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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.

 



 

10 top places to find a stunning secret beach

10 top places to find a stunning secret beach

Wherever we travel, it’s always thrilling to find a secret spot: a cave, forest, ruins and especially a secret beach.

Secret beaches are particularly great during holiday high season when it’s hard to escape people. If privacy is something you crave, opt for beaches that are less well-known or only accessible by boat. Narrowing the search for us, the Samboat.com team has compiled a secret beach list of just this kind of escape!

Ten of the best from around the world 🙌

 

Secret beach top 10

Es Portixol beach, Ibiza, Spain

Surrounded by hills, this small cove is a hidden gem located in the north of Ibiza. It’s usually only frequented by fishermen of the boat huts.

Perfect for those looking for their own little private beach, Es Portitxol features amazing turquoise green waters, creating your own mini paradise. The serene cove is protected from the elements. It’s completely surrounded by hills covered in pine trees, making the hike to get there totally worth it.

 

Visiting Ibiza? Find out where to be at sunset or head to one of our favourite beach bars!

 

Palm Beach, Barbuda

Known for its sparkling white sands that gleam a shade of pink in patches thanks to the vast expanse of seashells on the shore, Palm Beach is one of the world’s most spectacular secret beaches.

The beach is only accessible by boat, meaning it acts as a quiet escape away from the hordes of tourists and with nothing but sand and sea for miles it’s important to bring a sun hat and sun cream.

Take a visit to Palm Beach as the prefect opportunity to go swimming or snorkelling in the dazzling apple-green water.

 

Koh Lanta, Thailand

An hour’s speedboat journey from Krabi airport, Koh Lanta is home to nine secret beaches, all surrounded by the beautiful Andaman Sea.

Head to Lek beach (also known as ‘secret beach’ to locals) for perhaps the most beautiful beach on this island. Away from tourist hotspots, this quaint spot is typically only visited by those tipped off by Thai residents, exaggerating its ‘secret’ status.

Although completely undeveloped, there is a small wooden shack beach bar named by the synonymous Lek and a spectacular view of the sunset, what more could you really need?

 

secret beaches where to go top 10

 

Galešnjak, Croatia

Featuring a distinct heart-shaped coastline, this island is also known as lover’s island and it is one of the most popular islands in the world right now.

With no man-made features or tourist facilities, there are countless secret beaches to be explored, and the best bit? Seclusion is guaranteed as the island is only accessible by boat.

With a terrain empty of commercial infrastructure, the beaches here are indeed the perfect lover’s paradise, setting the stage for an idyllic and uninterrupted getaway.

 

St. Peter’s Pool, Malta

With crystal clear waters offering incredible snorkelling opportunities, the sea at St. Peter’s Pool is one of Malta’s most spectacular natural swimming pools.

Okay we’re cheating a little here as it isn’t technically a beach; however it is an experience second to none.

The pool is so remote that you’ll never struggle to find a spot, no matter what time of year it is and the surrounding rocks are perfect for some secluded sunbathing.

 

Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico

Only a brief journey from the mainland, Flamenco beach is constantly ranked amongst various lists of the World’s best beaches.

The rolling hills in the background combined with clear waters and gorgeous white sand make this one of the most memorable beaches you’ll ever experience.

 

secret beach top 10 list ed

 

Salema, Algarve, Portugal

With dinosaur footprints embedded into the limestone, this is a palaeontologist’s haven. The half-mile-long beach boasts fantastic golden sand and seas that are perfect for swimming thanks to the strong waves and strikingly clear waters.

Seaweed is replaced by a variety of small shells on this beach, emphasising clarity. Free from tourists, this is the perfect secret beach to dig your toes into.

 

Praia Do Penedo, Portugal

Take a break from the big city in Lisbon and chase secret beaches around the country.

Located on the small Portuguese island of Porto Santo, this beach is covered in a layer of sugar-fine golden sand that have alleged healing attributes.

Due to its location at the furthest southern point on the island, this is arguably the quietest and most secret beach on our list but it is definitely worth the journey.

 

Kauapea Beach, Hawaii

You’d think tourists would flock here thanks to its breath taking beauty, however, with no public roads leading to it; Kauapea Beach is often referred to as ‘secret beach’.

Privacy is easy on this beach as it’s so vast that you often feel like you have the entire beach to yourself; however be aware that if you walk too far down you may encounter the unofficial part of the beach where clothing is considered ‘optional’.

 

Navagio Beach, Greece

An exposed cove surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, Navagio beach is located north of the Greek island of Zakynthos. The cove is more commonly known as ‘Smugglers cove’ as it is said to be the location of the shipwreck of an alleged smugglers ship many years ago.

