Urban Travel Blog https://www.urbantravelblog.com The independent guide to City Breaks Thu, 09 May 2019 15:20:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.3 Long Weekend: Gothenburg https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/gothenburg/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/gothenburg/#respond Tue, 16 Apr 2019 17:28:59 +0000 https://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=18135 Pop up breweries, hipster boutiques and rocking music festivals… there are plenty of places to visit, and things to see and do, during a weekend break in Gothenburg. Hanna Johnson guides us around this progressive port town.

As the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg is often compared to it’s bigger sibling, Stockholm. Where Stockholm is refined, Gothenburg is quirky and artistic. As the city expands it has retained its “working class” essence as an old port city. Although you will find posh interior design stores on every block, and every local you see looks to have walked off a H&M catwalk, Gothenburg has held on to its grungy, underground reputation through its ever-booming industrial presence and music-focused festivals.

Like the rest of Sweden, Gothenburg is blessed with natural beauty to everyone’s liking. Parks, forests, salt and freshwater are all available within a quick public transit ride. That makes it easy to explore the city in the morning, take the afternoon sun by a lake, river or sea (or stream, or pool… the Swedes love water), and be back for fika, the nation’s daily coffee ritual (the Swedish have one of the world’s highest coffee consumption per capita!).

A port city with a hipster vibe
A port city with an increasingly artistic vibe

Swedes may get a bad rep for being one of the least friendly societies in the developed world, but just wait for Afterwork (Swedish happy hour) to see the locals cut loose in a way that makes you feel like a Dancehall Queen (yes, you must become Robyn obsessed to enter Sweden). Unsurprisingly, most locals speak perfect English so feel free to ask for directions or suggestions and you may get to enjoy a little Swedish lesson along the way.

Best of the Beaten Track

The beauty of visiting Gothenburg lies in enjoying its rich history and crowd-free attractions. Although the city is steadily becoming more well known, so that latter claim may not age well. In other words, get here sooner rather than later.

Traditionalists should be sure to stop by the Museum of Gothenburg for an interactive look into the Scandinavian lifestyle and journey to become the city we know today, complete with a history of Nordic Gods and a Viking ship.

Going Neo-Gothic in Gothenburg

The Volvo Museum is a bit of a trek but I assure you, the Volvo busses to and fro will guarantee a safe journey. (Hint, hint, Volvo is from Gothenburg, probably half of the people you’ll see work there).

The Gothenburg Museum of Art (konstmuseum) is a beautifully curated space with a surprising amount of works from famous artists you are bound to have heard of, along with plenty of Scandinavian artists and exhibitions.

The mint green and terracotta Oscar Fredrik Church is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks.

Relaxing boat tours take you through the city’s canals to enjoy a fisherman’s-eye view of this once-thriving port city.

When you’ve had enough knowledge thrown at you, give yourself a nice picnic or fika at one of the many beautiful parks Gothenburg’s city center has to offer. Slottsskogen is sprawling at 137 hectares and boasts a free zoo.

If you’re visiting in the winter, be sure to stop by Trädgårdsföreningen (good luck with pronunciation) with the Palmhuset, a beautiful small-scaled Crystal Palace greenhouse. Both parks hold various cultural events and concerts.

Lastly, get out in the true nature! Vasttrafik (public transit) is incredibly well connected to nature with the ferries departing from Saltholmen to the southern archipelago where you can hop from carless to peopleless islands.

Or head to the nature reserve of Delsjö where you will find several lakes, beach volleyball and football (soccer) fields, and plenty of hiking and running trails.

Hipster’s Guide

Gothenburg is a millennial’s delight! As a millennial, I really appreciate the affordability of some of the unique experiences this city has to offer.

First and foremost, Frihamnen Port is just across the river on the island of Hisingen and holds Jubileumsparken, a former shipyard that now focuses on environmental development to bring the community together. You can get hot and bothered by the architectural beauty of the sauna (complete with a dipping tub to get that Scandi experience), a public salt-water pool, a playground, and a beach. They even have an outdoor roller derby rink and free sailing lessons!

Grandpa always appreciates a visit...
Grandpa always appreciates a visit…

The neighborhood of Majorna is becoming a hipster’s mecca thanks to the stylish cafes and breweries with cryptic hours popping up (prepare yourself, alcohol is NOT cheap). You may have to do a little hunting but you will be sure to find some treasures, be they items or experiences, in this district.

Gothenburg is very on trend. Be it fashion, plants, or music, you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for in the city center. Walking around Kungsportsplatsen, you’ll see the typical stores, but peak into those you may not have heard of, like Monki, Weekday, or Grandpa for some Scandinavian fashion.

Plant life...
Go plant shopping in Kungsportsplatsen!

Be sure to check out their many thrift stores like Pop Boutique. Get plant envy at Floramor & Krukatos or the over 100 year old La Fleuriste.

And finish your day at the uber cool Unity Jazz, where you can listen to live music in an intimate environment as you sip your Aperol Spritz or local beer.

Experience & Events

Apart from the island hopping, sunbathing (clothing optional), and the many options at Jubileumsparken, squeeze in a daily fika, especially in the Haga neighborhood. Fika is a designated time for coffee, something sweet, and to catch up with friends. Fika can be at any time of day and is the best way to wrap a Swede into spending time with you. Go to Cafe Husaren while walking along quintessential wooden buildings and grab a coffee and kanelbullen (cinnamon bun).

Midsummer madness...
Midsummer madness…

What one may find surprising is the musical talent that is birthed in Gothenburg. In August, the city hosts the 3-day Way Out West Music Festival with a refreshing array of genres, just don’t forget some rain boots.

And, of course, Midsummer. Midsummer is the festival of fertility in the most tasteful form possible. Swedes typically high-tail it to their, or a loved one’s, country house to drink copious amounts of schnapps and eat fish and potatoes while wearing flower crowns and singing silly songs. This includes a giant, suggestively shaped, Maypole decorated in flowers and people joining hands and dancing around, especially with children. People say you need an ‘in’ to get the true Midsummer experience, but Trädgårdsföreningen holds a fantastic celebration for all ages.

Pillow Talk

Hotels in Gothenburg are all held at a high standard but it’ll cost you. The Scandic Hotel chain includes free breakfast for a reasonable price.

The Clarion Hotel Post is a chic option and hosts monthly Afterwork Parties so be sure to check their calendar.

For budget travelers, the Linnéplatsens Hotel and Hostel can offer you an exquisitely clean bunk or room in a perfect location.

And for those extreme budget travelers, or those looking for some fresh air, keep in mind that all public land in Sweden is camp-able. That’s right, you can pitch a tent on a beach or on the side of the road (not recommended) and you’re 100% legal to do that. Something the Swedish call Allmansrätten, just make sure to be respectful and follow their slogan, “do not disturb, do not destroy”.

Fork Out

Gothenburg has really branched out from their pickled fish and potatoes past to foodie scene. For fika (or coffee if you’re still not on board) try Da Matteo or Brogyllen Bakery.

For the best pizza outside of Naples (dare I say as good?) head over to BOV and try to squeeze in to this 22-seater pumping out the pizzas while jamming to Bowie.

Stop by Saluhallen for Swedish fare
Stop by Saluhallen for Swedish fare

For some traditional Swedish food, along with options for all, go to Saluhallen, a food hall that has been operating since 1888.

And for lunch, there are plenty of all-you-can-eat soup and salad restaurants, and the one that reigns supreme is Soup & The Kitchen, on the same street as BOV.

