Author Archives: Jessica Festa

bulgaria

10 Things To Do in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a beautiful country in Eastern Europe full of art, culture, history, and fun. Prehistoric cultures in the area date all the way back to the Neolithic Period, and some of that history can still be seen today. There are also various UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the area, helping to make it a must-see destination on anyone’s travel bucket list. To help you plan your trip, here are my travel tips for what to do in Bulgaria.

Visit the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was discovered in 1982 outside the village of Sveshtari. It dates back to the 3rd Century BC and contains unique decor architecture, with murals and half-human and half-vegetable female figures carved into the walls,  the only of its kind known in the Thracian region. A visit to this site will give you insight into the ancient Getae tribes, a group of Thracian people believed to be in contact with the Hellenistic and Hyperborean of the ancient world.

what to do Bulgaria

Thracian Tomb by Klearchos Kapoutsis

Explore the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo

Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rock-Hewn churches reside in the village of Ivanovo and in the valley of the Roussenenski Lom River. A visit here will give you the chance to explore an entire community of rock-hewn churches, monasteries, chapels, and cells. From the 1220’s to the 17th century, monks inhabited the caves around the area, and were actually the ones to create this amazing site. At one time, there existed about 40 churches and over 300 other religious rock-hewn buildings. Today, there are five churches for you to enjoy, all with impressive frescoes and unbelievable history.

what to do Bulgaria

Rock-Hewn Churches by Klearchos Kapoutsis

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10 Things to Do in Belgium

Belgium, located in western Europe, is well-known as being the host of the European Union’s headquarters. Along with being a political hub, the country also is home to many cultural, historical, and fun things to do. Here are my travel tips for what to do in Belgium, excluding the capital city of Brussels.

Visit Mechelen, a former capital

Mechelen is a small city in Belgium that was the capital of the Netherlands from 1506 to 1530. The area may be tiny, but it is filled with history and activities. Visit the late-medieval Saint Rumbold’s Tower, with its unique wood carvings and 15th, 16th, and 17th century religious artwork. Boat tours and brewery tastings are also a popular option, and a stop at the Brewery Het Anker will give you the option to taste beer chocolates. Moreover, a walk around the main square of town will give you the chance to see eight beautiful churches.

Canalside houses in Mechelen

Make a stop in Durbuy, the world’s smallest city

Durbuy, which claims to be the world’s smallest city, is a traditional Belgian town in the French speaking part of the country. Simply wandering around the tiny city and its quaint streets can make for a relaxing day, and stopping at a local cafe for a strong brew can make the day even better. Begin your tour of Durbuy at the Chateau des Comtes de Marchin, where you will be given stunning views of the river Muse and also delicious Belgian waffles in their cafe. Next, move on to the Grotto de Han, a cave that has been offering tours since the 1800’s. Long stretches of tunnels and a natural cathedral are all part of the experience.

what to do Belgium

Durbuy by pickinjim

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25 Places to See in France

When planning what to do in France, the first thing that usually comes to mind is vistiting Paris. While the French capital does have a lot to offer, there are many other wonderful places to visit; here are my travel tips on what to see in France during your next vacation.

Nice

Situated along the Mediterranean, this coastal town is renowned for its beauty. A walk down the Promenade des Anglais will give you a tour of Nice‘s best beaches as well as a great view of the Côte d’Azur. If you want to experience some history and culture, visit Terra Amata, an archeological site from about 400,000 BC, or the Musée Matisse, which features the work of Henri Matisse and is free to enter.

what to see in France

Nice by Justin Knabb

St. Malo

While many people may think of St. Malo as nothing more than a ferry port, the city actually has a lot to offer. First of all, impressive walls surround what was once a medieval city. Once inside, you will be able to walk the medieval ramparts and the reconstructed city, perusing restaurants and shops along the cobblestone streets. And because of the city’s location, they serve excellent seafood.

what to see in France

The walled city of St.Malo by Thomas Dowson

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25 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe

There is no shortage of festive Christmas markets in Europe to help put you in a jolly spirit, with handmade toys, spiced ciders, carollers filling the air with music, enormous lit-up Christmas trees, and more. Check out this list of 25 must-see Christmas markets taking place around Europe.

