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Travel Guide to Bratislava, the charming Slovakian capital

I'm just gonna keep posting pics from my #Bratislava trip cos I was there this time last week and I LOVE IT SO MUCH 🏰😍 @visitbratislava

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If you follow me on social media you’ll know that I’ve done a lot of travelling already this year. Although we are only four months in to 2017, I have explored four new countries, and new four cities, and have had numerous days out and weekend stays too. Two weeks ago I headed on a mini European adventure with my wonderful friend, and fellow travel blogger, Lucy. We had booked 2 nights in Bratislava and 2 in Vienna and were so excited to be kicking off our holiday exploring the Slovakian capital. We had the best possible start to our trip as this place totally stole my heart and, in my humble opinion, it’s extremely underrated and is a true hidden gem! When you think of city breaks, Bratislava might not be at the top of your list, but here’s why I really think it should be, and here’s my ultimate guide to this beautiful city…

Get around on foot

Although Bratislava is a fairly big city, pretty much everything you would want to see and do is located in the Old Town and Historical Centre, which is a small area and can easily be covered on foot. If you’re anything like me, you’ll LOVE wandering around on foot, getting lost down side streets and discovering places off the beaten path. You can use trams or buses to get around the city, but to be honest everything is close by and walking along the cobbled streets really helps to immerse yourself in the true Slovak culture. During our trip, Lucy and I planned the landmarks we really wanted to visit and then roughly mapped out our day making sure we ticked off everything we wanted to see during our short time there. We managed to see almost everything we wanted to, but I could have wandered for hours more and really wanted to hike up to the Slovak Monument for panoramic views across the city below… There’s always next time though!

Take advantage of cheap accommodation

Room with a view! Good morning #Bratislava we can't wait to spend all day exploring 😍☀️ #VisitBratislava #WanderlustWednesday

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Part of the beauty of visiting Eastern Europe is that prices are super cheap compared to back home in the UK, or in other parts of Europe such as Scandinavia, where things tend to be more expensive. Bratislava was hands down one of the cheapest places I have ever visited, along with Prague and Budapest which I found to be really good value for money too. Hotels were inexpensive with top chains like Ibis, Crowne Plaza and Hilton offering fantastic rates on rooms, but in the end we opted for different type of accommodation, and one I had never experienced before! Yep, we booked a hostel!

I was super nervous about staying in a hostel as I’d only ever heard horror stories of unclean rooms, dirty dorms and shared areas, but we booked a private apartment which was actually part of the hostel itself so this meant we got the benefits of a hotel room for the price of a hostel which worked really well. We stayed at the funky Freddie Next to Mercury Hostel which was a 5 min walk from the train station and about a 20 min walk to the Old Town – a little out the way but the apartment was HUGE with great views and for just 36 euros pp for two nights who were we to complain?! I’d definitely stay in a hostel again, as long as it was a private room with private bathroom, and will be using this mode of accommodation to save pennies on future trips!

Purchase a Bratislava City Card

During our trip we were delighted to be working with the fantastic team at Visit Bratislava who were super helpful and gave us loads of tips to help us plan our time in the city. We were treated to complimentary City Cards which also meant we were able to join one of the free walking tours that depart daily from the Tourist Information centre just behind the Old Town Hall. The walking tour lasted for around an hour and a half and we covered all of the main sights and really got to understand the history behind this little known city.

Our tour guide was fantastic, she knew her stuff, had perfect English and was happy to answer any questions we had. Being in a small group of four also meant we could take our time and really enjoy the tour without rushing round, so it was a great way to explore the sights as well as find out all about the places we were visiting. I’d highly recommend purchasing a City Card during your time in Bratislava, but only if you have a good few days to explore as I feel we missed out on a lot of the benefits we could’ve taken purely because we didn’t have the time to do everything we wanted to do! A big thank you to the wonderful team at Visit Bratislava for looking after us!

Explore the beautiful castles

If you see just one thing in Bratislava, make sure it’s at least one of the beautiful castles – seriously these things are sooo princessy and dreamy and I was totally in my element! Hrad Castle, on top of a hill overlooking the city, was the highlight of the trip for me and it was so worth the hike up there from the bottom of St Martin’s Cathedral! The red turrets, the white walls, the black lampposts, everything about it was like something from a Disney film and I just gazed up at it in awe for ages taking it all in!

If you have the time and don’t mind venturing a little out of the city, a day trip to Devin Castle should be on your go-to list and will be well worth the visit. From all the photos I saw on Instagram, and in the tourist brochures, this place looked AMAZING and I am so gutted I didn’t get chance to visit!! With history tracing back to 5th Century BC, the castle and its ruins stand on a cliff over 200m high offering spectacular panoramic views of both the Danube and the Morava rivers. It’ll take you around 20 minutes to reach Devin, and the easiest and quickest way to get there is either by bus from Bratislava’s main bus terminal every half an hour, but if you’re looking to make a day of it why not jump on a boat from one of the nearby ports? The boat service runs twice a day and a comfortable cruise along the Danube will get you over to Devin in no time.