Drop In

For the amount of alcohol the Swedish consume, you would never guess the high cost for a pint. Start your night off at Kafe Magasinet, a trendy, semi-cheap bar with a glass ceiling and beautiful plants and people everywhere. It also shares it’s terrace with Olssons Vin, a wine bar.

Pustervik is a great place to end the night...
Pustervik is a great place to end the night…

If you want to continue your night in this area, the street of Andra Langgatan has plenty of bars. Or you can head over to Avenyn and try the multi-levelled clubs Lounges and Yaki-Da with espresso martinis and different music on each level.

Another great option for dancing and/or live music is Pustervik.

Getting There

Gothenburg has Landvetter Airport but is also a 3 hour train ride from Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm, so be sure to check your options. SJ Trains is a comfortable ride but busses are also available.

If you do fly in to Landvetter, make sure to buy a bus ticket into the city with flygbussarna to save the expensive car hire.

More Juice

Gothenburg’s Official Visitor Guide does a superb job of highlighting all the happenings in the city. The city was recently covered by a the New York Times. Lonely Planet is a complete resource with some good lists.

Hard Copy

Check out West Sweden travel guide for more information on Gothenburg as well as areas surrounding the city.

The Swedish are avid readers. They seem to be keen on Crime novels and the authors of the country have become world famous. Though set in Stockholm, The Millennium trilogy, aka The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy is a highly recommended read.

Silver Screen

For cinematic inspiration check out Play, directed by Ruben Östlund, and The Square, which set in Stockholm, but parts are shot in Gothenburg. Ingmar Berman, despite being an east coaster, is a treasure in Sweden, and it’s worth checking some of his films before boarding your plane.

Soundtrack to the City

Crosses by Jose Gonzales
Lover Chanting by Little Dragon
Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn
I Am All That I Need by Fleet Foxes
Holocene by Bon Iver

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/gothenburg/feed/ 0
How to Get to Milan from Malpensa Airport https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/getting-from-milan-airport-to-city-centre/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/getting-from-milan-airport-to-city-centre/#respond Thu, 21 Mar 2019 17:38:04 +0000 https://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=18123 The famously fashionable capital of Italy’s Lombardy region is a must-visit for any serious urbanite. Before we get to the glamorous stuff though, we invited Wanted in Milan to post their tips on getting from the airport to the city centre.

Getting to Milan from Malpensa Airport (and back again) is the first problem any traveller has to face when visiting the fashion capital of the world. Luckily, Milan’s main airport is well connected with different transport services all travelling between the Terminals and the city centre.

milan-airport-transport

Let’s review the quickest and cheapest options for getting from Malpensa Airport right into the middle of Milan by train, bus or taxi.

Train from Milan to Malpensa

Malpensa Express is the fastest and most convenient way to reach Milan from Malpensa Airport. It connects the Malpensa Terminal 1 with the Milan Cadorna and the Milano Centrale stations with over 140 daily trips, departing every 15 minutes from 4:27 (Cadorna Station) to 00:20 (Malpensa).

How much is a train from Malpensa to Milan?

Malpensa Express Fares goes from €13 for a single way ticket to €20 for a return ticket.

How long does Malpensa Express take?

The train takes nearly 47 minutes to reach Cadorna station or 57 minutes to get to Milano Centrale station.

Bus to Malpensa Airport

Malpensa Shuttle Buses offer the cheapest connection from Malpensa Airport to Milan and another convenient and comfortable option to reach the airport.

Timetable and journey time

The bus service from Milan to Malpensa connects the Central Station with the airport every 20 minutes from 03:45 to 00:15. It takes nearly an hour to get to the airport.

Bus fare

A single journey ticket costs €10.00, while a return ticket it’s € 16.00.

Milan to Malpensa Airport by taxi

Getting to Malpensa from Milan by taxi is certainly the fastest and most comfortable way to reach the airport, but can be rather expensive. Usually it takes about 40 minutes to reach any central destination.

How much is a taxi from Malpensa Airport to Milan?

The cost of a single journey in taxi is €95: the price is fixed and not determined by the taximeter.

More About Milan

milan-airport-transfer

Want to know more about life in Milan? Find more information and suggestions on what to see, do, know and where to go on Wanted in Milan.

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/getting-from-milan-airport-to-city-centre/feed/ 0
Long Weekend: San Sebastian https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/san-sebastian/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/san-sebastian/#respond Fri, 01 Mar 2019 18:55:31 +0000 http://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=17793 Kick back on La Concha beach, pig out on Michelin-starred pintxos and revel in the local fiestas like La Tamborrada. Sam Howe gives us his expert take on what to do in San Sebastian during a long weekend break…

San Sebastian, or Donostia as it’s known to locals, was a favourite of the Spanish royal family and it’s easy to see why. The country’s elite would flock to the city, attracted to its stunning coastline, cooler climate and all of the delights associated with Basque culture. It only takes a few minutes walking through the city to realise what this special city is all about: elegant architecture, gentle strolls on the beach, coffee and pastries in the plaza, chatting in Euskara with friends in a pintxo bar, and packing as much flavour as humanly possible into a single bite.

san-sebastian-weekend

San Sebastian is one of those ‘I can imagine myself living here’ cities. It simply has something for everyone. Whether you’re a food fanatic, wannabe surf dude, language enthusiast, nature stomper, bar-hopping night owl, wine connoisseur, or culture vulture, the city is full of opportunity. With a packed events calendar and simply too much to fit into one weekend, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be back for a second visit.

Best of the Beaten Track

San Sebastian’s appeal is largely thanks to its stunning coastline. It is blessed with three of the best in-city beaches in Spain: La Concha, Ondarreta and Zurriola.

Nuzzled between two hills and encircling Santa Klara Island, La Concha and Ondarreta are very picturesque. Photographers, prepare your lenses for golden hour. Couples, prepare for romantic strolls, because the curved coast looks stunning in the twilight hours. La Concha is the busiest beach due to its proximity with the city centre. Ondarreta usually offers a more spacious environment when the tide is low. Zurriola is typically where all the cool kids hang out. Remodelled in 1994, right in front of hipster district Gros, this is where you’ll find surfers (paddle boarders if the waves are having a day-off), as well as students and backpackers.

The mysterious Santa Klara island...
The mysterious Santa Klara island…

The aforementioned hills give you a stunning view of the coastline. You can see all three beaches from Monte Urgull which is a short hike (about an hour at a leisurely pace) from the Old Town. There’s a 12th Century castle and a Rio de Janeiro-style Christ statue at the top. A beer pit-stop is also available in the form of a quirky little bar hidden about half way up.

To the east lies Monte Igeldo which hosts a castle tower, hotel, restaurant and one of the more oddly placed fun fairs you’re likely to find. Walking up is a little more time-consuming so taking the ‘funicular railway’ is recommended. Even if dodgems and merry-go-rounds aren’t your thing, the views alone make it worth a visit.

Santa Klara Island has an air of mystery about it (apparently they used it as a quarantine zone in the 16th Century for victims of the plague). There isn’t a huge amount to do there (a bar, some look-out spots and a small beach at low-tide) but it’s a fun challenge for anyone who fancies swimming or kayaking across the short stretch of water. Tour boats also operate from the main port every 30 minutes.

