Clouds

Top 5 Summer Holiday Destinations

CloudsThinking about taking a summer holiday but not sure where to go? Fear not! Here’s my Top 5 Summer Holiday Destinations, take your pick and go!

East Coast, Australia

Australia WhitsundaysI had to put my current base of Australia on the list. Sure, we are about to be plunged into winter but hear me out on this one!

The East Coast is a well-trodden trail which is constantly saturated with eager backpackers, less so in summer. The sun is more relenting, the Great Barrier Reef is killer-jellyfish free and you can keep the budget backpacker friendly. What more could you want?

Lefkas, Greece

Lefkas beachI spent a chunk of last summer in Lefkas and I loved every moment of it. This beautiful island is the most authentically Greek island I’ve visited with barely an English breakfast in sight! If that doesn’t convince you then the food should. Oh, the food…

Whet your appetite with these posts.

Hvar, Croatia

Hvar CroatiaAnother destination I visited last summer was Hvar, a stunning Croatian isle floating an hour away from Split. If you want centuries of culture and picture-perfect beaches all washed down with budget friendly nightlife then get to Hvar, fast!

Read more on Hvar here and let the Globe-Trotting Graduate convince you here.

Istanbul, Turkey

IstanbulSource

For some reason I consider Turkey to be like a second home. I just feel so comfortable there.

Obviously Turkey has some incredible beaches but many become unbearably touristy in the summer months. Instead, head to Istanbul- one of my favourite cities in the world.

Haggle in steamy souks, admire the breathtaking Aya Sofia and cross the line where East meets West.

The Alps, Switzerland

Switzerland TrainsEver since visiting the Swiss Alps last year, I have been yearning for the mountains. The fresh air, the hiking, the incredible landscapes.

I can only imagine how lovely it would be to visit in summer with the warm temperatures, wild swimming and long rolling walks punctuated with picnic stops and fondue. Not that I’ve been daydreaming about it at all…

Find out more about my trip here.

What do you have planned for summer? Let me know in the comments below or via my social media pages!

Corfu Town

The Budget Girls Weekend Destination Guide

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a weekend with the girls. Whether you’re exploring somewhere new, downing the local wine or hunting down the best cheese boards in town, girls weekends are the best time to wind down and relax.

These precious moments with your gal pals don’t need to cost the earth either. Make the most of your mates and check out these budget-busting destinations to get the most weekend for your money!

Berlin, Germany

Berlin ReichstaggIf you’re a culture-vulture by day and a hardcore raver by night, Berlin is for you. Check into an apartment with your friends (Airbnb has lots of choice), take to the streets and explore this vibrant and eccentric city.

Perfect for the budget conscious, Berlin has plenty of free museums and the free walking tour is a must!

Hvar, Croatia

Hvar CroatiaThis small slice of island paradise is easily accessible for a weekend getaway. Party hard in Hvar’s budget bars and wash away your sins in the crystal clear Adriatic sea.

 

Switzerland

Switzerland GrindelwaldGet out into the great outdoors and lose yourself in Switzerland’s rugged scenery. Head to the slopes in Winter or visit in Spring to see the mountains in bloom.

Keep an eye on EasyJet for cheap flights to Switzerland’s cities.

Brussels, Belgium

Belgian Waffles BrusselsFoodie heaven. Wash down your sweet treats with local Jupiler beer, admire the architecture at Grand Place and have a laugh at the Manneken Pis.

It’s worth parting with 4 euros for entry into the Museum of the City at Grand Place. The Manneken Pis exhibition is probably the most hilarious thing I have seen.

 

Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral I have made my love for this Kentish city (and my University town) quite clear on this blog!

Just because I’ve graduated doesn’t mean I’ll be letting my Canterbury addiction go any time soon…

Canterbury is a great place for a girly break, catch-up in one of the city’s many bars, coffee shops or restaurants (here are my faves) and soak up the history of this quaint medieval town.

If you’re visiting in the Uni holidays, bag some cheap accommodation in the University halls. Find out how here.

 

Corfu Town, Greece

Corfu Town Beautifully undiscovered, as far as girls-only weekends go, Corfu Town is a hidden gem. Hit the shops, relax on the beach and eat as much Tzatziki as is humanly possible!