Base yourself at the Main Square

By day one way, by night another 🌓

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Every city should have a main square, right?! I just love finding central squares to base myself from, it really helps with getting my bearings and knowing where to come back to after a long day of exploring! The main square in Bratislava is really beautiful and boasts some incredible architecture. We spent most of our first morning in the city wandering around the little side streets, eating ice cream, pigging out on pizza and just enjoying the sunshine and the cobbled pathways. The square is also home to cafes, shops and restaurants offering plenty of places to stop and recharge your batteries.

My favourite thing about the main square though was the old town hall with its coloured roof and its impressive tower and spire. We climbed the tower and were treated to stunning views across the rest of the city, catching all the landmarks lit up in the glorious spring sunshine. Looking down towards the square you’ll find the stunning fountain right at the heart of it, and see the surrounding architectural buildings too.

Eat in Hviezdoslav Square

Finding a nice restaurant to eat in after a long and tiring day’s walking can sometimes feel like a chore, especially if you don’t have any recommendations to go on, or if you don’t really know here you’re going! Lucy and I felt a bit like this in Bratislava, we were both exhausted after walking over 18km, and were absolutely starving! After visiting Hrad Castle we’d walked past a few places that took our fancy but it was quite early to eat and, naturally, most places were empty and not yet serving food.

On our walking tour earlier on in the day we stumbled upon the pretty Hviezdoslav Square and so headed back there to see if we could find somewhere to feed ourselves and rest our feet for a couple of hours. The Square is one of the focal points of the city, with fountains, shops, hotels, bars and restaurants dotted along each side of the street. Named after poet and dramatist Pavol Hviezdoslav and located in the Old Town, between the Slovak National Theatre and the UFO Bridge, the Square is the perfect place from which to unwind after a busy day’s exploring. We chose to eat at Carnevalle, a meat restaurant serving steaks, poultry and more, but there were lots of other places to choose from and the Square was lively with plenty going on both during the day and in the evening too.

Ride up the UFO Tower and cross the SNP Bridge

This is another major tourist attraction in Bratislava, and sadly one which I didn’t quite get to tick off my list! Lucy and I trekked down from Hrad Castle, over the SNP bridge and along the river Danube, only to be told that the tower was closed for a private event and no longer open to the public for the remainder of the evening. We. Were. GUTTED! We had planned to watch the sunset there and take in some fantastic views across to Austria and Hungary, but sadly it just wasn’t meant to be. I will definitely return here though and see it for myself, and there’s a fancy restaurant right at the top of the tower with gourmet cuisine and panoramic views which looks right up my street! I’ll be back UFO, I’ll be back.

Discover the charming churches

St Martins Cathedral was looking so beautiful in the #Bratislava sunshine today 😍💒 #visitbratislava @visitbratislava

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Anyone that knows me will know that I LOVE churches. I love exploring inside them, I love climbing their towers, and I love gazing up at their ornate architecture and pretty ceilings. Bratislava is home to a number of impressive churches, and you could spend so much time exploring just these buildings alone, but my two favourites were the stunning St Martins Cathedral, and the striking Church of St Elizabeth, also known as the Blue Church. The Cathedral is one of the focal points of the city with its spire standing 279ft tall and dominating the Old Town’s skyline. We were given scarves to cover our bare shoulders inside this Roman Catholic Church and were not allowed to take any photos so instead just gazed up at its beautiful altar, stained glass windows and intricate gothic ceiling. If you have the time you can purchase a ticket to go down to the ancient catacombs hidden beneath the church floors to see the crypts that have been discovered there.

Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, the Blue Church was a special sight to behold and one of my favourite places in Bratislava. Built in the early 20th century and designed by Hungarian architect Edmund Lechner, it’s art nouveau style is absolutely beautiful, and both the interior and exterior are of the building are painted shades of blue all over. The Church also boasts a 36 metre high round tower which I would love to have seen but sadly the building was closed when we went to visit!

Find somewhere special to watch the sunset

🌅🏰 We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill 🌅🏰

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This was quite possibly the highlight from my entire trip to Bratislava. If you do just one thing in the city, PLEASE make sure you find somewhere incredible to watch the sunset. We wandered over to the swanky Lemontree & Sky Bar Restaurant just before 7.30pm to indulge in a yummy cocktail before watching the sun set and cast its golden shadows across the whole of Hrad Castle below. We had planned to watch the sunset from the UFO Tower and, as you know, we weren’t able to do this but our plans turned out way better than expected as we enjoyed Bratislava’s golden hour in the most amazing surroundings. The Sky Bar was absolutely beautiful and it was the perfect place from which to watch the sun set over the castle on the hill, in true Ed Sheeran style.

