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Girl about the Globe by Girl About The Globe - 1M ago

Sydney is one of my most favourite cities. I loved it so much that I once spent 9 months living and working in this Australian city. The people are friendly, the city is walkable and Sydney is always bursting with things to do.

Whether you're a cultural Girl about the Globe (GatG) or an active GatG, Sydney has something for any kind of solo. If you are looking for the best day tours in Sydney, here's my list of my favourite experiences.

The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House Tour

When you think of Sydney, one of the most iconic images that comes to mind will probably be the beautiful sail shaped Sydney Opera House. It’s therefore no surprise this world-class performing arts building, which is over 60 years old, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Many people enjoy snapping pictures of it with the harbour in the background, but you may not know that you can also take an hour-long tour to explore some of its 1000 plus rooms and get a unique perspective on the Danish architect Jorn Utzon’s innovative design.

This tour is a great option for solo female travellers who want to add a cultural element to their trip.

Reserve your spot: The Sydney Opera House Tour

See the famous Bondi Beach

Sydney and Bondi Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer Bus

Sydney is a vast city with areas of interest dotted all over its city streets and shoreline, so the Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer bus makes seeing the highlights a whole lot easier. The open top double decker bus covers 33 stops over two different routes, which are both included in one ticket.

One advantage of this tour is that it includes an audio guide available in 8 different languages, so you’ll be able to learn about the sights whilst enjoying the panoramic views.

Booking before you arrive in Australia can give you more time to plan your own itinerary so that you cover all the places you want to experience. You could even hop off at Bondi beach and try the great Aussie pastime of surfing the waves!

Book here: Sydney and Bondi Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer Bus 

Climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge

BridgeClimb Sydney

Not everyone likes to experience a city from the same perspective, so for those of you who like a challenge why not take in the spectacular views of Darling Harbour from above by climbing to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

An experienced guide will lead you up the catwalks to the 134-meter summit so that you can view the beauty of the Sydney Opera House to one side and the Blue Mountains to the other. This is a fantastic option for solo travellers as you’ll be joined on this 3.5-hour experience by up to 13 other daredevils!

Reserve your climb: BridgeClimb Sydney

See the famous Palm Beach featured in Home and Away

Official Home and Away Tour to Summer Bay

This small group tour enables fans of the popular TV series to experience the captivating filming locations along Palm Beach. An expert guide will share details about the actors, history, and story lines on this 4-hour tour. You’ll also get the opportunity to re-live some of the famous scenes as you explore the picturesque coastal filming locations used to create Summer Bay.

The tour ends in the famously beautiful Manly Beach so you can spend time like the characters of the show; soaking up the rays. You’ll be enjoying this tour with fellow fans of the show so it’s a great way for solo travellers to share this unique travel experience.

Check prices, availability and dates: Official Home and Away Tour to Summer Bay

Can you get more breathtaking views than the Blue Mountains?

Blue Mountains Tour, Scenic World, Leura Village & Cruise

No trip to Sydney would be complete without experiencing the majestic Blue Mountains, seeing Australia’s native animals and talking a river cruise. Luckily this tour combines all these and more within an exciting 10-hour day trip. At the Blue Mountains you’ll visit Scenic World, which allows you to experience the incredible views in three different ways: from the Cableway, Skyway, and Railway.

What’s more a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park is a great way to see some of the weird and wonderful creatures that are native to Australia. Another highlight of the trip is the view from Echo Point where you’ll be able to take panoramic photos of the stunning Jamison Valley.

This trip is topped off by a 1-hour Fantasea River Cruise, which includes commentary as you are whisked back to Darling Harbour and Circular Quay.

Check prices, availability and dates: Blue Mountains Tour, Scenic World, Leura Village & Cruise

Verdict

Is Sydney good for solos? Completely! I give it 5 out of 5 stars. It's an amazing city with lots to do and plenty of friendly people to meet. Check out the Solo Travel in Australia guide to plan your solo trip. 

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The post Day Tours in Sydney appeared first on https://www.girlabouttheglobe.com/.

