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Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona – A Trip to the Mountains

The great thing about Barcelona is that you can do virtually anything. The Mediterranean Sea provides a lovely beach year round, the buzz of the city, the history of its buildings and; of course, the views from the Collserola Mountains. Especially, from its peak, Mount Tibidabo.

However, Tibidabo is known for so much more than its spectacular views. With its own theme park, hiking trail, church and amazing restaurants; Tibidabo is ideal for families, friends and couples!

Let us show you around this wonderful place in the clouds above Barcelona.

 

Things to do and see at Mount Tibidabo:

The Tibidabo Amusement Park

As one of the oldest theme parks in the world, Tibidabo should be on the list for anyone visiting Barcelona who loves the adrenaline of a rollercoaster! The majority of the rides here do date back to its opening, around 1900, making this spot popular with fans of history too. We suggest going to the Sky Walk area and taking a ride on the little red plane as you zip through the clouds, while taking in the breathtaking views of Barcelona from above, or opt for some candy-floss on the traditional Tibidabo Ferris wheel! You can even visit the site where part of Woody Allen’s hit film ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ was shot- the list is endless!

How to get there:

By train: L7 from Plaça Catalunya to Avenguda Tibidabo. Please take note; this is a Renfe (FGC) operated train. From there, catch the Tramvia Blau, all the way to the last stop, Plaça del Doctor Andreu. At this point, you are halfway up the mountain, and to get to the Amusement Park, you have to take the uphill Funicular.

By bus: Catch the T2 Tibibus from Plaça Catalunya.

 

Hiking around Tibidabo

Wanting to get some fresh air and stretch your legs in the outdoors of Barcelona? Then a Tibidabo walking trip is definitely for you! The Collserola Mountain range is ideal for a green escape and there are a number of walking and hiking tours available to get you going, which allow you to learn about the history and geography of the area all whilst exercising. We suggest the 4.2km hiking trail from the Museu de la Ciència to the peak of Tibidabo, offering spectacular views along the way! If you really want to challenge yourself, you can walk up from the base of the mountain, near the city centre, all the way to the top. 

 

Sagrat Cor Tibidabo Church

On a clear Barcelona night, you will be sure to spot the glowing Tibidabo church from all over the city; its imposing image is visible on any clear and sunny day too. Situated at the top of the mountain, some 500 metres above sea level, the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor (Church of the Sacred Heart) took over 60 years to build and is one of the most revered neo-gothic structures in Barcelona. It is uniquely identified with its own Christ the Redeemer sculpture that rings memories to that of Rio de Janiero! Accessing the Church is a simple task, by catching the Tramvia Blau and the Funicular railway to the summit of Tibidabo. The journey itself is a way for you to connect with history, as both the tram and train were built in 1901!

 

CosmoCaixa Museum of Tibidabo

If you are visiting Barcelona with kids who are into science then you simply must take them to the CosmoCaixa Museu de la Ciència (Science Museum). This is where they can be inspired by fantastic exhibits and activities, as well as their Planetarium, this museum is ideal for those who like to learn practically. It is located near the base of the mountain, just before Avinguda del Tibidabo. For more info on the CosmoCaixa Museum and a list of exhibits, visit the Barcelona Turisme website.

How to get there:

By train: Take the L7 (FGC) from Plaça Catalunya to Avenguda Tibidabo, and then switch to the 196 Bus.

 

Dining and Nightlife

A day spent exploring Tibidabo can work up an appetite. Luckily, there is plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from when the time comes to eat. El Mirador de la Venta boasts great food and some spectacular views overlooking the city, out to sea. Alternatively, head to the Fabra Observatory, where you can enjoy a romantic dinner on a secluded terrace, a tour of the golden-domed observatory and the chance to star-gaze through one of Europe’s oldest telescopes! If bars and clubs are more up your street, then you can head over to Plaça del Doctor Andreu, where you will find the exclusive Mirablau and Mirabé bars and clubs. Whichever option you choose, you can see out a magical day in the mountains in great company.

How to get to the Fabra Observatory:

By train: From Plaça Catalunya, take the FGC Line S1 or S2 to Peu de la Funicular. Switch to the Funicular railway from Vallvidrera Inferior to Vallvidrera Superior, and then catch the 111 Bus.

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Bai Hotel Cebu Philippines

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Accommodations

The bai Hotel in Cebu (Mandaue) is one of Cebu’s best hotels.

It has a fantastic outdoor infinity swimming pool offering some of the best views of Cebu City. There’s also a pool bar for cocktails and beers. For some of the best buffets in Cebu, the bai hotel has an amazing array of dishes to choose from. I have included buffet rates in the video. The property is rated as a 4 star hotel, and for me I would rate this as one of my top 10 hotels to stay in Cebu.