Come back home bronzed and refreshed.

 

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin PubOne of the ultimate girly escapes and the first one I took. Dublin is conveniently close to home and cheap to get to with airlines such as Ryan Air.

When you’re there, avoid the expensive pubs in touristy Temple Bar and instead follow the locals into one of the hundreds of other drinking holes. Grab and Guinness and prepare yourself for a sing-along!

Have you been on a girly weekend? What is your favourite destination? Let me know in the comments below or via my social media pages!

 

Grey Goose Vodka

The Best Bars and Nightclubs in Hvar, Croatia

As most of you are probably aware, I recently holidayed on the shockingly stunning Croatian isle of Hvar.

(If you missed me blabbing on about it, check out my trip here).

Hvar is rapidly emerging as one of the summer party destinations so here is a quick fire list of the best bars and clubs to visit in the lovely Hvar Town.

Kiva Bar

A firm backpacker favourite. The cheapest beer I could find in the town at around £1.50 for a bottle of the local brew. This place is always packed but is very tiny indeed. Great if you want to get sweaty jumping around to some pretty decent popular tunes.

Nautica Bar

Right next door to Kiva. Buy your beer from Kiva’s al fresco bar and bring it into Nautica for a more breathable dancing environment. Beers are only 50p more expensive here but you might as well save the pennies. They do great cocktails if you want to push the boat out.

Archie’s Bar

Set on the pretty main square, Archie’s Bar is quite pricey but has a great relaxed atmosphere. The shared cocktails are expensive and very sparing but taste delicious. A place to go if you’re not the one picking up the tab…

Hula Hula Bar

Hidden further along the coast, Hula Hula is a little walk away from the main town. Marketing itself as the best place to see the sun set (a bold but not wholly unfounded statement), Hula Hula kicks off early with crowds flocking there around 5pm. Head there for dinner and indulge in their shared seafood stacks which are around £10 per head. Very chilled.

Delfin Bar

The place to go to catch the remaining World Cup matches! Watching the Brazil vs Croatia opening match there was quite an experience as the bar is frequented by locals and tourists alike. A pint of beer here is around £2.50. The burgers looked spectacular too!

Pink Champagne

As much as I massively disliked this club I have to include it on this list as it is the only club in town open after 2am. Horrifically expensive, wait until the bouncers get desperate for customers and lower the entrance fee before heading in. We managed to wait on the kerb until the price went down from 100 kuna to 50 kuna (just over £5).

Make sure you’ve had enough drinks before you go in as beer can be as much as £5 for a bottle.

You’ll also have to have a shower before bed as smoking is permitted in the claustrophobic bar and your hair and clothes will end up stinking of smoke. Even the music is rubbish (unless you enjoy all that boom, boom, boom stuff). Yeah I really didn’t enjoy this place…

Carpe Diem

The most exclusive club in Hvar. Positioned on its own private island, Carpe Diem’s wooded dancefloor and outdoor pool is often privately booked for celebrity clients. The £10 entry fee includes your choppy boat crossing, just be careful if you get seasick! A must visit on your Hvar holiday.

Sunset Hula Hula Hvar

Sunset at Hula Hula. The perfect place for a beer.

Ooo Ahh Croatia! A Week of Luxury Living in Hvar.

A frosted three litre bottle of Belvedere vodka sat in the florescent ice bucket which glowed at the heart of our private table.

Bouncers whispered into secret earpieces, cautiously lifting the thick rope divide which separated us from the rest of the throbbing nightclub to let in the privileged few.

Kicking back on the velvet couches I poured myself a drink, becoming increasingly hypnotized by the pulsating beats resonating from the dance-floor.

Grey Goose Vodka

I have never seen a bottle this big!

I was in Hvar, a Croatian island floating just over an hour away from the port of Split.

Frequented by the rich and famous (Beyonce is an honorary citizen), Hvar Town is a catwalk for millionaire holiday-makers taking a break from their luxury yachts left bobbing in the harbour.

