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One of the largest French speaking countries outside of France, Montreal is an amazing blend of classic French architecture and modern city. A journey to Montreal offers you enchanting neighborhoods, delicious French cuisine, and enriching sightseeing options – all without a long flight to Europe! Discover the Paris of North America.

Getting to Montreal

Montreal rests just north of the Vermont-Quebec Border, roughly a 1 hour flight from NYC or a 6 hour drive. If you’re traveling from Toronto the travel time is roughly the same.

The city’s major airport is Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, which receives flights from dozens of airlines,including Air Canada, United, Delta, and more.

If you want to visit the city by train you can take Amtrak if you’re coming from the States or VIA Rail from Canada’s other major cities. for a scenic journey.

Weather in Montreal

Montreal’s’ weather is divided between a warm and humid Summer and cold ans snowy Winter.. Spring and Autumn feature stunning colors throughout the city’s parks and gardens.

Spring offers comfortable weather and is a prime time to explore the city, whether by bike, foot or bus. Relax in the parks as the bloom while enjoying the fresh treats from a local bakery.

Summer is a warmer and more active version of Spring, hosting the Montreal International Jazz Festival and 3 day long Osheaga for electronic, hip hop, and indie music.

Autumn continues the Summer fun while transforming the city with re and orange maple leaves. Pack a warm coat for the colder days while you’re strolling beneath the maple trees.

Winter will be the roughest time of year with heavy snow falls throughout the city, however it comes alive with a variety of festivals and events.

Bring your party outfit Igloofest, a music festival full of electronic music and colorful lights from January to February.
Artists are welcome at Art Souterrain, an underground art festival from February to May that brings out Montreal’s most unique talents.
One of the largest festivals in the world, Montreal En Lumiere has something for everyone from February to March, including delicious foods,amazing theatrical performances, circus acts, and outdoor activities.
There are a variety of things to do in Montreal year round, including fall foliage tours in Autumn, Winter festivals, lovely that bloom in Spring, and fantastic day trips from Montreal in the Summer.

Top Attractions in Montreal

Old Montreal will be the start of your sightseeing adventure, featuring historic houses, churches, and streets. Stroll down Rue Saint-Paul, a colorful cobblestone street that cuts through Old Montreal and past its historical structures.

Enjoy breakfast at a local bakery, capture photos of the Paul de Chomedey’s statue, the founder of Montreal, and explore the enchanting interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, whose entrance fee is only CAD 6.00.

Next, head to Mont-Royal, the highest point in the city and offering grand views of the city. This extensive 200-hectar park features a sculpture garden, Beaver Lake, and the hidden gem of Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

After introducing yourself to the culture and history of the city, head on over to the Montreal Botanical Garden, an array of stunning displays (CAD 20.25). Discover over 20,000 flora and fauna while walking past jaw-dropping displays. From here you can also visit the Biodome where you can encounter the natural worlds of the Americas, passing through 5 different biomes (CAD 20.25).

End your day at the nearby Tower Observatory, one of the tallest man-made leaning towers in the world, where you can take a 2-minute funicular ride to the top for enchanting views (CAD 23.25).

If you want a local’s perspective, join a Old Montreal walking tour, which includes access to the Notre-Dame Basilica, or a panoramic Montreal city tour to explore Old Montreal, Downtown Montreal, Mont-Royal, and Botanical Garden.

Dollar Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Language French; English
Cultural Etiquette Canadians share similar etiquette to the U.S., with handshake greetings and eye contact during conversations. They are generally more respectful and polite than Americans.French is the preferred language of most Quebec citizens, and for first impressions it is good etiquette to speak on their terms.
Food Classic French cuisine from baguettes to poutine
Restaurant Etiquette Tipping is standard practice in Canada, from restaurants to hair dressers to bellhops, so be prepared to provide at least 15% if someone helps you out professionally.When requesting a waiter or waitress, you should say “Monsieur” and “Mademoiselle” respectfully.
Safety Level Relatively Safe. More information at Safearound.
Getting Around Montreal is a walker friendly city, especially within the major neighborhoods. If you’re moving between neighborhoods then you can use the Metro System, which is CAD 3.00 per ride.
Emergency Services All Emergencies: 911

Almost as large as the continental U.S. and Europe, Australia is MASSIVE, featuring a variety of unique destinations that transform each season. Picking the right place and time to visit Australia can be tricky, especially when factoring in wet vs dry seasons, Southern Hemisphere seasons, national holidays, and peak travel seasons – but don’t worry! We’ve put together a short guide detailing the best times to visit Australia for you to easily plan your trip Down Under.

