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City Guide

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!

And subscribe to my mailing list for lots more Portugal [and other travel tips] coming ‘atcha real soon!

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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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Ice Cream on Halifax Boardwalk
Halifax Itinerary // Things to Do in Halifax // 4 Days in Halifax // Long weekend in Halifax

I have to admit, I’m a pretty terrible Canadian. To be clear, I absolutely love my country and am SO PROUD and thankful to be Canadian. But I say that because until recently, I really hadn’t explored much of my own backyard. I mean, I’d travelled all across my home province of Ontario, and to Quebec. But considering I’ve been to over 15 US states, and countless countries in three different continents, my Canadian travel experience was downright embarrassing.

That is until 2018, when my sister got married in Nova Scotia and moved to Alberta. I was finally being “forced” to see two more Canadian provinces.

We spent six days total over a long weekend in Halifax and surrounding areas.

However, much of this time was devoted to the wedding. Even still, I had plenty of time to explore – and let me tell you, I fell in love with the east coast of Canada.

Beautiful landscapes in Nova Scotia, Canada
Nova Scotia, Canada

In Nova Scotia, life moves at a different pace. The people are easily the most friendly people I have encountered in all of my world travels. Not to mention, the province is just down right BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, I can’t wait to go back.

Have a convinced you that you should be visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia yet?

YAY. Great. Now here’s everything you need to know to get the most of your long weekend in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Things to Do in Halifax

Halifax Boardwalk

Ice Cream on the Halifax Boardwalk
Ice Cream on the Halifax Boardwalk

There is so much to do along the Halifax waterfront, especially during the summertime. The city is just so alive. There are people walking in the sunshine, musicians busking Celtic tunes in the streets, and patios everywhere.

Normally, waterfront restaurants in cities like this are super touristy, overpriced, and unauthentic; however, Halifax is truly the exception. Even the locals congregate on the many waterfront patios in the summer, drink beer, and soak up the sun.

And if patios aren’t your thing, you can grab an ice cream and sit in one of the many Adirondack chairs along the water and just take in the views. You’ll probably see a really long lineup for ice cream at Cows, and I promise it’s worth the wait.

If you’re interested in tours, there are boat tours departing along the boardwalk. You can learn all about what Halifax once was, because the city really does have so much history. I personally didn’t do a tour, but I have heard from people who have that it is a really cool and educational experience.

Halifax Public Gardens

The Halifax Public Gardens are beautiful! And when in full bloom during the summer months, it is definitely worth exploring. Bring a picnic blanket and have lunch in the gardens.

Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour

Do you love beer? Why not do a tour of one of Canada’s most popular breweries. We personally didn’t have time to do this tour, we intended to and simply ran out of time, but I have heard from so many people that the Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour is a super fun experience. If you love beer, you can’t miss this.

Halifax Day Trips

Lunenburg

Waterfront in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Waterfront in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

My sister got married in her husband’s hometown of Lunenburg last summer, so I had the privilege of spending a few days in this picture perfect little town. If you have time while in Nova Scotia, I highly recommend you spend a night or two in Lunenburg. My sister was married at the Boscowen Inn, which is a charming little bed and breakfast, perfectly situated in the heart of Lunenburg. I couldn’t recommend staying here more.

If you’re in Lunenburg, there are a long list of incredible restaurants [if you like seafood, you’ll have some of the best in this town]. I would recommend Grand Banker, The South Shore Fish Shack, and Salt Shaker Deli, which all offer amazing waterfront views. We also loved Kate’s Sweet Indulgence for breakfast and coffee.

Fish Shack, Lunenburg
Bridal Party Drinks at Fish Shack, Lunenburg

If you’re headed to Lunenburg from Halifax, I would strongly suggest taking the lighthouse route. This route takes a bit longer, but it includes so many stops including the popular Peggy’s Cove and the beautiful Mahone Bay.

Peggy’s Cove

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

A true Canadian landmark, Peggy’s Cove looks like a postcard. And the town surrounding it is equally as picturesque. spend some time taking in the views, and then indulge in a lobster dinner at one of the local restaurants for a quintessential eastern Canada experience.

Local Hike: Duncan’s Cove Hiking Trail

Duncan's Cove Hiking Trail
Duncan’s Cove Hiking Trail

After my sisters wedding in Lunenburg and the crazy Canada Day we had in Halifax, I was craving some fresh air. We drove about 30 minutes to Duncan’s Cove Hiking Trail for just that. The head of the trail is located on private property, so be mindful of the locals. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the other cars parked along the side of the street. There is very little parking, so you may have to just pull over on the side of the street to park.

The hike is easy, mostly flat with some elevated elements, and is definitely suitable for beginners and children. The true gem of this hike is the ocean views. Bring snacks, or lunch, and take a break along the hike to eat and breathe in the fresh ocean air.

We loved that this hike was mostly unexplored, there weren’t a lot of people, and was a quick driving distance from Halifax.

Where to Eat in Halifax

So much of what I loved so much about Halifax was their food and drink culture. The restaurants were fantastic.

Coffee in Halifax

The Old Apothecary: If you’re looking for coffee and a quick breakfast pastry, this is your place. There is a cool seating area upstairs and the coffee was great. I highly recommend the Vietnamese coffee.

Brunch

Black Sheep Halifax: this place had some incredible reviews, and for good reason. The brunch was unique, well thought out, and just overall exceptional. If you’re looking for a truly Canadian experience, try the breakfast poutine!

