Categorie
capitals Stockholm

10 things to do and see in Stockholm

Probably you do not have many information about this city, you just know something about the beauty of this wonderful place and it is precisely for this reason that you will be impressed by its incredible charm. A picturesque Old Town, parks, canals, architecture and design are the characteristic of Stockholm with a strong maritime features  and international atmosphere.

Take a boat to go across the city and to visit parks, museums and ancient buildings. It will be something you will love to do in Stockholm, where 19 hours of sunlight a day, from May to July, will let you stay outside until late, without even noticing the time passing.

In this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during a trip to Stockholm.

If you are looking for a hotel in Stockholm, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 130 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Gamla Stan in Stockholm

1

Right here, in one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centres in Europe, was founded in 1252 the city of Stockholm. Walking through the characteristic and picturesque Gamla Stan area you will discover restaurants, monuments, shops and many other places that will tickle your fantasy and curiosity.

Gamla Stan in Stockholm
Gamla Stan in Stockholm

The particular cobbled streets with the yellow houses, are the business card of a unique area of its kind. The main tourist attraction of Gamla Stan is the Royal Palace, one of the largest buildings in the world, that with its 600 rooms, hosts interesting museums such as the Livrustkammaren, the Royal Armoury, which contains armor and royal robes. Among the most important streets of the neighbourhood, Västerlånggatanand Österlånggatan, were erected the walls that surrounded the city in the past. In Gamla Stan there is also  the oldest square in Stockholm, Stortorget, and always from here begins the oldest street of the city, the Köpmangatan. In winter, when the snow lays down gently on the roofs of the house, Gamla Stan becomes the perfect setting for a beautiful book of fairy tales.

The Vasa Museum in Stockholm

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The only ship of  XVII century on earth is right in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. The flagship Vasa is constituted by 95% of authentic pieces and is decorated with hundreds of carved sculptures.

The Vasa Museum in Stockholm
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm

The ship with its 69 meters long occupies a large part of the museum. In 1628, during his first maiden voyage, the ship sank in front of the coastline of Stockholm and was restored only in 1961, well after 333 years. It took fifty years to restore it in a careful and precise way to its former grandeur. The three trees on the outer roof of the structure was built just to accommodate the vessel, showing the height of the original trees. To learn more about the secrets of the flagship Vasa you can visit the nine different exhibitions that illustrate the ways of life on board and see the movie on the ship screened in 16 languages.

Where: Galärvarvsvägen 14, on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm.
How to get there:
Subway: Karlaplan stop
Tram: 7 from SergelsTorg / Hamngatan stop NordiskaMuseet / Vasamuseet
Bus: 69 stop Djurgårdsbron; 67 stop NordiskaMuseet / Vasamuseet.
When: From 2 January to 31 May and from September 1 to December 30:  10 am – 5 pm , Wednesday 10 am – 8 pm ; from 1 June to 31 August: 8.30 am – 6 pm  31 December: 10 am – 3 pm.
Never: December 23 to 25; January 1st.
Ticket: Adults: SEK 130
Kids / Children (0-18 years): free
Students (ID required): SEK 100

The Stockholm City Hall

3

Stockholm City Hall is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Swedish style and is dominated by three golden crowns, the symbol of the power of Sweden.

The Stockholm City Hall
The Stockholm City Hall

Designed by architect Ragnar Östberg and opened the evening of the summer solstice of 1923, the Town Hall is made up of eight million bricks and inside stand out the wonderful GylleneSalen, the Golden Hall, completely decorated with mosaics from 18 million gold cards, and the fresco of Prins Eugen, which depicts the view of the lake that can be seen from the gallery.

In the council chamber are settled meetings of the City Council of Stockholm and always within the walls of City Hall is held the grand reception of the Nobel Prizes. At the end of the visit, which can be realized only with an organized tour, you can have fun at the gift shop of the City Hall which presents a particular gadget and gifts.

Where: Hantverkargatan
How to get there:
Subway: Rådhuset stop (blue line)
Bus: 3 and 62 stop Stadshuset
When:
Tower: 10 am 4.30 pm . Organized tours: 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm; September-May 10 am 12 pm.
Ticket:
From April to October: adults 100 SEK; children aged 12 to 19 years 40 SEK; children up to 11 years free
From November to March: adults 70 SEK; children aged 12 to 19 years 20 SEK; children from up to 11 years free

ModernaMuseet in Stockholm

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The Spanish architect Rafael Moneo designed the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm in the wonderful natural scenery of Skeppsholmen. The charming island of Skeppsholmen located amongGamla Stan, the old town, and the island of Djurgården, is connected to the mainland by a bridge and make your visit to the museum even more impressive.

Moderna Museet in Stockholm
Moderna Museet in Stockholm

The Museum of Modern Art will offer you one of the most beautiful collections of art from the twentieth century to the present day, with the masterpieces of the great masters such as Dali, Picasso, Matisse and Derkert. Besides the prestigious collections of these illustrious geniuses and the temporary exhibitions, the museum will take you to discover contemporary art and modern classics. The museum also offers to its visitors a restaurant from which you can admire the beautiful view of Strandvägen, one of the most beautiful streets of the Swedish capital, and a cute gift shop. Kids will not get bored at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm thanks to a dedicated laboratory.

Where: Skeppsholmen island
How to get there: few minutes by feet  from the train station and from the bus.
When: Tuesday, 1 am to 8 pm 0; Wednesday– Sunday 10 am to 6 pm
Never: Monday
Ticket: 80 Kr full ticket, 60 Krreduced ticket

Skansen in Stockholm

5

One of the most beloved places is Skansen, the ideal place for a nice night out with family and friends.

Skansen in Stockholm
Skansen in Stockholm

At Skansen you can admire the oldest open-air museum in the world and the Stockholm zoo. Take a nice walk through the historic buildings of Sweden in miniature and  get the feeling of living into a hypothetical “neverland” between the glass-blowing workshops, those dedicated to ceramics, the workshops used for metals and bakeries. You will be enchanted by the particular eighteenth-century church made by Seglora wood, the yellow villa Skogaholm and the square of the Bollnästorget market. Don’t miss the Nordic animals at the zoo where you can see, bears, lynx, elk, wolves, seals.

In  Skansen are celebrated the traditional holidays such as as Walpurgis Night, the summer solstice and Saint Lucia. But it really worth to see this extraordinary place during Christmas time when, completely covered by snow, there are many events such as the market and the traditional buffet.

Where: Djurgården
How to get there:
Bus: 44
Tram: 7
When: From 10 am to 8 pm , it may change on the basis of the different seasons
Ticket: From 100 to 170 SEK, on the basis of the different seasons

The Drottningholm Castle in Stockholm

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The complex of the Drottningholm Palace, with Drottningholm Theatre, the Chinese Pavilion and the wonderful park, is one of a kind.

The Drottningholm Castle in Stockholm
The Drottningholm Castle in Stockholm

The Drottningholm Palace, dating back the seventeenth century, is the best preserved royal palace in Sweden since 1981 and is the permanent home of the royal family which occupies the south wing of it. So don’t be worry about it, you can enjoy the beauty of the castle because the park and almost all the rooms of the palace are open to the public throughout the year. Drottningholm was the first monument of Sweden to be declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1991 thanks to the beauty of the castle, but also the eighteenth-century theater, and beautiful gardens in Baroque style. To get to the Drottningholm Palace will have to use the boat and cross the lakeMälaren.

Where: About 11 km far from the center
How to get there:
Subway: Brommaplanstop and then bus 301 or 323
Bus: 177 or 178 stop Drottningholm
When: From 10 am to 3.30 pm ; Weekends: 1 to 3.30 pm; never: 14 and 30 December
Ticket: Adults: SEK 120
Students: SEK 60
Children: up to 17 years old free entrance

Things to buy in Stockholm

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In each area of Stockholm you can find different shopping features: there are neighbourhoods where you can have  luxury shopping and others where you can find radical shopping. Östermalm is the most elite area of Stockholm where there are the most famous and exclusive international brands. You can start your luxury shopping in the famous atelier of Filippa K or Armani along the Biblioteksgatan, but if you love the pieces of furniture you cannot miss  the classic shops SvensktTenn and Malmstenbutiken. In the area of Drottninggatan and SergelsTorg and Kungsträdgårdenneighborhoods shopping becomes more popular and accessible to all: clothing chains and shopping centerseverywhere. Purchases and extravagant shopping instead in the Södermalm area where fashion shops, interior design, design and vintage items are all original and trendy.

Things to eat in Stockholm

8

The strength of Stockholm cuisine is made by international dishes and traditional Swedish cuisine.

Things to eat in Stockholm
Things to eat in Stockholm

In this way are mixed ancient and modern flavours with experimental recipes. The numerous and cozy restaurants of the city create elaborate and amazing dishes based on fish and seafood, game and vegetables coming directly from Swedish lands.

There are also many rich buffet, with salmon and herring, that you can enjoy on wonderful terraces overlooking the lake. Whatever your preferences, you should definitely try a traditional Swedish meatballs with blueberriesjam, red or Arcticraspberries: do they seem something risky? Try it and you will not regret!

Nightlife in Stockholm

9

Have you ever heard about Stockholm nightlife? The city is very rich of discos and night clubs where you can dance from jazz to rock music, from pop to hard core, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Many bars are concentrated near Stureplan, in the heart of the city, but also inKungsgatan and Birger Jarlsgatan and the area near the Kungsträdgården park. Almost all the bars are open until 3:00 am, some even up to 5:00 during the week end. Thursday is the day during which the Swedes usually go to discos: they are very crowded and often you have to  wait at the entrance before you can enter.

Where to sleep in Stockholm

10

Stockholm offers a great variety of hotels, hostels and camping to spend your holiday. No matter if it is a ultra-modern design or a creak ship, all accommodations are cozy and comfortable.

Where to sleep in Stockholm
Where to sleep in Stockholm

The service of hotels is always excellent and all the staff communicate with guests in English. Most hotels is 3 or 4 star and usually kids don’t pay. Very interesting and uniqueare  historic houses and castles  mostly located in the countryside, especially in the regions of Sodermanland and Uppland near Stockholm. The city hostels are very comfortable, affordable and clean, but we recommend you to book your place, especially in summer. Campsites are another cheap solution: some are really beautiful, situated near a fjord or equipped with very large green spaces to relax.

If you are looking for a hotel in Stockholm, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 130 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Warsaw

10 things to do and see in Warsaw

The first thing that you’ll see once in Warsaw is the Palace of Culture and Science build during the Socialist period. It’s not representative of the beauty of the Polish city, luckily, and it’s no coincidence that the capital’s residents call it “The Monster.” Before Second World War  this city was called “Paris of the North” but then the war destroyed it. The old town center, fully reconstructed, is a little jewel of colorful façades, streets, hidden squares. There are two main squares downtown: the Market Square, with the Little Mermaid symbol of the city and Castle Square. Just outside the city center, along the ancient “Royal Road”, you can  reach two parks-palace Wilanow and Lazienki, legacy of kings, nobles and wealthy merchants. But these are just some few steps of Warsaw: discover with us the 10 things to do and see during a visit to Warsaw.

If you are looking for a hotel in Warsaw, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 550 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Old Town in Warsaw

1

Completely destroyed during the bombings of World War II, Warsaw’s Old Town (Stare Miasto) was entirely and perfectly rebuilt. The work was done so well that, basically, “copies” are not different from the original and so UNESCO has given to this area  a World Heritage protection.

The Old Town in WarsawThis  tangled maze of narrow streets, squares, noble buildings with colorful façades, will surprise you during the  (few) days of sun and will show you its romantic side during the night. The main points of interest of the Old Town are the Market Square (see point 2),the  Castle Square (See point 4), the Barbican, the churches of St. John and St. Martin.

Market Square in Warsaw

2

The Market Square (Rynek Starego Miasta) has been for centuries the center of Warsaw: market, trade shows, public ceremonies, the city life took place in this great square.

Market Square in WarsawToday is just a meeting point for tourists, attracted by the tables of cafés and restaurants, the gift shops in the alleys. On the four sides of the square there are the colorful houses, entirely rebuilt after the bombings of World War II, and designed by the Italian painter Bellotti. Following the  best tradition of the East countries, the houses have strange names: the Basilisk, the Lion, Golden. At the center of the square there’s the statue of the Little Mermaid, considered the sister of the most famous one in Copenhagen. According to legend, this mermaid lived in the Vistula (river Warsaw) and  annoyed the fishermen. Captured, but later released, by that time she watches over the Polish capital.

Castle Square in Warsaw

3

Castle Square was  a meeting point between the Old Town and the New one. The first castle was built by the Dukes of Mazovia, and over the centuries it was enlarged, plundered, burned, until the total  destruction made by the Nazis.

Castle Square in WarsawThe ruins were left in the square until 1971 when the reconstruction began and ended in 1984. Don’t miss  the collection of paintings with two works by Rembrandt. At the center of the square there’s the column of Sigismund, erected in 1644 in honour of the king who moved the capital from Krakow to Warsaw. From the Square starts the Royal Route that, with a route of 4 km, brought to the old palace of Wilanow (see point 4). The Royal Route is actually made up of three pieces of the road with different names in which there are  Baroque and Renaissance palaces, churches, several monuments, cafés, luxury restaurants and souvenir shops.

Where: Old town
How to get there: by feet
Hours: Every day from 10 am to 6 pm  (until 8 pm in the summer on Wednesday). Never: 1 and 6 January, 1 May, 1 November, 24, 25 and 26 December.
Ticket:  22 zl | 5,35 €. Free entrance on Sunday

Wilanow Palace in Warsaw

4

At the end of the “Royal Route”, just outside the old town, there is the Wilanow Palace  or Villa Nova, beautiful palace called the “Polish Versailles”. Along with the park it’s one of the most beautiful architectural complexes of Poland, also because it wasn’t destroyed by Nazis

Wilanow Palace in WarsawIt was built for the Polish king Jan III Sobieski at the end of 1600 and over the centuries there have been many owners such as kings, nobles and wealthy magnates. The sumptuousness is still evident, with frescoes, antique furniture and a nice gallery of pictures (with a Pietà by Cima da Conegliano). Magnificent the outdoor park with ponds, Italian and English gardens, fountains, statues. Surely the perfect stop during your visit to the several monuments.

Where: Down town centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: 27 January to 27 April and from 29 September to 19 December: 9.30 am – 4 pm . April 28 to September 28 9.30 am  – 6 pm
Ticket 20 zl (5 €). Free entrance on Sunday

The Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw

5

Before the Nazi occupation, 400,000 Jews lived in Warsaw and they represented the second largest community in the world after New York. Since 1940, the area where the Jews were concentrated was divided into “small” and “big ghetto”.

The Jewish Ghetto of WarsawAmong deaths from starvation, disease, deportations, an indefinite number of Jews died. Inside the Jewish area, almost everything was destroyed. Along the border, where there was the wall built by german people, there are writings in cast iron on the sidewalk. To commemorate the Warsaw of Jews, and to remember what it was, it has been created a Remembrance Street marked by 16 granite blocks and the Monument to the Heroes of the Ghetto representing men, women and children struggling in the flames and a row of Jews going to the concentration camp. In the old ghetto there are just few palaces in Via Prozna: left in ruins, as they were reduced by the  Germans, and on the façades there are  big pictures of Jews living in the ghetto, and killed by the Nazis.

Łazienki Park in Warsaw

6

Łazienki Park is with Wilanow the best building with park in Warsaw. Also this place is located along the “Royal Route” and it have been for centuries the summer residence.

Łazienki Park in WarsawŁazienki today is a museum, a place for events of all kinds and a  place for walks. Wandering through the park you can meet the Palace on the Water, Myślewicki, the White House, the Orangery, temples, statues. A point of the park loved by  Warsaw is the Monument to Fryderyk Chopin, born in the Polish capital, widely considered the prince of romantic music. Under this monument every Saturday and Sunday, there are also concerts of famous pianists. If you visit Warsaw in the spring or summer, don’t miss Łazienki: you will not regret.

Where: Ujazdów
How to get there: by feet
Hours: Every day from sunrise to sunset. The timetables of the buildings may vary with the seasons.
Ticket: Free Entrance to the park. Palace on the Water: 20 zl (5 €). Other palaces 6-10 zl.

The Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw

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Drawn by Stalin himself, this huge building called “The Monster” by the citizens, is a “gift of the Soviet Union to the Polish people.”

The Palace of Culture and Science in WarsawActually we think that the Polish people could do without it, but now that the communist regime is far away, it can be appreciated for what it is: a 42 floors  tower (the highest in Poland), with 3,000 rooms, offices, museums, swimming pool, cinema. The attraction for tourists is a terrace (trzydziestka) at the 30th floor where they can enjoy a unique view over the rooftops of Warsaw and beyond.

Where: plac Defilad 1
How to get there: by feet or by tram
Hours: Every day. Never: 1st January, Easter Sunday, December 25
Ticket: 5 € to reach the terrace

Praga district in Warsaw

8

Many people think that  Prague (the Czech capital) has influenced the name of this district, but it’s not true. The word has its origin from the Polish word prażyć, which means burning or roasting.

Praga district in WarsawTo build Praga, in fact, it was burned an entire forest. It was a really dangerous place until a few years ago, but today Praga district is the trendy district of Warsaw (but be careful). It wasn’t destroyed by the bombings of World War II but became a bad place for many decades. It regained importance when Roman Polanski chose to shoot the film “The Pianist” in 2002. The Jewish Ghetto, where the story takes place, no longer existed and the rest of Warsaw was too new. So he chose the Praga district . Today it’s the  favorite destination for artists, designers, architects and photographers.

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Things to eat in Warsaw

9

The best way to enjoy the cuisine of Warsaw is to eat in a Jadłodajnia, a kind of restaurant that offers traditional cuisine with very low prices or Mlecny Bar, famous during  the old communist regime where the food is self-service and cheap. They are scattered all over the town.

Where to sleep in WarsawWe have to say that Poland is not  famous for its gastronomy but Warsaw, fortunately, is an exception: surely there are no many dishes, and after a few days you might not want to eat meat and potatoes for some months. However, you should taste  Piroghi (ravioli stuffed with cheese, meat or other) barszcz (beetroot soup and ravioli) the chlodnik (a cold soup of sour milk) and bigos, meat stew. All this, of course, accompanied by the excellent Polish beer.

Where to sleep in Warsaw

10

Warsaw has many hotels, hostels and apartments with accessible prices.

With the success of the city with tourists the prices are growing a little bit, but they are still affordable.

Where to sleep in WarsawFor a double in the down town center in a 3-star hotel prices vary from 40 to 80 Euros per night. Hotels are numerous, over 500, but many are in the suburbs. If you have limited time we recommend a hotel in the Old City which will cost a little bit more, but you will save your time.

If you are looking for a hotel in Warsaw, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 550 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Vilnius

10 things to do and see in Vilnius

Vilnuis has one of the best preserved old town centre in Europe and can be considered one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Unfortunately it’s still not considered one of the must see places in Europe and it’s a pity. The Old Town is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the Cathedral Square and the Town Hall, the Jewish Quarter and the “independent republic” of Uzupis. To see all at once the small but perfect city center, you can  climb up to the Hill of Three Crosses or Gedeminas Tower, two symbols of national history. In Vilnius there are many churches and religious places of all worship: don’t miss  the Cathedral, the Church of St. Anne and the Synagogue in the Jewish Ghetto. In this page we suggest 10 things to do and see during a holiday or a weekend in Vilnius.

If you are looking for a hotel in Vilnius, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Old Town in Vilnius

1

About 80 districts, 70 streets and 1.487 buildings concentrated in a little more than 3 square kilometers, make the Old Town (Senamiestis) one of the most beautiful historic centers in Europe.

The Old Town in Vilnius
The Old Town in Vilnius

That’s why it’s protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also characterized by different architectural styles such as Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Neoclassical.

The heart of the Old Town is made by two squares: Cathedral Square (see point 2) and the one of the City Hall, both in the neoclassical style. You’ll admire beautiful views,  but Pilies street, that from 1530 bring to the Castle of Vilnius, offers the most beautiful one. Once it was crossed by the king’s cortège, nowadays there are  tourists looking for souvenirs or some restaurants. In the old town you can admire also the Jewish and Uzupis District  (see points 5 and 7).

The Vilnius Cathedral

2

The Cathedral was built where once there was a  temple dedicated to the god of thunder Perkunas. People says that it was the first place of worship consecrated to Catholicism and  the point from which began the Christianization of Lithuania.

The Vilnius Cathedral
The Vilnius Cathedral

The cathedral, dedicated to Saints Stanislaus and Ladislaus, was built between 1779 and 1793 in Neoclassical style with a portico composed by 6 columns  and a  pediment on which is represented the scene of Noah’s sacrifice back from the flood. The interior is simple, with three naves with vaulted ceilings and the beautiful Baroque chapel dedicated to St. Casimir. Very unique is the bell tower. Between the Cathedral and the Bell Tower there is the Stebuklas (miracle), a stone that according to legend grants the wishes if you turn 3 times around it…

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet

Gediminas Tower and the Vilnius Castle

3

We suggest you to take the cable railway  and then to climb up to the Gediminas Tower, the remains of the ancient Castle of Vilnius.

Gediminas Tower and the Vilnius Castle
Gediminas Tower and the Vilnius Castle

The castle, built in the IX century, was the house of the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1323 but, above all, the fundamental construction of the defensive system of the city. Destroyed by fire in 1400, the remains were devastated. The Tower that you will see now is a reconstruction of 1960 and hosts a museum. The national flag on the roof of the tower has a great symbolic importance for all Lithuanians. Over the centuries, before the Poles, then the Nazis, then the Russians tore it off but the Lithuanians have always raised their flag. From the tower you can admire a wonderful panorama of Vilnius and its surroundings.

Museum

Where: Behind the Cathedral.
How to get there: by   the cable railway  from the river (3 Litas, 1 €)
When – Hours: 10 am -7 pm  from May to September and 10 am -5 pm  October to April
Tickets: 5 Litas (about 1,5 €)

The Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius

4

According to the legend, the Three Crosses in Vilnius are located in the place where a group of French monks were martyred.

The Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius
The Hill of Three Crosses in Vilnius

According to the folk tale, 7 were killed and other 7 were  tied to wooden crosses and thrown into the river, with the recommendation to go back where they came.

The crosses that today are on the hill, are not those of 1400 because they have been destroyed or removed several times, the last time in 1950 by the Soviet regime. These crosses  have been carved in 1989, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Three Crosses Hill is  one of the most beautiful places in Vilnius, not because of the view of the city but because it’s a place of secular devotion turned into a symbol of freedom during and after Communism. The climb to the hill is hard  and can be difficult when it snows or rains.

Where: from Gediminas Tower, across the river and then the forest.
When – Hours: always
Tickets: for free

The Jewish District of Vilnius

5

When in 1941 the Nazis came to Vilnius in the city there were about 40,000 Jews. During that time the city  was also called the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” for the big number of Jewish .

The Jewish District of Vilnius
The Jewish District of Vilnius

When in 1945 the Nazis were sent away  by the Red Army, in Vilnius remained a few hundred Jews, almost all survived because they run away into the woods outside the town.

Until the time of the Nazi invasion, Jews had lived freely in the city, in their own neighbourhood but had not known the ghetto experience. The Nazis, however, built two ghettos to control them better: the Great Ghetto (29,000 Jews) and the Small Ghetto (11,000 Jews). From that moment violence and abuse  happened every day until the final solution of extermination. Most Jews were killed in Paneriai, a forest, about ten kilometres from Vilnius. A large part of the Jewish Quarter palaces, now house some institution  that remind that period: the Jewish Community of Lithuania, the museum dedicated to Vilna Gaon (the famous jew essay around the world) and the monument dedicated to Tsemakh Shabad , the legendary doctor in the ghetto. The Great Synagogue was completely destroyed first by war and then by the Soviets, so you can only visit the beautiful Choral Synagogue in Moorish style.

Church of St. Anne in Vilnius

6

The Church of St. Anne, perhaps the most beautiful one of Vilnius, is the gift that the King Vytautas gave to his wife Anna.

Church of St. Anne in Vilnius
Church of St. Anne in Vilnius

The first building dates back to 1394 but the present church is the result of changes made in 1582 and then in 1900. A fine example of gothic style, the Church of St. Anne is now one of the photographic postcards of Vilnius. The red brick, the two towers, and the façade are an irresistible tourist attraction.

The beauty of the church is the result of an innovative use of architectural elements: those typically Gothic are contained in rectangular frames that give an overall sense of dynamism and order. Built using 33 different types of painted brick, the Church has a baroque interior with a single nave. It seems that Napoleon, during the Russian Military Campaign expressed a desire to “Bring it in France on the palm of his hand”.

Where: At 600 meters from the Cathedral toward Uzupis
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: From May to September 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. From October to April 5:00 to 7:00 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Uzupis District in Vilnius

7

Like Cristhiania in Copenhagen, and (once) Montmartre in Paris, Uzupis is a “Republic” apart, a city within a city. Here live mainly artists and intellectuals and they organize festivals, exhibitions, cultural events, concerts, performances and exhibitions of all types.

Uzupis District in Vilnius
Uzupis District in Vilnius

Uzupis district is the most fashionable and expensive in Vilnius but until a few years ago it was the most dangerous place in the Lithuanian capital. It was precisely the low prices of homes (no one wanted) to attract poor artists in search of accommodation. Since then it has  become a separate place and has even its own constitution, its President and a coin. The Constitution, which you can see posted at the beginning of Paupio Street, contains extraordinary “banalities” that could be an inspiration to many constitutions of other states.

The name Užupis means “place near the river” and, in fact, the district is  directly placed on the Vilnia. One of the two symbolic characters of Uzupis is a bronze mermaid created by sculptor Romas Vilčiauskas. If you want to see it, you have to walk along the riverbank and look for the niche in which it is housed. Always the same sculptor is the author of the statue of the Archangel Gabriel, who plays the trumpet (angel of Uzupis) located in the main square of the district

Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius

8

For those who believe that trips are useful for their personal discovery and growth, a visit to the Museum of Genocide Victims (Genocido Auku Muziejus) is shocking but an inevitable experience.

Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius
Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius

In the former headquarters of the KGB, the notorious secret police of the Soviet regime, was set up this path that tells the dark years of persecution lived by the Lithuanian people. About one million people were deportee in Siberia and never came back.

In the ground floor and the first floor  there’s an  historical journey through the repression suffered by the Lithuanians with pictures, documents, videos, uniforms. The underground is the most shocking place, with prisons, torture and executions chambers.

Where: Auku G2a
When – Hours: From Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 am  to 6 pm.
Tickets: 6 Litas (about 2 euro)

Things to eat in Vilnius

9

The Vilnius kitchen is a successful response to the terrible Baltic climate: potatoes, meat, cheese and vegetables are the basic components of the main dishes of Vilnius.

Things to eat in Vilnius
Things to eat in Vilnius

There will never miss from the menu cepelinai : big potato dumplings stuffed with meat and spices. They are also called Zeppelin to the size and shape, similar to that of the old blimp. To make things even less digestible, the cepelinai are sauteed with bacon, onion and sour cream. Potatoes are the protagonists (kugelis) of potato sausages (vėdarai) and also of the šakotis cake.

The Polish domination over Lithuania is clear  even at the table, with koldūnai, dumplings stuffed with meat, cranberries, cheese or vegetables. Don’t miss the soups, among which the most famous is the unpronounceable šaltibarščiai, made with chard, eggs and cheese. They drink mostly beer produced locally, almost very light.

Where to sleep in Vilnius

10

Vilnius is still a very economical destination with a good range of hotels, B&Bs and apartments for tourists. It’s not difficult to find a room in the Old City for less than 40 euro per night.

Where to sleep in Vilnius
Where to sleep in Vilnius

You can sleep in an excellent 3 star hotel  spending a little more, while with about 100 Euros you can enjoy  super-luxury hotels or 5 star. Of course on weekends and during the high season (from spring to early autumn) there is more demand then we recommend you to book in advance.

If you are looking for a hotel in Vilnius, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Vienna

10 things to do and see in Vienna

Vienna is actually warm, comfortable and friendly even if it’s often described as a cold and boring city. It has a rich cultural life, thanks to some big international museums placed in the residences of the Hapsburg dynasty. The Belvedere, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Albertina, the Schonbrunn Castle, worth a visit even if you are not art lovers. You’ll find some of the most famous works of art in the world, including the Kiss by Klimt. The Royal Palace, the Hofburg, is the “home” in which the kings used to lived and ruled for 600 years the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Cathedral is the religious place where they were crowned, the Crypt their resting place, the Chamber Wonder where they kept their symbols of power. But this is just the beginning: so here are 10 things to do and see during a vacation or a weekend in Vienna.

