Hi we are Stephen & Jane. We’re adventure-seekers and full-time yoga nomads. For almost two years, we travelled the world by bicycle, cycling through 22 countries in Europe and Asia. We started blogging about our bike touring adventures and also how to help you travel more mindfully and make travel more fulfilling for you.
With 2 days in Amsterdam, you have enough time to explore all the city’s best attractions and soak up the fabulous atmosphere! In this post we share our favourite things to do in Amsterdam and then help you plan your perfect Amsterdam 2-day itinerary.
My first few visits to Amsterdam were underwhelming. But on my fourth visit, something clicked. I realized that the problem wasn’t Amsterdam, it was that I just hadn’t experienced it properly.
Amsterdam is not just about drugs, sex, art, and tulips — it has so much more to offer!
Now, Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities in the world and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been there. I’ve even been lucky enough to spend two full months in the city, petsitting and getting to be a part of expat life.
There’s a real feel-good atmosphere in Amsterdam (and I don’t think it’s just about the pot)!
Since there is so much variety in Amsterdam and every traveller has different needs and interests, our guide to 2 days in Amsterdam is a little different than most.
I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do with every moment of your 48 hours in Amsterdam. Instead, I’m suggesting the most interesting (not always the most popular) attractions in Amsterdam in categories like museums, tours, mindful activities and tours.
Use my suggestions, along with our free Amsterdam trip planner, to create your own perfect 2 day Amsterdam itinerary.
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However, if you’re in a real hurry and trust my taste implicitly, at the end of this post I share our perfect 2–day itinerary (with options for a third day, too).
If you want to plan your own amazing trip to Amsterdam, read on for our guide to…
What to do in Amsterdam in 2 Days
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Before you read the post, grab your printable itinerary planner. It’ll help you **create the perfect 2 day itinerary** for Amsterdam, plus it includes a map to all the places mentioned in this post!
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Is two days in Amsterdam enough?
I have to admit, I unabashedly, unreservedly, unashamedly, love Amsterdam.
So no, two days in Amsterdam is never going to be enough!
What’s not to love? Amsterdam is beautiful!
Two days is enough to see the main iconic sights of Amsterdam, enjoy walks along the canals, and cozy up in a few fantastic restaurants or coffee shops.
But Amsterdam will always leave you wanting more!
If you’re on the fence about stretching your visit to three days in Amsterdam, do it! I pinky swear that you will not be disappointed.
Iconic Must-See Sights in Amsterdam
Every city has its iconic sights, which might be touristy, but must be seen nonetheless. Like the Eiffel Tower, The Bridge of Sighs, or The Colliseum, Amsterdam has a few sights that must be a part of your Amsterdam itinerary.
1 hour, free
While most of Amsterdam is characterized by narrow streets, tall wooden houses, and charming canals, Dam Square is the exact opposite. A gaping space in the city centre, Dam Square is surrounded by grand stone buildings, such as the Town Hall / Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, and the Krasnapolsky Hotel.
Dam Square is the perfect place to start your Amsterdam visit because it’s the place where Amsterdam began. It is the sight of the original dam on the Amstel River, built in 1270, which connected the settlements on either side of the river. It also gave the city its name — Amstel-Dam.
The Jordaan and The 9 Streets
2–4 hours, free for window-shoppers
These are technically two separate sights but I’m lumping them in together (artistic license!) because they are next to each other and can easily be explored in one afternoon.
The 9 Streets is essential for people who like to shop (or browse). Get away from the blight of chain stores on Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat and discover independent boutiques of all flavours.
The Jordaan is home to a wonderful selection of quirky bars and restaurants, so work up your appetite in the 9 Streets and then eat your fill in the Jordaan.
Canals and Bridges
2–4 hours, free
You’ve heard the saying tired of Amsterdam’s canals; tired of life, right? No? Well, now you have!
I can’t imagine ever getting bored of the canals in Amsterdam. They offer endless opportunities for exploring and taking pretty pictures of boats. There is really no wrong way to experience Amsterdam’s wonderful network of canals – just wander and gaze to your heart’s content.
Can you see 15 bridges at this spot in Amsterdam?
If you are seriously A-type, then here are your canal-watching instructions.
Steer your canal tour past the grand houses on the Golden Bend, where wealthy merchants lived in the 17th Century.
Keep heading east along Herengracht to the bridge at Reguilersgracht, where you’re supposed to be able to view 15 bridges at one time. I could only spot 7!