San Telmo: an archive of Basque culture
San Telmo: an archive of Basque culture

Looking at the coastline you can easily forget that you’re in Spain. The rolling green hills would be equally at home in somewhere like Wales or Ireland. For proof, get off the beaten track by spending a day hiking from Deba to Zumaya (a short train journey from Amara Donostia station), from Lezo to Pasai Donibane, Zarauz to Guetaria (wine region), or to the beautiful pueblo of Pasajes.

That’s not to say that natural beauty is the only attraction on offer. Its mixture of neo-classical, neo-gothic and modern architecture, alongside its wide, open spaces, give San Sebastian both an air of elegance and sophistication, as well as a reminder of its gritty, turbulent history.  A free walking tour with Go Local will cover the key points of interest which include: Plaza de la Constitución (a former bullring and heart of the old town); San Telmo (a modern museum dedicated to Basque culture and history); San Vicente church; and 31 de Agosto street (steeped in history as one of the few streets the British decided not to burn down on the 31st August 1813).

Hipster’s Guide

The award for most hipster district in San Sebastian goes to Gros. Cafes such as Belgrado and Loaf supply vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free delights and are great places to unwind. Every Thursday, the streets of the surfing district are packed with people participating in what’s known as pintxo-pote (which loosely translates as ‘a bit of food and drink’). You can read more in the ‘Fork Out’ section, but San Francisco street is a great place to start your pintxo bar-crawl. Honourable mention also goes to Egia. The district, full of street art and late night live music, has a tangible counter-culture vibe.

Chilling out at the hip Convent Garden
Chilling out at the hip Convent Garden

Cerebral hipsters will appreciate the Zentroa district. Grab a book from one of several excellent multi-lingual book shops before heading over to the Plaza del Buen Pastor. Here you can read, sip coffee and nibble pastries with the locals, all in the shadow of the stunning Buen Pastor neo-gothic cathedral.

Buildings converted from boring things to cool things are also on trend here. Convent Garden (as the name suggests) is a former convent which now operates as a hostel with a restaurant, basement regularly used for live music, and a rooftop bar. Tabakalera is a former tobacco factory which is now used as an international centre for contemporary culture. Its audio-visual exhibitions are constantly evolving and are well worth a visit.

Experience & Events

Get your diary at the ready because San Sebastian has a packed events calendar.

The most significant fiesta is La Tamborrada (the drum) which takes place on the 20th of January. At midnight more than 15,000 people gather in Konstituzio Plaza to begin a 24 hour medley of dancing, singing, partying and, you guessed it, drumming. It’s a tradition that has defiance as well as celebration at its core. San Sebastian has a long history of military conflict and while the city was occupied by Napoleonic troops, locals were forced to put up with French soldiers marching around the city, banging their drums on a daily basis. Basque women supposedly grew tired of the charade and decided to mock the French by drumming their barrels in response. This evolved into an act of defiance as well as an important declaration of donostian identity. The festival has been kept alive by culinary clubs (hence the people parading around in chef outfits with giant spoons) who use the day as an excuse to showcase their signature dish or “pintxo estrella”.

Jazzing it up in the city
Jazzing it up in the city

Other events that have helped put San Sebastian on the map include:

  • San Sebastian Jazz Festival (third week of July) – It’s one of the oldest jazz festivals in Europe and holds over 100 concerts across 17 stages. Many are free of charge and some, such as the Green Heineken stage, take place in front of a stunning open-air backdrop.
  • La Semana Grande (the week of August 15th) – one week summer festival of fireworks competitions, live music and traditional sport.
  • Regatas de Traineras (first two Sundays of September) – a traditional boat race in which up to 24 crafts compete.
  • San Sebastian International Film Festival (mid-September) – a prestigious event in which the iconic Kursaal Palace hosts a number of screenings.

Pillow Talk

San Sebastian is a desirable place to live and attracts wealthy cliental. Generally speaking this means it’s not a cheap city to visit. There are however a wide range of hotels available so it is worth shopping around. Accommodation costs will as always vary considerably depending on time of year, but if you book early then some budget hotel rooms are available for £60-£70 per night.

The city has an active presence on AirBnB which can offer some cheaper alternatives in some great locations, but a central location during high season can easily set you back £50-60 per night. There are a number of backpacker hostels, such as Koisi, A Room in the City, Koba, Downtown River, Usturre and San Fermin, where shared dorms are available for around £20-£30 per night.

Fork Out

San Sebastian takes its food and drink very seriously. The city boasts a cumulative 17 Michelin stars, meaning its Michelin star per square meter rate is one of the best in the world. The culinary scene is competitive, proud and, well, just delicious, making it an undisputed gastronomical hotspot.

The city is famous for pintxos. Like tapas, pintxos are served in small portions and are for sharing and socialising. Traditionally each individual pintxo is served atop a piece of bread skewered by a cocktail stick (or a ‘pintxo’ in Basque) and takes no more than two bites to finish. There are a huge variety of pintxos to try and chefs are constantly pushing the creative boundaries, but make sure you try La Gilda. For many it’s the original pintxo, consisting of anchovy, pickled pepper and green olives.

Pick up some pintxos!
Pick up some pintxos!

The trick is to work out which ones are authentic and which have been designed to accommodate the tastes of tourists. The best way to do this is by asking at the bar (Que me recomiendas? becomes a very useful phrase!). The bars in Parte Vieja (Old Town) are very picturesque, especially down Portu Kalea street, but generally speaking expect to pay tourist prices. An exception is La Mejillonera which, whilst not perhaps as aesthetically pleasing, is a bustling bar packed with locals attracted to the great value and excellent seafood pintxos. The best tactic is to wander the old town, get lost, and see what you can find – especially if you happen to be out on a Thursday night.

On Thursdays a number of bars participate in what’s known as pintxo-pote. After people began to stay at home following the 2008 economic crisis, pintxo-pote was designed to re-stimulate the nightlife. Think of it as a city-wide happy hour. Prices vary by district but most bars offer a pintxo and drink (usually beer or wine) for just two euros. Plan your ‘pintxo crawl’ now with this 2018 list of participating establishments. You can also check out the awesome documentary in the ‘Watch This’ section to learn more.

Drop In

Gros and the Old Town are usually the busiest hotspots for bar hoppers. Gros caters more for students and backpackers so head there if you’re saving the pennies. Hop across the river from Gros and you’ll find a bar called Altxerri Bar & Jazz. Whilst drinks can be on the more expensive side, entrance is free and the eclectic range of live jazz, blues and bossa nova on offer more than make up for it.

Live music at Altxerri Bar
Live music at Altxerri Bar

As is typical in Spain, people don’t move to the clubs until well after midnight. You’ll find a lot of people migrate to La Concha beach as the wee hours approach. Gu and Bataplan both keep their dance floors open late and offer great views of the bay.

Live music is also in abundance in the district of Egia. Even if you don’t understand a word of Spanish, La Farandula Microteatro is worth checking out. It has three intimate performance spaces with each show lasting 15 minutes. You can then mingle with the performers in the bar afterwards. Also popular are Café-theatre El Anden, Le Bukowski, Dabadaba, Gazteszena and Cactus. Unlike other districts, Egia’s pintxo-pote runs on a Friday night.

Getting There

If you’re coming from abroad, the cheapest way is to fly to neighbouring Bilbao. You can then get a coach transfer directly from the airport to San Sebastian. The coach company’s name is PESA and you can buy one-way tickets on the day for €17.10. It’s an hourly service (check the times as they don’t run through the night) and the journey takes around 75 minutes. Bilbao is also well connected to Europe by sea so if you’re booking well in advance it’s worth checking the ferry prices (especially if you’re looking to bring a car over).