If you are looking for a hotel in Vienna, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Hofburg Palace in Vienna

1

It’s one of the largest palaces in Vienna, the imperial one, where the Hapsburg family used to live.

Hofburg Palace in Vienna
Hofburg Palace in Vienna

This majestic palace, symbol of elegance and soul royalty, has been the political center of the Austrian Empire. Today it is the residence of the Austrian Federal President. The Imperial Palace is formed by a complex of buildings of different ages and  it extends to an area of about 240,000 square meters (18 wings, 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms).  It houses important historical collections and many cultural institutions such as the Spanish Riding School and  the Austrian National Library.

During the visit you’ll  discover 18 rooms of the Royal Apartments, which are the former private apartments of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth with the original furnishings ( the large audience hall , the emperor’s study, the toilet room , the gym room and bathroom of the Empress, the imperial dining room and frescoed rooms by Bergl).

Moreover there’s the Museum of Silverware of the Court with its sumptuous tableware, precious collections of oriental porcelain, Sevres and Meissen, the solid silver table; the Museum dedicated to Sissi tells the story of the Empress of Austria, one of the most beautiful women of her time, by her youth in Bavaria until her death in 1898.

Inside the Hofburg (the entrance is from the courtyard of the Swiss), there is the Schatzkammer, ie the Chamber of Imperial Treasury that collects the sacred and the profane treasure of the Hapsburgs. The museum contains objects of inestimable value such as: the imperial crown of Rudolf II in gold and sapphires (1602), the mantle and the sword in gold, pearls and rubies (XVIII sec.), the crown of the holy Roman Empire in gold, (962), the coronation mantle of Roger II of Sicily. You can admire also: the Holy Carolingian Lance (XVIII sec.) with a nail of the Passion, the “Bag of St. Stephen”, a Carolingian  reliquary and crucifixes.

Royal Apartments, the Museum of Silverware, Sisi Museum

Where: old town centre
How to get there: MU3 stop Herrengasse; Tram: 1, 2, D, J, stop Burgring; Bus: 2A o 3A, stop Hofburg.
When – Hours: Every day including public holidays from September to June from 9 am to 5:30 pm ; July and August from 9 am to 6 pm
Tickets: € 12.50; Children (6-18 years) € 7.50; students (19-25 years) € 11.50; with Vienna Card € 11.50

Treasure Room

Address: old town centre
How to get there: by feet in the old town centre or MU3 stop Herrengasse; Tram: 1, 2, D, J, stop Burgring; Bus: 2A o 3A, stop Hofburg.
Hours: Wednesday – Monday 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
Tickets: Adults € 12.00; children up to 19 years free entrance

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna

2

Each  year almost three millions of people visit this immense cathedral, masterpiece of Gothic architecture. It’s so high and majestic that you have to raise your eyes up to the sky in order to see it all.

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna
St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna

It has a magnificent roof made by 250,000 colored tiles that form the Austrian emblem, and the elegant bell tower, called Steffl (Stefanino) with its tapering spire. A Renaissance dome covers the north tower (unfinished), and it’s  known for hosting the Pummerein, the bell obtained from the fusion of cannons taken from the Turks during the siege of the city in 1683.

Passing through the Giants Portal (Riesentor) with the twin towers of the Pagans,  you enter into the cathedral. Inside the nave, there’s the stone pulpit in Gothic  – Flemish  style on which are depicted the four Fathers of the Church. Noteworthy: the Chorus of Women with the XV century altarpiece altar of Wiener Neustadt decorated with scenes from the life of Mary; the Choir of the Apostles with the tomb of Emperor Frederick III in red marble; the statue at the base of the organ (1513) by Anton Pilgram.

There are  interesting legends related to some statues: Our Lady of Servants, donated by a noblewoman after wrongly accused her maid of stealing; Our Lady of Pécs capable, they say, to pour tears of sorrow; the crucified Christ with a beard that seems to be true and that, apparently, continues to grow.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet in the old town centre or by MU1,U3 – stop Stephansplatz
When – Hours: Monday – Saturday 6:00 am to 10:00 pm ; Sunday and holidays 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
Tickets: the entrance  is for free, but during religious services people can’t go beyond the initial part of the Cathedral. There are several options for guided tours, rates vary depending on the choice, age and number of participants. Guided tour 5 €

Art History Museum in Vienna

3

The museum is one of the most important in the world for the value of his works. It was commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph to house the vast and rich collections of the House of Hapsburg.

Art History Museum in Vienna
Art History Museum in Vienna

The building has a neo-Renaissance style and houses a remarkable picture gallery, as well as interesting collections, such as the Egyptian and Eastern one, Ancient Art, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, and the Numismatics collection. In particular, on the raised floor there are the Egyptian, Greek and Roman, as well as a collection of plastic and decorative art (crafted sculptures, valuable bronze statues, amazing works of jewelry). The first floor of the museum houses the Gemäldegalerie with many masterpieces of painting, including the ” Allegory of Vermeer painting,” “Lady in Green” by Raphael, Infants paintings of Velasquez, the “Madonna of the Rosary ” by Caravaggio,”Elena Fourment ” by Rubens, several works by Rembrandt, Tintoretto, Tiziano, Dürer, Jacques-Louis David. There is also the collection of works by Bruegel the Elder, among which “the tower of Babel” , “Meeting of Carnival and Lent”, “Return of the Hunters.”

Where: old town centre
How to get there: MU2 stop Museums Quartier, MU3 stop Volkstheater. Tram D, 1.2; 2A bus, 57A.
When – Hours: From June to August every day from 10 am to 6 pm  (on Thursdays from 10 am  to 9 pm); from September to May from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am  to 6 pm  (on Thursdays from 10 am to 9 pm)
Tickets: € 14.00; students under 27 years and over 65 € 11.00; children under 19 years free

Albertina Museum in Vienna

4

This museum houses one of the most complete and prestigious collections in the world of  the graphic art from the XIV century until today, the Graphische Sammlung.

Albertina Museum in Vienna
Albertina Museum in Vienna

The collection counts 50,000 drawings and watercolors and more than a million prints of ancient and modern artists, including Michelangelo, Raffaello, Leonardo, Cranach, Dürer, Rubens, Klimt, Picasso, Goya, Chagall, Monet, Cézanne, Miro, Kokoschka , Rothko, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Richter, Katz, displayed on rotation (if you’re lucky maybe you can admire the famous “Hare” by Dürer, considered the jewel of the museum). The Albertina periodically organizes exhibitions dedicated to one or more famous artists. In addition to the graphic art collection, the  museum also houses a collection of architecture and pictures. Another interesting aspect of the Albertina are the Hapsburg room : 21 beautiful rooms, renovated and furnished, located on two floors of the building that bring the visitor back in time, during the age of Neoclassicism, to admire the private and ceremonial life of  Hapsburg family who lived in the palace.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: MU1, U2, U4 Karlsplatz stop; MU3 stop Stephansplatz
When – Hours: Every day from 10 am to 6 pm (on Wednesdays from 10 am  to 9 pm). Christmas: December 24, from 10 am to 2 pm ; 25, 26, December 31, January 1 from 10 am to 6 pm
Tickets: Adults € 12.90, over 65 € 9.90; students (under 26) € 8.50; children up to 19 years free

The Prater in Vienna

5

After the visit to museums and monuments of the city, no one would ever deny a nice ride in the Prater to anyone! The famous park in the city center is considered one of the ten most beautiful city parks of world.

The Prater in Vienna
The Prater in Vienna

Once it was  an imperial hunting ground, today is the ideal place to have a walk, to do  jogging, cycling or go back and forth  with the small train Liliputbahn.

The initial part is occupied by Volksprater also called “Wurstelprater” (named after a popular Viennese mask), the largest amusement park with over 250 attractions (ranging from nostalgic rollercoaster to the modern flight simulator), and the famous Riesenrad, the Giant Ferris wheel, opened in 1897 (and rearranged in 2008). It’s one of the symbols of Vienna, which allows you to enjoy a beautiful view of the city from a height of nearly 65 meters. You can’t say you’ve been to Vienna if you miss the Big Wheel! Near the wheel there’s the Planetarium which give to people a travel in the starry sky.

Where: Prater Pak
How to get there: MU1 stop Praterstern; bus 80A
When – Hours: Prater park – Every day 24 /7 – Volksprater (Amusement Park) – from 15 March to 31 October from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Tickets: Free entrance . You pay only the attractions .
Ferris wheel: adults € 9.50; with Vienna Card € 8.50; children 3 to 14 years € 4.00; Children under 3 years free entrance

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

6

Schönbrunn Palace is the most famous among the Austrian imperial palaces and one of the most beautiful baroque complexes in Europe. The sumptuous summer residence of the Hapsburgs, whose name apparently derives from a “beautiful fountain” (Schöner Brunnen), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna
Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna

The imposing building with a characteristic yellow color (the so-called yellow Schönbrunn) built by Empress Maria Theresa is surrounded by a large park (120 hectares), designed in the French style and open to the public in 1779. The castle complex houses the royal apartments , the castle Theatre, the oldest theater in Vienna (open only during concerts) and the carriage Museum. The Imperial Tour gives you the chance to visit 22 rooms all furnished in style rococo, while the Grand Tour includes the views of 40 rooms (including the sumptuous apartments once inhabited by Maria Teresa) . The park has many  statues, fountains (impressive the one of Neptune), false ruins of Romanesque style (Roman Ruin), and it’s rich in attractions including the labyrinth, the greenhouse Palm (building of iron and glass) , the largest of its kind in Europe, and the Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in Europe (1752). To enjoy a beautiful view of the park and Vienna we suggest  you to climb on the roof terrace of the portico of the Gloriette built on top of the hill to commemorate the victory over the Prussians in 1757.

Where: outside the old town centre
How to get there:  Subway: U4 – Schoenbrunn; Tram: 10, 58 – Schönbrunn; Bus: 10A – Schönbrunn.
When – Hours: Every day (including holidays) from 1 April to 30 June from 8.30 am  to 5.30 pm ; from 1 July to 31 August from 8:30 am  to 6:30 pm ; from 1 September to 31 October from 8.30 am  to 5.30 pm ; from November 1 to March 31 from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm
Tickets: Imperial Tour (with audio guide): adults € 12.90; Children (6-18 years) € 9.50; students (19-25 years) € 11.90.
Grand Tour (with audio guide): adults € 15.90; Children (6-18 years) € 10.50; students (19-25 years) € 14.60

The Belvedere Palace in Vienna

7

The Belvedere Palace was built between 1714 and 1722 by Prince Eugene of Savoy, the victorious imperial army commander and great art lover. The complex consists of two buildings connected by a beautiful garden on three levels with statues, fountains, baths and stairways: the Lower Belvedere was used  as the summer residence of the Prince, and the Upper Belvedere (Oberes Belvedere), was used for parties and events.

The Belvedere Palace in Vienna
The Belvedere Palace in Vienna

Purchased by the Hapsburgs, the Belvedere was used both as a residence and as imperial gallery. Nowadays  it houses the Austrian Art Gallery divided into three sections: the Museum of Baroque Art (Lower Belvedere), with the works of the most important Austrian Baroque artists such as the statues of the fountain of Providence, the  “Apotheosis of Prince Eugene” of Permoser commissioned by the prince himself (golden Cabinet), and the mysterious physiognomic busts of Messerschmidt (Hall of Grotesques).

The Museum of Medieval Societies (Orangerie) which holds numerous masterpieces:  late – Gothic paintings and sculptures, including the Znaimer Altar, a splendid altarpiece of 1440-50.

The Art Gallery of the XIX and XX century, with the most important national collection of paintings of the XIX and early XX century, among which there are works by Monet, Renoir, Makart, Romako, Waldmüller, Wotruba and masterpieces by Schiele ( “Death and the Maiden”), Kokoschka ( “Mother and Child”), and the famous “Kiss” by Gustav Klimt

Where: outside the old town centre
Hot to get there: By Train: Belvedere Station; S-Bahn:  Quartier Belvedere Station; Tram: D (stop Schloss Belvedere), 18 OR (stop Quartier Belvedere); Bus: 69A (stop Quartier Belvedere); Underground: U1 (Südtirolerplatz stop)

When – Hours:
Upper Belvedere: Every day from 10 am  to 6 pm
Lower Belvedere and Orangerie + Scuderie
Every day from 10 am  to 6 pm; Wednesday from 10 am  to 9 pm
Stables daily from 10 am to 12 pm

Tickets:

Upper Belvedere
Adults € 14.00; over 65 and students under 26 years € 11.50; children under  18 years free; for owners of Vienna Card € 12.50.

Lower Belvedere and Orangerie + Scuderie
Adults € 11.00; over 65 and students under 26 years € 8.50; children under 18 years free; for owners of Vienna Card € 9.50.

Klimt Ticket (+ Upper Belvedere Lower Belvedere)

Adults € 20.00; over 65 and students under  26 years € 17.00; children under  18 years free; for owners of Vienna Card € 16.50

The world of Hundertwasser in Vienna

8

Who was Hundertwasser? Frederick Hundertwasser was a sculptor, a painter and an architect. Hunndertwasser is not common, he’s not trivial neither predictable.

The world of Hundertwasser in Vienna
The world of Hundertwasser in Vienna

The genius of this great Austrian man has built some of the most eccentric and bizarre constructions throughout Europe. In Landstrasse neighborhood, to give value to a run-down area, Hundertwasser has created asymmetrical and colorful houses. Once in the microcosm of Hundertwasser, made of bumps, dizzying spiral staircases and fountains, you’d better to abandon your conventional knowledge of the world because here buildings are not shaped according to rigid models of man, butthey  follow the irregular and sinuous lines of nature.

Where: city center.
How to get there: from  city center by feet
When – Hours: from November to February: from 10.00 am  to 1.00 pm and from 1.30 to 4.00 pm on weekdays, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm  on holidays. from March to October: from 10:00 am  to 5:30 pm  on weekdays, from 1.00 to 5.30 pm on  holidays.
Tickets: free entrance

Things to eat in Vienna

9

The Austrians eat sausages and drink beer in large quantity, but not only that! In Vienna you’ll find many stalls with sausages of all kinds and topped with any sauce, but to taste the typical Viennese cuisine you need to go to other places.

Things to eat in Vienna
Things to eat in Vienna

We  suggest you a series of keywords that will help you to understand the world of Vienna’s specialties: if you want to taste excellent wine and typical dishes you have to look for the signs “Heurigen”. If you want to drink beer, you have to look for  a “bierkolake”  while if you  want to experience the traditional flavors of the region you have to go in a “kekkerkolake”. The soups here are cooked very well: try the Frittatensuppe with omelet strips, and Griessnockerlsuppe with semolina dumplings. Famous goulash, beef or veal stew slightly spicy, usually accompanied by peppers. To end your meal you have to taste a piece of the famous sacher torte!

Where to sleep in Vienna

10

Where will you sleep once in Vienna? No problem:  hotels, B&Bs and apartments are located at any point of the city with moderate prices.

Where to sleep in Vienna
Where to sleep in Vienna

The hotels in Vienna have similar prices and services:  a 2 star hotel will not be very different from one to four stars. This feature is one of the main advantages of accommodation in Vienna and is due to the fact that all the accommodations are clean, cozy, comfortable and equipped with many amenities. If you prefer to sleep in a different solution we suggest you B&Bs where you’ll feel at home, or an apartment, if you want more independence and privacy. The costs are high: for a 3 star hotel in the center the price starts from € 80 and it will be higher if you choose  high class facilities.

If you are looking for a hotel in Vienna, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Tallinn

10 things to do and see in Tallinn

Imagine a city with a medieval village, the red roofs and the old fortified walls, palaces, narrow streets with craft shops, some big  basilica, a castle. This is Tallinn, capital of Estonia, touristic, open and relaxed  destination. It’s small (you can visit it in a few hours) but it has many things to see, that’s why is the ideal destination for a different weekend.

Enjoy the Old City starting from  the Town Hall Square, the must see of any visit in Tallinn. Discover the history of the city through the Vene and Pikk Tänav streets, with the palaces of the ancient guilds and St. Catherine’s Passage, extraordinary work. You can stop to meditate a few minutes in the three churches in the city: the Holy Spirit, S.Olav and Orthodox Cathedral. If you get hungry, you can test the Estonian cuisine with its meat dishes, sauerkraut and potatoes.

And if in a few hours you have seen everything,  you can start again or admire the clear and frozen waters of the Baltic Sea. This scenery will give you the chance to reconcile yourself with nature.

In this page we show you the 10 things to do and see during a visit in Tallinn.

If you are looking for a hotel in Tallin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 1600 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Tallinn Town Hall

1

The Tallinn Town Hall (Raedoka) with the square Raekoja Plats is the heart of the Old Town of the Estonian capital.

The Tallinn Town Hall
The Tallinn Town Hall

It’s not only  the oldest civil building in Tallinn but also the only one in Gothic style in the whole Northern Europe. Built in 1248,  the octagonal tower was added in 1627, on the top of which is proudly shown Vana Toomas (Old Thomas), guardian of the City Hall and the city. Today, the Tallinn Town Hall plays no political-administrative role but hosts events, ceremonies and a museum which tells the story of the city.

Where: Raekoja Plats
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: City Hall: from July 1 to August 31, from 10 am to 4 pm . Sundays excluded. Closed on 14/07 and 24/08.
Ttower: from May 1 to September 15, daily from 11 am  to 6 pm . Closed on 23 and 24/06
Tickets own Hall:  € 4 ; Tower: €  3 . Free entrance with Tallinn Card

The Old Town in Tallinn

2

From 1200 to 1500 Tallinn was a thriving commercial center and the proof in in its Old City. Churches, palaces, the brotherhoods locations, street names, are the same of the past. It’s a must see the Town hall, the most beautiful and important building in Tallinn located in the square

The Old Town in Tallinn
The Old Town in Tallinn

Nearby there’s the Church of the Holy Spirit (Pühavaimu kirik) of the XIV century with an octagonal tower which houses a bell  of the 1433, the oldest one in Estonia. Don’t miss, inside,  the triptych altar by Bernt Notke. The Old Town is surrounded by almost 2 km of walls with 16 of the 46 towers that defended the city. Today many of these have been transformed into hotels, cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy a beautiful view over the rooftops of the capital.

The Kadriorg in Tallinn

3

The Zar “Peter the Great” loved his wife Catherine so much and he gave her the Kadriorg (“Valley of Catherine” in Estonian), a magnificent park with a building just outside the Old Town of Tallinn. His wife used to spend her summer in the elegant red and white residence, inspired by the Italian villas of the ‘700,  after Estonia’s conquest by the Russians.

The Kadriorg in Tallinn
The Kadriorg in Tallinn

During the centuries it had different function, it was also closed and renovated several times, but nowadays the Kadriorg houses two museums: that of Foreign Art (Italian paintings, Russians, Germans, Dutch and Flemish) and KUMU, National Art Museum, which houses the largest collection of Estonian art of the country.

The visit of the  museums allows you to go through the magnificent rooms of the palace such as the Great Hall with the ceiling decorated entirely around the theme of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Where: A. Weizenbergi
How to get there: by feet in the old town
When – Hours:  From May to September: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm ; Wednesday 10: 00 am -8: 00 pm . From October to April: Wed 10: 00 am -8: 00 pm ; Thu-Sun 10:00 am -5:00 pm
Tickets: adults € 4.50; reduced € 2.50. Mikkel Museum: adults € 2.50; reduced € 1.50.
Kadriorg Palace + Mikkel Museum: adults € 4.80; reduced € 2.90. Free entrance with Tallinn Card

The Basilica of St. Nicholas in Tallinn

4

Not far from the Old Town Square there’s one of the oldest places of worship in Tallinn, the Basilica dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari. Nowadays the church in Orthodox style is  known much more as a museum of religious art and an auditorium with perfect acoustics where you can enjoy concerts of classical music.

The Basilica of St. Nicholas in Tallinn
The Basilica of St. Nicholas in Tallinn

Inside the museum don’t miss the main altarpiece (XV century) by the Lübeck master, the late Gothic altarpiece dedicated to St Mary, and, above all, the “Danse Macabre” by Bernt Notke: one of the masterpieces of Estonia’s art, even though you might not like to see some skeletons dancing with the Pope, the Emperor King, the Bishop and a young woman!

Where: Niguliste
How to get there: by feet in the old town
When – Hours: From Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am  to 5 pm.
Tickets: Adults € 3.50; children € 2.00. Free entrance with Tallinn Card

The Orthodox Church in Tallinn

5

This church is definitely one thing to see during your visit in Tallin, but you have to know that the inhabitants of the Estonian capital don’t like this cathedral dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky Yaroslav.

The Orthodox Church in Tallinn
The Orthodox Church in Tallinn

From the top of Toompea Hill ,this church overlooks Tallinn, and that was the will of the Russian : a church close to the statue of Martin Luther. There were many  symbolic reasons to place it: it meant that the Russian Orthodox Church was more powerful than the Lutheran one; that the Russians had conquered Estonia and controlled them from the above. So this beautiful Orthodox Cathedral is deeply hated for many reasons, and for years the residents of Tallinn have asked (in vain) to demolish it. If you are lucky to go there just before a Mass, you can hear the 11 bells ringing together in a perfect way.

Where: of Toompea Hill
How to get there: by feet from the old town or by public transport
When – Hours: everyday 8 am – 7 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Vene and Pikk Tänav street in Tallinn

6

Tallinn has a small historic center and you’ll pass throught  the two most famous streets of the capital more than one time : the Pikk Tänav and Vene. In the Pikk Tänav street there are the buildings that housed the guilds, corporations of merchants citizens.

Vene and Pikk Tänav street in Tallinn
Vene and Pikk Tänav street in Tallinn

Don’t miss the big Guild (No. 17) and that of St. Olaf (No. 24), the oldest in the city, and the Renaissance building of the House of Blackheads, which takes its name from its patron San Maurizio, who converted to Christianity and for this was persecuted. At number 71 there is the most beautiful building, a Gothic complex known as the Three Sisters. You should visit  the St. Olav’s Church too , at the crossroad with the Lai. The other most famous street is the street Vene, with the passage of St Catherine, a small street with arcades with ancient buildings and craft shops.

The Toompea Hill in Tallinn

7

If you want to enjoy a beautiful view of the rooftops in  Tallinn you have to a climb towards the hill of Toompea, Estonia’s mythical place.  According to legend it was  built stone by stone by princess Linda to bury his heroic commander Kalev. You can get there in two ways: the Jalg Pikk (Long Leg), a ramp protected by walls and defended by a fortified gate or the stone stairs of Luhike Jalg (Short Leg).

The Toompea Hill in Tallinn
The Toompea Hill in Tallinn

Once on top you can visit the remains of the Castle, the Orthodox Cathedral Alexander Nevsky and Toomkirik, the oldest church in Estonia which gives its name to the hill. It has always been the political center of the Baltic country, and today the hill houses the Parliament building and the government.

Defensive Towers in Tallinn

8

The names will seem strange to you, but as always, everything has an explanation. The defensive walls (almost intact) were built to defend Tallinn during the centuries more dangerous than ours.

Defensive Towers in Tallinn
Defensive Towers in Tallinn

Nowadays there are just twenty towers, almost all used as restaurants, hotels, and museums. The two most famous are “the Fat Margaret” (Paks Margareeta) and “Peek in the Kitchen” (Kiek in de kök).

The first is named after the squat shape due to the thickness of the walls of almost 5 meters. The second is called in this way for its height that allowed the guards to peek into the homes of the people. A place of honor has also  “Pikk Hermann”, which from the top of Toompea Hill has the task and the honor to wave the Estonian flag.

Things to eat in Tallin

9

We have to be honest: from an aesthetic point of view, the Estonian cuisine may not be very inviting. Normally it’s difficult to identify at first what you have on the table, so before you choose it, you’d better  to know what you are ordering.

Things to eat in Tallin
Things to eat in Tallin

On the menu you will find almost always these words:

Marineeritud angerjas: marinated eel in pieces

Keel hernestega: ox tongue

Sült: Boiled pork gelatin. For pigs they means bones, legs and head.

Verivorst: black pudding sausage and berry jam

Mulgikapsad: sauerkraut stew and pork served with boiled potatoes.

Silgusoust: sprat (fish) of the Baltic with bacon.

Karask: sweet with barley bread.

Kali: Estonia coke non alcoholic.

Vana Tallinn liqueur that local put it everywhere with the excuse that it’s cold.

After that, head isu! that is, Bon appetit as the Estonians use to say.

Where to sleep in Tallinn

10

Tallinn offers a good choice of hotels in all categories even if it’s a small capital

Where to sleep in Tallinn
Where to sleep in Tallinn

Prices start from 60 Euros for a double room in a 2 or 3 star hotel, but if you choose well you could find great opportunities for the hotel  in the center at the same price. Our advice is to choose a hotel in the Old Town, so you can move by feet  and without using bus or taxi.

If you are looking for a hotel in Tallin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 1600 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Reykjavík

10 things to do and see in Reykjavík

When you think about Reykjavík what is the first thing that pops in your mind? The elves, the singer Bjork, the mischievous volcanoes? Right, but it’s not enough.

Reykjavík, the “smoking bay” founded by the Vikings, is a small, cosmopolitan capital, hot and cold at the same time. On one side you’ll find the energy of theatres, galleries and events, on the other one the calm of warm pools used like cafés : the Icelanders use to meet there  to relax and to gossip  happily soaking in hot water after a  workday.

Reykjavík  is surrounded by white snow-covered plateaus  as a crown, but its spirit is not cold. It offers many things to do and see and  it’s surprisingly crowded along the streets of downtown in the evening.

But it’s true that it’s cold, and therefore houses, shops and hotels are warm and welcoming, with large windows from which you can see the Icelandic design: essential,  natural and irresistibly cool. So here’s our 10 things to do and see in Reykjavík.

If you are looking for a hotel in Reykjavík, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 170 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík

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Oliafus Eliasson designed and  built in 2011, this futuristic glass building overlooking the bay of Reykjavík which is visible from a distance and during the night, thanks to the multi-colored lights reflected on the water and the surrounding landscape.

Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík
Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík

The particular shape of the Harpa remembers basalt columns so common in Iceland and the tribute to the land is also reflected in its function: the Harpa Concert Hall hosts Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Opera, artistic events and small concerts. You can follow a guided tour or enter for free: inside you will find two restaurants with Icelandic dishes, and three stores in which look for the best music and the Icelandic literature.

Where: Reykjavík harbour
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Guided tours from May 15 to August: daily at 09:00 am ; 11:00 am ; 1:30 pm ; 3:30 pm
From September to May 15: daily at 3:30 pm ; on weekends at 11:00 am and 3:30 pm
Tickets: 1.750 Kr

Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík

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The famous Blue Lagoon, or Bláa Lónið in Icelandic, is a must for anyone visiting Reykjavík. Nestled in a unique setting, the lava expanse of Svartseng, the Blue Lagoon is located about 45 minutes from Reykjavík. It’s named after the incredible blue color  of the water, caused by microorganisms that reflect light in this unique ecosystem. Relaxing  in these waters restores the body and spirit: it’s cold outside, but the water temperature is around 38 degrees,  and the you’ll see nothing than smokes and black rocks.

Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík
Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík

The geothermal water in the lagoon is good for your skin and is curative: its virtues depend on the minerals dissolved in the water, in particular silicon, which applied on the body like mud makes the skin smooth and fresh. In addition to the lagoon, the complex includes a spa area with sauna and turkish bath, beauty and spa treatments, a snack bar, locker rooms, a relaxation area with solarium indoor and an Icelandic specialty restaurant

Where:  45-minute from Reykjavík
How to get there: By car or bus from Reykjavík and from Keflavik Airport with Bus Travel companies, Iceland Excursions, Reykjavík Excursions.
When – Hours: Every day from 9 am  to 9 pm , July and August until 11 pm
Tickets: adult ticket 40 Euros, children 13-19 years 50%, children free. The ticket includes the use of the lagoon, sauna and turkish bath, thermal mud, locker room with showers and hairdryers, access to the solarium

The Geysir in Reykjavík

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Did you know that the word “geyser”  derived from Icelandic geysir? It’s an experience to do at least once in life, and Reykjavík is the place. Imagine a barren and rocky land, nestled among mountains and volcanoes, covered with icy lichens. At the center, scattered in fairly small area, round puddles of water gurgling rhythmically, like waves on the shoreline.

