Europe – Etramping Travel Blog https://etramping.com Adventures Around the World! Fri, 25 Oct 2019 17:12:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 https://i0.wp.com/etramping.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/cropped-eTrampinglogoB18-2-2-e1533721426720.jpg?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Europe – Etramping Travel Blog https://etramping.com 32 32 37340027 7 Day Itinerary for Traveling to Greece for the First Time https://etramping.com/7-day-greece-itinerary/ https://etramping.com/7-day-greece-itinerary/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2019 13:56:51 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=44236 7 day itinerary to Greece - shorter and longer alternatives included. Great for planning a trip to Greece for fresh and experienced travelers alike!

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Greece is a destination of incalculable beauty, with paradisaical beaches, good weather and archaeological remains that preserve memories of a fascinating past. It’s a destination where tourism is the greatest source of income, because every traveler wants to know at least once in their life this beautiful paradise.

Do you have the tickets to fly to Greece and after the rush of joy you are nervous because you do not know where to begin organizing your trip or what the best places to visit in Greece are? Do not worry. Today we are going to give you a few tips about traveling to Greece for the first time.

Preparation

To begin, it is important to know what documentation is necessary to visit Greece, this heavenly destination. Well, it is quite simple, since Greece belongs to the European Union, it is only necessary to carry your ID or Passport if you come from the EU.

The official language of this country is Greek, but English is widespread throughout the country, thanks to tourism. So do not worry, with basic English you will end up understanding them. The currency used is the euro. In addition, most establishments accept payment via credit card. To go to the farthest beaches it is necessary to make use of small boats, in addition it also has a good network of public bus transports. Start discovering Greece!

When to travel to Greece

The best time to travel to Greece is in the spring months. The tourist season begins at the end of April and lasts throughout the summer because the good weather allows you to enjoy its beautiful beaches. The best season is spring to avoid the large masses of tourists who visit Greece and thus have a quieter and more relaxed experience.

How to get to Greece

The best airports to get to Greece are those in Athens and the one in Thessaloniki. This is due to the fact that they are the largest and most touristic cities and therefore, many low-cost companies operate in them. On this 7 day trip through Greece, you will discover paradisaical beaches, unique landscapes in the world and places loaded with an amazing history. What are you waiting for?

7 Days Greece itinerary

In this itinerary you will discover which destinations are the most recommended to know on your trip through Greece, the most spectacular cities and corners of the whole country.

Day 1: Athens

An essential on any route through Greece, is the visit to the capital. The first day begins by visiting the most fascinating archaeological sites in the country. You can buy a combined ticket that allows you to access the best known attractions for a cheaper price than buying tickets separately; the price of the joint ticket is € 30. Visit the most essential parts, because if you do not, you’ll spend too much time in the city.

It is impossible to cover all of the attractions in Athens in a single day. Additionally, if you want to explore the part of the Continental Greece, it is best to rent a car. Transports in Greece are not the best in Europe and with your own vehicle you will have full freedom of movement. This will also come in handy as you’re exploring Athens. Keep in mind when organizing your budget that a roadtrip through Greece is an amazing idea.

On the first day, visit the Acropolis, the Dionysus Theater, the Ancient Agora, the Hadrian’s Library and the Roman Agora. Finally, visit the Acropolis Museum to learn more about the history of the city. A journey through the past that you will never forget!

Remember to book your accommodation in Greece in advance. The most common thing is that you arrive in Athens at the international flight. The first thing you will have to do is understand how to get to the center of Athens from the airport. You have 3 options: metro, bus and taxi:

Metro: You only have to buy a subway ticket and get on the blue line until the Plaza Syntagma stop (it takes about 30-40 minutes). Once there you can change the line (with the same ticket) to the stop you want. Although it is not super cheap, it costs € 10 and is a ticket that lasts 90 minutes. The regular metro ticket is € 1.40.

Bus: It’s cheaper (it costs €6) but once you get to Plaza Syntagma, unless you live there, you must buy a metro ticket to get to your accommodation. At rush hour it has a very big disadvantage: you might end up stuck in the traffic.

Taxi: The most comfortable but of course, the most expensive option. The ride from the airport to the center costs €38. If you are 3 or 4 people, it may be reasonable. If money is not an issue, you can opt for the option of private transfer, which will be waiting for you at the airport and will take you to the hotel you want.

Day 2: Athens

On the second day, visit the rest of the city and some of the most symbolic monuments of Athens that you didn’t see yet. You cannot miss the Temple of Olympian Zeus, one of the most important archaeological remains left in the city.

Also visit the Syntagma Square, where there is a change of guard in the Greek Parliament every certain hours. Take the opportunity to explore the city calmly and enjoy the beauty of the city. Go to Mykonos for the night and get up early the next day.

Day 3: Delphi and Meteora

One of the most spectacular parts of the guide is to visit Meteora, where you will find the spectacular Meteora monasteries that stand out for integrating completely with the natural landscape. The monasteries above the hills will leave you breathless.

Between Athens and Meteora we can make a stop in Delphi to see the fantastic Oracle of Delphi, a symbol of Greek mythology.

Day 4: Mykonos

Visiting the island of Mykonos in one day is something you can do easily, as long as you know which places are worth spending time on. It is one of the most visited destinations annually.

Start looking for the peculiar pelican, called Petro that is very dear to both its inhabitants and tourists. Go through its old town to discover its typical buildings, white and blue is one of the most memorable color combinations of all postcards. It has a special charm!

To end the day visit one of its mills, the popular Boni mill, is one of the most historic. From here you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views of Mykonos, the sunset creates a mixture of beautiful colors. You will not see anything as beautiful as this! Have a drink or dinner at the famous Little Venice, a most peculiar port. Then go out partying a enjoy the nightlife Mykonos is so famous for!

Day 5: Mykonos Beaches

You cannot come to the beautiful island of Mykonos without enjoying some of its paradisaical beaches. I am going to leave you several options so that you can decide between them for today.

The Psarou beach is one of the most popular daily. If you want to have several services such as sun loungers, bars nearby and other amenities this is the perfect beach. Lia beach, despite being a little further from the capital of Mykonos is another great option. In it you can enjoy crystal clear waters, without as many tourists as the previous one and a much more relaxing and lonely atmosphere. If you prefer a much more natural setting, Agrari beach is your ideal beach.

Day 6: Santorini

Going sightseeing in Greece and not stopping in Santorini is impossible, one of the most beautiful destinations in this country. Start by visiting the Metropolitan Orthodox Cathedral, a real gem! Later go and discover the Catholic Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, both in the capital Fira.

To end the day, make the popular 9-kilometer route that connects the cities of Fira and Oia, perfectly defines the island, passing through some villages of unique beauty.

Day 7: Red Beach Santorini

One of the most popular beaches in Greece features a landscape reminiscent of the planet Mars. It stands out for its peculiar red color of rocks and green water, one of the natural wonders that were caused by the eruption of the volcano.

Amazing because of the panoramic views that you can get in it, it is a bit uncomfortable to bathe since it is composed of rocks and many people.

Top Recommended activities in Greece

In addition I recommend some very interesting tours to better familiarize yourself with the fascinating past of the country and enjoy the most beautiful landscapes.

In Athens, for example you can make this guided visit to the Acropolis, a guided tour that is included in this archaeological site and through the Acropolis Museum, both tickets are included. The tour is great, it is one of the most complete you can find in the city, it is also great to know in depth one of the most important places not only in the city, but also in Greece.

In Athens you can also enjoy a fascinating excursion to Delos, where you will visit the archaeological site of Delos. This excursion includes admission, transportation and most importantly, an accompanying guide throughout the trip.

Another fun option is a Jeep Safari through Mykonos, where you will explore the landscapes of the island and you can drive your own off-road jeep. A true adventure!

Approximate cost of the trip to Greece

Here I am going to show you what approximate budget necessary to make a trip of this nature through the special Greece.

  • Price of the plane ticket to Athens: €100 per person approximately if you’re traveling from a major city of Europe, with checked bag included. Thanks to low cost companies, flying to Greece is cheap. Thus the ticket prices are reasonable.
  • Hotel night: Double room with an average price of €70 per night. Athens boasts a wide variety of accommodation, multi-star hotels for an affordable price, plus there are numerous offers of Airbnb with incredible quality as well.
  • Eating in Greece: €20 per person, lunch and dinner, per day.
  • Car rental: Around €24 per day. A fairly economical option because there is a great variety of car rental companies. This option can give you great freedom.

In this price the expenses in food, drink and purchases are not included, since they oscillate up or down depending on each person. With all this you will see that Greece is a relatively economical country to visit, so it is listed as a medium price destination. Therefore, traveling to Greece has a normal cost.

Alternatives

Apart from all the options and destinations named in the previous 7 days by Greece, here are some alternatives making it easier for you to choose different destinations, according to your tastes or preferences. After all, this country has a great variety of ideal places to visit!

Another good alternative 10-day itinerary for those traveling to Greece for the first time could be as follows:

  • Athens (2 days)
  • Excursion to Delphi and Meteora (2 days)
  • Santorini (2 days)
  • Paros (1 day)
  • Mykonos (2 days)
  • Return to Athens (1 day).

If you can add 5 days and make a nice trip of 2 whole weeks, we advise the following:

  • Add an excursion to Corinth and Epidaurus (2 days)
  • A day to the island of Santorini
  • Another day to Paros
  • Also visit Naxos (1 day)

Alternative ways to move around Greece

The idea of ​​getting around Greece by car is very nice and romantic, but in all honesty it has to be said that it is sometimes better to travel by plane. Ryanair in Greece is a great option, especially in the off season. There are also trips that can only be done by ferry. There is also the option of island-hopping: it is a chance that allows you to see several islands in a short period of time at a great price.

Gastronomy

At Trip and Travel Blog we value cuisine and one of the things that you will enjoy most during your trip to Greece is its gastronomy. Typical dishes that you cannot miss in Greece include but as not limited to moussaka, pastichio, souvlakia, dolmades, tomatokeftedes and gemista. Most of the Greek dishes are part of the Mediterranean diet, which means they include a lot of olives and olive oil plus feta cheese.

Corfu

Instead of traveling to Santorini, you can visit Corfu, the second most populated island in Greece, with 217 kilometers of beaches! It is undoubtedly one of the most visited by cruise ships and a mandatory stop for many of them. Visit its New Fortress to admire the panorama of continental Greece and Albania! On the last day, enjoy some of its paradisaical beaches. It has large sandy beaches and crystal clear waters that invite you to spend long hours in them.

Delos and Rhenia

Start by visiting Delos Island, popular for its museum and its impressive archaeological site. This place has a great historical heritage of the great Classical Greece, especially its terrace of the lions of Delos, one of the most important sets of the Cyclades. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon on the next island of Rhenia, you can take advantage to do some water sports and take a good dip in its turquoise waters.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, the best time to travel to Greece is in spring and autumn. In summer, as you can imagine, it is very hectic with a high number of tourists. Yes, Greece has so many islands but even so in the peak of summer all of them are bustling with life. In high season it is best to book the buses in advance, especially if they are in tourist sections such as Athens-Delphi. If you do decide to follow this itinerary keep in mind that your #1 priority is to make it easy on you and your companions and to enjoy it to the fullest. As such you’re advised to alter it in any way you find suitable. Don’t follow it blindly but instead keep its best parts and add your own preferences on top.

Do you have more tips for traveling to Greece?

We would love to continue adding tips of help for future travelers so do not be shy and leave a comment.

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3 Day Itinerary to Verona and Lake Garda https://etramping.com/verona-and-lake-garda-itinerary/ https://etramping.com/verona-and-lake-garda-itinerary/#comments Thu, 10 Oct 2019 06:42:25 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=44125 Verona and Lake Garda are the cities in Northern Italy which is known for its beauty and history. Read this for an inspiration to enjoy the best of both cities within three short days.

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Of all the destinations in Italy, Verona and Lake Garda are often overlooked. I didn’t regret at all choosing these cities for my visit. Through this itinerary, you can enjoy the best of Verona and Lake Garda in just 3 days!

The view of Monte Baldo from San Felice in Lake Garda

About Verona & Lake Garda

When choosing cities to visit in Italy, Verona may not be most people’s top choice. Relatively close to other bigger cities like Milan and Venice, small enough to be explored within a short period, this city would be perfect to be included in your next Italian bucketlist. The city has all the historical venues, romantic places, and serves as a gateway to an even more wonderful destination, Lake Garda.

Despite being the biggest lake in Italy, it is still less famous and touristy than its neighbor, Lake Como. This doesn’t mean that this lake is any less beautiful. There are several towns surrounding this lake, Sirmione, Salo, Riva—to name a few. Upon your visit, you can pick to stay at one of these towns.

About This Itinerary

This itinerary was inspired by my visit to this area last September. Obviously, the great thing about visiting on the shoulder season is that it’s less crowded and expensive, but we can still enjoy the wonderful weather. In Verona, it was still very humid and hot especially during the day. While in Lake Garda, the temperature was mostly great and sunny even though it gets misty in the morning and night.

You can easily swap out the days between exploring Verona and Lake Garda, whether you prefer to visit Verona at the beginning or at the end of your 3-day stay. This itinerary will focus on the south-western part of Lake Garda (Gardone Riviera to Peschiera).

How to get to and around Verona & Lake Garda

Verona is a very accessible city. You can come either by plane, train or bus from other cities in or outside of Europe.

Verona Porta Nuova train station

By Plane

There are several non-European flights coming into Verona Villafranca Airport, such as from Egypt, Tunisia, and Israel. Other than that, most of the flights are coming from within Europe.

From the airport, you can take Bus 199 to Verona Stazione FS then continue to the city center. There is no direct transit from the airport to Lake Garda, so you will need to take Bus 199 first.

By Train

The train from all over Italy and other countries will stop at Verona Porta Nuova. The train station is located comfortably in the city center, so you can continue on foot or by short bus ride.

If you plan to continue directly to Lake Garda, you can buy a train ticket (Trenitalia/Trenord) to Peschiera or Desenzano, which is on the south of the lake.

Scenic drive from Verona to Lake Garda

By Bus

The main bus station is Verona Stazione FS which is just outside Verona Porta Nuova, you can check the bus schedules and routes here.

By Car

If you want to do a road trip from another European city, Verona & Lake Garda are just north of the A4 and west of the A22 autostrada. Prepare the money for the autostrada.

This is also the most convenient way to explore Lake Garda, but expect heavier traffic and more crowded parking areas during summer months.

Verona and Lake Garda Itinerary

Day 1

Breakfast around Piazza Bra

The best way to enter Verona in style is through I Portoni della Bra, which will lead you to Piazza Bra. This arc is relatively a new one because in ancient time, the entrance to Verona is through Porta Borsari.

I Portoni della Bra

In this piazza you will find some notable buildings around the area, namely Arena di Verona and Palazzo Barbieri. You will also find a lot of restaurants, cafes, and gelato shops, but the one right on the piazza is very expensive. You can walk around the smaller streets and see a café that you like. My recommendation is Caffè Dersut a short walk to via Roma. After a cup of coffee and a brioche, enjoy the morning sun a bit more before heading towards other sites.

Arena di Verona

This looks like a smaller version of the Colosseum, but nothing less impressive. This amphitheater is also still very well preserved. Nowadays, the arena is used for concerts, opera performances and orchestra-philharmonic that attract visitors from around the world. If you happen to be in Verona in June 2020, make sure you come to the Opera Festival.

Right in front of the Arena, there is a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of united Italy who assumes nickname of Padre de la Patria (Father of the Fatherland). There is also Palazzo Barbieri on the other side, which is now a city hall building. This part of town is usually very crowded, so always watch your belongings.

