Krakow, Poland is a city that bustles with history, culture and soul. Alive from day to night, whether you are looking for the most historic church or the best jazz lounge in town, Krakow features countless cultural opportunities.
These are the best historical spots you cannot miss and is best explored in a two to three day itinerary. Although you may want to see it all, some of the best moments in Krakow are when you lose yourself, wandering down an old alley way, wondering, "What should I do next?"
St. Peter and Paul Church
In Poland, there is no lack of Catholic Churches. Built between 1597-1619, this is the biggest church in Krakow in terms of seating capacity. The Baroque Jesuit church is most known for its facade, containing the 12 apostles. The church was built shortly after the arrival of the Jesuits to defend the Catholic faith after signing the Council of Trident.
Between St. Peter and Paul Church and Market Square, it is common to find elder locals playing musical instruments along Grodzka Street.
Old Town Market Square
This is the area where most people congregate to, and once you lay eyes on the square you’ll know why. The grandiose square contains spirit of the past and the present. Small birds circle the cathedral and horse and carriage loop around the square. It is the largest medieval square in Europe, which dates back to 1257. St Mary’s Basilica is one of the most popular churches in town.
Explore the 10th Century St. Adalbert Church, which is a mix of pre-Roman, Roman, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture. Explore what is left of Krakow Town Hall with its tower as the rest of the facility was demolished to open up the square. The 13th Century Town Hall Tower stands 70 meters, but leans 55 centimeters as a result of a storm in 1703. Two stone lions guard the tower, which were brought from the Classicist Palace. The tower climb is steep, but worth the view and the experience to understand life in the medieval days.
During the holiday season, enjoy the Christmas Market in Market Square. This is the perfect place to discover affordable Polish cuisine. Be sure to check out Wierzynek, the oldest restaurant in town with roots dating back to 1364.
Market Square also contains the Cloth Hall. The 14th Century Cloth Hall contains countless souvenir stands. Some claim cloth hall is the oldest “shopping mall” and the edifice dates to 1555. It's one of the best spots to purchase a souvenir.
And while on the topic of shopping, be sure to explore the countless shops in town and in the Cloth Hall that contain the popular Polish Pottery. These hand painted pieces of ceramic are a popular Christmas gift and is known for its stylish kitchen tools. Discover everything from spoons to baking dishes to coffee mugs.
One popular shops is Mila Polish Pottery located at: Sławkowska 14, 31-014 Kraków, Poland
Another popular traditional Polish relic are the amber jewelry. The handcrafted jewelry is expensive (according to backpacker standards) but is a notable symbol of Poland.
Krakow is also known for its bustling music scene. The Poles know how to party so there is no lack of techno clubs. But for the finer side of Polish culture, be sure to check out of the many jazz shows in town. You'll discover many jazz clubs in and around Market Square.
The two places I recommend are Harris Piano Jazz Bar and Piwnica Pod Baranami. These two establishments are next to eachother, both located underground with exposed brick walls and quirky, historical art on the walls.
On the corner of Florianska and Pijarska street is an outdoor painter's market called, Galeria obrazów pod Bramą Floriańską. Discover everything from landscapes to nature to dancers. The paintings are perched alongside an old stone wall and features art from over 100 artists. In operation for decades, this is the spot for an affordable canvas painting; however, they own a nearby shop that sells paintings with a frame,
Built between the 13th and 14th Century, Wawel Castle is the most impressive landmark in the city. Fifty thousand years ago, people lived on Wawel Hill during the Paleolithic Age. In the early 16th Century, King Sigismund I the Old brought in some of the best native and foreign artists to create the castle you see today. Permanent exhibitions include the State Rooms, Oriental Art, The Lost Wawel, The Royal Private Apartments and the Crown Treasury and Armory. Don’t be in too much of a rush, and be sure to stop and smell the flowers.
Inside the Wawel Castle is the cathedral where visitors marvel and decadent artistry and architectural wonders of the 18 chapels. Most of the Polish King’s and their family members, along with the nation’s greatest heroes, bishops, two poets and four saints, are buried in the cathedral.
Kazimierz - Jewish Square
Located south of Old Town and between the Wisla River and Ul, the Jewish Quarter is a neighborhood not only for Jewish culture, but for Bohemian artists as well. Near the Jewish Square green space are countless Jewish Restaurants surrounded by five synagogues.
The historical pavilion, Plac Nowy, is a popular antique market that contains a farmers market on the weekend. There are also countless antique shops in this district that are worth exploring.
I recommend visiting the tiny black and white shops, Galeria Lue Lue to discover old black and white images of historic Krakow and Poland.
There are countless opportunities to discover Jewish culture and cuisine around Jewish Square. Admire the historic window fronts, hear live music or simply explore your pallate with Kosher and Traditional Polish Food. I recommend Jewish Restaurant, Arial.
Discover more on 7 Authentic Polish Restaurants in Krakow, Poland (for Pierogies & Vegetarians too).
The once World War II factory is now a historical museum. The factory housed the former Nazi industrialist who saved the lives of his Jewish workforce during the Holocaust. Guests will see Schindler’s desk intact to what it would look like during the war alongside with walls filled with plates, Nazi propaganda and photos of the factory workers.
Nearby is the popular family-owned restaurant, Jadlodajnia Wczoraj i Dzis. Discover more on 7 Authentic Polish Restaurants in Krakow, Poland (for Pierogies & Vegetarians too).
On March 3, 1941, the Nazi occupation created a dwelling place for Krakow Jews. Podgorze is the conception of the Jewish ghetto located on the right side of the Wisla River. The ghetto consisted of 15 streets and some 320 buildings and 3,200 rooms, completely walled off from the rest of the city. The ghetto's western edge, at Limanowskiego Street near Rynek Podgorski square was the main entrance gate to the ghetto along with another gate on Limanowskiego Street, which was solely for the entrance of German military trucks.
Jagiellonian University - Copernicus University and Museum
Take a walk into history at one of the oldest Universities in Europe, and the oldest University building in Poland with roots dating back to 1400. This historic college is the place where Copernicus did his studies and also experienced a downfall during the Nazi occupation of book burning and extermination of the professors. Take a tour inside the museum to discover countless artifacts, paintings and original astrological devices from the Copernicus era.
If you have two to three days in Krakow, you can explore most of these areas, even if you do not enter some of the museums. However, to take your time in each district or museum, it is best to schedule three days. Luckily, Krakow is not that spread out so it is easy to walk from place to place.
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to A Traveler's Guide to the Best Cultural Spots in Krakow, Poland.
Krakow is one of my favorite European cities. Not only is the culture and architecture one-of-a-kind, but so is the food. My Great Grandfather was from Krakow, married to my Ukrainian Grandmother, so pierogies, borscht and potato pancakes are a past time. Even to this day I can remember my "Baba" pushing through her carpal tunnel and back pain just to satisfy my family's stomach upon every visit.
