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Kotor Travel Guide – 1 Day in Montenegro’s Fairytale City

 

Last month I returned from my first ever cruise and had the most amazing time exploring new parts of the Mediterranean I had never visited before. I was on board Marella Cruises Celebration ship doing their ‘Sail the Three Seas’ itinerary and after a day in Dubrovnik, our next port of call was charming Kotor, one of Montenegro’s most beautiful cities. A trendy destination for 2018, Kotor is fast becoming THE go-to place for your next European city break, and with its cobbled streets, quaint town square, dramatic mountain backdrop and water front location, it’s not hard to see why. I only spent half a day in Kotor as we had an early sail away on our cruise (the ship departed at 4pm) but we sailed in nice and early so still got to see a good chunk of the city before we had to leave. If, like me, you only have a few hours to spend here, this is what I recommend you should do…

 

Wander round the Old Town

 

 

Walking on foot is always the best way to get around, and what better way to explore a new city than to soak up its charm and culture from its pretty old town? Kotor is a tiny city, and its old town is even smaller, with cute cobbled streets, an abundance of restaurants and shops, and some gorgeous buildings thrown in too. The old town was just a short stroll from the harbour where our cruise ship was docked, and the walk past the waterfront and the ancient archways brought us right in to the heart of Kotor within a matter of minutes. One thing I really loved about the old town was that it was completely pedestrianised, so we could wander around as much as we liked without having to worry about cars or buses driving by loudly and filling the air with petrol fumes!

 

Climb St John’s Fortress and it’s city walls

 

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*NEW BLOG POST* ((link in bio)) A Travel Guide to #Kotor City walls ✅ Red roofs ✅ Waterfront location ✅ Mountainous backdrop ✅ The pretty city of #Kotor makes the perfect place for a quick European weekend getaway ✈️ Kotor was the second stop on my recent #cruise with @tuiuk and I think it may have just been my favourite destination of our entire itinerary 🌍 We walked along the cobbled streets and marvelled at the many churches before meandering through the ancient archways and taking a walk along the glamorous waterfront where we found luxury yachts, enormous cruise liners and posh boats a plenty 🚢 If you're planning a trip to the prettiest city in #Montenegro, come and read my #travel guide which has just gone live on the blog on today's #wanderlustwednesday! 💻 journeyswithjessica.net #marella #marellacruises #marellacelebration #cruiselife

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I wouldn’t recommend doing this in the height of summer as Kotor gets very hot, but during the cooler months, a hike from the old town up to St John’s fortress is an absolute MUST. Starting at the North Gate, wander through the old town and then climb up alongside the city walls to discover more of Kotor than you can see from the ground. The construction of the walls started way back in the 9th century, but it wasn’t until the 15th century that the walls joined together to form a loop up into the hillside, stretching for a full 4.5 kilometres. Your hike will take you 260m above sea level and you’ll climb over 1350 steps, up steep slopes and winding stone staircases, until you reach the top of St John’s Fortress (or San Giovanni as it is also known) where you’ll be treated to the most amazing views over the bay of Kotor below. What an absolute TREAT this sounds like! I was gutted I didn’t to do this during my visit as a) it was ridiculously hot at 35 degrees, and b) the hike takes approx. 2-3hrs to complete and we just didn’t have enough time to fit it in to our short stay. It’s at the top of my bucket list for my return visit though!

 

Walk down to the water front

 

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Don't mind me, just posing in front of expensive boats like it's the most normal thing in the world 🙋 I'm currently writing up my #travel guide to #Kotor and can't wait to share it with you all! This pretty city is fast becoming the new go-to place for a European break in 2018, and with cute cobbled streets, an ancient old town and a glamorous waterfront like this, it's not hard to see why! 😍 I LOVED my time in #Montenegro when I visited as part of my recent #cruise and am already planning a return trip to explore more of this gorgeous country 🌍 Have you ever been to Kotor before? On this miserable windy day in England, I know where I'd rather be rn ✈️ #TBT #VisitKotor #VisitMontenegro #MarellaCruises #GoMontenegro #Insta_Montenegro #MontenegroWildBeauty #KotorMontenegro #KotorBay #CruiseLife #Europe #TravelGuide #TUI #ThrowbackThursday

