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Many visitors to New Brunswick tend to stop in Moncton, St John, or Fredericton during their trip. Probably because these cities are popular and offer great transportation connections.

While this might be the case, there is one place in New Brunswick that I would recommend visiting more than anywhere else – the beautiful small town of Saint-Andrews-by-the-Sea.

Before planning my Maritime’s road trip I had never heard of Saint Andrews. After spending 4 days in this lovely small town it became one of the highlights of my trip.

The Best Things to do in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick

Today, I want to talk about all of the best things to do in Saint Andrews.

The town of Saint Andrews is a small resort town. It boasts a great location right on the Bay of Fundy. This makes it a popular place for people looking to escape the heat during the summer. It’s also a prime destination for whale watching in New Brunswick.

These aren’t the only things that are special about Saint Andrews. There is a well-preserved old town area with picturesque historic houses. Nearby to town you can easily escape into nature. The whole area surrounding the town is just full of things that you can do to occupy your time during your trip.

During my visit to Saint Andrews I stayed at the historic Algonquin Resort. This resort is famous for having been built and operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway. over the years it has undergone quite a few renovations and these days it’s arguably the best luxury hotel East of Quebec City.

Whale Watching in Saint Andrews on the Bay of Fundy

A trip to Saint Andrews isn’t complete without going whale watching out on the Bay of Fundy. This is what the area is well known for and it’s an experience that you’re never going to forget.

During my trip I went out on the water with Fundy Tide Runners. They provided a professional and amazing service.

With Fundy Tide Runners you head out onto the water with a Zodiac boat instead of one of the larger whale watching boats. This is more fun and you can get very up close with the whales and other wildlife.

There are also a few other companies running whale watching tours out of Saint Andrews.

Keep in mind that whale watching is only available from late spring to early fall. The rest of the year it’s too cold to head out onto the water and the whales aren’t even nearby. During the summer you’re definitely going to want to go whale watching if you get the chance. It’s an incredible experience and something you don’t want to miss.

Explore the Historic Downtown Saint Andrews

The historic downtown area of Saint Andrews has been well-preserved and features a number of historic sites.

There are dozens of old homes from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. There are even a few left over from the 18th century although they have been heavily renovated over the years.

The downtown is flat and based on a grid pattern. This makes it easy to walk around and explore on foot.

Most of the hotels are located downtown as well so there’s no need to drive. If you are arriving by car there is free parking throughout the downtown area.

Make sure to stop by the Saint Andrews tourist office so you can grab a map. The people working there are knowledgeable about the city. The map will show you all of the highlights of the downtown core.

Along with a number of beautiful homes you can also find the historic Charlotte County Courthouse and some other older buildings. Many of the homes have signs on the front providing you with details of the building’s history.

Once you’re finished walking through the downtown neighborhoods you can make your way out to the Pier. From here you’ll be able to enjoy an amazing view of the Pasquamoddy Bay. Try to visit later in the day as the sunset over the water is magical.

In the downtown area are plenty of small shops, cafes, and restaurants. Don’t hesitate to stop inside any of the small shops or drop by a cafe for a quick drink. Everybody in the town is friendly and always excited to speak with visitors from out of town.

Enjoy Some Local Seafood at Ossie’s Fried Clams

Since you’re in New Brunswick and close to the Bay of Fundy you’re going to want to try out some seafood.

There are plenty of options for great seafood in town. I’m not one for something fancy so I opted to head to a local place called Ossie’s Fried Clams.

Ossie’s is a short drive out of Saint Andrews. It’s about 15-minutes away and definitely worth it.

Ossie’s Fried Clams has been around since 1958. This spot is somewhat of a hidden-gem that mostly locals know about. You won’t find too many tourists here!

It doesn’t seem like much, just a small white building on the side of the highway. Once you order and get your food you’re bound to be impressed with how delicious everything is.

You can choose from a variety of different seafood options. There are also other food items like milkshakes and a selection of desserts.

I recommend going with one of the fried platters. These come with clams, scallops, squid, and fish. It’s a great way to sample some of the local seafood.

Go for the small platter for two people. The large platter is big enough that it could feed a family!

During the warmer summer months you can sit at the picnic tables beside the restaurant and enjoy the beautiful scenery. I’m not sure if it’s open during the winter so you might want to check beforehand rather than just showing up.

Check Out the Galleries and Museums in Saint Andrews

For such a small town, there are a surprising number of museums in Saint Andrews.

Personally, I’m not a fan of museums. Although on a rainy day they can be a great place to escape the weather and learn something new.

The different museums that I would recommend checking out include:

  • The Charlotte County Archives
  • The Ross Memorial Museum
  • The Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Center

At the Charlotte County Archives you can learn more about the history of the area. This museum takes an in-depth look of how Saint Andrews was created. There was a lot of information covering the important events that took place in this small town.

The archives and subsequent Museum are located in the old Charlotte County Gaol. This is the old jail for the entire county. Out front is where the last execution took place in Saint Andrews!

At the Ross Memorial Museum you can take a closer look at a unique personal decorative arts collection. The exhibit is located inside an early 19th century house. The property is also part of the National Historic District of Saint Andrews and an important building in the towns history.

Art lovers are going to want to make their way to the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre. Here you’ll be able to admire a collection of different art exhibits. These exhibits include things like fine art, local crafts, drawings, photographs, and other unique artwork items all from local artists.

The Old Charlotte County Courthouse and Gaol

Beside the courthouse, a few steps away from the main street in town, is  the impressive Charlotte County Gaol.

This is the old jail of Charlotte County. It was used to house criminals from the entire county before sentencing them or sending them elsewhere for their sentences.

The structure was built in 1832 from gray granite blocks quarried in the area. It’s a depressing and somber building – perfectly suited for being a jail.

Each of the cells are small, claustrophobic, and not welcoming for criminals or anybody that was forced to spend the night!

The Charlotte County Gaol was in operation until 1979. These days the locals believe that the jail is haunted. Don’t hesitate to ask somebody if they have any cool ghost stories about it.

Meander Through the Kingsbrae Garden

During the warmer summer months the Kingsbrae Garden is a magical place to visit.

There are more than 27 acres of beautiful, well manicured gardens at Kingsbrae. The landscape is painstakingly kept with picturesque gardens and eye-catching scenery around every corner.

All summer the gardens come alive with colour.  It’s an amazing experience to walk through the gardens while admiring the different plant life with the bees and birds humming around you.

At these gardens you’ll find more than 50,000 different perennials and gardens with different, unique themes. The Kingsbrae Garden is worth checking out if you’re looking to spend the day relaxing in nature without having to venture out of town.

Delicious Dinner at the Rossmount Inn

There are plenty of options for dining in Saint Andrews though nowhere will make more of a lasting impression than the Rossmount Inn.

The Rossmount Inn is a world class restaurant featuring a fresh, local cuisine and a small-town atmosphere. There isn’t any pretentiousness at all when you’re dining at the Rossmount.

The menu varies weekly depending on what’s available locally. This helps to keep things fresh and it means you’re always getting something unique.

Personally, I’d recommend trying one of the seafood dishes. It’s about as local as you can find and you can rest assured knowing you’re getting a dish prepared by a skilled and experienced chef using local ingredients.

Keep in mind that prices are a bit on the higher side compared to most other restaurants in town. It’s definitely worth visiting the Rossmount Inn if you’re looking for a memorable fine dining experience.

Ministers Island

Outside of Saint Andrews is Ministers Island. Ministers Island is known as a “part-time” island. During the infamous high and low tides in the Bay of Fundy the island is either joined to the mainland by a land bridge or completely cut off.

The island is an affordable and fun activity that’s enjoyable whether you’re traveling with your partner, family, or on your own.

During low tide it’s possible to drive over the land bridge. It’s a short 1km drive and you’re essentially going to be driving on the sea floor. The rest of the time this land-bridge is completely covered with water and the island becomes accessible only by boat.

Once you reach the island you can explore the entire thing. One of the most popular attractions on the island is the summer estate of Sir William Van Horne. He was the president of and main man behind the Canadian Pacific Railway. The extravagant estate was built as his summer home in the late 19th century.

After going on a tour of the estate you can spend the day wandering around the rest of the island. If you’re visiting during the warmer summer months don’t forget to bring a bathing suit – there are some great swimming spots waiting for you to enjoy.

Keep in mind that the island is only open from the middle of May until the end of October. The rest of the year it’s too difficult to navigate with the snow and cold weather.

Visit the Hopewell Rocks

The Hopewell Rocks are one of the best things to do in New Brunswick that you can’t miss. They make for the perfect day trip from Saint Andrews or you can stop on your way to Saint Johns or Moncton.

Located at Hopewell Cape, on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, the Hopewell Rocks are where the most interesting tide phenomenon in the world happens.

The Bay of Fundy, and specifically this area around Hopewell, experiences the highest tides anywhere on Earth. This means in the morning you can walk down and explore the rocks from the vantage point of the sea floor. By the afternoon, when the tide starts rising, you need to get out of the way or you’ll be covered in water!

Depending on when you visit you can explore on foot or kayak through the rocks. The tickets are valid for the entire day so you can visit at both high and low tides for the most accurate perspective.

Check out the Hopewell Rocks website here for more information on planning your visit. This is one of the best day trips from Saint Andrew’s and something you won’t want to miss on your New Brunswick road trip.

Where to Stay in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick for Sightseeing

The options are plentiful for accommodation in Saint Andrews. If you’re looking for the best place to stay in town, look no further then the Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by-the-Sea, Autograph Collection.

This is one of the most beautiful hotels in New Brunswick. If you’re looking for luxury accommodation this is the perfect place to relax and use as a base for exploring Saint Andrews.

With rates starting at just ~$100 CAD per night, it’s worth it spend the night here even if you’re traveling on a budget.

Alternatively, there are a number of small hotels and B&B’s in Saint Andrews in the central historic area. In this case I’d recommend checking out the lovely Rossmount Inn or the Inn on Frederick B&B.

Looking for a more local experience? Then consider booking an entire home or private apartment on AirBnb. Visit the AirBnb site here and save up to $35 on your first stay!

The post The Best Things to Do in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick appeared first on StefanRTW.

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During my trip to Saint Andrews in New Brunswick I was fortunate enough to be able to head out onto a whale watching excursion with Fundy Tide Runners.