If you’re travelling from elsewhere in Spain, San Sebastian and Bilbao are both well connected by train although the fares can get pricy. For budget travellers, try the lift sharing app ‘Bla Bla Car’. It’s used and trusted widely in Spain by young and old and if you’re lucky you can cover a lot of distance on very little.

There has been heated discussion around the building of metro stations in the city (look out for the banners of protest hanging from the balconies). Some feel it’s a necessary step as the city continues to grow. Some feel it’s an entirely unnecessary waste of resources. In truth, the city is already an easy and pleasant city to navigate. The wide cycle lanes make it one of the most bike-friendly cities I’ve visited and you can comfortably walk between adjacent districts in around 15-20 minutes.

More Juice

The official San Sebastian tourism website is one of the best I’ve seen in Spain. It’s user friendly and contains tons of up to date information on events and recommendations. Whilst tweets are mainly in Spanish, their Twitter account (@SSTurismo) regularly posts about upcoming events. The same can be said of the Lonely Planet guide which also helps you to budget your trip.

Hard Copy

The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky is a great introduction into Basque culture. It covers the idiosyncrasies  of the language, their mastery of the sea (including its infamous whaling industry), sport, and the long and still emotionally raw struggles for independence.

If you’re feeling particularly literary, French author Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, was a famous tourist to the area and described his travels in the book The Alps and Pyrenees. You can also visit the house in the quaint town of Pasaia where he lodged.

For fiction, the most well-known Basque author is Bernardo Atxaga who was born in a small village just outside of San Sebastian. His work Obabakoak is a series of 27 interlinked stories which he uses to paint a picture of rural Basque life. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers then All That Followed by Gabriel Urza might be a better option.

Silver Screen

‘Munchies’, a YouTube channel produced by Vice, have made a five part series called ‘Munchies Guide to the Basque Country’. In Episode 5 the presenter goes on a pintxos crawl around San Sebastian with Michelin star chefs.

Julio Medem’s The Basque Ball is a controversial film which reflects on the activity of ETA, a group who were connected to a series of bombings in their avocation for Basque independence. You can watch it on Vimeo here. Mendem also directed a film called Vacas, a cross-generation family drama which explores historic conflict in the region.

Soundtrack to the City

La Oreja de Van Gogh – La Playa
La Oreja de Van Gogh – El Primer Dia del Resto de Mi Vida
DeVotchKa – The Man from San Sebastian
Duncan Dhu – En Algun Lugar
Alex Ubaga – Entre tu boca y la mía
Skalariak – Skalari Rude Klub
Oskorri – Ikusi Mendizaleak

Keep Travelling

Over the last couple of years we’ve become pretty familiar with North Spain… so check out our coverage of its four provinces: The Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. Sensational beaches, lively cities, world-beating cuisine: there’s so much to discover!

If you want to cover all four on one trip then check out our guide to the Northern Route of El Camino de Santiago. You don’t have to walk it like the pilgrims, but if you’re looking for enlightenment it might be a good place to start…

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/san-sebastian/feed/ 0
Bucket List City Destinations https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/bucket-list-city-destinations/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/bucket-list-city-destinations/#respond Wed, 23 Jan 2019 16:46:34 +0000 https://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=18067 If you’re anything like us, you’re constantly thinking of your next adventure, be it a long holiday, a short city break or whatever escape you can get. Let the destination be your inspiration, with these seven must-see places…

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of getting out there and exploring somewhere new. But with so many incredible places to see in the world, where exactly are you supposed to start? Well, start with a bucket list and work your way through. If you’re in need of some inspiration, we’ve pulled together the best bucket list city destinations that we think you really ought to tick off.

Athens, Greece

One of the oldest cities in the world, the capital city of Greece is a must for anyone who’s fascinated with history and the ancient world. Be sure to explore the incredible Acropolis and take in the amazing city views from the top of Mount Lycabettus. More tips here.

athens-greece

Paris, France

Paris may be the city of love, but you don’t need to be on a romantic getaway to appreciate all that there is to see here. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, catch the eye of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum or take a river cruise along the Seine, taking in the sights as you go.

paris-france

Reykjavik, Iceland

Geysers, glaciers, waterfalls and a world of vibrant art, music and culture: who wouldn’t want to add the world’s northernmost capital to their bucket list? But, time your visit right (during the winter months) and you’ll hopefully be treated to the magical phenomenon in the sky, the colourful Northern Lights.

Las Vegas, USA

Las Vegas has got to be seen to be believed, it’s such an incredible city. A metropolis in the heart of the Nevada desert, you’ll be blown away by the city’s extravagance. Spend a whole day exploring the huge, lavish hotels and casino, zip-wire over Fremont Street or take a helicopter ride to the vast and beautiful Grand Canyon.

las vegas usa

Sydney, Australia

Head Down Under and discover Sydney’s famous landmarks for yourself. A wander around the harbour will give you a great view of the imposing Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Sydney Opera House with its recognisable shell structure. A trip to Bondi Beach is a must while you’re there too. You can read up on many more fun things to do right here.

Cape Town, South Africa

This might not the first city that springs to mind to everyone, but Cape Town is a breath-taking place with a whole mixture of cultures and landscapes to experience, from Boulders Beach to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Ride the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, the sight that defines the city’s skyline, and soak up the panoramic views of the land and sea from up high.

New York, USA

It’s the second city in the US to make our list, but with good reason. Or reasons, should we say? With the Empire State Building, Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway, Grand Central Station…(the list is endless); there’s no way that New York couldn’t be a bucket list destination.

new york

You should, by now, have some good food for thought for your next big city break. How many on our list have you already been to? Where’s next on your list?

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/bucket-list-city-destinations/feed/ 0
Top Five: Barcelona Bike Tours https://www.urbantravelblog.com/best/barcelona-bike-tours/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/best/barcelona-bike-tours/#respond Tue, 22 Jan 2019 16:33:13 +0000 https://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=17979 There’s no better way of exploring the Catalan capital than cruising around town on two wheels. We talk to the local guides at Steel Donkeys about the benefits of bike tourism in Barcelona, before running down our top five tours in the city

“Riding a bike always provides a great feeling of freedom and joy — especially when you ride along the gorgeous seaside in Barcelona, with the sun caressing your face,” says Eduard, the longest serving guide of the pioneering bicycle tour company Steel Donkeys.

“The side effects to this experience are: happiness, exhilaration and a smile that can last for days.”

Edu regaling guests with his local insight...
Edu regaling guests with his local insight…

Edu clearly loves his job, and it’s easy to see why. Pottering around Barcelona’s back allies on a rather nifty Italian city bike, and showing his guests the many secrets he has garnered after nearly a life time of living in the Catalan capital (impressively, it turns out, he has also lived in China and speaks good Mandarin) is not a bad way to spend your days. Especially if the sun is shining, as it is 300 days of the year in Barcelona. Even the winters are mild here on the Mediterranean, and usually dry during the day, with temperatures still climbing up to 16 degrees on average.

In recent years the city council have made a determined effort to turn their city into a kind of Amsterdam of the south.

But it’s not only the year-round balmy weather that makes cycling around Barcelona such a joy. In recent years the city council have made a determined effort to turn their city into a kind of Amsterdam of the south. In 2018 alone, they added around 50km of new bicycle lanes, and it is now estimated that 95% of citizens live within 300 metres of a cycle path.

