banner main post final 3 - Naples Airport to Amalfi Shuttle Bus

Naples Airport to Amalfi Shuttle Bus

In the beginning of the Amalfi trip planning I heard from everywhere that there is zero public transportation in the region. Things turned out to be exactly the other way round. While looking for the least expensive private transfer for the airport, I accidentally found out about the Naples airport shuttle bus. It perfectly suited my needs:

  • frequent departure times from Naples Airport
  • it goes all along the coast with stops at every popular (and less popular) holiday spot
  • costs from 10 EUR/one way/person

The Naples airport shuttle travel time doesn’t take longer than the private transfer ride. And unlike the taxi driver which I was forced to take due to Ryanair delay and missing the shuttle, the bus driver knows the region and the right places to stop.

How I met their customer service team

And their customer service is outstanding!!! When I found out that our plane is going to be delayed (in the airport, just before check-in) I called them to ask if there is a way the driver can wait. The original delay was 1 hour, so we would land 15 min before the shuttle, still okay. We agreed that the driver will wait for 20 min. And worst case if we can’t catch it, we can use our tickets for the way back.

Of course, Ryanair prolonged the delay and we landed exactly at the moment when the shuttle had to leave. I just turned on my phone and the lady from Pintour wrote apologizing and saying that the driver had to leave after waiting 20 min.

Anyways, a great company, my best customer service experience in Amalfi. Luckily we used our tickets for the Naples airport shuttle on our way back. They even helped me to determine the most suitable stop for us, to reach the bus from our hillside Airbnb 😀

Their schedules and contacts are here

23 - Naples Airport to Amalfi Shuttle Bus

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Ravello holidays

I heard a lot about this town, and not from touristic sources. For people coming from the IT industry Ravello is related to a cloud-based software, which is named after the place where it was developed. After seeing a few photos of the town it’s easy to understand how people come up with industry changing ideas. Ravello is inspiring, perhaps in that blooming heaven your mind gets a better connection to the Universe to source creativity.

Once you find yourself in that bus going up and up to the hills through little, secluded countryside locations, green and shady, you literally want to press the stop button and say you go by foot, whatever it takes. As for me, the best things to do here are related to endless hikes from village to town, from hills to sea. And you’ll find some great walk itineraries below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Useful info:

 

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banner main post final 3 - Maiori holidays

Maiori holidays

Maiori, Amalfi coast – my favourite one! An unusually wide as for the region sandy beach. It was formed after a strong earthquake, which of course also damaged the historical look of the town of Maiori. But still, if you are not looking to live around very ancient cathedrals and museums, I would suggest this town with its’ one and only beach and much lower cost of dining out. Not talking about the fact that the restaurants are much more friendly and authentic.

 

Useful info:

  • Public SITA Bus Schedule on Amalfi Coast and beyond the region – here
  • TravelMar sea transfers on Amalfi coast – see schedules here
  • TravelMar app for iOS and Android

 

Things to do during your holidays in Maiori

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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banner main post final 3 - Minori holidays

Minori holidays

IMG E9762 - Minori holidaysMinori is a small brother of Maiori. It’s cuter, than the big one, has nice restaurants and if you don’t like its’ tiny beach, the route from Minori to Maiori takes only 15 min walking. The town is perfect for those who are tired of Amalfi crowds and camera flashes. But this doesn’t mean there is nothing to immortalize on a photo. One of the most important monuments of the whole coast is actually located here.

 

Villa Marittima Romana – some 2000 years ago it was a luxurious residence of the imperial court member. It had baths and pools, and by a miracle the unique frescos and mosaics are still alive on its’ walls.

 

 

Another famous thing is the Minori pasta, which I was lucky to taste. The traditional Dunderi alla Minorese won’t ever remind you any other kind of paste you have experienced elsewhere! A few restaurants will be mentioned below!

 

 

 

 

Minori is a short walk away of Maiori. Or a bus or boat ride with a duration of a few minutes. It’s easy to reach both Amalfi, Salerno and VIetri Sul Mare as well – by bus or boat, although I would highly recommend the second option. Taxis are quite pricy in the region, so plan your trip well to avoid it.

 

Useful info:

  • Public SITA Bus Schedule on Amalfi Coast and beyond the region – here
  • Minori ferry schedule by TravelMar sea transfers on Amalfi coast – see schedules here
  • TravelMar app for iOS and Android

 

Things to do during your holidays in Minori

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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banner main post final 3 - Pogerola

Pogerola

Pogerola – a little village overlooking the whole Amalfi coast, might be having the best panoramic views for impressive shots on all the coast.

IMG 8706 2 - Pogerola
this is a view from our Airbnb, which was in Pastena, a bit lower than Pogerola

The village used to have a defensive fortress which was strategic for the whole Amalfi Republic, warning about any potential danger approaching from the sea. Nowadays, it’s a few restaurants, some shops, pharmacy, ATM and a bus stop. By the way, the shuttle from Naples Airport also stops in Pogerola.

On our last evening in the ‘village’ we discovered an entrance to a forest. Unfortunately, in the darkness we couldn’t examine it well, but seems like daytime it’s a pine tree heaven!

There are also several hotels around the village on the hills, and plenty of Airbnb’s. Our house was in Pastena which is down on the hill from Pogerola. Beautiful Italian countryside houses on the terraced hills full of lemon plantations are waiting for you here. As for me, staying here has a few advantages:

  • the price is obviously lower than in Amalfi centre, both accommodation and restaurants
  • there are no crowds at all
  • you are among pine and lemon trees and it feels like a countryside retreat
  • getting to Amalfi is easy either by bus (every 30 min) or by foot
  • the walk duration depends on the height of your accommodation. From Pastena it took us a 30 min walk along lemon yards by the stairs.

 

SITA Bus schedule

 

Restaurants in Pogerola

  • Osteria Rispoli – the family-run restaurant I mentioned now. Really tasty house wine and huge portions of pasta. No pizza here, sorry. The terrace is the biggest advantage of the place – open, no glass or plastic separating you from the magnificent view over the lemon plantations and the deep green hills. And by the way, it’s very inexpensive, just as everything in the village. I guess it was 3 EUR for 0,5 l of wine comparing to 8 or 9 EUR for the same quantity in Amalfi.
  • La Capannina in Pogerola di Amalfi – this is the pizzeria recommended by our Airbnb host. I would suggest you use this as a pizza take away spot, not for dining. Although the terrace is more fancy, let’s say, but the waiters are very slow and far not welcoming. So, I have my bad memories about those guys. Their terrace also has a great view, but it’s all behind the window, no open-air siting.
  • La Carcara da Gignio – this one, unfortunately, we didn’t try out. If you experienced the food in this restaurant, please share your opinion in the comments below! Based on the photos and google reviews they are very good.

 

Accommodation in Pogerola

 

 

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Budapest City Break

Bars and nightlife in Budapest

The city impressed us with its ruin clubs and bars which are designed and functioning with so much taste! And guess what, I’m talking about bars and nightlife in Budapest on Monday 🙂 We stayed on Pest side which allowed us to be close to all hottest spots in the city, I even made a walking clubbing itinerary for us – 1st bar 17 min from home, 2nd club – 10 min from home, 3rd bar – 4 min from home. This made me understand that definitely the best nightlife areas in Budapest are in Pest, whilst Buda is quiet, royal and classy. But lets go ahead and check out my selection of bars and nightlife in Budapest!

 

Spring Terrace of Akvárium Klub – open air drinks

Spring Terrace of Akvárium Klub impresses by blooming design outdoors, and the fact that you are actually within an aquarium once inside (you’ll see:) Well, since the indoor area is mostly for kids – cinema, art space, even castings are held here, we enjoyed the buzzing outdoor terrace with drinks, music, lots of locals and almost no tables/chairs available. I’d recommend to take a glass of Hungarian champagne and enjoy the sunset, and take any chair from anywhere, because no one really cares how you ‘settle down’ there.

 

One of the best ruin bars in Budapest, but very quiet as the name says

Csendes Bar (meaning quiet bar) – an extraordinary designed ruin bar with toys, bicycles, parts of mannequins handing from the walls and ceiling. As it’s name states, it’s not a dancing-shouting place, but a very artistic bar for those who prefer meaningful conversations with a glass of Hungarian sparkling (typical me…) They even close quite early, or just that was a Monday, and they closed at around 11.

 

The most famous ruin bar in Budapest and best clubbing experience in the city

Szimpla Kert – szimpla means simple, however the place is anything but simple, it’s very hard to describe, so I encourage you to visit it asap ?

Imagine you are entering a closed courtyard (a very large one), with bars all around you, crazy British (read drunk) guys having their bachelor party, even more crazy locals, and many expats, dancing just in the middle of the yard, preventing you from moving forward, everything is lighty-shiny as a x-mas tree. Then at the end you’ll face a huge screen with a smart, (muted), movie, which no one actually watches, but it’s so cool to see it there, and stare if you can’t find a spot to niche yourself. And voila, there are some crazy, iron stairs leading upstairs where you’ll find a concert room (with a band actually recording), and another endless labyrinth of bars, so you can in fact spend a few hours by just entering a door, and finding another one to enter, endless… Then you’ll reach a small courtyard (mainly used in old times to dry laundry surrounded by balconies), and again stairs but now within a multi-floor stairway taking you downstairs.

 

It’s an ideal place for those Alices which always dreamed to find themselves in Wonderland ? After spending there a while I can’t believe there might be something more impressive in Budapest in terms of nightlife (but I’ll come back to double check!)

 

The most popular, not-to-miss, club in Budapest

As the 3rd in my list I had Instant – the biggest ruin pub in the city, and actually is among the clubs in Budapest open on Monday (I wish I took a photo of that queue on Monday night))))

But guess what, after Szimpla we were even more satisfied than expected, so seeing a huge queue to enter Instant we decided to leave the place for the next time. What I know about Instant from my research: it’s the most famous nightlife spot in Budapest, hiding 4 dance floors, 8 bars and a restaurant inside. If you visited the Parliament, the Fisherman’s Bastion, then Instant is another sight to see and not to miss.

 

I hope you visit these places and let me know how is the nightlife in Budapest now? Still buzzing? Or even more? 😉 Get inspired by my experience in Budapest here

 

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banner main post final - Getting from Budapest Airport to city centre

Getting from Budapest Airport to city centre

Some people say that getting from Budapest Airport to the city centre is getting easier and easier, but I strongly disagree after the Hungarian government prohibited the usage of Uber. Exactly one year ago when I arrived to BUD airport I faced this unbelievable reality opening my Uber app at arrivals. So things are not that smooth now: you can reach the city by bus, more or less by bus + train or bus + metro, private transfers and taxis. Lets see all the ways of getting to downtown below.

 

Getting from Budapest Airport by bus

The most popular budget option. There are two main bus lines operating at the airport – 100E and 200E. The first one is a direct line which takes you to the city centre (Deak Ferenc Ter), from there you can easily continue by metro (if needed). The second line is more problematic – it takes you to Kőbánya-Kispest metro station, that’s the final station of line M3, so there you have to continue to the city by metro.

  • Getting to Budapest by bus 100E – only 4 stations and you are in the centre. The ticket is 900 HUF (3 EUR), you can buy the tickets at the machine at the bus stop (which is just outside of arrivals) with cash or card, you should show it to the bus driver while entering and validate in the machine within the bus. Check out the 100E timetable here

Capture - Getting from Budapest Airport to city centre

  • Getting from Budapest airport by bus 200E – three times cheaper and three times longer. The ticket is 300 HUF (1 EUR), as mentioned above it will take you to a metro station and then you’ll get to continue on your own. The stops are below, the schedule can be found here

Capture2 - Getting from Budapest Airport to city centre

 

Getting from Budapest Airport by train

Since there is no train station directly at the airport, although it’s not that far away and can be reached by bus 200E (see Ferihegy vasútállomás stop), I would recommend using this option only if you need to reach specifically the Budapest Railway Station to continue elsewhere in the country/or outside the country, by train. But lets see the route draft in this case:

  • you take bus 200E to Ferihegy vasútállomás railway stop – it takes around 8 min
  • you take any regular or Intercity train towards Nyugati Pályaudvar (they are more than frequent), before getting on buy a train ticket at a machine at the stop – the train will take around 20 min, the ticket price depends on the train type (standard around 370 HUF, intercity will require a seat supplement)

 

Getting to Budapest by private airport transfer or taxi

Taxi is of course the most comfortable and fast (in case no extreme traffic) way to reach Budepest, however, the government ensured that it’s a monopoly business, thus only one taxi company is allowed to pick up passengers in the airport. You can get a taxi by requesting one at the Taxi Kiosk, just exiting arrivals, on the left. The price is 20-30 EUR if you are targeting a location within the city centre, it can be paid by cash (HUF or EUR, but their exchange rate won’t please you), or card (but sometimes the cab drivers don’t have their POS ‘charged’). This monopoly stresses me a lot, to be very straightforward with you.

On the other hand, you can get an ‘illegal’ taxi – at arrivals many whispering men will surround you offering cheap taxi. Well, would never tried that, I’m sure the price will be higher, they’ll make you walk with your suitcase until their car (which can’t be on the territory of the airport), and in case anything happens you won’t really have a chance to complain to Hungarian authorities, won’t have a receipt, or any other proof.

In my trip to Budapest I used the official taxi service – a good solution when you need it fast and directly to your accommodation.

