Category:

Food

The city of Porto is seriously cool. It’s gritty. Charming. Inviting. And perfectly imperfect in every single way.

Coincidently, I would use all these same adjectives to describe one of my favourite hotels, ever: ZERO Box Lodge.

This spot is definitely not your typical hotel, and quickly challenged all my expectations of what I typically expect from a hotel: because it is so much more than just a hotel. A trendy hub in the centre of Porto where you can sleep, eat, drink – and be amazed (seriously, this hotel was definitely designed with Instagram in mind).


ABOUT ZERO BOX LODGE

ZERO Box Lodge describes their hotel design as a new way of sleeping. And suggests that their model could be the future of tourism.

The hotel was the brain child of Gonçalo Carvalho, who had a vision to transform an old t-shirt factory from the 1800s into a revolutionary hotel concept. It was a one-stop-shop where visitors could feel like they have entered a different world.

In short, in every single way this place is the complete opposite of an ordinary hotel. ZERO Box Lodge is…


A PLACE TO REST

The room concept at ZERO Box Lodge was inspired by the Japanese “capsule hotel” and features rows of simple wooden boxes with plenty of room to move around, stand, and sleep. Each of these boxes features it’s own private, very modern bathroom.

Although the rooms were small, we rarely spend time in our hotel room when travelling. And found it was spacious enough to relax after a long day, with a very comfy bed and a large welcoming bathroom and shower (with huge towels, which I find are ALL TOO RARE when travelling – it’s all about the little things, you know?).


A PLACE TO EAT

Would you believe me if I said that the best dinner we had in Porto was at our hotel?

I never eat at hotel restaurants. I typically find them generic, overpriced, and lacking any sort of culinary creativity. O Carniceiro at ZERO Box Lodge challenged every single one of those opinions.

The concept was simple: look inside the glass refrigerator, pick a cut or two of meat, and they will prepare it for you. Pick a side dish (or two or three). And ENJOY.

We opted to share a couple different cuts of beef (they do have veggie/fish options if meat isn’t your thing). Indulged in two sides. And were totally blown away.

I was so full, but the food was SO good I knew I had to get dessert. And the sweet/spicy mix of the blackberry and green pepper chocolate cake was easily one of the best desserts I’ve had in awhile.

And the best part: this meal was so affordable.

See Also: The Best Food Tour in Porto


A PLACE TO DRINK

Why leave the hotel when you have one of the coolest bars in the city onsite? The Big Bad Bank Bar not only looked cool, but the cocktails were so on point. We enjoyed our pre-dinner cocktails so much on our first night in Porto, that we returned for another drink before our dinner at Big Bad Bank Bar the following night.


A PLACE TO BE AMAZED

Bank Vault

Inside Big Bad Bank Bar, they have designed their very own bank vault, complete with thousands of bills behind bars and traditional Portuguese tile patterns. It is easily the most Insta-worthy spot in the hotel.

Free Room

Yes, you heard that right – FREE HOTEL ROOM. This unique feature helps you answer the question: how far would you go for free accommodations?

Located in a highly visible location between the reception and bar is a glass-enclosed “free room.” The catch – zero privacy. And I mean literally zero. In fact, when we were going to breakfast in the morning we walked by the room to witness the occupant passed out in the midst of all the commotion around him. And we came home from a busy day in the city to see him playing video games in the room.

Personally, I’m adventurous, but not THAT adventurous. However, if you are ready to put yourself on display, this is the perfect opportunity to stay in Porto for free!


A PLACE THAT HAS IT ALL

Welcome Beer

Cold beer? Yes please. When I walked into the hotel and was offered a cold beer, I knew were in for a special stay. And the hospitality didn’t stop throughout our stay. The staff was friendly, helpful, and really rounded out the whole experience.

Breakfast

We also opted for the breakfast, which was served at O Carneceiro in the mornings. For only 8 euros per person, you were given a choice of four breakfast options, which included coffee and freshly squeezed juice. The portions were generous, making this option an incredible value and one I would absolutely opt for so you get up and start exploring early.

Watertank & Sauna

The “watertank,” or rooftop pool, wasn’t opened yet when we visited in April, and it still says that this feature is “coming soon” on the hotel website. But, once it is opened it will be a fantastic amenity with views overlooking Porto; it’s something that I can’t wait to return to try.


LOCATION

ZERO Box Lodge is located in a fabulous location, right in the city centre. Porto is a small city, and virtually everything is accessible by foot. This spot is perfectly situated to help you make the most of your city exploration.


PRICES & BOOKING

ZERO Box Lodge is super affordable, and offers an incredible value for your money. Check out the latest prices and book your stay: click here.


In short: ZERO Box Lodge is JUST PLAIN COOL & if you’re visiting Porto, you NEED TO STAY HERE.

