It’s not summer until you’ve hit the beach – and there’s a staggering range of sandy stretches where you can get your fix. I’ve sought out twelve of the best beaches in Europe, so you can find the perfect one for your summer holidays – whether you’re after adventure and nightlife or just want to sink your toes into a white sandy beach.
Best beaches in Italy and SicilyCala Luna, Sardinia
This secluded beach is further south than Sardinia’s main glitzy beaches and is well worth the journey for adventure-seekers. Forested cliffs plunge dramatically into the sea, leaving a series of beach caves along the shoreline. The grottos are great for picnics and photo ops, but the clear blue sea of the bay also makes it one of the best beaches in Europe for snorkelling and rock climbing. You can reach Cala Luna by a 4km hike, or you can do as the Italian jet set do and hire a private speedboat from Cala Gonone.
Somehow off the radar to all but local Italian holidaymakers, San Vito Lo Capo is arguably one of the best white sand beaches in Europe. There’s something positively tropical about its ivory squeaky sands and shimmering turquoise seas. The town itself is a laid-back but lively beach resort with a distinct African influence that’s reflected in its food: every year San Vito plays host to a couscous festival to celebrate its local dish.
It may be a bit out of the way, but Rabbit Beach on the remote Italian island of Lampedusa is one of the most memorable and unique beaches in Italy. Despite the name, you won’t find any rabbits here but t the rocky craggy coast is otherwise teeming with wildlife. It’s closer to Africa than mainland Italy. The main attraction on Lampedusa is the tiny Rabbit Island, where scuba divers and snorkellers come for the excellent visibility of its warm translucent waters.
If you had to draw a perfect beach it would probably look like Rondinara. Between the popular tourist haunts of Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio, you’ll find this shell-like curve of white sandy beach and red-tinged rocks, perfectly framing the shallow turquoise lagoon. During the winter you might even share the beach with cows. There’s one bar and a campsite if you fancy staying a while to enjoy the nature.
Biarritz is known as the surf capital of Europe and is not only blessed with one of the best city beaches in Europe but the best surf beach too. The city was once popular with nobility who left behind its elegant Belle Epoque architecture; these days it’s a prime spot for surf chic and authentic Basque culture. Le Grande Plage is the main attraction with its big rolling waves and buzzing waterfront, but with five further beaches to explore and bags of style and fun, Biarritz is an excellent choice for the easily bored.
This beach may look like something from the tropics, but the sparkling swathe of sand known as Rodas Beach is actually on a small archipelago of three islands off the north-west coast of Spain. The spectacular Cíes Islands sit in the Vigo estuary and have nine beautiful beaches, but the sandbar and lagoon at Rodas Beach is the most striking. So much so, it’s frequently voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Spain. Brace yourself if you’re getting in the water though – the beaches might look like something from the Caribbean, but the water temperature definitely isn’t!
More commonly known as Shipwreck Beach, Navagio Beach on the Greek island of Zakynthos is surely the most Instagrammed beach in Europe and appears on postcards across the country. The shipwreck in question – which photogenically graces a small sandy beach hemmed in by impassable cliffs – was (according to local lore) a 1980s smuggler’s ship chased down by the Greek navy. This photogenic big-hitter is a perfect selfie backdrop but to reach the cliffs with the famous view – rather than just visiting the beach itself – you’re best to rent a car.
Portugal is not short on stunning beaches, but they do get busy in the summer. Leave the Algarve to the package holiday crowds and head instead to the gorgeous Praia de Galapinhos in Setúbal. Galapinhos has no facilities and can only be accessed by a steep track, which means it still has the air of a well-kept secret despite being a short journey from Lisbon. It’s one of the best European beaches for nature-lovers. The sea is clean and calm and an intense shade of blue, and the beach is backed by the beautiful green mountains and trails of the Arrábida Natural Park. Just down the coast is the equally stunning Troia Peninsula with its long finger-like curve of golden sands.
Stiniva Cove is a contender for the most beautiful secret beach in Europe. Sailing past you might not even notice it exists thanks to the two tall cliffs either side which obscure it. If your boat is small enough you might be able to sail through the gap between them – which is only a few metres wide – to find the pretty white pebble beach, translucent waters and a small beach bar. This Croatian hidden gem is most easily visited on a boat trip, although it is possible to hike there if you’re feeling intrepid.
Latvia may not be the first destination that springs to mind when you think of beach breaks in Europe, but this Baltic beach boasts pale sands, fragrant pine forests and magical summer light stretching for miles. 21 miles to be precise. There’s a string of beach resorts along this length of the ‘Baltic Riviera’ which is just 30 minutes from the capital city of Riga. As well as fine beaches you’ll also find intriguing architecture – Art Nouveau wooden houses, Prussian villas, and Soviet-era sanatoriums.
If you find white sand beaches a bit of a yawn then get yourself on a flight to Iceland, stat. This country, known for its geological wonders, will always be able to provide something a bit different. Iceland has a wide variety of volcanic beaches but for sheer romance and drama, you can’t beat the black sand beach of Reynisfjara with its otherworldly basalt columns and black pebbles.
Only those who have been to Cornwall will appreciate the beauty of the area’s beaches. Many of them have been nominated for various best British beach awards, but Porthcurno gets a special mention as not only is it one of the filming locations for the TV series Poldark but its looked down on by the unique cliffside Minack Theatre.
Steph is a beach bum, wine lover and sailing nerd hailing from rainy England (which explains her obsession with all things sunny and Mediterranean). On her blog The Mediterranean Traveller she shares the best travel secrets of the region. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
We asked backpackers to share their recommendations for the ultimate hidden gems in Scotland… and boy, did they deliver! We’ve lifted the lid on the best things to do in Scotland for those looking for secret adventures and uniquely Scottish experiences. From dolphin watching to tropical gardens to the best stargazing spots in Europe, it’s time to spill Scotland’s secrets… but shh, let’s keep that between us!
1. Relax on white sand beaches
Prepare to be surprised by Scotland’s stunning white sand beaches, akin to the Caribbean coastline. Green and grey cliffs melt effortlessly into white sands and striking blue waves crashing onto the shores, b-e-a-utiful.
Take a walk between the sand dunes of the gorgeous Tentsmuir Beach in Fife and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a group of dolphins playing around and jumping out of the water – yup – wild dolphins in Scotland, you’re welcome.
3. Venture into The Devil’s Pulpit
The Devil’s Pulpit is a real insider tip in Finnich Glen, close to Conic Hill. After a short walk through the forest, you’ll discover the entrance to this gem hidden between bushes and trees. Keep walking until you find a river then take off your shoes and carefully walk against the stream to reach a magical three-tiered waterfall – in the right light the water appears to be blood red, giving this place its name “Devil’s Pulpit”. Spooky, huh?!
4. Stargaze in Europe’s darkest town
The small town of Moffat in Dumfries & Galloway is the ultimate stargazing destination. Why? Because Moffat is the first town in Europe to use special street lighting to keep the light pollution as low as possible. Head out on a clear night and lie beneath the stars for hours, enjoying the twinkling effects of the dark sky.
5. Trek up an extinct volcano
Sure, you’ve probably heard of Arthur’s Seat, but did you know that it actually sits on top of an extinct volcano? That’s right, hike to the peak of Arthur’s Seat Volcano in the heart of Scotland’s bustling capital city and prepare yourself for jaw-dropping, panoramic views of Edinburgh below.
Scotland is a country with an abundance of charming islands, over 700 in fact! This, of course, makes Scotland an epic island-hopping destination. Why not start in Oban on the mainland and then bounce between the Isle of Mull and onto the Isle of Iona in the Inner Hebrides… hop to it!
7. Be wowed by the secluded Traigh Bhan Beach
Iona is famous for its gorgeous abbey, but if you wander a little further from the tourist’s track until you reach the end of the island, you’ll discover the white sand and aquamarine waters of Traigh Bhan Beach. This spot is usually secluded, and you can enjoy the entire beach to yourself… the perfect place for a digital detox!