Talking about private transfers from BUD airport to Budapest. There are a few companies offering this service:

  • Flibco.com – a one-way transfer will cost 9 EUR, you make the reservation online. They cover the main public transport stops in downtown, so you can easily reach Nyugati or Keleti railway stations, Deák Ferenc Tér or so.
  • MiniBUD – covers most of Budapest’s hotels (check them out in the list on their front page), the cost depends on the hotel location, I entered one in the centre and it showed me 17,5 EUR/one-way
  • WizzAir the Hungarian low-cost offers transfers to the city as well. You can book their transfer service in case you arrived by a WizzAir flight. Their price Their timetable is here

 

 

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Budapest City Break

Where to eat in Budapest

To be honest, Budapest was a very foodie trip 🙂 It’s not a country for starting a low-fat diet and even while ordering a salad, you’ll notice that most ingredients are anything, but vegetables. This is traditional Hungarian cuisine, you can definitely find Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Mediterranean or any other restaurants in Budapest, but I always prefer to eat the most authentic things a country has to offer. Don’t you? Below I’ll reveal my best selection of where to eat in Budapest.

 

Két Szerecsen Bisztro – the first restaurant we popped into in Budapest and one of the best after all the food eaten all around the country! They combine international cuisine with Hungarian, so be sure you can find it all here, whether you’re fancy for an English breakfast, French croissants or Hungarian gulyás. Besides that their staff is very attentive and they do have a nice shady terrace for warmer days.

 

Budapest Bisztro – classical restaurant in Budapest city centre

The first restaurant we dined in, recommended and even booked by our kind guide. It’s a beautiful fine-dining place with great live music, which doesn’t disturb, but somehow accompanies your food. In our case it was a piano evening and we enjoyed some worldwide famous pop music covers. But returning to food! Budapest Bisztro is one of those popular places in the Hungarian capital where they offer the traditional cuisine in classical execution, focusing on local ways of preparation of mainly duck, chicken and beef. They have an impressive wine-cellar on the top floor, and you can enjoy tasting some greatest wines of Hungary there. By the way, did I tell you that it’s just next to the Parliament? For us it was decisive, since we ended our tour there and after 3 hours of crawling we were in need of Hungarian calories!

 

Where to eat lángos ↓

Fantázia Étterem – one of the best restaurants in Szentendre, especially when it comes to lángos

One side of the restaurant is a Danube-facing terrace with traditional local meals, then of course pizza and all kind of drinks (the terrace is glassed, so you can enjoy the view on cold days as well). The other side is a a window in a wall, leading to an extremely hot kitchen where oil is boiling and women are running around to manage all the orders of the famous lángos – deep fried dough with cheese, sour cream, bacon toppings.

So it’s up to you to chose whether you want to stay at that unique kitchen window with comic streetart on the walls and sit on cheap white plastic chairs (an experience in my opinion!), or you prefer to go behind the corner, facing the river, and have a table at the very same establishment’s terrace with knitted chairs, blankets and all the nice stuff. The Lángos will be the same :}

 

Konyha – where to eat in Budapest modern Hungarian cuisine

They position themselves as a sophisticated Hungarian cuisine promoters, and what can I say, they do it great. I don’t remember the exact meals we had, but I know that our group ordered all the main courses they had in the menu, so lets say we did a broad tasting at Konyha. By the way, they only have daily menus, so it’s actually just a page of choices and that’s it. Besides the food I loved the interior a lot! The restrooms’ walls are covered with old yellowish book pages, the hall is full of plants greenery and wood, there is a lot of natural light and on the top floor you can sit on a sofa which faces, which turns its’ back to everyone in the restaurant and faces the lively street behind the window.

 

Pepita Macska – where to eat on your way to Tokaj

I impressed my foreign guests by, finally!, real Hungarian cuisine at a roadside restaurant, in a village leaving Tokaj, at Szerencs village. So the real Hungarian cuisine means: various potato side dishes, porc-wheel-chicken-vegetables all deep-fried in a ‘schnitzel’ way, large pieces of bread, and salads including anything but vegetables. No surprise that I was quite ‘big’ in childhood 😀 They have a parking place at the restaurant, and will impress you by the sizes of portions!

 

Sir Lancelot Medieval Restaurant

If you are about to try this for the first time in your life, be ready – it’s a lot of food, and you better come with friends who are famous for having more than healthy appetite ?

Let’s have a look at the menu together and try to make clarifications:

  • Any plate (see last page) for 2 is actually for 4, and plate for 4 is for 8 people (otherwise you’ll overeat, believe me)
  • Although the plates are huge it’s much more fun to order them, than single meals, because this way you’re getting a change to try almost all their menu
  • The service fee is included in the bill, but I’m sure you’ll be happy to leave more tips, and I’m about to tell you why.

The restaurant is far not only about food. You’ll see belly dancers, fire dancers, fire eaters, medieval dancers, sword fights, and actually anything anytime. So, whenever you come (and do come only by reservation, they are mostly full), you have a guarantee of a show. And a tip: if your reservation is at 9 pm for example, come on time, or even a bit earlier to get a table closer to the stage. Otherwise they are placing everyone on first come first served basis.

 

Well, I guess you can imagine that on the day after no one was fancy for breakfast ? And the day after was the departure time for most of us, while only me, the lucky one, managed to squeeze in the schedule the coolest ever dinner in Budapest!

 

Café New York – the most exclusive restaurant in Budapest

I’ve never seen that many people just passing by on the street to stop in front of a restaurant and starting to take photos like hypnotized! Thanks god they don’t know how much more photogenic it is inside))

 

The New York Palace first opened in Budapest in 1894, at that time it was the most beloved coffee house in Budapest, a very artistic place, gathering famous editors, writers, composers. Unfortunately, the golden era of this sophisticated palace ended with the WW II – it was functioning as a sporting goods shop, and, of course, was very much neglected. Even though in 1954 it reopened under ‘Hungaria cafe’ name, it was really reborn in 2006 with its’ original name and proper reconstruction to its’ very best look.

 

 

Today New York Palace is a hotel, a café, a salon restaurant, and a bar. It proudly keeps its’ original Italian renaissance style, serving traditional meals of Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

 

Why is it worth coming to Café New York? Far not in every city (even within the ancient European continent where we are spoiled by ‘old stones’) you can visit a restaurant or café within a luxurious, but at the same time elegant, palace, with fine cuisine (but delicious that you want to leak your plates), intelligent waiters for having a meaningful conversation. I was so fascinated by our waiters knowledge in Hungarian wine, that I couldn’t stop asking him questions, he actually had to delicately turn my attention to drinking wine, rather than continuing bombing with questions about Tokaji Aszú (maybe he was afraid that at some point he won’t be able to give an answer))

 

Other great restaurants in Budapest which we didn’t have a chance to visit

 

Where to eat traditional Hungarian food in Budapest?

Kisharang Étkezde – old countryside cooking within Budapest centre, how do you like it? A budget restaurant with traditional menu and genuine service, only keep in mind that they do not serve alcohol.

 

Oktogon Bisztró – another budget restaurant in Budapest with all you can eat buffet service.

 

Where to dinner in Budapest? High-class restaurant below 🙂

Bock Bisztró – another restaurant recommended by our guide as a place to try traditional Hungarian gourmet cuisine. They have two restaurants in Budapest – one on Buda, one on Pest side, and the third one on Balaton lake.

 

Aurum Bisztró – high class fusion bistro cuisine based on traditional recipes. Located on a street connecting the St Stephen Basilica and the Chain Bridge, in a historical building which used to be the restaurant of the old Officers’ Casino.

 

Kollázs Brasserie & Bar at the very luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. A creative dining space where food is combined into a collage (kollazs in Hungarian). The restaurant is overlooking the Danube river and the Chain Bridge.

 

 

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where to eat in rovaniemi

Where to stay in Rovaniemi. Glass igools, snow hotels, wooden cottages in Lapland

Perhaps deciding where to stay in Rovaniemi was the most difficult part of planning the trip – all types of accommodation looked great and had their benefits. Hotels sounded good for being clear where they are located – it’s Rovaniemi centre, it’s easy to get from the airport and from everywhere else, I thought we would use public transportation. Glass igloos seem to be the most perfect ever accommodation in Arctic places, but would you risk spending 600 EUR/night for the glass roof, and then northern lights just don’t come?

 

I never thought of staying in the Santa Claus Village – it was obvious that this is the most crowded place in the region, and I couldn’t expect anything authentic. But I really considered the Arctic Treehouse stay – because its’ front side is made of glass, it’s high enough to see the sky, and the price was something in between normal accommodation and the igloos. But luckily I didn’t book it! Once in Lapland I found out that they are located just next to the Santa Village, and very close to the road (there is no huge traffic, but you don’t feel like being immersed in the forest, when the road is a walk away). Besides that all the tree houses are looking at each other, I mean people are walking in and out, and you just have your ‘curtains’ on the front side open. The treehouses are not quite high, and many of them are facing the south side. This means that you’ll see the sky enlightened by the airport, which doesn’t help you seeing the northern lights, unless the solar activity is super strong.

 

That’s how I ended up with Airbnb and for the first time I faced a situation when it had a broader offering than the official hotels/resorts. It was triple hard to choose now!

 

So how did I filter all the great houses on their platform:

  • It had to be made of wood, like in a fairy tale
  • In the forest – otherwise it makes no sense
  • Not more than 30 min drive from civilization
  • With a sauna
  • Not more than 100 EUR/night incl. cleaning fees and Airbnb commission

 

And I found it with an extra bonus: fireplace in the house and a grill outside in a separate cabin! The house really looked like a fairy tale place, the interior was well-thought-out till the last detail, the kitchen had everything you’d need to cook dinner for a dozen of guests and even bake a cake. When we arrived the owner pre-heated the sauna, so we could just start the night from the very Lappish thing.  The cottage was perhaps twice bigger than I expected based on the photos, so at first we were sure that we arrived to the wrong place. During this stay we didn’t have to worry about anything but fire – we had a lot of wood ready to use; the only thing left was actually lighting up the fire in the grill and sauna 🙂

 

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Hotels in Rovaniemi

  • Arctic City Hotel – a family owned 4* hotel, centrally located, breakfast, sauna and parking included in room rates – 99-216 EUR/night
  • Arctic Light Hotel – a family run hotel in contemporary style located in central Rovaniemi in the building of the former City Hall – 132-638 EUR/night
  • Hotel Aakenus – a close to Rovaniemi centre, offering stays from single to family rooms, price includes breakfast, sauna, praking, Wifi – 79-277 EUR/night
  • Hotel Cumulus Resort Polar – open from November to March, located in the city centre, and has some important facilities like heated garage, fitness centre, two saunas – 114 to 229 EUR/night
  • Hotel Vartiosaari – located on the island of the famous Kemijoki river in Rovaniemi, a 72 m bridge connects it to the mainland. The hotel has 11 rooms only, and you may book it wholly for yourself including the island. They offer Finnish sauna usage for free and a riverside sauna for private use on reservation. Prices – 131 to 354 EUR/night
  • Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna Rovaniemi – a high-class hotel in the centre of Rovaniemi, with a heated garage, 3 saunas, meeting facilities, a French restaurant and a nightclub. Prices from 116 to 290 EUR/night
  • Santa’s Hotel Santa Claus – please don’t confuse with Santa Claus Village, this hotel is situated in the city centre. It’s one of the largest hotels in the area (168 rooms) and most of pick ups for various activities are done here. The hotel is suitable for meetings and conferences. Prices from 121 to 265 EUR/night
  • Scandic Rovaniemi – located just in between two shopping centres in Rovaniemi, it has plenty of facilities like gym and sauna, Nordic walking poles and bicycles, kids playing room. Prices from 98 EUR/night

 

Hostels in Rovaniemi

  • Santa’s Hostel Rudolf – a cozy hostel in the centre, part of Santa’s Hotels chain, has dormitories and private rooms. Prices are from 42 EUR/night
  • Guesthouse Borealis – located in the area of train & bus station in Rovaniemi, with prices from 53 EUR/night for a single room
  • Hostel Café Koti – the hostel is situated in the centre, has dormitories and private rooms, a sauna for common use, offers breakfasts and an equipped kitchen. Prices from 38 EUR/night

 

Holiday resorts and villages in Rovaniemi. Glass igloo stays in Lapland

Santa Claus stays in Lapland

 

Snow hotels and ice cabins in Lapland

 

… but still even though the market is full of offerings, I would suggest Airbnb 

25247514547 deccc2233b z 1 - Where to stay in Rovaniemi. Glass igools, snow hotels, wooden cottages in Lapland
…the little cabin is where our grill parties were taking place

 

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where to eat in rovaniemi

Things to do in Rovaniemi

Winter in Lapland is all about aurora and fun snow activities, which are huskies, reindeers, snowmobiles, and snowshoe walks. It’s not that diverse in terms of activities (although be sure you’ll enjoy them more than anything else before), but the quantity of companies offering these is enormous. Below I’ll try to focus either on those things to do in Rovaniemi where I had a direct contact with the provider and experienced the service myself, or those which seem to offer the best of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting from Rovaniemi Airport to city and around

Rovaniemi is the biggest city in Europe, meaning that it covers the largest area comparing to other European cities. In fact, it is around 8019 km². And now imagine that it has only 60 thousand of inhabitants, and the average density is less than 2 people per km². How do you think this city looks like? A centre, with shops and some hotels, and then forest, forest and more forest, here and there villages with 2-10 houses next to each other, and then more forest (Love It ❥)

 

Based on this there are two options:

 

  • #1 – Either you get from Rovaniemi Airport to city centre, stay there in a hotel and book activities which include pick up and drop off (usually adds 30% to the price)
  • #2 – Rent a car and travel around at your own pace, save money on transfers, rent an accommodation far from civilization to deep dive with your mind into the Lappish Nature

 

Should I emphasize that we chose the second option? After the trip to Lapland I can point out that you’ll miss 90% of the atmosphere without a car.