I really couldn’t recommend this spot enough. The concept was so unique, and absolutely contributed to making our stay in Porto that much more special. And if sleeping in a box isn’t your thing, you can still stop by and enjoy the bar and restaurant. Because this spot is so much more than just a hotel.

See Also: The Chicest Boutique Hotel in Lisbon


ARE YOU HEADING TO PORTO?

PIN this article for later and stay at Porto’s trendiest hotel! And subscribe to my mailing list to stay up to date on more Portugal recommendations coming to your inbox soon.

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Porto Sardines

Without a doubt, experiencing different food cultures is one of my favourite parts of travelling [if you ask my boyfriend, Sebastian, he would say that it is his favourite part of travelling]. With that being said, we often spend a lot time prior to our travels researching restaurants, polling our friends, scouring the internet, and making reservations at all the best places to eat in the cities that we’re visiting. As you can imagine, this process takes a lot of time – which is why it is sometimes easier, and more fun, to let the locals guide you to those decades-old, hole-in-the-wall treasures that many tourists will never find.

Cue: SECRET FOOD TOURS PORTO.

Before I travelled to Portugal, I was so excited to try Portuguese food and wanted to make sure I got the very best experience. So, when I heard about Secret Food Tours Porto, it sounded like a great opportunity to explore some of Porto’s hidden food gems.


ABOUT SECRET FOOD TOURS

Secret Food Tours is an award-winning company that hosts food tours in cities all over the world. They employ local foodie enthusiasts that guide you to all the best spots to eat, drink, and indulge.


SECRET FOOD TOURS PORTO

After having unparalleled successes in many other cities around the world, Secret Food Tours has recently added the northern Portuguese city of Porto to its tour offerings, and they invited us along to taste our way through Porto.

It was our first day in Portugal and we met our tour guide, Alexandra, bright and early, eager to start tasting. Alexandra, a Porto native who has lived all over Europe, greeted us with a warm smile and was excited to show us all her favourite spots in her hometown.

First stop: breakfast. And most critically, coffee. Alexandra explained that the typical coffee culture in Portugal involves a small cup of espresso in the morning [often with an entire package of sugar poured into it]. We partook in this Portuguese tradition, and got to know our guide over coffee and a traditional Portuguese sponge cake in a small intimate café.

Portuguese Sponge Cake and Espresso
Portuguese Sponge Cake and Espresso

Next, we headed out to a popular indoor market, both with locals and tourists, to try a Portuguese delicacy: canned sardines. When I was first told that this would be the second stop of the day, I admittedly hesitated. However, the sardines were, dare I say it, TASTY. They were perfectly salty, paired with fresh local bread, all washed down with a big glass of local Portuguese ‘green wine’ [don’t let the name fool you – the colour of the wine is white]. Not to mention, the sardines were packaged in the most beautiful, colourful cans.

After lunch we explored the market, bought some local bread, and headed to our third stop for a Portuguese sandwich, called a bifana. This sandwich is made with thinly sliced pork, marinated in a chili sauce, and according to Alexandra, this small local restaurant has the best bifana in Porto! Let’s just say I could have easily eaten five of them, they were so darn good.

After the bifana, I was already beginning to feel full, but there was SO MUCH more to eat. Thankfully, I was able to walk off some of the food between restaurants. Along the way, we made stops at some of the most popular spots in Porto and Alexandra told us stories about Porto’s culture and history.

Bifana
Bifana with Local Pineapple and Orange Juices

Our fourth stop was a plant-lovers dream, with a terrace covered floor-to-ceiling in greenery. Here, we tried another popular Portuguese dish called francesinha, which is a sandwich stuffed with a variety of meats, coated in cheese, toasted, and covered in sauce – also known as a heart attack on a plate. We washed this down with Super Bock, a local beer that you will find everywhere in Portugal. Again, we were reassured that we had just indulged in the best francesinha in Porto. And I totally believe it.

Okay, after that cheesy-meaty goodness I was seriously getting full. But, little did I know, that we were about to have our biggest meal yet. We ventured to a small local restaurant on the most unsuspecting street and feasted on a traditional Portuguese white bean stew, complete with a ‘secret’ ingredient that you must taste for yourself. It is something I would have never tried on my own, and again was a bit hesitant to try, but the flavours were incredible.

Last stop: port tasting. This is absolutely one of the me popular things to do in Porto [and Portugal in general] and something we did a lot of through the entire trip. Port wine is native to the Porto region, and the tasting featured port samples from local wineries. Here, we learned more about the different types of port wines, and heard the origin stories of this type of wine in Portugal. It was absolutely the perfect way to cap off a perfect day with Secret Food Tours Porto.

Port Tasting in Porto
Port Tasting with Dried Figs

HOW MUCH WILL THIS TOUR COST ME?

