Europe Backpacker Magazine is part of the global network, Backpacker International. Follow this blog as they backpack around Europe, sharing heaps of travel inspiration, great places to visit and tips along the way.
The Internet has opened up the gateway to work while traveling. There are more ‘digital nomads’ and freelancers than ever before (the Backpacker team included!). And why not? Being able to up and go, portable office in your backpacker, work from wherever, whenever… it’s an incredible lifestyle. The world is our oyster!
But sometimes life on the road gets too much. Is it time to unpack that backpack, throw away your Lonely Planet and settle down somewhere? Perhaps you just fancy putting down some roots for a month or two, or maybe this is it and you’ll be unpacking that storage unit for good! Or maybe you’ve already settled somewhere, but it’s time to move? Which city will you choose?
Here are a few things to consider which might just help you decide whether it’s time to settle down…
FOMO: A Fear of Missing Out
For some, it’s a gut feeling. For others, it’s the feeling of something better, somewhere out there… What are you missing out on? Is there an awesome digital nomad community that you would love to be a part of? Whatever the case, the desire to move can stem from the same uninspired lifestyle, being bored of your routine.
Perhaps it’s time to experience a new culture, learn a new language, meet new people? Life is too short for regrets and too fleeting to ignore the urge to explore! Before it’s too late (thanks, Brexit), go and explore Europe’s vibrant villages, dazzling districts, epic history and culinary diversity.
Whatever is missing from your current lifestyle, go find it. Europe has plenty to offer and can definitely satisfy your wanderlust if you’re brave enough to go and explore…
Add a little colour to your CV
Whatever your work, living and working on the road will only enhance your CV. Whether you’re self-employed or work remotely, travelling and living abroad will add a little colour to your work history and can even improve your job prospects! Who knows who you might meet, what connections you might make, what new skills you might develop…
Traveling develops your independence, adaptability, and ability to learn a new language. For graduates fresh out of university and looking to build a presence in their chosen industry, settling abroad can be the making of your career. Rather than staying at home and getting a part-time job, whilst you decide which direction to go in… take the leap of faith and move abroad. It could be the perfect career stepping-stone to new opportunities.
Perhaps you’ve got some time to fill? Why not volunteer somewhere in Europe. Amensty International hosts offices in London, Dianova are based in Barcelona and engages in addiction treatment and prevention, while Greenpeace defends the planet all over Europe and beyond. There are heaps of volunteering opportunities out there!
Cheaper cost of living
Relocating abroad can offer cheaper costs of living. If your work can be done remotely, then the door is open to you! While some European cities might blow your budget (we’re talking London, Paris, Brussels, Milan), these are far from the norm. There are heaps of budget-friendly gems scattered throughout Europe (and particularly the West) that are welcoming, intriguing and full of adventure.
Take a look at Barcelona. The city boasts the seventh most populous urban area in Europe, yet it has low living costs comparative to wages. It’s vibrant, rich in culture and culinary experiences, and it’s super easy to explore. Not to mention having a thriving digital nomad community.
Or the Algarve, on Portugal’s southern-most coast, which features breathtaking views, constant sunshine, and rich history elevated by exquisite local food and wine. It’s top shelf living on a low-cost budget! Digital nomad heaven.
For a bit more inspiration, writer Stephanie Walden spent 12 months testing out 12 different cities to find out which were most nomad-friendly! Read on.
Perhaps you’ve become too comfortable in your current ‘home’? Is it time to step back out of your comfort zone?
Europe’s scenic landscapes, cultural heritage, and amazing architecture makes it a hotspot for tourists. Every year, families and backpackers jet to the romantic streets of Paris, the cultural canvas of London, and the ruins of ancient Rome to immerse themselves in Europe’s collection of nations. But a curious thing happens when you travel. You develop a taste for a particular type of food, lifestyle, or culture.
It may be England’s traditional fish and chips found throughout the country’s quaint seaside towns or chasing Mediterranean sunsets. It may even be la siesta, an important aspect of Spanish life. So perhaps it’s time to shake things up and move! There many be a new way of life, new taste sensation, new community to open your mind to…
Settling down is not a decision to be made lightly. But if you’ve been considering it for a while, then perhaps 2018 is the year to take that leap of faith, and put down roots in Europe! Let us know how it goes.
About The Writer: Chris Humphrey is the General Manager of Easytruck Moving & Storage and a travel lover. In 2013, the company combined their expertise in professional moving services & storage to create an entirely new approach to the business – and mobile storage was born!
Taking a trip to a luxury European destination like Antibes, the Alps or Greek Isles is always a good idea, right? Too bad your wallet doesn’t always agree (especially in January!). Worry not – 2018 can still be your year of great travel, because we’ve got practical tips to help you experience Europe’s luxury destinations, even on a backpacker’s budget.
