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Category: Cities & Culture

Traveler’s Guide to Vatican City

Vatican is the smallest country in the world, both in size and the population. It’s also one of the richest in a cultural sense as some of the world’s most…

Vatican is the smallest country in the world, both in size and the population. It’s also one of the richest in a cultural sense as some of the world’s most celebrated works are located here.

The Vatican City is home to the St. Peter’s basilica and the Vatican Museums – the most famous attractions of the country. However, the vicinity of Vatican is the best stationary option. I recommend Borgo Pio neighborhood which is the closest to the Vatican and has great dining options.

Check out this traveler’s guide to Vatican City

Attractions

Vatican Museums

As a first time visitor you will need around 4-5 hours to explore the Vatican Museums. They are home to some of the world’s best art collections and your visit will surely be unforgettable. Come in the morning (around 9am is the best) as crowds are the worst between 11am to 2pm.

Vatican Museum stairs

Here are some tips for your visit;

If you decide to join a tour group you can pass directly from the Sistine Chapel through to the St. Peter’s Basilica. This is not possible if you are an individual visitor so you’ll have to approach the basilica from the St. Peter’s Square.

Don’t buy tickets offered to you outside the Vatican Museums. Many of these guides are not authorized and they sell tickets that are more expensive than the museum’s official tickets.

Traveler's Guide to Vatican city

The statue of Laocoön and His Sons

Book your ticket online to avoid the waiting lines. The reservation fee for online booking is 4 EUR but that’s nothing considering that many people wait 2-3 hours to enter. I’ve bought an online ticket and the whole process took just 10 minutes. The security will scan your ticket and you’re ready to go. Just don’t forget to print your email confirmation. The full price ticket is 16 EUR and the reduced one is 8 EUR. Reduced price is for students up to 25 years old. Admission is free on last Sunday of month.

Arrive early, around 9am is good time.

The Collection of Modern Religious Art - Vatican Museums

The Collection of Modern Religious Art

Come with a guide. Vatican is crowded with tourists and some exhibitions are not very well labeled. I’ve used Lonely Planet’s Rome guide but you can also buy a guide at Vatican’s official shops as few are spread over the museum.

The Vatican Museums exhibition

You can also visit the Vatican gardens but you will need to join a guided tour.

St. Peter’s Basilica

The center of Catholic world this church is one of the most grandiose in Italy. It also displays some magnificent works of art such as Pieta by Michelangelo and Bernini’s baldachin. The original basilica was located beneath the current one and commissioned by the emperor Constantine in 349. You can climb the dome and enjoy the stunning rooftop views of Rome.

The St. Peter's Basilica

Vatican Grottoes (a burial place for popes) can also be visited for free and they are located beneath the basilica.

And here’s an interesting fact… Did you know that the world’s largest church is not the St. Peter’s Basilica but the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro in the Ivory Coast? Take a look at how they compare.

West Ponente - St. Peter's Square

West Ponente is relief by Bernini also known as the Breath of God.

Castel Sant’Angelo

This fortress was built as the mausoleum for the Hadrian’s family but in the 6th century it was converted into papal fortress. Today it serves as a museum and has a collection of paintings, sculpture and military weapons. You can get to the top of the castle that offers great views over Rome.

Castel Sant’Angelo Rome

Where to stay

I’ve stayed in the Trianon Borgo Pio apartments which are located in the Borgo Pio neighborhood – the one closest to the Vatican. It’s just a five minutes walk from the Vatican Museums and the St. Peter’s basilica. It’s also on the metro line so the location is wonderful.

Trianon Borgo Pio apartments

Trianon Borgo Pio has 45 comfortable apartments tailored to meet the needs and budget of every traveler. They have studio and 1-bedroom apartments if you are on a budget but deluxe apartments as well. You can take a look at their full offer. The rooms are beautiful and spacious and the kitchen is well equipped so you can prepare delicious meals after busy time spent sightseeing. There’s a microwave, kettle, fridge, oven and other appliances. Rooms also have WiFi which is very important to me.

Trianon Borgo Pio apartments room

Trianon Borgo Pio apartments kitchen

Trianon Borgo Pio also offers a living room, internet room, library and fitness gym! Laundry service is also available and the building has two elevators. It’s almost like a hotel.

Trianon Borgo Pio apartments living room

Trianon Borgo Pio apartments fitness gym

Hosts are amazing and always ready to help! You can ask them anything and the luggage room is always available for guests.

With such close location to the Vatican, modern equipment and great hosts I genuinely recommend this facility if you plan to station yourself nearby Vatican.

You can also check out their profile page on Booking.com

Eating & Drinking

If you are on a budget Borgo has excellent takeaways and you can always opt for a pizza by the slice and gelato. There are also plenty of restaurants in the area to eat. Vatican Museums also has several cafes as well. The one that’s before the entrance to the Sistine Chapel has a good selection of sandwiches, desserts and coffee. It’s a great stop to make before entering the Sistine Chapel.

Roman Pizza

The area around Vatican is quiet and you won’t find many interesting bars or clubs so better head to Trastevere area. However one of Italy’s best jazz bars is located in Prati area around Vatican and it’s called Alexanderplatz.