Summer

Running from December to February, Summer is peak travel season in Australia, filling out hotels, flights, and tours with travelers from around the world looking to enjoy the warm weather in the Southern Hemisphere. Major cities will be packed with not only tourists but families and students on vacation for Christmas, New Years, and Boxing Day.

Instead of fighting the crowds in Sydney or Melbourne, get off the beaten path in Tasmania, which, while being one of the most popular regions year round, is a stunning landscape to get lost in. If you’re worried about tours filling up, rent a car and enjoy a self-drive itinerary along the island’s coasts and mountains. Make sure to visit one of the wineries and vineyards near Hobart, the capital, to taste some of the finest wine in the country, perfectly paired with delicious food during The Taste of Tasmania food festival in December.

If you want to experience the famous Australia waves, journey north of Sydney to Byron Bay by bus, plane, train or car, one of the liveliest hippy towns in Australia. Relax in the laid-back atmosphere while learning to surf with the locals.

Daring to visit the city? Make sure to experience White Night Melbourne, a dusk till dawn event in mid-February featuring dazzling light displays across the city’s historic buildings.

Autumn

Whether you’re traveling to Australia for the harvest season or Autumn colors, March to May is a perfect off-peak season to experience this country. Sydney is enjoying comfortable weather while the peak tourist crowds are away, giving you the perfect chance to explore the capital of New South Wales. Melbourne and Brisbane are also good options if you want to hit up the other major cities on the East Coast while enjoying lowering prices on accommodation and flights.

But if you want to experience Australia’s wild-side, then head North to Darwin where you can discover Australia’s tropical wonders. Take a nature safari through Litchfield National Park and discover hidden waterfalls, jungles, and swimming holes.

Make sure to visit Sydney in March for the Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras, Sydney’s premiere Pride festival that transforms the city into a colorful party.

If you’re looking to experience Aboriginal culture first hand, travel to Ayers Rock for Tjungu Festival, a celebration of Australia’s Indigenous culture near one of the most sacred sites in the country, Ayers Rock.

One of the most enchanting festivals during Autumn is Vivid Sydney, running from May to June, where the city’s major attractions, from the Sydney Harbour to Taronga Zoo, come alive with music, lights, and creativity!

Winter

Most other countries would scoff at Australia’s Winter, where temperatures hardly drop below 65 F (15 C), but June to August is one of the best times to visit Australia, as the weather cools down and the crowds are limited to the major ski resorts.

This is your chance to travel to the Outback, specifically the Red Centre, to see the mighty Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock. This sacred Aboriginal plateau is a short but stunning visit from Ayers Rock Resort or a 3 day trip from Alice Springs, which lets you enjoy Kings Canyon ,the Garden of Eden and the Kata Tjuta National Park.

Still want to visit the beach? Head to Western Australia and cool off in the growing capital of Perth. From here you can explore fine wines along Margaret River, swim with dolphins in Rockingham, or journey up the coast to Exmouth and swim with whale sharks in the Ningaloo Reef.

If you journey to South Australia in August, prepare to be astounding at SALA, aka the South Australian Living Artists Festival. This statewide festival features artists and events in every major city, including the capital of Adelaide.

Visitors to Tasmania can also revel in the arts with Dark Mofo, a winter festival hosted by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), one of the most controversial museums in the world.

Spring

Spring is the time to shine across Australia as flowers bloom and wildlife come out to play from September to November. The steady transition from cool to hot weather makes this one of the most comfortable seasons in Australia, perfect for basking in the beauty of nature.

Take this chance to visit the capital of Canberra, host to dozens of free museums and galleries to explore on a budget, as well as a series of amazing wineries. Take in this green city in September and October to experience Floriade, Australia’s most beloved spring festival of colorful gardens at the national Arboretum, all for free!

Wildlife enthusiasts cannot miss out on Kangaroo Island, which rests just off the coast of Adelaide and offers the chance to see koalas clinging to trees while friendly seals laze on the shore. This amazing island is filled to the brim with amazing wildlife to spot either on a day trip or overnight stay at one of the island’s lovely eco-resorts.

Visitors to Melbourne won’t be able to ignore the exciting Melbourne Cup, Australia’s largest horse race, in early November. Even if you’re not a fan of horse racing, expect to be captivated by the Melbourne Cup Carnival, which features vintage fashion styles, music, and events in Flemington.

Barcelona’s popularity as a tourist destination has surged in recent years, but there are still many local barrios to explore away from the crowds. In the centre you’ll be jostling for space amongst tour groups, bicycles and selfie sticks; visit these neighbourhoods, though, and you might be the only one there.