I have more love for Krakow than just nostalgia, but it is a city of creativity founded by tough people who survived communism, the War and the like. Polish people have not had an easy life, and even today you'll see grandma in the kitchen kneading dough for today's serving of dumplings and goulash.
I do not eat meat, and I find it difficult to be 100% vegan in Poland unless you consume bird food from the supermarket or the salad section at the restaurant. As a two-time visitor to Krakow, these are my favorite places for traditional and authentic Polish food that also features vegetarian options.
Ariel Jewish Restaurant
One of the most unique culinary experiences in Krakow is to explore the Jewish and Kosher culture. Discover countless Jewish restaurants along Szeroka Street.
Located in Jewish Square, Ariel, sits between five synagogues in the heart of Kazimierz. Known for its live music events, Ariel features six indoor dining halls and outdoor seating in the summer. The green room, known as the fireplace room, features an eclectic mix of historic paintings and vintage items to replicate a Jewish tenement house from the 16th Century. In fact, "Arial" originates from the Old Testament and is named after one of the four archangels, "Uriel," known as the "Light of God."
And God bless this delicious food. Borscht, cabbage salads and Russian-style pierogies, you'll notice my trend as the blog post continues. A gift shop is also available. Prices are moderate to pricey. Check the website for the music concert calendar and apartment rentals.
Jadlodajnia Wczoraj i Dzis
If you're looking for Grandma's cooking, be sure to visit this restaurant that has been family owned and operated for over 80 years. The restaurant's roots originated in market square, but now reside nearby the Oskar Schindler factory museum and the Jewish ghetto. This is one of the few family restaurants that survived after World War II, the occupation and communism. The menu features hearty traditional Polish food, and these family recipes that are made fresh every morning.
I am obsessed with Polish carrot salad. It is one of my favorite foods in Poland. Between this and the potato pancakes with applesauce, this is a perfect lunch or dinner spot - one of the best in towns.
When I ate here three times in one trip, I realized this is a sign from God that this is probably one of the most special gems in Krakow. In fact, when a restaurant features a red and white checkered table cloth, it's a sign you've struck gold as the food is as authentic as the peasants who work in the kitchen.
Cheap. Hearty and delicious, Domowa features everything I love about Polish food (suitable for plant-based eaters), pierogies, borscht and salads. As already established, carrot salad is my favorite followed by beet salad. Sadly, sauerkraut comes in third place. Actually, I am not a big fan of sauerkraut but Domowa's - I ate the entire bowl. It's not as pungent but is light and tasty without stinking like kraut juice. The best part is - the affordable price! The soup of the day is 5 zloty, equivalent to 1.25 euro.
Traveler's Tip: Be sure to say no onion as the onion-butter topping contains bits of pork.
Located in the heart of Krakow and in the main square, Wierzynek is the oldest restaurant in the city. With 14th Century origins, travelers from around the world admire the ancient decor or chat over a beer at the street side cafe tables. According to the website, "In 1364, wealthy merchant Mikołaj Wierzynek hosted a splendid feast for the monarchs of Europe on behalf of the Polish King Casimir the Great. Wierzynek undertook the task of hosting the feast with great care and overwhelmed his noble guests with a truly lavish welcome. According to legend the tables were groaning with food and drinks and the guests celebrated for 20 days and nights. Upon departure, the generous merchant presented each guest with a splendid gift – gold and silver tableware."
Today the restaurant follows the slow food notion and features a mix of artisan and delectable cuisines, or in plain English, rare foods served in small portions that are overpriced. It is worth exploring one of the five rooms each one decorated with aristocratic charm.
I am an astrology fanatic. As a cosmonaut at heart, something ancient resides in my bones when gazing at the night sky questioning what life was like during the medieval era. Nearby Wawel Castle, this modest cafe features vegetarian friendly meals such as a Greek salad and pierogies. The Greek Salad is not identical to the one you get in Greece, but Mediterranean veggies are served inside half of a head of Iceberg lettuce, the common peasant raw greenery in Poland, and topped with an Italian-style dressing. After eating countless dumplings, my body craved raw vegetables. Affordable and modest, this Aquarian girl admires this establishment's quirks and menu.
Restauracja Przysmak Staropolski
Located near Wawel Castle is an inexpensive, outdoor cafe and restaurant. This is not exactly fine dining so don't expect the lot, but if looking for a cheap salad and pierogies, this place is a good pit stop despite the constant one-star ratings.
Restauracja Pod Smoczą Jamą
Also located near Wawel Castle, Jama is another modest-dining experience that offers good food at fair prices. A plate of Russian pierogies is 16 zloty, equivalent to four euros. It's another spot to taste test the dumplings to see which ones you enjoy best.
Pro Tip: Globalization is changing the world. When traveling abroad, be sure to check out places online to ensure the establishment is open and operating hours.
What's your favorite restaurant for authentic food in Krakow?
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to 7 Authentic Polish Restaurants for Vegetarians in Krakow, Poland.
Imagine a world where the sun shines, flower petals flow with the wind and over-ripe oranges fall into your lap. If you can imagine this than you can imagine life in a Seville garden and park. Enchanted with beauty, nothing is more precious than the solo moments of breathing in the vibrant air while discovering exquisite architecture alongside hidden paths.
If you're looking for something natural and free, be sure to visit one of these gardens and parks in Seville.
Parque de Maria Luisa
If you visit only one park in Spain, Maria Luisa Park is it. The vast complexity of the interconnections between nature and architecture is mind-blowing. You'll discover everything from flowered vintage trellises to a patch of fallen oranges basking in the sunlight. The architectural elements from elegant gazebos to the prominent Plaza de España, discover a piece of Seville history. I spent wandered for two hours in the park, and discovered only a piece of the park. If hungry, eat at the adjacent Bar Citroen cafe as depicted in my recent "Favorite Restaurants & Cafes in Seville."
Jardines de Murillo | Jardin de Catalina de Ribera
Between the ancient Alcazar wall and Paseo de Catalina de Ribera, is the Jardines de Murillo. In late May and early June, pink petals gently sway in the wind falling alongside ceramic benches and water fountains. Named after the 17th century Sevillan painter Murillo, discover various monuments, including the notable Christopher Columbus statue.
Park Adjacent to Maria Luisa
Adjacent to Parque de Maria Luisa is another city park, containing tree-lined pathways, wrought-iron benches and manicured lawns. It's the perfect park for a late afternoon sachet in the shade or relax at Epheta for a beer. The Prado de San Sebastian is also located here. Somehow it is impossible to discover the real name of this park, but is located across from Maria Luisa on Av. Portugal.
Jardin de Cristina
Nearby the Cathedral and Alcazar is Jardin de Cristina, a poetically-romantic Spanish garden. Built in 1830 in Puerta Jerez, the park is named after King Ferdinand VII's second wife, Maria Cristina.This small triangle-shaped park is well landscaped and a nice space to relax, though not nearly as impressive as the other major parks in town.