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Girl about the Globe by Girl About The Globe - 1M ago

After being tied to Barcelona for the whole summer, I have finally been let loose and am heading back on the road! As much as Barcelona is the best place to be during the summer months, I am ready to explore some different culture.

In September I visited Tunisia (which completely blew my expectations). In October I head to ‘The Stans’ to explore more of these Central Asian countries and discover more of the Silk Road.

Having been to Armenia this year I am excited about learning more about this ancient trading route which ran from Asia to Europe. For this trip I'll be travelling with another travel blogger instead of travelling solo. 

The best way to explore these countries is with your own vehicle but being unable to find a company which allows you to take a car across the borders, we’ve decided to fly, take the train and local taxis.

So the itinerary will go like this:

  • Kazakhstan,
  • Tajikistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Back to Kazakhstan

Planning these trips are literally taking hours. Now I understand why people usually take tours for these countries. For example, there is one train a week from Uzbekistan to Kazashstan which is sold out during our trip so we’ve had to plan the trip in reverse with internal flights.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Our trip starts in Kazakhstan. If you’ve never heard of Kazakhstan, then maybe you remember the film, Borat, in which Sacha Baron Cohen played a fictional character from the country? Things to see here are the Charyn Canyon (the country’s rival to the Grand Canyon), the Nur Astana Mosque and the Buddhist rock carvings at Tamgaly Tas.

Tajikistan

Tajikistan

From here it’s a flight to Tajikistan, a neighbouring country to Afghanistan, known for its mountains and snow-capped peaks. This country oozes nature and the main attraction is the Pamir Highway, a road trip through the Pamir mountains near the Kyrgyzstan border. Lenin Peak is also meant to be a mecca for climbers and those looking to hike and camp in the mountains.

Tourism infrastructure seems virtually impossible in Tajikistan and not knowing any Russian is definitely going to be a challenge.

Tashkent in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

From Dushanbe, the capital, we’ll be travelling to the border to cross over into Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan looks stunning. It was once a core destination for the ancient Silk Road and has many beautiful mosques and shrines to see. This is where we’ll spend most of our time, visiting Bukhara and Samarkand. One of the most magnificent things to see here is the Registan, a stunning piece of Islamic architecture in Samarkand.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

From here it’s off to Kyrgyzstan, to see Osh, an old city with a vibrant bazaar. The country is dominated by the Tian Shan mountains which are also part of the old trading route, and is one of the greenest cities within the region. Its capital, Bishkek has less than one million people and has several museums, as well as former Soviet monuments and a Monument to the Martyrs of the Revolution.

Then it’s back to Almaty before flying home.

I’ll be working with accommodations, and tour companies to see how female-friendly this part of the world is.

The trip will take 18 nights and will be a mix of internal flights, scenic train journeys, buses, and private taxis. It will definitely be an adventure. If you’ve ever wanted to explore these Central Asian countries, then I’ll be blogging about them soon.

Have you been to “The Stans?”

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The post My New Trips! appeared first on https://www.girlabouttheglobe.com/.

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Girl about the Globe by Girl About The Globe - 3M ago

This September, Girl about the Globe is proud to have joined an industry-wide campaign to provide better deals and opportunities for solo travellers called #SoloSeptember.

Solo travel isn’t just for backpackers in their twenties. Nowadays, women all over the world are taking the plunge and going solo, and they are not all single either.

According to Travelzoo, 60% of solo travellers are either married or in a relationship. Showing that women who want to travel are not being held back by partners who are unable to go away with them.

British women are also taking the plunge. Travelzoo also revealed that over three-quarters of Brits have either travelled alone or are considering doing so in the future.

Many travel solo to recharge their batteries, take time for themselves, and as a way of self-discovery.

Having been solo travelling since the age of twenty-one, I am such an advocate for solo female travel. I’ve seen the personal transformation that it brings and the confidence that it builds.

Why travel solo?

Travelling solo gives you the freedom to choose your schedule, go where you want and with who you want. There’s no one to answer to and if you decide you don’t like somewhere, you can just move on or stay longer if you love it. There are so many more people choosing to travel by themselves so you’re never short of people to meet if you crave company. But for those who prefer their own space, it’s perfect!