Lunch/Dinner

Lot Six: This place was so good, we went there twice – for both lunch and dinner. Our first night in Halifax, we had dinner here. The food lived up to its hype and its cocktails were fantastic. We especially enjoyed the oyster appetizer [a must-have while in Nova Scotia], and even went back the next day for oyster happy hour at their bar. With six oysters for $12 or twelve for $20, this is the perfect place to indulge in this delicacy.

Pub Food

If you’re looking for a quick pub meal, there are tons of pubs along Argyle Street. We had lunch at Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub while we took in some World Cup action, and it is a solid choice for drinks and pub food.

Where to Drink in Halifax

It is no secret that Haligonians like to have a good time. So it’s no surprise that there are bars everywhere in Halifax. Here’s a few places to look.

The Lower Deck: A Halifax staple along the waterfront, you have to visit this place if you’re in the city. If you’re there over the weekend, Sunday night is the most popular night to go because popular local band Signal Hill plays every Sunday night. In the summer months, they have a huge party every Sunday night on the outdoor stage, and it is something you absolutely do not want to miss [we were there for Canada Day and it was a highlight of our trip]. Check out the schedule for other weekday performances, they have a variety of bands performing.

Canada Day at the Lower Deck with Signal Hill
Canada Day at the Lower Deck with Signal Hill

Argyle Street: There are tons of bars along this street if you’re looking for a local party.

Halifax Boardwalk: Along the Halifax Boardwalk there are tons of restaurants and bars serving patio drinks. Stop by at any of these for a guaranteed good time.

Where to Stay in Halifax

We chose to stay in the most perfect AirBnb just north of the downtown core of Halifax. It was affordable, clean, and super trendy. Click here for the listing.

And if you’re new to Airbnb, you can use my referral code to get $45 CAD off your first booking when you sign up: click here.

If you prefer to stay in a hotel, I would try to choose a hotel as close to the waterfront as possible, as this is likely where you’ll spend most of your time in the city.

Getting Around Halifax

By Foot: If you’re planning to spend the entire weekend in the Halifax city centre, you can absolutely get around by foot. The city isn’t very big, and is very accessible. We spent our two full days in Halifax walking everywhere.

By Car: If you’re planning on visiting the surrounding areas of Halifax, you’ll need to rent a car. We drove to and from Lunenburg by car, as well as to our hike, and all the roads were well-paved and easy to navigate. In fact, when driving through rural areas, we rarely saw other drivers on the road.

Uber/Lyft/Taxi: Halifax does not currently have Uber or Lyft, however I have heard that they are reconsidering the option of offering these services in the city soon, so take a look when you’re planning your trip. We did use a taxi once while in the city, which was quick and reasonably priced.

Are you feeling ready to book that flight to Halifax yet?

Colourful Halifax
Colourful buildings like this one can be found all over Halifax

What makes this city, and Nova Scotia in general, so special is something I could never articulate with words. It’s wrapped up in the spirit of the locals, the easygoing vibes of the city, and it’s deep-rooted history. The city is just so cool. If you visit, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. And then you’ll want to visit again – and again, and again.

If you have any questions about, or recommendations for, spending a long weekend in Halifax or Nova Scotia, drop them in the comments below or shoot me an email.

xx,

Madeline

Long Weekend in Halifax
Halifax Itinerary
Halifax Food Guide
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Ribersborgsstranden [Ribersborg Beach]

As a expat living in Malmö, I have curated this Malmö Sweden city guide to help you get the most out of your time in my new hometown. Since I am still new to the city, I don’t claim to be a Malmö expert [yet]. However, I have been doing a lot of exploring and already have so many recommendations to share.

Malmö is so incredibly underrated, and is so much more than just a day trip from Copenhagen [although it absolutely can be if you’re short on time]. I am so excited to share with you all my favourite things in this Malmö Sweden City Guide!

SIDE NOTE: I plan to update this guide on an ongoing basis, so subscribe for updates [on the left] if you want to stay up-to-date on all my Malmö recommendations.


THINGS TO DO IN MALMÖ

Gamla Staden [The Old Town]

Gamla Väster, Malmö
Gamla Staden

Gamla Staden is undoubtedly the most charming neighbourhood in Malmö. Narrow streets lined with beautiful old buildings, you’ll find yourself transported back in time and dreaming of what once-was.

You’ll find the most picture-perfect alleyways and cobblestone streets in Gamla Väster, specifically on Jakob Nilsgatan and Jöns Filsgatan.

Lilla Torg [Little Square]

Located in Gamla Staden, Lilla Torg is a picturesque square surrounded by restaurants – and when the weather is nice – patios. This is my favourite spot to grab a drink when the sun in shining, or take in one of Malmö’s many local festivals. Möllevångstorget

Möllevångstorget

Another perfect spot to grab a patio drink, this square is located in the centre of the trendy Möllan neighbourhood. It also features a great farmers market during the afternoon, where you can pick up fresh produce.

Västra Hamnen [The Western Harbor]

Västra Hamnen, or the Western Harbor, is a new development in Malmö and is home to the cities most recognizable landmark: The Turning Torso. This uniquely designed skyscraper cascades over Malmö and really can’t be missed when you’re exploring the city.

Turning Torso
Turning Torso

While walking from the train station to the Västra hamnen district, you can’t miss the old lighthouse in the harbor at the head of the canal. This is a great place to watch the sunrise and sunset.