In general there are a lot of excellent shops and restaurants here, but it’s not the best area for nightlife.

Transportation

Rome only has two metro lines and buses are more often your best bet for moving around. If you decide to use metro you’ll need A line which goes to Ottaviano-San Pietro station. Bus 40 is the best option if you’re going to Vatican from Termini station.

Don’t forget to check out EuroTribe’s travel guide to the Ancient Rome neighborhood and the travel guide to Trastevere area.

Do you have any travel tips for the Vatican area? Feel free to comment below.

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Travel Guide to the Ancient Rome Neighborhood

The Ancient Rome neighborhood is one of the best places to stay while in the Italian capital. The other two are Vatican and its vicinity and Trastevere – currently the…

The Ancient Rome neighborhood is one of the best places to stay while in the Italian capital. The other two are Vatican and its vicinity and Trastevere – currently the most hip place in Rome. Separate guides on these two areas will be published soon as well.

The Ancient Rome area is filled by tourists during the day but quiet during the night which makes it ideal for discovering eating and drinking options. And of course, this is the area where everything started – where by legend, Romulus killed Remus and founded the new city called Rome.

Some of the best attractions are located here so if you are coming to Rome for a city break it’s a wise choice to choose this area. That’s because all the attractions are within walking distance from each other. Colosseum, The Roman Forum, Palatino, Piazza Venezia are all located here.

Travel guide to the Ancient Rome neighborhood

Attractions

To explore the area start from the Colosseum as from here you can easily go to Roman Forum and the Palatino. The best times to visit these attractions are in the morning (around 9am) or late afternoon. The crowds are the worst from 11am to 2pm.

Colosseum

The most popular Ancient sight of Rome and maybe the whole world, Colosseum amazes with its size and history. When the Colosseum was completed in 80 AD, Titus who was Vespasian’s successor decided to mark this event by staging games that would last 100 days and nights. It’s here where the gladiators fought off wild beasts and where more than 5000 animals were slaughtered.

Rome Colosseum

Tip #1 : If you are coming as an individual visitor either buy an audio guide or come with your own. There’s not enough text inside the Colosseum for individual visitors so you may feel a bit lost. Definitely invest in a guide. I used Lonely Planet’s Rome guide. I love their guides and I use them often on my travels. You can also buy various guides at the Colosseum and Roman Forum bookshops.

Colosseum from the inside

Tip #2: You can buy the ticket for Colosseum online which I recommend so you can skip the waiting lines. For 12 EUR you can buy the combined ticket for Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine. The reservation fee for online purchase is just 2 EUR. If you are between 18 and 25 years old and you come from an EU country you can get a reduced ticket which costs 7.50 EUR.

Colosseum from the inside 2

Palatino

One of Rome’s seven hills, Palatino is a place where Romulus founded Rome in 753 BC. Visit the Museo Palatino while you are here. It showcases a collection of finds from this area. Buy the ticket online.

Palatino Rome

Roman Forum

Nowadays Roman Forum is a place of impressive ruins- basilicas, temples, public spaces etc. It’s here where you will feel like you’re back in a far faaar history. In the past everything was happening here. It was the location of Senate, religious complexes and market places.

Roman Forum

Tip #1 – Roman Forum is another badly labeled place unfortunately. What I’ve said for Colosseum also applies here. Get a guide.

Tip #2 – The best views of the Roman Forum are from Palatino hill.

Roman Forum 2

Capitoline Museums

These are ones of the world’s oldest national museums. Their focus is on ancient sculpture but there’s also a picture gallery with some wonderful works of Italian artists. Capitoline Wolf and Bernini’s Medusa are the most famous works.

Medusa

Il Vittoriano

This massive white marble monument can be seen almost from any point in the city. Yet, locals don’t like it because it doesn’t fit nicely with the environment. Indeed, the building looks like an interloper compared to the other buildings that surround it. It hosts the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and inside there’s a free museum documenting Italian unification called Museo Centrale del Risorgiment. Outside the building there’s a lift that can take you to the top of the monument for Rome’s 360-degree views. Ticket costs 7 EUR. The queue is long so I wasn’t bothered to wait as there are also other great viewing points like Gianicolo Hill (free).

Il Vittoriano Rome

Tip #1 – Just next to the Aracoeli staircase (at the Piazza Venezia) are the ruins of the Roman insula (apartment block). They can be easy to miss but these ruins are very interesting as they provide an insight into the conditions in which the Romans lived.

Detail from the Roman Insula

Bocca della Verita

If you’ve watched a movie called Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn you might remember a scene in front of Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth). Legend says that if you put your hand in the carved mouth and say a lie, that it will bite your hand off. Bocca della Verita is located in one of Rome’s most beautiful medieval churches called Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

La famosa boca de la verdad

Circo Massimo

A place where chariot races were held Circo Massimo used to be the largest stadium in Ancient Rome that could host 250,000 people. Nowadays is a popular space for joggers.

Circus Maximus park view

Imperial Forums

Imperial Forums were constructed between 42 BC and AD 112 and they represent a series of public squares that were the center of the Roman Empire. Don’t miss the Trajan’s Column which depicts the victory over the Dacians.