Continue a little further east and turn right along the banks of the Amstel until you arrive at the picturesque Skinny Bridge.
There. Now you’ve “done” Amsterdam’s canals.
The Best Museums in Amsterdam
When we travel, we almost never visit museums and galleries. But in Amsterdam, art is baked so deep into the culture that even we can’t stay away!
As one of the most famous houses in the world, Anne Frank House needs no introduction. The trouble is, it’s so famous and so incredibly moving that getting a ticket is a challenge.
If Anne Frank House is on your list, make sure to hit their website exactly two months before you want to visit, when 80% of the tickets are released. Otherwise, you can try your luck first thing in the morning on the day you want to visit.
If you miss out (as we always seem to do), get a copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and read it while you’re in Amsterdam.
I have a confession. I’m not a huge fan of fine art. It’s just not my thing.
What I do like is to learn more about the people behind the art. The Van Gogh Museum does an excellent job of sharing the story of his life through his art, letters, and journals.
What did Van Gogh’s parents think of him? Find out in Amsterdam.
I especially loved the stories about adult Vincent moving back into his parents house. They were embarrassed by their good-for-nothing artist son and no doubt told him he would never amount to anything! The moral of the story — don’t let your parents run your life.
If you (unlike me) are a fan of the grand masters of the art world, the Rijksmuseum is a must-see on your 2 days in Amsterdam. With Rembrants and Vermeers galore, you’ll get to see some of The Netherlands national treasures and learn about Dutch history at the same time.
The museum is huge, so take a guided tour if you want to ensure you get to see some of the most important and interesting pieces in the collection.
If you like modern art, especially weird pieces from artists you’d rarely see anywhere else, make a visit to the Stedelijk Museum. The Stedelijk is unlike any other modern art museum I’ve visited. The collection is off-beat enough that it will appeal most to die-hard fans of the genre.
Allow 1 hour, €14
One museum we consistently enjoy in Amsterdam is FOAM. It’s a small photography museum that collects some bizarre and some beautiful pieces. We don’t always fall in love with the featured artists but they are always thought-provoking and powerful enough to change our perspective a little.
Fantastic Amsterdam Walking Tours
Walking tours are one of the great pleasures of city travel – I don’t think I’ve ever been on a bad one! Not only do they help you get your bearings in a new place and introduce you to the history and culture of the city, but the guides are endless fountains of knowledge.
If you want a local’s perspective on almost any topic, make sure you ask your guide!
Enjoy a Free Walking Tour
3 hours, free
A free walking tour is always my first activity in any new city I visit.
Even though I’ve been to Amsterdam a half-dozen times, I still joined FreeDam Tours for an afternoon walk on our most recent visit.
Amsterdam’s free walk is a little different from most — the main topics are sex, drugs, and beer! It’s a great way to start your visit to the city and get a solid understanding of what makes Amsterdam tick.
Treat Yourself to a Vegan Walking Tour
3 hours, €79
Since you have limited time in Amsterdam, this Vegan Food Tour is a great way to sample a range of vegan delights in quick succession. You’ll get to explore classic Dutch foods, including bitterballen and Dutch weed burgers (seaweed, that is), while learning a little more about vegan culture in Amsterdam.
Indulge in a Beer Tour
3 hours, €53
Forget the Heineken Experience! If you want to explore the amazing world of beer brewing in Amsterdam, this Amsterdam beer tour is the way to go. Not only will you sample some of the best craft brews from the city, but you’ll learn the stories behind the breweries and Dutch beer culture, too.
For people who love to go outside and wander, Amsterdam is a delight. Its endlessly beautiful canals, clean quiet streets, and incredible green spaces make Amsterdam one of my favourite cities in the world.
1–3 hours, free
This central green space is a gathering place for all Amsterdamers – dog walkers, office workers, artists, acro yogis and more all gather in Vondelpark on a sunny afternoon. For a true Amsterdam experience, bring a picnic, a few bottles of beer, and kick back for an afternoon soaking in the sun and relaxing.
There’s nothing more Amsterdam than a sunny afternoon in Vondelpark.
Head to the Beach
4–8 hours, €6 for train ticket
I don’t know about you but when I think of Amsterdam I don’t really think of beaches. Yet, Amsterdam has its own beach, easily accessible by train.
OK, so it’s not quite in the city centre but 30 minutes from Centraal station you’ll find Zandvoort Beach, a magnificent stretch of sand with plenty of beach cafes and bars to feed you.
Amsterdam also has its share of urban beaches, should you be limited on time.