Västra hamnen sunset
Västra Hamnen Sunset

The waterfront in Västra Hamnen is beautiful! Take some time to walk along the water-side parks, including Daniaparken and Scaniaparken to take in beautiful waterfront views. On a clear day, you can even see the iconic Øresund Bridge in the distance. This is also the perfect place to watch the beautiful Malmö sunset.

Ribersborgsstranden [Ribersborg Beach]

Ribersborgsstranden also offers some incredible waterfront park space and beaches, and is a great place to go for a swim in the summer months!

Here, you’ll also find Ribersborgs kallbadhus, which is a convenient local option if you’re looking cold baths and saunas. It also features a restaurant and patio, with spectacular views of the Øresund Bridge and the Turning Torso.

I haven’t personally experienced Ribersborgs kallbadhus, but I have heard good things. However, if you’re looking for the best local Scandinavian spa experience, take a look at the “Days Trips” section below where I spill the details on my favourite local spa.

Malmö Saluhall

Malmö Saluhall is a food hall located in the city centre. It features many traditional market stalls, and well as some great local restaurants, including the best ramen I’ve had in the city [Pink Noodle Bar], as well as my favourite local bakery [St. Jakob’s].

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

TIP: Try the cardamom buns at St. Jakob’s – they will change your life. And if you’re looking for a traditional Swedish treat, opt for the Semla. Two words: SO GOOD.


BEST RESTAURANTS IN MALMÖ

I am only featuring restaurants that I have been to, and loved, so far. Stay tuned for more updates [I have so many places that I’m waiting to try out].

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 breakfast platters, filled with everything from a yogurt parfait, to cheese and fresh bread (and don’t forget the bottomless coffee!).

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: I wrote about this food hall in my “Things to Do” section. It 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!

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!

Best Dinner in Malmö

Bastard: Often referred to as the best restaurant in Malmö, Bastard did not disappoint. 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.

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.

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.

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


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: I mentioned this one before, but I am going to mention it again because you must try their cardamom buns. St. Jakob’s offers many locations scattered throughout Malmö, but my favourite is their new location in Davidshall on Södra Förstadsgatan.

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.

Lilla Kafferosteriet
Lilla Kafferosteriet

Kaffebaren på Möllan: Great coffee and atmosphere in the trendy Möllan neighbourhood.

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!


GETTING TO MALMÖ

Getting to Malmö is easy. Most people access the city from Copenhagen, Denmark, which is a short train ride away [about 30 minutes from Copenhagen Airport or 45 minutes from the Copenhagen city centre].

You can also fly into Malmö Airport from select cities. However, based on the location of the airport, it is often more convenient [and cost effective] to fly into Copenhagen.

If you are coming into Malmö from anywhere else in Scandinavia, both train and plane options should be available for a reasonable price.

For more details on train prices and times, download the Skånetrafiken app.


GETTING AROUND MALMÖ

Malmö is an incredibly accessible city, with a bunch of transportation options available.

By Foot: One of the reasons I love this city is because you can get virtually anywhere you need to go by foot within 30-40 minutes.

By Bike: Get around the city the way the locals do – by bike! In fact, Malmö is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, and is very easy to navigate, even for a novice rider. For more information bike rentals, visit Malmö by Bike.

By Scooter: There are no shortage of electric scooters available for rent in the city – they are seriously everywhere. Just make sure you download the Voi and/or Lime apps ahead of time, and finding a scooter is a breeze.

Public Transit: Malmö is extremely accessible by bus, or train. The buses run frequently and cover a significant portion of the city. Just download the Skånetrafiken app to easy view schedules, buy tickets, and more.


DAY TRIPS FROM MALMÖ

Ystad

If you’re looking for an incredible Scandinavian spa experience near Malmö, look no further than Ystad Saltsjöbad. Offering the most beautiful indoor/outdoor spa and hotel, this is a must-visit if you’re looking for a day trip from Malmö. We spent a night here last year and I truly can’t wait to go back!

To make the most out of your time, I would recommend staying at least one night at the spa to make sure you have enough time to use the facilities. I would also recommend ‘The Creek Experience,’ a completely immersive two-hour guided experience. Staying the night also allows you to enjoy dinner at their fantastic restaurant.

And don’t forget to take a plunge into the Baltic Sea [I did in December!].

If you have time, make sure you stop to explore the town of Ystad. It is a charming little medieval town where it feels like time stands still. The narrow cobblestone streets are absolutely worth roaming.

Skanör Falsterbo

This charming little beach community is located about 30 minutes from Malmö by car (about an hour by bus) and is the perfect spot for a beachfront day trip.

Along the waterfront in Skanör, you’ll find rows of little beach huts, which the locals use to store their personal belongings in the summer months. It seriously looks like a postcard. The pier in Skanör is also home to restaurants and a marina.

Head down the beach to Falsterbo for more beachfront real estate, and a pier you can jump off into the water (or in true Scandinavian fashion, do an ice cold plunge from in the winter months).

Here’s a little pro tip you should know about the Falsterbo pier. If you see a set of clogs are the entrance to the pier, do not walk out there. Instead, wait for the person on the pier to finish their swim. This often means that they are doing a quick plunge in the nude, and placing clogs at the entrance to the pier is the local signal of asking for privacy.

Lomma

Another beach town located just north of Malmö, Lomma offers a long sandy beachfront with shallow waters, which makes it the perfect spot for a family swim.

If you’re in Lomma, make sure you stop for ice cream at Glassfabrik for some locally made ice cream. Then, take your ice cream down to the dock and watch the boats float in and out of the harbour.


I hope you have enjoyed my Malmö City Guide!

