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The Best UK City Breaks

The Best UK City Breaks – The Sainsbury’s Bank has created a guide that looks at the most popular destinations and what to do when you get there!

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Get Your Berlin Sightseeing Map

Traveling to Berlin and in the need for some sightseeing advice? Check out our Berlin Sightseeing Map which combines attractions and metro map in one!

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The Hotlist: Top 10 Places to Visit in Spring

Check out our 10 Top city picks which are all the most beautiful to visit in spring time! Whether you are a enjoying cultural sights, haute cuisine or action-packed fun on your vacation, you’ll have it all.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Barcelona

Whether it’s the first time you’re setting foot on the Catalan capital’s soil or you’re already coming back for more, this guide to Barcelona may learn you a thing or two by going back to basics!

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The Best UK City Breaks

There are so many great cities to visit in the UK. The Sainsbury’s Bank has created a guide that looks at the most popular destinations and what to do when you get there! Find all the best UK city-breaks! 

Do you know the average cost of 3 and 5 star hotels in London, Leeds or Liverpool? How about the cost of a taxi ride in Edinburgh or a cappuccino in Cardiff?

Check out their infographic below to find out the costs of visiting the UK’s most popular cities and ideas for fun things to do

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Get Your Berlin Sightseeing Map

Want to know how to make the most of your trip?

It can be quite confusing to get around in an unknown city…we have collected all of Berlin’s must-see sights on a metro map for your perfect stay in Germany’s exciting capital!

Where to go? Which subway to take? The coolest attractions? It’s all in here! Download your Berlin City Sightseeing Map, take it with you to Berlin, and become an insider! 

Download your Berlin Sightseeing Map here: in pdf

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The Hotlist: Top 10 Places to Visit in Spring

We all know it: the feeling of excitement when the days are finally getting longer again, winter time is over and the sun sets its rays over us, while we are planning new adventures for the following spring & summer season! If you are having difficulties deciding where to go, we are happy to help: check out our top 10 places to visit in spring! Whether you are a enjoying cultural sights, haute cuisine or action-packed fun on your vacation, you’ll have it all:

 

1. Dubai – Take a Walk on the Mild Side

Hot, hotter, Dubai. Be prepared – even in spring Dubai’s temperature can rise up to 35 degrees. Nevertheless, it’s still a rather ‘mild’ climate and one of the best times to experience Dubai’s magic, from the buzzing city to its desert!

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Visit the Burj Khalifa. We know, it’s nothing new and everybody recommends it but the view from the 164th floors of the highest skyscraper in the world is simply breathtaking and allows you a completely different insight onto the world of a true elite travel city.

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The world’s most luxurious hotel is situated in Dubai: the Burj Al Arab, a 7-star gigantic compound which is built on a man-island. You are only granted access once you have reserved a room or booked a special tour e.g. the tea time! That’s why it is also very recommendable to take a look from above via seaplane!

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While you enjoyed the huge variety of activities in the city itself, take a trip to Abu-Dhabi. Explore the capital of the UAE on this 7-hour tour of Abu Dhabi from Dubai. Travel along the Sheikh Zayed Road, passing some of Dubai’s skyscrapers, before touring the Emirates Palace Hotel, Corniche, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Heritage Village, and more.

 

2. Tokyo - Have a hanami

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Spring is the best time to visit Tokyo: there is no better way to explore the City of Flowers then wandering along the amazing botanical gardens ‘have a hanami ‘(flower viewing) and admire the blooming flowers such as Sakura and Ume. At the same time, it is strawberry season, the weather is very nice and you can take advantage of tasting the many strawberry-flavored foods, sweets and drinks as well as go to the countryside and pick fruits for yourself!

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Spring is the time for matsuri! Matsuri means festival and you should make sure you are attending one of the many famous festivities while you are there! From food stalls, to live performances and other events, spring is the time to be in Tokyo to enjoy the maximum of the culture.

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Spring is also the season for clam-digging. Being a very famous family activity in Japan, you can dig along the hundreds of Japanese along Tokyo Bay only armed with a shovel! At night, prepare the delicious clams in a way you prefer and enjoy! Another idea is to take a food tour to taste some of Tokyo’s most iconic dishes in the vibrant places they originated.

