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!

 

Basel Gate

5 Hours in Basel

With only 5 hours to spend in Basel before catching my flight home, I had a lot to squeeze in. It was lucky that it was a Sunday, when pretty much everything is closed, meaning that I didn’t get distracted by shopping and could focus on Basel’s quaint, winding streets.

So, here’s my list of what to do with your 5 hours in Basel:

Take a self-guided walking tour

Basel Tourist Office have very helpfully created a leaflet packed full of self-guided walking tours. The tours vary in time and ease and are all named after Basel’s former famous residents. We chose the 90 minute tour which led you across the mighty Rhine and ambled along its banks. With a little extra time on our hands we merged a couple of the other routes together and explored Basel’s medieval streets.

Start the tour in Marktplatz and follow the signposted trails.

Basel Medieval Street Basel Rhine

Have a McDonalds

Ok, weird I know but hear me out. Swiss Mcdonalds is the best! Instead of french fries you can choose rosti-fries which are like little hash browns, what’s not to love?! Their gourmet burgers are very nice as well and although the final bill can come to over £10 per person it’s worth it I promise!

Explore Basel University’s Botanic Gardens

A real hidden gem. We stumbled across this tropical oasis by accident and it came as quite a surprise! The gardens and greenhouses are free to explore and will let you stave off that winter chill for a while!

Basel Botanical Gardens Basel Greenhouses

Take the token photos of the Town Hall and Gate of Spalen

These are truly spectacular buildings and well worth a visit. Take your photos in the mornings before large groups of visitors begin to get in your way. I love their patterned roofs!

Basel Rathaus Basel Gate

Pick out your dream house

Followers of my Instagram account may have noticed that I found my dream house during my trip to Grindelwald. In Basel, I began the search for my dream city residence- and competition was high. The homes in Basel are gorgeous and I could just imagine myself watching the world go by outside my shutter-framed windows.

Basel Home Basel Architecture

Grab a coffee

Basel is full of cutesy coffee shops which are a great place to rest your tired feet. My favorite was the main coffee shop inside the converted Schweizerische Volksbank. Find a place beside the roaring fire and treat yourself to a lovely cuppa.

Basel Coffee

Basel is a charming city and one which I would love to explore more. Have you been to Basel, what do you think I missed?

Swiss Chalet Dream House

The Swiss Alps: Grindelwald

Choosing where to spend a precious weekend in Switzerland is not easy. With tranquil towns and villages the norm, there are endless picturesque retreats to escape to.

In order to narrow it down a bit, I decided that I would love to see the Alps whilst still keeping my trip as cheap as possible (an almost impossible demand in budget busting Switzerland).

There must be a quicker way than Googling ‘Best Places to Visit in Switzerland’ and then manually searching for train tickets for every snow covered settlement in the country until a reasonably priced destination pinged up. But alas, I didn’t find one.

But finally, after hours of frantic searching, Grindelwald appeared.

Here’s what I got up to with my day and a bit in the town.

Frolicked on the hills and sung tunes from The Sound of Music

Grindelwald is stunning. As the tourist town is between seasons at the moment (the winter seasons kicks off properly next week) the streets and surrounding hills and mountains are practically deserted. This meant that I could frolic and sing to my hearts content!

Grindelwald Hills

Pretended I was a mountain goat

Erm, yeah…

Mountain Goat Switzerland

Stared longingly from my balcony

Grindelwald is fringed by spectacular mountains. Our apartment gave us a front row view of dramatic Eiger, which was jaw dropping even shrouded in cloud.

Grindelwald Balcony

Mountain View Grindelwald

Saw two glaciers

Grindelwald isn’t called the ‘Glacier Town’ for nothing and it proudly boasts two stunning glaciers. One can be seen on a clear day from the town whilst the other is an hour or so walk from the town (or a 10 minute bus ride).

Grindelwald Upper Glacier

Grindelwald Lower Glacier

Walked for miles

With buses few and far between, we laced up our walking boots and trekked through the town into the surrounding hills and forests. The scenery is breathtaking (and that’s not just the thin mountain air…). The town is criss-crossed with walking paths suitable for all abilities. The only way to experience the Alps.

Swiss Chalet Dream House

Bridge Alps

The Alps

 

The Alps Grindelwald

Ate fondue

And it was so good! I have never tried cheese fondue before and we ordered ours with Swiss sausage hidden inside. A must try if you are in Switzerland, and at only £17 for two, a relative bargain in Swiss terms.

Swiss Fondue

Eating Fondue

Where to stay

We stayed in Hotel Eiger which we booked on booking.com for around £45 per person. I would definitely recommend it as guests have free access to a spa, swimming pool, ice-rink and sauna as well as being treated to daily afternoon tea. The prices will inevitably shoot up for the winter season so get in there quick!

Hotel Eiger

How to get there

From Basel, Grindelwald is a two and a half hour train journey away. Take the train during daylight hours to watch the Alps slowly come to life. Swiss ticket provider SBB offer SuperSaver fares on selected routes. My return ticket cost £60 and I would pay that for the views alone.

The trains are really swanky as well! I love the European double deckers.

Switzerland Trains

Interlaken

Interlaken Mountains

 

What I missed

There’s so much to see and do in Grindelwald so just over a day of sightseeing was never going to do it justice. I would love to go back and tick these activities off my list:

Ride the Jungfrau Railway to the ‘Top of Europe’.

Have a go on a velogemel, which was invented in the town.

Hike around Bachalpsee Lake in Spring.

Go paragliding over the mountains.

So Grindelwald, I’ll be back…

What did you get up to this weekend? Let me know!

The Swiss Itinerary

The countdown to my weekend away in Switzerland has well and truly begun. I am so excited to be escaping if only for a long weekend.

As planning for this trip has been a bit of a rush and very much unexpected I haven’t been able to plan as meticulously as I’d like! I’ve been led to believe that this is a good thing though and I’d like to keep up my new-found spontaneity as long as my sanity allows…

After having an absolute nightmare trying to book train travel (as followers of my Twitter account are very much aware…) I have finally managed to secure seats on a train to Grindelwald.

I almost gave up but with scenery like this I had to persevere. I mean, come on now how pretty is this?!

Grindelwald View

As with everything in Switzerland, train travel is super expensive. A return 2.5 hour journey from Basel to Grindelwald is £59- more expensive than our flights and that’s with a SuperSaver Ticket!

But I don’t think it would be right to leave Switzerland without sampling some of its fresh mountain air.

We will be in Grindelwald for a night and then head back to Basel for the day on Sunday. With our budget blown already, it’s going to be a bit of a basic trip but hopefully the Swiss scenery will be priceless!

As ever I’ll keep you posted. Be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for Swiss pics galore.

Have you visited Basel or Grindelwald before? I would love to hear some of your top tips for things to do in the area. Contact me on the social media links above, leave a comment or email me enquiries@thestudenttravels.com.