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7 best travel vloggers and bloggers’ European destinations

7 best travel vloggers and bloggers’ European destinations

Travelling to beautiful destinations is an inspiring activity for everybody, but if you are a content producer chasing wanderlust, there are some places that stand out.

Here’s a list of the best travel vloggers and bloggers Euro destinations, courtesy guest contributor Rebecca Brown.

The best travel vloggers and bloggers’ destinations in Europe – 7 faves

There is something to say about every new, and even old place you visit, since sometimes you see things you’ve already seen in a different way.

However, some places are better than others.

The best travel vloggers and bloggers' European destinations - Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal has many hot spots, and its beautiful capital is definitely one of them.

Perfectly combining the new with the old, Lisbon welcomes all kinds of creative travel vloggers and bloggers.

Nostalgic and romantic writers can find inspiration while exploring the city’s beautifully arranged streets and admiring the mesmerising landscapes from the many viewpoints strategically located throughout the city.

Foodies have the chance to indulge in memorable culinary experiences without having to empty their pockets.

There are many affordable restaurants and cooking classes a passionate blogger can enjoy while in Lisbon. Cervejaria Ramiro is one of the locals’ favourite gathering places that recently became famous among travellers as well.

Find out more about Lisbon here in our 3 days in Lisbon blog and vlog

The best travel vloggers and bloggers' European destinations - Barcelona Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Catalonia’s beautiful capital, Barcelona, is also a destination creative travellers should visit.

Inspiration is everywhere throughout the city, from the impressive architecture to the bustling beaches.

Follow Gaudi’s steps, explore Picasso’s genius and Miró’s wonderful mind to inspire your articles about art and architecture.

Enjoy some of Spain’s best wines and tapas, and party in Europe’s famous clubs.

Relax while having picnics at Barceloneta Beach, and, if you want to get in touch with history, explore the many interesting museums in Barcelona.

The best travel vloggers and bloggers' European destinations - Berlin Germany

Berlin, Germany

Bloggers who are passionate about travelling and history can’t miss seeing Berlin, one of Germany’s most interesting and intriguing cities.

The number of museums and historical monuments is fantastic, giving history enthusiasts the thrill they are looking for.

Art, great architecture, as well as shocking stories from WWII and other crucial moments of Europe’s past are also present everywhere in Berlin.

 

Mallorca, Spain

Do you want to share stories about sunny days, splendid beaches, cocktail recipes, and mouthwatering dishes, but you are also interested in cultural and historical places?

Then, visit Mallorca.

The island is paradise for travellers who dream about being caressed by the sun, enjoying water adventures, and having real island fun.

But culture and history aficionados are also welcome in Mallorca.

Palma, the capital city, as well as the great number of castles, fortresses, and historical monuments are always a delight for curious visitors. And the Palma Cathedral is definitely an inspiration for all bloggers and Instagram users who love sharing their travels through amazing photos.

The best travel vloggers and bloggers' European destinations - Hvar Croatia

Hvar, Croatia

Since we are talking about islands, Croatia is worth mentioning because it has many special pieces of land where passionate bloggers can spend memorable holidays and write great posts.

Hvar and the little, beautiful Pakleni Islands amaze the eyes of all visitors with spectacular landscapes and a multitude of secluded beaches surrounded by crystal-clear waters filled with thrilled snorkelers.

 

Paris, France

Whether you are interested in romantic walks, want to indulge in some of the world’s most interesting cuisine, or dream about following the steps of famous artists, Paris is the perfect destination.

The city was an inspiration for many great minds, and just wandering around its small alleys can give you enough beauty for your articles.

But if this is not enough, enjoy an artistic adventure at the Louvre Museum, climb the famous Eiffel tour, visit the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral or get in touch with your childhood at Disneyland.

The best travel vloggers and bloggers' European destinations - Algarve Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

Portugal is one of the best travel vloggers and bloggers’ countries, not only thanks to its fascinating capital, Lisbon, but also because it has so much natural beauty.

The Algarve is a region that should be at the top of your list if you love writing about your adventures.

Not only will you find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world here, but the Algarve promises to amaze you with breathtaking landscapes, small, picturesque villages, and authentic cities.

Tavira is a place you shouldn’t miss if you want to catch a glimpse of the village culture, and Lagos is a great city to observe daily Portuguese life.

If nature is your cup of tea, make sure you explore the Ria Formosa National Park, and if you are interested in spending some time by yourself and admiring the surrounding beauties, check out Ponta da Piedade and Cape St Vincent.