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This was easy for us as we HAD to walk past the water front to get into Kotor itself, but if you’re not visiting on a cruise I would definitely recommend taking the 5-10 min walk from the city centre down to the waterfront. The walk alone is worth it just to look at the line-up of magnificent yachts, cruise ships and fancy boats all docked in the harbour whilst their owners descend on the city. It can get extremely busy in the city centre when cruise ships are in town, and as Kotor is so tiny, it can feel a little overwhelming and very overpopulated in a short space of time. That’s why I think spending some time down on the water front allows you to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets and gives you a little breathing space, plus the views of the harbour with the magnificent mountains in the background are seriously stunning!

 

Visit one of the many Churches

 

 

I absolutely adore churches and try to see at least 1 or 2 in every city that I visit when I’m travelling, so I hit the jackpot with Kotor which is home to a number of religious buildings and each one tells their own story. All of the churches are either Catholic or Orthodox, with the majority being Orthodox, and they are dotted all across the city, with some perched high up in the mountains too. We went inside the miniature St Luke’s Church which was ornate and delicate with a stunning altar and small confessional room to the rear. We also visited the stunning St Tryphon’s Cathedral, the most famous in the city, which was built in 1166 and houses the relics of St Tryphon, the Patron Saint and Protector of Kotor. If you’re feeling energetic, hike up to the hills where you’ll discover St George’s Church, a 1000 year old ancient building perched at the back of St John’s hill which can be reached when climbing the city walls. These are just a few of the many Churches that can be found in Kotor, I just wish I had time to see them all!

 

Take a boat trip round the Bay of Kotor

 

 

We didn’t really fancy the idea of getting off one boat and on to another one so we didn’t actually take a boat trip around the Bay of Kotor, but if I hadn’t been visiting whilst on a cruise I definitely would have done! We saw tonnes of sales people up and down the waterfront trying to lure passing customers to one of their pretty boats, with yachts, small boats and even speedboats offering fantastic rides around the bay. As we had already seen the bay whilst sailing in to Kotor, I didn’t feel it was necessary for us to do a different boat trip here, and knew the sail away later that evening would be just as spectacular as the sail in that morning, with incredible views around the fijord each time. I would however have loved to do a speedboat or small boat tour around the Blue Caves of Kotor as this place looked amazing! The waters are gorgeously clear (and blue, obvs) and offer fantastic snorkelling spots. On most of the tours we were offered you can combine the Blue Caves with a stop off at Our Lady of the Rocks, an ancient church and museum which is one of Montenegro’s most popular attractions situated on its own island just in front of Perast, a UNESCO World Heritage Town. I’d definitely do one of these tours next time I return to Kotor and would recommend it to anyone who has time to do a 3hour tour whilst they are in the city.

 

These are the main things I would recommend to do if you’re short on time, but if you’ve got a few days to spare I would also squeeze in a visit to the nearby town of Budva, which looks stunning and I’ve heard amazing things about it! There’s also a tiny beach in Kotor, tucked around the corner away from the old town but I could see it from my cruise ship and it didn’t look like it was too far to walk to at all, so if you want a little beach time then you can do that too. Oh and if you’re visiting whilst on a cruise, make sure you wake up bright and early for the sail in – it was INCREDIBLE! My favourite sail in of the entire trip – gliding into the fijords was breath-taking and honestly one of the most magical travel experiences of my life. Montenegro is truly gorgeous and I can’t wait to return one day! Have you been to Kotor, or other parts of Montenegro before? I’d love to know what you thought of it!