Affordable luxury is a real thing! Let’s get flashpacking…
Eating on a Budget in Europe:
Eat in: Instead of splurging on expensive gourmet meals at Michelin starred restaurants and designer flat whites in trendy coffee shops, try the local markets and delis where they sell organic fruits, vegetables, fresh bread and sandwiches. And whilst you’re there, try asking the seller how they would cook those ingredients! This way, you can experience the authentic flavours of the destination just as the locals enjoy it. Healthier for your body and your travel wallet.
Support the Small Guys: If you’re not into self-catering then you’ll be glad to know that most destinations in Europe offer affordable yet delicious local fare which you can find in sandwich shops, street vendors and small restaurants. Get your head out of your Lonely Planet and ask a local for their recommendations! You’ll avoid the ‘tourist tax’ and likely discover some amazing, authentic, off-the-beaten track spots.
Backpacker Accommodation in Europe
Consider a different location: As an alternative to the usual luxury destinations with expensive 5-star resorts, go off the beaten path and search for more affordable options of the same standard. Countries like Portugal and Greece offer great 5-star hotels and retreats at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a destination like Paris or London. You still get the same great service, well-appointed rooms and amazing central locations.
Time your trip well: A lot of hospitality groups feel the pressure to fill their rooms as demand decreases during the winter off-season, so they’ll offer deals that you wouldn’t find during the peak season. Try travelling to destinations during the shoulder season – the perfect time to enjoy luxury destinations at discounted rates, as well as less crowded streets, more accommodating restaurants, greater attention to detail is paid to you as a guest, and even the locals are more congenial and calm during this time.
Try a Home Stay: Staying at someone else’s home is another great way to save on accommodation. Not only do you get a cheap place to stay, you’ll also benefit from a local’s advice on where to visit, how to travel and where to eat in that destination. And you might just make a friend or connection for life! Ah, the powers of social media…
Mix up your accommodation: Be brave! You might feel like a flashpacker, but do you need to travel in luxury 24/7? Why not try a variety of different accommodations – booking budget rooms via AirB’n’B followed by a little bit of luxury when you can find a great deal at a luxury resort. Try to end your trip on a high, heading home feeling refreshed and totally fancy. Variety is the spice of life…
Travelling Europe on a Budget
OUR TOP TIP Use the ‘Everywhere’ button on Skyscanner: If your plans are flexible then this is the number one tip to help your backpacking budget go further. Go to Skyscanner.com and type in the name of your home airport followed by the key word ‘everywhere’ in the search destination box. The search will return with a plethora of different destinations – showing you the most affordable destinations for the dates you want to travel. If your mind is open, then you might just discover some amazing deals and visit places you might have overlooked!
Go East: It’s a lot cheaper to travel in Eastern Europe than Western Europe! Why not go and explore the sights of Budapest, Prague, Poland, Latvia and Hungary… countries where affordable luxury really is a thing!
Having fun in Europe on a Backpacker Budget:
Enjoy the free tours: A little bit of internet searching can reveal some serious money-savers. Most cities in Europe offer free walking tours around the city, with fun and friendly guides. You’ll find plenty of these during peak season where the weather conditions are more favourable, and even in the winter months many still run. Ask the local tourist office or your hosts.
Get a tourist card: First stop, the local tourist office. Many cities offer free tourist cards to visitors, which include food discounts, travel offers and free tours and attractions. Worth a visit!
Go sightseeing later in the day: Ever noticed how busy a city’s attractions are during the day? People queue for hours to get in there first. Many of these attractions see their crowds disappearing in the hour before closing. So hold your nerve, and head there for last entry. You might even be able to get discounted tickets, and enjoy exploring without those early morning crowds.
About the Writer: As a jet setting social media influencer and blogger, there’s nothing Elena enjoys more than experiencing a new destination for the first time, and as someone who has travelled to more than 30 destinations this year alone, she brings a lot of valuable knowledge and experience to the team at luxuryvillasmalta.com.
Amongst the sea of travel destinations, Lake Bled in Slovenia is a hidden treasure that is often forgotten or overlooked. This fairytale destination is something that should be experienced by every keen traveller and holiday maker alike. If the breathtaking scenery at Lake Bled alone is not enough, then there are exciting and interesting activities that you can partake in during your time…
Engulfed by Slovenia’s Julian Alps, this destination is the perfect place to chill out and to regain perspective if you are backpacking through Europe, or is the perfect place to let the stress of work melt away on your vacation. There is a castle-like church nestled in the middle of the lake, which looks like something plucked out of a fairytale and is the kind of place that makes anybody’s photography look professional. Here are five reasons why you must visit lake bled at some point in your life…
1. The breathtaking scenery:
As a traveller I absolutely love lakes, waterfalls and rivers. I always feel so overwhelmed at the natural beauty that stands before me. When I looked upon Lake Bled I couldn’t help but let those “oohs” and “ahhs” of fascination escape my mouth. Lakes and mountains pretty much guarantee an epic landscape to look out into, so when they’re added together there’s certainly an added “wow” factor.
