so money-wise, if you want to see lots of sights in a condensed timeframe, Salzburg isn’t a bad city to visit!

We did however hit a stumbling block whilst planning a trip to the beautiful town of Hallstatt. We planned to visit on a Sunday and there were public transport issues outside of Salzburg. We therefore booked a half-day tour with Panorama Tours which was fantastic as our guide had a real sense of pride in his country’s history and landscapes. However, this wouldn’t be the best option if you’re looking to travel on a budget – the half-day tour cost 55 EUR after all!

RELATED POST: Is the Salzburg Card Worth It? 

Transport – £8.27 – 10.67 EUR – 3%

The only item contained in this section is a taxi from the airport to the hotel and vice versa on departure. Each journey cost around 16 EUR which was split between the three of us. Public transport would definitely be much cheaper if you are a solo traveller, however 16 EUR split between a number of people isn’t too bad at all.

You are unlikely to need to pay for any other transport during your stay in Salzburg if you have the Salzburg Card. We used the fantastic bus system a few times and each trip was free due to the use of this card.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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IMG_1743 - edited.JPG

So, if you’ve stumbled across this webpage, you’re probably travelling to Salzburg and you’ve probably heard about the Salzburg Card & wondering whether it’s worth your money. Many cities have an”all access” card but I’ve never come across one that is worth your money, until I travelled to Salzburg!

The Basics

As expected, the city’s many museums are covered by this card, however there are a few really great unexpected perks such as free travel within the city (their bus system is fantastic!), entrance to some of the the more expensive attractions in the city (such as Hellbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains, Salzburg Zoo and Hohensalzburg Fortress) and finally some incredible free experiences such as a cruise down the Salzach River.

As well as the freebies within the city, price reductions are available for many attractions outside of the city.

A complete list of the items covered by the Salzburg Card can be found here.

The Price (Correct as of June 2016)

There are two different price brackets for 2016. In summary, these are “winter season” being 01 January – 30 April and 01 November – 31 December and “summer season” being 1 May – 31 October.

You then have the option of 24 hours, 48 hours and 72 hours depending on how long you are in the city. 2016 adult prices are as follows:

Summer Period

  • 24 hours          27 EUR
  • 48 hours          36 EUR
  • 72 hours          42 EUR

Winter Period

  • 24 hours          24 EUR
  • 48 hours          32 EUR
  • 72 hours          37 EUR

RELATED: Want to know exactly how much I spent during my time in Salzburg? Find out here

Was It Helpful for Me?

MOST DEFINITELY. We purchased the 48 hour pass in the Summer period for 36 EUR and managed to see attractions worth 74 EUR in our time – an amazing 38 EUR saving!

The attractions we covered were as follows:

Catacombs 2.00
Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains 12.50
Hohensalzburg Fortress 12.00
Mozart’s Birthplace 10.00
Monchsberglift 3.60
Salzach Cruise 15.00
Salzburg Zoo 10.50
Bus from Fortress to Hellbrunn 3.60 Est. price from Rome2Rio.com (3GBP x 1.2)
Bus from Hellbrunn to Mirabell 4.80 Est. price from Rome2Rio.com (4GBP x 1.2)
 Total 74.00

Whilst we would have visited all of the attractions on this list (beside the below disclaimer), the card made things particularly easy to see what options we had for the day, choose where to visit and opened our eyes to attractions that we may not have otherwise known about which was great.

We were disappointed that the Untersberg cable car was not open at the time of our visit (the cost would have been covered by the Salzburg Card ordinarily) – we really wanted to visit Untersberg but it gives us another reason to return!

Disclaimer – A zoo wouldn’t usually be on my list of things to do within a new city as animals in cages make me sad! However, my friend LOVES goats and a goat petting area was right at the beginning of the zoo. Our Salzburg Card allowed us to gain free entry for her to see the goats. We wandered further into the zoo and weren’t happy with the small animal enclosures, so swiftly exited. So I’m not sure if that counts as money I would have otherwise spent!

RELATED: If you’re struggling for ideas on what to do in the city, check out my long weekend itinerary

Should You Buy It For Your Trip?

