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Why the Ibiza sunset is SO special (and where to see it!)

Why the Ibiza sunset is SO special (and where to see it!)

Ibiza has struck something in us: there’s a magic here, and the Ibiza sunset certainly proves it night after night.

There’s an energy on this island, and it’s got nothing to do with the clubs or the music. Although I won’t lie, those are cool too. However, this is a place where people have gathered for a very very long time, to pursue a spiritual calling.

Around the island you’ll find mementos of times gone by: the Romans were here; we took part in a sunrise Yoga class by an ancient Phoenician tower… It’s rumoured the lost city of Atlantis is under Es Vedra which is just across the water. Ancient stories, tradition, culture – they all reference the sun as a source of energy. Here, there really is something very beautiful about the light, and everyone must see the sunset.

As the sun hits the horizon, everyone cheers. It’s fabulous. We’ve seen proposals happen at that moment, and a roar of happy energy as thousands of people from all corners of the earth relish in one special moment.

Where to experience this for yourself?

Best beach clubs Ibiza - Sunset Ashram

 

3 areas where you can see the Ibiza sunset: our favourite spots

Restaurant el Carmen or beach areas opposite Es Vedra

Many people go to this area to meditate as the sun sets. That’s pretty special 🌞

Head for the beach areas opposite Es Vedra. Here you’ll witness the sun set over the mystical island. It’s one of the three most magnetic places on earth (alongside the North Pole and Bermuda Triangle).

Sirens, UFOs, and more mysteries surround it. This blog writes beautifully about sunset here – worth a quick read.

Sunset Ashram or Kumharas beach bars

Two excellent places listed in our round-up of best beach clubs Ibiza: Sunset Ashram and Kumharas are on the same side of the island. They’re not too far from each other, and you need to get over to this side of the island to explore all its lovely secret beaches, but you’re best to have a car to get to them.

Kumharas is set right on the beach. Sunset Ashram is stunning, surrounded by aqua and deep blue coloured waters! Enjoy non-stop music, great energy and a spectacle you won’t forget.

Ibiza sunsets - our fave spot is at Cafe Mambo

Cafe Mambo

While there are plenty of great venues along Ibiza’s sunset strip, all the way from Wi Ki Woo, Cafe Del Mar, and Savannah to bars like Ibiza Rocks and Tulip around the other side of Sant Antonio Bay (Sant Antoni de Portmany), our very favourite is Cafe Mambo.

Here, a tradition has unfolded, where hundreds gather on the shoreline to watch the sun hit the horizon. There’s cheering, and the music kicks in. Live DJs (some very big names, I might add) do their stuff right there for all to enjoy.

It’s a brilliant experience if you want to be around people and are partial to a bit of dance music at its best (me!).

Have a tip or questions? Let us know in the comments.
 

 



 

6 of the best beach clubs Ibiza

6 of the best beach clubs Ibiza

The White Isle, a magical place on the Mediterranean. We love it 😃 Here’s our pick of the best beach clubs Ibiza you need to experience!

Sunset Ashram

Cala Conta, San Josep

We wandered up to the front entrance not thinking too much of it. Of course, we guessed it might be kinda cool – we were standing on top of a small clifftop and ocean surrounded us, after all. But, we had no idea the spectacle we’d receive inside! Crystal blue and aqua ocean all around; diners, drinkers, beach-goers. And a DJ playing sweet house tunes. Blissful.

Sunset Ashram is a little out of the way so you’re best to get there in a car. But, you have to go at least once. The location is stunning. Just have a look in my Ibiza Insta Stories!

Also perfect for watching the famous Ibiza sunset 🌞

Nassau Beach Club

Playa d’en Bossa

Expensive – a bit. Swanky, yup. Count us in!

Not for the expensive part, but for the stylish bit.

This is your stereotypical up-market Ibiza beach club. Beautiful people laze about drinking Moet. The beach is sandy white and spectacular. Inside the decor is classy and breezy. A nice experience, if you’re into this scene.

Go on…

Nassau Beach Club Ibiza

 

Babylon Beach Bar

Santa Eulalia

When you’re done at Wednesday’s huge hippy market in Es Canar, pop into Babylon. It’s about ten minutes drive away. We got there at lunch time and to our happy surprise there were places to sit, have a cool drink and enjoy the view. You do have to pay for the day beds though, which is where it gets pricey.

