,

A Guide to Copenhagen: The Perfect Winter City Break Destination

 

 

Been in #Copenhagen for less than four hours and I'm already in love! This place is so beautiful 😍😍 #visitcopenhagen

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Copenhagen, somewhere I have wanted to go for sooo long! If you follow me on social media you’ll know that I asked my Twitter followers to help me decide my next winter city break destination as I just couldn’t make my mind up, so I was so pleased when Copenhagen came out on top and won the poll! I travelled to the city with my sister for three nights and we had the most amazing time, walking for miles each day and enjoying everything there is to see and do. Copenhagen really is the perfect destination for a European winter city break, and here’s my ULTIMATE guide to visiting the charming Danish capital…

 

Get around like a local

 

 

 

The centre of Copenhagen is fairly compact, so you can get around pretty much everywhere on foot, or by bike, which is what most of the locals seemed to do! My sister and I walked everywhere and ended up doing a good 15km per day, but we were venturing over to Christianshavn and exploring a little further afield instead of sticking to the central area. We did use the metro to get to and from the airport and found it super straight forward and low cost too – just like the London underground but much cleaner! Copenhagen Central Station is right next to Tivoli Gardens, around a 10-15 min walk right to the centre, so this was really easy to navigate and made it a good base from which to get our bearings.

 

Choose your hotel carefully

 

 

We were staying at the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel, just around the corner from the beautiful Nyhavn Harbour and right on the waterfront facing Christianshavn and Paper Island. We took the metro from the airport to Kongens Nytorv and the hotel was a 10 minute walk away from there. We found the location to be absolutely perfect for where we needed to be, and what we wanted to see. The Little Mermaid and Kastallet Fortress were a 20 min walk away along the waterfront, whilst Rosenborg Castle and the botanical gardens were still 20 minutes away, but in the opposite direction. It took us less than 5 minutes to reach Amalienborg Palace and around 10 minutes to reach Christiansborg Palace respectively, whilst the Round Tower was a 15 minute walk away. On city breaks it’s pretty crucial to be central to the attractions you want to visit so as not to waste too much time travelling around, and this was certainly a big factor for us during our stay. Copenhagen Admiral was the perfect base for us, and I’d highly recommend this place to anyone looking to be in the centre of the action whilst in the city –  you can read my full review and blog post here!

 

Gaze at The Little Mermaid

 

Watch and you'll see, someday I'll be part of your world 🐚🐚 #Copenhagen #thelittlemermaid #ifoundariel

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Ahhhh the little mermaid – I just LOVE her! I’ve wanted to see her since I was a little girl, and before my trip so many people had warned me that it wouldn’t be worth the wait, that she’s just a tiny statue in the middle of the water, and that she’s nothing special at all but, you know what, I found her to be totally magical and utterly mesmerising. I know she’s only small, but to me that was what made her so beautiful. She was dainty and sweet yet iconic and powerful, everything the little mermaid should be! People come from all of the world to catch a glimpse of her, and I’m so glad I finally got to see her for myself after all these years!

Stroll around the royal residences

 

Brb, just moving in to my new home 🏰🏰 #RosenborgCastle #Copenhagen #visitcopenhagen #visitdenmark #housegoals

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Copenhagen is home to the Danish royal family, and they have a number of residences in the city, most notably the grand palaces of Amalienborg and Christiansborg. Both residences are open to the public for guided tours and you can catch the changing of the guard at Amalienborg every day at 12 noon – something that is a must see during your time in the city! We climbed the tower at Christiansborg for views across the city, and also visited the royal chapel too. On our last day we made our way to Rosenborg Castle, which has been preserved and is now a museum showcasing the history of the monarchy over the past 400 years. The castle is home to the legendary crown jewels and was truly beautiful, we loved spending our last morning in Copenhagen exploring this special place!

 

 

Explore Christianshavn

 

Depending on where you’re staying, Christianshavn should be able to be easily reached either on foot or by metro from anywhere in Copenhagen. This area of the city is a Freetown and is home to an abundance of café’s, bakeries, cars and restaurants. We were just opposite and could see the whole area from our hotel, so a short walk across the nearby bridge brought us there in just a few minutes. Prior to the trip, several of my blogger friends had recommended we check out Papioren, a huge indoor market home to every kind of street food you could think of, and many stalls and stands selling clothes, shoes, ornaments and souvenirs to take home. We spent a good couple of hours wandering around, trying to decide whether we should eat Chinese noodles, Italian pizza, American pulled pork or Indian curry before eventually choosing to share a huge Moroccan flatbread and a portion of sweet potato fries- we ate well that day! After deciding we should probably work off our lunch we strolled around Christainshavn before finding the Church of Our Saviour, complete with its amazing organ, beautiful architecture and impressive gothic spire. Sadly the tower was closed during our trip so we couldn’t climb the 400 odd steps to the top, but it was a beautiful building and well worth the visit.

