When you’re on holiday, you get to have the most indulgent dilemmas of all.
Like: “Should we wake up early tomorrow to catch the sunrise and take gorgeous morning pictures of the lakeside? Or sleep in and cuddle on our impossibly snug and cozy queen bed?”
If you’re in the Czech Republic or planning to visit soon, you’re probably agonizing: “Where should I go after Prague?”
While the popular answer may be the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov or the spa town of Karlovy Vary, let me invite you to a cool alternative city break: Brno, the capital of South Moravia.
Continue reading “Best things to do in Brno – essential sights and where to eat, drink, and stay”
In a word, Vienna is awesome. Not in the way that everything seems to be “awesome” these days, so much so that is has lost its meaning. Vienna is awesome in the truest sense of the word – inducing awe and inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence and admiration.
Continue reading “Best things to do in Vienna, Austria – a holiday in the world’s best city”
Ready for wine, history, and great food? Buckle up – we’re going to Strasbourg!
Strasbourg is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France, and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Being near the border of Germany, you’ll find a mix of Franco-German culture. If you’re a linguaphile, you’ll particularly love the thrill of being able to practice both your French and German during your stay.
Travelers who love exploring cities will bask in everything Strasbourg has to offer – a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants, cafes at every turn, endless shopping choices – all within a network of extensive cycling paths and convenient public transportation.
Even if you’re not a big city person, it’s worth spending a couple of days in Strasbourg. It’s a great base to explore the Bas-Rhin department of the historic region of Alsace, and you’ll find lots of green spaces within – the most notable being the Parc de l’Orangerie and the Jardin des Deux Rives.
To make your holiday as fun as possible, read on for my top recommendations on where to stay in Strasbourg.
Continue reading “Where to stay in Strasbourg – a guide to the city’s best districts and hotels”
Driving from Vienna to Salzburg is a quick and easy way to visit two of Austria’s magnificent cities. Salzburg is approximately 300 km to the west of Vienna, and you can easily reach it via the A1 motorway (West Autobahn) in 3 hours.
But while Vienna and Salzburg both have much to offer, a scenic road trip across Austria’s countryside will give you a more delightful overview of the country. Rolling hills, majestic mountain ranges, sparkling lakes, and storybook towns await in this amazing road trip itinerary from Vienna to Salzburg!
Continue reading “Driving from Vienna to Salzburg – a scenic road trip through Austria’s countryside”
For nine consecutive years now, Vienna has been crowned the world’s best city to live in. Surely, you would think, that endorsement would have been enough to draw the tourist crowds in? But surprisingly, Vienna remains one of Europe’s underrated tourist destinations. While it does enjoy the constant stream of culture- and art-lovers finding their way to the historic capital’s cobbled streets and famed opera houses, there’s much, much more to Vienna that largely remains under the radar.
Continue reading “Where to stay in Vienna – best areas and hotels in Austria’s majestic capital”
We started our drive from Vienna at 10 AM, and since then it has been one amazing scene after another. We gawked at Vienna’s grand buildings, at the countryside that looked like Tina Blau’s oil paintings come to life, the roads so smooth and well-maintained, and at the BMWs and Audis zipping past us as we drove our rented Seat within the 130 KPH limit. Little did we know, the best view was yet to come.
After brief stops at several points in Lower Austria and Wachau Valley, we entered Salzkammergut and began our mountain drive. It was like entering a dreamland – we passed through serene villages complete with cows grazing contentedly on emerald pastures, which turned into narrow mountain roads overlooking a glistening lake. Less than half an hour in, we caught the first glimpse of our day’s final destination. As we rounded a curve, the trees parted on one side of the road, and there it was, hundreds of meters below us – Hallstatt lying snugly between the imposing mountains and the serene lake.
As the sun set, we finally rolled in to our pension. The next few days we would explore Hallstatt and Salzkammergut, which became one of the most relaxing holidays and a welcome break from Central Europe’s busy cities.
