Hotels, Hostels or Homes? How to save money in your sleep whilst on Holiday.

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The decision of whether to stay in a hotel or not whilst on holiday is not usually at the forefront of many people’s minds. Most holiday goers will book their flights and then the top recommended hotel without even a second thought as to where else they could stay.

Why are so many of the population failing to remember that there are alternative, cheaper,  more immersive and entertaining options available. Or maybe they just haven’t been informed yet. Well in that case, let’s begin.

And a hostel in Venice offers comfy and private beds with a large communal area bar and kitchen. Very code to the train stationAt crazy affordable prices – Anda Venice offers comfy private sleeping areas, bar and kitchen areas, and a communal space that spans the entire ground floor.

Hotels: What are you paying extra for? Absolutely nothing.

If you enjoy late night strolls around a resort, listening to a British expat performing Whitney Houston Covers, and fighting other holiday makers for the sun lounger closest to the pool then hotels are definitely for you. Hotels are notoriously safer, and offer heightened security for families with private lockable rooms with en-suits and balcony areas. Great! But this is not the say that the same quality can’t be found elsewhere.

To offer some tangible evidence of what Hotels offer lets look at ibis hotels.

Whilst staying in an ibis hotel I couldn’t fault the breakfast service, the room, or anything else for that matter really. Although, the common area was less of a common area and more of a standard entrance area into the hotel.

Ibis hotels make good on the buffet breakfast and provide you with all your breakfasty needs from cereals to continental meats you’ve probably never thought to eat for breakfast.

This is all well and good you might say, but why oh why am I paying £50 – £100 (or more) a night. One person, one room, one bed, one breakfast, and you are asking for £60. Call me a cheapskate (because I am) but I say this pricing is totally unnecessary!

Hote de Paul in Belgium Bruges is small but charming At over £50 a night Hotel De Pauw offers a breakfast buffet, close proximity to the main square, and a nice view of a church…

To be completely fair to ibis hotels, I searched the going rates across 10 countries in Europe, even ‘cheap’ countries and the prices were pretty similar across the board. Ibis hotels aren’t the only offenders of high prices for little in return, Premier Inn, Travel Lodge, Best Western, Hilton, Marriott…  You name it, it was all a little too overpriced for me.

In my opinion, if anyone is paying £50-£80 per night, this is the least you should be asking for:

  • Blackout Curtains
  • Sound Proof Walls
  • Breakfast and Dinner
  • A fun, free, functioning common room
  • Outdoor seating areas
  • Comfortable bed and en-suit
  • Tea and Coffee in your room

If your paying over £80 for a hotel room then firstly – what on earth are you thinking? And secondly, there had better be a huge heated pool and a sauna with onsite creche for the kiddies to play in.


 Hostels: It’s not all doom and gloom

Once you understand that not all hostels are as grubby as they seem in the movies your holiday savings will increase, and your holiday experience will change forever.

Hostels are available in almost every country in the world, and at a fraction of the price of booking a hotel you’d be silly not to consider it. Some of the nicest places I have ever stayed have been hostels costing no more than £13 a night WITH breakfast included. For more information about what staying in a hostel is really like read Myth Busting: Hotels – To stay or not to Stay.

Bosnian hostel sign on the front gate entrance pink sign This is one of the most enchanting hostels in Bosnia. The host is friendly, helpful, and fun. The location is excellent and the vibes are chilled.

So, let’s address 3 of the main issues that people talk about when I suggest that they stay in a hostel.

1- “I don’t want to stay with 10 other people with no privacy or bathroom to myself.”

2- “It won’t be a safe environment for the kids to sleep in or to be able to walk around in.”

3- “I’m not sleeping in a dirty room where the sheets are gross and the bathroom smells”

I am happy to report that for the most part I have found none of this hearsay to be true. Read

Overall I have found hostels to be more welcoming, friendly, cleaner, entertaining, and helpful than any hotels I have previously stayed in. Private rooms are always a little pricier, but you get what you pay for after all. Booking is easy with sites like Hostelworld and HostelBookers offering a transparent efficient service to users.


Home Stays: Living like a local

Staying in someone else’s home can feel daunting, especially if the family are still in the vicinity during your visit. Unless you had selfish plans to trash the place there’s no reason to feel nervous at all, provided  that you have done your research beforehand.