2. There’s more to Lake Bled than the views:
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Bled cannot be taken in in a day, so remember this when you are passing through and exploring the area. Many people choose to stay for a night whilst exploring slovenia, but I urge you all to stay at least two! You may look upon the lake and think that you could get quite bored or run out of things to do after a day, but you would be wrong.
Once the day-trippers have left, then the real beauty of Lake Bled becomes apparent, and you can watch the sunlight dance on the lake’s surface as it sets. Although the hoards of tourists can be quite unnerving, it’s also really great to get stuck in with all of the super touristy activities. Don’t fight your urges to renting the row boat and floating across the lake, or taking a trip to the church (which is a MUST). Climbing up those 99 steps to the bell tower really is worth it when you look out and see the beauty of the Lake. Legend also has it that if you ring the bell three times, you will be blessed with good fortune and luck!
3. Lakes are SO much better than swimming pools:
Taking a dip in the lake is so refreshing, and makes for a great candid picture too! People bob about the lake in rubber dinghies, row boats and simply go for a swim. This is almost like Bled initiation, so be sure to pack a bathing suit on your travels. From personal experience, I would recommend packing a picnic, grabbing a bottle of wine, renting a rowboat and having a ball in the middle of the lake. Top Tip: be sure to pack a bottle of sunscreen as you have nowhere to hide and can end up looking like a tomato!
4. Stay in unique accommodation:
If you’re going to stay in Lake Bled, then I would really recommend the Garden Village, which is a gorgeous little eco friendly resort. A day alone could be spent looking through the grounds of this resort, as it was so breathtaking. If you like your home comforts, then maybe stay in a bed and breakfast instead, but if you’re an adventurer, then there are glamping tents, pier tents and treehouses for you to choose from (we stayed in the treehouse). Although you may be sleeping in unusual quarters, don’t for a second think that you will be roughing it!
5. Views for days:
I mean look at that view, it’s unreal. Imagine yourself standing at this point, overlooking the lake. A warm breeze is passing through, you take a deep breath of the fresh air. Now tell me that doesn’t sound relaxing?!
About The Writer: Alice Porter is a freelance writer who has travelled to many destinations. She has been working closely with IAS to give information to expats and those who would like to move abroad. Her aim is to encourage as many people as possible to go and see the world and experience new things. Follow Alice’s travels on Twitter.
When someone says beach, you probably think of the white sands of Portugal, the turtle-infested waters of the Greek Islands, the surf hotspots in France… But what about Britain’s best beaches? Fish and chips soaked in vinegar and eaten straight from the paper? Dripping 99s drizzled with raspberry sauce and topped with a flake from the ice cream van? There’s a lot to love about a trip to the good old British seaside.
Where can you find Britain’s best beaches?
There’s nothing like being at the beach right when the weather is just perfect. For Britain, this may not come as often as we’d like, but there are times when the sun warms the shore enough to lie out or even jump into the ocean…
Here are some of Britain’s best beaches:
Blackpool Sands, Dartmouth
Clean waters and clean sands—sometimes that’s all one can really ask for in a beach. But Blackpool Sands offer much more. As the beautiful blue crescent waters lay in contrast with the green wooded hills, you can only think of peaceful relaxation and endless calm while at this beach.
Porthcurno, near Land’s End
As scenic as a postcard, this beach is nothing short of breathtaking. From the green-covered cliffs to the white sands below it, Porthcurno is as unique as its crystal turquoise waters. You also have easy access to sandbars and nearby beaches during low tide. Pack a picnic and plan to spend an entire day to enjoy the scenery.
Saunton Sands, North Devon
Long beaches and sandy dunes summarise this beach escape. The wide expanse of golden sands and water access makes this beach a top choice for families and large groups. It is also a popular location for surfers. Braunton Burrows, the backdrop of the beach, is as impressive as the water itself.
Bantham Beach, Devon
Bigbury Bay provides a shallow retreat for the youngest of swimmers during low tide. The rest of the family can enjoy an array of rock pools as well as the fantastic scenery and natural wildlife of the area. So pack your bucket and a fishing net! If you’re looking for a beach that is at its natural state as much as possible, then Bantham Beach is the one for you.
Constantine Bay, Cornwall
Part rocky, part sandy, this beach is as attractive as it sounds. Sitting below a small lighthouse, Constantine Bay is a popular destination for surfers and families alike, especially during the summer when it is patrolled by lifeguards. The sand dunes in the area also add much character, though they are sadly being damaged by erosion so who knows how long they will remain. A great excuse to plan a trip to one of Britain’s best beaches this summer!