The best part of this tour: the incredible value. You can spend four hours stuffing your face on the best Porto food and drinks tour for only 64 euros per person. And, if you’re in the mood to drink your way through Porto, you can add the “Upgraded Drink Package,” which includes three extra drinks, in addition to the ones I already mentioned, for only 7 euros more per person.


FEELIN’ HUNGRY YET?

I want to disclaim that in the interest of not spoiling some of the ‘secrets’ of this experience, I’ve been asked not to include all details. However, I want to add that what makes this tour so special and fun is not only the places we visited, and the dishes we ate, but the local guide who massively contributed to my love for the city of Porto, its history, and its food culture.

I’ve taken food tours in a many cities and let me tell you, this tour was among the best. I can’t recommend Secret Food Tours Porto enough, and based on this experience I would feel so confident spending another day with Secret Food Tours wherever my travels lead me next. It is an experience I will never forget.

As one final note, I must warn you: be prepared to EAT A LOT. This Porto foodie experience is worth every single bite.

If you’re ready to book your trip with Secret Food Tours Porto, click here.

See Also: The trendiest hotel in Porto.

Porto Food Tour

LIKE WHAT YOU READ?

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View of Budapest from Gellert Hill
Budapest Itinerary // 3 Days in Budapest // Budapest Food Guide // Budapest City Guide

Budapest is a city that I have longed to visit for awhile. It was a city that I have almost visited so many times, but never quite got there. So when we started planning our first weekend away since I moved to Sweden, spending 3 days in Budapest seemed like the easy choice.

And our weekend in Budapest certainly lived up to the hype.

Szechenyi Baths, Budapest
Szechenyi Baths, Budapest

The sunny weather reached over an unexpected 20 degrees [in late March!], and the city felt so alive. Coming from a chilly, grey Sweden, we felt like we might as well have been in the Mediterranean. And, because it was March, the city lacked the bustle of tourists that it typically experiences in the warmer months.

This set the stage for a truly perfect weekend away.

We had the best 3 days in Budapest, and I want to give you the all the details so that you can have the best time too. As we always aim to do, this itinerary offers the perfect mix of must-do touristy and off-the-beaten-track Budapest – and A LOT of amazing food recos.

So, here it is: A guide on how to spend the perfect weekend in Budapest.


Where to Stay in Budapest

Pal’s Hostel

Confession: I have always loved a good, cheap backpacking hostel, where I shared a room with a bunch of strangers and made friends with other travel-lovers. But since Sebastian and I met and started travelling together, our travel preferences have changed a bit. And consequently, I haven’t stay in a hostel in a couple years.

However, this trip was extremely last minute, and the price of booking a last minute hotel was expensive. We were looking for something simple, but clean, with a private bathroom, and in the city centre – all at a good value. That’s when I stumbled across Pal’s Hostel and knew that I had found the perfect place.

However, nothing could have prepared me for just how nice this spot would be. Located in the most gorgeous historical building right across the street from the popular St. Stephen’s Basilica landmark, this hostel is in the perfect location, within walking distance of all major sights. Not to mention, the hostel has the most friendly and helpful staff who went out of their way to ensure that we had the best stay!

We opted for a private room with private bathroom, and to say the room was huge would be an understatement. It also featured the most beautiful high ceilings, comfortable bed, kitchenette with dining room table, and the biggest surprise – the private balcony overlooking St. Stephen’s Basilica. This was a feature that I was not expecting, and it absolutely blew me away. I mean, look at those views.

Pal's Hostel, Budapest
Views from our private balcony at Pal’s Hostel

If you’re looking for a no-frills, affordable, perfectly-located private room in the heart of Budapest – this is your spot. And if you can, request this room and take in the breathtaking basilica views.


Things to Do in Budapest

Visit a Historical Castle

Buda Castle, which sits atop the Buda side of the Danube River, is worth spending time to explore. Walk across the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge and enjoy the riverfront views.

Once across the river, you can either enjoy a leisurely walk to the top of the hill, or take a tram, and explore the Buda castle grounds. Here, you’ll also find some beautiful views of the city.

Once you’re done at the castle, make your way to Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. We opted to not tour the church, or pay to walk along the top of the Bastion, but these are both options. Instead we explored the ground area, and again admired the views.

Hike to the Highest Point in Budapest

Gellert Hill offers panoramic views of Budapest. Take a 15-20 minute uphill walk to the Citadella at the top, and admire Pest from an entirely new perspective.

I have been told that the best time to visit Gellert Hill is at sunset to take in the most beautiful views. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to do this and instead visited in the morning, but it is something I will definitely do when I next return to Budapest.

Explore the Famous Budapest Pub Culture

Scattered throughout the Jewish Quarter, you’ll find tons of ruin bars offering cheap drinks in the most eclectic, unique atmospheres. Our favourite was the most famous ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, but other really popular options include Instant [which has turned into more of a night club], Csendes, and Yellow Zebra.

