I always get so excited when I have a new city to write about because I absolutely adore these kinds of posts – writing them and reading them. Whenever we go to a new, exciting city we make it our mission to pack as much in as possible to our short time there, and Lisbon was no exception! In the last few years I have heard seemingly endless glowing reports of the Portuguese capital from travel savvy friends and, as regular holidayers in the Algarve, I was pretty ashamed it had taken us this long to get there! So, this year on our way to our regular holiday spot we decided to book a whirlwind 48hour stop-over in Lisbon. I feel like we did the city proud, so here is a run down of our itinerary as inspiration for your visit!

 

The basics
Flight: EasyJet London Gatwick -> Lisbon
Just over 2 hours and we found the price to be very reasonable even in holiday time! Lisbon airport is fairly close to the city centre and guess what?? Uber works like a dream there! And it's much cheaper than London – perfect for getting from the airport to our accommodation which only cost around 7 euros.

 

Accommodation:

As we were on a budget we booked a double room in a hostel and stayed in the lovely Hostel Graca 28 which was fantastic value and perfectly fine as a base for all of our adventures! We were located on the Rua da Graca which is a cool area with a buzzing vibe and only 20 min walk from most of the main attractions. I would really recommend staying around this area or the nearby Alfama area for a fantastic vibe and some amazing bars and restaurants which are slightly less expensive than the ones in the city centre.

 

Our Itinerary
Day One – walking, walking and more walking…

Having arrived late the night before we decided to make the most of our first full day in Lisbon and tried to get around all the main city centre attractions in one day! Lisbon is a hilly place and at 35 degrees and very little wind it was not the best conditions for trekking around the place – but we pushed on regardless! We always love to explore cities on foot, as you see much more. There are trams and buses in Lisbon but on the first day we got around by walking only, and covered 28,000 steps (not even joking)!! If you don't fancy walking we would recommend the local tram to get around as the buses don't tend to get up some of the more steep and skinny roads.

 

First: Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
We headed up here first thing to get some stunning views of the city before the crowds descended. This view point is only a few minutes for the area which we stayed in, being slightly outside the main city centre it can mean that it is slightly quieter. This viewpoint is hailed as the best place to take in the whole of Lisbon from above, and I'm inclined to agree.


Next: Exploring!

We put the map away and basically went for a long old walk! We knew we were heading in the direction of the city centre and just kind of walked to see what we could discover. Lisbon is all about the beautiful terraced building and general kind of rustic charm so exploring on foot brought us through so many gorgeous cobbled streets and just general beautiful architecture. Pretty much all the streets are like this and it's what makes the city so gorgeous! Taking photographs of the coloured houses was one of my favourite things. We wandered up to the old castle and had a coffee and cake (when in Lisbon how can you not??) but decided not to go into the castle as the queue was intense and … ya know – budget and all that. But it was still lovely to see the setting and take it in from the outside. We then wandered down towards the main square and found some other stunning viewpoints. Walking is also the best way to grab some photo opportunities of the old trams in action! I wasn't so bothered about riding the tram as getting a photograph of it!! As you are walking around you can't help but find some amazing street art too.

Lunch – Alfama

For lunch we decided to find somewhere in the old town part of Lisbon – Alfama. Alfama is a gorgeous district as I mentioned, and is amazing for totally instagrammable streets and buildings! It's also buzzing in the evening for drinks or to find some live music. For lunch, we stopped in the tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant Tu Eu where we enjoyed gorgeous, freshly prepared in front of our eyes food. We went for a typical Mediterranean platter with seafood, cheese, meats and other tapas which was absolutely delicious. I'd really recommend this neighbourhood for food and drink.

 

Afternoon and evening – Central Lisbon and viewpoint again!

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the central part of Lisbon, the main square and the shops (and of course the ice cream parlour!) This area is obviously busy and full of tourism so it wasn't my favourite part. There are many attractions in the city centre such as the elevator which takes tourists up for a view of the city but to be honest I always find these things a bit overpriced. We prefer to just wander around see what we can see.  We also came across a street paved in pink, coined originally 'The Pink Street' which was cute! The town square is an attractive area with lots of restaurants but we decided to eat close to our hostel for a more authentic meal. By the time we made it back we were so exhausted after all the walking we had a light meal in a local café and then headed up to the same viewpoint again to see the city skyline at night! It was beautiful and there was even a jazz band busking so the atmosphere was wonderful.