A must in Seville, Real Alacazar is a place not only to discover lush gardens, but to revisit Sevilla's history. This is one of the oldest palaces left in the world, and an authentic representation of the southern Mediterranean battle between the Moors and the Christians. Constructed began in 913 by And Al Ramn III, and throughout it's history, Real Alcazar experienced several architectural face lifts throughout time. While inside you'll discover precious moments of flora and fauna, but highlights include Mudéjar and Patio de las Doncellas.
Beyond tile-lined benches and tree-lined footpaths, experience a variety of artifacts and paintings in the indoor museum. A small cafe with outdoor seating is also available.
Jardines de Buhaira
Located on Avenida de Buhaira, is another Moorish style garden. The park features The Buhaira Palace, an architectural wonder that dates back to the 12th Century. The park is more of a concrete jungle as compared to other parks that contain lush flora and fauna. Although impressive, I recommend the first four parks being on the top of your list.
Jardines de las Delicias
This park is an extension of Parque de Maria Luisa, nearby the river and adjacent to the aquarium. The park's main highlight are the sculptures dotted around the manicured lawn. The park is near the road so expect street traffic noise. I recommend spending ample time in Parque de Maria Luisa and exploring this park only if you have time.
If you have limited time I suggest spending time at Maria Luisa Park, Real Alcazar and Murillo Garden.
What's your favorite park in Seville?
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to 7 Must Visit Parks in Seville, Spain.
Author: Sam Ross
Considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rome is a place you definitely can’t miss out on visiting at least once in your life, even for just a weekend getaway. With just two days to explore and experience the magic of Rome, you’ll be surprised by how much you can see and do.
When to visit RomeTo avoid drowning in crowds, visit Rome between October and April.
During the winter, it can get as low as 37°F. If you prefer the sun, visit in May or September and you can enjoy a warm Rome with not so many tourists.
Accommodations in Rome When deciding on where to stay, remember: the closer it is to the city center, the heavier it is on the wallet. Luckily, Rome has a great underground system that will get you anywhere in no time. With this said, take your pick of the best accommodations Rome has to offer: You can also choose to couch surf for free. And if you need some more help deciding, here’s a guide to the neighborhoods of Rome.
How to get around If you want discounted entry to several attractions, free rides on public transportation, and the privilege of skipping the line, then the Omnia Rome and Vatican Card is perfect for you. You’ll save plenty of time, energy, and money with this card. Check out this tourist guide for more information on how to get around.
Where to go in Rome
1. Vatican City
Kick off your trip with the iconic Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. As the headquarters of the Catholic Church, you’ll be seeing chapels and churches, such as the Sistine Chapel, in this country. Don’t miss out on the Map Room and the famous double helix staircase.
2. Visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum
Pro tip: visit the Sistine Chapel right before they close because around 30 minutes before closing time, they’ll turn off the artificial lighting and let you see the ceiling in all its natural glory.
3. Castel Sant’Angelo
For a spectacular view of the city, make your way to the top early in the day as it often closes by 6pm. This magnificently breathtaking monument has served as a mausoleum, fortress, castle, and finally, a museum.
4. Fountains of Piazza Navona
You can’t leave Rome without stopping by the three famed Fountains of Piazza Navona. Built in the 15th century, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, Fontana del Moro, and Fontana del Nettuno are truly all monuments of beauty and grace.
5. Spanish Steps
Walking down the 135 steps—featured in the famous Audrey Hepburn movie Roman Holiday--will feel familiar and enchanting. While you’re in the area, be sure to stroll through the Villa Borghese Gardens and down the Viale della Trinita dei Monti.
6. Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain is the world’s largest Baroque fountain. Legend has it that people who throw a coin into the fountain will get to come back to Rome one day.
7. The Pantheon
Nearly 2,000 years old, the Pantheon exudes a kind of energy and power that captures you and reels you in. Its massive size is captivating and makes it a must-see while in Rome.
8. The Coliseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill & the Roseto Comunale
The Coliseum was notorious for hosting public gladiator fights that were gruesome and bloody. This massive monument is a Rome essential and a ticket for it also serves a ticket to the Roman Forum & Palatine Hill next door. The ancient architecture and ruins are beyond beautiful.
Once you reach the foot of the Palatine Hill, you’ll be in Roseto Comunale, one of Rome’s most romantic dinner cafes. Take the time to stop and smell the 1000+ rose species.
9. Cripta dei Cappuccini
Go to the Cripta dei Cappuccini for your once-in-a-lifetime chance to see skeletons up close!
10. Shopping areas
Whether you’re looking for designer dresses or affordable clothes, Rome has everything you need. To learn more about the affordable shopping spots, check here.
Best places to eat
Tips from the locals
1. Dress for the occasion
During the summer months, wear the right clothes if you don’t want to be fainting from the heat. But if you plan on visiting churches, be sure to carry around a scarf to cover up.
For footwear, wear your most comfortable shoes as the cobblestone streets can get brutal.
2. The public water fountains are safe
While going around Rome, carry with you a jug or plastic bottle to fill up at the water fountains. The water is 100% safe and will save you from buying overpriced water.
3. Order house wine
At lunch or dinner, go for the house wine as it’s cheaper and tastes just as good. Simply say “un quarto di rosso della casa” and you’ll get a liter of red wine that comes in a carafe. The waiter will also be quite impressed by your expertise.
4. Carry around cash
Some restaurants and stores don’t always accept credit cards, so have some euros on you just in case.
5. Be on the lookout for pickpockets
Never let your guard down because the moment you do, you’ll end up going home with empty pockets.
6. Gelato 101
Most museums and restaurants are closed on Mondays, so check online before planning your Monday itinerary. Reserve Mondays for relaxing, park hopping, and shopping.
8. Try a night tour
Night tours are great for major spots that often attract large crowds. This way, you’ll beat the crowds and explore Rome at night.
Teeming with art, culture, history, and food to die for, there are more than a million reasons why it’s packed with tourists year after year. The city of Rome is one you can keep coming back to again and again. But when all is said and done, you’ll find that the best part about Rome is how it never quite leaves you, regardless of how long you actually stay. You’ll be surprised to see how compelled you feel to come back one day, if only just to feel the Roman sun and walk the cobbled streets again.
Author Bio: Sam Ross runs the blog The Hammock Hombre - a travel blog focused around the digital nomad lifestyle. Over the past 3 years, he's travelled to every continent, so writes on a broad range of countries, cities and destinations.
What's your favorite destination in Rome? Let's Connect!
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to A Weekender's Guide in Rome.
Palma de Mallorca is a place that captures the heart and soul of many travelers. And so does the local cuisine and flavor. Mallorca is an attractive culinary destination as courtyard cafes and terraces bathe in natural light while citrus trees protect the locals from too much sun. Nothing is more romantic than sipping local wine underneath a lemon tree - and trust me, there are no shortages of lemon and orange trees on the island.
Whether you're searching for the best ice cream on the island, or a quiet garden-like cafe, discover the best of Mallorca at these five cafes.
