travel

Barcelona

Barcelona is the perfect city to visit if you’re after a mix of architecture, great food and a long sandy beach. Although fairly spread out, if you stay in the Eixample area most on the central part of the city can be explored on foot – Make sure not to miss the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Catalan, Spanish

Stay: Roommate Gerard

This was my first time staying in a Roommate hotel, but it certainly won’t be my last! Roommate Gerard was perfectly located in central Barcelona in the Eixample  district. It is a short 10 minute walk to the El Born area with its trendy bars and cafes, 20 minutes to the Gothic Quarter and around 30 minutes walk from the beach, meaning pretty much everywhere in central Barcelona is easily accessible on foot.

The rooms were minimalist in design and equipped with everything you need for a city stay, plus a few little extras to help you settle in. The beds were huge and amazingly comfy, and the bathroom followed suit in spaciousness, and had great products that were restocked daily. The surround sound system that you could link your phone to via Bluetooth was also a fun addition to the room.

There is also a rooftop complete with pool and loungers exclusively for guests use, which is great if you want to soak up some sun away from the crowds on the beach. There’s even a bar with drinks that can be charged to the room, so it’s easy to spend an afternoon relaxing up there!


Do: Sagrada Familia, Barceloneta Beach, Las Ramblas, La Boqueria Market

No trip to Barcelona is complete without a trip to the Sagrada Familia. Although the basilica – designed by Gaudi – is unfinished, it’s a hugely impressive building, and even more so from inside. If you want a tour of the building it’s worth booking tickets in advance as the queues on the day can get very long.

One of the major benefits of Barcelona is that there is a beach within walking distance of the city centre, and it’s a nice beach too! There’s a wide stretch of golden sand, and although there aren’t many lounger to sit on, many people stretch out on blankets or take a stroll along the surf. The edge of the beach is also lined with plenty of bars and restaurants for when you start to feel peckish.

If you’ve had your fill of sunbathing on the beach, head back into the city along Las Ramblas, one of the most famous streets in Barcelona. Always packed with tourists, the bars and restaurants that line the street are fairly pricey here and definitely aren’t catered towards the locals, but it’s a great place to stop and people watch.

Located just off of Las Ramblas is the Boqueria Market, which is a great place to stop and sample some fresh produce, including cured meats, cheeses and freshly squeezed juices. Watch your bags in this afea though as it’s a hot spot for pick pockets!


Eat: Tantarantana, El Rall, Pizza paco, Chocolat-Box, Chichi Limona, Bacoa Burger

The food scene in Barcelona is excellent – I can almost guarantee that you will be able to find whatever you are craving! We ate a mixture of local food (tapas, paella, churros…) along with great pizza, burgers and pastries. A few of my top places to eat are listed below:

  • Tantarantana – Located in the El Born district in a tucked away square, this place serves authentic tapas in a cozy setting. They have lots of tables outdoors, bu these will need reserving unless you want to sit down past 10pm.
  • El Rall – The paella here was great, and very reasonable! There were several different varieties (we went for Valencian with chicken and rabbit) and the local house wine was €5 per half litre!
  • Pizza Paco – Just down the road from Tantarantana, this pizza place is always packed and for good reason. Cheap, tasty pizza with an extensive toppings menu.
  • Chichi Limona – A great place to stop for breakfast or brunch in the Eixample area. The pastries here were so fresh they were still warm from the oven!
  • Bacoa Burger – If you’re craving a burger after a morning of soaking up the sun on the beach, head to Bacoa Burger for good quality meat and a selection of sides to accompany.
  • Chocolat-Box – Perfect for a pit stop if you fancy indulging in some typical Spanish churros with rich chocolate to dip them in.

Drink: Story, Mescladis, El Born district, Roommate Gerard rooftop

There are so many tucked away bars in Barcelona that it would be impossible to visit them all, but whether you’re looking for a pavement side cafe, a wine bar or a lively late night music venue, you’re guaranteed to find it somewhere in the city!

The El Born district is an excellent area to find a spot for a pre-dinner drink. My favourite was Mescladis, a little outdoor garden style bar serving drinks to locals and tourists alike. They don’t stay open late, so make this a pit stop for a drink before dinner.