Watergate Bay, Newquay
For avid surfers in the UK, there’s no better place to board some waves than at Watergate Bay. The Atlantic Ocean here is framed by two miles of sand and beautiful cliffs, which makes it both a stunning destination and a premier spot for people looking for space even during the summer season. Without a doubt one of Britain’s best beaches.
Compton Bay, the Isle of Wight
Found on the picturesque Isle of Wight, Compton bay is characterised by its short cliffs and narrow sandy beach. However, wait long enough for low tide and you might get to see a few dinosaur fossils preserved in time much like the way this beach has been. For fossil hunters, Compton Bay is as good in winter as it is in summer!
Visiting Britain’s Best Beaches…
There truly is no need to go any further than Britain if you’re looking for your next beach getaway. Britain offers not only beautiful stretches of water but also remarkable sceneries that nothing else can compare to… all with the added thrill of the risk of rain! Britain’s best beaches are worth the visit, at any time of the year.
Don’t forget to:
Pack a towel (and a wetsuit if you are brave enough to hit the water!)
Take some change (for the ice cream van)
Wander along the beach (and see what treasures you can find)
And most importantly… enjoy!
This article was written for Europe Backpacker by Janet E Johnson, travel writer by profession and lover of world cultures, food, oceans, languages, souls, wild spaces and urban places by nature. Follow her travels at Hiking Camping Guide.
NOMADasaurus are Alesha and Jarryd, otherwise known as Lesh and Jazza! We’re an Australian couple that have been travelling together since 2008.
Tell us a little about NOMADasaurus – where did the idea come from?
The idea for NOMADasaurus came about after 5 years of travelling the world together, when we decided to head to Asia to travel overland to Africa. We thought it would be fun to document our experiences on it for our friends and family, and it grew from there.
What makes your blog different to the rest?
We focus on adventure travel in off the beaten path destinations, and dive deep into local cultures. We also travel 365 days a year and are completely nomadic. Besides that we pride ourselves on high-end writing and quality photography.
NOMADasaurus Kayaking in Antarctica
Where have you travelled so far?
A lot of places! We’ve never counted though.
In 10 words, sum up your ethos…
Long-term adventure travel in a sustainable way.
Most memorable moment in Europe from your trip so far?
Trekking for 3 days through the Austrian Alps at the end of winter.
Most spectacular spot you have discovered in Europe so far?
Describing themselves as ‘design-led’ hostels, Generator has become a well-known face on the backpacker hostel scene. Just a short cobbled walk from Rome’s Colosseum, their latest opening is Generator Rome. Spread out over a whopping seven stories and with 75 unique bedrooms, this funky hostel certainly feels more like a stylish hotel than a hostel and will fill your Italian trip with style.
Generator Rome - YouTube
What makes Generator Rome one of the best places to stay?
1.The super groovy interiors.
This sure ain’t your average backpacker hostel. With luxurious patterned wallpaper, funky lighting, beautiful furniture and amazing artwork throughout, no corner of this hostel has been left untouched. It really has the feel of a boutique hotel, rather than a hostel! And not a speck of dust or dirt in sight.
2. The Super Friendly Generator Team
At Generator Rome there’s someone on reception all hours of the day, making check in and check out an extremely easy process. Whether you need tips on exploring the city, restaurant recommendations or tickets booked – they are more than happy to help. And there’s super speedy free Wifi throughout the hostel for updating blogs, checking emails or booking flights!
3. A Lively Bar
If you’re a solo backpacker looking to make new friends, then you’ll be glad to hear that Generator’s funky bar has heaps of events and activities every evening. But there are plenty of other spaces to retreat and enjoy some peace and quiet too – including the aptly named chill out lounge!
4. Prime Location
You really can’t beat the location of Generator Rome. If you’re on a city break or a tight time limit, then it’s the perfect place to stay. Just 15 minutes wander down to the amazing Colosseum, and a 5 minute walk to the main train station (Roma Termini).
5. Feeling Hungry? Generator Delivers!
The hostel has a fantastic kitchen serving delicious food throughout the day, but the continental breakfast really deserves a mention. The full spread on offer will certainly set you up well for a day exploring the cobbled streets of Rome.
In return for reviewing this hotel, we received a free stay. The hotel was told in advance that they were not guaranteed a place on this ‘Best Hostels’ list, and the views expressed in this article are our own.
Oslo is a historical mecca with remnants of Norwegian culture at every street corner. It can be overwhelming trying to see it all particularly if you have only a brief affair with this rich and happening city. We decided to tackle the city in just 24 hours using the Oslo Pass. Prepare to put on your running shoes for an active day of exploring Oslo…
What is the Oslo Pass?
The Oslo pass entitles you to free entry to many museums and attractions, discounts on purchases at restaurants and stores and free public transport. Firstly, download the Oslo Pass app for all the information you need on using the Oslo Pass and where you can activate your online purchase.