Imagine a traditional Spanish cafe, decorated with precious petals sitting in antique cups and ancient flower pots. If you can envision this romantic fairytale atmosphere,, than you can imagine the energy and peaceful atmosphere of Temple Natura. This urban oasis sits underneath fruit trees, which also contains a bio wellness shop. Serving vegan cuisine, it's the perfect cafe for food or to chill out with a homemade iced tea. Diners discover an array of cafe drinks, beverages and healthy meals served with some of the freshest produce in Spain. The cafe features frequent music and alternative health and healing events.
Carrer Temple, 07011, Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca, Spain
Cappuccino Grand Cafe - San Miguel
I am normally not a fan of chain cafes; however, the San Miguel Grand Cafe is an exception. Housed in a historic Moorish-style building, the outdoor terrace is symbolic to the charm and aura of Mallorca. Marble tables sit between ancient arched pillars and potted plants, demonstrating the essence of Mallorca's beauty, history and culture. It's the perfect escape for some tapas or a glass of local vino.
Calle San Miguel, 53 Palma de Mallorca, Baleares España
Historic and lively, this cafe/restaurant sits in the heart of Palma in the beloved Placa del Rei Joan Carles I. Operating since 1936, a mix of locals and tourists flock to Bar Bosch to devour some of the best flavors in town. Known for the langostas, these homemade lobster-shaped bread rolls stuffed with some of the best stuff from the land. There are not too many veggie options, but the potato omelet is hearty and filling. The cafe features a mix of indoor and outdoor seating. I recommend sitting outdoors to enjoy the weather and to people watch.
Plaza Rei Joan Carles I, 6 Bajos
07012 Palma de Mallorca
Can Joan de S'aigo
If you're looking for an opportunity where food, culture and history unite, look no further than Can Joan de S'aigo, the oldest cafe in Palma de Mallorca. Specializing in ice cream, locals flock here year round to enjoy this frozen dessert. Almond ice cream originated here, and in fact, the first 20th Century almond mill / ice cream vat remains onsite. With 300 years of history, Can Joan de s’Aigo became one of the oldest, if not the first, ‘chocolatiers’ in Europe. To say the least, this is the place to indulge in sweet and sinful behavior. Today, holiday traditions flourish with eating chocolate and ensaïmadas after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and ice cream after Corpus Christi Mass.
Calle Can Sanç, 10
07001 Palma, Islas Baleares
Horno Santo Cristo
This local chain of Palma bakeries have made and served ensaïmadas since 1910. If you wonder what those big, flat boxes are that you see in the airports or around town, it's likely its a St. Cristo ensaïmada. According to a local baker, the salty sea air is what makes ensaïmadas fluffy and soft since the dough rises differently due to the salt in the air. Explore various flavors such as chocolate, creme, fruit and marzipan. I recommend eating the regular, traditional ensaïmadas and then venture to a specialty flavor like the creme.
What's your favorite cafe in Palma de Mallorca? Let's Connect!
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to My 5 Favorite Cafes in Palma de Mallorce Spain.
Lose Yourself Without Getting Lost
Summer is almost here, a time when avid travelers pack their bags and head to unknown places in search of history, adventure or the best the beer in town. But wouldn't it be nice to discover a city's secrets from the convenience of your mobile phone?
Have you ever read a travel article so informative that you wish you could bring it with you? Great news – now you can – even offline.
Long gone are the days of printing off travel tips and Mapquest directions. Ditch the extra clutter and save a tree with a GPSMyCity travel app.
The GPS-guided travel article app is a new concept, and an innovative way to explore a city by some of the top travel bloggers in the world. The travel article app is simple. Travelers download a travel article that has GPS coordinates embedded and a map of the route the author describes in his or her article.
No memorizing. No paperwork. No printout maps. No Internet. All you need is your phone.
The best part about upgrading to the app is that it works offline. This app is perfect for places like Europe where every country requires it’s own SIM cards to access 3G/4G Internet. This will save you time, money and a headache trying to find an electronics store.
Why use travel articles as an app?
It’s like having a personal tour guide, for a fraction of the price.
Using travel articles offers tips and suggestions that many tourism offices won’t tell you.
For example, you want to visit the Louvre and gaze at the Mona Lisa. An author (okay, me) may recommend visiting this painting as your first destination upon entering the museum. That way, the built-up excitement is still there compared to hours of roaming the museum and you become tired, exhausted and your back aches.
You’ll get countless tips and recommendations from people who travel just like you.
GPSMyCity currently has thousands of articles from over 600 cities worldwide. The options are nearly limitless so you can find everything from a self-guided walking tour to travel articles. Once you download the article, the app will show your current location and the distance to each site listed in the article.
And just to reiterate, once you download the app, you do not need the Internet to read your upgraded articles. This subscription contest is available to both iOs and Android users.
So how do you win? Comment below with your 2018 travel plans OR what city you are looking forward to visiting the most! If there are more than 10 comments, I'll draw names from the hat and then contact you with your subscription code (an $18.99 value). When you comment, you'll enter your email which remains private and I'll only use your email to contact you with the code.
All comments must be received by June 3, 2018! Good Luck!
Seville is one of the most magical cities in Spain. And Spain is one of the top foodie countries in Europe. The slow-paced atmosphere, vibrant culture and fresh produce transports your palate to another planet. Whether it's the scent of the cucumber or the "bite" from the oranges, foodies flock to Southern Spain to enjoy some of the best eats in Europe.
Seville restaurants, like most of Spain, is meat and seafood heavy. However, there are plenty of vegetarian options (not so much vegan unless its a specific vegan establishment, but there are not too many of those in Seville so good luck) with gazpacho, grilled vegetables and croquettes being my favorite...and the fresh squeezed orange juice too.
Celebrate the best of Seville's sweet and savory lifestyle at my favorite cafes and restaurants.
Universal People Bar
This modest bar is my favorite in Seville. Not only does it have exquisite food for cheap prices, but the small outdoor seating area overlooks the Seville cathedral. I ordered the potato omelet, a must try in Spain, and the waiter looked at me because I ordered the plate. I "assumed" the tapas portion would be too small. Since it was over 100 degrees, I didn't eat all day so by the time 8pm rolled around, and the temperatures cooled, I was starved. The waiter handed me three slices of omelet smothered in gazpacho and sweet balsamic. We both laughed as I said, "Oh mi dios, eso es grande."
Hands down this was the best omelet I ate in Spain. The buttery potatoes mixed with the coolness of gazpacho fused with a tint of sweetness united a complex but stimulating palate. I was as stuffed as a Thanksgiving meal. I ate the entire plate, and then ordered it twice more the next few days.