I can’t wait to continue to continue to update this guide and share more of my favourite things about this pretty little city as I continue to settle in and make it my home.

To stay updated, don’t forget to subscribe! And, as always, if you have any questions or recommendations, feel free to email me, or drop them in the comment section below.


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Are you looking for tips on how to move to Sweden? Read my post about getting a Swedish visa here.

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Santorini Greece Couple

Ah, Santorini. The most picture-perfect island in the Cyclades. I’ve dreamed of roaming the streets of this island since I was a teenager watching Lena fall in love with Kostos in ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ [please tell me I’m not the only one!]. So when we began planning our trip to the Greek islands, I knew that visiting this wildly popular island was a must.

As I began to do more research on Santorini, I admittedly started to second guess my decision to visit. Traditionally, I prefer to visit more off-the-beaten path locations, avoiding the contrived and often overpriced fun of touristy locations. Despite this, I knew that I couldn’t miss those cliff-side whitewashed buildings, and famous blue domes – and so I began to plan a short, but very sweet, visit to Santorini.

Read on to hear how I made the best of a quick 48 hours in Santorini!

Oia Santorini
Oia, Santorini

WHERE TO STAY IN SANTORINI

There’s no way around it – hotels on Santorini are expensive. Having only 48 hours on the island, we wanted to stay as close to the popular town of Oia as possible without breaking the bank. We chose to stay at Finikia Memories Hotel, which was roughly a 20 minute walk from Oia [or an affordable cab ride]. The hotel was nothing exceptional, but was exactly as we expected for the moderate price point. Most importantly, the rooms were spacious and clean, the location was perfect, and the hotel offered a good complementary breakfast [you’ll realize how big of a bonus this is when you see the food prices on Santorini]. The hotel also featured a beautiful hill-side pool overlooking the ocean which was a welcomed bonus!


GETTING TO & AROUND SANTORINI

Santorini can be easily accessed by plane from Athens, or by ferry. We arrived on the island by ferry, which was a bit of a chaotic experience. I can recommend two things: have your guard up and be prepared to move fast when exiting the boat. We were able to quickly exit the ferry and run over to the shuttles. We took the shuttle up the steep cliffside road and to Fira, the capital of Santorini. Here, we had arranged a rental car, which we used to get around the island.

When we were looking at rental car options, many sites suggested getting a car right at the ferry port. However, after seeing the steep, winding cliff you have to drive up and down, I would highly recommend getting the car in town.

With only 48 hours on the island, a car was really the only reasonable way to get around to make sure we made the most of our time. Driving in Santorini was fairly easy – the roads were well paved, directions were clear, and getting across the island was very efficient.

Alternatively, if you prefer not driving, there are a variety of buses that can get you to all the popular locations across the island.


THINGS TO DO IN SANTORINI

With only two days on the island, we made a list of all the places we wanted to visit. Here’s all the locations we were able to cover in two days.

Oia

White Rooftops in Santorini
Rooftops in Oia, Santorini

This town is the reason I was so keen on visiting Santorini. We visited Oia twice – in early morning and in late afternoon/evening. If you’re looking to truly experience the beauty of this town, you must wake up early and see it before it’s swarming with other tourists [and their selfie sticks]. We arrived in the town around 8:00am and the streets were virtually empty. We were able to take it all in, snap a bunch of pictures, and bask in the calm before the storm. It was easily one of the highlights of my time in Greece.

We returned to Oia later that day for dinner at Kastro, which is often coined as the best spot on the island to watch arguably the world’s most famous sunset. We booked this reservation roughly two months in advance and were still seated near the back of the patio. However, we lucked out when another reservation didn’t show up and we were moved to a table front and centre at the restaurant, just in time to watch the sunset. We experienced the most breathtaking views from the best sunset spot on the island while others crowded the streets around us. It is an experience I will truly never forget and couldn’t recommend this sunset dinner spot more.

See also: The most instagrammable spots in Naxos, Greece.

Sunset in Santorini
Sunset Dinner at Kastro, Oia

Is Oia touristy? Yes. However, it is touristy for a reason. I swear, the pictures do not do this place justice. Even if you’re skeptical like me, I truly believe it is a bucket list item that every travel-lover must experience in this lifetime.

Emporio

I came across the village of Emporio and knew I needed to visit. This spot is much less touristy than other locations on Santorini. We virtually had the entire place to ourselves as we roamed the narrow medieval alleys surrounding the Emporio castle, getting lost in the maze of winding pathways. I have never seen a village quite like this one before and highly recommend making this a stop on your two-day Santorini adventure.

Emporio, Santorini
Narrow Alleyways in Emporio, Santorini

Red Sand Beach

We also spent time visiting the famous red sand beach. This place is definitely worth seeing if you are visiting Santorini, as the volcanic structures is truly breathtaking. However, I wouldn’t recommend going swimming at this beach. Not only is the red sand extremely hot from the sun, but it is very rocky and not ideal for swimming. In general, Santorini is not the island to visit if you’re looking for beach time [if beaches what you’re looking for, you should check out my Milos and Naxos island guides].

Amoudi Bay

Sitting at the bottom of the cliff below Oia is Amoudi Bay, a picturesque little fishing village with a variety of seafood restaurants along the water. In the interest of time, we drove down to explore this village, but I have also heard it is an awesome experience to climb the 200 steps down from Oia. In addition to Oia, this is also coined as one of the best spots on the island to watch the sunset.