Adding to its secluded status, the beach is only accessible by boat and the silvery white sand and clear waters are a must see if you’re on the island.

 



 

5 things to know about a Buckingham Palace garden party

5 things to know about a Buckingham Palace garden party

Following a surprise Royal garden party invitation to an event we attended this past week, here’s what it’s like at a Buckingham Palace garden party…

If you’re invited, you’ll need to know:

Buckingham Palace garden party need to know

  1. When to arrive at the Queen’s garden party
  2. What to bring to a Buckingham Palace garden party
  3. What to wear to the Royal garden party
  4. What to eat for afternoon tea
  5. How to greet the Queen, the royals and make friends

 

 

We were so fortunate to get to attend the Queen’s Buckingham Palace garden party in May 2019. Thanks for all your kind messages on the blog and on Twitter. It’s a special privilege to be invited. We certainly had a lovely afternoon.

We were blessed with probably the best day of the year – sunshine and warm. No jacket or umbrellas required! But there’s preparatory work we’d recommend if you find yourself with a ticket to a Royal garden party.

 

When to arrive at the Queen’s garden party

We turned up at the time the ticket said the gates opened. That’s fine and we were inside the Buckingham Palace garden party within an hour, in time to see the Queen arrive.

However, getting there a bit early to be at the front of the entry line would have meant more time inside Buckingham Palace without the crowds.

The benefit of going in earlier might also mean getting in first for the food. Additionally, you may have a better chance to stand at the front of the line to see the Royal family when they emerge. I can’t guarantee you’ll meet them – that seems to be ‘pre-arranged’ – but a front row seat is always worth a shot.

So, if I had the chance at a Buckingham Palace garden party again, I’d be at the gate well before entry time.

 

What to bring to a Buckingham Palace garden party

There’s strict information on the ticket about what you can and can’t bring. It’s indicated that you can’t bring big cameras. I took this to mean DSLRs.

Phones are perfectly acceptable. Some people had smaller DSLR cameras though, including ones with zoom. Helpful if you want a close-up of the Royals or celebs (in a non-stalkery way, of course).

We have a camera that would have passed muster, but our phones were fine for photos.

In the event of rain at a Royal garden party, I’d advise taking as little as possible. I’m not sure there’s much cover except in the food tents which would get very crowded if the weather was bad. Apparently you can take umbrellas if you get unlucky with the English weather.

You’re on your feet for a good few hours, so avoid unnecessary jackets and extra items to carry around. It’s just easier that way.

 

What to wear to the Royal garden party (and ladies, tips on shoes)

Everyone is dressed up. A Buckingham Palace garden party is one occasion to plan for and go all out. We did, and I’m pleased we put some thought into it.

Plan for different types of weather – light jacket if it’s likely to be cold.

Hats and fascinators are the way to go. I had the chance to borrow a fabulous fascinator which had actually been to a Buckingham Palace garden party previously!

Shoes need special consideration, ladies. You need style and comfort. The grass can be squishy or wet. You’re on your feet for a long time too, both standing in the main garden party area and wandering around Buckingham Palace’s grounds. I wore mid block heels which were fine for a few hours, but started to cut near the end. I hadn’t taken flats for my commute home – definitely would if I had my time over.

View: behind the scenes – click ‘read more’ or the arrow top right to look at our photo story:

Queen's Garden Party

 

What to eat for afternoon tea

Everything!

There’s plenty of food – sandwiches, sweets, tea, iced coffee.

The lines at the beginning can be long so wait a while until it calms down. You won’t miss out. Our invitation read a little like the food starts to run out after about an hour. It certainly didn’t appear that way to us.

You can go back for seconds too (just ask Cooper). Don’t feel like you need to pile your plate so high you risk spillage. That would be embarrassing 😁

Queens Garden Party 2019 Kate and William

 

How to greet the Queen, the royals and make friends

Get lucky enough to shake hands with the Queen? Start with  ‘Your Majesty’, and subsequently ‘Ma’am’. Royal.uk offers a helpful guide on how to greet other members of the Royal family. Read more here

If you happen to speak to any of the royal family, stay away from personal questions.

We would have had a chat about how the Corgis must have loved playing around the palace grounds! 🐕

Of course, there’s thousands of others at the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with another interesting character who has received an invite. Start by asking if you can take a photo for someone, or accept their offer, and go from there. Don’t be shy – everyone’s in a happy frame of mind so you’re likely to make a new friend in the process.

