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Travel Tales and Tips from my Amsterdam Travel Blog

Rijksmuseum

They say that “There’s only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s who we spend it on.” It is fascinating to think that a year ago we spend a memorable week strolling happily around Amsterdam, taking photographs and scribbling on my notebook, my very own Amsterdam Travel Blog.

This year due to Covid-19, life for a lot of people has been very harsh, travel plans had to be cancelled. Life takes a very different perspective. The way that we all do simple things this year and have to follow the new Social Distancing rules.

Allow me to take a step back from this reality and present you with my very own Amsterdam Travel Blog.

My notebook is off the shelf and as I am turning the pages, I am overflown with memories, laughs, and cheers, everything is coming back.

Arriving at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam

We arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on a cold but sunny Tuesday morning. For those of you who are not familiar with Amsterdam, Schiphol is the main international airport in the Netherlands, located approximately nine miles from the center of Amsterdam.

Schiphol airport is actually considered to be an airport city and is the primary hub for the Royal Dutch Airlines, KLM, Transavia, Amsterdam Airlines.

So, plenty of choices when you are looking for flights to Amsterdam.

After we cleared passport control and got our luggage, we headed to the Schiphol train station, which is located directly below the airport.

The train took us to the center of Amsterdam (Amsterdam Central Station) within less than 20 minutes. Trains from Schiphol to Amsterdam city center leave from platforms 1 or 2. A single train ticket cost us €5,00 each.

Amsterdam Canals

Accommodation in Amsterdam

Houseboats in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, rightly called, “The Venice of the North” is a famous tourist destination built around various canals. Perhaps, this is the reason that more than staying in a hotel, most visitors arriving here, prefer to stay in houseboats. We did the same.

Our first two nights were at Radisson Blu hotel, and then five nights at the Trijntje houseboat. Most houseboats available in Amsterdam have been specifically designed to provide their guests with a really unique experience, cozy and very inviting atmosphere.

The best thing is that staying in houseboats in Amsterdam, is well within the reach of the average tourist. If I remember well, we paid 150, Euros a night, which is reasonable as hotels in Amsterdam are not cheap.

I also promise you; you will not find a better city center location than this one. It is very quiet at this part of the Prinsengracht. Most museums, retail shops, restaurants, cafés and clubs that make Amsterdam unforgettable are within walking distance.

The Trijntje houseboat was our luxurious home away from home for five nights in Amsterdam.

My Amsterdam travel blog by bike

Getting around in Amsterdam

Agree or not, sight seen in Amsterdam is somewhat incomplete if you don’t try to explore this beautiful city on a bike. Other than the cruises, the best way to explore Amsterdam is on a bike believe me.

Getting around this Dutch city is always a pleasure on a bike without getting confused between streets and city traffic. So, we rented two bikes, and we set off to explore the city.

Cultural Walks and Tours in Amsterdam

Museums, Canals, Cruises, Historical Buildings; all this and much more was awaiting us on our arrival in Amsterdam. Considered as one of the smallest capitals in Europe, Amsterdam is a hub of charming tourist attractions.

Below are some of the historical places that we visited during our holiday in Amsterdam.

The Anne Frank House

Our first visit was to the Anne Frank House, the place where Anne Frank hid and wrote her famous diary during world war II. This is a historical attraction of Amsterdam that will remind you of the second World War, when there was destruction all over.

The Koninklijk Paleis

Koninklijk Paleis or the Royal Palace on the Dam, was very high on our list, and we were not disappointed, a must-visit place during a trip to Amsterdam.

This former Queen’s residence was designed by Jacob van Campen. Watch out for the classical and magnificent interior and discover the rich history of the Royal Palace, that is set almost at the central point of Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum

When discussing the top places to visit in Amsterdam, one can not forget mentioning the famous Rijksmuseum. Also known as, The Dutch National Museum, this tourist attraction is a famous arts museum that was set up by King Louis Napoleon in 1809.

The main highlights of Rijksmusuem include Orient Art, Painting Department, Dutch History, Sculpture and Handicrafts and Print Room.

The Stedelijk Museum

Also known as, the Municipal Museum, Stedelijk Museum is one of the most modern arts museums of Europe. It was founded in 1885 and houses the famous Dutch and French paintings of 19th and 20th century.

The walk inside the sculpture garden of this museum was really a pleasure, and we saw the works of great artists like Renoir, Moor, Rodin, Visser and Laurens.

Van Gogh museum

The Van Gogh Museum

We really enjoyed watching the most extensive Van Gogh collection in the world at the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam. The museum houses a huge collection of 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 letters, all of which are worth seeing.