Imerial Forums Rome

Where to stay

Marco Aurelio 49 Apartments is one of the best places I’ve stayed in Europe, mainly because of its modern design. I like when a place pays special attention to this. They were also extremely organized and well stocked so I doubt you’ll find anything missing here. Kitchen is equipped with trendy appliances so you can enjoy preparing your meals after long sightseeing and the bedrooms are spacious and modern.

Marco Aurelio apartments Hiroshige suite

Hiroshite suite Marco Aurelio

Location is superb, just five minutes from the Colosseum and even though this area is full of tourists during the day, the apartment is still located in a quiet residential area.

I’ve stayed in Hiroshige suite that also has a balcony with a lovely view of Rome. This suite can host up to 4 people so it’s ideal for families or group of friends.

Hiroshite suite Marco Aurelio Rome

Facility also provides free wifi which is extremely important for me, iPad (yes!), nespress machine (George Clooney’s edition) with coffee pods etc. In short – they paid so much attention to the details which I loved. The people at the front desk and the cleaners were also extremely helpful.

Hiroshite suite Marco Aurelio

Hiroshite suite Marco Aurelio Rome

It’s also one of the rare places that really looks exactly like it’s shown on the photos.

Overall, it’s one of the nicest places I’ve stayed in Europe in terms of decor and hospitality and I genuinely recommend Marco Aurelio. You can check their official website here or their Booking.com profile.

Eating & Drinking

This area gets really quiet during the night and restaurants tend to be touristy and overpriced so I recommend self-catering. There’s a Carrefour supermarket close to the Colosseum where you can also get quick grabs like pizza or sandwiches. There’s nothing specially interesting here in terms of nightlife so if you are into bar hopping go to Trastevere.

margherita D.O.C.

Ice Cream

No visit to Rome is complete without eating ice cream and a great place to try it in this neighborhood is at Olive Dolci. It’s a vegan ice cream shop with a few tables and chairs inside so you can also have a seat. Olive Dolci offers many interesting flavors. I tried the pomegranate and baobab but if you are not in the mood for weird or new flavors you can always opt for the classy ones such as hazelnut or chocolate. They even have olive oil, figs, licorice and others. Don’t miss it!

LGBT

This area is home to ‘The Gay Street’ which is designed as an LGBT friendly neighborhood. It’s located just next to the Colosseum and is filled with bars, restaurants and accommodation options. The street even has its official website that you can visit here. It’s probably the best to sit outside as the atmosphere inside the bars looks too clubby and you can watch the Colosseum in all its glory.

Transportation

Rome only has two metro lines so using it is not the best option as it doesn’t go through the city center. However the line B has a stop at the Colosseum and there are many buses that stop at Piazza Venezia so this is your best bet for moving around. Again, everything’s within walking distance but if you are going a bit further definitely take a bus.

Don’t forget to check out EuroTribe’s travel guide to the Vatican City and the travel guide to Trastevere area.

Do you have any specific recommendations or tips for this area? Feel free to comment below.

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7 Reasons To Visit Lapland Even If You Hate Winter

This guest post is by Tihana, a blogger behind the Wandering Polka Dot, a personal travel/lifestyle blog where she shares her love for travel and all other endeavours. You might…

This guest post is by Tihana, a blogger behind the Wandering Polka Dot, a personal travel/lifestyle blog where she shares her love for travel and all other endeavours. You might stop by to check out her advice for travel on a budget, city guides and experiences living abroad. Oh, there are also packing tips as you’re bound to have them after dragging the literal burden across a country in three weeks. 


 

If you had unlimited funds to travel, and a decent slot of time, and a person or two you could travel with (if solo travel is not your thing) – where would you go?

Let me guess. OK, I won’t really be guessing your exact destination, but it will probably be something that (in perspective) sparks joy. If you like summer, chances are it will be a seaside country. If you’re a city type, a bustling metropolis might be your choice. If you’re into active vacation, skiing, paddling, paragliding? You get it.

Yet I once made a choice totally unexpected for me. It was back when I lived in Finland and I booked a trip to Lapland in December. Honestly? It scared me a bit. Now let me back this up: I hate winter. I hate snow in the city, I hate how unsafe I feel walking in the iced streets, I hate the cold, the short days – everything.

Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

At least that’s what I thought before the trip. Why I booked it then? For the sake of travel, of course. And as an organized traveler that I am, I was quite informed in advance. The Lapland trip did sound interesting. What I didn’t know is that it is also one of the most magical trips you can ever take. Yep – coming from a person who up to that moment hated winter. So you know you could trust me on this!

Finnish Lapland is the largest and the northernmost region of the country. Why do I emphasize Finnish Lapland? There’s also Swedish Lapland, no need to tell you where. It’s the least densely populated area of the country. And if you’re bothered by the cold or the short days just like I was, read on. I might just trick you into adding this trip to your bucket list.

