Europe – The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com Travel. Tech. Family. Fun. Fri, 15 Jun 2018 22:40:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The 10 Best Mediterranean Beaches to Visit on Your Next Holiday https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/the-10-best-mediterranean-beaches-to-visit-on-your-next-holiday/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/the-10-best-mediterranean-beaches-to-visit-on-your-next-holiday/#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2018 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16341 The Mediterranean has no shortage of gorgeous beaches, whether they’re secluded coves accessible only by water, or busy stretches of sand in the city.

Here are our top picks of the best beaches for sunbathing, getting together with friends, or simply for long walks along the sand. If you really want to get up close and personal to some of these beaches, you’ll need to charter a boat or get a ride from a friend, as many are only accessible via the water.

So pack your swimsuit, sunscreen and floppy hat, and discover these top 10 Mediterranean beaches.

The Best Beaches in The Mediterranean

We found the top 10 beaches in the Mediterranean, from Andalusia to Zakynthos, and everywhere in between. Here they are in no particular order. Be sure to add them to your bucket list of the best things to do and see in Greece!

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

Also named Shipwreck Beach or Smugglers Cove after the freightliner that sank in the area in 1980, Navagio is one of the most spectacular and most famous beaches in the Zakynthos area.

You can get to the beach by joining one of the many tours organized from Zakynthos that will not only take you to the wreck, but to the nearby caves as well.

Best of all, this iconic beach is only a 45 minute flight or 4 hour drive from Athens. If you’re looking for amazing beaches, you can’t go wrong with Greece, a country that boasts great beaches from the westward Ionian Islands to the more central Poros Island to the most eastward island of Kastellorizo.

Navagio Beach Zakynthos Greece pxaby

Elafonisi Beach, Crete, Greece

Situated in the southwestern part of Crete, 75 kilometers off the old Venetian harbor today known as Chania, Elafonisi is a tiny island just a few meters away from the mainland.

What makes it so special is that the white sand has pink hues to it as well. The island is a protected area with sporadic vegetation, but even so, it’s home to over 100 different species of plants, some of which grow nowhere else in the world.

Elafonisi Beach Crete Greece DP

Scoglio di Peppino at Costa Rei, Sardinia, Italy

Located just 70 kilometers off Cagliari, the region’s capital, Costa Rei welcomes you with a picture-perfect landscape of white powder sand and crystal blue waters that are so typical of Sardina.

The Scoglio di Peppino beach is renowned for its spectacular coral reefs as well as the nearby cuisine at Costa Rei. So after you explore the amazing colors and hues of the sea and enjoy the local wildlife out among the reefs while snorkeling, diving or taking a boating trip during the day, you can spend the evening relaxing in one of the charming restaurants or trattorias in Costa Rei that serve tasty local dishes.

Scoglio di Peppino at Costa Rei Sardinia Italy DP

 

Praia de Falesia, Portugal

The six kilometer long beach of Praia de Falesia in Portugal stretches between Olhos de Agua and Vilamoura.

The golden sand combines with spectacular rock formations that contrast perfectly with the crystal sea. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, the Praia de Falesia beach is spotted with coves which makes it perfect not only for a peaceful day in the sun, but for enjoying water sports and hiking as well.

Praia de Falesia beach Portugal DP

Calo Des Mort, Formentera, Spain’s Balearic islands

Calo des Mort is a small, simple beach surrounded by rocky cliffs on the island of Formentera, which is just a quick jaunt away from the popular island of Ibiza. It’s the perfect place to enjoy fine sand, clear water, and gorgeous views without the crowds that plague Ibiza.

Calo Des Mort Formentera

Mojacar Playa, Spain

This 17 kilometer long stretch located in eastern Andalusia, on the Costa del Almeira, is breathtakingly beautiful, but still relatively unknown as a tourist destination.

The deep blue water is framed by a golden, sandy beach that turns into a rugged hillside with a welcoming town that awaits the visitor complete with great restaurants and beach bars.

Costa del Almeira Mojacar playa beach Spain

Beaches of Cala Gonone, Sardinia, Italy

Accessible only by boat or by hiking, the beaches of Cala Gonone in the East Sardinia are nothing short of stunning. The beaches are still largely untouched, with dramatic limestone cliffs and deep caves as a gorgeous backdrop.

If you’ve ever seen Madonna’s movie Swept Away, directed by Guy Ritchie, it was set in Cala Gonone. Suffice it to say, the movie is worth a view just for the beautiful scenery.

sardinia italy Cala Gonone pxaby

Balos Beach and Lagoon in Kissamos, Crete, Greece

Getting to Balos Beach is a bit of a trial. You can either reach it by a windy dirt road, or by taking a day cruise. Either way, you’ll be greeted by striking scenery and gorgeous pink and white sand.

Balos Beach and Lagoon in Kissamos Crete Greece pxaby

St. Paul’s Bay in Lindos, Greece

If you’re looking for a fairly uncrowded beach in a a gorgeous bay, St Paul’s Bay is your spot. It’s south of Lindos on the southeast coast of Rhodes.

There’s a small church on the hillside, and two beaches to enjoy. The largest beach (on the south end) is covered with golden sand, and the smaller beach on the north side is a mix of sand and gravel.

St Pauls Bay Lindos Greece pxaby

Tel Aviv Israel

Tel Aviv is home to some of the Mediterranean’s busiest and most beautiful beaches. Winter here stays above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, making every sunny day (and most are), a great beach day.

Since the beaches also face West, there are stunning sunsets there every night. That said, if you love watching sunsets with a crowd, Saturday night is the time to be there.

Tel Aviv Israel Beach

Do you have a favorite Mediterranean beach? Let us know!

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10 of the Most Beautiful Cities in Eastern Europe https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/10-of-the-most-beautiful-cities-in-eastern-europe/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/10-of-the-most-beautiful-cities-in-eastern-europe/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2018 18:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=16159 Dreaming of roaming ancient castles from the middle ages? Want to walk down colorful cobbled streets and be engulfed in the history? Looking for cities with old world charm and a story that spans ages?

In this post, we check out the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. From Gothic cathedrals and Baroque palaces to beautiful seaside castles and Renaissance era trading posts, not only are these some of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe but many are also some of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The Most Beautiful Cities in Eastern Europe

If you don’t add at least one of these beauties to your travel bucket list, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Prague, Czech Republic

The long history of the Czech capital, Prague, goes back to the Paleolithic age. Romanesque chapels, Baroque palaces, Gothic cathedrals, cubist and Art Nouveau constructions are all there to provide an eclectic and spectacular setting for your visit.

The city of Prague is also renowned for its beer and its culinary specialties. There are dozens of cozy pubs that serve their own brews, and the roast duck and the fried pork knuckles are said to be unforgettable in Prague.

Charles Bridge and Prague Castle sunset sunrise

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mostar is a gem, even among all of these beautiful cities. The lovely, clear Neretva River runs through the city, with the rebuilt, 4 centuries old bridge, the Stari Most as the town jewel. Sadly, both the bridge and town were heavily damaged during the Bosnian War, but have been carefully rebuilt since.

Mostar itself is home to narrow, cobbled streets and winding pedestrian friendly pathways. Just 40 km outside of town lies the stunning Kravice Waterfalls, which is worth a day trip in itself, especially during the hot summers.