We got to learn about Van Gogh’s works in the Museum’s Library. Apart from the library, there is a workshop and three different floors in the Van Gogh Museum.

Eating Out in Amsterdam

We were pleasantly surprised with the numerous choices of international cuisines on offer. Amsterdam has all the reasons to be called a foodie’s paradise.

You can really spoil yourself with all sorts of sweets, cakes, and desserts. A huge variety of delicious dishes from around the world are available at every street.

Stroopwafels

No wonder why, two full pages of notes have been scribbled in my Amsterdam Travel blog, on snacks, launches, and diners around the city.

Amsterdam has a lot in store to tickle your taste buds including some really delicious traditional Dutch delicacies. From the popular delicacies to the popular restaurants, we visited and tasted there are quite a few that definitely worth mentioning bellow, so if you are in Amsterdam you will not have a problem satisfy your culinary cravings.

Stroopwafels

For those of you who have a sweet tooth, Stroopwafels form a sinful temptation. This rich Dutch cookie is a must try if you really want to taste the true culinary delights of Amsterdam.

Also known as, syrup waffle, Stroopwafel is made up of a thin sandwich of two buttery waffle layers with sweet molasses in between. Watching this amazing waffle being made in front of your eyes is a pleasure in itself.

Pannekoeken

Poffertjes Pannekoeken or the Dutch pancakes taste almost like the French crêpes. Made up of buttery batter, these traditional delicacies are served in a plate-sized serving dipped with Dutch syrup.


Dining will be an experience of its kind if you relish the Pannekoeken with Poffertjes, also known as puffed pancakes. You can easily get these dishes at the bakeries like the Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam.

Dutch Cheese

Those of you who love cheese (I do) must try the famous Dutch cheese in Amsterdam. Gouda and Edam are the two very popular cheeses available in this city.

Also, try the goat cheese and different variations of handcrafted farmer’s cheese at places like the Amsterdam market stand. Taste the Dutch cheese yourself and also buy it to gift it to your loved ones back home.

Dutch Chocolate

Prior to the Swiss Chocolate, it was Dutch Chocolate that made the world aware of the seductive taste of the cocoa bean. While having a culinary delight in Amsterdam, make sure to choose a Dutch Chocolate as a dessert to have the proper aftertaste of the true Amsterdam cuisine.

Puccini was our favour chocolate shop, and we got plenty of Verkade and Droste chocolates to bring back home.

Dutch Beer

Situated near Belgium the talented beer brewer, Amsterdam is famous for its Dutch Beer. Beer lovers won’t be able to resist sipping some of the finest Dutch beers while indulging in a dining experience at Amsterdam.

You can also enjoy going on the special beer tours and visit the famous breweries of Amsterdam. We stopped at Oedipus Brewing, north of the River IJ.

My Amsterdam Travel Blog - Le-Hollandais

Popular Restaurants in Amsterdam

We also planned to dig into the gourmet cuisine of Amsterdam so we visited some of the most popular restaurants of the city.

We headed towards Rose’s Cantina, known to serve the New Mexican dishes in Amsterdam. All kinds of exotic beverages are served at the famous bars like Ship Chandler’s Warehouse, Moeders Restaurant and Le Hollandais.

Nomads is another exotic bar in Amsterdam serving all types of beverages. So, now you won’t have to worry where to eat and what to eat as you can simply try the above-mentioned delicacies and popular restaurants of Amsterdam to satisfy your taste for the local cuisine.


I can talk and write about Amsterdam and the unforgettable holiday that we had for a very long time, but I feel that my Amsterdam travel blog is incomplete, there are things that we didn’t have time to see and do in Amsterdam.

So, first thing on my bucket list as soon as the current pandemic is behind us (and believe me it will end soon) to head back to “The Venice of the North.” My Amsterdam travel blog will get another chapter soon, so stay tune for an update at Hotels-Fairy.com.

Amsterdam city of love - Amsterdam Travel Blog

About the Author

Nectarios, is a senior editor at Hotels-Fairy.com. He is also ardent traveler, a digital nomad. When he doesn’t travel, he manages a small hotel on the beautiful island of Crete.

Free-Vegas: The Best Free Things To Do In Las Vegas

Welcome to Las Vegas

You can “do” Vegas at just about any price point. From ultra luxury resorts to $29/night off-the-strip specials, Vegas has it all. Most Vegas vacationers, however, are seeking the most bang for their buck, they are looking for things to do in Las Vegas for free.

Whether you’re trying to visit Vegas for as little money as possible, or you’d like to minimize your entertainment expenditures and save money for the casinos, these are our top picks for free things to do in Vegas.