Juliet’s Balcony

Casa di Giulietta

Only a short (confusing) walk from the Arena, you will find the other main attraction of this city. Juliet’s House is always overcrowded with tourists . Inside, you will find Juliet’s statue and the famous balcony. On the entrance, the wall is plastered with love letters from people all over the world who pours out their feeling in writing to (fictional) Juliet.

If you’re confused how can one send a letter to a fictional person, you’re not alone. The letters are actually handled by “Secretaries of Juliet” from Club di Giulietta, which is funded by the township of Verona. You can actually sign up to be one or book with them to read archive of these letters.

The crowd at Piazza delle Erbe

Lunch around Piazza delle Erbe

After wrestling your way in and out of Juliet’s House, it would be nice to have a good lunch. Next Piazza to visit is only few minutes away. This Piazza was a forum back in ancient Roman days and now people still gather here around the square.

I would recommend Sapore Pizza. Even though I don’t really like typical thick northern Italian pizza, I found the pizza delicious and very affordable. You can also have some dessert, go get a gelato! Gelateria Imperio would be my go-to gelato place at the piazza.

Stroll around Centro Storico and enjoy Adige River view

Enjoy your chilly treat and continue walking around. On the north of the Piazza there is Torre dei Lamberti, where you can climb the tower (either by stairs or elevator) and enjoy bird’s eye view of Verona. If you walk towards the north, you will end up at Verona Cathedral and Ponte Pietra, which are great places to see as well.

Aside from being very pedestrian-friendly, the narrow streets of Verona to are very picturesque. Why don’t you stop a bit and take some pictures?

Adige River in Verona

Getting to Lake Garda from Verona

You have finished exploring the whole Verona city center in just a day! Next you can choose to drive or take train/bus to Lake Garda and enjoy the sunset on the way, or you can stay in Verona for the night and head there in the morning.

Day 2

Exploring Gardone Riviera

After having breakfast, we can explore the western part of the lake. The must-visit attraction is this impressive lakeside estate called Vittoriale degli Italiani.

The Italian writer Gabriele d’Annunzio once lived in one of the buildings in this estate. The estate comprises a villa, an amphitheater, a cruiser, and a boathouse. During your visit, you will learn about the history of this estate and be given an amazing view of the lake. You can book your ticket in advance on their site, it costs EUR8 for the non-guided tour.

Boat trip around Lake Garda

Picnic, Sunbathing and Boat Trip

If you have not had enough amazing view of the lake, drive south a little bit to San Felice. There are various beaches along the lake but this one is definitely my favorite. You can stop by the supermarket to buy picnic supplies, lay down a mat or towel by the lake and enjoy the sun! This beach is especially hectic during the summer months.

Want to take it up a notch? There is Garda Boat Rental along the beach where you can rent a boat for half a day (4 hours) and go around the lake a little bit. The afternoon is best as the morning mist is gone, you can enjoy the view of Monte Baldo on the other side and the castle at Isola del Garda. The small boat can take up to 7 passengers and only costs around EUR120 on shoulder to low season!

You can find affordable lakefront restaurants in some parts of Lake Garda

Dinner at Desenzano

After a great day by the water, it’s time for amazing dinner. Most of the restaurants around Lake Garda are expensive, especially ones in front of the lake. I would recommend Santa, it is one of the more affordable restaurants in front of the lake. It has an amazing view, awesome food, friendly and quick service despite being a busy night there.

As Lake Garda is more catered towards families and honeymooners, there is barely any nightlife here. So enjoy some restful night before more adventure on the next day.

Day 3

Rocca Scaligera & Grotte di Catullo

In the morning, we drive to Sirmione, which is the peninsula in the south of Lake Garda. There are plenty of attractions in Sirmione, but there are two that you shouldn’t miss. The first one is Rocca Scaligera (Scaligero Castle), a fortified port that was built in 13th century by the Scaliger Family of Verona, which is said to be the most well-conserved in the country. If you look at Lake Garda pictures on Instagram, there are plenty of drone shots because the panoramic view of this place is incredible. If you decide to enter, there is a museum that houses medieval artifacts inside.

Scaligero Castle of Sirmione

The second site is called Grotte di Catullo. You should visit this site If you enjoyed or wanted to visit Pompeii. Surrounded by olive groves, this ancient Roman villa was constructed in 1st century AD and still well-preserved until this day. Enjoy the amazing view of Lake Garda from the ruins of the villa, which also has a museum in it. This site also serves as the set for Call Me By Your Name movie.

The ticket price is EUR14 for the castle, ruins & museum combo. It opens for longer hours during summer, even though the museum only opens until 2pm. These places are closed every Monday, January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.

Winery tour around Sirmione

Lake Garda region is the northernmost Mediterranean climate in Italy, so it is mild enough to cultivate grapes, olives and citrus trees. Make sure you do a wine tasting or winery tour during your visit. The area is known for its Bardolino, a light red and Chiaretto Rosato, an even lighter and refreshing white.

There are so many wineries and tour operators offering winery tour, pick one that suits your preference, including whether you would like to be picked up at your accommodation, whether you would like the one that includes food, etc. My only advise would be, don’t drink and drive!

Wine Tasting around Lake Garda

The price for a tasting could range pretty significantly between one winery and the other, as well as the tasting menu. I would recommend Onepiò, they offer from light wine tasting (three kinds of wine and breadsticks) all the way to platinum wine tasting (eight kinds of wine and variants of Italian chocolate).

Dinner & going back to Verona

If you still want to get dinner around Lake Garda, there are plenty of good restaurants in Sirmione and Peschiera. I discovered Pasta Salame in Peschiera, a restaurant with a simple menu that is less touristy, very affordable and tastes really good. If you still have room for dessert, make sure to try their tiramisu.

How to Travel to Verona & Lake Garda on a Budget

Lake Garda has been known as the summer destination for the elites, even in medieval times. With some tweaks and planning (and a lot of research) you will be able to stay in these cities without spending too much.

Accommodation Verona & Lake Garda

When picking a place to stay in Verona, pick accommodation right in the city center (Cittadella, Citta Antica) so you will be able to walk to all the important attractions.

To pick a place to stay in Lake Garda, that would depend on the mode of transportation you have. If you depend on public transportation, I would advise staying closer to the lakeside so you can walk to the lake without spending too much on bus ticket. If you rent a car, you can stay a bit further from the lakeside for cheaper, nicer accommodation.

Finding cheap and awesome accommodations around Lake Garda is not too difficult

We stayed at a wonderful villa in Puegnago, with free breakfast, bathtub, huge pool and amazing (farther) view of the lake for only EUR120 per night. In comparison, similar place in Desenzano costs at least EUR205 per night. If you want more simple room, you could definitely get one for a lot cheaper.

Food in Verona & Lake Garda

If you’re not too fussy about food, there are plenty of food stalls that offers delicious sliced pizza and panini for a really low price. Just take the food and eat at a park or back at your accommodation. If you want some pasta, you should try to find places where they offer a more simple menu and most locals go. You can also buy supplies at the supermarket (the local ones are called “Alimentari”) and wine bottles for a really cheap price before visiting an attraction.

Attractions in Verona & Lake Garda

Most of the attractions in Verona are free. The views in both Lake Garda and Verona are amazing, so you don’t really have to pay for anything. The attractions I mentioned above are totally worth it for a small amount of money, but you can totally skip them and still having a good time!

When to Visit Verona & Lake Garda

As you have guessed, visiting during the summer months will make everything more expensive. I highly suggest visiting in May, September or October. In winter months the region gets cold and in Lake Garda, it may get foggy. But if you love winter sports, you can go high altitude skiing on Monte Baldo or go for a thermal bath in Sirmione.

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Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik: History https://etramping.com/walking-the-walls-of-dubrovnik-history/ https://etramping.com/walking-the-walls-of-dubrovnik-history/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2019 04:15:26 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=43653 Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik is like walking through history. In this article you'll learn all about that - history of Dubrovnik City Walls.

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Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik is more than just the Game of Thrones tour of Kingslanding – Dubrovnik City Walls have been around much longer than the HBO TV Series!

Pile Gate and the Walls of Dubrovnik
Pile Gate

In fact, our today’s tour of this Croatian city and it’s partitions from the rest of the world will focus on the history – the history of the Walls of Dubrovnik!

Without further ado, read on to learn how these walls came to be and have shaped across the centuries to be what they are now – the majestic backdrop for photos of most tourists who come to Dubrovnik.

A History Of The Walls Of Dubrovnik

There’s an inscription above the gate of Lovrijenic, one of the fortresses integral to Dubrovnik’s defenses, that translated means ‘liberty should not be sold at any price’. It’s a motto that the imposing City Walls dominating the view of Dubrovnik have certainly adhered to over the centuries as they’ve played a major role in defending the city. 

Wandering the streets of historical Dubrovnik.

These spectacular defences have helped repudiate attacks down the years from the Saracen siege of 866 up to and including the attack on Dubrovnik of 1991-92 during the Croatian War of Independence, and even withstood an otherwise devastating earthquake in 1667.

Scenic Dubrovnik.

This long and storied past is a big part of the attraction of this part of the world – and something people plan for when booking the beautiful villas in Croatia that are, themselves, turning this into an increasingly popular luxury getaway. Our guide explores the story a little more, so you can appreciate the magnitude of what awaits.

A Long and Chequered History

It’s thought the City Walls actually date back to the Middle Ages, but the actual walls the multitude of visitors descending on Dubrovnik step out on a date back to a period after Regusa (the previous name for Dubrovnik) rid itself of Venetian rule in 1358. They were constructed between the 14th and 15th centuries.

The City Walls date back to the Middle Ages.

The impressive walls are 1940 meters long (just over half a mile) in total, reach heights of around 25 metres at certain points, have six fortresses integrated, and offer those taking a popular City Wall walk lovely views of the city from the towers created by Florentine master architect Michelozzo, elevated views of the Old Town, and spectacular vistas out to the Adriatic Sea.

Those walking the famous old walls now would hardly believe the historical events as various invaders tried their luck down the years; the City Walls played their part in protecting the old Ragusa from unwelcome guests and, more recently, provide locations for the hit television series ‘Game of Thrones’.

Saracen siege 866-867

This major Saracen raid laid siege to Dubrovnik in 866-867 and lasted a long fifteen months; it’s not recorded how much damage was done but surviving such a protracted siege shows how well Dubrovnik was protected.

Venetian Siege 948

The Venetians were seen as the main threat and influenced the building of fortifications, but their attempt to take Dubrovnik failed.

Nemanja Siege 1185

Stefan Nemanja, grand prince of medieval Serbian state Raska, tried an invasion but was driven back by a Ragusan counter-attack.

Venetians 1205

Another attempt by the Venetians as part of the Fourth Crusade resulted in Ragusa having to pay a ‘tribute’ to avoid being sacked; the city was used as Venice’s naval base in the south Adriatic.

Dubrovnik’s history is so fascinating!

After Venetian rule passed this prompted the commencing of the major work boosting fortifications as discussed above, the walls that stand today being a result of this. 

Stjepan Vukčić Kosača 1451

Stjepan – a Bosnian regional lord – had been made a Raguson nobleman but decided to attack the city. He was declared a traitor with a price on his head for anyone who could kill him. This was enough to put him off and the siege was lifted.

Russian Siege 1806

This siege was a successful one: the Russian and Montenegrin fleet, as part of the forces of the First French Empire, fired over 3,000 cannonballs onto the city and the French army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, entered the city through the Pile Gate – the same way most visitors now begin their City Wall walk.

Anglo-Austrian 1814

At this time the British Royal Navy dominated the Adriatic Sea and, in conjunction with the Austrian armies invading places such as Northern Italy, represented a formidable force.

Dubrovnik and its surrounding area.

Two heavily armed Royal Navy ships arrived and bombarded the city until the French General in charge, Joseph de Montrichard, surrendered. Once again, the victorious armies entered the city through the Pile Gates.

Yugoslav Army 1991-92

Dubrovnik and the surrounding area was attacked by the Serb-dominated Yugoslav’s People’s Army as part of the Croatian War of Independence in a conflict that lasted from late 1991 to early 1992; Croatian counter-attacking lifted the siege and liberated the area. Some 68 percent of the Old Town’s buildings – 563 in all – were hit during the conflict with nine being completely destroyed, and it was said that had it not been for the famous old City Walls the toll could have been far higher. You could visit the museum chronicling the conflict as part of your trip. 

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Top 3 Locations in Vienna for Taking the Best Photos https://etramping.com/top-locations-vienna-best-photos/ https://etramping.com/top-locations-vienna-best-photos/#respond Wed, 21 Aug 2019 08:51:35 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=43297 Vienna is considered as one of the most beautiful and photogenic cities in the world. Check out top 3 locations where you will take the best shots!

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Without a doubt, Austra’s capital city is considered by many as one of the most beautiful and photogenic cities in the world. Foreign visitors are exposed by its impressive architecture, especially the grand palaces and vineyards.

Vienna city
Welcome to magical Vienna.

Photographs are one of the best ways to preserve the meaningful memories of your trip so if you love photography and enjoy taking pictures of historical spots, Vienna is your place! All you need here is your camera and a bike because Vienna is best explored on 2 wheels especially during the summer.

Cycling in Vienna
Cycling in Vienna is the best way to explore the city.

The capital of Austria enjoys a picturesque location on the banks of the majestic Danube River. When you find photographers in your area in Vienna, not only are you ensuring that you’ll have a local’s advice about the city, but also that in years to come you can look back on the best parts of your vacation in clear detail. 

Where to go to take the best shots in Vienna? Read on to find out!

#1 The Hofburg Palace

Many of the top attractions of Vienna are historic palaces and churches that give the city its unique atmosphere. Probably the most famous of all of these is the Hofburg Palace, the official residence of Austrian rulers dating back to 1275. The ornate decorations and stunning architectural design make it one of the best places for photographers in Vienna to get some truly stunning and iconic photos.

The Hofburg Palace

Other places worth including in a vacation photoshoot are the Belvedere Palace, and Vienna City Hall. If you find a photographer from Localgrapher, they can give you tips about the best times of day to visit these top attractions to avoid the big tourist crowds and get the best lighting for your photos. 

The breathtaking Belvedere Palace.

#2 Vienna Zoo

Vienna is a popular place among couples for its romantic atmosphere, but it’s also perfectly suited for families, solo travelers, and groups of friends. If you have younger children, the Vienna Zoo is an excellent option, with historic Baroque buildings and a famous exhibition of giant pandas.

Capture pandas at the Vienna Zoo.

Prater Park is one of the best recreation areas of the city with rides and attractions such as a giant Ferris wheel and carnival games. Traveling as a couple, you can spend a romantic evening watching a performance at the Vienna State Opera House and enjoy this stunning historical landmark of the city. Professional photographers can help you pick the best sites for a photoshoot depending on what time of year you visit and the occasion of your trip. 

#3 The Maria-Theresien Platz

Vienna is known for its stylish vibes and unique character. The elegant city squares such as the Maria-Theresien Platz are nice places to go to enjoy the culture of the city, and often the plazas are surrounding by historic buildings and attractions. Make sure you visit some of the famous museums of Vienna, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Albertina, and the Natural History Museum. It’s also easy to simply spend a pleasant afternoon walking the pedestrian-friendly streets and stopping at local cafés to enjoy coffee and Viennese pastries. 

The Hofburg
The must-visit place in Vienna where you will be surrounded by historic buildings and attractions.