8. Experience the magic of the Harry Potter Viaduct
You may think that exploring the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct is a path a little too well-trodden, but it wins a firm spot on any Scotland bucket list. Arrive between the stream trains, (hello Hogwarts Express!), and you’ll be able to experience the viaduct and its incredible view over Loch Shield without the buzz of tourists.
The views over Loch Trool in Dumfries & Galloway are unbelievable, and the loch stretches as far as the eye can see. The short but strenuous hike to reach Loch Trool is totally worth it, we promise! As the light softens, sit back and enjoy the changing colours – cameras at the ready people!
10. Marvel at the Duncansby Stacks
Located in the Highlands, the Duncansby Stacks are a sight to behold. Wander a short 10 minutes along the coast of the north east and you’ll spot these three towering pillars coming straight out of the sea, dwarfing the coastline. They look completely alien to the landscape and at sunset when the light hits them just right they are beyond stunning. A real hidden gem of the north coast.
11. Admire the Rua Reidh Lighthouse
With islands in the backdrop and a stunning coastline to match, the Rua Reidh Lighthouse is as picturesque as it gets. After driving down a single-track, dirt road and over a couple of rickety bridges you reach this secluded beauty. We recommend going for sunset as the sun is perfectly placed over the sea. We guarantee you’ll feel like you’re at the edge of the world with the sky and sea as far as you can see.
If you’ve ever visited Stonehenge and felt a little underwhelmed, then a visit to the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis is a definite must! This atmospheric site was most likely an astrological calendar and place of ritual, with these stones pre-date Stonehenge by 3,000 years. Plus, there are no queues or entrance fees!
13. Fall in love with Logan Botanic Gardens
Tropical gardens in Scotland, what’s not to love?! Thanks to the unique positioning and the warm air from the gulf stream, Logan Botanic Gardens are the only sub-tropical gardens in Scotland. Perfect for a relaxed day off, even better on a sunny day after some rain for maximum colour. Be sure to check out the glasshouse for a warm, welcoming visit.
14. Count the sparkles at Fairy Glen
One of Skye’s hidden gems, the Fairy Glen, is only a few miles outside of Uig but is often overlooked by tourists in place of the Fairy Pools in the south. Conical mounds, small trees and lochans cover the tiny glen, giving the feel of a mythical and magical place that has echoes of Hobbiton. Explore Castle Ewen and head to the top for the best views over the glen and surrounding moorland.
There’s nothing quite like a holiday with friends. Whether you’re booking a trip with one or ten people, the excitement about new adventures with your best buddies is about to get real. Having travelled with friends before, both long and short term, I also know that these kinds of holidays involve a lot of planning. Unlike solo travelling, you need to coordinate with your friends and make sure you are all on the same page, so here are some handy tips to make sure you (and your pals) make the most of your holiday!
How to make a great plan togetherEveryone’s ideas count
Before anything’s even booked, there will be a tonne of ideas floating around and yes, you guessed it, keeping track of everyone’s suggestions will be hard. Understandably, it’s difficult yet imperative to make sure all voices are heard, so one way to do this is to create a Google Doc or Facebook group. All the information you need for your upcoming trip can be written in there, from different types of adventures to your hostel options. It’s much simpler to organize when everything is laid out for the whole group to see and it’ll also make it easier for everyone to have their say.
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with my pals in New York.
Figure out the budget
Budgeting is usually the least fun part of any holiday, but when travelling with friends, it’s one of the most necessary things (apart from counting the number of Wednesdays on your trip so you can pack the corresponding number of pink outfits, duh). You may find that everybody’s personal budgets are slightly different, and that common ground needs to be found. This will hopefully save you from running into issues further down the track that could have been avoided with a bit of planning and understanding. Once you know how much everybody is willing (or able) to spend, you can go ahead and find hostels in your price range, figure out how you will be getting from point A to point B, and see what tours you want to do. Create a separate personal and group budget so that the vital parts of the holiday can be booked together, ensuring everybody is on the same page.
What is everyone’s priority?
You know that Google Doc I mentioned above? Well, it’s time to use it again. Your friends are probably going to have slightly different priorities: say you’re heading to Paris, one of you might want to take a day trip to see Montmartre, while the others explore the Louvre, so make sure you know what everyone wants to do and see on your adventures. This way, everybody can come away from the holiday happy and with their bucket list checked off.
The Grand Canyon was definitely somewhere we all wanted to go!
How will you be paying?
Once you have your budget and priorities sorted, the next thing to do is to figure out the best way to handle money and payments for everything you plan to book together. Money can be one of those things that make or break your holiday and friendships, hence a money strategy is definitely in need when travelling with friends. Most hostels are happy to take split payments, but there will be times you need to pay for things together and that’s important to sort out in advance. There are lots of split payment apps you can use, like PayMeBack, which you can share with your friends to ensure everybody has the same information. Venmo is a quick and easy way to transfer money, and if you keep an open dialogue with your friends about the money, it should be smooth sailing.
How to enjoy your trip togetherContingency plans are necessary
As much as we hate to admit it, sucky things can happen while you’re away, so it’s good to have a quick think about them before you head off on your holiday. I sprained my ankle in Macedonia and had to take three weeks out of backpacking, but my friends and I had already decided what we would do if that happened – which made the situation (and our lives) a whole lot easier. We can all hope that nothing bad happens, but if you get sick, or your friend has a family emergency, it’s good to know where you stand.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
It’s not fun when things go wrong on a holiday, particularly when you’re in a beautiful place with your friends and all you want to do is soak up the atmosphere and make amazing memories together. Fortunately, your friends can be an asset to you during rough times, and it’s best to remember not to sweat the small stuff. Tours get cancelled, monuments are closed, but this doesn’t mean your whole trip is ruined. Embrace the bad and see where it takes you.
Quiet time is golden time
My friends and I made this rule called “quiet time” where we would all go off and do our own things, just to get some piece of mind. Of course, it’s really great being on a holiday with friends but you will also need your own space. Plus, this means when quiet time is over you’ll have a whole new lot of stuff to talk about!
Spontaneity breeds happiness
One of the best things about travelling with friends is the safety in numbers. Often at times when you’re travelling solo, it can be a little scary to go off the beaten path, but a holiday with friends might just be the perfect time to embrace it! Visit a town you’ve never heard off or jump on a bus and experience the unknown. Spontaneity is sometimes the best part of a holiday, and the memories you’ll make will stay with you all, forever.
Take lots of pictures of your group
This seems like a really obvious one, but it’s also something that is so easily forgotten. I have left cities with hundreds of photos of buildings and sunsets, but no pictures of me and my friends. Come up with a signature pose or a routine to make sure you get those group pics in. You won’t regret the selfies, I promise.
The good thing about holidaying with friends is the inbuilt support system you already have, so joining in on hostel activities is a breeze. From tours to nights out, hostels have excellently organized trips, and you will meet even more friends in the process. Don’t shut yourself out from anything just because you’re surrounded by your favourite people, you never know who else you could meet.
Backpacking and solo travel go together like peas and carrots, like Forrest and Jenny. It’s no wonder then that more and more solo travellers head to hostels each year to take advantage of the social areas and laid-back vibes. But where are these solo travellers flocking to?
We’ve looked into the trending solo travel hot spots around the globe to give you The 411 on where to visit on your next independent adventure. It’s time to treat yo’self and take Me, Myself and I on the trip of a lifetime!
Here are our top 10 best places to travel alone based on the highest number of solo bookings last year.
1. The USA
The USA is one of the best destinations for solo travellers given its diversity in terms of geography. In other words, The USA really does have something for everyone – pardon the cliche! Skiing in Montana? Check. Surfing in LA? Check. City breaking in NYC? Check. Pair this with the classic American friendliness and a bit of Southern Hospitality and it’s no surprise that The USA saw the biggest number of bookings from solo travellers in 2017.
