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Prague Travel Guide: 48 Hours in the Czech capital

 

After my friend Toni and I kicked things off in Warsaw, the next stop on our inter-railing adventure was picture perfect Prague. I had already visited the Czech capital a few years previously, but was excited to go back and experience the city in warmer weather instead of in winter as I spent the whole of my last trip being FREEEEZING!! I spent my second visit to Prague seeing the sights again and finding new things to discover. Brimming with cobbled streets, stunning gothic architecture and an enormous amount of history, there’s so much to see in Prague and its hard to do it all in just 48 hours, but here are my tips on making the most of your short time in this fascinating city…

 

Take a walking tour

 

There’s nothing I love more than discovering a new city by foot, and the cobbled streets of Prague let you do exactly that! There are many different walking tours that’ll show you the city’s best sights and some of them are even free too. We took a free walking tour of the old town in the morning and then paid for a castle tour in the afternoon, which gave us access to the wonderful castle complex before finishing up at the iconic Charles Bridge.Β I know what you’re thinking, two tours in one day? Yep. Seven hours of walking? Yep. Our feet hurt and we barely sat down all day, but we made friends with everyone in our group and hung around afterwards with them for dinner, then for drinks, then we partied til 3am and we had the BEST TIME EVERRRR!

 

Explore Old Town Square

 

 

 

The focal point of the entire city is undoubtedly the old town square, with its astronomy tower, gothic church (Our Lady Before Tyn) and cobbled streets oozing character, charm and history. In and around the square you’ll find horse drawn carriages, souvenir shops and plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to keep you occupied. At night the square totally comes alive and the tower and church are both lit up beautifully. Don’t forget to stand in front of the astronomy tower on the hour to see its enormous clock face come alive and create something very special. Prague’s New Town, with its Dancing House and famous Wenceslas Square are well worth a visit, but it’s the Old Town that totally steals my heart every time I visit this spectacular city.

 

Wander across Charles Bridge

 

Charles Bridge is one of the most amazing bridges I have ever walked across, and I’ve found myself just stopping in my tracks and gazing at it every time I’ve been lucky enough to be there. Built under the order of King Charles IV in 1352, the bridge crosses over the River Vltava and is part of the so called Royal Route. With statues, gargoyles and gothic towers at either end, the bridge is rich in history and is an absolute must see on your visit to Prague. Don’t forget to visit at night to see it lit up in all its glory!

 

Leave your mark on the John Lennon wall

 

 

I didn’t get to do this on my last visit, mainly because I didn’t know it existed and I had no idea what it was! Basically this wall is designed for anyone to come and leave their mark and express themselves, and is in memory of the late great John Lennon. The colours on the wall were so striking and it was such a cool, alternative thing to do in a city as historic as Prague. You can also stop by the world famous John Lennon pub if you fancy a pint – it’s conveniently located just across the road!

 

Discover the largest castle complex in Europe at Prague Castle

 

 

I’d been to Prague castle before on my last visit but kind of forgot how beautiful it was, especially when I was at the top of the fortress where the sun was shining and illuminating the pretty red roofs below. Our afternoon walking tour gave us access to the castle complex, including the grounds of the royal palace, the cobbled courtyards of the beautiful basilica and the inside and outside of the impressive St Vitus Cathedral. You could easily spend a few hours wandering around the complex, and exploring it’s many historical buildings too, and it was definitely a highlight of our visit to Prague.

 

Where to stay

 

 

We stayed in the super cool Sophie’s Hostel, located in a quiet neighbourhood just a 10 minute walk from Wenceslas Square and a 25 minute walk from the Old Town. The hostel had a real boutique hotel feel about it, and was much more glamorous than a standard hostel you’d expect to find. We had booked a private double room and we’re delighted to have been upgraded to an enormous apartment on arrival for the duration of our stay! We made the most of our giant bedroom, separate kitchen and big rainforest shower in the bathroom and loved having so much space all to ourselves. The bar and reception staff couldn’t have been more helpful throughout our stay, and we loved our pancakes at breakfast too! I would highly recommend Sophie’s Hostel as a fantastic place to stay during your visit to Prague, and it’s a great base for access to both the old and new town, as well as the airport and train station too.Β Β Special thanks must go to the Sophie’s team for making our stay so wonderful!