Babylon is more of a laid back yet stylish beach club in Ibiza, set in a peaceful cove. Definitely one of our favourites.

Babylon beach club Ibiza Santa Eulalia

 

Kumharas

San Antonio Bay

In a fun little corner of Ibiza, not far from Sant Antonio, Kumharas is set right on the beach. It’s known for its hippy-chic vibe. Prices for food and drinks are comparatively better than other Ibiza beach clubs.

This is one for a ‘lil dance on the beach as the sun sets.

Kumharas is a chilled out beach club in Ibiza

 

El Chiringuito

Es Cavallet

Stylish, secluded with serene ocean views – this one is set on a hot sandy beach ⛱ Start the day with Yoga at the far end of the beach, then settle in for a relaxed day filled with good vibes.

El Chiringuito Ibiza beach club

This option is more private – if you too love a secret beach, have a read here for more of the world’s best.

 

Ushuaïa

Playa d’en Bossa

Some may say it’s over-rated, but we had a brilliant time when we inadvertently stumbled into this beach club.

Bright colours, even brighter personalities, music, great cocktails and all set on the beach.

It’s easy to while away a few hours in bubbly bliss here.

 

These are 6 of our favourites. We’re aware there’s plenty more awesome beach clubs in Ibiza though. Ibiza Spotlight highlights a few more if you’re keen to look around.

Have other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.

 



 

7 travel Venice facts – a guide for before you go

7 travel Venice facts – a guide for before you go

We want to help you get your Venice facts in order. Is it magnificent and marvellous or hot and crowded? There’s facts you need to know about Venice before you go, which may make or break your visit. I was totally converted on my second trip. It’s why I want to highlight important travel Venice facts that will help you make the most of your experience.


Venice was our last stop on a self-guided train trip across Italy for one week, beginning in Milan. Our highlights included a day trip to Lake Como; rail to Verona and then to Venice. Click the links to read more about those destinations, and read on for more facts about Venice.

Venice Rialto Bridge by Sarah Blinco

Travel Venice facts

5 facts for starters, about the city…

  1. Venice is built on over 1 million wooden stakes.
  2. There are 118 islands that make up Venice, linked by over 400 bridges (about 70 being private) over more than 170 canals.
  3. In 1608, the Council of Ten approved wearing masks only during the Carnevale in February. Breaking this law meant enduring punishments that ranged from two years in prison to public beating and binding to the ‘pillar of shame’.
  4. Sadly, Venice is sinking at the rate of 1 to 2mm per year.
  5. The population of Venice has decreased from 120,000 to 60,000 in the last 50 years. Apparently Venice could be a ghost town by 2030 with only tourists visiting by day. A sad thought for Venetians, who perceive this level of tourism to be totally unsustainable. So, for us as the travellers, be grateful for the time in the city – seems a lot of sacrifice has taken place for us to enjoy it all.

 

The weather can be wet or hot, timing is important

If you can be flexible in your travel planning, the top travel Venice fact to work with is that the best times to go are April, May, June, September, and October.

Summer in Venice can be scorching. The first time we visited back in August 2011, we were tired from being on a non-stop tour and drained by the heat. April was near close to perfect though. Venice can also be very wet and flood. The flooding gets to the point where visitors need to buy Wellies (rubber boots). Even waiters in fancy restaurants need to, to get by serving customers seated outdoors.

There’s a helpful piece on all of this here, by Rick Steves.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi - best Venice facts - free view

Undeniable Venice fact: it gets VERY crowded

It doesn’t really matter what time of year you go, Venice is a magnet for people. Main attractions like the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square and along the Grand Canal are swarming with people – travellers, tour groups, cruise ship stop-over passengers – throughout the day.

During the famous Carnevale in February, the streets get so crowded that distances which would usually take ten minutes to walk might take up to an hour to reach. Our Airbnb experience walking tour guide, Roberto, told us that the city actually constructs lanes, so it’s one way walking to a certain destination, and one way back.

 



 

Top tip:

Find a good deal on Airbnb and stay centrally. We were just a couple of minutes walk from the Rialto Bridge. This meant we could get up and go exploring first thing in the morning. Not only was the light lovely, but we weren’t battling crowds to get from A to B.

Additionally, if you want to visit the museums, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to beat the queues.

Venice facts - cheese cichetti

Fab Venice fact – some great experiences are FREE

One of the best travel Venice facts that our Airbnb hosts shared with us was to do with the unmissable free view available from the top of Fondaco dei Tedeschi.