The land of the free can be rather expensive to visit but luckily we have some top notch hostels that will help push the pennies even further!
So old chaps, second on the list of places to travel alone is England, with London being our highest booked solo travel city of 2017. Travellers head to London for that quintessential British experience. Red buses, black taxi cabs and a trip to Buckingham Palace to say hey to Queen Liz. Travellers also head to London to experience curry on Brick Lane, a pint in a traditional pub and some of the best nightlife in Europe.
Every city in Spain has a distinct and vibrant culture, meaning that you can spend months embarking on an epic Spanish city-crawl and never get bored. Although each city has its own unique feel, there’s one thing that connects them all: Spanish food is out of this world – seriously! Indulge in Tapas and Spanish wine until you’re sleepy enough to slip into a siesta, dreamy right?!
Perhaps one of the first destinations that comes to mind when you think ‘backpackers’ and ‘solo travellers,’ it’s no wonder that Australia made it into our top 5 most booked countries by solo adventurers last year. Think awesome hostels, tanned surfer dudes, and some of the best diving spots in the world (just try not to think about a finned friend swimming below you!), Australia is almost a rite of passage for any seasoned backpacker. Often a port of call for solo travellers looking to work abroad and with friendly locals ready to offer tips, Australia is definitely one of the best places to travel alone.
Sure, I could tell you about the classic beauty of Rome’s architecture, the fairy-tale-esque cliff hugging houses in Positano, or the enthralling history of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but I know what you’re really looking for from a trip to Italy… Food, glorious food. Widely considered the centre of the carb universe, Italian food is globally renowned, and you’ll get the best quality straight from the source. Avoid the tourist traps and instead ask the hostel staff for insider tips on where the locals eat and PLEASE, for the love of Cheesus, head to Naples to try pizza in the city where it began.
Thailand is a top destination for first time solo travellers, enticing in thousands of backpackers year on year. Bangkok serves as the gateway to South East Asia making Thailand a natural first stop on your travels. Having said this, Bangkok itself is a sight to behold and you’d be foolish to skip over it. Giving NYC a run for it’s money as ‘The City That Never Sleeps,’ Bangkok is loud, chaotic and sinfully exciting.
If you’re more of a beach boss than city slicker then it’s the islands for you my friend! With literally hundreds of islands to choose from, do some research before you head out and decide if you want a raging party island or secluded beach. Whatever you decide, be prepared for astounding beauty, white sands, cool beach bars and wicked snorkelling spots.
Known for its beer, bratwurst and the best (and most exclusive) nightclubs in the world, Germany is a perfect destination for travelling solo and meeting fellow backpackers. In summer, Berlin is essentially one massive beer garden with locals and travellers alike sharing a stein of the cold stuff.
Berlin’s notorious nightlife scene is unrivalled in Europe and club bouncers are known to favour individuals and smaller groups, so you’ll have no trouble getting in as a solo traveller.
Asides from clubbing, Berlin is famed for its street art, day festivals and grungy aesthetic – prost!
Flashpackers and chic travellers looking for a classy break flood to The City of Love to sample the fashion, culture and style mastered only by Paris. The only city for the hopeless romantic, aspiring poet or art enthusiastic, Paris enjoys a steady about of bookings from solo travellers yearly.
Once you’ve fallen head over heels for Paris, head to the stunning French countryside or the gorgeous beaches in the South of France. Maybe you’ll even spot a rogue Celeb hunting for their new yacht!
Visiting Japan feels a little like taking a trip into the future with their insane technology, huge modern cities and space-inspired pod hostels. The bright lights of Tokyo are as exhilarating as they are overwhelming, and the street food is truly sensational.
Japan is also a country of unspoiled nature and centuries old tradition. Visit the gorgeous temples and be awe-inspired by the postcard perfect Mount Fuji. With efficient transport and world class hostels, Japan is one of the best place to travel alone on your next adventure ridin’ solo.
The Netherlands is a truly wonderful country with some of the friendliest people in world ready to welcome you on your solo visit. The home of gorgeous tulip fields, winding canals and, of course, legalised marijuana, Amsterdam will forever be one of the best places to visit in Europe. For whatever reason, you may be a little more – err – laid back than usual while in Amsterdam, making it the perfect city to go alone, meet new people, and be open to new experiences.
Traveling without indulging in the local cuisine is akin to going to the beach without getting in the water. Sure, you get to experience some of the beauty, but it’s nearly impossible to get the full experience. That said, few travelers actually immerse themselves in local fare for every meal of their excursion. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a traveler who doesn’t have at least one war story of a culinary defeat during their adventures.
In my experience, it wasn’t the spicy soup I was handed from a plastic bucket in Laos, nor was it the street vendors whipping out carne asada street tacos in Mexico. The experiences that leave the worst taste in my mouth always involve tourist traps—with their bible-like menus, mundane flavors and exorbitant prices.
At an early stage in my jaunting career, I realised that having kitchen facilities wasn’t just a perk, but a definite necessity. As someone who equally fantasies about food and saving money, trust me when I say that preparing meals at your hostel can be enjoyable and delicious…if you take the time to prepare.
If you’re ready to “just say no!” to over-hyped eateries, check out this list of easy meals you can cook in your hostel kitchen—comfort, flavor and easy accessibility included.
Not only is a vegetable stir-fry one of the easiest things you can make with limited resources, it’s also a flexible meal that can be mixed and matched to fit the preferences of your mood or your new travel buddies at the hostel. Guaranteed to fill you without leaving you feeling heavy or bloated, vegetable stir-fry is the perfect meal for lunch or dinner!
-¼ Cup Olive Oil
-½ Cup Soy Sauce
-2 Tbsp. Chili Flakes
-3 Whole Garlic Cloves Minced
-1 Whole Red Bell Pepper Chopped
-½ Large Red Onion Chopped
-1 head Broccoli Cut Into Florets
-2 Zucchinis, Cut Into Medium Wedges
-Cooked Rice for Serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add soy sauce, chili flakes, chopped onion, pepper and zucchinis to skillet. Stir and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute, stirring continuously.
Add the broccoli and cook for a couple of minutes while stirring continuously.
When the zucchini has softened and the broccoli has become vibrant, the vegetables are ready to go.
Serve over rice.
Optional- sprinkle sesame seeds or chopped peanuts/cashews on top.
It was the critically acclaimed chef, Danny Bowien, who raised the question, why do we always take our instant ramen at face value? Sure, these noodle bricks can be found for about 25 cents at the store, but who says you can’t take them to the next level? By sauteing fresh vegetables over those infamous packets, you take a “junk” meal to the next level.
-1 Pack Instant Ramen
-½ Stalk of Broccoli Chopped
-⅛ Cup Carrot Chopped
-⅛ Cup Raw Red Cabbage or Edamame
-1 Cup Diced Eggplant
-½ Cup Chopped Asparagus
-1 Red Bell Pepper Chopped
-2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
-2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
Heat vegetable oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Fry eggplant and carrot for 5-6 minutes, and add garlic powder.
Add broccoli, asparagus and bell pepper.
In a separate pot, cook instant noodles according to directions on the packet.
Add vegetables on top of finished ramen.
Optional: garnish with red cabbage or edamame.
No matter where you are in the world, you should be able to find eggs at a nearby grocery store, farmers market or bodega. And as far as simple recipes go, you can’t get easier than an omelet. Throw everything in one bowl and you’re ready to indulge in a delectable brunch without the hassle of taking off your pajamas.
-2 Large Eggs
-¼ Cup Mushrooms
-¼ Cup Bell Peppers
-⅛ Cup Red Onion
-½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes
-½ Cup Fresh Spinach
-Salt and Pepper to Taste
-2 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley or Raw Onions
Prepare and chop all vegetables. Mix together and set aside.
Gently mix eggs together until well blended; add chopped vegetables and continue mixing.
Over medium-high heat, warm a medium-size skillet, and pour egg and vegetable mixture into pan.
Cook until the edges are brown, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Flip omelet over and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over top.