 

Where to eat/drink

 

There are plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from in Prague, and most of them can be found in and around Wenceslas Square and the Old Town Square. We chose to eat in some of the side streets in the old town, as they generally tended to be much cheaper than the eateries that were situated on the square itself. We ate beef goulash in traditional tavernas and enjoyed wonderful meals both evenings – with so much choice you’ll find good food everywhere in Prague. We also ended up in the super cool Absinthe Bar on both of our evenings and had absolutely no regrets the next day – it was such a cool place to visit and our new friends from the tour loved it too!

Although I’ve been to Prague twice now and have seen such a lot during my time there, I know there are tonnes of other things to see and do that I haven’t even discovered yet. If you’re short on time though, this 48 hour guide should give you a good starting point on the main sights to cover and will stand you in good stead for your trip. Have you ever visited Prague before and would you go back like I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Love Jess X

 

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Travel Guide to Warsaw: 48 hours in the Polish capital

 

 

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Warsaw for the first time, and it was my first ever visit to Poland too! Warsaw was the first stop on my recent inter-railing adventure with one of my best friends, and it was the perfect city from which to kick start our time in Europe. Warsaw is brimming with colourful buildings, cobbled streets and tonnes of history, and with so much to see and do it was impossible to get round everything in just 48 hours, but here’s my tips on making the most of your short time in this amazing city…

 

Take a FREE walking tour

 

 

I really love free walking tours and feel they are the best way to discover a new city for the first time, especially if you only have a couple of days and want to squeeze in as much as possible! The free Old Town Walking Tour in Warsaw begins right underneath Sigismund’s Column and departs every day at 10.30am. Our tour guide was so friendly and really gave us an insight into the history behind Warsaw, going into particular detail about the horrendous destruction of the city during world war two. The two hour tour passed by a number of points of interest and within that time we saw pretty much every important landmark there was to see in the historic Old Town, and got to make some brilliant photo stops along the way too.

 

Wander round the Old Town

 

 

If, like me, you only have a couple of nights in Warsaw I would definitely recommend basing yourself in the old town as I think this is the most popular area of the entire city. With its historic cobbled streets, vibrant market square and a vast array of colourful buildings, old town Warsaw is a UNESCO world heritage site and is best explored on foot meaning everything can be seen within a day or two. I really enjoy visiting cities that have a small historic centre, particularly if I’m pressed for time, as it means I can really immerse myself in the atmosphere and soak up the culture at the same time too. Don’t forget to climb the clock tower just opposite Sigismund’s column for spectacular panoramic views of the castle square below, and a visit to the famous mermaid statue is a MUST too!

 

Walk along the Vistula River

 

 

After a busy day of sightseeing I love nothing better than venturing a little out of the city and just taking a gentle stroll along the river. Warsaw’s old town is so compact that it was nice to explore a little further afield and see other parts of the city that were completely new to us, and the views from across the river were pretty stunning too! A wander along the Vistula will take you to Warsaw Zoo, Park Praski and the quirky neighborhood of Praga, which was the location for the award winning film The Pianist.

 

Visit one of the many museums

 

Warsaw is full of interesting museums to visit, containing everything from war and jewish history to music, science and modern art. I do think it’s difficult to find the time to visit museums if I’m on a super short city break though, so I don’t tend to put them at the top of my list, but there are so many in Warsaw that I just HAD to include them in my guide! We actually wandered around the Museum of Warsaw, which is located in the archway/city gate just behind the iconic market square, and found the history so interesting. Another must-do is the Uprising of the Jews and the Palace of Culture which is somewhere I really wanted to head to but sadly we ran out of time!

