When it comes to incredible weekend getaways in Europe, Faded Spring has scoured the Mediterranean seas and climbed the highest mountains, to find you a slice of European magic that you will never forget. From being bathed in the Northern Lights, marveling at the spectacular light show that cascades and dances before your very own eyes to searching for the notorious Loch Ness Monster in Loch Lomond, who says that ‘staying in Europe’ has to be boring? Whether you are a couple in search of a romantic adventure, a thrifty spender with their eye on the budget or a solo pioneer of travel, who dreams of exploring worlds outside of their imaginations, here are 5 incredible weekend getaways in Europe that you must visit in 2018.
- The Peak District: 1-2 Nights for 2 with Breakfast, Dinner and Optional Hot Tub Use at The 4* Dog and Partridge Country Inn
When it comes to a weekend getaway, who says that you have to venture further afield than the UK? Home to breathtaking natural landscapes like the Peak District, Jurassic Coast and Loch Lomond, there is more to the UK than the ‘movie postcard image of red buses and letterboxes’ as perpetuated by movie classics like Four Weddings and A Funeral. While London has often been cited as the ‘ultimate destination for weekend city breaks’, why not get out of the city and explore the glorious Peak District National Park, which became the UK’s first national park in 1951? Home to sedimentary rocks dating from the Carboniferous period, Peak District National Park glides across the Pennines southernmost hills in the most glorious fashion. Surrounded by ancient stone villages and rocky outcrops in the ‘Dark Peak’ accentuated by exposed moorland, while in the South (The White Peak) is made up of limestone dales, if you are after a trip that is every geologists wet dream then bingo Peak District is the weekend getaway for you.
If you’d rather rub shoulders with ‘sociological as opposed to geological history’ then why not explore prehistoric caves filled with wall paintings, Roman and Norman landmarks, and monuments of the Industrial Revolution? Peak District might be an area of geological excellence, with history enthusiasts queuing to catch a glimpse from all over the world, but the question on your lips is where can you stay to have this glorious backdrop on your doorstep?
Enter the perfect gift idea from Groupon; a couples retreat at the 4* Dog and Partridge Country Inn, with breakfast, dinner and optional hot tub included during your 1-2 night stay.Situated on the edge of the Peak District National Park, The Dog and Partridge Country Inn offers four star accommodation and is ideal for couples or adventurers who enjoy nothing more than rustic weekend getaways with long walks around the Pennine hills, private tours of The Dark Peak and The White Peak, as well as staying in accommodation that offers comfortable rooms, breathtaking views and of course delicious food. For fellow veggies like myself no need to worry, there is a dedicated ‘vegetarian menu’ featuring culinary delights like Butter Bean and Potato Curry,Warmed avocado pear kissed by a blue cheese sauce and garnished with walnut and White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheese cake, with double cream and berry drizzle, while meat eaters can enjoy Breast of chicken cooked in a sauce of brandy, cream, herbs and exotic mushrooms and Lemon sole with a dusting of light breadcrumbs with crispy prawns and calamari served with chips, garden peas, salad and homemade tartar sauce.
What To Do In Peak District
From educational experiences like National Tramway Museum that all the family can enjoy to unexpected theme parks like Alton Towers and Gullivers Kingdom, who says that your kids can’t enjoy the ride too? My personal vote goes to Alton Towers for young adventurer seekers who love to live life on the wild side.
For Geology Lovers
The Peak District as aforementioned is somewhat of a ‘wet dream’ for those who spend 95% of their time drooling over rocks. And who can blame them, I frequently get excited looking at the beauty of nature and with beautiful wet dream delights like Pennine Way,Heights of Abraham, Stanage Edge and Win Hill, be prepared to immerse yourself in nature. My top pick is a split decision: visually it would go to Stanage Edge, which you can see in the picture above but in terms of ‘fun factor’ the Heights Of Abraham – featuring a Hilltop park reached by cable car, with cavern tours, walking trails, fossil exhibitions and cafe is definitely the most exciting geological activity.