Things To Do In Las Vegas: The Bellagio Water Show

Many of the big-name Vegas hotels offer completely free entertainment. Many visitors’ favorite activity is the famous Bellagio water show. The impressive fountain display fronting the hotel has 1,200 nozzles and 4,500 lights, shooting water high into the sky in harmony with one of 22 songs. Showtimes are currently as follows: Click here to read more »

Visiting the Frankfurt Christmas Market

For those who are looking for a festive holiday this December, Germany and the Frankfurt Christmas market should be at the top of their list. At Hotels Fairy you will find why and where to stay when you visit the Frankfurt Christmas market in Germany.

Frankfurt Christmas market in Germany

The Frankfurt Christmas market

The Frankfurter Weinachtmarkt, as it is called in German, is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany. According to local historians the first Christmas market in Frankfurt took place in 1393.

The market these days is located in the heart of the city and spreads across Friedrich-Stoltze-Platz, Hauptwache to the north, Mainkai, Paulsplatz, and Römerberg to the south.

Walk from the old Sachsenhausen across the bridge and enjoy the Gluehwein and Bratwurst.

Drinks at the Frankfurt Christmas market

Glühwein mug designed for the Frankfurt Christmas marketStreet drinking is a part of the festival, even though no one seems to be getting drunk! Beer, Gluhwein, Cider.

If you love wine you must drink Glühwein, which is mulled wine made with red wine and various mulling spices and sometimes raisins. It will definitely warm you up.

For three Euro you can take the mug with you, this festive mug has especially been designed for the 2017 Frankfurt Christmas market.

 

 

Food at the Frankfurt Christmas market

Bratwurst and Pretzel The food at the Christmas stalls is amazing too. Bratwurst, which is a type of German smoked sausage made from veal, beef, or most commonly pork.

Different types of pretzel and ginger breads, potato soup, baked potatoes as well as the more traditional German fried potato pancakes served with applesauce. Highly recommended!!!

There are also numerous types of cookies, herb candies and flavored nuts on offer. We recommend Brenten and Bethmannchen, they are delicious cookies.

However, make sure that before you get to the Frankfurt Christmas market you stop by an ATM and take some cash wish you, as most stalls at the market do not accept cards.

You can also take an easy walk by the Main River which is nearby, or even a cruise or hop on and off the to the red bus and explore Frankfurt on the cheap.

The Frankfurt Christmas market opened its doors on the 27th of November and it will stay open until the 22nd of December. The opening hours of the Christmas market are from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday to Saturday and from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm on Sunday.

The Frankfurt Christmas market  at night

Hotels near the Frankfurt Christmas market

The Westin Grand Frankfurt

Address: Konrad Adenauer Strasse 7, Innenstadt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Commanding unique views of Altenstadt, The Westin Grand Frankfurt is set in a well-known part of Frankfurt am Main and provides a heated pool. This modern hotel is set in the heart of the city.

This 5-star hotel provides free Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service and valet parking. A gym can be readily accessed by those wishing to keep active while away. It also has its very own wellness centre, Emotion.

Each modern room at The Westin Grand Frankfurt includes a mini bar and cable/satellite channels, while the bathrooms offer bathrobes and showers. They feature a seating area, ironing facilities and heating.

During their stay at Grand Westin Frankfurt, guests can dine at Motions and relax with a drink at GrandSeven. Guests are also able to try one of the many bars and cafés in the vicinity.

 

Adina Apartment Hotel Frankfurt Neue Oper

Address: Wilhelm Leuschner Strasse 6, Bahnhofsviertel, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Overlooking the River Main, this hotel offers elegant apartments with balconies. Frankfurt Central Station and the Zeil shopping street are just 1 underground stop away.

This 4-star property makes for an ideal base in Frankfurt am Main. It also features a sauna, a rooftop terrace and a swimming pool.

Adina Apartment Hotel Frankfurt Neue Oper offers free Wi-Fi and private parking on site. The front desk operates 24/7 and the friendly staff can suggest sights to visit and provide other tourist information.

The apartments are air conditioned and offer a private balcony, a refrigerator and a mini bar. They provide a seating area, an alarm clock and an in-room safe.

Adina Apartment Hotel Frankfurt features both a restaurant and a bar where guests are able to unwind of an evening. Alternatively, there is a large range of international restaurants nearby.

 

Mercure Hotel Kaiserhof City Center

Address: Kaiserstr. 62, Bahnhofsviertel, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Conveniently located in the middle of the city, this 4-star hotel makes for an ideal base in Frankfurt am Main. It is situated a short stroll from European Central Bank and Deutsche Bank.

