Top 7 Amazing Things To Do In Madeira

For those that don’t know, Madeira is a Portuguese island 520 km (320 miles) off the coast of Morocco, and about a 1.5 hour flight from Lisbon. It's an incredibly beautiful island and is most well known for being the home of Cristiano Ronaldo. It is also great to pair with a visit to other great Portuguese cities. Don't miss out on our Porto and Coimbra adventures or skip to The Next Trip 5 Travel Tips for amazing things to do in Madeira here.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço

 

 

How to Get to Madeira

 

Being an island, you will obviously be arriving by plane (unless you are brave enough to take a boat!), however flights are somewhat limited to just a few airlines, primarily TAP Air Portugal and all of your favorite European low cost carriers. If you are arriving late in the evening like we did, there are some great hotels close to the airport (and the beach!) such as the Santa Cruz Boutique Hotel. There is no better way to start your island adventure on Madeira than with breakfast with a view like this.

 

Santa Cruz breakfast with view

 

Santa Cruz Boutique Hotel Breakfast View

 

Top 7 Amazing Things to do in Madeira

 

You may be able to drive all around in Madeira in one day, but the island is packed full of beauty and activities so we highly recommend spending more time on the island to explore as much as possible! Read on for our top 7 amazing things to do in Madeira. Our expectations were high for our trip to Madeira, and it easily met and exceeded them!

 

Hike to Ponta de São Lourenço

 

This was one of our favorite spots on Madeira and well worth taking a half day or more to complete. It's a 2-hour hike one way with incredible scenery.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

We stopped along the way multiple times to snap a picture or two. Also, learn from our mistake and bring your bathing suit and a towel on your hike. There are a few great places to take a refreshing dip in the ocean along the way. Another plus is that there is a small café at the end if you’re a bit thirsty or hungry after your hike out!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint são lourenço hike

 

Swim in the Atlantic Ocean

 

So if you didn’t take our advice above and swim in the ocean on your hike to Ponta de São Lourenço, there is an easier and more convenient place for a swim on the complete opposite side of the island. Porto Moniz is a city at the north-western most corner of Madeira and has a huge swimming pool full of fresh seawater. How fresh you may ask?

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

Well while we were there, the waves were coming up over the rocks and pathway into the “pool.” Admission is a few dollars to enter, but it is well worth it for a nice relaxing swim and a shower to rinse off afterwards. They have restrooms, showers, and lockers there. Make sure you bring your own towels though.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Swimming Pool

 

While in the area, be sure to check out the islets of Ribeira da Janela rising from the ocean. Watching the waves here is mesmerizing, and a must-see on the list of things to do in Madeira.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Sea Rocks

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Porto Moniz Sea Rocks

 

Check out the Levadas

 

Levadas are strewn across the country side of Madeira. They were originally created to move water around the island as the west and northwest of the island receive heavy rainfall, but the southeast region is much drier. With more time (and better weather) we would love to hike some of these levadas, which can be tens of kilometers long, run along cliffs, and even through tunnels!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Lavada

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-Lavada

 

Don’t Miss the Viewpoints of Funchal

 

Being an island with steep cliffs and mountains, there is never a shortage of views, equally when looking out over the main city. Funchal is the sixth largest city in Portugal, and has been the capital of Madeira for over 500 years. Cabo Girão is a spectacular sea cliff with the highest cliff skywalk in Europe – if you can stomach the walk out over the glass, it is well worth the views!

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint funchal

 

A bit closer to Funchal, Miradouro Pico dos Barcelos doesn’t disappoint and also provides a beautiful panoramic view over Funchal.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint funchal

 
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Watch the Sunrise

 

This is the one activity we truly missed out on while on Madeira. The sunrises from a number of the islands peaks are legendary, and in particular we hoped to catch the sunrise from the top of Pico do Areeiro. Unfortunately for us, there were heavy thunderstorms the morning we were there and given our tight itinerary, we had no room in our travel plans to stay a day longer and hope for better weather. Make sure you plan this into your trip as it is one of the amazing things to do in Madeira.

 

Stop by Lighthouses for More Amazing Views

 

One of Bettina's favorite things to do in Madeira was visit the Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse. Situated high up on a cliff, it provides spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint ponta do pargo lighthouse

 

Portugal -flowers butterfly

 

It is easily accessible by car and the viewpoint is only a short walk from the parking lot. The lighthouse itself is as picturesque as they come and also houses an exhibit.

 

Watch your Plane Arrive at the Funchal Airport Observation Deck

 

Even for non-avgeeks, planes are fascinating to watch. Once you’ve gone through security at Funchal Airport, be sure to wait for your flight on the outside observation deck which has great views of the runway.  Funchal airport is unique in that it has a particularly steep approach and the runway even extends out over the ocean on a platform. As a result, it is a great place for some casual plane spotting!

 

We put together a list of 5 top tips for your visit to Madeira to make sure you can make most out of this trip and be prepared to complete all of the amazing things to do in Madeira..

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Madeira

 

1. Spend at least one night in Funchal

The surprisingly bustling capital city of the island. While this city is not going to be a party hot spot, it is a great size to explore in a day or two on foot and has a great atmosphere. Be sure to wander the streets to find the perfect restaurant for dinner and take in the island vibes.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-streets of funchal

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-funchal harbor

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-streets of funchal

 

2. Rent a car.

While Madeira isn’t that large, and does have public transportation around the island, the freedom of having your own car is highly worth the cost so that you can visit what you like at your own pace.  The roads can be narrow, twisty, and steep, but for us that just adds to the adventure!

 

Rental car-driving in portugal

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-driving in madeira

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint

 

3. Be prepared for all types of weather.

We experienced torrential downpours, followed by clear blue skies, and fairly frequent wind while on Madeira – such is the case for an island in the Atlantic! Expect to have rain and wind, but don’t let that dampen the mood as the weather is constantly changing and the sun will likely shine again the same day.