Szimpla Kert, Budapest
Patio at Szimpla Kert, Budapest

Soak in the Famous Thermal Baths

One of the most popular things to do in Budapest is undoubtedly visit their famous thermal baths. We decided to visit the most popular bath, Szechenyi Thermal Baths, because we were really interested in an outdoor bath experience. Although a bit expensive, this was an awesome experience. With 18 indoor and outdoor pools, this place is huge! We spent most of our time outside in the thermal pool, taking in the beautiful surrounding architecture and enjoying the sunshine.

Szechenyi Baths
Szechenyi Baths

Tip: If you plan to visit Szechenyi Thermal Baths, the earlier in the day the better. We arrived around 10am on a Sunday and it was already fairly busy. And by the time we left, there were several people queuing outside for tickets.

To get to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths from the city centre, I recommend hopping on the Budapest Metro. Tickets are cheap, and taking a ride on the yellow line will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

There are tons of thermal baths all over Budapest. I would have loved to visit others, but we simply didn’t have the time. Other local and tourist favourites include Gellert Spa and Rudas Baths.

Go Shopping at an Indoor Market

Central Market Hall is a massive indoor market that offers a variety of different vendors. Here, you can find local souvenirs, tons of handmade goods, fresh produce and meats, and a variety of food vendors.

Central Market Hall, Budapest
Central Market Hall

Experience Budapest at Night

Budapest is beautiful at all hours of the day, but it’s charm is a little extra special at night. Walk along the banks of the Danube at night, and watch the city sparkle. Buda Castle and and the Hungarian Parliament Building are especially beautiful when lit up at night.

Many people recommend taking a Danube River cruise at sunset or in the evening to truly appreciate the glow of the city. We didn’t end up having time to do this, but I’ve heard that it is a fantastic experience.

Hungarian Parliament at Night
Hungarian Parliament
Buda Castle at Night
Buda Castle at Night

Shop In The Jewish Quarter

We stumbled upon Gozsdu Udvar in the Jewish Quarter, which is an eclectic narrow alleyway filled with street vendors, restaurants, and bars. We bought a few souvenirs, including some handmade leather goods, and really enjoyed the overall vibes of this district.


Best Restaurants in Budapest

It’s safe to say that one of my favourite things about Budapest was the food culture. Before visiting, the only Hungarian food I had heard of was goulash – and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Verdict: Hungarian food is delicious [and cheap!].

Here’s all the places to eat – and the restaurants I would avoid – in Budapest.

Cirkusz

Located in the Jewish Quarter and coined the ‘ruin pub’ of breakfast joints, Cirkusz offers a diverse and tasteful breakfast menu, complete with staples like eggs benedict, as well as Hungarian-inspired breakfast options.

Things to Try: I indulged in the french toast, which was perfectly cooked and flavourful, and Sebastian opted for in one of the seasonal delicacies – a pulled pork eggs benedict. Delicious!

Hungarikum Bisztro

We had the best Hungarian food at Hungarikum Bisztro. It was so good, in fact, that we ate there twice for lunch.

This place serves authentic Hungarian food, and has super generous portions at a very affordable price. It is super popular with both locals and tourists, so if you plan to visit for lunch or dinner, make a reservation in advance.

Things to Try: Goulash Soup with Mini Noodles, Dumplings with Sausage and Sour Cabbage, Hungarian Gnocchi with Sour Cream and Roasted Bacon Cubes, and Pork Loin with Paprika Sauce and Bacon-Sour Cabbage Dumplings.

Tip: The goulash portion is huge. However, you can ask them to split it into two bowls to split for an appetizer.

Belvárosi Lugas Vendéglő

Another traditional Hungarian option located nearby our hostel, Belvárosi Lugas Vendéglő is affordable and has great food if you’re looking for traditional Hungarian fare.

Things to Try: Goulash Soup, Hungarian Ratatouille with Smoke Sausage, Hungarian Deer Stew, and for dessert, “Bird Milk” with Baked Foam and Caramel Sauce.

Central Market Hall

At Central Market Hall, go upstairs to explore a variety of vendors with traditional Hungarian options. Here, we indulged Langos, which is Hungary’s most popular street food, and spicy sausages.

HILDA

HILDA is visually beautiful, and offers a menu to match. Here, you can find modern twists on Hungarian favourites, an extensive cocktail menu, and lots of local Hungarian wine options.

Things to Try: Goulash [can you tell that we loved goulash?] and Chicken Paprikash with Dumplings.

HILDA is also open for brunch/lunch, and I wish we would have known about it earlier because we would have definitely visited again to try the daytime menu.

Gelarto Rosa

For the most beautiful gelato you’ll ever eat, head to Gelarto Rosa. Here, you can sit outside of St. Stephen’s Basilica and eat gelato in the shape of a rose [talk about insta-worthy!]. I loved the Basil Lemon and Rose flavours!