The Geysir in Reykjavík
The Geysir in Reykjavík

Suddenly in a pool water there’s  a bubble, and a moment later a vapor high column explodes into the sky, and then returns quietly underground. The eruption of a geyser is the power of nature in its primary elements. The geyser area is located about 100 km from Reykjavík, in the valley of Haukadalur, and is part of the “golden circle”, a tourist route that includes waterfalls Gullfoss and Thingvellir Park.

The geyser area is fenced because of the  boiling water that flows from pools before and after eruption: we advise you to walk with caution.

Where: 100 km from Reykjavík
How to get there: by car or bus
When – Hours: Every day from sunrise to sunset

Whales Watching in Reykjavík

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Whale watching in Reykjavík is a must – do; first of all because the chances of sighting are very high, especially in the summer with 90% of success, then it’s the best way to protect these animals  from extinction, and finally because it’s a great  experience.

Whales Watching in Reykjavík
Whales Watching in Reykjavík

Among the whales that inhabit the area there are the killer whale, the minke whale, the humpback whale and several species of dolphins.

The boats depart from the old harbor of Reykjavík and stop  in the whale watching points. The tour lasts about 4 hours and we suggest you to  bring binoculars and / or camera and cover you well both in summer and winter: on board you will find waterproof suits to wear to enjoy the view of the bay or (if you are lucky) of the whales, without suffering too much the cold.

But which company to choose? Simple: choose a Icewhale certified operator, which guarantees responsible conduct, the least impact on the natural habitat. Often on board there are one or more marine biologists who take advantage of the “transition” to analyse the human impact on the habitat of the whales. And if you see nothing? The company gives you a tribute ticket valid for two years for another excursion

Where: Reykjavík’s Old Harbour
How to get there: Boats from Reykjavík’s Old Harbour
When – Hours: All the year at least two trips per day, from June 15 to July 31, night excursions too.
Tickets: Adults (12 +) 60 Euros approximately, children:   for free under 12 years.

The valley of Laugardalur in Reykjavík

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The Laugardalur Valley is located a few km from the center of Reykjavík and is a true entertainment and sports complex, which also includes public pools and family park with aquarium and zoo, botanical garden, hostel and camping.

The valley of Laugardalur in Reykjavík
The valley of Laugardalur in Reykjavík

The Laugardalur valley is the perfect destination for young people, children and families: you’ll find many geothermal pools, indoor and outdoor saunas, water slides, children’s area and a big zoo with lots of activities for the little ones. And not far away there is a building that houses some of the monumental sculptures of Ásmundur Sveinsson, one of the pioneers of Icelandic sculpture. The center also hosts concerts, events and exhibitions, and includes ice rink and sports arena.

Where: few km far from Reykjavík
How to get there: Bus from Reykjavík station: lines 12 and 14
When – Hours:  public pools: Monday to Friday from 6.30 am to 10 pm ; Saturday and Sunday from 8 am  to 10 pm .
Family park: August 18 to May 30 every day from 10 am to 5 pm ; May 31 to August 18 daily from 10 am  to 6 pm
Tickets public pools: adults (18+) about 4 euro; children under 18 years 1 euro. The ticket includes access to all pools.
Family Park: about 5 € adults, children 5-12 years about 4 €, children under 4 years old, retired and disabled free entrance

Þingvellir Park

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The Þingvellir Park is located about 45 km from the Icelandic capital and is a beloved place by Icelanders, as here, around 930 AD, was founded the oldest parliament in the world and always here on  July 17, 1944, Icelanders celebrated independence from Denmark.

Þingvellir Park
Þingvellir Park

The park is on the UNESCO national heritage list and today and is one of the most visited destinations for the beauty of the area, the silence and the total absence of light pollution, which makes it an ideal stop for the famous Northern lights. The park offers various activities, including camping, diving, walking and horse, and a multimedia exhibition. The park can be reached by car or bus and is a perfect destination for a day trip.

Where: In the southwestern part of the island, about 50 km from Reykjavík.
How to get there: On the circular Highway 1, take the road 36 (Þingvallavegur)
When – Hours: June – August
Tickets: free entrance

National Museum in Reykjavík

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The  National Museum in Reykjavík preserves the history of Iceland from the so-called Age of Settlement, 800 A.D. approximately, to the present day, through a permanent collection divided into several themes: work and lifestyle, housing, crafts and language and social life.

National Museum in Reykjavík
National Museum in Reykjavík

In addition, the museum houses a photo exhibition, events and festivals throughout the year. The permanent collection includes about 2,000 objects from the late ninth century to the present and about 1,000 photographs of the last century, and it’s structured as a journey through time: starting from Viking ships that sailed the seas and arriving at the airport.

Don’t miss a bronze statue dating back to the year 1000 A.D. and that could depict Thor or Christ : the doubt arises from the object that has in his hands, which seems to be both  the hammer of Thor and  the Christian cross.

Where: The museum is located near the university and is within close to the center of Reykjavík
How to get there: A few minutes by feet  from the center of Reykjavík, or by bus: lines 1,3, 6, 11, 12 and 14.
When – Hours: 1 May to 15 September every day from 10 am to 5 pm.
From September 16 to April 30 every day, except Mondays, from 11 am  to 5 pm.
Tickets: Adults (18 +) about 10 euro; children under 18 years old, adults over 67, students, disabled, and groups from 10 people  about 5 euro.

Things to eat in Reykjavík

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The special taste of traditional Icelandic food is influenced by the centuries – old struggle to preserve food as long as possible throughout the winter. Meat and fish were dried, salted, smoked or preserved in serum also for 3 or 4 months. They pretty much used all parts, and that’s why among the Icelandic delikatessen you can find shark meat, liver pudding, smoked lamb and even mutton testicles.

Things to eat in Reykjavík
Things to eat in Reykjavík

But if you want to try something more soft we recommend you the lamb soup, seasoned with vegetables and paprika, the flatkaka, tasty oatmeal pancakes with butter and hangikjot, meat of smoked lamb and served in thin slices, or one snacks based on fish: lax (salmon) and bread. For the rest, like all European capital Reykjavík it offers a wide choice of ethnic cuisine, from sushi to pizza, vegan dishes, in every corner you will find a restaurant which suits your budget and your imagination.

Reykjavík nightlife

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Reykjavík is a vibrant and very busy night capital. Along the streets of downtown there are cafés, clubs with live music, and the evening doesn’t start before midnight. After midnight, then, you will see young and old people in the streets. The cost of alcohol is higher than in other cities, but in most clubs there’s free entrance and you can book a table and receive a free bottle. The musical and cultural tradition is vibrant also during the night:  you will find concerts and live music of every kind. Generally the kitchen closes around 23. Reykjavík’s places  are soundproofed, crowded and often on two floors, with windows overlooking the street. Here is the guarantee that the people of elves and Vikings know how to enjoy life.

Where to sleep in Reykjavík

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Reykjavík is a very cheap destination: the hotel cost about 80 Euros in the high season, and you can barely get a room with shared bathroom in a 2 star hotel.

Where to sleep in Reykjavík
Where to sleep in Reykjavík

The equivalent of a 3 star Italian will start from 120 euro. There is also a wide range of hostels, apartments and guesthouse but always with high prices. You can save a lot in May and September and by booking in advance for the high season

If you are looking for a hotel in Reykjavík, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 170 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Prague

10 things to do and see in Prague

Prague is a “magic city” at the center of Europe. The whole history of Prague can be told through legends: the same name (Praha) “threshold” recalls the foundation of the city wanted by Princess Libuse, a wise woman of great beauty with mysterious magical powers. So begins the magical story of Prague, with big and small legends, including the most famous of Rabbi Loew and his golem, terrible monster created to defend the Jews of Prague from persecution.

In addition to these legendary and magic tales (for those who believe), Prague offers much more reasons to visit it: it’s a welcoming capital, secure, well preserved, with monuments, history and beauty, and a nightlife with no limits. The prices of the hotels in Prague are still accessible. For this reason we suggest you to plan your trip with our guide and discover the 10 things to do and see during a weekend or a holiday in Prague.

If you are looking for a hotel in Prague, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Prague Castle

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Anyone who has read Kafka, will recognize in the Castle the disturbing presence of almost all the novels of the great writer. A symbol of power, the Prague Castle  seems to be threatening and inaccessible

The Prague Castle
The Prague Castle

Long steep roads, including the beautiful and hard Nerudova Street, will let you  discover  this place where since many  centuries mingle history and legend, sacred and profane things. St. Vitus Cathedral, the symbol of the Czech religiosity, coexists with the Golden Alley, where alchemists wanted by Rudolf II were looking for the elixir of life and the magic formula to turn base metals into gold.

How to get there: Tram 22 and then walk or Nerudova Street
When – Hours: From April 1 to  31 October from 5 am until midnight.
Tickets: 350 CZK , about 12 euro. The visit to the gardens is for free

Malá Strana in Prague

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Malá Strana in Czech means “Little section” and is the name which, since the ‘300 is identified this part of Prague toward Nove Mesto, the New Town. Destroyed in 1541 by a great fire, it was rebuilt by Italian artists and architects, who gave it its current Baroque and Renaissance appearance.

Malá Strana in Prague
Malá Strana in Prague

Still intact, Malá Strana is a small gem with small squares, beautiful buildings and romantic corners. The Church of St. Nicolas (in Prague there are two) divided into two sides  Malá Strana and on the whole district there is the imposing Castle, which can be reached by climbing  beautiful (and steep) panoramic stairs.

The Old Town of Prague

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After Malá Strana, the other great historic neighborhood is Stare Mesto, which in Czech means Old Town. The center of the district is the Old Town Square, which has always been the place of important events in Prague: from coronations of kings to the executions of the condemned people.

The Old Town of Prague
The Old Town of Prague

This troubled history is found mainly in the many architectural styles that you can find in the square, although the appearance is always balanced. Today the main attraction is the astronomical clock of the Town Hall that every hour gives “life” to the statues that move and chase each other in an ancient ritual. Another great monument not to be missed is Church Týn and its the gothic spiers.

The St. Vits Cathedral in Prague

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Among the walls of Prague Castle stands this beautiful Gothic cathedral, one of the largest in Europe:

The St. Vits Cathedral in Prague
The St. Vits Cathedral in Prague

it’s 124 meters long, 60 wide and 33 meters high. Arriving at the castle after visiting Malá Strana, the first thing you’ll notice is the contrast between the Baroque of the lower quarter and the typical pointy spiers of the Cathedral. The interior is beautiful and uniform, although the constructions lasted  six centuries. We suggest you to visit the Chapel of St. Wenceslas, the underground crypt with tombs of Bohemian kings and the treasure with jewels for the coronation of kings.

Where: Prague’s Castel
When – Hours: From March to October, from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm . Sunday from 12 to 5 pm . From November to February from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 4 pm . Sunday from 12 to 4 pm.
Tickets: 350 CZK, about 12 euro. Cumulative ticket for all monuments of the Castle.

The Josefov, the Jewish Ghetto of Prague

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The disordered tombs of the Jewish cemetery are perhaps the most exciting show in Prague. They tell the story of Josefov, Prague’s Jewish ghetto, close to the Old Town Square, where the city’s Jews have lived from 900 to 1708.

The Josefov, the Jewish Ghetto of Prague
The Josefov, the Jewish Ghetto of Prague

Forced to live within a few square kilometers, the Jews have learned to use every little space, creating a kind of labyrinth in which private houses, shops and workshops were confused.

Here lived rabbi Low and his legendary Golem, Franz Kafka and 77,279 Czech Jews and Moldovans massacred by the Nazis. Don’t miss the Jewish ghetto, even if you have little time to visit Prague.

Dancing House in Prague

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One of the things you have to see during a visit to Prague is the Dancing House, an extraordinary building dedicated to the great dancing couple formed by Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

Dancing House in Prague
Dancing House in Prague

Fred and Ginger, in fact, is one of the names that were given to this palace on the bank of the Vltava built from 1992 to 1996. Designed and built by architect F.O Gehry (the same as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao) is formed by two palaces that look like a dancing couple. One of the buildings stretches out towards the other, which is waiting for the other’s embrace. On the top floor there is a French restaurant which offers great views of the Moldava.

Where: Jiráskovo nám. 1981/6

Things to eat in Prague

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The long walking tours to visit Prague is a good excuse to justify to yourself the calories of typical Prague cuisine. You won’t be able to resist to restaurants (Restaurace), taverns (hostinec) and bars (pivnice) on the tourist routes of the old town.

Things to eat in Prague
Things to eat in Prague

Try the pork (vepřové) served roast (Vepřová vecene) and accompanied by dumplings leavened (knedliky), potatoes (brambory) or sauerkraut (kysele Zeli). The most popular dessert, for sale on every corner, it’s the crepe  (palačinky) with jam (džem), chocolate or strawberry (jahody). The final blow usually comes with a shot of slivovitz (plum liqueur) or Becherovka, a herb liqueur.

Prague Nightlife

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In the center of Prague, within a few hundred meters, there’s an extraordinary selection of pubs, restaurants, and some of the biggest and beautiful clubs in Europe.

Prague Nightlife
Prague Nightlife

If in the Malà Strana district there’s  more private and relaxed atmosphere, in the Charles Bridge in the Old Town area  life is chaotic in discotheques and clubs.

People use to go in the 4 most important nightclubs: the Duplex in Wenceslas Square; The Karlovy Lazne, the largest disco in Central Europe, a few steps from Charles Bridge; The Klub Lávkam in Old Town Square and Lucerna Music Bar, popular with young people of Prague.

These are the most famous nightclubs, but on the street you’ll notice all kind of entertainments including some great jazz clubs and several erotic clubs.

Things to buy in Prague

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If you are looking for a typical Czech souvenir, Prague is the best place to find it. The most expensive gift you can do is definitely the Bohemian crystal, which has a centuries-old tradition and an appropriate cost to reputation. They come in all shapes and colors, from those that reproduce the glass from the time of Rudolf IV in much more modern forms.

Things to buy in Prague
Things to buy in Prague

Much more accessible are  the puppets and the handmade wooden toys, which are in the shops of Malà Strana and the Golden Lane in the Castle. Among food products, there are the Spa Wafers, some good home – made beer (great Czech tradition). The gift par excellence, however, is a bottle of slivovitz or Becherovka, herbal liqueurs and plum with which you can finish any meal in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic.

Where to sleep in Prague

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Prague has an excellent range of hotels, apartments, B&Bs,  hostels, with still  low prices compared to the average of other European capitals. The best area in which to sleep in Prague is called Zone 1 which includes all the central part of the city: Malá Strana, the area of the Castle and the Old Town.

Where to sleep in Prague
Where to sleep in Prague

Here, hotels cost a little more than suburban areas but they have the advantage of being safe and quiet. With a few euro more per night you will avoid to move to the suburbs. The costs for a 3 star hotel in Prague ranging from 35 to 120 Euros per night. Very affordable hostels and shared rooms, but without privacy.

If you are looking for a hotel in Prague, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Paris

10 things to do and see in Paris

Is there anything new to say about Paris? Some people consider it beautiful, others an ordinary city. Some people believe it’s the capital of lovers, others think there’s something more interesting to do, than a romantic kiss on the Seine. Sure, there are romantic places in Paris: Montmartre view from a loft; the soft lights of the cafes of the Latin Quarter, squares and corners of the Marais district. Paris is more than a romantic city,  it has  museums, monuments, churches and characteristic areas. If you can escape from the tourist traps and select well the places where you can eat, Paris will make you discover the best of French cuisine, which fortunately it’s not  just croissants and cheeses. Read our 10 things to do and see during your visit to Paris.

If you are looking for a hotel in Paris, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 1800 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Montmartre in Paris

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In 1800, Montmartre was the damned neighbourhood where you could find only penniless artists in search of fortune and the bored bourgeois looking for prostitutes and the Moulin Rouge shows.

Montmartre in Paris
Montmartre in Paris

An irreverent district, a city in the city, where Picasso, Van Gogh and Modigliani used to live. The Paris Commune was born because the people of Montmartre in 1871, after the surrender of France to the Prussians, didn’t hand over the cannon that was guarding the hill and killed the generals. Today Montmartre is no longer the irreverent district of Paris, it’s rather a “tourist trap” that you have to visit. Although the great artists are not there anymore (replaced by invasive caricatures illustrators) and there are a lot of tourists, Montmartre still has a special charm to be experienced.

How to get there: Subway Line 12: Jules Joffrin o Abesses; Line 2: Anvers o Pigalle
When: always

Musée d’Orsay in Paris

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The place of the Musée d’Orsay can be called the first “masterpiece” of its collections, because it was built in the old Orsay railway station for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900.

Musée d’Orsay in Paris
Musée d’Orsay in Paris

In the heart of Paris, along the Seine, the Musée d’Orsay has an ancient and precious charm: the architecture of the Museum is absolutely modern, but looking at the complex you’ll end up surprised to see the structure of the old station. The artworks will enchant your eyes: Manet’s meadows and Monet’s poppies, Van Gogh’s self-portrait and the beautiful Tahitian girls of Gauguin. If you have ever heard of one of these paintings, you’ll will find it here, along with thousands of other works of art.

When – Hours: every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 9.30 am  to 6 pm; Thursdays from 9:30 am to 9:45pm
Never: Every Monday, 1st January  and 25th December.
Tickets: free entrance the first Sunday of each month. 7.5 EUR other days.

Louvre Museum in Paris

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We give you a  suggestion: if you are lucky enough to get to the Louvre, once in your life, don’t fight with Japanese people to take a picture of the Mona Lisa.

Louvre Museum in Paris
Louvre Museum in Paris

It might be a good idea to start your visit from the Mona Lisa, so then you’ll be more interested to all the other works that deserve your attention. In the Louvre there is everything and you can’t see hundreds of masterpieces in a single day: if you can’t plan a visit of several days, our suggestion is to choose in advance which works to see.

How to get there: subway stop Palais-Royal/musée du Louvre
When – Hours: Every day from 9 am  to 6 pm . Wednesday and Friday until 22
Never: All Tuesday, 1st January, 1st May 1 and 25th December
Tickets: € 9 , free entrance the first Sunday of each month
You can find tickets in every FNAC in Paris or at the Louvre ticket office

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

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This large iron structure, whose point seems to touch the clouds, is the symbol of Paris.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris
The Eiffel Tower in Paris

The Eiffel Tower, made by 18,038 pieces of metal, was completed March 31, 1889 and it had to be demolished after only two years, but it’s still there despite all the humiliations received. Some people called it “a skeleton tower,” others “a tragic chandelier ” or “a plastic chimney”. However 2 million people visited it, and now with its 6 million visitors a year, is the most visited monument of the world. A visit with picture under the Tower is a must for anyone visiting Paris, as well as waiting for the play of lights that start the first 10 minutes of every hour during the night.

The Latin Quarter in Paris

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The name seems to suggest an exotic neighborhood, full of Brazilian, Spanish and Portuguese cafés, however in this part of Paris there’s definitely a lively air , but it doesn’t come from faraway countries.

The Latin Quarter in Paris
The Latin Quarter in Paris

The only exotic elements are the Arab World Institute and restaurants that sell kebabs in St. Michel Square. In the Latin Quarter the atmosphere is distinctly French, but very “effervescent” thanks to places and cafés, opened day and night all year. Full of  professors and students, who once out of the sober walls of the Sorbonne and other cultural institutions, look for  distraction and some relaxing time.

How to get there: by feet from Notre Dame. Subway : Line 10 station Cluny-Sorbonne or Saint Michel
When: normal days without students

Notre – Dame Cathedral in Paris

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Notre-Dame de Paris, the elegant and mysterious lady of Paris is the center of France. In front of it there’s the Zero Point, the bronze star from which all road distances are calculated in France.

Notre – Dame Cathedral in Paris
Notre – Dame Cathedral in Paris

The Bishop Sully wanted it, because he was envious of  the St. Denis Cathedral. It was built asking money to all people of Paris and transformed into a Temple of Reason by the revolutionaries. It has always risked to be demolished, but it has always been saved by the will of some powerful people of Paris.  Notre Dame has experienced dark moments and glory, but at the end it was saved by the charm of a novel:  Notre-Dame de Paris by Hugo. The novel returned prestige to this cathedral which hosts some of the most important relics of Christendom, including a nail from the cross of Jesus and the crown of thorns.

How to get there
Subway:Line 1 Hôtel de Ville stop. Line 4 Châtelet stop. Line 7, 11 and 14 Cité or Saint – Michel stop
When: everyday
Tickets: Free entrance

The Palace of Versailles in Paris

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If you grew up watching Lady Oscar (the famous Japanese manga) , you can’t miss a visit to the Palace of Versailles. The splendor and majesty of this palace, make it one of the most beautiful and the biggest palaces in the world.

The Palace of Versailles in Paris
The Palace of Versailles in Paris

This jewel was created by the vagaries of Louis XIV, known as the Sun King. It became the reflection of the power and victories of this monarch who ruled for 72 years. The King was suffering from some mania of persecution and grandeur:  he moved to Versailles because in Paris he saw conspiracies of the nobles from all sides and asked to be called Sun King. For this, the rooms have the name of the planets and are close to the important Salon of Apollo (god of the sun), not surprisingly its throne Room.

How to get there: Subway line C RER,  direction  Versailles-Rive Gauche-Chateau.
Montparnasse and Saint Lazare, the SNCF trains to Versailles.
Tickets: Passepartout ticket 16 €
Tips: Buy tickets at FNAC, to avoid 3 km queues.

The Sainte-Chapelle in Paris

8

The very Catholic King Louis IX ordered the construction of the beautiful Sainte-Chapelle to host a piece of the Holy Cross, one of the nails pushed into the flesh of Christ and his crown.

The Sainte-Chapelle in Paris
The Sainte-Chapelle in Paris

These important relics of Christendom are currently preserved in Notre-Dame, but the chapel still has its charm: it’s considered the most authoritative expression of Gothic architecture and the splendor is  perceived already outside, by the stained glass windows. The Sainte-Chapelle is divided into two parts: the lower was the place of prayer of  people, the upper was for  the royal family and the nobles who reached the chapel through a protected passage. You can admire the beautiful colored light filtering through the 600 square meters of the stained glass windows, the most important testimony of glassmaking art of the XIII century. The scenes are a Bible in pictures and tell different stories of the Bible, including Genesis, Exodus, the story of the Passion relics, the Book of Kings and more. The large rose window on the south side (9 meters in diameter), is the Apocalypse.

How to get there
Subway: Cité station, Line 4.
Bus: line 21, 27, 38, 85, 96 including the Balabus
When – Hours: The chapel is open daily. From March 1 to October 31 from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm . From November 1 to February 28 it’s open from 9:00 am  to 5:00 pm . The ticket office closes 30 minutes before closing time
Tickets: € 6,50

Saint Ouen flea market in Paris

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If you love antiques or you like just stick your nose in colored patches, singular objects, ancient and current books, you can’t skip the Saint Ouen flea market that takes place three days a week: Saturdays, Sundays and Monday.

Saint Ouen flea market in Paris
Saint Ouen flea market in Paris

If you are looking for a  great deal or a precious and charming object, don’t miss this chance. There’s everything: from the Chinese fake jewellery to important valuable objects. The Saint Ouen market is divided into sections: books, furniture, clothes, discs. If you don’t find  anything you like, which is very difficult, you’ll  be happy anyway to breath a bit of chaotic, festive French air.

How to get there: Subway Line 4, stop Porte de Clignancourt, line 13 stop Garibaldi.
When – Hours: Saturday, Sunday, Monday 10.30 am – 1 pm . 2 – 6 pm . Friday: 1-6 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Where to sleep in Paris

10

Paris is the most visited tourist destination in the world: there are countless hotels, apartments, B&Bs, rooms in each category in each district of the city.

Where to sleep in Paris
Where to sleep in Paris

Obviously costs are not low, and it could take  one hour to get from the hotel to the most famous monuments. You should look for a compromise among the costs, starting from 80 € per night in a 2 or 3 star hotel. The central areas are always secure, while you should avoid the districts 18, 19 and 20 especially at night.

If you are looking for a hotel in Paris, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 320 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Oslo

10 things to do and see in Oslo

Oslo is a must- see city with its natural reserves, beautiful parks and green spaces. The capital of Norway is situated between the Oslo Fjord and the green hills with so many woods that  in 2007 it was named the second city more green and eco- friendly that the others. Taking a walk  in the city center you’ll need a few steps to find a nice park where you can relax and in just 10 minutes by boat, you’ll discover the beautiful beaches of the Oslo Fjord. The capital of Norway is also rich of attractions, museums, art galleries and shops. And remember: you can’t leave Oslo without having first met its painter, Edvard Munch. The paintings of this tormented genius  are exposed at the Munch Museum and the National Gallery. To admire the artistic sense of this city you don’t have to enter in  a museum: the Vigeland Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Oslo and offers 212 statues of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Here we suggest you 10 things  to do and see  in this city !

If you are looking for a hotel in Oslo, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 320 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Akershus Castle in Oslo

1

Located on the hill overlooking the Oslo Fjord, the Akershus fortress is the main architectural symbol of the Norwegian capital. It was built under the reign of Håkon V in the late XIII century to protect the city from invaders (as evidenced by the four defensive towers).  In the first half of 1600 the medieval building was transformed into a Renaissance palace by order of Christian IV.

The Akershus Castle in Oslo
The Akershus Castle in Oslo

During the 1700s, the structure had some signs of decay but the renovations were started only in 1899. Today the complex, while remaining a military installation, looks like a park often used for theatrical performances and outdoor concerts during the summer. In the Akershus Festning there is the old Castle (Akershus Slott) whose sumptuous rooms are now used by the Government as boardrooms. The royal chapel instead houses the mausoleum of the Norwegian Royal. Within the walls of the fortress there are also the Norwegian Resistance Museum and the Museum of the Armed Forces. You’ll have also a beautiful views over the harbour and the city. Don’t miss the changing of the guard that takes place every day at 1.30 pm

When:
Fortress – every day from 7 am to 9 pm.
Castle – September to April: Sat. and Sun. 12 – 5 pm
May-August: Mon – Sat 10 am 4 pm ; Sun. 12 – 4 pm .
N.B: the castle or parts of it may be closed on certain days due to public events (for info http://www.forsvarsbygg.no/festningene)
Tickets Fortress: free entrance
Tickets Castle: ordinary ticket Kr 70
seniors / students / groups of over 10 people Kr 50
Children (6-18 years) 30 Kr.
Free entrance with the Oslo Pass

The National Gallery in Oslo

2

One of the top destinations in Oslo is the National Gallery, in Norwegian:  Nasjonalgalleriet.

The National Gallery in Oslo
The National Gallery in Oslo

This gallery, included in the complex of the National Museum, houses the largest collection of Norwegian art from the Romantic period to the modern works, ranging from the XIX century to the Second World War. There’s a great interest for  many Edvard Munch masterpieces, including a version of the famous Scream.

In the National Gallery there are not only works by Norwegian artists, but also works of many important European painters like Picasso, Gauguin and El Greco. Don’t miss the masterpieces of Impressionist Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne and Matisse. The collection of sculptures is big too: “Triumph of  Afrodite” by Renoir and “The Morning Toilette” by Degas. The gallery also hosts temporary exhibitions of historical and contemporary art.

When: Tues, Wed. and Fri. 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm ; Thur. 10:00 am  to 7:00 pm ; Sat. and Sun. 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Never: Monday
Tickets: Adults 50 Kr; b30 Kr
children free entrance
Free admission with the Oslo Pass.
Free admission on Sunday.

Oslo Cathedral

3

The beautiful Our Savior’s Church was  consecrated in 1697 and restored to its original appearance (Baroque) in 1950. It deserves a visit especially for the beautiful stained glass windows, designed by Emanuel Vigeland and for the beautiful painted ceiling with scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

Oslo Cathedral
Oslo Cathedral

The altarpiece, depicting the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, was built in 1748 by Michael Rasch and was a distinctive element of the church: later was  moved to different cities in Norway until in 1950 when was returned by the church Prestnes in Majorstuen. If you are lucky you can watch one of the suggestive concerts that sometimes take place in the Cathedral. The arches and porches on the back of the Cathedral (Le Basarhallene, the bazaar halls) dating back to 1858, now host shops and markets.

When: Mon. – Thurs. / Sat. and Sun. 10 am -4 pm ; Fri. 6 am – 4 pm
Tickets: free entrance

The Vigeland Park in Oslo

4

Probably you will go to the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the heart of the very popular Frognerparken, without any clue of what it is.