But in case you decided to stay in a place like Santa Claus Hotel which offers airport transfers, activities with pick up and drop off, then and only then you are okay without a car (but still I wouldn’t suggest this scenario)

 

Rovaniemi Airport Shuttle

A very customer-friendly company, understands that the region’s geography requires that public transportation is flexible and can be adjusted on request. The main things you need to know:

 

  • The bus leaves from Rovaniemi Central Bus Station 1h10 min before every departing flight (if the departure time between 2 flights is 20 min or less, there will be one bus leaving 1h10min before the earliest flight). You need to book your seat online at least 24h before the departing flight. The shuttle makes a few stops at main hotels – check them out here
  • You don’t need to book a seat when arriving to Rovaniemi airport. The bus leaves after each flight’s arrival.
  • For 7 EUR/person you’ll get by bus to any hotel in the city centre
  • For 10 EUR/person (or 16/2 people) you’ll get by bus to any address within the city centre
  • For 12 EUR/person – to other addresses in the area.

 

The company also offers private transfers for groups within the area or other cities in Lapland (like Levi, Suomu etc.). This you have to book directly by calling.

In my opinion, a very wide range of offerings, it can almost take you to the middle of the forest if you wish))

 

Public bus from Rovaniemi Airport to Santa Claus Village

Bus #8 operates between the airport – Santa Claus Village and the Arctic Treehouse Hotel – there is an autumn, winter and spring schedule. The bus doesn’t operate in summer – from 3rd of June to 9th of August.

 

Public bus from Rovaniemi to Ivalo and Sodankyla

The bus operates from August to June – the schedule can be found here.

 

Getting from Rovaniemi Airport to Pyha Ski Resort

The famous resort is located 1h45min drive from the airport and there are several transportation options for you to choose:

  • SkiBus from Rovaniemi Central Train Station – here
  • SkiBus from Rovaniemi Airport – operates from 2 to 4 times a day, the timetable is linked to the arrivals schedule, that’s why if your plane is delayed over 1 hour, you should contact SkiBus, so the driver will wait for you. Schedule here
  • More information on Pyha website

 

 

From Rovaniemi to other Finnish cities

Matkahuolto is the cheapest bus operator offering rides from Rovaniemi airport to the city centre, and transportation between Finnish cities across the country.

Check out their schedules here

 

Car rental in Rovaniemi Airport

As soon as you arrive and get into the airport you’ll spot the car rental desk with Hertz, Avis, Budget, Sixt and Europa Car. There are more companies offering car hire in Rovaniemi airport, but not all of them are having desks at arrivals, check them out here. Be sure to book your car online, prior arrival, because most of the car rental offices are open by request.

 

We had a very pleasant experience with renting out from Sixt. What surprised us is that the cars which are waiting for you on the parking are in fact running – they start the engine 30 min before actually driving so it warms up, as cars might get completely frozen in and out.

 

Taxi from Rovaniemi Airport. Getting around Lapland by taxi

Of course you can take a cab from the airport to your accommodation. But that’s not all. Local taxi companies offer sightseeing tours (1h, 2h, 3h or even more) and taxi packages. For example you want to go from Rovaniemi to the Ranua Zoo and back, and want your driver to wait for you? No problem, that can be arranged.

 

Check out here the packages and book a sightseeing tour by taxi here

 

Book a taxi from Rovaniemi Airport to the city centre or any other location within Lapland here

 

You can pay either with cash or credit card.

 

Santa Line

An airport taxi service for either tour operator customers, or very demanding VIPs and groups. They can arrange a transport within Rovaniemi district. Book it here

 

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Places to eat in Rovaniemi. Restaurants and cooking reindeer meat at home!

Local Food in Rovaniemi

 

It was the first destination where we never ate out! Incredible, unbelievable, but truth. Definitely if you are staying in the centre, you will spot some attractive places to eat in Rovaniemi, and why not trying out their food. But for my standard European taste, Finnish food is not something I long after, only it’s plainest forms are acceptable. What are them – meat, dairy and vegetables, cooked and consumed in its’ plainest, most natural way, on fire. And I have what to tell you about cooking reindeer meat and shopping in Rovaniemi.

 

Reindeer meat

 

This is something you can try in a very limited number of countries, and even in Lapland, where they say there are more reindeers than people, it’s a delicacy which costs a lot.

 

A kilogram of reindeer meat costs (parts which we bought) approx. 40 EUR. They sell it frozen in large supermarkets, all the labels are in Finnish so we chose based on our intuition and out of 4 packs – 2 were really good! Here is what it said on the labels:

 

  • Pakastettu Poron Sisäpaisti – Fryst Innerstek – tasted like reindeer steak, couldn’t find the translation of ‘fryst innerstek’
  • Pakastettu Poron Sisäfile. Fryst ren innerfile – and most probably this was filet

 

Other two parts were not very successful – one was definitely cut to become something like shaorma, the other contained pieces of meat on large bones, and I think it’s quite good for soup, but not for grill.

 

Did I tell you that our house had a grill? A separate cabin with a large grill in the middle, and lots of wood to feed us daily. Based on this good luck our cuisine was set – daily grill of either reindeer meat, or salmon!

 

We bought large salmon filet pieces in a supermarket as well.

 

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How to prepare reindeer meat and salmon on grill?

 

If you are lucky and booked a house with grill, then just cover the meat with salt and spices, some oil, and that’s it. Don’t put any more oil to the pan on the grill.

With salmon it’s even easier – only salt, no oil. Local salmon is very greasy.

 

koskenlaskija - Places to eat in Rovaniemi. Restaurants and cooking reindeer meat at home!Other great stuff in Finnish shops:

  • Cheese – called Koskenlaskija, It was so good, that we couldn’t stop eating it and even bought 6 packs and imagine we were even ready to fight for them in the airport. The security check in Rovaniemi airport didn’t mind us carrying them in our cabin bag, but the one in Helsinki confiscated my dear cheese. So what was the solution? Asking our cheese back from the security officer, and going back to get our cabin bag checked in (and it’s been a month after the trip, but I still have some of this precious cheese left in the fridge!)
  • Vegetables – surprisingly good in a northern country which grows them only in greenhouses. The salad stayed fresh even on the second day after cooking (which I’m usually never able to eat, but save to check it out).
  • Berry smoothies in small yogurt cups
  • Berry champagne – not made in Finland, but in Chile, although very suitable for a Lappish evening
  • Black bread – it’s not brown, but exactly black. Feel free to take some with you home, it stays fresh long in its original package and fridge (mine is still under consumption after a month since the trip)

 

 

Where to buy food in Rovaniemi?

 

First we went to Lidl, but it didn’t have reindeer meat. K-supermarket had both. The direction is here

There are other K-supermarkets in the area, so don’t worry about food supply.

 

 

Alcohol restrictions in Finland

 

A8588DED BDBA 4D2E 86CD 054F7C53DA7D - Places to eat in Rovaniemi. Restaurants and cooking reindeer meat at home!Now this is a serious subject which we first faced in Helsinki airport. Have you ever been rejected from buying anything in a duty free shop inside the airport? Me – for the first time.

 

We were flying from Helsinki to Rovaniemi and knowing that we’d arrive late decided to buy alcohol in the departures duty free shops. At the cash desk after checking our boarding passes, they didn’t let us buy anything (including innocent chocolate), because we had a domestic flight.

 

So we went towards a non-duty-free shop just at our gate, which didn’t sell any alcohol (surprise!)

 

On board of the plane, in Finnair’s meal card we saw various alcohol drinks which can be purchased on board – remark ‘only on board on non-EU flights’. And ridiculously, we found a solution from this situation – there was a possibility to purchase the 0,2 l bottled wine, so we bought 4 pieces 🙂 and felt like heros as we overcame Finland’s alcohol restrictions!

 

On the next day in every supermarket we entered, we were looking for the alcohol section – which we never found! And only on the last evening before leaving Lapland, we found an alco-shop inside a shopping centre, which worked limited hours, but it did work. We couldn’t consume what we bought – berry champagne and local vodka, but at least we were able to bring alcohol from Lapland as a souvenir back home.

 

So officially in Finland:

  • If you are 18 you can buy drinks containing at most 22 per cent alcohol (so wines and beers)
  • If you are above 20 you can buy any kind of alcohol drinks. Those are sold in official Alko shops, owned by state
  • Beer and cider is sold in supermarkets as well, but only until 9 pm

Read more about Alcohol restrictions in Finland here

 

Restaurants in Rovaniemi

 

In case your stay in Lapland is longer than ours, you’ll definitely get fed up even with the best reindeer meat cooked on your grill. So a selection of best restaurants in Rovaniemi will be very handy:

 

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Things to do in Athens, Greece


For me Athens is all about tavernas with live music, hidden bars with smooth cocktails and breakfasts on rooftop terraces. So it’s an absolute feast and take care of your waist 🙂 However, in between the meals, try to enjoy the artistic and adventurous part of your stay there – art galleries, photo tours, syrtaki dance classes, hikes & cable cars. You never imagined that there are so many things to do in Athens Greece!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where to stay in Athens? Best boutique hotels, B&B, stays on a budget


Where to stay in Athens – my experience and then all the other great places which I didn’t manage to try out!

 

AthensWas

So the first ‘home’ was AthensWas – quite a good one, but some specific things needed in this trip were missing. Let me point out that we are talking about a New Year’s celebration trip.

The hotel is new, so the facilities, room state, bathroom, lobby – all these things won’t make you upset. On the other hand, the Wifi was terrible, actually it just didn’t exist for me, and I had to use my roaming (the reception said the internet works well, as always, so the problem is with our devices – which we had 4, and apparently all rejected their network).

Other things which lacked were:

  • Tea maker in the room J I can’t fall asleep without a few cups of tea
  • Or at least 24h room service to order the tea (always a shame to call them at midnight for a cup of tea, but what can I do sometimes)
  • Iron – for me almatost never needed, but since I wasn’t travelling with Tavsan Surat only, we had some shirts to iron

On the other hand, the balcony was very spacious, and if not in winter, but somewhere springish-automnish I could imagine myself sitting there and drinking my tea enjoying the weather.

 

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Hotel Grande Bretagne

Grande Bretagne is an example of a perfect 5* stay in Athens, although quite expensive. The hall was full of Christmas atmosphere – a huge warmly decorated tree, lots of people around on vintage arm chairs, sofas, or in the Winter Garden Lounge. The staff was very caring and always ready to help, and we even got a welcome present which included a set of pralines and a bottle of Pilavas Tentura liqueur.

Besides the very good looking room with all the possible amenities you can wish for, the hotel had a spa with a swimming pool at the disposal of all guests, a rooftop bar, a fine-dining restaurant, an open-air pool with grill for summertime 🙂

So I loved it, but, we wanted something more ‘grande’ for the NYE! Oh, how mistaken were we…

 

IMG 0077 - Where to stay in Athens? Best boutique hotels, B&B, stays on a budgetIMG 0074 - Where to stay in Athens? Best boutique hotels, B&B, stays on a budgetIMG 0075 1 - Where to stay in Athens? Best boutique hotels, B&B, stays on a budget

 

King George Hotel

It was exactly next doors to Hotel Grande Bretagne, and actually both belong to the Luxury Collection Hotel Group.  In this hotel for the most important night of the year we had a Deluxe Suite which was a grande disappointment!

First of all, the hotel feels very empty, and much older than the next doors GB. The room is very strangely constructed with a living room having some small windows, and the bedroom having no daylight source at all. The walls between the rooms are huge and overwhelming, so in a very large suite you feel lack of light, space and air. And actually everything looks very run down (including their gym downstairs)

So I wouldn’t recommend King George, especially taking into account that the price is not more attractive than Grande Bretagne.

 

Best hotels in Athens

 

Hotels with rooftop terraces in Athens (see their description below along the page):

 

 

 

Where to stay in Athens on a budget:

  • Attalos Hotel – a 3* hotel in Athens offering very comfortable location (Monastiraki metro), clean & well-kept rooms, and affordable prices – single stays from 45 EUR/night, when the best double rooms with balcony are 65 EUR/night. Besides that you’ll have your rooftop garden bar to enjoy Acropolis views just upstairs!
  • Hermes Hotel – boutique and on a budget, Hermes hotel is a perfect spot for a city break in Athens. The location is just the best (it’s in Plaka), the interior is stylish and the hotel is perfectly clean. Most importantly, it offers full day complimentary tea/coffee in the lobby (which makes it the best match for me!) Prices start at around 50 EUR/night
  • Hotel Katerina – free parking, Wi-Fi, 24h room service, cleanliness and quite good location if you are an active adult, not minding a 20 min walk to Acropolis. The price is around 50 EUR/double room
  • Hotel Areos – centrally located stylish hotel, from single to triple rooms, and luxurious suites. All day room service, an open rooftop terrace, and the rooms themselves are very well designed, going for only 49 EUR/low season

 

 

Best Boutique Hotels in Athens:

  • The Y Hotel – a great place for those who appreciate quiet after a day in a buzzling city like Athens. The Y Hotel is located outside of the city, in Kifissia, it’s a 30 min car ride or an hour by metro, but the green and peaceful surroundings are worth it. You can choose a room from standard to deluxe, or go for a penthouse or suite. Prices start at approx. 100 EUR/low season. The hotel offers 24/7 gym and allows pets at prior notice and no charge.
  • Alice Inn Athens – the best hotel in Athens for vintage and fairy tale seekers! An exceptional boutique accommodation with 4 suites only. Each suite with its own story and design to check out and get excited, but their common points are perfect location in Plaka, although on a quiet street, coffee/tea makers in each room, wifi, kitchen for common use and a continental breakfast served every morning. Besides that Alice offers a separate whole house with 5 bedrooms and a roof terrace for rent. Rates for the suites start at 40 EUR/night. The accommodation doesn’t accept children.
  • Semiramis Hotel – part of Design Hotels Group, Semiramis opens a unique contemporary experience in front of you. The look is inspired by lollypop colours, it has many modern toys grown up kids, just like the digital ‘do not disturb’ sign which you can personalize yourself. I actually feel sorry for not trying it out when in Athens. Keep in mind, it’s also an SPG hotel, don’t forget to use your benefits, in case you are part of this loyalty program. From 125 EUR/night
  • 360 Degrees Hotel – modern hotel with a retro touch in design, standard rooms or suites. The 360 Degrees brand also owns a rooftop bar and restaurant – 360 Degrees Bar – and knowing the quality and atmosphere of the bar, I would expect the same high standards from their hotel. The suites come with furnished patios all in retro style. Rates from 90 EUR in low season.
  • Lozenge Hotel – located on the Lycabettus hill, which means it’s away of crowds but still has a pleasant walking distance from main spots, and is considered central. Rooms are at approx. 110 EUR/double room with balcony
  • A for Athens – the hotel is famous for it’s rooftop restaurant & bar which overlooks the Acropolis and is just above the Monastiraki square. Rooms start at 100 EUR/deluxe double room and 200 EUR/suites
  • 18 Micon Street Hotel – stylish hotel, centrally located, a luxury on a budget starting from 75 EUR/night! Its urbanistic design perfectly matches the smart concept and as an extra pleasure – all the furnishing is locally made. They have various types of rooms & suites (you can choose whether your walls will be cement, wood or brick:)), parking, laundry, espresso making facilities etc.