We’d recommend buying your pass online as its convenient and simple to access. Alternatively collect an Oslo Pass from the Oslo information Centre at Oslo Central or click here for a full list of participating stores.
Where can I find information on Oslo?
Our top three Oslo apps to download before your trip…
Visit Oslo: For details on the city and what’s on
The Oslo Pass: Pass info
Ruter Reise: Transport in Oslo
These three apps are vital for a smooth discovery of the city. The Visit Oslo app is an easy tool to access everything you need to know on the city. The Oslo Pass App enables you to find out what participating stores provide precisely what discounts and further information on Museums and attractions including opening times. Ruter Reise is the public transport app for the city and is awesome for helping you use your pass efficiently. Use-it is another brilliant app for up to date local knowledge on the city.
How to crush your 24 hr Oslo pass like a boss!Day 1 5-7 pm City Walking Tour
Informative, intriguing and recommended.
Time required: 2 hours from 10am-12pm or 5-7pm.
Great for: Learning about the rich city history and culture particularly the Akershus fort.
Activate your pass with the city walking tour starting at either 10 am or 5 pm from the Information Centre at Oslo Central. For purpose of this itinerary we began our Oslo journey from 5 pm.
The Akershus Fort
Day 1 7-8 pm Grønland
Grungy, tasty, cultural.
Great for: Cheap and tasty eats.
The walking tour leaves you at the base of Radisson Blu Hotel near central station. This is walking distance back to Grønland for the cheapest and certainly tasty Kebabs and pizza. Head back here for cheap dinner before moving onto the Botanical Gardens for a lovely evening stroll. From here catch the train to Tøyen (T-bane) for access to the Botanical Gardens.
Day 1 8-9 pm Oslo’s Botanical Gardens
Peaceful, nature, beautiful.
Time required: 1-hour. Gates close at 9 pm
Great for: Admiring Norwegian flora and connecting with nature in a peaceful and pristine environment.
Experience the various Scandinavian gardens before you retire for the evening. If you want to see the city sights by night head back to the Radisson Blu Hotel, near central station, for a beverage on at the Lobby bar on the 37th floor.
Good wine and a good view from Radison Blu
Day 2 9- 10:30am Fram Museet
Interactive, informative, engaging.
Time required: 1.5-2 hours
Great for: Learning about Arctic and Antarctic exploration, Norwegian and Arctic history and culture.
Early bird catches the worm so start your day by catching the bus 30 to the Fram Museet for a 9 am arrival, where you can discover the polar activity of the Fram expeditions right from the get go. While you’re in the area check out the adventurous spirit of Thor Heyerdahl at the Kon-Tiki Museet which is right next door.
Day 2 10:30-11am Kon-Tiki Museet
Time required: 20-30 minutes, 10:30-11
Great for: A pacific twist in Norsk history whilst learning more about the Pacific’s and their way of living.
Catch bus 30 from outside the Kon-Tiki museum which will take you to your next destination the Viking Ship Museum. This journey will take you approximately 10 minutes if you remember to press the stop button at Bygdøhus. However, if you are like us and forget to do so, not to worry as the bus terminates and resets its route at Huk bus stop and dropping you at Vikingskipene in a matter of five minutes!
Day 2 11am-12pm Viking Museum
Fascinating, child friendly and wheel accessible.
Time required: 45 minutes
Great for: Taking a step back into medieval times and discovering more about the Viking way of life
The architecture involved in creating the Viking ships along with their sleds and apparatus is impressively articulate. It is quite amazing to witness how the Vikings lived especially when you consider the epic weather conditions they would have faced.
From here head to your next destination for lunch and relaxation at Vigelandsparken. The bus stop is opposite where you got off, which is outside the museum gate.
Day 2, 12-1pm Vigelandsparken
Beautiful, Creative, Nature, Green…
Time required: 60 minutes 12-1
Great for: Chilling out with a packed lunch and roaming through the lush green nature whilst observing nude sculptures.
From here continue strolling through the greenery heading towards Vigeland Museet. It is so refreshing to be immersed in nature in the middle of a bustling city. The park is so big that you don’t even feel like you’re in Oslo city.
Day 2 1-2pm Vigeland Museet
Vigelands’ masterpieces at Vigelandsparken.
Time required: 40 minutes 1-1:40pm
Great for: Appreciation of sculptures and Norwegian artist as you see the artistic process from paper to sculpture.
Day 2 2-3pm Holmenkollen
For awesome views and ski jump history
Time required: 40 minutes
Great for: Views of the city of Oslo and finding out more about Ski Jumping.
There is a ski jump simulator which you can ride in to experience life as a ski jumper in the moment. There is also a museum built under the ski jump platform where you can discover the history of ski jumping. Here you will learn about the cultural significance of skiing and life in the snow throughout Scandinavian history.
