Kornati croatian paradise
10 moments you could live in Croatia

Kornati croatian paradise

Summarising Croatia in a top 10 moments is not easy as the country has too much to offer and is very diverse in many ways. Croatia is an ex-Yugoslavian republic located in the Balkans in Eastern Europe. The coastline faces more than a thousand islands, while its heart is filled with green forests, rocky mountains, deep canyons and clean rivers.  This article is dedicated to highlighting what the common traveller would probably miss, too busy at finding the must do activities which are often not the ones you should go for. 

1. Touch the pure water in Rastoke

Rastoke waterfalls

Rastoke

When the words “Croatia” and “Waterfalls” are part of the same sentence, what first comes to mind is the “Plitvice NP” and then “Krka”. But most of you might never have heard of Rastoke. This wonderful play of nature has been made possible as the Slunjčica river runs into the Korana river over a series of travertine barriers creating a chain of waterfalls, rapids, pools and cascades. About 300 years ago this place was chosen as a settlement for water-milling. The harmony between man and nature can still be found here. In case you are visiting in the summer don’t hesitate to relax in the natural pools of the Korana river before it meets with the Slunjčica which is colder. Just ask the locals where you can swim and go.

2. Discover Zagreb

Zagreb

Zagreb

The Croatian capital city is a great getaway for a weekend. It is mostly known for its Christmas market in winter but not only. Cool things are happening all year round. Strolling in the old town for example or tasting the vibrant nightlife. It is not rare to find great parties in Medika (the cultural centre, known for its street art and its alternative music scene) as well as the Vintage Industrial Bar for concerts. Another good place to go out is Pločnik Klub where you can try some of the best craft beers including the John Lemon from Visibaba Pivo. Next to the city, the Sljeme mountain offers many trails for the ones who like combining both city and nature. And of course, there is more to discover…

3. Go Kayaking in the Kornati Islands

Kornati Islands

Kornati Islands

A kayaking journey in the Kornati Islands NP is for sure a highlight of a trip to Croatia! It is easily accessible from Sali located on Dugi otok (the long island) which has daily connections by boat from Zadar. Before embarking on this physical challenge, make sure the weather conditions are good and get some food and water supplies. Once done, you are now ready to start paddling towards Levrnaka, a paradisiac sandy beach with blue lagoon colours. It takes about 4hrs to get there. This beach is the absolute reward but not the only one. After the bath, it is highly recommended to walk up the hill to witness one of the most breathtaking landscape you will ever see, especially when the sun is about to blend with the horizon. You can camp next to the beach as it is one of the few spots where you are allowed to set your tent in the Kornati NP.

Extra tip: A good option, if you’re not into kayaking, is to rent a little boat with a skipper at the local tourist agency in Sali. By this you can tailor your trip rather than be on a crowded tourist boat, that doesn’t stop in Levrnaka. If you are more than 2 people, it will cost you even less…(about 100 euro in total) the captain goes fishing while you take your time and brings you back to Sali after the sunset.

4. Do rock climbing in Paklenica National Park

Zadar Paklenica Rock climbing

Paklenica National Park

Another great place to spend a day is the Paklenica NP, located on the southern slopes of the Velebit mountain, not far from Zadar. Known as one of the top European rock climbing areas, Paklenica is a place of outstanding natural beauty! In total there are 590 routes on good quality limestone rock, of which the majority are bolted. If you fancy rock climbing, this is a must while being in Croatia. For the others, many other activities can be found here – from hiking trails to mountains biking or going on a cave exploration, Paklenica will for sure delight you with its diversity and stunning vistas.

Extra tip: There are 2 canyons where on a hot day (every day during summer) you can take a dip in one of the many natural pools, so make sure you bring your swimming suit.

5. Try Rakija and meet with the locals

Rakija shots

Rakjia

In the Balkans, there is no way you will escape a toast with some locals with their famous alcoholic drink called Rakija. If you don’t, that simply means you’re clearly not willing to blend into the Balkan culture! Rakija is a generic term associated with strong fruit brandies. In Croatia, it is mostly designated as the one made out of grapes. But you can also find some common other flavours like the Šljivovica (plum), Travarica (herbal) or Medica (honey) among many others.

Extra tip: Don’t buy it in supermarkets, there are many local producers that will be more than happy to sell their homemade elixir everywhere in Croatia as this country has a deep tradition in Rakija making.