With only 4 days exploring New Brunswick, going whale watching was something I had to squeeze in!

Along with whale watching, Saint Andrews offers quite a bit when it comes to the different things to do in the quaint little resort town as well as nearby.

Depending on where you’re staying you can spend the day hiking, checking out different museums, heading out onto a fishing excursion, sampling a selection of seafood, visiting various galleries and small shops, or just relaxing by the beach if the weather permits.

However, for a memorable marine wildlife experience you’re going to want to hop into a boat and head out on the water for the chance to run into some whales, porpoises, seals, birds of prey, and maybe even a shark if you’re lucky!

Saint Andrews and Passamaquoddy Bay

Saint Andrews sits in a picturesque spot right on the shores of Passamaquoddy Bay. It happens to be one of the first resort towns in all of Canada and the town provides a unique insight into maritime life in New Brunswick.

Regardless of the time of year that you visit there’s always something to do in Saint Andrews, both indoors and outdoors, though it’s the summer months that bring the lush green landscape, warmer water for swimming, and the high activity levels of the wildlife in the area both on land and out in the bay.

What helps to make Saint Andrews and Charlotte County such a unique destination in the Maritimes is its out-of-the-way rural setting, abundance of marine wildlife, and its location on a small bay just off of the world-renowned Bay of Fundy.

In less than 15-minutes by boat you can leave the protective waters of the Passamaquoddy Bay and head out into the Bay of Fundy where you have a really great chance of spotting whales and other marine wildlife with ease.

This area of the Eastern Canadian coast is about the upper limit of where many of these larger marine mammals come to feed and the water of both bays, filled with nutrients, small fish, and a surprising lack of natural predators, makes it the ideal location for whales, porpoises, large birds,

Thanks to these marine features there are plenty of opportunities for spotting whales and this has lead to a surprising number of whale watching providers opening up in Saint Andrews and throughout most of the Bay of Fundy.

The Tour: Whale Watching in Saint Andrews with Fundy Tide Runners

Fundy Tide Runners has been providing some of the best whale watching in Saint Andrews excursions since 1995. The owner has more than 20 years of experience in this industry so you know you’re going to have a great time.

There are quite a few other operators in town but most of them take you out onto a much larger vessel, so you don’t get as close and personal of an experience as you get when you’re out on the water in the Fundy Tide Runner zodiac.

While the bigger boats will give you a better look at the whale itself, from above, they’re much slower on the water so you’ll spend a lot of time getting to and from the different whale watching spots rather than zipping over the waves and looking for the whales on your own as they breach the surface just meters away from you.

The excursion itself was about 2-hours in length out on the water and you have to show up 30-minutes beforehand for a quick primer and to put on your life-jackets.

After checking in with the lady at the desk on the second floor of the main building we met the captain who introduced himself and told us everything we needed to know about our upcoming adventure.

He quickly briefed us on the conditions out in the bay, gave us some details on how far out we’d be going, and told us that it would be very likely that we’d see a whale and other marine life though he couldn’t make any promises.

Having the high-speed Zodiac turned out to be very beneficial when we finally boarded and headed out onto the water.

From the moment the engines roared to life we were zipping across the waves and out into the Bay of Fundy, leaving all of the larger whale watching boats behind.

The Zodiac also meant that we could quickly make it over to the spots where the whales came to the surface and essentially chase them across the bay to the next spot where we thought they might come up again.

The thing with whales is that they don’t spend too much time at the surface. They’re mostly underwater looking for or chasing food and they dive to astonishing depths when they’re trying to fill up for the day.

Depending on the type of whale they can spend anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes underwater before coming back up for oxygen and a quick rest. This means that if you spot one in the distance you could be waiting up to 12 minutes to see it again and they move pretty quickly once they submerge.

Out on the water we saw quite a few different whales come to the surface and exhale that typical spray of water high up into the air. We also saw them breach a few times before diving but unfortunately we weren’t able to catch any tails or jumps on our trip.

Along with the few different whales we saw we also saw quite a few porpoises jumping through the waves off the distance. The Zodiac was also able to maneuver through the shallow Passamaquoddy Bay into a rocky area where we watched a curious group of seals hanging out by the rocks.

A Learning Experience

On the excursion with Fundy Tide Runners we ended up seeing a few humpback whales, a Finback whale, a few Minke whales, porpoises and of course some seals.

We were also lucky enough to spot some sea birds including the famous Bald Eagle, some Razorbill Auks, and some Cormorants off the distance.

Along the way the captain pointed out some local salmon farms and herring weirs that are still used to this day for local fish harvesting.

In the two hours I spent on board I learned a great deal about marine wildlife in the Bay of Fundy as well as the impact that fish harvesting and whale watching itself has on the local economy in Saint Andrews and other nearby coastal communities.

Overall, I had an amazing whale watching trip with Fundy Tide Runners and it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Saint Andrews that I would recommend if you’re visiting New Brunswick.

Helpful Information

Cost

The 2.5 hour whale watching experience with Fundy Tide Runners costs $60 (not including HST) for adults and $45 for children older than 5-years old.

Location

All of the tours leave from the main dock in Saint Andrews and it’s a short 5-minute walk from the tour building to the Zodiac.

There is plenty of parking available out front of the main building as well as throughout the nearby streets.

When to Go

I recommend going on the earliest tour of the day because it’s likely going to be cooler weather and you’ll get the captain at his best!

The Bay is also usually calmer in the morning and the lighting is great for photos.

What About the Other Companies?

There are plenty of other tour operators to choose from with similar pricing and excursion times.

I recommend Fundy Tide Runners because the Zodiac gives you a much more personal experience where you get the chance to get right up next to the whales rather than looking at them from above and further away.

Even getting to and from the whale spotting area is a much more memorable experience as you zip across the waves at high speeds rather than just sitting in a rocking boat.

Is it Worth It?

Definitely!

While you shouldn’t expect to see whales jumping over the boat you’re still likely going to have an amazing time out on the water!

I found it to be a very memorable experience and with the 95% chance of spotting some whales you’re bound to leave impressed with the trip.

More Photos

The post Fundy Tide Runners | The Best Whale Watching in Saint Andrews appeared first on StefanRTW.

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Ukraine, and its beautiful capital Kiev, are some of the most unique and amazing places to visit in Europe.

When I first visited Ukraine in 2013 the country was in the midst of a national crisis on its Eastern border. Protests were still going on in Kiev well my girlfriend and I wandered around the tourist sites.

The last time I was in Ukraine was 2017. They were notably more tourists and the infrastructure was visibly improved. The city, Ukraine’s largest, is quickly building itself up onto the global stage.

While not as off the beaten path as it once was, Kiev is an incredible place to visit. The city has a rich history and heaps of historic/cultural attractions waiting to be discovered.

It’s unfortunately common speaking to other travelers and hearing that they’re worried about visiting Ukraine, wondering whether or not it’s safe to visit. Thankfully, the conflict in Donbas and the Eastern part of the country have little impact on tourism and life in Kiev.

Ukraine is Europe’s biggest country with all of its problems happening hundreds of kilometers away from the places most people will be visiting. Strolling through the capital I felt safer and more at ease compared to places like Paris and London.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems going on in Kiev, but you’re unlikely to experience them as a tourist or short-term visitor. It seems that everywhere you look new shops, cafes, restaurants are opening up.

People are trying their hardest to start their own businesses and make legitimate money. This has resulted in a new generation of Ukrainian entrepreneurs across the whole country.

While i’d love to keep ranting about how amazing Kiev is, I know that’s not what you’re here for. In this post let’s take a look at the top things to do in Kiev, Ukraine so that you can make the most of your time during your visit.

Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of this post for Kiev travel tips and my personal recommendations for accommodation.

The Best Things to do in Kiev, Ukraine St.Sophia Cathedral

Close to the Pechersk Lavra complex is the stunning St. Sophia Cathedral. This Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kiev.

There’s no doubting the beauty of the exterior of the cathedral. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and one of the most picturesque cathedrals in the city.

However, the real beauty of St. Sophia’s is found inside. As you make your way into the Cathedral you’re almost immediately presented with a series of incredible and intricately painted religious Ukrainian frescoes.

Traveling a lot, frescoes like these start to blend in with one another. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case at all with the St. Sophia frescoes in Kiev.

These have such a historic and cultural value to the people of Ukraine and need to be respected. It’s not possible to photograph or touch them to avoid any damage or early deterioration.

Tickets for the cathedral complex can be purchased at the entry gate. Consider pay the additional fee for entrance to the bell tower. The view from the top of the tower is one of the best views of Kiev!

Be respectful when you’re visiting this Cathedral. Locals are still visiting regularly for religious purposes and you don’t want to disturb or devalue their experience.

The Pechersk Lavra Complex and Cave Monastery

The Pechersk Lavra is arguably one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring Orthodox monasteries in the world. It’s also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves with the complex being a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Speaking of the complex, the Lavra complex is one of the biggest you’ll find in this part of Europe. Entrance is ~$1.25 USD and this gives you access to all of the religious buildings, including the famous caves.

The first thing you’ll notice is the beautifully ornate entrance gate. This historic entryway has been gilded in solid gold and covered with painted religious iconography.

The Great Lavra Belltower will be the next structure to capture your attention. At one point this was the tallest bell tower in Kiev. Today, the stands at nearly 100 m in height and is typically crowded with people paying their respects.

Within the Pechersk Lavra complex are a number of historic churches. In the center is the Dormition Cathedral – one of the most historic and culturally important buildings here. This cathedral was destroyed in World War II and for the past 70 years has been painstakingly restored.

Even with all of the interesting churches and buildings in the complex, we still haven’t got to the most interesting part. The main highlight of the Pechersk Lavra complex is the labyrinthine cave monastery built into the night of the rock face adjacent to the complex.

More than 100 important Orthodox religious figures have been buried in this maze of tunnels and crypts. What’s even more unusual is that you can wander around the underground monastery and check out some of the mummified remains. Typically, these would have been priests, bishops, and other important individuals working at the complex.

This is, by far, one of the most interesting things to see in Kiev. Entrance to the monastery is free (included in your ticket) and you can pick up a candle for a small amount of local currency. The candle definitely makes the experience creepier and gives you some spooky lighting to set the tone.

Maidan Square (The Heart of Kiev)

In the center of historic Kiev is Maidan Square. This was where the majority of the Euromaidan Revolution protests were held. It’s also where the Orange Revolution in 2004 started.