Bridge over Neretva River in Mostar Bosnia

Belgrade, Serbia

The Serbian capital, Belgrade, is at the crossroads of old European charm and modern convenience.

Skyscrapers dominate some parts of the city, but Old Town (Stari Grad) is full of stunning 19th century architecture and has some lovely side streets. There’s also the imposingly beautiful Belgrade Fortress flanking the Sava and Danube River as well as the giant Church of Saint Sava which can be found near the center.

Statue of Victory with a monument in capital city Belgrade, Serbia

Ohrid, Macedonia

Situated on the hilly shores of Lake Ohrid, this small resort city is chock full of picturesque churches, gorgeous houses and enough monuments to keep you wandering for days. Found in the southwest corner of the Republic of Macedonia, cobbled streets lead down to the lake where you’ll find classic restaurants, trendy cafes and a nice beach where you can spend warm summer days swimming in the clear waters.

White swans on Ohrid lake in Ohrid Macedonia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

One of the most beautiful cities in the entire Mediterranean region, Dubrovnik is located in the center of the dramatic, often rugged and always spectacular Dalmatian Coast. Some buildings in the Old Town of Dubrovnik are more than half a millennium old, with the city’s walls being not only among the oldest, but also among the most efficient fortification systems created in Medieval Times – the Walls of Dubrovnik were never breached by enemy attacks during the Middle Ages.

The city’s position on the Adriatic coast adds the possibility to explore the crystal waters and to do some island hopping as well. While you are exploring, you can easily pop into one of the small, family-owned local eateries and try some of the best fish and sea food dishes in the Mediterranean.

old town of Dubrovnik Croatia

Krakow, Poland

Having escaped the worst of the bombings during World War 2, this southern Poland city near the Czech border, contains some of the best preserved medieval buildings and classic Jewish quarters in eastern Europe. Krakow, the former Polish capital, is often regarded as Poland’s prettiest city and contains some amazing sights such as the Wawel Royal Castle and the beautiful 14th century Gothic church, St. Mary’s Basilica.

The 10 acre Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) is one of the biggest squares in Europe and includes Cloth Hall, a trading post from the Renaissance era. The city itself is packed full of galleries as well as delicious pubs and restaurants.

Krakow Poland

Budapest, Hungary

Divided by the mighty Danube River, the Hungarian capital, Budapest, combines architectural styles from various ages that delight the eye and leave you staring in all directions. With Celtic and then Roman origins, Budapest has maintained its standing as a world class city for centuries and rightfully deserves to be on this list of the best cities to visit in Eastern Europe.

After spending the day wandering the older, beautifully preserved and quite hilly Buda side or exploring the unique vibe and world class museums of the flatter Pest side, you can take a break in one of the city’s many spectacular natural geothermal baths, then replenish your energies in one of the great, yet affordable restaurants that serve world-class dishes. If you like going out after hours, Budapest has an exciting nightlife as well.

Szechenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube River in Budapest Px

Kiev, Ukraine

The capital city of Ukraine, Kiev is known for its colorful religious architecture as much as it’s amazing history museums. The center of Ukrainian culture, Kiev is full of theaters, ancient ruins, modern buildings and secular monuments.

The 11th century Kiev Monastery of the Caves, or Kiev Pechersk Lavra as it’s rightfully called, is a hugely popular pilgrimage site filled with gold domed churches lined with catacombs filled with the burial chambers of Orthodox monks as well as gold objects from ancient Scythian times. For gorgeous views of the city below, check out the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, which is topped by the massive Motherland Statue and can be seen from most places in the capital.

Want to see more about the Ukraine, check out this post we wrote last year.

Kiev Ukraine skyscape and church

Ljubljana, Slovenia

The largest city in Slovenia, as well the country’s capital, Ljubljana is known for it’s amazing green spaces and young and energetic university population. The old city area, divided from it’s commercial district via the meandering Ljubljana River, is home to many museums and art exhibits as well as several popular outdoor cafes along the waterfront.

With a blend of Baroque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau buildings, Ljubljana’s old town contains the Tivoli City Park, the largest park in Slovenia and hosts everything from crumbling statues of Stalin to a duck pond, playground and mansions. No matter the reason, it’s worth a visit.

Ljubljana Slovenia church and the river Ljubljanica

Brasov, Romania

Often called the gem of the Balkans, Brasov, situated in the central part of Romania, fringed by the snow-capped peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, has a spectacular skyline and an even more spectacular urban vibe. The central square, surrounded by impressive Gothic buildings, is lined with cozy cafes and great restaurants where you can enjoy hearty and savory dishes before exploring the many attractions in the city and in the surrounding mountain area.

St Bartolomeu Church Brasov

Intrigued by one of these captivating best cities in Eastern Europe? Plan to add it to your travel bucket list or want to share your love for a particular Eastern Europe city?

Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear your thoughts on places we’ve seen and even more places to visit in Eastern Europe that we have yet to visit.

10 of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. Have you always wanted to visit the beautiful cities in Europe? Here are our tips for the cities in Europe you need to visit as soon as possible like Kiev, Prague, Mostar, Belgrade, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Krakow, Ljubljana and more! #europe #europeancountries #travel #traveltips #Prague Beautiful places to visit in Eastern Europe. Have you always wanted to visit Eastern Europe, but didn't know where to start? Here are our very favorite picks for the best Europe travel destinations, like Prague, Czech Republic, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Belgrade, Serbia! #europe #europeancountries #travel #traveltips #Prague

Stunning places you must visit in Europe. We share the must see cities in Europe that are some of our all time favorite Europe travel destinations. Beautiful photography and tips from Prague, Mostar, Belgrade, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Krakow and more! Prague, Mostar, Belgrade, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Krakow and more #europe #europeancountries #travel #traveltips #Prague

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Top 10 Things to do in Athens Greece with Kids https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-blogs/top-10-things-to-do-in-athens-with-kids/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-blogs/top-10-things-to-do-in-athens-with-kids/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:49:52 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=15340 Today we have a guest post from Chrysoula Manika. She is a fellow travel blogger and tourism professional based in Athens, Greece, so she definitely knows a few things about what to do in Athens with kids. Enjoy!

With perfect weather, good family hotels and many activities for children, Greece and its capital are a great destination for family holidays. In summer, a city visit to Athens can be combined with the beaches along the Athenian Riviera or the islands nearby.

Athens in August is almost empty as most Greeks go to the islands for their holidays. In winter time, Athens is an ideal destination for a weekend escape or city break. So take the kids, put on some comfortable shoes and explore one of the oldest cities in the world.

Things to do in Athens Greece with Kids

Looking for some family fun? Here are the 10 things to do in Athens, Greece with kids:

Climb up the Acropolis

On top of the list and a definite must see when visiting Athens with your family is the Acropolis. Travel back to ancient Athens and show your kids the birthplace of democracy. If you enter the Acropolis archaeological site from the main entrance, you will see not only the world-famous Parthenon but also the Theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes. The Acropolis is suitable for children starting from 3-4 years old; it is not easy to use strollers inside the site. 

Visit the New Acropolis Museum

Combine your visit to the Acropolis rock with the exhibits in its nearby museum. The impressive New Acropolis Museum offers family back packs with educational games and organises family tours. A family-friendly restaurant, a kids’ reading corner and a Lego model of the Acropolis guarantee a fun family day visit.