The sun always shines on a Barcelona bike tour
The sun always shines on a Barcelona bike tour

The rather natty red and white numbers that make up the city’s Bicing bikeshare scheme are sadly off limits for tourists (you need a Bicing card to operate them, and these annual passes are available for residents only). However, there are no shortage of rental firms willing to rent you a set of wheels, while there are plenty of advantages to booking a professional bike tour led by an expert guide such as Edu. His local knowledge lifts what would be a lovely ride to something even more edifying, and his under-the-radar itinerary means you don’t feel like you’re contributing to mass tourism (a trend that is unfortunately beginning to blight Barcelona).

His local knowledge lifts what would be a lovely ride to something even more edifying, and his under-the-radar itinerary means you don’t feel like you’re contributing to mass tourism…

“My favourite thing to show travellers is what the real Barcelona looks like, beyond the Gaudi houses, Sagrada Familia or Las Ramblas. Places like a community garden, run entirely by the neighbours, the last and only operating wood-powered oven inside the city where they continue to roast coffee and nuts, or an open-air swimming pool for kids and families in the middle of downtown.”

‘Alternative’ is a bit of watchword at Steel Donkeys where guides are given license to develop their own itineraries and to show guests something beyond the guidebook. Indeed they claim to be one of the world’s first alternative tours, championing off the path tourism as far as 2010.

“They [our tours] are guided by people that love the city and know a great deal about it. Through us, you will easily discover some of the best most overlooked places in town: from an old brothel, to a hidden park, to the best orxata place in Barcelona,” says Edu proudly.

Exploring the modern Port Olimpic
Exploring the modern Port Olimpic

Another of those people is Mariana, an Argentine who has lived in Barcelona for a decade now, and has zero intention of leaving. Like Edu, she revels in uncovering the city’s lesser known lights.

“I like to show a contrast between the old and the new, the wonderful remnants of medieval and art nouveau times, and the exciting modern developments of the city. We talk about politics, history, art, society and culture. I love every stop, but it is true that I have a very deep feeling for Santa Maria del Mar.”

“We talk about politics, history, art, society and culture. I love every stop, but it is true that I have a very deep feeling for Santa Maria del Mar.”

The point about conversation is salient. Whereas most bike tours in Barcelona ride in groups of 15 to 20 people, Steel Donkeys offers a more intimate ’boutique’ experience, riding in groups of no more than 8 guests, plus guide. On average the group size is just 4 or 5 people, allowing for much more interaction between guide and guest. Their guides do not simply broadcast a prepared speech and then move on to the next stop, they converse, and being part of that conversation turns out to be a lot of fun – not just for the travellers, but for the guides too. Engaging with the travellers is part of what makes the job so appealing to Mariana: “It is very rewarding when the guests ask questions about what I am saying, and when they are well informed of any topic that we speak. It is also very nice when it is an open tour and the integration between the whole group is achieved!”

Whereas most bike tours in Barcelona ride in groups of 15 to 20 people, Steel Donkeys offers a more intimate ’boutique’ experience, riding in groups of no more than 8…

And if the conversation does run dry? Well, it seems both Edu and Mariana can reply on the simple joy of riding along the city’s stretch of urban sands on the way back to the city centre.

“I love to see their faces of enthusiasm when they reach the beach, and at the end of each tour to see their faces of joy, their high energy and their words of gratitude. This for me, is without doubt the best reward and the best moments.”

barcelona bike tours
Sun, sea, sand… and cycling!

Practical Details

Steel Donkey Bike Tours run tours every day during high season (April to October), and every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday throughout winter, departing at 10am from the Gothic Quarter in the city’s Old Town.

The itinerary isn’t fixed, but typically you will see some of the Old Town, some of Eixample and modern Barcelona and return to base via the beaches and Mediterranean sea. You’ll normally stop off for a glass of orxata and a pastry, or even some light tapas (all food and drink at your own expense).

The tour last 4 hours (give or take 15 mins), and costs €35 per person. You can book online via their website.

That price includes bike rental (helmet on request) and guide, but any snacks you pay for yourself. It’s slightly more expensive than the average bike tour, but considering you’ll be cycling in a much smaller group, it’s perhaps the best value for money tour on the market.

You can also upgrade to an electric bike for a €10 surplus, and if you can’t make one of their regular departures their private tours are just €55 a person (min. 2 people), so still very affordable.

Not sure if this is the tour you’re looking for? Keep reading to discover all your two wheel options for exploring the Catalan capital…

Top 5 Barcelona Bike Tours

Steel Donkeys are perhaps the hippest and well known name in town, but they certainly aren’t the only company you can saddle up with in Barcelona. Let’s countdown the top five tours in (and around) the city.

1. Steel Donkey Bike Tours

These pioneers of local, small group tourism have amazing guides and a relaxed ‘discovering the city with friends’ vibe, which has no doubt contributed to making them one of the must-do experiences in Barcelona.
www.steeldonkeybiketours.com

steel-donkey-bicycle-tours

2. Bike Tours Barcelona

Starting all the way back in 1995, if you’re looking for a classic tour that incorporates Gaudi and many of the main sites, this is a good option, especially if you’ve never been to BCN before. Their 3-hour tour runs daily, with 15 to 20 people per guide, and costs €25.
biketoursbarcelona.com

exploring-Barcelona-on-bikes

3. E-Bike, Cable Car & Boat Tour

This fun and unique tour utilises not one, but three modes of transport, with your trusty electric bike joining the dots. As well as aspects of a conventional bicycle tour, you’ll also ride the famous Montjuic cable car, and take a ride on a pleasure boat around the harbour. The price is reasonable at €49.50 per person, and is available to book via Get Your Guide.

best-bicycle-tour-of-barcelona-spain

4. E-bike Tour with Wine & Tapas

Gourmets will love this tour, that takes you, via electric bicycle, around the Bohemian district of El Borne, and finishes with a delicious wine tasting session paired with tapas. The 2.5 hour tour is done in a small group, and the price of €69 per person includes food and drink. The tour is offered via Get Your Guide.

electric-bike-tour-of-barcelona

5. E-bike of Vineyards

Did you know Barcelona is surrounded by wine regions? Twelve of them to be precise, dotted all around the autonomous region of Catalonia. On this Bacchic bike ride you’ll go all the way out of town to the Alta Alella vineyard, which is about 10-12 kilometres up the coast… so a lovely ride. The ebikes (made by Mercedes Benz) make the distance easy and once you get there you’ll be treated to a tour of the vineyards and cellars, and – as you would hope – a wine tasting session is included in the price. Don’t worry about drinking too much, you’ll get a train back into town. Book via Get Your Guide.

barcelona-ebike-wine-tour

Further Reading

If you are coming to Catalonia, don’t forget to check out some of our other in depth travel articles on Barcelona, such as a look at the photo tour trend, our favourite Cava bars, or the best buildings designed by someone other than Gaudi. Enjoy!

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/best/barcelona-bike-tours/feed/ 0
Travels Through Cultural Italy https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/travels-through-cultural-italy/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/travels-through-cultural-italy/#respond Fri, 18 Jan 2019 14:44:55 +0000 https://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=18007 No other European country has wielded so much cultural influence on the continent as Italy. In this post we look at the pillars of Italian art, performance and architecture.