.

Go Instagram crazy at Nyhavn harbour

 

 

I have lost count of the amount of times I took photos of the beautiful Nyhavn harbour, I just loved it!! I’ve never seen anything like it before and it was truly stunning from every angle, and in every light. Admittedly, it looked a whole lot better with a background of blue sky and bright sunshine, but it looked just as pretty in the dark at night with the lights catching the reflection of the water perfectly. Nyhavn is a tourists paradise, and the whole area was busy pretty much all of the time but we still managed to get some brilliant photos. Eating in the area was expensive, so I’d recommend heading towards the Stroget or around the Kongens Nytorv area for a cheaper meal, although if you want to splash out one night the Nyhavn is a real treat and a lovely dining experience. Don’t forget to grab a chocolate dipped waffle and stroll along the harbour devouring your new sugary snack – I definitely enjoyed this a bit too much while I was there 😉

 

Stroll down the Stroget

 

One of the largest pedestrianized shopping streets in Europe, the Stroget is home to every kind of shop, restaurant and bar you can think of. You’ll find a mixture of high street and small independent shops as well as high-end designer stores and boutique outlets too, If shopping is your thing you will easily spend a day strolling down this enormous street and browsing til your hearts content. I have to say, I’m not much of a shopper, especially when I’m on holiday – I don’t need to bring extra weight back in my luggage with me (!) – so we just used the street to get around and walk to and from some of the attractions in the area.

 

Climb the Round Tower

 

 

We climbed all the way up there this morning ⬆️⬆️⬆️ #roundtower #Copenhagen #visitcopenhagen #visitdenmark #rundetårn

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

It took us until the very last day to see the Round Tower, or RundeTaarn as the locals call it. I’d read so much about it on other people’s blogs and was so excited to finally see it for myself just before we hopped on the plane back to London. Built in the 17th century to allow the King to ride his horse all the way to the top, the Round Tower is just one big ramp that winds up and up until you reach the top – and the views are pretty spectacular once you get there. It was super windy when we were there so it literally took our breath away and it was SO BLOODY COLD, but climbing the tower was an experience in itself and was the perfect way to end our time in Copenhagen.

 

So there we have it, my ultimate travel guide to Copenhagen. Explore this compact city on foot to fully take in everything there is to see and do, and don’t forget to pack your thermals if you’re visiting during winter! Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to Copenhagen and helps with that all important planning.

Have you ever been to Copenhagen? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

,

A guide to Rome: Escaping to The Eternal City

A little bit of Spain in Italy… The Spanish Steps are beautiful 😍🇮🇹 #Rome #Italy #ig_italy #beautifuldestinations #visitrome

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Hi everyone,

Last month I spent some time in the beautiful city of Rome, somewhere that had been on my bucket-list for AGES! Rome was the third and final stop of my Italian Escapade  with my sister back in September, and we certainly saved the best til last! We stayed for three nights/four days and pretty much saw just about everything there is to see. Here’s my ULTIMATE guide to visiting The Eternal City…

Arrive by train

 

grandstazioni

Photo credit: http://www.grandistazioni.it

Arriving by train is a really easy way to begin your journey to Rome. The city is well connected to other major cities in Italy, just 2hrs from Venice, 1hr30 from Florence and 1hr 40 from Milan, with up to 40 trains a day running between them. Roma Termini train station is centrally located and easy to navigate. Taxis are waiting to collect you as soon as you exit the station, so you’ll arrive at your accommodation in a matter of minutes, depending on where you’re located. We found all the trains to be high speed, very clean and quiet and extremely efficient, as well being a great stress-free alternative to flying! Whilst we were in Rome, we also booked a one way ticket from Roma Termini station to Rome Fiumicino airport at a cost of just €14pp, miles cheaper than the €50 taxi fare it would have cost us!

 

Jump on the Hop on Hop off bus

 

Sometimes a Hop on Hop off bus is the best way to see the #city #sights! #Rome #italy #wanderlustwednesday #citysightseeing

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

I know this is sooo touristy, but I just LOVE exploring new cities by jumping on a hop on hop off bus and stopping as much or as little as I like! CitySightseeing buses are my go-to when I’m exploring a new city; they’re frequent, convenient, and great value for money. They also enable me to get my bearings, find out where everything is and then explore the city bit by bit. We paid €18 pp for a 1 day ticket, and this gave us enough time to do the route and see everything we wanted to, but you can purchase 24hr or 48hr passes if you prefer to take your time!

 

Take guided tours of The Collosseum & Roman Forum

 

 

If I only have a couple of days to explore a city, I sometimes skip guided tours as I find they can be quite time consuming, but I am so glad I decided to take part in one during my time in Rome! My sister and I turned up to the Colosseum expecting to walk straight in, but the queues were incredibly long and we were looking at a 1-2hr wait before we could even gain access. We actually came across a rep from Gladiator Tours who told us we could gain immediate access to the Colosseum with a full guided tour of the attraction, as well as the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill!