Rooms are modern and clean, with the Premier rooms located on higher levels with even better views. You can either choose a harbor or city view. My opinion is to go for the city views.

For prices at the bai hotel Cebu I go into details in the video. I look directly at the hotels website as well as comparison booking sites such as Trivago, TripAdvisor and Hotelscombined. I also checked Agoda prices as well.

Other facilities at the hotel include a gym, a number of restaurants. It also has its Twilight Rooftop lounge bar for drinks and amazing views.

The hotel is located close to Parkmall and not far away from SM City Cebu.

For more top vlogs in Cebu, please subscribe. 

*All rates and conditions subject to change.

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10° 19′ 29.4636″ N, 123° 56′ 12.4584″ E
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Cebu Ocean Park – The Largest Oceanarium in the Philippines

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Cebu Ocean Park is one of the island’s newest attractions boasting the largest oceanarium in the country.

It hosts over 200 species including its famous underwater tunnel to get up close with the fish.

The park occupies around 1 hectare, so not only can you see marine animals, but there are also birds, lizards and other creepy crawlies. The oceanarium is the highlight of the visit with its amazing views. So in this video I provide a quick guide to Ocean Park Cebu, incl. with what to do and see.

This is a wonderful tourist attraction in Cebu City. Check out what to expect when you visit Cebu Ocean Park.

Prices, opening hours, how to get there and contact details are shown in the video.

For more great travel vlogs in Cebu please subscribe to my channel.

*All rates and details subject to change.

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10° 16′ 53.1444″ N, 123° 52′ 42.654″ E
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Canyoneering in Cebu Philippines

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One of the top adventures to do in the Philippines is the canyoneering in Cebu. Trek down a tropical river, awesome cliff jumps and some of the best fun in the Philippines.

 

This is my guide to the canyoneering in Badian, Cebu.

One of the popular things to do in Cebu due to its famous cliff jumping, the 2 highest being the 10 and 12 metre jumps. The Kawasan Falls jump (I think at level 2) is the highest, but for those who can’t handle the jump of 12 metres this is an optional jump.

In this video I show how much to pay for the tour, how to get to there from Cebu City or Moalboal and how long the canyoneering takes. This was the 2nd time for me doing the canyoneering tour in Cebu, there have been some changes since then and I’ll show that in the video.

It’s one of the best things to do in Cebu (Philippines) and I highly recommend it.

Generally the tours include pick up, equipment (boots, helmets and life jackets). Some canyon tours include lunch. You can book Canyon tours online or as I did, when I was staying in Moalboal, I just booked at a store on Panagsama Beach in Moalboal. I think it’s better to stay here when doing the tour, as it’s so much quicker than doing it from Cebu City.

For more great travel vlogs around Cebu please subscribe.

*All rates and info subject to change.

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9° 48′ 2.3868″ N, 123° 22′ 40.2096″ E
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Top Restaurants in Ischgl, Tirol, Austria – Alpine Dining Experiences

If you happen to find yourself on a skiing holiday in the gorgeous Ischgl, this stunning resort has a number of restaurant options for you to try after a vigorous day on the slopes.

Most of the produce served in any Ischgl restaurant is sourced from local farmers from the area, and the locals are very proud of this fact. Even the meats served in the grill kiosk at the top of the mountain is all locally sourced from farms in the region, as they take pride in the quality of their local produce and want to show visitors the wonderful products they have on offer. 

Indulge in speedy snacks off the slopes, and then in the evenings go all the way through to refined menus, with tasty culinary treats from the region and international delights from all over the world.

Ischgl has also gained a fantastic reputation in terms of gourmet and a la carte cuisine thanks to the resorts buzzing restaurant scene.

The high concentration of top-class restaurants comes in useful when you’ve had a long day on the slopes and fancy a treat. Alongside Martin Sieberer‘s Paznauner Stube and Benjamin Parth’s YSCLA Stüva, there are five other restaurants that enjoy an international reputation – Schlossherrenstube in Schlosshotel Romantica, Martin Sieberer’s Heimatbühne, Fliana Gourmet and the Lucy Wang Restaurant.

The menus, decor and service in these places are definitely what you would call ‘star’ worthy, with every element combining to give you a luxury experience. Very recently Ischgl was described in the ‘A la Carte’ guide as a ‘culinary Mecca in the Alps’, and Austria’s most influential restaurant guide Gault Millau is in full support of that rave review.