6. Cycle along the Sava River

Cycling Sava river

Cycling Sava

From Zagreb, the Sava river makes its way East through the Slavonia region, making it as a natural border with Bosnia and Hercegovina. Cycling along the Sava river is like using a time travel machine back into the past. Little village roads make the ride very enjoyable. Along the way you’ll be able to see many, typical for this region, 100 years old wooden houses. It is a unique experience in this preserved nature with sceneries that are nothing like the rest of the country. Tourism infrastructures are almost non-existent and it definitely adds to the authentic charm of Slavonia. Getting closer to the Serbian border, you can clearly witness the tumultuous past left from the war as many buildings are still marked with some bullet impacts. The Sava river is also a great environment to observe birds in their natural habitat.

Extra tip: You could easily spend several days cycling next to the Sava or even cut to meet with the Danube in Vukovar and visit the lovely town of Ilok, which is famous for viniculture since Roman times.

7. Witness a Kolo dance

Kolo dance Salvonia

Kolo Dance in Jakovo

Kolo is the circle dance that you would see normally at weddings, social, cultural and religious ceremonies. It is performed amongst groups of people, having their hands around each other’s waists. This cultural heritage is transferred from generation to generation. The dance is accompanied by traditional instrumental music. National costumes, or folk dresses, vary from region to region in style, design, colours, material, shape and form.

8. Blend in the Goulash Disko Festival

Vis Island Goulash Disko Festival

Goulash Disko Festival

Located on the paradise island of Vis, (a 3hrs ferry trip from Split), this independent music festival will with no doubt conquer your heart. Goulash Disko has seen light for the first time in 2013, through the years it became one of the best human size festivals in the world. There you can find a global and colourful music mix, from Gypsy Punk to Electro, Reggae and Balkan all perfectly blended together. This 5 days celebration takes place in September. It is exclusively financed by crowdfunding and can welcome around 1000 lucky people. And that’s not it, the location is just insanely beautiful as the site is facing a crystal clear water cove that also offers the best sunsets. Check out their video here

Extra tip: There is a blue cave on the Biševo island which is easily accessible by boat from the lovely fishermen village of Komiža next to the festival site.

9. Enjoy the Fjaka Dalmatian lifestyle

Fjaka Dalmatian

Fjaka Dalmatian lifestyle

Fjaka is the Dalmatian lifestyle, which is more or less seen as being relaxed and taking things that come up in an easy way. They tend to have a different concept of time. Basically, it is almost like the time does not exist. This is a psychophysical state of mind when there is an aspiration for being lazy and it might be seen as the ultimate luxury. They would go fishing, have a coffee, take a dip in the nearby cove, grill some fish and seafood among having some shots of rakija and that would make it a perfect day. It actually sounds like a perfect day!

10. Drop the anchor where ever you want

Sailing Dalmatia

Sailing in crystal waters

Sailing around the stunning Croatian islands in the summer is a unique experience which provides a great feeling of freedom. Going from an island to another, finding the best spots to go swimming and snorkelling, discovering the underwater world is a must and the 1000 Croatian islands are the best playground for it. It is also a great way to discover the ancient cities built hundred years ago. Like Korčula for example, the native city of Marco Polo or even the lost island of Lastovo, that remained unspoilt and where the time as stopped. So, if you ever felt like a Pirate, this is for you.

And you? Did you ever experience the Croatian beauties?

 

 

Thanks to Julien Duval photography for providing pictures for number 2 and 8.

 

 

things to do Bangkok

 Top 10 things to do in Bangkok

To say that a Bangkok trip is popular would be an understatement. Bangkok is one of the most sought after places in the world. People plan their Bangkok trips well in advance. It is one of the most popular foreign destinations in the world because it is inexpensive and full of fun and adventure. Here, you’ll never be troubled by the question “What to do in Bangkok?” as there are so much to do and see. From happy families to adventurous singletons, Bangkok has something for everyone. However, to enjoy the best of Bangkok, you can pack in many things in a single day. We’ll guide you on the top things to do in Bangkok, in just one day! So, check out for Thailand visa suppliers and plan a vacation today.

1. Visit the Grand Palace

Grand Palace Bangkok

Home of Thailand’s king, and the country’s government’s seat, the Grand Palace is a 150 year old structure. Despite the age, the architecture, and the beauty surpasses even the most modern marvels. Every day, thousands of tourists come to admire this beauty and leave feeling awe-inspired. It is one of the most popular Bangkok attractions and is an ode to the architecture of the ancient Thai people. So, start your day by touring the Grand Palace, and we guarantee that you will have a great day.  