 

Portugal mountains view

 

4. Seafood and Wine.

Need we say more? Madeira is well known for it’s local Madeiran wine as well as great seafood. Be sure to sample what you can! We highly recommend the Filete de Espada (Scabbard Filet), traditionally prepared with a banana and passion fruit sauce.

5. Bring your hiking shoes.

Madeira is far from flat, and whether you are hiking to the top of Pico do Areeiro, walking to the end of Ponta de São Lourenço, or walking through the streets of Funchal, there will be hills and cobblestones. Bring a pair of comfortable flats to make your travels easier. Bettina managed fine in some ballet flats but we did get very interesting stares on our hikes.

 

Top 7 Things to do in Madeira-viewpoint hiking

 

Is Madeira on your bucket travel list? Tell us about the places you want to travel to in the comments below!

 

Pin this blog post to your Portugal and Madeira Pinterest boards to save all your ideas and don't miss out on the amazing things to do in Madeira when you're there!

 

Top 7 Things To Do in Madeira

Top 7 Amazing Things To Do In Madeira 8
Top 7 Amazing Things To Do In Madeira 9
Top 7 Amazing Things To Do In Madeira 10
Top 7 Amazing Things To Do In Madeira 11
Top 7 Amazing Things To Do In Madeira 12

 

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A Magical Sintra Day Trip – Why You Have to Go

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a prince or princess living in a palace, then a Sintra day trip from Lisbon is a must! Our day spent here brought all of Bettina’s princess dreams true. To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to prepare for a Sintra day trip, click here.

 

What is Sintra and Pena Palace

 

Sintra is a small city on the outskirts of Lisbon, only 30km (19 miles) away, and is surrounded by natural parks and the beautiful Sintra Mountains. There is a lot of history in this area of Portugal as Sintra was a playground for royalty, the rich, and the famous throughout much of history. This means that there is not only the Pena National Palace, which we visited, but also the National Palace of Sintra, the Castle of the Moors, and many others all located in and around Sintra. We drove through Sintra, stopping for a quick coffee, but decided to focus our time on Pena Palace.

 

A Sintra Day Trip View of Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip View of Castle of Moors

 

How to Get to Sintra

 

We already had a rental car as we were completing a short road trip through Portugal from Porto (you can read about our time in Porto here and Coimbra here). Our drive from Cascais to Sintra was about 20 minutes, and it is only 10 minutes more from Lisbon, making a Sintra day trip perfect for those short on time. We appreciated having a car to get up through the hills to Pena Palace.  The road was steep and narrow, but there was lots of parking when we arrived.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Alternatively you can easily reach Sintra by train from Lisbon. There are numerous bus and tuk tuk options to take you up the hill to Pena Palace, or you can hike! Of course plan a lot of extra time if you plan to hike through the hills.

 

Pena Palace

 

The main attraction! Pena Palace is perched at the top of a hill, and is considered one of the seven wonders of Portugal. This is a Romanticist castle, and we couldn’t agree more. It is one of the most romantic castles we've visited so far. Pena Palace has a number of different sections and design elements, reflecting the tastes of its prior owners through the ages.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

Top from Chicwish / Skirt from Chicwish / Shoes from Mi.iM (Use beingbettina20 to get a 20% discount)

 

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A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace
A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace

 

Explore Pena Palace

 

One of the great things about Pena Palace is that you are allowed to climb up a number of the bastions, parapet walls, and ramparts. As a result, this makes for great pictures! You will have to be patient and wait your turn in line though. Unfortunately not all tourists we encountered were so considerate!

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Definitely make sure to explore all around Pena Palace so that you get views of this truly impressive building from all angles.

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Inside Pena Palace

 

To truly live out your prince/princess dreams, be sure to take the time to walk through the interior of Pena Palace. The beauty of the outside is enough for the perfect Sintra day trip, but the inside of the palace is also incredible to see. It is set up to serve as the summer residence of the royal family, and is full of period appropriate furniture, paintings, and other artwork.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Usually when exploring European palaces you only get to see the fancy sitting rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms of the royal elite. However Pena Palace also allows you to see the working kitchen of the palace, which is a unique perspective and makes you appreciate our modern appliances.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Inside Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

Best Views of Pena Palace

 

Once you’ve completed your tour of Pena Palace, take the time for the 20 minute walk through the peaceful surrounding gardens and forest up to the Cruz Alta monument. With a little bit of flexibility you can climb up to the monument and will be rewarded with impressive views of Pena Palace from afar, perfectly completing your Sintra day trip.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

A Sintra Day Trip - View of Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

This view was worth the walk! In addition, this monument had very few tourists, compared to Pena Palace, which was bursting with selfie-stick wielding crowds in the early afternoon.

 

How Long Does it Take for a Sintra Day Trip?

 

We spent a full afternoon exploring the Pena Palace as well as walking some of the pathways in the surrounding park. Arriving just before lunch, we had about a 5 minute wait to purchase tickets and enter the palace grounds, but otherwise could access everything within and around the palace as we liked.

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Pena Palace - The Next Trip

 

You could easily spend a week exploring the hills around Sintra and the many palaces. Another incredible palace you should add to your itinerary if you are in Sintra for more than a day is the mystical Quinta da Regaleira!