Jemma Miguel Katie Juan Roxana jenifer Rocio Francisco Beth given Karen host famil picture in front of house in Nicaragua

Me with my incredible host family in Nicaragua. 3 months together and we were part of the family.

Whilst in Vietnam we stayed in a host home – accidentally.  The family had advertised their home on a hostel site. We were pleasantly surprised as, luckily, we got on well with the family. They were knowledgeable and friendly, and we learnt a lot from the experience.

Whilst some host family / home stays are advertised on the usual hostel sites your best bet is to head over to sites such as Homestay.com or simply type ‘host family stay’ into Google and check out the many country specific results available.

Another option is the increasingly popular Airbnb which offers a wide variety of options depending on your needs. You can rent a whole home, a room, or shared accommodation. The majority of places you find on Airbnb will be self catering, so you will miss out on the luxury meals you are used to at the hotel, but with thousands of yummy restaurants around every corner why not sample the real local cuisine in the streets. This also cuts out all of the moaning about the lack of diversity on the hotel menu.

When booking with Airbnb be sure to tick the ‘whole house’ option if you don’t fancy meeting the homeowners each day. Another mistake we made whilst in Paris was not ticking this. We didn’t mind ultimately, but we did find it strange that the owner was still at the house. That is, until we realised we hadn’t ticked the all important ‘home alone’ button.

Despite any booking errors we may have faced in the past, staying with a host family is always a very enriching experience. I’ll admit that it’s more of a solo traveller / couples travel option, but if children are welcome then why not just book the whole house instead for a fun family experience?


Will you take the plunge?

I think it’s clear to see that I am a hostel kind of girl. Be it a private room, or a communal room, it’s all good to me. Don’t forget to read my blog ‘Myth Busting: Hotels – To stay or not to Stayfor a real insight into why I view Hostels as being the best.

Camping serenissma in Venice Italy is a hostel and a camping ground pitch up a tent of stay in the bungalows pictured by the grassWhy not push the boat out and stay in a hostel camp site!? Camping Serenissma in Venice offers private bungalows or tent space, and even has a restaurant and pool!

Next time you book your accommodation for your holiday perhaps you may take a step back and consider just how much you could save to spend on enjoying expensive foods or activities, rather than on the £100 room that you could have got for £20 elsewhere.

Happy Booking!

Croatia, Dubrovnik: Seeing It All – 4 day Itinerary

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Dubrovnik, Croatia:

A practical blog with practical advice.

Scroll down for the itinerary.

But first… The practical stuff –

Getting in: Arriving in Croatia was a complicated mess of passport control, unoccupied help desks and tourists eager to get into the country before the other tourists. Luckily the airport is small and getting lost in it would require considerable effort on your part. If you are staying in or near the Old Town then work your way (unaided by no one other than equally baffled tourists) to the bus ticket shop.

The shuttle bus takes you down the beautiful coastline from a great height. Eventually after fretting over your drivers ability to drive on the edge of a cliff you will gain an incredible view of (cue Game of Thrones music) King’s Landing!!!! – I mean, The Old Town. At 40 croation kuna for a one way ticket this is the best way to head into town from the airport.

When to go: April was a strange time of year. With not many tourists around it was great to be able to walk round without having thousands of people pushing you out of the way or photobombing every shot. In the evenings however the atmosphere in Lapad, Gruz and other surrounding areas was non existent. The locals were all at home and, the tourists seemed to have gone to bed. Perhaps summer is the better time to experience night life.

Jemma Reid standing in the middle of the rocks of Lokrum Island in Croatia. You can see the sea in the background with more islands behind that where Croatia lie.

Money: Anything within the walls of the Old Town is expensive so we ventured a little outside of the vicinity for cheaper goods. Most places accepted Kuna and Euro. When paying with Euro we learnt to expect to receive change in a well calculated (yet highly confusing) mix of Euro and Kuna.

Getting around: Bus tickets can be purchased on the bus for 15kuna or at a ticket shop. We were tipped off that if you buy the ticket from a shop the price is 12kuna. Score! Money saved!!

The transport staff were notably miserable I’m sorry to say. We found no word of politeness from any transport staff. Whilst we knew that they owed us nothing, it was still a shock to be grunted at every time we jumped on the bus.