The Vigeland Park in Oslo
The Vigeland Park in Oslo

Annoyed statues of children, lovers embraced and old people will surprise you for their exceptional beauty. The Vigeland Park is an outdoor museum of masterpieces of the most famous Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, with 212 granite and bronze sculptures all to admire and to photograph. The most famous statues is that of Sinataggen, the “Little hot-head”, which depicts a very angry child, and Monolitten (Monolith), a high tower of 17 meters with 121 human figures one close to  another,  struggling to reach the top of the obelisk. You should visit the park at sunset, when the shadows create games of light.

When: every day
Ticket: free entrance

The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

5

The Viking ships in the Museum inspire a little bit of fear and subjection, so that visitors use to talk in a low voice with no reason.

The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo
The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

Funerary boats at Vikingskipshuset are imposing and majestic and tell a piece of history of ancient sailor people. The ships made of oak wood,  were buried more than 1100 years ago because they were  used as big coffins for the noble people. In these ships were placed all the object that could have been useful for people after life from jewelry to tapestries (many finds are in the museum). As believed the Vikings, ships would have transported their owners, members of the royal family, in the world of the dead. The most solemn of all the ships is the Oseberg, decorated on the stern and on the bow with sculpures depicting dragons and snakes; the strongest ship is the Gokstad, the most meaningful and important example of a Viking ship; the third vessel, Tune, made of just few fragments and axes. The three ships were found in the Oslo Fjord and excavated in the second half of the XIX century.

Where: Huk Aveny 35 (penisola di Bygdøy)
When: May to September every day from 9 am to 6 pm
October to April every day from 10 am to 4 pm
Tickets: Adults 80 Kr
students and seniors 50 Kr
children free entrance
Free entrance with the Oslo Pass

Tusenfryd Amusement Park in Oslo

6

Oslo is not only rich in art, museums and monuments, but it has also a big  amusement park: the TusenFryd Amusement Park is a beautiful amusement park, about 20 km far from the city center, loved both by adults and children.

Tusenfryd Amusement Park in Oslo
Tusenfryd Amusement Park in Oslo

In the park there are  exciting attractions, a water park, the BadeFryd, and an area dedicated to children. Don’t miss  the SpeedMonster, exciting roller coasters inspired by racing cars: it will take you from 0 to 90 km / h in just 2 seconds and will reach zero gravity 12 times. After you have walked the streets of Oslo, you can finish your trip with some shivers!

Where: Vinterbro. From Oslo: Bus 541 Drøbak / TusenFryd from the bus stop near the Central Station (Fred Olsens Gate). Buses four departures per hour.
When – Hours: from May to October (BadeFryd June to August).
to know the opening days and timing (variable) please visit http://tusenfryd.no
Tickets: adults 299-389 Kr
over 60 209 Kr
children 269-315 Kr
kids free entrance  (the ticket price also includes the entrance to BadeFryd)

Oslo Opera House

7

The Opera House, with its glass building and white Carrara marble on the banks of the Oslofjord, emerges from the sea like a huge glittering ice.

Oslo Opera House
Oslo Opera House

The structure was inaugurate in 2008 to house the Opera’s activities  and the Ballet of Norway.  It has already become the symbol of the redevelopment project of the sea in front of Oslo. The monumental work, designed by the Norwegian office Snøhetta, cost about 600 million euros and is considered a bold experiment of  urban architecture, as evidenced by the entrance of the theatre with a sloping floor . The interior rooms are made by fine materials (foyers and theaters) and  Baltic oak. The building has 1,100 rooms, including a large auditorium whose stage measures several thousands of square meters. To visit the interior of the building you need to book (in advance) a guided tour (in English); the atrium and roof instead are open to visitors.

Where: former port area of the peninsula Bjøzvika
When – Hours: guided tours with fee (discount with the Oslo Pass): Mon, Wed., Ven. and Sun. 1 pm ; Sat. 12 pm To book the tour: E-mail to omvisninger@operaen.no and at the ticket office of the Opera

Folk Muneum in Oslo

8

Located in the Bygdøy peninsula, the Norvegian Folk Museum is the largest open-air museum in Norway, where through the reconstruction of rural and urban landscapes, rich collections and many activities, the visitors can relive the Norwegian cultural history from the Middle Ages to nowadays

Folk Muneum in Oslo
Folk Muneum in Oslo

The museum includes more than 150 buildings from different regions of the country dating back to the XVII and XVIII centuries and a stavkirke (church with bearing piles) built entirely with  wood in 1200 and transported there in 1885 at the behest of King Oscar II of Sweden. In the museum you can admire also the old shops, craft workshops, the coaches, the music and the dancing, the guides dressed in traditional costumes and even a historical playground. If you want to have  an outdoor day and discover the life, the arts and Norwegian traditions, the Norsk Folke Museum will not disappoint you!

Where: former port area of the peninsula Bjøzvika
When – Hours: guided tours with fee (discount with the Oslo Pass): Mon, Wed., Ven. and Sun. 1 pm ; Sat. 12 pm To book the tour: E-mail to omvisninger@operaen.no and at the ticket office of the Opera

Things to eat in Oslo

9

The Oslo dishes are related to its ancient and deep seafaring tradition, in this city you can enjoy different kinds of fresh fish and seafood specialties that you have never tasted in any other place

Things to eat in Oslo
Things to eat in Oslo

Don’t miss the famous salmon to eat smoked or grilled, cod,  catfish , herring, clams and prawns, cooked or freshly caught. If you prefer meat, Oslo isn’t  unprepared: moose, reindeer and deer with an already strong flavor but often served with sour cream sauce . You have to taste also the dried meat, accompanied perhaps by geitost , fresh cheese made from cow  and goat milk. To enjoy these dishes we suggest you to taste the delicious local beer and the exquisite brandy.

Where to sleep in Oslo

10

Oslo offers a wide selection of hotels, B&Bs, cottages, and hostels. Most B&Bs are located in the city, but some are also scattered in the country: beware of signs along the roads, looking for the Rom or Husrom words.

Where to sleep in Oslo
Where to sleep in Oslo

Another place where you can sleep are the fishermen’s houses, the so-called Rorbu. A little outside the city, these houses are completely independent, with living room and kitchen in one room, a bedroom and a bathroom. A rorbu with two bedrooms, costs  from 600 NOK per night and often you have to pay a little more for towels and linens. Hostels in Oslo belong to two different chains: Hostelling International and VIP Backpackers Resort International, both very cozy and comfortable. A bedroom costs from 100 to 300 NOK per night, while a double room from 300 to 600 NOK. In the rooms you will find blankets and pillows, but you have to bring  the sheets or, if you want, you can  rent them at the hostel. Hotels offer some discounts especially during  weekends and the  summer: compared to the rest of Europe, the prices in Oslo are not very high. Another very convenient solution for your holidays are farms, located in the western part of Oslo, where you can take care of the animals and do many different activities: fishing, hiking, horseback riding and boat excursions.

If you are looking for a hotel in Oslo, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 320 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Madrid

10 things to do and see in Madrid

Beyond any  clichés, Madrid is really the city of Movida, a lifestyle made by  entertainment during  night and day.  But  Movida is not just pure fun: people of Madrid love to stay up late, stay on the street, drinking and eating with others. Some of them meet their friends  after work, others end up the nightlife and go back to the office. With the Movida  are also born some  expressions such as Madrid Me Mata (Madrid kills me) and Madrid nunca duerme (Madrid never sleeps). Here time is considered in a different way but Madrid  is not only a capital made of cafés, small talk and early hours.  Every kind of people finds its own entertainment: art lovers will find three big museums, the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums, and people who don’t like museums can spend their holidays in the Chueca neighborhood. Madrid has many souls, here are 10 things to see and do absolutely during a holiday in Madrid.

If you are looking for a hotel in Madrid, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 800 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Museo del Prado in Madrid

1

The Prado is one of the most important museums of the world, and it’s worth spending a number of hours to visit it. Caravaggio, Goya, Raphael, Velasquez, the Prado can represent the history of European art of the last five centuries.

Museo del Prado in Madrid
Museo del Prado in Madrid

If you want  to visit it without stress, we suggest you to go to the Prado on weekdays, you will find not so much people. If you have many bags with you, you might wait a while before you can enter: the deposit boxes are not so many. The Prado has an efficient emergency room inside the building de los Jerónimos :it’s a guarantee for those who risk the “Stendhal Syndrome”.

How to get there: Metro Line 2 station Banco de Espana or line 1 Atocha station. Bus: 9, 10, 14, 19, 27, 34, 37, 45.
When – Hours: Tue – Sun and holidays from 9 am  to 8 pm . 24 and December 31, January 6 hours 9 am  to 2 pm
Never: the Monday, December 25, January 1, Good Friday and 1 May
Tickets: Adult 6 €, reduced 3 €, free Tue – Sat 6 to 8 pm  and every Sunday at 5 – 8 pm

Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid

2

The Reina Sofia is the museum with art works from the XX century to the present day.

Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid
Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid

The building that hosts it, was a hospital and has been used as hospital until 1986 when it was opened the Art center of  Reina Sofia. The museum gives particular emphasis to Spanish painters such as Dali, Miro and Picasso. We suggest you to visit the whole museum: not only Guernica with other hundred tourist that arrived before you . The museum has so many beautiful works, and you should  watch Guernica around closing time. You can really enjoy the Master’s masterpiece only at that time.

How to get there: Metro Line 1 station : Atocha
When – Hours:  Mon – Sat 10 am  – 9 pm , Sunday from 10 am 2.30 pm
Never: Tuesdays, 24, 25 and 31 December, 1 and 6 January, 1 May and 9 November
Tickets: Adult 6 €, reduced 3 €, free on Saturday  2:30 – 21:00 pm  and Sunday from 10 am –  2:30 pm

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid

3

The  paintings  of the  Museum  are from the private collection of the German steel magnate, Thyssen-Bornemisza, who became rich during the Second World War.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid

The Baron Hans Thyssen-Bornemisza put together the huge collection of his father Heinrich, divided among the heirs at his death. Baron regained the works by his relatives, first focusing on the German impressionist works, then on the paintings of Russian avant-garde period, enriching it with the first abstract works. Since 1992, the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, which includes among others Van Eyck, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Hopper, is ready to delight the eyes of tourists.

How to get there: Metro Line 1 or Line 2 station Atocha station Banco de Espana. Bus: 1,2,5, 9, 10, 14, 15, 20, 27, 34, 37, 45
When – Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00
Never: Monday, December 25, January 1 and May 1
Tickets: Adult € 6, reduced € 4

The Royal Palace of Madrid

4

The Royal Palace in Madrid dates  back  to 1764. It’s  located on the ruins of the royal family’s residence destroyed by a terrible fire on Christmas Eve of 1734: the Alcázar, which was home of the Spanish royal family since the XVI century.

The Royal Palace of Madrid
The Royal Palace of Madrid

The façade of the huge building is clearly inspired by the Louvre in Paris and it’s a magnificent example of the late Italian Baroque.  The whole monumental complex covers an area of 135,000 square meters and has more than 3000 rooms, so it’s the biggest royal palace in Europe. Inside there are some enviable collections of great value, such as the string instruments with the signature of Antonio Stradivari preserved in the Capilla Real, or the ancient ceramic vases and cabinets for medicinal plants of the Royal Pharmacy, including prescriptions of the royal family. In the Real Armería, however, there is the collection of arms and armors that once belonged to the King and the royal family since the XIII century.

However, despite the magnificence of the building and its treasures, the sovereigns of Spain don’t stay in these apartments, but their private residence is the Zarzuela Palace, in the wooded area of Monte de El Prado, north of the center of Madrid. The Royal Palace remains, however, the headquarters of the official events and state ceremonies.

Where: Calle de Bailén
How to get there:
Bus 3, 25, 39 e 148
Subway: line 5 e 2 fermata Ópera
When – Hours: From 1 April to 30 September: every day from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
From October 1 to March 31: daily from 10:00  am to 6:00 pm
Never: 24, 25, 31 December; 1 and 6 January; May 1
Ticket: Full price: € 11, reduced: € 6

The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid

5

Close to Royal Palace, there’s another  story of ruins and reconstructions:  the one of the Almudena Cathedral, a more troubled story than the one of Royal Palace, with the signs of 5 centuries of battles, negotiations between the King and the Catholic bishops of Toledo,  economic and political problems.

The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid
The Almudena Cathedral in Madrid

In 1624, King Philip IV and his wife Isabella of Bourbon decided that Madrid’s cathedral would have been built in the same place where there was once the church of Santa Maria of the Almudena. But the cathedral was built 200 years later because of political unrest and economic problems. The foundation stone of the Almudena Cathedral was laid in 1883, but only in l 1993, it opened its doors to people, and was consecrated by Pope John Paul II.

That is why the appearance of the Cathedral is a real mix of different style : the Romanesque crypt , the neo-Gothic interior, the neo-classical of the external and the dome with a Baroque exterior and the Gothic interior

Inside the dome there is the  statue of Our Lady of the Almudena and a representation of the Via Crucis in 14 images in Gothic style, while the bronze door is decorated with pictures depicting the Spanish Catholic monarchy and the long glass wall 10 meters is enriched by the depiction of the Virgin of Lis.

Where: Calle de Bailén
How to get there:
Subway: Line 2 or 5 ,stop Ópera
Bus: 3, 25, 39 and 148
When – Hours: The cathedral cannot be visited during the liturgical celebrations.
From 1 September to 1 June: every day from 09:00 am to 8:00 pm
From 1 July to 31 August: every day from 10:00 am  to 9:00 pm

Plaza Mayor in Madrid

6

Can you imagine that until 1580 Plaza Mayor has been the city’s market square? It was  the place of executions, popular festivals, bullfights and between ‘600 and ‘700 it was damaged by three huge fires.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid
Plaza Mayor in Madrid

The current appearance of this elegant square, surrounded by buildings with three floors, is the result of the reconstruction of  the old Plaza del Arrabal commissioned by Philip II of Habsburg when, in 1561, he  moved the court to Madrid.

The works were first entrusted to Juan de Herrera, then to the architect Juan Gómez de Mora to continue the reorganization of the square, giving it its characteristic and stylish arcade with café and shops. In the center there is the huge statue of Philip III on a horse. Plaza Mayor has 9 access doors, but the most famous one is the Arco de Cuchilleros leading to the same name street and both take their name from the guild of knife makers who settled here their workshops. Another great building is Casa de la Panaderia with two towers decorated with frescoes that represent an allegory of the zodiac.

How to get there:
Subway: Line 1, 2, 3, 5 stop Puerta del Sol or Line 2 and 5, stop Opera station

Puerta del Sol in Madrid

7

Plaza de la Puerta del Sol is the square of the New Year in Madrid: on top of the Real Casa de Correo, which is the oldest building of the square, a large clock has the task of marking the famous “campanadas”, the 12 chimes that mark the last seconds of the year. The tradition is that the new  year should be celebrated with 12 grapes: one for each campanada and those who finish them in time will have a year full of luck and prosperity.

Puerta del Sol in Madrid
Puerta del Sol in Madrid

Plaza de la Puerta del Sol has also other iconic symbols of capital, such as the famous bear statue biting  a strawberry plant (madroño) and the “kilometer zero”, called Origen de la calles radials because just from this point they calculate the distances in kilometers across the country.

How to get there: Subway Line 1, 2, 3, 5 stop Puerta del Sol

Buen Retiro Park in Madrid

8

Built in 1640, the Buen Retiro Park  opened to the public only after the revolution of 1868, when the gardens became municipal property. In fact, the park was created as a place of escape and entertainment of the monarchy, after the Duke of Olivares gave the king Philip IV 145 many hectares to be used for this purpose.

Buen Retiro Park in Madrid
Buen Retiro Park in Madrid

So there were built the “Teatro del Buen Retiro”, where the most popular  actors of the “golden age” (1500-1600) use to go.  For elegant parties organized for the nobility was built the beautiful ballroom “Cason del Buen Retiro “. For events and outdoor performances were installed two large cages in the beautiful gardens: one to accommodate certain species of exotic birds, the other used as a stage for performances with wild animals.

Over the years, the Buen Retiro Park had several renovations and transformations, and slowly began to accept even ordinary citizens: thanks to King Charles III the people of Madrid could walk  there in  elegant dresses

Today, the symbol of the Park is definitely the wonderful Crystal Palace, built in 1887 to host a huge exhibition of botanical species from the Philippines Islands.  For the occasion an indigenous village was created too, a detailed reconstruction to make even more interesting the discovery of plants and animals of the exotic world.

Where: Plaza de la Independencia
How to get there:
Subway: line 2 station Retiro
Bus: 1, 2, 9, 15, 19, 20, 28, 51, 52, 74 and 146
When – Hours:
Summer: from 06:00 am  to 11:00 pm
From November to March: 07:00 am to 11:00 pm

Things to eat in Madrid

9

Madrid’s cuisine is a successful mix of popular and aristocrat dishes such as the cocido madrileño (potatoes, vegetables, meat, pork bacon and chickpeas) and the famous tortilla (potatoes, eggs, oil and salt).

Things to eat in Madrid
Things to eat in Madrid

Eggs, flour, sugar and almonds are the ingredients of almost all the sweets of Madrid: huesos de santo (potatoes, almonds and cream), the rosquillas de San Isidro (donuts with egg white), churros, fried sweet with  hot chocolate. Remember that in Madrid you’ll eat later than in other European countries: breakfast at 9 am, lunch between 2 and 3 pm , dinner between 9 and 10 pm . A tip: if you need desperately some  coffee, ask for it strictly “espresso” or you’ll taste a black drink with indefinite flavor.

Where to sleep in Madrid

10

It’s quite easy to find a place where to  sleep in Madrid, thanks to the large amount of hotels, guest houses, hostels and rooms.

Where to sleep in Madrid
Where to sleep in Madrid

You can really find what you want, from the ultra-luxury, to the B&Bs making you feel at home for the kindness of the owners. One more thing: remember that in Spanish, the term “hostal” does not indicate the “hostels”, but structures comparable to the Italian small hotels, where you can sleep and have breakfast.

If you are looking for a hotel in Madrid, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 800 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals London

10 things to do and see in London

Many years ago there were many gentlemen in London with black bowler and umbrella…but it’s been too long since that period.  And since The Beatles crossed the pedestrian crossing. And it’s been too long since the time when the Clash have made London the Punk capital. At 5pm there’s just one person in London who still drinks the tea: the Queen. Here people are too busy making money and they prefer to eat “Fish & Chips” or something else in a fast ethnic food. The serious English gentlemen walk side by side with Sri Lankans, Indians, Jamaicans, Africans and a few hundred other ethnic groups around the world. Something in London is irrevocably changed, and only you can decide whether for better or for worse. It remains the charm of monuments such as Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament which are never out of fashion, but you should also try to see London from an unusual points of view: a ride on the footsteps of Jack the Ripper could open up unexpected scenarios. Here you will find the 10 things you to do and see during a visit in London.

If you are looking for a hotel in London, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 2300 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London

1

Trafalgar Square is the navel of the world and the first thing to see in London, definitely. From the big square start  the main streets of the city: The Mall, the avenue leading to Buckingham Palace, the Strand, leading to the City and Whitehall, leading to the House of Parliament.

Named after the battle of Trafalgar, where Admiral Horatio Nelson defeated the Spanish and French fleets during the Napoleonic wars in 1805, the square was originally the headquarters of the King’s Mews, the royal stables.

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London
Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London

Today Trafalgar Square is a true icon of the city and hosts one of the most famous museums in the world, the most important of London: the National Gallery.

A reputation well deserved when you consider that there’s the naked most famous prehistoric art, the Venus of Bilendorf, dating back to 25,000 years ago, and the main collection of English painting, a must see, with  the Italian school paintings, including which some precious Botticelli, Raphael and Michelangelo, and the English masters of the ‘700 and’ 800, plus an extensive collection of contemporary works.

Where: Trafalgar Square, Westminster district.
How to get there: Metro – Westminster (Circle and District and Jubilee); Embankment (lines Northern, Bakerloo, Circle and District); Piccadilly (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines); Leicester Square (Northern and Piccadilly lines); Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo lines) Bus – 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 23, 88, 139, 159, 453
When-Hours: every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ; on Fridays from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Never: 24, 25 and 26 December; January 1st
Tickets: free entrance

Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard in London

2

Buckingham Palace is another must-see during your visit in London: the residence of the British monarchy, built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, and only later purchased by George III who made it his residence with  the royal family.

Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard in London
Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guard in London

The majestic palace of 775 rooms, with an immense royal park of 20 hectares, can be visited only during the summer, when the royal family move into the summer residence, Windsor Castle. From August 1st to September 27th the West Wing is open to the public, which includes some rooms in the apartments and the royal stables, where there are the fabulous carriages used by the rulers on official occasions. If you walk around 11:30 am near Buckingham Palace and see men in red uniform, with a big black fur hat, parading with some curious signs, you are certainly watching the ceremony of His Majesty’s Guard change, a rite that is renewed since 1660. If you’re curious to know if the Queen is in the palace, we reveal you a tip: be careful about the number of guards, if there are 4 guards “the Queen” is at home.

How to get there:  Metro – Victoria (Victoria, Circle and District); Green Park (Victoria lines, Piccadilly and Jubilee); Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line) Bus – 11, 211, C1 and C10
Where: St. Margaret Street
When-Hours: from 25 July to 31 August from 09:30 am to 7:30  pm (last entry at 17:15); 1st to 27th  September from 09:30 am to 6:30  pm (last entry at 4:15 pm)
Tickets: £20,50

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London

3

An excellent example of neo – Gothic architecture, the House of Parliament, also known as Westminster Palace, is a magnificent building of 1,200 rooms in which there are both houses of the British Parliament: the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London

Crossed far and wide by 3 km of corridors, the huge structure hides an underground labyrinthine and is said that  George Orwell was inspired precisely by these underground to describe the “Miniver”, the Ministry of Truth in London, in his visionary novel “1984”. The House of Parliament, is dominated by two famous towers: the Victoria Tower, which leads to the Parliament, and the Clock Tower, that is the clock par excellence, considered the most accurate in the world. Perhaps only few people know that Big Ben is not the name of the watch, but the big 13-ton and a half bell, so called because it was made by Benjamin Hall, which beats the hours, while the other four smaller bells ring every quarter of hour. Unfortunately the visit to the Clock Tower is only allowed to British citizens, on the other hand you can attend free of charge to the parliamentary debates and visit the two chambers. We advise you to admire the façade of the House of Parliament in the evening, when the lights are reflected in the Thames remodeling the profile.

Where: St. Margaret Street
How to get there: Westminster (District and Circle Line e Jubilee Line)
When: Big Ben is always there. A part of the House of Parliament is open to tourists from Monday to Saturday, August and September, with times to be verified

St. Paul's Cathedral in London

4

The current Cathedral of St Paul arose from the ashes of the cathedral that was destroyed during the tragic fire of London in 1656. This marvel of the English Baroque is the result of a double deception: the English clergy vetoed the initial project of the architect Christopher Wren, because of the catholic dome in favor of a more traditionally English bell, all spiers and aisles.

But in 1710, after 35 years of work, London found the cathedral with the big dome, which is actually an illusion: the domes are 3.

St. Paul's Cathedral in London
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London

There is the external one, so majestic and impressive that everyone can see it, inside it contains a second dome visible only from the inside of the cathedral, and in the middle there is a third that is not seen at all, and supports the skylight.

It’s precisely for its unique and charming character that St Paul’s Cathedral has always hosted the most significant events of the city: from Winston Churchill’s funeral to those of Lord Nelson, the hundredth birthday of the Queen Mother, the Lady Diana wedding with Prince Charles. Don’t miss the Whispering Gallery which owes its name to an acoustic singularity: saying a word close to the wall, you can listen to it from anywhere near the tunnel. From the Gold Gallery it’s possible to enjoy a wonderful view of London.

Where: Ludgate Hill, nella City.
How to get there: Metro – St Paul’s (Central Line); Mansion House (District and Circle Line); Blackfriars (District and Circle Line); Bank (Central, Northern and Waterloo & City Line) Bus – 4, 11, 15, 23, 25, 26, 100, 242
When: every day from 8:30 am  to 4:30 pm  last visit at 4:00 pm
Tickets: £18,00

Tate Gallery in London

5

The Millennium Bridge was built aligned with Saint Paul, a spectacular pedestrian bridge steel, which connects the north bank of the Thames to the south shore. Here you can find the Tate Modern, the art gallery born from the project to expand and divide the  British contemporary art collection from the past kept in the Tate Britain, and both, along with the Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives in Cornwall, are part of the museum complex Tate.

Tate Gallery in London
Tate Gallery in London

Inaugurated in 2000, the Tate Modern is considered one of the most avant-garde art galleries in the world: a must see for lovers of contemporary art : all art from 1900 to the present day, with works Picasso, Matisse, Dalí, Kandinsky and Van Gogh, but also the structure itself is a work of art. It’s located in a former power station, and the building still retains its original charm in appearance, such as the imposing chimney, and its interior spaces: the Turbine Hall, for example, what once was the engine room, is now the main entrance to the Tate, directly from Holland Street.

If in addition you love also the theater, we reveal you a secret : just around the corner from the Tate Modern there’s the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, modern reconstruction of the famous Globe Theatre, built in 1599 by the Shakespeare theater company.

Where: Bankside
How to get there: Metro – Blackfriars and Mansion House (Circle and District Line) Southwark (Jubilee Line) St Paul’s (Central Line) are a 10-minute walk . Boat Tate – every 40 minutes . The Tate Boat will allow you to move from Tate Britain to Tate Modern enjoying an unusual view of the city from the River
By feet Millennium Bridge
When-Hours: every day from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Never 24, 25, 26 December. On December 31, the closing is at 6:00 pm
Tickets: free entrance

British Museum in London

6

The British Museum, the oldest public museum in the world, will give you a unique experience from the contemporary art to the roots of our history. A trip back through the centuries to discover the most beautiful and ancient treasures of the world, including eight million objects that tell the story of man, from the first petroglyphs prehistoric era to the first coins, from hieroglyphics to the ancient Chinese ceramics , up to the twentieth century paintings.

British Museum in London
British Museum in London

Africa, the Americas and Asia, all combined in a majestic building which recalls the atmosphere that reigns in this extraordinary journey through time, with its imposing entrance with pediment and columns that look like the model of Greek temples. No coincidence that the British Museum is dedicating an entire gallery to the Parthenon sculptures, with the oldest collection of Greek vases, the largest collection in the world of Ancient Egypt artifacts, and houses the Rosetta Stone, which allowed studying and deciphering the hieroglyphs. Be careful not to get lost among the antiquities of the British Museum and the precious artifacts: visit it all in one day is a real “mission impossible.” We suggest you to choose the itinerary that most inspires you and choose in advance the things to see.

Where: Great Russell St, Bloomsbury district
How to get there:
Metro: Tottenham Court Road (Central Line and Northern Line. Central Line trains will not stop at Tottenham Court Road from 1 January to early December 2015.
Russell Square (Piccadilly Line)
Goodge Street (Northern Line) Bus – 1,7, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 242 stop in New Oxford Street 10, 14, 24, 29, 73, 134, 390 northbound stop at Tottenham Court Road, southbound stop Gower Street 59, 68, X68, 91, 168, 188 stop at Southampton Row
When-Hours: every day from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm on Friday until 8:30 pm
Never 24,25 and 26 December; 1 January and Good Friday.
Tickets: Free Entrance

Tower of London

7

World heritage, protected by UNESCO and with more than 1000 years of history, the Tower of London is another of the things to see in London. A monumental complex of towers, buildings and courtyards surrounded by high strongholds built in 1078 along the Thames to protect the Normans from the incursions of the citizens of the City and the foreign invaders.

The first and oldest building to be erected by William the Conqueror, is the White Tower with four corner towers covered by domes and houses the beautiful St. John’s Chapel.

Tower of London
Tower of London

Former royal residence, state prison, theater of the executions of high-ranking personalities and religious dissidents, guardian of the Crown Jewels, is within the walls of this impressive. Here the story is mixed to the legend. The fortress is guarded by “Beefeaters”, the guards in sixteenth-century costumes black and red, and  by a group of special guardians: the Ravens, the family bird crows. Legend tells that King Charles II was convinced that the monarchy and the Tower would be ruined if the six ravens who guard the Tower abandon the fort. Today you can meet the group of birds that continue to watch the area but only under the guidance of “Raven Master” and, remember, you are not allowed to feed them!