Optional- sprinkle fresh parsley or raw onions on top.
Fruity Chia Seed Pudding
Especially healthy and quite easy to make, chia seed pudding is the ultimate food for the lazy traveler in all of us. Simply prep the night before, wake up and dig in. You can customize this recipe with as much fruit as you desire, making it the ideal meal for those busy mornings at the hostel.
1 Cup Chia Seeds
3 ⅓ Cup Coconut Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Your choice of chopped fruit, nuts or granola
Optional: ½ Vanilla Bean
In a large bowl, mix chia seeds, coconut milk and vanilla extract.
If using a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add into the mix.
Stir, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 25-30 minutes.
Gently stir to ensure all ingredients are well mixed, making sure there is no excess coconut milk at the top.
Add chopped fruits, nuts or granola and enjoy.
Pasta Salad With Avocado
The idea of cold pasta salad could bring back memories of cafeteria slop from your elementary school days. However, with premium ingredients such as avocado, this easy, healthy meal can be the ideal lunch back at the hostel or on the go.
-16 oz Box of Rigatoni Pasta
-¼ Cup Olive Oil
-½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes
-½ Red Onion
-½ Can of Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas
-3 Cups Raw Spinach
-Salt & Pepper to Taste
-Optional: Chopped walnuts/pine nuts/almonds
Cook pasta as directed (al dente is best).
Chop cucumber, tomatoes, onion and avocado, set aside.
Thoroughly rinse spinach and garbanzo beans, pat dry.
In a small bowl, squeeze the lemon into the olive oil, adding salt & pepper to taste.
Add all ingredients to a large bowl with the pasta, gently mix.
Toss salad with olive oil dressing.
Add chopped walnuts/pine nuts/almonds as garnish.
Beef & Broccoli Rice Bowl
There’s nothing quite like a cozy night of “Netflix & chill” with those signature take-out boxes from the local Chinese restaurant. And to recreate this classic meal in the hostel kitchen, all it takes is a little prep time and lots of garlic!
-3 Tbsp. Cornstarch or Flour
-1 Pound of Flank Steak
-½ Cup Soy Sauce
-2 Tbsp. Sugar
-½ Tbsp. Minced Garlic
-3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
-2 Stalks of Broccoli
-½ Cup White Onions
-1 Tsp. Grated Ginger
-⅛ Cup Chopped Peanuts
Cut beef into 1-inch pieces.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch/flour and 3 tablespoons of water in large bowl. Add beef, toss and combine.
Create a marinade by whisking the remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch with the soy sauce, garlic, sugar and ginger. Combine thoroughly and set aside.
Using a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add beef, stirring constantly until beef is almost fully cooked through.
Adding the last tablespoon of vegetable oil, add broccoli and onions to pan. Stir frequently until onions become translucent and broccoli becomes vibrant.
Return beef to pan with broccoli and add the prepared sauce.
Stir for 2-3 minutes, or until beef is cooked to your preference.
Add chopped peanuts and serve dish alone, or on a bed of rice or noodles.
Sweet Potato Veggie Bowl
Traveling and sticking to a healthy lifestyle can be nearly impossible, especially when you’re in a place where speciality ingredients such as gluten-free pasta are hard to find. With this sweet potato veggie bowl, you get to abandon the gluten, while still enjoying a savory and healthy meal.
-1 Large Sweet Potato
-2 Cups Spinach
-½ Cup Chopped Mushrooms
-½ Cup Broccoli Florets
-¼ Cup Squash Chopped
-1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
-½ Cup Chopped Carrots
-⅛ Cup Soy Sauce
-2 Tbsp. Dry Chili Flakes
-1 Slab Butter
-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Fill a medium-size pot with water, bring to a boil.
Scrub sweet potato and dice into even pieces.
Add sweet potato to boiling water.
In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add chili flakes, carrots and mushroom, mix constantly.
After 3-4 minutes, add broccoli, spinach, squash, soy sauce and garlic.
Once potatoes pass the fork test, drain and place back into the pot.
Using a masher, or a fork, mash sweet potatoes until smooth. Add a slab of butter.
Serve in a bowl with sweet potato mash on the bottom and vegetables on top.
Loaded Oatmeal Bowl
Ditch the sugary cereal for breakfast, and fill up with loads of fiber—guaranteed to keep you full until lunchtime rolls around. Want to know the best part of noshing on a loaded oatmeal bowl? You get to meticulously place the fruit to make that stunning Instagram post that we all know and love. Plus, we won’t tell how long that perfect shot took you if you don’t!
-1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
-1 Cup Water
-1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
-1 Pinch of Salt
-1 Cup Almond Milk/Cashew Milk/Whole Milk
-⅛ Cup Blueberries
-¼ Cup Walnuts
-¼ Cup Dried Coconut Flakes
-½ Banana Sliced
-2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
-Optional: Chia Seeds, Goji Berries, Flax Seeds
Place oats, water, salt, milk (or milk alternative) and cinnamon in a pot on low heat.
Constantly stir until all liquids are absorbed.
Place all toppings, serve and enjoy.
Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Delicious comfort food comes in many different forms, but nothing can quite top the feeling of swirling your fork into a big bowl of pasta. Not only is this one-pot dish delicious, it’s a meal that reheats beautifully if you can’t finish it in one sitting.
-4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
-1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
-2 Cups Vegetable Broth
-1 Cup Milk (or Milk Alternative)
-2 Tbsp. Butter
-1 Box Uncooked Fettuccine
-Salt and Pepper To Taste
-¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
-1 ½ Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, and add garlic. Stir frequently for 1-2 minutes.
Stir in milk, butter and fettuccine.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer.
Stir occasionally until pasta is fully cooked.
Gently stir in parmesan.
Garnish with parsley.
When you’re busy on the road, there’s nothing better than throwing ingredients in a pot, coming back 30 minutes later and… voila, dinner is served. Usually, it’s easier to create meatless dishes in hostel kitchens because they require less prep time and materials, that’s why meatless chili is finishing off this list. Hearty and packed full of flavor, it’s sure to be a hit for lunch or dinner.
-2 Cans Kidney Beans
-2 Cans Tomato Sauce
-4 Tbsp. Chili Flakes
-½ Medium Chili Pepper Diced
-1 Cup Mushrooms Chopped
-1 Small Tomato
-4 Garlic Cloves Minced
-⅛ Cup Cilantro Chopped
-Salt to taste
Rinse kidney beans thoroughly and set aside.
In a large pot add tomato sauce, chili flakes, chili pepper and garlic, simmer on medium heat.
Once sauce blend is simmering, add chopped tomato, mushroom, kidney beans and salt to taste.
Cover and allow to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
If someone says Ibiza, you think party. Crazy, wild, stay-up-all-night parties. It is THE place to go if you want to let loose and dance in some of the best clubs in the world. Although the Balearic island has a reputation as being a party destination, it’s actually way more than that.
Behind all the nightlife is an island filled with history, white sand beaches, bohemian markets and some pretty damn good food. You just gotta know where to find it. We made a list of 18 things to do in Ibiza that’s not clubbing, in case you crave a party break.
Hike to the top of Sa Talaia
While dancing in a club all night is great exercise, it might be worth it to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. You can hike to the tallest point in Ibiza, called Sa Talaia, located in Sant Josep. It’s an easy, uphill, 2.4 km walk. Start the hike by walking up a street called Sa Talaia, until it forms into a path with vegetation on each side. Keep your eyes peeled for an exotic Jineta (a ferret/cat-like creature native to Africa and the Balearic islands) that might be relaxing in the trees. Once at the top you’ll get panoramic views of the whole island. Go during sunset if you really want to be blown away.
Cliff jumping at Cala Tarida
There’re a few spots to cliff jump in Ibiza because of the rugged cliffs that make up the coastline, but the best spot (if you’re looking for a lower jump that still gives you an adrenaline rush) is at Cala Tarida. The white sand beach is located 20 minutes (by car) from San Antonio. Look for the rock formations at either end of the beach and don’t be shy about climbing them. The rocks aren’t too high, so it’s a fun jump into the cool, Mediterranean water. Don’t forget to pack the GoPro!