Whether you’re coming for the historic sites or simply wanting to experience Austria in style, Vienna is waiting to welcome you for a vacation you’ll never forget. Regardless of the time of year you visit, there are always plenty of activities to make your vacation memorable, especially if you have a local photographer who can capture the best moments in professional photos.

What’s your favorite spot in Vienna for the best pictures?

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Trans-Mongolian Itinerary – 20 Days https://etramping.com/trans-mongolian-itinerary/ https://etramping.com/trans-mongolian-itinerary/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2019 10:02:11 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=42168 20-Day Trans Mongolian Itinerary: route, booking, stops, first-hand experience, and more! All you need to know to plan your Trans-Siberian Itinerary

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As far as trips of a lifetime are concerned, well, I think it’s possible to have many of them to be honest! But certainly one of my most memorable trips was taking the Trans-Mongolian train from Beijing to Moscow. To go through three countries, through different climates, surrounds, encounter different cuisine, meet different folk, see Asia turn into Europe bit by bit, is a special experience, and to do it by train is extra special.

Beijing Train Station Interior

The train invokes a sense of community with your cabin mates, and those you meet. It’s like a small, long, thin town shifting its way across the planet. You can marvel at the way it’s run, the way they change the gauge at the Mongolian/Chinese border, be impressed by the fact that people managed to lay track along such a long path (and maintain it!) and all while you sit back, relax and take in the scenery, a book, or indeed a new TV series on your iPad if it so takes your fancy. Yes, it IS 2019!

You’ll meet plenty of people – some, like these cabin mates on my last leg to Moscow, shared their vodka!

Choosing Your Trans-Mongolian Route and Direction

From Beijing to Moscow, or Moscow to Beijing there are two main routes. Then there are options that only stay within Russia, taking you all the way east to Vladivostok, as well as another option now possible that takes you further north in East Siberia. The Trans-Mongolian is the only one to take you through three countries. And that’s great, but also presents challenges because you’ll need three visas.

So you’ve chosen to go through Mongolia. The direction is the next question. I’m Australian, and it seemed to make most sense as I was heading to Europe to travel Beijing to Moscow, that is east to west. However, either way requires a flight back home, and also will if you’re departing Europe or the Americas.

Unless of course you are travelling around the world and keep going in one direction, or plan the unlikely return trip by train as well. From Europe you may want to train it all the way to Beijing and then fly back. This has the advantage of starting the journey in Russia, which may make visa formalities a touch easier. I think every tourist on the train was worried crossing into Russia that there might be a visa issue, and you’d then be stuck at the border for… the rest of your life! Having said that, I doubt many do have visa issues.

All aboard! – Beijing

A Trans-Mongolian Tour or Not a Tour, that is the Question

Some companies will book you in as a tour. This has a big advantage because everything will be – or should be – looked after for you and a lot of the planning will be eased from your mind. However, travel independently and who knows what you might discover, and you will certainly be able to afford yourself more flexibility. Which brings me to the next topic –

To Stop or Not to Stop?

And this will greatly depend on the time you have to take this amazing journey. And what you want out of it! Some people actually choose to take the entire journey – Beijing to Moscow or Moscow to Beijing, in one hit. This takes around six days in total. As a sense of achievement and survival, well you’ve certainly put yourself through a challenge. And you will have probably met others doing the same thing and had a real sense of comradery at the end of it all.

On the official ‘Trans-Mongolian’ train.

However, you have missed the chance to discover some of the world’s more remote and potentially interesting places along the way. When I was planning there was no way I was going to miss out on the chance to stop in Mongolia or make at least one or two stops in Russia east of the Ural Mountains.

Now what this means, if like me you wish to cut the trip up into legs, is that you’re not going to be on the same train the whole way through. There is a weekly train that is the official ‘Trans-Mongolian’. But there are other trains that connect you through as well if you get off  And you won’t be on the official ‘Trans-Mongolian’ train if you spend a few days in Ulaan Baatar and then move on because the next Trans-Mongolian is a few days away yet. I broke my trip into four sections – Beijing to Ulaan Baatar, Ulaan Baatar to Irkutsk, Irkutsk to Ekaterinburg and Ekaterinburg to Moscow. Two of the legs were on the ‘Trans-Mongolian’, the other two on Russian trains.

How to Book Individual Trans-Mongolian Legs Independently

Then you have to book the individual trains. If you are coming FROM Moscow to Beijing with stops along the way, you can probably do it all with one online Russian company. I booked with a company called Real Russia who were great, but there are others out there. In Russia you take a printed voucher/receipt you have emailed to you and exchange it at the railway station for a ticket. You should be able to do all your tickets inside Russia at once.

They also provided my ticket from Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia. In this case, I had to pick the ticket up from a travel agency in the Mongolian capital.

As I was starting in Beijing though, I had to buy the first leg through a Chinese company, of which there are fewer. But it was relatively simple and they sent it to my hotel in Beijing three days before the train was due. But if you have no trains starting in China, you won’t need to book through the Chinese system.

I like a challenge and so I booked it all myself. With the bookings I had made, Real Russia could organise the invitation letter for the Russian visa. The other two were relatively simple to organise through consulates in Australia.

20-Day Trans-Mongolian Itinerary

So, if you’re looking at around 20 days/3 weeks Beijing to Moscow, here’s the itinerary I recommend. Of course, if you’re looking to go Moscow to Beijing, reverse it.

Days 1 & 2 – Beijing

Beijing is a huge city, needless to say. If you want to really explore Beijing, give yourself a week. For the purpose of a two-week itinerary, lingering and exploring anywhere is going to be difficult. The best part of half of the fortnight is going to be spent on the rails.

Beijing has a couple of absolute must sees though, and if you haven’t been there before it would be a pity to go to the Chinese capital without taking in the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.

Days 3 & 4 – Beijing to Ulaan Baatar

And so it’s time to hop on board the Trans-Mongolian Express! Well, it’s not quite an express but it moves well enough. It’s the train entitled ‘K3’, and it leaves just before 1130am. You’re on a Chinese train at the moment, although some carriages make it all the way to Moscow. There are coupons or tokens for meals, lunch and dinner. There’s only one dining car, and so you may need to wait. It’s simple fare, noodle soup, some vegetables and the like. But this is the only time the food is complimentary.

Beijing Train Station

Otherwise, little stalls on station platforms are your best bet, and that’s probably going to mean noodles anyway if you’re looking for hot food. You may find a place that serves hot food that you don’t need to cook, if you’re lucky, but all in all you’ll be heading to the samovar at the end of the carriage to fill up your noodles cup plenty of times.

The Chinese countryside whizzes past you. It’s pretty impressive. It gets sparser and sparser as you get closer to the border with Mongolia at Erlian. You hit there in the middle of the night. There are border formalities to go through, and the changing of the gauge. The Chinese gauge is slightly thinner than the Mongolian gauge (the Russian gauge is the same as the Mongolian). Gauge being the width of the tracks.

The incredible bogey change at Erlian.

So the carriages are raised in a big shed and one set of wheels is replaced by another. It takes a bit of time, and it’s not until after 2am or even later that the train finally rolls on into Mongolia. You wake perhaps a few hours later and it’s all desert either side of the desert. It’s just incredible – you are in Mongolia!

Alighting at Erlian.
Beijing from train

You don’t see cities, the towns are quite small. The dining car has been replaced with a Mongolian one. No more free meals, and the décor is quite different. More decorative, more colourful. Somewhere around lunch time or just after you arrive in Ulaan Baatar, the Mongolian capital, and the first stop on this Trans-Mongolian itinerary.

Here is a short video I compiled of the journey from Beijing to Ulaan Baatar.

Days 5 to 7 – Ulaan Baatar and Mongolia

Taking a few days to get a little taste of Mongolia was for me the biggest of many highlights on this incredible journey. If you are afforded more time, take it because I can only imagine the more you discover, the more fascinating Mongolia is.

The capital Ulaan Baatar is a strange place. Mongolia has experienced the rural abandonment more than most countries in the world, and Ulaan Baatar is taking in thousands and thousands and thousands, and it is struggling to keep up with apartment blocks going up everywhere these days.  Its certainly an interesting place, with a few worthwhile things to see. The Palace of Bogd Khan for example, Ghandan Khiid Monastery is also worthwhile, and the main square is grand too.

Ulaan Baatar – Parliament House

You are in the land of Ghengis Khan and so you will find statues aplenty. City tours usually include a drive out of the city to this giant statue of him, which you can climb the inside of and walk out for a view of the steppe.

View of Ulaan Baatar

Then there is Terelj, a place where you can stay in a ger, also known as a yurt, and experience a somewhat traditional life on the steppe. You get fed by a local family, and there’s an interesting temple to visit too. Yes, they have been taking in tourists for quite a while now, but for an overnight getaway from Ulaan Baatar it’s a good deal.

Terelj Valley

Days 8 to 10 – Train Ulaan Baatar to Irkutsk and Irkutsk

It’s onto the train, and one of the most interesting journeys of the lot from Ulaan Baatar, Mongolian capital, to Irkutsk, Siberia (Russia). Once you’re in Russia you’re done with the borders, the passport checks and the formalities. Yes, in many ways they are a hassle and an annoyance, but they are also an interesting experience.

Following the route I took [Train 263 И], you leave Ulaan Baatar at 2030 for the second longest journey of the adventure – taking two nights and arriving early in the morning on the third day. After speeding off across Mongolia in the evening, a night of hopeful sleep awaits. Until you hit the border that is in the early morning. It’s a Russian train, and the compartments are much more comfortable on this train.

Our carriage at Naushki

My experience was a series of people getting on and off the train, checking passports and visas. I think some bags here and there were searched. Naushki is the town on the Russian side of the border where we all got off the train, after the passport control etc was finished. You alight to the surprise to find you are just a train of one carriage.

Then you have a few hours to kill in this little border town. And there’s not much to do to keep you entertained. The roads are all dirt bar one, and there might be one restaurant in town, which is more of a café. The carriage is joined to a new train (I believe the journey is still known as 263 И) and it speeds off mid to later afternoon. The sun goes down. Night has fallen when you pull into Ulan-Ude for a stop. And then the next morning, quite early – around 7am.

Naushki Station

Irkutsk is actually pretty nice. From here take a day trip to Lake Baikal, Russia’s biggest lake. Plenty of interesting cathedrals in town, historic houses, an interesting ship-cum-museum as well, it was darned cold but you could fill a couple of days.

Angara Ice Breaker, Irkutsk
Karl Marx Ave, Irkutsk

Days 11 to 14 – Irkutsk to Ekaterinburg and Ekaterinburg

A little over two days on the train makes this the longest journey of them all, all across Russia. From Siberia we head eastwards to this interesting city on train 33. Ekaterinburg also has a number of churches worth seeing, an Icon Museum (which again is quite church related), and also has a high view on top of a tall building of the city. But it is most known for the location of where the Romanovs – the last Tsarist family of Russia, were taken an executed in 1917. There is a museum to them here. If you’re on the ball and prepared one day may be enough to take in all that’s worthwhile here.

High view of Ekaterinburg
Church in Ekaterinburg
Russian train cabin

Days 15 to 20 – Ekaterinburg to Moscow

The final journey on Train 109MA is to the final stop, the finish of the journey, and the incredible Russian capital. You cross through the Ural Mountains on this final leg which has you leaving in the early hours of the morning and arriving the next day at 1030am. It’s a picturesque leg, although I think the best views are probably passed at night.

The final video of the journey:

The Russian Capital is deserving of as long as you can give it. Really, it’s a brilliant city, with great shopping, sights and entertainment. You have the Kremlin, Red Square with St Basil’s Cathedral (you have probably seen its image before and might have wondered what it was), you can catch a glimpse of a waxy Lenin too as his mausoleum is there at Red Square too. There are a host of museums in Moscow too worth checking out – the Gulag Museum is one I highly recommend. Then you have famous Gorky Park, the impressive Moskva River, the somewhat ghoulish statue of Peter the Great, and so much more. It’s one of the world’s great cities, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Arrival in Moscow

And now your journey is done. You have covered some 7,621 kilometres through three countries since departing Beijing, and no doubt had on heck of an adventure. And if you’re like me, you’ll look back and it will feel like it all happened so quickly. No train ride feels like it’s as long as the time you actually spent on the train.

And you’ve gone from the ‘Far East’ to Europe! It’s a journey that is rewarding, exciting, inspiring and everything that goes along with those words, and personally one of the most satisfying travel experienced I’ve ever had.

Resources for Planning Trans-Siberian Itinerary

Some websites I found to be invaluable –

Seat 61 Trans-Siberian Page.

This website is incredibly detailed and has so much information on trains around the world, it is usually my first stop for any information when planning a rail journey in another land!

Real Russia

So this is a travel agency, and I’m not pimping for them or anything! But they were helpful and useful and seemed to have a good booking system. Will take care of tickets for journeys beginning in Russia or Mongolia.

China Highlights

One company in China recommended to me, I booked my first leg through them from Beijing to Ulaan Baatar. For booking trains beginning China.

You may also find the Lonely Planet Website and it’s Thorn Tree Forum helpful, and I travelled with the Lonely Planet guide book to the Trans-Siberian (which covers all routes) which was helpful from time to time.

So, if you love rail travel, if you have an interest in Russia, Mongolia and even China, this might just be the journey for you!

20-Day Trans-Mongolian Itinerary

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Things to do in Zagan, Poland https://etramping.com/things-to-do-in-zagan/ https://etramping.com/things-to-do-in-zagan/#comments Thu, 04 Jul 2019 15:27:21 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=42618 Located on the Bobr river in western Poland, Zagan is a town with a rich history and delicious traditional food. Here’s what you mustn’t miss on a visit there.

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Over the past few decades, Poland has risen to take its rightful place as one of the premier tourist and traveler destinations in Europe. This is no mean feat considering how it was left after the Second World War, and now its vibrant cities and stunning countryside are attracting visitors from far and wide.

Scenic Krakow city.

Poland’s landscape draws many outdoor enthusiasts, while places like Krakow, Gdansk, Wroclaw, and Warsaw are cultural and culinary hubs with a buzzing nightlife scene. The fact that it’s considerably cheaper than its western counterparts only adds to the charm. 

And yet there are so many more destinations to explore here that perhaps don’t get the same attention as those aforementioned cities. One such place is my hometown of Zagan in the southwest of the country – where I was born and raised. It might not be on everyone’s bucket list, but it is most certainly worth a look – not least for its Polish culinary excellence and history, and great Polish Christmas traditions. Read on to discover what you can see, do and – of course –  eat in the region.

Where is Zagan?

My hometown is located in the southwest of Poland on the Bóbr river, some 60 kilometers from the German border and 160 kilometers from Wroclaw. It has a small population of just over 26,000 inhabitants and is the capital of the Zagan administrative district in the historic region of Silesia. Interestingly, it is thought that the name of the town means “place of the burnt forest,” referring to the removal of woodland by the early settlers here.

The town was first mentioned in records dating back to 1202, while the whole Silesia region has seen its fair share of ups and downs through the years, a culturally rich part of the world with corners in the Czech Republic and Germany. With its position on the Bóbr, Zagan was an important trade route, and the area is blessed with many natural resources. But it is perhaps most famous for being the location of Stalag Luft III – the German prisoner of war camp that housed allied airmen during the Second World War.

Colorful buildings in Zagan
Colourful townhouses in Zagan

We shall return to this fascinating story momentarily. 

How to Get to Zagan

The nearest major airport to Zagan is located in Wroclaw, but you might also consider flying into Dresden in Germany – which isn’t that much further away at 169 kilometers. Flights depart regularly from most international airports. At the time of writing, trains from Wroclaw run four times a day and it will take you anywhere between two to three hours to arrive. Check the schedules before departing. Buses are possible but they don’t stop in the town center and can be irregular.