There are many things that make Italy a wonderful place to visit. Its people are warm and friendly, the food is great and it has a rich and interesting history. But, it is this country’s culture that makes it such a fascinating place. Visiting Italy’s cultural hotspots is a sure fire way to see the best of the country.

Indulge in a night at the opera

Italy is quite literally the home of opera. The first performance took place there, in 1597. So, it will come as no surprise to you that the Italians love nothing better than to spend a night at the opera.

If you want Opera Tickets Italy is the place to buy them. There, tickets are not horrendously expensive like they can be in other countries, in London’s West End for example. The Italians are not stuffy about their opera, so people from all walks of life attend the performances.

opera house

The best places for opera in Italy are Rome, Milan, Venice, Naples, Florence, Palermo and Bologna. You can also enjoy special performances in smaller places like Sorrento and Torre Del Lago. The list of potential venues is a very long one. Following the opera trail will take you all over Italy and allow you to experience the delights of several of its nicest regions.

Enjoy the wonderful architecture of Italy

Every culture expresses itself in its important buildings and Italy is no exception. For centuries, the Italians have built divine places of worship and spectacular entertainment venues. It almost does not matter what area you travel to you will come across wonderful buildings with fascinating histories.

rome architecture

But, if architecture is your thing, Rome has to be top of your list of places to visit. In that city, you can visit buildings from virtually every century. You could stay there for months and still not see everything. But, you must not miss the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Roman Forum and the rest of the Trastevere neighbourhood. Venice, Verona, Florence, Milan and Pisa also have plenty of wonderful historical architecture for you to enjoy.

Italy for art lovers

If you like art you are really spoilt for choice in Italy. The Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery, Bargello National Museum and the Palazzo Colonna are just a few of the places you could head for. They are all overflowing with fantastic paintings and sculptures.

Enjoy some of Italy’s cultural fiestas

Italians love to party. Every town, village and neighbourhood plays host to at least one annual fiesta. Some are small and intimate, while others are huge and go on for days. These community celebrations are very much a part of the culture of Italy. So, they are something that every culture lover should experience. Before booking your trip, it is worth going online and finding out the dates of the local fiestas.

costume-3337141_640

Probably the biggest and most spectacular of Italy’s special celebrations is the Venice Carnival. It takes place every February. Most of the action takes place outside, so if you do want to experience it you will need to pack some warm clothes.

Easter is a particularly good time to travel to Italy if you want to experience the country’s religious festivals and fiestas. At that time of the year, you will find processions and other celebrations taking place right across the country.

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/travels-through-cultural-italy/feed/ 0
Retro London: Ten Ways to Step Back in Time https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/retro-london/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/retro-london/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 14:17:00 +0000 http://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=3334 London has enjoyed more golden ages than most, from Victorian times, to the swinging 60s and plenty in between. We invited Hostelbookers to the blog to share some old school ways to have fun in the capital….

Whether you want to sip gin from a teacup at a Prohibition-era speakeasy, take an Edwardian-inspired afternoon tea or turn heads in a freshly-bought swooshy ‘50s skirt, London’s got the goods to fulfil your vintage ambition.

See our ten ways to step back in time in London below…

retro-and-vintage-things-to-do-in-london

1. Clothes

Vintage 101 clothes shopping starts at Brick Lane: the two best-stocked and biggest stores round here are Absolute Vintage and Beyond Retro (pieces from the 60s, 80s and increasingly the 90s dominate). For more refined, designer-lead collections, head to Notting Hill’s legendary Rellik, beloved of celebs and stylists alike.

2. Antiques

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair at York Hall in Bethnal Green is the best place to pick up ‘50s armchairs, Bakelite radios and Ercol on a budget. The fair comes to town three times a year, check their website for dates. The rest of the year it tours some of the UK’s other great cities, so bear that in mind if you’re travelling yourself.

3. Sweets

Got a nostalgic craving for bonbons, coconut ice and sherbet lemons? Hope & Greenwood in Covent Garden sell all these and more, packaged so prettily you almost can’t bring yourself to gobble them (almost, we said). Update: their Covent Garden store is closed, but you will be able to keep buying their retro confectionery at other stores soon, as well as via their website.

4. Tea time

Every luxury hotel worth its salt in London puts its own twist on the traditional Edwardian afternoon tea. Nibble on sweetly-crafted Stella McCartney dresses and Mulberry bags in cake form at the Berkeley Fashion Tea, or go even more quirky at the Sanderson’s Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea. Here, there are sandwiches on rainbow-coloured bread and lollies that turn from hot to cold in your mouth.

5. Burlesque

A glamorous yet tongue-in-cheek combination of vaudeville theatre, cabaret and striptease, burlesque performers have taken London by storm in recent years. You can combine watching burlesque girls shake their tail feathers with drinks and dinner at various events hosted by Cirque du Cabaret.

6. Cocktails

Basement dwellings behind unmarked doors are popular right now for speakeasy-style cocktail drinkin’: the more hard-to-find the bar, the more authentic, the logic goes! Head to the Nightjar on City Road or Bourne and Hollingsworth in Fitzrovia to get your fill.

7. Cinema

Even if you’re seeing the latest popcorn blockbuster, it feels that much more glamorous to go to the cinema if your surroundings are special. London’s oldest cinemas include the 1910-built and beautifully-restored Phoenix in East Finchley, the Ritzy in Brixton and the Edwardian-era Gate cinema in Notting Hill.

8. Dancing

Pop on your victory rollers and dust off your dancing shoes: the Blitz Party promises to be the hottest ticket in town every time the party rolls in (check the Blitz Party website for latest events). Rollicking swing and jazz tunes mean nobody thinks to leave before the all-clear whistle.

9. Exhibitions

The V&A museum in South Kensington provides a comprehensive look at the history of British design in a gorgeous Victorian-era building. Exhibitions include fashion, ceramics, jewels, metalwork, furniture, pottery, sculpture, textiles and paintings through the ages.

10. Festivals

The Chap Olympiad, a kind of school sports day for dandies, takes place every July in the Georgian beauty of Bedford Square. Events include umbrella jousting, iron board surfing and the pipeathon – it almost goes without saying, but in this sporting battle, it’s panache that’s rewarded instead of prowess.

For more gallivanting around the capital, head to our Long Weekend in London itinerary.

Post by HostelBookers.com; specialists in budget travel advice and accommodation including cheap London hotels.

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/retro-london/feed/ 0
Long Weekend: Krakow https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/krakow/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/krakow/#comments Wed, 02 Jan 2019 18:06:46 +0000 http://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=727 Krakow is one city that casts a charm over all who visit. Duncan Rhodes experiences the allure of Poland’s ancient capital, with its myths, magicians and medieval architecture.

“Magiczny Krakow” (Magical Krakow) is how Poles refer to their ancient capital (Warsaw only took over in 1596), and the epithet fits in more ways than one. Yes, there are tales of shoe-makers slaying dragons, alchemists riding around town on giant cockerels and devils lurking in the city’s warren of cellars, but you needn’t resort to using your imagination to experience the magic of this city… you’ll see it in the twin towers of St. Mary’s Basilica glazed by the setting sun, you’ll feel it in the candlelit cafes as you tuck into tasty szarlotka (apple pie) and grzaniec (mulled wine), and you’ll soak it in up in scenic squares and courtyards on hot summer’s days, cold beer in hand.