This historical building is situated on the Grand Canal, very close to the Rialto Bridge. It’s seen many uses including being used as a trading post for German merchants, a post office during Mussolini’s time, and a customs house under Napoleon.

Today it’s a luxury shopping mall, but at the top you can experience breathtaking rooftop views. It’s absolutely worthwhile, and it’s free, but you need to book your spot.

Venice facts - book into Fondaco dei Tedeschi for a free view

Venice facts: Gondola rides need-to-know

A gondola ride ranks highly on most travel bucket-lists, but it can turn out to be very expensive. Know before you go:

– A gondola ride costs around $90
– Typically lasts about 40 minutes
– Your Gondolier knows what they’re doing; they all have to pass extensive training to represent the industry in Venice
– Gondolas hold six people so you can share the ride and split the cost
– Sunset or night rides are spectacular, but you’ll pay more for that experience
– Avoid booking through an agency or hotel, you’re likely to pay extra fees
– Talk to the Gondolier about any requests you have for places to see, and consider skipping the crowded Grand Canal
– Wear sunscreen and a hat during the day.

 

Local water bus options offer cost-effective travel adventures

If a gondola ride is not within budget, try taking the #1 vaporetto down the Grand Canal instead. It’s like the local ferry and for just over €7!

To and from Santa Lucia train station, or the airport:

If you’re coming into Venice from Santa Lucia train station or the Marco Polo airport, be careful of people coming up to you offering to take you to the water taxi that goes into town. These are quite often private services that cost much more than the public ferries.

Look for route number 2 that does the journey between Santa Lucia railway station and St Mark’s Square, making only five stops including Rialto Bridge, where we got off to meet our Airbnb host.

The Alilaguna ferry will take you to and from Marco Polo airport. We got on near the Rialto Bridge and it cost about €15 one way, and the ride was just over an hour.

You will get lost

The streets of Venice are a maze, and you will get lost. But that’s absolutely fine. Don’t worry, just give yourself time to get places if you happen to have an appointment or need to meet a walking tour.

Google Maps led us into quite a few walls, so don’t rely on it. It’s helpful for finding general direction though, and recommendations on where to find a beer or food.

If the prospect of wandering the streets like a pro (and out of tourists’ way) is appealing, we’d highly recommend you engage a guide for a couple of hours. Roberto from Airbnb Experiences was excellent! His Walk, Eat and Drink in Venice tour took us through charming back streets we’d never have found, and showed us there’s much life away from St Mark’s Square. Contact him directly for details or to arrange a bespoke trip if you like.

Venice facts - find Bacari for authentic cichetti

Authentic dining options may be hard to spot

When in Venice you want to find yourself a local Bacari. This is a bar that serves wine and typical Venetian snacks. These snacks are referred to as cichetti, which generally means savoury snacks or small side dishes. We learnt more about this on our walking tour, referenced above.

A trip to Italy means eating gelato, especially if the weather is warm. But there’s plenty of inauthentic expensive tourist options you should avoid. It’s always good to support the genuine producers.

Basic rules of authentic gelato are:

  1. Look for the gelato being stored in metal tubs, preferably with lids; plastic tubs are a no-no.
  2. Quality gelato will not have vibrant colours because the aim is to make it with a high proportion of natural ingredients and very little (if any) added colouring.
  3. If the ‘gelato’ is piled up high for display and doesn’t melt it means it’s high in vegetable fats and emulsifiers – it’s not the real deal.
  4. Seasonal fruit flavours are a good sign, anything wild resembling Baskin & Robbins is probably not gelato, but something else, like ice-cream.
  5. Not always, but for the most part, the real gelato is sold away from tourist hot-spots. We found a lovely authentic one in Verona that fits all the criteria here, and it was cheap, unlike rip-off options we’ve seen in Florence and Venice.

 

There’s much more to see

We’ve not had the chance to day-trip from Venice yet, but we plan to, which is why I’m linking ideas in here.

Let me know in the comments what else you’d recommend.

Castle of Monselice – one for fans of the series A Discovery of Witches. Other Italian and Welsh filming locations outlined here.

– The islands, including Murano and Burano, are apparently incredible. Have a read here for a summary on each, and why you should visit.