 

Here are my top 5 dining experiences that you must try on your next visit to Ishgl:

1. Alpenhaus – Mountain VIP Club

Alpenhaus is the place to be for a high class experience in Ischgl. From their gorgeous VIP lounge on the first floor (with all the privacy, sophisticated service and a refined atmosphere that you might expect from such a place) to their relaxing sun terrace, this establishment offers world class cuisine all in a stunning alpine atmosphere

Head to the restaurant lounge for a menu that is sure to impress anyone coming fresh off the slopes – Carpaccio of beef, veal fillet duet and prime boiled beef, fillet of turbot, sweet trio: nougat, chocolate and apricot can all be sampled during this fine dining experience. Be sure to order from the incredible cheese station if you can – I can guarantee you won’t have seen such a selection before.

If you’re looking for a mountain dining experience to remember, you’ll want to get your Alpenhaus reservation booked well in advance. I would recommend this place for a glamorous lunch to mark your last day. 

 

2. Restaurant Pardorama – Sky tree

Situated on the Pardatschgrat, Restaurant Pardorama has some of the most breathtaking views in the entire region, and a menu that is likely to dazzle as well. You can watch the gentle progress of the cable cars up the mountain whilst enjoying a luxury hot chocolate and divine piece of apple strudel, soaking up the sunshine and the beautiful atmosphere of this contemporary ski lodge.

This place is ideal for a mid morning break and something delicious to warm you up before getting back on the slopes.

 

3. Gourmetrestaurant Stiar

Stiar has attained a fantastic reputation within Ischgl, and is known as one of the top fine dining experiences in the region. 

Located within Ischgl town, Stiar is known for extraordinary cuisine that draws influences from far outside of Ischgl’s borders, and even Austria itself. The standard of gourmet cuisine here is high, and the crossover menu style offers rustic Austrian tidbits as well as more modern, international dishes. 

Stiar also has a legendary classic wine pairing menu, making this place your only choice if you’re looking to book a jolly, glamorous evening dinner during your time in the mountains. 

 

4. Wirtshaus Walserstube Paznauner Bauernmuseum

Wirtshaus walserstube is a more local and traditional experience, which is all the more reason for trying it out one day during your holiday. Tucked away inside an old classically Tirolian house (which is over 400 years old), this establishment has been kept within the charming family who runs it for generations. Serving up traditional Austrian dishes in a cosy and warm setting, this place is kind of like going back in time. 

I would have to recommend that you try the local game meat for a delicious bonus experience. Also I would say its essential that you have a schnapps with the owner and check out his Paznauner Bauernmuseum upstairs in the same building, there’s some interesting oddities and artefact†s in there. 

 

5. Lucy Wang

Lucy Wang‘s fantastic sushi restaurants have crafted an international reputation, and you can’t beat gourmet Japanese cuisine with an Alpine twist during your time in Ischgl. Located in a prime (and extremely beautiful) location right next to the cable car station, a dinner at Lucy Wang is a guaranteed glamorous meal with all the culinary delight of a high end Japanese dining experience. 

I loved the luxury of eating sushi in the Alps with stunning views all around me, and so I would recommend a dinner at Lucy Wang to any sushi lover ready to try their unique and delicious menu.

 

Also check out our guide and video: A Winter Guide to Ischgl in Tirol, Austria

 

Travel tip shared by Dave for Travel Dudes.

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Tips and Advice for Purchasing Travel Insurance

A wise decision before embarking on any trip is to obtain travel insurance.

The documents and details of an insurance plan often includes exceptionally detailed legal jargon, and it can be a nightmare to interpret.

We’ve taken the liberty of explaining the major coverages to help guide travelers in selecting which options are necessary for your specific trip.

Tips for buying travel insurance

Trip Cancellation/Interruption

This is the most basic coverage and covers most events that would result in you not being able to take your trip.

Examples include but are not limited to: Sickness, Injury, Job Change, and Financial Distress (bankruptcy) to either yourself or any of your travel companions. A good policy may also cover Delays, Terrorism, Political Change, Supplier Cancellations and Natural Disasters.

 

Single Occupancy Coverage

If you have arranged for double occupancy accommodation and your partner cancels or has to change their plans, you can get the required “upgrade” covered by insurance.

 

Trip Delay / Missed Connection

Any delay that is out of your control can entitle you to compensation.

 

Legal Assistance

This coverage can provide access to local legal experts in the event you get caught in any legal misunderstandings.

 

Accident / Medical Expense

Any procedures or treatment performed during your trip or potentially as a direct result of an event that occurs on your trip. This segment of coverage can sometimes include a minor amount of Dental care as well.