Stunning views are abundant from Holmenkollen
Day 2 3-4pm *(Optional) Munchmuseet
The Munch Museum showcases an array of Munch’s art.
Time required: 30 minutes
Great for: Art enthusiasts and Edward Munch fans
If the Scream or Madonna are what you are after then I would skip this museum all together. These two pieces amongst many others of Munch’s best works can be found at the National Gallery. We were unaware of this and had to move quickly to ensure we made it to the Gallery before our pass expired.
Day 2 4-5pm National Gallery
Creative, inspiring, captivating.
If you are following our route directly then catch the train from Tøyen (T-bane) to Nasjonalgalleriet and walk to the National Museum from the T-bane station.
Time required: 60 minutes
Great for: Art enthusiasts or if you want to see The Scream or the Madonna along with famous art from Pablo Picasso, Manet, Monet and Cézanne.
There are some wonderful pieces to view at the National Gallery, showcasing artworks from all over the world. Be sure to witness some of the big-name artists pieces which are sure to captivate the eyes of those who are not as creative or artistically inclined.
Day 2 5-6pm Oslo Magic Ice Bar
To conclude your day of exploring this vibrant city head across the road to the Oslo Magic Ice Bar for a super cool beverage in style.
If you wish to kick on further head to the The Scotsman across from h&m in the old square. This place has live music and is perfect for some people watching and cheese platters.
Let us know your Oslo highlights!
About The Author: Rachel Pope is the founder of Spirit Quest Travel. An adventure travel blog focusing on mindfulness and active living. You can follow her travels on her blog, on Facebook or on Instagram.
One of the best things about being on the road is getting lost amongst the pages of a gripping book. So while you have time to read, here are our favourite travel books to read on the road…Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
The story of Bill Bryson’s journey across the UK up to John o’Groats in Scotland. Written in 1995, it offers a glimpse into Britain in the 90s as Bryson attempts (but fails) to do the whole journey by public transport. With laughs aplenty, it’s an absolute travel classic! Worth the space in your backpack.
This 1969 memoir was written by British poet Laurie Lee, and tells the tale of his travels upon leaving his home in the Cotswolds, armed only with his violin. Full of charm and poetic descriptions of both England and Spain, pack your sunglasses and take this one to the beach.
Written by Jonathan Raban, Coasting tells the tale of the author’s solo 4,000 mile journey around Britain by boat. Using just a compass to navigate his way around the treacherous coastline, Raban paints a picture of the country under the rule of Margaret Thatcher and during the Falklands War. An enlightening insight into Britain in the 1980s, with a great pinch of adventure thrown in.
An international bestseller, The Alchemist should definitely make it onto your inspiring reads list. Inspired by a dream of finding treasure, a young shepherd travels to the Egyptian pyramids in search of a better life. Coehlo wrote this book in just two weeks, quoted as saying: it was already “written in [his] soul”. If this doesn’t inspire you to follow your dreams and fulfil your destiny, we don’t know what will.
As one of the most translated and best-selling books in existence, The Little Prince is an absolute classic. When a pilot becomes lost in the desert, he meets a young prince. But this isn’t just any old prince, this one has fallen to Earth from an asteroid! Expect plenty of words of wisdom, quotes that you will recognise, and life inspiration.
As the founders of The Lonely Planet Guides, Tony and Maureen Wheeler are the godfathers of backpacking. This book follows the story from birth in 1973 when Across Asia On The Cheap was published, to modern day Lonely Planet (with travel guides to almost every destination you can imagine available). And there are a few hair raising tales to be told! The Wheelers are truly what adventure is all about.
An autobiography that charts Bear Grylls life. The story begins when Bear leaves school and travels to the Himalayas, where he spends the next few months deciding whether to join the Indian Army…! From broken backs to climbing Everest, Mud, Sweat and Tears will leave you full of ideas and planning your next trip.
Well of course, we have to give this one a mention! (We might be biased, but we think we’ve saved the best ’til last). Receiving 5* reviews from readers all over the world, Backpacker Business tells the story of our founder, Nikki Scott. Shunning the UK 9-5 for a life of adventure and ups and downs, find out how the Backpacker family was born… Readers say “It had me alternatively laughing, crying, laughing whilst crying…” and “a healthy dose of reality and inspiration”. Enjoy!
Would you like to nominate a book to be added to our list? Leave it in the comments below, with a 100 word review!
Trolltunga is one of the world’s most photographed rocks and frequented hikes and for good reason. There is no denying that the rock is impressive with views to jaw drop and silence even the most vocal hikers. The scenery along the walk is absolutely breathtaking, completely worth the visit and not talked about enough.
The tranquil, blue water at the base of fjords where waterfalls cascade down from the snow-capped mountains is an image imprinted in my mind for a life time. The snow and glaciers make for phenomenal snow play and amazing backdrops for photos.