If you were slow entering or exiting the bus you would be either left behind or shut in the bus doors ( I was shut in the doors no fewer than two times ).

Fun Activities and things to do:

Walk the walls – If stairs are your thing then head for the walls and keep walking up. You will need to pay to do this and your fitness will need to be at a good level to get up the never ending steps. If you don’t fancy climbing your way into an asthma attack then opt for staying at ground level and following the wall around from the lower levels.

Cable Car

Why you should use the cable car in Dubrovnik. Information about the cable dar in Croatia and it's service information

How Long: Fast and Furious – If you intend to take day trips to Montenegro or Bosnia ( p.s. 1 day in Bosnia is not enough) then consider 5-6 days. If you are just intending to stay in Dubrovnik then 4 days in perfect.

Slow and Steady – If you tend to spend an hour or two a day people watching, or drinking a bottle of wine at dinner then you may want to add a day onto the fast and furious itinerary.

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4 Day ITINERARY

Lokrum Island is full of rocks and beautiful game of thrones artifacts this is a panoramic view of the edge of the island where the sea crashed against the rocks in Dubrovnik Croatia

Day 1. Arrive midday to see the old town lit up. Find somewhere on the Main Street for dinner before heading to your hotel. The further away from the main street, the cheaper the food – is a good general rule to go by.

Day 2. Grab a bus to Pile gate, walk around the back of the fortress and jump aboard the cable car. You can spend a good few hours exploring up here. Have breakfast in the restaurant before looking around the museum taking selfies and staring into the distance. Head back down before lunch and walk to the old town. You can spend the entire afternoon and evening here trekking in and out of the hidden alleys. Gasp at the Game of Thrones locations, walk the walls and marvel at the curious items in the museums. In the evening you can stay in the old town or head to Lapad for a quiet meander and a drink.

The Dubrovnik cable car in Croatia

Day 3. Islands are on the itinerary for today. If you want to see a few then opt for the three island tour. A less common (and less rushed idea) is to grab a boat to Lokrum island. Lokrum is a beautiful diverse island full of peacocks and rabbits. Wear your swimming costume under our clothes if you intend to swim in the mini cove on the island. Stroll around the monastery, botanical gardens and park before scrambling through the rock pools. You can also find the Iron Throne which is somewhat of a hidden gem as there is little advertisement to suggest it is even on the island! Following your visit to Lokrum head to the old town to revisit any areas you missed on the previous day.

On the Island of Lokrum sits a beautiful peacock on top of a small piece of ruins in Dubrovnik. It has a long feathered green tail sweeping from its dark blue body

Day 4. If you aren’t planning any onward travel or day trips use today to take the three island tour or a day trip to Cavtat. Enjoy the Game of Thrones Scenery, the crystal blue waters and, the historic fortress. Have an incredible time in Dubrovnik.

Bon Voyage!

Destinations At a Glance: Europe Mini Reviews

1 week, a month, architecture, backpack, backpacker, backpcker, beaches, destination, europe, holiday, home, itineraries, itinerary, return, review, travel, Uncategorized

Hello!

If you’re planning your next holiday or backpacking trip in Europe then take a look at my brief overviews of the places I’ve been.

Some travel advice can be all waffly with more information than you really need.         The whole point is that YOU find your own way and do what YOU want to do.

You can save the images, or you click the location from the list below to read the full blog.

So without further chat, here are the good and the bad about the places I’ve been…

(Updated every time I venture out)

Here you can find the following mini reviews and links to my full reviews:

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Mostar – (Read the Mostar blog)

Belgium – Ypres, Bruges and Brussels full blog

Croatia – Dubrovnik, Lokrum,

England – Windsor & Eton, Oxford

France – Paris,

Germany German Tour’ blog for wider Germany, and Augsburg blog

Hungary – Budapest (Read the Inside Budapest and Outside Budapest blogs)

Italy– Rome,

Poland – Kraków

Portugal – (see separate ‘Portugal, Itinerary‘)

Slovakia – Bratislava

Slovenia (full Slovenia blog here and Horse riding in Bled )

Spain – Majorca

Ypres Belgium review Holiday review of Croatia DubrovnikHoliday review of lokrum Croatia

Kew Gardens review Review of Windsor and ErinReview of oxford in EnglandReview of backpacking in France Paris Hungary Budapest review

Italy Rome reviewKrakow poland reviewBratislava Slovakia reviewMajorca Spain review

Watch this space for more Europe Mini Reviews.