 

Day Two – Belem and West of the City

 

Morning – Pasteis de Belem

Out of all the amazing things I had heard about Lisbon, this place was probably what got me the most excited! For those of you who have been to Portugal you may be familiar with the traditional pastel de nata, or egg custard tart, which is absolutely divine.  They are one of my favourite cakes in the world! Well, Pasteis de Belem is a 400 seat café in the West of Lisbon which claims to serve the best pastel de nata's in the whole of Portugal! We took a bus to Belem and it was easy to find the place – the queue was huge! Due to the sheer number of tables however we were seated quickly and served efficiently. The atmosphere was fantastic and the food was great. By the time we arrived it was nearly lunch time so we had sandwiches, coffee and of course two pastel de nata's. It was all delicious but I have to say, I can't speak for the whole of Portugal but they were definitely the best I've ever had! I'd love to get my hands on that secret recipe! An absolute must-visit.

 

Afternoon – River Walk

After lunch we headed for yet more walking along the river back towards the city. It's a long way, so we walked about an hour and then took the bus the rest of the way. The walk was so pretty and it was lovely to be on the water and see lots of sailing boats, which we adore. We also saw some lovely museums along the way and got some great pictures of the huge bridge – Golden Gate Bridge eat your heart out!

 

Dinner and drinks – Time Out Market

Another fabulous recommendation from friends, the Time Out Market is situated to the West of the city centre and is a huge covered market which sells food, produce, flowers and gifts from independent retailers. The market is amazing and has a fantastic vibe, as well as seriously stunning food! Foodies must come here! It's packed full of some of Portugal's best chefs who want to serve world food in a casual setting. We ate in the seafood restaurant Marisqueira Azul which was by far our best food of the trip. We ordered a selection of delicious seafood including their specials; crab, octopus salad and locally caught razor clams which was all seriously divine. After dinner we also enjoyed a couple of G&T's at the Time Out Bar in the market and soaked up the atmosphere. The food and drink here was on the pricier side but it was definitely worth it for the quality and atmosphere.

We had such a fabulous whirlwind two days in Lisbon and we absolutely loved it. The city lived up to it's expectations in every way! The architecture, food, drink, nightlife and history is all amazing, but the thing I love most about Lisbon is how beautiful it is. Even the residential streets which have essentially nothing to see are seriously beautiful and the houses are so pretty! It's the perfect city to grab a coffee and just city bag and people watch, the vibe is awesome there. I would recommend it for a city break without a doubt! I hope you find this useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon.

Have you been to Lisbon before? Is it on your bucket list?

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It was a good few months ago now that we went on our sneaky Easter minibreak escape to Montenegro and I’m ashamed that I haven’t had a chance to publish a travel post about it yet! So, before we go on our summer holiday (2 weeks and counting!) I thought it only fair to give our trip a little write up and share our photographs seeing as it was so stunning.

The first question most people asked us when we mentioned where we were going was.. well.. why Montenegro? It’s a fair question. Up to this point we are the only people we know out of all of our friends and extended family that have ever been! Scores of people seem to flood to Croatia these days, so I find the lack of the same enthusiasm for it’s neighbour odd, as Montenegro shares a similar vibe, climate and even looks similar! Plus, it’s still a pretty undiscovered gem, so perfect for a quiet, secret escape!

Our holiday

As it was a quick ‘let’s get out of here’ last minute holiday affair, we decided to go inexpensive and simple. Out of season (early April) the climate in Montenegro looked good and we found a great value all inclusive deal at a five star hotel in the holiday beach resort of Budva. All inclusive is not usually something we would go for our main holiday because we like to cook for ourselves and eat out in different places, but for the type of super relaxing short break we wanted we decided to go for it.

The hotel was called the Iberostar Bellevue and it was absolutely stunning. I was blown away when we first got there. Mainly because I’ve never seen a beachfront hotel over looking the sea which is also surrounded by spectacular mountains on the other side! The landscape was just something that you would never see in your normal Spain/ Portugal holidays and I couldn’t get over it! I was super happy to take loads of gorgeous photos with the stunning backdrop. Our room was fine, perfectly comfortable and functional with a lovely big balcony and a sea view which we weren’t expecting and was a lovely surprise. We could actually hear the sound of the waves at night which was amazing.