Check our top tips below to help plan your Pena Palace and Sintra Day Trip!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Sintra Day Trip Tips

 

  1. Get there early! Like as soon as they open or even earlier. As the day goes on there will be more and more tour buses full of tourists arriving, so get arrive at the palace as early as you can to have the palace to yourself (more or less).
  2. Take some creative photos. Pena Palace is breathtaking from almost any angle, and with almost all of the walkways and areas of the palace open, you are free to get creative and take more than your standard tourist photos. This is your chance to make your princess fantasies come true on your Sintra day trip!
  3. Bring your best walking shoes. Pena Palace is located at the top of the hill and requires at least a 10 minute walk up the steep cobblestone paths. Further, the surrounding park grounds are full of pathways to explore.
  4. Pack some water.  While there is a cafe in the palace, you’re going to want to pack some water if you are exploring on a hot day as there are no other stores near the palace.
  5. Go for a hike. Take the extra time to walk to the Cruz Alta monument to get the perfect photos of Pena Palace from a distance – no drone required! In addition, if you have the time as part of your Sintra day trip, you can also walk and hike all over the Sintra Mountains for other unique views of Pena Palace and the beautiful Portugal Riviera.

 

Have you been to Pena Palace or on a Sintra day trip? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

Pin this blog post to your Portugal and Sintra Pinterest boards to save all your ideas and don't miss out when you're there!

 

A Sintra Day Trip - Why You Have to Go - The Next Trip

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.

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A Magical Sintra Day Trip - Why You Have to Go 24
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How to Spend the Best Day in Coimbra, Portugal

To be honest, we hadn’t even heard of Coimbra prior to researching destinations for our Portuguese road trip, which is probably why it was the most surprising destination of our trip. We had no expectations and absolutely loved the 24 hours we spent here and can’t recommend it enough! To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a day in Coimbra, click here.

 

A Day in Coimbra: Getting There and Around

 

We arrived in Coimbra after a weekend in Porto (read about it here) during rush hour, and since we didn’t know much about the city, we were just following the directions of our GPS to get to the hotel. However, the closer we got, the steeper and narrower the streets became.

 

Narrow Streets in Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Tight narrow roads do not phase us after all of our European road trips, but these were some of the tightest and steepest we ever drove within a city. Our rental car was relatively small, but we took a different route to our hotel as we were not confident that we could make the tight turn without scratching our car.

 

A Day in Coimbra: Where to Stay

 

We spent our one night and day in Coimbra at the Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra which has very luxuriously designed hotel rooms.

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

Our room was on the first floor but because the hotel is on a hill, there is an amazing view of the city. The room is small but very unique and they even included free of charge champagne and cake in the evenings! Not to mention breakfast in bed in the mornings.

 

Hotel Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

We didn’t spend much time in the hotel though as we hit the streets as fast as we could due to the rapidly setting sun.

 

How to Spend A Day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

A Day in Coimbra: What to See

 

Coimbra is a very old city, dating back to the Roman era and is anchored by the University of Coimbra, established in 1290, and perched on top of the hill. The university buildings include the jaw-dropping Pátio das Escolas. This historic square alone is worth the visit for a day in Coimbra as there just isn’t a bad angle to take a picture.

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

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It was particularly beautiful at dusk and includes a view of the surrounding valley.

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

The next morning we headed back to the University of Coimbra area to see the Biblioteca Joanina, a famous historic library. The next scheduled visiting time was in one hour, so we took pictures in the beautiful Pátio das Escolas square. The nearby chapel and palace are also worth visiting.

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

This dress is already sold out, but I linked some of my favorite turquoise and teal dresses below.

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University Square, Paço das Escolas, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

University Square, Paço das Escolas, Coimbra Portugal | The Next Trip

 

The palace tour had an outdoor terrace, which provided great views over the city.

View from the Palace, University Square, Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

View from the Palace, University Square, Coimbra | The Next Trip

 

We eventually made it into the library, the Biblioteca Joanina, and it was definitely worth the wait! This is one of the most impressive libraries that we have ever been to, and a definite must-see if you are in Coimbra. You’re not allowed to take photos inside, so check out their website to get an idea of what it looks like inside here.

 

Biblioteca Joanina, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Heading back down the hill, we explored the streets of the old town more and fell even further for this quaint city.

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Because we only had one day in Coimbra, we did not have enough time to see the aqueduct, botanical gardens, and waterfront. From the quick views we saw from afar, they definitely are worth a visit as well!

 

A Day in Coimbra: Where to Eat

 

While in Portugal, we were on a mission to try natas in each city. Pastel de nata’s are custard filled tarts, and are worth eating at any time of day.  A few locals recommended we stop by this café for a coffee and some natas. The natas here are some of the best we tried, with incredibly flaky pastry. They were only surpassed by the slightly more lemony natas we had at the Largo da Portagem square.

We both truly believe that calories don’t count when you are traveling!

Natas to eat in Portugal | The Next Trip

 

For dinner, we can highly recommend Zé Manel dos Ossos. This restaurant was recommended to us by some locals we met the day before. They advised arriving half an hour before the restaurant even opened at 7:30pm! We arrived on time, and were second in line, with a few other groups arriving only a few minutes later. This restaurant is one of the best in Coimbra for traditional Portuguese food. As there are only seven tables inside it pays to arrive early, so there is no need to wait.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Time passed by quickly, and soon enough the friendly staff seated us inside the eclectically designed restaurant. The owner is super friendly and since we didn’t know what to order (nor could we read the menu) he chose for us. We shared a starter of mushrooms and pork; it was absolutely delicious, with a nice rich flavor.

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

The main course: seared pork with rice and beans. Again, the food was filled with flavor!

 

Zé Manel dos Ossos, Coimbra, Portgual | The Next Trip

 

Portuguese food is hearty and filling! This was the best meal from our Portugal trip, although the pitcher of wine definitely helped wash it all down. There is nothing like a relaxing  digestive evening stroll around the city after a heavy meal to complete your amazing day in Coimbra.