If mountaineering is your middle name and you spend your entire travels scoping out adventure trails then Shutlingsloe, Higger Tor, Derwent Edge, Bleaklow have all been ‘adventure approved’. From mountain climbing at Shutlingsloe to hiking Bleaklow Hill, live life in the danger zone with some good ol’ fashioned walking trails. My personal favourite has got to be the beautiful Shutlingsloe situated to the south of Macclesfield Forest. Perfect for mountaineering, nature photography and intense walks through forests, valleys and stark peak inclines.
For History Lovers
If Henry Tudor is your middle name and your actual name is ‘Ana De Jesus’ then chances are you’re a certified History Geek. From Haddon Hall a stunning English Medieval and Tudor country house in Derbyshire to Ilam Park and Peveril Castle, get your Anne Boleyn gown out the closet and mosey on down. Of course being a fan of the Medieval and Tudor Era means that Haddon Hill is definitely my must see attraction for ‘history lovers’ like myself.
(Valid Until 28th February 2018)
Best For: Nature Lovers
2. Iceland: 2 to 5 Nights at Choice of 4* Hotels with Northern Lights Tour, Return Flights and Option for Other Tours*
Iceland, home to fairytale lore, lurking trolls and the ‘Hidden Village Folk’ who graffiti Reykjavik in the dead of night. A deeply fascinating country caught between two worlds: the modern street art spraying Reykjavik vs the ancient worlds of the trolls and faeries who keep watch over their Icelandic Kingdom, where a blanket of voluminous snow hides their very existence from the human world. Sandwiched between two tetonic plates that teeter on North America and Europe, Iceland is a hodge podge of cultures that span Nordic, Viking and Danish historical eras. From street art tours that breathe life into Iceland’s new ‘urban landscape’ to gasping at The Northern Lights, as the skies are clouded with vibrant green, milky blue and deep purple, there are a million reasons why you should plan weekend getaways in Europe’s most magical country of ‘ice and fire’ AKA Iceland.
While Iceland is famed for its ‘natural wonders’ it is often touted as being an expensive country and in part that is true. Food is overpriced, flights are often sky high and even a bottle of water can set you back a cool fee. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy all the beauties that Iceland has to offer like a 2-5 day stay in a 4* hotel, which includes return flights and A ‘Northern Lights Tour’ for an impressive starting price of £229. With options to include other tours like ‘The Golden Circle’ or ‘The Blue Lagoon’ for an additional discounted fee, enjoy at least two nights of uninterrupted adventure with at least two 4* hotels to choose from.
Hotel Ódinsvé: Best For Adventure & Nature Lovers
Take a walk into natures best kept secrets with dramatic black volcanic plains to white, hulking glaciers and hot spring geysers. Snow sparkles mischievously as you leave the hotel and explore breathtaking natural surroundings, while history enthusiasts can enjoy the National Gallery of Iceland, the Hallgrímskirkja church featuring a 73 m-high tower, and Harpa, a glass honeycomb-shaped building that is home to the national opera and symphony. But back to nature, find out below what ‘natural wonders’ you should explore if you stay in Hotel Odinsve.
Ring Road: Otherwise known as ”The Golden Circle Drive’ experienced drivers can explore the road by car and drive through remote roads overlooking glaciers, waterfalls and geysers. If you would rather explore the ring road by foot it is possible and tour companies like South Iceland Tour with Bus Travel Iceland, whose experienced tour guides take you through breathtaking waterfalls like Skogafoss where you can actually walk behind the waterfall, allow you to explore the ring road alongside tourists, who camp out for the day. If you would rather go off the tourist beaten track then make sure you ‘go off route 1’ and venture into Iceland’s smaller villages to get an authentic insight into Icelandic Life.
Arctic Rafting On Hvítá Glacier River In South Iceland: For those who eat adventure for breakfast, then why not try river rafting and tubing in South Iceland with Arctic Rafting, who provides an eco-environmentally friendly river tour on Hvita Glacier River? And if a gentle ‘river ride’ on an river laced with ice doesn’t get your heart pumping, then some tours also offer the choice to go ‘Cliff Jumping’ into Gullfoss Canyon, which is a 20-25 FT drop from the cliff top. The water might be cold, but when else would you get a chance to become at one with nature in Iceland?
