Category Archives: Travel Planning

How to Plan the Perfect Iceland Honeymoon Itinerary

Couple at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Iceland sunset

Iceland sparkles for me. The reason? I can’t quite put my mitten on it. Maybe it’s this small north Atlantic island’s vast landscapes, canyons, and geysers. I do love to be near water (having grown up in a coastal town in Fife, Scotland) so is it the thundering waterfalls, lagoons, and beaches? Or the beautiful Reykjavik city folks with their cool exterior? I know for Craig Iceland means the solar spectacular, Northern Lights and glaciers. Whatever the reason, it’s easy to see the appeal of an Iceland honeymoon.

Now I know what you are thinking – didn’t you pair marry last March in Austin, Texas and then travel around the Americas and Europe? Correct, but hey, you only get married once (we hope!) We deserve a backpack/budget free honeymoon! Imagine not being confined to $45 a day… We did it! Here’s our perfect honeymoon itinerary for Iceland.

» Don’t miss our guide to four days in Iceland

Driving the Ring Road

Driving in Iceland is kind of like taking the Subway in Glasgow; there are two routes – you can go around it, then come back around the other way, with a few reindeer, twigs, and floods thrown in.

Many visitors to Iceland opt to see Iceland’s 800 miles of Route 1 with a group tour; others take the 4×4 by the wheel and attempt a self – guided tour of Iceland.

Driving around Iceland’s Ring Road takes a good seven days (perfect for those using Iceland as a stopover destination as you are awarded one week free of charge).

Don’t be deceived by Google Maps, some of the journeys can take a long time, especially if it is raining. Our ride from Reykjavik to

What to See in Iceland?

Skogafoss Waterfall Iceland

Our Ring Road itinerary includes:

South Iceland

  • The Golden Circle Tour of the south (see below)
  • American wreck DC-3 plane on Sólheimasandur Beach (4km trek)
  • Sunrise at Seljalandsfoss waterfall
  • Get drenched at Skogafoss
  • Reynisfjara, Iceland’s Black Beach (striking but busy)
  • Rafting in the Hvítá River (missed out this time)

Top tip: if you stay in the area you can fight the weather! We were rained off at Seljalandsfoss so decided to set our alarms for sunrise and had the waterfall to ourselves!

East Iceland

  • Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon (a short stretch of the legs) – potentially closed to the public
  • Jökulsárlón tour to see the ice melt (OMG, incredible at sunset)
  • Vatnajökull Glacier’s crystal ice caves <— seasonal unfortunately 
  • A visit to the crafty and mountainous Seyðisfjörður (missed)

North Iceland

  • Iceland’s second city, Akureyri – whale watching in Iceland!
  • Dettifoss – the most powerful waterfall in Europe, apparently
  • The gateway to Hell – Dimmuborgir
  • The north’s equivalent to the Blue Lagoon, Mývatn Nature Baths

West Iceland

Research indicates that the west side of the Ring Road is more drive than stop but it is worth taking a detour to….

  • Westfjords
  • Snæfellsnes aka “Little Iceland”

… and then on to

  • Hike Mount Esjan
  • Then a celebratory end of tour drink at Blur’s Damon Albarn’s bar in Reykjavik (turns out this is a great marketing ploy, he own a tiny a share of it!), HI bar is better for views

Iceland’s Golden Circle Tour

If your chauffeur decides that being the designated driver for the entirety of your honeymoon is no fun, then the alternative reduced Iceland itinerary would be the Golden Circle Tour which takes a mere 3.5 hours to tackle by car (6 – 10 hours with stops).

I don’t want to put you off here but the Golden Circle is very touristy. Think Disney World or the Eifle Tower in July! We visited in September and there were a lot of crowds.

I would aim to reach the likes of Geysir and Gullfoss very early before the bus tours if you plan to road trip yourself.

Highlights of the Golden Circle include

All of the above can be seen as an Iceland day tour from Reykjavik. What do you prefer – self-drive, private taxi tour or guided bus tour?

Gulfoss Waterfall


» You may also like: our guide to Iceland prices

Northern Lights

Now, this is a sad one as our timings were out. September just flirts with the official window (October to March) of seeing the light show also known as the Aurora Borealis.

Iceland is not always dark, and although lots of factors come into play when chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland, the darkest months of November to February are your best bet. Northern Lights tours can last up to 5 hours and run from September until May.

We did toy with other months.

One of the downsides of visiting Iceland in April (when our wedding party was) is that you are kind of in a limbo period where the weather dictates Iceland’s tourist attractions.

If you visit Iceland in summer (July), you can hike, whale watch, and avoid freezing your asses off, however, this means giving up the chance to witness the dancing light show.

DC Plane Solheimasandur Sólheimasandur Beach

Lagoons in Iceland

Now that I am over not seeing the lights (I don’t like being cold anyway) let’s dive deep into something I do love – geothermal activity.

Oh hello, hot water! I’m a 40 degrees at the Hungarian baths type of chick, Craig not so much! Iceland’s most famous hot spring is the Blue Lagoon. Close to the country’s capital, a trip to this lagoon is an easy day trip from Reykjavik (40 mins by car, you will be inundated by adverts for Reykjavik tours to the Blue Lagoon).

Basic entry cost is €40 / £33. 95 / $42.37 (top tier luxury price €195) however, I am told repeatedly by bloggers and tourists alike that regardless of fee and popularity, the Blue Lagoon is worth every penny. Do not wear your contact lenses like my good friend Helen!

We opted for the Secret Lagoon (£19/€22) as it was on our route back to the capital. I love that you can buy a glass of wine or a beer and soak your troubles away! Be warned, you are expected to shower naked before you enter.

Budget lovers, there are free hot springs in Iceland (my favourite phrase) making it one of the hottest free things to do in Iceland (get it?)

Check out Hveragerdi which is only 30 mins from Reykjavik and also has free hiking trails; a stride and a soak seems like a winning combo to me!

There are a variety of geothermal pools of all sizes in Iceland so this is only the tip of the iceberg. Which do you prefer and why?