 

Where to eat/drink

 

 

There are a variety of restaurants in the old town, most of which serve a mix of traditional Polish food and popular European dishes too. We chose to eat at a local restaurant called Zapiecek on our first night as it was just a few doors down from our hostel and served amazing pierogi (dumplings) which are a traditional Polish dish. Serving a variety of mains including everything from pork and chicken to salmon and sausage, Zapiecek restaurants can be found dotted across Warsaw and are a must visit when looking for somewhere to eat in the city. Other restaurant recommendations I received, but sadly didn’t dine at, were Magda Polka in the Castle Square, and Michelin starred U Fukeria which can be found in the market square, just opposite the famous mermaid statue.

 

Where to stay

 

 

During our time in the city we chose to stay at the super cool Oki Doki Hostel, one of the only original pre war buildings left in the city. The location couldn’t have been more perfect for us as we were right in the middle of the old town with a number of shops, bars cafes and restaurants within a few minutes walk. We were staying in a private double room on the third floor with our own en suite bathroom. The beauty of staying in a private room is that you pay hostel prices for hotel standards and this couldn’t have been more true for our stay at Oki Doki. The communal areas including the kitchen, garden and breakfast place were kept very clean and tidy but were also great places to hang out and meet fellow travellers. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Oki Doki Hostel to anyone looking for a comfortable stay at a fantastic price right in the heart of Warsaw’s old town. Special thanks must go to Agata for making our stay so wonderful!

I could have spent at least another two days exploring everything that Warsaw has to offer, and even then I still don’t think I’d have scratched the surface! Considering Warsaw lost pretty much everything during World War Two, the defiant spirit of this city is incredibly powerful and shines through its core. Have you ever visited Warsaw before? I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Love Jess x

 

 

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Woovim, Nendaz: A luxury chalet review in the heart of the Swiss Alps

 

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know pretty much ALL I posted on Insta stories for pretty much every single day of my recent press trip to Nendaz, Switzerland was about my amazing chalet that I had the pleasure of staying in. I’m lucky enough to have stayed in some incredible places during my travels, from a circus themed hotel in Vienna to a luxurious private suite in London, and although I’ve had some truly wonderful accommodation experiences, my chalet in Nendaz topped them all. My stay was arranged by the fabulous team at Travelopo, and they were brilliant to work with throughout the whole process. I had the most amazing stay in Nendaz with four other travel bloggers, so here’s why this place was soooo beautiful, and why I think you too should stay at Woovim on your visit to the stunning Swiss Alps…

 

The views were INSANE

Just LOOK at those views!

 

OK, so these views need no introduction… Just LOOK at them!! They literally took my breath away every time I woke up in the morning, every time I went to bed at night and pretty much every hour of the day in between. It amazed me how much the landscape changed throughout the day, especially when it was bright sunshine and blue skies one minute, and then snowy and wintry the next! The rolling clouds that covered the mountains remained there pretty much the whole week though, and it really did feel as though we had floating in the sky most of the time… Not that I was complaining when the scenery was looking this good!

 

The rooms were super spacious

My massive room with TWO double beds!

 

I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a chalet as spacious as this one, and boy did I make the most of it! Our chalet slept up to 14 people, so with just five of us little bloggers there was plenty of room and more for us and all of our luggage. I was lucky enough to have TWO double beds in my room, and I was star-fishing til my heart was content all week long. The girls all had rooms which were equally as spacious, and each had stunning views of the mountains and valley surrounding us. We all had our own bathrooms, most of which were en-suite, but there was at least one on every floor.

The chalet was split on three levels; the ground floor comprised of two large bedrooms (mine and one other) plus a big bathroom, small toilet room, shower and laundry room. Oh and there was a freaking SAUNA as well! I’m being serious, it was amazing! On the first floor there was a large cloakroom with a door to the adjoined garage, another bedroom and shower room, and a modern fitted kitchen with every appliance you would need in your home from home. On this floor there was also the focal point of the entire property, the wonderful open plan living room with stunning chandelier, over-sized TV and an authentic fireplace in front of panoramic windows with mountain views and sliding doors leading out to the enormous rear balcony.