 

 

Where to stay on Athens Riviera:

  • Brasil Suites – 14 luxurious suites located in Glyfada, on the Attica Riviera, next to the sandy beaches and the famous Glyfada Gold Club. Room types are Junior & Senior Suite, Family Suite and Superior Suite. Each room comes with a balcony, when the Superior Suite is located on the top floor each with private sundeck areas, and the largest one comes with a 40 sq.m sundeck. Tours, golf & tennis lessons can be pre-booked as well. Rates at low season start at 140 EUR/night
  • The Margi – 5 star hotel located on the Attica Riviera near the Vouliagmeni Lake and famous Glyfada Golf Club. Besides that it’s surrounded by a pine forest and has an indoor & outdoor pool. Starting at 140 EUR/night

 

Best luxurious hotels in Athens:

  • Hotel Grande Bretagne – my review above 🙂
  • Athens Plaza – the third hotel facing Syntagma square along with Grande Bretagne and King George. They offer Classic, Superior and Deluxe rooms, and have a lot of conference facilities. I would suggest Athens Plaza as a perfect business hotel in Athens downtown.
  • MET34 Hotel Athens – a very special place in Athens, you actually won’t notice it, unless you really look for modern luxury. You won’t find here chandeliers and vintage furnishing, instead you’ll get the best of a smart and expensive place in Athens. Marble floors, king size beds, living rooms & kitchens all within your room or suite. It’s an ideal hotel for demanding business travelers, or families looking for a commodity of their home within a high class hotel. Double stays will cost from around 230 EUR/night

 

Athens Marathon Route Hotels

Most of the hotels located in Athens are part of Athens Marathon Route, so there is no hotel dedicated to this yearly held competition. Actually the marathon starts at the Panathenaic stadium, crosses Athens to the east-south and goes on to Marathon town.

So there are no real Marathon Route Hotels and don’t get hooked for it at a ‘small extra cost’!

Check out the Athens Marathon Route Map and decide whether you want to stay in Athens downtown or closer to Marathon itself.

 

route marathon full - Where to stay in Athens? Best boutique hotels, B&B, stays on a budget

 

 

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Getting from Athens Airport to city center


A half an hour uber ride and we are already in the center of Athens, between Plaka and Acropolis. If you choose to take an uber as well, your driver will ask about the route preferences – the fastest route goes through the highway. I suggest the highway, not because of the speed, but because it’s extremely green around, it’s definitely the best way of getting from Athens Airport to city centre 🙂  I could never expect to drown in greenery whilst being somewhere very southern.

 

 

Uber from Athens Airport to city centre

Our uber ride from the airport costed us 29 EUR. It was UberX and they gave us a choice between the highway and general route. In case you choose highway, the app will automatically charge 2 EUR (approximately, I don’t remember for sure) for the toll.

The best part about uber is that you’ll get your invoice emailed, regardless the driver’s will. For example, a taxi driver in Athens forgot his English immediately as soon as we asked for a receipt…

If you’d like start using uber and get a discount for your first trip, use my promo-code for singing up 🙂

 

Taxi from Athens Airport to city centre

The taxi fares from Venizelos airport to downtown are flat, 38 EUR/daytime, 54 EUR/night. It already includes toll costs, VAT, airport charge, and anything else a taxi driver would decide to add to your total fare.

But taking into account my negative experience with taxi drivers in Athens, I would recommend clarifying and reassuring this price before getting on a cab.

If you choose to take a taxi, be aware that there are black and yellow cabs at the Airport. The black cabs can cost you twice the price mentioned above.

 

 

From Athens Airport by metro

During my first trip to Athens I used metro to get from the Airport to the downtown. The price of one-way ticket is 10 EUR, return – 18, which I consider overpriced, taking into account that you’ll have a standing place (the Airport is not the starting point of the metro line), and the trip takes 50 min.

Trains run every 05’ and 35’ minute, but only until 23:35

The subway station at the airport is outside, you’ll have to cross the road and follow the signs to enter it.

In Athens the most popular drop off point is Syntagma metro station.

 

Getting from Athens airport to Piraeus

The approximate fare for the route Athens Airport to Piraeus port:

  • By taxi 45 EUR (daytime) and 65 EUR (at night)
  • By bus X96: Athens Airport – Piraeus – tickets cost 5 EUR, the bus leaves every 30 min, and the route takes 50 min
  • By metro – get on a train at the airport which indicates Piraeus. You’ll have to change at Monastiraki station in Athens (40 min from the airport) and then another 20 min to Piraeus Port. The one-way ticket costs 8 EUR, return – 14 EUR
  • By uber from Athens Airport to Piraeus Port – 36-47 EUR

 

 

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Athens Nightlife Guide


My personal Athens Nightlife Guide 🙂 I’ve never been a nightlife person, even on the contrary – I join those who say, they’d fall asleep at 6 pm if they could! But in Athens I felt very different – this city is a hub of high class, sophisticated nightlife spots. And don’t worry, it doesn’t mean they’ll hurt your pocket!

 

Tavernas with live music in Athens: these are far not all, but the ones I know are the best for sure!

 

Athens, Greece: bars and clubs. Locals’ favourites

 

Bar 360° – perhaps, the most shining rooftop terrace in Athens. It’s a bit more expensive than the others, but the glooming, illuminated atmosphere is worth it.

 

Drunk Sinatra – the place is very much crowded on peak nights, and it felt like there is a reason why. A very vintage place, which I unfortunately couldn’t visit, but could only face the beautiful bordo entrance curtain. The bar was full, I didn’t have a reservation. Next time I’ll be smarter! Or you check it out and send a review 😉 Sinatra is one of the top visited nightlife places by locals .

 

Noel – the most beautiful bar in Athens, the most smooth cocktails, and the most festive atmosphere, an all year round holiday! Noel wins hearts from the first glimpse – it’s a place for Athenian in love with sophisticated design. Even the cocktail menu is painted till the last detail, and by the way, the same feeling is present after giving a try to one of their cocktails (which come with little popcorn pots).

You can enter the bar, no one will stop you from finding a chair for yourself (although most of the people are unsuccessfully leaving after making a round). But in order to see the most impressive part of Noel – book a table, you’ll be taken there through a red carpet path.

 

Couleur Locale – from morning to morning! A hidden rooftop (and not only) bar with music, drinks and locals. Don’t be afraid of entering through a quite dark and narrow passage – Athens is quite a safe city, and Couleur Locale is will pay you back with the best nightlife in Athens.

P.S. the place is really great for breakfast or lunch as well!

In order to reach the top floor terrace use the elevator on the left side after entering the bar.

 

Regency Casino Mont Parnes

Open 24h a day, hangs 1055 m above Athens, accessible using a free cable car service. You can visit it any time, but the real gambling starts after 7 pm, when the Regency Club, inviting the most sophisticated guests, opens as well.

For admission you’ll be required to present an ID card/passport and be above 21 y.o.

The casino hosts a restaurant with A la Carte menu from 9 pm, and buffet dinner from 7 pm.

Besides the cable car, you can access the casino by taxi, car, or their free shuttle (call to check to up to date timetable).

 

Baba au Rum – officially my favourite bar in Athens and, besides my opinion, it’s good to know that Baba was ranked among world’s 50 best bars in 2016. Be sure that you’ll be taken care of in this bar –  although as you enter, you’ll get a feeling of a disorganized crowd, in a while there’ll be somebody to pick you up and find a seat.

There is a DJ in the bar, and although the music is not too diverse, you’ll definitely enjoy the feeling of being a part of Athens local nightlife. Don’t go for plain drinks – their menu is worth having a look, and the cocktails are blended with fantasy!

 

Recipe Bar – owned by Nikos Morfesis, one of the most famous DJ’s in Athens, it became a favourite place for the local night crowd. Besides having the best cocktails, they are also known for the best lounge, house music in Athens. The place is full daily from 6 pm to 3 am, and located in Kifisia neighbourhood.

 

Theory Bar & more – crowded from morning to morning, another great place in Athens for both breakfast and night crawl. It’s a garden place with one of the best cocktails in the city, locals and relaxed atmosphere just like amongst good old friends.

 

 

 

An club – one of the oldest rock clubs in Athens.  Their stage hosts local and foreign artists, the bands are non-commercial and alternative. Check out their live show & event calendar!

 

67 – an always crowded street bar & café, located on Benaki street (which is already a pleasant walk way to 67). The atmosphere is relaxed, but try to come for the early drinks to get a table outside, and then stay as long as you want, till the breakfast hours!

Brettos Bar Plaka – the bar is famous for their 36 flavours of home-made liqueurs, all prepared by family recipes, and carefully kept since 1909 (the recipes, not the drinks)). Although it’s located just directly in the centre, in Plaka, the place gets crowded by Athenians so fast, that tourists just can’t make it to the bar stand.

You’ll recognize Brettos from outside – the bar till the ceiling is covered with colourfull bottles waiting to be served to you!

 

Sugar & Salt (Ζάχαρη κι αλάτι) – an atrium located in a courtyard of a neoclassic house in Exarcheia. The place feels very authentic, and especially suitable for a romantic date, or a private event.

Revolt – another street bar, located on the sidewalk, surrounded by grafittis and fulfilled by locals with artistic tastes. The place has a friendly, welcoming ambience, nice cocktails and good price range.

In the place – the club looks more like a regular apartment, but has big ambitions, and loud parties with DJ’s from all over the world. Underground dubstep, techno, psybient, trance and local hipster audience is the best description of the place.

Chess coffee-house Skakistiko Kafenio – if you are looking for a truly male atmosphere, welcome to Skakistiko Kafenio – a place where chess are moving on from morning to night! Every table is equipped with a chess board, the owner serves coffee and meze, the walls are covered with photos of famous players. By the way, Karpov was playing here in 1992, and the coffee-house itself is 128 years old! Located on: 16, Mavromichali str., Athens, ‘Panellinion’

 

Transistor – a hidden bar & night club, famous for always having space to dance. Transistor is very popular on Friday and Saturday nights, drinks are served with popcorn, sometimes they host events. It’s a perfect spot for ending the night, where all goes easy, lazy and chill.

 

Kerameio – almost every day live music, and mostly – jazz! And what makes it even more special – Greek jazz, which you can’t hear so often outside of Greece.

Astron – an almost hidden techno club, only the loud sounds and shaking windows will confirm that you are in the right place. Astron is for those who dance until the morning, they start at midnight and finish before breakfast. The entrance is free, but you are expected to buy drinks. Check out their events here!

Bios – a bar to satisfy everyone’s taste! The basement is a theatre, the ground floor – hosts TESLA bar, 1st floor for exhibitions, and a rooftop terrace to complete the list. A hipster place with sometimes parties, and sometimes yoga classes.

Cabezon – a popular hot spots with best Athens nightlife on a budget! The best places are in the courtyard, so be sure to come before 9 pm to get a table there. Although the indoor bar is great as well.  Loved by young locals for low prices & high quality service.

Faust Bar Theatre Athens – a grotesque bar and theatre with sophisticated menu and events. Is a great place for night out if you are a fan of alternative art or a couple looking for intimate atmosphere.

 

A Liar Man – a hidden bar in one of the most crowded parts of Athens – Keramikos. Loved by locals, for being away from tourists’ eyes, and for their secret garden functioning in summertime.

 

 

 

 

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Best places to eat in Athens Greece


Below you can find the best places to eat in Athens Greece. And guess what? I’ve visited the majority of them during my week long holiday there! Too much food? Leave the diets for another destination, because Athens is definitely a foodie place 🙂

 

Tavernas with live music in Athens

Oinopoleion tavern – my first tavern visited in Athens 🙂 and the review of our dinner you can find in my Athens experience article.  Talking briefly about it:

  • A place for local visitors, I didn’t see any foreigner besides myself…
  • Live music on Fridays or any other day – check out the updates in the event section on their facebook page
  • A family run business, so I’m a supporter of them by default. Originally a wine shop, started by Markou family, promoting wine from Markou’s vineyards.
  • Home-made, rustic food

Orea Penteli – a 3-floored Greek restaurant, using a food elevator for sending meals from kitchen to the tables upstairs. The band playing in Orea Penteli was even better than in the previous tavern, I really loved the singer’s voice! Besides the music, it’s worth coming for traditional Greek food, lots of wine and local atmosphere.