It was here, back in 2013, that my girlfriend and I wandered through the square in awe of the burned-out buildings, raging fires, and protests.

This is one of the few places in Europe where such modern history was made that shaped the direction of a country. Today, Maidan Square is a calm and relaxing area full of tourists and locals having a good time.

Lining the square are a number of shops, cafe, and restaurants. There are a lot of interesting and unique places to check out in Maidan Square without having to venture too far away.

This is the meeting spot for most of the Kiev free walking tours. The square is easily accessible by public transportation and it’s within walking distance of some of the city’s best hotels.

Avoid engaging with anyone that approaches you for anything other than asking for directions. There are a lot of scams against tourists happening here that can be easily avoided by keeping to yourself.

Explore the Parks in Kiev

With so much green-space around it’s hard to avoid one of the many parks in the city when you’re looking for things to see in Kiev. There are two main parks that are worth visiting if you’re spending more than a day or two exploring the city.

The Khreschatyk Park and the Mariyinsky Park are the most impressive and they’re a great place to be if you want to spend some time relaxing away from the crowds in a quiet, peaceful and beautiful area.

Khreschatyk Park is located close to Independence Square and is well within walking distance of many of the popular landmarks. From this park you will have some incredible views of the Dnieper River and the Left Bank of the city.

There’s also the People’s Friendship Arch, an arch that was built to celebrate the healthy relationship between Ukraine and Russia and the Bridge of Love, which is a small, pedestrian bridge that people have been attaching love padlocks to.

This park is great to visit during the warmer, summer months when you can take advantage of the many outdoor cafés or just walk around in the shade of the many, older and heavily grown trees.

Mariyinsky Park is the oldest park in the city and also offers some great views over the Dnieper River. At this park there is a lovely old fountain and you can explore the stunning Mariyinsky Palace that’s located on the edge of the park.

Both parks are accessible by metro and are within walking distance of the main sights and attractions in the city.

St. Andrew’s Church

St. Andrew’s Church is another one of the more beautiful religious structures in the city. It was built during the 1750s and it’s a prime example of Baroque architecture in the region.

It’s also one of the four architectural landmarks of Ukraine, which makes it one of the most visited places in the entire country.

When you’re walking around the lower part of the city it’s hard to miss the church as it was built and currently sits high up on Andrews Hill, which overlooks much of Kiev. Both the exterior and the interior of the church are very impressive and I recommend taking about 30 minutes or so to explore the inside and take some photographs.

Today, there’s a problem with the foundation of the church and a lot of work is being done trying to stabilize the ground around the foundation and repair some of the long-term damage that the structure has sustained.

Andriyisky Descent

Right beside St.Andrews Church, leading down into the lower part of the city, is the Andriyisky Descent. This is a small, Steep Avenue that connects the lower and upper half of the city.

On the way down, especially if the weather is agreeable outside, you can expect to see locals selling a variety of goods from souvenirs and clothes to jams and liquor. It’s a short, but very steep walk down and along the way there is some cool street art to check out as well.

Wander Around Sculptures Alley

Built during the 1980s by Avraam Milestky, Sculptures Alley is a series of different contemporary sculptures and other quirky works of art added over the years.

It’s definitely one of the more off the beaten path things to do in Kiev but if you’re interested in art and want to see something that not too many tourists visit then I definitely recommend checking out Sculptures Alley.

If you’re travelling with children it’s also a nice place to visit because there are many play structures and interesting sculptures that children will find amusing so you’ll be able to relax while your kids run around and enjoy themselves.

The Mother Motherland Statue (Rodina Mat) and Open Air Military Museum

The Mother Motherland, known as Rodina Mat, is a monumental statue that stands more than 62m in height and towers over the entire city.

When it was finished it was the tallest statue in the entire world and now, more than 40 years later, it still dominates the Kiev skyline and is one of the most impressive monuments that I’ve ever seen.

The monument is designed after a woman, the mother of Ukraine, who is holding an enormous sword in one hand and a statue in the other. It was built as one of the many dedications to the Great Patriotic War and today it’s a very noticeable and recognizable landmark of the city.

If you’re looking for the best view of Kiev I recommend visiting this monument because there is a viewing platform on the shield that offers an incredible view of the surrounding landscape.

On the land surrounding the bottom of the monument is an open-air military museum. Here there are a collection of war machinery, tanks, weaponry, aircraft, statues and other monuments.

It’s definitely worth spending a few hours exploring and I think that this area is one of the coolest and most unique in the entire city.

Sample the Delicious Ukrainian Food

A trip to Kiev isn’t complete without loading yourself up on the delicious Ukrainian food readily available throughout the city.

Ukraine is one of those places where people are more interested in eating something local and familiar rather than rolling the dice on international cuisine.

As a Ukrainian myself, it’s easy for me to say that Ukrainian food is the best in all of Europe. All of our dishes are hearty, filling, and loaded with delicious flavors. Seriously, how can you go wrong mixing grilled meats with potatoes and sour cream?

Some of the most popular Ukrainian dishes you have to try include:

  • Varenyky – This is the Ukrainian word for pierogi and you’ll find the absolute BEST perogies right here in Ukraine. If you’re not aware, it’s basically a small dump that’s a stuffed with cheese, potato, cabbage, or meat. Some places offer sweet, dessert varenyky if you’re looking for something different.
  • Borscht – A classic Ukrainian staple. This is a beet-based soup made with pork and onions. It doesn’t sound that great, but toss on a spoonful of sour cream and you’re going to fall in love.
  • Ukrainian BBQ – Surprisingly, they love grilled meats in Ukraine. In Kiev you’ll find a number of local grills and BBQ-type spots. If you like chicken, beef, and pork, then these are the places you have to try out!
  • Deruny – these are simple and delicious potato pancakes. Deruny are available at all local restaurants and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You’ll typically find them loaded with sour cream, onions, mushrooms, or peppers.

My favorite place for Ukrainian food in Kiev was a popular local buffet called Puzata Hata. This is a self service type of restaurant that only serves traditional Ukrainian food. Expect to spend about $3 to $7 here for a full course meal.

Where to Stay in Kiev for Sightseeing and Nightlife

Visitors will have a number of options for accommodation in Kiev from luxury to budget-friendly. Compared to Western Europe and the US, prices for hotels and local accommodation are very affordable.

During my visit I stayed at the Fairmont Grand Hotel right below the historic city centre. Nightly rates were favorable at the time due to the ongoing protests.

I’d recommend checking out the Fairmont Grand Hotel in Kiev if you’re looking for something upscale and luxury during your trip. Otherwise, let’s take a look at some other options places to stay.

Budget Accommodation

The best place to stay for budget hotels in Kyiv is the Sky Hostel. There are both dorms and private rooms available depending on your preferences. The location in Podil is perfect for sightseeing and the nightly rates are reasonable for a short-term stay.

Check prices, availability, reviews for the Sky Hostel here.

The post The Best Things To Do in Kiev, Ukraine for Tourists and Visitors appeared first on StefanRTW.

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For the six years I was traveling nearly full-time I seldom had to pay for any hotel stays. Sure, I was booking Airbnb apartments for months at a time, but when I wanted to travel I was able to stay at hotels on a complementary basis.

I remember planning a Switzerland trip with my girlfriend. The whole time we were wondering how we could afford to spend $150 per night just for accommodation.

Recently I had read a blog post mentioning that bloggers can get hotel stays, local excursions, even products for free. Looking more into it I realized it was totally possible and our free hotel stay adventure began.

Check out my hotel reviews page to see some of the amazing places I was able to stay for free.

In this post I want to share how YOU can start taking advantage of complimentary hotels and other free stuff with your very own blog. Don’t worry – it’s possible to apply this strategy with blogs receiving as little as 10,000 visitors per month.

Be sure to read to the very end where you’ll find the EXACT template I use for reaching out to hotels and other companies.

How to Stay at Hotels for Free Using Your Blog:
  1. Determine what you’ll offer hotels in exchange for complimentary stays
  2. Craft your pitch (first email)
  3. List the hotels you’d like to visit (with relevant contact info)
  4. Start reaching out to the hotels
  5. Follow up or contact more properties
  6. Fulfill your half of the agreement

These are the basic steps to follow to start staying at hotels for free using your blog.

Let’s take a further look into each of these steps and what you need to do to be successful with your pitch.

Step 1 –  Determine Your Offer

There isn’t a single hotel interested in a random blog post or some Twitter mentions. Your offer is the main factor that your hotel contacts will look at when considering your pitch.

You don’t even need a lot of social media followers or blog traffic to be successful here. Instead, it’s important to offer the hotel something unique that they will from in the long run.

These hotels are looking for a three main things:

  • More bookings
  • Increased awareness online and on social media
  • Direct website traffic

As a blogger, able to provide these then most hotels will be happy to work with you.

You need to remind yourself that the strategy isn’t about getting YOU free places to stay. It’s about working together with a hotel or property to develop and grow their business as an influencer.

Don’t bother moving on to the next step until you know exactly what you can offer any of the hotels you’re interested in pitching.

Step 2 – Craft Your Pitch (First Email)

Your pitch is going to be the first email you send hotels (unless you’re reaching out for specific contact information).

This email needs to answer most questions that might arise for answering it. It also needs to be professional and directed to the right person.

Emails that are short, sweet, and direct will get the most responses. Immediately let them know what you’re asking for and avoid rambling on about irrelevant information.

The questions you need to answer in your pitch include:

1. Who are you?

Start the email with a quick introduction. State your name, where you’re from, and include a link to your blog.

Don’t include any social media links or blog statistics at this point.

2. What do you want?

The next part of the email needs to immediately jump into what exactly you’re looking for. Lead by mentioning that you’re interested in staying at the hotel and you’re hoping to collaborate with the property.

I like to pose a question at this point asking if the hotel would be interested in working together during my trip.

3. What can you offer?

Immediately after the initial ask it’s the right time to share your offer. This is where you can tell the individual you emailed exactly how the hotel can benefit from giving you a free stay.

You’ll need to have completed this part of the strategy before emailing any properties. Otherwise, you won’t have an offer and no one’s going to be interested in working with you.

For me, I always offered increase online exposure and a minimum of 100 direct unique visits to the hotel website. Social media and YouTube videos were additional offers, not the main focal point of my pitch.