See Amsterdam the Best Way – on a Bicycle!
3 hours, €7.50–€36
Biking is ubiquitous in Amsterdam. Almost everybody does it! Renting a bike in Amsterdam and riding the many bike lanes is our favourite thing to do in the city.
To avoid cycling aimlessly in Amsterdam (and to stay safe!), join an Amsterdam bike tour. We recommend Intrepid’s In the City of Bikes Urban Adventure tour. You’ll get a real local’s prospect on biking in the city, explore dikes, bridges, and canals, and hear the city’s quirkiest tales.
Finding the best yoga retreats in Bali can be tough – there are so many choices! We’ve put together this guide to help you figure out exactly what you want from a retreat and make finding the right retreat easy.
What’s in our Guide to the Best Yoga Retreats in Bali?
There’s no doubt about it, Bali is one of the best yoga travel destinations in the world. For a start, Bali has a deeply spiritual culture, meaning you are practically immersed in mindfulness as soon as you arrive. Because of this, Bali has become a gathering place for yogis and other spiritual seekers from all corners of the globe.
Whatever you’re looking for when it comes to spiritual retreats in Bali, it is almost surely available. The trick is in finding the retreat to deliver it.
Among the hundreds of Bali yoga retreats, how do you find the right one for your needs?
How to Choose the Best Bali Yoga Retreat for You
It’s important to remember that the definition of “best” is different for every person.
The best Bali yoga retreat for you might be completely wrong for me.
So your first step in choosing a yoga retreat should be to decide what you want to get out of it.
Why do you want to go on a yoga retreat in Bali?
It seems like an obvious first question, but it can take some thought to answer. Before you go any further, spend a few minutes thinking about what you want from a yoga retreat.
Are you looking for a way to escape from your busy life? Are you stressed out and need a way to relax deeply?
Have you lost your sense of self and purpose and want to spend time away to reconnect with who you really are?
Is your yoga practice in need of an upgrade? Are you looking for a retreat that will really move you deeper into yoga, learning new ways to move your body?
Would you like to immerse yourself in new wellness practices that will help you lead a healthier more energetic life overall?
Various Bali yoga retreats can address all of these needs, but you’ll rarely find them completely satisfied all in one package!
Deciding on your priorities – what you can’t live without – will really help when choosing your perfect Bali yoga retreat.
Do you want a real retreat, or a holiday with yoga?
The phrase “yoga retreat” is loosely used these days.
It can mean an intensive yoga-focussed experience where you completely remove yourself from the world for a period of time. But it can also describe a relaxing holiday, where you sightsee, explore, and do a few yoga classes on the side.
It’s important to decide exactly what you want from a yoga retreat.
If you’re a yoga beginner and want to see Bali while also learning about yoga and wellness, then you’re probably best off booking a holiday-style yoga retreat that includes sightseeing and plenty of free time.
If you want a true retreat from the world, then choose an option with a more structured schedule, where you will be secluded from the outside craziness of Bali!
How much time and money do you have for a yoga retreat?
Time and money are going to be important deciding factors in your choice of yoga retreat. Decide how many days you want to spend on retreat and how much you would like to spend per day.
The yoga retreats we’ve chosen for this list range from $42 per day to more than $600 per day. They last from 3 to 10 days.
More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more spiritual (it can mean quite the opposite!) — but amenities, services, and inclusions do get more luxurious as the price rises.
Likewise, just because you spend 10 days on a yoga retreat doesn’t mean you’ll be twice as transformed as on a 5-day retreat. If this is your first retreat, a shorter time-span might be the better choice!
With all that in mind, we’ve put together a list of yoga retreats in Bali that offer a variety of yoga styles, spiritual activities, and other wellness options.
Read on to discover…
Our Picks of The Best Yoga Retreats in Bali
All of our chosen retreats offer vegan and vegetarian food options, while most also offer gluten free, raw, and organic food. Prices may fluctuate based on time of year, so please consider our published prices a guideline only!
Budget Yoga Retreats in Bali
7 Day Serene Yoga and Wellness Retreat near Ubud, Bali
Best Bali retreat for yogis on a budget
Price: from $295 ($42 per day) Location: Penarungan (village near Ubud), Bali Activities: Yoga, meditation, pranayama Yoga Style: Hatha, vinyasa, yin Included Meals: Daily breakfast, lunch, dinner
Nestled in a jungle ravine outside of Ubud, Shanti Toya Ashram is a true escape. The simple, comfortable rooms are arranged around a small pool and look out over abundant gardens.