Tip: This place was located outside our hostel, and every time we walked by it always had a very long line. However, we went in the late morning, shortly after they opened, and only had to wait a few minutes.

Gelarto Rosa, Budapest
Gelarto Rosa

Street Food Karavan

Street Food Karavan is just what it sounds like – a marketplace full of food trucks! You can find a variety of Hungarian street food staples here, such as langos, kolbice, and sausages. We stopped in and grabbed a cinnamon chimney cake, which is essentially a cylinder of citrusy dough covered in cinnamon, and a definite must-try in Budapest.


Restaurants I Wouldn’t Visit Again

In the interest of transparency, I also want to share the restaurants we visited that didn’t live up to their hype. These places came highly recommended, and weren’t total misses, but it’s safe to say I won’t be returning.

Our first dinner at Fricska Gastropub was good, but not great, which was incredibly disappointing because it had such outstanding reviews and was recommended by several notable food blogs. The food lacked a lot of flavour, and despite the more premium price point, paled in comparison to other meals we had in Budapest.

Additionally, Café Gerbeaud came highly recommended but was absolutely over hyped. The interior was beautiful, but they charge you a premium to eat there, as well as an additional service charge. The sweets were yummy, but we paid over 30 euros for two pieces of cake and two coffees – which, quite frankly, is just plain robbery in Budapest. If you want to indulge in these popular sweets, I would recommend going inside, snapping a couple pictures, and taking the desserts to-go for a third of the price.


Best Drinks in Budapest

Szimpla Kert

There are a ton of ruin pubs in Budapest. Just wander around the Jewish Quarter and you’re bound to find a few to stumble into. However, the first, and most iconic one, is undoubtedly Szimpla Kert.

Filled with a mix-match of just about every kind of repurposed ‘junk’ you can think of, including bathtub planters and old cars, this is a must-visit. We opted to visit during the day and sit on the patio, and it was the perfect place to drink beers in the sunshine.

Warmup

If you’re looking for cocktails, Warmup is your place. This is a speakeasy-style cocktail bar where the friendly bartenders come sit at your table, ask you what you like, and then craft a unique cocktail aimed to satisfy your favourite flavours.

Personally, I am a huge fan of a floral cocktail, and the bartender delivered me arguably the best rose-flavoured cocktail I’ve ever had. I really can’t say enough about this spot.


It’s Safe to Say That I Fell In Love with Budapest

Exploring Budapest

With the friendliest locals, spectacular sights, and some of the most delicious food that I’ve had in all of Europe, this city is so easy to love. And I’m confident that you will love it too.

If you have any questions about spending 3 days in Budapest, send me a message. And you liked what you read, don’t forget to pin it below!

xx,

Madeline

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Iron Fist Detroit
Detroit Itinerary // Detroit City Guide // Things to Do in Detroit // Best Restaurants in Detroit

The Motor City gets a bad rap. And understandably so if you know anything about the notoriously unstable history of Detroit.

But Detroit is so much more more than it’s past.

Native Detroiters are dreamers, believers, and some of the hardest working, most passionate people I have ever met. They mercilessly defend their city – and for good reason. Because I must say, this city is pretty darn special. And it is filled with some of the most incredibly resilient, inspiring people I have ever encountered in all my years of travel.

Detroit Quote

If you want to be inspired, spend a weekend in Detroit.

Growing up across the river in Windsor, Canada, I’ve seen the city blossom in recent years, paving the way for creatives and entrepreneurs alike who wholeheartedly believed in Detroit. Despite this rebirth of the city, the characteristic grit that has defined it hasn’t left. You can see it in the unique architecture. Taste it in the world-class culinary scene. And feel it in the creative instalments scattered throughout the city.

If Detroit isn’t currently on your bucket list, trust me when I say it should be. And I’ll tell you exactly why in this Detroit city guide.


Where to Stay in Detroit

The Detroit Foundation Hotel: This is undeniably one of the best, and coolest, hotels I have ever stayed at. Located inside of the former Detroit firehall, this boutique hotel is beautiful and is home to one of Detroit’s coolest restaurants and cocktail bars: The Apparatus Room. It is centrally located, across the street from Cobo Center, and close to many main attractions.

Aloft Detroit: Located inside one if the most architecturally beautiful buildings in Detroit, the Aloft features huge, clean rooms and is centrally located at Grand Circus Park [and around the corner from District Detroit if you’re in Detroit to watch a sports game].

Interior of the Aloft Hotel in Detroit
Interior of the Aloft Hotel in Detroit

Shinola Hotel: This hotel is brand new to downtown Detroit, and I haven’t personally had an opportunity to visit yet. I have, however, seen the lobby which is gorgeous, and have heard from others that the rooms and service are top tier. It is centrally located along Woodward, near lots of great shops and restaurants.