Mercure Hotel Kaiserhof Frankfurt City Center has been recently refurbished and features an express check-in and check-out feature, meeting rooms and free Wi-Fi. Staff are available 24/7 and can assist with booking tours and tickets.

All of the modern rooms at Mercure Hotel Kaiserhof Frankfurt City Center are equipped with a refrigerator, cable/satellite channels and a mini bar. The bathrooms have a shower and a bathtub, and include bathrobes and a hair dryer.

Kaiserhof’s restaurant is open for breakfast and is a suitable place for those who want to stay close to everything the property has on offer. Guests are also able to try one of the many bars and cafés in the local area.

How to visit Montana on a budget

Visit Montana US

The US state of Montana is well known for its beautiful landscape and especially for it’s Yellowstone Park that covers 3,500 square miles full of canyons, alpine rivers and provides a home for many wild animals like bears, wolves, bison, elks and antelopes.

When to visit Montana

You can visit Montana all year round but do check the weather forecast for the region before you set off as the weather tends to be very unpredictable from very hot to snow storms and blizzards.

Visit Montana’s cities and towns (ranked by population)

Billings Yellowstone 106,954
Missoula Missoula 66,789
Great Falls Cascade 58,505
Bozeman Gallatin 37,280
Butte Silver Bow 34,525
Helena Lewis and Clark 28,190
Kalispell Flathead 19,927
Havre Hill 9,310
Anaconda Deer Lodge 9,298
Miles City Custer 8,123
Belgrade Gallatin 7,389

Wild Horses

Famous for the numerous horse ranches in the region, Montana could be called the horse rider paradise. To experience Montana without taking the time to explore any one of the horse riding ranches open to the public could almost be considered a crime.

As well as tackling a horseback mountain trek is a must when in horse riding country such as Montana.

Montana Lake

The outdoor terrains offers a lot to the travellers who choose to experience what can only be described as getting back to nature. With the mountains at your feet and the vast landscape before you, camping out under the stars would not be out of the ordinary in Montana.

Visit Montana for the BluebirdsIt is actually a very popular weekend activity among the local youth in Montana.

While camping in the forests keep an eye for the mountain Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides), which are one of the most vibrantly-colored birds that you can see on their breeding grounds here in Montana.

The Bluebirds arrive in Montana late-March to early-April to start raising their young of the year. The vivid UV-blue ornamental plumage makes this bird easy to spot in the green-less landscape during the early spring.

Where to stay in Montana

With a diverse choice of camp sites, to luxury and affordable hotels on offer you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing what accommodation suits your needs best.

When travelling to Montana on a budget keep in mind that there some bargains to be found like the Wingate by Wyndham in Helena Montana, the facilities are more than adequate and the rates are affordable.

This hotel is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and positioned in Montana’s Capitol City.

If camping out under the stars is what you had in mind then the Bear Dance and Cabin can provide valuable information on camp sites that could be simply perfect for your holiday outdoors adventure. Providing all modern and convenient amenities, your stay will be more than you have bargained for.

Sunset in the US mountains

Where to dine in Montana

Bogart’s restaurant in Montana Dining out in Montana does not need to break the bank, with restaurants like Bogarts serving up state loved favourites. The Bogarts restaurant is located on 11 South Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

You will also find at Bogart’s Bogie’s photos and memorabilia which are on display upon the walls. Notably the best place to go for a great meal in Montana.

The restaurant serves up the best in Mexican food, margaritas, burgers, and speciality pizzas with a hearty taste and generous portions.

The nightlife in Montana varies depending on the city location or town so check local listings for specific events and dates when planning your trip to Montana in advance.

Some events may require advance booking so it is always better to get in touch with the venues before you set off for your trip.

Olivia Cree the author of the “How to visit Montana on a budget” works as a freelance tour guide in Montana, she is also a part time mountain rescue volunteer.

Greek Islands: Four romantic days on the island of Naxos

Old windmills at Filoti village

Last summer my girlfriend and I were in a big dilemma regarding our holiday destination where we could spend a few days to relax away from the busy life in Athens. The choices between the Greek Islands?
A few hundreds. After several recommendations from our friends the decision was taken with a great enthusiasm.

What was the destination? The beautiful island of Naxos.

Naxos Town

The island of Naxos is located in the center of the Aegean Sea and it is part of the Cyclades islands. Naxos is ideal for couples and families as it offers an excellent cuisine, perfect beaches and plenty of activities to choose from.

