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Douro Valley Views

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

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

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

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


THE TOWNS OF THE DOURO

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

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

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

Douro Valley

WHERE TO STAY IN THE DOURO VALLEY

Two words: Casa Cimeira.

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

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

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

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

See also: The trendiest hotel in Porto.


GETTING TO & AROUND THE DOURO VALLEY

BY CAR

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

Valenca de Douro Views

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

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

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

BY TRAIN

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


THINGS TO DO IN THE DOURO VALLEY

EXPLORE THE TOWNS & VILLAGES OF THE DOURO

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

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

Lunch at Churrasqueira Rio Douro

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

DRINK ALL THE WINE

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

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

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

Quinta de Corte Winery

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

ADMIRE THE VIEWS

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

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

Views of the Douro Valley near Pinhao

FEELING READY TO GET YOU WINE DRINKIN’ ON?

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


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

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

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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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Copenhagen – easily one of my favourite cities in Europe. Danish culture, the unique culinary scene, and the colourful streets draw me right in.

On Saturday, we took the train over to spend the day in Copenhagen [the whole journey is about 45 minutes door-to-door from our apartment in Malmö]. The sun was shining and it was 12 degrees Celsius [in mid-February], which made it the perfect day to roam. 28,000 steps later, with pitstops for patio drinks and food, we were able to cover so much of the city. And snap a lot of pictures.

Are you planning a visit to Copenhagen? Wondering where the most photogenic spots are?

Here’s my list of the most Instagrammable spots in Copenhagen.

1. Nyhavn

I’m going to start with the most obvious: Nyhavn. This is the canal that you’re bound to see in almost every picture of Copenhagen – and for good reason. Nyhavn is beautiful.

2. Magstræde

This narrow alleyway is one of the two oldest streets in Copenhagen and features the most beautiful colourful houses and cobblestone street.

Magstræde, Copemhagen
Magstræde, Copemhagen

3. Superkilen Park

Superkilen is a skatepark in the Nørrebro neighbourhood of Copenhagen. It features some very interesting artwork to get that perfect Instagram picture.

4. Christianshavn

If cute and aesthetically pleasing doorways are your thing, you can find these scattered around the neighbourhood of Christianshavn.

Christianshavn, Copenhagen
Christianshavn, Copenhagen

5. Tivoli Gardens

Want to feel like a kid again? Tivoli is the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world and continues to maintain its old-world charm. I went at Christmastime, hence the holiday decorations. However, Tivoli is beautiful all times of the year.

6. Freetown Christiana

Whether or not you’re looking to take pictures, Christiana is worth a visit just from a bucketlist perspective. But why not snap a few pictures while roaming this unique community? I can guarantee that you’ve never seen a place quite like this one before.

Do you agree with my recommendations for the most Instagrammable places in Copenhagen?

Have something to add? Mention it in the comments below.

xx,

Madeline

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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.

48 Hours in Santorini
Santorini Blue Domes
2 Days in Santorini
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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!

 

LIKE WHAT YOU READ? PIN IT!

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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Gothenburg Sweden

Yes, you heard that right – Sweden. I have been planning this move for awhile now, and I am so excited to finally be able to share the news with everyone! I’ve created this blog as a way to share my stories and experiences with everyone back home, and I think it’ll be the perfect creative outlet for me as I move into this exciting phase of my life.

So, why Sweden? What are my plans for work? Where will I be living? I’ve gotten so many questions about my move & I’m spilling all the tea. 


Why Sweden? 

Gothenburg, Sweden. December 2017.

Since we first met over a year and a half ago, we have visited eight countries together and managed to spend roughly three months together throughout 2018 despite living on opposite sides of the world.

When we began to talk our plans to end this LDR in 2019, the solution seemed clear. I was feeling a bit stuck in my  9-5 job, and always regretted not living internationally before I entered the corporate world when I was only 21 years old. Living in Europe for awhile, with significantly more vacation time and many travel destinations only a short/affordable flight way, seemed like the perfect opportunity to check a few items off my bucket list.

And so, I began planning my move to Sweden…


Mölle, Sweden. December 2017.

Where will I be living?