People on the car roof
I and Cez visiting Zagan by car. We went to explore my neighbourhood together.

The best way to get to Zagan is by car, as having your own mode of transport will afford you the ability to explore the surrounding area and visit the sights with ease. Failing that, don’t forget that Poland is a very hitchhiking friendly country and ridesharing is also extremely popular. Points of interest in the region are often a distance apart, so having your own wheels is highly recommended.

Getting Around

Even if you do have your own vehicle, I would most definitely suggest exploring the town by bicycle. Zagan is a very bike-friendly town given its relatively small layout, and you can rent one from the tourist information office right next door to the Ducal Palace. 

What to See in Zagan

While having its own particular charm, the town itself doesn’t have many sights to speak of – certainly not when compared to Wroclaw or Dresden for that matter. But what it lacks in physical attractions, it more than makes up for in history, food and hospitality. That and its number one tourist draw – Stalag Luft III POW camp and museum.

Stalag Luft III Prisoner Camp Museum

The regions undeniable highlight is, quite rightly, extremely popular. So much so that people flock to the town from all corners of the globe just to see the former POW camp, with many visitors being inspired to come because they had family members or friends imprisoned here. It was constructed in March 1942, and it became an infamous detention center for captured airmen. But it was the daring escape attempt by 200 men in 1944 that really captured the world’s attention, and most notably Hollywood’s, when they released the 1963 film The Great Escape.

Although the Steve McQueen flick is a stone-cold classic, it’s quite different from how events actually unfolded here. The camp today is a faithful reconstruction of what it would have been like for those who were “guests” during the war. 76 airmen managed to break out through the famous “Harry” tunnel – a mock-up of which you can visit. Of those, only three actually made it back behind friendly lines. The rest were either recaptured or executed on Hitler’s orders. The camp is a sombre but fascinating memorial to those brave men and should not be missed during a visit to Zagan.

When in Zagan, you can’t skip visiting Stalag Luft III Prisoner Camp Museum.

The Ducal Palace and Park

Located in the center of the town is the beautiful baroque Ducal Palace, built on the site of Piast Castle in the 15th Century. The palace has an eclectic history, changing hands several times during its existence and at one time being one of the most famous palaces in Europe being visited by a great number of dignitaries. Designed by Italian architect Vincenzo Boccacci, it has been adapted and improved down the years and has a year-round program of events and exhibitions on site.

Palace in Zagan
The pride of Zagan – the Ducal Palace and Park.

It’s set close to the leafy, serene and relaxing Prince’s Park – which is where you’ll find many a local hanging out when the weather is good. Tickets for entry to the palace need to be bought in advance at the tourist information office at the entrance.

The Abbey of St Augustine

With roots back in the 13th Century, this monastery complex is an especially sacred site in Poland and is named as an official national historic monument. It has remained almost intact since it was built, making it a very interesting and noteworthy attraction in our little town. It has this really cool feature called the whispered vault, where the acoustics are just so that even if you speak a whisper, someone will still hear you across space.

Zagan city center
When in Zagan, go for a stroll across the city centre. It’s so much to see and do there.

The church itself is very beautiful and the library and museum are well worth a visit. Be advised though – you need to book a sightseeing tour a day in advance if you want to see it, but that means its real advantage is that it’s never overrun with tourists.

11th Armoured Cavalry Division Exhibition

If you haven’t already guessed, Zagan has a long-standing military history, and today it is home to the 11th Armoured Cavalry Division – which traces its roots back to operations in 1945. There is a small museum at the barracks, including a display of tanks and armoured vehicles, uniforms and documents and other interesting exhibits. American tank divisions are also stationed here and are on constant rotation through the town. Located a short drive out of the center, the exhibition is a must for anyone interested in the subject.

What to Eat in Zagan

Ahhhh, now we come to a topic that is very dear to my heart. Polish food! As far and wide as I’ve traveled, I always love to return home for some traditional, hearty and comforting cuisine – usually cooked by my mom! Zagan has some wonderful places to sample Polish delicacies, but we’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s take a look at just a taste of what you should be ordering here.

Rosół

A delicious yet simple chicken soup that’s famous in these parts, we would usually have it as part of our Sunday dinner. It’s perfect for colder weather or any time you’re not feeling well.

Polish rosol
What’s for Sunday dinner in Zagan? Rosol!

Polish chicken soup is simply the best in the world – but I might be a little bit biased.

Bigos

This is a mouthwatering dish made from shredded sauerkraut and cabbage, mixed with mushrooms and diced sausage. It’s the kind of meal where the only downside is that it will have to end at some point.

Polish bigos
A plate of delicious bigos is waiting for you!

If this is on the menu (and it will be) you need to give it a try – it is our national dish after all.

Pierogi

Perhaps one of Poland’s most famous dishes internationally, pierogi are thick dumplings that come with a variety of fillings.

A plate of Pierogi (Polish dumplings).

You can take your pick from beef, sauerkraut and mushrooms, cottage cheese and boiled potatoes, or even seasonal fruits, such as strawberries and blueberries. They’re often imitated around the world, but there really is no taste like home.

Łazanki

Another hearty and filling dish (most Polish food is), this is made from homemade pasta, fried cabbage, shredded carrots and onions, and well-done diced pork.

Polish lazanki
Yummy lazanki – you must try them in Zagan!

Sour cream is often served as an accompaniment and it’s also a popular dish in Belarus and Lithuania.

Polish Croissant Cookies

For those with a sweet tooth and something for dessert, try these puff-pastry cookies. They’re usually filled with jam and they’re really easy to make. Perfect as an after dinner treat – or a treat anytime!

Where to Eat in Zagan

My hometown is teeming with awesome restaurants for you to try all the culinary delights that this region offers. International cuisine is also available if you would prefer, but you really must try the local dishes to get the full experience here.

Domowe Obiady 

This is a great place for cheap eats as it’s more of a takeaway vendor. Still, the food is delicious and very traditional. All the usual dishes are on offer, and you can even buy produce to cook for yourselves at home. The name of the establishment literally translates as “home cooked lunches”. I want to order myself some pierogi right now!

Kepler

If you’re looking for sit-down eats but still want to sample traditional Polish cuisine, head to Kepler – which is actually the number one rated restaurant in the town. Conveniently located in the heart of Zagan, this place serves a full menu of Polish classics, as well as delicious apple pie and ice cream (jabłecznik z lodami) which – although available the world over – is also a Polish speciality. The waiting staff speak very good English here, too.

Antonio Pizza

If you’re going to eat Italian while you’re here, you might as well head to Antonio’s Pizza.

Pizza
Pizza time!

There are a lot of pizzerias in Zagan – Polish people love making and eating the Italian dish just as well, but they can often be hit and miss. This one is probably the best in the town.

Bar U-Waga Smak

Don’t be confused with the exterior of this place – it’s not actually a “bar” as you might know it. U-Waga Smak is one of the famous Polish “milk bars,” where many Poles will go to dine on hearty, traditional food that doesn’t cost the earth. Set in a cafeteria style, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the locals – which can be an entertainment in itself. A milk bar is a must visit when you’re exploring Poland – it’s an institution.

Take Me Home Country Roads!  

My old stomping ground of Zagan is a very special place for me as it holds a lot of cherished memories. I always love returning to visit after great lengths of time trotting the globe. There is nothing quite like visiting mom for some home cooked Polish treats, and although the town doesn’t have the tourist draw of other cities in the country, it has a certain charm that I would still recommend experiencing. There is, after all, no place like home.

Would you pay Zagan a short or a long visit? And what would be your favorite thing to do there?

What to do in Zagan Pinterest

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12 Best Things To Do In Athens https://etramping.com/12-best-things-to-do-in-athens/ https://etramping.com/12-best-things-to-do-in-athens/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2019 07:23:41 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=39725 Check out top 12 best things to do during your visit to Athens - a city of ancient history, picturesque landscapes, and well-preserved traditions.

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Acropolis
Acropolis

Athens is a city of ancient history, picturesque landscapes, and well-preserved traditions that annually receives millions of tourists from all over the world. This is a city of contrasts: famous historical monuments and old quarters peacefully coexist with trendy world-class restaurants mixed in with luxury shops. Athens is a perfect place for those fascinated with history. The list below of the best attractions in Athens, however, will appeal to all kinds of people.

#1 Explore Archeological Sites

1. Acropolis Archeological site is the most famous monument in Greece, and one of the UNESCO Sites in Greece, that has survived the test of time and weather. It offers a stunning view of the city of Athens and on a good day, you’re able to view as far out as the sea. Acropolis actually translates into “high city” and it will not disappoint the literal name given.

Opening hours: from 8.00 am to 17.00 pm and visitors are allowed in until 16.30 pm. Make sure to wear comfy shoes as the steps are rather slippery to climb. If you are disabled in any way, we’re happy to let you know as of recently an elevator has been installed to help those in need.

Admission fee is 20€ from 1 April to 31 October and 10€ from 1 November to 31 March. It’s also free admission every Sunday from 1 November to 31 March.

View of the Acropolis at sunset

2. The Theater of Dionysus is rightly considered the birthplace of tragic poetry and the first theater of the Western world. Built at the foot of the Acropolis and named after the God of wine and fertility, the Theater of Dionysus held up to 5,000 spectators and was the venue for various city festivals. Famous works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes came to life there. The Theater of Dionysus is located on the same grounds as the Acropolis.

**Pro Tip – If you exit the Acropolis to the left hand side and follow the steps around to the bottom you can get a real picturesque view from behind the gates to see what it would have felt like to be on the stage before the people.

The Theater of Dionysus
The Theater of Dionysus

3. The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as Olympieion, is an ancient temple in the center of Athens. It is a historic landmark, protected by the Greek Interior Ministry.

Admission fee for adults is 6€.

There is a combined ticket that includes entrance to the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Dionysus Theatre, Kerameikos, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Library. The ticket costs 30€. If you’ve multiple days to spend in the city exploring, then it’s highly recommended to buy this combo ticket as you’ll get to see everything.


#2 Travel Back in Time in Plaka Neighborhood

Athens is an ancient city so start your exploration with some of the oldest sights. The one area in Athens that contains plenty of such sights is ​​Plaka. This oldest historic district of the city is located at the foot of another ancient place – the Acropolis hill.

The most important historical sights are:

Adrianou Street – the oldest street in the city offering many souvenirs and locally handmade crafts available for purchs.

The Benizelos Mansion (also known as the House of Agia Filothei) – the oldest house in the city Located at 96 Adrianou Street,

The Monument of Lysicrates (335-334 BC)

Famous Tower of the Winds

In fact, the tower with such a romantic name has a quite prosaic purpose – nowadays it houses a meteorological station. But still, it is worth a visit: the building is a surviving architectural monument (built in the 1st century BC) with hydraulic clocks that are placed in the tower and indicate the time by the sun. Tower friezes depicting the gods of the wind are particularly interesting. You can see the layout of the dial under their figures because the tower was used as a giant clock. It is a miracle in the area of ​​Plaka, located near Agora Square. A ticket to visit the Tower of the Winds along with Agora costs 3€.

Numerous museums (the Acropolis Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Greek Folk Art and Musical Instruments) are located in Plaka along with a huge number of shops and traditional taverns. Therefore, the area is perfect for any pastime: whether it is sightseeing, souvenir selection or just a lunch.


#3 Shop for Unique Souvenirs in Monastiraki Neighborhood

Today it is one of the oldest areas of Athens with the name “Monastiraki” originating from the word “monastery”.

Among tourists this area is best known for its flea market, where you can buy souvenirs from Greece at low prices.

  • We found that the best day to visit the flea market is Sunday when locals come to the area and sell all kind of things. On other days it’s an area with ordinary shops, where if you look closely enough, you can find something interesting too.
  • Accordingly, the largest amount of people visit there on weekends, especially on Sunday. Be careful – always keep your bag and wallet with you.
  • Another tip – be sure to bargain! After all, the Greeks often increase the price of goods several times.

The market is open from 7 am to 7 pm, which is absolutely not typical for most Greek markets and shops. On the market you can buy icons and souvenirs from the monasteries on the sacred Mount Athos, jewelry and ceramics, and indeed everything you could wish for. The market is especially popular among hunters for rare things, vintage books, discs, musical instruments, etc.

You can even find sandals that will be tailored to the characteristics of your foot right in the store! People say, if you did not find anything on Monastiraki, then most likely you will not find it anywhere in Athens, and perhaps this thing does not exist at all.


#4 Climb Mount Lycabettus

Climb Mount Lycabettus to see a 360° panorama of Athens, the Acropolis, and the Aegean Sea. Also known as Lycabettus Hill, the mountain can be seen from almost every corner of Athens and is 277m high (which is even higher than Acropolis).

We believe that climbing Lycabettus Hill is a must for Athens itinerary!

On the top of the hill there is a modest white Byzantine chapel of St. George, built in the XIX century and a cozy cafe where you can have a cup of coffee, a snack and admire the views of numerous white houses and the Acropolis.

View from Mount Lycabettus

Lycabettus is popular with lovers and honeymooners, but often locals, who are tired of city’s bustle, noise, and traffic, come here too.
You can get on top of Lycabettus in several ways: by cable car or on foot. The cable car costs 5€ one way or 7.50€ for both ways. We recommend going up by cable car and going down on foot. Especially because at the top you’ll find “Orizontes Lycabettus” a wonderful upscale seafood restaurant offering probably the best dinner view in the city, you’ll want to walk off the seafood and wine afterwards.


#5 Feel the Contrast in Kolonaki Area

Numerous graffitis turned the historical heart of Athens into a place that left rather contradictory feelings. The only exception to this rule is the bohemian district Kolonaki, where rulers and wealthy people settled since ancient times. And even now it looks like a small pearl in the center of the urbanized city.
Kolonaki area is located between Mount Lycabettus and Syntagma square and is in stark contrast to other central areas. There are many luxury shops, restaurants, and boutiques, so we warn you right away – even for a glass of mineral water you pay two to three times more expensive than in the rest of the city. Prices for real estate are considered to be one of the most expensive in the city as well.

There are no particular sights in Kolonaki, but you should definitely check it out to see how much the atmosphere of the area differs from the districts located just a few hundred meters away.


#6 Hang Out in Gazi – The Most Trendy Area of Athens

Gazi is a district located in the south-west of the capital, at the intersection of Jera Odos and Odos Pireos streets.

Gazi is without exaggeration the most “cool” place in Athens, full of nightclubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and art centers led by Technopolis – a huge gas power station, converted into a museum and exhibition center with a stage. It may well be that Technopolis and Gazi are places unique to Europe.

During the day, the area is practically no different from other parts of Athens – traditional taverns, the aroma of coffee from open coffee shops, lazily walking around tourists and locals, vividly discussing the pressing problems on the cafe terraces. But lovers of architecture and photographs will certainly mark Gazi as a very colorful place, besides there are a lot of graffiti painted walls. Seriously, in Athens, even special “street art” tours are organized for tourists, who are shown the most interestingly beaten walls of the city. So even couch potatoes who do not like night parties will spend time in Gazi with interest.

All the fun, however, begins in the evening or better to say at night as all the parties begin around 1 am! On the streets of Gazi, you will find as many cafes, bars, and clubs as you won’t be able to visit, probably in a few weeks in Athens! Do you like rock music? Head over to the Domahar rock bar. Latin music? Easy! Spend the night dancing your hearts out at Fuego Latin Club. Athens has numerous amounts of lounges and bars, all with special decor and unique style, traditional taverns with live music and national cuisine, people of all ages and styles can be found in Gazi.