First of all, a trip to Lapland is not all about snow. I mean, you can go to a winter resort anywhere in Europe, right? But other places, like mountains of France or Switzerland, cannot offer you the ultimate cultural experience of the indigenous people, nor its unique perks of having daylight only 2 hours a day. Did I just say perks? I guess I did; I wouldn’t have believed it had I not experienced it firsthand, but it really adds to the overall charm and magic.

Lapland

So here are the seven reasons to visit Lapland even if you hate winter

The snow is different. You might already know this if you’ve been to the winter resorts before; what made me hate snow is actually the snow in the city. Being in a city is not the right context to enjoy snow, and I might be discovering America here, but it’s so much nicer and more beautiful in the nature. If you visit the Ranua Wildlife Park, you can even get to see polar bears in their natural surroundings – well, sort of – without going to the North Pole. This park, better known as the Ranua Zoo, is the northenmost zoo in the world. Its animals consist of approximately 50 wild animal species and 200 individuals. I liked it better than most of the zoos, because the areas animals live in are really large so it doesn’t look as sad as it does in most of the zoos.

You Get to See Santa

If you’re into Christmas, you should visit Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle – which is just outside Rovaniemi. To tell you the truth, the village is highly touristic, full of souvenir shops, and Santa is also making profit by charging people for taking photos with him. On the other hand, the place looks really magical. My inner child was super excited to see the ‘real’ Santa – even though I wasn’t really convinced his beard was real. Anyway, you don’t need to go crazy and leave them your pennies – many other people will do that – but you can always have a hot chocolate. On your way up north, it’s a necessity, so to speak.

Santa Claus Village Lapland

…And His Reindeer

Unfortunately, Santa’s reindeer won’t be in the Village with him, but you can visit them elsewhere. There is a number of reindeer farms all over Lapland, and the animals are scattered there in the winter – as opposed to summer, when they roam free across the land. Trivia: there are no wild reindeer in Finland! Every animal has an owner. Owners are usually Sami people – indigenous people of Lapland – who have been living with reindeer for centuries. If you pay a visit to one of these farms, you’ll hear facts and figures, but also enjoy a ride in a reindeer sleigh, and pet and feed the animals with moss. Oh, in case you wonder – reindeer are the small ones; moose are much bigger. Aaand yes, you can eat both. In fact, at least one of your meals in Lapland will offer some sort of reindeer meat. It might sound gross, but, you know, the circle of life.

Lapland Reindeer

You’ll Pet a Hundred Dogs

Any dog lover like myself will be delighted to visit a husky farm. Yes, there is such a thing! The Levi Husky Park, near the fell of Levi, has around one hundred dogs, huskies and Japanese spitzes, and even semi-huskies semi-wolves. Oh, and a real wolf. Mr. Reijo Jääskeläinen, the owner of the park, has been racing and breeding these arctic dogs over 30 years. He has trained his animals for several movies and projects, so I could say I pet and took photos of some celebrities. That wasn’t the only thing I did there, as I also enjoyed a ride in a sleigh pulled by huskies, real northern style! I left the park wanting to take all the dogs with me because they were just adorable. (Mental note: get a dog.)

Lapland Huskies

You’ll See the Northern Lights

Yet one Lapland experience tops them all. The downside is that you can never really tell it will happen, so you have to rely on luck and good karma. I must had been really nice before the trip, because it greeted me in all its glory. Of course, I’m talking about Aurora Borealis, or the northern lights. They had always seemed to me like something you want to see in life, but aren’t sure it would ever happen. It did. The aurora forecasts were foreseeing a good night: we went outside of the resort, out into the woods, as artificial street lighting won’t do you much good in spotting auroras. (Strong auroras remain visible in a city, but they’re much more beautiful out in the darkness.) We put snowshoes on and went hunting for auroras. The wind was just scary! But it was all worth it when a tiny green stripe across the sky emerged. It wasn’t really what I had expected, but soon enough it rose. I wish I were skilled with words enough to describe the wonderful dance of the aurora, its changing of the color, turning white and then back to green; its behavior, similar to what would be a very slow moving fire; and how everything becomes so insignificant in that moment, even the cold that threatens to eat you up; how you feel so very humble and small and so grateful for witnessing this. But I’m not, so I’ll skip even the part where I teared up a little and wish you an opportunity to experience it yourself.

Lapland Aurora

You’ll Enjoy Winter Sports

If you’re staying in a resort, you might want to do regular winter stuff like downhill or cross-country skiing or driving a snowmobile. I had never skied before and wanted to devote it a couple of days sometime in the future instead of one afternoon in Lapland, so I skipped. But I did slide downhill on my behind. Apparently, I reached speed of around 40 km/h. It felt super dangerous, but was also so much fun.

Lapland Ski Resort

You’ll Relax and Unwind

After a day of all sorts of wintery activities, you absolutely need to do what Finns do. One word: sauna! Sauna is one of the best traits of Finnish culture and an absolute bliss. You should know, though, that it will probably be forbidden to enter a public one in a bathing suit. If you crave for a true Finnish experience, after some minutes in sauna get outside and jump into the snow. At first it feels like a thousand knives stabbing into your skin, but hey, it’s good for the circulation. And you get used to it after a couple of times. 😉

Finnish sauna II

You’ll Experience Something Crazy

If snow in -15 degrees didn’t feel as bad, you can go one step further. Finland doesn’t have a shore on the Arctic, but while you’re here, you can travel to Norway and test your endurance in the cold waters. I’m not even joking – I did this. If you’re trying to set your foot in all the oceans, or just want to have an interesting story when you get home, this is the experience for you. I now know the answer to the question ‘what was the craziest thing you’ve ever done’.