Traditional Christmas Market, London, England

Taking place between the London Eye and South Bank is a traditional Christmas market that is perfect for enjoying the holiday with family and friends. Unusual gifts such as amber and silver jewellery, hand crafted and tin toys, fragile glass ornaments, custom ceramics, unique metal designs, and more can be found here. The market is open daily, going from mid-November until the end of December.

Christmas markets Europe

The London Eye at Christmas by geograph.org.uk

Best of London Tips

Read our Best of London Travel Tips, to help you get the most from your visit to the city.

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Zagreb’s Christmas Market, Croatia

Despite the cold temperatures and icy pavements, Zagreb’s Christmas Market manages to add a feeling of warmth to the area. The countdown to Christmas begins on Advent Sunday, with the streets lining with Christmas lights and decorations. Store fronts become festive, a giant wreath is wrapped around the town fountain, and a Christmas tree is erected and lit. As the holiday approaches, market stalls set-up around the main square and a number of cultural events begin taking place, such as choirs and workshops.

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Zagreb Christmas Market by neha

Tips for Things to Do in Zagreb

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10 Amsterdam Events

Amsterdam is host to so many events that it seems there is a celebration for every occasion and every interest.  Some are old traditions, some more recently inaugurated, but any time of the year you are sure to catch at least one of these Amsterdam events.

Amsterdam events

Amsterdam by twicepic

The Grachtenfestival

If you plan to visit this summer, don’t miss the Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) happening for nine days in August, when more than 70 classical music concerts will be performed in various outstanding venues around the city.  From private gardens and rooftops to well known spots such as the Anne Frank House and the Westerkerk, it culminates on a huge pontoon stage in front of the Pulitzer Hotel.  Boats pack the canals and spectators line the banks and bridges of the canals to listen to the fabulous open-air performances by Europe’s best musicians.  Grachtenfestival also encourages new talent, with some of the biggest stars offering help and advice to young performers.

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25 Fun Things to Do in Sweden

With so many things to do in Sweden, it was hard to choose just 25. Here are our tips for fun things to do in Sweden. We’ve excluded Stockholm, the Swedish capital city, as we already have lots of tips for things to do in Stockholm in our collation post.

Say Hello to the Christmas Goat of Gavle

The Christmas Goat of Gavle is a large, straw Christmas goat and a big tourist attraction. In Sweden, it is a believed that a goat comes on Christmas to deliver presents. Oddly, this attraction is constantly the target of foul play, such as attempted burnings and thefts of the goat.

what to do in Sweden

Image by misterbisson

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Play Swedish Bandy

Swedish Bandy is a Winter game that is basically a cross between soccer and hockey and played on ice. You will need skates, two goals, sticks, an orange ball, and minimal padding to play. It is a very fast paced game and can be hard to keep up. Also, be warned that there are no such thing as casual bandy fans.

what to do in Sweden

A Swedish Bandy Match by Marcus Cederstrom 

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monaco grand prix

Ten Top Sporting Events in Europe

If you’re interest in sports in Europe, here are some ideas for top sports events in Europe.

Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 race takes place annually on the Circuit de Monaco in late May and is considered to be one of the more important automobile races in the world. The race is considered to be dangerous, with narrow paths, varying elevations, tunnels, and tight corners. The Grand Prix Monaco is part of the “triple crown” of races, which also includes the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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The field on the warm up lap of the Monaco Grand Prix by Arrr!

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25 Fab Festivals in Europe

There are so many festivals in Europe and our recommendation is to try to experience at least one of them to enjoy some local culture and fun. Here’s our taster of twenty five festivals to give you some inspiration to decide which events in Europe you’d like to schedule into your trip.

Russia

White Nights, St Petersburg

The White Knights Festival running from mid May to July, is an arts festival featuring ballet, opera and music from Russian and international stars. The grand finale is the Scarlet Sails which originates from students gathering at the riverside to celebrate their graduation on the long Summer nights.  Be prepared for crowds though, as up to three million people can gather to watch the event.  Other highlights of a visit to St Petersburg are the Dostoyevsky Memorial Museum, St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Summer Garden.

Scarlet Sails by Salvatore Freni

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