2. Immerse yourself into the Sea Life

Bangkok Sea Life

Previously known as Ocean World, SEA LIFE Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in the city. This is an amazing place to bring your family far away from the heat and crowds of the city. SEA LIFE is home to hundreds of marine species, some of them endangered species, like the penguins. Their habitats have been specially designed to match their natural surroundings. You should also check out the underwater aquariums, and take a ride in the glass bottom boat in the shark tank. They are the highlights of the tour.

3. Take a Khlong Tour

activities Bangkok

Next up, do something different. Hordes of tourists do the same thing. Of course, that is fun, but let’s escape away from the maddening crowds, and take a look at how Bangkok was used to be. Thonburi was once the capital of Bangkok. But today, it is an old part of the city that has consciously stayed away from development. It is located on the Western side of Chao Phraya River. The whole area is interconnected by man-made khlongs that are a only 6 meters in breadth So, you are taken in small, and long boats to see the ‘old Bangkok’ full of stilted homes, and wooden townhouses. You’ll feel like you are inside a time capsule. Take a proper organised tour, and you will also get to see the Royal Barges Museum.

4. Sit Down at the Lumpini Park

Lumpini Park

Find peace and tranquility right in the bustling centre of Bangkok. Lumpini Park was a once located on the edge of the main city in the 1920’s, but rapid development has spread the city limits, and now this park is in the centre. This is the perfect place to just sit, and enjoy the lush green landscapes. There’s also an artificial lake where you can rent paddle boats. Joggers can also be seen throughout the day. This is a great place to relax, and kill a few hours before you set off exploring Bangkok again.

5. Photography at Wat Arun

Wat Arun

The Wat Arun temple in Bangkok is one of the most beautiful temples in the country. Though a popular tourist destination, Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn’, is also an important place of worship, so, make sure you are dressed properly. This gorgeous temple is located on the banks of Chao Phraya River, bang opposite Wat Pho. Sunset is the right time to see the temple, which looks stunning against the backdrop of the river. It is mostly made up of colourful spires, and sits atop the water. It looks absolutely stunning when it is lit during the night. So, do spend at least an hour here in the afternoon. You will have a relaxing and great time at one of the best Bangkok attractions.

6. Prayer at Wat Pho

Wat Pho

The home of the reclining Buddha, the Wat Pho is a must-see in Thailand. This massive Buddha statue is covered in gold, and makes for a marvelous site. You can offer up coins and place them in the 108 bowls inside the temple. The Buddha statue in the temple is in a reclining position. It is 15 metres in height, and 46 metres in length. It is one of the biggest Buddha statues in the world. Tourists can easily spend some good quality time admiring the temple and the statue.

7. Stroll around Khao San Road

Khao San Road

This amazing place is different in the morning and different in the evening. In the morning, this place is great for cheap shopping and bargaining. But in the evening, Khao San Road turns into entertainment capital with loud music playing from the shops, amazing aromas of Thai food, and cheap foot massage boards everywhere. The whole street comes alive. Though it may look like a tourist trap, if you are alert, and careful about your spending, you can have a gala time in this small street.

8. Do Shopping at Chinatown

Chinatown

Bangkok has a sizeable Chinese community, located in the Mae Nam Chao Phraya. And we all know how industrious the Chinese people are. Here, they started up small businesses, and this further developed into one of the most sought after shopping markets in Bangkok. From clothes, to electronics, to gold jewellery, to food, this marketplace has everything you’d want in a market. But what takes the cake is the bargaining possibilities. You can indulge in some spirited haggling over the prices. Plus, after some exhaustive bargain shopping, you can also have some authentic, delicious Chinese food. You will also see a lot of foreigners here, as almost everyone who comes to Bangkok, ensures they do some shopping here. You should do it too.

9. Rejuvenate at a Spa

Spa

Thailand is famous for their spas therapies. You’ll find many spas all over the city, but make sure you go try the high-end spas located in beach resorts. They are the ultimate in providing relaxation. The therapists are highly trained, and understand the body’s bones, muscles, and nerves. They make sure you are completely relaxed. You can also add on skin and beauty treatments, and you will feel like a whole new person.