Families and couples alike swan along the waters edge, stopping to sample expensive cocktails in the shade of the beautiful bleached stone buildings. As a budget holiday-maker and anything but a billionaire tycoon, this initial view of Hvar was very worrying indeed.

Where were the throngs of rowdy backpackers and inter-railers for whom Hvar had become the obligatory party island stop? Where was the cheap beer and purse-friendly eateries?

Distracted by the amazing scenery and crystal waters by day, I quickly forgot my money-troubles but when night fell and the music started to thump along the shore, the worry set in.

How was I going to afford to survive on this luxury isle?

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Hvar Town.

This trip to Hvar had been planned as a girls only post-university retreat, a chance to let our hair down and indulge in the island’s infamous nightlife.

Our first night in Hvar led us to Kiva Bar, a backpacker hangout hidden down one of Hvar Town’s winding cobbled streets. A place you can hear well before you can see it. Already shocked at the price of a shared cocktail (£15!), we braced ourselves for eye-watering prices at the bar. Luckily a bottle of beer came to the equivalent of £1.50 and happened to be the last drink we had to pay for all night… Since when did backpackers get this generous?

Tip number one: Come to Hvar with single and attractive girl friends!

Our new group of friends continued the party next door at Nautica Bar, a slightly more expensive but larger bar, playing a mix of cheese and top 40 tunes. When the lights flicked on at 2am we were shocked, wasn’t Hvar meant to be an all day, all night kind of town? Apparently not.We were told that the only places still open were the big clubs Pink Champagne and Carpe Diem. But they were for another night.

With nights spent at the bars and clubs, the days were reserved for soaking up the sun on one of Hvar’s pebbled beaches.

Now I’m not one to stay still for long and the obligatory tanning sessions after late mornings sleeping off the night before, left me restless. Unused to these sorts of girly holidays, I resented my banging headaches in the morning and craved exploration and adventure.

I felt guilty lying prostrate on a beach all afternoon when there was so much to see and do on this beautiful isle but alas, the budget and the persistent hangovers would not allow it.

I hung my traveller’s head in shame.

Hvar Croatia Beach

That water!

We had budgeted for a night at Hvar’s premier nightclub, Carpe Diem.

Accessed by a trundling boat journey, Carpe Diem inhabits its own private island, complete with a beach, woodland dance-floor and swimming pool where the partying only begins to kick off after 2am. The only problem with this particular venue is that I get chronically seasick.

Tip number two: Don’t mix quite a few drinks with a wobbly boat crossing if you’re prone to seasickness!

After paying the hefty £10.50 entrance fee I spent the rest of the night with my head between my legs on the rocky coastline.

Money well spent…

Taking a brief breather from the nightlife we decided to hunt down the cheap eats in Hvar Town.

TripAdvisor was the best source for whittling down the numerous restaurants and cafes, guiding us to Marinero’s first, where tasty bowls of seafood pasta come to just over £6 a head, washed down with cheap wine and half litres of the local beer. Our entire bill came to less than £10 each, bargain!

Another night we went to Alvis Restuarant, centered around a cute little courtyard. With similar prices to Marinero’s, I took the opportunity to sample Croatian Pašticada, a native beef stew dish. I was served a massive portion for £8.

I was beginning to believe that I could survive on my meagre £20 a day budget!

On one of our final nights in Hvar we eventually caved into heading to Pink Champagne, a dingy underground club positioned on the outskirts of the town.

As the only place in the town open post-2am, Pink Champagne is extortionate, charging the same £10.50 entrance as Carpe Diem and then £5 for a beer once you are trapped inside.

I do not recommend this place.

Luckily we had stumbled across some… wealthy benefactors… who were more than happy to foot the bill for the night. This is when the Belvedere made its appearance. A bill for £2000 also reared its ugly head. The guys barely batted an eyelid as they handed over their American Express.

Tip number three: Make rich friends! Pretty simple in Hvar.

After a crazy week in Hvar we headed back to the mainland for our final night in Split. Waving goodbye to the picture-perfect town was heartbreaking, even more so knowing that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of its long history or explored its pretty towns and villages.