These are just seven of the beautiful European destinations a blogger should visit, but there are many more places waiting to be explored and added to your travel posts.

 



 

 

About the author

Guest contributor Rebecca is an expat and translator by day, and a traveller mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag – and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft.

Christmas markets Cologne

Christmas markets Cologne

Germany is famed the world over for putting on the best festive markets, and we’re excited to share with you our Christmas markets Cologne guide.

They’re some of the world’s best that attract millions to the city each year between 25 November and 23 December.

Christmas markets Cologne

Cologne is known as one of the best European Christmas destinations. There are seven significant German Christmas markets in Cologne and highlights of each, as well as best time of day to visit, are listed below.

This charming German city is of course, famous for its Christmas markets (as other neighbouring German cities are). It’s perfect for a winter Christmas city break!

Before we get into the detail of why we’ve come in December, a quick snapshot about this town…

Christmas markets Cologne - Santa's helpers

About Cologne

One of the reasons we chose to visit Cologne for a spot of Christmas market shopping is that its positioned on the Rhine river.

We’ve only been to this area once, when travelling around Europe on our awesome Expat Explore tour – and I remember it is spectacular!

Cologne is known as a cultural hub of north west Germany, popular for its food, art and traditional Kölsch beer. The city is filled with quirky bars, cool shopping and plenty of culture.

 



 

Much of the city was actually destroyed during the first world war, and the locals have had to rebuild it, together with a multicultural mix of neighbours from around Europe.

Cologne famously accepted many migrants during recent years’ refugee crisis’, and its people are known to be exceptionally friendly, open and welcoming.

Also famous and on at this time of year, is the Cologne Carnival, known as Fastelovend. I love that this annual celebration of street parties and costumes officially launches each year at 11am on November 11, and it runs until Christian Lent.

Apparently it’s normal during this period for people in costume to run up and give you a peck on the cheek. If you get kissed, don’t panic, consider it lucky and enjoy the moment.

Christmas markets Cologne - wandering the markets

Need to know: the 7 Christmas markets of Cologne

Cathedral Market: the big one

– This is the biggest  German Christmas market in the city, known for its spectacular location in the square in front of Dom Cathedral. It’s probably the first one you’ll come across if you arrive by train, as the main station is on the doorstep to the Cathedral.

Come back for a visit at night, for the sprinkling of pretty festive lights throughout the gift-filled wooden pavilions.

– There’s a lot of delicious food here, including local foods like German Bratwurst and Flammlachs (grilled salmon).

– The Cathedral Market is the spot for entertainment which you’ll often catch on the stage by the tall Christmas tree.

In case of rain, there’s a canopy under the Roman-German Museum where you can find shelter, people-watch and enjoy a mug of traditional gluhwein/gluehwein (hot spiced wine) – I liked mine with a splash of Amaretto!

– Cologne’s tourism information centre is very close to here too, well-signed, opposite the Dom, if you want some tips or help with getting around town.

Christmas markets Cologne - Cathedral Market

Old Market or Alter Markt: the traditional one

– Literally next door to the Cathedral market is this gorgeous set-up. For a traditional Christmas market experience that’s particularly great for a daytime visit,  make time for the large Old Market.

– This Cologne Christmas market is located in front of the Old Town Hall, and there are indoor areas if it’s raining.

– The open market area is on Heumarkt and features a large ice rink at the centre of it that has ice shows too!

– The Old Market boasts cool themed alleys e.g sweets alley, toy alley.

– There’s a fabulous vantage point here on  the balcony at the themed house that overlooks the ice rink, but it’s busy so be prepared to nudge your way through to get some nice photos.

– Want to try local fare? Special drinks to look for include Calvados liqueur with cream; and Feuerzangenbowle which is Gluhwein and rum set on fire and served in a mug called a Feuerzangentasse which has forks attached to it with a sugar cone that can be soaked in rum and the whole thing is set on fire.

 

Harbour market (Chocolate Museum): the modern one

– A short walk along the river from the Cathedral and Alter Markt, this spot is a must-visit. How could anyone resist a German Christmas market on the banks of the river Rhine in front of a Chocolate Museum? (which is perfect for shelter if it’s wet).

– While this is one of the smallest in the city, it’s possibly set in the most picturesque spot. Go in the daytime, and head here early, it is one of the first to open each day during the German Christmas market season.

– Perfect for lovely arts and crafts, and there’s a cool hat vendor too.