In case you have problems with finding the exact location it must be shown here

Taverna Tour Psirri – another tavern just next to the ones above, again with music, home-made food, and locals highly recommending it!

 

Best restaurants in Sounio, Poseidon’s Temple

Taverna Ilias – another family restaurant which I unfortunately couldn’t visit, it’s functioning since 1944, but seems like is closed during Christmas holidays. They have an impressive terrace on the coast, just next to the sea waves, facing the Poseidon Temple in Sounio. It’s a traditional Greek fish tavern.

Akrogiali – the neighbour restaurant which was open during my visit to Sounio 😀 With a smaller terrace, but maybe that’s why cozier, great and tested personally by me seafood meals, and that very important Poseidon Temple view. The always present crowd of cats around is a tradition in Akrogiali, they are strong, brave and demanding creatures, and won’t let you overconsume the food! Again, a bit more detailed review is in the my article about Athens.

Both restaurants are located around 20 min walking down from the temple itself. Which is okay, if you don’t mind to climb up the hill after diner, or have a car which takes you back to civilization 🙂

 

Rooftop restaurants in Athens

Couleur Locale – my favourite breakfast spot in Athens, although it’s nice for lunch and dinner as well! A hidden gem in the passeiges of Monastiraki market, rewarding those who made it to the place with a rooftop excellence.

The rooftop terrace comes with a view of Acropolis, umbrellas and long tables to share 🙂

By the way, I won their IG contest, but couldn’t get the price, since was ‘awarded’ after leaving Athens 🙁

athens greece holidays 31 - Best places to eat in Athens Greece

 

Strofi Restaurant Athens – maybe the best restaurant in Athens! That’s quoting thought in mine, and my guest’s mind when dining in Strofi. Exclusive, sophisticated Greek cuisine, which has nothing to do with souvlaki or moussaka (which are great rustic meals, not designed for elegant dining).

Strofi is one of the most historic restaurants in Athens, located in a mid-war building, it’s serving high cuisine since 1975. They have indoor and an outdoor dining hall, which is on a rooftop terrace, but it’s unfortunately covered in winter. Which doesn’t leave you without Acropolis views, they just look a bit blurry on photos))

Talking about the menu – we shared two main courses – lamb wrapped in vine leaves and goat baked in parchment paper, both were exquisite! Besides that they won my heart by serving chestnut cake for desert (never spot none of these meals elsewhere in Athens). Highly recommend for dinner if you want to impress someone, or just eager for a mouthwatering session! Book online

 

GB ROOF GARDEN – highly rated cocktail bar and high level cuisine restaurant. As its name states it’s located on the rooftop terrace of Grande Bretagne Hotel, you can choose an open-air, or indoor table. I enjoyed a couple of cocktails on their open-air terrace and can describe it as high quality combined with a feeling of being somewhere far, far away, from the buzzling Syntagma square, where the hotel actually is (god bless rooftop terraces!)

 

Although locals and those who had already have the chance to fulfill themselves with Acropolis views, choose a different place within GB Hotel – their Winter Garden. It’s located downstairs, on the ground floor, and I would prefer it for a High Tea meeting. I guess you’ll have the same feeling, after seeing it :>

 

Gambling, food and mountains

Regency Casino Mont Parnes – 1055 Café Restaurant –  a restaurant at an altitude of 1055 m! I couldn’t try it out because that particular day they were open only after 7 pm. However I think it’s definitely worth trying, just because it’s definitely worth getting up to Mont Parnes using the casino’s free cable car service! Read about my experience on Casino Mont Parnes cable car here in Athens – my experience.

Talking about the restaurant – they offer many options for visitors – from coffee to buffet, a la carte or D’Haute table menu. Check out on their page!

 

Romantic places to eat in Athens

Noel – another super dear place to my heart, although I didn’t spend too much time here (and still crying for that!) Noel is a whole year round holiday bar & restaurant, yeah, jingle bells never stop! It’s beautiful, and perhaps the most beautiful place you’ll ever spot in Athens. You enter into a weirdly shaped bar, which will lead you to their restaurant (but it actually looks like an expensive vintage styled five star cinema!). There you’ll have red carpet, shine, magic, and even more jingle bells! But to enter to the restaurant part you’ll need a reservation (do it, you won’t regret).

On the other hand their bar is open to anyone who finds a free chair :>Someone will come to serve you as soon as you’ll find a seating place, and then you’ll meet face-to-face with their wonderland cocktail menu… No words, just a few pics

They taste like heaven, the cocktails are so smooth that you actually feel like drinking a shake made of fluffy clouds! Each cocktail comes with a small pot of popcorn on house 😀

a NOEL 640x468 - Best places to eat in Athens Greece

 

A bistro with fine food

Mani Mani – many people say it’s the best restaurant in Athens… Although I can’t agree, but it’s also hard to oppose, because definitely Mani Mani has its charm. Some bullet points to judge:

  • Located on the 1st floor of a neoclassic house, on a silent street, not visible unless you know where you go and what are you looking for. You won’t really meet there people who just walked around, spotted and decided to enter. It’s a place for those who knew why they came here.
  • They don’t really advertise themselves, New York Times did, when recommending Mani Mani as one of the best spots in Athens
  • The food is classy – just as with Strofi, you won’t find here traditional ‘taverna’ cuisine, even the Greek salad has nothing to do with largely cut vegetables and a well-known whole piece of feta.
  • But if you don’t get the food’s charm, if somehow it’s not your taste – welcome to my club 🙂

 

Restaurants in Flisvos Marina, Palaio Faliro

Napolitivo and TGI Friday – their main benefit is that they are located in the central part of the marina, next to the Neraida Floating Museum and just across the street from the Benaki Toy Museum.

I had lunch in Napolitivo and they have quite good pizza 🙂

 

Best fish restaurants in Piraeus

Thea Thalassa – a glass terrace facing the marina in Piraeus, attracted us with its white & blue table cloths, somehow reminding me ‘Zorba the Greek’. The food was amazing, just as their rose, and especially impressed their ouzo selection 😀

Almost next to it you’ll find Varoulko Seaside – officially awarded as the best restaurant in Piraeus, its chef – Lefteris Lazarou was awarded a Michelin star for the 10th time in a row in 2011. Funny, but he started his career in the age of 15, when he helped his father (a ship-chef) in a ship kitchen during his summer holidays.

Varoulko was our original target when coming to Piraeus, but when we realized it’s a Michelin, we simple weren’t in mood for fine dining, but rather for a grilled fish cooked in a local tavern  🙂

 

Best tavern in Aegina

O Mantas sto Kima –  a traditional Greek restaurant on the coast of Aegina, overlooking the bright sunset available only for the visitors of the island. The food felt like it’s been cooked by my Greek grandma (which I never had), and the portions are exactly as big as your grandma would serve :)They also have live music quite often, check out, just in case you’re going to stay in Aegina overnight!

 

 

To sum up and set your expectations clear – 90 % of these restaurants are tested and approved by me 🙂 This list of best places to eat in Athens will be enough for a week of stay in Athens and its surroundings, if you follow my itinerary 😉

 

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What to do in Cote d’Azur and Provence


Below you an find an enormous quantity of things to do in Provence.

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How to get from and to Nice Airport


Below you an find all the most popular ways of getting from Nice Airport to the city and Cannes. Need more or want a hussle-free and ready-to-go holidays itinerary?

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How to get from Nice Airport to Nice:

 

  • Uber – it will cost you 15-20 EUR by getting to Nice centre by UberX, the trip takes approx. 20 min. Uber Black will raise the price up to 32 EUR, but your driver will wear a suit & tie, and drive a luxury sedan.

Get a discount on your first Uber ride after signing up with the following promo code:

henriettas144ue

 

  • Nice Airport Express Bus – either bus #98 (if your destination is central Nice or a beach hotel there), or #99 (if you are going to Gare SNCF, main train station). The ticket costs 6 EUR, if you took #98 you get a free transfer by bus #9, 10 or 81 to get to the port; if you took #99 – 74 min transfers on any bus or tram in Nice during 24h

You can buy the tickets in the ticket office or directly from the driver.

One stop before getting off the bus, press the ‘Arret demande‘ button to signal the stop, if you are taking the bus towards the airport – flag it down with your hand, otherwise it will pass without noticing you.

 

  • Local bus – walk to the Promenade des Anglais and catch bus #23 which goes to blvd Gambetta and to the train station. It costs 1,5 EUR

Download Lignes d’Azur app for timetables, a 10 trip ticket for 10 EUR, and travel almost anywhere in the region for 1 EUR/trip!

 

  •  Private transfer with Friend in France – it will cost you from 35 EUR (to central Nice)

 

  • Taxi – avoid as much as you can, as much as locals do – taxis charge based on your luggage size, nationality, touristy look. If a trip from the airport costs more than 35 EUR, as for the receipt before paying and you’ll your driver disappearing, being caught on his illegal business.

In case taxi is unavoidable, book one at an official airport taxi rank at terminal 1 or 2 and agree on a rate in advance.

 

 

From Nice Airport to Cannes:

 

  • Uber – will cost you 50-70 EUR and you can get a discount with the promo-code below

henriettas144ue

 

  • Uber-copter – a trip with helicopter from Uber! It costs 160 EUR/p, takes 7 minutes. Order it upon landing for immediate embarquement. Unfortunately, they are that popular, that it’s actually almost impossible to get one. Uber-copter runs from May to end of August.

 

  • Cannes Express Bus #210 – runs every 30 min and costs 16,50 one-way or 26,50 EUR round trip. The trip takes 45 min.

 

  •  Bus #200 – costs 1,5 EUR and the trip takes around 90 min. Worth considering if you have enough time, as the bus rides along the coast. Walk to Promenade des Anglais

 

  • Private transfer with Friend in France – it will cost you from 80-100 EUR (to central Cannes)

 

  • Taxi will cost you around 90 EUR and takes approx 50 min

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Where to eat in Cote d’Azur and Provence


Below you an find the best restaurants in Cote d’Azur and Provence.

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Nice

 

  • La Réserve de Nice – hide away from the touristy crowds in an elegantly designed reserve on the edge of a cliff facing the French Riviera. Traditional Provencal cuisine by Chef Sebastien Mahuet and maybe the best restaurant in Provence – book here sea view – $$$$

 

  • Le 3e – Hyatt Regency Palais de la Méditerranée – located in the luxurious Hyatt Regency, the restaurant offers international cuisine with seasonal  & local ingredients. The culinary getaway is run by Chef Cyril Cheype. You can book a table on the terrace with sea view – book here sea view – $$$$

 

  • La Terrasse – Le Méridien Nice – fine cuisine with exceptional panorama views from Le Meridien’s rooftop terrace – book here sea view – $$$

 

  • Le 223 – Hôtel Radisson Blu – get seduced by Chef’s Jean-Pierre Le Guyec Mediterranean cuisine. Open only at dinner time (from November to March), make a reservation here – $$$

 

  • Beau Rivage Beach terrace restaurant – gourmet break overlooking the French Riviera, serving Mediterranean cuisine with Asian notes. Can fit up to 550 people for dinner, and 1200 for cocktail – book here sea view – $$

 

  • Polly and Cie – cozy boutique restaurant with home-made cooking – book here – $$

 

  • At Home – small but famous for it’s friendly service and sophisticated French burgers for any kind of taste (but also perfectly serve other meals), you can order one with foi gras, or a vege style – book here – $$

 

  • Cafe Lea – designed in the spirit of ‘table d’hote’ by Nadia Prevot & Nicolas Vernier, serving home-cooked meals in the heart of Nice – $$ – book here

 

  • Bistrot de l’École de Nice – typical Niçois specialties, fine cuisine away from touristy areas, spacious design & excellent service – $$ – book here

 

  • Le Vingt4 – a gourmand restaurant with traditional French cuisine & fine wines – $$ – book here

 

 

 

 

 

Cannes

 

  • La Villa Archange – a few minutes drive from Cannes and you find yourself in an 18th century villa with sophisticated French cuisine and fine dining experience by Chef Bruno Oger- book here – $$$$

 

  • Le Park 45 – Sébastien Broda – located in a picturesque greenery of the Grand Hotel with seductive gourmet menu by Chef Sebastien Broda – book here – sea view – $$$$

 

  • Le 360º – Hôtel Radisson Blu Cannes – best view in Cannes from Radisson’s panoramic terrace restaurant – $$$ – sea view – book here

 

  • Plage Belle Plage – beach restaurant with a relaxed atmosphere an views of the Esterel – sea view – $$$ – book here

 

  • JW Grill Marriott’s Cannes – one of the best locations in Cannes, 2 min from the Palais des Festivals and at the same time facing the sea. A grill house with chic decor – sea view – $$$ – book here

 

  • Le Fouquet’s – Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic – Parisian brasserie with Mediterranean accents – $$ – book here

 

  • 13.31 – urban restaurant in industrial style with original cuisine and attentive service – $$ – book here

 

  • La Table du Chef – a discreet bistro atmosphere with a fresh, seasonal cuisine from Chef Bruno Gensdarme – $$ – book here

 

  • The Relais des Semailles – boutique restaurant nested in an old stone house, serving gourmet cuisine – $$ – book here

 

  • La Toque d’Or – simple & refined, seasonal ingredients & chic atmosphere – $$ – book here

 

 

 

Grasse

 

  • La Bastide Saint Antoine – Relais & Châteaux – a charming hotel and gourmet restaurant in the heart of Grasse countryside, in an 18th century castle, with over 600 olive trees around it, and a breathtaking view of sea – sea view – $$$$ –  book here

 

  • La Fleur de Lys – regional specialities, elegant atmosphere and home-made cooking – $$ – book here

 

  • Pacha Mama – Peruvian restaurant in Grasse – $$ – book here

 

 

 

 

Saint Tropez & area

 

  • La Vague d’Or – located in the only hotel on the Cote d’Azur with an own private beach, in the Residence de la Pinede. The restaurant is run by Chef Arnaud Donckele, awarded with 3 Michelin stars – sea view – $$$$$ – book here

 

  • Le Bistro de la Bastide – bright & sunny terrace in a rustic greenery with finest bistro cuisine – $$$ – book here

 

  • La Bastide de Saint-Tropez – l’Olivier – Mediterranean cuisine in a typical Provencal setting, with tables by the pool or inside the charming winter garden – $$$ – book here

 

  • Colette – Hôtel Sezz – luxurious gourmet restaurant located in a 5* design hotel and run by Chef Patrick Cuissard – $$$ – book here

 

  • Hostellerie de La Belle Aurore – breathtaking views of the Mediterranean with Provencal cuisine. Located in St Maxim – $$$ – sea view – book here

 

  • Le Sarment de Vigne – run by Chef Guillaume Saby, the restaurant is famous for serving fresh, quality food made of seasonal ingredients. Located in St Maxim – $$ – book here

 

 

 

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Hotels in Cote d’Azur and Provence. Villas, farm stays, and many more


Below you an find all the best hotels in Cote d’Azur and Provence. In fact, not all of them are pricy, but all with a unique style for your unforgettable stay.