A lovely donkey near Moutsouna beachI would strongly suggest to rent a car rather than a scooter or ATV for your transportation. The distances tend to be long and the roads are in a good shape.

However, some times in order to reach your destination you have to go through gravel roads with sharp stones. Also some times the roads are quite slippery and with many U-turns and relatively high elevation.

In addition you have to bear in mind that the public bus service doesn’t have a very dense schedule so if you wish to explore most of the island you must definitely rent a car.

I will also recommend you arrange your accommodation in Chora (the capital of the island) so you can be near the night life and the harbour so you don’t have to drive more than you really need.

If you wish to be on a more quiet and relaxed area, Filoti village is a very good choice. It is located in the center of the island and getting to all the main beaches around the island is significantly easier.

Four day itinerary on the island of Naxos

 

Marble streets on the island of NaxosDay 1: Leave from Chora and head to Apeiranthos. An amazing village with old traditional buildings, some have been built with marble and they are dated back to the years of Venetian occupation of the island of Naxos, some even predate that.

The village of Apeiranthos is famous for its local meats and cheese delicacies. The locals are extremely hospitable and willing to help you if you need directions to get to your destination.

Go around, walk and explore the side streets, admire the old buildings, the two Venetian towers, when you need a rest sit at one of the local restaurant and enjoy the local cousin.

I would definitely recommend Platanos restaurant, since we sat there and we were very happy with the quality of the food and prices of the restaurant.

After you taste the local cousin and enjoy a cup of coffee, you can head to the beach of Moutsouna which is approximately 25 to 30 minutes by car. The road is full of turns and on a high elevation so drive slowly and carefully.

At Moutsouna beach we discovered two traditional fish restaurants which unfortunately we did not have the chance to try as we were full from our previous stop but both looked quite good. We are planning to try their delicacies on our next visit to the island. Once you eat or swim you can move on to the beach of Panormos which we found amazing, relaxing and very quiet.

The amazing and quiet beach Panermos

On the Southeast side of the island and away from the crowds of tourists it’s definitely a place you should visit in case you just want to relax. However go there well equipped. There is a small and friendly canteen but it is a bit pricey and there are not many parasols.

Once you rest enough by the beach it is time to drive all the way back to your accommodation which is not a short drive so plan ahead and try to head back before the sun sets.

In the evening you can spend your time exploring the town’s side streets, the various romantic restaurants or the night clubs and bars to enjoy your cocktail.

Clystal blue-green water at the hidden beach near AgiassosDay 2: The second day we choose Agiasos beach located at the South side of the island.

However, the beach I am talking about is located 500 meters after Agiasos village. So once you see the sign ‘to Agiasos’’ on your left, simply ignore it and drive 500 meters further down the road. You will see a small gravel road heading to the beach where you can drive and park your car.

There you will find two amazing beaches that are not crowded at all.
Warning the smaller one on the far right end quite often is used by nudists. So be aware and make your choice.

If you continue on the gravel road you will find Alykes beach and Kastraki beach. On the last one try to visit the old deserted hotel and its deserted beach where you can swim all by yourself without anyone else!!! Your own private beach.

On your way back you can visit the cave of Za, which is located on a hill. To get there you have to drive up to a certain point on the road and then walk the rest of the way up.

You will definitely need sports or hiking shoes because a big part of the path is not paved. Be careful when you are entering the cave as its very dark and slippery, but for us it definitely worth the effort.

View from Za cave at the Island of Naxos

On your way back you can stop at Filoti village, where you can enjoy the local meat products (try the lamp chops!!!) at the traditional taverns situated in the center of the village under the huge trees. Many shepherds live in the village so if you are interested in buying dairy products straight from the producers, feel free to ask the locals at the square and they will direct you to one of the producers.

Once your rest you may wish go back to the city and enjoy an ice cream at Waffles house or have a drink at People’s bar.

Don’t forget to visit the famous Naxos candy store situated in the old city. It makes candies with traditional flavours and aromas such as Ouzo, Cinnamon and Citron, you can also find many modern and unexpected ones such as various combinations of Spicy, Sweet and other tastes. The owners were very hospitable; they even gave us a nice shot of a local drink called Raki.

One of the many beaches at Agia Anna on the Island of Naxos

Day 3: On the third day of your stay on the island of Naxos, you can visit Agia Annas beach and then Maragkas and many beautiful beaches situated one after the other, you would be spoiled for choice, believe me. If you like pizza try to find the “Mama Mia” pizzeria which is quite famous on the island. The Italian owners have brought a taste of Italy on the Greek island of Naxos.