10. Have a Dinner Cruise on Chao Phraya river

Chao Phraya

One of the biggest Bangkok attractions is the Bangkok Dinner Cruise. Here, you are not only treated to a delicious dinner and entertainment, but you are also treated mesmerizing views of nighttime Bangkok. On board, there’s world-class hospitality that will make you feel like a celebrity. Next up, are drinks and dinner?  Dinner is a lavish affair of Thai food and other popular continental dishes. This is some of the most delicious food you’ll ever have. The night ends with you on the cruise boat soaking in the views of the city, the temples and the beautiful river banks. This is the perfect activity to end you day long tour of Bangkok.

So, if you are bogged down by questions like “What to do in Bangkok”? “What to see in Bangkok”?, follow the above mentioned itinerary, and you will get to have the best Bangkok trip. This amazing city in Thailand has gained reputation as one of the most amazing places in the world. So, if you are contemplating a trip here, make up your mind and check out for Thailand Visa suppliers, so you can make this trip happen.

things to do in norway

 

Norway is one of these countries you won’t believe your eyes! Located along the western part of the Scandinavian peninsula, it was once the home of the vikings. There can be found dramatic sceneries with deep coastal fjords that where formed when the glacial erosive process started 2, 5 million years before present. Part of it is above the Arctic Circle which means the habitants barely see the sun during winter but summer is a never ending day. This country is definitely made for outdoor activities seekers. We went there, we love it and we now share with some things to do in Norway; 10 moments you could live :)

1. Explore the fjords on a boat cruise

Fjord cruise

A trip in Norway is not complete if you don’t go on a cruise across the fjords. It’s a great way to realise how small we are! The fjords are a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion. Some drops can be as high as 1000m, in the Sognefjord for example. No need to say the sceneries are gorgeous, waterfalls and little fisherman villages are part of the discovery. You can easily find tours going from Bergen which is the city where most of the excursions start from.

2. Visit Bergen’s famous fish market

Fish market in Bergen

While in Bergen, why not go to the picturesque fish market. It is one of the most visited markets in Norway and for a reason. This place has been since 1200 a meeting point for merchants and fishermen. There you can eat tasty crabs, shells, mussels, smoked fish, fish soup and they are all delicious!

3. Discover the blue lagoons of the Lofoten Islands

Fredvang

Exploring the Lofoten Islands is an unforgettable experience. The scenery is just magic…Blue lagoons with sharp mountain backgrounds, fantastic sandy beaches, it is hard to believe that such place exists on earth. The postcard village of Reine is one of the symbol of Lofoten but there are loads of hidden gems to be found going off the beaten track around Fredvang and Ramberg for example. There you can see the cod fish in the process of drying, hanged on wooden structures. Exploring the area on a bicycle is highly recommended. Many bridges help you to connect from one side to another over the blue lagoons.

4. Go for a midnight hike in the Sjunkhatten

Heggmoen Mountain

Located in the Arctic Circle near the town of Bodø, the Sjunkatten national park is a fantastic place to go hiking. You’ll find waterfalls, lakes and fjords among this tundra like landscape. For the ones up for a physical challenge climbing up Heggmoen mountain will for sure make them sweat! The view from the top is just magnificent and worth the effort. Once there, caution needs to be observe as there is a vertical drop of 890m, just make sure you don’t find yourself down the fjord.

5. Spend a day or 2 in Oslo

National Opera

Oslo is the capital city of Norway and while being there, travellers can enjoy some must do activities as Oslo concentrates many aspects in terms of culture and architecture!  The Norwegian National Opera is the most known for its very modern style. The open-air Museum of Cultural History is the one not to be missed, it allows the visitor to time travel back in the age of bronze to a more recent period. Built as a village, it invites you to understand Norwegians lifestyle through the years as stepping in the different houses. A wooden church dating back to 1200 has been entirely rebuilt and it is gorgeous. The lively neighbourhood of Grünerløkka is ideal for finding nice restaurants or bars and if you fancy going for a gig you could go to Parkteatret concert hall, so check out their program!