The Iberostar Belleview hotel

The weather we had was mixed. A bit of rain on the first two days so we took the opportunity to explore the local historic town of Budva and the montain city of Kotor to get some culture and sightseeing in. Due to it being out of season, Budva was a bit dead with a lot of shops and restaurants closed, but Kotor was much more lively and seemed to have a lot of tourists visiting despite the weather. Budva would definitely be worth a day trip particularly the old town to see the historic architecture, and the harbour which had some pretty pricey looking sun seekers! There were also some nice craft shops and cute restaurants.

Budva harbour

Budva old town

The city of Kotor was about an hour bus ride away and it was a whole other level of beautiful! If I had visualised a perfect, quaint Eastern European town then this was it. You can climb up some mountains at the back towards a church and get a load of this crazy stunning view.

The holiday was perfect for what we wanted, a ‘do-nothing’, relaxing break with a bit of sunshine.

 

I would thoroughly recommend considering Montenegro for your next holiday. It’s got great summer weather, beautiful safe beaches and stunning landscapes. Kotor is a stunning historic city and well worth a visit, as it’s a pretty small country most of it is accessible with a short car or bus journey. Although it was a bit quiet when we were there, you could tell that they were gearing up for a busy summer season so there would be no shortage of things to do there.

Have you been to Montenegro? Would you consider it?

 

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I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of travelling, both alone and with others. I love writing about the places I’ve been but some of them are so different and special in their own way they are impossible to compare! So instead of doing a ‘Best Places’ article I am going to do a series of ‘Best Places For…’ something.

My top places in the world for solo travelling.

ONE. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The coolest city in Europe, in my opinion, and it’s packed full of backpackers, young people, art and culture.  Apart from the obvious draws of partying, cheap drink and the possibility of dabbling in a naughty herb without getting into trouble, the city has an amazing vibe and is extremely beautiful.  I went to Amsterdam alone for a few days and stayed in a backpackers hostel, which pretty much guarantees you meeting some cool people as long as you are a relatively friendly person. It’s also a super safe place if you do fancy wandering around on your own and the local people are really lovely. Dutch people are some of my favorite people in the world.

TWO. Sydney, Australia. I absolutely loved my time in Sydney. I turned up on the other side of the world by myself and checked into the Base Sydney hostel for three weeks wondering what on earth I would do with myself. By that evening, I had met the best bunch of people who all happened to be staying in the same dorm as me! They were the closest friendship group that I formed for during my whole trip because we were all sharing a room and all seemed to be staying for a reasonable period of time. That’s one of the things that makes Sydney a great place to travel alone; a lot of the backpackers there are in it for the long hall, looking for jobs etc so people don’t change too much and you have the opportunity to build some good friendships.  Sydney is a party town too so everyone is there for a good time and is open to meeting new friends.  Also, in terms of the backpackers circuit – literally everyone comes here, all nationalities, all cultures and all types. There is no shortage of people to befriend.  I met some fantastic people here from all over the world and never once felt lonely.

THREE. Thailand Island Hopping.  The south of Thailand is home to more iddylic beach islands than you could wish for. They all have their own merits and some are more well trodden than others, but many travelers take ferries in between and spend a few days on each to experience the different vibes. Again, these are well trodden on the backpacker circuit (particularity the Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Ko Tao side) so it’s easy to meet people, but I’ve selected this one for people who are potentially travelling solo because the like spending time with number one.  I spent a few months on Ko Tao as well as time on Ko Lanta, Phuket and Ko Samui and they are fantastic for travelers who just want to kick back, relax and be alone with their thoughts. Ko Tao and Ko Lanta in particular have a really chilled vibe and as a solo traveler I never felt hassled or out of place. They have everything you need; beaches, bars and places to stay, and something about being on an island makes you feel totally removed and disconnected with the real world. Perfect enjoying your own company and reconnecting with yourself.

FOUR. Anywhere in New Zealand. Good God this country is easy going. I love kiwis they are so so friendly and nice. I traveled the length and breadth of New Zealand (both North and South Island) on a backpacker bus called ‘Kiwi Experience’ and it was literally the time of my life. The Kiwi Experience is famous for it’s amazing bus tours and everyone loves them. It is honestly the best way to meet amazing people and make friends for life. The trip is organised for you, you travel with the same people and stay with the same people in hostels along the way, stopping in all the beautiful and interesting places New Zealand has to offer. You can be flexible about it; spending longer in one place and getting the next bus, but I really enjoyed sharing the whole journey with all my new friends. The bus drivers are brilliant as well and get everyone involved and interacting with games on the bus. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone travelling alone. Unless you don’t particularity like other people, in which case, probably not for you!