Bar Citroen sits adjacent to the most famous park in Spain, Parque de Maria Luisa. After hours of wandering and photographing the park and the fallen oranges, I needed a place to cool off. Cheap and convenient, Bar Citroen exceeded my expectations with their grilled vegetables and gazpacho. There is something so light and fresh about their olive oil. The vegetables, grilled to perfection, were marinated in oil and topped with a bit of salt - a simple Spanish pleasure that I recommend. Hands down the best gazpacho I tried in Seville.
I arrived at my hotel at 9:30pm, soaked in sweat, and had no idea where to go or what to eat.The staff recommended a plaza down the road that contained several restaurants. I gave Alcaiza a chance and tried their patatas bravas, zucchini lasagna with a side of grains. This place is nothing fancy, but it is cheap and a place where the locals go due to the inexpensive prices.
Art, Coffee & Tapas Shop at Calle Pimienta 5
This "secret" local art store and cafe is the perfect stop to cool down, or perk up on coffee, in the popular courtyard. Tapas and a full-menu is available in the evening hours after siesta. Cute, quaint and tucked away down a quiet, ancient street, there is no better place to experience authentic Seville artistry and culture than here.
Salt and Sugar Bakery
This European cafe features the best of Spanish, French and some German baked goods as well as a variety of Coffees and cool drinks like smoothies. Part modern, part historical, this place is a bit pricier for Seville standards and is nearby the Cathedral. The barista serves every coffee drink in a vintage-looking mug. The bakery looks small, but no need to worry, they own the adjacent courtyard so additional seating is available.
Naranjas de Seville
This tiny cafe and gift shop is most notable for its fresh squeezed orange juice and orange products like marmalade. The seating is limited but a perfect place to share a table and chat with fellow travelers. Iced coffee is available (coffee and milk blended with ice) and so is a daily specialty cake.
This nothing-special restaurant is another affordable stop to sip iced gazpacho from a glass (or a straw) and to try their zucchini croquettes. You need to specify NO MEAT as many locals get confused as they consider seafood non-meat.
Corral del Agua
Nearby Calle Pimienta 5, is Corral del Agua. This restaurant features one of the most magical and fairy tale-like atmospheres in Seville. What makes this place so special is that the building dates back to the late 17th Century and once homed cattle (look for rings on the walls), and later homed Bohemians and artists in the 20th Century. Today, hundreds of visitors sit underneath a trellis of green grapes and enjoy a quiet and romantic meal for two. There are not many vegetarian options so it's the perfect place for a coffee, tea and/or dessert.
There are hundreds of cafes and eateries to explore in Seville. Wherever you go, you won't be disappointed. Another popular establishment is Bar Estrella and known for its white walls decorated with blue potted plants. Anywhere and everywhere is magical in Seville. Enjoy and "buen apetito."
What's your favorite cafe or restaurant in Seville?
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to My Favorite Cafes and Restaurants in Seville, Spain.
Palma is the cultural, economic and historical hub of the island of Mallorca (Majorca). Once ruled by the Moors, Palma fuses Moorish and Christian landmarks, sites and architectural wonders. A historical yet cultural city, there is so much to do and see it is impossible to discover the city in just one day. But if you only have 24 hours, here are some of the most precious jewels to admire in the city.
La Seu - Mallorca Cathedral
A Levantine Gothic jewel that overlooks the sea, this magnificent structure’s construction began in 1230, replacing a mosque. The interior is as splendid and spectacular as the exterior. Inside, explore a variety of historic paintings, each with a story of its own. Enjoy the sunlight that moves through the stained-glass windows, which was once a method used of telling time. In 1904, Gaudi refurbished the chapel, to what I consider to look like creepy, demonic artwork, but hey it’s different. Inside guests also discover the tombs of Mallorca’s past Kings, James II and James III. Entry fee: 4 euros
If you have time, explore the nearby Parc de la Mar.
Jardí del Bisbe
This peaceful garden rests behind a wrought iron fence and contains some of the most precious Mediterranean flora and fauna. From lemon and orange trees to artichokes and water lilies, it's a splendid spot to enjoy a moment of solitude and contemplation.
Banys Arabs (Arabic Baths)
This is one of the most magical places to explore in Palma. Cute, quiet and serene, discover a lush garden of lemon trees and Balearic flowers planted amidst the four walls of this ancient bathhouse. Located in the medieval quarter of the city, Banys Arabs is the only remaining Moorish building in the Palma. Built in the 10th Century, all that survives are two underground chambers, one of which contains capitals recycled from demolished Roman buildings.
Eat an Ensaimada
A Majorcan favorite, an ensaimada is a yeast-based cake shaped like a snail’s shell. Ideal for breakfast, ensaimadas also make for a delicious afternoon snack coupled with a café latte. There are plenty of bakeries around town, many which sell boxed ensaimadas to take back to your home country.
Legend has it that it’s impossible to make ensaimadas (like they do in Mallorca) at home. Why? Apparently the salty sea air is what makes the dough rise differently than other places.
Museo de Mallorca
Discover the historical and ancient roots of this island nation at the Mallorca Museum. Located in a 16th-century mansion popularly known as "Casa de la Gran Cristiana,” explore a variety of Gothic panels, Moorish ceramics, weapons, paintings and furniture.
Visit an Ancient Olive Tree in Placa de Cort
Located in Old Town, nearby Town Hall, is an attractive square that features an extremely large and oversized olive tree. The trunk wraps in various directions, similar to a labyrinth. Some sources claim the tree is 600 years old, where others state 800 – either way the tree is a finca, Pedruixella Petit, from the Pollensa area of the Sierra Tramuntana. It lived there for five or six hundred years before transplanted to Mallorca.
The English Book Store
While in Spain, it’s ideal to try your hand at attempting to speak Spanish. But, if you’re a lover of old books and all things vintage, explore the English Book Shop for some of the finest antique treasures on the island. Between the shelves and nooks and crannies, discover some of the most ancient tales ever written.
Can Joan de S'Aigo Cafe
Dating back to the 18th Century, this 200 year old café is the oldest ice cream parlour Palma. If ice cream is not your thing, be sure to taste test an ensaimada or for the savory at heart, try a Mallorcan flatbread known as Coca de trampó.
While exploring these wonderful sites and landmarks, be sure to enjoy the moment and go with the flow. Along the way there are many amazing neighborhood churches, lookout points and shops tucked away on old historic streets. Enjoy your day and don't forget to stop and smell the plenty of Spanish flowers.
How would you spend your day in Palma de Mallorca?
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to How To Spend a Day in Palma de Mallorca.
Soller is a beautiful, ancient town set between the mountains and the shoreline in Western Mallorca. Situated amidst orange and lemon groves, Soller is a popular day trip destination from Palma de Mallorca.
Walking through the ancient cobblestone streets, history comes alive, with its first inhabitants migrating in 5200 BC the Talayotic Times. Since its origins, Soller suffered many attacks from Algerian Moorish Pirates, resulting in countless battles between the Moors and the Christians. In the 1800’s, Soller became one of the leading exporters in olives and citrus fruit.