6. Take the train between Oslo and Bergen

On the way to Bergen

One of the most beautiful train journeys in the world according to the Lonely Planet. It is hard to believe that this rail found its way trough this inhospitable land. It lasts for about 7 hrs and believe me, you won’t even think of playing with your smartphone during the trip unless to immortalise the sceneries and there is no way you can get bored. Half way through, you could combine it with a boat trip in the Aurlandsfjorden getting of at Myrdal station and hoping on the Flåm railway for 20 km down to the fjord. This is another prowess of engineering. A bus will take you back to another train station after the cruise and will let you continue to Bergen. A day well spent and an unforgettable experience!

Extra tip: You can buy tickets as cheap as 20 euro if you order within 2 or 3 weeks before going. The Flåm Railway, which is one of the leading tourist attractions in Norway, is a bit more expensive considering the duration (one hour, 30 euros) but again it is worth it as a one time experience.

7. Stroll among Bergen’s street art

Bergen street art

Bergen is a place where it rains a lot! But fortunately it has a warm heart with its colourful art. It is really a special place. The Bryggen area (The Dock) is an interesting tangle of wooden houses with a great story that comes with it. The cable car is also a great way to check to city from the top and many paths that go straight into wilderness can be found.

8. Meet the local lifestyle in a countryside house

Norwegian country house

When travelling, we like making new friends right? Spending time with locals can in most cases lead to things you’d never experience in other circumstances. In Norway, it is not rare that families own a countryside house. If you are lucky enough you might end up in one of them spending the afternoon cooking, laughing, taking a nap…and of course get a better understanding of the Norwegian culture.

9. Dare trying some smoked whale

Smoked whale

Norway is one of the three countries in the world that still allow whale hunt, I agree to say, it is not right but after doing some research, it appears that the type of whale they hunt is not on the list of endangered species and there is a quota catch. That being said, if you get the chance to try some smoked whale, don’t hesitate. It is hard to describe as it really tastes like nothing else but again, being curious in experiencing new things is a good thing ;)

10. Find the Arctic surf spot

Kvalvika Beach

This is for the surfers searching for new spots that are less known on the planet! In the Lofoten Islands great waves are everywhere, you just need to find a way to get there. We picked Kvalvika Beach, a super remote beach. This place is the best setting for adventurous surfers. If you don’t surf, that’s alright, you could just take a swim in the Arctic circle waters.

 

And you, have you been to this fantastic country? Feel free to share with some great moments we could live Norway.

things to do in Slovakia
10 moments you could live in Slovakia – Mala Fatra

Slovakia is a small republic located in Eastern Europe between Poland and Hungary. It is filled with mountains as the Carpathian range “the Tatras” starts here and expands through Romania. Despite its small size, Slovakia has a lot to offer in terms of nature, wildlife, culture and food. A great place to spend a winter holiday away from the much more expensive ski resorts in France or Switzerland. This post is dedicated to the Mala Fatra region and shows alternatives to just go up and down on the ski slopes, but of course, that can be found as well. If you have the opportunity to visit this area, find below some things to do in Slovekia :)

 

1. Hike up Velky Krivan

Velky Krivan is the highest peak in the Mala Fatra  at 1709m. Despite being not that high, it gives you the great feeling of high mountains. From the Vrátna cable car station, it takes about an hour walk and there is no specific difficulty to complete the ascent. Once at the top, the view (on a sunny day) is magnificent and even allows a sight over the High Tatras mountain range when looking East!

2. Explore the Gorges of Janošikove

Located near the village of Štefanovà, the gorges are an absolute delight for your eyes during winter. There are more than 20 frozen waterfalls which offer images of a fairy tale. You will find yourself walking in narrow sections along the way giving you the opportunity to be as close as possible of this mother nature’s miracle. Platforms and ladders are there to make it easy for you. Another option for the brave, those up for something more challenging can be found too. Follow the trail marked blue, called “Horne Diery”. More physical abilities are required as you’ll have to climb using some ropes. That section is wilder, so you also need to stay focused but the reward is worth the adventure. (Using crampons is recommended).

3. Meet the frozen trees while free riding

In some areas, mostly when taking on elevation where the wind makes his way in winter, it is not rare to encounter a frozen tree. They look like nothing but weird sculptures and this is fascinating to observe, when looking closer, it reveals many tiny frozen details. Some free riders like to slalom between them, why not you?

4. Try Kofola

Once tried you won’t even think of drinking another carbonated soft drink during your stay. But what is Kofola? Kofo syrup, the main ingredient of Kofola, consists of 14 herbal and fruit ingredients (such as extracts from apple, cherry, currant, or herbal aroma). Well, it is tasty and refreshing but also good in between taking shots with the locals.

