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madelineraeaway

Indulging in a cardamom bun from St. Jakob's.

The most common question I get about the Malmö food scene is easily: What even is Scandinavian food?

And truthfully, before moving here, I had no clue what it was either.

While I’ve spent nearly eight months in Sweden, and consumed a lot of delicious Swedish farm-to-table fare, I can say that Scandinavian food isn’t the only thing Malmö does well. When I talk about Malmö with family and friends, the conversation typically starts – and ends with – me raving about all the best restaurants in Malmö. And trust me, there are a lot of good ones.

I mean, me talking about food is pretty predictable – I am a self-proclaimed foodie after all. And after spending so much time exploring the food scene in this city, I’m excited to share with you all my favourite hotspots, and hidden gems. So here it is, everything you need to know about to where to eat in Malmö Sweden.

See Also: Visiting Malmö? Read my ultimate guide of all the things to do in Malmö.


BEST RESTAURANTS IN MALMÖ


Best Brunch in Malmö

Kärleksgatan 3: Tucked away in Davidshall, this tiny little brunch spot offers great food, coffee, and the most adorable interior [I mean, just look at this pastel tiled floor!].

Atrium: Atrium is the perfect cafe to grab brunch, and is absolutely one of my favourite brunches in the city. The ambiance is perfection, and I am obsessed with their very affordable breakfast platters, filled with everything from a yogurt parfait, to cheese and fresh bread (and don’t forget the bottomless coffee!).

Nam Do: Okay – so this isn’t really traditional brunch. Served on Saturday and Sunday from 11-4, Nam Do offers a Vietnamese “brunch,” which includes a full buffet spread of alllll your Vietnamese favourites, coffee, tea, and oter assorted drinks.

Cafe Grannen: Looking for vegan brunch in Malmö? This breakfast buffet is served everyday in the cutest little cafe. The spread includes an assortment of homemade pies, breads, and other treats. And the best part? At only 79 SEK on weekdays, it is surely the most affordable brunch you’ll find in the city.


Best Lunch in Malmö

Noir Kaffekultur: This place is so much more than just coffee. The avocado toast paired with a kaffe latte is my go-to, preferably outside on their perfect little Parisien-inspired patio.

Malmö Saluhall: The local “salluhall” or “food hall” offers a variety of restaurants in a cool indoor market setting, and is a great spot to grab lunch if you’re exploring the city. Plus, their diverse food offerings mean that there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. [must try: raman at Pink Head Noodle Bar].

AB Småland: This lifestyle concept store not only carries the most beautiful home goods, but it also offers a great vegan buffet lunch and coffee shop.

Far i Hatten: Located in the middle of one of Malmö’s coolest parks, Folkets Park, this is the perfect spot to grab a patio beer and pizza.

Spoonery: Offering a variety of different different bowls, with a rotating seasonal menu, Spoonery is a great lunch spot. If you’re in the mood to try a Scandinavian classic, opt for the meatballs!

Fiskehoddorna: Also known as Malmö’s fish market, this spot lines the street with colourful huts. Here, you can pick up the local catch-of-the-day to bring home and cook, or you can opt to eat to eat on their back patio. You won’t find better fish ‘n chips in Malmö, trust me.

Slottsrädgårdens Kafé: Nestled in the middle of Kungsparken, a park located in the centre of the city, you’ll find this cafe. This is the perfect summer patio spot for lunch or fika in the sun. [must try: the hummus plate!]


Best Dinner in Malmö

Bastard: Often referred to as the best restaurant in Malmö, Bastard is a premium food experience. Using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, the chefs at Bastard deliver incredible Scandinavian cuisine. We opted for the tasting menu, and I couldn’t recommend it more. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more casual, you can opt for pizza in their courtyard in the warmer months.

Saiko: Step into this restaurant and I swear you’ll feel like you’ve teleported to Japan. To say I am obsessed with Saiko would be an understatement. This Japanese restaurant in Malmö offers small sharing plates, and recommend roughly three plates per person, which means you can virtually try the entire menu. And don’t forget to wash it down with a glass of sake.

Casual Street Food: Looking for the best burger in Malmö? Look no further. The high quality burgers here blew me away (this coming from someone who doesn’t even really burgers…).

Nam Do: If you love Vietnamese food as much as I do, this is the place to go. The ambiance is cool, the food is delicious, and portions are very generous. I have tried other options, and in my opinion, this is best Vietnamese restaurant in Malmö.

Eatery Social: If you’re looking for Mexican, look no further than Eatery Social, which is located in the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel. They offer a great selection of unique tacos [I personally loved the pork tacos], and the chocolate chilli sponge cake is to die for.

Syltan: Premium pub fare and drinks. This is the perfect place for a night out with friends or if you’re looking for a casual, delicious meal in a pub setting.

Green Mango: This is your spot for the best Thai food in Malmö. With an extensive, high-quality menu and perfect little patio space, this has become one of my favourite spots in the city.

Malmö Brewing Co.: With a large selection of in-house and international beers, paired with some good old southern cooking (think mac & cheese, pulled pork, and creamed corn), this is a great spot for a casual bite.

See Also: My favourite Nordic dinner restaurant in Copenhagen.


BEST FIKA IN MALMÖ


To say fika is a way of life here would be an understatement. I swear, Swede’s entire day seems to revolve around fika. With that being said, there is no shortage of amazing coffee spots in Malmö [you can read my thoughts about Swedish coffee here]. Here are a few of my favourites.


St. Jakobs Stenugnsbageri: This place is, in my opinion, the best fika in Malmö. St. Jakob’s offers many locations scattered throughout Malmö, but my favourite is their newest location in Davidshall on Södra Förstadsgatan. And you must try their cardamom buns.

Uggla Kaffebar: I absolutely love this cute little coffee spot. It’s located very close to my apartment, which obviously makes me a regular. And they serve good coffee and the perfect fika sweets.

Noir Kaffekultur: I mentioned this place in my lunch recommendations, but they also offer some of the best coffee in the city. Sit outside on their patio, watch the bikes zoom by, and I swear you’ll feel like you’re on a terrace in Paris.

Lilla Kafferosteriet: Amazing coffee and an assortment of pastries. This is a fika favourite in the city, and it’s clear why. I suggest you opt for seating on the backyard terrace, if weather permits. It is the the perfect spot to soak in the afternoon sun.

Kaffebaren på Möllan: Great coffee and atmosphere in the trendy Möllan neighbourhood. In the summer months, I suggest taking your coffee out front and people watching in the square.

AB Småland: This was also featured in my lunch recos, but I have to include it here as well because they have a great little coffee shop. If you’re looking for something different, try their golden milk latte – yum!

EIDA: A super cutesy cafe in the old town. I personally love sitting on the big comfy couches outside in the summer and enjoying the bustling streets with a coffee in hand.


BEST BARS IN MALMÖ


Best Brewery in Malmö

Malmö Brewing Co.: With a large selection of both in-house craft beers, and featured international beers, this is the best brewery in Malmö.

Mikkeller Pop Up: The popular Danish craft beer brand hosted the coolest popup right in the middle of Folket’s Park this year. Now, it’s closed for the winter, but I am including it because I really hope it’ll be back next summer because the Wednesday night jazz nights because a staple in our summertime routine in Malmö.


Best Cocktail Bars in Malmö

Care/Of: This is my favourite cocktail bar in Malmö for high quality cocktails. It also has a perfectly intimate and cosy vibe.

MJs: To say I am obsessed with the aesthetic here would quite frankly be an understatement. And the cocktails are great too!

Side Note: If afternoon tea is your thing, MJs hosts the cutest afternoon tea I’ve ever seen with savoury small plates, tons of sweets, cotton candy, and – of course – lots and lots of tea. Seriously, everyone needs to have afternoon tea at Mjs on their list of things to do in Malmö.