Lay off the kebabs and eat paella
When surrounded by clubs and beach bars, there won’t appear to be many gourmet food options — but you will notice heaps of late night shops selling that greasy food we all know and love at 3 a.m. Kebabs and pizza are great and all, but have you tried Spanish paella? If you’re craving something less greasy, more local, take a trip to Kalissol Ibiza Santa Eulalia del Rio and treat yourself to a mouth-watering meal. It has some of the best paella on the island (take our word for it). Refuel, then continue with your alternative Ibiza activities!
Yoga on the beach
It might be a challenge to focus on anything other than your hangover in Ibiza, but be sure to take some time to calm your mind and body. Amante Ibiza offers yoga classes in the morning on the beach. Literally, right on the beach. The classes are taught in English and in Spanish, so you don’t have to worry about the language barrier. Amante’s yoga sesh is followed by a breakfast buffet that’s included in the price of your yoga class (about €30, score!). Ahhh, there’s nothing like starting your day with good vibes and energy.
Shop for hidden gems at the hippy markets
Ibiza is known for having a super chill, bohemian style. It also has a few crafty markets that occur on a weekly basis, known as the hippy markets. The one in Es Canar usually happens every Wednesday, while the one in San Carlos happens on Saturday’s. You’ll find countless stalls of handcrafted jewellery, clothes and souvenirs. It’s a colourful and lively atmosphere filled with live music and street food. So go on, shop for something other than a shirt that says “I’d rather be in Ibiza”. Maybe buy something for your fam that proves you weren’t partying 100% of the time (just 97%).
Rent a kayak and explore the island from the ocean
If you head down to the beach, chances are you’ll find a few kayak rentals or tours that we definitely recommend that you do. You’ll get to see Ibiza from a whole new perspective. Most kayak tours will guide you through the crystal clear waters and through secret caves. It’s also a great opportunity to meet other travellers! One company, Kayak Ibiza (based in San Antonio, Figueretas and Es Figueral), takes you on an adventure along the coast of the island to a beach for a snack and to snorkel. Take a break from sunbaking and hop in a kayak.
Pack a picnic and watch the sunset in San Antonio
While San Antonio is an area in Ibiza that’s known for its nightlife and super clubs, it’s also one of the BEST places to watch the sunset. Head to Sunset Strip an hour before the sun sinks and snag a spot at a bar or a cafe. Order a cocktail and prepare to witness one of the most mesmerizing sunsets you’ll ever see. It’s a great way to take a step back and really appreciate where you are in the world. Dude, you’re in IBIZA and probably having the time of your life! Take it all in.
Explore Ibiza Old Town (Dalt Vila)
Did you know that Ibiza is home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage sights?? One of them being Ibiza Old Town (Dalt Vila)! Drag yourself away from the beach and explore it. Old Town is filled with cobblestone streets, castles, 14th-century cathedrals, stone statues, canons, and Gothic architecture. Put the phone away and take a walk through town. You’ll find tons of hidden gems and narrow alleyways filled with cute restaurants and shops. Plus, you’ll learn a lot about Ibiza’s ancient history (it’s way more than a party island!). Word to the wise: don’t wear sandals while exploring Old Town. Those cobblestone streets are gnarly!
Snorkel or scuba dive in Ibiza’s clear waters
Ibiza’s crystal, clear blue waters are perfecttttt for snorkelling (or scuba diving, if that’s your thing). There are a few companies who offer budget-friendly snorkel excursions, so definitely check them out (your Ibiza hostel can help you). But if you want to rent gear and explore on your own, make sure to jump in the water at Cala Conta, Aguas Blancas or Cala Salada. Each of those beaches offers heaps of marine life, little coves and clear water.
Spend an afternoon at the Surf Lounge
Make time to visit the Surf Lounge in Ibiza. While it’s not technically a club, it’s a huge beach sports area (plus restaurant, pool and bar) with heappppsss of activities like beach volleyball, FlowRider, shopping, and you can even get a relaxing massage! The Surf Lounge also hosts DJ sunset sets (okay, a little clubby) by the pool that get pretty wild during peak season. Our favourite part? Wiping out on the FlowRider surf simulator. Meet you there!
Visit Es Vedra
Es Vedra is one of those odd places on Earth, like Easter Island or the Pyramids, that’s full of mystery. Basically, it’s an uninhabited rock island off the coast of Ibiza with a few myths and legends tied to it. We’re talking UFO sightings (WTF??), being home to the Phoenician goddess of fertility, being the third most magnetic place in the world (whatever that means?!), one of the settings in Homer’s Odyssey, speculation that it’s part of the lost city of Atlantis, AND it’s believed that the limestone rock of Es Vedra was used to build the Pyramids, Stonehenge and Easter Island. SERIOUSLY!! This place is nuts and there’s no conclusive evidence to any of its myths. You’ll have to grab a boat tour and check it out for yourself.
Day trip To Formentera
Cross another Balearic island off your bucket list and hop on a ferry to Formentera. It’s Ibiza’s well-rested sister, just five miles away. It’s known for long stretches of beach, food that Italians would approve of, and a quiet atmosphere. Even celebs go there to relaxxxx. While it might sound way less fun than Ibiza, it’s still a beautiful area to explore and get away from the crowds for a few hours. Then head back to Ibiza, tanned and refreshed for the rest of the night.
Lay topless at a beach
If you’re looking for a local experience, head to a nude beach and #freethenipple. The beach at Aguas Blancas (aka white waters) is great for snorkeling, but also for getting an all-around killer tan. It’s surrounded by cliffs that offer a little bit of privacy and shade during the day as the sun shines perfectly overhead. Pack a picnic, leave the bathers at home and get one of the best tans of your life.
San Marca Caves
Get out of the sun and explore Ibiza’s hidden sea caves. Head to Puerto de San Miguel and explore Cueva Can Marca (you’ll see the signs). It’s a secret cave that was used by smugglers back in the day to store contraband. It’s kind of eerie, but super cool! You descend into the caves via a narrow staircase on the side of a cliff. Once you’re in the cave you’ll find bright green colours and creepy rock formations. It’s a fascinating experience!
Okay, not the real Atlantis, but a hidden beach on Ibiza (also known as Sa Pedrera on the south-west corner of the island). Take the road to Es Cubells and turn toward Cala d’Hort, turn left on a dirt road before reaching Es Boldado. Once you park, it’s a steep hike down to the old quarry (you don’t wanna do this hungover). Make your way to the water (there’s not an official beach), and you’ll see Es Vedra ahead of you off the coast, a bunch of man-made rock formations and some rock pools. Don’t be surprised if you come across a lot of locals, they love this spot!
Jump on a banana boat
… And prepare to be thrown into the Meditterannean. Yeah, we know you can do this anywhere in the world., but it’s so tempting (and worth it) to do this after a few drinks in Ibiza. It doesn’t even have to be banana boating! Go to the beach and you’ll find parasailing, SUP, and hoverboard activities. Sometimes it’s hard to sit on a beach and sunbake, so grab your mates and jump on a banana boat. Good luck holding on!
Rent a scooter and zoom around the island
The best way to explore the island is at your own pace via scooter. This is how you’ll come across different beaches, food that’s not kebabs, and hiking trails. There really is a beautiful island waiting for you outside of San Antonio and Ibiza Town. We highly recommend renting a scooter or a bike for a day and quite..
Flying over Ibiza gives you those jitters of excitement that you haven’t felt in a long time — goosebumps, butterflies and shrieks of joy. You turned on your out of office email, over packed your bags and jumped on a flight to celebrate a little bit of freedom this summer. And you and your friends are prepared to let loose in Ibiza.