Story, not far from Mescladis, was another favourite. They often have live music in the evenings and has an excellent wine list. It’s cozy and the perfect place to relax after an evening meal.

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Kos

The island of Kos is located close to the coast of Turkey, and is well known for its long sandy beaches. With sunshine almost guaranteed for May-October, it’s the perfect place to go for a week of relaxing on white beaches or by a swimming pool overlooking a stretch of olive groves.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Greek

Resort: Tigaki

The coastal resort of Tigaki is located in the North of Kos, and is a short 30 minute drive from Kos International Airport. With its crystal clear azure waters and soft white sand, it’s a family friendly resort that boasts a large selection of restaurants and tavernas, along with a good amount of bars for evening entertainment.


Hotel: Mayflower Apartments

We booked the Mayflower Apartments through TUI, and absolutely loved our stay. The family run apartments are perfectly located just a few minutes stroll from the nearest tavernas, and a pleasant 15 minute walk from the beach. The swimming pool was huge and always spotless clean, and there were always plenty of loungers regardless of what time of day we went to the pool.

The BBQ night on site (Monday evenings) was brilliant, and a great way to meet the other people staying in the apartments. Food was lovely and the Greek dancing afterwards was a fun way to end the evening. All for a very reasonable €13 – I definitely recommend it!


Restaurants: Alikes, Plori Taverna, Vassilis

Greek food is easily found in Tigaki, with plenty of tavernas serving local food and Greek specialities. For authentic Greek food in relaxed surroundings, head to Alikes & Plori Taverna by the beach, or Vassilis on the Main Street in town. All served excellent quality food for very reasonable prices – In particular Alikes, where bread for the table, two mains and half a litre of local wine came to €20!

If you’re after a quick lunch, head to the main road in Tigaki and make your way to Poilos Avnva. The pork gyros pitta is exceptional, and at only €2.50 won’t break the bank either! To satisfy your sweet tooth, Palapanis is the place to go for excellent crepes and waffles, cooked fresh to order and served with ice cream.

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Bucharest

A city that may not at first spring to mind for a city break, but should definitely be on your list! With lots of garden bars tucked between amazing architecture, a charming old town with a huge variety of cafes and restaurants and Europes largest urban beach, there’s plenty to keep you busy!

Sample itinerary


  • Currency: Romanian Leu
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Romanian

Stay: Old Town

Evenings in Bucharest centre around the old town, and so staying nearby makes for easy access to all the bars/cafes/restaurants. We stayed in an amazing apartment that we found on Airbnb, owned by CityLife Suites, and at £230 for three nights, it was a real bargain! The communication from the owners was great, and they also sorted airport transfers for us and gave a huge list of recommended bars and restaurants, which gave us a great starting point for exploring the city!


Do: Therme, Garden Bars, Old Town

Therme spa is located around 30 minutes by taxi out of the city, but it absolutely worth making the trip for. I recommend buying an all day ticket (80lei/£15) as once you get here, you won’t want to leave! The outdoor pool area is also home to Europes largest urban beach – brilliant for a sunny day – and the pool also has a huge swim up bar. Inside, there is a regular activity timetable, and when the sun goes down it turns into a lit up party paradise!

There are plenty of garden bars to choose from in Bucharest, and if you have a spare afternoon, definitely take some time out to visit one. My favourite was Gradina Floreasca as not only did they do great food (see below) but the pool was amazing to relax by for the afternoon and the drinks were very reasonable.

Spend your evenings in the old town, wandering the streets (all pedestrianized, which is lovely) and take your pick from the many cafes and restaurants that line the streets. In the good weather tables are filled outside and the buzz of chatter fills the air. There are also plenty of bars to keep you occupied into the early hours.


Eat: Les Bourgeois, Gradina Floreasca, Hanu’ Lui Manuc

Dinner in Bucharest depends very much on what you’re looking for in terms of cuisine, but here are plenty of amazing places to eat!

Located in the heart of Old Town, Les Bourgeois has tables sprawling across the street and an extensive menu offering local Romanian dishes as well as plenty of international options, and all for a very reasonable price. The pork chop with truffled potato is my personal recommendation!