Take a Mythology Tour

Do your kids love mythology? Then a specialised interactive family tour around the ancient monuments of Athens is a great way to explore the city and its history. Under the guidance of a dedicated educator, your kids can become actors in the ancient Theatre of Dionysus, picnic in between the olive trees, search for goddess Athena inside the museums or draw like an ancient architect at the Parthenon. These tours are suitable for children from 5 years old.  

Ride the Athens Happy Train

Are the kids tired of walking around or do they just love Thomas the Train? The little red or green toy-like street Athens Happy Train makes a 40 – minute tour in the historical centre of Athens and the most famous ancient sites and monuments. You can hop-on-hop-off from different points in the city and see Athens as you please at your own pace.

Coffee and snack at the Little KooK cafe

No other place in Athens appeals more to kids than this fairy tale themed cafe in Psiri neighbourhood. Little KooK transfers your family to fantasyland and is amazingly styled around Halloween and Christmas. Enjoy delicious cakes and (savoury) crepes in a fairytale setting and don’t forget to wander around the beautifully decorated streets in hip Psiri.

Admire amazing views from Mount Lycabettus

A unique experience for all kids and adults is the cable car that goes up Mount Lycabettus. There are also telescopes guaranteeing views as far the island of Aegina. Buy an ice cream at the cafe on top and enjoy a panorama over the city.

Syntagma Square and the Parliament

All children will love feeding the pigeons and watch the impressive changing of the guards at the central square of Athens. These ‘Evzones’ are members of the Presidential Guards wearing traditional Greek outfits. They stay completely still next to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the Parliament building until the moment that they can move for the change of the guards.

Get lost in the National Gardens of Athens

For a picnic or an escape from the summer heat, go to the National Gardens or Royal Gardens right next to the Parliament Building. A very stroller friendly place that is also suitable for kids of all ages. Inside the National Gardens, you will find a small zoo with farm animals, a turtle pond, a large shaded playground, lots of grass areas for babies to play on and a section with botanical gardens.

Discover Street Art

Travelling with teenagers and tired of ancient monuments? Athens has a blossoming street art scene. Many hip neighbourhoods have transformed into an open art gallery with stunning graffiti that places the city into the top places to see street art around the world. Several tour companies offer guided Street Art Tours.

Taste a traditional Greek sweet

Buy a ‘koulouri’ from one of the street vendors on Syntagma square. Young kids will love nibbling on this healthy large bread-ring with sesame seeds. And don’t miss a chance to try ‘loukoumades’, a small Greek doughnut covered with honey. You can find them in any bakery or ‘loukoumades’ shop.

Athens for the family

Athens is a fabulous place for a family vacation or a weekend trip with kids. It is a safe city to visit with an excellent public metro system, many hotel options, lots of sun and warm winters. Your family will enjoy being outdoors surrounded by historical monuments, good family food choices and easy to visit activities.

Chrysoula Manika bio:

Chrysoula Manika is a travel blogger and tourism professional based in Athens, Greece. She writes in both English and French for Travel Passionate, her blog focusing on luxury travel around Europe. She’s traveled extensively throughout Europe for the past 25 years and has no intention of slowing down. She loves to explore the local culture and gastronomy of the places she visits.

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19 Fun Facts About Norway https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/fun-facts-about-norway/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/fun-facts-about-norway/#comments Wed, 28 Jun 2017 03:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=14468 Norway is well known for being one of the world’s richest and happiest countries, but did you know that Norway also has Europe’s highest waterfall?

Even more fun, did you know that the Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian King’s Guard, Sir Nils Olav, happens to be a King Penguin?

Read on to learn more quirky and fun facts about Norway.

Fun facts about Norway SM

Fun Facts about Norway

Lutefisk, one of Norway’s most iconic traditional dishes, is literally gelatinous, salted fish that was made with lye. Today, Scandinavians rarely eat lutefisk and there is more lutefisk consumed in the United States than in Scandinavian countries.

The Guard mascot of the Norwegian King is a king penguin named Brigadier Sir Nils Olav. He doesn’t live in Norway though, his residence is in the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, where he receives regular visits from the King. No, we’re not joking. Here’s a video of the Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard paying a special visit to the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo to bestow his new title of Brigadier Sir Nils Olav to the resident king penguin.

Alcoholic beverages that are stronger than 4.75% (mainly cider and beer) are sold only in specialized government owned shops called Vinmonopolet (which literally translates to Wine Monopoly in English). Each city has a few such shops and there are no Vinmonopolets in the Norwegian countryside.

Norway’s iconic Freia chocolate was an important food source for Roald Amundsen, who led the first party to reach the geographic South Pole on December 14th, 1911.

The Norwegian national drink is a spirit called akevitt or aquavit. It’s a strong beverage (up to 60% alcohol) that’s made from potatoes and flavored with caraway, sometimes dill, orange peel, star anis, cumin and other spices.

Beautiful Norway - a wonderful destination for Canadians with the low Canadian dollar

Reine, Lofoten. Photo by Ghislain Mary

The Lofoten archipelago in Norway is north of the Arctic Circle. However, due to the unique and unusually warm climate of Lofoten, it is home to the world’s largest deep-water coral reef, called the Røst Reef. Lofoten is also the most northerly location in the world with above freezing year round temperatures.

In other fun facts about Norway, the country’s capital city, Oslo, has provided the huge Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square in London since 1947 as thanks to it’s WWII efforts on it’s behalf.

Norway’s Public Roads Administration is proposing the world’s first floating underwater tunnel. It’s a whopping $25 billion project that would allow vehicles to travel under the Norwegian Sea, avoiding driving around the country’s more than a thousand fjords and the amazingly long 21-hour drive and 8 ferry crossings along the Norwegian coastline.

Norway is one of the safest, most peaceful and richest countries in the world. It also ranks first on the list of the World Happiness Report.

Couple on top of Trolls Tongue Trolltunga in Norway DP

Do you know those crazy Instagram photos you’ve seen with someone balancing on the edge of a cliff jutting out from a mountainside? They’re likely taken at Norway’s Trolltunga (or Troll’s Tongue in English), which is 2,300 feet (700 metres) above the north side of lake Ringedalsvatne.

The Norwegian coastline is 15,626 miles (25,148 km) long, and its territory includes thousands of islands along the coast.

Norway has over 450,000 lakes, but most of them are fairly small. Of those, only about 200 of them are larger than four square miles.

Norway also has an impressive collection of waterfalls, with the 6 highest waterfalls in all of Europe. Norway’s highest waterfall, Vinnufossen is 2,820 feet (860 meters) tall and is the sixth highest in all the world.

Atlantic Ocean Road Norway DP

No fun and offbeat Norway travel guide would be complete without mentioning the Atlantic Road in Norway, one of the world’s most unique stretches of highway. It was voted Norway’s Engineering Feat of the Century in 2005, and is made up of eight bridges over 8,274 meters overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Norway has one of the world’s deepest underwater tunnels, the Eiksund Tunnel of Norway. It’s almost 8 km long and it runs 287 meters under the surface of the water.

The rugged coastline is comprised of fjords, long and narrow inlets lined with steep cliffs, which are the number one attraction for nature-loving tourists from all over the world.

The largest glacier in continental Europe is also in Norway. The Jostedalsbreen glacier covers a territory of almost 500 square km.

Norway is the largest exporter of salmon in the world, but the country’s national dish is Fårikål (mutton stew).