4. Who are you?

Now is the time to explain who you are and what your blog is about. At this point your pitch will likely be accepted or discarded so there’s no point in focusing on this information beforehand.

In a few short sentences describe your blog and your target audience. Include information about your website traffic, where your visitors are coming from, and how your blog is relevant to the hotel.

You can also include information about any social media or YouTube channels that you have. Keep it short and sweet, any interested hotels will reach out if they’re looking for more specific information.

5. Do you have proof?

This part of the email pitch is up for debate. When I first started contacting hotels I never included any proof or links to other reviews/blog posts.

Eventually I would link to relevant blog posts of mine, though i’m not sure if it made a difference.

Avoid including too many links of your collaborations. Three or less seems to be the sweet spot with this outreach strategy.

In my opinion, the hotel will make the decision to work with influencers before considering any emails. For the most part it’s a yes or no before the first word of your email is ever read.

Step 3 – Gathering Hotel Contact Info

At this point I’m ready to start looking for hotels and gathering contact information. Google is the best place to find a list of hotels in the destination you’re visiting.

Try to list as many relevant properties as possible. Don’t focus only on high-end, luxury hotels. EVERY blogger is pitching these places and your success rate won’t be very high.

Instead, look for mid-range or even budget hotels. It’s likely these places could use the help and would benefit more directly from working together with an influencer.

The benefit of reaching out to smaller and locally owned hotels is that you’re more likely to get in touch with a decision maker. You might even get lucky and have the owner responding to emails personally.

Other than Google websites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor will highlight the best places to stay for every budget. This also gives the opportunity to read reviews and find the perfect places that mesh well with your blog.

Personally, I only use Google searches to find places to stay. Other websites are good for smaller towns but generally everybody is on Google.

There’s a strategy I’ve seen online to find places using the keywords “all opinions are my own”. This isn’t something I recommend doing as it’s likely these hotels get pitched A LOT from this search query.

You’ll have better luck contacting places that haven’t worked with any bloggers or don’t work with them very often.

How many hotels should you find?

How many hotels you should contact depends on the destinations you’re visiting.

Smaller towns might only have 10 or 20 hotels and other properties you could contact. Bigger cities, like New York and London, will have hundreds of properties you could contact.

Before sending any emails it’s a good idea to have a list of 10+ places for each destination.

Step 4 – Reaching Out to Hotels

You’re now ready to start contacting your favorite hotels!

There are dozens of email outreach tools that you can use to automatically send out email pitches.

Avoid ALL of these when you’re starting out. It’s possible to make one mistake that could follow through to all your outreach emails ruining your chances at securing any free stays.

Templates are great and can save you time but always verify the contents of the email before clicking send.

Hopefully you’ve already put a short email using the information mentioned above. If not, check out the template that I use at the bottom of this post.

Don’t forget to include a subject line and verify that you’re sending the email to the right person. Any mistakes here are deal-breakers.

Pro tip – send your emails Sunday night or Monday morning depending on your time zone. People are more receptive to emails earlier in the week and are more likely to follow up with you. A Friday afternoon email might as well have never been sent.

Depending on your pitch you’ll start hearing back from hotels within a few days. If you don’t hear back, don’t worry, many places can take one or two weeks to go over your pitch and come back with an offer.

Step 5 – Follow Up/Contact More Properties

I’m hoping that at this point you’ve heard back from some hotels already. If so, that’s great!

Your next step should be to reply as soon as possible. Verify your travel dates or provide the hotel with any additional information they’re looking for.

Consider asking them to send you a booking invoice or verification so that you don’t have to worry about your stay before your departure.

If you haven’t heard back from any hotels it’s still not the time to worry.

A significant amount of my complimentary stays were received from follow up emails. The staff checking the emails are busy and don’t always have the time to respond or forward your email to the right person.

There’s nothing wrong with a gentle follow up reminding the hotel that you emailed them and wondering if they’ve had a chance to consider your offer.

This is why it’s ideal to give yourself as much time as possible. On the off-chance you didn’t get any positive replies at all you’ll still have enough time to keep reaching out to hotels.

In some cases, depending on the travel season, you might not have any luck at all. This strategy definitely works best during the low and shoulder seasons, though I’ve had great luck in the summer as well.

The worst case scenario is that you have to book something on your own. Not really a big deal, is it?

Step 6 – Fulfill Your Half of the Agreement

From the first email, to checking out, to fulfilling your half of the agreement you want to be as professional as possible throughout the entire process. If your blog and personal brand that you’re representing to this hotel and to your online audience.

Depending on what your offer was, start working on it as soon as you check out. Of course, during your stay you’re going to want to be taking photos and meeting with the right people.

Some hotels will have specific requests based on their offer. Always fulfill his requests and present yourself as a professional.

After leaving, consider sending a thank-you email to the person you were in contact with. Continue to keep them updated with your status on the offer and any interesting future developments related to your partnership.

Once you’ve completed your part of the agreement, send it to the hotel and highlight the current results. Ask them to share your content online and check if they’d be interested in linking to your travel blog or hotel review.

This isn’t a one-sided partnership. It’s a collaboration where both parties should benefit.

Helpful Questions

When should you start contacting hotels?

It’s best to start your outreach a minimum of one month before your travel dates. This gives properties time to consider your offer and discuss anything mentioned in your email.

Personally, I would start reaching out two to three months before my travel dates. The longer you wait the more issues you’re going to run into for room availability and competition from other bloggers.

How do you find the right hotel email?

Finding the right person to email, or sometimes any email at all, is the hardest part of getting complimentary hotel stays.

A surprising number of websites don’t have any contact information at all apart from a contact form. The majority might only have a contact form and a phone number.

To find emails, I recommend using the free email finder tool called Hunter. You can check out their website here and start using it right away.

With this tool you can input a website and it will give you all of the related emails to that URL. It’s super helpful for finding hotel contact info for your outreach pitches.

What’s the best time of year to pitch properties?

During the summer most hotels in popular destinations are running at close to 100% occupancy. At these times they likely won’t be interested in collaborating with bloggers unless they’re popular or relevant. to the hotel.

For the best chances at securing free stays I recommend traveling from September to April. There are less travelers and other bloggers traveling at this point so you’re more likely to land a collaboration.

The post How to Get Free Hotel Stays as a Travel Blogger appeared first on StefanRTW.

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During an early autumn motorcycle trip out to the Niagara Parkway I stumbled onto the Ridgeway Battlefield Site.

Today, it’s a National Historic Site of Canada and one of the more unique military attractions near Niagara Falls.

Personally, I’m a fan of the War of 1812 and all of the history surrounding that. Of course I was interested in the Battle of Ridgeway Park when I passed by.

At first I was surprised by the quality and detail put into the signage and facilities here at the park.

In this post we’ll take a look at what you can expect visiting the Ridgeway Battlefield Site and a quick primer on the Fenian history here in Ontario.

Who Are the Fenians?

The Fenians were members of different Irish nationalist organizations in the UK, Canada, and the United States.

The group became popular with the rise of the push for Irish independence from the British.

They didn’t hold any grudges against Canadians personally and their aim was to push Britain into granting Ireland their own independence.

The name “Fenian” was coined by their own founder, John O’Mahony, after the ancient Irish warriors known as the “Fianna Eirionn”.

For the most part, the Fenian’s were made up of veterans and young Irishman with an intense sense of nationalist pride.

Along with Ontario, this group also raided New Brunswick, Quebec, and Manitoba.

The outcome of the Fenian raids in Canada lead to the provinces joining together in a confederation. This would lead to forming the Dominion of Canada in 1867.

What Happened at the Battle of Ridgeway?

The Battle of Ridgeway is an interesting and important part of Canadian history.

On June 1st 1866, a group of Fenian raiders crossed the Niagara River from Buffalo.

These were mostly Irish-American veterans of the U.S. Civil War and had the experience to launch a small-scale attack on Canada.

Their goal was to force Britain to give Ireland its independence. The Fenians weren’t interested in capturing Canada.

Instead they were hoping to succeed by inciting violence and scaring the local population.

There was no resistance as they crossed the Niagara River with more than 1,300 men landing near Fort Erie.

At this point the Canadians were aware of the invasion. A few militias were quickly put together to defend against the Fenians.

On the morning of June 2nd the Fenians assumed a defensive position on a Limestone Ridge, close to the small town of Ridgeway.

Nearly nine hundred Canadian militia from Toronto, Hamilton, Caledonia, and York marched against the Fenians to start the battle.

Throughout the day skirmishes were fought in the area with cavalry charges, riflemen attacks, and hand-to-hand guerrilla combat taking place.

Unfortunately, the Canadian militia was poorly trained. Key mistakes were made that lead to the Fenians capturing the small town of Ridgeway.

Expecting British reinforcements to arrive shortly, the Fenians gave up Ridgeway after a few hours and retreated back to Fort Erie.

Another battle took place, the Battle of Fort Erie, with the small group of Canadian militiamen holding the town against the Fenians.

Despite their quick victories and overwhelming force at the beginning of the battles, the Fenian’s were left with no choice but to return back to the United States. A larger force of British and Canadian’s were quickly approaching.

Upon arriving back in the US more than 850 Fenians were arrested by the American authorities.

The Canadians and British Army were prevented by American gunboats from retaliating.

The Outcome of the Battle of Ridgeway

If it weren’t for the Fenians it’s doubtful that Canada would have become a confederation just over a year later.

Politicians and local newspapers greatly exaggerated the Canadian defeat at Ridgeway.

There were countless claims that Canadians or unable to defend themselves without relying heavily on the British army for support.

The easy Canadian defeat at Ridgeway added a great amount of shame to Canadian national military heritage. It took almost 25 years for the Canadian government to recognize the veterans of the battle and praise them for so graciously defending the country.

The immediate need for local defense and increased Canadian nationalism lead to the Confederation be negotiated.

The results? The Dominion of Canada being created on July 1st, 1867 – unity among all of the provinces for the first time in Canadian history.

The Battle of Ridgeway is one of the most important parts of Canadian history. This event truly defined the path for Canada to take moving forward in the future.

Ridgeway Park and the Ridgeway Battlefield National Historical Site

You can find the Ridgeway Battlefield Site on Highway 3 just outside of Fort Erie.

The park is located in Ridgeway, Ontario on Garrison Road.