Breakfast at Hanu’ Lui Manuc was a leisurely experience, and we were seated in a very pretty outdoor garden. The breakfast menu is simple; omelette or fried eggs with a choice of cheese, ham or smoked salmon. Working out around £3 per person (including a hot drink) it was a great place for a cheap meal that was still very good quality.

We visited Gradina Floreasca for the afternoon to spend time in the relaxing garden bar and make the most of the (free) swimming pool. The food here was excellent – the chicken and avocado salad in particular – and it’s definitely worth heading here for an afternoon in the sun and a delicious lunch.


Drink: Nomad, Pure Vida, Gradina Floreasca, Bound Bar

Visiting in summer months can mean soaring temperatures, so if you’re in need of a drink to cool down, consider the outdoor patio at Bound Bar. The giant mojitos were a personal favourite, and if you fancy a dance in the evening, this bar turns into a club at night.

Gradina Floreasca (as already mentioned above) is a garden bar in the heart of the city, and has an extensive drinks menu of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The perfect place to spend an afternoon with an Aperol Spritz!

If its a drink with a view you’re after, then Nomad and Pure Vida are the places to aim for – they’re two of the best rooftop bars in Bucharest.

travel

Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, and features a warm climate year round. Despite it’s reputation as a party island (mainly because of the Playa de las Americas resort) there are plenty of tranquil spots on this island for a relaxing winter sun break.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT
  • Language: Spanish

Resort: Los Cristianos

Located in the South of the island (typically the part that gets the sunnier weather) Los Cristianos is the perfect location for a beach break with friends or family. With several beaches to choose from – including the long and sandy Las Vistas – plus plenty of bars and restaurants, you will never run out of things to do. And if you do fancy an evening of dancing? Las Americas as mentioned about is only 10 minutes away in a taxi!


Hotel: Aguamar Apartments

A collection of spacious and always spotlessly clean apartments gathered around a large deep blue swimming pool. The staff are friendly, there are always plenty of sun loungers and its very conveniently located for access to the beach and the various bars and restaurants that Los Cristianos has to offer.


Eat: Pizzeria da Capo, Piccolo, Chill Out

Piccolo restaurant, situated on the Vistas beach with amazing views out to sea, offers good value and authentic Italian food. The truffle pasta with steak was a particular favourite, and they house wine is also very good.

Located on a corned one street back from the harbour is Pizzeria da Capo – an amazing family run restaurant serving huge portions of incredible Italian food. The menu of the day is exceptional in value, and changes daily. Booking is always recommended, as this place is always full!

Chill out is the place to go if you have a celebration during your time in Los Cristianos. A diverse menu with great quality meat and fish, and a very goo dessert trolly that comes around to your table if you still have room after the main course. Slightly more expensive than other nearby restaurants but worth the extra cash if you’re celebrating a birthday/anniversary.


Drink: Planeta Goloso, Marina Bay sunset bar, Players Lounge

Whether it’s an afternoon sangria in the sunshine or a gin and tonic at sunset that you’re after, Los Cristianos has a bar for every occasion. For a relaxing mid-afternoon drink, head to Planeta Goloso. With lots of parasol covered tables overlooking the beach, this is a place to relax, have a drink and take some shade from the heat of the day. They also have an axcellent selection of ice cream here!

Marina Bay sunset bar has, unsurprisingly, one of the best views of the sunset on the South coast. They offer a happy hour early evening, with discounts on sangria and local beers, and the view really is worht the few extra minutes walk from the centre of town.

If you’re wanting to watch some sport while you’re away, make your way to Players Lounge, where they have several screens showing most games live. Cheap beer, an extensive cocktail menu and a great view of the beach if you’re less bothered about watching the football!

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Majorca

Majorca enjoys a Mediterranean climate, meaning whichever month you visit, it will never be cold! The warmest months to visit are May-September, when the days are long and you’re all but guaranteed sunshine.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Spanish

Resort: Port de Pollença

Situated in the Northern part of the island, Port de Pollença is on the coast with a long sandy beach. It’s a lively resort, with plenty of sunbeds on the beach and extensive watersports options. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs to keep you entertained in the evening, and all are within walking distance of the beach, so you won’t have far to travel!