Seljavallalaug Geothermal Pool

Hiking in Iceland

Hiking might not be everyone’s ideal honeymoon activity but we are a big fan of the outdoors and Iceland certainly is a hotbed for nature.

The most popular trek in Iceland is the 3-4day south-west Laugavegur trek. If that’s not enough, you can continue on with the Fimmvörðuháls hiking trail (or attempt as a stand-alone one day hike) which takes you between the two volcanoes, Eyjafjallajökull and Katla.

Part of Fimmvörðuháls has literally risen from the ashes after the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. There are easier Iceland hikes such as Mount Esjan which is close to Reykjavik.

Iceland Weather – the best time to go to Iceland

October to April is low season. Winter activities such as the ice caves are open (what about snorkelling at Silfra?) and the Northern Lights are at their optimum. It is not advised to drive in Iceland during the low season unless you are used to Canadian winter conditions (and I don’t mean B.C), although it is never as cold as Alberta.

Daylight is very limited to six hours so take that into consideration if driving. October to February sees the most rainfall. Time to get cosy on that Iceland honeymoon! Winter does not put visitors off! Here’s my friend Janet’s experience of things to do in winter.

Spring starts in April and ends in May, although the first day of summer is April 18th… Summer means a lot of daylight, the longest day is June 21st where the sun sets around midnight in Reykjavik and rises before 3am! This may take a bit of getting used to but obviously offers a good chance to enjoy the midnight sun (while partying?!)

Skiing is out and unfortunately, mass tourism, pre-booking, and selfie sticks are in.

In summer, budding photographers can capture the crazy lights of the golden hours (without the pressure of time), driving is safe, and hiking doesn’t involve an axe. There are so many photographers in Iceland, they really don’t like you ‘ruining their shots’.

Getting to Iceland

Cheap flights to Iceland (Keflavík International Airport) from the UK can be found for under £200/$300 via Icelandair and Easyjet.

The taxi from Keflavík International Airport is $120 at the time of writing, yes you can get a one-way flight for this price.

Car rental companies charge a supplementary fee for airport collection and drop off. Save an hour for the check-in/transfer process.

Don’t panic, there is are direct bus transfers to Reykjavik for under $30. Iceland is known for being expensive but cheap hotels in Reykjavik do exist, check out Follow Me Away’s guide.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Two Scots Abroad

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Iceland honeymoon

Well, folks, that’s it from me and my dream Iceland honeymoon. Our honeymoon trip to the land of fire and ice did not disappoint. My initial thoughts were, I could explode with excitement just like Katla volcano, which has actually set off its biggest tremors since the ’70s, and I hope you feel the same way too.

Going to Iceland?
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 Have you been, are you going?
Give us tips in the comments below!

20 Christmas Europe Breaks For Every Budget

Christmas in Europe, Edinburgh Market

Ski, sun and Christmas markets! There are a variety of reasons to visit Europe during Winter. I’ve found myself (Gemma) drawn to the Skyscanner app… confession, I’ve set a few email alerts for flight price drops in the hope that we can squeeze in one of the following sensational Christmas Europe breaks recommended by fellow tinsel-loving travel bloggers. Whack the heating up, get your onesie on and get ready to be whisked into some serious winter wanderlust with the following tried and tested winter holiday ideas for Europe.

Note: A decision about Europe’s Christmas markets and events will be made by each country individually. Please keep us updated if you hear of any decisions. Thank you.

Christmas Europe Breaks

1. Alsace, France

Wine, Wine, and More Wine!

France’s Alsace region in the east is a dream when December comes around. The joint German-French influence creates an area that offers incredible food, stunning architecture, local beer and wine, and a true appreciation for Christmas.

Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are bustling, the entire town is dressed up, and there is holiday cheer everywhere. Then, as you leave Strasbourg and head into the smaller villages along the wine route, the Christmas markets are smaller but absolutely packed with locals and tourists alike. Colmar is second to Strasbourg in terms of popularity, it looks like a fairytale Christmas village.

In all the towns, the stalls sell everything from pretzels and mulled wine to handmade ornaments and home-wares. Each one has its own cup that you have to purchase in order to get mulled wine or beer at the stands (our favourites were the glass mugs from Kayersberg) – you can return them at the end to get your money back.

Oh, and did we mention that this is all located along the wine route, meaning there are plenty of wineries to pop into along the way? Our recommendation is to fly into Basel and hire a car – driving through all of the villages is the best way to see the area and remember to visit the Christmas markets. Joyeux Noël! <—- White, red, rose, hot, chilled… I love wine!

 By Kelly & Sean | A Pair of Passports

Alsace Region, France Best Christmas Europe Breaks

Does mulled wine make a city one of the best European winter breaks?

2. Andermatt

Snowy Swiss Alps

One of the more expensive winter destinations in Europe is the Swiss Alps but it is worth saving up for.

In 1864, a local hotelier in St Moritz, in the Swiss Alps, offered a money-back guarantee to a few British holidaymakers, offering a winter trip to his local hotel that would be just as rewarding as the summer trip they were enjoying.

The bet was placed, the visitors enjoyed their trip and the hotelier never had to make payment.

Like this, winter ski vacations in Switzerland and St Moritz as the capital of the wealthy and glamorous world of alpine skiing holidays became popular.

But rather than crowded and expensive St Moritz, consider Andermatt for your next Christmas vacation. One of the best places for Christmas in Europe if you are a ski fan.

A tiny village after the Oberlap Pass, Andermatt has remained the choice of adventurous and off-piste skiers instead of the après-ski fans.

The village is all walkable, reachable by train and now features a fabulous and sleek hotel The Chedi complete with ski school, in-room fireplaces and the most stylish spa with an outdoor pool.

The investment will soon change the face of this speck of alpine beauty so go now before that happens and enjoy Christmas markets, skiing and the postcard-perfect landscapes of a snow-capped mountain.

—-> Sounds like one of Europe’s perfect winter snow breaks to me! Has anyone skied here? Share your experience in the comments below.

By Mar | Once in a Lifetime Journey

Andermatt | Austria | Best Christmas Europe BreaksAndermatt: snug & snowy Xmas breaks in Europe!