The main town is separated from the Port of Soller, but connected via tram. Note that siesta occurs in the afternoon, so it best to visit in the morning to beat the heat and experience the best of what Soller has to offer.
How to Get Here from Palma – El Tren de Soller
In 1912, the rail link from Palma to Soller was built, and in 1914 tram lines linked Soller with the Port of Soller to aide in the export of oranges. Travelers can rent a car, but I recommend taking the historic train from Palma to Soller.
Tickets are not as cheap as they used to be (approx. $35 USD), and the train ride is loud, but worth the journey from cosmopolitan Palma to quaint and quiet Soller. Sit in plush, leather vintage seats, and discover the sites of Mallorca’s back country and Tramuntana mountains packed with olive and citrus trees.
What To Do
Upon exiting the train, head to the main square, Placa Constitucio. This is the perfect place to sip on a refreshing, freshly squeeze orange juice. The many street side cafes overlook the Sant Bartomeu cathedral. Walkers be aware of oncoming traffic from the trams! Vegetarians should try the orange juice, sauteed mushrooms and tomato toast. While at the plaza, discover an architectural wonder at the Banco de Soller.
If this plaza doesn't appease your appetite. Walk down Carrer de sa Lluna where you'll find countless cafes, bakeries, grocery, art and souvenir shops.
This 13-Century Baroque church turned “modern” in 1904 thanks to the artwork of Joan Rubid, an ex pupil of Gaudi. It’s not the most impressive church in Mallorca, but it has its charm.
Wander Old Town
Beyond the main plaza and shopping area, discover the ancient streets and neighborhoods of Soller to admire the traditional homes, decorated with potted flowers. One of my favorite neighborhoods in Pueblo de Fornaluxt. On some residential streets, the only thing you’ll see is the cat down the road. Notable streets include Calle Isabel II, Cristofol Colom and Gran Via avenue to discover some of the best “orange money” homes in town.
If you have time, I recommend selecting from at least one the following options:
Soller Botanical Gardens
Meander through various pathways lined with lush flora and fauna from the Balearic and Canary Islands as well as Sicily, Malta, Crete, Corsica and Sardinia. Also onsite is an ecological farm and orchard aimed for studying and preserving traditional vegetable and fruit trees. The gardens also preserve frozen seeds for endangered plants.
This citrus grove farm is one of the most precious places in Soller. It's what Soller is about - lemon and orange trees. Whether you want to sit underneath a lemon tree, or photograph the oranges, this is the place to discover the heart and soul of Soller.A reservation is required to visit the farm, but enjoy a self-guided tour and end your journey with a freshly squeeze orange juice and tapa snack. Don't go empty handed, be sure to take home a lemon or orange, jam, tea or herbal kit, made directly from Ecovinyassa's bio (organic) oranges and lemons.
Tram to Harbor
At the same arrival point, take a local tram to the Port and Soller's waterfront. The tram is approximately seven euros and takes 20 minutes each way. Here, sachet through the sandy beach or admire the harbor. The choice is yours and there is no lack of sun worshiping.
What's your favorite thing to do in Soller? Let us know!
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to How to Spend a Day in Soller, Mallorca.
Colmar, France is a quaint medieval town located near the German border. Colmar is a magical village that pulls every visitor’s heart strings with its fairy tale-like charm. From half-timbered homes to cobblestone streets, travelers enjoy a mix of German façade with French culture. Throughout history, the German-French border jumped up, down and around Colmar, so it’s common to see brawny locals who look German but who’s lineage is French. It’s quit spectacular and so is Colmar.
Whether in town for a day or overnight, be sure to check out some of the most prominent sites and historical museums in Colmar.
Old Town & Little Venice
Upon arrival, head to Old Town where all the magic happens. From antique shops to ancient churches, marvel over the architecture or enjoy a glass of French wine at a streetside café. Exploring Old Town will take an afternoon, or several days, depending on how much time is on the itinerary. Two places that tourists admire the most are the canals and Little Venice. Little Venice is one of the most picturesque areas in Colmar, and for the right reason. Vibrant colored buildings built alongside the Lauch River. Similar to Venice, meander alongside canal streets or take a boat ride – the choice is yours!
Important streets: Rue de la Poissonnerie & Rue Turenne
Quai de la Poissonnerie
Quai de la Poissonnerie is the old fishermonger’s district where local fishermen once lived. The used to fish and store the catch in fish ponds sold at the market. Today, the half-timbered buildings are another photogenic site, and for good reason.
Dominican Church – The Virgin of the Rosebush
Built in the 14 Century, the Gothic church showcases artwork depicting the timeline of Christ’s life including the notable Madonna of the Rosebush painted by Martin Schongauer. The church-museum contains an entry fee. Signs contain information regarding the symbolism of the painting but Mary’s cloak is red for the roses, which is unusual as its normally blue. And the roses are red to signify the Passion of Christ (his death and blood). The single white rose near Mary represents purity. The deeper you look, the more you “see” the symbolism.
To understand what it feels like to be American, visit the Bartholdi Museum. Augustus Bartholdi, the world-renowned sculptor, lived in this house between 1834-1904. Today, the three-story museum showcases his finest artwork from sculptures to sculpture models to blueprints. The heart of the museum includes the sculpture models for the Statue of Liberty and Lion of Belfort.
Once of the most remarkable homes in Colmar is the Pfister House, home to the hatter Ludwig Scherer, a man who made fortunes trading in the Val de Liepvre. Built in 1537, the exterior contains detailed artwork of biblical and secular scenes. This is the first example of the architectural renaissance in Colmar.
11 rue des Marchands 68000 Colmar
Koïfhus (Old Custom House)
This 15th Century building was once the political and economic epicenter of Colmar. Located next to the old fruit market, the ground level was a warehouse for goods and where merchants paid their import-export tax.
Eglise Saint Martin
Located in Place de la Cathédrale, is the Gothic Saint Martin Church. Founded in 1234, the church’s construction terminated in 1365. Marvel at the 15th Century stained glass and let the medieval energy soak in while lighting a candle for hope and good faith.
Eglise Saint Matthieu
Once the Protestant house of worship, the Franciscans founded Saint Matthew church in 1292. Completely almost a century later, the church closed in 1543 and converted into a hospital. Today, the church still worships Protestant teachings.
Rue des Boulangers (Bakers' street)
You can’t visit France without tasting the local pastries and desserts. One spot to discover traditional Alsace baked goods is at the Maison Alsacienne de Biscuiterie. The best part is that Christmas treats are available yearround, even in the dead of summer.
Speaking of treats, when in Colmar try the traditional kougelhopf, a symbol of Alsace’s heart and soul. Kougelhopf is a slightly sweet leavened bread, shaped into a cake mold, which includes almonds and raisins. Savory versions are available and don’t forget to buy a kougelhopf pan, the best souvenir of the region. Kougelhopf is available at most bakeries and Alsace food shops.
What's your favorite landmark in Colmar?
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to 10 of the Best Historical Sites & Landmarks in Colmar, France.