Love Jess x

 

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My Travel Guide to Paris, The City of Love

 

Ah, beautiful Paris, the city of light, the city of love and one of the most famous cities on the planet. Prior to my visit to the French capital on my recent inter-railing adventure, I had only ever been to Paris once whilst on a day trip from Disneyland. Although I whizzed around trying to see as much as I possibly could, it’s such a huge city and I found it so hard to fit everything in. Luckily this time round I had way more time to spare and managed to see pretty much everything I wanted to during my time there. Here’s what I got up to on my Easter weekend visit…

 

Stroll along the River Seine

 

 

One of the prettiest parts of Paris is definitely the River Seine. I walked alongside it during my last visit and couldn’t wait to see it on a sunnier day, taking a gentle stroll along the many bridges and spend some time people watching. Given that we were staying at Saint Germain, we were perfectly positioned to access the Seine and walked alongside it each morning to get to and from the city and our hotel. Why not grab a chocolate crepe and devour it whilst walking along the river? You can’t get more Parisian than that!

 

Visit The Notre Dame Cathedral

 

 

This was my second visit to the Notre Dame and it was even more impressive than I had remembered. We spent a good hour here on Easter Sunday, listening to the bells chime and admiring the incredible architecture from every angle. It was sooo busy though and the queue to get inside was ridiculously long, so we came back to the cathedral a couple of days later and managed to walk straight in – it seems 9am on a Tuesday morning is a good time to beat the queues! Inside it was even more amazing than I had remembered and the stained glass windows truly were a sight to behold.

 

Discover the Hidden Passages of Paris and visit Montmartre

 

 

Prior to my visit I was contacted by tour company Triple (formerly known as Local Guddy) asking if I would like to review one of their many European tours, all ran by locals in their respective cities. As I was going to be in Paris, I wanted to discover a different side to the city and picked a tour that was a little less obvious and one that covered more than just the standard touristy sights. After scrolling on the Triple website, it was the Hidden Passages of Paris tour, run by local teacher turned guide Lucien, that jumped out at me immediately. Running for approx. two hours (€30pp) Lucien was to start at the Royal Palace of Justice before taking us to some of the ancient hidden passageways (old buildings and arcades that used to connect different districts of the city) which are now used to house an abundance of restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, shops and bars. As there were only two of us on the tour, it was super informative, yet informal, and we really got to know some different areas of Paris that you won’t find in the guidebooks. Lucien was a fantastic guide, very knowledgeable, and friendly too – nothing was too much trouble. As there were just the two of us we actually finished the tour early, but instead of walking away and leaving us to it, Lucien asked if there were any other areas of the city we wanted to see and he gladly walked up to Montmartre with us when we expressed our interest in visiting this area. He accompanied us up the steep hill to the top of the Sacre Coeur where he left us to carry on with our day. Lucien was fantastic and Triple were great at being on call if I had any queries in the lead up to the tour. Thank you to both Lucien and Rebecka at Triple for a wonderful tour that turned out to be one of the highlights of our Paris trip!

 

Wander through the Luxembourg Gardens

 

 

The Luxembourg Gardens were a pleasant surprise to both my sister and I – we had no idea they were so close to where we were staying in Saint-Germain and they were a real hidden gem. The weather wasn’t particularly warm during our trip, but luckily we did have sunshine for a few hours when visiting the Luxembourg Gardens. A series of outdoor gardens linked with bridges, fountains, ornaments, trees and lots of beautiful flowers made this place look like heaven on earth. There is a small onsite café serving drinks, cakes and snacks making it the perfect place to enjoy some much needed respite after a busy day of exploring. Paris can often be a little overwhelming at times as it’s streets are so busy, so taking a stroll around these beautiful gardens is a lovely way of slowing the pace down a little.

 

Stop off at The Louvre

 

 

Home to the largest collection of art in the world, the Louvre is the most famous museum on the planet and one of the most iconic buildings in history. Located in the 1st arrondissement on the right bank of the River Seine, the Louvre is home to almost 40,000 objects dating back centuries ago. It is perhaps best know for housing the world-famous Mona Lisa portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci. Receiving over 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is undoubtedly popular and it is highly recommended that tickets are bought online rather than just showing up on the day! We didn’t actually go inside the Louvre as the queues were insane and we hadn’t booked tickets, but to be honest we were limited on time and would rather have spent our days in Paris outside than in. It is worth seeing from the outside though, and getting a selfie with the all important pyramid is a definite bucket list item.