Ice Climbing and Glacier Hiking Day Trip from Reykjavik: Want to combine ice climbing and glacier hiking with learning the magic behind Iceland’s glaciers, from experienced travel guides? Then look no further than Asgard Beyond, who offer full or partial day tours that not only teach you the basics of ‘ice climbing’ but it also allows you to ice tunnels, crevasses and sink holes. On a 2 hour journey that picks you up from Reykjavik, you can relax before your ice climbing adventure begins as the journey takes you through the South Coast with ash mountains, waterfalls, and volcanoes to look forward to seeing.
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura: Best For Urban Dwellers
While ‘Icelandic Hotel Reykjavik’ has just as many visually and physically stimulating natural pleasures as Hotel Ódinsvé, this 4* hotel is also situated in the perfect spot for urban dwellers. From Reykjavik Haunted Walk, just 0.6 miles from Icelandair Hotel to exploring the new street art murals in carparks, dim lit alley ways and in decrepit skatepark, find out what urban spots you should be checking out when you tick off Iceland on your weekend getaways in Europe to explore.
Reykjavik Haunted Walk: Awarded the ‘certificate of excellence’ The Haunted Walk deals with Icelandic history, folklore and some well known ‘local ghosts’. And if you are somewhat of a skeptic like me then don’t worry, the guides have plenty of ‘Ghostly tales’ to tell you like ‘What are the chances of elves stealing your baby?’ and whether Santa Claus (and his mother) really a monster in Iceland? Come to think of it Santa being a ‘monster’ makes sense, as he is technically programmed to ‘over indulge, spoil and punish naughty children (and adults) although I am not sure whether ‘monsters’ technically constitutes as being a ‘haunted being’.
Cemetery Holavallagardur: If You fancy a ghost narrative come to life, then why not check out Cemetery Holavallagardur, perfect for vampire brides and grooms who crave something gruesome with their weekend break. Whether you want to see the alleged floating torso of a man with a beard or fancy a quiet walk during the day, discovering the stories of famous Icelanders that are buried here, then hello Cemetery Holavallagardur is calling.
Graffiti and Street Art In Reykjavík: So you’d rather not meet dead people and the thought of cemeteries creeps you out. Well not to worry my Urban Dweller friend, because there is plenty of street art to marvel at in Iceland’s capital Reykjavík. Up until the 1990’s Iceland was a culturally and geographically isolated country, with little contact with the outside world. So in the early 1990’s Icelandic teens worked with the little resources that they could scrape together and started to develop their own style, influenced by photo books, album covers and music videos that they had seen online. While society is often conditioned to see ‘street art and graffiti’ as a form of ‘vandalism’ because the ‘art approaches you’ ( rather than you approaching art in a gallery), street art is in fact a beautiful form of ‘creative expressionism’.
Best For Adventure Seekers
3. Ljubljana City Break, Mulled Wine, Breakfast, River Cruise & Flights
When it comes to ‘City Breaks’ you would expect ‘Paris’ or ‘Rome to pop up on the list but why not venture out of your comfort zone and go to Slovenia’s cultural capital of Ljubljana? Just as romantic, just as steeped in historical and natural beauty and as charming as the latter two cities, Ljubljana has the friendliness of a ‘small town’ with the large heart of a city landscape.But what really makes Ljubljana stand out from the crowd is it’s fascinating ‘origins’; legend had it that Ljubljana was founded by the Greek Mythological Hero Jason and his companions ‘the Argonauts’ who had stolen the ‘golden fleece from King Aetes and ran away from him across the Black Sea and up the ‘Danube, Sava and Ljubljanica rivers. From historical accounts however, the earliest lake dwellings appeared at Ljubljana Marshes in 2000 BC while in 1200 BC new people arrive from the East as ‘bearers of the Urnfield Culture’. Today Ljubljana is just as mesmerizing and what better way to have a fantastic city break than one that feeds you breakfast, allows you to go sightseeing on a river cruise and best of all tops you up with some heartwarming mulled wine?