3. Austria, Vienna

20 Christmas Markets

Austrians take their Christmas markets seriously making it one of the best European cities to visit in December.

During the festive season, every city and town has a Christmas market. As the capital, Vienna tops them all with a profusion of markets.

The city has 20 official Christmas markets and lots of other smaller neighbourhood markets. It’s enjoyable to see the city – warming yourself with a cup of gluhwein and shopping for traditional handicrafts and ornaments. For non-drinkers and children, there is a non-alcoholic version of the gluhwein.

The biggest of the markets is held in front of Vienna’s City Hall, the Christkindl Market.

The festive cheer spills out into the nearby park, Rathaus Park, where the trees are decorated with giant ornaments and there is entertainment for the children. <—- Nice to hear of a kid-friendly city. Sounds like an ideal place to take them for their Christmas holidays in Europe.

By Shobha | Just Go Places 

→ Read more: our guide to three days in Vienna, you’ll need more!
Also, check out our guide to Vienna in Winter.

Vienna in Winter December Christmas World on Rathausplatz

4. Barcelona

& The Yuletide Poo

Barcelona is beautiful at Christmas time.

The entire city is decorated with Christmas lights. Some shops and hotels also go all out with lights and decorations – Corte Ingles on Plaza Catalunya usually looks amazing! I also love the unique and somewhat strange Catalan Christmas traditions.

At the city’s biggest Christmas market, the Fira de Santa Llúicia, you’ll find plenty of really cute looking little logs with faces and hats on the Caga Tió – literally: “the poo uncle”. Kids cover him in a blanket and feed him in the time leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas Eve the poor log gets beaten until he, err… releases… the presents! Find out more in Two Scots Abroad’s Barcelona winter guide.

It’s a cute souvenir to take home, with quite a story to tell.

For fans of classical music, there’s usually a concert of Händel’s Messiah at the magnificent Basilica Santa Maria del Mar a few days before Christmas Eve.

Christmas time in Barcelona lasts until January 6th (King’s Day), and there is a huge parade on the evening of the 5th.

Bonus points that make Barcelona a great destination for a Christmas break? The weather. It’s much warmer than in most parts of Europe, and just cold enough to make ordering a hot chocolate with churros feel right. —-> Still laughing at the Christmas poo. Oooohhh, this must be where South Park Mr Hankey originated from?!

By Edwina | The Traveling German

Caga Tio Poo Tide Spain

5. Berlin in December

If you are looking to enjoy a short break in Europe just before Christmas and want the stereotypical experience, Berlin is the perfect place to visit. Strolling through Berlin’s Christmas markets is the epitome of a Berlin visit in December.

Small, wooden booths decorated with idyllic ornaments including sparkling stars and snow-covered fir branches provide a memorable experience for all the family as you enjoy an evening stroll with the sound of your favourite traditional Christmas music echoing around the city.

Berlin is home to a number of traditional markets that occur annually across the city.

We stayed in the Alexanderplatz district of the city and were a short walk from the market, though it’s safe to say that the majority of this neighbourhood turns into one large Christmas celebration throughout December.

The Berliner Weihnachtszeit is a short distance from the Alexanderplatz and offers a romantic and nostalgic experience with gorgeous, historic architecture providing the perfect backdrop to the skating rink.

Could you imagine any better way to spend a Christmas break than taking a romantic ride on the Ferris wheel while enjoying stunning panoramic views across Berlin with the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, and Reichstag just a few iconic landmarks that you will see?

A visit to Berlin wouldn’t be the same without sampling a fine German brew and what better time of the year to keep you warm as you nibble on your favourite Wurst and wash it down with a local beer. —> I do not need much encouragement to visit Berlin again. Like Christmas markets? Check out this post on more Christmas markets in Germany.

By Chris | A Brit and a Southerner

6. Bled

A True Fairytale Town

Everyone says Bled in Slovenia is one of Europe’s prettiest fairytale towns.

However, imagine that church on the lake and castle on the hill with snow on the mountains – that is the epitome of magic, making Bled one of the top, yet lesser-known, Christmas breaks in Europe.

Don’t think that Bled is just for looking at in winter, there’s lots of action in this normally sleepy town from skiing to skating and snowshoeing.

On December 25th you can watch a local tradition too. Click here to read more about the sunken bell of Slovenia.

Lake Bled Winter Activities

7. Budapest

Enjoy a hot bath as the snow falls around you in Budapest, Hungary, this winter.

Shop ’til you drop at the city’s shopping street, Váci Street (utca) or buy souvenirs at the two biggest Christmas markets, Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market and Basilica Christmas Market.

Go skating under Buda Castle at Városliget (City Park) ice rink and take a ride in the festive streetcar. Wrap up though as the ride is cold.

Dine on traditional Hungarian stews and drink palinka at Hold Utcai Piac. This is the market the locals eat at.

» Read more: Festival things to do in Budapest, by a local

Christmas tree, decorations, Vaci Street shopping Budapest

8. Bucharest

Bucharest, Romania, is known for its lively Old Town and the fun ramps up a notch or two during winter.

Keep warm, bar-hopping down the busy streets at night and shop at Victoriei Street (Calea Victoriei) or in Baneasa Shopping Mall by day.

Catch a Christmas show at the National Bucharest Theater and the lights on Magheru Boulevard (Bulevardul Magheru).

Enjoy a snowy walk through Tineretului Park (Parcul Tineretului) then warm up with mulled wine at Bucharest Christmas Market at Universitatii Square (Piata Universitatii).

» Find out more: What to do at Christmas in Bucharest

Bucharest Christmas Market
9. Edinburgh

I’m biased but one of the best European cities to visit in winter has to be Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.

Princes Street Gardens is home to the bustling Edinburgh’s Christmas Market jam-packed with locals and visitors alike.

Eat bratwurst at the market and drink whisky cocktails at the Bothie before shopping your socks off at the high street stores on Princess Street.

Walk two streets back to George Street to see lights illuminating the dark skies.

Do as the locals do, and pop into The Dome for a Christmas cocktail under the massive tree. Avoid The Dome at the weekend or be prepared to wait in long lines.