Do you have other tips to share, or questions? Perhaps you have been to a Royal garden party at Buckingham Palace also? Drop us a line in the comments…

 

Milan to Varenna train – how to day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio

Milan to Varenna train – how to day trip to Lake Como and Bellagio

I had to dig around to find out how to get to Lake Como easily and cheaply, only to discover the Milan to Varenna train trip was my answer.

In the hope we can save someone else the hassle of figuring out how to see Lake Como and Bellagio in a day trip from Milan, details are here.

 

Why take the Milan to Varenna train route to Lake Como?

We’ve been lucky enough explore various parts of Italy previously. Rome is excellent, as are Florence, Siena and Tuscany. I didn’t know my way around this area though. I’d been inspired by a colleague at work who suggested getting around Italy by train. On planning a week away in April, Cooper and I chose an itinerary of Milan to Verona to Venice.

Lake Como is close to Milan, fashion and business capital of Italy. We knew we’d be flying into Milan, and didn’t want to miss the Lakes region.

At first I considered a guided day tour to Lake Como. It’s a viable yet expensive option. Most of these day trips are about ten to twelve hours long – that’s a big day.

We settled on taking the train from Milan to Varenna, a village on the shores of Lake Como, because:

  1. It’s an easy trip from Milan Central station, just over an hour
  2. It’s inexpensive at just over €6 each way
  3. Taking the ferry to Bellagio from here is easy and inexpensive
  4. Varenna is also a pretty little town on the lake.

 

Varenna on Lake Como

How to book and board Milan to Varenna train return

Our tickets were booked through thetrainline.com. I have the Trainline app on my phone that stores the tickets for display at the station or on board.

You’ll book from Milano Centrale (Milano Central station) to Varenna-Esino station.

I booked our fares for specific leave and return times. But, we just missed our train on the Sunday morning and staff said it was fine to take the next one, scheduled an hour later.

Our experience with Milan and Varenna train stations has been that they’re not very well signed. Platforms and trains can be hard to identify. If you’re taking the Milan to Varenna train return trip, give yourself time to get it right.

As we encountered a rainy day, we decided to go back to Milan an hour early. The trains going back are not signed well either. Additionally, they weren’t running to time. Little did we know, the day to follow this, the train to Verona ended up departing ten minutes before our stated ticket time.

At Varenna, we got on the wrong train. In a panic we got off at the next stop, a deserted platform. Fortunately we could walk back to Varenna in about twenty minutes along the lakeside.

It’s not a big deal, but double check and give yourself time.

Milan to Varenna on the train

Why Lake Como?

Lake Como is the third largest lake in the lakes district of Italy. That is behind Garda, which you can spot on the train ride to Varona, and Maggiore. It’s 46km long and at its widest is about 4.5km.

Imagine, snow capped mountains and a mystical body of water, home to centuries-old history and celebrities from near and far. Ferries glide in and out of hills that look like islands rising out of the deep blue. Pink and yellow buildings are tucked together along the bottom edge of the mountains. They’re divided every now and then by an ancient church steeple. Other homes line sections further up these hills. Their views must be marvellous, one can only imagine.

 



 

It’s all so pretty, almost looks like they’ve been drawn on. A real life oil painting on a canvas that’s kilometres long.

Roads, rail and tunnels are carved into sheer rock cliffs. Sculpted gardens are set along the waterfront with their Roman statues and water fountains. Little birds dance along cafe tables hoping for crumbs. Dogs chase ducks as clouds float down from the sky. The air is fresh and the world at peace. It’s as lovely as I imagined, and you’ll want to visit here too, trust us.

Visit Lake Como in a day trip from Milan

Exploring Varenna on a day trip from Milan to Lake Como

Varenna is situated in the Lombardy region. It’s very pretty and conveniently is only a five minute walk from Varenna train station. The village is picture-postcard beautiful with sweet winding alleyways and waterfront dining.

It’s easy to wander up and down the hills and along the lake’s edge, although wear comfortable shoes because the stairways are long and steep.

The option to travel from Milan to Varenna on the train proved a happy escape from the bustle of Milan. Even though we had a rainy day, the place was beautiful – worthwhile.

Getting to Bellagio from Varenna

Many people say Bellagio is the gem of lake Como. It’s a pretty village jutting out into Lake Como and is included on most day trip itineraries to Lake Como from Milan. It’s popular for cobbled lanes and elegant buildings.

It was our intention to visit Bellagio on our day trip from Milan via Varenna. By the time we arrived though, it was pouring rain so we chose to explore Varenna instead. No regrets.