 

 

We jumped at the chance to gain immediate access to both attractions at a fantastic price of €30pp and joined our tour group within just a few minutes. Both tours lasted around 45mins-1hour each, with an hours break in between so you can have some free time exploring the area, and the guides were informative, interesting and so friendly. A tour is definitely the best way to learn about the hidden history of two of Rome’s biggest attractions, but I would recommend buying your tickets in advance online, just to get the best possible deal and to save time when you get there!

Have gelato by the Trevi Fountain

 

Ending the day with gelato by the Trevi Fountain… Bellissimo! 🍦🇮🇹 #beautifuldestinations #ig_italy #italy #rome

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

The Trevi Fountain was my FAVOURITE attraction in the whole of Rome, it was so beautiful! My sister and I visited 4 times, both during the day and in the evening, and took photos from every possible angle; we gazed in awe each time we saw it, it really is stunning. There’s plenty going on around the fountain too, with loads of cafes and restaurants to choose from if you fancy a pit stop. We just enjoyed tasting some fantastic gelato, sitting on the edge of the fountain people watching til our hearts were content. We saw a couple getting their wedding photos done, a couple getting engaged and it was just lovely to sit back and enjoy the atmosphere. Trevi Fountain, I can’t wait to see you again one day!

 

Explore the Vatican

 

 

Sadly we didn’t get chance to explore the Vatican during our short time in Rome, but I would urge anyone visiting to try and head over there if you can! We were really looking forward to discovering the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, but unfortunately we just didn’t get time. The Vatican is one of the most visited places in the world though, and its not to be missed during your Roman visit. If, like me, you love ticking countries off your bucket list, you can tick two off if you tie in a trip to the Vatican! Yep, that’s right, Vatican City is the smallest country in the entire world, and is worth visiting just for that status alone. I’d highly recommend booking tickets in advance online so as not to miss out on one of the guided tours that are offered daily.

Main attractions to see

 

As well as visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain, make sure you don’t miss the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia and Arch of Constantine, just some of the other famous landmarks in the city. We stumbled across Altare della Patria, also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, built in honour of the first King of a unified Italy, Victor Emmanuel. The monument is right in the middle of one of the biggest piazzas in the city, and is really the focal point of the square. Rome is like an open air museum, there are landmarks and monuments at every turn just waiting to be discovered, so don’t miss out on any of them during your visit!

 

Taste the true Italian cuisine

 

When in #rome – fine dining is a must! #pizza #pasta #prosecco #aperolspritz #gimmeallthefoodndrink 🍴🍸🍾🍕

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

No trip to Rome would be complete without devouring copious amounts of pizza, pasta and gelato! There are so many amazing restaurants to choose from in Rome, all offering fantastic meals at mouth-wateringly good prices- I thought Rome would be super expensive but we found that wasn’t the case at all! You can eat round the Trevi Fountain, by the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, or on the main road (via Nazionale) to be right at the heart of the city. A typical meal for two with a glass of Prosecco each was around €40, pretty good value considering how amazing the food is! Don’t forget to try an Aperol Spritz, one of Italy’s best known after-dinner drinks!

 

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Rome! Immerse yourself in the ancient charm and history of the Eternal City, visit the sights and get a real taste for its fantastic culture. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to Rome and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Rome? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

 

I left my heart in #Rome 🏟💖 #TravelTuesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Last night in #Rome booooo 😭😭 #ciao

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

,

A guide to Florence, the charming Tuscan capital

#Florence sunsets 😍🌅 #Italy #visitflorence #nofilter #takemeback

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

The prettiest cathedral I've ever seen 😍🇮🇹 #duomo #florence #firenze #italy #ig_italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Hi everyone,

Last month I spent some time in the charming city of Florence, somewhere I hadn’t really thought of visiting until I started planning my Italian Escapade ! Three nights/ four days is a perfect amount of time to spend soaking up the typical Tuscan atmosphere, and you could even plan a day trip to a nearby city if you’re wanting to explore a little further afield. Here’s my ULTIMATE guide to visiting this beautiful city…

Arrive by train

 

firenze-smn

Photo credit: www.acprail.com

 

 

Arriving by train is a really easy way to begin your journey to Florence. The city is well connected to other major cities in Italy, just 2hrs from Venice, 1hr30 from Rome and 1hr 40 from Milan, with up to 40 trains a day running between them. The Santa Maria Novella train station is centrally located and easy to navigate. Taxis are waiting to collect you as soon as you exit the station, so you’ll arrive at your accommodation in a matter of minutes, depending on where you’re located. We found all the trains to be high speed, very clean and quiet and extremely efficient, as well being a great stress-free alternative to flying!