After arriving on the beautifully wild island, you head to the hostel, drop off your bags and make a game plan to take on Ibiza’s nightlife. But there are so many options! Do you head straight for the largest club in the world? Or party on the beach with Martin Garrix? And how are you supposed to know which club is throwing down a massive party?? We put together a list of the BEST nights out in Ibiza for the 2018 season. Now you’re ready to parrttyyyyy!
Every Tuesday Night At Amnesia
Amnesia is no rookie to throwing epic parties. In its eighth season, Together at Amnesia is showcasing some of the biggest artists every Tuesday night for SIXTEEN WEEKS! Whoop! That’s right, Amnesia is giving you 16 wild and crazy Tuesdays with resident DJs such as Chase & Status, MK, Andy C, Sub Focus, Sigma, Disciples, Wilkinson, Pendulum and My Nu Leng (with more to be announced).
Every Together party incorporates a festival-like atmosphere and an electric vibe. We guarantee you won’t be able to stop dancing once you enter the club. So bring your energy and prepare to headbang to explosive tunes all night long! These weekly parties run until September 18. Check out who’s headlining each Tuesday night here.
One Night Stand With Carl Cox
You’re gonna want to plan for this one: the King of Ibiza, Carl Cox is playing at Amnesia, Pacha and DC10 for one night only. Ahhh! After spending 15 years at Space Ibiza, the Game Over crew (the team responsible for some of the island’s most hyped events) is coming together to give you Ibiza’s first tour. They want to take you back to the early days of clubbing. Think, stripped back, no frills, here-for-the-music type of party.
Each club is putting its own flare on the One Night Stand event. So choose a venue and prepare to get sweaty while partying with Carl Cox (a major bucket list item). Grab tickets here.
Resistance At Privilege
Tuesday seems to be a massive night in Ibiza. Resistance Ibiza is coming to Privilege for a HUGE nine-week residency. From July 17 to September 11, artists such as Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Dubfire, Eats Everything, Jamie Jones, Joseph Capriati, Loco Dice, Maceo Plex, Nicole Moudaber, Paco Osuna, Pan-Pot, Richie Hawtin, Sasha, John Digweed and Seth Troxler will take the stage at the world’s largest club.
Dress in your best festival attire and bring your energy. This electric experience is full of thumping beats and custom production (think mind-blowing light shows and epic entertainment). Pro tip: If you’re in Ibiza Tuesday, July 31, Carl Cox is celebrating his birthday at Privilege. How rad! Purchase tickets here.
Martin Garrix Every Thursday Night At Ushuaia
Ushuaia is Ibiza’s massive open-air club that hosts legendary ragers with some of the BIGGEST names in electronic dance music. During the 2018 season, Kygo, David Guetta, Dystopia and ANTS will be throwing down the beats on a weekly basis. But every Thursday night (until August 30), one of the best DJs in the world takes the stage and you won’t want to miss it.
Martin Garrix takes over Ushuaia every Thursday night, giving the crowd an insane light show, unreal beats and an unforgettable performance. This will make your trip to Ibiza worth it. Snag tickets here.
Tuesdays On Mars At Pacha
You can’t deny a party at Pacha. The nightclub has been hosting some of the best parties in Ibiza since 1973. Following a grand re-opening, Pacha is giving you Tuesdays On Mars. This space-like concept wants to show you how Ibiza is a planet of its own.
World-renowned artists such as Alesso, Calvin Harris, FatBoy Slim and Martin Solveig will be headlining the event until October 2. Check out Pacha’s calendar here to see if you’ll be around for one of these spacey Tuesday nights. Bonus points if you dress the part (think out-of-this-world, galaxy attire). It’s gonna get weird. If you’re around, make sure to see Calvin Harris take the stage at Pacha August 14, 21 and 28.
Defected At Eden
Sunday Funday is real at Eden. The San Antonio superclub is giving you Defected every Sunday night until October 7. The theme of the party is “in our house everyone is equal” with a goal to bring people together through house music. We can get behind that!
Headliners include DJ Haus, Sam Divine, Claptone and Josh Butler (plus, wayyyyyy more). Eden is known for its impressive sound system and underground beats, so you know this is gonna be one hell of a party. Grab tickets to Defected here.
So there you have the best nights out in Ibiza! Let us know your favourite in the comments below.
About the author:
Marina Nazario is a food and travel writer from America, currently living in the land Down Under. She’s passionate about meeting people, immersing herself in different cultures, and eating her way around the world. You can follow her misadventures on Twitter and her blog Marina’s Milestones.
Victoria is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in all of Canada. But, you should know, when it comes to BC’s distinguished capital there’s a whole lot more than just pretty facades and cobblestoned streets. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a dynamic city where beautiful sights, untamed nature and cool hangouts collide for a unique Vancouver Island vibe. What most people don’t realise is that in addition to the (admittedly awesome) touristy sights, there are a lot of cool things to do in Victoria. Here’s our pick of the best.
A beautiful place to catch the sunset, and definitely one of my favourite places to visit in Victoria. Be sure to walk along the 700m+ breakwater, which is a narrow walkway that extends from the shore towards a cute little lighthouse at the end. Fun fact: up until a few years ago, this walkway had no railings! Dangerous, much?!
$5 is all you need to gain access to over 800 board games, and yes – you can order food/drinks and play for as long as you want. TIP: Take advantage of their ‘before 3’ special – if you leave before 3pm, entry is only 3 bucks!
Colourful houseboats are the main draw for those visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, but it’s also a lovely place to grab a quick bite to eat and enjoy the sunshine on a warm day. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some of the adorable seals who frolic in the area. Be careful though – these guys like to splash!
The Inner Harbour
Victoria’s ridiculously picturesque Inner Harbour is a sight ripped straight from a postcard. A stroll here should be your #1 priority! Enjoy the many street performers, artists and vendors that set up shop here, and take a moment to appreciate the flawless waterfront view. TIP: Be sure to take a walk here at night, when the vibe is even more magical.
The BC Parliament Building
Located right at the Inner Harbour, this quintessential Victoria landmark is impossible to miss. It’s a gorgeous Neo-Baroque building with 33 bright copper domes and a façade lined with over 3000 lights, so yes, be sure to return after dark. Bonus: you can even tour the inside for free!
This Victorian era mansion is one of Victoria’s most famous landmarks, and is well worth a visit if you like cool architecture and lavish décor! You can do a self-guided tour of the castle, but beware, some believe it’s one of the most haunted places in Canada
The Fairmont Empress
One of the most iconic buildings in Victoria, ‘The Empress’ is more than just a luxury hotel; it’s a National Historic Site of Canada, and has been around since 1908. It’s a beautiful spot to check out and it’s right by the harbor too. For a real (pricey) treat, get dolled up and splurge on their world-famous afternoon tea.
The Butchart Gardens
Out of all Victoria attractions, this one is among the most famous. These perfectly manicured gardens span over 55 acres and are open year round (although spring/summer are of course, ideal times to visit). The cheapest way to get here is public transit, but there are plenty of affordable tours as well.
Goldstream Provincial Park
Though about 17km away from downtown, this park is a must for nature lovers. Besides trails, majestic old trees and epic landscapes, from December to January the park is also home to hordes of bald eagles (who come to feast on salmon). For an extra scenic adventure, be sure to do the Goldstream Trestle Hike. There are roughly 2000 trail in and around Victoria Park.
Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and is home to tons of authentic shops, restaurants and cafes. While here, be sure to stop by the ornate Gate of Harmonious Interest, whose stone lions were donated by Victoria’s sister city, Suzhou.
Beacon Hill Park
Located right in downtown Victoria, this park is a great place to enjoy BC’s world-famous nature. With over 200 acres of trails, gardens and even a petting zoo, there’s plenty to ensure you won’t get bored. While here, don’t forget to stop by the world’s 4th tallest totem pole and say hi to the peacocks too, who can often be seen strutting around.
If you’re craving a unique shopping experience full of fun and local boutiques, then you need to head to Market Square. Their open air courtyard is also a great place to relax in the sun and enjoy an al fresco snack.
