Thursday, 30 June 2016

My Top Travel Spots: Short Haul

It's summer and the first thing that comes to my mind with summer is holidays. Let's be honest we all want to be jetting off year round and spending our days in hotter climates with delicious food and sights to explore. To be honest I spend about 99% of my life dreaming of distant islands, beautiful sandy beaches and quaint city breaks and I'm currently planning my summer travels and subsequently my back year travels, ooo. But until then I'm stuck reminiscing of all the amazing places I've been and telling you why these make the list for my favourite travel destinations. My complete list includes everything from short haul to long, cheap breaks and a bit more pricey trips so regardless of what you're after there should be somewhere on the list that will appeal to you.
DUBROVNIK, CROATIA
Possibly my favourite place upon this list, I absolutely fell head over heels for Croatia. Dubrovnik was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. This walled city and it's surrounding bay, islands and rock beaches instantly captured my heart. If you're a Game of Thrones fan like me you need to come and experience the real Kings Landing because it'll just blow you away. While I visited the city in November, so the off season, the weather was still amazing and pretty mild but in summer I can't even imagine how this place must come alive. The city reeks of inspiration for the GoT series with it's own history as rich as that within the books and show... minus the dragons of course. The actual walled city is the historic part of the city while the bay area speaks towards the future rather than the past and reminds me of little Spanish fishing towns. The hillside hotels offer view beyond compare and so does pretty much everywhere when you're looking out on the Adriatic. Take a cable car up and look out as far as the eye can see or sail out to sea and the surrounding elaphite islands. The food here is a mix of traditional Croatian, Italian and some of the freshest seafood you'll find. Make sure to take a trip Trsteno Arboretum (if you do the GoT tour pay the extra to go) because it's the most beautiful botanical garden ever overlooking the sea, I just can't stress the beauty of this place enough. Walk the famous city walls and if you're lucky you'll stumble upon this little hole in the wall which will lead you to the most incredible bar. Buza is the perfect place to watch the sunset over the Adriatic, it's so relaxed and beautiful I never wanted to leave that spot. You need to find this place if you go. There's so much to see and do here and I can't wait to return, I'm actually trying to find a deal to go back asap. For a full Dubrovnik breakdown check out my posts here: part one & part two
Must eat/drink: Buza Bar
Must visit: The Games of Thrones Tour / Botanical Gardens

PALMA, MAJORCA 
Palma is such a great city break holiday that is also beachy. If like me you prefer more active holidays, like city breaks and seeing all the sights opposed to just sunbathing constantly but still want to get a nice tan I think Palma is a really good option. I stayed on the marina front and waking up to the ocean and sitting out on the balcony yacht spotting was always fun. We actually spied the boat Bill Gates was renting at the time, it had a full helicopter on top of it... sorry what? Our hotel had an amazing rooftop pool so you still could some major sun and have a dip in the pool to cool off. To get to the beach from Palma town it's literally a ten minute bus ride so super accessible and makes for a nice day out because you have to go to the beach at least once even if you are more of a pool person like myself.  The city has so much to see from the cathedral to the hilltop castle, a great way to see the sights if you haven't got loads of time in the city is by hopping on the open roof buses. A place I highly suggest visiting is Poble Espanyol which is like this open air museum filled with recreations of Spanish architecture such as the Alhambra, it's amazing to see all these buildings from across Spain recreated in on place. Food wise typical delicious Spanish goodness, I think Spanish is one of my favourite cuisines so I could not complain. So much Paella and fresh seafood to keep me happy. But my favourite foodie spot was the Giovanni Gelato, the flavours were insane and when it was sooo hot they were everything you could ever want in life. I really did love the balance of city with beachy, relaxing elements and think if you want a holiday that offers both and you can only go for a short time then Palma is perfect. 
Must eat/drink: Giovanni Gelato
Must visit: Poble Espanyol