So there we have it, my ultimate travel guide to Bratislava. For the best possible experience I’d recommend getting around on foot; the city is small enough to explore everything this way, but you can use the tram system to get around if you don’t fancy walking , or you can take a river cruise down the Danube if you’re wanting to venture a little further afield. Hopefully this post inspires you to think about choosing Bratislava for your next city break, I would 100% recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere totally new and exciting to explore!

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

Love Jess x

Thank you to the wonderful team at Visit Bratislava for our complimentary city cards for the duration of our trip.

Because blue ice cream and blue skies make for the perfect day in the spring sunshine ☀️☀️ #Bratislava @visitbratislava

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A Day in Malmo, Sweden

#tbt to when me and the sis were a little windswept overlooking #Malmö city centre 🇸🇪 #Sweden #throwbackthursday

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So last month, as part of our little winter escape to Copenhagen, my sister and I decided to take a spontaneous day trip to Malmo, Sweden to tick another city, and another country, off our ever expanding bucket lists. From Copenhagen airport we took the train, crossed over the spectacular Oresund Bridge and, within less than half an hour, we had arrived safely in the Swedish city. With only a day to explore we got straight to it and made the most of our short time in Malmo; here’s my guide of what to see and do during your time there too…

 

Arrive by train

 

 

Day returns either from CPH Central Station or CPH Airport Train Station run pretty much every hour to and from Malmo, and we paid around £15pp for a return ticket which we thought was really good value! The journey across the Oresund Bridge was incredibly scenic with some brilliant views of the Flinte Channel below. Snap your photos quick though, as the bridge blocks a lot of the daylight out, and you’ll be in a tunnel for part of your journey too.

Explore Little Square

This place was super cute and it was as if we had found a little slice of home right in the middle of Sweden. Lilla Torg, or Little Square as it’s known as, had a mixture of trendy bars and restaurants and it’s cobbled streets and colourful buildings really made for the perfect escape tucked away from the bustling high street.

Spot the Turning Torso

Can you see it? Can you see it? If you look really closely at this picture you’ll find the Turning Torso, the most famous landmark in Malmo, hiding just behind the tall grey curved building on the right hand side. Granted, the weather was horrendous while we were there and the fog was so thick you could barely see a thing, but I promise it was there! I wish we’d have seen the tower on a clearer day though as I’ve been told it really is a sight to behold.

Discover Malmo Castle

#Malmo castle… Probably the most unconventional castle I've ever seen! Have you been? #Sweden #city #citybreak #europe #visitsweden

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Sadly we didn’t have time to go inside the actual castle, but we wandered around the grounds and saw it from the outside so we got a feel for the place and what it would have been like all those years ago. Unlike most castles we have across Europe, this one felt really traditional as it was in the middle of a moat so I could imagine the draw bridge being let down and the horses trampling over it during it’s busy times! I’d highly recommend a trip to the castle during your time in Malmo.

Wander round the parks

 

Because windmills look prettier when they're in #Sweden 😍 #Malmo #city #europe #flashbackfriday @visitsweden

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The weather wasn’t great when we visited, it was pretty cold and super foggy but I imagine you could spend a whole day wandering through plenty of Malmo’s pretty parks when the sun is shining and the climate is a little warmer! You’ll find green spaces, lakes, ponds and lots of wildlife to chase as you’re wandering through the parks and whiling away the hours.

Take a stroll down by the harbour

Another day, another country! Oh hey #Malmö 🇸🇪🇸🇪 #Sweden #city #happymonday

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The harbour was probably my favourite place in the whole of Malmo, I really loved the mix of the cobbled streets and funky buildings that complemented each other perfectly. The boats were moored and the water was totally calm, making it a really peaceful place for an afternoon stroll, a world away from the typical working harbours that are so often found throughout Europe and the UK.

 

So there we have it, my guide to exploring the little Swedish city of Malmo in just a day. Obviously, if you have more time to spare you could fit more in, but Malmo is fairly small anyway so you can do most of it in a day. If you’re looking to venture a little further afield, why not head over to the nearby cities of Lund and Helsinborg to discover more of this Scandinavian gem? I loved my little taste of Sweden during my time in Malmo and am planning to head back there and make my way over to Stockholm as soon as possible!

Love Jess x

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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

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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

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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 🍴🍸🍾🍕

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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

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Last night in #Rome booooo 😭😭 #ciao

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A guide to Florence, the charming Tuscan capital

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

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

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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

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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

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