 

Pet Coverage

If you are bringing your pet (this is generally restricted to a cat or dog) they can be covered for emergency medical expenses.

 

Emergency Evacuation

This coverage is necessary for trips where you may not be near medical facilities and you may need transport like a helicopter or express train to get to a proper medical facility.

 

Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)

If an event causes the loss of any body part (dismemberment), you can be compensated according to standard fee schedules. The other portion of coverage is self-explanatory.

 

Baggage Coverage

If your baggage is lost or delayed, you can get reimbursed for necessities as well as clothing and other personal effects.  Some plans will cover items that include laptops and electronic devices.

 

Our recommendation is to ensure that you at minimum purchase Trip Cancellation/Delay coverage since that covers any major trip changes. Some Medical plans will continue your coverage while you are traveling abroad so the Accident/Medical Coverage, Emergency Evacuation, and/or AD&D coverage may even be redundant for some travelers.

However, the medical coverage you get from a travel insurer can be of much better quality, and can put you as a traveler at a lower risk of having to pay up-front for exorbitant medical fees before being reimbursed.

Additional coverages should be subscribed at the travelers discretion.
 

Questions to ask oneself before deciding on coverage include:

  • Is my time away flexible or do I have a strict schedule?
  • Does my plane ticket guarantee I make it to my destination? (i.e. Budget carries like Ryanair do not)
  • What is the airline policy on lost/delayed baggage?
  • Will I be in an urban setting or will I be far away from civilization? (Evacuation potential)
  • Does my home country and the country I’m visiting have a strong relationship? (Legal Assistance)
  • Who will I be traveling with? Is my traveling partner a potential flake that may end up costing me money?

 

All in all, the rates for full coverage Travel Insurance are very reasonable given you choose the right provider.  It is well worth getting full coverage if you can.  You will be very grateful for the options full coverage provides should your trip not go as planned. 

As a tour provider we have seen many trips be interrupted by unforeseen circumstances, and a good quality Travel Insurance plan, such as the one offered by World Nomads or SafetyWing, that covers everything is often the savior of a spoiled vacation. 

Knowing what you are paying for and what your plan includes is important, and we hope the breakdown of each aspect of coverage helps you next time you are researching and purchasing Travel Insurance.

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Best Multi-Day Food Tours Around The World

Food is one of the most amazing ways to understand and experience a new culture. It is often the lens through which we try to understand the world, how we relate to particular cultures and how we remember certain experiences.

The best way to fully experience a new city or country through their food is to get first-hand, local insights. One way to do this is to join a food tour, this can range from a full-on package tour covering a full area or just a day tour walking through the streets of the city. It’s up to you how much you want to delve into the food scene of your next destination. There’s also so much more than food tours in Europe, expand your surroundings and head out across the globe.

We’ve pulled together a list of the best multi-day food tours around the world, focusing on the main ‘foodie’ destinations.

Whether you eat to live, or live to eat, there’s no doubt that these food tours around the world will get your taste buds salivating.

 

Best Multi-Day Food Tours Around the World

Food Tours in Asia

Real Food Adventure – India

Join this 15-day food tour from Delhi to Goa, passing through Rajasthan, Jaipur, and Udaipur. From delicious street food, Indian specialities, food markets, and cooking classes, you’ll be kept busy on this Indian food tour. Indian cuisine is possibly one of the most diverse and in-depth cuisines around the world, with the traditional cuisines varying so much from North to South.

Book the Real Food Adventure – India

 

Real Food Adventure – Japan

You’ll do more than learn how to use your chopsticks on this 12-day food tour through Japan. Taste the freshest sizzling yakitori, sashimi, soba noodles and endless other traditional dishes. You’ll learn about the traditional culture of geishas, dining, daily life, religion and home-cooking. Japan will get all of your senses going.

Book the Real Food Adventure – Japan

 

Bite-size Break Hanoi

A quick three days in Hanoi will be just enough time to explore the best of Vietnamese cuisine. Explore the city’s street food scene and lively beer halls. Learn about the secrets to traditional northern Vietnamese dishes with families who have generations of experience. You’ll leave Hanoi with enough local knowledge and know-how of traditional Vietnamese food and culture.

Book the Bite-size Break Hanoi

 

Real Food Adventure – Indochina

If you’re looking for a more in-depth South East-Asian food tour, then the 21-day Indochina Real Food Adventure is for you. You’ll munch your way through the mouth-watering South East-Asian cuisine from Hanoi Vietnam to Siem Reap Cambodia. You’ll really know all there is to know about this tasty cuisine and interesting culture after this tour!