Best Wine Bar in Malmö

Mineral: This is a perfect little wine bar in Malmö with tapas-style food. I’m also obsessed with their pretty outdoor patio space.

Mineral Wine Bar
Mineral Wine Bar

Julie: Julie is the perfect intimate wine bar in the middle of the old town and offers a very extensive wine selection. The staff at Julie definitely knows their wines, so prepare for a top notch experience.

L’enoteca: Full disclosure, I have never been to the restaurant itself (I’ve heard it’s great!). However, the hosted the most amazing wine garden down the street this summer and it quickly became one of my favourite go to summer spots to enjoy a glass of wine with the girls.


BEST FALAFAL IN MALMÖ


Did you know that falafel is basically the unofficial food of Malmö? You’ll find it everywhere and it is easily the cheapest food you can buy for only 30-40 SEK. There are many awesome falafel restaurants in Malmö, with arguably the most iconic being Jalla Jalla. However, if you were to ask me where to find the best falafel in Malmö, my answer would easily be Värnhem’s Falafel. Not only is the falafel tasty, but they actually make you a fresh pita right in front of you. And really, it doesn’t get better than that.


SO, NOW YOU KNOW WHERE TO EAT IN MALMÖ SWEDEN

I know I’m personally feeling pretty hungry after compiling this list of where to eat in Malmö Sweden. And I bet you are too! Sooooo… get eating!

Are there any spots I missed? Do you have any recommendations? If so, add them in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out my Things to Do in Malmö for a complete guide of what to do in Malmö. And check out some of my favourite little towns in Skåne with my Autumn in Skåne post.


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Have you heard of Montenegro? Chances are you have because you’ve landed on my one week in Montenegro itinerary.

However, typically when I tell people I spent a week in this tiny Balkan country this summer they have no idea where I’m talking about. I get comments like “That’s a city in Croatia, right?” or a very confused “Oh, sounds cool!” with a tone that suggests that they have no idea where that is and are too embarrassed to ask. However, the confusion merited because this stunning coastal country has only actually been an established country since 2006. And it is far less visited then it’s big sister to the north – the very popular Croatia.


SO, SHOULD I VISIT MONTENEGRO OR CROATIA?

I must first disclose that have never been to Croatia (aside from the Dubrovnik airport), so I can only speak to the stories I have heard from others. When we began planning our summer holidays, we were pretty set on spending a week or two in Croatia. I’d heard all about the amazing coastline and beaches, and it had been at the top of my bucket list for years. However, after talking to friends, family, and other travellers who had been there over the last couple years, I kept hearing the same story. Croatia is, of course, beautiful – but it has become very busy, expensive, and very touristy.

Upon doing more research about the Balkans, I began to look at Montenegro and Albania. I learned that they were both cheap, offered similar picturesque coastline, and were significantly less busy than Croatia. It didn’t take much for more to be convinced – we decided that Montenegro was the Croatian alternative we were looking for (and we’re saving Albania for hopefully next summer!).


WHY DO YOU NEED TO VISIT MONTENEGRO?

Well, where do I start? First off, the coastline is straight out of a postcard. Couple that with scaling mountains, clear turquoise waters, the most friendly locals, amazing food, and affordable prices, and you have a recipe for the perfect week long vacation.

Views from the top of Kotor

Are you planning a trip to Montenegro? Here is everything you need to plan your one week in Montenegro itinerary.


WHERE IS MONTENEGRO?

Are you still confused about this fairly new Balkan country? Are you wonder where in the world is Montenegro?

Montenegro is a tiny country that lies directly south of, along the same coastline as, Croatia. And when I say small, I mean SMALL. It’s roughly 13,000 km squared with only ~622,00 inhabitants. Despite it’s small size, it is home to nearly 300 kilometres of mountainous Adriatic coastline, of which 70 kilometres of filled with beaches. And the most southern fjord in Europe: the Bay of Kotor.

See Also: If you as amazed by fjords as I am, read about my time exploring the Norwegian fjords.


HOW TO GET TO MONTENEGRO?

Montenegro has two international airports that visitors commonly fly into: Podgorica and Tivat. These locations have direct flights to many places in Europe, and serve as the easiest way to enter Montenegro.

Alternatively, if you’re headed to the Bay of Kotor or nothern Montenegro, you can fly to Dubrovnik. We opted for this option because it offered us the opportunity to fly direct from Copenhagen, and the flights were much more affordable. However, although a popular option, flying into Dubrovnik comes with a unique set of challenges: crossing the Croatian-Montenegrin border.

Prior to making this journey, I heard about and read about how difficult this process can be, especially if you are arriving by bus. I read about stories of queuing for hours at the Croatian border, only to have the bus be pulled in for hours for passport control. I was determined to avoid this chaos. So, we opted to hire a private driver to get us to Montenegro. We scheduled a car through Airports Taxi Transfers for 80 euros each way. The driver took us from the airport directly to our Airbnb and the border crossing process was a breeze (mind you, there was very little traffic). The whole transfer took only two hours door to door, and based on the experiences that I’ve heard about from others, I’m still convinced it was the best 160 euros I’ve ever spent.


TRANSPORTATION IN MONTENEGRO

What’s the best way to travel around Montenegro? Is there a public transportation system in Montenegro? I had so many questions about transportation in Montenegro that I found very difficult to answer prior to going. So I’m here to spill all the tea on the ins and outs of Kotor Bay transportation.

Driving in Montenegro

Can you rent a car in Montenegro? Sure! However, full disclosure, I have never experienced anything quite like Balkan drivers. They drive in the middle of narrow, winding two-lane highways with little consideration for oncoming traffic, and quickly swerve around cars as they approach them. And speed limits – what are those? Needless to say, I would be personally a bit too scared to drive on these roads, but if you feel confident that you can navigate the craziness, renting a car is absolutely the easiest way to get around Montenegro.

Buses in Montenegro

To travel within the Bay of Kotor, we often used the bus system. Similar to the residential drivers, the bus drivers don’t seem to obey the traditional rules of the road (for example, we had a bus driver quite literally roll up to every stop, open the door, and keep slowly rolling while passengers hopped out). With that being said, I still felt way more secure in a bus than in a car. And the buses run regularly between towns, and are very affordable.

Taxis in Montenegro

Are you an rideshare lover like me? Well, sorry to break it to you but there is no Uber in Montenegro (or Lyft).

However, we had our Airbnb host order us a cab a couple times, and there are always plenty of drivers available for hire. For pricing reference it cost us roughly 15-20 euros to get from Perast to Kotor (which was approximately a 20 minute car ride).

Water Taxis in the Bay of Kotor

If your budget has a bit more wiggle room in it, there are water taxis all over the Bay of Kotor that are happy to drop you off where ever you need to go. We entertained this as an option to get from Perast to Kotor, but at 40 euros a ride the price point was outside of our budget.


WHERE TO STAY IN MONTENEGRO?

When we booked our stay in Montenegro, we wanted to spend our time somewhere quiet. Additionally, we only wanted to stay in one place the entire week (which is very unusual for us) in an effort to have some time to relax.

Based on this, we decided to stay in Montenegro’s most beautiful town – Perast. Perast is popular with tourists; however, is not a popular location to rest your head because it lacks nightlife and is generally very quiet (yes, even in July). Many people opt to stay in Budva or Kotor because there is “more to do,” however we loved the quietness of Perast, and could easily travel to Kotor in 20 minutes. Plus, there were plenty of fantastic restaurants and so much to do in the Bay of Kotor that we were never bored.