5. Go for a 12km + trek on the ridge between Chleb and Rozsutec

This is the highlight of a trip in the Mala Fatra. It takes a full day to complete the hike. It starts down the valley next to the ski resort of Vrátna. Embark for the cable car ride which takes about 20 minutes up to the base line of “Chleb” summit. From there, tight your crampons well on your shoes and start following the red marked trail. This hike links all the peaks to “Rozsutec” mountain (photo). You will be able to witness the beauty of the landscape from both sides as walking along the edge. Every mountain is unique and makes the scenery very diverse. This is not dangerous, but again be aware you are in the mountain. Mid-afternoon reserves a tremendous steep section on your way up to “Stoh” summit (a naked hill) but the view at the top is jaw dropping. Between “Stoh” and “Rozsutec” the trail turns down through a pine forest (marked as green) until the village of Štefanova where it ends. It is possible to ignore the green trail and keep going up to Rozsutec but not on the same day and only experienced hikers should attend.

6. Get to taste the local dumpling dessert

In most local restaurants, they serve this tasty desserts called “Ovocné zemiakové knedlíky”. Which means “Fruit potato dumplings” no need to say it is pretty sweet! So, write it down and make sure to have some while being in Slovakia.

7. Go for a stroll in the fog

You think that because it is foggy there is nothing to see? Wrong! Fog and trees go well together especially in winter. Pick any forest path and go. You’ll experience what it is like to be in a sort of painting. Listen to the silence and get your camera ready cause you might end up taking great shots you’d never get in other circumstances.

8. Try waterfall ice climbing

As the region is well powered in term of waterfalls, why not get a trained ice climber guide and try something new. Make sure you have the proper equipment and don’t put yourself at risk. This should be something you won’t forget.

9. Chill and heal your body in the thermal baths

This part of the country is also known for its thermal water benefits. After a long week pushing your body, sometimes to extreme conditions, it is fair to let it properly recover. The town of Rajecké Teplice is ideal to finish a trip in the Mala Fatra. Go to Spa Aphrodite and its many pools, steam baths and saunas. This healing water is just fantastic and a must.

10. Visit the village of  Čičmany and its painted houses

Timbered houses with ridge roofs, galleries and pointed or linear wall decorations have been preserved in Čičmany. Of particular interest are the very specific white patterns which are painted on the exterior walls of the houses to decorate them. The local folk music, special folk costumes and folk dances of the village have been preserved as well making the village a very nice place to stop by and go visit.

 

What to wear and where to stay

You may wonder what equipment is required for this type of weather conditions and activities. Well in fact not much. Good hiking shoes for sure, winter jacket and other layers for cold temperatures. But the most important we found was renting crampons to fix on the shoes. It actually helped a lot in energy saving and ability to walk on hard snow and icy surface. Regarding accommodation, we stayed in Boboty Hotel and we couldn’t be happier. The staff took good care of us. They have good standards with great packages including food, ski pass, sauna and a swimming pool. There is a nice bar and disco, ideal to make local friends as the region is not known for mass tourism.

 

 

10 moments you could live in Madeira
10 moments you could live in Madeira

 

Madeira, you’ve certainly heard the name before but what do you really know about the island? Probably not much unless you have been there. This paradise is somewhere lost in the Atlantic ocean 1000 km away from Lisbon which has daily flights. Madeira offers a lot for nature lovers with breathtaking and diverse landscapes and more. If you like hiking or surfing, this island is for you.

 

1. Visit Monte tropical garden aloft of Funchal

Garden Madeira

This is one of the unmissable things to visit when in Funchal. Considered as one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in the world, the Monte palace tropical garden allows to its visitors to wander in an extraordinary lush tropical forest with its huge green ferns as well the oriental garden. Among many other species, 700 different types of orchids can be found in the garden. The permanent African art exhibition is as well worth to check. Don’t hesitate and go explore.

2. Explore the dramatic landscapes of the North coast

Madeira North coast

Only one hour drive from Funchal you can discover the unspoiled North coast of Madeira where the mountains fall sheer into the sea. Every road corner will make your jaw drop from “Porto da Cruz” to “Ponta Delgada” on the way you could stop for some rhum tasting in one of the old rhumeries and eat some fresh fish while looking at the ocean. Strongly recommended.