Who is solo travel for?

Anyone! Women from the ages of 18 to over 60’s are going solo. Anyone can do it and it doesn’t matter what travelling style you prefer either. Backpacking is no longer for the twenty-something student. Nowadays hostels are more boutique and a meeting place for more mature travellers who don’t just want to visit a destination to party.

Although hostels do have private rooms, one of the biggest downfalls to solo travel seems to be the dreaded single-supplement.

So what is #SoloSeptember?

Launching #SoloSeptember, Joel Brandon-Bravo from Travelzoo said: “Travelling alone is a choice made by a growing number of travellers but many feel penalised for choosing to travel solo. We want to rally the travel industry to see solo travel as an opportunity, and to help people choosing to travel alone feel as valued a customer as they would while travelling with others.”

The #SoloSeptember campaign aims to establish a coalition of businesses offering discounts and deals to the increasing number of people choosing to holiday alone. The aim to support solo travellers.

In September we’ll be sending a newsletter dedicated to #SoloSeptember highlighting all the solo deals to make your trip more cost-effective. We’ll also be discounting our products to make your next solo trip easier. Keep your eyes peeled for the #SoloSeptember hashtag and sign up for the newsletter below. 

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Girl about the Globe by Girl About The Globe - 4M ago

Belfast has come a long way since the days of the political violence. Having grown up with news reports of the IRA, I must admit that this Northern Irish capital was never really on my bucket list. But after interviewing Sarah Arnold who had grown up in Northern Ireland, I was inspired by the things to do in Belfast and had to visit for myself. 

It took me less than 48 hours in Belfast to notice how far this nation had come. Todays' Belfast is world's apart from the Belfast in the 80's. Yes, there were still isolated cases of violence but they were minimal and barely even made it to the international press.

It seemed that Northern Ireland was now in the media for all the right reasons – the biggest one being the Game of Thrones. If you’re not a fan (which I’m in the minority of people who aren’t), then you can still enjoy touring around the stunning landscapes chosen for this popular Netflix series. Just seeing the beautiful Irish coastline is worth a visit in itself.

Belfast has redefined itself from the past. After spending 5 nights in this Irish city, here are my recommended things to do in Belfast as a solo.

Things To Do in Belfast

The Titanic Museum

The Titanic Museum

Everyone has heard of the Titanic but if you are like me, you may not have realised that the Titanic was actually built in Belfast. You may not know that the Titanic was just one of three super liners to have been built at the same period. And you may not know that one of its sister ships came to the rescue of the lifeboats and saved the survivors.

Having grown up near Southampton where the Titanic had its maiden voyage, and having sailed over the area near Halifax where it sank, it seemed only fitting that I should discover more about this famous journey at Belfast’s main attraction.

There's a reason that the Titanic Museum was voted the Worlds Leading Tourist Attraction in 2016. That's because it is! It's not just a museum, it's a complete experience of the world's most famous shipwreck. It's so interactive and even if you're not really into ships, it takes you back in time to Belfast when this capital's industry was booming.

There's a short rollercoaster ride that takes you through the working shipyard where you can see the virtual workers and listen to the sounds. You can even try your hand at morse code. There are over nine interactive galleries here but my favourite has to be the underwater discovery room where you can see the projected image of the Titanic as it is today, under the depths of the water.

Don’t think that it’s just for kids either as it provides an education for everyone. I stayed for lunch in the cafe afterwards just to squeeze the most out of my Titanic experience. And even if the world's most famous shipwreck isn't really your thing, it’s still worth visiting (I promise).

SS Nomadic

SS Nomadic

Your ticket also allows you onto SS Nomadic, one of the Titanic’s tender ships (a ship which carries you from the port to the ship). This ship was used to transport passengers to the Titanic. Inside its champagne bar and opulent interior gave the excited passengers a taste of first class before experiencing the real thing.