Pollença Old Town is situated a few miles inland, and is a great area to visit in the evenings for small trattorias dotted along cobbled streets. With a more relaxed vibe to Port de Pollença, come here for a candlelit dinner or a chilled glass of white wine in a quaint square.


Stay: Villa Can Serra

We booked a 4 bedroom villa with a private pool – Villa Can Serra – through airbnb, and it was excellent. The pool was large and clean, and the villa had a rooftop ‘chill out’ area above the pool house which was lovely for evening drinks.

Located just a short drive from both the beach and Pollença Old Town, it was a great location as we could get taxis into town easily for a night out if we wished. There was also a large supermarket a short drive away and the villa had all the utensils needed for a self catering trip, including a BBQ outdoors.


Do: Mountain trip, Sóller, Fornalutx

One of the best ways to see the island is to hire a car. Jump in and drive up into the mountains for breathtaking views into the valleys below. There are plenty of view points to stop at along the many mountain paths, so don’t forget to take your camera!

If you’re driving from Pollença like we were, head through the mountains to Fornalutx, a quaint village set in the mountains and high above the town of Sóller. A picturesque and charming village that offers a look into everyday life for locals who live on the island. Stop and have a wander around the small streets and soak up the atmosphere, before driving down into the Sóller valley. Here, you’ll find a marina lined with plenty of bars and restaurants to stop off at for lunch, and a lovely beach. There are also trams that run through the town and are a great chance to take in the views from a different perspective.

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Zanzibar

Whether you’re transferring after an action packed safari or heading straight to the island for some serious down time, Zanzibar is an excellent destination when your number one aim is to relax on soft white sand with the crystal clear Indian Ocean lapping at your feet. 


  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling
  • Local time: GMT +3
  • Language: Swahili, Arabic, English

Resort: Bwejuu

Bwejuu Beach has been voted in the top 30 beaches in the world, and is located on the South East coast of the island. This part of Zanzibar is one of the most unspoilt, offering pristine white sand and stunning azure waters, with many untouched coral reefs that can be ventured out to. The transfer time from the airport is around an hour, and I recommend pre-booking a private, air-conditioned car, as arriving at this airport can be fairly overwhelming in terms of the amount of people outside arrivals; many of whom are waiting to offer you a ‘taxi’.


Hotel: Breezes Beach Club

I stayed at Breezes Beach Club & Spa for 5 nights, and wow do I wish it could have been longer! Time seemed to stand still here – my only concerns were which cocktail to choose from the menu and whether to sunbathe by the swimming pool or take a stroll along the gorgeous beach.

The food options on site were brilliant – think themed nights and a la carte meals – and I highly recommend that when booking you choose the Full Board option, as it works out most economical come check out.

With four dining locations, three bars and a chai tea room serving afternoon tea daily, plus shops, a scuba diving centre and a Frangipani spa, this hotel has everything you need for a relaxing break without ever having to leave resort!


Do: Stone Town

I highly recommend visiting Stone Town, the capital of Zanzibar while you’re on the island. Whether you choose to stay a night or two before transferring to your chosen beach resort (Stone Town is on the coast, but the luxury resorts are on the other side of the island and the beaches are cleaner and more relaxing there too) or take a day trip from your hotel, you don’t want to miss out on Stone Town.

With its winding streets and alleyways, I almost guarantee that you will get lost at some point in Stone Town, but the locals were very friendly and more than happy to point you in the right direction. A helpful tip I found was to be guided back to the waterfront, as finding our hotel (we stayed at Zanzibar Palace for one night and I highly recommend it!) was very easy from this point.

If you have time, book onto a walking tour of Stone Town, as nobody can show you the city better than a local guide! We got to look around the former slave market, which was a fascinating looking into the darker history of the city, as well as visiting Darajani Market, which I warn you now, is not for those with a delicate stomach or sense of smell. With lots of raw meat and fish, it’s an attack on the senses, but a really interesting look at the daily life of residents of the city.

Make sure you set aside some time to visit Memories gift store to get those all important souvenirs and gifts to take home. We found that once we got to our beach resort, the opportunity to buy gifts was next to zero, so we were very glad we’d picked up what we wanted in Memories.