Amoudi Bay, Santorini
Amoudi Bay, Santorini

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN SANTORINI

Kastro: If you’re looking to splurge on a sunset dinner, this is the place to splurge at. The food and service were good, but what you’re really paying for is the sunset – and let me tell you, it’s worth every penny.

See also: The best food I had in the Cyclades in Milos, Greece.

Kastro, Oia
Steps outside of Kastro, Oia

Domaine Sigalas Winery: This spot was a highlight of our time on Santorini. The winery was a short walk from our hotel and was completely underrated compared to many of the the more ‘famous’ wineries on the island. We sat in the middle of the vineyard near the ocean, watched the famous Santorini sunset and enjoyed delicious food and flights of wine. I couldn’t recommend this spot enough!

Domaine Sigalas Winery, Santorini
Domaine Sigalas Winery, Santorini

WHEN TO VISIT SANTORINI

When is the best time to visit Santorini? I have be told by many people that have visited in the summer months that it is almost unbearably hot and busy with tourists. I still found May to be quite busy, but it was definitely manageable and more affordable. We also enjoyed warm weather during the day with highs of 25 degrees Celsius and cooler temperatures as low as 16 degrees at night. For these reasons, I would definitely recommend visiting Santorini (or any other Greek island) in May.


I hope you enjoyed my ’48 Hours in Santorini’ island guide! If you have any tips or suggestions, please feel free to email me or add them to the comments section below.


HEADED TO SANTORINI? PIN THIS FOR LATER!

And don’t forget to check out the guides to my other favourite Cyclades islands: Naxos and Milos.

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Milos Greece Itinerary

Until recently, Milos was a relatively unknown island in Greece compared to it’s famous Cyclades sisters – Santorini and Mykonos. However, in 2017, Milos was thrown into the limelight. Vogue named the island one of their top five places to visit in 2017, and Conde Nast wrote an article explaining why Milos is the untouched Greek island that travellers have been looking for. 


Milos Quote

After reading about this island, I was determined to visit before it became the next Santorini. I was so excited about Milos, and let me tell you, it lived up to the hype and exceeded my expectations. It was easily my favourite island that we visited in the Cyclades.

So, without further delay, I present you all the information you need you have an absolutely perfect trip to Milos with my ‘4 Days in Milos’ island guide.

4 Days in Milos, Greece

WHERE TO STAY IN MILOS

Hotel Eleni: You need to stay here.

I could go on an on about what makes Hotel Eleni so special, but you can’t truly understand how great this accomodation is unless you stay here yourself.

Located steps away from the the Adamas town centre [and the ferry port] Hotel Eleni is clean, offers huge rooms, and it incredibly affordable. But what makes this place so special is the host and hotel namesake herself, Eleni.

Eleni is the most gracious host and a modern day superwomen – a small business owner, mom, and caregiver to everyone she meets. She loves her home island of Milos and will do anything to make your time there so special. She gave us the best recommendations for food, arranged our rental car, and was always around to tell stories and ask about our day. I could go on and on about why I love Hotel Eleni so much – and I’m not the only one [just check out the hotel reviews on TripAdvisor]. 


GETTING TO & AROUND MILOS

The best way to get around Milos is to rent a car or an ATV. We rented both and it really was the convenient way to see this large island. The roads in Milos are mostly accessible and well-paved. There were a few dirt roads that made us a bit uneasy, but the lack of traffic made it much easier to navigate than the other Greek islands we visited.

Please be aware, if you do not live in the EU, Milos driving laws require you to have an international driver’s license. Make sure you look into this before you leave to avoid disappointment.

There is also public transportation available in Milos, however I heard it does not run regularly and is quite unreliable. If you don’t feel comfortable renting a car, you may want to look into hiring a tour company or driver to help you see the most of the island.


DAY 1: THE BEACHES OF MILOS

For our first day on Milos, we rented an ATV in the Adamas town centre and took off to starting seeing some beaches. Did you know that there are over 70 beaches on Milos!

First, we headed to arguably the most famous beach: Sarakiniko Beach [otherwise known as the ‘moon beach,’ for obvious reasons]. 

Here, we swam in lagoons, went cliff jumping, and took way too many pictures of the moon-like landscape. Although the water was a bit chilly in May, we were quick to adjust to the temperature and ended up spending the better part of our day wading in the turquoise water. There is no other place like this in the world, and it was easily one of my favourite experiences while travelling in the Greek Islands. 

Next, we ventured to a few of Milos’ famous villages: Mandrakia, Firopotamos, and Klima.

For the most part, these fishing villages were easy to get find and access. What made them extra special was that there was virtually no tourists there! We were able to walk around the villages where we witnessed locals sitting on their balconies above the colourful garage doors. It felt like paradise and in that moment, I knew exactly where I wanted to retire someday.

Finally, we headed to explore the Tripiti and Plaka area before heading back to our hotel to get ready for one of our many amazing dinners on the island! [see below for food & drink recommendations]


DAY 2: SAILING AROUND MILOS

This day was my BEST day in Greece. And I owe it all to our boat tour with Milos Oneiro

Everyone that visits Milos must spend a day at sea. The reason being is that many parts of the island are not accessible by car, so in order to see these natural wonders, you must travel by boat. There are a TON of of tour companies offering sailing trips around Milos, but after reading so many reviews, I knew I had to book a trip on the Oneiro with Elias and Vassilis. 

The day at sea starts early with breakfast on the sailboat. Elias shares entertaining stories of Milos while you begin to sail out to sea with a small group of 10-15 other visitors. Along the way, we stopped a couple different swimming locations, where we were able to swim through caves take in the most beautiful sights. The tour company provided snorkelling gear to make the most of the experience.