Explore vast empty parks, visit Gaudí buildings where you won’t have to queue, admire spectacular city views, and get to know areas of the city even many locals don’t know.

Cafes and culture in Sant Andreu de Palomar
The village-like barrio of Sant Andreu de Palomar lies to the northeast of Barcelona’s centre, and is one of the most charming in the city. In fact, it used to be an independent village until it merged with the city in the late 1800s. Even locals don’t know this barrio, unless they live there.

Despite not being well-known, Sant Andreu has some intriguing sights. At the heart sits the Plaza Orfila, and the striking Church of Sant Andreu, one of the most unique in the city. Built on the site of a 10th-century Romanesque church, it’s neo-Gothic in style and has become a symbol of the barrio. Just around the corner, you’ll find Fabra i Coats, a large modern art gallery housed in a former thread and textile factory.

The neighbourhood is filled with quaint squares, lots of independent shops and cafes, and mesmerising Modernista architecture. Stop for a coffee at the historic Versalles bar with its shimmering green facade and undulating wrought-iron balconies, before continuing to the Sant Andreu covered market, one of the most traditional in Barcelona. In the cobbled streets behind the market, you’ll find the Parròquia de Sant Pacià, another lovely neo-Gothic church with ribbed vaults, and original tiles designed by none other than Antoni Gaudí.

To get here, take metro line 1 and get out at Sant Andreu.

A lovely labyrinth in Horta
The quaint, quiet barrio of Horta lies to the north of the centre and west of Sant Andreu, and brims with cute plazas and narrow streets. Other than sitting down with the locals to enjoy a nice cold orxata (tiger nut milk) or two in a pretty square, your main reason for coming here will be the Parc del Laberint d’Horta – a huge green expanse that sits high up among rolling hills. Dating to the late 1700s and early 1800s, it’s the oldest garden in Barcelona and is both Neoclassical and Romantic in style. Filled with graceful pavilions, ponds, waterfalls, and busts and statues inspired by Greek and Roman mythology, its highlight is a huge central labyrinth – a proper cypress hedge maze you can really get lost in.

To get to the centre of Horta, take metro line 5 and get out at Horta. For the Parc del Labrint, take metro line 3 and get out at Mundet.

Barcelona’s best view in El Carmel
The neighbourhood of El Carmel sits just below Horta, and above Gaudí’s famous Park Güell. While almost all tourists visit Park Güell, few venture further. El Carmel is characterised by steep narrow streets and leafy residential areas; there aren’t many sights, but the neighbourhood more than makes up for that by offering some incredible city views.

You’ll need to be fit to walk the hilly streets of El Carmel, and even fitter still to climb to the top of Turó de la Rovira to visit the Bunkers del Carmel. Built during the Spanish Civil War, the bunkers were used to house anti-aircraft guns, but later during the 1940s to 1960s became something of a shanty town – at one point housing around 3000 people. Today, locals, students and expats gather here at sunset with picnics and guitars, but if you can wake up early enough, sunrise is even better. It’s from up here that you can enjoy the best view in the whole of Barcelona – a panoramic snapshot of the city that lets you pick out its most iconic landmarks, from the celebrated Sagrada Família to the futuristic Torre Agbar and the verdant Montjuïc hill, all framed by the deep blue of the Mediterranean.

If you’ve got kids, head over to the Parc de la Creueta del Coll, which is home to a large shallow lagoon for swimming and kayaking. Just behind the lagoon, Eduardo Chillida’s Praise of the Water sculpture – like a giant concrete claw – sits suspended in the air.

To get here, take metro line 3 and get out at El Carmel. For the Bunkers, you’ll need to walk a further 1.2km up steep hills or take bus 86 and walk the last 10 minutes.

A Gaudí masterpiece in Sarrià
Sarrià is Barcelona’s upmarket barrio for the well-heeled, filled with luxury apartments, quiet narrow streets, picturesque squares and elegant Catalan architecture. Sarrià, like Sant Andreu, used to be a separate village until it was swallowed up by the city. It was in fact the last village to annex to Barcelona, doing so in the latter half of the 19th century.

A Gaudí masterpiece in Sarrià
Sarrià is Barcelona’s upmarket barrio for the well-heeled, filled with luxury apartments, quiet narrow streets, picturesque squares and elegant Catalan architecture. Sarrià, like Sant Andreu, used to be a separate village until it was swallowed up by the city. It was in fact the last village to annex to Barcelona, doing so in the latter half of the 19th century.

 

Eat like a local

Whether you’re tucking into hearty farmhouse fare in a Tuscan agriturismo or a wood-fired pizza in a Naples pizzeria, dining out is one of Italy’s great joys.

