A weekend getaway to Bruges, Belgium

Sometimes, crossing the English Channel is an easier and quicker way to get out of London and explore a new place. Last month, rather than driving 5 hours to get to Snowdonia or the Lake District, Matt and I swapped the usual outdoor adventures for a city break. The chosen location was Bruges, which sits on the north-western part of Belgium.

  •  Ferry tickets for 2 people and 1 car: £78 from Dover to Dunkirk.
  • Time taken from London to Bruges: Approximately 5 hours in total.
  • Our trip duration: Thursday night to Sunday morning. Although this trip can easily be done from Friday morning to Sunday morning.

But… why visit Bruges?

Because of the proximity to London.
Because of the cute, unique looking buildings.
Because of the canal which surrounds the main town centre.
Because of endless choice of Belgian Beer!
Because of  the convenience of being able to walk everywhere.
Because of the Waffles and Chocolate (although I didn’t buy any because I used my calorie tokens on beers!

How to get there?


Recommendations

o  Brewery Tour at Bourgogne des Flandres

The brewery is at heart of Bruges, the tour costs 10 euros per person and it lasts for approximately 1 hour. This is a cool experience if you like beer and would like to see how beer in general is made, as well as learn about the history of the Bourgogne des Flandres beer. As a bonus, you get a free beer at the bar in the end!

o  Potato Bar

I found the food in Bruges a bit of a hit and miss, but Potato Bar was actually quite good compared to another place we went to the night before, Ribs N’ Beer. Potato bar was quite chilled, and the chips and toppings were yummy whereas Ribs N’ Beer was just average, and we felt very rushed by the staff! Also, the Potato Bar is the perfect place you if want to have a small-ish dinner so that you can save some space for beer!

Chips at Potato Bar, Bruges

o  Monsieur Ernest Hotel 

I actually loved this cozy hotel. It costs around £410 for 3 nights (although we realized we could have saved some money by staying for 2 nights only) for a room with canal view. The breakfast was good, location was perfect – everything within 10-20 minute walk, and the atmosphere was very relaxing. 

o  Le Trappiste Bar 

Really liked this little underground bar – the beer selection is very good but the only downside is that it’s hard to find a table as it’s quite popular. 

o  The Bottle Shop

Take home a few souvenirs (Belgian beer) from The Bottle Shop.

The Bottle Shop, Bruges

General Tips

  • Take this trip on a weekend: Friday to Sunday.

  • Go to Bruges around Autumn or Spring if you like cheap prices, not so cold temperatures and a nice nature setting i.e. leaves falling or flowers blooming.

  • Go to Bruges in Winter if you like Christmas markets, decorations and mulled wine.

Best place for a short ski break in Europe: Innsbruck

Innsbruck is known not only for its modern and imperial architecture, but it is also very popular amongst winter sports and hiking enthusiasts. It is an ideal destination if you are in need of a quick skiing getaway and a great place to visit if you enjoy the peace and quiet of the mountains whilst being within easy reach from the hustle and bustle of a big city. Having skied in other places like Les Deux Alpes, Alpe D’Huez and Tignes before, Innsbruck has been the best experience for me so far. Here is why:

5 reasons why Innsbruck is a great skiing destination

Getting there is easy and transfers to hotels and resorts are short

Innsbruck airport is small, easy and close to the city centre. You can stay in the town or just outside the city. Either way, you will still be very close to any resort surrounding the Innsbruck area. Take a look at Götzens if you fancy staying just outside the city (10-15 minutes drive from the city centre). There are also free ski shuttles which takes you to your desired resorts.

You can go to any resort around the Innsbruck area

Innsbruck can be a great choice for your skiing holiday because it offers a variety of ski resorts catering to all abilities. You can try different resorts each day, meaning you will have an endless choice of pistes throughout your whole stay. These are some of the resorts you can visit which are not very far from the city centre: Axamer LizumSchlick 2000 – FulpmesGlungezer – TulfesMuttereralmpark – Mutters/GötzensStubai Glacier (Stubaier Gletscher)Bergeralm – Steinach am BrennerRosshütte – SeefeldKühtai.

Slopes are not crowded and there are no queues for the ski lifts

Does the thought of huge crowds and massive queues fill you with dread? Yes? Then Innsbruck might be the right place for you. If you are skiing during the weekdays, even better! If you wake up early enough and get ready for the first lift up, much much better! It will literally just be you, the mountain and fresh powder.

Great value for money on the ski lift passes

There is an OLYMPIAWORLD SKIPASS you can get which costs around 135 euros for 3 days and it gives you access to 9 ski resorts in the Innsbruck area, covering 300km of slopes. You may also get a discount on the lift pass if you have an Innsbruck card, which is provided by some hoteliers. With the discount, our passes cost 120 euros for 3 days, which is great value for money compared to other lift passes in Europe.