INSIDER-TIP:

Enjoy a 6-hour private guided tour of Tokyo designed by Lonely Planet Japan author and long-term resident Chris Rowthorn. This is the perfect introduction to Tokyo where you’ll get to sample both the modern and traditional sides of the city, while enjoying time with your friends and family only!

 

3. Prague – Few tourists & reasonable prices

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When the last snow is gone, Prague awakes from its winter sleep and the flowers bloom. It is a wonderful time to visit the Capital of the Czech Republic since you can enjoy the many seasonal celebrations but still avoid the big tourist hordes that start to roll in by late May over summer.

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Cultural highlights like visiting the Prague Castle, the St. Vitus Cathedral and other historical monuments are surely nothing to be missed. But –the Czech capital is a Mecca for beer lovers, and the birthplace of the world famous Pilsner lager! Enjoy some of the world’s finest beers and classic Czech hospitality on a trip to Prague’s best-loved bars. The Czech capital is a Mecca for beer lovers, and the birthplace of the world famous Pilsner lager!

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The stunning architecture & the romantic atmosphere in the old town leads many couples to tie the knot or pop the question in Prague! While it’s not only a well-known destination for weddings, it is also fairly cheap to arrange everything you need. The Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice) and the New Town Hall (Novoměstská radnice), both offer the chance to say yes in a historic Gothic building.

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While in Prague, you absolutely must see how the modern art scene has developed in the past years. On an alternative half-day tour through the cities coolest districts, you’ll see the different perspective of a historical town and will be able to check out famous music bars to make you feel like a local.

4. Paris – Printemps & romance

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The City of Love in spring…well, what could be more romantic. And yet, even if you are not into the hearty, love mood, Paris has got so much more to offer! There is no better time to take a stroll along the picturesque hobble-stoned streets, across the charming bridges over the Seine,  to take in all of the cities beauty at once.

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Yep, you simply must go to the Eiffel Tower. Skip the line and don’t waste time in the queue! The views are simply astonishing  and will allow you to have Paris at your feet. If you don’t feel like crossing the paths with many other tourists, check out the Tour Montparnasse which also enables you many breathtaking views but in a less crowded atmosphere.

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China built a replicant town that was supposed to exactly resemble Paris. When the government realized that this was just not possible, it turned into a ghost town which you can still visit, an hour away from Shanghai. On the other hand, Japanese citizens sometimes suffer from the so-called ‘Paris Syndrome’ which means they were severely disappointed that Paris was not as pretty as the imagined.

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Walking around Paris is one thing, but how about discovering the city the different way? On a segway, in an authentic Citroen car or maybe by bike? It’s up to you but we are sure you will enjoy our trip to Paris even more by discovering its most iconic sights with the whole family in a fun way!

 

5. New York City – The city that never sleeps awakes

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The Big Apple comes alive in spring – it’s finally time to let the spring activities begin and get out there onto the famous streets in New York City. With tons of things to do, New York won’t disappoint and after having spent the whole day out in the sun, why not join a world-famous broadway or comedy show at night?

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What you simply can’t miss? Well, many things! For all the art lovers out there: skip the line at the MoMa and if you want to enjoy the nice spring weather why not follow the cliches and jump on a horse carriage for a ride through the Central Park? We ensure you, you’ll feel just like in one of your favorite movies!

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New York has got so much to offer but we recommend a trip that you can’t miss: fly out to the Niagara Falls for 2 days to escape the bustle of New York City! Experience both the U.S. and Canada sides of the Falls, and ride on the famous Maid of the Mist boat under the Falls. Enjoy time to shop and sleep in comfortable accommodation!

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Get awe-inspiring views of New York City on a thrilling helicopter ride above the Big Apple’s skyscrapers and iconic landmarks. See the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and many other attractions from a unique perspective.