For those of us who love both chocolate and cool facts about Norway, this next one is a winner. As previously mentioned, Norway is also well-known for its chocolate. One of Freia’s most famous factories that makes hot chocolate, inspired Roald Dahl to write his famous book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Do you have any cool facts about Norway? Let us know in the comments below!

Interesting facts about Norway

Fun Facts about Norway Atlantic Road in Norway

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Traveling Europe this Summer? Where to Get Away from the Crowds https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/traveling-europe-this-summer-where-to-get-away-from-the-crowds/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/traveling-europe-this-summer-where-to-get-away-from-the-crowds/#comments Tue, 11 Apr 2017 17:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=13282 Traveling Europe this Summer Where to Get Away from the Crowds. Here are some great destinations to enjoy Europe without the busy crowds, including Goreme, Turkey, Snæfellsjökull National Park in Iceland, Mont Saint Michel in France, Lake Maggiore in Italy. Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia and Cuenca in Spain | Europe off the Beaten Track | Europe avoid crowds | non-touristy Europe

A few years ago, our family piled into a rental car and drove across the countrysides of Spain and Portugal. They were blissful days, mostly, filled with wonderful old cobblestone villages, castles and keeps, and lunches of fresh baguettes, fruit, wine and cheese along the Algarve coast.

We were lucky to have most of the attractions to ourselves, because we went off-season in the early spring. If we’d visited in the summer, we would have contended with queues, busy streets, and sold-out attractions.

Likewise, when we think Europe, we think the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Buckingham Palace in London, and the beautiful architecture of Barcelona. The problem is that those iconic European destinations come with swarms of other tourists in the summer.

London and a crowded Buckingham Palace with guards_DP

The trick to avoiding summer crowds in Europe is to seek out hidden travel gems and, by avoiding touristy hot spots in the summer, can let you find new, unspoiled destinations where you can immerse yourself in new cultures and adventures.

Traveling Europe this Summer? Where to Get Away from the Crowds

Here are some great destinations to enjoy Europe without the busy crowds, including Goreme, Turkey, Snæfellsjökull National Park in Iceland, Mont Saint Michel in France, Lake Maggiore in Italy, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia and Cuenca in Spain.

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door 2017

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the largest and most spectacular lake districts in the world.

Plitvice Lakes National Park  is a collection of small and large lakes, beautiful forests, rocky areas and dramatic waterfalls. The national park covers almost 300 sq km, with astonishingly rich flora and fauna. The beech and fir tree forests and the meadows are excellent places to see bright-colored Mediterranean vegetation, and you can also encounter plenty of wildlife during quiet walks.

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia DP

Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

 

The Umbria region in Italy

Known best as the green heart of Italy, landlocked Umbria is brimming with lovely medieval hill towns, delectable local delights like wine and forged truffles, and dense forests. The capital, Perugia, houses the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria art museum, and Corso Vannucci is a wonderful place to get away from it all by strolling through pedestrian only city streets. If you’re looking for laid back European charm, Umbria has plenty to offer.

 

Andorra

This lovely little country is situated snugly in the Pyrenees mountain range between Spain and France. If you haven’t heard of Andorra, you’re not alone; even many Europeans don’t know about this tiny country. For such a small country, there’s a lot to do, from shopping, enjoying nature, and visiting lovely Romanesque architecture. Find out more in this helpful guide of things to do in Andorra.

Goreme, Turkey

The main draw at Goreme, Turkey is the otherworldly fairy chimneys rock formations that dot the countryside of Cappadocia.

The geology is stunning alone, but add the carefully carved houses (and even cities!) among the rock formations, fantastic local food and unique culture, and Goreme is a place where you’ll definitely want to spend some time.

Cappadocia's fairy chimneys

When you’re there, be sure to take a ride in a hot air balloon over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, have a once in a lifetime stay at a luxury cave hotel, and visit the truly unique Goreme Open Air Museum.

Mont Saint Michel in France

Rick Steves France 2017

 

A World Heritage Site since 1979, Mont Saint Michel is a small, but breathtaking site.

The tiny, rocky island off the coast of Normandy in northern France is best known for the Benedictine Abbey of the peak of the rock. The Gothic church was founded in the 8th century and it has astonished and inspired visitors with its 155 m tall spires and other extraordinary architectural elements ever since.

Snæfellsjökull National Park in Iceland

Photo credit: www.iceland.is

Iceland’s very first national park, Snæfellsjökull National Park, incorporates mountain areas, land and sea. It offers hiking and trekking enthusiasts the opportunity to see and to climb on the most spectacular glaciers on Earth. The landscape alternates between icy mountains and hot spots and geysers.

Lake Maggiore in Italy

While Lake Como is probably the largest of all the big lakes in Italy, Lake Maggiore is likely the most spectacular.

It’s located in the Italian Lake District, and while it’s a whopping 65 km long, and almost three km in wide, the lake is more than just a huge body of water. Lake Maggiore is surrounded by mountains and spotted with large islands that host beautiful Mediterranean gardens. Lake Maggiore and the area around it is the perfect retreat where you can relax without being disturbed by tourist crowds.

Cuenca in Spain

Fodor’s Essential Spain (Full-color Travel Guide)

The town of Cuenca, Spain is located in a spectacular area where two river gorges meet, and the town itself matches the beauty of its surroundings perfectly. The settlement was created by Muslim Arabs at the beginning of the 8th century, and it soon became a prosperous center for textile manufacturing. The walled medieval city is astonishingly well-preserved and the town is famous for its special architectural solutions called the hanging houses.

Need a few more ideas? Check out the following graphic for more hidden travel gems across Europe.

Grand European Travel Hidden Travel Gems Across Europe

Presented by Grand European Travel – See more at getours.com.

Need more inspiration?

Check out these great books on finding hidden gems in Europe.

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door 2017

Lonely Planet Amalfi Coast Road Trips (Travel Guide)

 

Hidden Gems of PORTUGAL – Locals Complete Travel Guide for Portugal: 5 TRAVEL Guides in 1 : Porto , Lisbon, Algarve, Madeira, Azores

Hidden Gems of SPAIN – Locals Complete Travel Guide for Spain: 8 TRAVEL Guides in 1 : Barcelona, Canary Islands, Granada, Ibiza, Madrid, Mallorca, Seville, Valencia

Have you found any of Europe’s hidden gems?

Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear more.

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The Five Best Family Places to Stay in Fuerteventura https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/the-five-best-family-places-to-stay-in-fuerteventura/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/the-five-best-family-places-to-stay-in-fuerteventura/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2016 18:00:57 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=12719 Many thanks to Adria, who shares her adventures in Fuerteventura with her kids and lets us know the 5 best places to stay on the island.

Fuerteventura, the second largest of the Canary Islands, is one of my favorite holiday destinations.

Before I had kids, I would fly out to this island to bathe in the sun (which shines all year long) and have a cheeky drink or two. Since having children, (my son, Ewan, aged nine and daughter, Caitlyn, aged six) Fuerteventura has remained one of my favorite destinations.

Of course, holidaying with your treasures can be testing and difficult, but it can also be a great joy. To experience more of the latter, you have to seriously consider your place of stay. That is why I have put my knowledge together to help you and your family have a wonderful adventure in Fuerteventura.