We made our way to Kleftiko, a famous location comprised of the most incredible volcanic rock formations. Here, we docked the boat, spent time snorkelling in more caves and eating a homemade lunch prepared by chef Vassilis, which included lots of homemade wine and olives from the captain’s own backyard – the true definition of ‘farm to table.’

The day continued on the water, the drinks kept flowing and the afternoon transitioned into a boat party. Elias even taught us a traditional Greek dance on the bow of the boat. 

At the end of the trip, we all gathered around a table to share an assortment of traditional Greek appetizers, including freshly caught octopus that Vassilis grilled right on the boat! And of course, lots of ouzo. Elias told more stories while we shared lots of laughs with fellow travellers from all over the world. 

I remember sitting there in that moment and recognizing that its experiences just like that one – those organic, raw cultural experiences – that continue to fuel my desire to experience all this world has to offer. 

It is because of moments like this, that I will never get tired of travelling.


DAY 3: ISLAND ADVENTURES

On day three we rented a car and took off on an adventure to see more of the island. We started our morning as an incredible local bakery that was recommended to us called Kivotos ton Gefseon near Pollonia, a picturesque fishing village across the island. We walked around Pollonia and explored the town a bit before heading out to see more of the island.

Next, we stopped at another one of Milos’ 70+ beached called Papafragas Beach. You don’t need to spend much time here, but it is a really cool cave beach and definitely worth stopping at if you’re near Pollonia.

We then headed to the old abandoned Sulphur Mines. One of the reasons Milos is so late to the tourism game is because it used to be a heavily mined island, which deterred visitors from coming. Now, these previously active mines are no longer in operation and serve as a really unique touist hotspot. 

Tip: getting to the sulphur mines is a bit dicey, with a narrow winding road leading down to the bottom of a steep cliff. I would recommend parking up top and walking down. 

Finally, we spent the end of our day at the last beach destination of our trip, Paliochori Beach. Here, we spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach, grabbing some drinks at the beachside restaurant, and floating in the sea. 

See also: Hike to the top of the Cyclades in Naxos.


DAY 4: ADAMAS

On our final day, we had planned to spend a bit more time in Plaka, which is an absolutely beautiful town in Greece. However, we were ending our two week trip and were feeling tired, so we decided to listen to our bodies, stay local and explore Adamas before leaving to go back to Athens. Despite this choice, I would highly recommend spending more time than we did in Plaka if you visit Milos. 

On our last day, we did some shopping at boutiques in Adamas, had the most delicious ice cream at Aggeliki one last time, and cuddled with my favourite local cat [a blind/tailless cat who I met on my first day in Milos and named Pelle after a tailless cat featured in Swedish children’s books]. 

[Shameless cat-related plug] This little kitty is clean and friendly, and is taken care of by the locals in town. She is always hanging out in the gardens by Aggeliki so if you happen to be in Milos and see her, make sure to give her a snuggle for me!


WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN MILOS

Ice Cream: Aggeliki, which is located in the town centre of Adamas, has the best ice cream. I may or may not have stopped in daily.

Dinner: If you’re near Adamas, you need to visit O Hamos for dinner. This was one of the best meals we had in Greece. In fact, it was so good that we went there twice! Not to mention, it offers the most beautiful atmosphere and fantastic service.

Breakfast/Brunch: There is a bakery near Pollonia that is a must-visit called Kivotos ton Gefseon. They offer the amazing baked goods and a truly delicious breakfast on the cutest outdoor patio.

Traditional Greek Street Food: There are two locations that we went to along the main strip in Adamas that offer affordable Greek food: YANKOS and Flisvos. If you’re looking for a quick and tasty meal, these are both great options.

See also: Everything you need to know about where to eat the legendary Naxos potatoes.


This island is so incredibly special and I urge you to seriously consider paying it a visit. With very few tourists, the best food we had on the islands, extremely affordable prices, and some of the most beautiful landscapes and beaches I have ever seen, I personally cannot wait to go back! I am convinced that, for now at least, Milos is one of Greece’s best kept secrets [just try not to tell too many people about it!]. 


HEADED TO MILOS? PIN THIS FOR LATER!

And if you’re island-hopping around the Cyclades, make sure you check out my itineraries for Santorini and Naxos.

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Naxos Greece

Naxos is an island in the popular Cyclades that has commonly been referred to as Greece's most underrated island. It isn't often that you hear traveller's talking about this hidden gem, which is so surprising because this island has so much to offer.

I'm not kidding, Naxos really does offer it all: the friendliest people, diverse landscapes, delicious food [the famous Naxos potatoes!], deep-rooted mythological history, and beautiful beaches. Simply put, this island is so authentically Greek and I couldn't have loved my time here more.

Are you planning a trip to Naxos? Curious about Naxos in May? I'm here to dish all the details with my '3-Days in Naxos' island guide.

See also:  A 4-day guide to Milos, Greece.

3 Days in Naxos. Naxos, Greece Island Guide.


Why is May the Perfect Time to Visit Naxos?

May is a great month to visit Naxos [and Greece in general]. Characterized as the shoulder season, the islands are still relatively quiet in May. With that being said, Naxos never gets that busy compared to many other islands in the Cyclades, so there really is no bad time to visit.