 

How to spend a day in Coimbra, Portugal | The Next Trip

 

Can't get enough of Portugal either? Check out our blog post on Porto here or get planning your own trip with our free top 10 tips on how to save money on traveling!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips on How to Spend a Day in Coimbra

 

  1. Pick a hotel in the historic old town. There are numerous small hotels in the historic old town with reasonable rates. The location allows you to easily reach all sights by foot, and be close enough to rest your feet in the middle of the day if you need it. We stayed at the Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra and can highly recommend it!
  2. The first stop when you arrive should be to get tickets to see the Joanina Library. They only allow 60 people in the library at any given time and reservations are mandatory. Get your tickets early so that you don’t miss out! There are so many beautiful photo opportunities all around the University of Coimbra and the square, that even if you have to wait a bit, it is no problem.
  3. Bring your best walking shoes, i.e. comfortable and preferably closed flats. While flip flops might be comfortable, they will hurt your feet after walking up and down these steep cobble stone streets for hours. Walking is absolutely the best/only way to explore Coimbra. This seems to be a common tip in Portugal!
  4. Try the natas – all of them!  We indulged in natas almost every day of our trip in Portugal.  The best ones that we had on our whole trip were in Coimbra. We can highly recommend these two cafes, here and here. We also had The World Needs Nata recommended to us, but it was closed when we were visiting.
  5. Eat at Zé Manel dos Ossos. This is not your typical restaurant and already seems to be gaining a lot of popularity through word of mouth only. Prepare yourself for a hearty meal of traditional Portuguese food and entertainment written all over the walls. If you decide to stop by, make sure you get there a 10-15 minutes before they open for dinner. The place has only a few tables and often lines up out the door, but is an excellent way to cap off a day in Coimbra!

 

Have you been to Portugal? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

Pin this blog post to your Portugal Pinterest board to save all your ideas and don't miss out when you're there!

 

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.

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How to Spend A Relaxed Weekend in Porto

Porto is one of those dream destinations in Portugal. It is easily accessible and a perfect weekend destination. Bettina and I can’t believe that we haven’t made it to Portugal until now! We fell for Porto as soon as we had our first taste of the Portuguese life. If you enjoy cobblestone streets, great food, great wine, and great weather, then Porto is for you! Keep reading for how to spend a relaxed weekend in Porto!

Click here if you want to skip to our 5 Top Travel Tips for a weekend in Porto. If you'd like to watch part of our weekend in Porto experience on video, check out Bettina's Instagram stories here.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Porto is very walkable, which makes it a great city for a little bit of exercise. In addition, a central hotel location is ideal so you can drop back in at any time of the day. We arrived on a Friday and stayed at the Porto Royal Bridges Hotel. The location was perfect for our relaxing stay, as was the fantastic breakfast and friendly staff! The breakfast spread was impressive, and a great way to start our morning each day during our weekend in Porto.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Exploring Porto

 

Bettina ambitiously decided we should wake up early to catch some of Porto’s famous blue-tiled buildings before the crowds set in. We started at Capela das Almas de Santa Catarina, which didn’t disappoint.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The azulejo tiles are striking and found on buildings throughout Porto, certainly adding to the charm of the city. Many of the tiles tell a story, making exploring them even more engaging.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The historic center has a number of iconic buildings. Two of our favorites are the Porto Town Hall and Porto Sao Bento train station.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

From the train station head downhill, exploring the many side streets along the way.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Eventually, you will be greeted with a fantastic view of the Douro River and surrounding city!  The North side of the river contains many of the famous colorful houses in Porto. Not to mention a lot of the best restaurants in the city.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

 

{Bettina:} My shoes were gifted to me by Mi.iM and they quickly became my favorite travel sandals. I was wearing them all day, every day, walking through the streets of Porto and was comfortable and fashionable all the time.

 

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How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

This was our favorite part of the city. While it is a bit touristy, it has a great vibe, and in March wasn’t overly crowded, but buzzing with the right amount of energy for our weekend in Porto.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Port Wine

 

A relaxed weekend in Porto would not be complete without a glass, or two, of some fine port wine! This wine is what the city gave its name to. Your best bet is to cross over the Douro River to the city of Vila Nova de Gaia, the riverfront stretch on the south side of the river. Here there are breathtaking views of the historical center as well as some of the best port wine cellars in the city.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Porto Cruz came recommended to us and didn’t disappoint. We were able to snag a seat on the rooftop to rest our weary feet and relax with a glass of port wine and some tapas. Other port wine cellars which were recommended to us but we didn’t try were Ferreira and Graham’s. If you haven’t tried it before, port wine is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley of Portugal, and is typically a sweet red, often served with dessert.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Did we mention the stunning views of the old town from the Porto Cruz rooftop? This is a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon tasting wine in the sun, and a must-do during your weekend in Porto!

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Porto City Viewpoint

 

Before you cross the river again, make sure you stop by Jardim do Morro for the most incredible sunset views. Depending on the number of glasses of port wine you’ve had, you can either walk or take the cable car to the top of the hill at Jardim do Morro. We opted to walk and zigzagged our way up the narrow streets to the top.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The views of the city from up here are breathtaking!

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Walking across the bridge back to the historical center leaves you with just as many beautiful impressions of the city. Watch out for the trams along the bridge as you will need to share the space! If you didn’t enjoy dinner at one of the port wine cellars, head back to the historical center to find your new favorite dinner spot.

 

 

 
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Livraria Lello - Harry Potter Library

 

Early Sunday morning head to Livraria Lello, one of the world’s best bookstores to beat the crowds just before opening. This bookstore has impressive architecture, but is probably most known for being an inspiration for Flourish and Blotts of Harry Potter fame. JK Rowling lived in Porto when she began developing ideas for the Harry Potter series.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

You can also see into the bookstore from the outside, which may be enough for some. We opted not to wait in the 50+ deep line and pay the 5 EUR per person entry fee, and instead settled on gelato next door!