Our pick of the very best Fuerteventura hotels | The Five Best Family Places to Stay #hotel #Fuerteventura

Corralejo

For my family, Corralejo is the best place to stay. There is a lot going on in this resort town to help entertain the young ones and mostly in walking distance too.

It has a lovely beach that is the perfect size for strolling along with kids and it is also a very short bus journey from the massive sand dunes of the National Park (Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo). Ewan loves this place and he can play for hours pretending to be a pirate shipwrecked in the desert, just remember to take lots of sunscreen and water.

There is also a small but fun waterpark suitable for all ages, an extinct volcano to explore, off-road buggy excursions, and Caitlyn’s favourite mini tourist train which drives around the whole resort.

Food wise, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from with food from all over the world. We preferred eating at the old port area where you get the local cuisine, mainly fresh fish, at great prices and sometimes with a free bottle of wine thrown in. Best of all though, you can get a day trip to Lanzarote from Corralejo, which brings back the holiday excitement for the kids.

parque-natural-de-las-dunas-de-corralejo

Sand Dunes of Parque Natural by 16:9clue, (CC BY 2.0)

Jandia

Jandia is a somewhat quieter, more relaxing affair. It is also, in my opinion, where you will find the best beaches on the island. Beyond the beaches, there are two very good reasons as to why Jandia is a great place to go to with your children.

Firstly, it is only a 20-minute drive to Oasis Park, Fuerteventura’s brilliant zoo. Ewan and Caitlyn love this place and they can easily spend days there hand-feeding the lemurs, riding the camels and watching the various animal displays.

Secondly, Ewan’s favourite activity is the Pirate Tour on board the Pedra Sartaña. This tour sails around the coast of Jandia and includes a lot of fun and games for children while also offering the chance to see dolphins.

Caleta de Fuste

Only a 10-minute drive from the airport, Caleta de Fuste is another terrific place to take your family. Located centrally on the east coast, this resort is brilliant for those who want to explore the whole island as the journey time to do so (about 40 minutes either direction) shouldn’t be too long for children.

It has a big, man-made beach with a small but entertaining climbing frame built on it and, again, there are lots of restaurants as well. One of the things we enjoyed most was walking along the beautiful coastal path to Costa Antigua, where you can hand-feed wild but very tame chipmunks.

Chipmunk in Costa

Chipmunk in Costa Antigua by Tony Hisgett, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Costa Calma

Just north of Jandia, and closer to Oasis Park, Costa Calma’s main attraction is its beautiful, long beach which alone can entertain children for hours. Caitlyn thinks it is the best beach because you cannot see where it ends and I am inclined to agree with her. Again, there are lots of restaurants here and excursions on offer too. A note of caution, it can get windy in summer.

Costa Calma by

Costa Calma by Daniel H., (CC BY-SA 2.0)

El Cotillo

El Cotillo offers a quieter pace and is largely, untouched by tourism. There might not be as many things to do here as compared to the bigger resorts, but it certainly gives you a taste of the real life of the island. The lagoons at El Cotillo are also a major draw and are brilliant for snorkelling and sunbathing in. In addition, it is only 30 minutes from Corralejo so you can enjoy the best of both worlds on the same day.

El Cotillo Lagoon

El Cotillo Lagoon by daspunkt, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bon Voyage

Remember, wherever you stay, drink plenty of water, put on lots of sunscreen and have yourself a whole load of fun!

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13 Quirky Things About Iceland You Never Knew https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/13-quirky-things-about-iceland-you-never-knew/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/13-quirky-things-about-iceland-you-never-knew/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2016 18:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=12589 From blue hot pools to green, red and yellow northern lights, Iceland has an amazing list of natural wonders that any country would be proud to call their own.

What Iceland also has going for it is that it’s filled with warm people with some great offbeat senses of humor and at a lot of quirky habits.

Maybe it’s the midnight sun throughout summer or maybe it’s just that in Iceland, people dance to their own drum. No matter what it is, here are 13 quirky things you might not know about Iceland.

13 Quirky Things About Iceland You Never Knew

If a tree falls in the forest… you’re obviously not in Iceland.

It’s true, there’s not a lot of trees in the territory of Iceland. The island country just off the Arctic Circle has a lot going for it, with a wildly beautiful landscape of lava deserts, volcanoes, fjords, huge glaciers and wide pastures, but it has only sparse woodlands and most have been cleared to make way for planting and development. That said, with millions of plantings a year now, the forests are coming back slowly.

iceland-countryside

Photo credit: www.iceland.is

Mosquitoes, sorry there’re none, the Vikings killed ’em all.

Iceland does not get many mosquitoes. Maybe it’s the lack of forests, however, you can spend summer evenings outside without getting bitten or otherwise disturbed by the naughty little devils and in winter, it’s too cold for them to survive. Oh, and that bit about the Vikings doing them all off? Who knows?

Iceland, light in the extreme.

13 Quirky Things about Iceland You Never Knew

Photo credit: www.iceland.is

The upper northern location of the country wildly affects the succession of night and day. During the summer, the sun barely goes down, merging day and night with sunsets and sunrises that seem to last for hours.

Winters are the opposite, with the days incredibly short and the sun only shining for four hours the entire day at the winter solstice in December. So no matter which season you visit, remember to bring a watch because you’ll never know what time it is judging by the sun’s position.

Where’s the beer?

Like the USA, Iceland went through a prohibition era that started in 1915. Most of the alcohol laws were changed 20 years later, but beer was limited to 2.5% in alcohol or less until March, 1989. Until that point, Icelanders wanting a stronger brew would mix their 2.5% beer with Brennivin, a local vodka-like alcohol, to fortify the beer to get it party ready.

Even today most beers are still under 2.5% and alcohol is only sold in special shops, which also happen to be the only places in the entire country where you will see traffic jams on Friday afternoons.

Fermented shark and sheep testicles. Umm, yum?

fermented shark in Iceland

Photo by Hantaro

Beside the truly delicious fresh sea food which can be had everywhere in Iceland, local delicacies include strange dishes such as fermented shark buried into the soil (hákarl) or sheep testicles. Supposedly, they smell strange, but if you get over the first shock, you are in for a real treat.

Babies park outside!

No matter the season, you will see lots of prams (strollers) in the street with babies inside, even in the coldest weather. Many parents choose to leave their babies outside while they meet friends in cafés. That way, the baby won’t be disturbed by the noise in the café.

Autobots, roll out.

Contrary to what you might think, most Icelanders drive large 4WD vehicles. Tourists are usually surprised at how many monster trucks they see around, but locals need these huge SUVs to get around on the often bumpy and tricky terrain.

Call in the…?

Iceland does not have a navy or an army and Icelanders do not carry guns, not even the police men and women. Whether it’s due to the lack of firearms, or just due to the good-natured population, the crime rate is low across the country and violent crimes almost don’t exist.

A name unlike any other.

Contrary to most other nations, Icelanders do not have a traditional family name. Their surnames comprise their father’s first name followed by a suffix (son or dottir) that means “the daughter or the son of”. So in my case, if I was Icelandic, I would be known as Charles Gordsson instead of Charles Kosman and Micki would have been Micki Olliedottir. Catchy, really.

You just gotta believe.

Around 54% of Icelanders still believe in fairies and elves. So much so that roads are known to have been rerouted to avoid areas where these magical creatures are supposed to live. Stories of elves and fairies have existed for centuries in Iceland and their roots are embedded deep into their culture.