Things to Do in Detroit

Catch a Game in District Detroit

Home to all four of Detroit’s major sports teams, the newly developed District Detroit makes it easy to get in on the action. My personal favourite is catching an afternoon game at Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers. However, the brand new Little Caesar’s Arena, which hosts both the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons, is quite the sight to see! And the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field is also closeby.

If you happen to be in Detroit during the warmer months, you don’t necessarily have to buy game tickets to experience the sports culture of the city. You can still tailgate in parking lots, and at bars, with fans before and after Lions and Tigers games.

Eat, Shop & Explore in the Cass Corridor

The Cass Corridor is a great little neighbourhood just north of the city centre, with so many shops worth exploring. Here’s a few of the highlights that can be found on W Canfield St.

Shinola: This is the original flagship store, and a serious pride of the city. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it is still very cool to visit and browse. They always feature really cool popups, and even have a coffee shop located inside.

Third Man Records: Founded by Jack White of The White Stripes, this record shop is a must-see. They sell an assortment of records, along with other music merchandise.

City Bird: If you’re looking to bring home some unique Detroit or Michigan souvenirs, this place offers the cutest merchandise. I’ve bought so many interesting gifts in here that my friends and family have LOVED.

Coffee Shop Popup
Coffee Shop Pop Up Outside City Bird

Learn About Detroit Architecture

There are so many architecturally beautiful and unique buildings scattered around the city. Curbed offers a great resource to help you discover the best buildings in Detroit here.

My personal favourites are the Guardian Building, the David Whitney Building [home to the Aloft hotel I mentioned above], and the Fox Theater.

Guardian Building, Detroit
Guardian Building, Detroit

Take a Walk Down Music’s Memory Lane

The Motown Museum is a must-see for music lovers. Just north of the downtown city core, it is easily accessible by Detroit’s QLine and offers museum tours.

Enjoy One of Many Detroit Festivals

Campus Martius Park, located in the city centre, is the home to many cultural events and festivals. Here, you’ll find attractions including a spectacular Christmas markets in the winter, and a manmade beach in the summer [complete with tiki huts and a drink bar].

Take a look here at their official website for a calendar of events highlighting seasonal attractions in Campus Martius Park, Capital Park, Grand Circus Park, and more.

Go Shopping at Detroit’s Open Air Market

As one of the oldest markets in the US, Eastern Market is open every Saturday year round [and other select days during the summer months; you can check out the event calendar here]. I absolutely love visiting this spot for fresh local produce, and other cool locally-sourced products. Plus, the Eastern Market neighbourhood is super cool, and offers lots of restaurants and shops.

Graffiti at Eastern Market
Graffiti at Eastern Market

Immerse yourself in Detroit’s Art Culture

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a spectacular building, hosting many famous paintings from artists all over the world. If you’re looking for a premium cultural experience, look no further than the DIA.

Take Instagram Pictures in a Alley Filled with Graffiti

The Belt is an alleyway in downtown Detroit that offers floor-to-ceiling commissioned graffiti. At night, it lights up and hosts some of the most popular bars and nightlife in the city. It is a great spot to stop and take a few pictures.

Stroll Down the Detroit Riverwalk

Detroit has some beautiful riverfront parks and pathways that you can walk along in the warmer months. Here, you can look across the river and see Canada [my hometown of Windsor!], grab an ice cream at a local shop, take a river cruise tour down the Detroit river, or just sit and enjoy the sunshine.

Detroit Riverwalk
Riding a Bird Scooter on the Detroit Riverwalk

Best Restaurants in Detroit

Perhaps my favourite thing about Detroit is the food culture. So many talented chefs have flocked to Detroit to take advantage of the booming culinary scene. The only downside is trying to prioritize which restaurants to eat at first!

I have had some of the best meals that I have ever had in Detroit. It was so hard for me to narrow down my top picks, because there are so many good restaurants. So, if you have a question about a restaurant that I haven’t included in my list, feel free to message me about it.

Brunch

Gold Cash Gold: Unique, well-made dishes. Beautiful ambiance. My boyfriend said this is in his top two favourite brunch spots – ever. And has become an absolute go-to for me.

Pie at Gold Cash Gold
Gold Cash Gold, Detroit

Folk: If you’re looking for a vegan/vegetarian place, go here [although there is some meat on the menu too, and is definitely suitable to all dietary preferences]. I am totally obsessed with this place. After brunch, head next door to The Farmer’s Hand, a really adorable local market.

Rose’s Fine Food: Located just outside the city centre, this is another one of my brunch favourites. The restaurant is so unassuming, and has the most tasty food. If you decide to head here for lunch, keep driving out toward one of Detroit’s most historically affluent neighbourhoods, Indian Village. Here, you can make your way to my next recommendation, Sister Pie.