Venice view point

Travel in Venice: safety, packing and payment advice

Our final tips

Cash or card?
There’s a lot of markets and smaller vendors who require cash payments so do have some on you. Most places take cards though.

Safety
We felt safe, but always use common sense in crowded places. Thieves operate in these areas in all big cities. Pay attention to your surroundings, don’t carry things in your pockets, and don’t lose focus because you’re distracted by your phone! We’d suggest ignoring people who try to sell you things on the street too.

Packing
Pack light. The streets are old, you’ll walk a lot and the ferries are crowded. The last thing you’ll want is to be hauling a huge suitcase along! Shed your stuff, you won’t need half of it anyway.

 

Got questions or tips? Please do let us know in the comments below…

 

In this series – a week across Italy by train:

Milan, budget travel tips

Milan to Lake Como, via Varenna and Bellagio

Verona, Italy travel guide

Milan to Venice – how to take the train

How to find your perfect wine tasting in Italy experiences

Why you should find a food tour in Italy

Venice, Italy travel guide – things to know before you go [you’re reading it]

– ‘Italy by Rail’, a special travel feature in the June 2019 issue of Get it Magazine, Australia 💕

 

3 days in Lisbon travel itinerary

3 days in Lisbon travel itinerary

It’s one of the oldest cities in Europe and offers wonderful glimpses into Portugal’s layers of time and influence – needless to say we were very excited to get going on our 3 days in Lisbon adventure!

It was the Age of Discovery when Portugal ruled the world, stretching a hand (as well as culture and language) across the globe, from Brazil to China, Africa and beyond.

Set upon seven hills, imagine old-world trams bustling along narrow, cobbled streets; grand architecture, quirky stores scaling hilltops, and colourful rooftops as far as the eye can see.

 

We flew in for a Christmas city break and managed to cram quite a bit into our 3 days in Lisbon itinerary.

I’ve shared our discoveries below, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to book a trip soon too.

3 days in Lisbon itinerary

 

“Welcome to Lisbon – a roller-coaster city of seven hills, crowned by a Moorish castle and washed in an artist’s pure light. Lisbon is cinematically beautiful and historically compelling. This is a capital city of big skies and bigger vistas; of rumbling trans and Willy Wonka-like elevators; of melancholic fado song and live-to-part nightlife. Edge, charisma and postcard good looks, Lisbon has the lot!” –Kerry Christiani, Lonely Planet Lisbon Pocket Guide 

 

3 days in Lisbon - building art and beautiful views from Alfama

 

Understanding the layout

In your research on travel to Lisbon, you’ll find there’s a few main areas within the city’s old ‘centre’ and along the waterfront.

These areas of interest include:

  1. ‘Old town’ Alfama, Castelo and Graça: cobbled streets and amazing views from Castelo de São Jorge, Largo das Portas do Sol and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Usually reached by tram from streets around Rossio and Baixa.
  2. Rossio and Baixa, Lisbon’s riverfront gateway sitting below Alfama, with bustling trams, Elevador de Santa Justa and the charming Praça do Comércio to name just a few highlights.
  3. Bairro Alto and Chiado, particularly good for dining and nightlife. These areas are along the waterfront and within easy walking distance of Rossio and Praça do Comércio – all of this is close together and easy to explore on foot.
  4. Belém, a little further along the waterfront and overlooking the Ponte 25 de Abril (bridge); with its pastries, and historical charms like Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower on the banks of Tagus River, and Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries) celebrating travellers from the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

Here’s how we divided our time, focused on the areas outlined above:

 

3 days in Lisbon, day one

We stayed not far from Rossio Square (pictured below), overlooking São Jorge Castle.

This was a perfect spot for exploring a large portion of the older part of town around Rossio and Baixa on foot. Or you can easily catch a tram around here, including the famous no. 28.

 

3 days in Lisbon - overlooking Rossio Square from Santa Justa Lift

 

Day one on your 3 days in Lisbon itinerary is best spent getting your bearings in this area.

Start early at Santa Justa lift to avoid the queues. Head up high and take a look around this beautiful city.

From here, you can also get an early start on the trams including the no. 28 which is famous for the pretty and historical route it takes; also the tourist options like the Yellow buses or trams (very good value for a 48 or 72 hour pass, if you ask us), or wander around and go shopping.

On your adventure, head for (or you’ll inevitably stumble upon) Praça do Comércio (pictured below), gateway to the lovely waterfront here.