Never too cold to swim

Iceland Blue Lagoon 13 quirky things about Iceland you didn't know!

Photo by Moyan_Brenn

In the world famous Blue Lagoon Pools, you can take a bath in the hot open-air pools even on the coldest winter day. The pools stay open even during blizzards and holidays. Whether you want to be there then is definitely questionable but you could if you wanted to. (Now I want to be there during a blizzard.)

The lights are strong with this one

Iceland is among the best places, if not the best place in the world, to see the amazing Northern lights. Also called the Aurora Borealis, the phenomenon involves beautifully colored, dancing bright lights on the skies above the magnetic circles of the North Pole. To be able to see the Lights, you need darkness to contrast, so the best time for viewing is in spring or in late autumn through winter, roughly between 10 pm and 2 am. For the most amazing experience, look for a Northern lights tour package that includes other unique attractions and adventures as well.

They dedicated a museum to it.

Iceland celebrates its eccentricities by dedicating a museum completely to them. The Nonsense Museum is in Flateyri, a village on the Westfjordsm and it has some of the country’s strangest collections on display.

Have you ever been to Iceland? What interesting things did you find?

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Budget Travel Tips for Your Family Vacation to Europe https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/budget-travel-tips-for-your-family-vacation-to-europe/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-tips/budget-travel-tips-for-your-family-vacation-to-europe/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2016 17:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=12370 Today, we have guest writer Shane Haumpton, who’s sharing budget travel tips for your family’s European vacation. Shane Haumpton is a beginning writer, self-confessed coffee addict and shutterbug, and manages to do all these while enjoying life as a nomad. She is interested in writing on a variety of topics, ranging from lifestyle, photography, travel, and arts and crafts to gadgets, social media, and internet safety.

Here’s what Shane has to say about saving money on your next family trip to Europe.  

What’s on your family travel bucket list? Mine was to visit Europe but since going there can be really expensive and we didn’t have much growing up, my family wasn’t able to go there until recently.

Venice Gondola Budget-Friendly Tips for Enjoying Your Family Vacation in Europe

Thankfully, a trip to Europe has now become easier and cheaper. Just a month ago, I was able to take my parents and 3-year-old daughter to France, Switzerland, and Italy at a fraction of the cost one would usually spend for a European tour. Sharing with you my money-saving tips for a family trip in Europe:

Do it yourself

Travel agencies in the U.S. charge from $1,200 to $4,000 for guided tours to premium European destinations (depending on the places and travel duration). However, if you do it yourself, you can save up to 75% of the cost.

With the amount we saved, we’re able to explore more European cities like Florence and Lucerne, where I practiced some techniques for shooting a European vacation.

For capturing scenic landscapes and stunning landmarks, I used my compact, easy-to-use Canon 6D, a full-frame DSLR that’s perfect for travel and nature photography. It also produced great pictures of my trip to Disneyland Paris with my little girl.

Watch out for promo fares of foreign airlines

We booked our plane ticket to Paris (which was our entry point to Europe) from Asiana Airlines when it had a seat sale. The deal was too good to pass up, so we booked tickets immediately, even if our trip was 7 months away. Booking our tickets in advance saved us a lot on airfare costs, so we’re able to fit in more days and activities into our itinerary.

Budget-Friendly Tips to Enjoy Your Family Vacation in Europe

It’s best to schedule your travel to Europe in March and April or September to November when the weather is nice and great airfare deals abound. If you can, fly midweek since rates are cheaper at this time compared to weekends.

Usually, foreign airlines have cheaper rates than the local ones, so it’s also good to check those that have flights in your area for applicable deals.

Ask  airlines about their special ticket rates for children

Since we flew with Asiana, we didn’t get a special rate for my 3-year-old (although our flight was really comfortable through its Happy Mom Service). International airlines like Air France give out as much as 33% discount to children ages 2 to 11. Most airlines won’t offer the information upfront, so you have to proactively ask about it.

If you have children under 2 years old, remember that airlines no longer allow them to fly internationally for free. They do allow them to sit on your lap, but you’ll still have to pay 10% of the adult fare.

And since flights to European destinations usually take very long from North America, save yourself and your children the trouble of enduring an uncomfortable flight. Just book them a seat of their own in the plane.

Travel light

Usually, discounted tickets come with a fine print that limits your baggage allowance. In our case, we’re allowed only 23 kilos of check-in luggage for each person. When we first saw that limit, we thought it would be impossible to fit in each bag everything we needed for our 17-day trip. So we packed fewer clothes and shoes, and fortunately, we managed to survive!

Jeans can be worn repeatedly for about 9 days without stinking, so we maximized the use of two pairs of pants that each of us brought. Some nights, we’d wash our delicates and shirts, and then leave them to dry on the heater so that we could use them again the next day.

My daughter has sensitive skin, so I made sure to pack enough clothes for her to change into everyday. Her clothes and shoes are small anyway, so they didn’t add on too much weight.

Bring your own food

Budget-Friendly Tips to Enjoy Your Family Vacation in Europe

We were able to cut our travel expenses by bringing our own food. While not necessarily healthy, having several cups of instant noodles with us during our trip saved us from having to spend on food on some days.

Good thing that years of travel instilled in me the habit of bringing my own water heater everywhere I go, so we always had hot water whenever we needed it. If you don’t have a water heater, you can ask the hotel’s front desk personnel for hot water. They’ll be glad to pour some into your cup noodles. They may even lend you a fork and spoon like they did to us when we stayed in Zurich.

Book a place on Airbnb or stay over at a friend’s house

Hotel accommodations can eat up a huge part of your travel budget. If you have a friend who lives within your planned destination, perhaps you can ask to stay for free or rent a room in his place. Even if you come to an agreement that you’ll pay for your stay, it’ll still come out much cheaper than staying in a serviced hotel.

Another option is AirBnB, where you can book a room in France and other parts of Europe for as low as $45 per night. Aside from saving money, you’ll also get to enjoy that homey feel you’ll be missing out on when you stay in hotels.

Hot Tip! Sign up using this link, and get $20 USD in Airbnb credits the first time you use Airbnb.

For the most part of our Europe trip, we stayed in the apartment of my mother’s high school friend who’s based in Paris. But in Italy and Switzerland where we didn’t know anyone, we booked budget hotels around 5 months in advance. That allowed us to avail of the early bird rate that’s 40% less than the original price.

By being frugal, your family can enjoy the Eiffel Tower in Paris, frolic in the Swiss Alps, and marvel at the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome without overspending. All it takes is a bit of resourcefulness and patience in scouting for the best deals, and the willingness to adjust your needs to your budget.

Budget travel tips for our familys European vacation

 

 

 

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The Best Things to See and Do in Lanzarote https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/the-best-things-to-see-and-do-in-lanzarote/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/the-best-things-to-see-and-do-in-lanzarote/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 17:00:18 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=12008 I’m going to share a little known secret about me. Ready?

There are few areas in the world that delight me as much as islands.

I’m not sure if it’s the isolation, the miles of beaches, the friendly culture or the fact that I can swim in an ocean no matter which way I turn, but islands draw me to them like a moth to a flame. Couple that with unique animals, bizarre landscapes and vegetation not found anywhere else in the world and any island will probably get on my to see list.