Whether the Salzburg Card is worth it completely depends on your travel preferences and what you want to gain from your visit.

For example, if you want to spend time relaxing in the city centre, drinking good coffee and absorbing your time eating Austrian food, leisurely seeing the hours pass as opposed to trying to see as many sights as physically possible – this pass probably isn’t for you.

An older woman on one of our tours outside of the city centre also commented that she liked to spend hours inside each museum, meaning she didn’t have enough time to see many museums in a 24 or 48 hour period, thus not getting her money’s worth.

I would say that if you want to see  3 or more of the more expensive attractions in Salzburg, the card will be worth it given the reasonable price and obvious value for money. However, if you’re in Salzburg for 24 hours on a very strict budget and would prefer to wander around the city absorbing the charming culture, this option probably isn’t for you.

Unfortunately almost all of the attractions on the card close at around 5pm, so you might want to plan your time carefully.

The free transportation is particularly helpful when it comes to the further away destinations such as Hellbrunn Palace (entrance is included on the Salzburg Card) and Untersberg Mountain (the cable car is included on the Salzburg Card).

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Copenhagen seems to be appearing on more and more people’s travel radars, everyone seems to be going there! So I thought I’d try to be a bit helpful – here are my top things to do in Copenhagen!

Before we get started, I should warn that Copenhagen (as like much of Scandinavia) is a pretty expensive place to visit, however not to fear, I’ve also written a guide on keeping costs down in the city which you can read here!

1. Visit the Famous Nyhavn


If you had to send a postcard home to your loved ones while in Copenhagen, without a doubt it would be a picture of Nyhavn. The picture perfect colourful buildings, the canals, the pretty boats, what could be better? Be warned that restaurant and bar prices in this area can be more expensive however!

2. Tivoli Gardens

Another one of the more famous attractions in Copenhagen is Tivoli Gardens – a theme park set inside beautiful gardens in the city centre. I was disappointed to find that entry to the gardens isn’t free – everything inside the park you have to pay for (including access to fairground rides), so I think this is a bit unfair – the gardens aren’t that big! But it would be wrong to visit the city without taking a look inside Tivoli Gardens!

3. Botanisk Have – Freebie Gardens!


As an alternative to Tivoli, there are plenty of beautiful green areas to choose from! I visited Copenhagen with one of my friends who works in horticulture (hi Josh!) and I promised him before we visited that we’d fit some gardens into our schedule. As we were walking to another attraction, we planned a route through Botanisk Have (translates to The Botanical Gardens) and we had a great time! Even if taking the above “jumping photos” nearly resulted in my shoe falling in the lake… oops!

4. Eat all the Danish Pastries!


It would almost be criminal to visit Denmark without sampling a range of their pastries. Our favourite shop was Lagkagehuset, there is a store located on the main shopping street (Strøget -the longest pedestrianised shopping street in Europe!).

If you’re sick of pastries (is that even possible?!). Copenhagen is filled with other culinary delights, one being Noma, the worlds 3rd best restaurant! We obviously did not eat here… I think a meal here would have cost more than my entire trip… I did day dream about it though, naturally.

5.  Visit Freetown Christiania

If there’s something I didn’t expect a chilled-out, law-abiding city like Copenhagen to have, it’s a rebellious Freetown. Back in 1971, a group of hippies occupied abandoned military barracks and developed a town completely independent of the Danish Government. The Freetown is a mix of home-made houses, green parkland, workshops and some not so legal sales (some “naughty things” are sold, mainly on Pusher Street and for your own safety, don’t take any photos in the area, especially on Pusher Street!).

6. Take a Day Trip Over The Famous Øresund Bridge


Image Credit – Imgur

Copenhagen is a well connected city. A train from the main station (in the centre of the city) will take you over Øresund Bridge (made famous by the TV series “The Bridge”). While on the train, you won’t actually be able to see much as the bridge runs below the car path – I would love to drive across it!

There are a few different options you can pick for your day-trip into Sweden. The options we had were:

  • Return train across the bridge to Malmö (Sweden)
  • Return train across the bridge to Lund (Sweden)
  • Train to Helsingør (Denmark), ferry to Helsinborg (Sweden), train to Malmö (Sweden), train across the bridge back to Copenhagen.