 

Ride up to the top of Montparnasse Tower

 

 

This was something I was soo excited about doing as I LOVE rooftops and had climbed the Eiffel Tower last time, so when the lovely team at  Euroventure kindly gifted me two tickets (€17pp) I was so grateful and jumped at the chance to see the Parisian skyline from a different angle. We chose to go at dusk, at around 7pm, so that we could see the skyline both in the light, and after dark once the sun had set. Located in the 15th arrondissement, just a 20 minute walk from our hotel in Saint-Germain, we found the tower easily enough and it is ENORMOUS at an impressive 210m high! Upon arrival we took a short ride up in the elevator and found ourselves at the top of the tower where we were met with the most amazing panoramic views over the city. There is a café/bar on site and this actually became the place where we stopped for dinner after realising we were far too hungry to go wandering around an area we weren’t familiar with in search of some much needed food. A short staircase climb took us to the very top of the tower, which was open air and home to a number of sofa’s, chairs and large seating areas as well as another bar which is open in high season. The views from the very top of Montparnasse Tower were absolutely breath-taking, and it was the perfect place to watch the sun go down, as well as to spot the Eiffel Tower lighting up after dark when it sparkles on the hour, every hour each day from 7pm. A magnificent experience and the most delightful way to end our last night in pretty Paris.

 

Getting around

 

 

I know this is super touristy, but in my opinion the best way of getting around is jumping on a hop on, hop off bus and relaxing on the top deck whilst the driver takes you around to admire all the sights. There are a number of different companies to choose from and we picked Big Bus Tours Paris, just because their stop was nearest to our hotel and we saw them driving around the streets more often than some of their rival companies. A little on the pricey side, our tickets were €36pp for a 1-day ticket. Looking back I would have preferred to do a little research and get a better deal as we saw tickets with CitySightseeing for less than that for a full 24hr ticket, but hindsight is a wonderful thing! We stayed on board for the majority of the two main routes, the red line and the blue line, which gave our little legs some much needed rest whilst we hopped on and off at whatever sights/areas took our fancy. As Paris is so huge, I do think that taking an open top bus is the best way of getting around and an audio commentary was a great way of seeing the sights without wasting too much energy! We did use the metro to get to and from the train station which was handy and super cheap, otherwise we tended to walk to the other places when we weren’t using the bus tickets.

 

Where to stay

 

 

During our time in Paris we stayed in the lively Saint-Germain area which was the perfect place to base ourselves for our 2 night trip. There are sooo many places to stay in Paris, some better than others, and I did struggle at first to find somewhere as a base. With so many options it can be a little overwhelming, but after a friend recommended the Saint-Germain area for its trendy jazz scene and its close proximity to the River Seine (5 min walk away), I knew that was definitely where I wanted to be. Saint-Germain isn’t too huge but there are plenty of bars, café’s, shops and restaurants to visit during your stay. There are plenty of choices for hotel options but we picked the beautiful Hotel de Seine, conveniently located on Rue de Seine, right opposite a pharmacy and a few doors down to a little green grocers where we bought fruit and pastries each morning for breakfast. You’re right in the heart of the action, a stone’s throw from the busy entertainment district and just a 5 minute walk from the nearest metro station to connect you to the rest of the city. The hotel was beautifully decorated in traditional Parisian style with comfortable bedrooms, lavish bathrooms and a cute reception/breakfast area. The staff were so friendly and helpful, especially when our ongoing train to Luxembourg got cancelled because of the SNCF train strikes – reception lady was on hold for ages and was great at being a translator for us! I would highly recommend Hotel De Seine for anyone looking to stay in the heart of Saint-Germain when visiting Paris.