Lapland Arctic

How to Get There

The fact that Lapland is a part of a European country shouldn’t leave you all spontaneous when it comes to the travel part. Finland is a quite large country, geographically speaking, so you might want to consider flying into Rovaniemi or Kittilä, and you can do so from major Finnish cities. Traveling by bus or train might be scenic, but if you’re doing it in winter, remember that the sun rises really late and sets really early, and the trip from the south of country lasts for a whole day.

Where to Stay

Apart from the town of Rovaniemi, the capital of the region, you can opt for the resorts out in the nature, such as Levi, Saariselkä or Ylläs, all of which offer hotels, spas, restaurants, but also wooden cabins and even igloos.

What to Eat

Reindeer in all forms – smoked, dried, as a steak. Herring. Lots of smoked salmon. Salmon soup – delicious and filling. Berries, even if it’s winter, because locals picked tons of berries in the summer.

Things to Remember

There is no cold weather – only inappropriate clothes! According to Norwegians. Well, some could question the “no cold weather” argument, but make sure you wear lots of layers, a really good winter jacket and all the winter accessories. You don’t want to leave your room without gloves and a winter hat, no matter what it does to your hair. It’s survival of the fittest!

Watching northern lights from the Hotel Kakslauttanen has always been on my bucket list. What about you? Would you like to visit Lapland?

Photos: ©Wandering Polka Dot except Flickr
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Budget Travel Tips for Exploring Warsaw in 24 hours

This is a guest post by Agness of eTramping. eTramping is famous for its travel guides ‘How to travel for less than 25$ a day’ and it was created by…

This is a guest post by Agness of eTramping. eTramping is famous for its travel guides ‘How to travel for less than 25$ a day’ and it was created by two Poles- Agness and Cez. Quickly it became one of the most popular travel blogs and the number one source for budget travel tips. You can also follow eTramping on Facebook and Twitter.


 

If you have never been to Warsaw, you don’t know what you’ve missed. It is the largest city of Poland, located in the eastern part of the country, in Mazowsze, on the Vistula River. What is so special about Warsaw? – You may ask. First of all it is the scientific, cultural, political and economic center of Europe commonly known as the “phoenix city” as it has survived so many wars throughout its history. Secondly, you will be astonished here by historical museums, cathedrals, churches, its rich history and traditions as well as delicious Polish cuisine. In fact, nobody can resist the taste of pierogi (traditional Polish dumplings) or rosol (chicken soup). By the way, did you know that Warsaw is considered to be the most sophisticated city in Poland where you can experience the real local hospitality? Yes, it surely is, trust us! Here are some tips on exploring Warsaw in 24 hours;

Must-see spots in Warsaw in 24h

Warsaw is divided into two parts: the Old Town and the New Town and it can be simply explored in just 1 day for less than $21. Atmospheric alleys, squares and cafés create a very unique atmosphere, and these two historic squares become a stage for musical and theatrical performances and open-air galleries in the summer.

Old Town Warsaw

When in Warsaw, you should start exploring the city from the Old Town. Here is what you can see there:

The Royal Castle

It was built in the 15th century as the residence of the Dukes of Mazovia. With the transfer of the capital from Krakow, it became the seat of the king and the government. It was rebuilt several times when destroyed during the 2nd World War. Today, the segment of the clock tower (from which daily at. 11.15 bugle call is played) opens the way to the Old Town. Museum attractions include two original paintings by Rembrandt and works by Bernard Bellotto.

Royal Castle Warsaw

Column of King Zygmunt III Waza

That’s the oldest and tallest secular monument in Warsaw, built in 1644. The monument is 22 meters high, and the figure of the king measures 275 centimeters. Held in the right hand sword symbolizes his bravery, and the cross on the left – a constant readiness to fight evil. According to legend, the King’s sword downwards will herald the imminent defeat of the city.

Old Town Square

It was founded between 13th and 14th century and it is currently one of the most picturesque corners of the city and the main square of Warsaw. Visiting the Old Town Square will certainly be a highlight of the day. You will be surrounded by affordable cafés and restaurants as well as charming alleys.

Old Town Square, Warsaw

The Monument of Warsaw Mermaid

This monument of mermaid has been a symbol of Warsaw from the beginning of the 20th century. The statue stands in the center of the Old Town and it is surrounded by a fountain, where guests can cool off on hot days.

Historical Museum of the City of Warsaw

The museum is housed in several buildings rebuilt after the war and includes three courtyards. The exhibition presents the history of the capital since the dawn of modern times. From Tuesday to Saturday at 12:00 you can watch a documentary film about Warsaw between 1939 and 1945. The video is available in Polish, English, Spanish, French and German language.