There’s a romantic promenade along the front of the city, where you can enjoy excellent views looking back up onto the hills and Lisbon’s colourful canvas, plus out to sea where so many have taken to the waters for an adventure before you.

 

3 days in Lisbon - Praça do Comércio

 

Fascinating history and architecture

The reason I suggest you spend a little time in these parts along and around the waterfront, is so you can get a good sense of the rich history all around you.

In its heyday these parts of town were wealthy – some of the wealthiest in the world, in fact. This was thanks to trading happening in the 16th Century in gold, spices, silks and jewels among other things. Not to mention Portugal, alongside rival Spain, ruling half the world!

 



 

Fast forward to 9.40am on 1 November 1755 though – three major earthquakes hit as Lisbon’s residents celebrated Mass for All Saints Day.

These earthquakes triggered a devastating fire and tsunami, destroying much of the city. About a third of Lisbon’s 270,000 inhabitants died.

From this tragedy emerged a hero, Sebastiao de Melo, who set about reconstructing the city from the ashes. Together with architects and engineers, he made sure the city’s new design was earthquake-proof, and developed one of the world’s first grid systems that we see implemented in so many major cities to this day.

 

“We must bury the dead and heal the living.”

 

3 days in Lisbon - Cooper hanging about in Chiado

 

Surprising facts

There’s a lot I didn’t know about Portugal, and across our 3 days in Lisbon I continued to be more and more fascinated!

For instance, the country was run by a dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, who was prime minister between 1937 and 1968.

A contemporary of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini, Salazar is remembered by some as the greatest figure in the Portugal’s history, but by others as keeping the country repressed and backwards.

Salazar was overthrown in 1974. Lisbon’s huge suspension bridge (resembles the Golden Gate in San Francisco and was built by the same company) was renamed Ponte 25 de Abril, or ‘April 25 Bridge’ (my birth date!) to mark the event.

Across the city there’s a fascinating legacy hailing from Lisbon’s Arabic roots – tiles, known as Azulejos.

These date as far back as the 13th Century, when the Moors invaded Portugal and Spain (per a contemporary map. The Moors secured their foothold in Portuguese culture between the 16th and 17th Centuries and used Azulejos to decorate plain walls of buildings. These beautiful little polished stones adorn old walls still. Thankfully not all was lost in 1755.

 

3 days in Lisbon - Azulejos tiles adorn many of the old walls of the city of Lisbon

 

I was also happy to learn that St Anthony was born here (coincidentally buried in Verona, Italy, where we are visiting in April). All through childhood, my mum used to tell us to ask St Anthony for help if we lost something.

Somehow, this always did the trick. The link to St Anthony here was more sentimental for me than anything else (and I did by mum a memento to thank her for all the times her advice helped me recover missing things). The Lisbon Sardine Festival (sardines and other canned fish are a BIG industry here) celebrates St Anthony’s life and brings everyone out into the streets for a party every June.

 

3 days in Lisbon - Mercado da Ribeira

 

Eating and drinking – quirky ideas for you

A couple of places that I wanted to find but that were closed over Christmas, and perhaps worth adding to your list, are the storybook-themed Fabulas and Pharmacia cafes/restaurants (in the Bairro Alto / Chiado area). Lisbon is known for offering quirky experiences to locals and visitors alike.

The TimeOut Market (Mercado da Ribeira, pictured above) is also within walking distance in Chiado – only about ten minutes walk from Praça do Comércio in fact.

It’s cool for an evening outing, with a large variety of food and drinks on offer to try. A word of warning, it’s definitely not the cheapest spot in town, although is definitely worth a visit.

 

3 days in Lisbon, day two

Whether you’re enjoying a self-guided tour on local transport or have taken advantage of one of the tour operators (the Yellow tour brand appears to have the upper hand in Lisbon in terms of tour options and best value), add Belém to your list for the day.

In Belém you can’t miss the romantic Coach Museum, stunning Jerónimos Monastery (pictured below) and Padrão dos Descobrimentos the inspired explorers’ monument that’s along the waterfront (in front of Jerónimos Monastery).

 

3 days in Lisbon - Jerónimos Monastery

 

Wander a bit further past the monument and you’ll come across the medieval Belém Tower (pictured below) which is fascinating for its architecture alone, not to mention its prime spot by the river.