 

Cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge

 

 

Perhaps one of the most iconic landmarks in the whole of Florence, the Ponte Vecchio bridge is one of only 4 bridges left in the world with shops built in to it on either side. Accessed only on foot, the medieval bridge is popular with locals and tourists looking to buy authentic souvenirs, expensive jewellery and quirky handmade gifts. At night when the shops have closed, the bridge is lit up beautifully and is fairly quiet, apart from the occasional band or busker playing on site. Famously, the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence to survive the German bombings in 1944, with Adolf Hitler claiming it was ‘too beautiful to destroy’. One of my favourite things to do during my time in Florence was to grab some proper Italian gelato (ice cream), soak up the sunshine and perch on the edge of the bridge gazing down to the River Arno below – bellissimo!

 

Jump on the Hop on Hop off bus

 

Panoramic views over #Florence? Yasssssss 🙌🙌 #Firenze #michaelangelo #italy #ig_italy #sundayfunday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

So this is a pretty touristy thing to do, and it might not appeal to everyone, but a CitySightseeing Hop on Hop Off bus is a really great way to explore Florence and beyond. It’s a large city, and not everything can be reached within walking distance, so using the bus allows you to see just about everything whilst giving your legs a rest! An adult ticket costs €23 and there are three routes in which to explore. Line A is a great one to start with as it lasts for just an hour and you can see everything  you need to without getting off – it’s good just to get your bearings and see where everything is. Lines B & C run for 120 minutes each, but they cross over a lot in parts, so between all three lines you’ll see just about everything. I’d highly recommend getting off at Michaelangelo’s Piazza for stunning skyline views across the city, as well as stopping off at Fiesole, a pretty town high on the top of a hill, just a few kilometres out of Florence, which is worth a visit in itself.

 

Purchase a 5 in 1 church pass

 

 

Florence is quite a religious city, and there a number of important buildings that should be seen on your visit. Queues can be extremely long, so I would recommend purchasing a 5 in 1 combo ticket (€15) either from the ticket office in piazza San Giovanni, or online if possible. We actually just turned up on the day to purchase but had to queue for around 40 mins first! The 5 in 1 pass is great as it gives access to 5 fantastic buildings; The Dome, The Basilica (although entry for this is free), Giotto’s Bell Tower, The Baptistery & The Opera del Duomo Museum. You can climb both the dome and the bell tower for spectacular panoramic views across the city, but be prepared to climb a significant number of steps at both! We climbed the bell tower and were treated to some amazing views, including a close up of the dome itself which, in our opinion, was arguably better than the view from the top of the dome! No visit to Florence is complete without visiting these fantastic buildings.

 

 

Eat dinner in the piazza

 

 

Florence is all about the food, and what better way to enjoy the famous Italian pizza, pasta and Prosecco by sitting in one of cities beautiful piazzas and soaking up the Florentine atmosphere?! There are a vast array of restaurants to choose from in the city, many of which are centred around some of the most picturesque piazzas. You’ll often hear musicians playing in the squares, or see buskers performing their talents and offering some light entertainment whilst you’re dining. Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza della Signoria are great places to enjoy typical Italian dining and the prices aren’t extortionate either. If you’re not on a budget and you fancy eating in front of the beautiful cathedral head over to Piazza del Duomo, although it’ll cost you a little bit more, the setting is truly stunning.

 

Plan an excursion

 

 

Florence is perfectly positioned to explore some of the finest hotspots in Italy, so why not wander out of the city and take a day trip somewhere new to satisfy your wanderlust cravings? Tour operators such as CitySightseeing and Viator offer some fantastic half and full day trips to a whole host of nearby destinations. Why not take a tour of Pisa and the Leaning Tower? Hike the Cinque Terre for some spectacular scenic views? Or enjoy a unique Vespa tour of the Tuscan hills? Italy offers so much choice, and there are a multitude of things to see and do in this beautiful country, so go and explore it while you’re in Florence!

 

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Florence! Immerse yourself in the true Tuscan charm of the city, visit the sights and learn about its fantastic history. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Florence? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

 

😍🇮🇹 #Florence #duomo #visitflorence #italy #ig_italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

,

48 hours in Venice

So we've made it to #Venice and it is BEAuuuutiful 😍😍😍

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Ok so I can't leave #Venice out – just LOOK at it 😍🇮🇹 #Italy #ig_italy #venezia

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Ciao bellas!

On my recent Italian Escapade I had the chance to explore beautiful Venice, somewhere that had been on my bucket list for YEARS! We only had two full days to explore, but we definitely made the most of our short time in The Floating City, and it certainly lived up to our high expectations! Two full days actually gives you enough time to see the sights without the need for another night’s stay, so here is my list of must see’s and my guide on how to make the most of your time in the city…

Arrive in style by private water taxi

 

Arriving in style by private water taxi! Bonjourno #venice 🙋 #Venezia #Italy #wanderlustwednesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

If you’re going to Venice, you’re going to want to arrive feeling like a VIP, and taking a private water taxi from Marco Polo airport into the city itself makes you feel exactly that! We had pre-booked a private water taxi, or Vaporetto as they are known locally, with HolidayTaxis for a hassle free journey to the centre of the city. Although there are public ferries leaving every half an hour, they are crowded and take up to 80 minutes to reach the centre, so splashing out on a private water taxi is definitely worth the money and will get you there in just half an hour, crucial if you’re limited on time!