 

Dinner with a view, anyone?

 

The top floor comprised of two more large bedrooms, both with en-suite, and a further shower room in the middle of them because, ya know, a girl can never have too many showers! There was also panoramic windows with views of the surrounding mountains, and I should also add that every bedroom in the property came complete with individual flat screen TVs, not that we used them during our stay!

Outside there was ample parking for at least 2-3 cars, with a small walkway to the rear balcony allowing you to access the property from both the front and back. The balcony was the place we spent most of our time, and many a photo shoot was taken there when we wore different outfits and wanted to capture the changing landscape too! The balcony was kitted out with a couple of sun loungers for catching some rays, and also had a huge dinner table that could comfortably fit up to 12-14 people which was perfect for some alfresco dining. There was honestly sooo much room we didn’t know what to do with ourselves and we actually spent more time in the chalet than we thought we would simply because we just loved it so much and didn’t want to leave!

 

The location was perfect

Our cabin in the woods; what dreams are made of!

 

Located down a steep hill in the heart of the Swiss Alps and flanked by a whole residential street full of similar chalets, our holiday home for the week couldn’t have been better situated for us to enjoy everything that Nendaz had to offer. The chalet was a 5 minute walk from the nearest bus stop, a 10-15 minute walk from Haute-Nendaz station and tourism office, and around an 8 minute walk from the InterHome office, where we picked up our keys for the property. Although the chalet was booked through Travelopo, InterHome became the point of contact during our stay for check in and check out, and were on hand to answer any urgent queries that we might have had.

 

The centre of Nendaz town

 

 

Just a 5 minute walk away you’ll find the local outdoor pool, definitely one of the must sees in the resort, and it was a 10 minute walk to the nearby Hotel 4 Vallees Spa Complex too. The two in resort supermarkets, Co-Op and Migros, were both a 10 minute walk away. It’s worth noting that hiring a car would be a really great way to explore further afield and trips to nearby Sion or Basse-Nendaz would definitely be worth a visit! Obviously we didn’t have a car so were confined to the resort, but with so much to see and do, and a jam packed itinerary provided by Nendaz Tourisme, this really wasn’t a problem for us! If we were visiting in winter I think we would have found it difficult to wade through snow and ice and make our way up and down the steep hill every morning and night, but I think you’d either have to get used to it or use your hire car to get up the driveway nice and easily. The chalet was just a few hundred meters from the start of the Sculpture Walk, one of the circular hour long bisse walks provided by the local tourism office and a great way to explore the town.

 

There was everything you could ever want and more

Umm so this sauna was opposite my room…

 

I know I’ve mentioned the sauna before, but it was honestly AMAZING and was one of the best things about our entire home! The sauna was literally opposite my bedroom and next to my shower room, so it felt super private and we definitely made the most of it during our time in the chalet. I loved the fact that we could use it whenever we wanted, especially after a long day of mountain hiking, and the views out the window too were totally stunning. Our chalet was kitted out to be super luxurious, and would be a haven for groups, couples and families alike. The modern kitchen with it’s excellent appliances enabled us to eat in most nights during our stay, saving us a lot of money as Switzerland is notoriously expensive for dining out! The open plan living room was our little hub and the place we all gathered together every morning for breakfast and every evening for dinner, and those views every time we looked out the panoramic windows never failed to leave us speechless, quite a feat considering we’re 5 female bloggers who NEVER STOP TALKING!!!

 

The verdict

Absolute house GOALS

 

So I’m pretty sure you can tell that I absolutely ADORED my stay in our dreamy chalet in beautiful Nendaz and it truly was the best place I have ever had the pleasure of calling home for the week. I get so attached to places I stay in on my travels, especially if I’m staying in one place for a whole week, and I genuinely felt so sad when the time had come for me to say goodbye! I would recommend this gorgeous chalet for anyone looking for somewhere to stay in the bustling resort of Nendaz, whether it’s in winter or in summer, and it would give any lucky guests the holiday of a lifetime.