Reverse Culture Shock: Dealing with it

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Reverse Culture Shock is an issue that affects us all at some point, and yet most people don’t even know it exists. Experienced differently by everyone, it can take many forms.

How it affects me:

One hour after disembarking the plane and I’m being horrible to everyone, even my boyfriend whom has so kindly picked me up from the airport. Before I left the hostel I text him… “Miss you, can’t wait to see you xxxx” and I really had missed him. So why am I being so miserable? This is more than holiday blues.

This reaction is one that I am not only becoming increasingly aware of, but one that I am constantly working towards rectifying. No matter where I go, no matter how far, or for how long I get this feeling. Reverse Culture Shock sucks.

What is it?

Returning from a place where the culture and way of life is different puts your normal every day life under the microscope. Even if your travel destination wasn’t actually that different from your home town, the change of scenery, food, style, living etc. can have an impact on your positive thoughts towards home.  Some will react with sadness, others will close themselves off to others around them, you may become returned traveller that tells everyone that “they’re doing everything wrong” or that they’re “using too much water”. All of these reactions are normal, and they don’t all occur as soon as the plane hits home soil.

When does it happen?

You may never experience these feelings, you might feel them straight away. You could even be sat watching Fashion Week 5 months after your return when you suddenly realise it’s just not as important to you as it used to be.

How I get over it:

For me I have a clear plan of action.

  1. Unpack my bags as soon as I get home – No matter how tired I am it is necessary for me to put it all away. This way, it means I don’t need to be bogged down with unpacking, washing, sorting and everything else wind-down related over the next few days. Instead I can focus on the fun stuff , like giving souvenirs.

2. Travel Journals – Collect all the receipts, postcards, tokens and, spare leaflets that I have from my trip and putting it in my travel journal. Each place I visit has it’s own section. Within each section are all the items I need to remember my travels in a fun and interesting way.

3. Make sure that all of my photos have already been shared before I get home – For me,sharing my photos is important. This is because I would rather show people than tell people about what I saw and what I got up to. I’m not sure why or if this is even an important part of my returning home experience, but it is definitely something that I try and stick to.

4. Contact – For me contact is important. If I’ve been somewhere on my own then I find that staying connected with the people I met on my travels is important. Where I’ve travelled with another person I find it important to recollect on our shared experience. (This can be particularly difficult if the other person deals with returning home by shutting down.)

5. Plan my next trip – Whenever I get back from somewhere you can guarantee that within the week I will have mentally planned my next destination. During our annual April bonding venture my mum turned to me and asked “Where are we off to next April then?”. I guess I know where the coping mechanism comes from!

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Reverse Culture Shock is important to recognise, both for you as a returning traveller and for those around you. The last thing you need is to return home and get everyone riled up with your judgement or miserable attitude.

Look after yourself and always remember the good times!

J.

A Tour of Germany: Go my way

1 week, a month, architecture, backpack, backpacker, destination, europe, holiday, itineraries, itinerary, travel, Uncategorized

Beer, nature, history, art, fashion – you name it Germany has it.

In my mind Germany is frequently overlooked as a backpacker destination, with many heading there for nothing more than Oktoberfest or it’s renowned beer gardens.

With oodles to see and do in Germany I’ve created these mini reviews based on my expriences to help you decide where in Germany will be the best fit for you.

Destinations include: Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Potsdam, Dresden, Meißen

img_9226-1img_9262img_9253

Marvellous Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina- Recollections

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Bosnia and Herzegovina took me by surprise (in a good way). After somewhat traumatic coach journey (see my travel mistakes blog to learn why) over the Croatian border, twice, I didn’t really know what to expect.

If Mostar was anything like the journey, it wasn’t going to be what I’d hoped. Thankfully I was wrong and I couldn’t recommend Mostar highly enough.

The old town in Bosnia and Hertz. in Mostar you can see the mountain in the background with old buildings and a mosque in the foreground.

Initial thoughts upon entering Mostar

Hoping off of the coach at Mostar’s main bus terminal, in the dark, was disappointing. The bus station itself was somewhat dilapidated with a group of children begging by the side of the road. I had forgotten whether or not I had arranged for the hostel to pick up and so we decided to make our own way there on foot. At first I regretted not waiting a little longer to see if our host would arrive, but there was no time for that. Tired, grumpy and laden with hand luggage we trundled down a main road.