With that being said, if you are looking for the best beaches in Montenegro, Budva is your spot. It is home to a beautiful coastline filled with beaches and resorts. Also, if you’re looking for the best nightlife in Montenegro, you should stay in Kotor or Budva. Keep in mind, Kotor hosts cruise ships nearly every day in the summer, and therefore it gets very busy inside the Old Town walls during the day. However, it quiets down at night, and there is a lot to do. So ultimately, you can’t go wrong – it all depends on what you’re looking for!


If you have decided to focus your itinerary on the Bay of Kotor like I did, read on for my one week in Montenegro itinerary.


THE BEST APARTMENT IN PERAST

We opted for the cutest Airbnb with the most spectacular views. Seriously – Look. At. These. Views.

Not only were the views of Perast perfect from our apartment, but it had everything we needed: a small kitchen, spacious living space, central location, and air conditioning (which is SO necessary during July in Montenegro). All at a very affordable price of about 60 euros per night.

For more information on Apartments Franovic, check out their website here or the Airbnb listing for the apartment we stayed in here.


THINGS TO DO IN THE BAY OF KOTOR

Bay of Kotor Boat Cruise

One of my absolute favourite days in Montenegro was spent at sea with 360monte. We spent the entire day sailing around Montenegro, swimming in caves and submarine tunnels, and taking in the most perfect views. This experience is a must if you’re spending time in the Bay of Kotor.

Swim – Lots!

There is no shortage of places to take a dip in the Bay of Kotor. In fact, one of my favourite things about Perast is that you can swim just about anywhere. The waterfront is lined with docks and stairs that lead into the sea, which provide the perfect setting to jump in any time you please.

Swimming Dock in Perast
Pirate’s Bay Beach Bar

An absolute highlight of our time in Perast was Pirate’s Bay Beach Bar – in fact, we loved it so much we went twice. This spot provides the perfect spot to lounge, swim and indulge in drinks by the sea.

TIP: Stop by and reserve a lounger the day before for only 15 euros (they go fast the morning of). I’d suggest grabbing a front row seat along the dock portion, it was much quieter than the beach, and doesn’t have enough room for people to put down their towels in front of your lounger from unimpeded views 🙂

Walk Up the Walls of Kotor Old Town

For the best views of the Bay of Kotor, you must walk the walls of Kotor Old Town. The walk can be a bit strenuous in the summer heat, but the views at the top are so worth it. Just don’t make the mistake we did, and leave in the morning before the afternoon heat picks up. And bring lots of water.

Explore Kotor Old Town

Kotor’s Old Town is super charming and offers photo opportunities everywhere you turn. For the experience, explore in the evening after the cruise ships leave to avoid the crowds.

Visit of the Cat Museum in Kotor

I know what you’re thinking, a museum about cats – have you lost your mind? Maybe I have. But regardless, this museum is cool. It shows photos of cats that date back centuries, highlighting how they have not only been the best friends of many notable people, but have also been used in advertisements and propaganda since the beginning of time.

It only costs one euro, and supports a good cause.

FUN FACT: Kotor is filled with cats everywhere and it is a known fact that Montenegin’s have a fascination with these little furry friends. In fact, many locals believe that cats saved the town of Kotor and have remained a symbol of good luck ever since. Anddddd, with that said, I present to you my Montenegro cat montage (sorry not sorry, I couldn’t not post these photos).

Visit Our Lady of the Rocks

Located a short boat ride away, and visible from the town of Perast, Our Lady of the Rocks is a man made island that a blue-domed church that rivals the famed Santorini domes.

To get there, you can hire a boat in Perast. There are a ton of boats for hire alongside the water – all you have to do is walk along and hire a driver to take you over. If you’re visiting, I would highly recommend taking a guided tour of the interior of the church, if possible. It was a really cool experience and we learned a lot.

TIP: If you happen to be in Montenegro on July 22nd, you’ll be able to witness an annual ceremony called Fašinada at sunset from Perast. During this ceremony, locals tie a string of boats together and head over to Our Lady of the Rocks. The boats were decorated with flowers while music played. Once at the island, the locals threw rocks into the water surrounding the mad-made island with a goal of preserving the island. It was such a special ceremony to witness. If you’re eager to learn more about the Fašinada tradition, click here.

Kayak in the Bay of Kotor

There are a couple spots along the Perast waterfront to rent kayaks, which we took advantage of. It was a great afternoon water activity!

See Ancient Roman Mosaics

In the town of Risan, the oldest in Montenegro, ancient Roman mosaics were discovered. The mosaics have been preserved to replicated what is believed to be an ancient Roman villa, and can be visited for a small fee. I had no idea that the Bay of Kotor was filled with so much history, and this was really cool to see.


BEST RESTAURANTS IN PERAST

Best Grill: Konoba Školji

We tried several restaurants in Perast, and this one was, quite simply, THE BEST. Affordable. High quality. And most incredibly kind staff. We loved it so much, I felt inclined to write a (lengthy) TripAdvisor review. In case you need convincing, here’s an except from what I wrote:

“Where do I begin with this spot? We stumbled upon it when we were walking down the street in Perast one night, and went it when we noticed the outdoor grill.

We were greeted by the friendliest staff who was eager to provide us with a top notch experience. The atmosphere was perfect, felt very authentic and traditional.

And then, there was the food. All I can say is WOW. We were looking for a local grill meal the first night we went and had the cevapi. The portion was huge and delicious. Our server told us to come back a second night to try the slow cooked lamb, which cooks for several hours throughout the day in a bell hanging over the grill. And it was so good we came back a third night to have the lamb again!

We also tried the salads, with the freshest produce. And the desserts (homemade tiramisu!!). All very highly recommended.

A special shout out goes to our server Momir. He went above and beyond to give us the best service, and offered amazing recommendations. I can’t say enough about all the servers here, and the entire experience. If you’re in Perast, you need to stop here!”

Best Seafood: Hotel Conte & Restaurant

The seafood here is top notch. It has a reputation as the most popular restaurant in Perast – and for good reason. We dined here twice and loved it. It’s a bit on the more expensive side, but still a bargain compared to a similar quality meal in other countries. And the views along the water are perfection, especially at sunset.

TIP: if you want to dine along the water at sunset, make a reservation. It’ll be so worth it.

Best Pizza: Bocalibre

I know what you’re thinking – pizza in Montenegro? Well, if you’re looking for something different from the usual seafood and meat dishes, this spot offers great pizza.


BEST RESTAURANTS IN KOTOR

Best Barbeque: BBQ Tanjga

I truly can’t say enough about this spot for outstanding barbeque. When you walk into the tiny restaurant you’ll be greeted by the staff and asked to pick a platter of meat, as well as sides. You then go around back and they bring you your freshly cooked platter. And whoa, it was SO MUCH food, so arrive hungry and be prepared to eat… and eat and eat.

Best Restaurant in Old Town: Konoba Scala Santa

Full disclosure: We didn’t eat here.

However, I was told by a couple people that according to both tourists and locals, this is the best restaurant in the Old Town.

BONUS: Amazing Cevapi in the Bay of Kotor

Looking for cevapi? Of course you are!

We ate a lot of cevapi in the Bay of Kotor, and the best version we had was at Кафе Grill MM in Risan. This lovely little patio is in a park, down the street from the Roman mosaics, and was the best cevapi we had in Montenegro. And as an added bonus, it was served with the most incredible hand cut, homemade fries.


ARE YOU SOLD ON THIS HIDDEN PARADISE YET?

My biggest Montenegro tip. GO. And go now. Before it gets more popular. Before it becomes unbearably busy like Croatia. Because reality is, there is no way this perfect summer spot will stay quiet forever.

Also, as you probably noticed, this one week in Montenegro itinerary focuses on the Bay of Kotor area. However, there is SO much to see and do in Montenegro, and we truly only scratched the surface. I already can’t wait to go back and explore other parts of this hidden paradise (and spend some time in the mountains!).