#7 Admire at Technopolis – The Center of Modern Art

Once there was a gas power station in Athens located in the very center of the city, which didn’t let locals sleep at night. The station then was shut down, and inventive Greeks soon converted it into a huge art center. Moreover, the walls of the plant, its copper fencing and even huge pits and gas cylinders were all left in their places. Now there are regular concerts, festivals (for example, the Annual Jazz Music Festival or the Street Art Festival), exhibitions and even sporting events. When no special concert is planned, admission to Technopolis is free; on the remaining days, you will need to buy a ticket.

When to come? Yes, on any day of the week, in the summer in Gazi it is always full of people – both on Tuesday and Saturday. Keep in mind: the Athens metro is open until 12 am, and starts running again at 5 am.


#8 Go for a Walk in the National Garden

There is nothing more desirable for a tired tourist than some rest in peace and quiet. In Athens, the best place for this is the National Garden. The National Garden is easy to find: it is located not far from Syntagma Square, right behind the Parliament building.

The National Garden

Shady alleys and numerous ponds will save you from the heat. In addition, the garden contains ancient ruins, remains of columns and ancient mosaics. There is a mini-zoo, a botanical museum, and a lot of animals all around the park: green parrots, swans, ducks, geese, and turtles.


#9 Make a Trip to Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion is located 65 km from Athens is the southernmost point of Attica, and of Europe.

Lovers of myths and mysteries, as well as romantics, who dream of seeing stunning sunsets, strive to get to Cape Sounion also referred to as “end of the world”.

Besides incredible sunsets, Cape Sounion is famous for two places of interest:

  1. The temple of Poseidon that stands on Cape Sounion’s summit and has served as a sign of the correct course for mariners, and shelter for locals during the attacks on Athens. The ruins of the temple, which have survived to our day, were erected on the site of the old sanctuary in 444 BC. Today, everything left from the majestic temple is 16 marble pillars and the remains of a frieze depicting the legendary battle of Theseus with the Minotaur. And, according to legend, if you make a wish at sunset at the temple of Poseidon, it will certainly come true!
  2. Another archaeological site of Cape Sounion is the ruins of the temple of Athena, dating back to the 470 BC and located at an altitude of 400 m above sea level. Unfortunately, only the foundation, part of the roof and column capital survived till our days.

#10 Witness the Changing of Guards

Their unusual procedure of changing guards is known to travelers from around the world.

  • Watching the Evzones in front of the Hellenic Parliament is one of the popular activities that takes place in the center of Athens and attracts numerous tourists every hour.
  • The Evzones is a special unit of the Hellenic Army that guards the Monument of the Unknown Soldier regardless of the weather, time of year and day.
  • The guard is changed every hour. The Evzones’ marching is more like a solemn dance, each movement being deeply symbolic.

The costumes of the Evzones make most tourists smile, but few of them know that every detail of their outfit is deeply thought out and symbolic. For example, the Greek kilt is made of 30 meters of white cloth that is sewed into 400 folds in memory of the four centuries of Ottoman rule in Greece.


#11 Intake History in One of the Numerous Museums

Athens is home to a huge amount of museums and some of them might be to your liking.

  • The National Archaeological Museum stores unique finds from all over the country.
  • The Byzantine Museum is the best collection of icons and mosaics in Europe.
  • The Benaki Museum is known for its rich collection of ancient Greek and Byzantine art, as well as exhibits of Chinese porcelain, oriental jewelry, and weapons.
  • The National Art Gallery presents the works of Greek artists dating back to the 14th century.
  • The Archaeological Museum of the Athenian Agora, located in the northeastern part of the city, hosts exhibits associated with the oldest Athenian democracy in the world. In particular, ostraca (pieces of pottery) which the Athenians used to vote are kept there.
  • In Goulandris Natural History Museum you can get acquainted with the Greek flora and fauna. The exhibition presents rare endangered species of plants.
  • The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments will let you get to know the country and its inhabitants from the other, musical, point of view. The collection contains more than 1,200 exhibits, the oldest of which is dated back to the 18th century. Only one half of them is exhibited in the halls but there is an opportunity to hear the sound of each instrument.

Any vacation will not be enough to explore all the exhibitions of Athenian museums. We advise you to study the information in advance and choose the most interesting museums for yourself.


#12 Feel the Breeze in the Port of Piraeus

The sea harbor of enormous size in the city of Piraeus is considered to be part of Athens rather than an independent municipality.

Piraeus is the largest port not only in Greece but also in the entire Mediterranean. The port is a transportation hub for international ships and ferries that go to numerous Greek islands including one of the most famous island – Santorini.

  • Naturally, the port itself is the most interesting landmark. You can climb the hill of Kastela to observe the panoramic view of the port. The port lies in the Saronic Gulf, which has a unique shape of an almost perfect circle.
  • In addition to the port, Piraeus hosts major churches and a couple of museums.
  • There are also equipped beaches, located at a safe distance from the port and passing ships. One of the best areas is Votsalakia beach just next to the Gulf of Mikrolimano. In addition to sunbeds and umbrellas, there is a tennis court, a volleyball court and a swimming pool available.

Getting there:

The distance from the center of Athens to Piraeus is no more than 14 km. The journey from Athens to Piraeus will take from 10 to 60 minutes depending on departure point. There are several ways to get to Piraeus:

  • By metro (green line, line number 1);
  • By bus (from the city №40, №49, from Athens airport bus X96);
  • Taxi (from the city 20-30€, from the airport 50-60€);
  • By a rented car.

Have you already been to Athens? Write about your favorite places in the comments!

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10 Days in the Baltics: What to See and Do in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania https://etramping.com/10-days-baltics-estonia-latvia-lithuania/ https://etramping.com/10-days-baltics-estonia-latvia-lithuania/#comments Thu, 07 Mar 2019 06:09:07 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=40474 The Baltic States are rapidly becoming THE go-to tourist destination. These are the very best attractions you shouldn't miss over a 10-day itinerary.

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When attempting to conjure up images of this small corner of Northern Europe, many people might be at a loss. Comparatively speaking, the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania aren’t regularly on the lips of travel agencies (save for the occasional stag night in Riga). However, this region really does deserve to be firmly on the travelling map.

Is it a dream?

Three countries all sharing a historically close bond but with vastly different cultures sets up an enticing, whirlwind of a getaway. So, whether it be during a relaxing Baltic cruise or while budget backpacking, a 10-day itinerary in these fairy tale lands will give you the perfect taste of the bite-sized Baltics. We can guarantee you’ll be back for more, anyway.

Estonia

The northern most Baltic State is arguably its most charming, having more in common with Scandinavian Europe now than it did while under a Soviet boot. Boasting abundant and diverse natural features, it’s also a medieval aficionados dream; no more so than in its stunning capital – Tallinn.

Trump would be proud.

Tallinn

Whether you’re cruising into the country from the Gulf of Finland or flying direct, you’ll most likely down wheels or drop anchor in Tallinn. Known for its outstandingly well persevered UNESCO old town, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back to a time of monks, knights, jousts and flagons of ale.

There’s a pie shop in the town hall – if you miss it you’re insane.

Walk the city walls, visit Toompea Hill for some uninterrupted views of the old town and see as many medieval churches, towers and buildings as you can cram in. On day two, visit the Kadriorg Palace and don’t miss the quite brilliant Seaplane Harbour – one of the finest maritime museums in the world.

Tartu or Parnu

Tartu – Estonia’s second city – is also its academic fulcrum. This is where you’ll find the brains of the country in a famous university town that’s popular with a younger crowd. It can get lively on a night out, while still offering delightful, medieval appeal.

Wait for the students…

Parnu, on the other hand, has a Mediterranean-worthy beach front on the Gulf of Riga that’s popular with holidaymakers. It also has the wetlands of the Soomaa National Park close by. Getting into nature is essential in Estonia, but we’ll leave this choice up to you.

Latvia

Sandwiched as the middle Baltic State is Latvia, which you should be reaching sometime on day four. A magical land known for its coast of beaches, fishing villages and lush, green countryside. It’s an unspoiled, sleepy wilderness with a juxtaposed, full-of-beans capital city.

Gauja National Park

Anything Estonia can do, Latvia can do…just as well. In recent years the country has been making a name for itself with the great outdoors and it’s hard to pick a favourite location. Gauja National Park will take some beating, though.

Cēsis Castle.

It’s a rich expanse of green space punctuated by more amazing castles than you could swing a sword at. Add rivers, caves, and adventure sports, and you’ll need more than a day in these parts.

Riga

The Baltic’s most bustling and cosmopolitan city has something of a reputation for being a party starter – and there’s no smoke without fire. If you’re looking to let your hair down on your trip – search no further than here.

Riga’s iconic architecture.

But don’t let that fool you – Riga is beautiful in its own right. Famous for its wooden and art-nouveau buildings, it’s an intriguing mix of the old and the new that makes it an incredibly popular travel destination. You should manage two days here – at least one to nurse your hangover.

Lithuania

The first country to leave the USSR rightly wanted to stand on its own two feet – and indeed it does. It’s a land that’s long been squabbled over – which is palpable in its art and architecture, and eclectic sights and attractions. No surprise really, being slap bang in the centre of Europe. Like – the actual centre.

I’d want to take over this, too.

The Hill of Crosses

If you’re looking for something alternative on your trip, there’s no doubting that this unique sight is well worth a visit. Thousands upon thousands of crosses and crucifixes dominate a hill just outside the town of Šiauliai.

Terrifying or comforting? You decide.

Whether you’re a person of faith or not – it’s something you won’t forget in a hurry. And now thanks to the internet – it’s gained a reputation as one of the world’s more bizarre tourist attractions. Don’t forget your camera.

Vilnius

The Lithuanian capital isn’t quite like its northern neighbours. It’s more a hotch-potch of styles, a veritable Aladdin’s cave of architecture and design where it seems nobody could quite make up their mind what to build. But that doesn’t make it any less appealing. In fact, quite the contrary.

Timeless charm.

Points of interest include the romantic St. Anne’s Church, the gorgeous Vilnius Cathedral and the imposing Gediminas Tower complex – from which there are some lovely views of the city. But there’s so much more besides, including the fascinating and funky Užupis – a bohemian quarter that is apparently an independent republic.

Trakai

A short journey from the capital is this dramatic fortress on Lake Galvė, one of the country’s most recognisable landmarks. Its proximity to the city makes it the perfect day trip as your Baltic experience is drawing to a close.

The Lithuanian Hogwarts.

This 14th-Century fortress is breathtaking to behold, not least because of its commanding position in a picture-postcard seat. The landscape is simply stunning and there’s always something going on to keep locals and tourists entertained. This really is not to be missed and is highly recommended whatever the season.

The Beautiful Baltics

That’s ten days packed with some incredible sights and attractions, the likes of which you’ll be hard pressed to find the equal anywhere else. The Baltics are rightly taking their place as one serious tourist hot-spot, each country offering something different, while complimenting the experience as a whole. There’s no doubt that one trip here is ever going to be enough.

Have you been to the Baltics? What would you have seen if you had a 10-day itinerary?

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3 Day London Itinerary https://etramping.com/3-day-london-itinerary/ https://etramping.com/3-day-london-itinerary/#comments Sat, 23 Feb 2019 03:02:39 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=40236 What can we say about London that hasn't already been said? You need to experience it first hand. Here's what to do over three days in this incredible city. Life will never be the same again.

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They say that if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life, and as one of the most visited cities in on the planet (the second most – to be exact) England’s capital has more sights and attractions that you could ever hope to see in one visit. You would actually need an entire lifetime in these ancient streets to experience it all, from the historic Buckingham Palace and Royal Family, to the world-class museums and galleries and everything in between – there’s something noteworthy at every turn. Bored – you will never be.

3 day london itinerary

Why Visit London?

London is one of the world cities, and by that we mean one of the premier destinations on the planet. The ‘Big Smoke,’ to give it its nickname, has significantly shaped global history and culture in so many ways and it continues to do so for better or worse. As such, you’ll find an abundance of incredible, world-famous attractions that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

London does a lot – and what it does, it does really well. Music, food, entertainment, art, shopping, sport, accommodation…the list goes on and on. You’ll feel like you’re in a movie as you wander strangely familiar streets and visit the top sights, set against the backdrop of an ever-changing skyline where ancient meets modern. if you can’t find it in London – it probably doesn’t exist, and if you’re struggling to find a reason to visit – you need to get out more.

About this London Travel Itinerary

In our three-day London itinerary, we’ll help you take the edge off your visit and see the very best that London has to offer in this handy, bite-sized guide. We’ll be covering everything from how to get there, what to see, where to eat and what accommodation would best suit you. Then, in a convenient at-a-glance format, you’ll be able to see all the essential facts and information for the top London sights and attractions, including why you should see it, location, opening times, prices, and any other useful, insider knowledge that will help you enjoy your trip.

Sightseeing – old school

We’ll make it super easy for you to plan your days, taking the stress out of organising it yourself, while still ensuring to pick the destinations that matter. You won’t find any fluff or filler here – just quality recommendations that make people want to visit London in the first place. Our format is unique in the way it gives it to you straight – just the info you need to make the most of your sightseeing experience, giving you more time to actually see the place, and less time tearing your hair out.

Note: Be aware that this is a guide only and depending on time, traffic, queues, weather and other factors, you may or may not be able to fit in everything suggested on each day. Always head out as early as possible to maximise your sightseeing potential. Adult ticket prices have been quoted at the time of writing and are subject to change. Family tickets are also available for most attractions.

Getting to London

London By Air

As you might expect with being such a cultural melting pot, London is well served with direct flights from all corners of the globe. It has five major airports, and depending where you’re coming from, you’ll be landing at either Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton or London City. Road and rail links are extensive and well serviced, so you’ll be in the city centre in no time.

British Airways. You’ll see lots of these.

London By Bus

The famous, red double-decker bus is a staple in these parts, one of the iconic images of the city. But for longer distances you’ll be wanting something a little more comfortable. Thankfully, London is a transport hub for long distance coaches, and you can reach the capital by four wheels from pretty much anywhere in Europe. Try National Express and Megabus for UK wide connections, and Eurolines for on the continent. Most arrivals will pull into Victoria Coach Station.

It doesn’t get more British than this picture.

London By Car

Traffic can be a nightmare in London city centre, with parking problems and charges even worse. There is a congestion zone where you have to pay for the privilege to enter. That being said, arriving by car has its merits, and the city is well signposted and served by major road networks. You’ll find an abundance of car hire options from Heathrow Airport and the city readily available – but search online for the best deals. Don’t forget your valid driving license issued in your home country to drive legally in the UK.   

Day One in London

Breakfast at EAT.

Sure, you could spend a small fortune on incredible, Michelin starred breakfasts, but why bother when you’re on-the-go? EAT are a fantastic chain of health-conscious sandwich shops you’ll discover all over the city, so you’re never far away if you need to grab a quick bite. It’s good food fast and it won’t cost you the earth, making it the perfect place to get a breakfast bap and good coffee before you start the day. You’re going to be very busy after all.

Location: With 75 branches city-wide, it isn’t hard to find one. Try 39-41 Villiers Street near Embankment Station to get you started.

Cost: Cheap as chips. You won’t pay more than £15 for two, including a hot beverage.

Opening Hours: Daily 06.30-17.30.

Pro Tip: Get your breakfast to go and enjoy it in the nearby Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s Column. Just watch out for the pigeons.

Morning – Sightseeing Bus Tour

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the best way to get your bearings in a new city is to do a sightseeing bus tour. Yes, they might be a bit cliche, but they’re very useful indeed. You get to take everything in during a whistle-stop excursion, then decide where you want to go back to later. It’s convenient if the weather isn’t on your side either, while all tours have an audio guide in several languages. They also offer an evening option, so you can see the lights of London when the sun goes down.