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Porto Twin Churches

 

Just a bit further up the street is a beautiful square with Porto’s famous twin churches. Igreja dos Carmelitas and Igreja do Carmo are famous for having the narrowest building in the city between them and having a beautiful outside wall with azulejo tile.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

The buildings can easily be mistaken as one church, but each has a very unique history. The narrow building in between was created to ensure no contact between the nuns and monks occurred at any time.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Continue the neighborhood tour of Porto with a requisite tourist photo at the ‘PORTO’ sign nearby. While we’re into cheesy tourist opportunities, why not get a sardine can with your birth year printed on it? Or try the local cod cakes which are hand-made cakes shaped like a potato, filled with cheese and then fried.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

While you’re in the neighborhood, snap a picture of the iconic Tram 28 which winds its way through the steep and narrow cobblestone streets.

 

How to Spend A Weekend in Porto - The Next Trip

 

Because no weekend in Porto would be complete without shopping, make sure you head to Porto’s Rua de Santa Catarina which is the main shopping street. Bettina definitely spent some time here and contemplated the limits of her hand luggage and how many clothes she could buy and still fit in.


This is how we spent our relaxed weekend in Porto and we loved it so much, we can't wait to go back. Check our top tips below to help plan your weekend and sign up for our 10 money-saving travel tips to save on your next weekend getaway!

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Weekend in Porto Tips

 

1) Uber from the airport to the city center.

We used Uber to and from the airport as well as a few times within Porto and every time the car was there within 2 minutes, was clean, and had a good driver. As a bonus, it is cheaper than a cab, our rides to and from the airport were just under 15 EUR each way.

There is a bus and metro option, which can definitely save you money, but for our location it was also over an hour vs. 20 minutes in an Uber.

 

2) Drink the wine!

As this is what they are (rightly) famous for. Without a doubt, sampling the many kinds of port wine the city has to offer, is a great way to spend your afternoon and necessary for a proper weekend in Porto. If port wine is not your thing, no worries. Wineries offer all kinds of other regional wines as well. Our favorite wineries, or those recommended to us by locals are Porto Cruz, Ferreira and Graham’s.

 

3) Eat the seafood.

Portuguese food is typically quite hearty, and we found it heavier and greasier than we expected, however the exception is seafood and Porto has that in abundance. There are so many great places to try, just get out there and start eating. Remember that fresh sardines in Portugal are far better here than that old can in the cupboard of your grandmother’s house.

 

4) Bring your best walking shoes.

The city is small enough that you can easily see all of the major sites by foot in a weekend.  There is no need to use the metro, buses, or trams, unless your hotel is slightly off the beaten path. That being said, the streets are cobblestone and there are a lot of hills!

 

5) Do search out your favorite azulejo tile.

The blue tiles are on all sorts of beautiful and very average buildings. Taking pictures of the tiles you come across and searching for the one that speaks to you is a fun challenge we enjoyed while walking the streets during our weekend in Porto.

 

Pin this blog post to your Pinterest board to save all your ideas about spending a weekend in Porto!

 

How to Spend A Relaxed Weekend in Porto 42

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

How to Spend A Relaxed Weekend in Porto 43
How to Spend A Relaxed Weekend in Porto 44
How to Spend A Relaxed Weekend in Porto 45

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A Day in Zurich, Switzerland: Exploring Delicious Oro de Cacao Chocolate

It's a well-kept secret that there is a rivalry between Bern (the capital of Switzerland) and Zurich (the largest city in Switzerland). As a result of growing up near Bern, I was always biased towards the city named after bears.

 

A Day in Zurich

 

When growing up in Switzerland, I never really spent much time exploring Zurich. However, after spending a day in Zurich exploring the city with family, I might have to give it more credit.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

Located right on the river Limmat and Lake Zurich, the city is surrounded by water and offers beautiful views of the Swiss Alps in the distance. The city is relatively small, but packs in everything you need in a walkable and picturesque area.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

We spent our day in Zurich wandering through the old town, admiring old fountains,...

 

Water Fountain, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

Shop My Look

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland: Exploring Delicious Oro de Cacao Chocolate 54

 

 

... explaining old buildings to my niece (although I think she might be more fascinated by the birds than listening to me) ...

 

A Day in Switzerland

 

A Day in Switzerland

 

... walking past one of the oldest hotels in Switzerland, Hotel Storchen (established in 1357), which even has its very own ferry terminal ...

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Storchen

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

... and found ourselves in front of the Oro De Cacao store.  We couldn't resist the idea of some hot chocolate on this cold winter day and stepped right in.

 

Exploring Oro De Cacao, Zurich

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Oro De Cacao is a brand new Swiss chocolate producer. I am a firm believer that Swiss chocolate is the best chocolate in the world (No offense to Belgium, but i'm also slightly biased, being Swiss and all). However, this store takes the chocolate experience to an entirely new level.

 

Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Dieter Meier revolutionized the chocolate production process by using cold extraction to break cocoa beans into cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and the parts that give chocolate its bitter taste. As a result, you're left with a very intense and flavorful piece of chocolate. By removing the bitterness of the chocolate, but preserving the intense natural flavors, Oro de Cacao does not need to add as much sugar to mask the bitterness. The result is absolutely delicious tasting chocolate, without being overtly sweet.

 

Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Completely in awe with this new technology, I sampled a piece of every variation they offered! The new technology process of making the chocolate preserves the intense aroma of the various cocoa beans. As I sampled the various chocolates, I could taste as distinct difference between the various pieces of Oro de Caco chocolate, with the only difference being the country of the source beans.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

And of course, we couldn't leave Oro de Cacao without trying their home-made hot chocolate which was beautifully rich. I also took some chocolate bars home and love to treat myself after a long day at work. Given the intensity of the chocolate flavor, you only really need a small piece to satisfy your cravings. We will definitely be back to Oro de Cacao the next time we spend a day in Zurich!