I really enjoyed my time in Paris, even if it did feel super busy and crowded during our visit. I think because we went over Easter weekend it was just so packed and way too touristy, but I did enjoy being at the Notre Dame on Easter Sunday as that was definitely a bucket list moment for me. Yes it was busy in the city, and yes it sometimes isn’t as pretty as it looks with it’s dirty streets and smelly subways, but overall I did enjoy my time there and feel like I saw everything I wanted to see. I’m not sure if I would go back purely because it didn’t totally blow me away, and because there are sooo many other cities I want to visit, but it’s gotta be done at least once in your life, right?! In the words of Audrey Hepburn, Paris is always a good idea.

Love Jess x

NB. I was invited on the Hidden Passages of Paris Tour with tour company Triple, and I was a guest of Euroventure’s who kindly sent me up Montparnasse Tower. Both experiences were gifted to me for the purpose of this review, but as always all thoughts, comments and photos are of course my own.

 

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5 Hidden Gems That Can Only Be Found In Spain

 

 

If you know me, you’ll know that the beautiful country of Spain has a special place in my heart, and that it is my go-to place for a beach holiday, city break, adventure trip or just about any kind of getaway you can think of. As someone who has visited Spain 15+ times over the past 20 years I can say with certainty that is my favourite country in the world, and I love finding things off the beaten track that aren’t in the tourist brochures or the travel guidebooks. So when tour operator Holiday Gems challenged me to put together a list of top hidden gems from my favourite country, how could I say no?!

 

 

Mount Teide, Tenerife

 

The magnificent Mount Teide

 

If you’re a bit of an adventure seeker and would like to swap a day by the pool for a day hiking a mountain, the magnificent Mount Teide is definitely the place to be! Teide can be climbed, hiked, or walked around slowly if time is no issue, and it is the third highest active volcano in the world. As expected, Tenerife is warm all year round which makes it difficult to hike the mountain, so there is the option to take a cable car up to the summit which is a welcome alternative. I hiked around the base of the mountain on my visit last summer, but I heard the views from the top of the cable car were absolutely STUNNING so next time I would definitely choose this option instead. Whilst at Teide, I would also recommend making a pit stop at the nearby Los Roques de Garcia, a UNESCO world heritage site with rock formations that are over 170,000 years old. The rocky landscapes were incredible and made for the most amazing, Instagrammable photos – the whole place looked like something out of an ancient western movie and we instantly felt transported back in time!

 

Cova d’en Xoroi, Menorca

 

The quirky Cova D’en Xoroi

 

Is there anything cooler than a bar built into a cave? I think not! The fabulous Cova D’en Xoroi is listed as one of the best bars in the world, with a fantastic selection of food and drink to choose from, and plenty of seating areas dotted all over the cave. The most magnificent sea views can be found from the front of the cave, and guests are encourage to arrive at dusk, just in time to watch the sun go down as it sets over the sparkling ocean below. After dark, the bar turns into a nightclub with DJ playing an eclectic choice of music for adults to let their hair down and dance until the early hours. If the idea of a bar in a cave wasn’t impressive enough, the myth behind the building is truly magical and gives an added sense of historic mystery to this epic place. Legend has it that a man named Xoroi survived a shipwreck and washed up into the cave where he took refuge from the dangerous seas. At the same time, a local girl from the village went missing and was never to be seen again. Months and years passed by, until she was eventually found alive and well in the cave, with Xoroi and three children, the fruit of their love. Finding himself cornered by the people who found him, Xoroi threw himself into the sea where his eldest son followed him. Both men were lost under the waves and their bodies were never found. Devastated, the girl and her two children were taken to another nearby village where they started to rebuild their lives without their family. A trip to Cova D‘en Xoroi is an absolute must when visiting Menorca and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something different to do on their holiday.

 

 

Old Town, Ibiza

 

Ibiza Old Town

 

A visit to the White Isle usually consists of sun, sea, sand, alcohol and lots of partying until the early hours. Thousands of tourists flock to the biggest clubs, the best beaches and the busiest bars for a week of dancing, drinking and tonnes of fun. However, I discovered a totally different side to the island during my most recent visit a few years ago when I stayed at the quiet resort of Es Cana and took a day trip to the Old Town. Brimming with history, the cobbled streets, ancient walls and natural beauty of the Old Town can be found in abundance and is one of the most visited areas in Ibiza.  Why not spend some time walking along the city walls and finding the old war cannons? Or wander down by the sea front and watch as the sun glistens on to the sparkling turquoise waters. A trip to the Old Town is an absolute must when visiting Ibiza, and you won’t be short of things to see and do here.