There’s a lot to do in this little area that’s about twenty minutes from the centre of town. Give yourself time to deal with any queues at the monastery and tower.

 

3 days in Lisbon - Belem Tower

 

You can’t go to Lisbon and not try a Pastel de Nata (Portuguese custard tart).

They’re everywhere, sweet and delicious! Try at least one from Pastéis de Belém, where they’ve been making these according to a top-secret recipe since 1837.

 

3 days in Lisbon - custard tarts are a must-try

 

The city is best experienced from up high, so to wrap up your day, find a rooftop bar for a cocktail as the sun sets. Many hotels have their own roof bar, but the Mundial Hotel in the middle of the city near Rossio Square is well known, as is the luxe Topo (although this appears to be a summer destination).

If you’re up for it, there’s one more stop to make – pop into a Ginjinha shop like Ginginha Sem Rival around Rossio Square and enjoy a shot (or two) of this delicious and inexpensive local delight. It’s a sour cherry liqueur (tastes like Port) that has been served in the city since 1890, and it’ll knock your socks off if you have too many in a row.

Tip: Before your visit, have a look at the Discover Walks website. They offer a range of free and inexpensive walking tours of Lisbon, including around Belém, so you can gather all the knowledge and inside secrets from a local!

 

3 days in Lisbon, day three 

Today you might want to start early and catch a ride on the famous no. 28 tram.

Ride a lap and eventually get off in historical Alfama – it’s about a ten to fifteen-minute tram ride from the city centre (e.g. Rossio Square or Praça do Comércio) up into the hills.

Alfama is colourful, interesting and easy to get lost in, so give yourself time to find the best views. Trip happily along the cobbled streets, and visit the historical sites like São Jorge Castle or the Moorish Gateway, Largo das Portas do Sol that also offers postcard-perfect views.

 

3 days in Lisbon - views from Alfama

 

Tip: See if you can find the quirky and cool circus school Chapito, where you can eat or have a drink. The view is excellent and you might even witness a bit of a show.

 

Your last night

Back in town, head towards Praça do Comércio, the old place of international trade in the Age of Discovery and home for the Royal Family. It’s often lit up to showcase a magical spectacle.

Wander along the waterfront and then back up the hill towards Bairro Alto where there’s a few fun rows of streets that boast a selection of bars, restaurants and clubs.

Be careful though – we headed out for an innocent dinner but after being lured into a bar playing cool dance music, two free shots later (courtesy a generous barman), we ended up on a bigger night than anticipated. Oh who am I kidding? It was awesome!

 

3 days in Lisbon - Sarah Blinco exploring Lisbon's old streets

 

Where to stay

I did a lot of research trying to figure out the best area to stay in that was convenient to everything.

I settled on the stylish Lisboa Pessoa Hotel near Rossio Square, that’s nestled on a hilltop overlooking São Jorge Castle. I’d recommend the area and the hotel.

Visiting in December around Christmas time in Lisbon

It gets very busy in the summer season (May to August), and while it’s cooler in the autumn/winter months, everything is still open, and you’ll avoid the crowds.

Late December was cooler than we had anticipated. Take warm clothes.

There is sun though so that’s a bonus, but in the wind it is chilly.

Pretty much everything was open over Christmas though which was great (some places shut down for many days across the period). While you could spend so much more than 3 days in Lisbon, it’s a taster to get you ready for the next trip. That’s our thinking anyway!

As a city break at Christmas, it’s ideal. Busier even than Mallorca and definitely Ibiza – they have different things to offer at Christmastime though.

 

If you’ve been to Lisbon and have tips, please do share with us in the comments below. And any questions, you know where to find us.

Summer in London – Skylight rooftop bar

Summer in London – Skylight rooftop bar

This past week we had the chance to attend the summer launch party for Skylight rooftop bar at Tobacco Dock in east London.

We didn’t know Skylight rooftop bar existed but wow, what a venue! We’ll definitely be back. Spread across three huge levels, Skylight includes undercover spaces (for when London weather isn’t playing nice), games, comfortable seating and unbeatable views over London.

Summer in London is here, and it means our rooftop bars are beginning to open their doors again, just in time for May’s first long weekend. After a long cold winter, we are ready to play.

Take a look around Skylight …. see you soon for summer in London.

 

Find out more about Skylight London

 

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

How lucky we are in London to be so close to some of the world’s coolest cities, and be able to set up time away, like a weekend in Amsterdam, just across the water.