When I look back at all the places we’ve visited over the years, and which places I find myself daydreaming about on a cloudy day, 9 out of 10 times it’s an island setting. I don’t even care where in the world it is, as long as there are beaches close by and the temperature is nice.

Lanzarote Palm

Get prices and availability for the Lanzarote Palm

Queue Lanzarote Island in the Canary Islands. Lanzarote recently caught my attention as a place I want to check out. We’ve been invited down to the Canary Islands a few times in the past few years, and had we had a little more time during our Morocco visit a few years back we would have crossed over there to see what all the fuss was about.

Collage of mountains to sea of Lanzarote

Lanzarote

Short history of Lanzarote

Spanish owned, at 1000 kilometers (621 miles) south of Spain’s southernmost tip,  it’s actually Spain’s farthest territory. First colonized in the 14th century by Spain, the Canary Islands lie about 125 kilometers (78 miles) off the Atlantic coast of Northern Africa with Lanzarote being the farthest north of the volcanic archipelago.

Now don’t let that all fool you. Lanzarote and the Canary Islands are Spanish through and through. Except maybe a little sandier and in the case of Lanzarote, a little more volcanic than the rest of the country.

With the majority of the islands populated by Spanish descendants and with Spanish as the main language, it’s as close to a being in the Caribbean without actually being in the Caribbean you’re going to get on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

Why Lanzarote is special

So, what’s so special about Lanzarote? Well, never mind that there are dozens of amazing beaches found around the 60 by 25 km island, but there are also unique activities to be had there. Ever take a camel ride on a volcano? How about eating in a volcanic cave or diving into the ocean off a still warm lava field?

Got your attention? You can do all that in Lanzarote and still go out to eat some authentic Spanish tapas (or enyesques as they’re known locally) with a group of friends that night.

As you may have guessed, the island got my attention due to its volcanic landscape. When our 10 year old son went through a volcano phase this winter the place landed on our radar. You see, massive volcanic activity in the 1700’s left volcanic soil all over the island. Enough so that UNESCO awarded the island the status of UNESCO World Biosphere. How can you not want to check out a place that some compare to the surface of the moon for its rocky surface?

Beach things to do on Lanzarote

If you’re more interested in just relaxing on golden sand beaches by clear warm water and having a nice resort style vacation, Lanzarote has that too. With miles of untouched beaches featuring golden, black and even red sand surrounded by clear blue water, there’s also some great surfing, kiteboarding and wind surfing to be had on the island. You can also go kayaking, paddle boarding and there are some great dive sites around the island as well.

Playa de Papagayo on Lanzarote. Photo by Luc

Playa de Papagayo on Lanzarote Island. Photo by Luc Viatour

Some of the most popular beach towns and resorts are in Puerto del Carmen, Costa Teguise, Playa Blanca and Puerto Calero. Most of these places offer world class resorts that rival anything you’ll find on the mainland and all have gorgeous beaches and tons of restaurants, bars and local things to do around them.

With the island only 60 km from top to bottom, most tours and activities can also be done starting from any location, so it doesn’t really matter where you’re staying if you’re planning on checking out all the island’s sights.

Food on Lanzarote

There are numerous landmarks and wineries across Lanzarote and though the food tends to be Spanish in flavor and design, it definitely has its own island charm.

Fish and potatoes are staples on the island and like all of Spain, cheese, fruit and variations of ham are common everywhere. However, there are some unique foods you’ll only find on the island like black potatoes, Cactus, gofio (a flour comprising toasted grains like wheat or maize),  green or red mojo (a Portuguese style sauce for fish or meats) as well as tons of local fruit such as bananas, mangoes, avocados, yams, and persimmons.

Popular dishes on the island include Papas Arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes) with mojo sauce, Potajes (chunky vegetable soups with potatoes), Caldo de pescado (fish soup), Sancocho canario (dried and cooked wreckfish, potatoes, sweet potatoes, mojo and gofio) and you’ll often find bienmesabe for dessert. Bienmesabe literally means tastes good to me) in Spanish and comprises of a paste made of almonds, honey and sugar often served with ice cream.

Grilled salmon with Papas Arrugadas , mojo rojo and vegetables

Grilled salmon with Papas Arrugadas, mojo rojo and vegetables. Photo by sugplopp

Things to see on Lanzarote

If you want to see all that the island can offer you can take one of the many day tours available around the island, however they say that one of the best ways to see Lanzarote is to rent a car for the day and see where it can take you. There are car rental locations in all the bigger centers on the island.

Arrecife

The main capital city of Arrecife is on the east side of the island and makes a great place to begin exploring Lanzarote. There’s a good chance you’ll be arriving here anyway since it includes the main airport on the island. You can check out the harbor, the marina, the small castles, the beach at Playa del Reducto as well as enjoy the many restaurants and bars that call Arrecife home.

White boats floating in the harbour in Arrecife Lanzanote

Harbor in Arrecife

La Geria

On the way to Timanfanya National Park, you’ll pass through the wine region of La Geria. Unique to the island, the wines of La Geria are typically made from the Malvasia grape known for its honey-colored sweet rich flavor that produces a wide variety of red, white and rose wines from very dry to very sweet. The wines can be sampled right across the island in most restaurants.

What makes the La Geria region even more special is the work the locals have put into cultivating their wines. Located on the very edge of the volcano fields, they plant each vine in semicircular pits filled with soil then top coat each one with a coarse volcanic ash called picón. The ash helps the ground hold the moisture in and protects the vine from the constant winds in the area.

Seeing a few of these vine pits up close is a cool experience however when you combine over 10,000 of them in one area you find yourself staring at man made art on a grand scale.

La Geria half circle Vineyards on Lanzarote

La Geria Vineyards on Lanzarote

Timanfanya National Park and the Fire Mountains

From La Geria you can head Northwest and visit the surreal beauty of Timanfaya National Park.

This is the top tourist attraction on Lanzarote and while there you can enjoy taking a coach tour over the lava fields of Montanas del Fuego or Fire Mountain as well two guided hikes. You can also go on a camel ride that will take you up the volcano and even have a meal that’s been cooked over a live volcano.

Camels on the Fire Mountains

Camels on the Fire Mountains

El Golfo

Just south of Timanfanya lies El Golfo. El Golfo is famous for its green lagoon named Charco de los Clicos. Formed due to a rare hydro volcano, Charco de los Clicos, Charco Verde or Lago Verde as it’s also sometimes called, is a small half moon shaped lake that’s separated from the ocean by a bunch of black sand. What makes this half lake so special is the hf cone it sits in as well as the crazy color combination of lime green water, red colored rocks, ochre colored hills, black sand beach and blue ocean.

Panorama View of Charco de los Clickos with it's green water, red rock and black sand

El Golfo’s Charco de los Clickos. Photo by Stefan Krause

Los Hervideros

Just past La Geria on the western side of the island stands Los Hervideros. Spanish for “boiling water”, Los Hervideros was formed during the islands crazy volcanic activities in the 1700s.

This extreme collection of rocks, caves and lava tubes formed as a result of lava meeting cool ocean waves and the unusual rock formations, archways and water funnels make the coastal cliffs of Los Hervideros a sight that can’t be missed.

By Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Lava Tube at Los Hervideros. Photo by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez

Mirador del Río

Located at the northernmost tip of Lanzarote, the Mirador del Río is a bunker style cafe embedded high up on the cliff side overlooking the island of La Graciosa. The panoramic views are breathtaking so make sure you have your camera with you.