Christmas markets Cologne - markets in the city

Angel’s Market (Neumarkt): the glamorous one

– This pretty German Christmas market is the oldest in the city, and sits on Neumarkt Square, amongst some of Cologne’s great shopping streets. It is by far my favourite!

– It’s another lovely Cologne Christmas market to visit at night because of its lights, trees and romantic atmosphere. The Angel Market is about 15 minutes walk from the Cathedral (Dom).

In case of rain, seek the chic bar at the west end of the market, but you’ll want to be early because it gets full.

– Cologne’s Angel market is good for Christmas decorations, unique chocolates, artisan stalls, lights, arts and crafts.

 

Village of St Nicholas (Rudolfplatz): the magical one

– A village-style Christmas market that is set by the medieval Hahnentorburg on Rudolfplatz.

– This is the area where people go out at night; you’ll find a cool crowd, and atmosphere.

– For more festive spirit, look around the corner as this is next to Christmas Avenue Market.

Christmas markets Cologne - seven markets in the city

Stadtgarten: the local one

– A bit further out from the centre of the Cologne Christmas market action, but worthwhile; in the middle of the Belgian Quarter of Cologne – a gorgeous part of the city.

–This German Christmas market in Cologne is known for its  lovely village feel, and more locals than tourists surrounding you.

– Perfect for  unique and cute gifts; also a great food selection especially desserts and savoury delights.

 

Gay and Lesbian market: the cool one

– Cologne is one of the most LGTB friendly cities in Europe and its got a Christmas market to match!

– Don’t miss this one for a fun, bright, younger crowd, a diverse range of food and drinks and the quirkiest gifts.

Christmas markets Cologne

Cologne Christmas markets top tips

1. Each market offers its own unique and collectable Gluhwein mugs. You pay a deposit on your first drink which means you can keep this mug. If you don’t want to keep it, simply return to the bar at the same market for your deposit back.

2. You can walk between most of the markets, or catch the bus or special Christmas Market Express train. Visit Koeln also offers a Koeln card to get around the city. Visit the tourism centre for more details on this when you’re in the city.

3. An extremely comprehensive resource on the Cologne markets can be found at fromrealpeople.com – locals in Cologne who share helpful information about the markets, the food and treats to be found and importantly, transport. We got a lot out of this blog post (thanks team!).

 

Cologne has proven to be one of the best places to visit in winter, in our opinion. We love Amsterdam and Paris too, even Mallorca for some wintersun, but for a Christmas city break you can’t really go past this!

Let us know what you think in the comments

 

 

Images courtesy Köln Tourismus
The last leg: Switzerland to Germany + France

The last leg: Switzerland to Germany + France

Dscn2919_copyWe are down to the very last page on our month-long itinerary, and although our bodies are a little weary from the recent routine we are surprised and saddened by the realisation that it is just about over – for now at least (we do have our eye on some other Expat options like Turkey, Egypt, the eastern block or even some exciting new adventures on the horizon in 2012 – keep an eye on expatexplore.com for more details).

P1010309_copyOn Saturday we woke from an overnight sleep that featured a major storm and consequent snowy mountains (as above)! An extra special sight for our group’s two newly engaged couples (below) – congrats Amanda + Phil and Evan + Leann! We’re sure Switzerland will always hold a fond place in your hearts.

We were on the road again by 8.30am, destined for lunch in Liechtenstein which is another one of the very smallest countries in the world (on this trip we’ve visited the other two ‘tiny nations’ of The Vatican City and Monaco), then back to Germany to visit Munich.

P1010367_copyCooper and I quite like Germany – the towns are cute and clean, people helpful and prices on food and travel reasonable, and Munich is no exception. Of course, Germany’s past is inescapable so as part of our evening’s orientation we visited Dachau, the site on which Hitler’s first concentration camp was built. It is a very sobering and upsetting place. Everyone is quiet, not by any rule, but because the museum images and energy around the old camp are sombre, sad and disturbing. The only thing I can take away from the experience is the hope that humans will someday stop treating each other so badly, and that this kind of thing will never happen again. Too bad some places in the world are yet to learn such lessons.

Dscn2990_copyOur accommodation for ‘Day 22’ was at The Hotel Orly, well appointed and clean, in a nice neighbourhood and within walking distance to one of this city’s famous attractions – a massive beer hall. We were all amazed at how big this hall is – hundreds of revelers eating dinner and downing steins (1L glasses of beer).

Our group was very merry by the end of the night – let’s just leave it at that. It was a fun experience though, and Lindsay and I even made some new American friends in the bathrooms as we bonded over ghost stories!