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Agritourism – farm stays. Villas in Cote d’Azur

 

Grasse:

 

  • Le Mas Du Naoc – stay in an 18th century farm house, located just outside of Grasse, in Cabris village, with in impressive view to both sea, and mountains. You can book either bed & breakfast stay or a separate apartment with own kitchen facilities. Common pool is available. All the meals are cooked of organic ingredients. You can book a crafty workshop during your stay as well. Stays from 140 EUR/night. Book here
  • La Mas du Roc – Florentine style b&b surrounded by a park of hundreds years old olive trees, organic breakfasts, saltwater pool. Relaxing massages & language classes (FR, EN, GE, ES) available upon request. From 120 EUR/night. Book here

 

Verdon natural park and Luberon lavender fields:

 

  • Ferme de Sejour Rebuffel – 50 km from Grasse, located next to the Verdon Natural Park. A family run farm with horses and ships, and a b&b offering rooms, home-made breakfast, common kitchen. Book here
  • Bastide de Mazan – a 17th century farmhouse, offering rooms from doubles to quadruples (with an annex upstairs and a private terrace), as well as great location to explore the Verdon gorge and lavender fields. The property has a swimming pool and garden, and the area can be used for private events like weddings. Book here
  • Domaine de Piergros – located in the heart of Luberon National Park, surrounded by lavender fields, woodlands, and 85 acres of olive groves and a lake. It’s actually a working farm with harvest in September – November, and you can see and join some works if you wish. It offeres six bedrooms and with self-catering options. Book here
  • Le Hameau de Pichovet – located in the Luberon National Park, within one hour drive to Verdon gorges, and in a vicinity of many traditional market villages of Provence. Le Hameau de Pichovet offers 6 authentic and completely restored apartments in the Provencal countryside. The owners offer breakfast baskets on request, and two heated pools for the use of guests.

 

 

Farm stays on a budget – a cost-effective alternative to cheap hotels in Cote d’Azur!

 

  • Gite le Menoun – located near Verdon National Park, a self-catering apartment for 6 people (2 bedrooms) from 306 EUR/week. Book here
  • La maison d’hôtes des Ferrages – private rooms with terraces, swimming pool in an old renovated farmhouse. Stays from 70 EUR/night. Located near the Verdon Natural Park. Book here

 

 

4* farm stay in Saint-Tropez:

 

  • La Ferme d’Augustin – a luxurious full-service hotel located inside of an authentic Provencal family run farmhouse. You can find there all the commodities of a 4* hotel, like balneo pool & spa, two Michelin star restaurant. You can choose between standard rooms, suites, rooms with sea view, with terraces, patio or balconies. Book here

 

 

 

 

Authentic hotel & castle stays – budget & luxury

Luxury hotels in Cote d’Azur, France as well as budget options, but all with a hint of authenticity!

 

Nice:

 

  • Château de la Chèvre d’Or – an 11th century castle, located on a rock, 400 m above the Mediterranean sea. The hotel is furnished in antique style, has a patio and swimming pool, and a Michelin-rated restaurant. From 277 EUR/night, book here
  • Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée – an art-deco style hotel with an on-site casino, indoor and outdoor pools, spa, a lounge bar & restaurant, and a panoramic view of the Baie des Anges. From 150 EUR/night. Book here
  • Hôtel Le Petit Palais – a Belle Epoque residence with panoramic views of the Baie des Anges. Rooms from 110 EUR/night only! Book your stay here
  • Nice Garden Hotel – a budget, but elegant stay in the heart of Nice, close to the beaches. The ground floor rooms have direct access to the garden. Rooms from 59 EUR/night. Book here
  • Hotel Villa Rose – a 3*hotel located outside Nice centre, in a peaceful neighbourhood, for a very relaxing stay. Offers rooms, suites and cottages with private jacuzzi, as well as romantic customised packages. Book here
  • Hôtel Ozz by Happyculture – a modern hotel made in a graphic style, located in the city centre, offering not only suites or rooms, but also dormitories. From 17 EUR/night Book your stay here

 

 

Verdon National Park:

 

  • Bastide du Calalou – charming hotel on 10 acres of parkland, located in the 1st organic village of France, with amazing views and the Verdon National Park around. The hotel offers various room/suite types, as well as packages for thematic stays, like Romantic, Gastronomic, Wellness etc, as well as private events & weddings organisation. Rooms start at 99 EUR/night, book here
  • Château de Berne – a chateau located on a 491 ha forest, in the heart of Provencal wine region, with an 800 sq.m. spa on its premises.  They have their own wine cellar and are famous for their signature rose wine, which is the reason they’re offering various food & wine packages. Book your stay here Besides the hotel with suites and rooms, also offers a superb 130 sq.m country house for rent  – La Bastide des Gombert

 

 

Cannes:

 

  • Five Seas Hotel – modern hotel facilities, combined with a rooftop terra
  • Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa – located on a perch above the Corniche d’Or, with a private beach, spa. The hotel offers 60 various hotel and suite stays, restaurants and bars, fitness centre, outdoor pool, meeting rooms etc. Keep an eye on their special offers and packages here. Book here
  • Tiara Hotel Yaktsa CÔTE D’AZUR – one of the most fashionable boutique hotels in Cote d’Azur, located in Corniche d’Or, with 21 rooms & suites, a restaurant, meeting room, fitness & treatment centres, heated outdoor pool, zen garden etc. Keep an eye on their special offers and packages here. Book here
  • Hotel de Provence – a 3* charming hotel in Cannes, 5 min walk from the beach and less than 10 min from Palais des Festivals. Rooms from 77 EUR/night. Book here

 

 

Saint-Tropez:

 

  • Muse Saint Tropez/Ramatuelle – a luxury boutique hotel with an eco-garden, spa, swimming pool, 14 suites. Book here
  • La Bastide des Salins is situated on a 1 ha park, 10 min walk from Salins beach and 5 min drive from St Tropez centre. It has 14 rooms & suites, a heated outdoor pool, terrace. From 189 EUR/night, book here
  • Château de la Messardière – a 19th century chateau just 5 min drive from St Tropez, with panoramic views over the bay, beaches and vineyards. A 465 sq.m spa is available for guests, along with two restaurants, garden, free shuttle to Tropeziana private beach & St Tropez centre. From 340 EUR/night. Book here
  • Pan Dei Palais – an oriental-palace styled hotel in the centre of St Tropez with rooms starting at 201 EUR/night. Guests have access to spa & wellness centre, lounge bar, restaurant, open air pool. Various cost effective offers at their website here Book here

 

 

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Where to party in Amsterdam

Amsterdam nightlife

Below you can find the best party scene in the city. Join locals in their favourite Amsterdam nightlife spots.

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Bars:

 

 

 

Shows:

 

  • Comedy Night at Boom Chicago – 26 EUR/p – book here
  • Casa Rosso Erotic Theatre entrance ticket – 43,5 EUR/p – book here

 

 

Clubs & pubs:

 

  • Amsterdam Pub Crawl – free vodka shots, 6 dance bars & clubs, 6 free drinks, free entrance to all venues, free souvenir t-shirt for girls – 19,95 EUR/p – book here
  • Red Light District Pub Crawl – 6 bars, pubs & club, free drinks, free entrance to a club – 18,95 EUR/p – book here
  • De Marktkantine – located in a former theatre, one of the least known and unappreciated clubs of Amsterdam, DJ nights & shows every weekend
  • Shelter – underground club with 24h permit in North Amsterdam
  • Tolhuistuin – focuses on socially and politically aware take on club culture, mixing talks, screenings, performance & clubbing into one night
  • De School – arty space, with Amsterdam’s best restaurants, a bar, a gym, venue spaces, garden, with the club itself being at the same time intimate, and also big enough to get lost.
  • Sugarfactory – used to be a sugar factory, home to Wicked Jazz Sounds (weekly Sunday club night), wide variety of programming for every day of the week
  • OT301 – multi-storied graffiti covered building which holds a club, underground dance room, a gallery, a restaurant & cinema
  • Claire – cozy club with wooden floors, great acoustics, underground artists

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What to do and see in Amsterdam


Below you can find an enormous quantity of things to do and see in Amsterdam, as well as around it and in my beloved Texel island.

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Where to eat in Amsterdam

Places to eat in Amsterdam

Below you can find my top places to eat like a local, as well as recommendations on what to eat in Amsterdam restaurants.

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  • The Five Flies – culinary museum & restaurant – located in five 17th century houses, founded in 1939 by Nicolaas Kroese, since then musicians, artists, writers, politicians were visiting the restaurant (Walt Disney, Kirk Douglas, Mick Jagger etc.), pay special attention to the guestbook with drawings from famous guests. The menu offers traditional Dutch cuisine with a modern twist, made of seasonal ingredients.

 

  • De Kas is a restaurant with greenhouses & garden just on the premises of the restaurant. They serve only organic food, produced either by themselves, or by partner-farmers in Amsterdam area. The food is a bit too special, won’t be liked by everyone, at least for me it was too much of vegetables. They have a set menu of the day, so you can’t really choose separate meals. But what I liked above all was the experience of eating in a greenhouse building, and then actually visiting the greenhouse belonging to the restaurant (you can easily meet there the owner, who’s taking care of the plants!)

 

  • FoodHallen – a former tram depot, transformed into a foodie heaven! It’s divided into 2 major parts. First with plenty of different restaurants and open space eating table all around (in fact, it’s extremely crowded during dinner time, so come in advance!). The second part is Kanarie Club. It’s less crowded here, but more expensive, and you’ll need a reservation to get a table. Besides the dining area, they have a wine-bar & a pool-bar.

 

  • Pllek – serves organic meat, sustainable fish, seasonal veggies, located in old sea containers, and offers its visitors an artificial beach.

 

  • De Bakkerswinkel – sweet & salty scones, pies, sandwiches, soups & ‘high tea’, eat in or take out and have a picnic in a park outside. The main idea of the restaurant is that you should feel like home, whilst being far away from it

 

  • Hannekes Boom – built and decorated with second hand items, locals in their 20’s-30’s, various events

 

  • Bazar – an Arabic restaurant located in a former church

 

  • Floor 17 – a rooftop restaurant outside the centre, fine dining & cocktails

 

 

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Hotels in Amsterdam. Boutique and budget stays


Below you can find my very well examined guide to Amsterdam hotels. Luxurious and boutique hotels on canals, 5 stars or on a budget. Farm stays and accommodation for your trips in Holland.

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Getting from Amsterdam Schiphol to city centre


Below you can find the most commonly used ways of getting from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to city centre.

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Amsterdam schiphol train to city centre

  • Departs from Platforms 1 & 2 in the Airport main arrival plaza
  • Arrives at Amsterdam Central Station
  • Runs every 10-15 min from 6 am to 1 am, and every hour from 1 am to 6 am
  • Tickets can be purchased here
  • Prices are 10 and 15 EUR for adults (one-way vs return), and 5 and 7 EUR for children

 

Shuttle bus from Schiphol to Amsterdam

  • Connects the Airport with almost every hotel in Amsterdam
  • Departs every 10 min
  • Prices are 17 and 28 EUR for adults (one-way vs return), 8,50 and 14 EUR for children
  • Can be booked here

 

 

 

Dutch Business Limousine

  • Any possible destination
  • Mercedes E, V, S Class – from 3 to 8 people
  • Prices are from 50 EUR per airport transfer
  • Can be booked here

 

Uber

  • My personal choice. The uber pick up point from Schiphol is at the taxi lanes, located between the exit and Sheraton hotel
  • From 25 EUR for UberX, and 43 EUR for UberBlack.
  • Calculated to W Hotel. Check your rate here

 

Uber is my personal choice in all the destinations where they offer services. I’m happy to recommend it to you as the combination of comfort, price and customer protection service!

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Hotels in Malta. Self-catering apartments and boutique accommodation


Below you can find my very well examined guide to Malta hotels. Luxurious and boutique hotels, all inclusive or self catering stays.