Thanks to Wowcher, you could enjoy a two or three-night stay with breakfast, mulled wine, river cruise and return flights in the award winning hotel City Hotel Ljubljana. Awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award, City Hotel boasts prime location with proximity to the city centre and an incredible resturant and terrace which overlooks Ljubljana castle in the summer. Not only will you have a castle on your doorstep but the restaurant also uses the freshest local ingredients to ensure the highest quality meals, with three daily menus:the delicious and affordable City and vegetarian City Vegi menus and the Sea menu for seafood lovers. Common vegetarian lunches include Cream of cauliflower soup and Kale rolls, mashed potatoes and kohlrabi ragout. While the food at your hotel will be delicious, what could be more divine than a city cruise in a city awarded the ‘European Commission’s Green Capital of Europe 2016’? From breathtaking views of the aforementioned castle to moseying around ‘Central Market’, there is no such thing as boring on Faded Spring’s weekend getaways in Europe!
What To Do In Ljubljana
Become Real Life Royalty With A Visit To Ljubljana’s Castle
What could be more romantic than a visit to a ‘real life castle’ in Europe’s new ‘city of love’? From taking a ride on the Funicular up to the Castle to feeding each other strawberries at dinner, while you watch the sunset from the castle’s outlook tower, who said that fairytales weren’t real? Marvel as you watch the Julian Alps in the distance be bathed in a delicious golden light and sigh in ecstasy as you enjoy food fit for aristocracy from the castle’s restaurant Gostilna na Gradu which serves traditional Slovenian dishes. Featuring three major European cultures – Alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean- meat lovers will rejoice at slices of goose breasts with chicory, horseradish and winter spices, while vegetarians like myself can feast on pumpkin-filled ravioli, rolled in sage butter, smoked cottage cheese and poppy seeds. Plus how romantic would it be to feed each other dinner, as you watch the sun go down?
Cement Your Love With A Visit To Butchers Bridge
Despite its questionable name, Butcher’s Bridge follows many other famous cities ‘love lock bridge traditions’ with a ‘love bridge of its own’. Here countless lovers have ‘symbolically padlocked’ their love and dropped the keys into the river Ljubljanica, which flows underneath since it was built in 2010. Designed by the talented architect Jože Plečnik, Butcher’s Bridge is not the only ‘love lock bridge’ in Ljubljanica but it is certainly the most infamous bridge of them all.
Have A Picnic In Tivoli Park
Grab some fresh food from Central Market before heading to Ljubljana’s largest and most beautiful park (Tivoli), stretching right into the city centre. Designed in 1813 by the French engineer Jean Blanchard and created by joining together the parks which had surrounded Podturn and Cekin Mansions, Tivoli Park is more than just your ordanairy recreational park but also boasts three grand horse chestnut tree-lined walks, landscaped with ornamental flower beds, interesting trees and numerous statues and fountains. And if that was not romantic enough there is also a small botanic garden and indoor swimming pool in its recreational center, to really get those juices flowing.
For History Lovers
Marvel At The Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Stolnica Sv. Nikolaja)
Dating back to the 18th Century, the Cathedral of ST Nicholas is a must see for those who count ‘church hunting’ as one of their favourite pastimes.The interior is lavish Baroque (although the relief was added in 20th century), with artwork covering just about every inch of the place. There are vibrant religious paintings, beautiful frescoes and a magnificent pipe organ with carved choir stalls and the angels on the altar. The front door shows 1250 years of Slovenian Christianity while the side door, the recent bishops in Ljubljana. At the entrance there are two bronze sculptured doors that were created in commemoration of Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1996. But perhaps the most spectacular feature of ST. Nicholas is the ceiling frescoes which depict ‘real life scenes’ from ST Nicholas’s lifetime.
Get Your Art Cap On With Vurnik House
Although Vurnik House is not ‘open to tourists’, you can still view the decorative Art Nouveau Quarter from the outside. A fine example of Slovenian artitecture, Vurnik House was built in 1921 by the architect Ivan Vurnik in the infamous ‘Art Nouveau Style’. Although a large part of Vurnik House was built by Ivan, his wife Helena created the intricate frescoes and interior wall paintings, and had taken part in her husband’s research and design of distinctive Slovenian architecture. Viennese born Helena created geometric ornaments in red, white and blue -the colour combination of the Slovenian tricolour- which she then cleverly mixed with elements of Slovenian iconography, such as stylized spruce-wooded and cornfield landscapes, vine plants and women in Slovenian national costumes.