Here's what we loved most about Naxos in May:

Weather: We visited Naxos in mid-May and the weather was perfect. Sunny and around 25 degrees Celsius [75 degrees Fahrenheit]. The mornings and evenings did get a bit chilly so if you are going to Naxos to soak up the sun on the beach, this may not be the best time to go, as the water is also still a bit cold [although that didn't stop me from going for a swim]. However, if you're going to hike and sight see, the temperatures at this time of year are perfect! I couldn't imagine hiking in temperatures any higher than the ones we experienced.

Lack of Crowds: We felt like we had the whole island to ourselves! We were able to drive around, visit touristy locations, and go on hikes, while only running into a few other travellers. The beaches were also very quiet and we didn't have to make any dinner reservations, even at the most popular spots on the island.


Ikaros Studios & Apartments, Naxos

Ikaros Studios & Apartments, Naxos

Where to Stay

Ikaros Studios & Apartments

We loved our stay here! This family-run hotel is very clean and features huge apartment-style rooms, complete with a small kitchen, a well-kept patio and pool surrounded by beautiful gardens and views of the mountains, and personal balconies. And to top it all off, it is a short 10 minute walk to the city centre.

The owner Nikos and his family could not be more hospitable. They provided us with some fantastic recommendations and helped us arrange our rental car. Nikos picked us up and dropped us off at the ferry terminal, and really went above and beyond to make sure we had the best stay on the island.

I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again next time we visit Naxos!


Getting To & Around Naxos

We arrived to Naxos by ferry. We took one of the Blue Star Ferries, which took about five hours from Athens. However, Naxos does have an airport with direct flights from Athens.

To get around Naxos, we rented a car. Naxos is a large island, so a car is definitely the most efficient way to see the island. I've also heard the public transportation system can be unreliable and that it doesn't run to all locations. Therefore, I cannot guarantee that you'll be able to reach all locations in this itinerary by public transportation.

The roads in Naxos are most well-paved, with the exception of a few [which I'll elaborate on further in the island guide]. However, the island has a lot winding roads up and down the sides of mountains, which may be a bit nerve-wracking for some drivers. Just drive cautiously, and you'll be able to navigate this island with no issues.


Day 1: Explore Naxos Town [Chora]

Streets surrounding Kastro, Naxos Town, Naxos, Greece

Streets surrounding Kastro, Naxos Town

The main town on Naxos, affectionately referred to as 'Naxos Town,' has so much to do. Spend your first day wandering around the town centre, popping into the many local shops, and checking out some of our favourite attractions.

Portara: The Portara, also known as 'The Great Door' sits atop a hill overlooking Naxos Town and is a look back in time at Naxos' ancient history. It also offers beautiful views of the island.

Kastro: The Kastro (or Castle) is a fortress in the middle of the town that I would highly recommend stopping in to explore.

Chora Waterfront: I would definitely recommend walking around the beautiful waterfront, watching the locals on their boats, and taking in views of the Portara. There are also a lot of restaurants along the waterfront, however per the recommendation of our hotel owner, we chose not to dine here as they were overpriced and the food was sub-par [take a look at the 'Food & Drinks' list below for recommendations on where you should dine instead].

Shopping: There are so many local shops, cafes, museums, and art galleries in the winding maze-like streets surrounding the Kastro. The shop-a-holic in me got lost in here for hours. I even took home some locally handmade jewelry from 'Fleur D'or' and hand-painted postcards from a small local shop.

Take Pictures: There are so many awesome spots to take pictures in Old Town. Every corner we turned, I felt compelled to stop and snap a shot. This town really is quintessential Greece.

See Also: All the best instagrammable spots in Santorini.

Naxos Town (Chora), Naxos, Greece. Travel Blog.
Naxos Town (Chora), Naxos


Day 2: Hike to the Cave of Zas and Zas Mountain

We spent our second day in Naxos doing the most popular hikes on the island. If you're an adventure-seeker in Naxos, you must do these hikes. However, there are a couple tips you must have before you take off on this adventure.

There are two ways to hike to the top of Mount Zas - the "easy" way and the "difficult" way. We chose the easier route. The more challenging route involves hiking past Zas' cave, and up a very steep, rocky incline to the top. This route is not well marked, and involves literally climbing up piles of rocks. I would only recommend doing this hike if you are an experienced hiker.

Since we are not avid hikers, we decided to take the "easy" route and split up our day into two hikes.

Zas Cave Hike

Zas Cave Hike, Naxos, Greece

Arriving at Zas' Cave, Naxos

Zas Cave is famously known as the birthplace of Zeus.

To get to the hike, we were told it was an easy drive, with the last 100 metres being a narrow cliff-side road, but easy to navigate. Well, let me tell you that 100 metres [i swear it was more than that] was the scariest drive of our lives. It involved driving around a curved road, filled with blindspots, on the side of the mountain - with no guard rail. It was a single lane road with room for only one car, so if another car were to come we would have had to reverse down the mountainside. Needless to say, I would recommend parking at the beginning of this stretch of road, and walking up to the start of the hike to avoid panic.

We were told that the hike to the cave should be about 20 minutes, however it was not clearly marked and therefore it took a bit longer for us to find it. We were following spray-painted X's up piles of rocks and it was often difficult to spot the next X.

Once we got to the cave, we took a look inside and climbed back down. Quite frankly, the cave was a bit anticlimactic. However, I would still recommend the experience, as it only takes about an hour of your time and the cave has a really cool backstory.

Mount Zas [Zeus] Hike

The Top of Mount Zas

The Top of Mount Zas

We drove to the start of the Mount Zas hike. The start of the hike was not clearly marked, so I would recommend talking to your accommodation staff for directions to the starting point [where you park at a church].