And there’s no shortage of eateries, with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to neighbourhood trattorias, wine bars, cafes and pizzerias. Italians generally eat late, so if you want to fit in, stop for lunch at around 1.30pm and dinner at 8.30 to 9pm – the further south you go, the later they eat.

A full Italian meal consists of an antipasto, a primo (usually pasta or risotto), secondo (main course, typically fish or meat), contorno (side dish), and dolce (dessert). You’re not expected to eat all that, so feel free to mix ‘n’ match when ordering. And when you’ve finished, ask for the bill – it won’t be delivered automatically.

Some other pointers: eat spaghetti with a fork, not a spoon. Never eat bread with pasta, though it’s OK to wipe up any leftover sauce with it. Drink wine with pasta and beer with pizzas. It’s fine to eat pizza with your hands.

Dress the part

Appearances matter in fashion-conscious Italy. That said, you’ll have to dress comfortably for sightseeing because you’ll be walking a lot. Practical shoes are a must as cobblestoned streets play havoc with heels and ankles. For the evening, smart casual is the way to go.

At big religious sites, dress codes are strictly enforced. If you want to get into St Peter’s Basilica or St Marks in Venice, play it safe and cover your knees and shoulders.

Museums (and how to skip the line)

Italy’s historic cities are littered with awe-inspiring art and famous buildings, and often sightseeing is just a case of walking the streets. But for top sights like the Colosseum and Vatican Museums in Rome or Florence’s Galleria degli Uffizi and Gallerie dell’Accademia, entrance queues are the norm.

There are no fool-proof ways of skipping the line – even with a ticket there are still security checks. But you’ll cut waiting time by booking tickets online. Alternatively, try to arrive first thing in the morning or late afternoon when the queues have died down. In the case of the Vatican Museums, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the quietest days.

Museum opening times vary, but many are closed on Mondays. Also, state museums are free on the first Sunday of each month.

Bread and tipping

Italians are not big tippers. Service is generally added to restaurant bills, but if it’s not, a euro or two is fine in trattorias and pizzerias, up to 10% in smart restaurants. Also, expect to pay for pane e coperto (a bread and cover charge) – this is standard and is added even if you don’t ask for or eat the bread.

Tipping in bars isn’t necessary but many people leave small change when ordering a coffee.

Coffee etiquette

Stopping at a cafe for a quick coffee is one of the great rituals of Italian life. To do it like a local, first pay at the cash register, then, armed with your receipt, give the barista your order. When it arrives, drink standing at the bar – sitting at a table is fine but takes longer and costs more.

The classic Italian caffè is an espresso – though, strangely, the term espresso is hardly ever used in Italy. Cappuccinos are popular for breakfast and are often paired with a fresh cornetto (an Italian croissant). They are never drunk later than mid-morning.

When eating in restaurants, un caffè after dessert is OK, but not with your main meal please.

Shopping like a pro

Traditionally, Italian shops have an afternoon break, typically closing between 1pm and 4pm. They’ll then re-open until around 8pm. However, this is changing and in big cities, many shops now stay open throughout the day. Some even open on Sunday mornings.

You’ll find the usual cast of chain stores and designer boutiques in Italy, but more interesting are its many small-label fashion boutiques and artisanal craft shops. A good case in point is Giulio Giannini e Figlio in Florence, where they’ve been making marbled paper since the 19th century.

To stock up on picnic provisions, or just to enjoy some local colour, markets such as Campo de’ Fiori in Rome or Venice’s Mercato di Rialto are an entertaining alternative to supermarkets. Similarly, historic delis like La Baita in Bologna and Milan’s Peck are full of tantalising gourmet goodies.

To drive or not to drive?

It’s pointless hiring a car for city travel – traffic is hellish and ZTLs (limited traffic zones) are in force – but if you want to head into the countryside, it’s well worth considering.

Italians tend to drive aggressively but once you’ve got used to the tailgaters and tooting, driving here is not as nerve-wracking as it’s often made out to be. The roads are fine and outside the main urban centres the scenery is often spectacular.

Often harder than driving is parking. Street parking is denoted by white (free) or blue lines. The latter require a ticket from a coin-operated meter or tabaccaio.

Navigating public transport

Most Italian cities can be explored on foot, but you’ll inevitably need to use public transport at some point. Tickets, which must be bought from a tabaccaio or street kiosk and validated once on board, are generally valid for a set time period. In Rome, for example, a single €1.50 ticket is valid for 100 minutes. During that time you can use as many trams and buses as you like and take one metro journey.

If you’re staying in a city for a number of days, a travel pass will probably save you money. In Venice, a single journey on a vaporetto (water bus) costs an eye-watering €7.50, but various passes are available, starting at €20 for 24 hours.