 

Explore the beautiful Basilica

 

The focal point of the city; the beautiful basilica 💒 #Venice #venezia #ig_italy #italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

One of the focal points of the city, Basilica di San Marco is a popular tourist attraction right at the heart of St Mark’s Square. Entry to the Basilica is free, but visitors are encouraged to leave donations and light candles. A small charge is made to access the altar and a further small charge is made to access the roof terrace which is well worth doing! You can climb to the top of the terrace for views across to St Mark’s Square and entry to the historic museum is also included.

 

Take a gondola ride

 

Ride a gondola in Venice – TICK! ✅✅ Next stop Florence 🚂🚂 #bucketlist #italianescapade #tourists

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

No trip to Venice is complete without taking a ride on a gondola! Although it is expensive, it is one of those bucket list experiences that must be enjoyed during your trip. A ride on a gondola will set you back 80 euros (half an hour trip) but you’ll explore the city from a whole different perspective and it is worth the money. As a tip I would definitely recommend catching a gondola from the Rialto Bridge, as opposed to the Grand Canal waterfront or anywhere else in the city. Riding under the Rialto Bridge is pretty special, and gives you a fantastic photo op! Boat rides around the Grand Canal waterfront looked fun (although I think you have to pay extra to go underneath the Bridge of Sighs), but you won’t see much of the city with its little canals and waterways, so catching one from the Rialto Bridge is definitely recommended.

 

Soak up the ambience in St Mark’s Square

 

Listening to live #Italian music whilst in #Venice – grazie, grazie! 🇮🇹🎶

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Venice is quite a small city, so it’s nice that you can see everything you want to within just  a couple of days. If you’ve done everything and are stuck for something to do, why not just park yourself in the middle of St Mark’s Square and soak up some typical Venetian atmosphere?! There are a number of bars and cafe’s dotted around the Square, and it gets busy at night-time with people enjoying dinner and drinks. It can be expensive to eat out in the Square though; some bars charge a fee just for sitting at the table whilst listening to the resident live music bands! If you’re on a budget why not grab some plastic glasses and a bottle of wine and sit on one of the benches in the Square? You’ll still be able to enjoy the atmosphere and listen to the fantastic Italian music without paying for the privilege! If it’s bright sunshine in the middle of the day though, grab a creamy gelato and enjoy the warm weather whilst people watching in the Square!

 

Visit the city’s many museums

 

La Piazza 🇮🇹 #sanmarco #venice #venezia #italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Venice is home to a number of different museums, the most famous being the beautiful Doge’s Palace overlooking the Grand Canal. Dating back to the 10th century, the Venetian Gothic landmark can be toured with or without a guide and boasts stunning architecture throughout. If you’re looking to visit as many museums as you can during your time in Venice, I’d recommend purchasing a museum pass at one of the tourist information centres which allows access into a number of important and historic buildings across the city, perfect especially if the weather isn’t great!

Climb the Campanile for a birds eye view

 

Campanile di San Marco: 323ft high and showcasing #Venice from every angle! 😍🇮🇹 #tbt #italy #ig_italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

Seeing Venice from above is pretty special, and the views across to St Mark’s Square and the city’s neighbouring islands and waterfront is breath-taking. Climbing the 323ft bell tower is easy as you can take an elevator straight to the top, and you can spend as little or as much time as you want exploring the city from every angle once you’re up there. If you’re lucky enough to look under 18 you can get away with paying half price for your ticket too – a nice little money saving tip!

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Venice in a whirlwind 48 hours! Immerse yourself in the romance of the city, visit the sites and get around on a gondola for the full Venetian experience. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Venice? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

Arriverderci #Venice – you've been beautiful! 🇮🇹 #Italy #venizia

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

This place tho 😍🇮🇹 #Venezia #venice #italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

 

,

How to plan the perfect Italian Escapade!

Hi everyone,

So as you’ll probably know, I’ve just returned from yet ANOTHER trip of a lifetime; a wonderful Italian Escapade visiting some of the country’s most beautiful cities. My sister and I flew from London to Venice, and then caught the train to Florence and onwards to Rome before flying back to London. We had an incredible 9 days filled with lots of fun, laughter and SO. MUCH. SIGHTSEEING!