The New Town also has a lot to offer. This part of Warsaw was founded in the late 14th century and it functioned as a separate city to the 18th century with its own administration, the town hall and the church. Most of the baroque and neoclassical houses around the Market are a post-war reconstruction as they were destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising (1944).

Warsaw centre - New town

Here are the highlights of the New Town:

Church of Holy Spirit

The first wooden church was built in the 14th century. It’s one of the biggest and oldest churches in the city, definitely worth paying a visit if you are Catholic.

The New Town Square

It was built in the 15th century. There are plenty of historical churches and monasteries here so if you are a big fan of history and architecture, don’t miss it out.

Top Warsaw’s activities on the cheap

Walking across Royal Lazienki

Royal Lazienki is a place visited by many local and tourists daily. It’s a Palace-Garden complex offering one of the most picturesque views in Warsaw. It’s placed at Agrykoli Street, nearby the city center. Here you can go for a relaxing walk, have a picnic, jog or even meditate. Many locals go there to breathe some fresh air and have a morning coffee. Moreover, here are some peacocks, pigeons and squirrels you can take a few pictures of.

Royal Lazienki Warsaw

Get to the top of Palace of Culture and Science

The Palace of Culture and Science is one of the best places to see Warsaw from above. It’s definitely the highest building not only in the city itself, but also in the whole country. Built between 1952 and 1955, it quickly became one of the main Warsaw’s attractions. There is a free entrance but you should pay 15 PLN (only 10 PLN if you have a student ID card) for getting to the 30th floor of the Palace to see the scenery of Warsaw.

Palace of Culture and Science Warsaw

Where and What to Eat and Drink

Warsaw has a lot of cozy restaurants where not only traditional Polish dishes are served, but also Vietnamese, Chinese, Portugal or Italian. If your budget is really tight, you should eat from street vendors or visit milk bars.

Here is the list of cheapest and yummiest restaurants in Warsaw you may want to try:

Street Restaurant & Club

Location: al. Jana Pawła II 19, Wola – the place offers a great variety of dinner options such as gyros kitchen with potatoes and salad (30PLN), Polish dumplings stuffed with meat (19.50 PLN) or cherry pancakes (14 PLN).

Milk Bar “Zlota Kurka”

Location: Marszalkowska Street 55/73 – That’s the cheapest milk bar in Warsaw. You can get a homemade soup (chicken, mushroom, vegetable) for only 1.30 PLN, a typical Polish dinner which are potatoes, salad and pork chop for 5 PLN.

Zapiexy Luxusowe

Location: Francuska Street – That’s definitely the best place for having a   typical Polish zapiekanka which is simply a halved baguette or bread topped mainly with mushrooms and cheese, also ham or other types of meat, and vegetables. Here you can get a massive zapiekanka for only 3-4 PLN.

Ways to Get In and Around on a budget

Getting in

There are many different ways to get to Warsaw. If you’re flying, you will probably arrive at the Frederic Chopin International Airport. It is located 10 km south west from Warsaw city centre. There are two buses no. 175 and 188 which go from the airport to the city centre. They leave every ten minutes. If you need a ride late at night catch the bus N32 and you’ll get right to Warsaw Central Station (Dworzec Centralny) from where you can take another local bus going to the city center. Tickets for the bus cost a mere 2.80 PLN.

If you are somewhere nearby like Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic or the Netherlands, you can get to Warsaw by bus or a van. Eurolines and Polski Bus have the cheapest tickets when it comes to bus services (the prices start from $10) and there are plenty of van companies charging around 50/60 euro for a ride (Amsterdam – Warsaw costs 60 euro and Berlin – Warsaw costs 35 euro).

You can also reach Warsaw by train. There is the Berlin-Warsaw Express (commonly knows as the Berlin-Warszawa Express). It is operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB), the German national railway company and PKP, the Polish State Railways. It unites the revitalized city of Berlin in Germany with the city of Warsaw in Poland. The trains are modern with air-conditioned carriages and restaurant cars. One way ticket costs between 29 and 46 euro.

Getting around

You can’t really get around the area easily with a car as there is a heavy traffic in Warsaw. However, you can catch a tram or a metro at any time. The tickets vary from 2 zloty to 5 zloty per ticket (60 cents to$1.50).

Where to sleep

If you are short of cash, you can go Couchsurfing, which is extremely common nowadays. Many Polish people want to meet foreigners this way and show them what Poland has to offer to its visitors. There are couchsurfing meetings in Warsaw every Wednesday, so you can meet other people and hang out with them if you want to. The meetings are held in Warsaw at 7PM local time at Lorelei, Widok Street no. 8.

Best budget accommodation options:

1) Hostel: Aga Hostel. Address: Topiel street no. 27. Contact: 694 372 321.

2) Camping: Camping 123. Address: Bitwa Warszawska street no.15/17. Contact: 228229121.

3) 5-Star Hotel: Warsaw Marriott Hotel Address: 79, Aleje Jerozolimskie 65. Contact: 22 630 63 06.

Do you have any tips to share on how to explore Warsaw in 24 hours? Feel free to comment below.