3. Walk a Levada

Levada Madeira

The Levadas are the veins of Madeira that bring the water from the green Western part to the drier part in the South of the island. Built from the 16th century these mini-canals are originally made to supply the agriculture. There is more than 2000 km of levadas and they provide a remarkable network of walking paths. Sometimes it can be dangerous with very narrow sections along cliffs but most of them are safe to go on. This is a unique experience! You will encounter waterfalls and tunnels along the way. Some of the walks like the “Levada do Rei” are passing through the Laurasilva forest, which is known the largest surviving area of laurels in the world. Going to Madeira without walking a levada would be a shame. Here is a great site listing all of them with descriptions and difficulty levels

4. Try some Poncha then try it again

Poncha Madeira

You’ve been spending the day hiking on the levadas…Time to treat yourself with the local weapon. It’s Poncha time! Poncha is a traditional alcoholic drink from the island made from sugar cane juice. Honey, sugar, lemon rind and with different fruit juices according to the version of Poncha. A great place to try it is the “Revolucion Bar” located in the old town of Funchal. Great to meet up with the locals in a nice atmosphere, plus they’re friendly and play good music.

5. Dare stepping on the glass platform 580m above the sea

 Madeira Cabo Girao

The cliffs of Cabo Girao are some of the highest in Europe, with a near vertical drop. Amazing views over the sea and the vineyards at its bottom. Stepping on the glass platform will challenge you for sure but it is worth to try. A great stop over on your way to the magical South coast of the island.

6. Try the local products in the “Old Market” of Funchal

Old market Funchal Madeira

Start your day to walk around Funchal by going to the old market. A place that overflows colour, aroma, sound and tradition. The first floor is dedicated to the fruits and spices. You’ll discover exotic fruits you probably never imagined it exists like the Loquat. Walking further down, don’t miss the part where the fish are. You could even bring some of them back to where you stay and cook it in the local way.

7. Watch the sunset in Paul Do Mar

Paul Do Mar sunset Madeira

Away from the main attractions, almost at the edge of the South coast lay the villages of “Jardim” and “Paul Do Mar“. Here, the time has stopped. Ideal for sunset lovers, this area is known for its good weather conditions which differs from the rest of the island. It barely rains here all year round. Surfers love going to “Paul Do Mar” as it has great waves for it. If you like the laid back life style this place is for you. The Maktub guesthouse in Jardim is great to connect with other travellers in a very beautiful and chill environment. The friendly family that runs the business also owns the Maktub reggae bar in “Paul do Mar” and there is no better place to watch the sunset sipping one of their world acclaimed cocktail the “Mojito” listening to good reggae music on the terrace. Some great walks can be found as well nearby which reveal the volcanic past of the island. Well, in fact this is the perfect mix!

8. Have an “Arroz de Marisco”

Arroz de Marisco Madeira

Grab a bunch of new friends you’ve made or go for a romantic dinner. This traditional recipe is a signature of Madeiran seafood and rice dish combining mussels, prawns and clams.

9. Hike along the cliffs of the Eastern Peninsula

Peninsula Madeira

On the extreme Eastern part of the island, there is a peninsula which has a very different type of landscape than on the rest of the island. Another testimony of the diversity that can be found on Madeira. You won’t find any tree there but breathtaking sceneries that even looks like some parts of Ireland. The road stops in Ponta de São Lourenço where the trail starts. This 7km walk (return) is worth the effort. On the way back have a look at the village of Canical which is a very pleasant and authentic fisherman place.

10. Enjoy a cable car ride over Funchal and slide down back to town

Cable car Funchal

For those who are not interested to walk all the way up to admire the view from the top of Funchal, you can use the cable cars. A great way to discover the city and surroundings. In some portions, there are some significant drops, so it is not advised if you are sensitive to vertigo. Anyway the experience is really fun! The last stop is the Monte Tropical garden, so don’t hesitate to combine with the visit. To go down and for the most adventurous you can also use the “Monte sledge” made of basketwork. This toboggan ride is an unmissable experience.

Extra. Pico Ruivo the roof of Madeira

For fit people only

Pico Ruivo Madeira

1861m above sea level the Pico Ruivo is the highest point on the island. This is a challenging walk to get there. Some sections are literally about living on the edge with vertical drops on both sides. In order to enjoy and complete the ascent you need to be fit. Though, you don’t need any professional climbing gear just good walking shoes will do but you’ll have to stay focus to avoid troubles. It is not rare to see snow here and there on the path during winter. For the adrenaline seekers only…great reward on the top on a clear day.