For Foodies: Notable Resturants In Ljubljana
Slovenia is often noted as being somewhat of a gastronomical haven Slovenia has a rich culinary culture with 24 gastronomic regions and Ljubljaa is no exception. From RESTAURANT ATELJE where they bake their own bread, ripen cheese, make yoghurt and preserve vegetables to veggie spots like Loving Hut, an infamous vegan fast food chain, find out why Lubljana is an ideal city break for those desperate for a weekend getaway in Europe.
Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly
Radha Govinda: An Indian restaurant that is student friendly and serves vegetarian and vegan food only. One of Ljubljana’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, Godvinda offers both vegetarian street food like ‘pasta and burgers’ as well as a restaurant that serves treats like samosas with carrots, beans and cauliflower, sweet lassi and paprika curry with red peppers, potatoes and tomatoes.
Zaživ Vegan Bistro: This friendly bistro offers delicious vegan wraps, pizzas, pies, cakes, and is especially known for its tasty burgers like its bean, chili, pepper and oat vegan burger.
Barbarella Arkade Bistro: Another vegan and vegetarian bistro, they offer a variety of soups, cakes, salads, vegan bowls and salad bowls. Treats include Creamy Cauliflower Soup With Coconut Milk (they create fresh weekly soup menus), BBQ VEGAN CHEESEBURGER with black bean and vegan cheese and Chickpea ‘Fake Tuna’ Toasties with salad.
For Meat Eaters
Resturant Atje: Located in Grand Hotel Union, restaurant Atje offers ‘fine dining’ that reflects the culture of Slovenian ‘gastronomy’. Common dishes include veal wellington with horseradish mashed potato, shallots and parsnips and Bohinj trout fillet with root vegetables, buckwheat and saffron sauce.
Hisa Pod Gradom Restaurant: Rated by Trip Advisor as the highest reviewed restaurant in Ljubljaana, it’s easy to see why. Located at the foothills of the Ljubljana castle in the center of the Slovenian capital, Hisa Pod Gradom is an upgrade of the old bourgeois house, built in 1636. The house combines a rich history with its architectural image, reflected through the current catering activity. Common treats include Veal cheese cooked in wine sauce, roasted vegetables, fries ,Bovine medallions with baked fries and garlic sauce and Nutella cake with banana . Vegetarians like myself can have Three types of bruschettas with spicy marinated olives,Pasta with truffle sauce and cream and Tortilla with vegetables and potatoes.
Most: Specializing in Mediterranean , Eastern European and Slovenian cuisine, ‘Most’ has a varied menu that is suitable for meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians. Dishes include Grilled scallops on carambola with cream of cauliflower and scampi tails and coriander oil, Beef tagliata which is slices of grilled beef fillet with baked potatoes, vegetables and young cow cheese and Smoked salmon tartar on cucumber carpaccio with horseradish cream and parsley oil. Vegetarians however can feast on a House selection of Slovenian cheeses with flower honey and dried fruits,Baked brick pastry filled with vegetables on cream of carrots with ginger and pine nuts,Baked pumpkin flat cake on pumpkin cream with grilled fennel, sheep cheese from Bovec and pumpkin seed oil and a Parfait of white chocolate and pumpkin seed oil with vanilla cream and pumpkin seed brittle.
Best For City Breaks.
4.3-7nt All-Inclusive Algarve Escape & Flights
Now I am not just saying this because I am biased (my parents come from Madeira a Portuguese Island), but the Algarve is the perfect weekend getaway in Europe for those who crave a ‘beach escape’. While tourism has had an impact on its ‘seafront escapes’, you can still explore authentic Portugal on the west coast, exploring the local festivals that revolve around the seasons like ‘the killing of the pig- not one for the faint hearted, I had that gruesome ‘joy’ when I was 10 and had to watch my aunt kill the pig before my very eyes- , the more beautiful castle towns and historic villages, cork tree– and flower-covered hillsides, birdlife, and the wonderful Via Algarviana hiking trail crossing its breadth.