We effectively did three city breaks all in one go and, you know the best part? We planned it all totally by ourselves! No fees, no appointments in store, everything was booked online ourselves and we saved £500pp compared to quotes we received from a well known travel agent! £500pp?! That’s a whopping £1000 between the two of us – say whaaaatttttt?!-  I’m here to show YOU exactly how we did it, without the need for a travel agent! And as if by magic you can now BOOK the exact same trip I planned in one easy step – scroll down and read the last paragraph for details! In the meantime though, here’s what we got up to, and how you too can plan the perfect Italian Escapade…

So we've made it to #Venice and it is BEAuuuutiful 😍😍😍

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

The cities

Italy is such a beautiful place, with tonnes of cities up and down the country brimming with history, culture and a whole host of iconic landmarks that are just waiting to be ticked off the bucket list! We chose the top 3 most visited; Venice, Florence and Rome, but you can pick whichever cities you like and work your itinerary around them. I’ll do full city guides on all three in the coming weeks and post these separately on the blog, but for now I’ll introduce you to them briefly:

Venice – the city of love; think candlelit al-fresco dining, gondola rides and bridge after bridge crossing the Grand Canal. Venice is a city unlike any other I’ve ever been to before;  its unique, pedestrianized centre is full of tourist attractions and getting around the city by boat is an experience in itself! Venice certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth a visit – we stayed for 2 nights and felt that was definitely enough time to see everything.

Ok so I can't leave #Venice out – just LOOK at it 😍🇮🇹 #Italy #ig_italy #venezia

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Florence – ah beautiful Florence, this place has it all! From climbing the to the top of the cathedral for panoramic views across the city, to strolling along the Ponte Vecchio bridge on the River Arno and watching the sunset cast its shadow, Florence is as pretty as a picture and offers a range of things to do. We stayed for three nights and used the Hop on Hop off bus as a way to explore and find our bearings. The city’s cobbled streets and lively piazzas are a haven for locals and tourists alike and there’s something happening on every street corner.

Rome – the eternal city, and my absolute FAVOURITE! I wouldn’t normally go back to somewhere I have been to before, as I’m a firm believer that we should always try new things and experience new places, but I will make an exception for Rome. I fell in love with it from the minute our taxi passed Piazza Repubblica on that sunny Tuesday afternoon! Think London and New York, but with thousands of years history instead of just a few hundred and you’re pretty much there. Rome is like an open air museum, there is something to discover on every road, in every alleyway and down every side street. The Collosseum and Trevi Fountain were personal highlights for me, but I guarantee you will fall in love with every aspect of Rome if you choose to visit!

Rome's Collosseum- colossal in every way! 🏟🏟 #Rome #Italy #ig_italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Other Italian cities that I REALLY wanted to visit were Pisa, Milan and Verona, but we just didn’t have the time. We were thinking of doing a day trip on our last day in Florence, either visiting Pisa and it’s legendary leaning tower, or hiking the stunning Cinque Terre and ticking 5 more Italian villages off our lists, but sadly we couldn’t make it work in our already packed schedules, so decided to spend more time exploring Florence instead. If you have a few extra days though, I’d highly recommend taking a day trip from Florence as you can see everything you need to there within 2-3 days and have an extra day for exploring somewhere new. You could also take a day trip to Pompeii from Rome and discover the historical volcanic site, which is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy with over 3 million visitors per year.

**TOP TIP – If you are planning a day trip away from your cities, book online before you go for the best deals, don’t leave it until the day as many trips are full day ones starting at 7 or 8am and they get booked up fast!**

Beautiful by day ….

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

#Florence sunsets 😍🌅 #Italy #visitflorence #nofilter #takemeback

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

The transport

Once you’ve flown to your first city, getting around Italy is super easy, and we used the well organised, high speed trains during our visit. I booked train tickets a few weeks in advance to get the cheapest rates, but you could just turn up at the station and buy a ticket if you needed to, I don’t think there was too much difference in price. I’d highly recommend trainlineeurope and goeuro – they also offer reduced tickets for those under 26 which is well worth taking advantage of. It was around 50 euros for both of us to get between Venice and Florence and then between Florence and Rome.

In terms of flights, good old EasyJet worked a treat for us, it cost £70pp for a one way from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo and then £79pp for a one way from Rome Fiumicino back to London Gatwick. Just bear in mind that you’ll need to book your airport transfers too – especially in Venice. We booked a private shared water taxi (super cool speed boat just for us and two other ladies) online with HolidayTaxis for £70 and this got us there in next to no time. We could have just turned up and taken the public ferry for just 15euros each, but this would have taken well over an hour and the ferry’s get so full, especially with peoples suitcases. If you’re on a budget, go with the ferry but if you prefer to arrive in style definitely pre-book a water taxi; it started off our holiday so nicely!

Arriving in style by private water taxi! Bonjourno #venice 🙋 #Venezia #Italy #wanderlustwednesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

We also pre-booked our train tickets from Rome Termini station to the airport for just 14euros pp – much cheaper than a 50euro taxi, and we arrived in half the time! We used standard cabs when getting between Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station and our Florence hotel, and between Rome Termini and our Rome hotel, and they weren’t too pricey but, depending on where your hotel is, I’d avoid cabs if you can as they can be very costly.