And in case I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s a few more of my favourite memories:


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And if you’re looking for information on another one of my favourite hidden paradises, check out my itinerary for Milos, Greece.

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Looking to explore Norway on a Budget? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

I don’t know about you, but I have dreamed of visiting Norway for a long time. I scrolled through pictures of turquoise fjords, scaling mountains, and lush greenery and knew it was a place that I had to see in my lifetime.

However, my dreams of visiting Norway were conflicted by one thing: Norway is infamously expensive. I heard this over, and over, and over again. And settled for the fact that you must be wealthy to visit Norway. So, alas, this dream trip was put on the back burner.

However, when my parents decided to visit me in Scandinavia, I began to revisit the idea of Norway. I wanted to show them the absolute best of Scandinavia after all. So, I began doing a ton of research and suddenly, the thought of visiting this dreamy country didn’t seem so unattainable anymore. So, it was decided – we were off to see the fjords!

Is Norway Expensive? Simply put, yes.

I am not going to see here and lie to you and tell you that Norway can be a super cheap vacation.

But, is it impossible to visit Norway on a budget? Not at all.

And I’m going to share with you the best way to venture across Norway on a budget with my 5-Day Oslo to Bergen Itinerary.


DAY 1: VISIT NORWAY’S CAPITAL, OSLO

Oslo may not be what you imagine when you visit Norway, because it really is just a modern city. However, it is the perfect gateway to seeing everything Norway has to offer. This means that one day in Oslo is plenty of time to explore. And best of all – there are plenty of affordable and free things to do in Oslo.

Things to Do in Oslo

Oslo Islands: In the summer months, take a (very affordable) ferry across to Oslo’s island archipelago. In the interest of time, we went to Hovedøya, which is the closest of the islands. It was a lovely little island suitable for walking around, exploring old ruins, and swimming in the Oslo fjord. You can find more information on all of Oslo’s surrounding islands here.

Oslo Harbor Front: Walk along the harbor front to take in beautiful sites of the city. If you’re feeling brave, take a jump into the water!

Oslo Opera House: The Oslo Opera House has a very unique design and absolutely must be visited. They often have events going on that you can check out as well.

Akershus Fortress: Make sure you take some time to walk around the grounds of the impressive Akershus Fortress.

Best Restaurants in Oslo on a Budget

The Salt Village: Here you’ll find a small village of food trucks serving a variety of food – suitable for all diets. Once you get your food, you can sit on the outdoor patio overlooking the Oslo Opera House. They also host tons of cool events, so check out their website to see if anything is happening while you’re there. (Tip: we ordered the grilled cheese from Good Mood and it was soooo good. And better yet, only 90 NOK for a huge lunch portion).

Skur 33: Looking for the best Italian food in Oslo? Okay, you probably weren’t because when you think of Norway, you don’t associate it with Italian food. But I’m telling you, Skur 33 is the real deal. They have the most gorgeous waterfront space where you can sit along the water and admire the views. This isn’t necessarily a “budget” place, at about 225-275 NOK (or 20-25 EUR) for a main course, but when you factor in the quality of food and the incredible patio views, it is a very good value for your money. (Tip: I have nothing to say but you must get the lobster risotto).

Where to Stay in Oslo on a Budget

City Box Oslo is centrally located, affordable, and offers clean and spacious rooms starting as low as 999 NOK (100 EUR) a night.


DAY 2: OSLO TO FLÅM BY TRAIN

On day two, you’re up early and ready to see what you (hopefully) came to Norway for: NATURE.

We booked all of our Norway transportation through Norway in a Nutshell. I offer so many more details about this service, and answer the question “Is Norway in a Nutshell Worth It?” later in this post, so be sure to check it out!

Part 1: Oslo to Myrdal

I would highly suggest leaving as early as you feel comfortable to make the most of day two. We left around 8:00 am and began the four and a half hour train ride toward Flåm.

Many people ask which side of the train is better to sit on from Oslo to Myrdal. From my experience, if you are able to choose your seat, it is the left side (although it may seem like the right side is better in the first hour or so). However, either side of the train is great and scenic. And there is always an option to go to the dining car for views of the opposite side.

On the way to Myrdal you’ll pass some incredible views. You’ll begin the journey venturing through some small picturesque Norwegian towns as you make your way to the top of the mountain range.

Once at the top, you’ll see snow capped mountains and bright turquoise waters, like this one. In fact, this very location was used as a Star Wars filming location!

See Also: If beautiful views are your thing, then you must check out my Douro Valley, Portugal itinerary – and prepare to be blown away.

Part 2: Myrdal to Flåm

Next, transfer trains in Myrdal to the legendary Flåm Railway – which is often coined the most picturesque train ride in the world. This old-fashioned train way a bit touristy, and very busy, but all the hype about the views was REAL. I mean, seriously, just look at these pictures.

Similar to the previous leg of the journey, I would also recommend sitting on the left side of the Flåm Railway, if possible. Also, if you’re looking to get the best pictures (without a glare) you’ll want to select a seat that has windows can be pulled down.

Things to Do in Flåm

Once you arrive in Flåm, I highly recommend resting your head here, and spending the rest of your day admiring this picturesque town. Here, you’ll be at the head of beautiful hikes through the surrounding mountains. You can also rent boats (we rented a paddle boat), swim in the fjord (if you’re lucky enough to have warm weather – which IS possible, even in Norway), or have a quiet waterfront meal.

Here’s some highlights from our time in Flåm.

Where to Stay in Flåm

We loved Flåm Marina & Apartments. If you are just one couple, this spot would be a bit of a spurge at around 300 euros a night for a two bedroom apartment (luckily, we were two couples sharing the cost). However, if you have room in your budget to splurge one night, this is the night to do it.

Located around the corner from town, away from the hustle and bustle of tourists, I think I can safely say this spot was the highlight of our time in Norway. With balconies facing the fjords, a dock that we could jump off into the water, boat rentals, and a beautiful waterfront restaurant, I couldn’t recommend staying at Flåm Marina & Apartments enough.

Another great perk – this spot has it’s own kitchen. So, you can save money by buying groceries, cooking in the apartment, and eating at home – all while enjoying the fjord views from your private balcony.


DAY 3: FLÅM TO BERGEN BY FJORD CRUISE, BUS & TRAIN

Ready for another early morning? Well, if you want to see the best of Norway in five days, you gotta start early.

Fjord Cruise

We were up and onto our next leg of the Norway in a Nutshell tour around 9am. The next step is a fjord cruise through the narrowest fjord in the world: the Nærøyfjord. Like everything in Norway, the pictures will never do this experience justice. It was simply breathtaking.

My #1 tip for the Nærøyfjord fjord cruise: dress warm. Even though it was warm outside (around 25 degrees), it was still VERY cold on the deck of the fjord cruise. It seemed like most people got a memo that our group must have missed, because my thin jacket was not cutting it. Luckily, I had coffee to keep me warm.

Bus Trip

Once you arrive in Gudvangen, you’ll transfer to the most thrilling part of the Norway in a Nutshell journey: the bus ride. En route to Voss, you’ll scale the side of mountains on winding roads on a massive bus – don’t try this at home, kids. The whole journey was equal parts thrilling, terrifying, and just simply incredible.

And, One Final Train Ride

White knuckled, we arrived in Voss for the last leg of the journey by train to Bergen. This one hour journey highlights so much more of Norway’s undeniable beauty and offers the perfect opportunity to have some down time before arriving in Bergen.


DAY 4 & 5: EXPLORE BERGEN, NORWAY’S MOST POPULAR COASTAL CITY

Things to Do in Bergen

Bergen is a beautiful coastal town and there are tons of things to do in Bergen on a budget. Here ar some of my favourites!