This hike truly is like no other in the world and to maximise our time and embrace all we could we camped at the top of Trolltunga. A truly unforgettable experience and one I’d recommend for all providing you have the appropriate alpine camping gear. Even in the peak of summer the nights are cold and the winds are icy so pack appropriately.
Getting to Trolltunga:
You will need vehicle access to get you to the base of Trolltunga. Please see here information provided by Visit Norway on directions to Trolltunga. Drive to Tyssedal (6 km from Odda) on route 13. Follow signs to Skjeggedal and Trolltunga. After about 7 km you reach the parking lot in Skjeggedal.
The main car park is in Skjeggedal, which is also the starting point for the walk. If this car park is full you can park at Tyssohallen in Tyssedal. At Tyssohallen in Tyssedal you may see signage claiming that there is no availability at Skjeggedal. I would highly recommend continuing the journey to Skjeggedal to check this out for yourself as there is a high turnover of people departing throughout the day. If this carpark is full then park at the Tyssedal carpark and either hitch hike, Uber or taxi from the first car park to save your legs.
The parking rate at Skjeggedal is NOK 300/ 12 hours and 600/12-24 hours. In comparison, the parking at Tyssohallen in Tyssedal is NOK 150/day. The parking fee is used to finance public facilities in the area and these prices are as of July 2017.
What to expect from your Trolltunga hike:
The weather can be cool and its common for it to be windy at the top, even throughout the summer season, so ensure you pack yourself some warm thermals, a beanie and a wind proof jacket to maximise your enjoyment at the rock. You have walked all that way and certainly deserve some great photo opportunities and rest with a view.
The image above shows the times you can and cannot hike Trolltunga independently. It would be advised to read this carefully and consider this when planning your trip to Trolltunga. Check out Trolltunga Active if you require a guide for your trek.
Waterfalls and fresh water streams are common along the way so there are ample places to refill your water bottles. This will save you breaking your back packing like a camel.
Total time to Trolltunga (one way) – 3 1/2 hrs for medium to high fitness 5 hours for moderate fitness.
Total distance 11 km (one way, 22 km return) –> If the first/last 1 km of the track becomes considered too dangerous the course may be closed off for descendants and therefore will need to walk the road way which adds an extra 5 km.
0-1 Km Steep, Incline, rocky, muddy. 30 mins
We had been advised prior to departing that the first 1 km is steep but I just don’t think my back with an overnight pack had accurately anticipated this climb. I will forewarn you that yes, it is steep, with an incline the entire first Km but this is the hardest part of the trek as your heart rate flies from resting to workout instantly. I would rather talk it up and you surprise yourself then become overwhelmed. Please also take into consideration that our hike was done with packs for overnight hiking containing camping gear, food etc.
The track is clear to follow with stone stairs and further up with ropes and chains over the rocks, attached to the rocks and the trees to support and guide you. There are rest stop benches for you to relax along the way and if you turn around the views of the lake and fjords are lovely (see image above). If you can get through this you will be fine. You’ve got this!
1-2 Km Muddy, rocky, undulating
Km 1-2 is a breeze compared to 0-1 Km. Here you will find a small stream for water. This track flattens out however it is still really muddy and rocky as you find yourself hopping over streams.
There is another river crossing before you start climbing again. The track is surrounded by lush greenery and grassy areas. The rocks act like stepping stones through mud.
Around 1.5 km you will reach a plateau. Sigh! Breathe! The rocky pathway undulates so watch your step. From here look up and take in the great views of the snow-capped mountains.
2-3 Km Beautiful Scenery, Plateau before Incline
This Km has more rocks and paths on the plateau so it is an easy start to the km. Here we saw some kids selling ‘Trolltunga pancakes’ for 10 Kr so take your coins and grab a sweet treat on your walk, soon you will need your energy back again.
There are multiple creek crossings prior to second ascent. The second ascent begins just before the 3-km mark. It is a steep incline (nothing like your first km) compacted dirt and rock path with large sections of rock stairs. It zigzags the way up the mountain. At the top is where we got our first glimpse of snow up-close which made for some fun snow play penguining down the glacier.
4 km Glaciers, Creeks and views
You made it! Here you reach the top of the second ascent. This area is a rocky plateau which is a saddle between the two peaks. As the snow melts dozens of small creeks form down the mountain. This water is as cold as it is clean and perfect to fill up your water bottle.
4-5 Km Easy, Mountain views
This area is a relatively easy walk with short climbs and downhill areas where you stroll between small lakes.
As you reach another small peak and begin descending you can begin to see the sheer cliffs of the fjord.
5-8 Km Breathtaking views, undulating path
This is a longer section where you continue to wind along the cliff of the fjord through undulating terrain. There are steep parts of this track and some sections are muddy. You will hop across some small waterfall creeks on rocks acting as stepping stones.