Dscn2977_copySunday, Day 23: long, quiet coach ride – quite a number of sore heads with only themselves to blame. A ‘healthy’ Burger King lunch helped to perk everyone up though, so by the time we arrived in the Rhine Valley region our curiosity and interest was replenished.

Actually, this section of the journey was pleasurable and I think most of us would recommend a visit. Castles everywhere (as above, complete with legends surrounding the ill-fated jilted lover, Lorelei), gorgeous old villages that feature novel attractions like teddy bear and witch museums, a pub in front of a church where the priest pours the pints, many dogs, wineries (this is the only other area outside Canada to produce Icewine), and peaceful river cruise options along the Rhine (longest river in Europe).

Dscn2999_copyThe hour-long Rhine River cruise is well worth your time, and we’d also recommend the hotel we stayed at on the end of the cruise – Hotel Rheinlust situated right by a stunning little town in the heart of Boppard.

A decent night’s sleep and fabulous breakfast spread later and we’re on the road again – Luxembourg (below) for a mid-day break and gorgeous Paris this evening.

Luxembourg is a charming city, brimming with cool dining, shopping and interesting places to wander around. It is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany, and interestingly it is the only country that can’t fit its name on an atlas! Our group toured the area for a while during the middle of the day before continuing to our final destination.

Paris is the one place I have been to before, and obviously will become a highlight for many of the first-timers on our trip. Aside from anything else, Paris, the city of love, is beautiful – from the Arc de Triamph, Louvre Museum, Champs-Elysées, Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur, Musée d’Orsay, Pont Neuf to the gorgeous Notre Dame Cathedral and fun Latin Quarter on the banks of the Seine among many other attractions – can’t wait to get the Nikon back in action. Will check back in on Wednesday, Day 26 – the final day which once upon a time seemed so far away…

IMAGES: Mountains & Beer Halls and The Rhine Valley

Spanked by a witch and pouring pints – only travelling in Prague and Dresden

Spanked by a witch and pouring pints – only travelling in Prague and Dresden

Spanked by a witch in Dresden; Pouring a pint in Prague.

Travelling in Prague and Dresden with Expat Explore travellivelearn.comWho was spanked by a witch in Dresden? It could only happen while travelling in Prague and Dresden…

We were up, packed and served breakfast by 8am yesterday, ‘day 5’ of our great Expat Explore 26-day Europe adventure. After saying a final goodbye to the baby bunnies who reside at the Plus Berlin hostel/hotel we were on the road again, this time headed for the small German city of Dresden, then to Prague (exciting!).

Dresden (Germany) is only a couple of hours drive from Berlin and proved to be a truly beautiful little place. Evidently it was bombed heavily (and quite controversially) right near the end of WWII. Consequently most of the city has been rebuilt or restored, but charred stones and remnants on buildings still evidence signs of this sad period.

The main city square is a bustling cafe and pub type precinct, set amongst gorgeous old buildings and cathedrals. There’s a river that runs through the centre and several pretty bridges linking across it. Many street performers and characters line the area, and we encountered a rather amusing witch who was dancing with a ‘mini’ doll version of herself (creepy).

My lovely fiance, Cooper, dropped by to say hello (so I could take a photo) and was promptly poked and spanked with her broomstick, much to the hilarity of the crowd watching! A gorgeous stop if you’re ever in the neighbourhood, although I’m not sure about the ‘Erotic Car Wash’ that I saw a sign for on the way into the town centre – sounds more like something you’d expect in Japan, not Germany, but then again…

By around 5.30pm we had finally arrived in Prague (Czech Republic), most of us first-time visitors so eagerly craning our necks around each corner of the bus trying to spot the beautiful landscapes that this city is renowned for. We were excited to see that the bus pulled up outside a very nice little Ibis Hotel (Hotel Ibis Praha Mala Strana) which has turned out to be fantastic accommodation – contemporary, clean, well appointed and located right near public transport and a shopping centre with supermarket (critical for supplies when you’re travelling on a budget).

Travelling in Prague and Dresden with Expat Explore travellivelearn.com

During the evening Expat Explore guide, Ali, took us into the main section of Prague’s centre. The clouds had finally cleared and the late afternoon setting sun cast a glorious light over the enchanting city which is famous for its beauty as well as probably the most peaceful revolution in history – aka The Velvet Revolution (1989) which saw the overthrow of the communist government that had ruled since the end of WWII. We explored the Old Town, across famous Charles Bridge, down into the ‘new town’ and stopped at 8pm with another several thousand people to watch the famous Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock‘s chiming performance.