Berchtesgaden, Germany is a majestic village that will forever hold a place in my heart. After surviving World War Two, my family lived here, working at a displacement camp before immigrating to the United States in 1951. Rediscovering my roots brought tears to my eyes and light to my soul. Visiting Berchtesgaden is an easy day trip from Salzburg and a doable day trip from Munich.
Whether you visit for a day or overnight, these are some of the best places and spaces to visit.
Get a Bird's Eye View
This tiny town originated in 1120AD when the Augustaner Monks built a small church, which expanded to the monastery. The village sits on a hill and an indiscreet trail climbs the side of the town. It's not a designated trail but rather follow the tiny road up the hill eventually to an open green space that overlooks the town as seen in the image above.
German War Graves Cemetery
War memorials are commonly seen throughout Germany, and this cemetery is dedicated to the German men who risked their lives for the "Vaterland" in World War One and Two. Meandering the graveyard is an interesting experience. In one way the graveyard is beautiful and the tombstones are dressed with multitude of flowers, ivy and gold lettering. In a different light, it's astonishing to see how young these men were, some barely 18, dying for their country. In a mix of beauty and sadness, and makes one appreciate the life we have today.
Gasthof zum Neuhaus
Take a break and enjoy an authentic German food at one of the oldest restaurants in town. Operating since 1576, Gasthof offers odds and ends of vegetarian options like potatoes, pumpkin soup, knudels and purple cabbage. During the summer, enjoy the outdoor biergarten with the opportunity to people watch.
Operating since 1645, this historic beer hall is another hotspot for good Bavarian food and traditional German beer. Upbeat and lively, don't be surprised if you see a boatload of people dressed in lederhosen and dirndls.
War Remembrance Mural
Located on one side of Schlossplatz is an arcade (shops) that contains a war mural. The artwork depicts a variety of scenes from the tragedy of war to young soldiers saying goodbye to their family before heading off to battle.
The central meeting point in Altstadt, enjoy a variety of souvenir shops, cafes, building facades with painted murals and historical high notes. Operating since the village's origins in 1102AD, thousands of souls have passed, bartered and meandered these streets. Don't forget to visit, or throw a coin into, the Market Square Fountain (Marktplatz Brunnen), erected in 1558 and today, is still a popular meeting point.
Tucked away in a little blue building is one of the most impressive shops in town. The "hand work art" are precious wooden treasures for any and every season. From Christmas smokers to little bird whistles, everything is made and painted by hand. It's well worth window shopping even if you don't plan to buy anything.
Obersalzberg & Hotel zum Turken
Located a short bus ride from the Berchtesgaden transport station is Obersalzberg, a place where nazi ruins and alpine beauty unite. Here Hitler's retreat, Eagle's Nest, is now a restaurant that overlooks the valley. For a few euros, enter the bunker system under the Hotel zum Turken's bunker. Down below, is a two-level museum of cellars, hidden rooms and narrow hallways that contain the dark mysteries and eerie remains of Hitler's underground bunker.
What's your favorite place in the village? Let us know and we can add it to the list.
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to 10 Must Visit Places & Spaces in Berchtesgaden, Germany.
Vilnius is an ancient Eastern European city filled with cultural riches and historical landmarks. It’s historic roots date back to 1323 AD with its first written mentions as the city of Vilna. Since its origins, Vilnius has transformed architectural facades, experiencing everything from medieval to commonwealth to Nazi to communistic regimes. If you have limited time in the city, check out these historical sites to depict a true sense of this capital city’s roots.
Gediminas’ Tower / Castle
This is one of the most popular sites in Vilnius, and for good reason. The Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gedeminas first built this “castle” as a wooden fortifications. In 1409, the Grand Duke Vytautas completed the brick structure, which only remains and a tower still stand today. The tower is a museum exhibiting archaeological finds of Lithuania's past. It's worth the climb, up the hill and tower, for spectacular views of old and new Vilnius.
Church of St. Anne
This late Gothic masterpiece's historical roots remain a mystery even to this day. Rumor had it that Napoleon Bonaparte admired the church and wanted to take it back to France in the palm of his hand. Soon, the French cavalry forces took over the church without much damage. In fact, the church hasn't changed in it's 500 year history. Look closely at the facade to discover "A" and "M" inscribed on the exterior, standing for Ave Maria or Latin Ana Mater Maria.
Vilnius University & Library
Considered the oldest in Eastern Europe, Vilnius University was founded in 1568. Today, visitors gaze at the 16th Century facades from the central part of campus. Schedule a tour of the library that dates to 1570; the oldest and one of the largest libraries in Lithuania. Founded by the Jesuits, the library is technically nine years older than the university which opened its doors in 1579.
Literatu Street Project (Literatu Wall)
This area once contained many bookstores and antique shops (Literatu, meaning “writers” or “authors”) in the 19th Century, but today are the artistic remains of ceramic, wooden and metal plaques of famous Lithuanian writers. The idea originated in 2008, but showcases some of the best writers and poets in history such as: Sigitas Geda, Kazys Binkis, Romain Gary, Vytautas Kernagis, Janina Degutyte, Jonas Mekas, Jurga Ivanauskaite, Antanas Skema, Paulius Sirvys, and Vincas Mykolaitis – Putinas.
Museum of Genocide Victims - (KGB Museum)
In 1941, the Gestapo overtook this once gymnasium and transformed the building into their headquarters during the Nazi occupation. Later the Soviet Secret Police (KGB), controlled the building after the Nazis left and used this headquarter until 1991. This two-part museum showcases remnants and historical timelines of the Lithuanian's resistance against the soviets as well as cells, offices, prisons and the torture chambers. It's definitely one of the best museums in the city.
Palace on Concerts and Sports 1971
Built on the northern banks of the Neris River, this Soviet-prized piece of architecture demonstrates the power, authority and "grand-standing" ideas of what communism looked like in the Baltic states. The original plot contained Žalgiris stadium, which was the largest stadium in Lithuania, built by German POW's in 1948. The Palace closed its doors in 2004 as authorities deemed the building unsafe.
Located nearby the historic Pilies Street, Gabi is where history, culture and good food unite. Established in 1994, the interior boasts a medieval charm, walls decorated with old keys, and tables set with wrought iron chairs. Once an old artisan's cottage is now one of the best places to experience a traditional Lithuanian meal. On a sunny day, sit in the back alley and admire the birds and the bees flying around the flower pots, or stay cool inside the exposed brick wall eating area - the choice is yours!
Pilies Street is one of the oldest and most popular streets in Old Town Vilnius. Chocked full of artisans, cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops, Pilies, meaning castle, has historical markings dating back to the 16th Century where the King's carriage and other papal legates traveled this street. In the past notable professors, noblemen and the wealthy once resided here. Pilies Street retains the old-world charm and architectural facades of ancient Vilnius.