 

Hot Chocolate Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Hot Chocolate Switzerland - Oro De Cacao

 

Thank you Oro De Cacao, Zurich for having us and providing us with a delicious and wonderful chocolate experience!

 

Zurich at Dusk

 

We spent the rest of our day in Zurich raving about the chocolate we just tried, and enjoying the beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere. I just love wandering the streets of European cities leading up to Christmas. The cities are nicely decorated and always feature a Christmas market where you can enjoy gluhwein, or mulled wine, and tasty treats! Zurich has multiple Christmas markets, including near the main train station and in front of the Zurich Opera House.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

 

Although we only spent a day in Zurich, the city impressed me with its old-town flair and international spirit. It is a city that I grew up relatively close to, and as a result never truly took the time to explore as a tourist. Have you been to Zurich? What did you like best about the city? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland: Exploring Delicious Oro de Cacao Chocolate 55

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A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go

A few months ago we stumbled across an article from late 2017, saying how the Northern Lights were going to be decreasing for almost the next decade! While we did catch a brief glimpse in Lapland (northern Finland) when we first met almost nine years ago, we didn’t get to see the full sky filled with a beautiful display of aurora. This would be our last chance, so to speak, to try to catch the Northern Lights for the next few years.

Click here if you want to skip to our 5 Top Iceland  Travel Tips. If you'd like to watch our Iceland experience on video, check out Bettina's Instagram stories here.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

How We Got To Iceland

 

Soon after we read that article, WOW Air came out with a great fare sale from Chicago to Iceland, which allowed us to pick up round trip tickets for the two of us for only $220 each. You can’t beat this kind of price for a direct flight to Iceland! We left Chicago late on a cold Friday in January and flew overnight. The beauty of over-night flying is that you don't need to get a hotel and you have the entire arrival day to explore. Check out this blog post for tips on how to get over jet lag.

 

Weekend In Iceland Itinerary and Story

 

We left Chicago on a cold Friday in January and were actually heading to warmer temperatures up in Iceland, the land of ice and fire! You may know Iceland from Game of Thrones. The series captures some of the most incredible film destinations in Iceland. You may even recognize some of the sights we explored!

Arriving around 5:30am, our first stop was Joe and the Juice, a great coffee shop in the airport, and then to Avis to pick up our rental car.  We then had a 3 hour drive in front of us, to our destination: Vík.

We passed by top sights such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss but unfortunately, at this time in the day, it was still pitch dark and we couldn’t see them. It wasn’t until we closed in on Vík closer to 10:00am that the sky started to brighten. We were lucky to have done a complete Iceland road trip back in 2015 and have seen most of the main sights already. We were thus able to focus on one of our favourite areas of Iceland: the South-East coast.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

When we were in Vík in 2015, it was late August and lush, green, and almost warm. Things were slightly different today, with temperatures hovering around 0C (32F) combined with wind and snow. That did not stop us from getting out and capturing some amazing photos at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Shop Bettina's Look

Chicwish gifted Bettina this gorgeous dress. It also comes in black and white. It's the perfect dress for a wedding guest!

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go 65

The combination of wind and snow meant we ran back to the car quickly to warm up. The clouds had also moved in, and it began to rain, putting a bit of a damper on our moods. However, one thing to know about Iceland is that the weather changes quickly, is unpredictable, so you just have to expect the unexpected!

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

We began our drive back towards our hotel in the direction of Reykjavík and did take the time to stop at the Dyrhólaey lighthouse and both Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss for more pictures despite the continuing rain.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

The sheer power of the waterfalls is absolutely amazing every time you see it.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

During the winter months, Iceland does not get a lot of daylight. With 5 hours of daylight, the sun was already setting as we were heading towards our hotel.

 

 
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Since we really only had one night in Iceland, this was now our chance to see the Northern Lights. Unfortunately, the aurora forecast was not great. It was also a cloudy night, so our chances were slim at best. It was however supposed to be clear skies in the early morning, so we decided to get up at 6:00am and see what we could see. We drove a few minutes out of town to get away from the surrounding lights and stared out at the pitch black sky.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

After fiddling with the camera a bit in the bitter cold, we were able to capture some reflections of the Northern Lights off in the distance. Not quite the epic full sky pictures you see in the travel brochures, but we were happy to have seen something – our trip had not been in vain!

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

After heading back to the hotel to freshen up and have breakfast we were off again, but this time under blue skies and shining sun, exceptionally rare for this time of year, made all the better by the light dusting of snow from the night before.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

We drove south towards the ocean and stopped for pictures at Strandakirkja. The views here were absolutely incredible and made us so thankful for our decision to actually do this weekend trip.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Continuing through the Reykjanesfólkvangur Nature Preserve, we came across even more awe-inspiring views.

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

We were a bit pressed for time at this point to head back to the airport and catch our flight. After a brief stop at the local Costco for a cheap snack and fuel – off we went back to the airport!

 

Costco in Iceland - 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Costco in Iceland - 5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 


Despite having only about 30 hours on the ground in Iceland, we had experienced so much in such a short amount of time that it felt like we had been gone for days. If you have the chance to spend a weekend or longer in Iceland, we highly recommend – it is one of our favourite places!

 

 

Top 5 Iceland Travel Tips

 

1) Expect the unexpected when it comes to weather.

You could easily experience weather from all four seasons, so be prepared and take it in stride! Make sure you bring warm and water-proof clothing. These are the best coats for Iceland in winter and summer. We wore Sorel boots and Fjallraven jackets to keep us warm.

2) Find meals at the local Bónus or Krónan grocery store.

Eating out is really expensive. We’re talking $20 to $25 for a basic entrée excluding drinks, starters, or dessert. However, you can find a good selection of food for somewhat reasonable prices at the grocery store. If you can, bring some snacks with you. Trail mix and protein bars travel really well.