 

6. Berlin – Roaring times in the sun

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Berlin has got so much to offer: apart from the crazy night life and the many cultural monuments, the many green areas invite for a stroll in spring time, when the city finally reaches human 15 degrees again. Voted as the most fun city last year, Berlin is definitely worth a visit!

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Apart from many festivals and public holidays in spring, you simply must go on a food tour to really get behind the secret of the famous Berlin Currywurst and more. If you are not into meat, we can also recommend the Reichtstags-Tour. Visit the glass dome in the Reichstag building and admire the fantastic view of the magnificent buildings and sights in the city.

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Did you know you could jump off a building in Berlin?  Experience the sheer thrill of base flying in Berlin for 30 minutes. Enjoy flying down 125 meters from a special construction on the roof of the Park Inn Berlin-Alexanderplatz. Admire a unique view over Berlin on this fast-moving journey.

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Explore the city in a unique way: by kayak! See Tierpark and Zoologischer Garten from the water, and learn about the capital’s impressive water lock system. Explore the length of the U1 line, suspended above the canal, then go for a trip on the Spree.

 

7. Pisa – Leaning against the tower

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La Dolce Vita – tuscan hills, red wine and….the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Yes! Of course, Rome & Florence are beautiful cities to explore during spring time but Pisa, however, can’t be forgotten! With a history spanning back over 4000 years, Pisa has much to offer – visitors will find that the town is filled with beautiful bridges, architecture, churches and grand cafés.

MUST-DO:

It’s a must – get the obligatory photo at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and skip the line in front of the crowds. Climb up the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa with this convenient skip-the-line entrance ticket. The Leaning Tower is located in Piazza del Duomo next to the 11th century Cathedral and the Baptistery!

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Did you know that you could combine your trip with the stunning Cinque Terre? Explore the characteristic villages of Cinqueterre National Park and see the spectacular coastline of the Ligurian Riviera. Hike the Via dell’Amore between Riomaggiore and Manarola, and stop to sample local wines and produce! This way you will be sure to not miss out on anything!

8. San Francisco – Golden times on the bridge

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The Golden Gate City is simply a must when visiting California. From the various attractions like Alcatraz to the charming cable streetcars, San Francisco attracts yearly 17 Million people! In spring, you can avoid the tourist hordes mostly though and enjoy the quiet and peace in the colorful seaside town.

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Golden Gate Bridge, what else. BUT why not experience something completely different? Take a bike and cross the historical sight at your own pace while taking in the beautiful scenery around you!

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During the great depression in 1929, San Francisco’s situation stayed stable with no single bank failing!  Of the more than 25,000 banks in business in 1929, by 1933, only 11,000 survived. Go SF!Moreover, the Golden Gate Bridge was built during these years.

INSIDER-TIP:

Enjoy a relaxing cruise on a luxury catamaran while the sun sets over San Francisco Bay. Nibble on light hors d’oeuvres and sip 2 complimentary drinks as you sail past the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.

 

9. Istanbul – Asian-European getaway

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Be there or be square – Istanbul in spring is just…breathtaking! Witness the awakening of the city as the days get warmer from mid-April on and enjoy your holiday while dining at one of the many terraces that open up again after winter time!

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Istanbul features so many incredible sights you have to see, but if you only have a few days in town, it is recommendable to do a private full day tailor-made tour so that you explore Istanbul according to your own interests. A licensed guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the sights that you want to see as it is kind of difficult to get around on your own if you don’t know the city at all.

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The Grand Bazaar is the biggest old covered bazaar in the world, with over 3.000 shops! You can find most anything, from Oriental rugs to hand-crafted jewelery and crockery. Experience this ancient complex as you fill your bag with exotic finds. Visit Nuruosmaniye Mosque, one of the finest in Turkey.

INSIDER-TIP:

Enjoy an all-you-can-eat dinner adventure in Istanbul on a 4-hour food tour with multiple stops in the Pera district. Get a taste of the history of Istanbul through its gastronomy, tasting delicacies from different parts of Turkey.