Where we had come from in Dubrovnik had set an expectation that asking for directions would be greeted with a grunt or a shrug. We therefore resisted asking for help. Eventually after 20 minutes or so of being lost I approached a woman in a small shop.

“Excuse me we are lost” I said pointing to the hostel location on the map.

The woman had us packed up in a taxi within minutes after having enlisted the help of another passer by. Her helpful reaction was just a taste of the kind nature we could continue to expect Bosnian people.

Our arrival at Bosnian Lovely Home was comical. Why I hear you ask? Because we’d gone to the wrong place. We weren’t even at Bosnian Lovely Home! Even after being put in a taxi we had still managed to mess it up. Instead, we had ended up in a hostel (of equal prettiness I might add) that was managed by the same person- but not the one we had booked. Not having realised our mistake we knocked on the door. A quirky young woman let us in the door.

“Hello! Nice to meet you. I don’t know where he is. I’m sure he’ll be back soon so sit down, take your shoes off. Here, look I have lots of coffee would you like some? I have lots, it’s all Nescafe, have what you like. It’s so nice to be here isn’t it! I’m used to working in Iran with things being very different as an aid worker. It’s nice to have freedom back for a while”

She was lovely. Intense, but lovely.

Within 10 minutes of meeting this energetic young woman (who we thought was the owner for a good 3 minutes) we knew her job role, reason for travel, coffee of choice and, we were now sat, baffled, with a cup of caramel coffee in hand. As we drank our coffee a key turned in the door and in jumped an equally energetic man.

“Hello nice to meet you! I came to meet you at the station but you weren’t there, and then I got a text saying that you were here and I was very confused. Ah! But you have come to the wrong place, I will take you there now.”

Before we could get a word in we were swept up off the sofa. We put our shoes back on, took a selfie with our new high energy friend and were then escorted through the town to our correct accommodation.

Side Note: If anyone sees a woman post a photo online with me and my mum looking super confused on a random doorstep please do send it to me! 

The entrance sign to the hostel reads "Bosnian Lovely Home Husrefovica 16"

Lovely Bosnian Home

Our host, Arman, was keen to tell us all about the town. With only a few days here he wanted us to get the most out of it. He provided us with a map, his young son even tried to find us an English tour book and I shook his hand in thanks. He is adorable.

The room was homely in comparison to some of the hostels I’ve been in. The bathroom was clean, there were net curtains, a wardrobe, and a bloody veranda! Most importantly there was a stunning view. The river ran by the window and the mountain echoed the church bells and the morning call to prayer.

Arman gave us a tour of the common area, our room and the outside space before sitting us down to exchange numbers (probably in case we got lost again) because he’s just that nice of a guy.

He told us that the grave shapes in the walls by the entry door symbolised the fact that everyone ends up in the same place when they die, and that’s you are born with nothing and so you die with nothing. The moral of the story being- be humble.

The old outside wall of the hostel is stone cobbled and beautiful with ivy climbing and flowers growing

I can’t recommend this beautiful little place enough. If you would like to be fully emerged in the culture of Mostar then Lovely Bosnian Home is the place to be.

The entrance to the old market with cobbled flooring, stalls and the mountains in the backgroun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mostar in and around the town

We were woken in the morning to the sound of rushing water running down the crystal blue river and the call to prayer. Jumping out of bed we admired the view, got dressed and, headed into town.

What to have for breakfast? In Mostar, hunger is not an issue. Bakery after bakery, cafe after cafe, we were spoilt for choice. We grabbed a traditional Bosnian breakfast to go and walked down the Main Street.

This street is always buzzing with life. Inklings of the countries turbulence history is always evident behind the new fashion clothing stores. We were astounded by the building behind the bar just 30 seconds from our accommodation. Egyptian hieroglyphs? Bullet holes? Bomb damage? We processed the damage and walked on.

After 10 minutes of walking in a straight line we found that the floor had changed from the pristine cream buffed tiles, to old bumpy cobbles. It was like we were the ‘Google Maps Man’ – you know the one that you pick up and place in a random location to look around?