Continue reading “Best things to do in Hallstatt – a travel guide to Austria’s most photogenic town”
It’s almost difficult to tear yourself away from Austria’s magnificent cities. You can spend days roaming around Vienna’s architectural wonders, marveling at Schonbrunn and the Gloriette, getting lost in mazes of manicured gardens and abundant artwork. There’s much to see and do in Vienna and Salzburg, and indeed, visiting these cities is a great way to discover Austria’s glorious history and culture.
But to get to the heart of Austria’s rustic charm, you must venture to its small countryside villages. You’ll find that there’s more to Austria than operas and schnitzels and all-out opulence. There are also stunning natural landscapes, breathtaking vistas, picture-perfect storybook towns, and plenty of outdoor adventures to be had.
If you only make it to one town, make it Hallstatt. Nestled in Salzkammergut’s mountainous region, Hallstatt is a narrow town sandwiched between a mountain and a lake, lined with pastel houses decked with flowerboxes, and with swans gracefully plying the coastline, making it the perfect storybook town to take a break from the cities. It’s a great stopover on a drive from Vienna to Salzburg, and a great base for exploring the rest of the gorgeous Salzkammergut.
If you’re thinking of venturing to Salzkammergut soon, here are our best recommendations on where to stay in Hallstatt.
Continue reading “Where to stay in Hallstatt – 5 gorgeous hotels in Austria’s storybook town”
My train stops on the border town of Mikulov in South Moravia, and as I step out onto the platform, I am treated to the distinctive beauty of a Czech castle town: red terracotta roofs, twisted cobblestone streets, and an imposing 13th-century castle set against the backdrop of rolling hills and the outline of a distant mountain range.
But the normally sleepy town is abuzz this beautiful September weekend. It’s the annual Palavske vinobrani, a weekend-long wine festival that transforms the usually sleepy town into a big wild street party. And even first-time festival-goers like me know: where wine flows, merriment follows. Continue reading “South Moravia – revelry and relaxation in the Czech Republic’s wine region”
From its medieval castle to its meandering cobbled alleys, Cesky Krumlov is the stuff of fairytales. Until now, it remains one of my favorite destinations in the world – and definitely worth more than a day trip from Prague.
You can easily spend two to three days in Cesky Krumlov. The first day will most likely be spent staring at the beautiful town square from the castle tower, pinching yourself in disbelief at just how amazingly gorgeous the old town is. Visiting the town’s top sights will take a day or two, while the enchanting Blansky forest surrounding the old town is worth a couple of days of short, relatively easy hikes.
If you’re still thinking if an overnight trip to Cesky Krumlov is worth it, you should definitely go for it. On my first visit, I originally planned to stay just for 3 days. I ended up extending my stay – and still I wished I stayed longer.
So skip the day trip and go for at least an overnight trip. Once you get there, you’ll know what I mean. In the meantime, here’s where to stay in Cesky Krumlov. Book early – Cesky Krumlov’s not quite Prague yet in terms of tourist density, but it’s getting pretty close now that this romantic medieval town’s “secret” is out.
Continue reading “Where to stay in Cesky Krumlov – the best hotels for a magical stay”
“Prague won’t let you go, the little mother has claws,” so said Franz Kafka, the capital’s most famous son.
And while Franz Kafka obviously had a deeper connection with the city, travelers to Prague can’t help but feel the same way to some degree. Prague never gets old and it never goes out of style or season.
There’s always something new going on in Prague – be it a new row of restaurants, a new edgy café in an up-and-coming neighborhood, or a new quirky art installation. But at the same time, the old is splendidly preserved, the centuries’ worth of Gothic, Romantic, and Baroque architecture still standing proudly even after world wars, fires, and natural calamities.
All these led to the Prague of today: a city that goes from medieval to modern, conventional to quirky, historic to hipster, and sacred to scandalous in a few blocks.
So it goes that your experiences in Prague can depend heavily on which neighborhood you choose to spend your days and nights. Whether you’re up for a crash course in European history and arts or you’re here for the beer, there’s a lovely Prague district that won’t let you go. Continue reading “Where to stay in Prague – neighborhood guide and best accommodations”