Stick around after Christmas for the biggest NYE party in the world, Edinburgh Hogmanay.

» Find out more: Christmas itinerary for Edinburgh

Street of Light Edinburgh in the dark with crowds

10. Florence

Florence is the perfect city to spend Christmas time in.  First off Italy is a predominately Christian country, meaning when November and December roll around you can bet that you will see lights everywhere.

During Christmas time Italian hospitality is at its finest and everyone is out on the streets with giant smiles on their faces. The air, the decor, the people, the churches – everything just screams “It’s Christmastime!”

We were able to spend last Christmas there with family and it will always be a trip to remember. Check out Natasha and Cameron’s post on things to know about Italy if you are heading to Florence!

By Natasha & Cameron | The World Pursuit

11. Glasgow

Scotland’s biggest city is the best for live music, food and culture all year round but especially at Christmas.

Did you know that Glasgow is one of UNESCO’s music cities? Check out what gigs are on this December at the vintage Barrowlands or intimate Kings Tuts.

Swing by the Glasgow Christmas Markets which are spread over two locations at George Square and St Enoch Centre.

At both markets, you can dine on hot market food, including vegan options, and people watch while you sip on a beer or something harder.

Glasgow’s shops are the best in Scotland. Spread over three streets, Argyle, Buchanan and Sauchiehall, busloads of locals arrive every weekend on the run-up to Christmas to buy gifts.

Looking for something more local or vintage? Get off the tube in the West End and check out the craft shops on Byres Road, Ashton Lane and Great Western Road.

Feeling fit? Join the thousands who take part in the Santa Dash each year. Glasgow is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for culture. 

Here’s how we’d spend 24 hours in Glasgow.

One day in Glasgow itinerary

12. Grindelwald, Switzerland

Top of Europe!

Switzerland is one of the most amazing places I’ve visited in all my travels, it is a magical country with the endless beautiful scenery.

Being an Australian I have always dreamed of having a white Christmas and beautiful snowy winters and I think everything truly looks more beautiful covered in a layer of snow!

We visited Grindelwald, a majestic village located high in the Swiss Alps a few years ago for our anniversary.

Grindelwald literally looks like the front of a Christmas card and the whole time we were there I couldn’t stop telling Dan how I felt like we were living in a real-life snow globe!

Grindelwald is perfect because it has everything; scenery, outdoor sports, adventure, accommodation for everyone whether you are seeking luxury or budget, fine restaurants and even a train that goes to the ‘Top of Europe’!

We spent our days exploring the mountains, strolling the snow-covered streets, eating excessive amounts of Swiss cheese and chocolate and relaxing in our outdoor hot tub in the snow. It truly is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world and a short break we will never forget. <—– Grindelwald sounds likes one of the cutest Europe trips for couples! Snuggle up, guys.

By Simone | The Aussie Flashpacker

 » » Keep costs down: Cabin-sized backpacks review « «

Grindelwald, Switzerland | Christmas Europe Breaks

13. Krakow, Poland

Winter city breaks in Europe don’t have to break the bank and Poland’s cutest city is renowned for affordability.

Krakow is one of the most Christmassy destinations on Earth!

It is located in Poland, right between Eastern and Western Europe. It has an airport, so it is very easy to get there from anywhere in the world.

The city is beautifully decorated, with Christmas trees, lights and ornaments.

It is also one of the cheap winter breaks in Europe – you can find an apartment in the heart of Old Town for less than $60!

Krakow has a world-famous Christmas Market. It starts at the end of November and lasts until the end of Christmas.

If you go there, be sure to try Grzaniec Galicyjski. It is traditional Polish mulled wine with cinnamon, cloves and all the other warming spices. Yummy! Into festive booze? Check out this Christmas cocktails post.

By Karolina & Patryk | Karolina & Patryk – check out our 3-day itinerary here.

14. London at Christmas

Oxford Street and Regent Street, twinkling in the glow of a thousand of lights. Famous department stores, such as Harrods and Fortnum and Mason decked out in their Christmas finery, with stunning festive window displays (and each with their very own Father Christmas).

Children’s pantomimes and the giant Christmas trees at Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.

There’s plenty to enjoy in London at Yuletide.

In 2016 the magical Winter Wonderland is celebrating its 10th year at Hyde Park.

I love wandering around the pretty wooden chalets, selling a myriad of Christmas gifts and decorations and tucking into tasty treats such as mulled cider, glühwein and bratwurst.

There’s always a funfair with a giant Ferris wheel and the ever-popular ice-skating rink and so much more.

Two new attractions this year are The Imperial Ice Stars’ production of the Nutcracker on Ice and The Magical Ice Kingdom, made from over 200 tonnes of snow and ice.

You’ll find many more ice rinks dotted around the city, including the Natural History Museum and Somerset House, and further Christmas markets include the Tate Modern, Leicester Square and the Southbank Centre.

London at Christmas is simply overflowing with festive cheer throughout its bustling streets and beautiful parks, and even its museums and art galleries. I can’t think of a more exciting city to spend a short break at Christmas.

By Kat | Travel With Kat

 » » Check out these London hacks to keep costs down « «

Apple Market, London | Best Christmas Europe Breaks

15. Malta

Winter in Europe doesn’t have to mean freezing temperatures.

December is one of the best times to visit Malta. Why? Let me list the ways… fewer crowds, mostly warm weather, cheap prices, and friendly locals.

Valletta also gets dressed up for Christmas and NYE Celebrations creating picture-worthy reflections with lots of colours.

Here are more reasons for you to visit Malta in Winter. <— Christmas breaks in the sun! I’m game for a tan and some tinsel.

By Inma | A World to Travel

16. Munich

Germany at Christmas time is a truly magical place. The whole country smells of mulled wine and bratwurst, snow is dusting every roof and tree, and it feels like there is a Christmas market around every corner.

Cities like Dresden or Nuremberg and their world-famous confectioneries instantly come to my mind.

Yet I recommend you to visit Munich instead – and not just because I live there.