Visit the Top of Mount Fløyen: You can take the Bergen Funicular up the mountain to see the best views of the city. Or you can walk up, which take about 45 minutes up a moderate, steady incline. The benefit of walking up is that you’ll navigate through some of Bergen’s prettiest neighbourhoods (where I swear every house had a luxury electric car parked in the driveway).

Go for a Hike: The top of Mount Fløyen serves as the head to many of Bergen’s most popular hiking trails. We hiked to the lake made famous by the “Death in Ice Valley” and the walk there was absolutely gorgeous. My parents were a bit more adventurous and hiked all the way to the top of the mountain, and the views were incredible.

Visit Bryggan: The iconic harbor area in Bergen is beautiful and is great for walking around and taking pictures.

Mariakirken i Bergen: This beautiful church is located right behind Bryggan. Also, take a walk around the surrounding neighbourhood. I completely fell in love with all the colourful sided houses.

Nøstet Neighbourhood: Speaking of colourful sided houses, if you love them as much as I do, you must visit the Nøstet neighbourhood.

Best Restaurants in Bergen

Pingvinen: This super cutesy little restaurant with delicious moderately priced food (TIP: try the Norwegian meatballs!).

Bergenhus Brewery: Also moderately priced with good food, a good craft beer selection, and amazing views of Bryggan.

Where to Stay in Bergen

We stayed at the most perfect Airbnb in Bergen. It was centrally located, around the corner from a grocery store, and most importantly affordable (about 1,350 NOK or 130 EUR per night for a two bedroom apartment). Click here to read more about it.


Is Norway in A Nutshell Worth It?

When I first began researching transportation in Norway, the “Norway in a Nutshell” route kept popping up everywhere. Then, when I looked at the price that starts at 2,200 NOK (or roughly 220 EUR) per person, I thought it seemed like a scam. That is, until I began researching the cost of transportation in Norway (which, similar to everything else in Norway, is expensive).

After biting the bullet and purchasing the Oslo to Bergen trip with Norway in a Nutshell, I think our whole group is in agreement that the package is a very good value. Here’s what was included:

  • Four and a half hour train ride from Oslo to Myrdal
  • One hour train ride on the legendary Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm
  • Two hour fjord cruise through the Nærøyfjord, the world’s narrowest fjord
  • Two hours on a bus, scaling the side of a mountain
  • One hour train ride from Voss to Bergen

Sure, you can book each of these legs separately and save a marginal amount of money (and I must stress that during the summer months, the savings are truly marginal). However, what I appreciated about “Norway in a Nutshell” is that each leg of the tour was timed perfectly with the next leg, and there was no guesswork about where we needed to go next. Additionally, all tickets were emailed to us in a comprehensive package.

If you’re considering booking Norway in a Nutshell, ultimately you need to consider how much your time is worth. Because I am confident that if I would have booked this tour on my own, the amount saved would not have been worth the hassle.

Should I start Norway in a Nutshell in Bergen or Oslo?

This is a question I asked myself prior to booking my Norway in a Nutshell Tour. The most popular Norway in a Nutshell option is to complete the entire tour in one day, and to start and end in Bergen. However, in my opinion, this is a very long tour to do in one day. Additionally, one of my favourite parts of the trip was the journey from Oslo to Myrdal, where we were able to witness firsthand the exceptional diversity of Norwegian landscapes.

On this journey, we gradually climbed to the top of the mountain range, drove through snow-covered mountain tops, and even saw Star Wars filming locations. This entire experience would have been missed if we began the tour in Bergen.

With that being said, the Oslo to Bergen tour would be very very (very) long to do in one day. Which means you should stop en route and spend time in the mountains. There are many locations you can stop, but we ultimately chose Flåm. Although a bit touristy (there is a port for one cruise ship), the town is so incredibly picturesque. And despite the cruise ship being there, it wasn’t very busy – likely because the tourists all leave on tours during the day.

In the late afternoon the ship left and we felt like we had the entire town to ourselves. This experience is not something we would have had if we had chosen to do Norway in a Nutshell in one day, which is why I think it is so beneficial to do the tour over two days if your schedule allows for it.


TIPS FOR VISITING NORWAY ON A BUDGET

  1. Grocery Shopping. We saved a lot of money by preparing breakfast and lunch at home. And truthfully, we didn’t feel like we missed out on much – because, generally speaking, you don’t visit Norway for the food. I also always had a couple protein bars, or some fruit, in my backpack for when the hunger struck.
  2. Apartment Rentals. When I was looking for places to stay, the Airbnb properties were often significantly cheaper than hotels. Additionally, this gave us the flexibility to cook at home, since we had a kitchen. Add in text about Airbnb credit here.
  3. Camping. Apartments are great, but if you’re the outdoorsy type, consider camping. Have you heard about “the right to roam?” Basically, it is a national law that gives you permission to pitch a tent in nature, almost anywhere you would like. For more information on the right to roam in Norway, click here.
  4. Cut Back on Alcohol. The cost of alcohol was crazy, starting around 90 NOK (or 9-10 EUR) for a small beer. And don’t even get me started on the cost of wine. So, if you enjoy a few drinks on vacation, it may be wise to stock up at Duty Free before arriving in Norway. Or head to the grocery store to save a bit of money.
  5. Nature is Free. What makes Norway so magnificent is the nature – and exploring this doesn’t cost a penny.
  6. GO NOW. Did you know the Norwegian krone is the weakest it has been in years? Sure, Norway is always expensive, but it is less expensive now than it has been in the past. So don’t wait any longer and just book that flight!

HOW TO GET TO NORWAY

Looking for the cheapest airports to fly into in Norway? The answer is Bergen and Oslo. This is because they are international hubs to both Europe and the rest of the world, and serve as a connection point for those travelling to more remote Norwegian locations. We were able to cut costs by flying from Copenhagen to Oslo, and home from Bergen, whereas remote airports were significantly more costly. In addition, outside of these hubs, many locations are only accessible by car. And have you SEEN the price of gas in Norway?


WEATHER IN NORWAY

It should be no surprise that Norway is a rainy country. Additionally, even the south of Norway is quite northern compared to the rest of the world. This means that warm weather is never guaranteed – even in the summer months.

With that being said, if you’re planning to visit, pack accordingly. I’m talking clothes for warm weather, cold weather, and most importantly, rain. And don’t trust the weather forecast, because it is almost never correct.


READY TO VISIT NORWAY ON A BUDGET?

Using this Oslo to Bergen itinerary, I am confident that you will fall in love with Norway just like I did.

And if you’re travelling around Scandinavia, don’t forget to check out my hometown using my Malmö Sweden City Guide. Or if you’re crossing the Oresund Bridge top Denmark, don’t forget to keep an eye out for all the best spots to take pictures in Copenhagen.


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Kraków, and Poland in general, is a place that has been on my radar for a long time, but never at the top of my list. I knew it with be beautiful, full of history, and affordable – but for some reason (that I can’t pinpoint) it was never a top priority to visit. After spending three days here, and a day in Warsaw, I can’t believe I waited so long experience Poland. If it’s not on your radar, or priority list, it should be. And I”m going to tell you all the reasons why you need to visit Kraków, why I wish I hadn’t waited so long to go, and why I already can’t wait to go back!


GETTING TO KRAKÓW

Kraków sits in a very accessible location and is connected to many other major European hubs by plane or train.

Kraków Airport: The most convenient location to fly into is Kraków Airport, located just 30 minutes from Kraków’s city centre by car. From there, you can easily reach the city centre by shuttle, cab, or Uber.

Katowice Airport: Katowice is a city located roughly an hour and a half from Kraków by car. We chose to fly to this airport because they were a Wizz Air hub and we were able to find a cheap direct flight from Malmö to Katowice. I was skeptical at first given the distance from the city, however it was very painless and I would absolutely recommend it if you can get cheap flights (I’m talking less than 20 euros one way). You can also book an affordable shuttle from Katowice to Kraków (as low as 3 euros per person).