A grandpa enjoing his coffe and the wonderful dayDay 4 : I would suggest on your last day to go to the Panermos bay. The driving is a bit long and strenuous for about 1-1.5 hours and there are not many interesting things to see or do on the way. However, the sandy beach is honestly incredible; it feels like you are not in the Aegean Sea but on an island somewhere in heaven!!!

Make sure you bring with you plenty of water, parasols and everything else you might need because after a certain point on the road there are no super markets or villages. Also there are no sun beds or umbrellas for hire so plan accordingly!!

On the right edge of the beach there is a very nice tavern with an amazing view of the beach and the Aegean Sea with very hospitable owners. The Panermos bay is quite far away, but if you can give it a day I am sure it will be the highlight of your trip.

While on the island of Naxos there are certain things you must definitely buy or taste. I would highly recommend the local dairy products such as Arseniko, Graviera and Ksinomizithra. Also the meat products which are produced on the island with traditional methods, the local fish and last but not least the local honey called Zikomelo.

We only stayed on the island of Naxos for four and half days but the people, the beautiful sceneries, the refreshing and relaxed atmosphere of the island were more than enough to recharge our batteries and keep us going through the hot summer.

Sunset,view and your girl._what more can you ask

I will definitely recommend the island of Naxos for a long holiday or even a short trip to unwind, relax and explore the beauty of the Greek islands.

This summer live your myth in Greece!!!

Spyros Skouris the author of the 4 romantic days on the island of NaxosAbout the author

Spyros Skouris the author of the article “Greek Islands: Four romantic days on the island of Naxos” can help you arrange your dream vacations on your visit to Athens in Greece.

He also owns an apartment in Athens which is available to rent on Airbnb.

Athens Sightseeing: A Full Day Tour Of Athens

Akropolis by night

After visiting a number of European countries, all of them start to look pretty much the same right? Fortunately, that doesn’t apply to Athens. Athens is indeed a European country but it feels like it has been ‘spiced’ with many Middle Eastern colours and aromas.

Due to its geographical position, as well as the occupation from the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years, have left Athens with a variety of cultural influences on landmarks and on it’s inhabitants.

Athens Kalimarmaro stadium

Athens besides the many archaeological sites has numerous beautiful seaside places where you can swim in the sea or just drink a cup of Greek coffee (like the locals do) and enjoy the views. Make sure you have more than one day to visit and explore all the hidden gems of the city.

Athens Metro

Best place to start your day tour of Athens is the Metro station of Acropolis. It is advisable to be there early in the morning to have a head start, as more tourists will be visiting later on and it will get crowded. Also you must remember that the Greek sun in the summer is really strong so make sure that you apply sun cream often and always have a bottle of water with you.

Walk the beautiful street of Dionysiou Areopageitou and buy yourself a ticket (20 Euros per person which applies for all the archaeological sites of Athens for 4 days). I could fill in at least ten pages with the facts and the history of Acropolis but this is neither the place nor the time to do so.

Always remember to support the campaign for returning the STOLEN artefacts of Parthenon, which are now located in the British Museum in London back to Greece, where they belong to.

So enjoy the beauty of Acropolis standing for more than 2000 years and wonder around it. Make sure you exit not from the typical exit, but from a downhill exit next to a small wooden kiosk that you will come across as you climb up the stairs. This way you will be able to see more sites and ancient constructions as well as an additional theatre.

Athens Archaeological Museum

Once you exit the site of Acropolis head the opposite way to the new museum of Acropolis, a construction that Greeks are really proud of since it was literally built upon ancient buildings but without causing any destruction to them. You will be able to see parts of them as you move though the Acropolis museum.

Exiting the museum of Acropolis and head left the same road you followed to go to Acropolis. Enjoy the weather and feel free to buy from the street vendors’ traditional artifacts and souvenirs which are actually in much better prices than the shops. Always try to support the local economy which really needs your help, especially these days!!!

Once you meet the first cafeterias’ with their tables outside you can go for a coffee to the roof gardens and admire the views of Acropolis.

Once you catch your breath continue and enter the ancient Agora from the small exit in front of the cafeterias with the same ticket that you bought in Acropolis. There are three must see places there among the many:

• The ancient temple that really looks like Acropolis.
• The old church with the unique pictures that were saved during the occupation from the Ottoman Empire (check out the Saints and Angels that their faces were removed by the occupants).
• The small museum which shows aspects of everyday life in Athens.

Exit the site from the main entrance and you are in Monastiraki area.