Prague’s popular music, culture and beer venues beckoned on Wednesday night too, and the group divided to play at various notable venues around town including the fabulous Beer Factory where customers can pour their own beers at each booth, and for only the equivalent of about €2 per pint; Karlovy Lazne, the biggest music club in Europe – five levels high, the simply fabulous Agharta Jazz Centrum, and Bily Konicek Restaurant (located in a stunning 12th century medieval cellar, one of the oldest houses on the Old Town Square and popular for its awesome jazz shows 7 nights a week).

Today on our ‘free day’ most of us had our sights set on Prague Castle, one of the largest castles in the world (the largest according to the Guinness Book of Records). The stunning structure dates back to the 9th century and was expanded several times until second half of the 18th century.

The castle itself also houses a complex of sights including the St. Vitus Cathedral and the St. George’s Basilica. We wandered around the area for the morning before heading back towards the Old Town on foot. Prague is actually quite easy to navigate on foot, but if you do get tired (as we did) the public transport system is very efficient, inexpensive and easy to navigate.

Travelling in Prague and Dresden with Expat Explore travellivelearn.com

Another ‘must’ in Prague – pay the mere fee of CZK Kč70 and walk up the tower above Charles Bridge. This idea came as a suggestion to us during our walking tour of the city, and at first we thought the experience was only a small level set above the city in a tower room that had been decorated with old Royal attire and furniture… until we discovered more stairs leading up to an outdoor area – glorious in the sunshine and worthwhile for the photo opportunities alone.

Evidently the city is stunning, and the people although a little reserved have been (in our experience) friendly and helpful. I was assisted in my first foreign beauty related transaction (try explaining that you need blonde hair toner to someone who doesn’t speak English – we were successful though!); and on a totally frivolous note, we added to our TGI Fridays tally now having dined in Prague (actually it was one of the nicer of our dining experiences compared with those at TGIs in Tokyo, New York and London… where will be next? ;-)

Travelling in Prague and Dresden with Expat Explore travellivelearn.com

So far this trip has been brilliant and has included the right mix of adventure, information, history and even ‘free time’ to do as we please. The accommodation and food has been great too – honestly couldn’t have asked for anything to be done better up until this point. We’re very lucky that Expat Explore introduced this new 26-day trip for the first time in 2011. The best part? We still have three weeks to go!

Tour guide Ali tip: a few words to remember for use in Prague…

  • prosim (pronounced pro-seem) = please
  • deukuji (dyek-oo-yee) = thank you
  • dobrý den (dob-ree den) = hello
  • pivo (peevo) = beer
By Sarah Blinco | View our travel galleries on Flickr

 

Rich in culture and history: Beautiful Berlin

Rich in culture and history: Beautiful Berlin

Berlin – it’s been a pleasure!

Berlin

We still have some time throughout Germany to come which is exciting because I have been looking forward to exploring this country, primarily because my mum’s family is of German background and I’m always keen to experience a little of my own heritage. During our time here I have had the opportunity to meet and mix with the locals, wander through the streets on a very interesting and informative tour, go clubbing at a great place called Matrix, and play with bunny rabbits!!

We’re staying at an amazing hostel/hotel, Plus Berlin, which we would all recommend. It’s actually housed in a huge former school building, the rooms are spacious, everything is clean, facilities are first class and they have rabbits playing in the courtyard – divine! It’s ‘Day 4’ of our 26-day ultimate Europe trip, and our group definitely bonded last night over happy-hour ‘Berlinopolitan’ cocktails in the bar downstairs, followed by our impulse trip across the road to the aforementioned club. To be honest, most of us had a headache this morning, but it was all great fun.

The history is what really strikes a first-time visitor. So many conflicts and upheavals over the past that all contribute to the important back-stories of the buildings and landmarks around the city – it’s surprising but pleasing that Berlin has risen again to be as charming and culturally rich as the people wish it to be. I was intrigued to retrace steps through the past by exploring around The Brandenburg Gate, the ground above Hitler’s sealed-off underground bunker, old buildings that still haven’t been restored since WWII and of course the infamous Berlin Wall that was put up in 1961 to keep people in the ‘East’ from leaving (finally torn down in 1989). Take a look through the images which reflect this living history – much more informative than the high school text books. Refreshingly clean, welcoming and interesting… a nice place to be, especially given that under normal circumstances we would be living amongst the war zone that lovely London has currently become, but I guess that’s a story for another time.