Sister Pie: Located on the border of The West Village and Indian Village, this bakery is a must-visit if you love pie [or any other baked goods]. I promise, you’ll have the best pie of your life here.

Sister Pie Detroit
Sister Pie, Detroit

Detroit Institute of Bagels: If you love bagels, go here. Fresh, homemade bagels, and all the toppings/fillings you can imagine.

Detroit Institute of Bagels
Detroit Institute of Bagels

Lunch & Dinner

Grey Ghost: I love this restaurant. The food is high quality. The cocktails are well thought out and perfectly executed. And the ambiance is gorgeous. They also offer an incredible Sunday brunch [complete with the perfect brunch cocktail menu]. If you want visit Grey Ghost, book a reservation well in advance – it is very popular, and for good reason.

Wright & Company: Another Detroit favourite. I love the tapas-style small plates and very tasty cocktails. Not to mention, the interior is gorgeous. Wright & Co doesn’t take reservations, so you may have to wait for a table. Luckily, they have the most beautiful bar you can grab a cocktail at while you wait to be seated.

Wright & Co Cocktails
Wright & Co Cocktails

The Apparatus Room: Located in one of my hotel recommendations, the Detroit Foundation Hotel, this is easily one of the most beautiful restaurants in Detroit. But, it doesn’t stop there – the food and cocktails are on par with the interior aesthetic. You’ll likely need a reservation here too, so plan ahead.

Lady of the House: Offering a variety of experimental small plates, this charming restaurant is tucked away in the heart of Corktown, and offers unique tasting dishes.

Ima: Looking for ramen in Detroit? This is your spot! Also located in Corktown, along Michigan Avenue, Ima satisfies all your noodle-craving needs.

Ottava Via: Easily the best spot for Italian in Detroit. The ambiance and food at this spot is so on point. I especially love to go here in the summer, sit out on the back patio, and play bocce ball with friends.

Best Drinks in Detroit

Cocktail Bars

I love a good cocktail. And let me tell you, Detroit has some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. Here’s a few of my favourite spots.

The Sugar House: This Corktown cocktail bar is an easy favourite for me. In fact, I have had cocktails all over the world and this remains one of my favourite spots to visit. Order from their seasonally-changing cocktail menus. Or sit at the bar, tell the extremely talented bartenders what you like, and they will surely craft you something amazing.

Sugar House, Detroit
Sugar House, Detroit

Standby: Tucked away in the Belt Alley, this is a local hotspot and is always guaranteed to be busy. This small, cozy bar has amazing cocktails, and also offers appetizers if you’re looking for a late night bite.

Two James Spirits: This is my favourite cocktail bar to go to in the summer months. When it’s nice outside, they open up the garage doors of the distillery, and you can sit at the wrap around bar, listen to live music, and enjoy cocktails from their extensive drink menu with the sun shining in. They also offer distillery tours and tastings.

Two James Spirits

Bad Luck Bar: Another must-try in the city, the cocktails at Bad Luck Bar are a bit more premium in price, but the experience is so worth stopping in for [at least] one drink.

Craft Beer

Disclaimer: I am not a huge beer drinker. However, I’ve been to the following spots and really enjoyed them.

Motor City Brewing Works: Great beer, great beer garden. This is an awesome spot to enjoy some patio craft brews in the summer months.

Motor City Brewing Works
Motor City Brewing Works

Founders Taproom Detroit: The Grand Rapids favourite has recently opened a taproom in Detroit. Founders is an established brewery and offers a ton of beer options, so there is bound to be something for everyone.

Jolly Pumpkin Brewery: A long-running Detroit favourite, this place offers craft beers and pizza. What more can you want? And to add to its clout, it was even good enough for Barack Obama.

Jazz Bars

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge: A Detroit legend. This jazz bar has been in continuous operation since 1933 and has hosted some of the worlds most famous jazz musicians over the years. Pay it a visit and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time; and then just sit back, indulge in some traditional southern cooking, and enjoy the live performances. [Note: this is in a Detroit suburb, not near the city centre. To get here, I would recommend hiring a cab or an Uber/Lyft].

Cliff Bell’s: If you’re looking for a jazz bar in the city centre, this is your spot. Amazing music, drinks, and food. It’s perfect for a night out, or weekend brunch.


Getting Around Detroit

Walk: If you’re staying in the city centre, you can get most places you want to go by foot. The Detroit core isn’t very big, and is very walkable.

QLINE: If you’re staying downtown and want to get up to the Cass Corridor, Midtown, or New Center, your best option is the QLINE, Detroit’s newly-developed street car that runs up and down Woodward.

Cab/Uber/Lyft: These car hire companies offer a relatively affordable option to get around the city. These will be especially helpful if you’re venturing out to Corktown, where there are less transit options to get there.