This hike was moderate in difficulty, mostly due to the sun and heat, and took us just shy of two hours to get to the top. This hike was more clearly marked than the first one, and required you to follow piles of rocks that guided you to the top. On the way up you're surrounded by breathtaking sights - and lots of adorable goat companions.

Once at the top of the mountain, which is the highest point in the Cyclades, you'll be rewarded with the most spectacular 360-degree views of Naxos that you truly have to see to believe.

After a long day of hiking, head into the nearby village of Tripiti for a cold beer and local food at one of the many tavernas.


Day 3: Exploring the Villages of Naxos

There are so many quaint mountain villages in Naxos that must be visited. On day three, we hopped back into our rental car and set out to explore some of these local treasures.

Morning in Melanes, Naxos, Greece

Morning in Melanes, Naxos

First stop was small village of Melanes, set perfectly into the side of a mountain. We stopped into this town in the morning to grab breakfast; however, we were unable to find a restaurant that was open. We were about to hop back into our car, which we parked near the entrance to the village, when this local man came out of his door, motioned us over, and gestured to us to come inside for coffee. We sat out on the patio and without taking our order, he brought us the best freshly squeezed orange juice I have ever had, and iced coffees. There we sat, with the most beautiful mountain views, and experienced this extra special moment of genuine Greek hospitality in its rawest form.

We left Melanes and drove through the mountains to see the fallen Kouros statues. These statues are located in a quarry in the middle of nowhere, and can be accessed by a short walk. These fallen statues reach up to an impressive 10 metres in height, and were carved in the 7th Century B.C.

Panagia Drosiani, Naxos, Greece

Panagia Drosiani, Naxos, Greece

Next we headed to the popular Panagia Drosiani, a small  mountainside church. This church is beautiful, and extremely old dating back at the end of 6th century A.D. Inside, they have a variety of artwork that you can view. But perhaps the most heartwarming part of this experience is the two local village women who sit outside the church selling homemade olive oil and crocheted towels and cloths. I bought some beautiful local handmade souvenirs here.

From the church, we headed to arguably the most picturesque village on Naxos: Chalki (Chalkio or Halkio) for lunch. We sat out on the patio at Giannis Taverna, next to rotissarie lamb cooking over wood-burning fire alongside the restaurant. After lunch, we walked around the small village, browsed in a few shops, and took pictures under the popular pink tree.

Agios Prokopios Beach, Naxos

Agios Prokopios Beach, Naxos

After a busy day driving around the island, we were craving some R&R - cue beach time. So, we hopped back in the car and drove to Agios Prokopios Beach. There, we laid our towels out in the sand, grabbed some ice cream, and took a dip in the water. In May, the water was a bit chilly, but so refreshing after a long hot day driving around the island.

Naxos has some beautiful beaches that are definitely worth checking out while you're visiting. I wish we had more time to spend at the beach, because one afternoon was just not enough. Thankfully, we were off to two more islands where I was able to get my beach fix.

See Also:The best beaches in the Cyclades in Milos, Greece.


Food & Drinks

In case you haven't realized it yet - I am the biggest foodie. I love trying new restaurants, and I LOVE Greek food. With that being said, I was so in the moment on this leg of our trip that I didn't write down all the places we ate. I've done my best to retrace my steps, and give you a list of a few places we went.

Naxos has fantastic food! Make sure you try their delicious local cheese [you're often given a choice between this and traditional feta], and the famous Naxos potatoes. I'm telling you, you'll never look at any other potato the same way again after tasting the pure heaven that is Naxos potatoes.

To Elliniko: Located just outside the city centre of Naxos Town, this restaurant offers a great, high quality dinner. The also have a beautiful, romantically lit patio [with space heaters for chillier nights] that is truly inviting. As a Canadian, the cherry on top was the fact that this restaurant was owned by a Greek Canadian man who has retired in Naxos and opened a restaurant.

Nostimon Hellas: This was our favourite dinner in Naxos. They offer high quality, locally sourced food that is worth the price point. I wouldn't call this restaurant expensive per se, because nothing in Naxos is very expensive, however it is a bit more premium than some of these other options.

Scirocco: This traditional taverna offers a good meal at an affordable price. It is the perfect spot for lunch if you're spending the day exploring Naxos Town.

Naxos Grill: This local hotspot was recommended by our hotel. I've always been told that if the locals are eating there, it must be good - and Naxos Grill proved that point to be correct. The food was excellent and offered outstanding value for your money. This is the place go if you're craving a gyro plate, and other Greek classics.

Giannis Taverna: Located in the village of Chalki, this taverna has good food and is located in the picturesque town centre. It is the perfect spot to stop for lunch while you're out exploring the villages of Naxos.

Tip: You should avoid the restaurants along the waterfront in Naxos Town. They are overpriced, touristy, and according the the locals, low quality. Keep in mind that food in Naxos should be cheap. So more often than not if something seems a bit expensive, it is likely a tourist trap and I would recommend looking elsewhere.


So, that's it for Naxos! I hope you enjoyed my  '3 Days in Naxos' guide to this wildly underrated island. I really didn't know what to expect when we chose to visit this island, and it blew me away. If you weren't already considering it for your Greece itinerary, I sure hope you are now!

 

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And if you're planning on island-hopping through the Cyclades, take a look my guides to two of my other favourite islands: Milos and Santorini.

3 Days in Naxos It inerary

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