The arrival of spring in the Netherlands is made official by the bloom of hyacinths, daffodils and of course, the world-famous Dutch tulips. There’s something very charming and quaint about these vibrant flowers, and the pride the Dutch feel about them is hard to miss, especially in this time of the year. From wooden versions in souvenir shops and cellophane wrapped bouquets in supermarkets to postcards and their depiction on a multitude of renaissance paintings, it’s safe to say the once known as “tulip mania” is now a deeply rooted Dutch tradition.
My second visit to the Netherlands just over a week ago had a quick day trip to the tulip field filled countryside in store for us. Venturing a little further out of the city of Amsterdam, we finally made our way to Lisse to explore the most beautiful tulip garden in the world – Keukenhof! And honestly? I can’t believe it took us this long to get us out there.
Monaco is one of the most exclusive and popular destinations in Côte d’Azur. Nestled on the Mediterranean coastline, halfway between Nice and the Italian border, Monaco has traditionally been compared to the likes of Las Vegas and Dubai – on a much smaller scale, however! Despite having a total area of barely a square mile, the second smallest country in the world after the Vatican comes with its very own tax-free status and has been a worldwide reference for luxury and gambling for more than a century. The glitz and eternal glamour have survived throughout the years thanks to Grace Kelly, various James Bond movies, the Monaco Grand Prix, lavish five star hotels and casinos and countless luxury yachts and cars.
Its strategic location (just a 30min train ride from Nice!) and rather smaller size than its neighbouring French resorts make it the perfect place for a quick day trip. Exploring Monaco in a day is actually possible and the micro-state is full of lesser known hidden gems for those looking to be money savvy. Here are our top tips on things to do in Monaco on a budget.
Cannes – the city of stars, glamour and luxury tourism. Along with the likes of Saint-Tropez, Nice and Monaco, Cannes is a favourite jet set for those looking for a holiday à la mode. Yachts, luxury cars, haute couture shops and private white-sand beaches contribute to the savoir-faire that is so characteristic of the elegant resorts of the South of France. Despite its rather small size compared to the other popular coastal destinations in the French Riviera, Cannes gains worldwide visibility through major global events each year. A mecca of international cinema, the read carpet of the Cannes Film Festival attracts famous movie stars and faces from all over the world each second half of May. The Cannes Yachting Festival, which kicked off earlier this week, displays the biggest boat trade show in the world in the prestigious Cannes Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto. And it doesn’t stop there. In March each year, thousands of experts from the international real estate market gather at MIPIM for a four-day networking event. Phew!
But there’s so much more behind the yachts and celebrity spotting. Cannes has that je ne sais quoi, a Mediterranean fishing village past that can still be felt in the historic streets. I thought I’d include a list of my favourite places in Cannes that don’t necessarily have to do with the luxurious and often out-of-budget character of the area. Let’s get ready and explore this charming French city, shall we?
Porto was the last stop on our 10 day trip around Portugal. After a quick 24h stopover exploring the medieval streets of beautiful Coimbra, we quickly hopped on the next train to Porto and arrived in Estação de São Bento in just over an hour. The second biggest city in Portugal welcomed us with one of the prettiest railway stations in the world. I was delighted to see that the Portuguese azulejo tradition was equally predominant in Porto as it was in Lisbon. An incredible hand painted tilework by Jorge Colaço featuring more than 20,000 tiles covers the main hall’s interior, portraying scenes of some of the most important moments of Portugal’s history. I couldn’t help but admire the meticulous 20th century artwork that was in front of me (and was quick to update my Instagram stories, of course).
Was Porto going to be this beautiful everywhere? Uhm, YES! Porto is vibrant, colourful and full of history waiting for everyone to explore it. Here are our top 10 things to do in Porto.
After some incredible days exploring Lisbon and Cascais, the beautiful city of Coimbra was the next big stop on our trip around Portugal. Located halfway between the Portuguese capital and Porto, our final destination, Coimbra seemed like the perfect location for the quick stopover we were looking for. With backpacks full of pasteis de nata and excited to grab a bite of its enviable history, we hopped on the first train from Lisbon to Coimbra. The former capital of Portugal from 1139 to 1250 is famous for its notable University and historical library, and it was now ours for just over 24h.
Welcome to Lisbon, the gorgeous city built on seven hills!
There are many ways I could describe Lisbon. It’s bohemian, yet it screams romanticism all over. It’s lively and spirited in nature, yet life seems to go calm and undisturbed. It’s Baroque, Gothic, Romanesque…all at once! There’s always something spectacular to marvel at in Lisbon and its magic and charm seem to have persisted throughout the years. Every corner, colourful building and cobbled street hide unpredictable surprises. I’d be lying if I said that Lisbon isn’t one of my favourite dots on the map!
As you can see, Lisboa is a very special place. Of course, I couldn’t resist encapsulating everything we love about the city of Fado in a travel guide. Grab a cuppa, sit down and get comfy, this is going to be a lovely long one…
Madeira has to be one of Portugal’s best kept secrets. I cannot begin to describe how beautiful this small volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is. Stupendous green landscapes cover the entirety of Madeira, turning it, somehow, into a floating garden. The rocky mountains, moist laurisilva forests and vineyards cover the higher peaks and valleys. Meanwhile, the subtropical palm trees and rough cliffs crown the coast. You will inevitably fall in love with the extraordinary micro-climates. The sense of relaxing atmosphere will hit you as soon as you step on the island. And you won’t help but think if you should just ignore your return flight and settle in a beach house in Funchal instead. Oh well.
But there is more. Madeira is full of incredible places to explore, an exquisite gastronomy and a singular history that still lives up to this day. So where do you start? Check our list on the top 10 things you must do in Cristiano Ronaldo’s birthplace.