 

The Pine Walk, Mallorca

 

Puerto Pollensa’s Pine Walk

 

I stumbled across this place whilst on a family holiday to Majorca a few years ago, where I was staying in the vibrant resort of Puerto Pollensa. The Pine Walk is the busiest part of the resort and is where the nightlife really comes alive, with loads of cosmopolitan cocktail bars, traditional Spanish restaurants and pretty little shops. It is quite a large entertainment district with many pubs and lots of places to eat and drink, and typically there are lots of tourists here but it is fun, it is lively and it offers lots of things to see and do. You’ll find street performers, sand sculptures, caricature artists and pretty much every kind of entertainer or performer you can think of. Set back slightly from the beach, and just away from the main road, the Pine Walk enjoys the perfect position just from which to allow visitors to enjoy a different area of Puerto Pollensa.

 

St Joseph La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

 

Barcelona’s famous food market

 

Located right on Las Ramblas, in the heart of the city, St Joseph’s Market is one of the hidden gems of Barcelona and is a hit with locals and tourists alike. Stocked with a colourful array of fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of meats, fish and cheeses, as well as sweet treats like cakes, smoothies, ice creams and much much more, this undercover market offers plenty of things to buy. Why not wander around Las Ramblas with one of their enormous ice creams, or grab a bargain and take some local produce back for your loved ones at home? There are also a variety of souvenirs and Barcelona merchandise on offer too. Whatever you decide to purchase, you can guarantee you’ll pick up a local, authentic token from the Catalonian capital.

 

So as you can see, these are just a few of the less known landmarks that can be found across sunny Spain, but there are hundreds more just waiting to be discovered! If you’re looking for a cheap, last minute getaway to this beautiful country, why not browse the Holiday Gems website to see if you can grab a bargain; I challenge you to see if you’ve found a much cheaper holiday? Have you been to Spain before, and if so where was your favourite city? Get in touch with all your Spanish stories as I would LOVE to hear them!

Love Jess x

NB. This was a sponsored post in partnership with Holiday Gems but, as always, all thoughts, words and photos are of course my own.

 

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My Dubrovnik Bucketlist, Croatia’s Crowning Jewel

 

Croatia has been a popular European country for decades, with harbour front resorts, cosmopolitan cities and busy shipping ports at every corner. Croatia is famed for its blue skies, turquoise waters and charming heritage, but its crowning jewel has got to be the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Rising in popularity due to its recent appearances in the blockbuster Game of Thrones series, Dubrovnik is one of the hottest places to visit in 2018. Luckily, I’m going to be there for the first time this summer when I embark on a cruise around the Mediterranean, and I can’t wait to explore this pretty place. So when villa rental company James Villas,who offer fantastic Dubrovnik villas in the city, asked me to put together my Dubrovnik bucket list, I jumped at the chance to create my own itinerary…

 

10.00 – Arrive in Dubrovnik 

 

 

I’ll be arriving in Dubrovnik on a flight from Manchester in the early hours so am pleased that I’ll be able to make the most of having a full day in the city. Once our luggage has been safely delivered to the ship and I’ve refreshed from my flight I’ll be ready and raring to explore the first stop on my cruise!

 

 11.00 – Head to the Old Town

 

The amazing Old Town of Dubrovnik ~ Photo @ccr135

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Nothing screams history like an old town, and if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know how much I love exploring a good ancient area! As Dubrovnik has been high up on my bucket list for ages, I’ve got a good idea of what I want to see, and this historic area is definitely the right place to start. I plan on heading to the market square to look at the stalls, food halls and little cafe’s and shops and will go from there. I’ve heard it’s a cultural hub with incredible architecture and endless cobbled streets, so I can’t wait to kick off the day and explore this area.