Where: St. Margaret Street
How to get there: Metro – Tower Hill (Circle and District Line) Bus – 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
When-Hours: from March 1 to October 31 from Tuesday to Saturday 9: 00 am 5: 30 pm ; Sunday and Monday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm , last admission at 5:00 pm . From November 1 to February 28, from Tuesday to Saturday 9: 00 am -4: 30 pm ; Sunday and Monday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm , last entry at 4:00 pm
Tickets: £ 22 and includes access to the Tower and the exhibition of the Crown Jewels, the White Tower, guided tour of a Yeoman Warder.

Tower Bridge in London

8

The Tower Bridge links the area of Southwark to the Tower of London. It’s not as old as the tower, from which it takes its name, but fans of unusual and breathtaking views, have to visit to the Tower Bridge and the impressive glass walkway that connects the two neo-Gothic towers.

Tower Bridge in London
Tower Bridge in London

Built to allow the transit of much larger ships on the Thames, the mechanism that was raising the two ends of the bridge was driven by a hydraulic system that used the power of steam, operating until the ‘70s of the last century.

Today, however, the steam has been replaced by diesel, but you can visit the Victorian Engine Rooms, in the North Tower, where vintage gears are exposed. In the Tower Bridge Exhibition, there’s an interactive exhibition that tells the history of the impressive feat of engineering.

Where: Tower Bridge Rd
How to get there: Metro Tower Hill (District and Circle Line), London Bridge (Northern Line e Jubilee Line) Bus – 15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
When-Hours:  From April to September from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm , last admission at 5:30 pm. From October to March from 09:30 am to 5:30 pm , last admission at 5:00 pm. Mai: 24, 25 and 26 December; January 1st
Tickets: £10,50

Things to eat in London

9

The air of London always has a strange smell, sometimes it seems that all the citizens  at the same time, are frying  everything including pictures of the Queen. There are restless hawkers at every street corner frying snacks to eat on the street, onion rings, and the famous fish & chips.

Things to eat in London
Things to eat in London

Fish & chips is a piece of cod and potatoes, strictly fried, served in a food paper. We suggest you to enjoy your fish and chips and don’t think about the fact that the oil in which it was cooked, has a bad color. If you don’t want to taste the local cuisine, don’t miss the ethnic alternative: London is the most multicultural city in the world, so it’s a food festival of Thai, Chinese, African, Sri Lankan, Jamaican tradition. For breakfast you’ll taste bacon, eggs and porridge. To eat something typically English, go to a pub where are served also food made from beef or pork, venison and onions. A tip: the meat is usually below…very below the onions, but there is. Don’t give up!

Where to sleep in London

10

With thousands of hotel rooms and other accommodation, London is the most friendly city in the world but also the most expensive one. Perpetually invaded by tourists and business people, finding a place at a good price can be very tricky indeed.

Where to sleep in London
Where to sleep in London

So be patient and look for the right accommodation for you. Remember that staying in the center can be very expensive, so consider a room in less central districts. There is an efficient network of public transportation that gets you everywhere.

If you are looking for a hotel in London, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 2300 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Ljubljana

10 things to do and see in Ljubljana

Ljubljana is the small capital of Slovenia. Romantic and rich of history, vibrant and full of attractions, Ljubljana surprises visitors. With its beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture, rich cultural heritage the cheerful and relaxed atmosphere, it’s easy to love it. It’s not hard to discover its treasures, all reachable by a walk or a nice ride. On the hill, the castle dominates the town on the Ljubljanica river (worthy of a boat trip), the historical center preserves the major monuments, excellent museums and galleries celebrate the art, the city market is a concentration of history and traditions. Each district has its historic character: Medieval, Baroque and Art Nouveau, the whole city is “marked” by the amazing works of the brilliant architect and urban planner Jože Plečnik. Since the ‘20s  until the beginning of World War II, he had  the goal to rebuild the city. Bridges are a characteristic feature of the Slovenian capital. Numerous cross the Ljubljanica river and offer panoramic views. Cute cafes and restaurants on the riverside where, especially at night, the atmosphere is filled with magic. Many, therefore, the reasons for visiting Ljubljana, tourist destination, perhaps a bit too much neglected.

On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during your visit in Ljubljana

If you are looking for a hotel in Ljubljana, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Library of Ljubljana

1

The eclectic art of the great master Joze Plecnik is manifested in the National and University Library (NUK), his most important work in the city of Ljubljana. Designed in 1932, the library was built between 1936 and 1941.

The Library of Ljubljana
The Library of Ljubljana

The huge building with the shape of an irregular rectangle consists of four floors, four wings and two courtyards. The façade is decorated with red brick and stone blocks placed randomly. The classic architectural element is represented by a Ionic column which bisects the windows. The handles on the front door have the shape of two heads of horses, representing Pegasus, a kind of symbolic guide for visitors to the library in the world of knowledge. Inside, the monumental central staircase in dark marble with 32 black columns leads to the large reading room with glassy walls that let natural light enter into the space. The NUK is an important cultural monument. It has in fact, the largest collection of literature in the country, and has a number of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts prints.

Where: Turjaska 1
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Mon – Fri: 8 am – 8 pm ; Sat: 9 am -2 pm

The Castle of Ljubljana

2

On top of the hill called Grajska Planota stands the oldest castle in Ljubljana. The earliest records of its existence dates back to the Middle Ages when the wooden castle was the seat of the Carinthian Prince Spanheim, governor of the province.

The Castle of Ljubljana
The Castle of Ljubljana

In 1335, the castle became property of the Habsburgs and was fortified because of the frequent Turkish invasions. Only in the second half of the fifteenth century, the changes made by the Duke, completely changed the appearance and size of the castle. All the main buildings were rebuilt in the sixteenth and seventeenth century following the terrible earthquake of 1515. In the mid-seventeenth century, the fortress lost its function as a fortress and noble residence to become military warehouse.

After the occupation of France (1809), the castle was used as barracks and a military hospital. In 1849 the castle was abandoned until in 1868  when it was used as a prison again. Purchased by the city in 1905, the castle today is a popular tourist destination where there are concerts, cultural events, exhibitions and shows.

Where: Grajska planota
How to get there: by feet or by funicolar
When – Hours:
Castle: from 1/10 to 30/04 every day from 10 am to 9 pm ; from 1/05 to 30/09 from 9 am  to 11 pm .
Panoramic Tower: from 1/10 to 30/04 every day from 10 am  to 6 pm ; from 1/05 to 30/09 from 9 am  to 10 pm
guided tours (also in Italian) June: 10:00 am , 4:00 pm ; July and August: 10:00 am , 11:30 am , 6:00 pm , 7:00 pm ; September: 10:30 am , 12:00 pm , 4:00 pm , 6:00 pm .
Tickets: Guided tour (castle tower ++ exhibitions) including funicular: adults 10 Euro; reduced 8 Euro.

St. Nicholas Cathedral in Ljubljana

3

The Cathedral of St. Nicholas is one of the finest examples of Baroque art in Slovenia. The church dedicated to the patron saint of fishermen, is located on the former site of a Romanesque church of the thirteenth century, but the current building with its twin bell towers dates back to the early eighteenth century.

St. Nicholas Cathedral in Ljubljana
St. Nicholas Cathedral in Ljubljana

The cathedral, designed by the Andrea Pozzo on the Roman church model, is a Latin cross plant. It consists of a nave, side chapels and a transept, above which rises the dome, added in 1841. The interior of the church in pink marble, white and golden stucco, was painted by Giulio Quaglio with scenes from the life of San Nicola. Of great interest are the sculptures of the four bishops of Emona Angelo Putti, the angels altar of Corpus Christi of the Venetian sculptor Francesco Robba and the benches of the  choir. In 1996, to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II, two extraordinary bronze doors were added. In particular, the main gate built by Demšar Tone, symbolizes 1250 years of Christianity in Slovenia.

Where: Pogačarjev trg.
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: every day from 10 am to 12 pm  and from 3 to 6 pm .
Tickets: free entrance

The Central Market in Ljubljana

4

A lively atmosphere characterizes every day the Ljubljana Central Market, the main selling point of the city .

The Central Market in Ljubljana
The Central Market in Ljubljana

Designed by Jože Plecnik between 1940 and 1944, the typical market consists of the outdoor market Vodnikov trg, the covered one Pogačarjev trg, the elegant Renaissance-style porch that follows the curve of the Ljubljanica (Colonnade Plecnik), a number of interesting underground areas and a giant flower shop added later.

At Centralna Tržnica there’s almost everything: food of all types (vegetables, meats, spices, fruits, herbs, meat, fish, honey), flowers and plants, local crafts, Slovenian specialties such as Karst ham, the horse pate, homemade bread, tasty cheese, the typical cake “potica”.. You can wander around for hours for the Market without getting tired, enjoying the authentic atmosphere of a public market that reflects an old city tradition.

Where: Vodnikov trg, Pogačarjev trg
How to get there: by feet in the city center
When – Hours:
Market: Monday through Friday from 6 am  to 6 pm , Saturday from 6 am to 4 pm ; winter from 6 am to 4 pm , Sundays and holidays closed.
Covered Market (Pogačarjev trg): Monday through Friday from 7 am to 4 pm , Saturday from 7 am  to 2 pm. Market covered under the colonnades of Plečnik: Monday through Friday from 7 am to 4 pm , Saturdays from 7 am to 2 pm.

The Tivoli Park in Ljubljana

5

The Tivoli Park is not far from the center of Ljubljana, and it’s the largest park in the city, great place to walk, play or meet up.

The Tivoli Park in Ljubljana
The Tivoli Park in Ljubljana

The large green area (510 hectares) was created in 1813 according to Jean Blanchard project but since then had many changes.  As well as geometric paths, boulevards and gardens with statues and fountains, the complex of the park has a pond and a small botanical garden created in 1880, an outdoor lap pool built in the thirties along with sports fields and the children’s playground, a sports hall (1965), where sports events and concerts take place. Tivoli’s main feature is, however, the evocative walk Jakopič (named after the Slovenian Impressionist painter Rihard Jakopič) redesigned by Plečnik in 1934, leading to the seventeenth-century Castello di Tivoli guarded by four sculptures of dogs, which now houses the Tivoli Gallery – International center graphic art.

Where: On the slopes of the hill Rožnik
How to get there: It is reached by using Cankarjeva cesta underpass
When – Hours: the park is open 24 hours on 24.
Tickets: free entrance

The Bridge of the Ljubljana Dragons

6

Four fierce winged dragons watch the arched bridge crossing the river in Ljubljana. The Dragons bridge was one of the first reinforced concrete bridges in Europe.

The Bridge of the Ljubljana Dragons
The Bridge of the Ljubljana Dragons

Originally called the Jubilee Bridge, it was built in 1900 to honor the 40th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I (1848-1888) to replace the old wooden bridge called “Butcher”. In 1919, the opera was renamed Zmajiski Most (Bridge of Dragons) in reference to the monstrous creatures placed at the four corners of it, symbols taken from the emblem of Ljubljana. The innovative structure was designed by engineer Austrian Josef Melan, a famous designer of concrete bridges, and built by the Dalmatian architect Jurij Zaninović.

Where: north of Vodnikov trg
How to get there: by feet from the city centre

The Triple Bridge, Ljubljana

7

One of the best known symbols of Ljubljana is the small Three Bridges which is the elegant door outside the Old Town.

The Triple Bridge, Ljubljana
The Triple Bridge, Ljubljana

Actually, when it was built (1842), was a common single-arched stone bridge over the Ljubljanica, known to all as Špitalski most (Bridge Hospital)

Between 1929 and 1932, due to the increased traffic, the architect Jože Plečnik added two pedestrian bridges to support the existing bridge. Plečnik who loved some elements of classicism, removed the metal railing of the central bridge and added three stone balustrades, over which he placed the streetlights.

Today, the Three Bridges, completely closed to traffic, is a pleasant walk, enlivened by artists and street musicians, connecting Prešeren, the main square and popular meeting point in Ljubljana, the historic center.

Civic Square in Ljubljana

8

Mestni Trg is the Town Square, the heart of the historical center of Ljubljana. The elegant buildings made after the earthquake of 1511 embellish the square and give a strongly Baroque appearance.

Civic Square in Ljubljana
Civic Square in Ljubljana

Among the most beautiful buildings, stand out the house Haman, that hosts the Mestna galerija (City Gallery), the Lichtenberg building with the façade decorated by the sculptor Osbalt Kittel, the Rakovec and Obrez palaces Matija Persky. There’s also the Mestna hiša, or the City Hall (also called Magistrat or Rotovž), Erected in 1484, it was rebuilt and enlarged in 1717-18, and was renovated in 1963. In front of the Town Hall stands the obelisk of the fountain of Carniolan Rivers (1751), one of the most famous monuments of the Slovenian capital. The sculptor, drawing inspiration from the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona made by Bernini, wanted to represent the three Carniolan rivers: Krka, Ljubljanica and Sava through three figures that hold great vessels from which the water flows.

Things to eat in Ljubljana

9

Slovenia has a rich culinary culture made of typical dishes from the region but also of Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Balkan recipes.

Things to eat in Ljubljana
Things to eat in Ljubljana

Therefore, restaurants and gostilna (taverns) in Ljubljana offer Slovenian specialties as well as also dishes of the countries that have dominated this land and left their mark even in the kitchen.

Soups, meat and game are the protagonists of the traditional cuisine that does not hide his peasant origins. A must: the soup with beans and sauerkraut (jota), polenta usually prepared with semolina (žganci), the ravioli stuffed with potatoes Idrija and bacon, served with meat sauce, the Kranjska klobasa ( Carniolan sausage), ilKraški pršut (Karst prosciutto), the divjačinska sausage (sausage of wild game). Among the “contamination” instead, the barley soup of Austrian origin (ricet), the Njoki (potato dumplings) or riota (risotto) Italian, Hungarian gola  (goulash), are the most common dishes. Excellent Slovenian wines to enjoy dishes with flavors so strong, like Teran and Cviček. As far as thee desserts: the potica is the famous sweet rolled stuffed with walnuts; the Prekmurska gibanica is made by a number of layers of dough with walnuts, poppy seeds, raisins, honey, cottage cheese and cream.

Where to sleep in Ljubljana

10

Ljubljana has a great offer of hotels, hostels and apartments with low prices or under the average of the European capitals.

Where to sleep in Ljubljana
Where to sleep in Ljubljana

In the old town centre , where there are all the main attractions, prices of 3 star hotels are from 40 to 80 Euros per night. Don’t forget that Ljubljana is placed in a green area (as all over Slovenia), then just outside the city center there are cottages and B&Bs immersed in nature. Of course, this forces you to move by car or public transport.

If you are looking for a hotel in Ljubljana, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Lisbon

10 things to do and see in Lisbon

Lisbon is a popular, lazy and melancholy city like all big cities of the sea, especially those who are in the south. The same way are its inhabitants and you can understand them better with the song Fado, the song that the Portuguese sailors sang on the ships. We suggest  you to visit the neighborhoods of the city, from the Bairro Alto, to the Baixa, passing through  Belem and Chiado:  only in these areas you will discover the true cultural identity of Lisbon. Read the 10 most important things to do and see in Lisbon to fully understand the unique charm of the Portuguese capital.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lisbon, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 300 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Baixa in Lisbon

1

The Baixa district is the heart of the city, part of Lisbon that starts from the banks of the Tagus and reaches Avenida da Liberada.

The Baixa in Lisbon
The Baixa in Lisbon

This area was completely destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 1755, and rebuilt in an perfect way: the Baixa is not only the symbol of hope and reconstruction,  it’s also a wonderful example of neoclassical architecture. The Marquis of Pombal, prime minister of King José I, wanted to rebuild it and today it has with many streets for pedestrians and it’s plenty of bars, restaurants, shops. The places that you have to visit are the Praca do Rossio with the Station, the Praca do Commercio and the Elevador de Santa Justa. The Praca do Rossio is recognizable by the white and black pavement. Called by Lisboetas the large sea, it was built by prisoners of the Sao Jorge Castle after the earthquake of 1755. The station is an extraordinary place, a masterpiece in neo-Manueline style with the characteristic entrance with double horseshoe.

The Barrio alto in Lisbon

2

For many centuries, the Bairro Alto has been the neighborhood of rich families: the rich people lived in this area of Lisbon carefully avoiding the most disreputable places of the city.

The Barrio alto in Lisbon
The Barrio alto in Lisbon

From 1800 things changed and the Bairro Alto acquired a double personality that even now characterizes it: on the one hand the aristocratic families and the other one creative people:  poor artists, libraries, restaurants and antique dealers. The Bairro Alto is characterized for being the district of young people and fun: during  the weekend the Lisbon boys meet here to chat or they go to some exclusive jazz club.

The Chiado in Lisbon

3

The Chiado, badly damaged by fire in 1988, has been rebuilt in an perfect way. Walking around these streets, infact,  you don’t notice anything about the destruction.

The Chiado in Lisbon
The Chiado in Lisbon

Chiado means smart, but also malicious and it seems that these were the characteristics of Antonio Ribeiro, poet and monk, whose nickname was “O Chiado.” It was the favourite district of Pessoa, melancholy poet and Portuguese writer. Chiado is currently full of shops, libraries and theaters. One of the most famous places, loved by Pessoa, is coffee “A Brasileira”, located in Rua Garrett, the elegant street that bisects the Chiado with bakeries, shops luxury and libraries. A bronze copy of the poet sitting at a coffee table reminds visitors that here Pessoa spent his days reading and writing. Don’t miss the impressive Gothic ruins of the Carmo Church, partially destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and left in that way, for future memory of what it was.

Belém in Lisbon

4

The Belém district is located on the banks of the Tagus and its history is closely connected to the maritime discoveries: from here the Portuguese ships were leaving in search of riches and new lands to conquer.

Belém in Lisbon
Belém in Lisbon

The Belém district is very large, full of colorful gardens and splendid monuments such as the Monastery of Jeronimos and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of Discoveries). Among them stands out the Tower of Belém, built to be the lighthouse and fortress in Restelo harbor. The special feature of the district is  the architectural style of its facilities characterized by the hyper-decorated Gothic style  called Manueline.

Monastero de Los Jeronimos

5

The Monastero de los Jeronimos is the most important monument of Lisbon. It was built in 1505 to celebrate the return of the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama who had just discovered the sea route to India.

Monastero de Los Jeronimos
Monastero de Los Jeronimos

For its architectural uniqueness, the Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It takes its name from the monks of the Order of St. Jerome to whom was donated after the construction. He became known as the Monastery of Gerolomini. In the monastery there is the Bethlehem church (hence the name of the district) in which the tombs of Vasco da Gama (left) and Luis Camoes are hosted. The tomb of the most famous Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, is instead in the beautiful cloister, considered the most successful example of Manueline style.

Where: Belém district outside the center.
How to get there:
Bus: 727, 28, 729, 714 and 751
Tram: 15.
Train: Belém.
By boat: Port of Belém.
When – Hours:
From October to April from 10.00 am  to 5.30 pm (last entrance 5:00 pm).
From May to September from 10:00 am to 6:30  pm (last entrance 6:00 pm).
Closed: Mondays, 1 January, Easter Sunday, May 1 and December 25
Single ticket: 10 €.
Combo ticket  with the Torre de Belém: 12 €.
Free admission with the Lisboa Card

Alfama in Lisbon

6

Get on a tram, make yourself comfortable with you head out of the windows and discover the Alfama. You have to discover this  district of Lisbon in this way, sliding rapidly in front of your eyes: only after you put together all the pieces of the puzzle and figure out what really is Alfama.

Alfama in Lisbon
Alfama in Lisbon

The tram takes you to the streets of even 4 meters wide: you touch the walls of the buildings, but be careful not to lose balance, these alleys can also have a gradient of 14%! You’ll love the chaotic and elusive atmosphere of Alfama, its clothes hanging from balconies, the parked cars: all you’ll see in this neighborhood will seem an intense and significant expression of the word “life.”

Trams, funiculars and elevators Lisbon

7

To move from one neighborhood to another, and to admire all the beauty of Lisbon at a glance, you’ll have to get around by tram.

Trams, funiculars and elevators Lisbon
Trams, funiculars and elevators Lisbon
Trams, funiculars and elevators Lisbon

Trams in  Lisbon are legendary: they face the slope of narrow streets and alleys and never give up. You can see some boys hanging on the outside handles because they don’t want to  pay the  tickets. We recommend you the tourist line 28, with a little attention to pickpockets. You’ll see all over the Alfama district in few time. Lisbon, like Naples, is the city of funiculars and elevators. Funicular railways (called elevators) are 3: the Glory that goes up to the Bairro Alto, Bica and Lavra that was the first built in Europe. The neo-Gothic elevator is the Elevador de Santa Justa, built at the end of 800 by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel. With its 32 meters of hill  and two spectacular wooden cabins, it leads directly into the Chiado, in front of the church of Carmo.

The Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Lisbon

8

Just below the Castle de Sao Jorge, taking Rua da Saudade, you get straight to that masterpiece half human and half natural which is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia.

The Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Lisbon
The Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Lisbon

If you have ever seen a Lisbon panoramic picture, almost certainly it was made from here. Just as certainly in the picture there are not only the roofs of Alfama and Lisbon horizon, but also the wonderful azulejos (painted tiles) decorating the wall of the belvedere. The tiles are an old Portuguese tradition to which  is also dedicated a small museum near the Belvedere (Museum of Decorative Arts). Behind, on the façade of the church of Santa Luzia, there are two beautiful mosaic tiles: one depicts the Terreiro do Paco (Praça do Comércio) before the earthquake of 1755, and the other depicts some crusaders who reconquer Lisbon.

Things to eat in Lisbon

9

Portuguese gastronomy will be full of surprises, not only bacalhau and Porto will delight you, but there are many other flavors to taste.

Things to eat in Lisbon
Things to eat in Lisbon

To taste the typical dishes of Lisbon you’ll have to enter into the tascas, very poor  cafés managed by Portuguese families, where you eat well and don’t pay much. As soon as you sit there, without saying anything, they will bring you a lot of starters such as black olives, sliced meats, goat cheese and a kind of smoked ham. Bacalhau is definitely a highlight of the city and it’s said that there are 366 ways of cooking it well, one for each day of the year plus one for February 29. Even some meat dishes deserve to be tasted like cozido à portuguesa, stew of meat and vegetables, and sarrabulho, with pork liver or duck marinated in red wine and tied with pig’s blood. For an unforgettable meal, taste a  good Porto  with some exquisite Portuguese cakes.

Where to sleep in Lisbon

10

Lisbon is a city still quite cheap and finding a place to sleep will not be a problem. The Lisbon accommodations are very numerous, there are hotels of all levels and many  motels, hotels on the road.

Where to sleep in Lisbon
Where to sleep in Lisbon

Who is willing to pay a little more can choose to book a room in a pousadas, houses of great historical value that have been adapted to hotel. The pensao are typical family houses, very comfortable and cozy, where you meet some Portuguese doc. There are also bed and breakfast for those who don’t want to spend so much and the apartments, which here are called quartos, aparthotel or tourism de abitacao, for those who want more independence.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lisbon, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 380 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

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capitals Edimburgh

10 things to do and see in Edimburgh

The castle  stands on an ancient volcanic mountain, while in the lower part of the city (the Old Town), medieval buildings and Gothic architectural structures, are characterized by a melancholy and romantic atmosphere: it’s a kind of  promise for those who want to discover this city with a mysterious and troubled past. In the north however, the New Town with its network of parallel roads closed by a square at each end, the residential buildings and the gardens tells another era, the Georgian one. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh is a magical city placed in a stunning setting, one of those fairy tales of Tim Burton, sweet and dark at the same time. Here some famous writers have been inspired by some legendary characters like Sherlock Holmes, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Harry Potter. On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during your visit in Edimburgh.

If you are looking for a hotel in Edimburgh, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Edinburgh Castle

1

It’s one of the most famous castles of Scotland, which offers one of the most beautiful views of the entire city. The historic fort is located on a volcanic hill (Castle Hill) and was built in many stages: the oldest part of the castle, St Margaret’s Chapel, dates back to the twelfth century, the Great Hall was built by James IV in 1510. The Battery Half Moon was built by Regent Morton in the late sixteenth century and the Scottish National War Memorial was erected after the First World War.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Crossing the drawbridge you’ll arrive into the Honours of Scotland (Crown Jewels), among the older royal emblem of Europe, and the legendary Stone of Destiny, on which were crowned all the Royal Scots. If you’re here, on any day of the week except Sunday, at 1:00 o’clock, you’ll hear the echo of an explosion but no worries! This is the gun with blanks (One O ‘Clock Gun) that resonates from Mill’s Mount Battery. In the past, the coup served to inform the time to ships in the Strait of Forth, with time it has become a nice city tradition. The castle is the fantastic scenery of the spectacular military parade Military Tattoo, as well as the setting of one of the adventures of Harry Potter.

Where: Castle Hill
How to get there: 15 minutes walk from Waverley Station and Princes Street.
When -Hours: from April 1st to September 30th: 9:30 am  to 6:00 pm ; from 1 October to 31 March: 9:30 am  to 5:00 pm . Admission is allowed until one hour before closing.
Never: December 25
Tickets:
Adults: £ 16; over 60: £ 12.80; Children (aged 5 to 15 years): £ 9.60; Children under 5 years: free entrance

The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

2

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence in Scotland of Queen Elizabeth, is at the end of the medieval road all made of pebbles, called Royal Mile, or “real Kilometer.”

The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh
The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

The palace has inside dark and unmentionablesecrets: within its walls Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, pregnant of few months, witnessed the assassination of his Italian secretary David Rizzio, commissioned by her second husband, the jealous Lord Darnley. In the building you’ll find many personal belongings of the queen that date back to the period when she was imprisoned, before her sudden death. Currently the State apartments have abandoned their dark and gloomy aspect to regularly host the Queen and other members of the Royal Family for ceremonies and official receptions.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The Palace is a 15-minute walk from Waverley Station. Bus: lines 35 and 36 stop near the Palace
When – Hours: The palace is open daily. April 1 – October 31, 9:30 am  to 6:00 pm , November 1 – March 31, 9:30 am  4:30 pm . Never: 25 and 26 December and during royal visits.
Tickets: (Entrance  + audio guide) adult £ 11:00; over 60 and students £ 10.00, children under 17 £ 6.65, children under 5 free entrance

Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh

3

Are you are Scotch lovers and do you want to know the story of the famous Scotch whiskey? In the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre you’ll enjoy 300 years of production history of this famous liquor through audiovisual paths and a taste of each type of whiskey.

Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh
Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh

In the distillery of the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre you’ll not only listen to all the secrets of the process liquor from the guides trained voice, but with the help of good whiskey connoisseurs you’ll learn to distinguish the Grain Whisky by Malt Whisky. After the tour at the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre ” the water of life”, as they call whiskey around here, will have no secrets for you.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The Centre is located at the top of the Royal Mile, near the Castle.
When – Hours: Every day, from September to May from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm  (last tour at 5 pm ); from June to August from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm  (last tour at 6 pm)
Tickets: (Entrance  + audio guide) adult £ 11:00; over 60 and students £ 10.00, children under 17 £ 6.65, children under 5 free entrance

The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

4

After a period lasted almost 300 years, Scotland has finally regained its Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

The old parliament building was before the Palace of Justice, and so it was right to give a new and worthy seat to the first Scottish Parliament since 1707.  The parliament of Holyrood is located in a modern structure in steel, granite and oak that stands at the foot of the Royal Mile: the building has a very innovative design which refers to the rich cultural and natural heritage of Scotland. Inside the Scottish Parliament are discussed many important issues and are not absent the controversy, not only among politicians but also among the visitors who show some doubts about the real beauty of the building.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The parliament building is located just a short walk from the Royal Mile and close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Bus: 35 (Canongate stop) and 36 (stop Horse Wynd).
When -Hours: Monday, Friday, Saturday and public holidays 10:00 am  to 5:00 pm ; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 9.00 am – 6:30 pm . Free admission.
Never: Sunday
Tickets: free entrance

The Writers Museum and Makars Court in Edinburgh

5

How could the City of literature, as well as UNESCO has called it,  don’t have  a museum dedicated to three of the most famous Scottish writers?