The tour also includes tours of the Angkor Wat Temple complex, homestays in the Mekong and an overnight cruise around Halong Bay.

Book the Real Food Adventure – Indochina

 

Food Tours in Europe

Munch: Florence, Barcelona and the South of France

Contiki has put together the ultimate foodie tour covering Florence, Barcelona and the South of France. It’s an eight-day tour and includes cooking classes, pasta making, Tuscan dinners, market tours and wine making lessons.

Book Contiki’s European Munch Tour

 

Naples Pizza Adventure

If you’re a pizza fanatic, then a visit to Naples (the birthplace of pizza) should most definitely be on your bucket list. Spend five days obsessing about pizza – eating, cooking, learning about the history of the town, and did we mention eating? Yep, it’s basically a five-day pizza binge fest. In the beautiful, picture-perfect Naples.

Book GAdventures Naples Pizza Adventure

 

From Venice: Prosecco Five-Day Tour

This five-day Prosecco tour starts with a pick-up in Venice to take you to your hotel, Hotel Villa Marcello Marinelli where you’ll spend the next few days. The tour includes a visit to a dairy farm, trattoria, Prosecco winery, gelato-making lessons and many strolls around this beautiful village. You’ll be in Italian foodie heaven, with of course an endless supply of Prosecco.

Book the Prosecco Five-Day Tour

 

Discover the Pintxos Tour in San Sebastián

Pintxos, a style of eating similar to tapas, rules Northern Spain. Discover all there is to know about this ‘mini’ cuisine on this three-day tour in San Sebastián. As part of your tour you will receive a Road Book and a Complete Dossier which contains detailed information about must-see attractions in the region. The tour includes eight Pinxtos and four drinks per person in any of the establishments listed.

Book the Discover the Pintxos Tour in San Sebastián Tour

 

Speyside Whisky Trail: 3-Day Small Group Tour from Edinburgh

Okay, this isn’t technically a food tour…but you can appreciate a good whisky, right? If you love the golden nectar, then a Scottish whisky trail is right up your alley. This three-day tour is kept small and starts off in Edinburgh and heads up north through the beautiful Highlands. The tour includes visits to four of Scotland’s single malt whisky distilleries.

Book the Speyside Whisky Trail

 

Food Tours in North America

Munch: America’s deep south

Ready to munch your way through some of America’s tastiest southern grub? Contiki has put together a 12-day food journey taking you through the likes of Austin, Nashville, and New Orleans. Expect food truck experiences, Texas BBC, soul food, whisky tasting and cooking lessons.

Book Contiki’s American Munch Tour

 

Munch: Mexico

Spend 12 days hopping around Mexico, sipping on Tequila and eating everything from ceviche to tacos. Start your Mexican food journey in Puerto Vallarta, followed by Tequila, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City, Merida, Chichen Itza, and Cancun.

Book Contiki’s Mexican Munch Tour

 

Real Food Adventure – Mexico

The nine-day Real Food Adventure Mexico starts and ends in Mexico City. You’ll visit markets, walk the popular street-food streets, explore beaches, and go on a Mexico City taco crawl. It’ll be just over a week of delightful culinary experiences and flavoursome food. Not to mention tequila, margarita’s and partying until the sun comes up.

Book the Real Food Adventure – Mexico

 

Food Tours in South America

Real Food Adventure – Peru

Nine days of discovering the Peruvian food culture and how the cuisine has developed from a combination of local and international flavours. The geography of the country influences the cuisine: fish from the coastal region, potatoes from the Andean highland and seasonal fruits from the Amazon rainforest. Peru is quickly developing into the next big foodie hotspot. Make sure you get ahead of the crowd!

Book the Real Food Adventure – Peru

 

Bite-size Break Buenos Aires

This is just a quick three-day tour of Buenos Aires, enough to breath in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this Argentinean city. The tour includes a visit to a lively La Boca neighbourhood in a community kitchen where you’ll learn to whip up Argentinian specialities like empanada. You’ll also sip Malbec with a connoisseur and learn to drink fernet like a local on a night-time tour of the trendy Palermo.

Book the Bite-size Break Buenos Aires

 

Bite-size Break Antigua

Experience Guatemala’s Antigua in this quick three-day tour. Start off with a hands-on cooking class in a popular restaurant, followed by a visit to a coffee plantation. Enjoy a restful lunch with a farming family and taste their home-grown brew. You’ll also get to explore the local food and vegetable markets and enjoy tasty meals with the locals.