You see, the perfect city break in winter should be about more than just a lovely Christmas market. You’ll want wonderful restaurants, excellent museums, a couple of good day-trip options and some shopping would be nice as well. Bavaria’s capital has all that and more.

There certainly is a lovely Christmas market in Munich, but you also got roughly 100 museums to visit, while the Alps and their ski resorts are barely two hours’ drive away. Not convinced yet?

Well then, Munich has one of the largest pedestrian areas in Europe, a world-class opera (or a stationary circus for the kids!) and a gigantic thermal bath.

You could also attend a Christmas mass in one of the beautiful churches or go skating on one of the ice rinks.

The many fairy tale castles around Munich will look especially beautiful with a little snow covering their golden splendour, and if everything fails you, there is always the Hofbräuhaus and ancient Bavarian beer culture to get familiar with! <—- Yup, I’m sold!

By Norman | Annees De Pelerinage

 » » Our guide to 34 of Europe’s best cities for Xmas markets « «

Munich | Christmas Europe Breaks

17. Nuremberg

Nuremberg, Bavaria is the perfect Christmas city break in Europe.

It is centrally located, has excellent air and rail transportation connections, and it has what is arguably the best Christmas market in Europe. It is clearly one of the best visited – boasting over two million visitors in the four short weeks the market is open every year.

Dating from the early 1600s, Nuremberg’s Christmas market occupies the Main Square under the towering Frauenkirche (Chruch of Our Lady).

The stalls, with their candy-striped awnings, occupy in neat little rows. The stalls sell all manner of traditional handicrafts, including little “smoker” men (carved figures that hold smoking incense inside) and carved wooden toys.

A horse-drawn stagecoach takes visitors on a ride through the cobblestone streets of the medieval old city.

On weekends, the Nuremberg Christmas market is a throbbing mass of people huddling together to stay warm. During the week, you can explore the market in tranquillity, eat the local Nuremberg sausages (eaten three in a roll) and drink gluhwein (hot mulled wine).

We’ve visited many of Europe’s markets, but Nuremberg is one of the best. Whereas other markets in other cities focus only on tourists, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt still maintains its local flavour.

By Lance & Laura | Travel Addicts

Nuremberg | Christmas Europe BreaksWhere to go for winter holidays in Europe- Bavaria? 

18. Prague: Sip Svařák, See Snow

Prague is one of the most magical places you could spend a European Christmastime city break. Prague Castle sits on top of the hill and looks beautiful with a dusting of snow on it, and the Christmas markets in the Old Town have a festive, celebratory atmosphere.

My favourite thing to do there during the winter is to buy a cup of svařák (warm red mulled wine) from a booth for about a euro and take a wintry walk across Charles Bridge, marvelling at the old historical houses along the river’s edge.

Or you can curl up in a café with a view of the Vltava river with a cup of coffee and a Kafka book and watch the snowfall.

Ah, winter! <—- Yet another Christmas market break, so many to choose from!

By Allison | Eternal Arrival

19. Sinaia, Romania

Sinaia is one of my favourite destinations when it comes to Christmas destinations in Europe and winter holidays in general.

The small beautiful mountain resort has plenty of wonderful things to offer in the cold season. Located in the heart of Romania, The Carpathian Pearl is ideal for winter sports enthusiasts.

Whether you choose to ride the gondola up to 2000 m, for breathtaking mountain views, or to practice skiing, the experience will certainly be an amazing and unforgettable one. Besides, you will surely wish to visit one of the most spectacular castles in Europe. Peles Castle is the main attraction in town, for good reasons. King Carol I of Romania fell in love with the surroundings of the place and decided to build a summer residence there.

Nowadays, his castle turned out into a museum, visited by more than half a million people annually.

The Neo-Renaissance architectural masterpiece is stunning! Add some snow to the image that you have already pictured in your mind and the fairytale landscape will be complete. The interiors of the castle will let you breathless, as well.

Each room has a different architectural style, such as Gothic, Venetian, German or Oriental.

Overall, Christmas atmosphere can be felt anywhere in town, no matter if you decide to go to ice skate in downtown, to admire the holiday decorations of the streets, or to simply enjoy a hot chocolate in a rustic restaurant with your loved one. <—– You all know how much I loved our summer European trip to Bucharest, maybe Sinaia will be next on our list!

By Bella | Whisper Wanderlust

Sinaia Romania | Christmas Europe Breaks Sinaia – one of the Christmas Europe breaks for architecture lovers 

20. Tallinn

One of our favourite Christmas getaways in Europe is Tallinn, the picturesque capital city of Estonia. Tallinn’s old town was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1997 because unlike any other capital city in Europe, it has managed to completely preserve its medieval structure and therefore nicknamed “the medieval pearl of Europe”.

The cobblestone streets are all originals, which along with the medieval churches, grandiose merchant houses, barns and warehouses, date back as far as the 11th century.

It’s the perfect Christmas getaway in late December early January time because it’s all covered in snow, making it like something from a fairy tale – the perfect ideal Christmas image you dream of <—- Have you been good this year?

Maybe Santa will send you to Estonia on your Christmas Europe break!

By Stef & Seb | Nomadic Boys

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Where to spend Christmas in Europe, best Christmas destination in Europe, winter in Europe, Europe Christmas travel, Europe travel tips for winter, holiday travel tips, Vienna in winter, Bled in winter, Edinburgh in winter

Final Words

I hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on the best European cities for Christmas.

Whether you are seeking snow, spas, sausages, and something to sip, there’s a  short winter break for every type of traveller and budget.

Don’t forget to check out our tips on where to go for New Year’s Eve abroad this year.

Thanks to my fellow well-travelled bloggers for sharing their top tinsel-clad tips. I hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best European cities for Christmas.

Where is the best place to spend Christmas in Europe?

How Much Does Backpacking Europe Cost?

How Much Does Backing Europe Cost

Welcome, and thanks for reading our penultimate monthly budget – how much does Backpacking Europe Cost? We’ve been on the road, travelling around the Americas and Europe, for the past 15 months. Our monthly budget for June focuses on our last month – backpacking through Europe. Each day Craig tallies up what we have spent in the following categories and we then report back our monthly findings/spendings. I hope that fellow travellers looking for the cheapest way to travel in Europe find it useful.