Split, although beautiful in its own right, paled in comparison to Hvar’s untouched and pristine beauty. The grey clouds that greeted us at the port seemed like some twisted pathetic fallacy, although a wander around Split’s attractive and ancient centre coupled with cheaper prices, brought the smiles back to our face.

For our last meal we dined at Fife, a rustic restaurant on the harbour which serves up impressive portions of seafood and bulky side dishes. We followed it up with cocktails at a local bar as lightening cracked in the sky.

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Pretty Split.

As the heavens opened I began to lament my time in Hvar. I had allowed myself to be sucked into Hvar’s hedonistic lifestyle, the yachts, the cocktails, the VIP experience had all been part of a tourist culture I have always tried to avoid.

I had been blinded by the trappings of self-indulgent luxury and forgotten my travelling roots.

What about Hvar’s culture and history? I knew the price of the beer in every bar but I didn’t know a single thing about the town itself. And I’m not alone. At the moment Hvar is still hopelessly stunning and host to a global clientele. With its natural and architectural beauty I find it difficult to imagine Hvar falling to the alcohol-fuelled and Brit populated destruction of resorts like Magaluf and Malia. Yet its booming popularity on the backpacker party circuit has potential to do it more harm than good.

Tip number four: Get to Hvar before it is too late.

Sunset Hvar

Until next time Hvar.

 

Homeward Bound

So long Croatia, you have served me well.

Despite your awkward weather and… interesting customer service, you have provided me with enough laughter, beautiful scenery and cheap wine to last me until next time.

Because Hvar, I will come back for you.

Croatia Easyjet

There will of course be a jam-packed entry on my Croatian adventures to follow. Keep your eyes peeled!

Croatia: The Packing Essentials

I go to Croatia in T-minus two days!

The time is finally upon my three girl pals and I to jet to the beautiful party fuelled island of Hvar off the glittering coast of Croatia. Frequented by the rich and famous as much as the good ol’ backpacker set, the island is said to be a paradise for those in desperate need for a cocktail or two on its pebbled beaches.

Whether you’re staying in a tiny apartment (like me!) or living it up on a luxury yacht (we will find you…) Hvar’s hospitality is legendary. So what am I going to pack for such a place? Here’s a little glimpse into my holiday suitcase…

– Good Holiday Reads: There is going to be a lot of lounging around on this holiday, which is quite unusual for me! I’m not much of a sunbather so a good read is vital to keep me entertained at the beach. I’m bringing Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I have finally able to read again after finishing my degree and I’ve been half way through Marquez for sometime now! I’m also packing this months issue of Wanderlust which has a great piece on Croatia in it, Hvar even gets a little mention! It will also allow me to start planning the next trip… 

Wanderlust Travel Magazine

 

Holiday ReadsCurrency: I always make sure I travel with enough cash to see me through short breaks so I don’t have to incur any extra transaction fees.

For this week-long trip I’ve budgeted £210 worth of Croatian Kuna. The exchange rate isn’t too bad at the moment so hopefully we will be able to snap up some bargains out there!

Just a word of warning Croatian Kuna sounds a lot like Czech Koruna… The Post Office gave us the wrong currency and luckily we checked as it had to be pre-ordered.

ALWAYS make sure you have been given the correct currency!

Holiday Currency

– Dress to Impress: I shelled out and decided to put a bag in the hold. I split it with one of the girls so we both didn’t have to fork out cash for unnecessary luggage space. I usually try and travel light but this enabled me to pack all my liquids and towels as well as allowing space to bring back some (hopefully cheap) spirits (I’ve not left uni just yet…) Clothing wise my essentials are a good bikini as I am forever in the sea snorkelling and swimming and a scarf to tie up your hair or cover your shoulders from the heat. With plans to blag our way aboard a fancy yacht I’m stuffing my case with elegant maxi dresses for quick-fix glam.

Silk ScarfBikini

That’s just a few of my Croatian essentials. I might actually have to stop blogging and start packing soon…

Holiday Packing

I will attempt to briefly blog when I’m away but if I don’t make it then I will try and keep my Twitter feed updated @StudentRucksack. Stay tuned and I will see you on the other side!

P.S- Sorry about the picture quality, I fear my iPhone is slowly giving up on me…