What makes this attraction so good is its use of virtual characters which are projected on the walls. You can watch how they used to shovel coal into the engines and listen to the coal worker telling you his story. It only takes about 30 minutes to walk around the whole ship but it adds an extra dimension onto the Titanic tale.

  • Find it at: Hamilton Dock, Queens Rd (right near the Titanic Museum)
  • Time needed: One hour maximum
  • Opens at: 10am – 6pm every day
  • Costs: Included within the Titanic Museum ticket

St George's Market

St George’s Market

St George's Market is only open from Friday to Mondays and the stalls vary depending on the days. If you love fish visit on a Friday for more than 20 fish stalls. Saturday and Sundays are more for arts and crafts where local craftspeople sell their creations.

Having visited a few markets in my time, I honestly had no expectations of the city’s award-winning market. But this last surviving Victorian covered market surprised me. 

Once inside, the dulcet tones of a live musician singing a rendition of a U2 classic blew me away. In fact, the musician was so good that I came back to get some food and soak up more of the atmosphere later that day whilst enjoying an Ulster fry. If you haven’t yet tried the Irish soda bread or potato cake, this market is a great opportunity to do it. It is a great hub for people to come, eat and enjoy the music but there really is so much more to this market which is one of Belfast's oldest attractions. 

You can buy beautiful framed photographs of the Irish coast, crystals at the holistic stands or pick up an Irish antique. You’ll also find other cuisine such as smoked fish chowder and thai curries but as they say, when in Ireland…

  • Find it at: 12-20 East Bridge St
  • Time needed: One to three hours (depending on whether you stay for food)
  • Opens at: Friday 6am – 3pm, Saturday 9am-3pm, Sunday 10am-4pm
  • Costs: Free!

HMS Caroline

HMS Caroline

Near the Titanic Museum sits the only surviving battleship from The Battle of Jutland in World War One. Once a vessel of war, HMS Caroline is now a floating museum which tells the tale of the battle. 

Having never heard of The Battle of Jutland, I knew nothing about HMS Caroline and the role that it played in the battle that apparently changed the course of the First World War.

Luckily the exhibition begins with a short movie cleverly projected onto the gallery walls. The Battle of Jutland was fought over 36 hours and was known as one of the largest surface battles in naval history because of the numbers of vessels involved. The battle took place in the North Sea against the German Navy.

After the short film you explore the rest of the ship, or like me, you go to the gift shop and ask them if that is the end of the tour without realising that there is a lower deck and engine room to discover! You can even climb to the bridge and touch the steering wheel, before wandering through all the cabins below to see the sleeping and eating quarters during the crew’s time at sea.

Each area is self-guided and interactive. All you have to do is aim your torpedo-shaped audio stick at the interactive points to listen to each chapter in your headphones. You discover the stories of the crew as well as how they used to communicate at sea. It’s such a good attraction if you like exploring different rooms and corridors. I even found my way down to the engine room. The torpedo room was definitely a first for me.

For someone who doesn’t hold much of an interest for anything naval, exploring a real-time life battleship and one which played such an important role in our history was so interesting. 

  • Find it at: Alexandra Dock, Queens Rd (15 minutes walk from the Titanic Museum)
  • Time needed: 90 minutes to 3 hours (there's a cafe inside too)
  • Opens at: 10am – 5pm every day
  • Costs: £10.75 for a self-guided tour. Book this tour: HMS Caroline Self Guided Tour

A mural of Bobby Sands

Take a Political Tour

I personally couldn’t come to Belfast and not learn more about its political history. Having grown up watching the news about the IRA, I wanted to understand more about this conflict that they called ‘The Troubles.’ And taking a political tour with ex-prisoners who had first-hand accounts of the conflict was the perfect way to do it.

The three hour walking tour begins at legendary Falls Road, where The Troubles began more than 30 years ago. Back then, barely any of the residents were unaffected by the conflict and many fought for their beliefs.

You see the area where fifteen hundred houses were set on fire, bullet holes in the walls in Falls Road and the garden where Republicans are remembered (or known as a ‘shrine to terrorism’ depending on which side you were on).