The open-air bamboo yoga shala is the perfect place to get deeper into your practice in natural surroundings.
Breakfast features a selection of vegan and vegetarian options, lunch allows you to explore the world of Indonesia flavours, while dinner is based on international favourites. The chef can cater to vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, organic, and raw diets.
What Makes This Retreat Special?
This is a chance to truly focus on yoga, with experienced and knowledgable teachers. Since the retreat is based on a 7-day, set schedule, you’ll also have the chance to get to share your retreat with fellow yogis from around the globe.
“I stumbled upon Shanti Toya by chance and feel so incredibly lucky to have found such a paradise! Everything about my stay was incredible. The yoga classes themselves were great for all levels and the teachers offered diverse classes and opportunities to learn new techniques.” –Taylorsun
Best Bali retreat for aspiring surfers & photographers
Price: from $633 ($90 per day) Location: Canggu, Bali Activities: Yoga, surfing, photography, martial arts Yoga Style: Ashtanga, yin, general Included Meals: Breakfast only
Mondo Surf & Lifestyle Village is set in lush surroundings not far from the beach in Canggu, Bali. Enjoy the beautiful gardens, comfortable rooms with Balinese decoration, and the oversize swimming pool.
Breakfasts are healthy and fresh, featuring lots of local fruits. Lunch and dinner are not included in the package, but you can eat international and Indonesian food at the in-house restaurant. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free dishes are available.
What Makes This Retreat Special?
Part of the magic of Bali is the beautiful beaches and sea. This retreat lets you spend half of your time in and around the water, learning to surf. We love the inclusion of photography trips, led by pro photographers, who will help make sure you capture your Bali memories on camera.
“I have travelled 2 months in Indonesia and this is by far the best place where I stayed. I had the Surf Package and it was amazing! Great surf instructors, great yoga and awesome breakfast.” –Jonathan L
Mid-Price Bali Yoga Retreats
10-Day Nurturing Yoga and Massage Holiday in North Bali
Best Bali retreat to get far away from it all
Price: from $1096 ($110 per day) Location: Lovina (north Bali) Activities: Yoga, spa treatments, temple visits Yoga Style: Hatha, vinyasa Included Meals: Daily breakfast, your choice of daily lunch or dinner
You’ll be staying at Puri Bagus in Lovina, a Balinese-style resort on the beaches of the north coast of Bali. A private thatch-roofed villa will give you lots of space and privacy to relax. The gorgeous pool is shaded by palm trees and looks over the beach and the Bali sea.
The open-air restaurant, which has views of the surrounding gardens and the sea, offers both Western and Indonesian meals. Caters for vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, organic, and raw options.
What Makes This Retreat Special?
Location location location! This retreat will really take you away from the buzz and clatter of Bali’s busy south. The holiday-style retreat includes cultural and nature activities in the area, like waterfall trekking, a purification ceremony at a holy fountain, and snorkelling at Lovina beach.
“Cannot fault this beautiful place! The huts are as big as apartments, the food is delicious, the people are the nicest I’ve met and the views are incredible. The most peaceful place I’ve ever been, can’t thank them enough.” –Kat
8 Day Reflect, Reconnect & Transform Yoga Retreat in Amed Beach, West Bali
Best retreat in Bali for self-discovery on the beach
Price: from $925 ($116 per day) Location: Amed Beach, Bali Activities: Yoga, self-discovery workshops, daily excursions Yoga Style: Hatha Included Meals: Daily breakfast & dinner
You’ll sleep in a boutique thatched-roof cottage at Life in Amed resort. These welcoming cottages feature outdoor showers and have views of the sea, pool, or garden.
Indonesian and Western meals are available at the Life in Amed restaurants. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options available.
What Makes This Retreat Special?
If you’re looking for a true escape, then getting out of Ubud and southern Bali is a must. Located in a small fishing village on the Amed coast, this retreat will allow you to immerse yourself in nature and the true Balinese lifestyle, far away from the buzz of tourists in the south.
“What I enjoyed the most at the place apart from the quality of the yoga practice is the space and the view on the ocean. Sunrise and sunset are magical. You can practice yoga and hear the wind in the palm trees and see the boats sailing on the ocean in the morning.” –Delphine A
Looking for the best restaurants in Uluwatu for vegans, omnivores and more? This surf and spot is quiet compared to much of Bali. But it still has a lot to offer when it comes to animal-friendly and healthy food. Read on to discover our picks of the best places to eat in Uluwatu.