Book the Bite-size Break Antigua

 

Food Tours in Africa

Real Food Adventure – Morocco

No visit to Morocco is complete without indulging in the exotic flavours of the local cuisine along with a shopping spree in one the many souks. This 10-day Real Food Adventure tour includes just the above, starting in Casablanca and making your way through to Marrakech. The sights, sounds, and smells can be overwhelming, but are so worth it!

Book the Real Food Adventure – Morocco Tour

 

Best of the Garden Route

The Garden Route is one of South Africa’s prettiest areas, full of fun activities, beautiful sights, lovely people, and delicious food (and not to forget the wine!). This 14-day Best of the Garden Route tour starts and ends in Cape Town (a foodie haven in itself) and includes visit to game farms (including Addo Elephant Park), museums, mountain ranges, and vineyards. You won’t just be eating your way through the Western Cape but participating in activities like kayaking, biking and fishing.

Book the Best of the Garden Route Tour

 

Wellington Winelands Cycling Tour

With the majestic Groot Drakenstein Mountains as your backdrop, cycle through the towns of Franschhoek, Paarl, and Stellenbosch, while you explore the Cape’s historic wine route.

Book the Wellington Winelands Cycling Tour

 

Travel tip shared by Bridget Langer for Travel Dudes
thewanderingbridge.com

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Unmissable Tourist Attractions to Visit in Ireland

Ireland, offers so many places and things to do as a tourist. 

From exploring its diverse culture, visiting the countless museums and places with ancient history to enjoying the beauty of picturesque landscapes, you will be spoilt for choices.

 

Here’s a list of some of the top-rated tourist attractions that you have to see the next time you are in Ireland:

1. The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher remains one of the most visited natural attractions in Ireland. More than one million people visit this attraction annually.The rugged beauty of this cliff is not to be missed.  Located in Western Ireland, enjoy the magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean and other islands on the western coastline.

The highest point of the cliff is around 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. There are three strategic points on the cliff where people can get a feel of different views. This cliff is located at Liscannor and will cost adults €6 while seniors and students pay €4. Those who are under 16 years are not charged.

 

2. Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Storehouse is located at St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin. Offering some of the most extravagant gorgeaus views of Dublin. Tours run daily & The Guinness Storehouse presents you an opportunity to learn so much about the beer.

The structure where the Storehouse is located has seven floors. The design features a glass atrium which has the shape of a pint of Guinness.

The ground floor features water, barley, yeast and hops which are used to make Guinness. To visit this Storehouse, it costs €25 for adults and €16 for children over 12 years.

 

3. The Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are a group of three different islands namely Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer. Located on the west coast of Ireland at the Galway Bay.

On holiday in Ireland, if you are looking forward to having a taste of traditional Irish culture, this is one of the best places you can visit. A real place to experience the traditional Ireland as we know it now today on postcards!

Most people speak Irish on the Island and if you have learned a couple of local terms, here is the place to practice it out. Also, you get to learn about small-scale farming and experience sandy beaches as you unwind. And if you would like always to remember your trip here, an Irish Sweater from the Sweatershop is a perfect souvenir to take home!

 

4. Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin is one of the best colleges in Ireland. Other than the academic, the college boasts about having some of the most majestic and historic buildings which are hundreds of years old.

The college itself has been in existence for decades. It was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592. Most of the ancient buildings have an interesting story behind them. Other than the buildings, the college is also famous thanks to the Books of Kells and the Long Room. The Book of Kells is considered as being one of “Ireland’s finest treasures.” A visit to the college will get you more information on what the book is all about.

 

5. Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin

Formerly a prison, the Kilmainham Gaol has now been made a museum. This attraction is significant towards learning the history of Ireland. A visit to this place will help you learn more about the rebellious leaders who were imprisoned in the in 1916 following an uprising. A great historical trip not to be missed when visiting Ireland.

 

6. The Ring of Kerry

There is no better way to have a pleasant view of some of Irelands finest attractions along the ring of Kerry. 

Some of the attractions which are along the ring include; the Killarney National Park, Rossbeigh Beach, Bog Village, Mols Gap, Torc Waterfall, views of the Atlantic Ocean among many others. The list is endless. The drive ordinarily starts from Killarney and goes around the ring and ends at Kenmare. 

 

7. Bunratty Castle

Located in County Clare. The castle provides a chance for one to learn more about the antique furnishings and tapestries which was done by Lord Gort.

The castle was finally reconstructed in 1425 by the MacNamara family after it had been destroyed following attacks. A visit to this castle will allow you to see a dungeon and four towers which feature a spiral stairwell. It is a great place to visit as a group or with your family when visiting Ireland.