 

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Where to eat in Malta. Best Restaurants in Malta


Below you can find my top places to eat like a local, as well as recommendations on what to eat in Malta restaurants.

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Malta Luqa Airport. Buses and best taxi companies in Malta


Malta positively impressed me with its transportation network – if I wasn’t tight on time I would save so much money using public busses, not taxis. Well, at least I have a lot of experience to share with you info about all ways of commuting around the island 😉 And especially on the ways of getting from and to the Malta Airport.

 

Below you can find the most commonly used ways of getting from Malta airport to other parts of the island & Gozo. As well you can check out the information about travelling the island by public bus and private taxis.

 

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Nightlife in Malta


If you are a nighthawk you should definitely stay in Paceville, St. Julian’s, Sliema part of Malta – the majority of clubs are located there. But wherever you have settled your base, the island is so compact that you can easily get out of the peaceful countryside life in less than half an hour drive and find yourself in completely different circumstances… Here are some best places to party in Malta. Join locals in their best Malta nightlife spots! Open-air clubs and casinos are waiting for you.

 

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Best clubs in Paceville:

 

Best open-air clubs in Malta:

 

Casino:

 

Parties and events in Malta:

 

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Things to do and see in Malta and Gozo

Below you can find an enormous quantity of things to do in Malta and Gozo.

 

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Where to eat in Larnaca and region

Where to eat in Larnaca:

 

General idea about the restaurants in Larnaca (tip from locals):

 

! Don’t eat in the Marina and Finikoudes area, as well in the old city. The more local-visited taverns with food for Greeks are after the Larnaca Castle towards Castela & Mackenzie beaches!

 

 

  • To Kazani Traditional Tavern – the #1 in tripadvisor, closed on Sundays
  • Souvlaki.gr – it’s a Greek fast-foodish tavern, very popular among locals, listed in tripadvisor’s top. Quality food, affordable, very friendly service
  • Militzis Tavern – overlooking the beach, with a very traditional Greek design and blue colour palette

 

Lefkara:

 

  • Tasties Cafe – a very popular among locals & visitors place, designed in traditional colour range, located in an old house. The menu is changeable and handwritten, the prices are affordable, and the quality & atmosphere often becomes a reason for people to return back to Lefkara.
  • Lefkara Coffee Yard Bar-Restaurant – a very nice terrace restaurant located in a grape garden, serving meals, snacks, pastries, drinks. Thanks to the staff I found the loukkoumi factory in Lefkara J
  • Adamos Tavern – another noticeable local place with a cozy Greek house design and local meals served.
  • The House of the Wind – a grill terrace-restaurant located outside the village with views over Lefkara. Traditional food with local visitors mainly.

 

Kato Drys:

 

  • Platanos restaurant – a restaurant just at the entrance of Kato Drys medieval village. Big terrace under a more than 100 years old tree, has a parking.

 

Skarinou:

 

  • LK at the Olive – restaurant in the center of Skarinou village, with very good reviews & quite sophisticated menu, often chosen by locals for celebrations of birthdays, Christmas or just for a perfect Sunday lunch!

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Where to stay in Larnaca and region


 

Hotels in Larnaca

 

  1. Qbic City Hotel Larnaca – well-deserved first place for the newly opened hotel which welcomed me like at home!

 

Read more about it in ‘My accommodation in Cyprus

 

The rates are around 90 EUR/night (stayed in August)

 

  1. Lordos Beach Hotel – this 4* hotel is on the beachfront, located on the Dhekelia Road, near the CTO beach, which is considered one of the best beaches in Larnaca area. Among their facilities: pool, spa, tennis courts, gym, parking. The rates are around 200 EUR/night
  2. Amorgos Boutique Hotel – a 3* hotel located in the center of Larnaca, on the beachfront with free parking. Rates are around 100 EUR/night
  3. Lysithea Beach Hotel Apartments – a family run hotel on the Dhekelia Road, next to the beach, with pool, tennis courts, parking. Rates around 60 EUR/night
  4. Hotel Opera – centrally located new hotel with very good reviews and friendly staff. I guess they are functioning the same new unspoiled way as my beloved Qbic hotel, so I would give it a try! Rates around 70 EUR/night

 

Rural accommodation

 

Lefkara:

 

  • Red Blue Door – two private villas, which can be used as one or two separate ones, accommodating either 14 or 2 people. Includes a health room – with steam bath, jacuzzi, hydro massage, a pool in the patio. 4 bedrooms in total – so 2 bedrooms/villa
  • Kozakos House – offering three apartment types – two studios and one single bedroom, all include fully equipped kitchen.
  • Iosiphis Stone House – has in total 5 apartments, one double bedroom, two single bedroom, 2 studios.
  • Lefkara View – offers an apartment with mountain view or a two-bed house.
  • Lefkara Aloni House – consists of 2 two-bed, 3 one-bed, 2 studios, all are self-catering units, with large balconies.
  • Aunt Maria’s – offers one-bed, three-bed apartments, and also a standalone apartment in the garden.

 

Skarinou:

 

  • Cosmas House – stay in a house built in 1870 (renovated 1998)! The house consists of two studios and a family apartment, a terrace and swimming pool
  • Michalis House – this house is from 1850 (renovated in 2002), offering you a choice between a family apartment, one or two bedroom apartments, each apartment has a private veranda, and a common swimming pool.

 

Kato Drys:

 

  • Garden Kamara House – a friend’s of mine J If you read my story about meeting Michalis and visiting the Bee & Embroidery museum, and I hope you liked it (J), now you can book a stay in their countryside house located just next to their museum! Highly recommend – the place is really nice!
  • To Konatzi tis Marikkas tziai tou Yianni (The Grand House of Marika and Yiannis) – one of the biggest residences in Kato Drys and has an exciting family history behind it!

 

Khirokitia (Choirokitia):

 

  • Porfyrios country house – a 200 years old house, recently restored and now with all the traditional ‘vacation’ facilities: veranda, swimming pool, wifi, parking, 2 single beds & 1 double.
  • The House of Achilles – 3-bedroom villa built in 19th century and restored in 2006. Enjoy all the modern conveniences being surrounded by rustic tranquility

 

Vavla:

 

  • Our House – B&B – an escape from reality, back to 1900s when the house was built. Today you’ll enjoy all the best facilities along with the rustic lifestyle & antique furnishings.
  • Vavla Rustic Retreat – a traditional stone house, one of the most welcoming country residences in the region. Great facilities, antique interior, fire place, self-catering or arranged diner, and actually everything you might think off when planning your perfect rustic retreat!

 

 

 

More accommodation in Larnaca region villages – here

 

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Where to party in Larnaca

I would definitely suggest spending a night out in one of the Mckenzie beach clubs – they look very descent, serve divine food & cocktails, the party atmosphere is completed by avant-garde music and live performance of local and international bands.

 

Out of the Mckenzie beach clubs & bars I can recommend:

 

 

Book a table in advance, because it starts to get very lively in the evening.

 

Talking about places in the city center:

 

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What to do in Larnaca and region

Things to do in Larnaca and region

Do not get satisfied by the town itself. There is nothing that special about the beaches in Larnaca to spend there all your holidays. It’s actually the other way round – the beaches in Larnaca are not impressive at all, it’s good to get some sea salt & sun there, but as soon as you are a tiny bit bored, go explore the area – it’s so full of unique experiences!

Forget about the stereotype when Cyprus = drinks = parties = Agia Napa, it’s a place for botanists, birdwatchers, photographers, geologists, hikers. You should definitely meet locals, not the ones selling sunglasses on the beach, but those not spoiled by year-round tourism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What to do in Tropea | Aeolian Islands

There are hundreds of things to do in Tropea and Aeolian Islands – saying it now after a month of research and a week there 🙂 But at the first glance it may seem like it’s only beach & sun. So let me dispel this unfair prejudice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shopping in Tropea. What to buy in Tropea

Shopping in Tropea

When you are in Italy be ready for unplanned expenses 🙂 Sorry, but it’s impossible to stay indifferent when passing by some local shops. And I’m not talking of course about the pure touristic places offering calabrese magnets manufactured in China, red onions, pepperoncino, nduja or even local made viagra turistico. Even though it’s a touristic region (like the major part of Italy), remember we have those dark tiny streets with endless turnarounds… And bingo! They will lead us to those authentic shopaholic heavens.

 

Acqua Degli Dei – the local perfumery brand, named after the coast of gods – this one is on the main street – Corso di Vittorio Emanuelle, however before spotting it we entered into a different shop which was hidden in the darkness of tiny streets 🙂

 

Selvans – the natural cosmetics shop we accidently found. They have a wide range of perfumes based on essential oils from various local manufacturers. This means you can buy an olive flower, bergamot, vanilla, orange perfume 🙂 We did! These plain perfumes cost 15-20 EUR per bottle. As well they have a huge portfolio of creams, scrabs, natural oils, shampoos, lip balms, candles etc. The place is a bit costly (a scrub I liked was 30 EUR – which is a bit too much for a small package on my opinion), however it’s really made of natural ingredients. The shop is located just in front of the Il Vecchio Granaio restaurant (see more at What to do in Tropea | Aeolian Islands category)

 

La Calabresella  – a beautiful shop with hand painted ceramics, made in Italy. That’s where we stopped for a while and if I didn’t have a carry-on luggage only, I would end up fulfilling my kitchen with dishes in Calabrese style. The plates they sell can be used for both decoration on walls and actually serving. They also have Calabrian masks which are used to defend the house from evil – well, those masks look so scary that I wouldn’t risk bringing them home if I had a child with active imagination. You can buy local made magnets which also defend from the bad and also some ‘useless’ Chinese magnets as stated by the shop owner 🙂 The shop is located outside the centre and even though there is a very similarly functioning ceramics boutique in the old city – I preferred to buy presents here. It looked and felt more authentic and the owner was a very hippie guy 🙂

 

Gioite – A great place which saved us from buying typical touristic beach towels! In our first morning we had to pick up the vouchers for our scheduled trips from CST Tropea, however the Italian advisor in the agency asked us to wait for our English-speaking lady, with whom we were in correspondence (read about it in the What to do in Tropea | Aeolian Islands section). So we had half an hour to walk around Tropea. Turning left and right, right and left we found ourselves in front of a shop with handicrafts from linen and cotton – beautiful table cloths, bedding, bread sacks, aprons, beach towels, bags and also hand-made jewelry from bronze! We bought there a lot and luckily (because at the end our hand luggage was drastically full), we didn’t have too much cash in our pockets and they don’t accept cards. I’m very happy that I found the name of this shop in the numerous cards I saved during the trip – it’s a really worth visiting shopping place!

 

Teta Boutique Vulcano – this is a very special shop for me! Well, I’m a fan of hats and was upset that couldn’t find a special, unique hat neither in Bucharest when preparing for the trip, nor in Tropea (only those touristic ones). So I couldn’t pass by a shop with various hats in their window. The two ladies inside helped me to find the best fit for me with the most authentic look – my handmade black & white hat is on me now, when writing these lines. But not only the hat, they had a perfectly matching black straw beg. And not only for me, but also for my sister who always denied wearing hats – well, I forced her, and she’s still trying to get used to this new look. We couldn’t leave that Audrey Hepburn striped hat there!

 

Kappery shopping store Stromboli – a place where my Italian silver heritage comes from 🙂 They also have pareos, t-shirts, vintage begs, volcanic jewelry and many other girlish self-presents!

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Where to party in Tropea, Calabria

Best places to party in Tropea

In my opinion, Tropea is not a perfect match for those who are looking for nightlife holidays. It’s either a family place, or a destination for a solo traveller coming for an authentic Italian escape.

However, if you are so eager to party, I feel being responsible to advise you a few nightclubs. Go, check them out and write me back your opinion (which will be extremely valuable for those reading these lines after you, since I list myself in that solo travelers’ category and not looking for places to visit after midnight 🙂

Good to keep in mind while reviewing my nightlife suggestions below: a typical Italian party place is osteria – a few square meters (most of the times) crowded with people attracted by drinks & buffet which is often included in the price of cocktails, and of course music. But below you’ll find as well ‘international’ large clubs which also exist on the Tyrrhenian coast if you look well for them 🙂

 

So let’s start from the larger Tropea clubs:

 

 

Bars, osterias/chupiterias, nighlife with live music:

 

 

Tropea nightlife on the beach:

 

 

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Where to eat in Tropea | Aeolian Islands

Best places to eat in Tropea | Aeolian Islands

I know that the always winning option in Italy is pizza, and I won’t deny that I used this magic formula as well 🙂 However, please do enjoy the seafood! I lived in Spain, I travelled a lot in France, but I’ve never ate that soft octopus salad without any vinegar used!

 

Il Vecchio Granaio

So my beloved octopus salad was ordered in our first evening in Tropea, when we couldn’t find the restaurant recommended by TripAdvisor (one of my best friends) and google.maps (another best friend) couldn’t help. That’s how we found Il Vecchio Granaio – a restaurant with a beautiful terrace, I would even say patio surrounded by an XVIII century house, covered with climbing flowers. Elegant tables, wide matching umbrellas, located a bit away from the crowd, a bit hidden in the tiny Italian streets of this very touristic town, both waitresses were very kind and professional, and all the food (and especially wine!) was amazing! What else you need? I would say it’s a perfect choice if you want to have rest from the crowd & noise, enjoy your meal without being interrupted by anyone or anything. And I have no idea why the rating of this place is only #60 from 109 restaurants. You can check my review here

You can see our first bill on the photo below (and that was really a lot of food for two people!). You can also order a pizza here (which we did when coming second time) and it’s very good as well. You can see how it’s prepared if you take a table on the terrace just in front of the second entrance door to the restaurant.