Cash vs credit?

While credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, shops and autostrada tollbooths, Italy hasn’t entirely gone plastic. You can’t always rely on cards in museum ticket offices, and some smaller trattorias, shops and pizzerias only take cash.

ATMs (known in Italian as bancomat) are everywhere and most will accept cards tied to the Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro systems.

Brush up your italiano

You’ll have no trouble getting by with English, but a few Italian words and expressions will help you on your way. This is particularly true in restaurants where menus don’t always have translations and some places rely on waiters to explain things.

Some essential phrases:

Hello Buongiorno

Goodbye Arrivederci

Please Per favore

Whether it’s your first time visiting Europe or you visit multiple times per year, avoiding some of the most common travel mistakes will make your trip so much more enjoyable! A little planning goes a long way and these ten tips will help you a smarter and more relaxed European traveler.

1. Check Visa Requirements
One guaranteed way to ruin your trip is being denied entry into the country you are visiting because you don’t have a tourist visa. While most countries in Europe don’t require a visa for short visits, it’s best to know which countries do.

Prior to your trip, a quick search online will find tourist visa requirements and whether you need to acquire a visa upon arrival at the airport or online prior to arrival. There are several websites online that list visa requirements, so find out ahead of time.

2. Travel in the Off Season
While you might dream of sunbathing upon the Mediterranean beaches during the summer months, so does the rest of Europe — causing overcrowded beaches and long queues at tourist attractions.

Traveling during the off season is the best way to avoid the crowds and save money on accommodations, airfare, train tickets and tours. Most of the main tourist attractions are open year-round, just make sure to check closing times as some might have shorter hours during the off-peak travel season.

3. Use Budget Airlines
With more than a dozen budget airline carriers throughout Europe, you can fly to almost anywhere on the continent for cheap when booking with a budget airline. Airfare will often be cheaper than train tickets, but the least expensive seats tend to sell out the fastest.

While you might be getting a bargain on airfare, make sure to check for additional fees and taxes which are often not included in the advertised rate. Also avoid sizeable baggage fees by researching each airline’s rules on hand baggage and luggage size. Packing light will help you avoid baggage fees and let you ease through the airport!

4. Travel by Train
Traveling by train in Europe is often efficient — and depending on your destination — easier than air travel. Book your ticket at the train station with an actual person because some options are not available at the kiosks. Be sure to validate your ticket before you hop on the train to avoid fines!

5. Make Reservations in Advance
Making reservations in advance is the best way to secure accommodations and tours, especially in peak travel season. Booking airfare, hotels, train tickets, and tours in advance also ensures that you are getting the best price.

6. Bring Comfortable Shoes to Walk Everywhere
As one of the best ways to explore a city, you will do lots of walking during your European vacation, therefore having a pair of comfortable walking shoes (these are my go-to shoes!) is a must. After a long day of walking around the city, your feet will thank you!

7. Bring a Suitcase You Can Carry
Navigating the train station, walking on cobblestone streets, carrying your luggage up several flights of stairs at your hotel (often European hotels don’t have elevators) or accruing extra baggage fees, packing light in a suitcase you can carry is a must! You won’t need as much as you think and laundromats are readily available throughout Europe if you need to do laundry during your trip.

8. Stay Longer in One Place
Staying in one place longer can allow you to experience the city or neighborhood like a local. Making friends with locals, finding local restaurants restaurants and venturing off the beaten path, can make for exciting travel stories and often the most memorable experiences.

9. Get Off the Beaten Path
By all means seeing the popular attractions in a city is a must. While your heart might be set on visiting the most popular attractions, you should make it a point to visit lesser known sites. Ask the locals for recommendations, often you will get a better glimpse at the local culture when doing so. You can also research off the beaten path experiences in travel books and online.

10. Don’t Plan on Using Credit Cards Everywhere
While it seems that most of the world now accepts credit cards, it’s not uncommon for places in Europe to only accept cash. Having euros on hand for tips, taxi rides, restaurants, purchases at local markets and daily activities will make your transactions go smoother and it will save you money on foreign transaction fees.

Prior to your trip, order foreign currency at your bank or visit an ATM at the airport upon arrival. Airport ATMs don’t always have the best exchange rate, but it’s better than finding yourself stuck without any cash or searching for an ATM while you’re jetlagged.

Also, be sure to notify your bank and credit card company before traveling so you don’t find your accounts frozen.

Paris is known as one of the most romantic and magical cities in the world, which makes it no surprise that the ‘City of Light’ is one of the best travel destinations. Culture Trip’sessential travel guide to Paris has you covered when it comes to where to go, what to say, what to eat and anything else you would want to know when planning your getaway.