There’s plenty of questions and some confusion on Tripadvisor about how to get to Bellagio and when the ferries go.

Most information is difficult to understand as it’s in Italian and the official website is hard to navigate. Take it from me (I like to be organised), don’t worry at all about it.

The ferry costs about €5 each way, and runs every 30 or 40 minutes. It’s slightly less frequent in winter, but the ferry terminal is manned and there’s plenty to do in Varenna while you wait to board.

The ferry dock taking you on a short trip to Bellagio is on the waterfront about five minutes from Varenna train station. You can’t miss it. If the day is clear, you’ll be fortunate to see gorgeous views of the colourful buildings on the hills surrounding the lake.

Italian treats abound

Questions or comments…

I hope this answers any of your queries or concerns about how to do a self-guided day trip on the train from Milan to Lake Como.

Varenna is a lovely option for its views, ease and style. It’s really simple to get to and from Bellagio. We spoke to the ferry team to clarify this. The train (if you don’t miss it) is comfortable and quick. A paid tour costs a fortune and hours out of your day. Even if you don’t go to Bellagio, Varenna is a beautiful glimpse into the tranquillity that is Lake Como. Despite rain and a number of missed trains, this day out was close to perfect.

On this week long trip, we travelled across the country to Verona and Venice on the train. Click the links to find out more.

Got questions or a tip to add? 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 [you’re reading it]

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

 

A Milan to Venice train travel adventure

A Milan to Venice train travel adventure

It’s a special year for me, so I requested a week long trip to celebrate, which is how Milan to Venice train travel became a ‘thing’ this April.

Why the train?

A friend inspired me to explore Italy by train. She highlighted that it’s relatively inexpensive (see thetrainline.com) and stress-free compared with driving. Many of Italy’s major cities are connected by rail. The reason we were talking about this in the first place, is that when we visited Tuscany, we drove, and it was stressful.

My friend was simultaneously travelling with her family by train, between Rome, Florence and Venice. It was easy.

Our Italian affair this April began at Milano Centrale Station, so we might explore this fashion capital that’s been dazzling visitors for years with its design-led initiatives and stunning structures.

Milan is brimming with beauty, and you can also take a train ride that’s just an hour to reach Lake Como for a self-guided day trip.

When planning our week in Italy, I had a destination in mind. It was actually somewhere that inspired Shakespeare, Verona. So, I took a look at what was accessible from London, and came up with Milan to Venice.

 



 

I studied a map and researched flights. We could fly into Milan from London City Airport (✔) and come back from Venice to Stansted Airport (✔). What to do in between then?

Milan to Venice train travel, touching over in Varenna (Lake Como) and Verona, the wish-list destination. Perfecto 👌 About two nights in each location would do the trick. Never enough time, but a start.

Varenna on Lake Como for a day trip from Milan by train

How to travel Milan to Venice on the train

If you’re based in the UK, several searches come up on Google when you’re searching for Milan to Venice train options. Italia Rail is one such option. But, Trainline pulls everything together just fine, as far as I’m concerned.

I booked our trips individually on Trainline:

  1. Milan to Varenna for a day trip to Lake Como, about £25 for a day return for two people.
  2. Milan to Verona, to stay for two nights, around £25 for two of us to travel one way. The trip was about two hours.
  3. Verona to Venice, about one hour train journey, costing approx £20 for two of us to travel.

Using the Trainline phone app, I stored our tickets and they were easy to retrieve and show on the train upon request.

Important to note:

I booked our train fares in advance. Closer to the time of travel, it turned out some of the train times were altered slightly. If we’d not arrived at the station early and double-checked the schedule, we may have missed one of our trains which left ten minutes prior to what we had on our ticket. Give yourself time and check schedules on the ground.

 

Travel Milan to Venice train and experience the unparalleled scenery that is Italy

Milan to Venice: the highlights

The Milan to Venice train trip and week away in Italy was pure magic.

Verona and Venice are particularly wonderful. Click the links to read our travel guides.

We utilised Airbnb for accommodation – Italy is notoriously expensive in this area. Airbnb together with travelling on the train kept our costs down, and our experience was indeed stress-free.

Train travel in Europe is a treat because of the scenery. We lavished in everything from the snow-capped Alps to little farming villages, vineyards, horses, chickens, ancient churches and glimpses of northern Italy’s great Lakes.

Milan to Venice on the train is an excellent option. If you have time, there’s many spots to stop off at. Next time around I’d love to see more of Lake Garda and the town of Padua, another inspiration to Shakespeare.

 

Got tips or questions? 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 [you’re reading it]

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