TAVIRA, PORTUGAL

Last year me and my mum were desperate for a little sun seeing as the British weather had really let us down so off we jetted to Portugal and the little fishing town of Tavira. This place was the cutest little summer holiday get away. It was that traditional idea of a fishing village that I love yet the town was full of culture. In the evenings the towns small amphitheatre in the middle of the square hosted  street performances alongside the river that separates the two halves of the town. The town also hosts their annual city festival while we were visiting which resulted in everything being covered in handcrafted paper decorations, it was so beautiful and like something from a Disney film. The traditional architecture, tiles and historic buildings makes this town just beautiful. The seafood here is something else and I wouldn't expect anything less of a fishing town. I ate so many prawns by the end of the week I dare to say I was sick of them. My favourite place to eat was Castelo Cafe which sits in the shadows of the old castle ruins. The people who run this place were so cute and accommodating when we forgot to book and squeezed us in, thank god. It was so delicious though so I'm so glad they did. The beach that Tavira calls it own is just amazing, to get there you have to take this little boat and it's a completely separate island. White beaches as far as the eye could see, beach bars and amazing fresh fishy restaurants made this place the perfect day out. This little town really was a great spot for a more beachy holiday that still had a little bit more to it than just sun loungers and poolside bars. For a full Tavira breakdown check out my posts here: part one & part two
Must eat/drink: Castelo Cafe e Restaurante
Must visit: Tavira City Festival or Ilha de Tavira 

BARCELONA, SPAIN



Like Palma I think Barcelona offers a good balance of city and beach but where I think Palma makes a amazing shorter break you could easily stay a week or longer in Barcelona and still not see everything. Barcelona is literally one of my favourite cities in the world, I have always loved it and I have been lucky enough to go a few times and I'm so glad. I'm currently trying to book s few days there in September because I miss it. Everything about Barcelona just speaks to what I love in a holiday. The opportunity for art and culture, beaches, shopping, delicious food. Barcelona is one of those cities that just has everything. I'm such a massive Gaudi fan and his work can be found all over the city and will leave you speechless. Obviously the Sagrada will just make your jaw drop because it's truly remarkable but also his other works such as Casa Batlló and Park Güell are just amazing too. Literally if you appreciate art just go! Barcelona is also a host to seven amazing beaches, plus the Omlypic port and the Gothic quarter. At night the city becomes alive from feasting in the streets on delicious Spanish paella to live music to the magic fountain of Montjuïc. Obviously you can keep the men in your life happy with a trip to Nou Camp and he can keep you happy by letting you loose in the giant Sephora. Food wise you can't go wrong most places, be careful of expensive tourist traps though especially near Las Ramblas. Definitely check out Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria because this market is full of some of the freshest and most delicious food you'll find within the city. Grab a picnic of fresh fruit and gelato then sit back and people watch. Barcelona is an amazing city which I think everyone should experience at least once in their life.
Must eat/drink: Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria  
Must visit: Gaudi's Works: Sagrada Familia / Casa Batlló / Park Güell

KRAKOW, POLAND
I didn't really know what to expect when I went to Poland, but with Krakow as an uprising city break location I thought there must be something that's drawing everything to this Eastern European hot spot. First thing you need to know about Krakow is that it's cheap, like mind blowingly cheap. I remember my first night and when the bill came I thought there must be a mistake. It came to around £12 for a three course meal for two with wine and a beer. I just couldn't believe it. This city is brimming with culture and seeped in history. Tiny cobbled streets and a market every single morning in the main square, it's just so beautiful. There's plenty to do in Krakow from visiting Auswhitvz to the Salt Mines which hosts a giant church underground made completely out of salt! The city pays homage it's history with Museums like Schindler's Factory and the Chemist telling the harrowing stories of Nazi occupied Poland and it's Krakow's ghetto.The city also hosts a beautiful tower which is full of everything from the giant bells in the tower to a museum dedicated all to Pope John Paul II. There's even a legend of a dragon in the dungeons. Krakow is such a charming place I don't think you could go and not fall in love. It's just full of so many hidden gems, like the churches I've never seen anything like some of them with there ornate decorations. Also food and drinks wise you can go wrong. If you like vodka then you're in for a treat because some of the flavours you'll find yourself sipping on will blow your mind. At Wodka bar you can get these amazing sample trays with the craziest flavours out there, everything from pear to hazelnut. I ate so much yummy food in Poland, from massive meat platters to refined Michelin rated restaurants, this place has everything. And all so, so cheap. Literally you get chance to go to Poland then go, you won't regret this perfect little weekend getaway spot. For a full Krakow breakdown check out my posts here: part one & part two
Must eat/ drink: Wodka vodka bar
Must visit: Wieliczka Salt Mine / Auswhitvz / Wawel Castle


So there's just a few of my favourite travel spots, literally I love traveling so couldn't fit everything on this list but these were just a few that I really enjoyed. I'm going to do a follow up post featuring long haul trips which are my favourite US vacation spots so keep an eye out for that. Now I'm off to book myself a holiday because this girl need some sunshine since I currently resemble Casper the ghost. 

Where is your favourite travel spot? Where are you planning your next trip?
Let me know in the comments below.
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