With fewer tourists and the snow decorating all the picturesque buildings, there’s surely no better time of year to visit Prague than in winter. But even the most resilient travellers will need a few breaks to warm up, relax and defrost frozen fingers and toes. Here’s our pick of the best places to escape the freezing temperatures.

Mohaji Café

The recently redesigned Mohaji Café has a super-cosy fireplace, and locals come here for the laid-back ambiance, freshly roasted coffee and carefully selected wine. Not too many people know about this cafe yet, so you can enjoy relaxing on the fluffy cushions, listening to mellow music and admiring the funky elderflower-print wallpaper without the crowds. Come when it’s dark for the most intimate feel, with the fireplace roaring and perfectly dimmed lighting.

Oliver’s Coffee Cup

Gaze down upon the hustle and bustle of one of Prague’s main hotspots through the enormous windows of this snug cafe overlooking Wenceslas Square. Hidden in an otherwise unappealing shopping centre, Oliver’s Coffee Cup feels like a friend’s living room, with tasteful furniture, ample armchairs, modern decor and plenty of books, meaning you can unwind in comfort while you enjoy a high-quality coffee.

Bistro Lovely Day

Even a modern bistro can have a cosy feel, and Lovely Day proves it. Located in Holešovice, a trendy district of Prague, this small space has been expertly decorated with stylish furniture made of white painted pallets and covered in an abundance scatter cushions. Be sure to sit as far from the sliding doors as possible so that the cold wind can’t get you. For maximum warmth, the ideal spot is a seat along the wall beside the pots of hot soup.

Vnitroblock

The ultimate chill-out spot for creatives, this shabby-chic venue is located in a former factory and stands out from other options in Prague. A team of young entrepreneurs became famous by breathing fresh air into long-forgotten spaces and this is one of their true masterpieces. Conveniently equipped with heat lamps for extra warmth, Vnitroblock revolves around Signature Store & Cafe, which combines a showroom for local and European designers with a hip cafe offering freshly roasted coffee and homemade cakes. To top it all off, you’ll find a gallery space, a yoga studio and a whole range of events from workshops to poetry reading.

Coffee Corner Bakery

It’s hard to pick just one cosy cafe representative of Prague’s Vinohrady, a district in the wider city center beloved both by locals and expats. But Coffee Corner Bakery will do, mainly thanks to its living-room-like atmosphere enhanced by a fireplace and a few armchairs. Superb coffee and cakes plus a good vibe make it an ideal place to hang out on a wintry day. Wi-fi can become spotty once the place gets filled.

Choco Café

Steamy windows are usually a sign of something warm inside, and that’s certainly the case here. On a quiet street just off the Old Town Square, Choco Café has become a meeting spot for local chocolate addicts and travellers alike. Go for their rich, thick hot chocolate, carefully crafted in their gourmet chocolaterie using the best cocoa beans from all over the world. If the original Choco Café in Liliova Street happens to be full, just head over to their other branch on nearby Betlémské Square.

Jídelna Kuchařek bez domova

This bistro will warm your heart as well as your stomach: the lovely Jídelna Kuchařek bez domova is a project that employs homeless women to cook amazing vegan food. The space is tiny and popular, so even arriving right at noon doesn’t guarantee a seat for lunch, but if you’re willing to wait you’re in for a treat. Not only is it inexpensive (soup and a main costs less than 100Kč and their delicious, fruit-infused tap water is free), you’ll be helping the homeless just by eating.

Javánka & Co.

Javánka & Co has such a homely feel that you’ll forget that you’re dining out. The spacious bistro offers Asian fusion–style dishes from a minimalist menu with a strong focus on Indonesian cuisine. Come here for an intimate atmosphere and delicious food that’s made with love.

Mánesova Bar and Books

Part of the iconic New York chain of cigar bars which originated over 25 years ago, the Mánesova offshoot of Bar and Books provides a casual environment where you can lounge in a comfy leather chair while you sip on a delicious cocktail or whiskey. Top-quality cigars are also on offer and live music and burlesque shows appear on the programme regularly.

Prosekárna

Prosecco aficionados rave about Prosekárna. The main room has the air of an elegant mountain cabin, with its warm fireplace and comfy chairs. Sometimes it’s just obvious when an establishment is not started for money but for fun, and that’s the story behind Prosekárna. The owners are always around and eager to chat with guests about their favourite topic: prosecco. If you’re a prosecco newbie, rest assured the staff will introduce you to a variety of options. Be sure to book a table before your visit by calling or emailing – all contact details are on the website.