After some extensive google-image searches and talking to tour guides/our hostel staff, we decided to visit Lund for the day and it was lovely!

However, I’d love to do the round trip through Helsingør, Helsinborg and Malmö. Helsingør is home to Kronborg Slot which was made famous as Elsinore Castle in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (as a literature nerd, this excites me a lot)!

7.  Visit the Many Palaces


The two photos above are of Paleis Christiansborg (Christiansborg Slot) which has the only free high-up view point of the city (see my post about keeping costs down in Copenhagen to read more about this)! However, there are a few palaces in Copenhagen including Frederiksberg Slot and Amalienborg which is the home to the Danish Royal family – make sure you get to see the changing of the guards during your trip!

8. Rosenberg Castle

When you’re done looking around the palaces of the city, what’s better than finishing off your cultural experience with a castle too?! Rosenberg Castle is beautiful but unfortunately my camera skills were apparently lacking when we visited!

9. Take a Walking Tour 


Walking tours in Europe tend to have a lot of WWII / Cold War era history within them, so it was really nice to be shown around a city with a different history. Swap your knowledge of men with dodgy facial hair (Stalin and Hitler I’m looking at you) for knowledge of men in funny pointy hats – the Vikings! Although apparently the pointy hats and big beards are a modern-day stereotype that isn’t close to the truth – how disappointing!

10. Take A Canal Tour

If walking isn’t your thing, then take a canal tour instead! Prices were reasonable for such a popular tourist attraction. There are a few different providers, so walk around Nyhavn to see which company is the cheapest. While I don’t think that this was the best way to see the city, a lot of the great sights of the city can’t be seen from the water, the architecture you can see is pretty and it gives your legs a bit of a rest!

Okay, neither of the above photos were taken on a canal tour, they were in fact taken on a walking tour. But taking photos from a low-down boat whilst dealing with the motions of the water didn’t work out too well for me.

11 & 12. Visit the Little Mermaid & Visit Kastellet on the Walk there! 

 

Photo credit lies with the Instagram account @yoeshi.

Now, I feel like this should be on any list of things to do in Copenhagen. The author of “The Little Mermaid” was Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish writer, and so it’s only fair that a statue is resurrected in honour of the fairytale.

However…. we never actually ended up getting to see The Little Mermaid up close. We saw it from afar on a canal cruise and can confirm that this tiny statue is absolutely over run by tourists. As we began the walk to the attraction before our late afternoon flight, the heavens opened. Getting drenched in torrential rain before getting on a flight didn’t sound like too much fun. I’d also have really loved to visit Kastellet on the walk there!

13. Rundetaarn (The Round Tower)

 

Photo credit lies with the Instagram account @dhowelldesigns.

Another attraction that I unfortunately didn’t get to see was the Round Tower. For some reason before my trip, I hadn’t heard anything about The Round Tower but since being back, it’s been plastered all over my Instagram feed! There’s something about that perfectly sloped curve that makes for such a satisfying photo!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Another city break done, another list of top things to do list! Kraków is a great city to visit for a few days, but do also read my recent post about whether it lives up to the hype – you can read that here.

1) Spend Some Time in the Old Town

Old Town Kraków is gorgeous. From the Church of the Virgin Mary to the Cloth Hall, the architecture is amazing. However, my favourite thing about the city centre are all of the food stalls. The Polish will tell you that the food in the Old Town is overpriced, but compared to London prices, it’s dirt cheap! The soups, breads and crepes make for a great quick meal!

2) Church of the Virgin Mary

If you’ve seen a photo of Kraków, it’s probably of the Old Town Centre, specifically of the Church of the Virgin Mary. This is an incredible building that dominates the Old Town Square (however it does cost a small amount to visit the inside/climb the tower and the tower is only open in certain months). Every hour, there is a bugle call, make sure you look up to the window on the left tower to see the man playing the bugle – he will give a little wave after his performance!