 

8. Connemara National Park

National parks are great for those who love nature and wildlife. This park is one among the six which are under the control of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. It has been operational for the year 1980. At the park, one can get to enjoy almost 30 kilometers of mountains, forests, a variety of vegetation and grassland. Also, there are different kinds of birds such as chaffinches, robins, and stonechats which can be heard in the Park.

 

9. National Art Gallery in Dublin

This gallery features art from Ireland and Europe as well. The gallery was opened for service in 1864.

Majority of the artwork at the gallery was donated by famous people such as Lusitania of Hugh Lane and Anne Yeats. As of today, the gallery features a millennium wing which was opened in 2002. If you are into art and history, then the national art gallery is a must not miss when visiting Ireland.

 

10. The Burren

This 250 square kilometer region is located in County Clare. A big beautiful rocky spectacle that you have to see to appreciate.

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Cologne Carnival Guide: 7 Tips to Make the Most of Your Carnival in Cologne

Welcome to Europe’s best party!

I’m sure none of you are strangers to the revelries of Carnival, to fancy dress parades, giant floats and the madness happening before Lent begins. Carnival can be dated back to Roman times, and every city, town and village in Europe celebrates its own way.

I’ve been touring Carnival celebrations for years now, and nowhere have I seen it celebrated with as much passion and sentiment as in Cologne.

The town is literally swept away in a sea of colors, music and dance for six days. Over a million people take the streets and locals won’t miss the celebration for anything in the world.

 

It’s the party to end all parties – and here are 7 tips for you to enjoy Cologne Carnival at its best:

1)    Choose when to visit

Carnival parades in Cologne happen over a course of 6 days, with every day different celebrations. Festivities kick off on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday with ‘Women’s Carnival’, and conclude with the burning of the ‘Nubbel’, a straw figure, on Tuesday night.

On Friday there are parties and parades all over town, and on Saturday evening the ‘Ghost Parade’ takes place, the only parade the public is allowed to join. Sunday is Family Day, when groups of schoolchildren from all over Cologne march around the city with their floats. The biggest parade is the one happening on Rose Monday, with over 70 large floats from Cologne’s official carnival groups. The Rose Monday parade is definitely impressive, with marching bands and groups of cheerleaders opening each float, but crowds can be overbearing. Sunday is another great day to visit as the atmosphere is more subdued.

 

2)    Choose where to watch the parade

Being close to the parade is part of the fun. You’ll get to appreciate the colorful floats and costumes, the music and festive atmosphere, with people screaming Kolle Alaaf – the carnival motto, meaning Cologne above all – and throwing Kamelle (sweets) to bystanders. Make sure you bring some bags along to take all the Kamelle home with you!

With up to a million people in the streets, picking a good spot to watch the parade can be a challenge. The area around the Dom is indeed scenic, but it’s also where crowds are at their worst. We recommend avoiding the Dom and the Heumarkt area, and heading instead to the backstreets just off Neumarkt, or near the beginning of the parade. Check this map for the route of the carnival parade.

 

3)    Pick a fancy dress

You simply cannot visit carnival without fancy dress. You can bring your own or rent/buy one when you get to Cologne, or even just grab a wig or a silly hat from one of many stalls around the city center. If you opt for a full-blown fancy dress, remember you’ll be on your feet for most of the day, so choose something practical – an 18th century Venetian-style dress will probably be hard to manage. Also, don’t forget that Carnival happens in the middle of winter so be prepared for temperatures that can dip below zero – a Monsters Inc style jumpsuit or cavemen’s outfit should do the trick!

 

4)    What to do at night

The parades happen in the afternoon, and after they’re over the party continues at pretty much every single bar, restaurant and home around the city. Parties in bars and restaurant usually follow a similar format – copious amounts of Kolsch, Cologne’s very own beer, streamers and confetti and Carnival music playing all night long. If you speak a bit of German, don’t worry if you can’t make any head or tail of the songs – they’re all in Cologne dialect.

Bars around the city center are likely to be packed – head out of the city center to a place like Agnesquarter, Südstadt or Ehrenfeld for a more manageable situation.

 

5)    What to eat and drink during Carnival

Do you want the short answer? Eat street food (think currywurst, doner kebab, falafel and the like) and drink Kolsch, Cologne beer served in tiny glasses. There will be stalls serving beer all over the city, or you can pick up some bottles at a corner store, also called Kiosk. If you’re planning on partying the whole day and whole night, make sure you eat a good breakfast as those Kolsch add up really quickly and you don’t want to get too drunk too soon!