Macau is known as the Vegas of Asia and it’s only a mere 62 km away from the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong. Easily accessible by flight, ferry (from multiple locations, the most common of which is from Hong Kong) and land (usually through the border of Zhuhai in Mainland China), Macau is an incredible place to visit. It is a cauldron of diverse cultures, beautiful scenery and gob-smacking delicacies.

For those of you who may be heading to Macau for the first time (or revisiting it) soon and are not quite sure what you should do there, fret not! Having travelled to Macau a few times all within the past year, I have devised a comprehensive list of 17 must-do things for the ultimate Macanese experience in Macau! So let’s get this started!

Hop between extravagant casinos

As is the case with Vegas, when one mentions ‘Macau’, most often, people tend to think of the flashy, dazzling lights emanating from the many casinos in Macau. So, obviously, we start off the list with exactly that!

There are plenty of casinos in Macau, and many of them are so beautiful that the gambling isn’t even the main attraction. The most popular ones include the Grand Lisboa, The Venetian Casino, and Galaxy among others. In fact, the Grand Lisboa is an iconic structure of the city, being one of the oldest and most long-standing hotels in Macau. You will often find many tourists stopping in front to take pictures, which for me, is pretty weird for a casino! But when the lights go on at night, it’s easy to see why this is a thing! And because most major casinos in Macau are located in hotels, there are many free shuttle bus services between the ferry terminals (Outer Harbour and Taipa) and the casino hotels. There also specialised shuttle buses between the aforementioned casinos as well.

So do take advantage of the free shuttle buses to visit the many beautiful (this is a strange way to describe a casino but meh) casinos and for those who are feeling lucky, well, go right on ahead! Just remember to challenge lady luck responsibly! (i.e. have enough money to make it home, at the very least!)

Have a ‘Venetian’ (pun intended) shopping experience

Speaking of the Venetian Hotel & Casino, there’s a reason why it’s called the Venetian. How do I put this into words? There’s a shopping mall inside the hotel that is modelled after the city of Venice. The ‘streets’ are made of smooth cobblestone, the ceiling is painted to look like the afternoon sky, the buildings have a strong Renaissance era feel to them and did I mention they have a canal? Yes, an actual canal, with flowing water and gondola rides with a crooning boatman and everything!The place itself isn’t some pea-sized mall either. It’s a full-sized shopping paradise filled with a variety of speciality shops and restaurants. From snacks and classy meals for two, to well-known casual sportswear and even luxury designer brands! I spent close to an hour in the mall, not looking for anything particular to buy, and still enjoyed the atmosphere there.

You could also get lost pretty easily in this almost city-sized mall, so do take note of the many guide maps available throughout the mall and make sure to take plenty of photos! The place looks so realistic that a few…ahem…touchups…can go a long way in fooling people into thinking you were somewhere else entirely!

Enjoy the many exciting shows on offer

Now, it goes without saying, cities with casinos are often known as cities of entertainment. Macau goes the extra mile to live up to its ‘Vegas of Asia’ nickname and often puts on some incredible shows and performances not unlike the ones in Vegas!From singing and dancing performance, to magic shows and opera, you could easily fill an entire day with the many different types of performances you can find around the city! For example, there’s the light show in the foyer of the Galaxy Hotel, which never fails to leave me completely in awe.

 

Here’s a funny story, I was wandering around the Wynn Hotel (not far from the Grand Lisboa) when I had my back to the huge pond which sits opposite the hotel entrance (more on that later on in the article) I think it was around 7.30pm when the music suddenly stopped and a couple of pyrotechnics went off all of a sudden around the pond. I turned, and I was greeted by a rather mystical performance of water art (I just butchered the technical term of the performance, I’m sure), the sight of which is shown in the photo above. Just goes to show, you never know what to expect when in Macau and a ‘performance’ could break out anywhere at any time.

Stroll through Senado Square

Senado Square is perhaps Macau’s most recognisable public spaces/centres. It is filled with many shops, heritage sites, restaurants and various snack and souvenir vendors. The streets inside Senado Square are a little narrower than usual and the paths are more maze-like but still easily navigable. You can window shop, stop by and sample same good dried meat at various shops, linger at a café and soak up the atmosphere and so much more.The main square is also decorated accordingly based on the current festival of the month/season and it’s simply a rather photogenic place ideal for great shots. The food there is also excellent, with many shops even boasting decade/century-long history and tradition!