3) Wawel Castle 

Wawel Castle is a gorgeous castle (from the outside especially). The inside isn’t anything spectacular. There are a few exhibitions inside, I’m more of a fan of ornate castles that have kept their original interiors! However, the outside of the building and the gardens are really worth the visit!

4) Jewish District (Kazimierz)

Once you’ve explored the main city centre of Kraków, make sure you head down to the Jewish district to explore some more! There’s plenty of history and culture to be seen here. A free walking tour is available of the area.

5) Planty Park

Planty park is a thin park which runs the entire way round the city centre – it did used to be the city moat after all! We visited in March, so many of the trees and greenery were bare and you probably wouldn’t want to spend too much time standing in the cold – but the area has great reviews in the Summer months!

6) Cloth Hall

Cloth Hall is the central long building in the Old Town city centre, it’s filled with more market stalls and there’s also an underground museum that you can visit! An interesting fact about Kraków is that most of the buildings have a floor or two underground due to the fact that the city kept becoming so downtrodden and dirty that instead of clearing up the area, they simply laid more and more concrete onto the floor multiple times.

7) The Ghetto Hero’s Square

This is a very poignant installation in the “ghetto” of Kraków. 70 empty chairs are stood in the square commemorating the Jews that lost their lives during the war in Kraków.

8) St Florian’s Gate & The Barbican

St Florian’s Gate and The Barbican are gothic towers dating back to the 14th century which adjoined the fortified city walls. Hard to imagine what the city was like completely surrounded by high walls!

9) Visit the many many Churches!

If I told you all of the churches to visit in Kraków, this would be a very long blog post. However, if you stumble around the city, you can’t miss them! There are hundreds. Take a look at the TripAdvisor top things to do in Kraków to see just how much the Polish love their churches/cathedrals!

10) Take a Daytrip to Auschwitz

This was the real reason that we came to Kraków, we really wanted to see Auschwitz and finally tick it off of our bucket lists. This was an incredible experience and one I’m really grateful for. A full blog post will be up soon!

11) Take a Daytrip to Wieliczka Salt Mines

As part of the same day trip to Auschwitz with Discover Cracow, we also visited Wieliczka Salt Mines. The sheer size and scale of these mines are incredible. This is definitely worth a visit, especially for the Chapel of St Kinga – a huge room 101m below ground. The entire room is made from salt – the walls, ceiling, floor, statues, wall carvings and even the chandeliers! Also, you can give the walls a lick anywhere in the mines – it’s salty!

12) Church On The Rock

As mentioned above, Kraków has many churches to choose from. My favourite is the “Church on the Rock”. A beautiful white building with lovely grounds – perfect for a great instagram shoot! Unfortunately the doors were locked and we couldn’t get in at the time of visiting.

13) Oskar Schindler’s Factory

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to visit the factory on my trip to Kraków but I would absolutely love to. I still need to see the film “Schindler’s List” the whole way through first! There are plenty of scenes which were shot on the streets of Kraków, so if you’re a fan of the film, you really need to visit!

14) Take a Free Walking Tour

Now I absolutely love a free walking tour, they are a great way to get your bearings in a new city, learn a bit more about the culture and work out what you want to do throughout the rest of your trip. Kraków has the best range of free walking tours I have ever seen in a city! Generally most cities have one free walking tour and the rest are paid for, but not Kraków! See a full list of the tours here.

15) Take a Free Food Tour! 

In a similar light to the above, there is also a FREE walking tour!! Yes, free! You will have to pay for food as you go through the city, however each location only charges 1 – 2 PLN per portion and you don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to. Stand out items for me were gorgeous breads, out of this world dumplings and an array of Polish sweets.

16) Enjoy Cheap Food Throughout the City!

Poland is known for having some of the cheapest foods in Europe. While all of the Polish people would recommend you to stay away from the Old Town as prices here are much higher than that of places slightly outside of the touristy areas, I found that even in the Old Town Centre, food prices were VERY good – especially when you’re used to London prices. Our favourite restaurant in the Old Town was La Grande Mamma (pictured above)! Yes, I  know this is Italian, not Polish but the food was gorgeous (as were the restaurant interiors!).

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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