The entire place had changed. We had gone back a hundred years. Market stalls selling carpets, ice cream, jewellery, scarfs, food; you name it, it was sold here in traditional lodgings. The people in the stalls weren’t pushy which was refreshing. If you said no to their offers they would smile and thank you anyway and you could continue browsing in without any pressure..

After perusing the beautiful items in the colourful market I wondered what else this is lovely street could possibly have to offer. There it was. Mostar Bridge (Stari Most).

The old bridge is over the incredibly clear waters that reflect the bridge like a mirror in Bosnia and Hertz. Mostar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Bridge

The old bridge is of great symbolic importance. Before you head to Mostar do your research and learn about it’s significance. Walking up to the bridge we found ourselves staring down at the water.

“How is it so blue?”

Interrupting the serenity of the moment a man in undersized-over-colourful speedos jumped up onto the bars that lined the bridge.

“Ah he’s going to jump” shouted one woman.

“Cool he’s going to do the traditional jump” remarked another.

We stuck around for half an hour… he didn’t jump. Instead he provided us with a somewhat disturbing display of stretches as though he was preparing to jump. We later found out that it was a ploy to lure excited tourists into the museum. Fair Play.

Finding a good spot for lunch is easy. On either side of the bridge is a collection of yummy restaurants with spectacular views of the river, the mountains, the old town and of course, the bridge. For a cheaper meal walk around the back of these restaurants. You will find that the prices are significantly lower because you’re not getting the view included in your meal price. We opted for this cheaper option ending up in a lovely cafe, I believe it’s name was ‘To the Moon and Back’. The portions were huge and well worth missing out n a good view for half an hour.

After lunch we decided to get a closer look at the bridge. Heading down to the bottom of the bridge is a steep path, but the ability to dunk your feet in the cool water is well worth tackling the slope.

the ceiling of a mosque. There is a star like pattern in the centre. From each point you can see lines of bead like shapes are coming from it towards the edges of the ceiling. Small windows below this reveal brightly coloured light from the sun through the stain-glass windows

Religious experiences in Mostar

As you may know I am always keen to enter into a church or two. The diversity in architecture and design always intrigues me. Bosnia was time for a change. With the many mosques around the town I decided that it was time to explore one.

If you’re not too keen on entering into churches or mosques but you still want that cultural experience then you’re in luck. Walking around the streets of Mostar and admiring the external architecture of these local places of worship is just as satisfying as entering the building.

Turkish tea in a small vase like glass with three chunks of uneaten sugar next to it. A womans hand is about to grab the drink.

Money Matters

Good, drink accommodation and anything else you can think of spending your money on is relatively cheap here. With our accommodation already booked through Hostelworld we budgeted for around £50 a day for everything we would need. This was plenty and even allowed excess for souvenirs and presents.

A good way to check that you’re not being ripped off in Mostar is to head to the restaurant or shop with the best view or closest to the bridge and, check out the menu or price tags. Make a mental note of the prices… Now find a shop / restaurant that is selling a similar product without the proximity to the bridge or the views.The result? Money saved. It sounds simple but you’d be amazed at how many people get suckered into buying the most expensive items because they’re on the Main Street or by the main attractions.

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As one of my top rated backpacking trips in Europe so far, I thought it important not to write an itinerary that encapsulates all of the beauty within Mostar. Why? Because Mostar is best explored without restriction.

Portugal, From Bottom To Top: 1 week Itinerary

1 week, architecture, backpack, backpcker, beaches, destination, holiday, itineraries, itinerary, travel, Uncategorized

Portugal is as it has always been.  Interesting, fun and friendly. From North to South, East to West there is a never ending stream of activities and sights to keep your wanderlust fulfilled.

This 1 week itinerary I have put together is based on the time we spent exploring the western edge of Portugal. This itinerary is a no nonsense GET IT DONE itinerary with room for the smallest amount of chill time.

You can easily switch the plan around, ending where we started or, starting where we ended. If you do think that you will need more “chill time” then extend your trip by a few more days where recommended.

Side accommodation note: Whilst staying in Lisbon I highly recommend staying at Sunset Destination Hostel. They have 3 hostels around the area and you can enter any of them whenever you fancy a nap or a new chill out spot.