Have I got you feeling envious yet?! I’m hoping these pics give you someΒ seriousΒ wanderlust and will inspire you to think about staying in a chalet on your next trip to Switzerland, or any other holiday destination of your choice as Travelopo have a HUGE range of over 100,000 gorgeous villas and chalets in numerous destinations across Europe. Fancy catching some rays in sunny Majorca? What about sampling Italy’s finest pizza and pasta over in Lake Como? The possibilities are endless with Travelopo, and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime whilst staying in one of their beautiful properties. A big thanks to the Travelopo team for looking after me and my fellow bloggers on our recent press trip to Nendaz!

Love Jess x

NB. My stay in this chalet came courtesy of Travelopo, but all thoughts, opinions and photos are of course my own.

 

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Nine Reasons to Visit Nendaz, Switzerland

 

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’ve just returned from a wonderful week away in Switzerland after staying in the ski resort of Nendaz, located above the Rhone Valley and just a 2hr train ride away from the popular city of Geneva. I flew out to Switzerland to join 4 other bloggers on a press trip to Nendaz where we were staying in a Travelopo chalet and working with the local tourism board too. We had such a fantastic week and enjoyed a jam packed itinerary showcasing all that the resort has to offer. I would never have thought to visit a ski resort for a summer holiday, especially as I thought there was nothing much to do other than go skiing in winter, but I have had my eyes opened to the amazing things there are to see and do in Nendaz, from mountain biking and cheese making to bisse walking and spa indulging, and here’s why I think you should visit this beautiful resort too…

 

1. The scenery is incredible

 

 

Nendaz was truly stunning from every single angle; the landscape looked different every time I woke up and I can’t believe how much it changed on a daily basis! Sometimes there were bright blue skies, other times it was grey and snowy, but no matter what the weather was doing, there was no denying that this place looked totally out of this world. My favourite views were from our beautiful chalet, which I will talk more about in another blog post, and the views from Tracouet, where we celebrated the traditional Alphorn Festival, were pretty amazing too. I really enjoyed just going for little walks around the town, and hiking further afield when we were making a day of it, as walking was definitely one of the best ways to appreciate the spectacular scenery that Nendaz has to offer.

 

2. There are endless activities on offer

 

 

Considering we visited during summer, I really wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of activities, and thought there wouldn’t be much on offer at all, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! The lovely Annick from Nendaz Tourisme put together a fantastic itinerary for us which comprised of mountain biking, bisse hiking, cheese making, sunrise watching, festival going, spa chilling and outdoor swimming! Each and every one of our days in Nendaz was jam packed with plenty of things to do, but with just enough free time so that we could relax and enjoy everything that the resort had to offer. My highlights were the gorgeous outdoor swimming pool with the most amazing views of the mountains in the background, cheese making in the middle of the Alps at 7am, and taking three ski lifts 3300m high to catch the sun rise at the top of Mont Fort, one of the highest points in the whole of Switzerland! As well as doing all of these fantastic activities, you could also go husky sledding (weather permitting), take a guided tour of the old town, or join a group exercise class. There really are so many things to see and do in Nendaz that you’ll be completely spoilt for choice!

 

 

3. The ski lifts are a great way to get around

 

 

Although Nendaz itself is small, the mountains are obviously mahooooosive and it’s difficult to get around all of them if you’re limited on time. I’d never been on a ski lift before, but by the end of the week I’d been on them several times and each trip was such a great experience and a brilliant way to get up to the top of the mountains in such a short amount of time. The ski lifts offer panoramic views over the valleys below, and they’re pretty spacious so you can have a few of you in there at a time and STILL have enough room to get those all important selfies. Not gonna lie though, I did feel a little queasy whilst on my way up and down on those lines, I just tried not to look down and kept my eyesight level – this really helps me with my motion sickness, but if you’re lucky and don’t suffer like me, you’ll love every second and get the most stunning shots!