Of course as The Algarve is famed for its beaches, tourists from all over the world- especially the UK and Germany- flock to their crystal blue waters and run like they have never ‘seen the sun before’ Although in all fairness who can blame them when I too am from the land of ‘temperamental weather’ and would be pushing these tourists out the way so I can bathe in the glorious glow of the sunshine. So if you fancy an extended holiday weekend where you might meet your future Instagram husband, then Wowcher has got an ‘All Inclusive’ Algarve Escape for you from £79pp for a three-night all-inclusive Algarve break with flights. With the option to stay at Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira or Hotel Atismar in Quarteira, you’ll be treated to a sumptuous breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of your stay, as well as selected drinks and snacks. What’s more not only will you be treated to a delicious spread each day of your holiday, but you will also be able to stroll to the beach which is a few yards away and even enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool.
The Best Beaches In The Algarve
Praia da Marinha, Lagoa
Regularly ranked among the best beaches in Europe, Praia Da Marinha has been ranked as ‘Trip Advisors’ most beautiful ‘Portuguese Beach’ and it’s little wonder why. Often synonymous with The Algarve’s postcard ‘coastal image’ the south coast of the Algarve boasts photogenic limestone rock stacks which is produced by erosion and dissolution. Their orangey-brown colours make them perfect for morning or evening photography, but they also provide a spectacular backdrop for beachside lounging at any time. Located near Lagoa and sandwiched between Armação de Pêra and Carvoeiro, descend down the cliff stairs and marvel at limestone stacks juxtaposed by rock structures that overlook the sea like giant rock God’s . According to Algarve Tips, Praia da Marinha is only accessible by car, which makes it a tranquil, intimate beach that even allows you the option to swim or snorkel with marine life.
Best For Photographers & Instagrammers
The only uninhabited island near Ria Formosa, Ilha Deserta is located in the beautiful Faro and offers a welcome respite for those who crave some peace and quiet in the sunshine. While there is not much to do here apart from swim and sunbathe, what better place to catch up with your reading than a ‘deserted island’? Tranquil and free from the tourists that you would find in Central Algarve, you might find a nudist or two as it is one of the few beaches in Portugal that is officially classified as an naturist beach. If you would rather not have someone’s genitals dangling in your face, then why not book a nature tour around Ria Formosa near the island? From viewing flamingos in their natural habitat to the calm gentle lull of the nearby waves , Ilha Deserta might be a inhabitated island but it sure is beautiful to me. If you are hungry then don’t worry you wont starve as there is one whole restaurant on the island. Established in 1987 and open every day, Estamine is an award winning seafood restaurant that won ‘Qualidade Touristica in 2015 and is entirely powered by solar power. Environmentally friendly, Estamine serves fresh, locally caught fish, clams, cuttlefish, octopus and meat all year round.
Best for Nudists, Naturists & Those Who Like Peace & Quiet
Praia dos Olhos de Água
If the thought of sharing a beach with tourists makes you want to hurl then fear not Faded Spring is here to save the day. From Roman Villa Ruins in Milreu, Vilamoura and Abicada to sampling delicious Portuguese cuisine like Caldo Verde, you don’t have to be a beach enthusiast to enjoy the beauties that The Algarve has to offer!
Best For History Nerds Like Me
Castelo de Taviro
Classified as a National Monument , Castelo de Tavira was conquered from the Muslims around the year 1240, although archaeological research has shown evidence of human occupation since the prehistoric era in the region of Tavira. According to popular legend the Portuguese castle is ‘supposedly haunted ‘by a Moorish Princess who visits once a year ‘crying’ because her father cast a spell on her and kept her locked in the castle, while D. Amiro a ‘knight rider’ attempted to break the charm after falling in love at first sight with her but was unable to break through the enchantment.
Cerro da Villa
Originating from the Roman Period of 27 B.C. Cerro da Villa beholds remnants of a historical villa in the vicinity of the resort and marina of Vilamoura and in the civil parish of Quarteira. While not quite Hadrian’s Wall, Cerro da Villa is nevertheless a beautiful insight into Portugal’s forgotten Roman ancestors, with graves dating back to the Bronze Age in the Casão vineyard. What was once two breathtaking villa residences featuring baths, necropolis, dams and fish salting stations is now compartmentalized walls, friezes of marble and fragments painted stucco that decorated the walls, as well as the remains of poly-chromatic mosaic pavements and the necropole, which includes the remains of mausoleums and burial tombs.