**TOP TIP – Save money on luggage if you’re traveling with airlines like EasyJet as they charge per bag. We took one 20kg suitcase (£38) plus one carry on case (free of charge) between us and this was more than enough!**

**COST – £140pp for flights there and back, booked separately with Easyjet. £38 for one suitcase. £70 for private taxi in Venice. 10euros for private taxi in Florence (each way). 5 euros for private taxi in Rome (each way). 25euros pp for train between Venice and Florence. 25 euros pp for train between Florence and Rome. 15euros pp for train transfer between Rome Termini and Rome Fiumicino airport. **TOTAL – approx. £265pp on transport.**

Sometimes a Hop on Hop off bus is the best way to see the #city #sights! #Rome #italy #wanderlustwednesday #citysightseeing

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

The accommodation

This is something that should be entirely down to your personal taste, depending on if you prefer hotel or hostel and luxury or budget, but I found that having a nice hot shower and a lovely warm bed to come back to after a long day of walking was soo nice and I wouldn’t have swapped our hotels for the world! We knew hotels in Italy were going to be pricey, so we gave ourselves a maximum budget of £300-£350 for the two of us for 3 nights. Granted, Venice cost us that for just two nights, but we did expect that.

Little #Italian hotels with cute Italian decor! #Venice #Venezia #Italy #wanderlustwednesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

We found that all our hotels were very centrally located; close enough to get to where we needed to get to without being noisy at night. Our Venice one, Hotel Gorizia, was located right in the middle, and we were surrounded by bustling shops and restaurants down every tiny side street. Our Florence one, Hotel De Rose Palace, was a little further out than we thought it would be, and was a good 15-20 minute walk to the historical centre, but we could walk along the River Arno past all the wonderful bridges so it felt we weren’t too far from the charm of the city. Finally, Hotel Opera Roma was a 4* luxurious property right at the heart of Rome, just seconds from via Nazionale, the main strip of the city. Bars, restaurants and shops were within easy reach and the landmarks were all within a 10 minute walk – I’ll be posting a full review of this hotel on my blog in due course.

Another city, another hotel! 🛌 #Florence #firenze #italy #hotel #wanderlustwednesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Depending on your budget, I would say hotels are definitely a great option giving you a place of comfort each night after a long day’s walking! Some days we walked between 12 and 16km exploring our new surroundings, so it was lovely to be able to get some decent sleep and have a nice hot shower before we got up and did it all again. If hotel’s aren’t your thing though, have a look on Air BnB or see which cheap hostels you can find if you have less of a budget.

**TOP TIP – Don’t forget that almost everywhere in Italy (and other parts of Europe) now charge a city tax per person for each night of your stay. This is charged upon check out and the cost varies depending on the class of your hotel ie. you’ll be charged more if your hotel is a 4 or 5* as opposed to a 2 or 3* property. Make sure you leave yourself with some cash upon check out as it is mandatory to pay this tax – ours was around 3-4 euros per night per person.

**COST – £350 for 2 nights at Venice hotel. £300 for 3 nights at Florence hotel. £350 for 3 nights at Rome hotel. **TOTAL – £500pp approx. on accommodation**

The food

Where do I even BEGIN?! Not gonna lie, the food was one of the main reasons I had always wanted to visit Italy – gimme all the pizza, pasta and gelato! Eating out can be expensive though, especially as the recommended service charge is at least 13% – not as pricey as America, but not as cheap as it is back here in the UK! I can, however, see why that charge is necessary; the restaurant trade is huge in Italy, yet the wage packets of waiters and waitresses are next to nothing. When the food is as good as it is in those little authentic restaurants though, you really don’t begrudge paying it!

Ending the day with gelato by the Trevi Fountain… Bellissimo! 🍦🇮🇹 #beautifuldestinations #ig_italy #italy #rome

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

I’d say the food felt a little more ‘mass produced’ in Rome and Venice than it did in Florence, although don’t get me wrong it was still lovely and fresh, it just felt like it was served more promptly and they wanted us in and out quicker as opposed to the more relaxing vibe we felt when we were in the Tuscan capital. Make sure you try some proper Italian Prosecco during your visit – it’s not like the cheap stuff we get at the supermarket back here! And it’s reasonably priced too, approx 4 euros a glass, I paid over 5 euros for a glass of sprite one night (!) – that’ll teach me to think I’m better off avoiding alcohol 😉

**TOP TIP – Try an Aperol Spritz, one of the signature drinks over in Italy and it’s especially popular with tourists in the cities. Grab a table at a local bar overlooking the piazza and people-watch  whilst sipping on your new favourite tipple; it’s quintessentially Italian and will leave you totally refreshed!**