 

4. It’s beautiful at any time of year

 

 

We went during summer, so the weather was mainly beautiful, with bright blue skies and it was surprisingly really warm! On most of the days temperatures were hitting 25 degrees plus which meant we could get in our bathing suits for the spa and the pool and enjoy some gorgeous sunshine. At night though, or on days when the sun wasn’t shining, it felt much cooler and there was a bit of a chill in the air, so I’d definitely recommend taking a jumper or a jacket. As we had so many early starts for our itinerary, we got to experience the weather first thing in the morning which was freeeeeeezing, especially at times when we were over 3000m high! I thoroughly enjoyed our summer stay, but I would also really love the opportunity to visit during winter as I think the snow and icy temperatures would make this place look even prettier than it does when it’s warm, and it’d look like a proper little winter wonderland too!

 

5. It’s easy to get to

 

 

We started our Swiss adventure in the vibrant city of Geneva, so hopped on a train from there to Sion in order to make our way to Nendaz. We then took a bus (line 362) from Sion direct to Haute-Nendaz and reached our destination in a short 30 minute journey, complete with steep, winding roads and stunning views of the towns below. The buses from Sion to Nendaz run every hour and cost 10fr per person, or around Β£8 each. Trains from Geneva-Sion run every half an hour and we found SuperSaver tickets for as little as 34fr each way, which was Β£28pp – an absolute steal in our opinion! Visit the Swiss Rail website for more info, and don’t forget to look out for the SuperSaver tickets when you can to grab a bargain.

 

6. The nightlife is pretty good

 

 

OK, so it’s not exactly Ibiza, and you won’t find David Guetta playing a DJ set anywhere on the resort, but considering this is a largely un-touristy area, Nendaz has plenty of things to keep you occupied during the evening, no matter what season it might be. You’ll find an abundance of bars and restaurants along the main road from Haute Nendaz station, just past the tourist information office, and there are plenty of others dotted in between Haute Nendaz and Basse Nendaz too, it’s sister resort. During our stay we mainly chose to eat in and use the kitchen facilities at our luxury chalet, but on a couple of nights we actually ate in two of the best restaurants in the area, both of which were rated #1 and #2 on Trip Advisor! Our first evening out was at Cafe du Sapin Blanc, a gorgeous restaurant in Basse Nendaz with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and trees, serving organic homemade food. Our second evening out was a little closer to home, just a 5 minute walk from our chalet at the wonderful La Lanterne et le Vieux-Chalet, an excellent restaurant boasting quirky, tailor made menus and the friendliest owner in the town! A big thank you to Nico from Cafe du Sapin Blanc and Alex from La Lanterne for looking after us both nights, and for allowing us to sample some of the best items on your carefully thought out menus!

 

7. It’s fun for all ages

 

 

As you know, I travelled with four other travel bloggers to Nendaz for a group press trip – we’re all young girls in our twenties – but this place is suitable for people of all ages, no matter what you want to get from your holiday. We saw kids, families, groups of guys and girls, couples and solo travellers too enjoying everything that Nendaz has to offer. There’s fun sports for the kids, a luxurious spa for the girls, nightlife for the adults, and intense mountain biking for those who are a little more hardcore! I know that I, along with Elaisha, Hannah, Hayley and Allison, had the most amazing weekend in Nendaz and we were sooo sad to be leaving after a fantastic week! Miss you girls!

 

8. You can explore as much as you want on foot

 

 

Nendaz is quite a small town, so it’s super easy to reach everything on foot. If you have a hire car, then that would be great for exploring the nearby towns or places a little further afield, but you really don’t need a car to be able to get the best out of Nendaz. If, like us, you’re arriving by bus from Sion, you can explore the entire town from Haute Nendaz station, right opposite the tourist information office. There’s one major road running through the resort, and it’s lined with shops, restaurants, bars and cafe’s so has everything you need for your stay, and it can easily be reached by walking. Throughout the rest of the resort there are other roads, pathways and streets leading to a number of different areas, but no matter what route you take you’ll find they all end up back where they started, so by walking you really can’t get lost at all!