Visiting the park you’ll find a number of outdoor interpretive panels that share the history of the Fenian Raids.

These panels explain the reasons of the raids, the different government responses, and the final outcome that these raids had on Canada.

To be honest, I had not even heard about the Fenian’s until I happened on this park.

It’s incredible to me that such a key piece of Canadian history can go unnoticed and unheard of by so many Canadians.

Some of the other highlights of the park include:

  • A commemorative cairn with information about the raids and a plaque dedicated to the soldiers that perished during the attack
  • A series of period paintings that give a visual account of the battle
  • Interpretive signs and a covered gazebo for picnics and relaxing
Tips for Visiting + More Information

Those of you interested in learning more about the Battle of Ridgeway will want to pay a visit to the local historical Museum.

The museum is located at 402 Ridge Road and provides a lot more insight into the Fenian Raids.

The impressive historic Fort Erie is located nearby – definitely worth a visit as well if you’re interested in War of 1812 history.

Parking at the site is free although you will want to be careful turning off of the highway into the park (there is high-speed traffic going by).

Don’t forget to check out the large mausoleum next door. This mausoleum is dedicated to the soldiers and veterans from the battle.

There aren’t any facilities nearby although Fort Erie and Niagara Falls are a short drive away.

The post The Battle of Ridgeway Park & Ridgeway Battlefield Site appeared first on StefanRTW.

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Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money travel blogging, especially when you’re just starting out.

There are countless case studies and success stories when it comes to affiliate marketing for travel bloggers.

The trick with this monetization strategy is to push through those first few months when you’re only making a few dollars a day.

As you build your travel blog and drive more traffic to your content you’re bound to start making more affiliate sales.

In this post let’s take a look at how travel bloggers can get started with affiliate marketing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

As a travel blogger I’m sure you’ve heard of affiliate marketing before – maybe you’re wondering what it’s all about?

Here’s a simple breakdown:

  1. Someone visits your website from a search engine for social media.
  2. The visitor clicks on a special “affiliate” link that you’ve added within your content.
  3. The visitor follows through the link and purchases the product or service you recommended.
  4. You earn a commission for the sales generated through your special link
Where do you get the affiliate links?

Each affiliate platform is different.

Some affiliates will give you a single link that links directly to a product or service with your affiliate ID.

Other affiliates will have unique links for each product or service available for you to promote.

Take the time to understand how each affiliate platform works before adding links to your content.

You don’t want to start generating sales and miss out on your commission because your affiliate ID wasn’t included in the link!

How Much Money Can You Make With Travel Affiliate Marketing?

It’s possible to earn thousands of dollars every day or make nothing at all after months of effort.

Thankfully, there are heaps of helpful guides and in-depth tutorials covering every aspect of making money travel blogging.

It’s easy to overcome specific problems along your blogging journey with all of the resources available out there.

So, how much can you really make with a travel affiliate site?

Most people should be able to reach $1000 per month after 6 months to 1 year of part-time effort.

This assumes you’re starting out as a total beginner without much or any blogging experience.

Once you’ve reached the $1000 per month threshold you’ll be able to continue growing your blog or try out a different strategy.

There are hundreds of affiliate programs for travel bloggers with great payouts.

Considering the growing demand of travel, this is a great niche to get into.

Why Start Affiliate Marketing?

The best part about affiliate marketing is that there are so many different niches and programs to choose from.

It seems like almost every product or service has their own affiliate offer from flights and car rentals to cruise ships and excursions.

With so many different niches this opens up a lot of opportunity to travel bloggers looking to try something new without much competition.

Using the right keyword strategy it’s still possible to find untapped verticals in the travel industry – perfect for those of you looking to get started with affiliate marketing.

Travel Keywords for Affiliate Marketing – What Are People Searching For?

With an affiliate site it’s smart to start out with “buyer” keywords.

These are keywords and search phrases where you know the person is moments away from buying something – they just need a nudge in the right direction.

This is where keyword research and great content can help you build the foundation to an amazing travel affiliate site.

There are a few different ways you can approach your keyword research strategy depending on what you’re promoting:

Product Keywords

These types of keywords are the low-hanging fruit that you can quickly rank and start earning from.

There are a seemingly endless amount of product keywords

It’s a gold mine in the travel niche with so many different travel products.

Here are some great travel product keywords to consider:

  • Best travel luggage
    Best walking shoes for Europe
    Best laptop for travel
    Best carry on rolling suitcase
    These are easy to monetize with affiliate programs like Amazon.

With the right keyword research strategy you’ll be able to find keywords with low competition that you can quickly rank for.

Flight and Hotel Keywords

The competitive nature of airlines and hotels means that he’s keywords have extremely high competition.

It’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to rank for “cheap flights to Paris” unless you have an unlimited budget.

You might be able to get away with ranking for something like “where to stay in small city”, though Google will likely show their own local results first.

It’s smart to avoid flight-based and hotel-based keywords.

Location-Specific Keywords

Starting a local travel site can be a good idea for medium-sized cities without much competition.

Otherwise, you’ll probably be out-ranked by localized results or more popular local websites.

For example, consider a keyword like “best places to eat in NYC”.

While this keyword might have a high search volume, how would you monetize visitors to that page?

You could earn a few bucks through display advertisements but it doesn’t make sense to monetize location specific keywords affiliate marketing.

How to Start Travel Affiliate Marketing

At this point I’m assuming you have your own travel blog or website already up and running.

If not, open this post on how to start a travel blog in a new tab and pop back here once you’re done following through the guide.

To build a successful travel affiliate site there are three things you need to focus on:

Keyword Selection

Choosing the right keywords can make or break your entire affiliate marketing strategy.

Look for buyer keywords – those where people are one or two steps from making a purchase.

In the travel niche there is still a lot of opportunity to find low competition keywords that you can quickly rank.

As your website grows you can start going after higher competition keywords.

Until then stick to the low-hanging fruit and focus on those quick rankings.

Creating Great Content

Great content needs to be the foundation to your travel site.

Blog about things that people are actually looking for more information on.

Stay relevant, use a lot of images, and share everything on social media.

Guest Posting (Link Building)

In the travel niche, the best way to build links is through guest posting.

Links are when someone adds a link to your website from theirs.

Each of these links is a vote in the search engine popularity contest – the more you get the higher you’ll rank in search engines.

There are countless opportunities in the travel niche, especially as travel continues to become more popular.

While the competition might be high in some verticals you can still find low competition niches with the right keyword research strategy.

Once your plan is in place, get your creating amazing content in building links – you’ll be killing it with affiliate marketing in no time!

How to Run a Successful Travel Affiliate Website

Building your own successful affiliate site in the travel niche takes hard work and requires a solid strategy.

Here are some helpful tips on developing your own affiliate marketing strategy with your travel blog:

Use Contextual Links

Contextual links are those added in your content as part of the text.

For example, here’s a contextual link that leads to another helpful blogging post (see what I did there).

These links work better than banner ads and are an effective way to start making affiliate sales.

Your visitors are more inclined to click on a link that flows naturally with the content rather than an awkwardly placed advertisement.

Focus on Great Content

Like I keep saying – great content is the foundation to any successful affiliate website.

You need to be focusing on creating great content from day one.

What do I mean by “great content”?

Here are some guidelines you should follow when you’re creating posts for your travel blog or affiliate site:

  • A minimum of 2000 words
  • Use images or videos every 300 to 500 words
  • Include affiliate links every 300 words
  • Include a CTA (Call-To-Action) and any relevant email signup forms
  • Link to other pages on your blog
  • Link to other relevant websites (not your competition)

These are some basic guidelines to help you get started with creating great content.

Don’t forget that keyword research will help you find the best travel blog post ideas if you’re having trouble with that.

The post Affiliate Marketing for Travel Bloggers appeared first on StefanRTW.

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Search engine optimization is an essential skill in the travel bloggers toolset.

When you optimize your travel blog, including blog posts, it makes your blog more visible to people using search engines.

How are these people finding your blog to begin with?

By using search engines with keywords and phrases related to the topic and content of your blog.

To show up for these searches your blog needs to be properly optimized for search engines.

Let’s take a look at some travel blogging SEO strategies that you can start using today.

There’s just one thing – don’t expect it to happen overnight.

SEO takes time to start working.

Give it a month or two before you start panicking and making rash changes on your blog.

Otherwise, let’s jump right into it!

The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Travel Blogs

Consistent traffic growth is what every travel blogger is looking for.

With enough traffic you can make money travel blogging, sell your own travel-related service, or promote your own product to an interested audience.

Optimizing your blog and blog posts for better rankings in search engines is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short.

This is one of the best strategies for marketing a travel blog and building your following.

Let’s take a look at how to optimize your travel blog for search engines!

Setup Google Search Console and Google Analytics

There are two amazing free SEO tools from Google that every travel blogger needs to be using:

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics

The data that these tools can provide is incredibly valuable.

Auditing your travel blog regularly and using the analytics data to make improvements can lead to insane growth!

Here’s some of the data you can get from these tools:

  • Exactly where your website visitors are coming from
  • Your best ranking keywords
  • Keywords with poor rankings that can be easily improved
  • The best and worst blog posts for engagement
  • How long people are spending on your blog

There is so much information you can get from these two tools to improve and streamline your travel blogging strategy.

Both Analytics and Search Console monitor the traffic to your website once they’re implemented.

It’s great to go back and compare traffic stats to see if the improvements you’ve made are actually working.

Check out these helpful guides on setting up your Google Analytics and Google Search Console tools:

Start With the Right Keyword Strategy

Keyword research is one of the most important and valuable travel blogging strategies.

Ranking for the right keywords will determine the long-term success of your blog.

Learning how to research your market’s keyword demand and find the right terms and phrases to target will lead to better rankings and more traffic from search engines.

It’s not so much about the number of visitors to your blog – it’s the quality that’s most important.

For example, think of your blogging goals and what you’re hoping to achieve by starting your travel blog.

What sort of information is your target audience looking for online?

Put yourself in their shoes and check out your competition for inspiration on finding the right keywords.

When it comes to travel blog keywords – don’t overlook the demand of the long tail keyword.

Long tail keywords are search phrases that make up three or more words with a specific focus on search intent.

There is less competition for these keyboards and they convert at a better rate with search users further along the information funnel.

Using the right keyword tools, such as Google Search or KWFinder, you can find all the best travel blogging keywords.