The Capela dos Ossos (Bone Chapel) and Igreja do Carmo, Faro
Known as the ‘Bone Chapel’ Capela dos Ossos is a macabre but fascinating attraction to explore. Prior to the 19th century when mortality was high, graveyards in Faro became overcrowded so in order to solve their ‘grave problem’ bones were exhumed and the bones of holy men like monks were used to decorate this chapel, considered to be the ‘highest honour’ for holy men. While the chapel is small and is an extension of the main church Igreja do Carmo, nevertheless it remains a popular tourist attraction, with tourists chuckling at its no nonsense inscriptions like “Pára aqui a considerar que a este estado hás-de chegar” which translates as “Stop here and consider, that you will reach this state too”. What a lovely reminder of our impending mortality LOL. Or even better that we too might get dragged out of our graves and spend our eternal slumber being watched by thousands of tourists who might be secret necrophiliacs.
Best For Foodies
Inspired by Mediterranean Cuisine, The Algarve is renowned for its fresh and flavorful cuisine, which sates the locals and tourists hunger.. From Caldo Verde, a green soup cooked in olive oil with cabbage and kale to Pasta De nata, Algarve’s cuisine is fresh,locally sourced and produced and best of all delicious. Read on below to see what restaurants you should visit if you are a foodie.
Restaurant Vivendo: awarded the CERTIFICADO DE EXCELÊNCIA 2015 and 2016, by Tripadvisor the Wine & Dine four-course gourmet menu at Restaurant Vivendo changes weekly. Featuring classics like Basil Foam Soup,amuse-bouche of tempura shrimp with chili sauce and filet steak, Vivendo is one of Algarve’s most highest ranked restaurants and you even get the chance to speak to the chef during or after your meal, who according to reviews is very friendly and exquisitely talented.
Epic Sana Algarve:Al Quimia: Inspired by the ‘Chemistry of the Middle Ages’ Chef Luis Mourao and his team craft incredible dishes that is fresh and locally sourced. While in part ‘chemistry’ influences the precise aesthetic of the dishes, the menu is largely influenced by ‘creatures of the sea’ with notable mentions include its ‘widely acclaimed’ lobster served with citrus, avocado and wasabi ice cream from its ‘epic experience menu’ and its mackerel with tomato escabeche, tomato and herb slush and 300 wines to choose from that are paired with your meals.
If you would rather sample Portuguese ‘traditional cuisine’ then head on to street stalls which will feature Bolo com prego (steak rolls- sometimes with egg-Ovo), fresh homemade bread and freshly prepared salads with caprese, olive oil, vinergerette and croutons.
Best For Beach Escapes
5.Krakow: 2 to 4 Nights with Return Flights, Auschwitz Tour, and Stay at the 4* Hotel Sympozjum*
Krakow is fast becoming a popular tourist destination spot for culture and history seekers with its ties to World War I and II concentration camps, renowned art galleries like Bunkier Sztuki and cultural opportunities like watching the Street Theatre Festival. But what really stands out about Krakow is how it is more than just your average ‘city break’ but a rich cultural, political and at times haunting experience that will make you question the world around you. Deeply profound, Krakow might be mistaken for being a ‘mere serious city’ with KL Auschwitz as the biggest Nazi concentration and death camp in German-occupied Europe at the forefront of its existence. But what was once a city plagued with sadness and destruction has now blossomed into a charming city that has learned to live once more .
Where To Stay
4* Hotel Sympozjum (As part of the Groupon Voucher which includes an Auschwitz Tour and return flights)
With access to some of the city’s vibrant parks and historic sites such as the Wawel Royal Castle and Wawel Cathedral, boasting 18 chapels, Hotel Symozjum is the ideal location for adventure seekers to lay down their sleepy heads. And if you fancy grub an on-site restaurant serves European cuisine alongside a selection of wines, with special diet menus available on request, while those in need of relaxation can head to Crystal Spa which boasts a Turkish hammam and beauty treatments, available at an extra cost.
Where To Eat
Taste of India: Described as an authentic ‘Indian Restaurant’ in the heart of Krakow, the menu is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diets as well as meat eaters so there is a true range of dishes that are available for any dietary preferences. Stand out dishes for meat eaters include Chicken Tikka Tandoori Sizzlers and spicy chicken curry, while vegetarians like myself can have paneer tikka masala and dal makhani, both common dishes in Indian vegetarian cuisine.