 

9. You’ll be in the heart of the Swiss Alps

 

 

One of the best things about Nendaz is it’s fantastic location, nestled in the very heart of the Swiss Alps. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a place as beautiful as Nendaz before; the Alps genuinely took my breath away every time I looked at them and I felt on top of the world each time I climbed them. The Alps are famous for being the most iconic part of Switzerland and, given that they make up around 60% of the country, they attract the most tourists too. With mountains as high as 3000 metres, the Alps offer spectacular views from the top and look just as good from down at the bottom, making them quite possibly the most photographed landscapes in the whole country.

 

I still can’t look through my photos from Nendaz without gazing in awe at the incredible scenery that surrounded us during our stay. The resort really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed in, and I didn’t realise just how much I would enjoy my week there. With so much to see and do, Nendaz is perfect for families, couples, groups or even solo travelers just looking for an alternative location for their summer holiday. If you’re an outdoorsy kinda person who enjoys fresh air, gorgeous views and long mountain hikes then this is most definitely the place for you! A big thanks to the team at Nendaz Tourisme for putting together such a fantastic itinerary for us,Β and to Travelopo for providing our beautiful accommodation for the week. Have you ever visited Nendaz, or stayed somewhere similar? For someone who isn’t particularly sporty or outdoorsy I absolutely adored my time in the resort and would recommend it to anyone looking to do something a little different this summer instead of lying on the beach for a week!

Love Jess X

NB. My trip to Switzerland was sponsored by Travelopo and Nendaz Tourisme but, as always, all thoughts, words and photos are my own.
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Travel Guide to Sofia: The historic Bulgarian capital

 

Standard ice cream shot whilst on a sunny city break 🍦🍦 Look at those blue skies 😍😍 #Sofia #Bulgaria #visitsofia

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OK so this is post is waaaaaayy overdue, but better late than never, right?! I visited Sofia back in May after snapping up flights with Ryanair for Β£30 return. Yep, you heard correctly, Β£15 each way for the 3hours it took to get from Birmingham to Bulgaria. This trip was totally unintentional and completely unplanned, but when my lovely friend Toni and I decided to frantically browse Skyscanner for cheap flights to anywhere, we realised this bargain was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Fast forward seven days and we were sat on our flight heading across to the furthest Eastern European country I have ever visited! Here’s what we got up to during our time in Bulgaria, and I’ve listed my top highlights for this cultural capital city…

 

Take a FREE walking tour

 

 

I absolutely LOVE free walking tours and feel they are the best way to discover a new city for the first time, especially as they help to get your bearings when you’re wandering around like a crazy person trying to find out where everything is. The free walking tour in Sofia begins outside the Palace of Justice, right in front of the steps, and departs every day at 11am. Our tour guide, Vasil, was so friendly and informative throughout the whole event, which lasted around an hour. Within that time we saw pretty much every important landmark within the city centre, and got to make some brilliant photo stops along the way. Although we didn’t have time to go inside the churches etc during the tour, we got a good idea of the places we wanted to come back to and explore a little later on. Thank you Vasil for an amazing first couple of hours in Sofia!

 

Visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral at night

 

 

This is probably the most famous landmark in Sofia and, in my opinion, definitely the most beautiful! As soon as I knew I was heading over to the city I made it my mission to visit the Alexander Nevsky cathedral as soon as possible. We actually walked past that place a number of times during our stay, it’s an incredible piece of architecture and looks good from every angle, especially from the inside. I particularly loved it when it was lit up at night though, as it literally glowed in the dark and made for the most beautiful picture! Sadly my camera couldn’t do it justice, so this picture is from my lovely friend and fellow travel blogger Allison who is currently spending some time in Sofia and calling it her temporary home… Thanks Allison!