The views of the blue water below and waterfalls cascading down the cliffs are breathtaking. The landscape here is postcard perfect and a great place to stop and take it all in, have a rest and admire the outstanding nature Norway is offering you.
8-9 Km Tough Ascent, cliffs
You pass down another hill with snow and ice to your left with the path crossing over a creek before starting another tough ascent along the edge of a cliff.
The path is wide and safe so no risk of danger. However, do take your time to take in the great views to be seen. You climb from the 8.5 km mark until you reach a short-lived plateau.
9-11 Km Ascent to Trolltunga
You can actually see Trolltunga from here which is much easier to identify once you have been there and seen it.
Along this section you walk over large rocks and over snow and streams. The track becomes a big vague here as the end is in sight and people tend to veer off. We walked to Trolltunga via a small stream and back over the higher rocks.
The stream is the easier path to Trolltunga. Hug the rocky mountainside where there is a waterfall to refill your drink bottles.
Continue down pass a glacier before walking along the top of one until you reach the rocky flat. Keep your eyes peeled for the red T marker on rocks for an easier stroll to the destination.
You will notice a large dam to your left as you climb up over rocks ascending to Trolltunga. Continue following the red T’s which will lead you to Trolltunga. Give yourselves a high five and take in the beauty of the fjords.
What did you love about hiking Trolltunga? What section was most challenging for you?
About The Author: Rachel Pope is the founder of Spirit Quest Travel. An adventure travel blog focusing on mindfulness and active living. You can follow her travels on her blog, on Facebook or on Instagram.
Going on an adventure is one of the best ways to unwind and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And what better way to truly escape than by diving into the deep blue of the Mediterranean?
Scuba diving is undoubtedly one of the most popular activities amongst backpackers. It’s expensive yes, but there’s nothing quite like exploring a misty, underwater world, with a soundtrack of bubbles to keep you company! So whether you’re Scuba Steve or a complete amateur, let us persuade you why a visit to the Mediterranean islands of Malta & Gozo is a scuba divers dream…
Clear and Calm Waters
The waters around Malta and Gozo are perfect for diving. They are calm and relatively warm throughout the year, plus you don’t need to worry about dangerous currents or coming across deadly sea creatures. These factors make the islands of Malta and Gozo perfect for any type of diver.
Even if you are taking your first ever diving trip, there is plenty of fun to be had diving around these islands. The pleasant climate and calm, clear waters allow for great visibility, so you’ll be able to explore and see the spectacular underwater scenery without any problems. No specialist equipment or lighting gear needed!
World-Famous Diving Spots
Malta and Gozo are surrounded by diving spots just waiting to be explored. There’s The Wreck of Um El Faroud, a diving spot that’s recognised as the best wreck dives in the Mediterranean! Um El Faroud was an oil tanker almost 115 meters long, which now creates an amazing artificial reef that’s home to an abundance of sea life.
There’s also the MV Karwela Wreck off the coast of Gozo, another wreck dive that is sure to delight. This ship was also sunk to act as an artificial reef, and it’s one of the more easily accessible diving spots in the area.
Or, if cave diving is your thing, then the Blue Hole in Gozo should definitely be top of your list of diving spots to check out. The place is simply magical, featuring a 60-metre vertical wall, and a natural outdoor swimming pool which acts as the entrance to this gorgeous place.
All the Diving Shops You Could Ever Need…
Malta and Gozo are well-known, well-established diving destinations, so you don’t need to worry about diving equipment or other supporting amenities when planning a trip to these islands. There are holiday packages that include everything you need for a memorable diving adventure from start to finish.
You can also opt for individual services, including diving tours and diving lessons. The top service providers in the area can even take care of the planning for you. Thanks to the internet, you can consult an expert diving tour guide, plan the spots you want to visit, and have everything prepared for you before you even depart for your scuba diving trip.
A Great Place to Earn Your License
If you are serious about diving and you want to go on diving trips in the future, earning a diving license is a must. There are several types and levels of license you can get depending on the kind of adventure you want to have – and Malta and Gozo are the perfect islands on which to do it!
There are a variety of diving courses with international standards to choose from. You can earn a license from PADI, BSAC, VDST, and Barakuda as well as other international diving organisations. Some courses are short enough to take on a single holiday or trip, while others may require a bit more time.
It is worth noting that these international courses are available as packages too. You can take the first half of the course at a diving centre back home before going to Malta and Gozo to complete the program and acquire your diving license. Your final dive in open water will certainly be an epic one, making the whole course that much more memorable!
So next time you’re planning a spot of scuba diving, head to the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo… you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Have you dived at any of the locations mentioned in this article? We would love to hear your stories and experiences, so please do share them in the comments below.
About the Author: Elena is a diving instructor at atlantisgozo.com, and a travel writer who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Oceanography. Her love for the ocean and diving in particular has driven her to explore some of the best diving spots in the world.