Wierzynek: One of Poland’s oldest restaurants, according to sources, its opening night in 1364 was attended by five kings and nine princes. Although the resturant is now open to all, Wierzynek still gives you the star studded treatment with a high-end menu that is based on the traditional feasting habits of the Polish monarchy. Meat eaters can salivate over Smoked beef tartare with baked yolk with pumpkin –and sous vide egg yolk, while vegetarians can have Goat cheese with rowanberry jam ,pickled onion and spicy apiary honey.
What To Do In Krakow
Go On An Auschwitz Tour And Visit KL Auschwitz I and II concentration camps
While visiting World War I and II camps might not be the most ‘cheery prospect’ for a weekend getaway in Europe, we should not shy away from history that might make us feel ‘uncomfortable’ and instead should pay homage to the three million Polish Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. The horrific genocide ‘officially sanctioned and executed by the Third Reich’ during World War II, is not an easy narrative to explore in four hours of intense documentaries and tours into Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, but a journey worth taking nevertheless. During your tour you will be given a 15 minute break, so this might be a great chance to jot down any notes or even create an ‘express gratitude journal’ to remind ourselves that we are truly lucky to be alive. And that should be a reminder to be more appreciative of what we do have and not bemoan the ‘trivial things that we don’t have’.
Get Scared In Lost Souls Alley
Not for the faint hearted ‘Lost Souls Alley’ is Poland’s first interactive museum devoted to the basic instinct of fear. Inspired by horror movies, Lost Souls Alley is an immersive haunting experience that chronicles a world best kept underground. Explore the ‘dark side of Karkow’ as you journey through rooms that are haunted by lost souls begging for you to take them back to where they belong. Gasp in fear as you get stuck at the cursed floor at Florianska 6, pissing yourself with fear. Rated as the 6th most popular thing to do in Krakow this one of a kind museum is guaranteed to give you nightmares but if you’re into that then by all means scare yourself shitless. I’m totally down for that.
Rest In Zakrzowek ‘An Old Quarry Of Water’
If watching the world go by is more your idea of fun, then why not take a much needed rest in Zakrowek, surrounded by an old quarry that has been filled with water. Nearby the shouts of excited children and new couples exploring parks together can be heard, but in Zakrzowek, all is calm, is peaceful. The water is lulling and its admirable ‘certificate of excellent status’ demonstrates why it remains so popular with Tourists and locals alike. For a truly spectacular day, make sure you grab some food from Old Town and pack yourself a picnic basket to eat once you are in Zakrzowek. Not only is the water crystal clear , but it is also frequented by divers and swimmers who can relax in the tranquil waters. You might even spot a flamingo float or two as well!
Enjoy A Stroll In Planty Park
What was once a murky moat has now been transformed into a stunning open green space, only 15 minutes away from Old Town, Krakow. Surrounded by lush green vegetation like trees, flowers, benches, and statues, Planty Park offers a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city crowds, with ample opportunity to catch up on some reading, paint or even dabble in nature photography. And if castles are your thing, then Wawel Castle near the beginning of the park is guaranteed to make all your magical dreams come to life. With acres of gardens and a scenic walkway, perhaps the most charming feature of the park is the two owl statues perched precociously overlooking all its curious visitors. It is rather cute I must admit and that is coming from a jaded cynic like me!
Enjoy A Polish Folklore Show and Dinner in Krakow
While folk shows might not be as frequent as they once was, they are nevertheless still a fascinating tradition to observe. In Poland, folk culture is still common, with dinners and dances while locals and tourists can enjoy the countries colourful costumes and longtime traditions. If you are after an authentic ‘folklore experinece then why not have an evening f delicious Polish food and folklore with a dinner show at Michalik’s Cave in Krakow. Formerly frequented by the city’s bohemian crowd, settle into the artsy atmosphere and enjoy a folk music concert and dance show, with a folkloric twist. Afterward, savor an authentic, 2-course meal of regional specialties, with vegetarian options available on request.
Best For History & Culture Seekers
Where Would You Go On A Weekend Getaway In Europe And Why?
Please note this is a collaborative post with Groupon but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.