 

10. Lisbon – Portuguese spring adventures

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Lisbon: a city of Moorish castles and Gothic cathedrals, of solemn monasteries and whitewashed villas tumbling all the way down to the sea. Head to a sunny pavement cafe to watch businessmen slurp espressos before they hop on antique trams to work, while children play in the tree-lined streets and fishermen trawl the river’s iridescent waters!

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We fell in love with the food in Lisbon. Really. The famous natas pastries are to die for and the green wine which is very special in Portugal, goes with any meal and tastes divine! Visit Lisbon’s historical center with a local guide and discover the city’s most delicious secrets. Sample Portuguese delicacies as you learn about the influence of different cultures on Portugal’s cuisine and its significance in Europe!

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It’s not really the city of 7 hills. Even though every local will tell you so but the truth is that these 7 hills were never very historically accurate and were (mis-)counted, possibly on purpose just to make the city more similar to Rome.

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Enjoy a Fado in Chiado performance and discover the soul of Lisbon. The musical form of fado was adopted as a part of Portuguese culture and is now a symbol of the nation, with a particularly strong tradition in the historic districts of Lisbon!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Barcelona

Our guest author of the weeks is Matthew Debnam. Barcelona has been a part of Matthew Debnam’s life since 2006, and after falling in love with the city through visits over 4 years, he made it his home in 2010 for good. Working as a writer in the tourism industry for so many years has allowed him to learn the ins and outs of the city and be able to share that knowledge with his readers.

A Beginner’s Guide to Barcelona

Barcelona. You’ve probably never heard of it… The fascinating destination that was rated best beach city in the world by National Geographic and that attracts millions of visitors from around the world each year. Okay, the truth is you’ve probably not stopped hearing about it. It’s surprising though, because for such a well-visited destination you’d be astounded at how many tourists that come to the city keep committing the same mistakes again and again; beginner’s mistakes. So, whether it’s the first time you’re setting foot on the Catalan capital’s soil or you’re already coming back for more, you might be able to learn a thing or two by going back to basics!

1. Must-Sees

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There are certain monuments in Barcelona that are loved so much that they define the city and form part of the essential itinerary. Rest assured that anything that was a result of Gaudí’s work is certainly worth your time. There are probably more things to see by him than you’ll have time for in one visit, but the essential pieces to get a feel for the artist  are the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. Make your friends jealous by visiting Torre Bellesguard, Palau Güell and Casa Viçens!

Out of all the neighbourhoods of the city the Gothic Quarter is an attraction unto itself. The charming and historical winding backstreets will enchant you and leave you wanting to simply wander for hours. There are many things to see in the Gothic Quarter, but the main things you cannot miss are Barcelona Cathedral, Plaça Reial , and Las Ramblas. they can all feel a bit touristy, so afterwards visit Plaça de Sant Felip Neri – A square with a staunch reminder of how Barcelona was bombarded during the Spanish civil war and Templo Augustus - The remains of a temple from when Barcelona was known to romans as Barcino.

There are also the beaches, but rather than heading straight to Barceloneta, think about moving up the coast a little to others like Mar Bella, Bogatell and Llevant. They are all perfect for strolling regardless of the weather. If you wake up early enough, you can even catch the first rays of the sun shyly peeking over the mediterranean’s horizon as you soak in the peaceful atmosphere… Bliss…

2. Best Views 

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Barcelona also has two mountains. Tibidabo has a theme park and church at the top, with fantastic views over the entire city and surroundings. It’s to the north and can be climbed cheaply via public transport (S1 or S2 from Catalunya, then 111 bus). Alternatively you can pay to ride the more expensive but historic Tramvia Blau and then the funicular. The other is mountain is Montjuïc which is inside the city and is home to a number of attractions, like the Castle of Montjuïc, Magic Fountain, Joan Miró Foundation, Poble Espanyol, Olympic Ring and Caixa Forum.

3. What to Avoid

There are a number of things to avoid in Barcelona. One important thing is to understand Spanish culture is not Catalan culture, so it’s really not worth searching for flamenco dancers in polka-dot dresses. You’ll find it, of course, but it’s not very authentic. For a true taste of Catalan culture, visit during the late September during the Mercé festival, where traditions like Castellers (Human towers) and Gegants (parades and dances with large figures) take centre stage in the city!