Optimize Your Blog Homepage

Before worrying about optimizing your blog posts for SEO you need to focus on getting the homepage up to speed.

The homepage is an important page for travel blogs.

It’s a great place to showcase your best content and include sign up forms for growing your email list.

You’ll also want to promote your top converting products or services on the homepage of your blog.

Consider using a “Static” page as the homepage to your blog rather than the default blog roll.

This gives you more control over what’s being displayed on the page and where your visitors are being directed.

In terms of what to include on your homepage, here’s what it needs:

  • Email signup form
  • Quick introduction and overview
  • Links or banners for top converting affiliate products
  • Your most popular blog posts
  • Any guides or posts you want to promote
  • High quality images

When it comes to SEO, your blog homepage should send signals to Google about the type of content you’re sharing.

This makes it easier for Google and other search engines to rank your blog based on relevance.

Using plugins like Yoast SEO you can further optimize your homepage title and description.

Too many travel bloggers overlook the importance of a solid homepage – don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Optimize Your Blog Posts for Search Engines

Each blog post needs to be optimized for better search engine rankings.

Start by submitting your travel blog sitemap to Google using the Google Search Console tool mentioned above.

Google ranks each post on your blog independently of one another based on different factors present on your website.

These on-page ranking factors include:

  • Using relevant keywords in the title tag and meta description
  • Using relevant keywords in the Headings and content
  • The length of the content (2000 words minimum for search engines)
  • Image optimization and alt-text/description keywords
  • URL structure
  • External and internal links

These are some of the important on-page ranking factors that have an impact on your travel blogs ability to rank.

Content pages, otherwise known as blog posts, act as doorways to your blog.

The more content pages you have the more visitors are going to get from search engines – especially if these pages are SEO optimized.

How do you optimize blog posts for SEO?

Here are some of the best on-page SEO strategy guides for you to take a look at:

Go through these guides and apply what you learn to your own blog.

Once you get the hang of on-page SEO it becomes a natural part of your blogging process.

Build Links for a Stronger Domain

You’ve probably heard about link building before – you might already know what it is.

If not, here’s a quick description:

  • Links to your website, also known as backlinks, act as votes in the search engine popularity contest. The more links (votes) your blog has the more popular (better ranked) it’s going to be.

Google uses the “authority” of your blog as a ranking factor to help determine its relevancy.

Links from related websites shows to Google that your blog is important and your content is helpful.

One of the metrics used to determine a website’s reputation is “Domain Authority”, or DA.

Getting backlinks from other websites, especially those with a higher domain authority, will increase the DA of your own blog.

This results in better rankings and more traffic.

This is one of the travel blogging strategies that doesn’t end – you’ll have to keep building links from day one to stay relevant and highly ranked.

Some of the best ways to build links for a travel blog include:

  • Getting recommend by other travel blogs
  • Guest posting or contributing on other travel websites
  • Pitching other bloggers and website owners for link placement
  • Creating super helpful content designed to go viral

For strategies on how to get backlinks for your blog check out this helpful guide on Backlinko.

Create Amazing Content

The foundation of your travel blog is the content that you’re sharing.

It’s this content – blog posts – that’s used to build links and drive traffic.

Without a foundation of great content it’s unlikely you’ll ever succeed with your blog.

Creating great content isn’t hard.

Instead, it takes a lot of effort and time but the process of writing detailed blog posts isn’t a difficult one.

With so many different blogs out there it’s important that yours is able to stand apart from the rest.

Here are some helpful tips on creating better content for your blog:

  • Stick to 2000 words or more

Your visitors are looking for detailed, in-depth content related to their travel issues.

There isn’t a hard limit on word count but two thousand words should be your soft target.

In this amount you can cover, in detail, most travel-related topics to provide the best guides possible for your audience.

Longer blog posts also have a better chance at ranking in search engine results.

  • Include images, videos, and links to authority sites

Use images and videos to increase engagement on your blog posts.

Large blocks of texts are hard to read and impossible to scan.

Include an image or video every 300-500 words for a better user experience.

Don’t forget to include links to other authority websites to further help your audience find what they’re looking for.

  • Inform, don’t entertain

Are you blogging to share stories or are you hoping to make money with your travel blog?

People typically aren’t interested in hearing about your experiences while traveling.

They’re looking for information that will help them with their own travel experiences.

Capitalize on this by sharing detailed, helpful information.

Mobile Friendly (Responsive) Travel Blog

It’s not surprising that more people are using search engines from their smartphones than any other device.

In the results Google displays mobile-friendly websites first.

This trend will only continue to increase as more people use their smartphone exclusively for trip planning and research.

So, how do you make your travel blog easy to use on smartphones?

It’s called “responsive design”.

This type of design displays a different type of blog page depending on how your blog is accessed.

Users are able to use a responsive website seamlessly between a desktop and smartphone with the pages properly displayed on any device.

Most travel blogging WordPress themes already Implement a responsive design.

Head over to the Google Responsive Checker tool and test your website.

If it’s not responsive, this is something you’ll want to fix immediately.

Optimize Your Meta Description for Search Engines

Your blog and each of its pages/posts has its own meta description.

This is the text that appears as part of search engine results that lets users know what each link is about.

The information here helps users determine whether or not your content is what they’re searching for.

Having an optimized meta description can improve the CTR of your blog from search engines – the higher CTR, the more traffic you’ll get.

Depending on the Google algorithm, meta descriptions can range up to 155 characters.

This is just enough space to write a relevant, compelling, and informative description that entices search engine users to visit your page and not your competition.

Here are some helpful tips on writing a good meta description for SEO:

  • Include a call-to-action
  • Write in an active voice
  • Use relevant keywords and phrases
  • Unique and doesn’t appear elsewhere

Don’t spend too much time worrying about optimizing your meta description.

When you’re finishing up your blog post take a few minutes to fill out the description on Yoast.

Check out the current top 10 results you’re competing against for inspiration if you’re having trouble with the description.

Optimize Image Alt-Text

The alt-text for blog post images is often overlooked as an aspect of travel blog SEO.

Search engines still have difficulty analyzing images and rely on the alt-text to determine what the image is about.

This content also makes for an improved user experience since the alt-text will be displayed if your images can’t be found or displayed on screen.

As for search rankings, this is a small factor but in such a competitive industry it’s important to take every advantage that you can.

How do you optimize image alt-text for SEO?

It’s simple – add a few words describing the image to the alt-text section (on WordPress).

Use relevant keywords and search phrases in the alt-text but keep an eye on your keyword use so you’re not over-optimizing anything.

For example, instead of “img395.jpg”, you would want to use something like “paris-travel-guide”.

Optimized alt-text is descriptive, relevant, and includes keywords.

Check out this helpful guide on Moz for more tips on optimizing image alt-text.

The post Travel Blog SEO: How to Rank Your Travel Blog appeared first on StefanRTW.

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Niagara Falls is the most popular tourist destination in Canada.

More people visit here than anywhere else in the country including places like Toronto, Vancouver, and our beautiful East Coast.

Is one day enough to see it all?

One Day in Niagara Falls Itinerary

In this post I want to share with you a helpful one day Niagara Falls itinerary.

This way you’ll be better equipped to make the most of your visit to this beautiful natural wonder!

The area on the Canada side shouldn’t take more than one day to explore.

There are plenty of other things to do in the Niagara region but if your focus is on the Falls themselves this is the guide for you.

Where to Stay in Niagara Falls, Ontario

There are hundreds of options for accommodation in Niagara Falls between all of the hotels, motels, and B&B’s.

Most of the best places to stay are close to the Canadian Falls and Clifton Hill.

I recommend staying somewhere that’s walking distance to most of the attractions, restaurants, and shops you want to visit.

Here are my recommendations on the best places to stay in Niagara Falls:

Budget

King’s Inn Near the Falls – Great if you’re on a budget. 15-min walk from Falls. Rates starting at $45 per night.

Mid-Range

The Rex Motel – Clean, modern hotel with updated rooms. Rates starting at $70 per night.

Luxury

Marriott Fallsview – Closest hotel to the falls. Wide range of different rooms available starting at $300 per night.

Arrive at Niagara Falls (9:00AM)

The earlier you can reach the area, park your car, and start exploring the better off you’ll be.

As the day progresses it continues to get busy around the Falls, especially during the warmer summer months.

Thousands of people are visiting every day so it’s best to arrive as early as possible!

The best thing to do after parking is to make your way to the walkway along the Niagara River.

You can walk right up to the Falls for some amazing photo opportunities.

Standing at the Falls you’ll notice that there are 3 different waterfalls pouring over the escarpment.

These are the picturesque Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the American Falls.

At the Falls is a large public building with a parking lot, Tim Hortons, washrooms, and the ticket booth for Journey Behind the Falls (A tour that takes you behind the waterfall).

Take a Hornblower Boat Cruise (10:00AM)

The Hornblower boat cruises are the best way to see the Niagara Falls up close.

The tours have been running for more than 170 years bringing people right past each of the three different waterfalls.

Prices for the most popular “Voyage to the Falls” boat tour are $25 for adults.

This includes admission on to the 700 passenger catamaran, mist poncho, complimentary elevator ride, and access to the Hornblower Riverside patio.

With just one day this is one of those MUST-DO experiences that you don’t want to miss.

It’s hard to describe the thunderous roar and earthy vibrations as the boat cruises by the millions of gallons of water flowing over the escarpment into the Niagara River beside you.

Head to the Niagara Cruises website here to book your tickets for this amazing boat tour!

It’s a good idea to book tickets for this Cruise in advance – this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Niagara Falls.

Explore Clifton Hill (11:30AM)

Clifton Hill is the main tourist shopping area.

There are dozens of restaurants, quirky tourist attractions, and interesting stores that you can check out.

This is the best place to grab souvenirs like maple syrup maple candy, Tim Hortons, or really cheap tourist t-shirts.

Some of the other highlights of Clifton Hill include:

  • Niagara SkyWheel (large, modern ferris wheel that offers amazing views of the Falls)
  • Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks (cool wax museum, great for kids)
  • Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!
  • Nightmares Fear Factory (the best spot for some quick scares)
  • Fudge Factory (fudge and a vast selection of candy)

Thinking about lunch yet?

One of the places I’d recommend for first-time visitors to the falls is the Rainforest Cafe – it’s a fun place to eat if you’ve never been!

