There are many cities in Eastern Europe which fulfill the criteria that most travellers are looking for. Most notably, Prague, Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, and Krakow. They all have a colourful history, medieval and magnificent architecture, a unique culture, and insanely cheap beer! When considering all of these together, Budapest just about tops the list and is well recognised as the most livable of the lot. It’s a city that really has it all, and maybe more importantly, is a short and cheap hop away from all the other aforementioned cities. Whether you’re ticking off your cultural hotspot bucket list or trying to get a little off the grid, there’s plenty to do and see in Budapest.
Find out why Budapest has been nicknamed the ‘City of Baths.’ A quick search of Budapest on Instagram would no doubt feature a few shots of the famous Széchenyi bath and its iconic yellow architecture. But there are plenty more thermal baths found all over the city to take a break from the city and indulge in a public bath.
A building might look like a building in any other major city, but you won’t be able to say that in Budapest. From the intricate bridges that connect the two sides of the city to the majestic parliament buildings, it’s hard not to be enamoured every time you look up. Don’t miss the Fisherman’s Bastion - a photographer’s dream - for an incredible view over the Danube to the bustling downtown of Pest.
Krakow has all the trademarks of a quaint european city. The castle on the hill, the cobbled old town square, and the vibrant nightlife. It’s rather small, and easily navigated on foot (or horse and cart if you prefer!). It’s only a 6 hour bus from Budapest so makes for a nice weekend getaway and a change of culture and scenery.
This city’s unique appeal comes from some rather somber but arguably far more important reasons than other relatively similar european cities. An hour drive from the idyllic town square, lays the site of one of the largest humanitarian atrocities in recent history. There’s nothing quite like walking through the grounds of Aushwitz to instil a feeling of overwhelming gratitude for the life and world you were fortunate enough to be born into. You can also visit and learn the story of Oskar Schindlers Factory which was the inspiration for the film “Schindlers List”.
Lisbon is the vibrant epicentre of Portugal, full of colour, culture and charisma. Turn any corner and you’ll discover more and more about the coastal town. Known as the ‘City of Seven Hills’, get your walking shoes ready for a hilly but picturesque wander through the city. A popular weekend destination for many Europeans wanting to soak up its year-long sunshine and for a growing number of digital nomads gravitating towards its thriving entrepreneurial and creative scene, you’ll never be bored in Lisbon.
As the ‘City of 7 Hills’, you know they’ll be some great miradouros (“viewpoints”) for some breathtaking scenery and epic sunsets. Miraduoro de Santa Catarina is the most popular of them all, offering one of the best views of the famous 25th of April Bridge and Christo Rei monument. But if you want to escape the crowds, head to Panoramic of Monsanto, a viewpoint that has been a warehouse, nightclub and office building in its past life. Now, it’s one of the best places to get a 360° view of the city.
Between the technicolour castles, moss-covered ancient wells and ominous forest, SIntra looks like something out of a dark fairytale. But it’s all just a 30-minute train ride from Lisbon. Follow in the footsteps of many artists, filmmakers and even the Portuguese royal family who take their escape to the colourful fantasy and get inspired.
Visit Bairro Alto during the day and then the night, and it will be like gonig to two completely different neighbourhoods in Lisbon. During the day, its the boho centre, filled with trendy stores, antique shops and charming cafes. At night, the maze of bars around the neighbourhood come alive. Follow the sounds of traditional music to one of the fado houses and continue late into the night, bar-hopping down the cobblestone streets.
The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago of volcanic islands 130 miles off the west coast of Africa, are the southern most point of Europe. As such, they have beautiful weather year round, but much more to offer than spring temperatures year round. Witness El Teide, an active volcano which is the highest point in Spain. Scuba dive in Europe’s clearest waters. And explore the dozens of beaches pristine beaches. It’s a land full of fiery mountains and golden sands. One which caters for outdoorsy types of all varieties. A playground for the cyclists, hikers, rock climbers and surfers among us. And we haven’t even started on the food! We’ll be living on the 2nd largest island, Gran Canaria.
Many of the Canary islands are regarded as a hikers paradise, and our home base of Gran Canaria is no exception. There are mild temperatures making hiking from dawn till dusk a possibility, and extremely diverse landscapes and accompanying micro-climates. You can find rainforests on La Gomera, sand dunes on Gran Canaria, and lunar landscapes on Lanzarote.
As well as hiking, the islands are popular among cyclists (both off-road and on) due to their mountainous
interiors. And if you’d rather be in the water, surfing (particularly the wind variety) are popular pastimes too.
On the neighbouring island of Tenerife, you’ll find the highest point in Spain, Mount Teide, and it’s namesake national park. The active volcano and its surrounding area resembles a lunar landscape, which is further accentuated by sticking around late into a crystal clear evening.
For the athletes among us, the hike to the top takes 5 hours. Conveniently for the rest of us, there’s a cable
car which takes 8 minutes!
It's Gran Canaria’s beaches that really make it stand out above the rest of the Canaries. We're talking fine sands and turquoise waters, bustling promenades, and some seriously spectacular views to be had.
The dunes of Maspalomas offer 3 miles of dunes to bathe in, some stretches of which are popular among naturists. Gui Gui is about as remote as a beach can get so head here for some quiet seclusion. Or if you’re looking for something more conveniently located near the city, Las Canteras is in the heart of the city, and doubles as an ideal place to learn how to surf!