Take a load off with a relaxing sightseeing tour.

Location: Hop-on, hop-off stops are located all over the city.

Cost: Expect to pay between £25- £35 depending on when your ticket expires.

Opening Hours: Regular departures round the clock from early AM.

Further information and how to book can be found here.

Pro Tip: Tickets can be valid for a 24, 48 or 72-hour time-frame so you can use the service as much or as little as you like within your chosen limit. Start as early as you can.

Afternoon – The Houses of Parliament

One of the most recognisable landmarks in the world is that of the British Houses of Parliament and the iconic tower of Big Ben (which is the name of the bell and not the tower itself – a common misconception). Located in the city of Westminster, it’s here that you’ll find many of London’s most famous tourist attractions, but a visit to the corridors of power is a must while in the capital. It dates back to 1016, and If you’re that way inclined, tickets are available to tour the buildings and even watch a government debate.

You’ll be spending a lot of time in Westminster.

Location: Houses of Parliament, Westminster, SW1A 0AA. The area is well served by public transport. Westminster Station is the nearest underground. Alight at Abingdon Street if you’re coming by bus.

Cost: self-guided audio tours are £18.50 for adults. There are discounts for groups and booking online.

Opening Hours: 09.00-17.00 Monday to Friday. Closed Saturdays.

An exclusive tour avoiding the crowds is also available.

Pro Tip: Remember that security is super tight in these parts with metal detectors and bag x-rays. So, if you are planning on doing a tour – leave anything potentially troublesome at home. These guys don’t mess about.

Afternoon – Buckingham Palace

One of the most popular tourist draws in London and the UK has to be the Royal Family, and nowhere is more synonymous with the Queen and Co than Buckingham Palace. It first opened back in 1703, and has been the residence of the reigning British monarch since Queen Victoria. The world-famous Changing-of-the-Guard ceremony is witnessed by millions every year, and the palace itself is open to visitors every summer.

Do call round for tea.

Location: Situated at the end of Buckingham Palace Road, in the City of Westminster. The nearest underground stations are Green Park and St James’s Park.

Cost: An adult ticket during the summer costs £24. The Changing-of-the-Guard is free to watch.

Opening Hours: The State Rooms have seasonal admission times. 20th July – 31st August 2019: 09.30-19.30. 1st September – 29th September 2019: 9:30 – 18.30.

The Royal Mews – one of the world’s finest working stables are also available to visit.

You won’t find these guys anywhere else.

Pro Tip: The Changing-of-the-Guard takes place from 10.45 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays (weather permitting). It lasts about half-an-hour, but make sure to arrive early as it will be very crowded.

Afternoon – Westminster Abbey

Walk in the footsteps of the past at this magnificent, gothic abbey in the Westminster district. Site of many a monarch’s coronation, as well as Royal weddings and state funerals, you’ll find many famous Brits are buried within its grounds, including Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens. It’s a stunningly beautiful, architectural masterpiece, with some outstanding art and artifacts that will keep any history buff enthralled for hours. It has been standing for over a thousand years after all.

Spend hours admiring the intricate architecture.

Location: 20 Deans Yard, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA. Located right behind the Houses of Parliament, it’s a short walk from the nearest underground station of Westminster.

Cost: An adult ticket costs £20 on the door.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9.30-15.30. Saturdays 9.00-13.00. Closed on Sundays. There is also late admission on Wednesdays where you can visit from 16.30-18.00. Keep an eye out though – an annual program of events might mean the site is closed on any particular day.

Book in advance to save yourself a few pennies with a self-guided audio tour.

Pro Tip: If you really want to save some money, attending a daily church service is free and you’ll experience the fabulous acoustics from the choir and organ.

Dinner at the Red Lion

After you’ve exhausted yourselves trekking round the Westminster sights, you deserve a pint of golden ale in a traditional British pub. The Red Lion is a historic tavern that dates back to 1434, a stone’s throw from Number 10 Downing Street – the home of the British Prime Minister. It’s a cosy, welcoming establishment that offers delicious pub grub set amidst fascinating, politically themed décor.

You might get a pint with the PM.

Location: 48 Parliament Street, SW1A 2NH. It’s right around the corner from the Westminster underground station.

Cost: While many eateries in the area are high-end with prices to match, The Red Lion offers tasty dishes at affordable prices. Expect to pay in the region of £10- £15.50 for a main course.

Opening Hours: Monday-Friday food is served in the mornings from 08.00-11.00 and in the evenings from 11.30-22.00. Saturday from 09.00-11.00 and 11.30-19.30. Sunday from 09.00-11.00 and 12.00-19.30.

Pro Tip: If you don’t try a pie and ale (house specialties) you’ve missed a trick.  

Day Two in London

Morning – The Tower of London

You’ll be staying close to the banks of the Thames for your second day in the city, right in very heart of oldest part of London and enjoying the juxtaposition of ancient and modern. The (in)famous Tower of London is an iconic fortress that needs little introduction – particularly if you happened to be one of the traitors incarcerated here. With a bloody and gruesome past, the tower today serves as a secure location for the Royal Crown Jewels and is the oldest fortification of its kind in the world.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

Location: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB. The nearest underground station is Tower Hill.

Cost: Ticket prices vary depending on the season. From March 1st 2019 they will be £27.50 for a walk-in adult ticket. Online, you’ll pay £24.70.

Opening Hours: Monday and Sunday 10.00-16.30. Tuesday-Saturday 09.00-16.30. From the 1st March 2019 the tower remains open an hour later.

Pick up a ticket that gives you access to all the exhibitions including the Crown Jewels.

Pro Tip: Like most London attractions, it can get very busy. Arrive super early in the morning and head straight to the Crown Jewels first. You just might have the place to yourself.

Morning – Tower Bridge

A short walk from the Tower of London is Tower Bridge – and the two are not to be confused. This Victorian engineering marvel is one of the defining symbols of the city and an iconic landmark in the capital. Built in the late 17th century, it’s a combined suspension and bascule design and the sight of a boat passing underneath is really quite something to behold. The upper walkway now incorporates a glass floor for a unique view on London life below.

One of the most famous bridges in the world.

Location: Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP. The bridge is served by Tower Hill and London Bridge underground stations, a short walk away.

Cost: An adult ticket to the exhibition and to see the inner workings of the bridge costs £9.80 and £8.70 if you buy online in advance.

Opening Hours: April-September 10.00-17.00. October-March 09.30-17.00.

Book tickets to the exhibition in advance to save money.

Pro Tip: Check out the bridge lifting schedule to capture a great photo opportunity. The best viewpoints are from Butler’s Wharf and St Katherine Docks, one on each bank.

Afternoon – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

“All the world’s a stage,” quoteth William Shakespeare, and if you want to see what they were like in his time then a visit to the reconstructed Globe Theatre is an absolute must. Although his actual playhouse was destroyed by fire in 1613, this modern retake was constructed using evidence from the original designs. As such, what you see is an extremely accurate and beautiful representation of an Elizabethan theatre. There’s an exhibition on Shakespeare’s life and times, but the real highlight is to see a play performed in such charming surroundings.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day…?

Location: 21 New Globe Walk, SE1 9DT. Situated on the south bank of the River Thames in the Bankside cultural quarter, the nearest underground stations are Blackfriars and Mansion House.

Cost: Adult tickets for the exhibition and theatre tour start at £17.00. Ticket prices to see a performance will vary.

Opening Hours: The exhibition is open daily from 09.30-17.00.

A guided tour of “this wooden ‘O’” is one of the best ways to see how actors would have performed back in Elizabethan times.

Pro Tip: If you really want to experience its full potential, you need to see a performance here. Check out the What’s On schedule to find out when your favourite play is under the lights. It’s not all to do with the Bard either – there’s plenty of alternative talks and shows to keep everyone content.

Afternoon/Evening – Tate Modern

It’s time to get your art fix on as you visit one of the premier galleries in the world. The Tate Modern is London’s national gallery of international modern art, housing a stunning array of works from all corners of the globe. Only the British Museum draws in more visitors annually. The beauty of it is – it’s totally free to enter, and only certain exhibitions will ask for an admission fee. Art should be accessible for all and it certainly is at the Tate Modern. Be advised though, as it is one of the largest collections out there, it will take you a long time if you want to see it all.

Getting all arty farty.

Location: Bankside, SE1 9TG. Southwark and Blackfriars are your underground stations. As well as the usual bus connections, there are boat services running the River Thames to get you there in style.

Cost: Free – but exhibitions vary.

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10.00–18.00. Friday to Saturday 10.00–22.00.

Pro Tip: Expect the unexpected here – work ranges from incredible masterpieces to something you could find in a dumpster. Go in with an open mind.

Evening – St Paul’s Cathedral

Crossing over the Millennium Bridge at twilight is a wonderful experience, and you’ll see the lights of St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance. The dome of this iconic building is one of the defining images of London, a 17th century baroque masterpiece that famously lasted throughout the dark days of the Blitz in WWII. While it is beautiful to see it lit up a night, be advised in order to enjoy it’s wonderous interior, the last admission is a little on the early side at 4 PM.

St Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge

Location: St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD. Access over the Millennium Bridge is recommended. The nearest tube is St Paul’s.

Cost: To marvel at the exterior is free, but unless you’re visiting for a service, expect to pay £20.00 for an adult ticket.

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 08.30-16.30. Sundays for worship only.

To skip the queue, enjoy a fast track entrance ticket that costs less than a walk-in.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the whispering gallery – where it is said even the slightest sound can be heard everywhere because of the impressive acoustics.

Evening – The Sky Garden

You can’t miss the newly built skyscraper on Fenchurch Street – because it looks like a giant walkie-talkie. This, in fact, has become its beloved nickname since construction was completed in 2014. But while it might contain uninteresting offices or businesses you don’t want to bother with, you’re looking to head to the top floor, where you’ll find three stories of 360-degree city views in landscaped gardens. It’s a serene, calm environment in an otherwise bustling city and it knocks spots off the ‘Shard’ skyscraper – because it’s free to enter. You get a terrific view of the Shard from here, anyway.

Hello…hello…is there anybody there?

Location: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AF. The local tube station is Monument and once you’re topside – you won’t be able to miss it.

Cost: Free – but you will need to book tickets in advance, so plan ahead.

Opening Hours: Monday 07.00-23.00. Tuesday 07.00-24.00. Wednesday-Friday 07.00-01.00. Saturday 08.00-01.00. Sunday 08.00-23.00.

Pro Tip: Unless you’re dining at the restaurant, you’ll have one hour of allotted time. Book well in advance – because tickets are like hen’s teeth.

Day Three in London

Morning – The British Museum

With some 5.5 million visitors every year, the British Museum attracts record numbers of tourists in the capital. And with a collection this extensive it’s little wonder why. The vast majority of its works were obtained during the reign of the British Empire, and you will be astounded just how far and wide it once reached. Ownership of certain exhibits remains the source of much controversy, so you should definitely visit to see what all the fuss is about. But with some 8 million points of interest housed within – you could be here some time.

You could spend days in here.

Location: Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG. The nearest underground stations are Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: 10.00-17.00 daily. Fridays until 20.30.

Take a guided tour to really get the most out of your visit here.

Pro Tip: A collection this huge can be overwhelming and intimidating. Remember – it’s free – so take your time and come back later if you don’t manage to see everything at the first go.

Lunch – Ben’s Fish and Chips

Arguably the UK’s most popular dish is fish and chips, so while you’re in the capital you’d be amiss not to try it. It helps that it’s delicious, too. Luckily, a stone’s throw from your British Museum experience is the highly rated Ben’s Traditional Fish and Chips Restaurant. You won’t need dinner for a while – it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Location: 200 Shaftesbury Ave, Covent Garden, WC2H 8JL. Tottenham Court Road is serving underground station.

Cost: Cod and Chips will set you back £8.80.

Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 11.00-23.00. Sunday 10.30-22.00.

Pro Tip: It’s the perfect opportunity to check out the beautiful Covent Garden district and piazza at the same time.

Afternoon – Shopping

Since you’re in the neighbourhood of some of the finest shopping in the world, it would be rude not to at least take a little peak, right? You’re in the heart of London’s west end, which has more shops and boutiques than you can possibly fathom, enough to leave your credit card quivering with fear. It costs nothing to look however, so take a stroll along Regent Street, Oxford Street and Bond Street to see where high-end fashions meet bargain buys and everything in between.

Shop till you drop.

Location: Alight at Oxford Circus underground and you’ll be right in amongst it. Never a tube station has a more fitting moniker.

Cost: Free to window shop – your souvenirs are entirely up to you.

Opening Hours: Various hours, but most stores will be open from 09.00-20.00. Late night shopping on Thursdays.

If you’d rather save your feet, why not take a private chauffeur-driven shopping trip?

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re holed up somewhere safe before lunch time. It’s worse than a stampede of rabid wildebeest.

Afternoon – The London Eye

If you have time, scoot across the water for a ride on the world-famous London Eye. It’s the largest observational wheel in Europe (it used to be the tallest in the world) and the most visited paid attraction in the British Isles. Experience unrivalled views of the Houses of Parliament and the Thames below, as well as the immersive 4D mini-movie. There’s no better place to enjoy a London sunset.

Head for heights required.

Location: Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Waterloo is the nearest underground station, over the Hungerford Bridge.  

Cost: Tickets start at £27.00.

Opening Hours: The Eye’s hours of operation can vary dramatically throughout the year. Typically, between the hours of 10.00-20.30.

Enjoy fast-track admission if you book online beforehand.

Pro Tip: Take a wander along the Queens Walk and through the Jubilee Gardens for a picturesque stroll before or after your wheel experience.

Evening – It’s Show Time!

No visit to London would be complete without taking in at least one show in the famous theatre district. The west end is one of the world’s most popular destinations for plays, musicals and other English language performances, with the nearest rival being that of Broadway in New York. Pick up some discounted tickets and see your favourite stars tread the boards, or sing along to every word from hits like Phantom of the Opera, We Will Rock You, the Lion King and Wicked. It’s razzmatazz, spectacle and showbiz at its brilliant best.

You’re an actor Harry…

Location: There are over 240 theatres in London. Start at Leicester Square underground and you’ll be in the very heart of it.

Cost: Ticket prices vary wildly from show to show. Check listings for details.

Opening Hours: Matinee performances are usually at 14.30. The curtain goes up at 19.30 in the evenings.

Pro Tip: Don’t worry about what to wear if you’re in your day-trip clothes. Gone are the days of top hat, tails and sequined gowns – nobody cares what your attire is. Go comfy and enjoy.

Accommodation in London

Luxury – The Ritz

It doesn’t get much more luxurious than the world-famous Ritz hotel. Favourite of superstars and the mega-rich, you can pretend to be a rock god and throw a TV out the window. It’s five stars worth of service that will set you back a pretty penny – but it is one of the finest hotels in the world, bang in the middle of one of the world’s finest cities. It doesn’t get more decadent than this.

Location: 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR. The closest underground station is Green Park.

Cost: Prices start at £425 per night.

Mid-Range – Citizen M

Aimed at a younger cliente, the Citizen M chain of hotels are filled with clean lines, funky colours and modern furnishings. There’s nothing worthless here, they’ve put a lot of effort into designing a trendy, functioning place to sleep without the clutter. The rain showers in each room are a particular highlight, as are the wall to wall windows – quite literally.

Location: There are three Citizen M hotels in the London area. At the Tower of London, in Bankside and in Shoreditch.