Warsaw Airport: If your local airport doesn’t fly directly to Kraków or Katowice, Warsaw is a fantastic alternative option. The high speed train that connects Warsaw to Kraków can transport you between the two cities in about 2.5 hours. And the best part – it’ll give you an opportunity to stay a night in Warsaw and explore the Polish capital like we did.


WHERE TO STAY IN KRAKÓW

There aren’t very many hotels in Kraków, but there are plenty of apartment rentals.

We loved our stay at Boom Apartments, which offers five modern and clean apartments in the heart of the city. We stayed in “Moneyless,” which had all the amenities you could ask for – fresh towels, a coffee maker with coffee pods, complementary water, extra bed linens, a small kitchenette with dining area, and more.

And, with affordable apartments in a variety of sizes, there is an offering for every budget!

Planning a trip through eastern Europe? See Also: A Guide to the Perfect 3 Days in Budapest.


THINGS TO DO IN KRAKÓW

VISIT THE OLD TOWN

Kraków’s Old Town is super pretty, and definitely worth roaming around. Unlike many other parts of Poland, Kraków wasn’t destroyed during WWII and maintains its old world charm. St Mary’s Basilica stands tall in the square and I’ve been told the interior is beautiful! Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t manage to see it – but I plan to next time I visit Kraków.

WANDER AROUND WAWEL CASTLE

Wawel Castle is another landmark in the city that deserves a visit. You can do a tour of the inside of the castle, but it was such a nice day we just decided to explore the castle grounds. It is absolutely beautiful – you can wander around the gardens, visit the popular fire breathing dragon, and just enjoy the views of the city.

EXPLORE KAZIMIERZ (THE JEWISH QUARTERS)

Kazimierz was easily my favourite area in Kraków. It is the perfect place to roam around, and is home to some of the best food and drink spots in the city (see all my recos below!). Make sure you visit both of Kazimierz’s lovely squares: Plac Nowy and Plac Wolnica. I particularly loved the patios along Plac Wolnica.

HUNT FOR STREET ART

Street art is everywhere in Kraków – you’ll find yourself constantly stumbling upon it. Here’s some of my favourites:

VISIT AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

I am not going to say much about Auschwitz-Birkenau, because quite frankly there is nothing I can say to describe this experience or do it justice. It is easily one of the most sobering experiences of my life. I think it is incredibly important for anyone visiting Kraków to take a day trip to honour the victims to make sure that this horrible event is never forgotten, or repeated.

If you’re looking for the best Auschwitz-Birkenau tour, we visited with Get Your Guide, specifically on this tour. I would highly recommend the early morning option, because it minimizes the number of crowds (we left Kraków at 6:30 am and it took just over an hour to get to the camp). I believe that although it felt a bit rushed at times, Auschwitz-Birkenau is best visited with a guide to truly make the most of your time there.

BIKE TO BENEDICTINE ABBEY IN TYNIEC

This was one of my favourite things we did during our time in Kraków. Benedictine Abbey, a lovely abbey tucked into the side of a hill in the Polish countryside, is located roughly 45 minutes away from Kraków by bike.

We rented bikes from Starbikes, which is located near the beginning of the beginning of the bike path. I can’t stress enough how important it is to go to a rental location near the start of the river-side bike path, because Kraków is not bike-friendly. Thankfully, we only had to bike a couple blocks through the city.

Fields by Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec

The Polish countryside was beautiful, and easy to navigate. There is a bike path alongside the river that leads to Tyniec and the views are spectacular! Once you arrive in Tyniec, there is an option to take a boat tour on the river. This is the best way to get views of Benedictine Abbey (and something I wish we had time to do).


WHERE TO EAT IN KRAKÓW

Kraków is a foodie paradise. It offers a range of choices from local Polish cuisine, to modern Western dishes, and virtually everything in between. It is also incredibly affordable, which means it’s a great opportunity to indulge in those “splurge” meals for only a fraction of the price that they would be at home.

He’s some of my favourite spots and must-tries in Kraków.

Premium Dining: Restauracja Pod Baranum

The perfect date night spot if you’re looking for traditional Polish fare. Restauracja Pod Baranum was the most “premium” meal we had in Kraków, at a “whopping” 60 euro price tag. This included appetizers, mains, dessert, and a bottle of wine.

Must-Try: I highly recommend the cabbage roll appetizer and Sebastian loved the beef strogonoff with dumplings.

Mid-Range: Old Town Restaurant and Wine Bar

This restaurant was recommended by friends, and it absolutely lived up to the hype. Also serving Polish food, however with a bit of a modern twist. This is your spot for the perfect mid-range meal.

Must-Try: The spinach-stuffed pierogi appetizer. OMG.

Milk Bars

Chances are if you have done any Kraków, you’ve heard of the famous Polish milk bars. Essentially, these milk bars are ex-socialist era canteens that were established as government-subsidized restaurants in the late 1800s where workers could purchase affordable Polish food. If you’re interested, you can read more about the history of Polish milk bars here.

We visited two of the best milk bars in Kraków: Milkbar Tomasza, which is near the city centre and very popular with tourists. And Bar Mleczny “Pod Temidą,” which was a bit more traditional and authentic.

We ate pierogi at both milk bars, and both were great (I mean, how can you go wrong?). These spots serve as the perfect spot for a really cheap lunch (a huge place of pierogi is around 3-4 euros).

Fun fact: Did you know that “pierogi” is already plural? I learned that calling them “pierogis” is a western thing, and something I’ve been saying incorrectly for years.

Cafe: Via Caffe

This is the best cafe in Kraków. Located in Plac Wolnica in Kazimierz, this spot has a perfect little patio and is a great spot to stop for a coffee pick-me-up.

Must-Try: The lavender latte is incredible.

Breakfast/Brunch: Handelek

A local favourite, Handelek has the best brunch in Kraków. The restaurant uses all locally-sourced ingredients, specializing in an array of spreads in so many different flavours.

Brunch at Handelek Kraków

Must-Try: If you’re fan of rose (which just so happens to be my favourite flavour), the Cravcovian plait served with rose jam is to die for.

Food Trucks: Skwer Judah

Located in Kazimierz, this is your spot for all the best food truck eats in Kraków. With seven or eight trucks serving a variety of food and plenty of outdoor patio seating, we opted for this spot as a quick and cheap dinner option on our last night in Kraków.

Must-Try: The baked potato food truck! *insert heart eyes*

Judah Square Food Truck Park
Ice Cream: Good Lood

Good Lood is a small local chain of locally-sourced, 100% natural ice cream. They have a few locations scattered through the city and is easily the best ice cream in Kraków.

Must-Try: I’m still dreaming about the Polish Strawberry flavour.


BEST BARS IN KRAKÓW

There is no shortage of drink spots in Kraków. Just wander around and you’ll find so many patios to grab some of the cheapest beers in Europe. If you’re on a budget, venture away from the old town and drink where the locals do. Here are some of my favourite spots:

The Cutest Patio: Eszeweria

Looking for cheap drinks and the cutest little courtyard patio in the heart of Kazimierz? This is your spot!

The Best Outdoor Drink Spot: Club Re

This massive outdoor green space is a great spot if you’re looking for a patio drink. It’s located close to the Old Town and is very popular, especially in the evening.

The Best Hidden Cocktail Bars: Mercy Brown and Z Ust do Ust

Have you heard of Kraków’s hidden bar scene? Well, there are a number of bars scattered through the city that are not advertised and operate on the “if you know, you know” principle. We scouted out, and successfully located, two of them – I really couldn’t recommend these spots more if you’re looking for a really unique cocktail experience.