What’s in this guide to the best restaurants in Uluwatu?
Because the shoreline in Uluwatu is lined by steep cliffs, the beaches are far less developed than those of Sanur, Canggu, or Jimbaran. The big resorts are mostly perched high on the cliffs, leaving the beaches to the surfers, fishermen, and sun-seekers.
Beaches in Uluwatu have incredible sunsets, too.
Because of its relative lack of development, we were surprised to find so many great restaurants with vegan options in Uluwatu. Huge thanks to the Uluwatu surfers who have set up shop in the area and laid the groundwork for us to eat well!
By the way, the area referred to as Uluwatu sprawls across much of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, from Alila Villas on the south coast, all the way up to the north end of Dreamland Beach.
All the restaurants on this list are near Padang Padang Beach and Bingin Beach, in the area known as Pecatu.
If you want to be within walking distance of our Uluwatu restaurant recommendations — and the most beautiful beaches in Bali — we recommend staying in this area. If you don’t mind hopping on your motorbike for every little thing, then you can find better and cheaper accommodation elsewhere in Uluwatu.
Either way, read on for…
Your Guide to the Best Restaurants in Uluwatu
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Restaurants on Jalan Labuansait with Vegan Options
Best restaurant in Uluwatu for a hearty brunch
Jl. Labuansait, Pecatu (near Jl. Pemutih)
The best pancakes I’ve had in Asia? Maybe!
Mexican food is big in Uluwatu, and this fajita at Bukit Cafe was great.
Our favourite food in Uluwatu. When they say they have the best food on the bukit, Bukit Cafe may actually be practicing honesty in advertising. Like most restaurants in Uluwatu, they only have a couple of vegan options, but they are exceptional.
Having ducked inside to use the internet, we ate an impromptu brunch there and were thrilled with the results.
We ate: Vegan pancakes, which were probably the best pancakes I’ve eaten in Asia. The veggie fajita, a slightly spicy plate of fried veggies with tasty guacamole and salsa fresca on the side.
Best for hungry shoppers
Jl. Labuansait No.52, Pecatu
The food at Drifter was good but this smoothie was exceptional!
If you didn’t know there was a cafe at Drifter, you might miss it. Out front, a large surf clothing store, with mostly Western brands at all-Western prices, dominates the scene. But walk through the shop and you’ll find a peaceful garden cafe.
As with most restaurants in Uluwatu, there are only a few vegan food options on the menu, but the smoothie menu is excellent.
We ate: Balinese Coconut Curry, which was fresh but a little bland. The Veggie Poke Bowl, filling if not terribly exciting. The highlight was the Pump Up the Jam smoothie, a thick concoction with bananas, chia, and almond milk.
Best for big fresh bowls of yum
Jl. Labuansait, Pecatu (near Jl. Pemutih)
The bowls at Buddha Soul inspired me to start making my own bowl meals more often. So good!
On the main strip in Uluwatu, Buddha Soul has a great patio area which sadly overlooks the noisy road.
Though the vegan options on the menu are limited, they are more than happy to substitute tempeh for the meat in many of their dishes. Our meals here were good enough that we’ll return next time we’re in Uluwatu.
We ate: The chicken burrito with tempeh substitute, which was accompanied by some delicious fresh-fried potato chips. The Mexican fiesta bowl, a tasty and healthy dish of brown rice, beans, tomatoes, and guacamole.
Best for sky-high healthy burgers
Jl. Labuansait, No.432, Pecatu
After weeks in Bali, we were definitely craving a proper meaty veggie burger! OmBurger offers three different vegan burgers with a range of buns and toppings, like fresh salsa and guacamole.
Though the burgers themselves were a little too salty and a little less chewy than we’d prefer, they were good enough that we were satisfied at the end of the meal. They were also extremely tall and needed some serious squishing before we could fit them in our ample jaw-spans!
We ate: The triple-stacked vegan special and a make-your-own burger option. Both came with a side of cold, starchy and deeply unsatisfying purple potato fries.
The Mango Tree Cafe
Best for outdoor dining on a hot day
Jl. Labuan Sait, Pecatu (near Om Burger)
This wrap from The Mango Tree was simple but tasty.
After reading the reviews on TripAdvisor (so much drama!) surrounding The Mango Tree‘s somewhat snarky responses to bitchy customers, we couldn’t miss visiting! Both of us have worked in the service industry and understand just how unreasonable (and rude) customers can be.