Located right in the heart of downtown Victoria, Thunderbird Park has been home to a diverse display of totem poles since the 1940s. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some demos by local artists.
: Evelyn Proimos
Though a bit far from the city centre, this historic castle has been made famous by many movies (yes, it’s the school from X-Men!) and features beautiful gardens and a museum. Have I mentioned how gorgeous it is…?
Rent A Bike
There are plenty of bike lanes and trails in Victoria, which is known as the cycling capital of Canada. So, why not enjoy the gorgeous scenery of this city by bike (or scooter)?
There is no better time to visit Kiev. In April 2018, the government relaxed its tourist visa conditions meaning that an additional 46 countries can now apply for a tourist visa online or obtain a Visa On Arrival at the airport. This vibrant capital is the seventh largest city in Europe and home to over 3.5 million residents. Let me walk you through 15 of the best things to do in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
1. ‘Chernobyl Exclusion Zone’ tour
The Chernobyl accident, is considered the most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history. The 30km exclusion zone is located a 2-hour drive north of Kiev, close to the Belarusian border. Without a doubt, my two-day tour of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was the highlight of my Ukraine travels. It is a legal requirement to obtain the correct permits, and it’s easiest to hire a private guide or join a tour to enter the exclusion zone. During the tour, you’ll explore the abandoned town of Pripyat, spot wildlife, meet original residents who have returned to live inside the zone and you can enjoy a cafeteria meal with the nuclear plant workers in the Chernobyl staff canteen. Despite the invisible radiation, as long as you follow the rules, it’s as safe as a transatlantic flight — and a completely disturbing, educational, and unforgettable experience. Recommended tour providers: SoloEast, Chornobyl Tours and Yomadic.
2. Saint Sophia cathedral
The Byzantine architecture of Kiev’s Saint Sophia cathedral may seem familiar if you’ve visited St Mark’s Basilica in Venice or Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia (which Saint Sophia is named after), but overall remains a much more pleasant experience for seasoned travellers. Forget selfie sticks and hoards of tourists (photography is banned within the main cathedral) and take a peaceful moment to marvel at the elaborate mosaics, frescoes, decadent Orthodox iconography. If weather permits, finish up with a stroll around the lush gardens. It’s also worth paying extra to climb the bell tower – the views over Kiev are absolutely gorgeous!
One of the oldest, most happening and most rapidly gentrifying districts of Kiev: amongst the cafes with the “We Speak English!” signs, the craft beer bars and the co-working spaces, you’ll find Podil. It’s packed with cool and cultural activities and it’s the perfect place to chill out and find your budget-friendly accommodation. Being home to the oldest university in Eastern Europe, Podil offers a distinct student and hip vibe. It’s a liberal, tolerant and open part of Kiev, and it’s making a distinct effort to be welcoming to travellers. Get amongst Kiev nightlife at local institution Closer, or take the funicular from Mykhaylivs’ka Ploscha to Poshtova Plosch whilst enjoying immense views of the River Dnieper.
4. Street Art walking tour/App
Forget Berlin or Paris — perhaps it is Kiev that’s in the middle of a street art revolution. Opt in for a street art walking tour with Kiev Friendly Tours. However, if you’re limited on both time and funds, download the Kiev Murals app, your interactive and informative guide and map to over 100+ Kiev murals that have been created by both foreign and local artists. For further reading, head over to ArtUnitedUs, an international project which promises to “collaborate through artistic and creative mediums with communities to raise public awareness and attention to the problem of war, aggression and violence”, and see what part art is playing within Ukraine’s current political climate.
5. Puzata Hata
When researching where to eat on a budget in Kiev, all roads kept leading us back to Puzata Hata. Like an IKEA cafeteria, don’t expect glamour but a practical, cheap and efficient cafeteria chain, filled with students, office workers and best of all, no-frills dining. Grab a cafeteria tray and slide your way along different serving stations, grabbing bowls of steaming borscht and varenyky which are all served up fast and with plenty of spare change. English isn’t as commonly spoken here as in many other large European cities, but plenty of enthusiastic pointing and nodding will get you a long way.
6. Kiev underground tour
Kiev is home to some incredible urban exploration that is thankfully not crawling with Instagrammers. With Kiev Friendly Tours, you can watch the sunset from an abandoned hospital, explore a nuclear fallout bunker and squeeze yourself down a manhole to meander through a sprawling 50km network of underground tunnels (definitely not one for the claustrophobic.) Combining ‘urbexing’ with a tour is an excellent and alternative way to gain an understanding of Ukraine’s colourful history, as well as its contentious rise to independence. is recommended.
7. Ride the Kiev Metro (including the world’s deepest underground station)
The Kiev Metro system is not only cheap and super photogenic, but is also home to the world’s deepest underground station, Arsenalna. Located 105.5 metres underground, the escalators from the base platform level take five minutes to emerge at ground level. During your escalator ride, watch on with fascination as many impatient Kyivans sprint past you at almost-vertical angles. At Universtyet Station, you can admire the marble busts of famous Ukrainian writers and poets, whilst the pylons at Vokzalna Metro depict various episodes in Ukraine’s history. The Kiev Metro carries over one million passengers daily and no matter what time of day you take it, it always feels like peak hour. Pack a camera, your Metro coupons and some big city bravery.
8. The political heart of Kiev, Maidan
Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Maidan or Independence Square, is an expansive and notorious public square in central Kiev and regarded as the political heart of modern Ukraine. Since Ukraine gained independence in 1990, it’s been home to at least four large-scale political protests since, with the most recent and infamous one being the 2013-14 Euromaidan. Recommended background reading about Ukraine’s extensive history (such as historian Anna Reid’s “Borderland”) will make your time at Maidan a more considered experience. Whilst Kiev is peaceful, the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent Russian military intervention rages on down south. Maidan is therefore the starting point for learning about recent Ukrainian history and one can’t help but ponder an area that was not so long ago the scene of deadly protests, yet is now proudly draped with blue and yellow flags and ‘I Love Kiev’ magnets.
9. Ride the Kiev Express
As use of budget airlines continues to increase, it is a delight to find the Kiev Express sleeper train still running nightly from Warsaw. My travel companions and I booked out a three-bunk sleeper to ourselves, complete with kitschy lace curtains and faded carpet runners and we settled in for a 17 hour non-stop journey. The Kiev Express doesn’t contain a restaurant or bar, so be sure to shop before you board and stock up on snacks and booze (don’t forget to share it with your neighbouring cabin – snacks are always a great icebreaker!) The train itself is ridiculously noisy, so be prepared to throw down lot of medovukha in order to get some sleep. Tickets can be booked via Polrail Travel Agency.
10. Take a self-guided architecture tour
Architecture lovers will love Kiev. With a mixture of gold capped churches, tree-lined boulevards, cobbled streets and plenty of green spaces to lounge about it. However, it’s the decommissioning of Soviet-era statues and buildings that continues to fascinate me and it goes without saying that in modern Kiev, that even the city’s architecture has not escaped political controversy. Use blogger Megan Starr’s guide to Soviet Kiev, as well this comprehensive Wiki as a source of inspiration, and set off on a self-guided photography tour of Kiev’s Soviet remains whilst they still exist. Highlights include the Friendship Bridge, Ukrainian House (formerly Lenin Museum), the Place of Weddings and the retro-futuristic Hotel Salyut.
11. Try the local cuisine
There has to be more to Ukrainian cuisine than the ubiquitous Chicken Kiev and I’m on a mission to try as much of it as possible. I’m obsessed with borscht and my favourite Slavic soup can be a contentious topic around Eastern Europe with everyone claiming their (Grandma’s) recipe to be the best one. With or without cabbage? Clear or cloudy stock? Soviet cosmonauts loved borscht so much they even took tubed varieties up into space. Vegetarians beware, there are some Ukrainian borscht varieties that are served with fried pigs ears – and sorry #notsorry it’s absolutely delicious! Whilst there are many places to try Ukrainian cuisine around Kiev, getting an invitation to dine in someone’s home is a great way to try everyday food. My most memorable meal in Kiev was served with love: homemade varenyki, datscha-grown vegetables (with liberal amounts of yoghurt and dill), and a generous serving of salo, made possible by my generous host and the linguistic assistance of Google translate. If you’re there in late summer, check out the popular Ulichnaya Eda street food festival, which since 2013 showcases the superstars of Kiev’s food scene.