 

12.00 – Walk along the ancient City Walls

 

Just magnificent! @miikkanevalainen #dubrovnik

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Dubrovnik is famed for its city walls, and rightly so as they wrap around the entire old town and stretch to over 2000 metres in length. Dating back to the 7th century, the fortifcations were built to defend the city from hostile forces and offer a wealth of history. I’ll be walking as far along the walls as I possibly can in the short amount of time I have and am really looking forward to seeing the city from an elevated position, I think it’ll really help me to get my bearings and get those all important Insta pics of the iconic red roofs and stone buildings!

 

2.00 – Stop for lunch at trendy restaurant Nautika

 

🙂

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A regular haunt of VIP’s and a host of celebs, I’ve heard this restaurant is the place to be to enjoy a spot of fine dining. I’m not sure if my budget will allow it, but I hope to pop by and scout it out whilst I’m in Dubrovnik. Apparently the roof terraces offer the most incredible panoramic views over the crystal clear waters below, so I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of that whilst I visit, even if I don’t end up getting a table! I’m sure there will be plenty of other places to eat though, so I can refuel ready for a few more hours of exploring afterwards.

 

4.00 – Take the cable car up Mount Srd

 

 

I’m not sure I’ll have time to do this one, but I will certainly try my best to fit it in! Cable cars are a brilliant way to see a new city as they offer wonderful views from above and are an exhilarating experience at the same time. I’ve heard it’s a little pricey, but am sure it’ll be worth it when I get to the top and the buildings turn to tiny dots as the Adriatic sea dominates the skyline. There’s also a restaurant/cafe at the summit too, which will be just perfect for snapping as many pics as I can and taking in the incredible 360 degree views… Ahhh I’m getting excited just thinking about it!

 

6.00 – Take some time out on Banje beach

 

 

This will probably be a luxury thing and something I’ll only do if I have time to spare as I’d much rather run around and explore the city instead of laze around on a beach, but this one looks really beautiful and I hope to at least take a few pictures of it, even if I don’t get the chance to soak up some rays. With it’s gorgeous white sands, bright turquoise waters and rocky cliffs, Banje beach looks like a sun worshipper’s haven and I can certainly see why!

 

8.00 – Sink a sundowner whilst watching the sunset

 

Chase the sunset 🌅 Photo @dubrovnikboatcharter

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Watching the sunset is without doubt one of my favourite things to do when exploring a new city, and I know Dubrovnik is going to be an amazing place to do this! I’m going to try and head to a bar with a panoramic roof terrace and grab a cocktail or a glass of fizz whilst watching the sun go down as it casts its orange glow over the buildings and the sea shimmers below. Sounds totally dreamy, doesn’t it?!

 

10.00 – Return to your cruise ship ready for departure

 

 

Phew, I’m exhausted just thinking about this itinerary! After a busy day of exploring I’ll be ready for a good sleep during my first night at sea and will probably welcome a day of rest on the ship the next day. I’ve certainly packed a lot in, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do all of it, but I’m going to try my best to see as much of Dubrovnik as I possibly can and I think it’ll be a great way to kick start my Meditteranean cruise.

 

So this is what my Dubrovnik bucket list currently looks like, and I’m hoping it’s as every bit jam packed as this when the day comes! As you can see, I literally have 12 hours to explore this Croatian gem and want to see as much of it as I possibly can during my time there. Our cruise starts and ends in Dubrovnik, so I may be able to squeeze in a couple more hours of exploring before I head back to the UK, but here’s hoping I can leave with some wonderful memories from my short time in the city. Have you ever been to Dubrovnik before? Let me know if there are any places I’ve missed that should be on my bucket list itinerary! And if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the city, don’t forget to check out Dubrovnik villas with James Villas for a luxury alternative to a traditional hotel break!

NB. This post was sponsored by James Villas, but all thoughts and comments (and this itinerary!) are of course my own.

 

Ready for a sunday walk around the Old Town? Photo @unsettledown

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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 £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 £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, 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.