Gaze in awe at the Ruins of St. Paul and Conquer Mount Fortress

Located within Senado Square is arguably the most famous historical structure of Macau: the Ruins of St. Paul. It is a world heritage site and it receives a large number of visitors daily! You’ll be hard pressed to find the ruins (or even the steps leading to the ruins) empty of tourists trying to take a good picture.The Ruins of St. Paul overlook Senado Square and if you stand atop of the stairs, in front of the ruins, you can get a semi-aerial view of the busy square below. A fun activity I always like to try when visiting is to try to find a unique angle to photograph the ruins.

 

You could try from the bottom of the stairs, from the side, from a random alleyway in Senado Square. Psst, these angles make for much better pictures than the standard ‘stand-in-front-of-the-attraction-and-smile’ most people take!

Spain is a couple’s ultimate romantic getaway. The heady concoction of its food and sangrías along with varied landscapes, charming colourful villages, Roman cathedrals, local fiestas and winding streets make this European country one where you can slow down, relax and enjoy yourself.

And a memorable way of enjoying the good life of Spain is to check into one of its most impressive and opulent resorts, the Grand Hotel El Mirador.

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel El Mirador

Ideal for

Couples, honeymooners who want an adults-only, indulgent experience in an elegant sea-front boutique resort that takes care of their every need.

About the property

Located on the sparkling beaches of Costa Adeje on the southern side of Tenerife in the dramatic Canary Islands of Spain, the Grand Hotel El Mirador offers a chance at a dreamy vacation in a grand Arabian setting. Only open to individuals over the age of 16 (which means no wailing babies and kids, yay!), this luxury hotel is a treat to the eyes and heart. Inspired by a traditional Andalusian-style, the resort is brought to life by its beautifully constructed arches and wide spaces that open out to the sea.

Exclusive luxury amenities at the resort include a heated freshwater pool surrounding the main building, a spectacular view of the Playa del Duque beach from the private terrace, access to incredible golf courses nearby and restaurants with sensational gastronomic delights.

The Grand Hotel El Mirador offers five kinds of rooms – Junior Suite, Sea-view Junior Suite, Superior Junior Suite, Sea-view Suite and a Superior Junior Suite. All rooms come with stunning views, and are done up with canopy beds, a soft and elegant décor and plush comfort. Additionally, suites have terraces and balconies, a customised mini-bar, private pool and two-seater sofas.

Food

The restaurants at this boutique resort serve a flavourful fare that will send you on a dizzying gastronomic journey. Start the day with a delicious breakfast buffet of locally-sourced fruits, freshly-baked bread, puffy pastries, all washed down with freshly-ground coffee and the finest tea. Lunch and dinner has local food from Jamaican, Cuban and Brazilian cuisines, all prepared by in-house gourmet chefs.

Cost

The cost for the suites varies according to the amenities and luxuries offered and the type of the suite. Prices start at change to ₹27,000 for two people, including breakfast and dinner.

Best time to go

Tenerife’s perfect weather lasts all year round. Temperatures here range between 17ºC to 25ºC and it’s never too hot or too cold. The island sees rain for a very few days, making it the go-to destination at any time of the year.

What to do here and around the property

There are many lavish experiences to be had at the resort to keep you occupied. And when you need to head out, Costa Adeje is full of places to explore.

Get a massage, detox by the pool or take a deep stretch

It would be a pity to go back from this extraordinarily luxurious place without indulging in some body pampering. At the resort, you can reinvigorate your body and soul by taking a yoga class, detox in the therapy pools and Roman or Turkish baths, or be spoilt by a massage or a facial near the pool.

Let the pros teach you golf at some world-renowned courses

Learn the game, or improve it, at some of the world’s finest gold courses. A stay at the Grand Hotel El Mirador gives you access and discounts to golf courses nearby, so you have the golf getaway you always dreamed of.

Try your hand at some water sports or set sail on a boat

Step up the pace, and indulge in some water sports at the Playa del Duque beach nearby. You can choose from windsurfing, snorkelling or kayaking. If you are looking for something effortless, you have the option of chartering a sail boat and setting off to witness the rich ecosystem of Tenerife, which is perfect for whale and dolphin watching.

Take a guided tour to Mount Teide

Mount Teide is a volcano and the highest peak in Spain (it stands at 4,000m). A-climb to the top can expose you to the most stunning views of Tenerife and the neighbouring islands on Canary. Take a guide along for some background and history. The best time to do the hike, which will take you around six hours, is early morning before sunrise. If you don’t feel like walking, take a cable car to the top for around Rs 2,000 per person.

Stroll the most visited national park in Europe

Explore Teide National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, that has on its premises volcanic rock formations, forests, plains, a diverse plant and animal life, making it a delight to discover. Inside the park, a range on activities are on offer – jeep safaris, star-gazing opportunities, walking tours and even winery tours.

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