The Bird Kingdom (1:00PM)

Five minutes from Clifton Hill, right beside the US Border entrance, is the Niagara Falls Bird Kingdom.

This is the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world and it’s full of hundreds of tropical birds.

When you’re inside you can explore a multi-level rainforest on different open-air pathways for the best bird experience.

There are parrots, toucans, owls, bats, and other interesting creatures.

This is a great place to visit if you’re looking for things to do in Niagara Falls with kids.

The bird kingdom is open daily between 9AM and 6PM.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $14 for children. You can save $3 per ticket if you buy online.

Hike the Niagara Gorge (3:00PM)

There are more than 4 km of rugged trails winding through the deep Niagara Gorge.

The Niagara Glen Park offers a number of different opportunities for outdoor activity.

Bouldering is a popular local hobby with climbers visiting every day to test their skills on the Escarpment.

Thinking of climbing? Visit the Nature Centre to pick up a Bouldering Permit.

During the summer there are guided hiking tours available with a Niagara Parks Naturalist.

These tours are great for familiarizing yourself with the local geology, plant, and animal life while learning more about the history and impact of the falls.

Ride the Whirlpool Aero Car (5:00PM)

The Whirlpool Aero Car is an attraction here you don’t want to miss.

Suspended from 6 cables, a cable car whisks you across the Niagara Gorge offering amazing views of the Niagara Whirlpool and River down below.

The round trip takes about 10 minutes with the cable car turning around halfway through the journey.

Up to 35 people can stand on a cable car and there is plenty of room to take photos of the scenery.

Tickets for the Whirlpool Aero Car cost $15 per person with the rides running between April and November.

Head to Niagara-on-the-Lake for Dinner (6:30PM)

Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the oldest and prettiest small towns in Ontario.

Sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River, it’s worth it to consider doing a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake all on its own.

In town you’ll find a beautiful tree-lined main street with picturesque and well-preserved 19th century buildings.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is only 30 minutes away. Those of you driving will enjoy the scenery along the Niagara River Parkway.

There are plenty of options for parking once you get there.

Looking for alternative transportation?

It’s possible to take a shuttle from the falls using the WEGO Shuttle Services.

If you get the chance, Niagara-on-the-Lake is an incredible place to visit even if just for a few hours!

Tips for Visiting Niagara Falls

Tip #1: Don’t Visit During the Summer

I’ll be honest, the crowds are crazy during the summer.

By 9AM it’s already packed and thousands of people are wandering around everywhere.

It also gets really hot in Southern Ontario, especially in July and August when you can expect temperatures upwards of 30°C.

When’s the best time to visit Niagara Falls?

October to April and avoiding major holidays is the ideal time to visit.

Kids are in school and there are generally less people traveling during this time.

You’ll find better deals and lower prices for tours and accommodation during the off-season.

What’s the best day to visit Niagara Falls?

The middle of the week is when you’ll find the best deals.

This is also when the least amount of people will be out traveling.

You’ll have the best opportunities for photos and exploring without too many tourists around.

Personally, I’d recommend visiting on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to avoid the weekend crowds.

Tip #2: Don’t Overpay for Fixed Rate Parking ($10-$15 MAX)

The best place to park in Niagara Falls are the fixed rate parking lots.

These are dozens of parking lots. They aren’t hard to find once you arrive.

Start looking for parking close to Clifton Hill and avoid using any of the hotel lots.

The hotels for overcharging for parking so you’re better off avoiding them.

Tip #3: Read Reviews Online Before Spending Money

The Tim Hortons on Clifton Hill charges more than the locations everywhere else.

Some restaurants also charge a “tourist tax” that can add up to a signification amount of your bill.

Surprising, right?

This was something I didn’t expect to find when visiting the Falls.

It’s a sleazy way to get more money out of tourists.

Before spending money ANYWHERE pull out your phone and look up reviews.

Seriously, you just have to do a quick Google search for the specific location.

One of the first results will be Google Reviews and it doesn’t even take a minute to read the first few.

This is the most practical way to find honest places to visit and it’s a strategy I use whenever I’m traveling to avoid getting scammed or overpaying.

The post How to Spend One Day in Niagara Falls, Ontario appeared first on StefanRTW.

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Last updated: July 2018

Planning a trip to Salzburg? Save $35 on your first AirBnb booking:

http://www.airbnb.ca/c/spidruczny

Most people planning a trip to Salzburg probably know about the Sound of Music or the birthplace of Mozart.

These are just two of the many different things to do in Salzburg.

Surprisingly, this historic Austrian city has a lot to offer its visitors.

I was there during the winter, in December, and it was amazing. Who doesn’t love backpacking Europe in the winter, right?

There’s the picturesque city skyline standing over  banks of the Salzach River. The river meanders on while the Old Town, or Altstadt,  beckons you over to explore.

Looking up you’re bound to be impressed by the medieval fortress overlooking the town. Once you’re up there you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding Austrian Alps.

So what makes Salzburg so impressive?

During World War II nearly 50% of the buildings in the city were destroyed. The historic medieval bridges and the Salzburg Cathedral dome were left in ruins.

Thankfully, almost everything else was left untouched. Most of the buildings with Baroque architecture were unharmed!

This resulted in Salzburg becoming one of the best preserved cities in Europe. In 1997 this was globally recognized with the city being given UNESCO World Heritage status.

That’s enough of me rambling on! In this post I want to share with you the highlights as well as some of the best things to do in Salzburg.

This way you’ll be better equipped to make the most of your trip to Austria.

Let’s jump right into it!

Where to Stay in Salzburg

Finding the right place to stay can be a stressful part of the trip planning process.

To make things easier for you I’ve put together a quick list of some great places to stay in Salzburg.

Budget
  • ACHAT Plaza Zum Hirschen – Elegant hotel just 5-minutes from the main train station. Double rooms starting at $80 per night.)
Mid-Range
  • Hotel Goldgasse – Modern, upscale hotel in the historic old town – perfect for exploring. Queen rooms starting at $160 per night.)
Luxury
  • Hotel Sacher Salzburg – The most grand hotel in Salzburg. Ultra-luxurious rooms with incredible views. Double rooms starting at $770 per night.)

Would you prefer a local experience? Then consider booking an apartment or private room on AirBnb!

Sign up using my referral code here and get up $45 off your first trip!

How to Get Around in Salzburg

For the most part you can walk everywhere in Salzburg.

The majority of the popular tourist sites are all within a few kilometers of one another.

During the warmer months consider renting a bicycle in Salzburg.

The city is the cycling capital of Austria. It’s quick and easy to explore the city on bike and get out into some natural areas as well.

Otherwise, the bus is the best mode of public transportation in the city.

24-hour tickets are available if you’re going to be riding the bus more than three times. Tickets can be purchased at the machines beside any of the stops.

If you’re interested in checking out the sights I mention in this post then I highly recommend picking up a Salzburg Card.

It offers free-entry and discounts to many of the sights, attractions and landmarks in the city and it’s definitely worth it if you’re visiting for two or three days. 

Whether you’re visiting because of your love of The Sound of Music or you’re just interested in exploring a new Austrian city here are 10 of the best things to see in Salzburg during your trip.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

The Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the highlights of Salzburg.

Built in 1077, it’s the one of the largest and best preserved fortresses in Europe.

At first was a much smaller stone structure overlooking the city. Today, the Fortress is a sprawling defensive structure with a commanding position in the city center.

Reaching the Fortress is easy. There is a funicular ride if you’re feeling lazy or it’s a 15-minute scenic walk up a wooded path.

At the top you’ll find some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. It’s here where you’ll get the best views of Salzburg as well, especially on a clear day.

Some of the other highlights of the Fortress include the Marionette Museum, the Fortress Museum, and the Golden Hall.

Take your time to walk around and explore the exhibits. There is a small cafe and restaurant at the Fortress for refreshments

Cost: Adult €15.50 (Entrance included in your Salzburg Card)

Hours: October to April 09:30-17:00 | May to September 09:00-19:00

More Infohttps://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/hohensalzburg-castle/

The Mozart Museum

The Mozart Museum can be found at Getreidegasse 9 in the heart of the Salzburg Old Town.

This beautiful house was used by the Mozart family for more than 26 years. On January 27th, 1756 its in this very house that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born!

Today, the museum features a number of different Mozart related exhibits.

Visitors are able to see the different instruments Mozart used and other interesting items from his life.

Despite not being interested in classical music I found the museum to be interesting. It provides a unique insight into life during that time period.

  • Cost: Adult €11.00 (free with the Salzburg Card)
  • Hours: July to August 08:30-19:00 | September to June 09:00-17:30
  • More Info: https://mozarteum.at/en/museums/
The Salzburg Cathedral

The Salzburg Cathedral is one of the biggest, and most impressive, churches Austria.

In 774 the first religious structure was built on this site. Over the years it was destroyed, renovated, and rebuilt.

During the seventeenth Century it was rebuilt again in a Baroque architectural style – this is the Salzburg Cathedral that you see today.

One thing you should know is that Mozart was baptized here just one day after he was born!

Despite all of the changes the Salzburg Cathedral has remained an important symbol of the city.

The cathedral is generally open throughout the year between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m..

Entrance to the inside is free. Guided tours for adults are €5.

More Info: https://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/churches-cemeteries/salzburger-cathedral

St.Peter’s and the Catacombs

The St. Peter’s Complex was founded in the second century. Since then the church, cemetery, and abbey have remained spiritual center of Salzburg.

It’s at the cemetery where you can explore the catacombs.

The catacombs were carved out of the small mountain in the city, Monchsberg.

For hundreds of years they were developed and used as hermitage’s, burial sites, and a shelter for those looking to escape religious persecution.

These are some of the best preserved early Christian catacombs in Europe.

Cost: €2 (Free with Salzburg Card)
Hours: May-September: daily 10 am-12:30 pm, 1 pm-6 pm | October-April: daily 10 am-12:30 pm, 1 pm-5 pm | Closed: Jan. 1, Dec. 24-26, Dec. 31
More Info: https://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/churches-cemeteries/st-peters-monastery-cemetery

Monchsberg

Similar to Festungsberg, Mönchsberg is another mountain in Salzburg and looms more than 500m above the city.

In English it’s called “Monks Mountain” and got its name from the local Benedictine monks that occupy the St.Peter’s Abbey near the northern foot of the mountain.