Malmö, Sweden. December 2017.

I’m moving to Malmö, which is Sweden’s third largest city. This vibrant city has so much to offer, with benefits that go far beyond it being a border city to Copenhagen [although, with Copenhagen being one of my favourite cities ever, this is a huge bonus]. I’m so excited to explore the city by bike, find my new favourite coffee shops for fika [a Swedish verb meaning “coffee break”], and attempt to learn a little bit of Swedish.

If you’re interested in learning more about Malmö and southern Sweden, I plan on writing a detailed city guide after I get settled, and I can’t wait to share it with you!


Will I be Working in Sweden?

That’s the plan! I have acquired a one-year work visa, which makes me eligible to accept employment opportunities once I arrive in Malmö. However, I’m moving there jobless which is a very scary feeling as a person who has always been very career-focused.

Many people have asked me about the visa process, and all I have to say is that I am very thankful that I am Canadian. As a Canadian under 30, it was very easy to obtain a one-year working visa. Sweden offers this program to citizens of a few different countries. If you’re interested in learning more, shoot me a message and I can send you some information.


And the Most Common Question: When am I Leaving?

My official date of departure is February 2nd. Soon, I know! I’m spending the rest of the month packing up a few boxes that I plan to ship overseas and moving my other belongings into storage – I cannot believe how much stuff I have accumulated over the past five years. After binge watching ‘Tidying Up’ on Netflix, I’m channeling my inner Marie Kondo and let me tell you – it feels so great to purge!

This month is extremely bittersweet as I say some difficult goodbyes to my incredibly supportive friends & family, wrap things up at a job that has provided me countless opportunties over the past six years, and prepare my cat Screech for a transatlantic flight [you didn’t think I would leave her behind, did you?].

With that being said, I am so incredibly excited for this adventure and can’t wait to share it with you. And remember, visitors are always welcome! 

xx,

Madeline

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Fall in Amsterdam

Fall in Amsterdam

Amsterdam City Guide // Amsterdam in November // 4 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary // Insta-worthy Spots in Amsterdam

At the beginning of November 2018, I was given the opportunity to spend a week in one of my very favourite cities - Amsterdam! I first fell in love with this city in the summer of 2015, while at the tailend of a backpacking trip across Europe. I spent three days in the city, and left feeling like I could live there. So when the opportunity presented itself to return for a week, I jumped on the chance.

Given that most people will likely not have a week to spend here, I've prepared a  '4 Days in Amsterdam' city guide that highlights all my favourite things to do [and eat!]. The goal of this guide is to provide you with less touristy, more off-the-beaten-path suggestions so you can fall for Amsterdam from a more local perspective.

4 Days in Amsterdam City Guide. November in Amsterdam.

Featured Accomodations

I have stayed in three different places in Amsterdam, catering to three different budgets.

Budget: Flying Pig Uptown Hostel

I feel like every young budget backpacker has stayed at one of the Flying Pig Hostel locations in Amsterdam. I stayed here in 2015 and had a great experience. The staff provides a great atmosphere for individuals looking to meet other travellers, and there are a variety of sleeping arrangements available.

Affordable: AirBnb in Amsterdam-Oost

SWEETS hotel. Beltbrug. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

If you're a fan of AirBnb's, you'll love Ilana's place. Located in Amsterdam-Oost, this location a little bit outside the city centre, but I fell in love with the neighbourhood. It had an amazing food culture and opened my eyes to an entirely new area of Amsterdam that I had yet to explore. The AirBnb is around the corner from the train station for a quick 10 minute train ride to the city centre. Or, if you're like me and prefer to travel like a local, you can easily rent a bike and ride to almost anywhere you want to go.

Mid-Range: SWEETS hotel

Have you ever dreamed of having your own private bridge house all to yourself? Well, you're in luck! SWEETS hotel is converting bridge houses all over Amsterdam into private hotel rooms and it is beyond cool. We stay at the Beltbrug location, which was conveniently located around the corner from the trendy Jordaan neighbourhood. If you happen to be travelling to Amsterdam, this is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would not pass up. We can't wait to go back and stay in another location!


Transportation 

Biking in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Black Bike Rentals.