The Writers Museum and Makars Court in Edinburgh
The Writers Museum and Makars Court in Edinburgh

The Writers Museum in Edinburgh is home of manuscripts, personal portraits and memories of three great Scottish writers: Sir Walter Scott, the inventor of the modern historical novel, Robert Burns, one of the most famous figures in the history of Scottish literature, and Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the famous “The strange case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.” But the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to other important contemporary Scottish writers of the past. The beauty of the visit also continues outside the museum, specifically in the medieval courtyard Makars Court, where there are stone plates on which are written some of the quotes of the most famous Scottish authors from the fourteenth century to today: have fun to look  for the phrase that you prefer!

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: The Museum is located in the Palace Lady Stairs Close a short walk from the Royal Mile
When – Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 pm  during the Edinburgh Festival; August 12:00 to 5:00 pm on Sundays.
Tickets: free entrance

The Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh

6

If you love the masterpieces of European and international painters you can’t miss the National Gallery of Scotland which, in collaboration with the neighboring Royal Scottish Academy, has important collections of art of Titian, Monet, Gauguin and others.

The Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh
The Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh

Those who are interested in the last 500 years of Scottish history retraced through some beautiful portraits, will have to take a ride to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery: here you’ll find all the most significant personalities of Scotland, from Robert Burns to the legendary Sean Connery. If you like everything that is modern, you can visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, where even the grass is a work of art, and the Dean Gallery, which is directly forehead.

Where Scottish galleries are situated close to Waverley Station.

How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: Daily 10:00 am  to 5:00 pm . Never: 25 and 26 December
Tickets: free entrance

The St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh

7

Gray, severe and rigorous. That’s how is the historical city Cathedral in the Gothic style, also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh. The origins of St. Giles date back to the twelfth century but the present building dates back the fifteenth century as well as the beautiful crowned  spire of  its central tower.

The St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh
The St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh

Considered the cradle of Scottish Presbyterianism, the reputation of the church dedicated to the patron saint of the city is linked to the Calvinist reformer John Knox who was pastor between 1560 and 1572. Inside stand out the colorful stained glass windows and the Chapel of the Thistle (Thistle Chapel ) built with wood and refined stone in 1911 for the Knights of the ancient and most noble order of the Thistle.

Where: Royal Mile
How to get there: Lawnmarket, Royal Mile. Waverley Station; bus numbers 35, 23, 27, 28, 41 and 42.
When – Hours:
From May to September: Monday – Friday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ; Saturday 9:00 am  to 5:00 pm; 1:00 to 5:00 pm on Sundays. From October to April: Monday – Saturday 9:00 am  to 5:00 pm; 1:00 to 5:00 pm on Sundays
Closed: December 25 after the function of 11:30 am , 26 December, 1 and 2 January.
Tickets: Free. Visitors are welcome to make a donation of £ 3.00 per person.

Things to buy in Edimburgh

8

For your crazy shopping you’ll have everything at your disposal in Edinburgh: many of the elegant shops of the city are at the center, very easy to reach. With its 100 different departments, including electrical appliances, clothing, electronic products and beauty and so much more, Jenners is one of the most crowded shops in the city since 1838. Near Jenners you can go buy a nice dress at Harvey Nichols shop, with its four floors of clothing and trendy accessories. To take a break and rest your legs, you can stop in a cafe of George Street, and then start shopping from the streets of the Royal Mile: Grassmarket and Victoria Street. These two famous streets of Edinburgh are rich not only of food shops, selling local cheeses and whiskeys, but also tailors and jewelers. Cockburn Street, however, has many trendy stores , extravagant craft shops and art galleries. The shops are usually open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am  to 5: 30/6:00  pm and Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00 pm. On Thursday shops  in the city are also open in the evenings throughout the year.

Things to eat in Edimburgh

9

If you want to understand the relationship between the Scots and the food, just think about that Edinburgh is the city with the highest number of restaurants in the whole Britain.

Things to eat in Edimburgh
Things to eat in Edimburgh

The restaurants are so widespread and of a particularly high quality, because the citizens of Edinburgh love to go out and spend the evening together, perhaps with a good traditional Scottish dish. The traditional Scottish cuisine is not limited to the course haggis, a tasty dish rich in spices and meat with potato, but it’s rich of many other culinary delights. Soups are widespread in Edinburgh and are  very useful to keep warm in the winter months. The city’s restaurants will offer you fresh fish or the delicious seafood, but if you love meat you can choose between the partridges, lamb, pheasant and beef steaks of the famous Aberdeen Angus species. You can finish your meal with a delicious dessert made of genuine and natural fruit grown in the lands of Scotland.

Where to sleep in Edimburgh

10

Although it’s not very big, Edinburgh is a city full of accommodation where you can choose to spend your vacation.

Where to sleep in Edimburgh
Where to sleep in Edimburgh

Edinburgh will satisfy your needs: luxurious, stylish accommodation for those who love comfort, cozy and comfortable B&B’s close to the center. Nature’s lovers will find camping well-connected with the center by public transport. Hotels in 2 stars in the center, near Frederick Street and Princess Street, start from € 56 per person, up to the € 160 for a 4-star hotel. To be totally independent, in the center there are also available apartments to rent and hostels, where you can meet people from all over the world.

If you are looking for a hotel in Edimburgh, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

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capitals Dublin

10 things to do and see in Dublin

The images and the stories about  Ireland suggest very often  a reality out of time:  green field, Catholic churches, Celtic cemeteries and secular traditions that still influence the island.  A kid of “poor sister” of England. Once arrived in the Irish capital you’ll immediately realize that this doesn’t correspond to reality; Dublin is, in fact, a modern city, headquarters of many multinational and “promised land” of young workers.

Crossed by the River Liffey, Dublin had many changes during the past years, especially in its central areas: modern buildings, offices, the most famous fast food chains and the inevitable shopping street, Grafton Street.

In down town you’ll admire some statues of its most illustrious personalities, such as Molly Malone, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce.  There are also many  monuments and museums which tell us about the ancient history of the Irish capital, founded by the Vikings as slaves trade center .

Dublin offers different types of attraction: for lovers of nature and green are available many parks, including the central St Stephen’s Green and the huge Phoenix Park; Temple Bar is the suitable area for those looking for entertainment, with pub, street performers especially on weekends and in mid-March, during the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day , the patron saint of Ireland; for lovers of history and literature is possible to visit monuments and museums, but above all you can walk  through the many urban routes narrated in the novels of its greatest authors.

On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during your visit in Dublin

If you are looking for a hotel in Dublin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Trinity College in Dublin

1

You can’t miss Trinity College. It’s one of the most prestigious and oldest university complexes in the world, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I of England and that can boast among its illustrious students Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Samuel Beckett.

Trinity College in Dublin
Trinity College in Dublin

The university is located in the center and two things stand out immediately : the majesty of the Georgian-style buildings, and the tranquility and sense of peace of  large green open spaces .

Walking on campus you can come across some typical Trinity student life scenes. On the green fields you can watch  cricket matches and badminton among students during the breaks between lessons. Going under the theologian George Salmon Statue during periods of degrees, it’s possible to see some recent graduate student at the foot of the statue. It’s a small and ironic revenge against this theologian, who worked for many years at Trinity College and who strongly opposed the entry of women at this university.

Don’t miss the library with no equal in the world; massive wooden columns with ancient volumes. The most famous of all is the “Book of Kells”, manuscript in miniature of rare beauty, which contains, among other things, the text of the four Gospels in Latin.

Where: College Green
How to get there: All bus lines that run through the city center
When – Hours: Visit to the Old Library and Book of Kells: Monday to Saturday: from 9.30 am  to 5.00 pm ; Sunday (May-September): from 09.30 am to 4.30 pm; Sunday (October to April): from 12.00 to 4.30 pm
Tickets:
Entrance to Trinity College: Free entrance
Visit to the Old Library and Book of Kells: Adults: € 9; Reduced (students and seniors): € 8; Families: € 12 (2 adults and 4 children); Groups: 6.50 € per person (for groups of more than 10 people); Children under 12 years free entrance

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin

2

Located in central Dublin, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the only two Protestant churches in Ireland.

St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin

The cathedral, in Gothic style, was built in the twelfth century, and the legend tells that it was built right on the well from which St. Patrick took the holy water to baptize the first Irish Christians. It’s said that the well was bottomless and a gateway to the Purgatory.

Its solid structure, the light filtered through the windows, the enormous organ with 4000 pipes give to visitors a kind of solemnity and impose a natural silence. Inside the cathedral there are the tombs of more than 500 Irish illustrious personages, including the writer Jonathan Swift.

There’s a wooden door inside the cathedral, source of inspiration for a famous motto in Ireland: “Changing one’s arm” , which define people who risk a lot just to get a big benefit. The legend tells that during the war between two Irish noble families, one of the two contenders, the Count  Ormod, to protect from his enemy took refuge behind this door. The  Count Kildare, his opponent, seeing the opponent in extreme difficulty, promised to save his life and the end of hostilities. So he did with the sword two holes in the wooden door to shake his hand from there and establish the  peace.

Where: St Patrick’s Close
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: From March to October: Monday-Friday 09: 00 am -5: 00 pm ; Saturday 09: 00 am -6: 00 pm ; Sunday 09: 00-10: 30 am /12: 30-2: 30/4: 30-6: 00 pm
From November to February: Monday-Saturday 09: 00-5: 00 pm ; Sunday 09: 00-10: 30 am /12: 30-2: 30 pm
Never: 24, 25 and 26 December
Tickets: Adults: 5,50 € – Reduced: € 4.50

Temple Bar in Dublin

3

Welcome to the heart of Dublin life. The Temple Bar district is undoubtedly the liveliest of the whole city; many pubs, bars, clubs, exhibition spaces, restaurants and theaters. According to the legend about the name, it seems that this area is named after Sir William Temple, Master of Trinity College and who settled there with his family.

Temple Bar in Dublin
Temple Bar in Dublin

Located on the River Liffey and not far from the city center, Temple Bar is a place to live during the day and at night. During the day streets are crowded by so many markets and historic workshops, where you can buy products of all kinds; during the  night the streets are  crowded by young Dubliners looking for fun.

Nowadays Temple Bar is just the latest of the many transformation. Attended initially by the upper middle-class of Dublin, over the centuries it became a slum and degraded district; so bad as to convince the city council to knock it down and turn it into an area of remittance for buses.

At 150 meters from Temple Bar there’s  Half Penny Bridge an iron pedestrian bridge, which crosses the Liffey River and connects the north side of Dublin to the south. It’s named after the price that was paid to use it (half a penny, in fact). It’s one of the most evocative places of the Irish capital, ideal to go at dawn and sunset to enjoy a landscape from the very special view.

Guinness Store House in Dublin

4

7 floors to discover the Guinness universe, the most loved beer  by the Irish and famous throughout the world for its dark color and bitter taste.

Guinness Store House in Dublin
Guinness Store House in Dublin

The Guinness Storehouse is the first manufacturing building of this beer and was built in 1759 in the St James’s Gate Brewery, thanks to the intuition of Sir Arthur Guinness, founder of the beer . Located in the west of the city, 10 minutes from the old town, in this huge factory and museum are produced thousands of liters of beer, exported all over the world.

The visit to the Guinness Storehouse is not just a journey into the universe Guinness, but it’s also a trip into the Irish spirit; tenacity, creativity, practicality, precision and attention to detail are indeed characteristics that emerge from  proceedings to create the  Guinness. Each of the 7 floors tells a story about the production of beer; from old photographs of the brewery to the exhibition on processing methods, from machinery to the working techniques.

The tour ends with a free taste  of a fresh pint of Guinness, to be enjoyed in the Gravity Bar, panoramic point of the building, from which you can admire the entire city of Dublin.

ith other 113 Danish kings, the manufacture of 40 tapestries that are currently exposed  in one of the castle halls. Children will not get bored with the brochure Kronborg, made for smaller, with puzzles and quizzes about the castle. The beauty and magnificence of the ballroom is for all ages instead, and we suggest you also to visit  the dark underground where is placed the statue of the national hero Holger Danske: the legend says that in case of danger, the statue  of the hero will be transformed into flesh and blood to help the country.

Where: St James’s Gate
How to get there:
Bus: 51 B and 78A from Aston Quay, 123 from O ‘Connell Street and 123 from Dame Street
When – Hours: Every day from 09:30 am  to 5:00 pm
July and August: 09:30 am -7: 00 pm
Never: 24, 25 and 26 December and Good Friday
Tickets:
Adults: € 14.40; Students with more than 18 years old : € 10.60; Students aged between 12 and 18 years old : € 8.50; seniors (over 65 years old): 10,50 €; Children (6-12 years old): 4,80 €

The prison of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin

5

You can’t visit Ireland and Dublin without visit it. Enter into the prison of Kilmainham Gaol means a closer look at the history of this country. It’s indeed here, within these cold and gray cells, who was fought the most important political battle for the independence of Ireland.

The prison of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin
The prison of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin

Many common criminals and political rebels have crossed the threshold of this prison, never to leave again alive. These people were in fact executed in the courtyard of the prison, a place used for executions.

Today the prison is a museum. It was also chosen as the location from U2 to record one of their music videos; it was used by the cinema as a location in many films, including “The father’s name”, an insight into the strength and the abuses suffered by the Irish during the British occupation.

Located in the west area of the city, a visit to Kilmainham Gaol prison is the most emotional stage of the entire trip to Dublin. During the visit you can be locked up in one of the many prison cells, to understand the feeling of prisoners.

Where: Inchicore Rd
How to get there: Bus: 51, 51 B, 78A, 79 from Aston Quay
When – Hours:
From April to September: 09: 30 am -6: 0 pm  (last admission at 5 pm)
From October to March: 09: 30 am -5: 30 pm  (last entry at 4.30 pm ); Sunday 10: 00 am -6: 00 pm  (last admission at 17).
Never: 24, 25 and 26 December
Tickets:
Adults: 6 €
Students and children: € 2
Free admission for the Dublin Pass holders

The Irish National Gallery in Dublin

6

In the National Gallery of Ireland there are real masterpieces: the dark Taking of Christ by Caravaggio, the delicate watercolors by J. M. W. Turner, The Annunciation by Rubens, several works of Flemish, English and French Impressionists, and numerous portraits and landscapes by Irish artists that trace the history of the country Anglo – Irish.

The Irish National Gallery in Dublin
The Irish National Gallery in Dublin

Among fascinating and wonderful  paintings, there’s a room entirely dedicated to opera of Jack Yeats, Irish illustrator and cartoonist who in 1894 built the first Sherlock Holmes comic.

 

 

 

Where: Pearse Station area
How to get there: Train station Pearse Station. Bus: 4 / A, 5, 7, 7A, 10, 13 / A, 44 / C, 48A
When – Hours: Mon – Sat 9:30 am to 5:30 pm , Thursday 9:30 am to 8:30 pm , Sunday 12:00 to 5:30 pm
Never: 10 April, 24 to 26 December
Tickets: free entrance

The Dublin Castle in Dublin

7

Dublin Castle is the center of administrative power in Dublin and is located exactly halfway between the two most important religious places of the city, the Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Dublin Castle in Dublin
The Dublin Castle in Dublin

This ancient Norman castle was built in 1204 thanks to King John I of England, also known as Giovanni “landless”. Inhabited for many centuries by various ambassadors of His Majesty, the Dublin Castle has been a symbol of the English oppression and was took by the Irish government just in 1922.

Today Dublin Castle is the seat of government representation and is used in officials ceremonies . You can visit for free the outdoor spaces of the castle and admire the majesty of the walls. You can also visit the interior apartments, halls, long halls, the huge chandeliers and St Patrick’s Hall. Don’t miss the Throne Room, which houses the throne of William of Orange III, king of England and Ireland from 1689 to 1702.

Where: Dame St
How to get there: Train station Pearse Station. Bus: 4 / A, 5, 7, 7A, 10, 13 / A, 44 / C, 48A
When – Hours: Mon – Sat 9:30 am to 5:30 pm , Thursday 9:30 am to 8:30 pm , Sunday 12:00 to 5:30 pm
Never: 10 April, 24 to 26 December
Tickets: free entrance

The Spire in Dublin

8

The Spire is a huge steel tower 120m high which is located in the center of O ‘Connell Street, one of the most important avenues of Dublin

The Spire in Dublin
The Spire in Dublin

It’s  in the north of the city and nowadays there are no longer beggars and criminals as in the past.  O’Connell Street is a street of a very elegant area, full of pubs, fast food, high fashion shops and services of all kinds.

The story of The Spire has no official versions; some say, maliciously, that is the  symbol of rebellion against the long English domination; others claim it’s a symbol of the fight against heroin use, widespread in Dublin of the ‘90s. Some say it is simply a monument to light or that the tower it’s just an embellishment of the city skyline.

Things to eat in Dublin

9

In Dublin there are two times of the day dedicated to food: breakfast and dinner. The breakfast is a varied savory menu, made of sausages, eggs, bacon and tea; while dinner is composed by various meat and fish menus.

Things to eat in Dublin
Things to eat in Dublin

Lunch remains a very marginal time of the day.

We suggest you to stop in one of the city’s many bars and cafes where you can taste the famous scones, biscuits made with raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, blueberries or berries, maybe accompanied by a tea.

For dinner, we recommend you to visit one of the pubs of Temple Bar and taste the many traditional meat and Irish dishes, including the Beef Guinness Pie, meat cooked beef in Guinness and covered with a layer of puff pastry.

Where to sleep in Dublin

10

Like any big capital, Dublin offers to its visitors any kind of solution for the night. The Irish capital has many hotels, B&Bs, camps and hostels, in every corner of the city. The richest area of accommodation, as well as the most expensive one, is next to Trinity College and close to Temple Bar.

Where to sleep in Dublin
Where to sleep in Dublin

You can find excellent solutions in O ‘Connell Street area, near The Spire, which has more reasonable prices and is also very close to Temple Bar, the central place of the nightlife.

Dublin is very rich in the guesthouse and B&Bs, furnished in such a way that guests breathe the typical Irish atmosphere. The advice is to book accommodation in Dublin in advance, especially during most important events of the year, such as the t “6 Nations” Rugby or the famous St Patrick’s Day.

If you are looking for a hotel in Dublin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Copenhagen

10 things to do and see in Copenhagen

Copenhagen will surprise you with its contradictions: innovation and tradition, modern and ancient buildings, relaxed atmosphere and nightlife events, all in the same city. Walking through the streets of Copenhagen you’ll admire its historic buildings, its old streets, its wonderful museums and art galleries, the beautiful Tivoli Gardens and the oldest resident monarchy in the world. The Danish capital is a trembling outdoor museum, always with brand new trends about fashion, design and architecture. The way Danish people take care and respect their capital will amaze you: just think about that the harbour of Copenhagen  is so crystal-clear  that you could also take a bath! We suggest you the 10 things you to do and  see in Copenhagen to discover its charm and its irresistible attractions.

If you are looking for a hotel in Copenhagen, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

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There she is, lying on a sort of rock, the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen seems to be bored despite many visits she receives each day, however she watch the sea, to express, maybe,  a deep nostalgia for her home.

The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen
The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid is the most popular tourist attraction in Denmark and is located on the city’s waterfront. The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote the fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” in 1837. In 1909, Carl Jacobs (patron and owner of the Carlsberg beer), deeply moved by the tragic love story represented in the ballet “The Little Mermaid”, commissioned to the sculptor Eriksen a mermaid statue to adorn the city’s port.

Royal Palace of Amalienborg in Copenhagen

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Amalienborg is a real castle, even if it has no towers and spires.

The Royal Amalienborg Palace is the winter residence of the Queen and is also the place of the famous balcony, you have seen for sure in some news or a magazine, from which the royal family greets people in the street.

Royal Palace of Amalienborg in Copenhagen
Royal Palace of Amalienborg in Copenhagen

Even if the royal couple live in the castle, you’ll still be able to visit some of the sumptuous and elegant royal chambers that the king and queen don’t use every day.

Tivoli Park in Copenhagen

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Tivoli is the oldest amusement park in the world, where history and tradition are mixed constantly.

Tivoli Park in Copenhagen
Tivoli Park in Copenhagen

The fabulous park Tivoli Garden is an important meeting point for the locals: business families with children, people on their lunch break, young people at the concerts and elderly who take a walk.

When you’ll be in the Tivoli Gardens watching the fireworks, with the smell of flowers and enjoying rock music, it means that the summer is just arrived  in Copenhagen! If you want to experience the thrill of the attractions you can enjoy  the Deamon rollercoaster or a relaxing ride on small boats.

Where: in the city centre
How to get there: 5 minutes by feet from the central station
When – Hours:
April 8 to June 18 and August 17 to September 20, Sunday – Thursday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm , Friday 11:00 am to 00:30 am , Saturday 11:00 am – 12:00 am ; 19 June – 16 August Sunday – Thursday 11:00 am – 12:00 am Friday and Saturday 11:00  am to 00:30 am ; October 9 am  to 6 pm  Sunday – Thursday 10:00 am to 10:00 pm , Friday and Saturday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm ; 20 November to 30 December Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 am to 10:00 pm , Friday and Saturday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm ;
Tickets: Adults (12 +) DKK 85 and Friday after 8:00 pm  DKK 125, children (3-11) DKK 45, children from 0-2 years: free.

The Kronborg Castle in Copenhagen

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The beautiful Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, reachable by train from Copenhagen in 10 minutes, is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe. This castle is famous around the world for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and each year is visited by about 200,000 people, including the Danish people and tourists from all over the world.

The Kronborg Castle in Copenhagen
The Kronborg Castle in Copenhagen

In 1580 King Frederick II commissioned, along with other 113 Danish kings, the manufacture of 40 tapestries that are currently exposed  in one of the castle halls. Children will not get bored with the brochure Kronborg, made for smaller, with puzzles and quizzes about the castle. The beauty and magnificence of the ballroom is for all ages instead, and we suggest you also to visit  the dark underground where is placed the statue of the national hero Holger Danske: the legend says that in case of danger, the statue  of the hero will be transformed into flesh and blood to help the country.

Where: Elsinor, outside Copenaghen
How to get there: by train Copenaghen – Elisonr. Bus 340, 388, 840
When – Hours: October to March, Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm ; from April to September, daily 10:30 am to 5:00 pm
Tickets: Complete ticket adults DKK 90, children 15 – 18 years DKK 65, kids 6 – Aged 14 DKK 25.

National Museum of Copenhagen

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Adults and children can have a travel back in time about the history of the Danish kingdom with a visit to the National Museum in Copenhagen. Historical events are explained through a play of light and sound inside the palace originally built for King Frederick V. A time travel that starts from a pagan-mystical conception of prehistory, through the medieval centuries up to contemporary works. You can take a look at the embalmed body of the young Egtved or listen to the speeches of the writer and Danish critic Georg Brandes. Although the National Museum is mainly inspired to the history of Denmark, sometime you can also find temporary exhibitions about the history of exotic places like Greenland and Latin America. If you don’t have much time, you can get a quick DIY guide that will offer you an overview about the 10,000 most significant items of the museum in just one hour.

Where: near the central station
How to get there: by feet from central station in 10 minutes
When – Hours: Tue – Sun 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Never: Monday 24 – 25 to 31 December
Tickets: free entrance

The Copenhagen Round Tower

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The Copenhagen Round Tower, or Round Tower, is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, here the stars have been looked  and studied since 1642. When Christian IV built the tower, Denmark was very famous for the astronomical discoveries made by astronomer Tycho Brahe.

The Copenhagen Round Tower
The Copenhagen Round Tower

When Brahe died in 1601, the king decided to continue researches into the tower by his own. Nowadays in  the round  tower there are many  astronomers and curious tourists: the observatory is surrounded by an outdoor platform from which you have a magnificent view of the old part of Copenhagen. You’ll have a long way to walk to get to the platform, but we assure you that it’s worth it! The public observatory , just as you see it now, was built in 1929 and from here you can see the movements of celestial bodies through the telescope.

Where: Købmagergade 52A, , city center
How to get there: Bus, subway or train to Norreport station, from here 5 minute by feet
When – Hours: September 21 to May 20, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm ; May 21 to September 20 10:00 am  to 8:00 pm .
Observatory: from October to March, Tuesday and Wednesday 7:00 to 10:00 pm , 1 July – 12 August, Sunday 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Tickets: Adults: 25 DKK; Children: 5 DKK

Things to buy in Copenhagen

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The design and innovation  capital will satisfy all your shopping desires! Ake Stroget, the main pedestrian street in Copenhagen, is full of international design shops, but you will do  the most exclusive shopping along the narrow streets and the alleys of the city. There you will find the most special and original boutiques where you will buy unique clothes of their kind. Department stores, design and furniture shops, flea markets and small shops of souvenirs are located  in every corner of the city. In some districts such as Osterbro, Vesterbro and Norrebro  will not be difficult to find the right shops for you: be careful only to save money to go back home!

A night out in Copenhagen

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Copenhagen is full of cafes, traditional  or trendy, placed wine bar  and picturesque historic buildings. Here you can drink cocktails, eat the typical Danish meatballs or smørrebrød, tasty sandwiches, until late evening : many of these locals on Fridays and Saturdays are transformed into real animated club with dj. Vesterbo district of Copenhagen is the most creative district where there are many clubs and you can dance and have fun. Discos and clubs in Copenhagen usually close  after midnight, because people prefer to go out in the evening to eat and drink.

Things eat in Copenhagen

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From marinated reindeer to the freshly caught lobsters, from red and hot Thai curry to the traditional “frikadeller” delicious Danish meat balls, from sushi to hot dogs: if you love food, you’ll go back home happy but fat!

Things eat in Copenhagen
Things eat in Copenhagen

There are many inns, modern or more traditional  restaurants where you can try Danish cuisine, which is a mix of traditional flavours, old  but also innovative. Danish cuisine is contaminated by  the influences of French cuisine and  typical  Nordic flavours.  The result is a rich and tasty cuisine that you’ll love so much, too much!

Where to sleep in Copenhagen

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Copenhagen is not a cheap city, but it has many hotels, apartments and hostels, so you won’t have problem finding the ideal accommodation for you.

Where to sleep in Copenhagen
Where to sleep in Copenhagen

In Copenhagen you can sleep in a eighteenth century warehouse or in the latest generation of hotels designed by Danish architects. If you prefer the quieter atmosphere, in the countryside you will find delicious small hotels. All Danish accommodations are characterized by their hospitality and range from one to five stars, based on the services they offer. If you are looking for something cheaper, hostels and camp sites are well connected to the city centre. You just have to choose where to stay and start the Danish adventure!

If you are looking for a hotel in Copenhagen, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
Budapest capitals

10 things to do and see in Budapest

Budapest is called the “Paris of the East” because  it has many features in common with the French capital and some glimpses remind some views of Paris: there is a river, castles and beautiful palaces, and there is a hill, similar to Montmartre, to climb and enjoying the landscape of Budapest. However Budapest has its own identity , maybe even more than one:  it’s the result of three cities: Buda, Pest and Obuda, united by the Chain Bridge and other seven bridges, some of the most photographed corners of Budapest. Three days are enough to discover the Hungarian capital:  from Roman buildings, to the Middle Ages ones with the Castle, the Danube and a beautiful journey through time in the underground stations, made  130 years ago. To know the things to see and do in Budapest, read our 10 tips on this page.

If you are looking for a hotel in Budapest, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The District of Buda in Budapest

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The district of Buda was the first center of the city of Budapest. On this hill, and within the walls of the castle, the inhabitants of Pest came here  to avoid the  Mongol attacks

The District of Buda in Budapest
The District of Buda in Budapest

It was a beautiful city, to compete to the nearby Prague and Vienna. But then arrived  Turks who conquered Buda in 1541, staying there for about 150 years. Buda came out transformed: the churches became mosques and minarets and steam bath were built. In 1686, after 75 days of bombing, the Austrians made Buda free, but the beginning splendour was destroyed: it was rebuilt keeping the old look. It was destroyed again in 1945 and once again rebuilt, today it hosts the Royal Palace, the Matthias Church and some beautiful views. Definitely one of the 10 spots of Budapest not to be missed.

Where: In the upper part of Buda.
How to get there: by funicular railway from the Chain Bridge. By buses 16A and 116 from Moszkva Square.
When – Hours: Every day from 10 am to 6 pm . Closed December 25.
Tickets: HUF florins. 700 with the Budapest Card

The District Pest in Budapest

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If Buda is the ancient and noble part of Budapest, Pest ,on the other hand , is the modern and innovative heart. Restless and messy, it’s the perfect contrary of Buda, all gathered around the castle.