  • Months on the road: Fifteen
  • Countries / Cities visited:
    Hungary  (Budapest 4 nights), Slovenia  (Ljubljana, Bled, Kolpa River 8 nights), Croatia (Zagreb 0 days), Bosnia and Herzegovina  – BIH (Sarajevo & Mostar 7 nights), Serbia (Belgrade 3 nights), Romania (Bucharest 3 nights), Italy (Bergamo 1 night), Spain (Marbella 4 nights)
  • Transport: 3 flights, 1 train, 10 buses, 1 car hire
  • Monthly Travel Round Up: How Much Does Backpacking Europe Cost?
  • Books: Gemma – Trainspotting 2 // Craig – Anything on the EU Ref
  • Best film / TV: Game of Thrones (eee!)
  • Music: Mr. A (Craig has been making music again)

How much does it cost to travel Europe?

The Cost of Accommodation in Europe

During this month, we backpacked around Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Accommodation wise we did a mix of comped hostel stays (Slovenia and Romania), an airport hotel (Italy) and a glampiste (Slovenia)!

For our third and final time in Budapest we opted for an apartment again (our third) which was £22.50 per night (not our cheapest in Budapest). In Ljubljana, Slovenia we partnered with a converted prison, Hostel Celica. Then on the Slovenian / Croatian border we, were happy glampers at Big Berry luxury campsite (invited as guest bloggers)! One night in a Bled hostel was squeezed in between.

No time was spent in Croatia, we bussed straight to Sarajevo in BiH after making the decision to save Croatia and Montenegro for next summer. We will then have more time and a bigger budget. Seven nights was spent in an apartment (£23.66 per night) near the old town in Sarajevo, I fell hard for this city. Belgrade in Serbia didn’t do much for me (apartment £20.33 per night) whereas Bucharest in Romania blew me away.

We had a room with a view at the lovely Little Bucharest in the Old Town for 2 nights (first night was spent in another apartment – £16 per night). In Italy, we paid for an airport hotel, which was actually 5k from the flipping airport with a stupidly priced shuttle bus. Finally, we, reach Spain, where we spent time with Craig’s family in a villa in San Pedro de Alcántara near Marbella (gratis for us – this area is a much cheaper alternative than Marbella proper).

Total: £369 (couple / 9 nights comped)

Big Berry Glampsite Slovenia I How Much Does Backing Europe Cost I Month 15
Big Berry, Slovenia 

The Cost of Food in Europe

I’ve probably eaten enough sausage to do me a lifetime during this month. The sausage differs in each country too! In Slovenia, you eat it with bread and mustard. In BiH and Serbia, you have it in a naan type bread with onion and tasty sour cream! While travelling through Europe, we did a mix of cooking in and eating out. We cooked in during our time in BiH as I cannot stand eating where people smoke (no smoking ban). However, it is probably just as cheap to eat out than at home in BiH and Serbia. If you are working through Switzerland etc this will make the average cost of backpacking through Europe more expensive but hopefully, this guide will give you a flavour (sorry!)
Read more: Travel + get free food – volunteer, here’s the how-to guide

Total: £489 (couple / 4 days comped)

Slovenia Sausages I How Much Does Backing Europe Cost I Month 15
Slovenian sausage

The Cost of Transport in Europe

Planes, trains, and automobiles this month. We trained to Budapest from Slovenia (€39 / £32.52 per person). We took buses in Slovenia, as well as to BiH from Croatia. Bussed from BiH to Serbia and planned to bus to Romania but ended up taking a flight to save time (£91 per person). We had a one-night stopover in Bergamo before getting to Malaga where we bussed to San Pedro de Alcántara. Phew!

Warning – cheap European flights don’t always work out cheap. We booked two flights with the king of low-cost airlines in Europe, Ryanair. The first from Bucharest to Bergamo then Bergamo to Malaga. Due to timings, we had to spend one night in Italy’s Bergamo, which was fine as Craig loves Italian food!

However, our ‘airport’ hotel shuttle was not free, which we found out after landing. This would mean we had to take two public buses to get to the hotel which was a problem since we were leaving at 5am on a Monday morning for the flight to Malaga. To make matters worse, Über was coming in at €35. Argh – Solution? We hired a car for £25 (quick internet booking). Another problem arose – there were no petrol stations open on a Sunday / early Monday morning. Note to readers – it is often cheaper, in the long run, to spend more on direct flights. Have you experienced this? Please remind me when we are booking flights again! One of the coolest (unused) forms of transport we visited was the abandoned bobsled track in Sarajevo!

Total: £210 (couple)

Abandoned Bobled Track Sarajevo I How Much Does Backing Europe Cost I Month 15
Winter Olympics 1984 Bobsled Track, Sarajevo BiH


We took a walking, biking or a food tour in each city. This is always my favourite way to find out about the new area. We also cycled around Lake Bled (before the heavens opened) which was lush! Our day trip to Stari Most, Mostar in BiH was probably the most scenic of all trips. That Old Bridge is just lovely. Heaps of history trips in Sarajevo too including one to the Tunnel of Hope.

Total: £74 (couple)

Stari Most, Mostar Bosnia I How Much Does Backing Europe Cost I Month 15
Stari Most, Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina 

The Cost of Socialising in Europe

We definitely enjoyed the Slovenian wine with the Big Berry team at Kolpa River but then gave our livers a wee rest in BiH and Serbia. We actually went clubbing for the first time in ages in Romania – Bucharest is a party place after all! We are just back from Vienna which a pretty expensive city. Wine is around £4-6 per glass. You can read more about costs and what we got up to in this cool city here.

Total: £178 (couple)

Craig's Family in Marbella, Spain I How Much Does Backing Europe Cost I Month 15
Craig’s family in Spain

Luxuries / Miscellaneous

This month we splurged on toiletries, we replenished our clothes (thanks to my parents for giving us some cash, embarrassed by our threads?!) and Craig got a haircut in Budapest. There is a chain of barbers called Barber Shop Budapest that do vintage cuts in an old-style barbershop, pretty cute. How does this compare to your ideas on how much backpacking through Europe cost? 