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Top 5 things to do in Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw may not be your typical ‘beautiful city’ as some other Central European capitals are famous for, but if you give it a chance and are prepared to explore its…

Warsaw may not be your typical ‘beautiful city’ as some other Central European capitals are famous for, but if you give it a chance and are prepared to explore its inner beauty, you will realise it’s a city full of energy. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed during WW2, and the Warsaw you will see today is still a result of the vast damage it suffered during the war, especially after the reconstruction and remodelling of its architecture. Even the famous ‘Old Town’ is actually fairly ‘new’ as it’s only about 40 years old, but due to its amazing reconstruction it has reserved a place on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Warsaw also provides a great twin centre holiday with Krakow, giving you the chance to really see the best of Poland.

Everybody asks me how many days are enough for Warsaw, and two are probably enough if you want to see the major attractions and places of importance in the city, but note that the longer you stay the more you will discover and fall in love with. No matter what, Warsaw today represents a vibrant and cultural city that definitely deserves a visit during your journey through Poland, because its finer features do eventually stand out.

So let’s start. Top 5 recommended things to do in Warsaw include;

DISCOVER THE OLD TOWN

This is the best place to begin your sightseeing in Warsaw, simply because this is the oldest historic district of the city and the location of Warsaw’s most important landmarks. At the entrance of the Old Town you will discover the Royal Castle, where I definitely recommend you a visit as you will learn a lot about the history of Warsaw’s Old Town. The palace used to be an official residence of Polish monarchs, which after WW2 was totally demolished, today stands as a red brick building serving as a museum after the reconstructed interiors were finished in 1984. I recommend you grab a ticket and have a wonder through its impressive interiors at one of Europe’s most important royal residences. (Regular ticket: 22PLN)

Right in front the Royal Castle you can find a 22 meter high column, which is known as the Sigismund III Vasa Column. The column was moved from the previous capital of Poland, Krakow, to today’s capital city Warsaw. During the Warsaw Rising the column was demolished by the Germans but was repaired and placed four meters away from the original place.

Walking further from the Castle Square you will move into the heart of the Old Town Square, which is filled with tourists enjoying the architecture, artists and numerous cafes and restaurants nearby. The Old Town Square is the most famous for the statue of Syrena (Mermaid), which is a symbol for Poland’s capital.

The Old Town is also home to one of Warsaw’s oldest churches, which is St. John’s Cathedral, famous for it’s neo-Gothic pieces of architecture. When heading north you will spot the Barbikan. The Barbikan represents the remaining relics of the historic fortifications that once encircled Warsaw, and it is also the border between the Old and New Town.

What surprised me is that sometimes we simply do not pay attention to the details and are only attracted by big things, but if you look deeper, you will find many of Warsaw’s hidden sights in the Old Town and you may even spot some of the original bullet marks caused during WW2.

WARSAW RISING MUSEUM

Without a doubt, this is a MUST visit for anyone who is travelling through Warsaw! Dedicated to the Warsaw Rising of 1944, the museum officially opened its doors in 2004, and very quickly became one of the most popular museums in Poland. For an individual ticket of 14 PLN you can see the hundreds of exhibition items, photographs, films and other educational material. For 2 PLN, you can see a 3D movie titled “The city of ruins” which you should definitely do after visiting the whole museum grounds to have a better understanding of how Warsaw looked after WW2. As soon as you step in the museum the clock goes back to September 1st, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. As you explore the museum, you chronologically go through the stages of the war and see the affects it had on past and present Warsaw. One of my personal highlights was a scale model of the Warsaw sewers which were used for transportation and communication during the Warsaw Rising for the city’s citizens. If your interest is perked by history, I recommend before visiting Warsaw to watch the film titled “Kanal” by the Polish director Andrzej Wajda, as the movie documents the history behind Warsaw’s sewers during the Rising. After viewing the movie, personally my understanding and interest was enhanced whilst visiting the museum. Plan to spend about 3-4 quality hours here.



PALACE OF CULTURE AND SCIENCE

The Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw

The tallest building in Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science, is usually visible from most parts of the city. The palace itself represents a ‘gift from the Soviet people’ and it was commissioned by Stalin himself. The building wasn’t initially accepted by the Polish people, and even today many Poles hate it as they consider it to be a symbol of Soviet domination and refer to it as a “Russian Wedding Cake”. Today it serves as an exhibition centre and office complex, and also offers cinemas, theaters, museums, bookshops, conference halls and more. So you are probably wondering, why should I go there? Well, for the price of 20 PLN and after a lift ride with a lift attendent, you can admire Warsaw’s panoramic view from the viewing platforms situated on 30th floor of the building. If you are interested in learning more about the Palace of Culture and Science, there are numerous travel agencies who give a whole tour of the place.