The District Pest in Budapest
The District Pest in Budapest

Pest has no great museums to see: here stands out the creative Budapest, with shops of designers and young artists. However there are some things to see: the Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Great Synagogue and the Ethnographic Museum. It is also the ideal part of Budapest  for shopping: along the Andrássy Avenue you can buy a lot things. There is also a House of Terror, used both by the Nazis both by the communists, as a place of torture.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest

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People don’t expect to admire such a large art collection in an Eastern country. Yet, the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest has nothing to envy to the great museums of the world, such as the Prado in Madrid and the Louvre in Paris.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest
The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest

The museum is divided into six major sections: greek-Roman antiquities, Egyptian collection, sculptures, drawings and molds, the gallery of the Old Masters and the one of the contemporary artists. These last two sections has works of exceptional richness: Giotto, Tiepolo, Raphael, Titian, Velázquez, Ribera, El Greek, Murillo, Goya, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder. In the XIX and XX century collection there are works by all major French Impressionists, Renoir, Monet, Manet, Delacroix, Gauguin, Cezanne, Picasso and others.

Where: Heros square (Hősök tere)
How to get there: underground M1 stop:  Hosok tere
When -Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am to 5.30 pm
Tickets: HUF 1200

Statue Park in Budapest

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People of Budapest have been clever: while all European eastern countries at the end of Communism threw down the marble statues, symbols of no freedom, here have done better.

Statue Park in Budapest
Statue Park in Budapest

They have turned those giants into an excellent tool for memory utilization. They have  put together all the statues representing the great figures of communism (Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Bela Kun) along with anonymous soldiers  and have created a Memento Park Communism. If it’s not enough for you  to face the “comrades” but you want to bring home a piece of them, you can also buy souvenirs of the years of the Cold War (brooches, pins, T-shirts, vintage cigarettes). If you are interested, there is a fine show about how being trained as a communist spy.

Where: Outside the centre of Budapest.
How to get there: With a direct bus from the city center. Daily departures at 11 from Deák tér (you can get there by subway No.1, No.2 and No.3). You will find a bus with the sign: Memento Park.
When – Hours: every day from 10 am
Tickets: 1500 HUF 20% of discount with  Budapest Card

The thermal baths of Budapest

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We know that the Romans had a special predilection for the spa: they not only used to have a hot bath in Budapest sources, but they did more.

The thermal baths of Budapest
The thermal baths of Budapest

They founded “Aqiuncum” with the magnificent baths, of which you can still see the remains in different places of Óbuda. Since then, Budapest has always been a spa town and has not lost this characteristic even when it became a metropolis: today it is the only European capital with the thermal baths and in 1934 it obtained the title of “spa town.” You can enjoy this long tradition and, above all, 70 million liters per day with temperatures from 21 to 78 ° C, in large and small thermal baths.

The Great Synagogue in Budapest

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Budapest has always had a large Jewish community. Even today there are 22 active synagogues, many of which are in schools, hospitals or private homes. In the heart of the Jewish ghetto there is the largest synagogue in Europe.

The Great Synagogue in Budapest
The Great Synagogue in Budapest

Built in 1859 in neo-Moorish style, it can host up to 3000 people. In the lower part of the synagogue there are places for 1497 people, while upstairs there are places for 1472 women. In the garden, right above an ex  mass grave, there is a monument  reminding the Jews killed by the Nazis in 1944-45: it’s a willow tree, called “Tree of Life”, with metal leaves. On each leaf is engraved the name of a martyr.

Where: Dohány Utca, city center
How to get there: By underground, stop  Astoria
When – Hours: Variable hours depending by the time of year and religious functions.
Closed: 1 and 18 January, 15 March 9, 10, 15, 16 April. 29 and 30 May. 18, 19, 20, 27, September 28, 3, 4, 10, 11, Oct. 23. November 1st. December 24 and 25.
Tickets: 1600 HUF

The Margaret Island in Budapest

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Gardens, spas, swimming pools, parks for walking and do sports. Hastily visitors, usually  lose a round on the  Margaret island, which is right in the middle of the Danube, and is easily accessible through the bridge.

The Margaret Island in Budapest
The Margaret Island in Budapest

We suggest you to rent a bike and go along the corners of this small island in the far and wide, they are only 2.5 km! Before Margaret Island, there were three distinct islands: the island Seaside resort, the island of Painters and the island of Hares. Linked by the cement at the end of 1800, now there is  a single island which takes is name by the daughter of King Béla IV, Margaret, that after the Tatar invasion retired to a monastery on the island itself. Today it’s a popular place among people who are looking for few hours without smog or for a bath in the thermal waters of the large outdoor swimming pool Palatinus.

The Parliament Palace in Budapest

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The Parliament is one of the symbols of the city, perhaps the best known and photographed. It was built between 1885 and 1904 by the architect Imre Steindl, who was inspired by the London Parliament and the Cologne Cathedral.

The Parliament Palace in Budapest
The Parliament Palace in Budapest

The Gothic façade with spires, turrets, arches and windows, is a contrast with the inside characterized by baroque and Renaissance styles. The building is about 18,000 square meters, 27 entrances and 691 rooms. We have to say it, the President of the Republic, Prime Minister and parliamentarians have a pretty good home in which to carry out their duties!

Where: Kossuth square, city center
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours:
May – September: 8 am -6 pm  Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 8 am – 4 pm Saturday and 8 am -2 pm Sunday. October-April: 8 am-4 pm  Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 8 am 2 pm Sunday.
Guided tours in Italian begin at 11:30 am  and 4:00 on weekdays and on Sundays at 11.30 am  Between May 1 and September 30 at 11:30 am , 4:15 pm on weekdays, Saturdays at 11:30 am , 4:00 pm and Sunday at 12:15 pm . For tourists from EU countries the visit is free with a valid document recognized (passport, identity card, etc.)
Tickets: free entrance

Things eat in Budapest

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It’s not a light cuisine. Meat, potatoes, onion, spices and paprika are the basis of many dishes of Budapest and Hungary.

Things eat in Budapest
Things eat in Budapest

Fat foods which are justified especially by the cold weather, which in winter can also lead to -50 degrees below zero. With a cold like that, the body requires calories. It all starts with the fried bacon to which you add the paprika: it’s the basis of everything, even the famous goulash, the typical dish par excellence. There is no goulash equal to another, because everyone use to cook it with a variant: meat, potatoes, pepper and paprika cannot miss. In addition to the Goulash there are other soups, while the most famous meat dish is the pork with (as usual) paprika and potatoes. There is so much to try, just prepare yourself for long digestions.

Where to sleep in Budapest

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Budapest is one of the European destinations with a remarkable growing. The development of low cost flights, still acceptable prices and a good tourist hospitality, explain the success of the Hungarian capital.

Where to sleep in Budapest
Where to sleep in Budapest

Since many years, Budapest is one of the top ten of European capitals. There are many  hotels, B&Bs and guest houses: there are about 600 facilities distributed in all parts of the city. We recommend you to go in the central part that allows you to move in an easy way, especially in the evening, even if it means to pay a little bit more

If you are looking for a hotel in Budapest, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
Brussels capitals

10 things to do and see in Brussels

Brussels is one of the European city that people use to visit at the end of their journey. Many other European cities has this destiny but Brussels take its revenge welcoming tourists with the majesty of the Grand Place. It tells  fantasy stories, with comic strips shown not only in the Museum of Comics but throughout the city; it can compete with Paris, Madrid and Florence with its Museum of Fine Arts, showing the skills of the Flemish artists; It amazes for its Art Nouveau routes, signed by the name of Victor Horta as Barcelona is signed by Gaudi; and it delights its tourists  with “brussel sprouts” and with beer, one of the best in the world.

For people who love antique souvenirs we suggest to  visit to the Flea Market of Sablon  –  le Quartier du Sablon – and the Vintage Market – le Quartier des Antiquaires. There is so much to see: we will suggest you  10 things to see and do in  Brussels.

If you are looking for a hotel in Brussels, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Grand Place in Brussels

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The Grand Place in Brussels is considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world, and it’s on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Every tour of Brussels should start from here, in the morning when there is the flower market, or in the evening, with the yellow lights that create some atmosphere.

The Grand Place in Brussels
The Grand Place in Brussels

The main character of the Grand Place in Brussels is the Hotel de la Ville, with Saint Michael statue that overlooks the whole city. In front of  the Hotel de la Ville there is the ancient House of Bread, later renamed Maison du Roi. Despite the name, there is no King but  a museum of the history of Brussels. All around the square there are the houses of the corporation, which tell the story of the trades that took place in the square: you can find the House of traders, l’Etoile with the memorial to Everard ‘t Serclaes (if you touch it you’ll have  good luck). The House of Bouchers, the one of Brassers (brewers, with a museum), the House of the Dukes of Brabant, the House of tailors and the one of painters, where Victor Hugo lived in 1852. The Grand Place is also a meeting place for many young people who , especially in the summer, spend the night there, perhaps sipping an excellent Belgian beer.

The Atomium in Brussels

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The Atomium is a characteristic structure located in Heysel Park, on the northern suburbs of Brussels. About 102 meters high, it represents an iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. Each of the nine spheres that form the Atomium has a diameter of 18 meters, which makes them suitable for hosting exhibitions, conferences, concerts,  and regular exhibitions .

The Atomium in Brussels
The Atomium in Brussels

It was built for the International Exhibition of 1958, (like the Eiffel Tower in Paris) and it was supposed to be there for a short period, but it’s still there, so nowadays is one of the monument that people have to visit in their tour. During  clear day from the spheres you can enjoy a beautiful view over the city, while tasting some Belgian specialties at the panoramic restaurant in the highest sphere…if it’s affordable for you!

Where: Avenue de l’Atomium, outside the city centre.
How to get there:  From the center of Brussels take the metro to “Beekkant” station, then line 6-Roi Baudouin “, stop” Heysel ”
When – Hours: Every day of the year from 10 am to 6 pm . December 25 and January 1 open from 12.12 pm
Tickets: Adult 9 €, children 6-11 years old  € 2, 12-18 years old  € 6

The Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels

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The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are the most important art exhibition of the whole nation: the two offices in Brussels hosts more than 1,000 paintings, sculptures and drawings. Even if many people believe to visit four different museums, the Museum of Ancient Art (XV-XVIII century), the Modern Art (XIX – XX century), the Wiertz Museum and the Meunier Museum are part of the complex of Fine Arts in Brussels . The core of the Museum of Ancient Art are the works of the Flemish, shown in chronological order.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels
The Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels

It starts from the first Flemish painters with Rogier van der Weyden, Petrus Christus, Dirk Bouts, Hans Memling , Bosch and you can visit the  Bruegel room. The works of Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck are of  XVII and XVIII century. In the Modern Art Museum there are  200 paintings about the art in Belgium from 1800 until today: from Neoclassicism Jacques-Louis David (Assassination of Marat) to Romanticism of Delacroix, through the first Van Gogh, an unusual and gloomy Gauguin up to De Chirico. Since June 2009, the beautiful museum complex has been enriched by a fifth museum, or the Magritte Museum, entirely dedicated to the author of the pipe and flying bombs. The museum, a neoclassical building in the heart of Brussels (Place Royale), collects the largest collection in the world of Belgian painter, undisputed star of the current of surrealism and conceptual art

Where: Place du Roi
How to get there: underground, stop: Parc or Gare Centrale
When – Hours: Every day, except Mondays, from 10 am  to 5 pm
Never: 1st January, 2nd Thursday of January, 1 May, 1 and 11 November, December 25.
Tickets: € 13 Magritte Museum included

The Museum of Comics in Brussels

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Belgium is the home of the comic strips but few people know it: the colored pencils of the cartoonists of this small nation created the Smurfs, Tintin, Lucky Luke, Zagor and many other characters that have been famous around the world. The line of these designers is original, simple and full of colors, and have created a  production of great value, defined as the Ninth Belgian Art

The Museum of Comics in Brussels
The Museum of Comics in Brussels

You can admire this production at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre and The House of Comics. The Belgian Comic Strip Center is located in the beautiful Art Nouveau warehouses with liberty style.  It  houses everything : from original drawings of comic books to the copy of the cage where Gargamel imprisoned his first Smurf; from reprint  of the first comic strip book up to a library with 25,000 books! Actually  Brussels is an immense museum of comic strips, with characters painted on the walls of houses .There is a real tourist route called “Route of Comics” that crosses the heart of the city and let you admire 30 giant murals with the most famous heroes of the cartoon world.

Where: Rue des Sables, 20, city center
How to get there: by feet or by underground stop Care – central
When – Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm
Tickets: Adult € 8 , Children € 3

L'Ilot Sacrè in Brussels

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The Ilot Sacré (Sacred Island) has a quadrilateral shape and is located just behind the Grand Place in the city center of Brussels. A maze of narrow streets with many tourists every day, coffee tables, restaurants (especially in Rue des Bouchers) and souvenir shops.

L'Ilot Sacrè in Brussels
L’Ilot Sacrè in Brussels

This part of Brussels is independent from the rest of the cities and self-governing since 1960, when this space was renovated. The highlight of  Ilot Sacrè are the Saint-Hubert Gallery, an indoor gallery of 200 meters built in the XIX century. In the first decades after the construction of the gallery it became a literary center: the “Café de la Renaissance” (now the “Taverne du Passage”), met French artists and writers such as Baudelaire, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Verlaine and Apollinaire. Today the gallery has  less noble purposes, in particular the sale of luxury goods for rich tourists, but this place is still full of charme.

The Mannequin Pis in Brussels

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One of the symbols of Brussels is the subject of a bronze fountain representing a peeing child, called in Flemish “Mannequin pis” or in French “the enfant qui pisse “. One of the most famous legends on the little Julien, the baby that saved the city. The story tells  that he peed on the fuse of a bomb, saving Brussels. The “Mannequin pis” is located at the intersection of Rue de l’étuve / Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne / Eikstraat and is one of the most photographed monuments in Brussels.

The Mannequin Pis in Brussels
The Mannequin Pis in Brussels

Over the years, the little bronze boy has received more than six hundred dresses as gift: Paris Hilton could be envy of this! In Brussels, the “Little Julien” as it is called by the citizens of the Belgian capital, has been emulated:  in the Ilot Sacré area, in fact, there is “Jeanneke pis”, ( “Jeanne qui pisse ” in French): female symbol of the city. This more recent statue,  is in  Getrouwheidsgang / Impasse de la fidélité, and symbolize the loyalty: in this case it’s a peeing girl. Finally, if you really want to go on this little tour with the same subject, on the corner of Rue Vieux Marché aux Grains et  la rue des Chartreux, you can also find the peeing dog.

Museum of Magritte in Brussels

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A must see in Brussels, the Magritte Museum hosts about 200 works by the surrealist master. A real journey in Magritte’s art, through paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures but also advertising works and films.

Museum of Magritte in Brussels
Museum of Magritte in Brussels

The route starts from the 3rd floor and through a chronological journey in the artist’s life. If you are in hurry and look  for his most famous works, you can find it at the bottom, on the 1st floor: like everyone else, you will remain fascinated in front of the “Empire des lumieres”, the Domaine d’Arnheim, l ‘oiseau de ciel”. Unfortunately the works of Magritte travel the world, so if you go there for some works in particular, better check first

Where: Rue de la Régence 3 city center
How to get there: Subway – Gare central or Parc stop
When – Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm . Wednesday till 8 pm . Closed Monday.
Ever: every Monday, second Thursday of January, 1/1, 1/5, 1/11, 11/11, 25/12
Tickets: € 8 or € 13 Fine Art Museum included

Quartier du Sablon in Brussels

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The Place du Sablon, outside the city walls, takes its name by the yellow sand which is on the suburbs of Brussels.

Quartier du Sablon in Brussels
Quartier du Sablon in Brussels

Today the district is one of the most elegant in the Belgian capital, a must see  for three reasons: the first is the cathedral of Notre Dame du Sablon, gothic masterpiece, the second one  is Wittamer, the oldest pastry shop famous for Brussels gauffres; The third reason is as sweet as the second one:  Marcolini  with his Maison du Chocolat brought Brussels pralines  in every remote corners of the planet. If you are in Brussels on Sunday, don’t miss the antique market that takes place every weekend right on the Place du Sablon.

Things to eat in Brussels

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Belgian cuisine has typical dishes that will surprise you. The famous brussel sprouts, to make an example, are famous in the world as the “moules- frites”, literally a dish of “mussels and fries”.

Things to eat in Brussels
Things to eat in Brussels

The latters are another specialty of Belgium, in direct competition with those of Amsterdam. If you prefer sweet recipes, you should know that Belgium has a long and recognized tradition of master chocolatiers. You will find around the city many chocolate shops selling chocolates both simple and stuffed with creams. In the cafés, you can ask for a cup of hot milk with chocolate beans to melt into it. Another specialty is gauffres or waffles, very soft waffles cooked on the plate. You can eat them stuffed with Nutella, cream, or fruit. If you love  cookies, you have to taste “speculoos” made with spices, among which stands out the cinnamon, usually cooked for St. Nicholas celebration. You can buy them in boulangeries, in the biscuit shop  or at the supermarket: the best are those of the Lotus. For beer lovers, a must drink is the traditional Belgian beer, called “bière blanche” (white beer). You should visit the monasteries where it is produced: one of the best is  Maredsous, where in addition to an exquisite and heavy beer, you can taste some  cheese made by the monks themselves.

Where to sleep in Brussels

10

The hotels are well placed in the city and you can find them everywhere, the difference is of course about the  price. In Schumann area, there is a good number of hotels, with fairly high prices.

Where to sleep in Brussels
Where to sleep in Brussels

Same goes for the historical center of the city. If you want to spend less, you can move into suburbs area such as the Atomium, where there are hotels of good quality at the lowest prices. Don’t worry about the distances: the metro city works very well  and if you don’t want to use it, you go by bus, or a taxi which are not so expensive. If you prefer the hostel solution, you find them everywhere in the city, with common rooms  or double and single room. Be sure about the availability of rooms and remember that not all accept reservations. You can sleep also in  B & B where you can experience the great courtesy of the Belgian people. If you want to stay a little more than a weekend, you can rent an apartment that will allow you to move, even if it isn’t sure that you’ll save some money

If you are looking for a hotel in Brussels, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 200 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
Bratislava capitals

10 things to do and see in Bratislava

Bratislava is, perhaps,  one of the few cities in the world whose name was decided by a public competition. The residents didn’t like the German name Pressburg defined when it was capital of the Kingdom of Hungary. The Slovak capital, is 60 km from Vienna, but also 200 km from Budapest and 300 km from Prague. It’s therefore a must see during the Est European cities tour. Nowadays the Slovak capital is the main destination for those seeking a nice little town, clean, quiet, full of things to see, so many young people and a nice night life. In this page we suggest you the 10 things to see and do during a trip to Bratislava.

If you are looking for a hotel in Bratislava, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 115 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Castle of Bratislava

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The Castle dominates the town from a hill and you’ll see it in every tour in the city.

The Castle of Bratislava
The Castle of Bratislava

It was built in 913 on a place already inhabited during the Stone Age, but it was repeatedly damaged and rebuilt in Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance style and then was destroyed by a fire in the early 1800. It has been rebuilt and since 1993 is representativeseat of the Slovak parliament when the nation has become independent with the separation of Czechoslovakia. From the castle, taking the path Zidovska, you’ll  cross what remains of the Jewish Quarter largely destroyed to buil the New Bridge. In the district there is the “narrowest house in central Europe” in the Rococo style, which houses a Museum of Clocks.

When: On the hill of the Old Town
How to get there: by feet from the Old City or bus 203 and 207.
When – Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm . Never on Monday.
Tickets: Adults 2 €, children, teenagers and students € 1.33

The Old Town of Bratislava

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The Bratislava’s Old Town (Stare Mesto) is perfectly preserved and entirely pedestrian. It’s developed  all around the Main Square (Hlavné namestie) where for centuries there were  markets, riots and executions.

The Old Town of Bratislava
The Old Town of Bratislava

Nowadays there’s the Town Hall with the tower and above all restaurants and bars where Slovaks and tourists drink beers at any time of day every day of the year. According to legend, the statue of Maximilian II turns and starts to walk backwards!

The old town is a succession of well-preserved buildings, streets and squares, including the large Hviezdoslav Square which hosts the National and the Philharmonic Theatre. During the winter it becomes a huge ice rink and a giant chess during the summer. The old town is dominated by  the Church of San Martino, the most beautiful Gothic building in Bratislava. Don’t miss the bronze statues that appear from the most uncommon places including a photographer, a voyeur in a manhole, two girls on a mailbox and the soldier of Napoleon.

The Church of St. Martin in Bratislava

3

St. Martin’s Cathedral is the most important church in Bratislava. Built in a Gothic style was for centuries the place of coronation of Hungarian kings (when the region belonged to the Hungarian Empire).

The Church of St. Martin in Bratislava
The Church of St. Martin in Bratislava

This feature is remembered by a reproduction of  300 kg of the Hungarian crown that is placed on a golden pillow 2 × 2 meters which is located at the top of the bell tower. The interior is divided into 3 aisles and you can admire the great portal in relief and the lead group of San Martino depicting the saint in the act to donate part of his cloak to a beggar. Don’t forget to visit the catacombs, which are under the church: a really exciting place.

Where: Rudnayovo námestie
How to get there: by feet in the old town center
When – Hours: From April to October: Monday to Saturday 9 -11.30  am and 1 -5 pm ; Sunday 1: 30- 4 pm. From November to March: Monday to Saturday 9 -11.30 am and 1 -4 pm; Sunday 1:30- 4 pm
Tickets: € 2

The Blue Church in Bratislava

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Actually this church is not much interesting from an architectural point of view but worth a visit for only one reason: the color of the walls, turquoise blue, which makes it looks more like a cake or a fabulous-looking house.

The Blue Church in Bratislava
The Blue Church in Bratislava

A choice certainly unusual for the church dedicated to St. Elizabeth of Hungary who lived in the Bratislava Castle. The construction is recent, 1907, which explains the Art Nouveau style chosen by Hungarian designer Odon Lechner. The entire area surrounding the church is full of houses and buildings with Nouveau elements. You can arrive to the Blue  Church  walking from the Old Town or taking the tram number 13.

Where: Bezručova, in the eastern part of the Old Town
How to get there: by feet in the old town centre
When – Hours: every day from 11 am to 6 pm
Ticket: free entrance

The Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava

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No wonder the young Slovak Republic Presidency has headquarters in Grassalkovich Palace, the most beautiful one of Bratislava. It was built in 1760 in Baroque style as a summer residence for Count Anton Grassalkovich, an influential adviser of Queen Maria Theresa, Empress of the Empire Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava
The Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava

Inside you can admire the beautiful staircase and if you have time, hundreds of different rooms. The palace gardens are an oasis of tranquility in the already quiet Bratislava: lawns, trees, benches and a few statues of contemporary art to be admired. Admission until the sunset every day of the year

Where: Old town centre
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: The palace is not open to visitors, but we recommend to watch the changing of the guard at 1:00 pm
The park’s opening hours: January to March: every day from 10:00 am  to 7:00 pm ; April-May: every day from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm ; June-September: daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm ; October to December: daily from 10:00 am -7: 00 pm

The picturesque statues of Bratislava

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For those who are not prepared to them, the bronze statues are scattered around the old town of Bratislava and represent a truly unexpected spectacle. So you could see appearing from a manhole “Cumil the voyeur” named in this way  by the inhabitants for obvious reasons.

The picturesque statues of Bratislava
The picturesque statues of Bratislava

On a nearby bench, a Napoleonic soldier waits for the return of his commander. Watch out to the photos of the “Paparazzi” or the “mocker” at the window. Even Andersen, the great writer of fables, was rewarded with a statue for writing in Bratislava “The Little Match Girl”. The Baron Munchausen, instead, is having a bad time sitting on a cannonball in the façade of a building. The Bratislava bronze statues are changing: every now and then someone appears. Everything was born as an inexpensive and fun way to revitalize the center after the fall of Communism. Today they have become one of the most important tourist attractions of the Slovak cities.

The New Bridge in Bratislava

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This futuristic bridge over the Danube is called the New Bridge (Nový Most) even though it was built over 30 years ago. You’ll have the impression of getting on a UFO spaceship (the inhabitants call it that way) suspended in Bratislava. The elevator that takes you up is super-fast so you can take a beer, eat at the restaurant (luxury but affordable) or simply admire the view from the platform.

The New Bridge in Bratislava
The New Bridge in Bratislava

The Jewish District was destroyed to build this bridge during the communist dictatorship, and the politicians of the time didn’t think twice to build the road of the bridge close to  the Cathedral San Martino, the city cathedral and crowning place of the Hungarian kings.

Night life in Bratislava

8

Sitting at a table in a bar or a pub and drinking a beer (also 3 or 4) with some friends is the favorite sport of the inhabitants of Bratislava. This explains the large number of bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs in the Old City.

Night life in Bratislava
Night life in Bratislava

For the evening, then, you can choose: pubs with live music, some great nightclubs, jazz clubs, or, if the weather is nice, a walk along the Danube.

Things to eat in Bratislava

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We are sure of two things: when you return from Bratislava you will have a few extra pounds and you will not want to see gnocchi, sheep meat and cheese for a little bit. The first Slovakian dish is the gnocchi (halusky) or ravioli (pirohy) with sheep cheese (bryndza) or lekvarom (jam and walnuts). They are present in all menu sometimes with very classic goulash (beef, paprika, carrots, potatoes).

Things to eat in Bratislava
Things to eat in Bratislava

The Slovak soups are dense and hearty with the appearance of garlic soup, onion, potatoes, cabbage, lentils and so on. The Slovak wines are of great level, and then choose aTokai, a Traminer, Riesling or Müller-Thurgau. But don’t forget that we are here in the East and the beers are good and cheap. Costs for food are generally low (10-20 € for two). Among the restaurants the choice is wide: in the old town there are almost all friendly and generally the service is fast but never rude.

Where to sleep in Bratislava

10

Bratislava offers a good choice of hotels of all categories with prices starting at 60 Euros.

Where to sleep in Bratislava
Where to sleep in Bratislava

Our suggestion is to choose a hotel in the Old Town or just outside the centre: don’t go visiting the suburbs where you could have problems with your connections and, above all, with safety. Prices start at around 60 Euros for a double room in a hotel with 2 or 3 stars but you could find also good opportunities for superior hotel in the center for the same price.

If you are looking for a hotel in Bratislava, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 115 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
Berlin capitals

10 things to do and see in Berlin

Berlin is not only the city that was once was divided by the most famous wall in the world, but it’s also and above all a cradle of human history’s treasures.  These treasures such as the Pergamon Altar, the Gate of Babylon, the Papyri Collection and several works of European Prehistory are kept in one small island, right in the middle of the Sprea River.

It’s the home of electronic music, avant-garde architecture and Gothic ruins. It’s the city where destruction, division, reconciliation, memory and redemption chase each other in an eccentric and cosmopolitan views.

Under the austere blanket of a dark past and impossible to forget, Berlin will surprise you.

Here we suggest you the 10 things to do and see during a holiday in Berlin.

If you are looking for a hotel in Berlin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 1000 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Reichstag in Berlin

1

This monument represents the collapse of Nazism and immortalizes a Soviet soldier hoisting the flag with hammer and sickle on its top. The Reichstag is the seat of the German parliament and like many Berliners monuments, it brings all the signs of the Second World War and has its own story to tell.

The Reichstag in Berlin
The Reichstag in Berlin

Born as a building to house the rooms of the German Parliament, it was from one of its windows that in 1918 was proclaimed the birth of the German Republic, marking the decline of the monarchy. In February of 1933, a terrible fire almost completely destroyed the building and during the Second World War it was used as a clinic for new births.

One year after the fall of the Wall, in October 2 1990, here was celebrated the official ceremony of the reunified Germany. Only in 1999, it  has officially returned the symbol of German democracy hosting the Houses of Parliament again. The beautiful dome of steel and glass that we see today was designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster, as a symbol of openness after the dark period of division and through its windows you can see the whole of Berlin and the Parliament’s internal area.

Where: Platz der Republik
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: S1, S2 stop Unter den Linden – Bus: 100
When – Hours: Every day from 08:00 to midnight; Never: December 24. It’s required the online booking at least 2 days in advance
Tickets: free entrance

Berlin wall

2

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”,  said the US President Ronald Reagan, during his famous speech in Berlin in 1987. Only two years later, on November 9, 1989, the wall was torn down, and with it all the ideological and political barriers that for 28 years have materially and cruelly split in two sections Berlin and Germany.

Berlin wall
Berlin wall

In August 1961 the city completely changed: 170 km of concrete marked the division of the world into two spheres, the American and the Soviet one. It was impossible to cross the borders, at least 136 people died trying to escape to West Berlin, others used all kinds of tools  to cross the wall: hot air balloons, ultralight aircraft and false documents with the letterhead of the United Nations are just a few examples.