Total: £180 (couple)

Our Europe itineraries


  • Hostel Celica, Ljubljana Food Tours, Visit Ljubljana, Big Berry – Slovenia
  • Slow Tours Bike Tours, Little Bucharest Old Town – Romania

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How much does backpacking Europe cost? A monthly round up including accommodation, transport food, trips, socialising and luxuries.

How Much Does Backpacking Europe Cost?

Hopefully, this answers the question, how much does it cost to travel around Europe for a month? Naturally, your destination of choice will change the cost of accommodation, living etc. Even within these countries, we noticed a big difference between the price of alcohol (Hungary being the cheapest, Bucharest and Marbella the more expensive). The best backpacking Europe tips I can provide are: use public transport where possible, drink the tap water, take the free (pay by tips) walking tours, eat local – those sausages are tasty! Europe on a budget is possible, with some strategy, research, and prioritising!

Read more: best backpacks review (rucksacks and day bags by my friend, Emily)

Belgrade Free Walking Tours in Serbia I How Much Does Backing Europe Cost I Month 15

Free Walking Tour – Belgrade, Serbia

Monthly Total: £1500 (couple)
Daily: £48 daily (£43 not including clothes)

Naturally, we are in quite a unique situation, travelling on a career break, but soon we will be in the same position as Vicki from Make Time To See The World where we are working full time and will be able to actually afford travel more comfortably!

What are you saving for this month?
Any questions, fire away in the comments below and I’ll get back to you soon.

Pros and Cons of Car Hire Abroad

Pros and Cons of Car Hire Abroad Auto Europe Rental

Car hire abroad can be a blessing and a curse! We’ve gone from not being behind the wheel for a whole year to twice in the past month. Our preferred mode of transport while in the Americas has been two wheels, with and without a motor, but hiring a car abroad was a necessity in Austin and in Hungary. Here are the pros and cons of hiring a car abroad.

» You may also like: our road trip packing list (for all seasons)

Pros of Car Hire Abroad

Freedom and Flexibility

One of the beauties of car hire abroad is the flexibility to change your itinerary! Local tips often results in change of plans (for the better) and if hiring a car you don’t have to worry about how to get to suggested hot spots. I did a call out via or Facebook to find out where we should hit during our Hungarian road trip with Auto Europe, Lake Balaton was a recommended destination so off we went! Hiring ‘Buda the Blazer,’ our trusty top of the range Skoda, meant we could nip over to Slovakia to see Esztergom’s Basilica in all of her glory.

Pros and Cons of Car Hire Abroad Esztergom Hungary

Cheaper Option

Hiring a car while travelling can sometimes be the cheaper option. I know this sounds mad, and naturally, it is country/city-specific (you can’t beat the chicken bus prices in Nicaragua!) but when you need to make several journeys in one day, Über and buses can add up, not to mention the time saved. For instance, our first day in Austin. We had to get from the airport to our apartment, then to two different shopping areas for wedding gear, which we were doing separately, I then had a hair appointment in the late afternoon from which we then had to make our way back to our apartment, about 200km in total. Car hire was not only the cheaper option in this instance but cut out wasted time too. It was also nice to have a chauffeur (Craig) for the day! As you escape the bright lights of the city for the calm of the countryside, prices tend to drop so money can be saved on accommodation, food, and social activities offsetting the cost of hiring a car abroad.

No Baggage

You don’t have to lug 20kg each worth of baggage around subways (*ahem* Craig doesn’t have to lug 40kg) ‘Nuf said!

Pros and Cons of Car Hire Abroad Baggage

Wheels of Steel

Move over Calvin Harris & Bieber. In the privacy of your own ride, you are in control of the sound system. If you’ve ever been to Latin America you’ll know that those public buses like to ram cheese down your ear holes at every given opportunity, or even worse… Reggaeton.

Cons of Car Hire Abroad

City Driving

City driving is not a breeze, there is no denying that. You can often see where you want to get to but one way systems (yes you Glasgow) often makes reaching that destination the grounds for divorce in any relationship. My advice is, fork out for a GPS system! City parking can also be a pain, Craig paid for parking three times in one day in Budapest and turns out if was free for that special Saturday!

Cultural Driving Differences

Us Brits drive on the left-hand side of the road, unlike most of the rest of the world. Attempting to not change gear with the window handle may take a bit of getting used to. Other drivers can be quite mean and impatient too, this is especially true in cities but the same can be said for the city drivers in your home cities too. The middle finger means the same in every language, use it sparingly.

Car wing mirror, Iceland landscape

Signs, Maps, GPS

Each country seems to have its own unique road signage and speed limits. In Hungary, they just assume that everyone knows them, in the UK they like to tell you repeatedly what the limit is in MPH whereas other European countries and further afield tend to be KPH. Although the measurements differ they sure have one thing in common: speed cameras and police! Ask your car rental company what the limits are for each type of road to keep yourself and pedestrians/cyclists/ animals safe. Again, GPS is recommended, and don’t rely on your iPhone when there is a chance that it will lose signal.

Quick tip – check out how to how to export Google map itinerary when the phone is offline to stop potential d-i-v-o-r-c-e!

Car Iceland landscape, reflection in water

Designated Driver

Hiring a car while on the road can be very social, invite others to join you on trips around the lakes of British Columbia (Canada) or the waterfalls of Oregon (America) but when it comes to a liquid lunch, the designated driver will have to pass. This is tricky in the likes of Islay in Scotland which hosts 11 whisky distilleries of Eger in Hungary, home to some of the world’s best wine. It may be best to go on a bus tour for those types of trips or give your liver a welcomed rest for a couple of hours.

Pros and Cons of Car Hire Abroad Hungarian Wine

Regardless of the stresses of hiring a car abroad, this benefit tops it all: the ability to escape the concrete cities for an adventure in the countryside.  Fresh air, local prices, and culture!