Biking in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The best way to see the city is the way the locals do - by bike! On both my trips to Amsterdam, I have rented bikes from various Black Bike locations and would highly recommend this rental company for great service and affordable prices. If the thought of biking is imtimidating to you, I assure you there is nothing to be afraid of. After all, Amsterdam is the most bikeable city in the world!

Still feeling a bit too scared to go on a two-wheeled adventure? Amsterdam offers an awesome tram and train system, with daily and weekly passes available for purchase.

Finally - you can walk! The city city is accessible enough that you can walk around and see many of the most famed sights. Just put on a pair of comfy shoes and fall in love with the canals by foot.


Day 1: Museums

Amsterdam is packed with some of the world's most famous museums. I would pick a couple that interest you and spend your first day immersing yourself in the museum culture. My top personal favourite museums also happen to be the most popular in the city - I guess they are touristy for a reason:

Rijksmuseaum, Museumnacht 2018. Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  • Anne Frank Museum. You cannot visit Amsterdam and not go here. Make sure to book your tickets well ahead of time, as it is always sold out.
  • Rijksmuseum. Housing some of the world's most famous paintings, this world-renowned museum should not be missed.
  • Van Gogh Museum. Everyone loves Van Gogh. What could be better than seeing all his most famous pieces of work in one location?

FUN TIP: If you happen to be in Amsterdam during the beginning of November, Museumnacht is an annual event that gives you after hours access to some of Amsterdam's most famous musuems. During this event, we saw the Hortus Botanicus lit up at night, visited an Alice in Wonderland-themed party at the Museum of Bags & Purses, and danced the night away at a silent disco at the Rijksmuseum. This is one of the most popular events of the year in Amsterdam, so if you plan on visiting, make sure you buy tickets ahead of time.


Day 2: Shopping & Markets

Anyone who knows me knows that I am always on the hunt for the best shopping districts in a new city, and there is no shortage of shopping in Amsterdam. Here's some of my favourite places to wander during your shopping day in Amsterdam:

  • De 9 StraatjesIn my opinion, the best area to shop in Amsterdam. Features unique vintage finds and trendy boutiques along some of the most picturesque streets in the canal belt.
  • Floating Flower Market. This market features tons of booths selling the most recognizable flower in the Netherlands: tulips.
  • Sunday Market WestergasfabriekLocated in the west part of the city, Westerpark is home to an outdoor market on the first Sunday of each month. This is the perfect place to find locally-made and vintage finds. If you don't happen to be visiting during the first Sunday of the month, I would still recommend checking out the Westerpark neighbourhood.
  • Pieter Cornelisz (P.C.) Hooftstraat. Whether you're interested in doing some window shopping, or splurging on the designer handbag of your dreams, this street is often referred to as Amsterdam's Fifth Avenue, and is your spot for high-end finds.
  • Jordaan. One of my favourite neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, Jordaan features some of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam, as well as many bohemian-inspired shops and studios/galleries. I could easily get lost for hours roaming around these streets.

Day 3: Food Tour

Fries from Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx.

Full Disclosure: I am normally not a fan of organized walking tours. However, the Hungry Birds tour was quick to challenge this opinion.

I knew the food culture in Amsterdam was unique, and as a self-proclaimed foodie I was determined to make sure I visited all the very best spots. So after reading amazing reviews about the Hungry Birds food tour, I decided to take the plunge and join them. After spending nearly six hours walking around the city with a small group of fellow foodies, enjoying eats that included Surinamese cuisine, hot food from a vending machine, dutch beer, fries with peanut sauce & mayo, and Amsterdam's most famous cookies, I knew I had made the best decision in joining this tour.

I'll highlight some of my favourite spots from the tour in the 'Food & Drinks' section below.

If you love food as much as I do, this is a tour that you need to take in Amsterdam. 


Day 4: Explore De Pijp

For your last day in Amsterdam, you need to explore my favourite neighbourhood in the city: De Pijp.

Why do I love this neighbourhood so much? Where do I begin!

Albert Cuyp Market in De Pijp, Amsterdam.

Albert Cuyp Market, De Pijp, Amsterdam.