12. Go to the opera
You’re probably asking why I’ve included opera in a backpacker blog. For most people, going to the opera remains one of the most prohibitively expensive entertainment activities and is usually only reserved for luxury travellers. Indeed, one of the world’s most famous operas, Italy’s La Scala, has tickets going between €250-300. However, in Kiev, I was able to score front-balcony tickets for the affordable price of €11! Honestly, check out tickets and program information for yourself if you don’t believe me! The Ukrainian National Opera House of in Kiev boasts opulent interiors, decadent backdrops and costumes and are all worth the entry price alone, even if you don’t understand the (in my case, very Cossack-inspired) performance.
13. Visit Mezhyhirya
Be sure to put aside an entire day to visit Mezhyhirya, the €50 million crib belonging to ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. From an onsite zoo, manicured gardens, vintage car collection and a heated lake (why?), this is a mansion that defies ostentatiousness. Requiring 2000 support staff and running daily maintenance costs of €50,000, the Mezhyhirya Residence is now a symbol of economical exuberance. Yanukovych was forced to resign in 2014, and now his private residence can be booked as an offbeat day trip located in the village of Novyie Petrovtsky, only 30km north of Kiev. The sprawling 140 hectares can also be explored by golf cart or bicycle (both are available to rent onsite). Guided tours start from 200 UAH (Ukrainian Hryvnia) which is a fair price at around £5-£6.
14. Blow the drinking budget in style
Compared to other European countries, drinking won’t be confined to happy hour beers at the hostel bar or a cheap supermarket wine in the park. Depending on what currency you’re carrying, Kiev is definitely a city to dress up and go top shelf in. The award-winning Parovoz speakeasy can be a little tricky to find but you’ll be rewarded with the highest quality ingredients, in a cosy environment, located in the ground floor of the city’s oldest cinema. Check with your hostel, DIY with the help of online bar crawl guides or let the Bar Crawl Kiev team help you explore Kiev’s nightlife.
Boasting the best contemporary art collection in Central and Eastern Europe, PinchukArtCentre has also exhibited some of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists including Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor. Backed by multi-billionaire businessman Viktor Pinchuk, the centre is a multistory gallery (with a fantastic rooftop cafe) and has helpful English-speaking guides on site to answer any questions you may have. Best of all, it’s free to visit!
Fiona Laughton is Berlin-based Australian writer who has lived and worked in Germany since 2013. She’s an avid reader and pop culture obsessive, who keeps her best travel stories strictly “off the record”.
* Note: The international spelling of “Kiev” has been used for this article. This does not reflect the author’s political position *
Do you love festivals? Do you love food? Well, you are in for a tasty treat. We have sniffed around the UK and discovered the best delicious, drool-worthy festivals for you to get your teeth into. Be prepared for tummy rumbles as you feast your eyes on the best (and tastiest) UK food festivals.
A fantastic mix of musicians, home-made street food, local ales and cocktails. Famous for its large family-style pop-up restaurant feasts, Smoked and Uncut invites some of the UK’s best chefs to create a phenomenal spread for communal tables. With four locations to choose from you can expect to listen to the musical delights of Razorlight and the Noisettes while indulging in the culinary talents of Angela Hartnett and Mark Hix. This glamorous festival has already hit two of its four locations for the year so be sure to get your tickets asap.
Now this food festival really does have it all! Epic line up of world class chefs, cookery classes, table sessions and of course the Alex James cheese hub – Who doesn’t love a whole area dedicated to cheese! Perhaps the most exciting feature is new to this year’s festival; The ‘Innovation Kitchen’ will allow festival goers to enjoy culinary mash ups with some of the most innovative names on the street food scene. You can book on site and places will be given on a first come, first serve basis with four sittings per day. If that wasn’t enough to get your teeth into, Craig David and Paloma Faith are just a couple of the acts who will be gracing the stage over the weekend. Don’t miss out on this one!
Described as a festival for the real food lovers, Aldeburgh is a celebration of the quality and variety of food produce in Suffolk. The setting in itself is worth the visit with breath-taking scenery of the River Alde and Suffolk coast. With more than 100 stalls of food and drink from across the region, the festival will be celebrating its 13th year as a culinary destination. Celebrity chefs include Thomasina Miers, Melissa Hemsley and Tim Anderson to name a few.
Need a little spice in your life? Head to the North East Chilli festival for your spicy fix this summer. From addictive chutneys, smoked salts and chilli chocolate, this festival is perfect to restock your spice cupboard and pick up some great ideas to add some zing to your home cooking! Based on the seafront – you can enjoy great live bands, chilli eating competitions and stand-up comedy all for £30 for the whole weekend. So, the real question is how much spice can you handle?
If you’re idea of heaven is fresh seafood on the coast in the sunshine, then look no further. This event is the largest free seafood festival in the UK and a perfect way to explore Weymouth’s historic harbour. Not only will you gain a better understanding of the seafood available but also experience new and exciting ways to feast on these tasty morsels of the sea. No boring salmon here! Whether you’re just happy to wander, sampling and enjoying great food and local produce, sipping Pommery (the festival’s champagne sponsor) watching the boats go by or listening to seafood experts debate the future of our seas, there is something for everyone.
Mmmm garlic! If you’re not ashamed to admit that you love putting garlic on just about anything then a trip to the Isle of Wight is definitely on the cards. From the best chicken Kiev ever to black garlic brownies, this festival takes the humble garlic clove and transforms it into the focal point of each and every dish. Attended by over 25,000 people and set in the rolling hills of New Church, this could be a delightful little get away… just don’t forget to pack some extra strong mints!
Food festivals in London
Love Natural, Love Organic
This festival is more than just about delicious organic food. The aim is teach you how to look and feel your best. With so many organic and natural food products on the market these days this is a great way of sampling a variety of different products. You can often try before you buy, which is the key to a great food festival! In keeping with the love yourself theme, why not try your hand at some yoga sessions. Last but not least, indulge in some organic beauty products on your way to becoming a healthier, happier you!
This is your perfect summer’s day out in London. Carnaby Street has become a hub of global cuisine recently and this festival is an opportunity to taste some scrumptious grub at a fraction of its normal price! From Spanish tapas favourite Brindisa, to the irresistible crab restaurant Claw, the line-up of food stalls is mouth-watering. Get your friends together and fill up the al fresco communal dining tables and taste your way around the world!
No surprises here, this food festival is all about meat and only the meat. Based in the old Tobacco Dock and filled with BBQ coals roasting prime cuts of top quality joints and cuts. Meatopia also offers great butchery demos, live bands and even some live theatre to keep you entertained. The bars are stocked with a great selection of ales, wines and spirits and now in its sixth year, this festival is a meat lover’s dream! Prepare yourself for some serious meat sweats after this one.
Meatopia UK 2017 - a festival of meat, drink, fire, and music held in London - YouTube
This festival is a veggie-extravaganza. Forget mushroom risotto, Veg fest opens your eyes to a new way of cooking all things vegetarian. Explore the vegan food village, listen to talks from vegan vloggers and comedians and don’t miss out on the living raw zone for some very handy tips. If you’re a meat eater and considering veganism then this festival could definitely persuade you. Inspiring and eclectic, Vegfest is brilliantly different and informative.
Drooling yet? Whatever you preference is (#MeatTheWorld or #VeggieTheWorld) treat your taste buds and enjoy the festivities.
Sophie Watkiss is normally found travelling places where food is a top priority. Sophie is at her most content living out of a backpack and waking up in new places. She’s always looking to escape London and find somewhere off the beaten track.