So they are my top 4 places where I have had the best experiences travelling alone and found it most easy to fit in and meet new people. I have never had a problem with being alone on any of my trips, but these were just my favorites. It also is very much luck of the draw as to the people you get, but generally I have found fellow backpackers open, friendly and hilarious people. My one piece of advice to anyone traveling solo for the first time, or anytime, would be; give it a chance. An example: after having an amazing time in Sydney my next stop was Byron Bay which I had heard fantastic things about. However, when I got there I just didn’t gel with the girls in my room and found myself super lonely and sad for 3 days! I pulled myself together, did some things on my own and before I knew it some new dorm mates had moved in and I made friends with them instantly. You are not always going to be surrounded by loads of friends, but it’s a good time to build your independence and ability to spend time in your own company. Solo travelling is a seriously liberating experience and I would recommend it to anyone.

xox

One of the more obvious perks of being a full time student compared to being in fulltime work is, of course, the holidays! Travel is my passion, so any short holiday that I get I take the opportunity to scrape some pennies together and go somewhere. On this occasion my family were keen to come too, so me, my partner, mum, dad & brother ended up heading to Barcelona for a long weekend.

I’ve never been to Barcelona before and it’s somewhere I have always wanted to visit. As a city break I would thoroughly recommend it although, to be honest, two nights wasn’t enough in my opinion. Due to its harbour location and the proximity of many lovely beaches to the city I would like to go again and actually go for a full length holiday. I think it’s the sort of place you could get a good balance of city sight-seeing and relaxed beaching over a week’s trip.

Having said that I loved to city itself.  I have never really been that interested in ‘buildings’ or architecture, but the Antonio Gaudi buildings that are scattered through the city were truly stunning and even I could spend hours looking at them. His work is so interesting because it looks like a cross between a Dr Seuss illustration and a set from a Tim Burton movie.  Considering he lived 100 years ago it’s hard to imagine how ‘before it’s time’ his structures would have been in his lifetime!

Unfortunately, it was torrential rain for our first day of sightseeing! We managed the ‘Sagreda Familia’; the enormous Gaudi cathedral which is an amazing architectural feat and still not completed to this day, Gaudi’s ‘Park Guell’; an elegant park full of Gaudi’s stunning mosaic sculptures and the slightly less cultural but none the less important ‘NeuCamp’; the famous home pitch of Barca football club!  All of this in the soaking wet resulted in some soggy raincoats and cold feet (I only took flip-flops!!!) but still an amazing day.  The following day we were lucky and had a lovely sunny day. We went up to the MNAC museum to see the amazing view of Barcelona city and went to visit another of Gaudi’s buildings ‘La Casa Mila Pedrera’ which in its day was an enormous house designed by Gaudi for a rich family living in Barcelona and is now open to the public.  Its name means ‘The Stone Quarry’ which has stuck from when it was built the family’s neighbours hated the building and called it that because they thought it looked like an ugly pile of rocks!

For anyone thinking of or planning to visit Barcelona my top travel tips are:

1.  Use the open top tourist bus! A bit cringy for me as I usually like to walk everywhere and it is quite pricy however, Barcelona is very spread out and it would take hours to walk around all the sights! Particularly if you want to get out to the Park Guell, the football stadium and any of the beaches or harbour then the bus tour is a good deal. It includes 3 routes and covers everything and you can by multi day tickets too.

2.  Sagreda Familia (pictured above) – and get there early! My one regret of the trip, we didn’t arrive until lunchtime and all the tickets to go inside were sold out. Even if you don’t want to pay the steep €15 entry fee I would recommend getting there early so you can get a picture outside without thousands of selfie sticks in it.

3.  The view from the MNAC museum (pictured above). A stop on the bus ‘red route’ we actually got off to see the museum and didn’t realise it had a beautiful view over all of the city. A very good picture!

4.  Don’t eat on La Ramblas! The main strip of markets, bars and restaurant with street entertainers and lots of hawkers! Fun and a good atmosphere for walking around at night and having a cocktail not the food = overpriced and yuk.

5.  Eat at La Rosal 34. Seriously, if you do one thing – go here! We were recommended this restaurant by our hotel and you do need google maps to find it as it is out of the way BUT literally one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It has a Michelin star (first time I’ve eaten in a place that has one!) and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s a lovely traditional restaurant serving tapas and main meals and very yummy. We went there two out of our three evenings!  Also not a tourist insight (apart from us).

Have you been to Barcelona?

xox