 

See the ancient remains of Serdica

 

 

If you’re in to your history, you will LOVE ancient ruins, artefacts and crumbling remains as much as I do. Did you know that Sofia is over 6000 years old?!?! Nope, I didn’t either until I got there and took the fantastic walking tour. The city was known by many names until it became the Sofia we know and love today, and the ancient remains of Serdica date back thousands of years. Wander towards the metro station and you’ll find ruins that were discovered when the council started digging and building the metro line back in 1998. There’s also a brand new hotel (Arena de Serdica) that has just opened and original Roman ruins that were discovered during excavation can be found in the lobby, where an exclusive exhibition housing the 3rd century Roman Ampitheatre has been made. Learning about the history of Sofia was one of my favourite things to do in the city and it made me fall in love with it even more!

 

Explore the many different religions of the city

 

 

There aren’t many cities where you can find a Mosque next to a Catholic Church, but in Sofia it’s something that’s pretty normal! The city is home to a whole host of different religions, from Muslim and Jewish to Catholic and Protestant, but there is no divide present in the city whatsoever, it feels very united and everyone really seems to come together, no matter what their religion. We spent time wandering around the churches and admiring them from every angle. My particular favourite was the Church of St Nicholas, with it’s tiny crypt underneath welcoming visitors into it’s Wishing Room. I did make some wishes, and I do hope they come true!

 

Climb Mount Vitosha

 

 

So we didn’t exactly climb Mount Vitosha, and the tale of how we got up there in the first place is a pretty ridiculous one!! To cut a long story short, we got in a taxi hoping to head towards a rooftop bar with panoramic views for drinks and cakes before our flight home, but the taxi driver got a bit lost, didn’t speak good English and wasn’t sure where he was going. After an hour we arrived at said rooftop bar, only to find that it was CLOSED and was most definitely not in use! Luckily there were a few staff members on site who allowed us to access the roof terrace in exchange for a few Bulgarian Lev – I am sooo glad we did this as it was well worth the hours taxi and the views from the top were INCREDIBLE. Obviously I would have liked to have climbed it properly, but it was an adventure and an experience and was worth all the taxi hassle. If we had more time we would have actually hiked the mountain, and explored the nearby Stone River and Golden Bridges too as this looked super cool, but there’s always another excuse to come back!

 

Stay in a central hotelΒ 

 

Central Hotel Sofia

 

We stayed in a brilliant hotel. right in the heart of the city, and it had everything we needed and more. As the name suggests, Central Hotel Sofia was exactly that, slap bang in the middle of everything and the location couldn’t have been more perfect. The hotel is a 4* and has all modern amenities you could wish for. It was clean, smart, and excellent value for money. We paid Β£30pp per night for a good size twin room with en-suite bathroom and had a really comfortable stay. I’d highly recommend this hotel to anyone looking to stay somewhere central, modern and affordable in the heart of Sofia.

 

Eat just outside of the city

 

 

Everything is so cheap in Sofia, that meal times are an absolute steal and you can taste some wonderful food without paying a small fortune. Although the central boulevard is brimming with restaurants, bars and cafe’s, I’d recommend getting a taxi a little further out of town to see where else you can eat. After a recommendation from a local friend, Toni and I decided to jump in a cab and make our way over to Pod Lipite, a small restaurant just 5 minutes from the city centre that serves traditional Bulgarian food and hosts traditional Bulgarian singers and dancers who play every night for their guests. This place was super cute and cosy and served the most amazing food from salads and soups to chicken and beef dishes. We both had an incredible meal, with an alcoholic drink each, and the bill came to just Β£17!! It’s little places like Pod Lipite which really allow you to take in the culture that a city has to offer, and this meal out was definitely one of the highlights from our trip to Sofia.

 

So there we have it, my Sofia travel guide in a nutshell! Despite spending just 2 nights/3 days here, we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see and I definitely think it was enough time. Obviously we could have spent hours more properly exploring each of the churches, or taken a full day to hike Mount Vitosha, but a 2 night stay will give you enough time to see a lot of the city and worked really well for us. Hopefully this post inspires you to think about choosing Sofia for your next city break, even though it might not be an obvious choice it’s a real hidden European gem. Have you ever been to Sofia before? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments on this charming place!

Love Jess x

 

Had the best time exploring the beautiful city of #Sofia with my wonderful friend of 10 years πŸ’–

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