 

Il Normanno

If you are looking for a restaurant with a view (and you should because the views here are heartbreaking) I would definitely recommend Il Normanno. The restaurant is located in an old house with a beautiful interior (I can assure that you’ll enjoy going there in the toilet – the staircase will lead you to a very retro room with a fireplace, old-fashioned carpets and many other attributes of early XX’s century décor, and only then you’ll get to the restroom :)) The terrace is also very stylish with a crafty fence around and of course the view – on the right hand side green hills with a temple on the top, left hand side – the port and many many ships & boats, I could watch it endlessly! Especially it’s impressive at sunset time.

Another ‘specialty’ of the restaurant is the service – the staff was excellent, even I can’t find a reason to complain about.

We were here only once and ordered pizza which was great of course!

 

La Lamia

Talking about the busy central life – we went to a restaurant called La Lamia. And I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not. Again a beautiful part of the town, however with lots of people walking behind, between and in front of you – the tables are placed in a passage. The service is a bit messy – one waiter served for us the table but didn’t take the order, another waiter took the order, another waitress took away the cutlery, since she saw us only drinking, not eating, another waiter brought back the cutlery and the food. My goodness, this was too much for me! But that’s not all. We ordered two main courses and a salad to share, the salad came late when we were almost finishing the main course. Since it was an evening after sailing and we were a bit cold, we ordered tea – and I know it’s not a typical drink in almost Sicily, but why would you fill only half of the teapot with water!

The portions were enormous though. We were dreaming for the salad not to come 🙂

Now let’s switch to our islands!

 

Aeolian Islands | Isole Eolie

Pizzeria da Giovanni

The best pizza in my life was served on Stromboli at Pizzeria da Giovanni – now I understand why even in northern cities like Bologna the best pizza is made in places run by Sicilians! The dough, the filling, the level of preparation – everything was perfect. Even though the service is a bit of rude (but I might call it a part of local experience), I would still go back for the pizza! By the way, besides pizza they also have pasta, risotto and other seafood meals.

 

Ciuri Ciuri

From Stromboli to Lipari, to Ciuri Ciuri – a restaurant located on the main street of the biggest volcanic island in Tyhrrenian sea (Lipari). I really liked the staff and the drinks were served with nice appetizers which killed our hunger till the very evening. I would definitely go and try their food if I’m on the island again.

NB: in every single restaurant you’ll go in the area, you’ll find something called ‘coperto’ in your bill. As I understood, it’s the cost of the place/table/serving. It was for 2 people.

And not to forget about dolce vita!

 

Pastry shops, bakeries, coffee houses in Tropea

 

Peccati di Gola

There were two memorable pasticcerias and both around our hotel. The first one is Peccati di Gola where we bought great cornettos and caffe freddo. It’s a purely local place, and very loved and visited by them. The waitress/barista was extremely friendly and helpful even though she didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak Italian, we had no difficulties in understanding. And they have plenty of pastry types, it’s just us keeping an eye on our shapes, that we couldn’t try them all.

 

Pasticceria Tre Stelle

Another purely local place is Pasticceria Tre Stelle – great choice of sweats, outdoor and indoor tables and only local customers (and some smart travelers!). We ordered canolli siciliani which were better than one can expect, however the cappuccino wasn’t the best (Italy made me a very sophisticated coffee drinker).

And also they have very home-made looking cakes at 15 EUR/kg available at any time without pre-ordering. So in case you plan to celebrate your child’s birthday… By the way, why not? We have the cakes settled, and let me know, I’ll advise you a dozen of unique activities to make your baby’s (regardless the age) birthday unforgettable!

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Where to stay in Tropea? Accommodation in Tropea | Calabria | Aeolian Islands


Best places to stay in Tropea

The most convenient spot for joining various excursions, tours, workshops and other local activities is Tropea. I also heard many of them starting at Cabo Vaticano, which is a bit southern than Tropea. Staying closer to the airport, northern Tropea, is very peaceful, however less developed in terms of hotels & restaurants (but you can find Airbnb), and less picturesque on my opinion. The real wild beauty with cliffs and wonderland coloured sea starts from Tropea and to the south.

We stayed in Tropea to be able to reach our scheduled activities without a car. On the other hand, I met people staying in isolated resorts or ‘agritouristic’ resorts, country houses – in that case they were renting cars, which makes sense, especially if you travel with children.

 

Accommodation in Tropea

There is plenty of B&Bs in Tropea, and besides that lots of Airbnb offerings on the coast around 4-5 km from the town. Whatever you choose, keep in mind your priorities for the trip while booking. The thing is that Tropea is located on the top of those magnificent rocks, so whenever you go to the beach or port you have to climb down and then up numerous stairs.

So I would classify the following accommodation types based on the location specification:

 

  • Camping, hotels near the port or beach – take it if you plan to focus on sandy laying or sailing / diving / snorkeling activities. You’ll definitely find enough restaurants near the beaches, downstairs the centre, avoiding climbing up daily
  • B&Bs, hotels in the centre – take it if besides sea trips you want to see some typical Italian architecture, broader choice of restaurants and nightlife, and a great view from the top over the azure blue coast and port. And of course, don’t mind stairs!
  • Isolated holiday resorts a bit outside of Tropea – take it if you come with children and want to have playgrounds, swimming pools, self-catering , plan to rent a car – a family I met stayed and really recommended this resort

 

NB:  why not staying on islands? As I will tell you below, from Tropea you can get to the volcanic     islands around – Lipari, Vulcano, Stromboli, Panarea, Salina. But as I understood, in most cases (especially if you don’t come in high season) unless you don’t rent a private boat tour, you can get only to Lipari, Stromboli and Vulcano, tours to the small islands – Panarea and Salina – are less popular. On the other hand, from Stromboli (active volcano) and Lipari (largest island) you can get to all those tiny isolated islands, experiencing the most out of that typical Sicilian atmosphere. If I come back I will definitely stay at Stromboli – it’s a white-housed island with some blue notes in its colour range. Reminds me the place where the God father’s Italian scenes were filmed (btw I’ll tell you how to visit that particular place – read more in (What to do in Tropea | Aeolian Islands Sailing holidays  section – Sicily – Taormina – Messina – Savoca route). Anyways, check out Stromboli’s accommodation options – it’s not more expensive than mainland at all, but definitely much more authentic!

We stayed at the centre in a very economic hotel with some advantages and disadvantages 🙂

So let me just repeat my review in TripAdvisor:

Good:

 

– extremely good breakfast – you can find there almost anything you want – and the view from the breakfast ‘room’ on the 4th floor is also nice, overlooking the sea

– very friendly stuff – both receptionists and waiters were friendly & helpful – even though instead of having two twin beds we had a double, the receptionist solved the issue instantly

– close to the centre & beach – especially to the centre, talking about the beach – from most of the locations you’ll have to walk up & down the stairs

 

Bad:

 

– very smelly bathroom – I guess it’s smth with the pipes

– not an easy to use door lock

– terrible wi-fi – but wherever I went in Italy it was bad – especially on the floors, at the reception level it’s acceptable – so consider this if you count on using free i-net

– city tax not included in the price – some hotels do, some don’t – so keep this in mind not to be charged another fifty euro for a week for a family – 1,5 EUR/person/night

– we had a hairdryer but it didn’t fit the socket 🙂

 

If I go to Tropea again I will check other options, maybe more costly, but something more comfortable.

Price: for 7 nights, double room, we paid 208 EUR + 21 EUR city tax.

Holidays in Tropea are beautiful by default, and there is no hotel issue to spoil them. However, if you want to add some additional comfort, if you are planning romantic holidays and want to spend in the room a bit more time than two sisters would – check out some nice options I noticed while being a ‘local’ there:

 

Hotel Villa Antica Tropea – looks very nice from outside, though the reviews are contradictive

Hotel Valemare – a bit away from the centre, but still reachable by foot, however with a private entrance to the beach and beautiful terrace

Hotel Pinetta – just near the port, most of the people who were sailing with us stayed there

 

Or check out the country-house options – most of them are a bit away from the beach and touristic spots like Tropea – but isn’t it the beauty of it? Some 4-5 km and you won’t see any tourists around – wine yards, olive groves, lemon & orange trees, lots of greenish space, and all this in a typical Italian house which might be a 300 years old one, like the one I’ve visited 😉

I would definitely advise to look here, filtering Calabria – Vibo Valentia. It’s full of authentic accommodation starting from 20 EUR/night! I visited Torre Galli on a cooking workshop (you can read about it in What to do in Tropea | Aeolian Islands) and went & checked all the rooms and facilities 🙂 I can definitely recommend you the place and the owner – Mariella. And don’t be confused by the bad reviews from 2013-14, Mariella rented the place not so long ago. Now it’s tidy, authentic and cozy!

NB: On the other hand, you can compare Torre Galli and another residence in the same location (Drapia) – here. It’s a bit more expensive though.

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banner main post final 1 - Lamezia Terme airport. How to get to Tropea?

Lamezia Terme airport. How to get to Tropea?

How to get from Lamezia airport to Tropea

So as I mentioned above, the local atmosphere, well-known by Cecchi Gori comedies, met us immediately at the airport – police control with those adorable charismatic carabinieri (I couldn’t decide what was more caricature their film or real life versions : ), the info-point in the airport (which is btw the most important spot there – otherwise you’ll have no idea how to get out and where), the ticket office with no tickets and the bus driver with no tickets again! But let me tell you all this in order.

We were very kindly informed by the tourist helpdesk how to get to Tropea (just as to any other town along the coast-line), here is the secret itinerary:

 

  • take a bus (shuttle) from the airport to Lamezia Terme Centrale – price 1,5 EUR/person, it takes only 1 stop to the central railway station
  • you can buy the tickets next door to the info point
  • take the train with a direction to Rosarno – your stop might be Vibo Marina, Pizzo, Perghelia, Tropea or anything southern – our tickets to Tropea costed 4,2 EUR/person – it takes around 40 min to the destination. Keep in mind, the train goes every 2 hours approximately! A very good schedule can be found here

 

It sounded so good that I couldn’t believe I’m not dreaming. And the reality:

 

  • in the ticket office we were told they have no tickets left 🙂 , so please buy from the driver
  • the bus stays just right side when you exit the airport, no need to cross the road (those are intercity buses)
  • I asked for two tickets from the driver, and what do you think, he says he has no tickets left, buy from the ticket office. Non ho! No bighlietti! Finito! Being a very easily inflammable creature I start to shout using all the Italian lexicon I carry in my poor head, pointing out that the ticket office lady told she doesn’t have, but you do. He continues: ‘Anche io’. I continue yelling till the moment I understand that all he means is: I have no tickets, so just get inside and stop wasting my time. I swear he never told it this way, and probably you should be an Italian to take it easy and get the point without going into loud tones!

 

We arrived to the central station and bought tickets in the ticket machine (I had enough of human interaction for a while). In an hour we were at Tropea station, leading to the hotel using my best friend in trips – google.maps 🙂

NB: If you go for an Airbnb accommodation agree on a pickup with the owner – it won’t cost you more than 10 EUR, but it’s worth because the sidewalks are not the best fit for rolling suitcases.

 

Car rental tips

NB: if you are about to rent a car take full insurance package! Locals (for some weird reason) enjoy ripping radio antennas from rental cars. The antenna costs around 6 EUR, but the rental company will try to charge you as much as possible. So come to the airport drop off point well in advance to have time for some ‘scandale italiano’ 🙂

Car rental is a very good idea if you are about to stay outside the crowded touristic part – in a resort or country house – or going to explore the real Italian part of the province which starts just some 5 km up in the hills above Costa degli Dei, but is reachable only by car. Other than that, you can easily cover the coastal part using public transportation (train).

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banner main post final - Where to party in Barcelona?

Where to party in Barcelona?

Best places to party in Barcelona

More information about what to do and to see in Barcelona you can find here

  • Barcelona VIP Party Night – VIP entry to Barcelona’s top nightspots, VIP transportation, fast track entries, glass of Cava included – 44 EUR/person
  • El Molino – Barcelona’s temple of cabaret and music hall admission – 33 EUR
  • Casino Barcelona admission & La Brasserie buffet dinner with live music – 30 EUR/person
  • Barcelona Nightcard – skip the line entrance to city’s top clubs – 9,50 EUR/2 nights or 19 EUR/7 nights
  • Sala Razzmatazz – located in industrial Poble Nou, a complex made up of factories, on week-ends you can access all of them with different DJ on each floor. Pop, rock and electronic music, worldwide famous club, ranked by the DJ mag list of top 100 clubs.
  • Eclipse at W Hotel – classy night out with the view to be compared only to the one from Sagrada Familia. R&B, tech-house, electronic, with Beauties night on Tuesday
  • La Terrrazza – open-air party in a castle. Electronic music
  • Opium Barcelona – international beach club with 3000 people capacity, hosting the most famous DJs such as David Guetta, Tiesto, Avicii and Armin van Buuren
  • Casino Perelada – located in Perelada castle, on Costa Dorada. The flagship casino of Perelada Group

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banner main post final - What to do in Barcelona?

What to do in Barcelona?

Things to do in Barcelona

I’m still not sure if I covered it all. Perhaps, no 🙂 Barcelona impressed me by the diversity – cultural, national, intellectual, active and passive, friendly and romantic, arty and outgoing… It felt like this city has it all – whoever you are, you’ll find yourself in Barcelona. And if not – then you didn’t use wisely the precious knowledge below!

Get out of your box, try it all, as much as you can!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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banner main post final - Where to stay in Barcelona? Accommodation in Barcelona and Catalonia