Visit the city if you fancy a little break from skiing

Take a stroll around the Altstadt von Innsbruck (Old town). There are palaces, cathedrals, Baroque and Renaissance style buildings – in which some are over 500 years old – all surrounded by snowy peaked mountains, making it all a very picturesque experience.

Where to stay

Stay at the Alp Art Hotel to enjoy great views, breakfast and spa

Views from Alp Art Hotel

Sunrise from Alp Art Hotel

Breakfast room at Alp Art Hotel

Where to Eat

Try the Taverna da Guzzi for amazing homemade style Italian food

Linguine con Salmone

When to Go

Anytime between December and March, except during the school holidays, and you may get yourself an empty piste like the image below

Axamer Lizum

 

5 places you must visit for cheap short breaks in 2018

As we are coming close to the end of another year, it is time to start thinking of places we could go during the year to come. It is time to start thinking about how we can use our holidays wisely so that we could have as many adventures as possible. For this reason, I have put together a little list with some of the places I have visited recently which might not break the bank and may fit in perfectly with a weekend or a bank holiday.

Trani, Italy

Trani's cathedral

Trani is a hidden gem. Matt and I were there this year  for our friend’s wedding and thanks to them, we were introduced to this town. The town is a historic fishing port in the Puglia region and it is a lovely place to explore, eat and relax. Trani offers a sophisticated feel with its marina side bars and restaurants, limestone streets, medieval churches, and its enchanting cathedral. To get there, you will need to fly to Bari and then get a taxi or a train to Trani. The journey from the airport takes only 30 minutes.

Personally, I will definitely be visiting Trani again for a cheap and relaxing break, especially because of another hidden gem we found there. Quintessenza Ristorante is a Michelin Star restaurant where you can have a six-course meal with wine pairing for 70 euros per person. Compared to Michelin Star restaurants in London, 70 euros per person is very cheap and the food quality is the same or better. The brothers who own this restaurant are very passionate about the way they cook and you can really feel that when they are serving each course. The experience we had at this restaurant is absolutely worth a trip to Trani again.


Polignano a Mare, Italy

Polignano a Mare is another little treasure hidden on the coast, lying by the Adriatic Sea. During the few days we stayed in Trani, we took a day to visit this little town. This town offers everything you need for a perfect day out: a beach, caves, rocks (so that you can be a daredevil and jump a few times), white-washed winding streets and amazing fresh seafood.


Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is one of the most popular destinations for holidays in Europe. Whether you are a party animal, a beach bum, or someone who just wants to relax and enjoy nice scenery and food, you will find that Mallorca caters to everyone’s needs. The island is also a great place for activities like rock climbing, sailing, kitesurfing and more. There are many beautiful places in Mallorca, like Cala Sant Vicenç, Cala Figuera, Cap Formentor and Playa de Formentor. However I want to share my favourite place with you:

Cala Tuent

Cala Tuent was my highlight because of its tranquil and scenic atmosphere. Surrounded by the Serra de Tramutana mountains, the way down to Cala Tuent through the winding narrow roads is breathtaking. The beach is approximately 100-meters long and it is made up of pebbles and gravel. The water is clear and clean, great for snorkelling. Cala Tuent is great for a relaxing day at the beach due to the fact that not many people go there. Tourist buses do not stop at this Cala and it is also not very family friendly. There are no facilities or snack bars at the beach either, however I would recommend eating at the Restaurante Es Vergeret so that you can have a meal with a view!


Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is known as the pearl of the Adriatic and also as King’s Landing, a fictional city in the famous Game of Thrones series. Being the huge fan that I am, Dubrovnik had to be on my list of places to visit. As a result of the show’s great success, Dubrovnik is now even more of a prominent tourist destination in Europe. Here are my highlights from Dubrovnik:

Dubrovnik City Walls

Views from the City Walls

Fort Lovrijenac

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View from Fort Lovrijenac ↓

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Day trip to Kravice Waterfalls and Mostar

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During our stay in Dubrovnik, we took a day to visit Kravice Waterfalls and Mostar in Bosnia.  There are many excursion companies in Dubrovnik which offer day trips to Bosnia and Hezergovina, Serbia and Montenegro for approximately £40 per person. Personally, I thought the day trip was very worth it since it gave us an opportunity to explore another country and know a bit more about its people and culture. 


Budapest, Hungary

Budapest surprised me so much as a city, I never thought I would like it as much as I did. Aside from its stunning baroque architecture, accommodation, food and drinks are very cheap. To find out more about my highlights, take a look at my post about Budapest: Tips for staying in Budapest for 3 days on the budget

Accommodation tip: Baroque Hostel ↓
→  Click here to get £15 off your booking


 

Happy new year everyone, and I hope your new year is filled with new adventures!