**COST – a meal for two with drinks and service charge ranges between 35 and 45 euros, depending on what you choose for main; fish and meat are more expensive than pizza and pasta.** TOTAL – 50- 60 euros per day on lunch, snacks and dinner.**

When in #rome – fine dining is a must! #pizza #pasta #prosecco #aperolspritz #gimmeallthefoodndrink 🍴🍸🍾🍕

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

The excursions

There are plenty of trips that you can do during your time in Italy, and most can be done within the cities you are actually staying in, as opposed to venturing further out and potentially incurring more costs. In Venice we took a gondola ride for half an hour for a total cost of 80 euros. YEP – you heard me right, 80 euros!!! I know, expensive right? Butttt we had decided that it was pretty much the only touristy thing we were going to do during our 2 nights in Venice, and you can’t NOT visit the city of love without hopping on a gondola- us sisters had a wonderfully romantic time 😉

Ride a gondola in Venice – TICK! ✅✅ Next stop Florence 🚂🚂 #bucketlist #italianescapade #tourists

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Florence was the least touristy of all the cities we stayed in, but we did pay 15 euros each to discover the Cathedral in the centre and climbed the bell tower as well as exploring the baptistery, museum and the beautiful basilica as well – a great price for an all in one ticket! Most people climb the Duomo for panoramic views of the city, but we climbed the bell tower (414 steps up & 414 steps back down again) and were able to see the Duomo as part of the Florence skyline which was arguably better, in my opinion! Don’t forget to take a Hop on Hop off bus (23 euros pp for a 24hr ticket) to make your way around the entire city, and you can also explore the nearby town of Fiesole and climb Michaelangelo’s Piazza, a must when in Florence!

Panoramic views over #Florence? Yasssssss 🙌🙌 #Firenze #michaelangelo #italy #ig_italy #sundayfunday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Rome felt like it had the most excursions on offer, particularly with the vast amount of museums and ancient sites that we were able to discover. We paid for a 1 day Hop on Hop off bus (20 euros pp) which enabled us to get around from place to place; it’s well worth getting one as Rome is huge!  You obviously don’t need to pay to see the big landmarks in Rome, such as the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but we did pay to gain access to the world famous Collosseum -when in Rome, right?! I’m a massive history fan and I LOVE anything to do with the ancient Romans so couldn’t wait to explore one of the oldest buildings on the planet. We turned up without booking and were sold two tickets (30 euros each) by Gladiator Tours which granted us access to both the Collosseum and the Roman Forum, both with guided tours in small groups. I found both tour guides to be really interesting and informative and it was much better than going in alone, not knowing about the facts and the history etc. Each tour lasted for around an hour and you could then spend time wandering around the attractions at your own leisure.

Made it to the Collosseum! 🏟🏟 #Rome #twinnies #matchingeverythinggggg

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

**TOP TIP- If you’re using the CitySightseeing Hop on Hop off buses save your tickets and get discount off your next ticket purchases in your next city! We did this in Florence and Rome and saved 4 euros each. You can also use the buses as a way of getting from one stop to the next without feeling the need to get off – use it as your method of transport and save money on taxis and the metro etc.**

**COST – Gondola in Venice, 80 euros. Hop on bus & cathedral all in one tickets in Florence, 23 euros and 15 euros pp. Hop on bus & Collosseum/Roman Forum tour in Rome, 18 euros and 30 euros pp. **TOTAL – approx. 130 euros pp on excursions.**

The breakdown

We booked the entire trip for just over £800pp, with £400 (500 euros) extra for spending money pp when we were over there. We felt this was a fair price for a 9 day holiday, with decent flights, good accommodation and transport between each destination and airport included. If you really scrimp on meals and souvenir shopping when you’re over there you won’t spend much money at all, apart from on excursions and tours etc.

Italy offers some wonderful history, culture and architecture and you can tick plenty of wanderlust inducing landmarks off your bucket lists day after day! Getting around by train is a really efficient way to explore as many cities as possible, and you’re guaranteed to have a smooth journey between each destination. The whole trip can be as luxurious or as budgeted as you wish, but embrace the Italian culture and enjoy some of La Dolce Vita when you’re there!

So, there we have it, you’re now fully informed and able to book your epic Italian Escapade! Remember, the above was focused on our itinerary of Venice, Florence and Rome, but you can pretty much tailor this to suit your needs depending on which cities you choose for your trip.

As mentioned above, you can now book the EXACT trip I did in one easy step – just click on the link below for more details and to request a quote!

Get a quote for this trip

What did you think of my itinerary? Would you consider going on a holiday like this, and would you book it yourself just like I did? Call me crazy but I loved the whole process from start to finish, from the research to the booking to the reservations, that I’m even toying with the idea of offering my services to people just like YOU – let me know if you’d consider employing someone like me to take the stress out of booking your travel plans.. I’d love to know what you think!

Love Jess x

T H I S P L A C E 🏟🏟 #Rome #collosseum #italy #ig_italy

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on