  • Albert Cuyp MarketThis is hands down the best market in the city. Open seven days a week, this market has been in operation for over 100 years, with many vendors owning market real estate for several decades. Here, you'll find the best stroopwafels in Amsterdam, fresh herring, an assortment of Dutch cheeses, produce, clothing, flowers, and so much more.Coffee & Coconuts, De Pijp, Amsterdam.
  • Fashion. De Pijp is trendy and offers some of my favourite boutiques to shop in the city. If you love fashion, you'll love exploring De Pijp.
  • Restaurants. There is no shortage of amazing restaurants in De Pijp. Check out the 'Food & Drinks' section of this city guide for more details.
  • Coworking Spaces. Need to get some work done on the road? De Pijp features one of my favourite cafes/coworking spaces I have ever visited: Coffee & Coconuts.

All in all, De Pijp is just plain cool. If I were to move to Amsterdam, I would want to live in De Pijp. Spend a day taking in everything this neighbourhood has to offer and I bet you'll feel the same way!


Food & Drinks

This is easily my favourite section of this city guide because Amsterdam has an incredible food culture! We didn't even get to scrape the surface of what this city has to offer, but here are some of the best spots I visited on my most recent trip.

Scandinavian Embassy, De Pijp, Amsterdam.

Scandinavian Embassy, De Pijp.

  • Coffee. Craving a warm cup of joe before you start exploring? You'll find the best coffee in Amsterdam at Scandinavian Embassy. The owners have truly perfected the craft of coffee-making and the coffee is worth the lineup [even if it is out the door].
  • Famous Cookies. Have you heard of Van Stapele? This bakery is a tourist hotspot and for good reason - the cookies are just so damn good. This small bakery only makes one type of cookie and often has a line out the door. I would recommend going early in the day, because they have been known to close early once they have met a daily 'cookie quota.'
  • Stroopwafels. I have tried a lot of Amsterdam stroopwafels and the best can be found at Original Stroopwafels in Albert Cuyp Market. I loved them so much I recently had my boyfriend bring 12 packages home from his work trip to share with friends and family [that's 120 stroopwafels!].
  • Brunch. Bakers & Roasters offers two locations, and is described as a New Zealand-style cafe. If you're like me and brunch is you're thing, this is the place to go.

The Avocado Show, Amsterdam

Poke Bowl at The Avocado Show

  • Lunch. Do you love avocado? If so, The Avocado Show is a must-visit! Every single item on the menu includes avocado. Not to mention, everything about this place is very insta-worthy.
  • Mid-Range Dinner. If you're looking for a mid-range dinner, with high-quality, fresh food, Wilde Zwijnen is your place!
  • Asian FusionVijfnulvijf Asian Kitchen Cafe was so good, we went there twice! It was right around the corner from our AirBnb, offered a large selection of small plates, and had several allergy-friendly options [for my boyfriend who often struggles at Asian restaurants due to his nut/seed allergy].
  • Vending Machine EatsFEBO is a Netherlands staple, and a totally unique experience. If you want to visit the original location, it can be found in De Pijp. Here, you can often still spot the inventor/owner of this fast-food chain deep frying their famous croquettes.
  • Fries. For the best fries in Amsterdam, you may need to stand in line at Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx. But I promise, it will be so worth the wait. If you're feeling daring, try this Amsterdam staple: fries topped with mayo, peanut sauce, and onions, as known as 'War Fries.' They are surprisingly delicious!

Amsterdam Weather in November

Many people warned me that visiting Amsterdam in November was a gamble, with typical temperatures hovering around zero degrees Celsius, and high risk of rain and wind. However, after spending time in the city during the busy and hot summer months, visiting during the much quieter month of November was a welcome change. I arrived with an umbrella and waterproof gear and was ready to face whatever weather came my way.

I ended up getting very lucky. With mild temperatures and sunny days, the perfect fall weather was an absolute dream. However, this is not guaranteed and if you plan to visit Amsterdam in November, the unpredictable weather is something to be wary of.

November in Amsterdam

I hope you enjoyed my guide to one of Europe's best cities! As always, if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to message me.

xx,

Madeline

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