Cost: Rooms start at £99.00

Budget – St Christopher’s Inn

St Christopher’s Inns are something of an institution in London, famous for being budget friendly, friendly accommodations. There are no less than eight locations scattered around the city, which means you’ll more than likely find yourself exactly where you want to be. Comfortable sleeping arrangements, a free breakfast and meeting friends for life. Why would you want to stay anywhere else?

Location: The hostels are located at Camden, Greenwich, Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush, Liverpool Street and x3 at London Bridge.

Cost: Varies depending on location. The cheapest starts at £9.40 for a dorm bed.

Summary

It has been said that London is the capital of the world, and after any visit here you’ll be inclined to agree. It really is a one-of-a-kind kinda place. We’ve tried to touch on the best the city has to offer in our little guide, but in a smorgasbord as diverse and eclectic as this, we’re bound to have missed some killer suggestions. We hope you will forgive us. In the meantime, we wish you a present and memorable trip if you’re every visiting London. We’ll be very jealous indeed.

So, what have we missed? Let us know if we’ve outrageously overlooked an amazing attraction, or what you would have included in your three-day itinerary of London.

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The Absolute BEST Things to do in Athens https://etramping.com/absolute-best-things-athens/ https://etramping.com/absolute-best-things-athens/#comments Mon, 04 Feb 2019 13:47:44 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=40564 If you've only got a short time in this ancient city, you'd better head for the best attractions. We compiled the definite best attractions in Athens here.

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“Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” We think that Aristotle was onto something when he (probably) said those words, and for us, there is no better happiness than travelling. Fitting then, the way we should introduce this article about the great scientist and philosopher’s old stomping ground – the Greek capital of Athens.

Let’s put our heads together, boys…

Along with his teacher Plato and in turn his teacher Socrates, they helped to establish Greece as one of the cradles of civilisation, as just some of the founding fathers of modern thought. So, let’s take a look at a shortlist of the very best this city has to offer.

Of course, if you really want to know what to see and do here, you’re better off finding a local. Internet is full of best itineraries for Athens and some may give you a great overview and a lot of inspiration on what to do and see in the Greek capital, like this 3 day Athens itinerary, but the help of a fellow human is invaluable. Every local, born and raised in Athens, will have some secret tips and tricks up their sleeve to share with you. Some hidden gems, best eats – and all at locally acceptable prices.

So, if you can, try to find a friendly local to show you around. But for now – you’ll just have to make do with us.

The Acropolis

One of the most recognisable locations in the world is this Athenian hillside citadel, for centuries home to the corridors of power of the Greek empire. Its imposing location overlooking the city contains a myriad of ancient architecture, the likes of which has few rivals around the world. The most famous of course is the incomparable Parthenon – the temple to the goddess Athena.

We’ve had a think, and we reckon this is pretty old.

But don’t skip everything else just to see antiquity’s poster child. There’s so much more to satisfy your history fix – too numerous to list here.

The Acropolis Museum

Athens’ new pride and joy is this stunning, multi-level museum dedicated to all things ancient Greece. It boasts over 4,000 artifacts on five levels, more than enough to keep you enthralled and occupied for most of the day. It’s especially ideal when it’s too hot to move outside.

Knowledge is enshrined within.

This state-of-the-art facility is a must-see when visiting the city, at the very least so you can understand exactly what it is you’re looking at outside. Perfect for all the family, the Acropolis Museum has won numerous awards since it finally opened to the public in 2009.

The Theatre of Dionysus

The ancient Greeks enjoyed a fair bit of merrymaking, which is reflected in the abundance of centuries old theatres you can discover in Athens. The oldest happens to be dedicated to Dionysus – the Greek god of wine, song and all things debaucherous.

Cez is a bit of a drama queen – so Athens is right up his street.

Standing for around 2,500 years, it might not be the prettiest of the theatres here (that accolade belongs to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus), but who wouldn’t want to have a dance and a jig on the stage as a homage to the god it was built for? Dionysus would certainly have approved.

The Plaka

Stepping away for a moment from the ancient stuff (which to some can get old pretty quickly – pun intended), let’s explore the delightful Plaka neighbourhood, the vicinity of which you’re likely to be in.

Mmm…I do need a new pair of underpants…

This is Greek culture and hospitality at its finest, with charming, narrow streets, leafy walkways, and plenty of boutiques, cafes and restaurants serving the finest local cuisine. You won’t feel like you’re in a capital city while getting lost here.

Syntagma Square

The city’s historic main square is of particular interest to visitors because of a tradition that takes place here at 11 am every morning. The changing of the guard in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier is an experience not to be missed – perhaps most notable for their striking, traditional uniforms.

Remember – he’s got a gun.

Plaid skirts and pom-pom shoes are an interesting fashion statement, but it is an homage to the first modern king of Greece – Otto. As well as this fascinating spectacle, the square has a number of other points of interest, including the Old Royal Palace, and is a location of much significance in the capital.

Monastiraki Flea Market

If you’re looking for a really unique souvenir or a present for someone back home, then look no further than this Athens institution. The region is known for its shopping culture, but every Sunday is when it really goes to town. Here, you can buy just about anything.

Matt Chotin [CC BY 2.0]


Old coins, nick-knacks, clothing, military gear, knock-off watches, knock-off everything, stuff people don’t want…you’ll find it in this shopper’s paradise. It gets lively at night and there’s plenty to keep you entertained even if you’re not parting with your hard-earned cash.

Panathenaic Stadium

No less than 60,000 spectators can cram into this magnificent arena, there to watch heroic Olympians compete for glory. It was built around 330 BC in which to enjoy the Panathenaic Games – a religious, sporting and cultural festival held every four years.

We dare you not to hum the Chariots of Fire theme…

It was rebuilt in 1896, but it’s still very much in use today as a focal point for anything Olympian – such as the passing of the torch. It served as a venue in the 2004 games, hosting the archery competition and as the marathon finishing line.

The National Garden

Athens isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing city on earth, but it does have its moments. One such moment is to be found in the tranquil National Gardens, 38 acres of much-needed green space in an otherwise hustling and bustling metropolis. There are multiple entrances, close to both the main square and the Panathenaic Stadium.

Palickap [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Full of a variety of flora and fauna, the gardens will seem like an oasis of calm after your hectic schedule of sightseeing. It’s a historic and important place for Athenians, who visit to get away from it all. You must join them in guessing the right time from the famous sun-dial at the entrance.

Wonder is the Beginning of Wisdom

Coming full circle (and to look really smart) we’ll finish on this Socrates quote. Athens is indeed a place to fill you with wonder as you walk in the footsteps of an extraordinary culture. At the very least, you will definitely learn something during your visit to this intriguing city.

Have you been to Athens? What would you have included as a must-see attraction?

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Iceland – An Adventurer’s Dream Destination https://etramping.com/iceland-dream-destination/ https://etramping.com/iceland-dream-destination/#comments Fri, 01 Feb 2019 09:22:02 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=39768 Travel to Iceland - a dream destination for the adventurer, the hiker, the camper and the nature lover. Visit the land of Ice and Fire.

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Iceland, a place of stark natural beauty, has been carved by the ice caps that surround and cover her and moulded by the fiery lava that flows through her veins. Her people proudly call her the Land of Ice and Fire. This is a place for the true adventurer, a place where you can dive between two continental plates, surf in the icy Atlantic under the midnight sun, hike through smouldering fields of lava, venture deep into the heart of one of Europe’s biggest glaciers and follow the course of ancient lava through underground tunnels.

Iceland just one of hundreds of pristine landscapes.

Iceland a Work in Progress

Iceland is literally a work in progress, slowly but surely growing in size. It lies on the North Atlantic Rift where the tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America are slowly tearing themselves apart. This is the only place on earth where you can see the edges of the two continents above water and take a walk between them.

Eleven percent of the interior of Iceland is capped by more than seven thousand two hundred square kilometres of glacial ice. It is in one of the world’s most active geothermal hotspots, containing lava deserts and geothermal pools and geysers. It boasts Europe’s largest glacier and the most voluminous waterfall, one of nearly ten thousand located in Iceland. Rivers and streams thread their way through black sand deserts and landscapes of almost impossibly green mosses, ferns and birches. Lakes have taken residence in the rents in the earth, sparkling with clear glacial water.

And yet, Iceland barely featured on the tourist map until the massive volcanic eruption of 2010 grounded planes in Europe in the biggest aviation shutdown since World War Two.

Journalists converged on Iceland and discovered the pristine natural beauty that is hers. They started to write numerous Iceland travel tips and the country has since become such a popular destination that the number of tourists that visit her shores each year numbers close to five times her population of 350 000 people.

When to Travel to Iceland

The shape of your Icelandic trip will be determined by the time of year that you choose to travel. Daylight hours, landscapes, temperatures and accessibility differ substantially during the various seasons of the year.

Powerful nature of Iceland.

Iceland is not as cold as you may have imagined. In winter the temperatures hover around freezing point, but in December there are no more than four hours of daylight. In winter the price of everything from airfare to hotels and entertainment drops by up to a third. This is also when you can get to see the Northern Lights in all their glory. During this time of year, the countryside will be draped in a beautiful thick layer of snow, but many areas will be inaccessible.

In the summer months, the sun sets for only a few hours each day and even then, the night is little more than a long sunset. For those who wish to make good use of the long daylight hours, this is the best time to visit.

Getting to Iceland

Iceland is part of Nordic Europe and Schengen visa rules apply.

There are regular flights into Iceland from Europe and North America and ferries run from Europe on a regular basis. Icelandair offers the option of a stopover for up to seven nights when flying between North America and Europe. For this, there is no additional cost.

Welcome to Iceland.

The airport is forty kilometres outside of the capital city Reykjavik and you can get a bus or cab to your accommodation in the capital.

The best way to see Iceland is by camper van, or you could consider to rent a car. The Ring Road does a full circle around Iceland and is 1332 kilometers long. A ten-day trip will afford you plenty time to enjoy all the sights that Iceland has to offer.

The road is single carriage most of the way and in some areas, it deteriorates to gravel so you should add gravel insurance to your rental. You can set your own pace if you self-drive. On the other hand, the guided tour offers some insight into the history and the geology of this enchanting land.

Where to Stay

Most towns and villages in Iceland have their own camping ground and this is one of the best ways to spend a night in Iceland. There are also places where you can camp in the wild without a permit if you have fewer than three tents. It is advisable to seek permission before camping on or around farmland. Campervans may only be used in a campsite.

Camping in Iceland.

There is a decent selection of hotels and guest houses in the towns. Try the family guesthouses, farmhouses and mountain cabins when travelling around the Ring Road for a genuine Icelandic experience.

Useful to Know

Food is very expensive. An average lunch could set you back by $30. All hostels, campsites and guest houses have kitchen facilities. Making your own food is the best way of ensuring that you have money for your other adventures. Tipping is not necessary. Alcohol is very expensive as it is heavily taxed.

The water is clean and drinkable so you do not need to purchase bottled water.

Take your own towels to the thermal pools. They are expensive to rent. Expect to take a shower before you enter communal baths. There is little chlorine in the water and the local people are fussy about personal hygiene.

All Icelanders speak good English as they are expected to pass the language before leaving elementary school.

The weather is changeable. You need to be prepared as conditions can change from warm to cold and wet very quickly. The wind can pick up quickly, bringing with it an icy edge.

Always be aware of the fragile environment. Driving off road is illegal. The crime rate in Iceland is one of the lowest in the world.

If that’s your first visit, you can get some extra tips from this handy guide to Iceland attractions for first timers.

Reykjavik

Most holidays to Iceland start in the most northerly capital in the world, Reykjavik. The city has a lively café culture and a vibrant nightlife, one of the best in Northern Europe. Here you will find jazz sessions, comedy theatre, craft beer bars, drag shows, and cabarets. The city is small, pretty, cosmopolitan and expensive. The streets are lined with colorful, low-rise buildings. In the distance, the snow-capped mountains are always visible.

Reykjavik a view from the top.

The cuisine in the city is superb with a wide selection of restaurants serving local and international food. Icelandic food runs the gamut of lamb or fish and the more exotic sheep’s heads, whale meat or fermented shark.

It is best to explore Reykjavik on foot. Visit the music bars, the boutiques and the cafes, art galleries, museums, and public gardens. Get a view of Reykjavik from the tower of the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church. It is 74 meters tall and is one of Iceland’s largest structures. It has a 360⁰viewing platform and from it, you can see the colorful streets of Reykjavik and the harbor bay. In the front of the church is a statue of Leif Erikson, the man who sailed to North America five hundred years before Columbus.

Learn all about local marine life at the Old Harbour. On the weekend there is a colourful flea market in the harbour, where you can purchase local crafts such as the splendid jerseys for which Iceland is famous. From the harbour, you can take a boat ride to one of the nearby islands. On Viðey you’ll find the Lennon Ono peace tower. The islands are full of birds that include puffins, arctic terns and cormorants.

Take a class at the Icelandic Elf School in Reykjavik. You’ll be taught by people who claim to have met an elf or two. Many Icelandic people believe in elves. In a 2007 survey, 37% of Icelandic people said that they believed that elves possibly existed.

If you’re in Reykjavik during the winter months hitch a ride to find the Northern Lights. In summer, take a boat out to the islands to see the puffins nesting.

The Blue Lagoon

Part way between the airport and Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is one of the most photographed areas in Iceland. Comprised of man-made thermal pools in shade of electric blue. The water temperature never drops below 38 degrees Celsius, winter or summer. Soaking in these warm outside pools whilst surrounded by snow and ice is surreal, and the surrounding countryside adds to this dreamlike fantasy as the black rock backdrops and surrounding steam create a whimsical setting.

West Iceland

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Snæfellsjökull glacier is the volcano that took centre stage in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and it looms over the landscapes on the peninsula. Dramatic scenes unfold as you make your way around the coast.

The sea cliffs at Snæfellsjökull are simply remarkable. The columned basalt cliffs feature evenly spaced block columns that tower up to fourteen metres into the heavens. They are trimmed by golden beaches so unlike the black beaches found elsewhere in Iceland. On a good day, you’ll find common or grey seals sunning themselves on the sands.

Here black lava fields flow down to soft pink sand beaches, and hills and rocks are covered with emerald green mosses and ferns. The area is full of mineral springs and thermal pools. The place names carry stories of human’s interaction with trolls and elves.

One of Iceland’s loveliest natural harbours can be found at Arnarstapi. Here you can walk the massive basalt cliffs, and view the harbour and the beaches from above, or hike along the beach and explore the arches and caves below.

Stykkishólmur, the largest town on the peninsula.

Fishing villages, lighthouses and splendid and unusual rock formations are dotted all along the coastline. In Stykkishólmur, the largest town on the peninsula, you can visit the unusual Library of Water. Here roof high glass tubes contain water from each of the glaciers in Iceland. It is a beautiful exhibit created by an artist. The library is located on a hill, so you can view the town and the harbour from above. One of the world’s largest eider farms is located here, and you can make the acquaintance of the ducks at the eider centre.  

Into the Heart of a Glacier

One thousand two hundred and sixty meters above sea level you can now enter the world of glacial ice. The world’s largest manmade glacier tunnel was launched last year. Located in Iceland’s second largest glacier Langjokull, it stretches five hundred meters into the ice. Inside the ice tunnel, you enter a world coloured in wondrous shades of blue. The deeper you go, the bluer it gets.

The trip to the tube is just as exciting as the tour of the tunnel as you are transported from the base camp to the tunnel in a monster truck with eight wheels built to traverse snow and ice. The truck was acquired from NATO, and by agreement, will never be used anywhere else. Whilst in the area spend the afternoon exploring the glacier on a snowmobile. It is an adventure all of its own.