Passing through gates to a mainly Protestant area you hear both accounts of the conflict from the Loyalist and Republican sides and the effects that the conflict has left.

Your guide then explains the political messages behind the colourful murals, before you have the opportunity to sign the Peace Wall. A mural of Bobby Sands, one of the most famous members of the Irish Republican Army who died on hunger strike adorns one of the walls, amongst pictures of Republican women and faces which periled during The Troubles. 

The mural that most stands out is the ‘1916 – 2016 picture of guns and a harp; the message ‘From bullet to ballot: the evolution of our revolution,' sums up the three hour tour.  

This tour really gives you an insight into the history of Belfast and how far it has come today.

Walking along the marina

Take Yourself On a Self-Guided Tour

Belfast is a fabulous city to walk around. The city isn’t that large so it’s easily walkable. The walk back into the city from the Titanic Museum is a really calming walk which takes you along the marina past yachts. It's a great place to sit and enjoy a coffee whilst soaking up modern-day Belfast next to The Lagan River. Cross the bridge to see the quirky Big Fish statue.

As well as The Docklands, make sure you see the Botanic Garden, the Albert Clock, and some of the city' best architecture such as the Belfast City Hall. At night, head to the Cathedral Quarter which attracts the party dwellers.

If you don't want to walk and prefer to sightsee by bus instead take the city sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus tour.

  • Find it at: Start from anywhere in the city if you walk or take the bus from over 31 stops
  • Time needed: As long as you like. A bus ticket lasts for 72 hours
  • Opens at: If you walk – anytime. The first bus leaves Custom House Square at 9.45am
  • Costs: From £10. Check pricing: Belfast City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus Ticket
Where To Stay in Belfast

I stayed at an Airbnb which was a 20 minute walk into the city. Save $20 off your first Airbnb stay here. Staying in a local's house meant that I didn't meet anyone during my stay so you may prefer to stay in a hostel to meet others to explore the city with.

The Belfast International Youth Hostel is a popular choice. It's close to bars and restaurants and just a short walk from the Botanic Garden. There's a cafe onsite which serves breakfast and a kitchen to prepare your own meals. The location is central and the hostel attracts international guests so you'll definitely meet other travellers here. Rooms are either 4 bed mixed dormitories or you can opt for your own twin room.

Windermere Guest House is also a good option. This guest house offers bed and breakfast in near the Botanical Gardens in Belfast. Enjoy a full English breakfast in an old 19th century Victorian house then explore the city which is only fifteen minutes away on foot. The WiFi is fast and each room has tea and coffee making facilities. Choose from a single or double room with a shared bathroom.

  • Prices from £46 per night for a single room
  • To book, check prices or availability for Windermere Guest House

How To Get Around Belfast

Belfast is a walkable city. I walked around the city and didn't use any public transport except for the airport bus. If you prefer to cycle your way around, you can take a Belfast bike (£5 for three days), situated around Belfast city centre. Translink is the city's bus provider. You just pay for a ticket in cash when you get on the bus. Check here for routes and timetables.

From the Airport

Belfast City Airport – Some low cost airlines fly into George Best Belfast City Airport which is really close to the city (hence the name). A taxi costs approx £8 and takes about 10 minutes. The buses from the airport are number 600 and run every 20 minutes during peak times into Europa Buscentre. The cost is £3 for a single ticket. From Belfast City Airport you can also reach Derry (known as Londonderry), by Airporter which goes from outside the airport. 

Belfast International Airport – The international airport is 18 miles outside of Belfast. The Airport Express 300 bus runs from opposite the terminal exit into the Europa Buscentre, Templepatrick, and Royal Avenue. It takes up to 40 minutes and costs £7.50 one way. If you are travelling onto Londonderry or Lisburn there is an Ulsterbus and Airporter bus to both places. Taxis are available from outside the airport exit and costs approx £45 into the city.

My Verdict

How good is Belfast for solos? Belfast still has the Irish charm without the tourist vibe and expense of Dublin. The locals are friendly and I felt really safe. I definitely recommend visiting.

Find out how to Travel Solo in Northern Ireland with our solo destination guide

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