Day tour of Athens - Monastiraki

Warning!!!: As all the main tourist attractions around the world, the same rules apply in this area. Keep your bag zippers closed, leave no bags unattended and beware of your personal belongings in general. Pick pocketing is not a very common thing but not a very rare as well. Kindly decline any offers for sunglasses, perfumes or mobile phones since they will be 90 percent end in monkey business.

Monastiraki open flea market where you can shop various stuff

Shop around this area, you can find really good prices in leather and gold or buy some souvenirs for your friends back home. (Make sure you buy a hat for the rest of your vacations in Greece since the Greek sun is very strong. The area is ideal for taking pictures of locals restoring old furniture and buying antiques.

Hungry? I would suggest you head to the restaurant of Savvas with the amazing roof garden. It serves traditional Greek cuisine and the quality of the food is always very good, and of course you can stare (guess what???) Acropolis!

From there you can head to the Athens central meat & fish market called “Varvakios” to take some photos. Avoid it if you don’t have a strong stomach, watching hanged meats and the heavy smells might not be for everyone! The whole area is really popular for buying traditional products.

Head back to Ermou street (if you don’t know which one it is, simply ask an Athenian. The majority of the Greeks speak English and usually are very helpful with tourists.

Ermou street is the road with all the big brand names stores and you can always buy designer clothes or anything else you might need. Head up towards Syntagma square. On your way visit the small church (Kapnikarea) in the middle of the street.

It is estimated that the church was built some time in the 11th century, perhaps around 1050. As it was common with the early Christian churches, this was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to the worship of a goddess, possibly Athena or Demeter. You can walk into it and light a small candle like Orthodox people do.

Efzonas on Syntagma sq in Athens

Reaching Syntagma square you will see the Greek parliament and the national guards called Efzones. They wear their traditional skirt (which has 400 foldings, one for each year of occupation under the Ottoman Empire).

Take some photos and walk until the national Library and Academy. Two amazing buildings built like the ancient Greek ones. Once you are done continue on to the Omonoia street where you need to ask the way to the National Museum which is just five minutes by foot.

The national Archeological museem of AthensThe National Museum even though it is last on the list, it is for me the most important sight of Athens. Make sure you do not miss it. It hosts an amazing collection of masterpieces of art of the ancient Greece.

Statues more than 5000 years old, jewels of the Macedonian family of Alexander, and the famous Machine of Antikythera.

That is a full a day tour of Athens, where you can cover all the main tourist attractions.

If you feel that your feet can still do some extra walk, you can always add one of the following sights to your tour. Plaka, Kallimarmaron, the National Garden, Zapeio, Likavitos and Glyfada area.

But my suggestion is to visit those places another day so you can take your time and enjoy them like they deserve to.

Spyros Skouris profile photoAbout the author

Spyros Skouris the author of the article “A full day tour of Athens” can help you arrange your dream vacations on your visit to Athens in Greece.

He also owns an apartment in Athens which is available to rent on Airbnb.

Lads holiday to Antalya Turkey

Andrew Wain 2015With the university exams out of the way, we gathered at the pub debating where to go for our summer holidays.

There were four of us, Mat, George, Kevin, and myself Andrew.

The choices were mainly Spain, Italy, Greece, but with our student budget been on the low side we had to eliminate most of the ideas.

Even if we could get a low cost airline like Easyjet to fly us to Spain we couldn’t collect enough money among us to book a cheap hotel room for four lads in Spain.

Disaster was looming on the horizon, we could all see ourselves spending the summer at home with a trip down to Southampton for a long weekend.

That was all until Murat, the fifth member of our university gang pop in to our table holding a travel map to Antalya in Turkey.

Murat was born in Luton but his parents came from Turkey in the early eighties. His parents still have contacts with their extended family back in Turkey and Murat had been toying with the idea of going to Antalya to see where his parents grew up.

Needless to say the connection was instant!! Murat’s family had a house in Antalya. After a few more rounds at the pub our travel plan was set, hands were shaken, we were good to go. Our first lads holiday to Antalya in Turkey.

easy jet turkey antalya 2015

We flown from Gatwick with Easyjet and we landed at Antalya airport just before 10:00 a night. We were picked up by Bulent, Murat’s cousin who took us to our accommodation and promise to show us around the next morning.

Antalya city is definitely a modern city built on the South Western coast of Turkey with a population of around one million with a lot of buzz and night life for the holiday makers.

Antalya Turkey fish restaurants

In the morning we took the tram upto the Hadrian’s Gate or Üçkapılar in Turkish and we walked into the old part of the city the Kaleici for some sight seen.

Antalya was buzzing, many touristic shops selling souvenirs, beach clothes and café/restaurants are cramped in the rather small space of the old city with narrow streets and paths that somehow all seem to lead downhill towards the old harbor.