3) Rent a car no matter how long your trip.

Iceland is all about getting out and seeing nature, and there’s no better freedom than having your own car to explore. We rented a car with Avis and everything went smoothly.

4) Bring your Costco card!

The store is relatively new in Iceland and you will save big time on fuel, groceries, and snacks from their restaurant! We got gas at Costco right before returning our rental car, and even snuck in the Icelandic version of the famous Costco hot dog.

5) You don’t actually need cash.

As long as you have a chip and pin credit card, you won’t need to exchange for any Icelandic Krona. We used our cards everywhere without problem and saved the time and hassle of exchanging currency.

 

5 Things to Know Before You Go - The Next Trip

 

Would you visit Iceland just for the weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go 67

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go 68

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go 69

A Weekend in Iceland & 5 Things to Know Before You Go 70

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Skiing in Switzerland – The Best Day at Crans Montana Ski Resort

Growing up in Switzerland, and learning to ski at Crans Montana Ski Resort, I didn't understand what everyone's fascination with the Alps was. Being surrounded by mountains was normal. I wanted to experience the big city life instead! Things changed very quickly though, once I moved to Illinois - the flattest state in the U.S.  I realized that once I was so far away from mountains, that I actually miss mountains a lot! Every time Kyle and I go back to Switzerland, we like to spend some time in the Alps and go skiing if there is snow and the weather conditions are reasonable.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Crans Montana Ski Resort

 

I have been to a few ski resorts in Switzerland, but grew up exploring the hills of Crans-Montana, a ski resort in the French part of Switzerland, in the canton Valais. It's a two hour drive to get there from Bern and you can either drive via Lake Geneva and stop in gorgeous Montreux and visit Chillon Castle on the way, or you can drive through the Bernese Alps and take the Lötschberg car train which is a fun experience by itself. If you have never heard of the car train before, check out this video.

The first time I took Kyle to the car train, he was stunned as he had never driven onto a train with his car before! If you are driving from Zurich, it is a bit further, but Zurich is also worth exploring, see our post on Zurich and exploring Oro De Cacao from the same trip!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Crans Montana Ski Resort is 1,500m or 4,920ft above sea level and from there you can access the glacier Plaine Morte which is even higher at 2,927m or 9,600ft above sea level. Because the Crans Montana Ski Resort faces south, you often get the sunniest skiing conditions and best views of the Swiss Alps and the beautiful valley below. In addition, you may have heard of Crans Montana Ski Resort as it is a famous location in alpine ski racing.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Hitting the Slopes

 

Once you take the gondola up to the top of Crans Montana Ski Resort, you can even see the famous Matterhorn. Although you'll only see the backside of it which makes it difficult to recognize its famous shaped peak. It doesn't matter which way you look, the views from the top of Crans Montana Ski Resort are incredible!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

After a bumpy ride up in the cable car, Kyle and I couldn't wait to finally hit the slopes and go skiing in Switzerland at Crans Montana Ski Resort for the first time in 4(!) years.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Shop My Skiing Outfit

 

Many of the items I'm wearing, I've had for years. My jacket is from H&M and I linked similar ones below. My goggles are by Arnette and you can get them on Amazon still.

Skiing in Switzerland - The Best Day at Crans Montana Ski Resort 80

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

The morning was a bit foggy but it cleared up soon. The afternoon sun brought the most beautiful views and blue skies!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Luckily, skiing is just like riding a bike if you haven't done it in awhile; although our legs were starting to get sore rather quickly. After a few runs, we had enough confidence to go down a double black diamond run, but regretted our choice as soon as we looked down the hill. Check out my Instagram stories if you're curious to see the run! We certainly weren't graceful, but we made it down without any issues.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Arguably, the best part about skiing is getting away from the busy city life to enjoy a day in the snow and sun. The fact that you get a little bit of exercise along the way is even better.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Après Ski - Essential When Skiing in Switzerland

 

While you're out there enjoying your day at Crans Montana Ski Resort, make sure you stop by one of the many slope bars and restaurants and enjoy a drink and snack. Some people would even argue that the après ski is just as important, if not more important, than the actual skiing! There are eleven restaurants and bars scattered all across the Crans Montana Ski Resort. Every single one has a fantastic view.

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

We enjoyed glasses of hot glühwein and a charcuterie board with local Swiss cheese and meats. It was just what we needed to continue skiing well into the afternoon!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - Crans-Montana

 

Crans Montana Ski Resort Village

 

For all the non-skiers among us, I can still highly recommend a visit to the village of Crans Montana, just down the hill from the Crans Montana Ski Resort. You can take the cable car to the slopes to enjoy the views or stay in the resort town. There are options to go ice skating ...

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

... go on a walk around the frozen lakes ...

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

... and enjoy the holiday decorations. The village of Crans Montana is pretty typical for a Swiss resort town. It has a number of high-end restaurants and hotels, plus a few grocery stores and shops down every lane. Crans Montana is one of my favorite Swiss ski resort towns.