Krakow weekend break
Keep an ear out for the trumpet call

After surviving WWII pretty much intact – and despite growing a curious appendage called Nowa Huta during Communism – Krakow came out the other side of a turbulent 20th Century in surprisingly good shape. No wonder that by the early noughties the city, with its preserved medieval Old Town, had well and truly been ‘discovered’ by the West and flocks of tourists started to outnumber the pigeons (or should that be heroic knights?) on the Market Square. With Poland’s spiritual heart, Wawel Castle, sitting imperiously on the river Wisla, and both the Wieliczka Salt Mines and Auschwitz close at hand there’s little danger of them leaving any time soon. If you’re planning on jumping on the bandwagon (and this one is worth the ride!), then the best time to go is in spring or autumn when the city’s 200,000 odd academics gift the city a youthful energy and the nightlife is at its most frenetic; whilst for sheer snowy romance December and the Christmas markets are also plenty of fun.

Best of the Beaten Track

Krakow’s Old Town is full of wonderful sights and the curious will be rewarded for throwing away the guide book and poking their nose down seemingly uninviting alleyways and up inconspicuous stairwells. Of the city’s most celebrated cultural attractions I would opt for the sensational stained glass of Stanislaw Wyspianski over the altar of Veit Stoss (found at St. Francis’ and St. Mary’s Basilica respectively) – especially as the former is free to view! And I would say the National Museum, with its collection of 20 Century Polish art, just edges the Czartoryski, despite the latter’s crowd-pleasing collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts and one work of Da Vinci’s. This itinerary will also give you a chance to cast your eye over the open Blonia common (next to the National), a picturesque green swathe of the city and a favourite with keep-fitters.

Krakow city break
A touch of glass

Of course it would be downright rude to come to Krakow and not to pay your respects to the ancient seat of the nation, the Wawel Castle (…and for Hindus the resting place of one of seven chakra stones cast by Lord Shiva). In the crypt of the complex’s cathedral lie Poland’s kings and queens of old, and it’s also worth climbing the tower for a look at the Zygmunt bell. Be sure to make your way out of the castle via the dragon’s lair… you’ll emerge from this cavern at the bottom of Wawel hill where a bronze incarnation of the monster awaits. Text ‘SMOK’ to 7168 to make the beast belch fire!

Hipster’s Guide

For a long time Plac Nowy in Kazimierz held sway as the patch for Krakow’s arty kids to hang out and compare existential crises, and, although you’ll find more of a cross section of characters inhabiting the area these days, there’s still plenty for aspiring Bohemians to wax lyrical about in the holy trinity of Alchemia, Singer and Mleczarnia. Sadly however it’s getting harder and harder to find such charismatic cafes amongst the depressingly formulaic ‘trendy’ bars that have sprung up around them.

Krakow travel tips and things to do
Reopened as a historical museum and modern art gallery

These days if you want to be avant garde in Krakow you’re probably best crossing the river over to Podgorze, a much-maligned district (it was after all the site of the infamous Jewish Ghetto under the Nazis) that is undergoing a slow resurgence (Podgorze photos here!). Leading the cultural charge are the Starmach Gallery, Drukarnia Jazz Club (where you might even hear a concert of ‘new klezmer’ music) and a renovated Schindler’s Factory which now forms a branch of the History Museum and holds a permanent exhibition on Krakow under Nazi occupation. Whilst bolstering the bar and nightlife scene is the uberhip Forum Przestrzenie, which enjoys a beachside location on the river Wisla in the former Communist-era Hotel Forum. On a fine day take a walk, via Bednarksi Park, to the Kopiec Krakusa – a pagan burial mound dedicated to Prince Krak, which affords splendid views over the entire city.

Experience & Events

Krakow’s cultural calendar gets fatter on a yearly basis but two mainstays worth travelling for are Unsound Festival (every October) and Photomonth (held every May). The former provides electronic music geeks with shoe-gazing sounds and audiovisual odysseys (if that’s your bag baby); the latter is a whole month dedicated to photography, with participating cultural venues, plus a fair few bars and cafes, turning the city into a gigantic exhibition space.

Krakow nightlife, bars, restaurants, festivals
More magic on the Market Square

Whereas it’s hard to avoid the feeling of being a tourist on a standard walking tour, a more energetic and engaging alternative can be to take to two wheels… the beach-cruising bikes of Cruising Krakow are ideal for taking in all the major sights whilst hearing some entertaining tales and trivia. Alternatively take a ride in an East German Trabant to the Communist district of Nowa Huta (click on the link for our report!) with the Crazy Guides gang. They’ll give you a history lesson you won’t want to sleep through! For a full range of options head over to this page on Krakow tours.

Pillow Talk

With frescoed ceilings, a rooftop terrace and a moodily-lit pool in the basement the Stary represents the cream of Krakow’s hotels. For something slightly more affordable the Grodek enjoys a quiet cul-de-sac location in the heart of the Old Town – and once put up former president Lech Walesa, and his twenty-strong retinue of moustache combers. For independent living talk to the aptly named Krakow Apartments. Finally, at the budget end of the price spectrum there are no shortage of quality youth hostels. Try Giraffe or Tom and Gregs.

Fork Out

At least one of your meals in Krakow should be taken at a milk bar, Communist-style lunch canteens where surly babcias (grandmothers) dish up stodgy Polski classics like barszcz, golabki, nalesniki and pickled cabbage. These much-loved institutions range from kitsch rural-style restaurants like Babcia Malina’s to grotty 70s bars where huge helpings of grub can be exchanged for just a handful of zloty. On a similar “cheap and cheerful” tip you would be well advised to check out our top five pierogi bars report.

For something much fancier, but still affordable, you can’t go far wrong with Pod Aniolami, set in a wonderful cellar on the Market Square. Try the grilled oscypek (sheep’s cheese). Whilst Farina is a much-vaunted seafood restaurant with an intimate atmosphere that offers a perfect prelude to attempted underwear removal. However, you really want to pull out the stops head to the romantic garden at La Campana, on the equally romantic Kanonicza street, for the finest Italian cuisine in town.

Those that have already upgraded their travels to Tourism 2.0 should check out the Krakow-based start up Eataway, a peer to peer platform where you can sign up for a meal in the house of a local.

Drop In

Krakow’s nightlife may lack the scope and diversity of Warsaw up the road, let alone London and Berlin, but for a wild weekend it might be harder to find a better party destination. The Old Town (allegedly) has the highest concentration of bars and clubs in the universe and with so many venues within stumbling distance of one another, low/no cover charges, liberal opening hours and the fabled-amongst-British-stag-parties ‘cheap beer and fit birds’ you’d have to be a miserable git of epic proportions not to have fun. Bomba and Pauza are two great choices for warming up, attracting both local scenesters and in-the-know tourists, whilst Cien is the perfect place to practice your pick up lines with the city’s pin ups. The legendary Prozak is also back, with a 2.0 in tow. Finally, Where2b has all the info on the best midweek parties, plus publishes party pics and more nightlife naughtiness.

A philosophical mural
A philosophical mural

For even more suggestions refer back to the Hipster’s Guide section, for recommended places to drink away from the circus of the Old Town, or our Top Five Cellar Bars in Krakow for drinking underground.

Getting There

The economic crisis plus some stiff competition has put paid to some cheap airline routes, but you can still fly into Krakow from many a major city with Ryanair and Easyjet, whilst Wizzair fly to Katowice nearby. BA and LOT also operate. An express train links Krakow to Warsaw, whilst clunky Communist-era carriages will get you, albeit not in a hurry, to the likes of Wroclaw, Poznan, Gdansk, Lodz and Lublin (see our City Guides on each!). Whilst overnight international train services to Prague and Budapest are handy for backpackers on a grand tour of East Europe. Lviv, across the border in Ukraine, is also a train ride away.