On 9 November 1989 the leaders of the DDR government announced that East Berliners could cross the border and the wall fell down under the blows of hammers and picks. Just 1 km of  concrete remained intact and in 1990 artists from all over the world celebrated the reunification of Germany with colorful murals, some of which have become famous works in the world as “the mortal kiss” that captures the kiss on the mouth of Honecker and Brezhnev, and “Test the best” that depicts the “official” car of East Germany that breaks through the wall.

These and many other graffiti can be admired in the East Side Gallery, a real open – air art gallery, protected by the German government as a real monument.

Where: Mühlenstraße
How to get there: Metro U-Bahn: line 3, 5, 7, 9, 75 Warschauer Straße; or Ostbahnhof railway station.
Bus: 248, 165, 265, N65
When – Hours: always
Tickets: free entrance

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

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Checkpoint Charlie was a crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War , armored and controlled by the US military, built at the cross of two of the main streets of the city: between Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße.

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin
Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

Here, on October 25 1961 Soviet and American tanks faced each other and the American troops gained the right to freely move in Berlin. With the city divided in two sections , it was necessary to ensure that nobody of the DDR tried to go to the West side, so different checkpoints were installed: Checkpoint Alpha separated East Germany from Germany West; Checkpoint Bravo separated East Germany from West Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie,  monitored the border between Americans and Soviets.

Checkpoint Charlie fell down with the wall  and what we see today is a reproduction made in 2000, with the suggestive posters of two soldiers: an American guy who look  toward the East Berlin and a Soviet soldier looking towards the West zone, and the famous sign announcing “you’re leaving the american sector”

You can  visit the museum “House at Checkpoint Charlie”, where there’s a permanent exhibition about the history of the Wall and are exposed the most weird objects used to escape  by the inhabitants of East Berlin.

Where: Friedrichstraße 43-45
How to get there: Metro U-Bahn station Friedrichstraße
When – Hours:
Checkpoint everyday
Museum every day from 9 am to 10 pm
Tickets Museum: € 12,50

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

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The Brandenburg Gate is the third symbol of the Cold War.

When the night of November 9, 1989 the wall was demolished, thousands of people met  in front of the door, which had been closed since 1969 in the “no man’s land” between the two sectors of the city. But the story of the Brandenburg Gate start  in 1788 when William II commissioned the construction of one of the 18 gates of the City of Berlin like  the front door of the Athens Acropolis. On top of this majestic arch supported by 12 columns and  26 meters high, stands a Quadriga which depicts the Goddess of Victory on  a chariot drawn by four horses.

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

The sculpture on  the Brandenburg Gate has a troubled history to tell : in 1806 it was the war booty of Napoleon who conquered the city. It was taken and brought to Paris before returning to Berlin in 1814 , and during the second World war it was destroyed by bombings. The Quadriga we see today was refund in 1953 and placed on one of the most significant monuments of XX century history.

Where: Pariser Platz
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: line 1, 2, 25 station  Brandenburger Tor

The Island of Museums in Berlin

5

Have you have ever thought to find an island in the middle of the river running through the city? A special  island that can host five museums in a row, each with its treasures about the  human history.

The Island of Museums in Berlin
The Island of Museums in Berlin

The Altes Museum was the first to be built, between 1823 and 1830, and in the halls of the ground floor houses a collection of works and objects of the Ancient Greece world, while the upper floor is dedicated to  the Etruscan people and imperial Rome. Other relics of classical antiquity and the fabulous Egyptian works are hosted by Neus Museum, the “New Museum”. Among its treasures there’s  the bust of Nefertiti, which dates back to 1340 BC stone, of the Papyri Collection and several works of European Prehistory. In the Alte Nationalgalerie there’s  is the most important collection of German painting and sculpture of the XIX century and a collection of French Impressionism and German works. The Bode Museum, named after the architect who designed it, was built in 1904 and has a wonderful collection of coins with about 500,000 pieces, in addition to objects of Byzantine art and sculptures of the Classical World.

The Pergamon Museum, top of the range in the island, hosts  the Pergamon Altar, dating from the second century BC, and  other architectural wonders like the majestic Gate the market of Miletus, built in 120 BC, and the Gate of Babylon, built by the sovereign Nabucosondor and consecrated to the goddess Ishtar, embellished with beautiful mosaics.

Where: Bodestraße
How to get there: Metro U-Bahn: U6 (Friedrichstrasse)
Metro S-Bahn: S1, S2, S25 (Friedrichstrasse); S5, S7, S75 (Hackescher Markt)
Tram: M1, 12 (Kupfergraben); M4, M5, M6 (Hackescher Markt)
When – Hours:
Altes Museum: daily from 10:00  am to 6:00 pm ; Thursdays until 10:00 pm
Neus Museum: daily from 10:00 to 4:00 pm ; Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 8 pm.
Alte Nationalgalerie: daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ; Thursday until 8:00 pm ; Never Monday.
Bode Museum: daily from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm ; Thursday until 8:00 pm ; Never Monday.
Pergamon Museum: daily from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm ; Thursday until 8:00 pm
Tickets:
Altes Museum: 10 €
Neus Museum: 12 €
Alte Nationalgalerie: 10 €
Bode Museum: 10€
Pergamon Museum: 12 €

The Berlin Cathedral

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The Berliner Dom has a baroque style with strong influences of the Italian Renaissance and it’s  114 meters long, 73 wide and 116 high.

The Berlin Cathedral
The Berlin Cathedral

The great  copper dome, is decorated with paintings depicting events of the New Testament and the period of Reform. Climbing up 270 steps, moreover, you can  arrive at the top, enjoying  a breathtaking view of Berlin. The bombing of the Second World War damaged the roof but the  reconstruction works began only in 1975. The cathedral was reopened in 1993, after 18 years, and still today you can admire the main altar, dating back to 1850; the Crypt of the Hohenzollern and the majestic Sauer Organ of 7000 pipes.

Where: Am Lustgarten
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: 5, 7 e station  Alexander Platz
When – Hours: Monday to Saturday from 09:00 am to 8:00 pm ; Sundays and holidays from 12:00 to 8:00 pm ; from October to March closed at 7:00 pm
Tickets: full ticket € 7 ; for people under 18 years old free entrance

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

7

This monument is 1 km far from the Brandenburg Gate and represents the commemoration for the 6 million Jews killed during the Nazi era. The monument was built by the American architect Peter Eisenman.

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Opened in 2005,  it’s made of concrete stelae (stele) arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.  Walking through the stelae the memorial becomes increasingly tight and irritating, so that visitors can experience the contrast between the before and after his entrance. You can find underground the information point  with a permanent exhibition to  trace the stories of several Jewish families and in the “Room of Names” will find brief biographies of all the victims with their names and year of birth.

Where: Cora-Berliner-Straße
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: stop Brandenburger Tor or Potsdamer Platz
Metro U-Bahn: stop a Potsdamer Platz or Mohrenstraße
When – Hours:
Info Point: from April to September: Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 am  to 8:00 pm ; October to March: Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm ; never: 24 to 26 December; Dec. 31 open until 4:00 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Alexander Platz in Berlin

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Alexander Platz has always been the most famous square in Berlin. Its name dates back to 1805, when during a visit to Berlin of  Tsar Alexander I, the square that housed the cattle and wool market, Ochsenmarkt (cattle market, in fact), was renamed Alexander Platz.

Alexander Platz in Berlin
Alexander Platz in Berlin

The square has always been a crucial point for the traffic of the capital : 20 tram and bus lines intersect at this point.

Its aspect  is a socialist architecture testimony, all surrounded by big buildings  as “The teacher’s house”; “The House of the trip”; “Electronic Industry House”. But the iconic building of Alexander Platz is undoubtedly the TV tower, which with its 365 meters high, each meter for each day of the year, dominates the town and is the tallest structure in Europe Western.

An elevator takes visitors to the steel ball,  which offers a spectacular view of Berlin. There are other two iconic symbols: the Urania Weltzeituhr, the clock that marks the hours of the world’s major cities, and Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft, the fountain dedicated to “friendship among peoples”.

Where: Alexander Platz
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: line 5, 7 e 75 stop Alexander Platz
Metro U-Bahn: line 5, 8 e 2 stop Alexander Platz
When – Hours: TV tower: from March to October from 09:00 am  to midnight; from November to February from 10:00 am to midnight
Tickets: Full ticket € 11 ; under 16 years old € 7

Things to eat in Berlin

9

German people love meat , especially sausage of which there is a great choice, and the cuisine is rich and nourishing.

Things to eat in Berlin
Things to eat in Berlin

The meat is accompanied by  potatoes (or Sauerkraut Kartoffel) with a clear preference for potatoes which are also in the salads (kartofellsalat). gnocchi (kartoffelklosse)  soup (kartoffelsuppe), and grilled (Bratkartoffelln). The most famous dish is the Eisbein, boiled pork pieces with sauerkraut. Beer is of course the most famous drink. Not everyone knows that in Berlin there are some of the most famous restaurants gourmet in the world  as well as many restaurant with ethnic and Italian food. Whatever your tastes don’t miss the hot dogs at the kiosks scattered everywhere in the city and the Kebab, Turkish specialties, masterfully prepared throughout Berlin.

Where to sleep in Berlin

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In Berlin there are about 1000 hotels of all categories and  hundreds of hostels and apartments for rent. A great offer with low prices will allows you to always find a suitable room for your needs.

Where to sleep in Berlin
Where to sleep in Berlin

In Mitte (center) you can find rooms in big buildings at 40 euro per night or small designer hotel with prices around 100 €. The German capital is well served by metro, bus and tram so you can choose a suburban hotel to save some money

If you are looking for a hotel in Berlin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 1000 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
Athens capitals

10 things to do and see in Athens

Fascinating and mysterious city of Greece, Athens was the center of literature, art and philosophy. Birthplace of Socrates and Plato, the history of Athens begins a myth that attributes the construction of the city to the goddess Athena. But Athens is not only the history, myths and legends, it’s also modernity, street vendors with their colorful clothes, taverns, night clubs and open-air theaters. Made even more beautiful by the 2004 Olympics, Athens is ready to welcome you and to bring you into its magic historical streets and its monuments full of adventures and conquest.

On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during your visit in Athens. We just have to wish you bon voyage!

If you are looking for a hotel in Athens, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 220 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Acropolis of Athens

1

The first place that deserves your attention in Athens is certainly the Acropolis overlooking the surrounding valley from a hill.

The Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens

The Acropolis with its beautiful monuments is the universal symbol of the classical spirit and civilization and immediately will let you dive  into an atmosphere full of charm and mystery.

The Acropolis is the greatest architectural and artistic complex left from Greek civilization to the whole world: a rocky hill where were born important philosophical thoughts and ambitious political strategies. You’ll enter  into a world old and new at the same time.

The Agora of Athens

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To try to understand what it once represented the agora for the Athenians, you can close your eyes and let yourself be carried by the imagination: it won’t be difficult to hear the confused voices of the market and the disquisitions of philosophers. Among these wonderful ruins there were the commercial, political and administrative heart of Athens, and all the men came together here to make important political decisions and to do some  business. Just in the agora, in 399. C., the great philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death on charges of corruption against youth. It was a historical injustice to which only the behavior of Socrates made sense: despite it was offered to him a way to save himself, the philosopher wanted to serve his sentence demonstrating to everyone the respect of the law.

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

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The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the 10 most important museums in the world for the richness of its collections. Greece is proud of this museum that traces the origins of this fascinating country and traces the path of all the cultures that have passed through here. All the assets present in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is divided into three sectors: the ground floor, the section of the sculptures and the prehistoric, where you trace the beginnings of the history of Greece, while in the second floor there’s the splendid ceramics collection. It won’t be enough one day to admire all the beauty of this museum, so it’s best to plan two days to visit it.

Monastiraki in Athens

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Do you want to buy some souvenirs or simply breathe a little typical Athenian air? Go ahead in the Monastiraki neighborhood that, unlike the name, has nothing of the quiet and peaceful monastic atmosphere, but thanks to the famous market held here is always overcrowded

Monastiraki in Athens
Monastiraki in Athens

The Monastiraki  market is an explosion of colors and liveliness with all its adorable trinkets, musical instruments, shoes, used clothes, cell phones, household appliances, CDs, videos and even caviar. All sort of stuffs  among the alleys and narrow streets of Monastiraki which is also a treasure chest of beautiful churches and monuments to explore. Follow the flow of life of this district with its street performers, bars and outdoor cafes and the sellers are ready to bargain with you. Just watch out for big business, because they might be some big bluff.

Syntagma Square in Athens

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Syntagma Square is the heart of the city that still vibrates for major historical events that have passed through here: now just walking around this square you could run into some protest.

Syntagma Square in Athens
Syntagma Square in Athens

The name “Syntagma” can be translated as the square of the Statute or Constitution Square and refers to the majestic façade of parliament.  At its base is located the monument of the Unknown Soldier guarded by the “Evzones”, guards with the characteristic greek costume. Syntagma square is one of Athens’s top tourist destinations because of its troubled history and for its proximity to the most interesting and charming areas of the city.

The Plaka in Athens

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The Plaka is the old lady of Athens: an area inhabited for 7000 years that has not been changed by the excavations.

The Plaka in Athens
The Plaka in Athens

For  its appearance unchanged, the Plaka is one of the most tourist areas of the city with its charming boutiques, palaces and Byzantine churches, monuments just hidden by little streets and numerous gift shops and special items.

A pleasant walk in this neighborhood will make you feel fully involved in Athenian life: a nice dish in one of the outdoor restaurants, music of street artists, a fun puppet show, and you can say that you experienced all that this unique place can offer.

Things to buy in Athens

7

Probably shopping in Athens is one of the main attractions for tourists, but the city is full of shops, boutiques and markets scattered everywhere and not just concentrated in the center. If you are a lover of elegant and refined clothes you need to go in Glyfada quarters, Kifissià and Kolonai, where you’ll find many luxury boutiques, but if you prefer an easy shopping you can go to malls in Platia, in the streets and neighborhoods of Piraeus Maroussi, Kallithea and Nea Ionia, looking for some occasion. Who wants colorful multiethnic and cheap clothes has to go  to Omonoia square and in Odos Eolou.

Night life in Athens

8

The fact that Athens is a city rich in history and culture doesn’t mean it’s not the destination for fun and entertainment. In Athens you can dance until dawn in nightclubs or drinking very fashionable drink in bars. Here the night is always young: restaurants and taverns don’t close before one o’clock and the locals put all kinds of music, from traditional Greek to hip hop, at least until 5am. You will know how to have fun in this city because there are all the conditions to spend unforgettable evenings.

Things to eat in Athens

9

Greek cuisine will tempt your palate with spices, herbs and an oil which is just gold due to its intense flavor and its genuineness.

Things to eat in Athens
Things to eat in Athens

Don’t be frightened by strange names like zadziki, which is actually a simple and delicious sauce made with cucumbers, garlic and yogurt, or definitions as feta that is a very good low-fat goat or sheep cheese: despite these extravagant definitions Greek food is very inviting and succulent.

You’ll taste also the hospitality that characterizes the Greek people, imagine rich outdoor tables and colorful dishes while chatting happily and drinking ouzo in quantity, tasty aniseed liqueur. The timing of meals is very flexible: lunch from 2:00 to 4:00 pm  and dinner not before 10:00 pm.

Where to sleep in Athens

10

Athens is a city in which it’s not difficult to find comfortable and cheap accommodation: residences, mid-range hotels and youth hostels are scattered everywhere ready to welcome you for the night.

Where to sleep in Athens
Where to sleep in Athens

Accommodation for the night in Athens are simple and generally clean. If you want to have even the minimum of comfort and the bathroom in the room, the TV, you have to look for a hotel at least three stars which usually has fairly reasonable prices. Areas of the city where we recommend you to spend your holidays are the busiest districts of Monastiraki and Plaka and delicious squares Syntagma and Omonia.

If you are looking for a hotel in Athens, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 220 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
Amsterdam capitals

10 things to do and see in Amsterdam

You’ll notice the charm of Amsterdam in its atmosphere of a village, not a big and gray metropolis, despite being one of the most famous and visited cities in the world. The main shopping areas are the center of the city life , but you can just turn the corner to find yourself wandering in the quiet tree-lined avenues, discovering the charm of a past that still lives. Versatile, as the water from which is crossed, Amsterdam has many hidden faces that you’ll discover just staying few more days and living the eclecticism and the sociability of its inhabitants. Here are some places not to be missed to experience the colors, the contradictions, the transgressions that characterizes the “Venice of the North”. In this page we suggest 10 things to do and see during a holiday or a weekend in Amsterdam.

If you are looking for a hotel in Amsterdam, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Dam Square and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

1

The Dam, called in this way by the inhabitants, was named after a dam built in 1270 on the Amstel River. Since 8 centuries the life of Amsterdam is all around this square. If today is a highly popular tourist spot, over the years it has played the role of the market, center of power, place for executions, stage for riots and demonstrations of all kinds.

Dam Square and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam
Dam Square and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

The most important architectural presence of the square is the Royal Palace, built in the seventeenth century as City Hall to show the richness of the Dutch Republic. The building was transformed in 1808 by Louis Bonaparte in the Royal Palace. To prevent attacks by insurgents, the entrance is well hidden under the porch and right, both the interior and the exterior are tangible evidence of the prestige  enjoyed by Amsterdam. Today the Royal Palace is not the official seat of the Dutch monarchy but is used by the royal family only for the solemn holidays and state visits. The presence of some major lines of public transport, the Museum Erotica and that of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the Gallery De Bijenkorf, make  Dam Square the first thing you see as soon as you arrive in Amsterdam

The canals of Amsterdam

2

Known as the “Venice of the North” Amsterdam is a city built on islands on the river Amstel and Lj lake. More than 165 channels per 100 km in length around the Dutch capital in a labyrinthine path where are able to move only those who live in cities since long time.

The canals of Amsterdam
The canals of Amsterdam

The old town is surrounded by the “Canal Belt” (Grachtengordel), a large water ring separated from other channels. In the belt are located approximately 2,200 buildings of historic interest 1,550 homes, mostly built during the ‘600, the golden age of the Dutch economy. A trip by boat or bike is ideal to discover the beauty of the canals and enjoy a simply unique urban landscape. Urban masterpiece, a symbol of the history and spirit of this city, finally in 2010 the network of canals, has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

3

Among the fabulous neo-Gothic villas, there’s a building that imposes itself with its brutal simplicity: the Museum that Amsterdam has dedicated to Van Gogh. Opened in 1973, it contains an extensive collection of works by the artist.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Nowhere else in the world you’ll have the chance to visit such a rich collection of works. Drawings, paintings and letters offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the personality of this crazy genius of art. Arranged over three floors, the museum also preserves a series of paintings from which Van Gogh drew inspiration and a number of his contemporaries works of artists. Get ready to endless rows , because the Van Gogh Museum is the most visited of Amsterdam.

Information for visits to the Van Gogh Museum
Where: Paulus Potterstraat 7.
How to get there: trams No. 2, 3, 5, and 12 or with bus No. 170, 171 and 172
When-Hours: Every day from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm , Friday from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm . Never: 1st of January.
Tickets: full price € 12.50; Reduced 2,50 €.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

4

Even if the tourists use to see the works of Rembrandt and Vermeer, the Rijksmuseum offers much more: it’s the most important art museum in the Netherlands and brings together a vast amount of paintings, prints, sculptures, objects and more.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The heart of the collection is the one of Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 15th to the 19th century, with a particular attention to the works of the “Golden Age”, the ‘600 of which Rembrandt and Vermeer are the most authoritative representatives. A must see is the “Night Watch” by Rembrandt, his most famous work. You can also go directly to the “Masterpieces”, where they collected the works of the two painters already mentioned but also those of Van Gogh, by Piero di Cosimo, Fra Angelico and a selection of works by Hals, de Wit and Bol.

Information for visits to the Rijksmuseum
Where: Museumstraat
How to get there: Tram: no. 2:05 (stop Rijksmuseum); n. 12 (stop Concertgebouw) Metro: up to Weesperplein, then take tram n. 7 or 10 (stop: Spiegelgracht) Bus: n. 26, 65, 66, 170 or 172
When-Hours: Daily from 09:00 am to 5:00 pm
Tickets: Adults: € 17.50. Children under 18 years: free entrance

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

5

It’s the house where Anne Frank and her family, along with another Jewish family, took refuge, from 1942 to 1944, before being discovered by the Nazis and deported to various concentration camps.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

Through a secret passage, hidden from a library, you have access to two rooms where Anne wrote her diary. Since 1960 the building has been used as a museum that, through films, photographs, historical documents and personal items, testifies not only the events of the house but also  Holland events of those years. To avoid waiting outside to enter, you should plan your visit to the museum in the morning or late afternoon.

Information for visits to the Anne Frank House
Where: Prinsengracht 263-267, in the center.
How to get there: Tram No. 13:17 or with bus No. 170, 171 and 172 to the Westermarkt stop.
When-Hours: January 1 from 12.00 to 7.00 pm . From January 2 to March 14 every day from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm From March 15 to June 30 every day from 9.00 am  to 9.00 pm  on Saturdays until 10.00 pm .
In July and August every day from 9.00 am  to 10.00 pm . From 1 to 14 September every day from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm . from 15 September to 14 March from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm . 31 December from 12.00 to 7.00 pm . May 4 from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ; 8 June and 2 July from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm ; 21 August from 9.00 am  to 8.30 pm ; December 25 from 12.00 to 5.00 pm
Tickets: Adults € 9; reduced € 4.50; Children 0 to 9 years ,free entrance.

The Red Light District of Amsterdam

6

Here is the more tolerant and transgressive Amsterdam. The Red Light District is a major tourist attraction, named after the color of the lights of the windows where prostitutes are exposed. Prostitution, as well as soft drugs, here is perfectly legal.

The Red Light District of Amsterdam
The Red Light District of Amsterdam

Dutch people have turned human vices  into an opportunity to make money. So go ahead women in the window and coffee shop where smoking soft drugs freely. There are 3  red light districts (Singel, Pijp and De Wallen) but the latter is the most beloved and crowded by tourists. Today  tourists of all ages and from all over the world  come more for curiosity. De Wallen is also a nice neighborhood with beautiful houses overlooking the tree-lined canals and the wonderful gothic church of Oude Kerk (Old Church).

Information for visits to the District Red lights
Where: De Wallen (between Central Station and Nieuwmarkt); Singel (between Raadhuistraat and the Central Station); Pijp (nearby the Rijksmuseum)
How to get there: bus No. 22, 359, 361 and 363 at the stop CS / Nicholas.

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam

7

“Get married early so you have time for a divorce”, “Money aren’t made by your butt” and other precious pearls of wisdom are written on the wooden seats  of the Old Church in Amsterdam. That’s all that was saved from the fury Calvinist that from 1566 to 1578 destroyed much of the original furnishings of this beautiful Gothic cathedral.

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam
The Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam

On the floor there are  tombs of important people of Amsterdam (certainly unknown to you), including the wife of Rembrandt (Saskia van Uylenburg) and Frans Banning Cocq, the protagonist of the painting “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt (see point 4). The Oude Kerk is famous for its acoustics, so if you stop by in Amsterdam on Sunday, don’t miss one of the many organ concerts. If you have the strength, climb up to 70 meters of the octagonal bell tower which offers a magnificent panorama of the city. Every 15 minutes the 47 bell carillon system plays a series of melodies (from 1658 !)

Information for visits to the Oude Kerk
Where: Oudekerksplein
How to get there: It is about 8 minutes walk from Central Station
When-Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm ; Sunday: 1:00 to 5:30 pm; ever: January 1, April 27, October 28 and December 25
Tickets: Adults: € 7.50; Students: € 5; Children 0-13: Free entrance

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

8

It’s not the most famous museum in Amsterdam but it’s certainly one of the things to see during a visit to the Dutch capital.

The Stedelijk is one of the most important museums of contemporary art and contains works ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

There are paintings, sculptures, graphics, drawings, photographs, design objects, posters, videos, works of applied art and industrial design not only Dutch. Some names are indicative of the quality of the works: Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, Mondrian, Rauschenberg and many others.

Information for visits at the Stedelijk Museum
Where: Museumplein
How to get there: From Central Station Tram 2 and 5, 170 and 172. Bus stop Hobbemastraat or Museumplein.
When-Hours: daily from 10 am  to 6 pm . Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm.
Ticket: € 15. Free entrance with the Amsterdam Card.

Things to eat in Amsterdam

9

In Amsterdam the same dish can have  many variations, on the basis of the culinary influence received. Gastronomy, in fact, has the influence of the colonial past of the city: from French cuisine to Portuguese up to the Asian, and local restaurants offer multi-ethnic flavors and fragrances. Meat and fish are the main foods, usually accompanied by potatoes and vegetables with crispy bacon. Don’t forget  the crêperie, which offer endless variations of sweet and savory crepes. All enjoyed with beer or juniper brandy: Dutch typical drinks.

Where to sleep in Amsterdam

10

Hotels, B&Bs, camping, hostels, apartments and houseboats represent the several options that Amsterdam offers.

The hotels, in most cases, are well furnished and clean and  the intimate and cozy Dutch hospitality will make your stay absolutely pleasant.

Where to sleep in Amsterdam
Where to sleep in Amsterdam

Because of tourists all year round, we suggest you to book in advance and if you have the idea to stay close to the water, think double because you may find yourself fighting against mosquitoes.

If you are looking for a hotel in Amsterdam, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 400 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Categorie
capitals Rome

10 things to do and see in Rome

It is quite difficult to talk about Rome in a few words, and it is hard to believe that this wonderful city was built on a small settlement of shepherds on the Palatine hill and there was a she-wolf that nursed two children as they were her cubs. Perhaps billion of tourist each year look for this mystery, while they are visiting Rome.  The modernity of this city is not so romantic if you think about people, car and things that go back and forth. However, the capital of Italy is a beautiful destination like few cities in the world. In this page we suggest 10 things to do and see during a holiday or a weekend in Rome.

If you are looking for a hotel in Rome, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 2000 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Colosseum

1

There’s a legend about the Colosseum: one day it will fall down, Rome will fall down with it and with Rome the rest of the world. If this legend is true, let’s hope that this incredible monument stay there for long time! Inaugurated with the name of Flavian Amphitheatre, it was called “Colosseum” in a second time probably because of the colossal statue, known with the name of “God of the Sun”, which was near the amphitheater and looked like Nerone.

The Colosseum
The Colosseum

The Romans had fun watching the gladiators and the wild animals wrestling, or assisting at spectacular simulations of naval battles. This monument was built by the emperor Vespasiano, founder of Flavi dynasty. His son, Tito added two lines of seats completing the work wanted by his father, and to celebrate the end of the works (80 AD)  he organized 100 days of games. Nowadays the Colosseum is still one of the most important monuments of Rome. Around the amphitheater is possible to see the Centurions, people dressed like ancient Roman combatants, who stay there to pose in the tourists photos, and now they are part of the tradition too. Even without knowing anything of architecture or history, everybody is charmed by this monument, for which Roma is known all over the world. And looking at it after the sunset, whit all  spotlights on, it’s beyond words!

Where: Piazza del Colosseo
How to get there: Subway line  B – Colosseo stop
When – Hours: from last Sunday of  October to 15th February from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm; from 16th February to 15th March from 8.30 am to 5 pm; from 16th to last Saturday of  March from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm; from 30th March to 31st August from 8.30 am to 7.15 pm; from 1st to 30th September from 8.30 am to 7 pm; from 1st to last Sunday of October from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm.
Never: 1st January, 1st May, 25th December.
Tickets: The ticket office closes one hour before closing time.
Tickets can also be purchased at the ticket offices of the Palatine in Via di San Gregorio n. 30, or in Piazza Santa Maria Nova 53 (200 meters from the Colosseum) and includes also the entrance to the Palatine and Roman Forum.
Full price: 12,00 €; Reduced: 7,50 euro, for European Union members between 18 and 24 years and for European Union teachers; Free: European Union citizens under 18 and over 65 years.

The Pantheon in Rome

2

With its dome and colonnade atrium, the Pantheon is one of the most famous Roman monuments. According to a legend, it’s the place where Romulus, after his death, was taken to heaven by an eagle.  It’s a Temple dedicated to all gods (Pan Theon- all gods), and it was built by Emperor Adrian between 118 and 125 A.D. replacing an earlier temple of Marcus Agrippa consecrated to Mars and