 

 

10 moments you could live in Morocco

Morocco is a country with a mix of Berber and Arab culture. From the Rif valley on the North to the desert in the South-East or even the Atlas mountains in the center, there is so much to discover. The variety of landscapes and the natural hospitality of its people makes Morocco an intriguing and colourful destination for less and more adventurous travellers.

 

1. Go hiking in the high Atlas

The lovely village of Imlil enclaved in the mountains allows for many breathtaking hikes for all fitness levels in the nearby valleys including climbing the Mt Toubkal which is the highest peak in North Africa at 4,167 metres. Accommodations and professional guides are easy to find and for a very affordable price. It takes only one hour drive from Marrakesh. This is the ultimate Atlas experience.

2. Take the scenic road between Marrakesh and Ouarzazate

Coming from Marrakesh on the way to Ouarzazate this 4hrs drive is simply magnificent. The road will take you over the Atlas mountains and then to a rocky desert. You’ll find colourful landscapes and dramatic sceneries all along the way. A must!

3. Explore the Dades gorges

Make a stop in Boulmane Dadez on your way to the desert and hire a guide there for 2 days. The gorges are 60km long and offer many different type of rocks, wide and narrow corridors. You will learn about the kasbah (old traditional houses made out of mud) as there are many in the region. Don’t miss the part between the “Monkey Fingers”

4. Relax and chill in Essaouira

Essaouira is the best place to start or end a trip in Morocco. Also called the wind city, it is quiet and vibrant at the same time. A surfers and kite surfers paradise. The medina is a gem, you could spend the whole day walking around, going to a spa or watching the Atlantic ocean from a terrace on the top of a riad and of course go kite surfing. Don’t miss out the blue harbour where you can buy your fish and put it on the grill straight away.

5. Get lost in the authentic Palm grove of Tinghir

The Palm grove of Tinghir is perfect if you want to discover from closer how the local people live. Until you go inside, the thick layers of the palm leaves wouldn’t let you see what is going on in there. It’s amazing to watch the people harvesting on their piece of land, brings you back 100 years in time. Old abandoned kasbahs are part of the discovery as well, so don’t hesitate and step in!

6. Have dinner on the Jemaa el-Fna square

The unmissable Jemaa el-fna square in Marrakesh! Empty during the day, it becomes a huge open-air restaurant at night. The smell of the local spices is everywhere. Go and try some traditional Moroccan recipes the finger food way!

7. Watch the sunrise on the top of the Erg Chebbi desert

This is probably the highlight of a trip in Morocco. From the little town of Merzouga, it is easy to find a guide who will take you and the one you love for a magical trip into the dunes of the Erg Chebbi. Most likely from Merzouga you’ll be able to avoid being in a big group of people. Take a camel and go at sunset. You’ll gaze at the stars at night, sleep in a traditional Berber tent and before the sunrise, you’ll walk up the highest dune to witness the most beautiful sunrise in a lifetime. This is something you will never forget and you shouldn’t let anyone ruin that moment. (Guides sometimes want to go back before the sunrise, but you paid for that, so don’t make any compromises).

8. Jump in the natural pools of Paradise valley

The paradise valley is perfect to stay away from the beaten path and it offers a unique type of scenery. From the main road there are trails that go down the valley where the natural pools are located. The place is fantastic, several pools connected to each other with a small river stream. You can even slide between them or (for the most adventurous) jump from up to 10 meters. Being tired from the walk, don’t hesitate to stay in one of the little hotels that are next to the road, the view is gorgeous.

9. Listen to the Gnaoua music live

Gnaoua music is the essence of Morrocan traditional music culture. The Gnaoua music festival takes place every year in Essaouira in June. But you could easily find Gnaoua musicians all year round in some restaurants. Ask around if you are interested. Sure you’ll be able to find someone who knows where to go and be certain this is something that will please your ears.

10. Visit the Madrasa Ben Youssef

The Madrasa Ben Youssef is a jewel of the Arabo Andalucian architecture. Built in 1570 it used to be an Islamic college and was the biggest in Morocco which could welcome up to 900 students. Located in the heart of the medina in Marrakesh, the madrasa is definitely worth a visit where you’ll be able to admire the Saadian mozaic and detailed sculptured walls.