Mercy Brown: When you arrive at the address, you’ll be welcomed into what seems to be a typical restaurant – this is not the bar. You’ll notice a man sitting at a concierge desk – Ask him to take you to Mercy Brown. He’ll walk you through a dark hallway, up a random set of stairs and through a door that looks like a janitor’s closet. On the other side: a REALLY COOL speakeasy-inspired cocktail bar. The drinks were great, the staff offered us so many suggestions of things to see and do in Kraków (including tips on how to get to the second cocktail bar we visited). I would highly recommend visiting, just make sure you make a reservation if you go on the weekend – this place is small and I was told it can get very busy.

Z Ust do Ust: The following evening, we went on another adventure to find this cocktail bar, which proved to be a bit trickier than the first one. We arrived at the address, and tried to locate the entrance. After wandering around, we made our way up a stairwell to a billiards club. At the top of the stairs, at the entrance of the billiards club, there was a bathroom with an “out of service” sign. We went in, pulled the flush string on the toilet, which activated a door to open. There, we were welcomed into a tiny 70s-inspired bar. To make the whole experience even cooler, the drink menu featured pictures from local artists, and you picked your drink based on the picture that resonated with you (they had a menu too in case you aren’t feeling brave). Needless to say, this experience was just plain cool and should be at the top of your list for a night out in Kraków.


WHEN TO VISIT KRAKÓW

Our trip to Kraków in early June was perfect. The weather was warm, the sun was shining, and it wasn’t too busy yet with summer travellers. With that being said, shoulder season is always my favourite time to travel in general, and I am confident that Kraków would be lovely in May or September.

I’ve also heard that they have some pretty epic Christmas markets, if you happen to be travelling during the holidays.


UNTIL NEXT TIME, KRAKÓW

I mean it when I say that I will absolutely be back, because there are still so many things I want to see, do and eat in this city. And I hope I’ve made it clear why you need to visit Kraków too.


PLANNING A TRIP TO KRAKÓW? PIN THIS FOR LATER.

And don’t forget to subscribe for more updates coming soon, including a guide to spending a quick 24 hours in Warsaw.

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Douro Valley Views

Before I started developing my itinerary for Portugal, I knew there was one activity that belonged at the top of my list: visiting a port winery (or two, or three…).

One of my favourite summer activities is wine tasting. Back in Canada, this was an easy afternoon outing, with my hometown quite literally surrounded by dozens of wineries. However, Sweden and wine don’t really go hand-in-hand. This means I’ll be spending a lot less time sipping wine in vineyards this summer. For this reason, I knew that I wanted to take full advantage of Portuguese wine country while I had the opportunity.

When I began researching the best way to visit the Douro Valley, most itineraries only detailed day trips from Porto and I really struggled to find the information I was looking for. After lots and lots of research, I’ve put together this two day guide to visiting the Douro Valley that will guarantee you the best visit.

Seriously, prepare to be amazed by one of the most drop dead gorgeous locations I’ve ever visited.


THE TOWNS OF THE DOURO

The first choice you need to make when considering visiting the Douro Valley is which towns to visit.

After doing lots of research, we settled on staying near the town of Pinhão. We ultimately made this decision based on its distance from Porto, and its location within the Douro region.

Pinhão is a lovely little town, surrounded by vineyards and offers plenty to do. Additionally, the drive from Peso da Régua to Pinhão along the N-222 has be voted the be drive in the world! Based on this, we knew Pinhão would make the perfect resting point.

Douro Valley

WHERE TO STAY IN THE DOURO VALLEY

Two words: Casa Cimeira.

Once we settled on a town, we began scouring surrounding properties for the perfect place to rest our heads. We wanted to stay at a popular ‘homestay’ [often affectionately referred to as a wine hotel, because these family-owned properties often also make their own wine]. When I came across Casa Cimeira, I knew I had found the spot.

Casa Cimeria is located just outside of Pinhão in Valença do Douro, a small village located amidst the rolling hills of wineries. Casa Cimeira is an immaculate family-owned property. It features spacious rooms, a pool, and the most spectacular views of the Douro Valley.

The owner and host Miguel is very welcoming and helpful. He offered us lots of tips to help you make the most of your time in the region.

And perhaps the most special part of the Casa Cimeira experience are the family dinners each night. We enjoyed an amazing home cooked Portuguese meal amongst other guests from around the world, sharing stories and bottles of Miguel’s homemade wine. This experience only costs 20 euros per person and was a highlight of our time here.

See also: The trendiest hotel in Porto.


GETTING TO & AROUND THE DOURO VALLEY

BY CAR

Driving is easily the best way to get to the Douro Valley. Plus, it is the only way you’ll be able to experience the ‘best road in the world’ from Peso da Régua to Pinhão along the N-222. And let me tell – for this reason alone, the drive is worth it. I must have said “wow, look at that” at least 100 times.

Valenca de Douro Views

To get to Pinhão, we rented a car in Porto. For the most part, the drive was seamless. The roads were well paved, there was very little traffic, and they had two wide lanes. Getting to Pinhão was easy; however, getting to Casa Cimeira in Valença do Douro was not as straightforward. If you choose to stay in a neighbouring village to Pinhão [or any other Douro Valley town] be aware of the very steep, narrow, mountainside roads that you may have to navigate to get there. Sure, there are guard rails. But the roads are VERY narrow, and the locals do not drive slow.

However – I would argue that the ten minutes of white-knuckle driving was absolutely worth these views [although Sebastian might argue otherwise, since he was the one driving LOL]. Plus, I think I have been numb to all risky driving experiences ever since we braved some seriously scary roads in the Greek Islands.

See also: You can read all about our single-lane, cliffside, no-guard-rails driving experience in Naxos here.

BY TRAIN

The main towns of the Douro Valley, including Pinhão, have train stations, and you can take the train from Porto. I have heard from other people that this is a pleasant experience if you’re hesitant to drive. However, I would argue that it would be difficult to see everything the Douro Valley has to offer without a car, unless you want to hire a car/shuttle service to some of the local sights and wineries once you arrive in Pinhão.


THINGS TO DO IN THE DOURO VALLEY

EXPLORE THE TOWNS & VILLAGES OF THE DOURO

During our time in the Douro Valley, we visited Pinhão and Peso da Régua.

Peso da Régua is a charming town nestled into the mountains, where we stopped for lunch and took in the most beautiful views along the lake. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but we did have one of my favourite meals in Portugal at Churrasqueira Rio Douro. Here, we were greeted by this fiery little Portuguese women, who was running around the tiny restaurant serving all the diners. We were told to pick a meat, which was served alongside plates of fries, rice, bread, and salad. The food was incredible, and the service was amazing. This massive meal only cost 16 euros!

Lunch at Churrasqueira Rio Douro

Pinhão is a larger town, and a popular hub for visitors to the Douro Valley. We spent an an afternoon wandering around Pinhão, having ice cream by the waterfront, visiting the local shops, and going on a boat ride along the Douro Valley. In town, there are a variety of tour operators that you can walk about to and book a boat ride [it only cost us 10 euros per person]. I really loved this experience because it wasn’t a tour – no history, no stories. It was just a relaxing time where I was able to sit on the bow of a small boat and admire the beauty of the Douro Valley.

DRINK ALL THE WINE

Shocker: we drank lots of wine in one of the world’s most popular wine regions.

A short distance from both Pinhão and Valença do Douro is one of the Douro Valley’s most popular wineries: Sandeman. The wine estate was, simply put, STUNNING. We visited their tasting room where we sampled a few of their wines, and admired the views of their vineyards and gardens. We didn’t book a winery tour at Sandeman; although based on the grandeur of the location I can imagine it would be impressive.