Also stay on the lookout for pickpockets, as a tourist you’ll be the number one target, especially on the Metro and around tourist areas. Travelers still don’t seem to be catching the memo on this one because you can still see victims each day!

4. Where to Eat

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When looking for a restaurant to eat at, don’t choose one that’s really close to an area with tourists. If you’re in such a place, simply search around the streets for somewhere else. The city is full of restaurants, so you won’t have to look far.

Where you choose to eat really depends on your own preferences, and you’re certain to find something for you because there are more restaurants than one could try in 10 lifetimes! If you fancy something traditional and Catalan without breaking the bank, then Canboneta on Carrer de Balmes 139, is the place to be. With a set lunch menu at just €11.50 it’s very reasonably priced too.

If you want to break from Catalan foods and try something from neighboring town Valencia, namely world renowned Paella, then the good stuff hardly ever comes cheap… Well… Except at Favorit on Carrer de Villaroel 68, where the average price a la carte is roughly €24 per person, but with set menus at €10.90 and a Paella menu at €15.95.

And for great value and good food in general there are a number of other options. How about the first Tibetan restaurant in Spain? Kailash Restaurant on Carrer de Xifre 100, has a set menu for €9.50, but a la carte will only cost on average €20 for 3 courses + drink! Another great place is Restaurant Racó d’en Pat on Travessera de les Corts 298, for some good old fashioned tapas to get your taste buds buzzing, their tasting menu is only €14.50 and it will take mouth on a journey of flavors through various pieces of tapas, including a drink and a dessert.

5. Where to Stay

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Choosing where to stay will largely affect the quality of your experience in Barcelona. Do you want to  stay in the city centre near all the attractions, but also where the most activity or noise is or do you prefer to stay in the northern parts where it’s more tranquil and residential? Usually the best areas to stay are the districts that are only just slightly out of the city centre like Poble Sec, Vila Olimpica, and Sant Antoni, because they give you the best of both worlds. The easiest way to find a place that suits your needs is finding a holiday rental with a local agency like OK Apartment, who have a selection of almost 1000 apartments.

6. Good to Know

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If you’re only planning to discover the city centre, you could easily walk everywhere if you also follow the advice on where to stay. Barcelona isn’t a huge city, so most of the things you want to see are easy enough to manage, there are a few exceptions though. For example, the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are outside the city centre. For venturing beyond the city centre the best way is to use the Metro, which covers the entire city. Don’t go for the HOLA BCN cards aimed at tourists unless you’re going to be using the metro more than 14 times!The best way to save money when using the Metro is with T-10 tickets, which gives you 10 single trips that you can use for yourself or share with friends, you can even change to a bus or train within 1 hr and 15 mins of using the ticket.

If you want to enjoy the city without splashing the cash there are many things that you can do for free. For a start, visiting attractions from the outside – like Casa Batlló and La Pedrera - won’t cost you a penny. In some places like Park Güell, only the main part costs money to enter. At Park Gúell you can climb to the top of the park without entering the paid part, at the top there is a lovely monument and incredible views.

7. What’s Free

Then there are the many attractions that usually cost money, but also have times when you can enter for free. Did you know that the crypt of the Sagrada Familia holds Masses everyday that are free to attend? And while Barcelona Cathedral usually costs €6 to get in between 13:00 – 17:00, it’s free all other times. Parc Labeting d’Horta is a beautiful park in the north of the city that chops the entry fee each Wednesday and Sunday. Finally, the Castle of Montjuic is free on Sundays from 15:00.

Practically all of Barcelona’s museums have entrance fees, but on the first Sunday of each month, many of them open for free, to name a few there is the Picasso Museum, MUHBA (The History Museum), MNAC (National Art Museum), Museu Marítim, CCCB, and more. MNAC in particular is free each Saturday from 15:00.

So there you have it. Everything you need to stay ahead of the game in Barcelona. From complete newbies to seasoned veterans, hopefully this guide will help you all enjoy Barcelona that little bit more ;)