We were met with exceptionally friendly service delivered by a trainee waitress and her patient coach. There was no sign of the surly service mentioned on TripAdvisor.
Not only that, but the food was exceptionally good as well! Definitely stop by here to enjoy their shady tables under a huge mango tree.
We ate: The vegan lunch burrito and the avocado toast, both very good. We both got a side of the breakfast potatoes which were disappointingly cold.
Restaurants Near Bingin Beach with Vegan Options
The Cashew Tree
Best restaurant in Uluwatu for family fun
Jl. Pantai Bingin No.9, Pecatu
This little gem in the streets above Bingin Beach is so well hidden that we didn’t discover it until after we left Bali! Good thing we’re going back later this year.
The Cashew Tree has a menu full of fresh, healthy dishes, including lots of vegan options. And the smoothie bowls look fantastic. They also have live music on Thursday nights and a big garden for kids to play in.
Best for beach views over breakfast
On Bingin Beach (next to Kelly’s Warung)
When it comes to Christmas breaks, Europe is awash with great possibilities.
There are tiny seaside towns with deserted beaches that bake in the midday sunshine. There are grand cities, where you can enjoy candlelit dinners by crackling fires. And, there are rural villages, where locals pause on the way to market for a gossip session with their neighbours.
Whatever your idea of a perfect Christmas destination, Europe can deliver.
Having lived in London for 10 years, we had plenty of time explore Europe and choose our top picks for…
The Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe
Best Places in Europe for a Storybook Christmas
If you want a Christmas holiday straight out of Hans Christian Andersen, where snow falls in big fluffy flakes, sticking to your nose and eyelashes, these places should be at the top of your list.
While we can’t promise a white Christmas (that’s climate change for ya), we can promise days of wandering down narrow, twisty streets, and evenings curled up by the fire with a mug of steaming hot chocolate.
1. Bern, Switzerland
If you want a storybook Christmas all the trimmings, Bern is perfect.
Nothing says Christmas quite like the snowy winter wonderland of Switzerland. The romance of Bern’s medieval old town decked out in gold lights for the Christmas season is possibly unparalleled in Europe. There are, of course, fantastic Christmas markets, plenty of cozy cafes where you can warm up with a hot chocolate, and lots of shopping if your Christmas list needs some crossing off.
But the best winter activity in Bern? Hit the slopes of the Gurten for some of the best toboganning action you’ll ever see.
Transylvania’s picturesque villages provide the perfect setting for a charming Christmas.
Are you a fan of those creepy fairytales, where wicked fairies and handsome vampires walk among us? Then Transylvania is your perfect Christmas destination.
Its charming towns, like Brasov and Sibiu, feature huge town squares where you can sip hot apple cider while nosing around the outdoor market. Depending on your age and upbringing, the soaring church spires and roofs with eyes will have you looking over your shoulder for vampires, werewolves, or the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Earlier this year, I spent a few days in Sarajevo and absolutely fell in love with the city. Nestled in a narrow valley, with mountains rising on all sides, the city is as picturesque as it is enticing.
One year, just before Christmas, my Mom and I took a trip through Austria, where my grandfather was born. The entire country is one big Christmas card, but Hallstatt, a tiny mountain village in Salzkammergut, wins the Christmas crown.
The gingerbread houses of Hallstatt cling to the shore of Lake Hallstatt and the mountains rise steeply all around. With snow falling gently on cobbled streets and the town’s lights dancing in the glassy lake, Hallstatt might be the most romantic Christmas town on Earth.
I should probably go there with Stephen next time!
Northern Lights in Tromso, best seen in the winter.
We have been to Tromso, Norway in high summer and experienced the midnight sun as it dips briefly below the horizon before rising again on a new day.
Though locals have warned us against it, I’d love to experience the opposite; I imagine cold dark days sitting wrapped in a blanket by the roaring fire, reading classic novels and sipping glass after glass of Aquavit. When I did venture outside, it would be to feel the soft crunch of snow underfoot and to gaze in awe at the mysterious Northern Lights as they dance overhead. Gorgeous.
Snow architecture is one of the many highlights of a Christmas visit to Rovaniemi.
If you think Santa comes from the North Pole, you have obviously never met a Finn. Santa really hails from Rovaniemi, Lapland, so there’s no way we could leave the frosty northern town off of our Christmas list.
We’ve never been there, but with the chance to sleep in an igloo, go ice-climbing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, plus getting to visit Santa at his office (his home is in a secret location), Rovaniemi seems like the perfect Christmas destination.