Follow the Flow of Lava

A trip to Iceland would be incomplete without a tour through a lava cave. Vatnshellir tunnels thirty-five meters into the earth and is two hundred meters long. Located on the peninsula it is one of Iceland’s finest and most accessible lava tunnels.

Lava caves are formed when molten lava hardens, creating the roof. It then drains out, leaving behind a tunnel. Walking through the tunnel you can see the progress of the lava. The inner walls of the tunnels are a kaleidoscope of colours with rock sculptures and whorls and drips in various shades created by the mineral reaction with the lava. During winter the caves glitter with ice sculptures.

One of The Largest Lava Caves in the World

At 148 000 cubic meters Víðgelmir is one of the largest lava caves in the world. It has hundreds of lava stalactites and stalagmites, and in the winter, ice sculptures join them. Viking jewellery and bones were recently found here. In the cave, lights target the most spectacular sights, highlighting the splendid colours and formations in what is considered to be one of the most remarkable caves on earth. The cave is one thousand six hundred metres long and is accessible between April and December.

Latrabjarg – Bird Lover’s Paradise

Situated at the most westerly point of Iceland is a bird lover’s paradise. It is a cliff, fourteen kilometres long, and peaking at four hundred and forty metres high. This is considered one of the best seabird cliffs anywhere in the world. In the summer months, Iceland hosts nearly ten million puffins, many of them right here. Close by, the town of Breidavik Beach has a hotel, a restaurant and some lovely hiking trails

Húsafell – Iceland’s Summer Holiday Venue

Húsafell has always been a favourite summer holiday venue for Icelandic nationals. It is an ancient farm with a church on the lands. This is a forested area filled with sparkling glacial streams and crashing waterfalls. It is popular for hiking or cycling, but you may want to take the opportunity to get to know the delightful Icelandic horse, a breed all of its own.

The Icelandic Horse – a breed of its own.

The small horse traces its ancestry to the tenth century when Vikings brought ponies to Iceland. It is recognized as an individual breed of horse. The animal is loved by the Icelandic people for its sure-footedness and ability to find its way even in difficult weather conditions. Visitors to Iceland have also taken to the Icelandic horses and it is now exported to several countries around the world.

East Iceland

The east of Iceland is the least popular amongst tourists, and this may be part of its charm – fewer people. In this part of the island, the East Fjords are dotted with little fishing villages and surrounded by beautiful mountains. In a country with few trees, East Iceland is home to the biggest forest in the country. Thirty-five thousand wild reindeer live in the area. In season you can get easy access to puffins.

South Iceland

South Iceland contains some of the most popular tourist destinations. These include the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Golden Circle and Thorsmork, the best hiking destination in Iceland.

Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park is the first stop off on the famous Golden Circle, Iceland’s most popular tour. This park is at the heart of Iceland’s geological and historical foundations. It was here that the world’s oldest existing Parliament was first established by the Vikings in 930 AD. It continued there, in Nature’s amphitheatre, until 1798 when it was moved to Reykjavik. Relics of the time, the remains of ancient stone and turf homes, lie scattered throughout the park.

Thingvellir National Park a UNESCO heritage site.

The geology of the park has been carved by the fury of the earth as the continental plates of North America and Eurasia drift apart. Here you can walk between two continents or stand on each and collect your certificate.

Take a dive in Lake Silfra, deep inside the rift valley. The lake is fed from melt-off from the Langjökull glacier, and because it is filtered through rock, it is crystal clear, with visibility of up to eighty metres. The colours of the water are breathtaking, with greens and blues of every hue.

The park is surrounded on three sides by mountains. It boasts extraordinarily beautiful scenery with moss covered lava, scattered with lakes and dotted with small birch forests.

Geysir Geothermal Area

The second stop on the Golden Circle tour, Haukadalur Valley is an area of intense geothermal activity and you can see the steam rising above it from miles away. The area is full of steam vents, pools of boiling water and bubbling mud pools which give vent to the pungent smell of sulphur.

Strokkur – Every ten minutes she puts on a spectacular show.

This valley is the home of Geysir, the ancient natural wonder that gave its name to all other such phenomena. Geysir seldom vents anymore but Strokkur, alongside it, is very active and puts on a show several times every hour. Much to the delight of the onlookers, Strokkur catapults water and steam up to forty metres into the air.

Gullfoss

The last stop on the tour is the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall, one of Europe’s biggest, it drops down a thirty-two-meter two-tier fall.

Gullfoss one of Europe’s largest waterfalls.

On a sunny day, its sparkling waters are dressed with rainbows.

Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Skaftafell Nature Reserve covers four thousand eight hundred square kilometres of land and encompasses black lava deserts, birch forests and moss banked roaring rivers. Waterfalls also grace the park. Enjoying milder climates than many other areas on the island, many people enjoy the camping facilities in the shadow of the Öræfajökull glacier.

The area is mountainous and includes the mighty Vatnajökull Glacier. This is a perfect place to take a glacier tour. Glaciers beautiful as they are from a distance, have so much more to offer up-close. They are moulded by the elements so that they change day by day, as tunnels and ice sculptures wax and wane.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Just sixty kilometres east, you’ll find the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This beautiful blue lagoon is sprinkled with giant icebergs that have calved from the glacier icecap. This lagoon has become Iceland’s deepest lake, continually growing as the ice cap retreats. It is home to countless seals.

Ice on water Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

In the summer months, you can take a boat trip on the lagoon to view the seals and whales and to get close to the icebergs.  In winter, you’re in for a treat of a different kind when the underground ice caves are open to tourist groups. Vatnajökull Ice Caves are formed in the summer months when melt-off from the glacier flows beneath the ice, creating a fairytale world of sparkling ice caves.

In wintertime ice chunks lay upon the black beach, glistening like diamonds.

Thorsmork

Thorsmork or Thor’s Park is a favourite hiking spot in Iceland. It is a place of incredible natural beauty and is a valley surrounded by three major glaciers. The green-clad mountains are threaded with streams and rivers. Waterfalls add to the dramatic landscapes. There are multiple ways to explore this area from hiking to modified jeeps, horseback riding, cycling or all-terrain vehicles.

Thorsmork, a favourite hiking site.

Volcano huts and campgrounds are available for overnight stays and there is a full restaurant.

Landmannalaugar

The Landmannalaugar mountain range stands in colourful contrast to the pitch-black lava field right next to it. These Rhyolite mountains are a singular sight, in shades of pink, yellow, orange and green, colours that change as the sun crosses the sky. The valleys below the bare slopes of the mountain are clad in bright green mosses and grasses and in spring, they are filled with wildflowers. Here the rivers run warm as the area is geothermally active, and you can find a number of warm spas to soak in. Huts and camping facilities are available. There is also a small supply store.

Reynisfjara Beach

The most famous beach in Iceland and one of the most picturesque, these black sand and pebble beaches are walled in by basalt pillared cliffs. Sea stacks rise from the furious Atlantic waters, which are famous for tossing rogue waves onto the blackened shoreline.

Try surfing

If you’re an adventurous type, a surfing trip to the Reykjanes Peninsula is well worth the effort. The view of the land from the sea is spectacular, and unlike other top surfing sites, you won’t be sharing your wave with anyone. Make sure to go out with an Icelandic surf expert as the weather and currents are unpredictable.

LAVA – The Earthquake Museum

The recently opened, Lava Volcano and Earthquake Museum features viewing platforms that overlook Eyjafjallajökull, Katla and Hekla. Here you can experience simulated earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Interactive software explains the geology behind the phenomena.

North Iceland

Húsavík

Húsavík is one of the best places in the world to watch whales. The whales occupy the bay. The runoff from the surrounding mountains has endowed the lagoon with minerals that feed the plankton that the whales love. Boats of various types depart from the town into the lagoon so that visitors can get to see these animals close up, and in their natural environment. Humpback Minke and Blue Whale are frequently seen feeding and breaching in these waters.

Husavik.

On the banks, you’ll find a colourful fishing village where you can visit the whale museum or finish the day sampling Icelandic fish dishes.

Lake Myvatn

Lake Myvatn was formed about two thousand five hundred years ago by a volcanic eruption. The lake district is rich with bird and animal life. It is a large shallow lake famed for its wide variety of ducks. The area has many bubbling mud pots and thermal pools, and the air is redolent with the pungent smell of sulphur.

Westman Islands

Just seventy kilometres off Iceland’s southern coastline, the Westman Islands comprise a group of thirty islands that are home to the biggest puffin population on earth. The largest, Heimaey, is the only populated island. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in 1973. Many of the homes destroyed in the eruption remain as they were at the time. This place is now known as the Pompei of the North. Take a ferry to tour the islands.

Stone and turf houses.

Apart from the ruined town, you’ll also find an ancient Danish fort, some lovely churches, and ancient stone and turf houses so characteristic of Iceland.

Iceland – a Place Like No Other

Iceland is an extraordinary place with unusual and often otherworldly natural features seen nowhere else on earth. Here you can dive between continents, climb multi-coloured mountains, ride super jeeps through lunar landscapes, inspect icebergs and snowmobile on some of Europe’s biggest glaciers. Camp under the stars. Seek the Northern Lights. Ride an Icelandic horse through unspoilt nature. This is a holiday you’ll never forget.

Which would you prefer winter or summer in Iceland?

Travel to Iceland - a dream destination for the adventurer, the hiker, the camper and the nature lover.

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Why Everyone is Talking About Malta – Sights and Attractions You Need to See https://etramping.com/why-everyone-is-talking-about-malta-sights-and-attractions-you-need-to-see/ https://etramping.com/why-everyone-is-talking-about-malta-sights-and-attractions-you-need-to-see/#comments Thu, 24 Jan 2019 05:53:24 +0000 https://etramping.com/?p=39472 Malta has always been a popular visitor destination – especially if you like to scuba dive. But recently it’s been enjoying a renaissance in tourism – and this is why.

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Right, be honest; how many of you could point to Malta on a map?

WE SAID BE HONEST!

It certainly isn’t the most well known of European destinations, but you’ll find it right there beneath Sicily, just off the toe of Italy’s “boot,” slap bang in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

And for some reason, bloggers and travel writers have been going crazy for this island country (yes – it is a country) in recent years, and Malta is becoming a major hot-spot for sports lovers (check how I explored Malta on foot), travelers and holidaymakers alike. There are many great articles on what to do in Malta.

Welcome to Malta – the tiny island located in the middle of the Mediterranean that has so much to offer! 

Top Malta Attractions

Officially known as the Republic of Malta, these three islands are packed with memorable sights and attractions, and word is finally getting out. In today’s blog post, we’re giving you our explanation for the country’s recent rise in popularity by delving into Malta sights you really mustn’t miss when visiting this mysterious archipelago!

Valletta

Malta’s capital is a bustling seaport and UNESCO world heritage site – boasting some beautiful ancient buildings and fortifications. It’s also the most southerly European capital, located on the main island of Malta. Sights not to miss include the decadent St John’s Co-Cathedral, the equally gilded Grand Master’s Palace and the extravagant Manoel Theatre. Valletta is also a shopper’s delight, as well as being home to some world-class wining and dining.

Discover the beauty of Malta’s ancient history.

But the jewel in Valletta’s crown belongs to the centuries-old architecture and the fascinating history and influence of the Knights of Malta – protecting this Christian stronghold for generations. And keep your eye out for festivals and events – there’s always something going on in this culturally rich capital.

Scuba Diving in Malta

Malta occupies the perfect spot in the Mediterranean, boasting some of the finest diving conditions in the world. It is estimated that over 50,000 flipper enthusiasts come to these shores annually, purely to explore the crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands. And the undersea world is a veritable treasure-trove in itself, with world-famous dive sites and subaquatic museums of shipwrecks, ancient ruins and colorful marine life.

Are you a scuba diver? Perfect! Malta seems like a place for you then.

The sport isn’t seasonal thanks to the year-round conditions, and it’s a popular spot for beginners or those looking to learn more advanced techniques. And with a wonderful choice of highly professional dive schools, it’s little wonder Malta continues to attract a world-wide diving community.

The Blue Lagoon

Located on Comino island – a tiny nub of land jutting out of the med and sandwiched between Malta and Gozo – you’ll discover heaven on earth. The blue lagoon is arguably the most stunningly azure coastal waters you could ever hope to find and has recently boomed in popularity. It has to be seen to be believed, but you might not even believe it when you see it! The island itself is tiny and sparsely populated, but the marine life and landscape are rich and bountiful.

Blue, everywhere blue!

Comino is also a popular filming location because of its remoteness and its dramatic, craggy coastline. Hiking is excellent here, but it’s the blue lagoon that steals the show, and hopefully will continue to do so as conservationists attempt to limit the recent spike in visitor numbers.

Mdina

Stepping back into the past has never been so captivating. Mdina is a dramatic fortification where the present and the future hold little sway. It’s narrow, winding medieval streets and lamplit passageways will transport you to another time, into a palpable history and a sweepingly epic, romantic saga. It will truly take your breath away and is the perfect place to escape the rigours and stresses of modern day life while visiting some beautiful churches, palaces and eclectic museums. You’d be forgiven for believing it to be a custom built, medieval theme park.

Who is up for a hike, climb or jog when in Malta?

The nearby town of Rabat is also popular with history buffs, and you don’t want to miss St Paul’s Catacombs – a network of underground Roman burial sites dating back to the 4th century AD. Not somewhere you’d want to be left with the lights off.

Gozo

Malta’s northernmost island of Gozo is fantastic for a day trip given that it’s only a half-hour ferry ride away and it isn’t very big at all. What it lacks in size it makes up for in stunning landscape, with sandy beaches, rugged coastline, and endless Mediterranean Sea vistas. But Gozo’s most famous site is no more, with the Azure Window rock formation falling into the sea during a storm in March last year.

The stunning landscape of Gozo Island. Must go there, especially try to see Malta on a quad – I loved the experience!

However, divers say it has been reborn under the waves, becoming the breeding ground for extensive marine life. If you don’t dive, there are some terrific hiking trails for you to work up an appetite, followed by delicious culinary delights to enjoy and some excellent drinking establishments to boot. You might find it difficult to leave.

Popeye Village

For something truly unique, head to Malta’s Popeye Village – one of the country’s most interesting and popular tourist attractions – particularly if you have kids, or you’re a kid at heart. Otherwise known as Sweethaven, this seaside theme park is the custom-built fishing village that was the backdrop and set for the 1980 Hollywood musical “Popeye.” Even if you have no affection for the famous, spinach-swilling sailor, or the movie which starred the late, great Robin Williams, you’ll still find something magical in this collection of colorful and ramshackle dwellings, right on the waters of the beautiful and aptly named Anchor Bay.

Eat, pray and love when in Malta.

There’s a host of events and activities on here, including a charming Christmas village should you visit during the festive season. You’ll even get the chance to meet characters from the show! Definitely, a sight to consider if you’re looking for something a little different.

Magical Malta Travel

There’s so much more crammed into Malta’s three small islands that we can possibly cover here – including some notable Megalithic temples, Neolithic structures, classic car exhibitions and archaeology museums. Not to mention the natural wonders that pepper the archipelago. You don’t have to take our word for it – visit Malta yourself and discover why it’s a hot topic among holidaymakers and travellers this year. And probably every year from now on too!

Have you been to Malta? Let us know your favorite sights and attractions!

Malta has always been a popular visitor destination – especially if you like to scuba dive. But recently it’s been enjoying a renaissance in tourism – and this is why.

The post Why Everyone is Talking About Malta – Sights and Attractions You Need to See appeared first on Etramping Travel Blog.

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