View of the outside rocks and ledge at Mirador del Rio

Mirador del Rio. Photo by Dario Garavini

Janubio Salt Pans

Salt played an important factor for Lanzarote in the early 1900’s and you can still find them harvesting it at the Janubio Salt Pans. Located on the southwest coast of the island, the Janubio Salt Pans are close to the village of Yaiza and Janubio is the largest still operational salt mine in the Canary Islands.

Varying colors of Las Salinas del Janubio

Las Salinas del Janubio. Photo by Jordi Payà Canals

When to go to Lanzarote

Due to its southern location, you can visit Lanzarote any time of the year however April and May are the wettest months. That said, Lanzarote gets an amazing amount of sunshine year round so anytime is really a good time to visit.

The Very Best Things to See and Do in Lanzarote Spain

 

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10 Must Visit Places in Ukraine https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/10-must-visit-places-in-ukraine/ https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/europe/10-must-visit-places-in-ukraine/#comments Mon, 11 Apr 2016 18:00:00 +0000 https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/?p=11623 Adventurous travel isn’t just about jumping out of airplanes and climbing mountains. Sometimes, adventure is about going somewhere out of the ordinary, and a visit to Ukraine definitely qualifies as unusual.

We have family roots in Ukraine, so the country has always held a special allure. I learned how to decorate Ukrainian Easter eggs in elementary school, and a dozen Ukrainian foods like homemade perogies (pedehey or varenky) and cabbage rolls (holubtsi) are always on the menu when we visit family.

Ukrainian Easter Eggs by neiljs on Flickr

Photo by neiljs

Unknown to most, Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe, second only to Russia in size. It’s a country with a long and complex, and often turbulent history.

Note: See the end of this article for a special word on travel safety for Ukraine.

Ukraine vs “the Ukraine”

Before you start asking where’s the “the” in front of Ukraine, since the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine in 1991, most newspapers and English speaking foreign governments refer to the country as Ukraine. The use of “the Ukraine” comes from the time before independence in 1991, when Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union.

Now that that’s cleared, here are 10 of our must-visit places in Ukraine.

Kiev

Kiev (also known as Kyev), the capital and largest city of Ukraine, is a unique mix of Soviet and European culture and architecture. This green city is full of gorgeous trees and parks and memories of World War II are well preserved in the war memorial museum located at the foot of Rodina-Mat or in the 102 m high Mother of Motherland statue.

In addition to beautiful churches and cathedrals like St. Andrews Church, St. Sophia’s Cathedral and Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves), Kiev is home to the deepest train station in the world – Arsenalna. The city also boasts the Kiev Opera House and if you’re in town, be sure to take a walk on the streets of beautiful Maidan (city center).

10 must visit places in Ukraine Sofiiska Square Bell Tower in Kiev Ukraine

Sofiiska Square Bell Tower in Kiev. Photo by Michele Ursino

Lviv

Lviv, near the Polish border, is more European than Soviet in its architecture and culture. The unique confluence of artistic traditions of Ukraine and architecture of central Europe has made Lviv a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The historic city center (old town), is the perfect place to visit pubs and breweries among the cobblestone roads and Renaissance era buildings. Lviv Chocolate Factory is a must-visit for chocolate lovers, and blogger Karolina Patryk recommends Kumpel restaurant for homemade beer and authentic Ukrainian food.

The St. George’s cathedral houses the replica of Shroud of Turin making it a very popular tourist attraction. The Lychakiv cemetery houses more than 400,000 graves, each one popular and unique in their own way.

Lviv 10 must visit places in Ukraine

Photo by Juanedc

Chernobyl

The site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl has become an unlikely tourist spot. While you can’t visit the Chernobyl site itself, there are tours to the nearby ghost town on Pripyat. Before the nuclear disaster, Pripyat had almost 50,000 residents.

Want to find out more about tours in Chernobyl? Click here to see TripAdvisor reviews and information.

Pripyat was evacuated in two days in the aftermath of the disaster and, remains as it was on the fateful day in 1986. Pripyat is a must-include visit in your Ukraine travel planner.

Full day tours run from Kiev, approximately 100 km away.

Pripyat, a ghost town near Chernobyl - 1 of 10 must visit places in Ukraine

Photo by thedakotakid

Odessa

A port city on the Black Sea, Odessa is a popular summer beach town that attracts people from all over Europe.

The blue sea, opera, ballet, theatre, the beautiful Dniester Delta National Park, the famous Mother-in-Law Bridge and the world’s largest network of underground catacombs make a visit to Odessa a must.

Odessa - one of Ukraine's must visit places

Photo by Anton

Carpathian Mountains and Yaremche

Often known as the green pearl of Ukraine, the Carpathian Mountains are a blend of beautiful meadows, peaks, dense forests, rough rivers and mountain lakes.

The Carpathian Mountains are an ideal place to enjoy cycling, riding, trekking, rafting or simply the fresh and pure air of the mountains. Heather and John from Roaming Around the World used Yaremche as a gateway to outdoor pursuits like hiking in the Carpathian Mountains.

Chernivtsi

While it’s the city’s rich history that got Chernivtsi on the UNESCO World Heritage List, most visitors love the vibe of the city. Kami from My Wanderlust calls Chernivtsi one of her favorite finds of 2015 for its pastel buildings, numerous cafes, and leafy trees that make the city welcoming.

Actress Mila Kunis was born and lived in Chernivtsi for much of her childhood.

Chernivtsi National University - one of 10 Must Visit Locations in Ukraine

Photo by Vladimir Kud

Kamianets-Podilskyi

The ancient fortress is the major attraction in the town of Kamianets-Podilskyi. It’s the historic Capital of Podolia.

The fortress was first built to watch over the River Smotrych. There’s even evidence to suggest that a settlement has existed on this rock outcropping for close to 2,000 years.

Kamianets Podilskyi fortress - one of Ukraine's must visit places

Photo by Serge Bystro

Khotyn Fortress

If you take the time to visit the castle in Kamianets-Podilskyi, stop by to visit the nearby Khotyn Fortress. It’s located on the bank of the Dniester River in Khotyn. The fortress was built in 1325.

Khotyn Fortress - one of Ukraine's must visit places

Photo by Serge Bystro

Uman

The main draw in the central Ukrainian city of Uman is the famous Sofiyivka park. The park is both a botanical garden and a scientific research institute.

Snake Fountain in Sofiyivsky Park in Uman Ukraine. One of the 10 best things to see in Ukraine

Photo by Elena Penkova.

Strategic Missile Forces Museum

The Strategic Missile Forces Museum offers a unique look into Cold War Soviet era Ukraine. It housed nuclear weapons, underground passages and silos, and is located about 300 km from Kiev.

Ukraine has some of the most beautiful and scenic landscapes as well as some of the most unique architecture in Europe, making it a country every itinerary planner should have on their list.

Is it safe to visit Ukraine?

There is an ongoing territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean peninsula. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014. There is also ongoing fighting between rebels and Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

At the time of writing, there is a US Department of State warning for U.S. citizens to defer all travel to Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The Canadian government has a regional advisory against travel to Crimea, and Donetsk and the Luhansk Oblasts. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to Donetsk oblast, Lugansk oblast and Crimea.

10 Must Visit Places in Ukraine

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