(One even has a cute little swimming pool and a funk dome bar tent)

a plastic dome tent with a bar and seating inside in Lisbon Portugal on a roof top. It is night time and raining

 

 

Portugal, West Coast Wonders: 1 week Itinerary

DAY 1: Start by arriving in Lisbon. Settle into your accommodation (quickl! There’s much to do!). Put your walking boots on and head for Rossio square. Spend the day here eating, drinking and sight seeing. There’s plenty to do and see here for all ages.

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DAY 2: Belém – Today is a day for exploring. Spend a good half hour looking at Belém Tower, grabbing an ice cream and, wishing your house looked this good. Take a stroll around the area and see if you can find the huge raccoon painting. If you fancy a museum trip, walk over to the navy museum. Don’t leave Belém before you’ve spent a while walking around the family friendly gardens (Jardim de Belém and Jardim da Praça do Imperio) and visiting Jerónimos Monastery. This gothic monastery is enormous and architecturally brilliant. If you like panoramic views then walk up to Padrão dos Descobrimentos before it gets dark. Head back to Rossio Square for the evening to experience the friendly atmosphere at night.

person pretending to eat the mini model of Belem tower in Portugal

DAY 3: Beach Day – You simply can’t go to Portugal and not see the beach. The morning: If you’re looking for a great beach near Lisbon to relax and soak up the sun then Cascais is just one of the bigger sandy beaches you can head to. If you like to surf or just want to give it a try then contact Gota De Agua Surf School. These guys are brilliant teachers and will look after you ( especially if you break your toe like I did!) For lunch why not stay by the beach and sample the delights of the yummy restaurants near by. The afternoon: The afternoon can be well spent in Almada. Take a short ride over to Almada to see the enormous statue of Christ (Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei) – when we went surfing with Gota de Agua this mini trip to Almada was included in our lessons so ask them and you may get the same trip!(if you love the beach then perhaps add another day here)

one man and two women are on the sand on their surfboarsd. the first man and woman are in a crouching pose facing the camera and gripping the board ready to stand up. The other woman is stood up balancing with her face looking towards her feet.

DAY 4: Sintra – Wake up early, Travel light, wear comfortable shoes and, pack water and snacks! Sintra is an incredible place to spend the day. If you have an extra day in Portugal then Sintra is worth another day. If you’re up for a climb then scale the pathway up to the Castle of the Moors, reward yourself by going inside and admiring the picturesque views and ruins. Trek back down to ground level and explore the area. Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and so much more are waiting for you!

The big hill at Sintra. You can just about see the small forttress at the top. in the foreground you can see some of the buildings in Sintra. One is bright yellow and the others are grey and white

DAY 5: Coimbra – Pack up your bags, it’s time to change base. Jump on the train to Coimbra, the home of Fado music, to spend the next day and a half roaming around the UNESCO World Heritage Site Coimbra University. Entry is cheap and you can either take an organised tour or a self guided one for a small cost. Use the rest of your day for shopping and indulging in sweet treats and souvenirs on the Main Street. Spend the night near the Main Street at a Fado House listening to incredible traditional music. Stay near the Main Street to allow for more adventure and less commuting.

three musicians play on the streets of Portugal. One man in a checkered shirt plays the accordian on the floor. The middle man plays a brass instrument and the final man is playing bass.

DAY 6: Coimbra to Porto – Rise early and continue your exploration of Coimbra. Check out the Convent of Christ for some more gothic architecture. Stroll down the river where you’ll be greeted by an enormous Astro turf bear (Mondego Bear). Give him a hug, take a selfie and then it’s lunch.At lunch time get on the train from Coimbra City to Porto via Coimbra-B station . Your final stop.

A huge bear 4 times a mans average height sits in the park made from astro-turf. In between his legs sits a man in a grey hoodie.

DAY 7: Porto – Make today count. It’s your last day so do whatever will make you say “WOW”. Walk across the Dom Luis Bridge (whether it’s sunny or not) to see the river in its full glory. Then go buy a book from the Harry Potter-esque library Livraria Lello. Stare at the fine detailing on the walls of Church São Fransisco, or tour around the ever so grand Pálacio da Bolsa.

A bronze statue of a man is delivering post into a red post box

Leave Portugal feeling cultured, well informed, walked half to death and, inspired to see more of the wonderful country. If you aren’t ready to go home stay another day.

 

I wish you a wonderful trip!

OBRIGADO.

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