More Juice

Cracow Life is your one-stop shop for all your travel needs, from restaurant reviews to hotel reservations – their online events listings also appear in lime-green map form so pick up a copy in the city. The City Spy and In Your Pocket guides are also valuable, and the Krakow Post has the latest local and regional news. And, as one of our favourite cities, you’ll find plenty more articles about Krakow right here.

Hard Copy

Krakow’s great novel still hasn’t been written (which could be something to do with the intoxicating distraction of the city’s nightlife), however you can still get in the Polish groove by reading the translated works of greats such as Gombrowicz, Isaac Bashevis Singer or Sienkiewicz. Cracow Life has more book recommendations here.

Silver Screen

Famously parts of the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List were shot in both Kazimierz and Podgorze.

Soundtrack to the City

Krakow – Myslovitz and Marek Grechuta
Close Your Eyes – Smolik feat. Kasia Kurzawska
Kazimierz – Nigel Kennedy & Kroke
Soldier On – Don’t Ask Smingus
Drift Motion – New Century Classics
Bracka – Grzegorz Turnau

City Map


View Krakow City Break in a larger map

We selected Krakow as one of our favourite cheap city breaks as well as one of Europe’s most romantic destinations. Check out the articles for more great suggestions, or browse all our travel guides.

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/guide/krakow/feed/ 13
6 Amazing Ideas For Your Travel Bucket List https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/6-amazing-ideas-for-your-travel-bucket-list/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/6-amazing-ideas-for-your-travel-bucket-list/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 17:20:44 +0000 http://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=17867 Travel goals inspire us to venture abroad more often and to try new things. As we look forward to the new year, we share six ideas for your bucket list that will get your searching for flights…

There’s nothing better than experiencing everything that the world has to offer. But what about some of the great, once in a lifetime moments, that you can experience while you are travelling?

This is by no means a definitive list, but here is the lowdown on some timeless activities that will ultimately stay with you long after you return home…

1. Experience an opera

Opera’s tour the world, but nothing could be better than experiencing opera in its homeland – Italy. From Carmen, to The Marriage of Figaro or Tosca, operas come in all shapes and sizes, lengths and styles. There really is something for every culture lover. Seeing an opera in the heart of Italy is something you’ll never forget – click here to find out more.

2. Discover the wineries of Australia

Australia, already one of the most popular traveller destinations, already has so much to offer. But did you know that it boasts some of the oldest and most famous wineries in the world? The most famous grape to come out of Australia is Shiraz, so why not experience a tour around the world famous vineries so next time you’re having a glass of wine in the pub with friends, you can let them know all about the grape and your adventures Down Under.

wine-travel

3. Experience the USA, cowboy style

If you’re travelling in the US, then why not head to Texas for a real taste of the United States? Texas is the home of cowboys and the old west, so trying something like a trail through the wilderness on horseback is a must. Discover how the United States was explored with covered wagon trails and rides, stay on a local ranch and work with the locals, or sleep under the stars for a real authentic experience.

4. Floating markets of Bangkok

The nightlife in Bangkok is something all travellers aspire to experience, but what about the hustle and bustle of the day? The floating markets of Bangkok are a feast for all the senses, with sights, smells and tastes, you won’t experience anything like it anywhere else in the world. The “Venice of Asia” really is incredible.

thailand-502480_640

5. Cruise under Niagara Falls in Canada

Everyone has heard of Niagara Falls and it was at one time, the most popular honeymoon destination in the world. With its thunderous cascading water and it’s awe inspiring beauty, it’s easy to see why so many people fall in love at Niagara Falls! There are lots of things to experience at the Falls, including a ride on The Maid in The Mist, helicopter rides so you can see the view from above, or experience the whole thing at night!

6. Head to India and discover the wildlife

Few people have seen the endangered tiger in its natural habitat. But if you take a trip to India’s Ranthambore National Park – you might be lucky enough to become one of them. The perfect place to have your very own Jungle Book experience.

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/6-amazing-ideas-for-your-travel-bucket-list/feed/ 0
5 Inspiring Travel Goals for 2019 https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/five-travel-goals-for-2019/ https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/five-travel-goals-for-2019/#respond Wed, 24 Oct 2018 14:43:31 +0000 http://www.urbantravelblog.com/?p=17853 As the end of the year draws near, it’s time to assess what we achieved in 2018, and to make plans for 2019. We offer some inspiration that will ensure the following year is one to remember…

Yes, I know it’s only October, but as we move into the final months of the year, many of us are contemplating what we’ll have achieved by the time we’ve said goodbye to 2018… We all start the year with big plans, big ideas and a list of aims and targets as long as our arm, but sometimes – life gets in the way and many of our big ideas get put on the backburner… But not to worry, if you’re looking for some realistic goals to tackle 2019 with then you’ve come to the right place.

Read on for some potential goals you can totally smash in 2019.

Tick off a dream destination

You could go alone, with a friend, with a partner or even take the kids, however why not make 2019 the year you tick off a dream destination? Always wanted to go to North America? Then you could start by searching for hotels overlooking Niagara Falls and then either head south to see the great cities of the US, like New York, Boston, San Fran and Chicago. Or you could revel in the natural beauty of Canada, calling by Vancouver or Toronto. Wherever it is you’ve always wanted to go – make 2019 the year you do it.

niagara-falls

Volunteer

Whether it’s at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand, your local dog shelter or even at the charity shop in the high street, many of us willingly give to charity; whether that’s clothing, things we don’t want anymore or money, but what a lot of charities need to keep going is volunteers and their free time. Make a point in 2019 of giving a little free time to volunteering and helping those less fortunate than you. If you can do it abroad even better, as you yourself will benefit from the experience of a living in a different culture and making a difference to people’s (or animals’!) lives. There’s some advice for volunteering with refugees here and on the UNHCR site.

Take a city break in a lesser known destination

Paris, Rome, Barcelona!? Great fun, but you’re more likely to spend time queuing up for tourist attractions than experiencing an authentic slice of foreign culture. This coming year why not make a point of travelling somewhere none of your friends have been yet, and seeing a city not yet overwhelmed by mass tourism. A city break in Belgrade, weekend in Timisoara or short stay in Vilnius will be as invigorating as it is entertaining… not to mention impress your friends with your leftfield choices.

belgrade

Attend a music festival

From the world famous to the obscure and relatively unknown, if you’ve never attended a music festival before then make 2019 the year you change that. And if you are already a regular at Glastonbury or Reading, why not be braver and try heading abroad to festivals like Primavera in Barcelona, Melt in Germany or Sziget in Budapest, combining music with adventure. Enjoying live music outdoors is a wonderful experience – the atmosphere will leave you buzzing for days after it’s ended.

Go see the Northern Lights

Experiencing the Northern Lights is unlike anything you will have seen before. To witness this jaw dropping light show is a once in a life time opportunity and it can only be viewed in a handful of locations – so you could see them whilst your relaxing in an outdoor thermal spa in Iceland, whilst you’re travelling in Alaska or from the back of a dog-pulled sled in Norway, the choice is yours. Just head for the Arctic Circle.

]]>
https://www.urbantravelblog.com/info/five-travel-goals-for-2019/feed/ 0