Pros and Cons of Car Hire Abroad Car Hire

Nagymaros, Hungary (near Danube Bend)

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Pros and Cons of Car Hire Abroad

Thanks to Auto Europe for our Hungarian road trip, an honest review as always!

Slow Travel: Not Just for Tortoises

Slow Travel Feature

Six months, six countries, eleven flights, hundreds of hours on busses and no new tattoos, yet! We (Gemma and Craig) are now a third of the way through our 18 month career break and I am feeling quite reflective. This is not normal practice for me, I am more of a ‘close a door on that chapter’ type of person when it comes to feelings. I think I have started to look back on the last six months because I have enjoyed being in one place. For the past two months we have lived in a caravan in the back garden of a hostel on the Sunshine Coast (BC, Canada), waking up to this view every morning

Sunset Roberts Creek Sunshine Coast Photo of the Fortnight 11

…. and it has been a dream. I am now at the stage where I don’t think I can face the ‘two nights here, three nights there with a twelve hour bus journey, snacking on crackers and praying that there is a toilet’ type of travel! I’ve had an epiphany – and I’m here to tell you five reasons why slow travel is the way to go.

1. Don’t Go Loco! Go Local

Touch down, it’s 6am in the morning so we taxi to hostel, dump bags in storage, baby wipe wash, eyes nearly at knees, concealer, Craig is crabbit (grouchy), grab breakfast, walking tour, check in, shower (praise be), dinner with Jamaican imitation band playing in background, sleep, 07:30am rise (can’t waste the day), wander, breakfast, meet our new friend Ricardo who take us on a private tour, miss dinner, pre club drinks, club with new hostel friends, bed, wake up at check out, chuck everything in bag and drag out of room, flight to Santa Marta in three hours, taxi to airport, check in, miss flight as Viva Colombia told us wrong boarding info, pay for another flight with Avianca (actually cheaper), fly to Santa Marta, arrive at 11pm, sleep. Rinse and repeat for

Santa Marta
Consteño Beach
Palomino, Cartagena
Tayrona National Park
and back to Bogota

… before following the same fast paced stop – see – go loco travel routine in Cuba (before we ran out of money!)

How did we do it?! Don’t get me wrong, we LOVED Colombia and you know it but I would have loved to have spent more time in Medellin and at the peaceful El Mocambo, Salento but time was of the essence. A local also recommended smaller less touristy towns but the gringo trail was all three and a half weeks would allow.

From Facebook you will know that we have been up and down the Sunshine Coast – swimming in lakes, crashing wakes, partying with locals and even being stopped by the police after a gig at the local community centre! We’ve had the chance to borrow the hostel car and take road trips to the likes of Smugglers Cove. Sometimes we don’t even make a plan for the day. Bliss. We’ve seen nearly all of the Sunshine Coast at a steady pace and spent much of that time in the water!

2. New Skills

Staying somewhere for a period of time gives you the opportunity not only to get to know the area but also the local people and businesses. There is a beautiful, bright yoga studio in the heart of Roberts Creek but to pay for classes would have to fall into our luxury category. A guest at the hostel suggested I contacted the studio as they run a volunteers programme. Every Friday for the past two months I have cleaned the studio in exchange for free passes to the drop-in classes. So now I can develop my yoga skills by sharing my ability to sweep floors and dust crystals!

Yoga By the Sea Roberts Creek Slow Travel Exercise Whilst Travelling

3. Bring in the Benjamins

Obviously, not all forms of employment have to be paid with social capital; there are jobs that pay you cash! Many travellers such as Yasha from Dare2Go have used their skills to teach English as a foreign language. Yasha has taught in a one to one setting in Santiago, Chile as well as teaching English to asylum seekers on Maunus Island, Papua New Guinea. Pretty unique opportunity! My friend, Sarah (who I met in Cuba!) has a background in social work and now she lives in Mexico and teaches high school kids English, and if that means through the medium of One Direction (big fans apparently!) so be it.

Teaching English abroad gives you the chance to submerge yourself in local culture and maybe, just maybe, fall in love like Craig’s high school friend Iain did! Iain has been teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam for years (we met up with him on our South East Asia trip) and has just married a Vietnamese chick! Check out these online TEFL courses for more information.

4. Volunteering

Now that I am seeing the benefits of slow travel, I will be following in the footsteps of other travellers who travel and work. Why wouldn’t I want to look after your dog whilst sunbathing by your private pool in Granada? Where do I sign up?! This would save us monthly rent, gas and electricity as well as giving us the chance to meet new friends. Obviously, you have to exchange a bit of work for your stay!

Las Penitas Leon Sunset Nicaragua Dog

5. Slow Travel Combats Fast Fat!

White bread, jam, and butter – the typical South American breakfast. That meal does not bode well with my thirty year old body! Before we left for travelling I was pounding six gym classes per week and not really having to think about what I ate. When you are on the road, you really do start to miss not cooking your own meals.

This was an issue in Cuba where we mainly stayed in casa particulars that don’t necessarily have access to kitchens. Hostel facilities vary; some have outstanding kitchens whilst others have none. If you are moving every second or third day it’s hard to justify buying fresh produce which goes off and store cupboard foods tend to be the type that is bad for you.

Sometimes it’s just easier to eat out and my will power isn’t great so a salad is not always my first choice! Check out the lovely Nomadic Boys tips on how to stay fit while travelling (they certainly are in shape!)

Churros so good I Long Term Travel Planning

Remember how I said that sometimes Craig and I don’t have a plan for that day on the Sunshine Coast? More than often the plan is simply to cycle to the supermarket, pick up food for dinner, prepare and enjoy it! Slow travel at its best.

Finding places to exercise in hostels is not always possible: three stories high, bedrooms underneath you and the shared dorms often make exercise impossible. And yes, there are plenty of hiking opportunities but I need heavy cardio to keep the weight gain at bay. This was one of the reasons we hired an Airbnb apartment in La Paz, Bolivia for four nights, it had a garden so I could do some cardio!

Top 10 Things to do in La Paz

An added thrill might be hitchhiking with slow travel? Check out these hitchhiking tips.


Slow travel or fast paced trips – what’s your favourite?