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Crans-Montana by night

 

Have you ever been to Crans Montana Ski Resort or skiing in Switzerland? Where is your favourite place to go? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Skiing in Switzerland - My favorite resort and views of the Alps
Skiing in Switzerland - My favorite resort and views of the Alps

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 


 

Wandering in the Dolomites

Having spent a wonderful day in Venice (read about it here and see our full itinerary here), we were heading north - to the Dolomites. We rented a Fiat 500 to drive from Venice to the Dolomites (I linked the route here) which made me particularly happy as I love these cute cars and I haven't driven a stick-shift in a long time.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

After the short 2-hour drive, we arrived and were greeted with sunshine and amazing views of little Italian villages, sparkling alpine lakes, and majestic mountain peaks.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

We stayed in Padola at the Hotel La Torre which was modern and offered the most amazing views of the ski slopes and the surrounding mountain ranges. The entire area felt like one big ski resort and we would love to come back once, equipped to hit the slopes.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Even better than the views though were the hotel staff. They were extremely friendly and warm, attending to our every need, and they made us feel like we're staying with a family rather than in a hotel. If you ever plan a trip to the Dolomites, I can highly recommend staying there.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

The Dolomites are a mountain range in the north of Italy which reminds me very much of Switzerland. Also, it's where part of my family originates from. Going back there over Easter, to spend a few days relaxing with my family was very special to me. I don't get to see my family very often, but when I do, it's a blast! We do what families are supposed to do: eat, talk, have some wine, and eat some more. Our Easter weekend in the Dolomites was no different. After the Sunday dinner (it was a full 7-course meal and each course was good sized!), I didn't think I could ever eat again.

To walk off the meals of the past couple of days, Kyle and I decided to explore the area a bit more. Hotel Spa La Torre lent us their snowshoes and we were off on our adventure with the little Fiat 500 rental.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Initially, my family joined us but as the hills got steeper, we were soon alone. With the only goal of enjoying the views, we wandered off into the woods, snowshoes in hand for when the going got tough.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

We couldn't get enough of these views of snow-covered mountains, old Italian villages, and blue skies.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

As we were walking and enjoying the surroundings, we were surprised by how much at home both of us felt. Growing up in Canada and Switzerland, respectively, Kyle and I are used to mountains and we often miss seeing peaks on the horizon.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Who knows, we might move somewhere more remote than Chicago someday, with lots of mountains and snow. But for now, we're enjoying the big city life to the fullest.

 

Wandering in the Dolomites - The Next Trip

 

Would you rather live in the mountains or in a big city? Let us know in the comments below!

 


 

A Taste of Venice

Everything they say about Venice is true. It’s a magical place. I as of this day still haven’t seen anything quite like it, and it’s completely overrun by tourists.

I’ve been to Venice when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it. However, as a kid, I was impressed by many things that don’t seem as amazing now. Venice was different. Ever since we thought about going to Venice over Easter and meeting my family there, I was really excited to go back to the city that stole my heart 20 or so (I’d rather not count) years ago.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

We flew from Brussels to Marco Polo Airport (check out our itinerary here) and took the bus directly into Venice. With hotels in Venice being so expensive, we booked a place off the island but decided to go to Venice first to enjoy the afternoon and evening there before heading to the hotel later that night. (In case you were wondering, we didn’t walk around Venice with our suitcases but were able to store them at the train station.)

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

As we started wandering around the city, crossing canals, and admiring the architecture, I noticed that Kyle was very impressed with what he saw. He doesn’t usually believe in travel destination hypes but had to give in to this one.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

We usually try to blend in with the locals but something about the Italian cuisine made us fail miserably. No sooner than 30 minutes after touching ground, we already polished off a slice of pizza and two scoops (each!) of gelato.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Consistent with our days in Belgium, it was raining on and off. We decided to cure our weather blues with wine and cured meats before at Muro Frari before heading to our hotel.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

We stayed at the most beautiful Hotel Villa Barbarich where we met my family. A few minutes outside of Venice, the hotel is beautifully secluded, surrounded by trees, and as relaxing as can be. I would have loved to stay there a few days longer to enjoy the hotel grounds and the spa.

 

Hotel Villa Barbarich - A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Hotel Villa Barbarich - A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

The inside of the hotel was just as stunning. It is a combination of historical Italian architecture with modern elements. We were particularly taken aback by the art on the walls and ceiling.

 

Hotel Villa Barbarich - A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Hotel Villa Barbarich - A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

We planned to head back into Venice early the next morning. However, these plans were thoroughly ruined by the amazing breakfast spread at the Hotel Villa Barbarich. We ate our body weights in eggs, bacon, pastries, and more, and were ready to explore.

 

Hotel Villa Barbarich - A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Hotel Villa Barbarich - A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

The city was even more impressive in the sun and we walked through the narrow alleys soaking it all in.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

The architecture in Venice is truly amazing. I'm in awe every time I walk through the narrow streets.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Ready for a coffee break (which is basically always), we followed the promise of some proper coffee time at the oldest café in the world – Café Florian. It is located right on St. Marcus Square, you can't miss it!

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

If you ever visit Venice, I can highly recommend this place. Their hot chocolate (I know, not really a coffee) is out of this world – chocolaty, thick, creamy, and not too sweet.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

(Note that Café Florian is extremely popular amongst tourists given its location and history so you would want to come here in the morning.)

We wandered around for another couple of hours and had a blast spending time together.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Shop My Look

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

It was so precious to be reunited with my family in such a magical place. Kyle and I made a promise to come back but try to stay in the city so that we could explore Venice before all the other tourists make it out of bed.

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Before we left the island, I picked up a traditional Colomba di Pasqua and we toasted to a great start into our Easter family get-together. (A Colomba di Pasqua is a Panettone in the shape of a dove. It's a typical 'cake' the Italians eat around Easter.)

 

A Taste of Venice - The Next Trip

 

Have you been to Venice? What did you like best? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Getting Blown Away by Bruges

Having heard about the magic of Bruges by a lot of travelers, we couldn’t miss out on the chance of seeing the city with our own eyes. You may recall from our days in Brussels (read about here) that it was raining a lot. We were finally starting to get wise, checking the weather forecast before leaving, and saw that the rains in Bruges were not supposed to start until about 10:00am. Somehow, we managed to haul our very jetlagged selves out of bed extra early, for a vacation that is, and catch the 7:00am train to Bruges.  The train is direct and only about an hour, just enough time to catch a few more zzz’s before exploring for the day.

 

Blown away by Bruges - The Next Trip