Monchsberg and 4 other mountains in the area make up the 5 mountains that Salzburg was built around.

In between 1764 and 1766 a tunnel was built through the mountain and acted as one of the city’s main gates.

During World War II there were air raid shelters carved out of the mountain that could be accessed through this tunnel and today it’s one of the oldest street tunnels still in use in Central Europe.

At the top of Monchsberg is a large, forested park area that’s frequented by both tourists and locals looking to partake in some outdoor recreation.

When I was there in December there was only a few other people walking their dogs and during the colder winter months you’ll likely have the entire place to yourself if you want to hike around and explore.

During the summer there are many tourists that visit this forest to relax and escape the crowds of the Old Town below.

Also at the top you’ll find one of the locations of the Museum of Modern Art along with a small café/restaurant.

In the summer there is a large terrace adjacent to the restaurant but all year long the walkway along the edge of the mountain offers an incredible panoramic view the Old Town and Hohensalzburg Castle.

I think there’s a way to reach the top on foot but it’s easy to reach from the Old Town through an elevator that runs through the center of the mountain itself.

An ascent and descent on the Monchsberg Lift costs €3.60 but it’s free if you have a Salzburg Card.

The Augustiner Brauhaus in the Mulln Monastery

Since 1621 the Mulln Monastery has been brewing beer for the city and all of Austria.

The famous beer, Augustiner, is a local and national favorite and the delicious recipe has been kept secret and guarded for nearly 400 years. Augustiner gets its unique flavor from the traditional and environmentally friendly brewing technique that has been perfected over the centuries.

Today, the Mulln Monastery houses the Augustiner Brauhaus known as the Braustubl.

For many people this is one of their favorite things to do in Salzburg and is an interesting and unique drinking establishment worth checking out.

It’s the largest beer inn in the entire country and beer is poured into intricately designed steins from wooden barrels – a historic and long-standing tradition.

Along with beer you can also enjoy a variety of local, tasty snacks that you’ll be able to purchase from a small arcade lined with shops and market stalls known as the Schmankerlgang.

These snacks are a great addition to the drinking experience and really add another level of enjoyment to a visit to one of the oldest breweries in the country.

The Mirabell Gardens

First opened to the public in 1854, the Mirabellgarten is an absolutely magical place to visit!

Fans of The Sound of Music will immediately noticed the scenery at the gardens. A number of different scenes were filmed here and this is a popular stop on The Sound of Music tours!

For the rest of you, the Mirabellgarten is a great way to escape the hectic tourist-crowds of the city center.

The beautifully manicured and geometric rearranged gardens are peaceful and stunning.

Don’t miss the famous hedge at Mirabellgarten.

This hedge, which runs along one side of the garden, was designed between 1704 and 1718. This is supposedly one of the oldest landscaped hedges in the world – what a cool fact!

Everything else from the patterned flower beds to the bright colors everywhere you look makes this one of the best places to visit in Salzburg.

Make sure to bring your camera. The uninterrupted views from the Mirabell Garden of the Hohensalzburg Fortress are incredible!

Cost: Free (Tours are available)

Hours: 06:00-dusk daily

More Info: https://www.salzburg.info/en/sights/top10/mirabell-palace-gardens

The Sound of Music

Fans of The Sound of Music are going to love Salzburg with all of its scenes from the famous movie.

The Mirabell Gardens are one of the popular stops for movie scenes. There are a number of other filming locations throughout the city that you can check out.

Rather than having to navigate to the different sites on your own it’s a good idea to go on a guided tour.

The one I recommend is called The Original Sound of Music Tour. This is a half day tour that brings you to some of the best places from the movie.

Enjoy the scenery while being whisked around on a coach bus. Music from the movie soundtrack will be playing on the bus to give you an even better experience!

Some of the stops on this tour include:

  • The Lake District (mountain scenes)
  • Mondsee (a small town nearby where Maria was married)
  • Hellbrunn Palace (the gazebo from the movie)
  • Leopoldskron Palace (boating scene and von Trapp house)

Prices for tours are reasonable. Expect to pay around $50 USD for a half-day tour with transportation included.

These tours are the best way to experience The Sound of Music highlights in Salzburg!

The Getreidegasse Neighborhood

In the north-western area of the Old Town is where you’ll find the Getreidegasse neighborhood.

This is one of the most picturesque and affluent neighborhoods in the city center.

The neighborhood is full of well-preserved historic buildings and quiet passageways with small shops, cafes, and boutiques.

This is a great place to pick up some local souvenirs. Those of you not interested in shopping will still find Getreidegasse a wonderful place to explore.

What I love most about Getreidegasse are the wrought-iron guild signs above each of the shops. They’re all so intricately designed and unique in their own way!

During the Christmas holidays a number of markets pop up inside the passageways.

Check out my Salzburg Christmas Market video if you’re planning to visit during this time.

Take your time to explore all of the courtyards and arcades in this neighborhood – they’re wonderful!

The post THE TOP 17 THINGS TO DO IN SALZBURG, AUSTRIA appeared first on StefanRTW.

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During an early autumn motorcycle trip out to the Niagara Parkway I stumbled onto the Ridgeway Battlefield Site.

Today, it’s a National Historic Site of Canada and one of the more unique military attractions near Niagara Falls.

Personally, I’m a fan of the War of 1812 and all of the history surrounding that. Of course I was interested in the Battle of Ridgeway Park when I passed by.

At first I was surprised by the quality and detail put into the signage and facilities here at the park.

In this post we’ll take a look at what you can expect visiting the Ridgeway Battlefield Site and a quick primer on the Fenian history here in Ontario.

Who Are the Fenians?

The Fenians were members of different Irish nationalist organizations in the UK, Canada, and the United States.

The group became popular with the rise of the push for Irish independence from the British.

They didn’t hold any grudges against Canadians personally and their aim was to push Britain into granting Ireland their own independence.

The name “Fenian” was coined by their own founder, John O’Mahony, after the ancient Irish warriors known as the “Fianna Eirionn”.

For the most part, the Fenian’s were made up of veterans and young Irishman with an intense sense of nationalist pride.

Along with Ontario, this group also raided New Brunswick, Quebec, and Manitoba.

The outcome of the Fenian raids in Canada lead to the provinces joining together in a confederation. This would lead to forming the Dominion of Canada in 1867.

What Happened at the Battle of Ridgeway?

The Battle of Ridgeway is an interesting and important part of Canadian history.

On June 1st 1866, a group of Fenian raiders crossed the Niagara River from Buffalo.

These were mostly Irish-American veterans of the U.S. Civil War and had the experience to launch a small-scale attack on Canada.

Their goal was to force Britain to give Ireland its independence. The Fenians weren’t interested in capturing Canada.

Instead they were hoping to succeed by inciting violence and scaring the local population.

There was no resistance as they crossed the Niagara River with more than 1,300 men landing near Fort Erie.

At this point the Canadians were aware of the invasion. A few militias were quickly put together to defend against the Fenians.

On the morning of June 2nd the Fenians assumed a defensive position on a Limestone Ridge, close to the small town of Ridgeway.

Nearly nine hundred Canadian militia from Toronto, Hamilton, Caledonia, and York marched against the Fenians to start the battle.

Throughout the day skirmishes were fought in the area with cavalry charges, riflemen attacks, and hand-to-hand guerrilla combat taking place.

Unfortunately, the Canadian militia was poorly trained. Key mistakes were made that lead to the Fenians capturing the small town of Ridgeway.

Expecting British reinforcements to arrive shortly, the Fenians gave up Ridgeway after a few hours and retreated back to Fort Erie.

Another battle took place, the Battle of Fort Erie, with the small group of Canadian militiamen holding the town against the Fenians.

Despite their quick victories and overwhelming force at the beginning of the battles, the Fenian’s were left with no choice but to return back to the United States. A larger force of British and Canadian’s were quickly approaching.

Upon arriving back in the US more than 850 Fenians were arrested by the American authorities.

The Canadians and British Army were prevented by American gunboats from retaliating.

The Outcome of the Battle of Ridgeway

If it weren’t for the Fenians it’s doubtful that Canada would have become a confederation just over a year later.

Politicians and local newspapers greatly exaggerated the Canadian defeat at Ridgeway.

There were countless claims that Canadians or unable to defend themselves without relying heavily on the British army for support.

The easy Canadian defeat at Ridgeway added a great amount of shame to Canadian national military heritage. It took almost 25 years for the Canadian government to recognize the veterans of the battle and praise them for so graciously defending the country.

The immediate need for local defense and increased Canadian nationalism lead to the Confederation be negotiated.

The results? The Dominion of Canada being created on July 1st, 1867 – unity among all of the provinces for the first time in Canadian history.

The Battle of Ridgeway is one of the most important parts of Canadian history. This event truly defined the path for Canada to take moving forward in the future.

Ridgeway Park and the Ridgeway Battlefield National Historical Site

You can find the Ridgeway Battlefield Site on Highway 3 just outside of Fort Erie.

The park is located in Ridgeway, Ontario on Garrison Road.

Visiting the park you’ll find a number of outdoor interpretive panels that share the history of the Fenian Raids.

These panels explain the reasons of the raids, the different government responses, and the final outcome that these raids had on Canada.

To be honest, I had not even heard about the Fenian’s until I happened on this park.

It’s incredible to me that such a key piece of Canadian history can go unnoticed and unheard of by so many Canadians.

Some of the other highlights of the park include:

  • A commemorative cairn with information about the raids and a plaque dedicated to the soldiers that perished during the attack
  • A series of period paintings that give a visual account of the battle
  • Interpretive signs and a covered gazebo for picnics and relaxing
Tips for Visiting + More Information

Those of you interested in learning more about the Battle of Ridgeway will want to pay a visit to the local historical Museum.

The museum is located at 402 Ridge Road and provides a lot more insight into the Fenian Raids.

The impressive historic Fort Erie is located nearby – definitely worth a visit as well if you’re interested in War of 1812 history.

Parking at the site is free although you will want to be careful turning off of the highway into the park (there is high-speed traffic going by).

Don’t forget to check out the large mausoleum next door. This mausoleum is dedicated to the soldiers and veterans from the battle.

There aren’t any facilities nearby although Fort Erie and Niagara Falls are a short drive away.

The post The Battle of Ridgeway Park & Ridgeway Battlefield Site appeared first on StefanRTW.

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