 

6)    Getting to Cologne and around

Carnival is super high season in Cologne, and flight prices tend to be steep. We recommend taking the train instead – the city is a very busy railway hub with lots of trains coming from every corner of Europe, so they’re not likely to be sold out. Most German trains don’t require reservations – we travelled into Cologne from Copenhagen and out to Paris and didn’t need to book our seats in advance.

To get around Cologne you can use the excellent public transport system, with trams and U-Bahn reaching every corner of the city. The carnival area is compact enough to be navigated on foot – it takes about 20 minutes to walk from Neumarkt to Heumarkt, and a further 15 to reach the Dom and Hauptbahnhof. The Experience Cologne: KölnCard gives you free access to public transport for 24 or 48 hours.

 

7)    Is carnival in Cologne safe?

Cologne got some bad press because of some incidents happened on a New Years Night, but let me tell you, there’s nothing to worry about, at least in my experience. The atmosphere of Carnival in Cologne is festive, relaxed and welcoming, and locals will be more than willing to help you if you’ve lost your way or your group. I have never felt threatened or endangered in any way – there’s lots of police and security around the parades. However, as always with crowds, pickpockets are rife, so keep your belongings close.

 

Tip: Make sure to book your accommodation in Cologne in advance as hotels fill up quickly!

 

Travel tip shared by The Crowded Planet for Travel Dudes.

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Wonderings: Notre Dame will rise from the ashes even greater than before

Illustration of a traveller looking out of a train window at a lake with mountains and forest in the background © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet Wonderings: rambles through and reflections on travel… this month, James Kay says that Notre Dame will emerge from the recent fire as an even greater monument © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet

Many years ago, I climbed the spiral staircase that winds its way up to the balcony connecting the two towers of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris’ western facade. From there, you can see many of the city’s greatest landmarks: the Eiffel Tower, the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, the Arc de Triomphe, the River Seine flowing past Île de la Cité.

A close inspection of the gargoyles and chimeras festooning the towers is just as engrossing as that far-reaching, wide-angle view. Jutting out from the walls, the gargoyles’ long necks channel water away from the ancient stone; the chimeras – horned, winged, taloned, feathered; beasts that never were – are there to ward off evil.

But none of them could protect the 12th-century building from the fury of a different element yesterday. Mercifully, the towers still stand, but the fire which began in the afternoon and raged through the night consumed the roof and toppled the spire.

Fire in the heart

I feel for the Parisians who lined the banks of the Seine to witness the conflagration, those vaulting flames mirrored in their tears. So do millions of other well-wishers around the world, for this is a building etched into the collective consciousness, a Unesco World Heritage site visited by millions of people a year.

Hyperbole aside, its destruction is a true tragedy. Notre Dame is the heart not just of Paris, but also of France, and not in a merely abstract sense: the brass plate set into the ground outside the western facade marks the city centre and the point from which the distance from Paris to all destinations is measured.

But, as we mourn, let’s remember that this heart will beat again.

Firefights battling the blaze yesterday as it spread across the roof of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris Firefights battling the blaze yesterday as it spread across the roof of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris © Pierre Suu / Getty Images

If you look north from our office in London, you can see across the River Thames to the towers of St Paul’s Cathedral’s west front. The cathedral – a place of comparable cultural clout to Notre Dame – is now in its fourth incarnation. Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece was built in the late 17th century after its predecessor was destroyed… by the Great Fire of London.

Contemporary accounts describe molten lead pouring from the roof of Old St Paul’s into the warren of streets below, causing the pavements to glow like flows of lava. So intense was the inferno that witnesses a furlong away – about 200 metres – could not face the flames.

Symbols of resilience

It took 35 years for the St Paul’s we know today to rise from the ashes – but rise it did, an irrepressible phoenix, just as it had from previous fires in 962, 1087 and 1561.

Furthermore, I’d argue that with each rebuild, just as the physical cathedral became a little bigger, so did its psychogeographical scale – that is, the amount of space it occupies in our minds. Along with all the other things for which it stands, St Paul’s became a potent symbol of the city’s resilience.

While I don’t speak for them, I’d wager that the residents of Utrecht, Barcelona and Cologne feel much the same way about St Martin’s, Santa Maria Del Mar and Cologne Cathedral respectively, all of which were ravaged by, and reborn from, fire at one time or another in their long histories.

It won’t take 35 years to restore Notre Dame, which has survived revolutions and wars, and hosted the crowning of kings and the coronation of emperors. French president Emmanuel Macron has already launched an international campaign and hundreds of millions of euros are pouring into the reconstruction fund.

And whenever this storied structure does reopen to the public, its hold on our imaginations will have grown, not diminished. So let’s look forward to the day when the bells of Our Lady ring out over the rooftops of Paris once more.

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