We’ve discovered some of the very best experiences in Amsterdam that you can take advantage of on a weekend city break – have a read for our itinerary.

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples

Amsterdam is a city with a reputation.

While we did discover the best place to get high (above the city, you cheeky things), on our recent winter weekend in Amsterdam for couples city-break, we fell a little more in love … with the city, too.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Over the Edge

 

Winter in Amsterdam can be a little harsh, as we experienced in the pitch black at 6pm on Saturday night.

We pushed slowly against the wind, hail slapping us hard in the face as we pressed one slow step at a time forward along the side of a bicycle highway towards our hotel.

There was a very real concern that someone wouldn’t see us among the construction and the weather and knock us down.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Bols cocktail experience

 

At the end of the shortcut we’d naively taken along the waterfront towards Aitana Amsterdam, I felt quite exhilarated about surviving. I couldn’t help but relate to the scene in Clueless where Cher, Dion and Murray are able to pull over safely after a brush with death-by-Californian-highway.

To be honest though, the weather was about the same as London in terms of chill factor, and if you’re rugged-up, winter in Amsterdam for a traveller is just fine!

The other bonus about this time of year is that you can secure lovely accommodation for a fraction of the price it is in summer, and the city isn’t as busy either (although I wouldn’t say it was quiet).

A weekend in Amsterdam - museums and stately homes

 

A weekend in Amsterdam for couples: best travel experiences (especially in the winter)

I’ll address the elephant in the room now – yes, you can buy weed here, it’s well-known for that.

But, Amsterdam is so much more than some of it’s seedier (sorry…) areas, although no judgement there!

 

Amsterdam is full of all sorts of fun – and it’s just so beautiful, interesting, chic, delicious, as you’ll see in our vlog below…

 

We featured a few tips in a previous blog on Amsterdam here.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Reypenaer cheese tasting in the city

 

Once you’re done with the tourist area, may we suggest wandering the neighbourhoods around the city’s popular shopping precinct near De Negen Straatjes (‘The Nine Little Streets’).

Tourist information centres can point you in the right direction.

There’s a neat blog on Amsterdam shopping areas here that might be helpful, but always ask a local for advice.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Bols sensory experience

 

Getting high (on life)

In the first instance, we can’t recommend highly enough the I Amsterdam City Card – we have used it twice on visits to the city and it’s excellent value for money, including transport and entry to most attractions, a free canal ride and discounts in many stores.

Discover more and buy yours here 

A weekend in Amsterdam - get around using the I Amsterdam city card

 

There’s SO much to do in Amsterdam that while a winter weekend (or spring, autumn, summer) is amazing, there’s never enough time, even though this is a little city.

Every time we go we discover more that we love, and more we want to do.

A weekend in Amsterdam - Over the Edge highest swing in Europe

 

Our top travel experiences: a weekend in Amsterdam

Yes, it’s quite cold in the wintertime, but we didn’t find it any worse than London.

Same clothing rules apply: layer, wear a waterproof and warm jacket, hat, scarf, gloves, warm socks and comfortable shoes for walking.

Our winter weekend in Amsterdam itinerary included indoor options though, because you do need a little respite from the cold. That said, all of this is awesome to do at any time of year.

 

We’ve featured it all in our special vlog, but in summary our top travel experiences for a weekend in Amsterdam for couples include:

  1. The delicious and fabulous one-hour cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer Cheese
  2. Learn about Amsterdam’s interesting history through its national drink, Genever, and a cool sensory experience at the House of Bols (with free cocktail!)
  3. Step back in time to discover how the wealthy set lived (this was an incredibly rich city and important trading port just a few centuries ago) by exploring one of the mansions open to the public with the past on display. We enjoyed Museum Van Loon

  4. A canal cruise, included with your I Amsterdam City Card, or hop on board one of the many options available when you arrive in town – day, evening, dining – whatever takes your pleasure. But do definitely see Amsterdam from the water!
  5. Then see the city from the opposite perspective at A’DAM Lookout, which features restaurants, bars, a panoramic sky deck and Europe’s highest swing (and a disco elevator to the heavens, that’s fun!).

 

A weekend in Amsterdam - Reypenaer cheese tasting in Amsterdam is a must

 

Do you have questions or tips of your own? Do let us know in the comments.

Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities so we’d love to have a conversation with you about it… you can find us on social media too.