THE FRYDERYK CHOPIN MUSEUM

The Fryderyk Chopin Museum

Wherever you are in Poland, you won’t escape the name of one of the most famous Poles; Fryderyk Chopin. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this museum, because to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of classical music. However, my impressions of the museum were really good in the end and here’s why. This is one of the most interactive museums I have ever visited, and as you move through the museum, the technology and features of the museum sparks your interest more and more, which is obviously a positive thing for those who are not much in touch with classical music. You can see many of the autographs, notes, works of art and personal items of Chopin in the museum. From the moment you enter the museum you will learn about the begin’s of Chopin’s life, see where he travelled during his life, and you will finish the route by visiting the big black box which represents his death. And that moment when you sit and listen to his works, accompanied by animated video, and feel like you are in a fairytle, you know this museum is a success. No matter how old you are or what your tastes are, there is something for everyone in the museum! The museum is also very family friendly and it even has a kids play area.

EATING AND SHOPPING

Polish pierogi

As the capital, Warsaw offers a vast variety of not only traditional restaurants but also international cuisine. A must in Poland is to try one of their most famous dishes; Pierogi. These dumplings are prepared in many ways and filled either with meat, cheese, spinach or various other fillings. Before your main meal, try the Polish barszcz which is a vegetable soup, although there are many variants of recipes on offer. If you are not really keen on the most popular Polish drink, vodka, maybe you’ll enjoy having a Tyskie beer to accompany your meal. Try the Zapiecek restaurant for pierogi.

Before you leave Warsaw, a little shopping is in order for some local souvenirs and some traditional Polish arts and crafts. Check the Cepelia store and Desa store, as they offer the biggest collection of traditional souvenirs in the capital, and even amber which Poland is famous for worldwide. When looking for amber, check out some of the designer shops located in the Old Town as they usually have bigger stock on offer and are specialized in selling just amber itself and not souvenirs. And don’t forget to check out this guide to Krakow too!

Have you been to Warsaw? What are your personal favourites? Let us know in the comments below! 🙂



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The best activities to do in Barcelona this summer

The Catalan capital is a scorcher during the summer months but despite this, it’s always great to get involved in some activities in Barcelona with locals whether it’s the heading…

The Catalan capital is a scorcher during the summer months but despite this, it’s always great to get involved in some activities in Barcelona with locals whether it’s the heading to an epic Barça football match or just taking in a bit of the local culture by visiting one of the city’s many art galleries. The city has a whole host of things to do during summer that everyone should take advantage of. Here are just a few favorites activities to do in Barcelona this summer.

Learn to make authentic Spanish paella

Paella is a must in Barcelona, but even better, a professional cooking class with a Spanish home cook! This is ultimately one of the best experiences you can have even if you don’t cook! Believe me, I’m no wizard in the kitchen and I can barely make ice as it is, but under the chef’s guided hands, I found myself preparing this traditional dish with great ease and entertainment in a congenial environment. Accompanied with great friends and more than one bottle of wine, this experience allows you to explore delicious local recipes and discover the culinary secrets of Spain.

Visit Barcelona’s best street market, La Boqueria

But in order to enjoy the best paella, it requires a visit to the finest street market, La Boqeruía. Spanish chefs generally choose to shop in this traditional market as one can find all ingredients imaginable to cook with and more! Filled with local foods and artisan products, La Boqueria has it all from delightful arrays of colorful sweets to fully reddened lamb’s heads fresh from the farm. Its vibrant scene truly gives you a taste (literally) of Spanish cuisine and culture as you weave your way through the bursting stands and of course, all the people!

Barceloneta at sunset

Naturally, one of the leading summer hot spots is the beach, especially Barcelona’s crowned jewel, Barceloneta. Yet to skip the crowded sands filled with sunbathers toe to toe, the best time to go is right before dark to watch the Spanish “atardecer,” or sunset! By day, Barceloneta is a lively point overflowing with people, but by night, it transforms into a quiet, beautiful oasis scented with the sea salt ocean air and set with the warm glow of the boardwalk lights. Bring a delicious picnic and some good friends to find the perfect spot on the beach to relax and watch the sky explode in color. By this time, the temperature has lowered to a reasonable degree but not low enough that you don’t hit the waves!

Yoga at Barceloneta

Learn the rhythms of Flamenco dance

Forget the Whip Nae Nae, there’s a new hot dance to try! Flamenco is a long-ridden Spanish dance deeply rooted in the heart of Spain that boasts color and flair amidst its traditional heritage. But the best way to experience the world of flamenco is to take firsthand lessons from those who know Flamenco the best: its dancers! From experts, you have the opportunity to learn the authentic choreography and style to truly spice up your summer! Don’t worry about technicalities, it’s all in the hips! And take it from me, it’s even more fun when you make a fool out of yourself.

See Barcelona from the Mediterranean Sea

Don’t try to escape the summer heat, embrace it on a private sailboat! Enjoy the beautiful coastal views and soft sea breeze for the ultimate summer hack perfect for rowdy groups of friends like mine. If you are like us and were not blessed with the knowledge of how to sail, local professionals are more than happy to take you aboard to escape the hustle and bustle of the city!

With this, put a spin on your usual travel plans and stray off the beaten path to discover a deeper Barcelona that will be worth the memories – it’ll be one for the books!

This article is written exclusively for EuroTribe by trip4real. Trip4real is a trusted community platform that connects locals with travelers from all over the world.

Photos: ©trip4real

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