Vilnius Cathedral & Bell Tower
The majestic early-Baroque cathedral isn't an ordinary church. It contains a variety of sculptures, valuable paintings, tombstones and even an underground area depicting Christ's crucifixion. During communist times, the cathedral closed, with its valuables stolen and rooftop sculptures of the saints were knocked down and blown up. The 57-meter tall bell tower is the city's oldest defense tower dating to the 16th and 18th Centuries created by Dutch and German masters. Nearby the bell tower are some "magical" tiles. Legend has it that if you stand on top, make a wish, spin around three times while staying on the tile, your wish will come true.
Gate of Dawn
The city gate is one of the most important historical sites in the city. Built between 1503 and 1522 as part of a defense fortification, contains religious symbols to bless travelers and protect the city from intruders. One of the most important symbols is the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy.
What's your favorite historical site in Vilnius?
This Lemon Tree article is now featured on GPSmyCity. To download this article for offline reading or travel directions to the attractions highlighted in this article, go to 10 Best Historical Sites to Visit in Vilnius, Lithuania
Written by Guest Blogger: Cal Bailey
The internet has completely changed the way we travel. From booking a flight in a few seconds to keeping in touch with friends and family wherever we are in the world, it’s now easier than ever to navigate our way around a new country.
But for some, it has also taken away some of the adventure. How many of us look up a restaurant on TripAdvisor before going out, instead of walking around and discovering weird and wonderful places of our own accord?
One of the ways the travel industry has been greatly impacted is by the emergence of websites and apps that give travelers access to the sharing economy. It’s made travel more attainable, in some cases more affordable, and crucially, much easier to connect with a local community with a lot to offer.
If you like the idea of getting off the tourist trail, immersing yourself in French culture, and experiencing a local pace of life, there are a wide variety of services available to help you connect with people and experience so much more than hotels and tour guides have to offer.
What is “Sharing Economy”
In the travel industry, the sharing economy refers to peer-to-peer services in areas such as accommodation, transport, meals, and experiences. There are hundreds of websites and apps popping up aimed at helping travelers connect with local people who have something to offer, such as sharing local knowledge or renting out unused sports equipment.
France is a popular tourist destination with incredible sites and experiences, but if hotels and large guided tours aren’t your thing, here are a few services you can use to discover the country from a local point of view.
AirBnB is arguably one of the most popular sites for booking accommodation. From a room in someone’s house to a whole apartment, they offer great variety at - usually - cheaper prices than hotels and short-term rentals.
Renting a room through AirBnB is a great way to meet new people when you arrive in a town or city, that is, as long as the host is interested in socializing with their visitors. Some are not, and focus only on letting the room, so it can be a bit hit and miss as to how much social interaction you get.
Although train travel is a great way to get around France, it can be expensive. Carpool apps such as BlaBlaCar are making it easy to connect with drivers who are traveling to the same destination as you are. Catching a lift with them tends to be much cheaper than traveling from city to city by train, but if you don’t happen to speak the same language as the driver, you may be in for a silent journey.
French restaurants are some of the best in the world, but local foodies also have incredible, unique experiences to offer. Social dining has become a great way to access the underground food scene and connect with other people. EatWith and VizEat are great in larger cities such as Paris, Marseille, and Lyon, but you might find that smaller cities offer slim pickings.
Wouldn’t it be great if you arrived in a big city and immediately found a group of people eager to hang out and show you the best place to grab a café au lait. Couchsurfing is a great way to meet a variety of people such as local professionals and other tourists, and you can even find hosts who offer a couch, floor or bed for free.
From walking down the Champs-Élysées chatting to a retired professor to discovering the best ice cream in Nice from a grad student’s point of view, local insiders can often take you on niche, offbeat, interesting tours that bigger operators simply don’t offer.
The sharing economy has made it easier than ever for people and travelers around the world to connect with each other and share experiences. As sharing apps and services are still growing, they tend to work better in major cities, but they’re still a great way to reach out to people, get out of your comfort zone, and grow as a traveler.
Do you have any tips on how to live like a local in France? If so, comment below. We love to hear your thoughts and tips to prospective travelers.
About The Author: Cal Bailey runs Mountain Leon - a travel blog he started after two years backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or tips for travelling, you can find him on MountainLeon.com
Rumor has it that every tourist (mainly Brits, Irish, Americans and Aussies - basically the native English speaking cultures) finds himself or herself in the Hofbräu tent. And that story rings true to my experience of Oktoberfest. Without much research, we walked into a beer garden and saw lively chaps chugging beer on a table, and locals playing the accordion. Thinking, "Well this looks fun," we ended up in the most lively tent, packed with tourists craving for the traditional Bavarian experience.
After my venture into 24-hours in Oktoberfest, here's what I recommend to make the most of your Oktoberfest experience in Munich.
Try the sweeter side of life. Although beer and sugar don't mix (or count as a necessity in our food chain), try the local flavor and be sure to experience some of the local sweets.
Depending on the weather, I suggest leaving your coat at home. The beer tents, specifically the floors, gets nasty. Beer, food scraps, broken glass, and maybe the occasional bloke who peed all over his shoes, gets onto the floor. It's gross and grimy, so if you can do without, leave the coat.
Oktoberfest is best enjoyed by wearing the local garb. Dirndls and liederhosen are for sale throughout the town.
And if you'd like to get grandma a gift, there are plenty of stalls selling handmade trinkets and mass-produced magnets.
Don't forget to eat, and well drink, throughout the day. The tents are calmer in the late morning and early afternoon so its easier to get a beer and stand naturally without the feelings of being squished inside of a sardine can. The Maß (mass) is what you'll be drinking inside the tent. Depending on your perception 14 to 15 euros is either cheap or expensive.
The trick is that you have to keep drinking in order to remain inside the tent. Some tents have waiting lines, so once a certain amount of people leave, another batch can enter. The HB tent is the most wild, so I suggest checking out other tents to experience the local flare (which will be much calmer than the HB tent).
If you got the guts, stand on the table and chug your Maß. The only thing is if you fail, you'll be booed most likely get some fries, bread, cabbage and whatever else thrown at you.
Enjoy yourself and connect with others. It's quit an experience to hangout with so many people from around the globe. In minutes, you can have 10 conversations with people from various parts of the world, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, you name it!
The point is that you should always contain yourself. Things are messy in Germany and in 2016, the Oktoberfest was fenced in for the first time. Double check the Oktoberfest website to see if you can still bring in a backpack as day packs have been prohibited at various events due to terrorism.
In today's age, things happen so quickly so its important to have your wits about you. In 2016, a young man took advantage of a young female Asian tourist, but luckily cops noticed this in the park and aided the situation. The landscape of German culture has changed drastically since 2015 and there's no room to be naive in such situations that do not feel right.
What's your favorite part of Oktoberfest?
Elizabeth Rae Kovar is a Fitness Trainer, Author of Finding Om, Presenter, Yogi, Vegan & lover of the World. View her portfolio at www.elizabethkovar.comor health-based blog at mindbodysoul-food.com