Located a short [very steep] 15 minute walk from our homestay in Valença do Douro was a much smaller, lesser known, winery called Quinta da Côrte. This spot is home to some of my favourite wines I had in Portugal. It also offers a “casa” where you can stay overnight if you are visiting the region. Here, we toured the facilities, learned how port wine is made, and tasted some of their signature wines – I couldn’t recommend this winery, and this experience, enough.

Quinta de Corte Winery

See also: The best food and wine tour in Porto.

ADMIRE THE VIEWS

I don’t know if I have ever been to a place as serene as the village of Valença do Douro. With not a person in sight, we felt as though we had the world to ourselves. We hiked around, took lots of pictures, and sat on benches and just admired the views. I had a few serious “pinch me” moments, feeling so grateful that these locals had welcomed us into their little, tiny community.

If you are planning on visiting the Douro Valley, I highly suggest taking a day or two in your itinerary to slow down and admire this agricultural masterpiece. Far too often travel can feel fast-paced and hectic. Visiting the Douro Valley was the perfect reminder that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Views of the Douro Valley near Pinhao

FEELING READY TO GET YOU WINE DRINKIN’ ON?

Before visiting the Douro Valley, I knew almost nothing about port wine [aside from the bougie-ness factor]. And I assumed that the highlight of my time in northern Portugal would be spent drinking wine on terraces and roaming through vineyards. Don’t get me wrong, we did a whole lot of that – but the Douro Valley is SO MUCH MORE. And it should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list.


PLANNING ON VISITING THE DOURO VALLEY? PIN THIS FOR LATER!

And check out some of my other Portugal posts, including my guide to all the things to do, see, and eat in Porto!

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It’s safe to I fell head over heels during my two days in Porto. The city is so much more than just Lisbon’s little sister and offers to so much to do and see – and [perhaps most importantly] EAT.

As a relatively new player to the tourism scene, the vibes of the city are organic and raw. In fact, many of the popular tourist areas were quite unsafe a mere two decades ago. The architecture isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes it so beautiful. It is easily one of the most charming cities I have ever visited, and I already can’t wait to go back.

I’m dishing all the deets that are guaranteed to make you have the best two days in Porto. Are you ready? Let’s go!

GETTING TO PORTO

By Air: Porto has a small airport, with direct inbound flights from select European cities, and is located roughly 20 minutes outside of the city centre. We flew direct from Copenhagen to Porto and found the process to be very seamless. If you’re headed to Porto and there isn’t a direct flight from your hub, you can book a flight through Lisbon. There are several flights from Lisbon to Porto daily.

By Train/Bus: If you’re heading to Porto from another city in Portugal, it is well connected by train and bus to other popular cities, like Lisbon. We didn’t use this method, but I know many people who have who have said that the experience was very positive.

By Car: If you’re openminded to driving, the best way to get to Porto – and travel around Portugal – is by car. We opted to rent a car in Porto, and drive it down the coast to Lisbon. We made stops along the way, and saw things that we never would have been able to if we were not driving. Driving in Portugal was very easy. The roads were well maintained and paved, and there were very few drivers on the road. The only downside is that there are several tollbooths along the way. However, the cost of these tolls are marginal.


GETTING AROUND PORTO

Walk: Porto is a fairly small city, and is easy to navigate by foot. If you’re capable, I suggest this option because you can see so much more by just wandering around.

Uber: Uber in Portugal is cheap. We used Uber to get to/from our hotel when we had luggage, and the couple times that our destination was not within walking distance


WHERE TO STAY IN PORTO

We stayed at the absolute best hotel in Porto: ZERO Box Lodge. In fact, I loved it so much that I wrote an entire blog post about it. Click here to read all about it.

See Also: The best hotel to stay and play at in Lisbon.


THINGS TO DO IN PORTO

Cais da Ribeira

This waterfront district of Porto is so incredibly charming. Filled with waterfront patios and the most perfectly imperfect buildings – you’ll feel like you’re sitting in a postcard.

Take some time to explore the narrow surrounding alleyways and stairwells. Here, you’ll find so many unique shops, architecture – and of course, TILES. I loved this region because it felt so authentic. It wasn’t perfectly maintained like many other European cities, and you could often spot the locals wandering around amongst the tourists, picking up groceries at the local shops, and hanging their laundry out to dry.

Luís I Bridge

This industrial structure stands tall along the Porto waterfront, and features two layers that you can walk across. I would highly recommend heading up to the top layer for the best experience.

Tip: For the best views of the picturesque Casa da Ribeira, walk across the Luís I Bridge and snap a few pictures.

Port Tastings

Once you arrive on the other side of the bridge, you’ll be greeted by winery after winery… after winery. This is the best place to spend an afternoon indulging in Porto’s namesake beverage: port wine.

There are dozens of wineries to choose from. We opted for a tasting at Ramos Pinto, where we were educated on the different types of port wines offered by the winery. If you have time, I would suggest doing a tour of the facilities to learn about how the wine is made. We didn’t do one in Porto, because we had tours planned on the next stage of our trip in the Douro Valley. But, if you’re not able to make it out to the Douro Valley, you should definitely do a winery tour in Porto.

After a port tasting, sit along one of the many patios along the waterfront, sit on a glass of wine, and enjoy the views of Cais da Ribeira.

Eat Your Heart Out

One of the best things about Portugal is the food. Pastel de nata, francesinha, and SO much seafood – need I say more?

We wanted to make sure we had the best foodie experience during our time in Porto, and so we took a tour with Secret Food Tours Porto. If you want to know more about this amazing experience, I wrote all about it here.

Visit the Douro Valley

On our trip, we opted to spend two days in the Douro Valley [you can read more about that here].

If your itinerary doesn’t allow for an overnight visit, you MUST take a river cruise day trip to the Douro Valley from Porto. There are a variety of tour operators along the Porto waterfront to choose from. Book a trip and I can guarantee that you’ll see some of the most beautiful views you’ve ever seen.

Clérigos Church and Tower

For the best views from the top of Porto, visit Clérigos Tower. Here, you can walk through the most beautiful church and climb up the (very narrow) winding staircase to the top of the church tower. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views of the city.

São Bento Railway Station

You’ll find beautiful tiles everywhere in Porto, but some of the prettiest hand painted can be found inside the São Bento Railway Station. This spot is absolutely worth a stop when you’re wandering around the city.

Tip: If blue tiles are your thing, my absolute FAVOURITE are located at All Souls Church. Here, you can take an iconic Portuguese picture – just like this one.


WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN PORTO

Porto Food Tour

I already mentioned my tour with Secret Food Tours, but I truly can’t stress enough how great this experience was! You can read all about it in my Secret Food Tours post here.

O Carniceiro / Big Bad Bank Bar

This restaurant-bar combo was located inside of our hotel, ZERO Box Lodge and it was EPIC. O Carniceiro was hands down our best meal in Porto, and the cocktails at Big Bad Bank Bar we so well done. Not to mention, the ambiance was just so cool. You can read more about it here.

Mercado do Bolhão Market

A favourite sopt for locals, you could wander around this market for hours, tasting all the best local foods. And don’t be afraid to try the sardines – they were actually very tasty!

Capa na Baixa

For the prettiest terrace in Porto, check out this place. I would highly recommend this stop if you’re looking to indulge in the classic Portugese favourite: francesinha.


BEST TIME TO VISIT PORTO

I loved visiting Porto – and Portugal in general – in April. The weather was warm, but not too hot. And it wasn’t swarming with tourists yet. The only downside of visiting Porto in April is the potential rain. Although we were (mostly) lucky, we did experience a couple wet days, which is pretty typical for this time of year.

For the optimal weather, Porto is best visited during the shoulder season of May and September.


Okay, seriously. How beautiful is this city? If you’re headed to Portugal, you CANNOT MISS this place. I mean it – add it to your itinerary, right now.


HEADED TO PORTUGAL? PIN THIS FOR LATER!

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