Scooter: There are electric scooters everywhere. Just make sure you download the Lime and/or Bird apps ahead of time.


The Most Common Question I Get: Is Detroit Safe?

YES. Absolutely, it is. Like almost any large American city, Detroit has its good areas and bad areas. However, if you know where to go and focus your trip around the city centre, and other areas that I have recommended, then I can assure you that Detroit is as safe as any other major American city.

In fact, I have spent a ton of time here, at all hours of the day and night, and have never once felt my safety was compromised.


It’s Time For YOU To Enjoy The Motor City!

Nothing Stops Detroit

Detroit is truly an underrated gem. It is the perfect cocktail of charm, grit, passion, and innovation that will leave you speechless – and wanting more. Everyone who visits the city falls in love with it, and I am confident that you will too. It is easily one of my favourite cities in the world.

I hope this Detroit city guide is helpful in your planning. If you have any questions about Detroit or the surrounding areas, leave them in the comments or message me.

And if you liked what you read, don’t forget to pin it to your Pinterest boards below.

xx,

Madeline

Detroit City Guide
Detroit Itinerary
Detroit Food Guide
Things to Do in Detroit
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Dinner at Vækst, Copenhagen

Vækst Copenhagen // Nordic Tasting Menu Copenhagen

It’s no secret that I love a good Nordic-inspired meal. And Copenhagen’s leading-edge foodie scene offers a lot of options. I first fell for the farm-to-table Nordic dinner experience when I visited Scandinavia over a year ago – and I have never looked back.

Now that I am a local resident, I am excited to experience all the Copenhagen food scene has to offer. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of dining at Vækst.

Who is Vækst?

Located in one of my favourite areas of Copenhagen, the Latin Quarter, Vækst is part of the Copenhagen Food Collective (Cofoco). It offers visitors a Nordic tasting menu and an interior aesthetic that matches the freshness of the menu, with tables surrounding the most beautiful greenhouse.

Vækst gives diners the choice of a meat or vegetarian menu. Both menus are vegetable-heavy, and use produce and herbs that are often sourced from the surrounding Nordic regions.

My Vækst Experience

When we first walked in to Vækst, we were completely blown away by the interior of the restaurant. With a greenhouse in the centre, tons of greenery, and perfectly dimmed lighting, the space offers the most welcoming environment to enjoy a meal.

The staff was friendly and welcoming, and we were escorted to our table upstairs alongside the front windows [tip: if you’re able to request a seat upstairs, I would recommend it. The downstairs seating area is also very beautiful, but sitting alongside the greenhouse upstairs adds that little extra bit of dreaminess to the whole experience].

We sat down and ordered the three-course meat tasting menu with wine pairing.

First Course

At Vækst, every course comes with a “snack” before the course. Our first snack was customized for an allergy and we were given a cauliflower snack with truffled mushrooms and a glass of champagne. All it took was one bite and we knew that we were in for an amazing culinary experience.

Next, we were brought a smoked scallop appetizer that was presented as a soup. It featured daikon, roasted onion oil, and a mussel-based broth.

One word: YUM.

Second Course

Dinner at Vækst, Copenhagen
Main Course

Prior to the main course, we were brought a second snack. This was a thin sourdough pancake with beetroot and beet sprouts, topped with goats cheese. The waitress called this a “finger snack” and we were instructed to fold it like a taco and eat it.

Next came the main course: a generous portion of pork belly paired with celery puree, pork rinds and horseradish. It was perfectly cooked and paired with a side of fresh kohlrabi salad and mashed potatoes with smoked cheese.

At this point of the meal, my belly was so full but SO HAPPY. The food was fresh, well paired, and perfectly executed.

Third Course

Dessert: my favourite course. The first and second course portions were so generous, and I was so full. But, let’s face it, I always have room for dessert.

The last snack of the night was a shot of green sorrel juice topped with whipped white chocolate. The flavour was delicious, and so unique, with sweet and sour tastes that complemented each other perfectly.

The final dessert was a pear sorbet with caramel and hazelnut. It was light, creamy, and truly the perfect end to an amazing meal.

The dessert was so good that despite being so full, I told Sebastian that I wished I could have a second one.

If you’re looking for the perfect farm-to-table Nordic dining experience in Copenhagen, look no further than Vækst.

This restaurant offers fresh, creative, and well-made food with generous portions – all at a good value. Make sure you show up with an empty belly and are ready to eat, and this food will not disappoint. I would also recommend making sure you have roughly three hours to devote to dinner, as it is encouraged to settle in and enjoy the experience.

And if Nordic cuisine isn’t your thing, check out one of Copenhagen Food Collective (Cofoco)’s many leading Copenhagen restaurants. They offer virtually every type of food you can think of. I personally can’t wait to to try them all!

xx,

Madeline

Vækst, Copenhagen Dinner Experience
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