Konyaalti Beach

Turkish flag - Lads holiday to Antalya 2015

The next morning we walked back to Hadrian’s Gate and took the tram to Konyaallti beach.

Konyaalti beach is on the western side of Antalya city and it is about 7 km long. At the far end of the beach you can clearly see the Beydagları mountains. Inwards from the beach there is a huge green park with plenty of cafes, bars, nightclubs and hotels.

If you fancy doing more than just swimming and sunbathing on the Konyaalti beach, a short walk towards the park and across the Dumlupınar road are the Aqualand waterpark and the Antalya Aquarium, one of the biggest aquariums in Turkey, it claims to have the longest tunnel aquarium in the world, 131 meters long!!

We really liked the beautiful designed thematic exhibitions of different seas, oceans and rivers. There are many different types of sea species small and big as well as sharks. The sharks are not huge but there are really many of them and you can see the divers swimming among the sharks while feeding them.

Antalya Aquarium - Lads holiday to Turkey

All signs at the Antalya Aquarium are written in 3 languages: Turkey, English and Russian. It cost us 75 Turkish Lira per person for entrance to the aquarium. On the ground floor as you exit the aquarium there is food court with a number of different establishments to choose. By that time we were starving so we marched to McDonald’s which these days seems to be everywhere.

Lara Beach

Lara beach was our second favorite beach in Antalya. You can drive to the beach or get there by taxi but since we were on a budget, Bulent advised us to take a small minibus from the centre. In Turkey they call them Dolmush and they seem to be everywhere and run very frequent services across the city.

However, sometimes they can get very crowded. To the Lara beach you need Dolmush number 18, 30 and 77, it took us around 40 minutes to the beach and it only cost us 2,5 Turkish Lira each, which is around a dollar each.

lara beach antalya

Lara beach was not as busy as Konyaalti beach, which was a surprise as it is the longest sandy beach in Turkey and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean sea. We had a long walk and it seems some spot on the beach tend to be more popular than other with private organized beach clubs.

With the temperature on the beach approaching 40C we decided to rent a couple of umbrellas and sunbeds. There are plenty of bars with cold beers, to keep you cool and refreshed and since we were in Turkey Efes beer was our first choice!!

Side

Side is a holiday resort around an hour from Antalya city, full of 5 star hotels. It also seems to be very popular with Russian tourists. Side has calm water and fine sandy beaches, plenty of water-sport activities and is dominated by all inclusive type of hotels.

Antalya City

During our stay in Antalya we also hopped into a pirate boat and went for a daily cruise. There are many boats leaving around 10 in the morning from the old harbor.

Don’t get intimidated by the Turkish sales men who claim to have a last minute special fare, walk around and compare the different cruises before you make up your mind. Then you are ready to start bargaining, believe me bargaining is part of the Turkish culture.

Fares vary according to the length of the trip, we went for the six hours cruise.

lads boat trip in antalya

Once on board we snap some photos and had a few rounds of beers, loud party music was echoed around the boat reflecting the mood of our group. After almost an hour of sail we stopped twice for swimming and snorkeling in some truly amazing bays.

Complimentary food was also provided by the crew of the boat. We were served spaghetti, green salad and fish barbequed which was delicious and after a tasty lunch, there was even more time to relax as we sailed slowly back towards the harbor.

Night life

The night life in Antalya did not disappoint us. Having a local on our side we were taken to all the best pubs, bars and night clubs. Kaleici at night was heaving with young Turks and tourists, the narrowed streets where full of folk-songs bars and little colorful taverns. The Turks seem to party until the morning, so we joined them too!

Ally’s night club was our favorite night club, great music, amazing sea view, and plenty of girls to dance and flirt until the sun comes out. OK drinks were a little bit expensive but we were lucky to be amongst a group of friends of Bulent so we were charge local prices, no tourist prices. I could write more here but as they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!!

club ally antalya turkey

I have to admit that towards the beginning of the second week of our holiday to Antalya we were all running low on cash, our student budget could not support our all night partying lifestyle, so we started spending more time at the beach than going clubbing and partying every single night.

Without doubt this was our best holiday so far, we had great time, we made a lot of friends and we all agreed that we would definitely be going back to Antalya in the future.

I am actually thinking after my graduation to apply for a job in Antalya, Turkey. There are many hotels in Antalya that require English speaking staff, for various roles during the summer.

Andrew Wain, the author of the lads holiday to Antalya in Turkey is a final year student of hospitality and hotel management at LMU.