Pass The Mic: Local Perspectives on the Rise of Tourism in the Azores

In the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 kilometers west and less than a three hour flight from Lisbon, you’ll find the Azores archipelago. This autonomous Portuguese region consists of nine volcanic islands, each with its own colorful and uniquely jaw-dropping landscapes.

In 2015, air-space liberalization in the Azores began and low cost flights with carriers like EasyJet and RyanAir began operating to and from the archipelago.

Since then, the number of tourists travelling to the Azores has spiked significantly, particularly in São Miguel, the largest of the islands.

This has been great for the local economy and job creation, however, it also poses a serious threat to the very thing the island is known for - its pristine, natural beauty.

Though there are many positive impacts of tourism in the Azores, even local tourism companies agree that they don’t want to see the islands become a mass tour destination.

While visiting the Azores, I connected with three São Miguel natives - all currently studying or working in the tourism industry. I asked each of them for their personal perspectives on the increase of tourism in their home. Here’s what they had to say.

Read more: What to Do In São Miguel

Pass The Mic: A Local's Perspective on the Rise of Tourism in the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

Joana Damião Melo

Joana was our AirBnb host in Ponta Delgada. Born in São Miguel, she lived on the island for 18 years before moving to Lisbon to study Hotel Management at Estoril Tourism University.

After her studies, she moved to Madrid where she began working in a hotel as an intern, a receptionist, a guest relations agent, and finally a sales executive at the company’s global sales office. Joana says this hotel was her real school.

Four years later, she moved back to Portugal where she worked on several major hotel renovations and property openings, including a position at the Ritz-Carlton in Sintra as the Director of Sales and Marketing. While here, Joana won the price for the Best Director of Sales and Marketing in Europe and the Middle East.

In 2015, she decided to return to São Miguel to relax and have her baby, and, after her son was born, she realized that there is no better place to raise a child.

Joana now has her hands quite full. She runs the beautiful Mirante Loft AirBnb and works for several villas on the island, including the Santa Bárbara Eco-Beach Resort where she works as a Sales Consultant.

She is also currently working on her own hotel project - Senhora da Rosa, Tradition & Nature Hotel which we should open at the end of this year or early next year.

What is your favorite thing about the Azores?

The Azores are one of the most beautiful destinations in the world for me! I've traveled several places and there is nothing like the Azores!

Every time I visit, even the most touristy sites, such as Lagoa das Sete Cidades, Furnas, or Lagoa do Fogo, I always feel passionate about my land!

I do not tire of this beauty, which is unique!!

I feel blessed to have been born here and to have returned to my land, and I want to contribute to its sustainable development as a tourist destination.

Could you tell me more about your property’s history and the upcoming hotel’s nature and tradition concept?

My parents built the property in 1994, but tourism was not like it is today. Flying over was extremely expensive and infrastructure in terms of hotels restaurants, and other activities was very poor. 

With great service and food, it was considered one of the best hotels in the Azores, but there was no focus on sales, promotion, or revenue management. Debts started to raise, bankruptcy was declared, and in 2011 the bank took over the property.

Many potential investors visited, but none of them bought it. All the while, I was looking for solutions to re-buy the property.

The whole property, including my house, the Airbnb unit where you stayed, my parents house, my uncle’s house, and all the gardens and plantations around us have been a part of my family for more than 200 years. It’s a place with a lot of history.

Read more about our stay at Joana’s AirBnb: Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada

In the 18th century, we started producing oranges. We built the tower where the Airbnb apartment is to see the ships entering the port of Ponta Delgada and to send the oranges there to be exported. 

After the plague, we had to switch to pineapple production.

My project is to renovate the existing building. It will have 33 rooms including two Suites, a restaurant, bar, two event rooms, and a rooftop bar. We will also create two new wooden houses in the middle of the banana trees. These small units will recreate the old "Cafuões" (small wooden houses where we used to store cereals) which were very common in the region.

We will keep all the gardens, reactivate the pineapple plantations, introduce a small hot tub inside one of them, and have a small spa using only natural products made from raw materials from the farm.

The concept of the new Senhora da Rosa is all about tradition and nature. We want to involve guests and invite them to explore the surrounding green area.

Pass The Mic: A Local's Perspective on the Rise of Tourism in the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

What are your thoughts on rising tourism in the Azores? Is it positive, negative… or a bit of both? 

It is positive but we are in a critical moment when the entities involved must ensure that our greatest heritage - Nature - is maintained and protected.

The Azores is a destination that should limit visitors in a natural way - by positioning and selling the destination to the right markets.

Have you personally seen changes in the island since tourism began to increase? 

Yes, of course. We see tourist all year round, which is great. Between May and September in particular, we have many more people visiting than before.

On one side, this is great and very good for the economy. On the other side, we locals feel that it´s too crowed - (but it´s really not)! :)

What is being done to protect and preserve the land?

The local government has been doing a lot to protect and preserve and but there is always more to do.

After the tourism boom in 2015 and 2016, the local Government put in place several restrictions to the opening of new hotels and Airbnb as well.

They are in the process of certifying the Azores as one of the World’s Sustainable Tourism Destinations.

What do you think the overall local perspective is on tourism?

We need to grow on quality and not on quantity 

What should tourists know before visiting? 

That they can get 4 seasons in one day :)  


Pass The Mic: A Local's Perspective on the Rise of Tourism in the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

Jorge Valério

My second interviewee is Jorge. Jorge has lived on the São Miguel island all his life, and has been working in tourism since age 14. He received a tourism degree from Azores University in Tourism Management and a Masters in Volcanology and Geological Risk.

Whether it’s as a skipper driving a boat or tour guide in a van, Jorge says his passion is connecting with people and helping their inner being feel in contact with nature.

This is why he and his partner Lisa started their company Holistika.

Launched in 2014, Holistika is a sustainably operated company that specializes in wellness tourism in the Azores. The company’s slogan “Meet Your Own Nature” alligns directly with their overall goal - to create real connections between their guests and nature.

Jorge knows his stuff about the Azores. He loves his home island and is committed to showing guests the REAL São Miguel.

I never got the chance to do one of Holistika’s activities, (though it’s at the top of my list for next time), but Jorge was still kind enough to give me his take on the Azores’ tourism boom.

What is your favorite thing about the Azores?

The water and the air! It's simply amazing, and super important to have a healthy life.

Though you show people the REAL Sao Miguel, do you still keep some secrets for yourself?

That's a fun question - but, yes! I have places that nobody will find!

What are your thoughts on the rise of tourism in the Azores?

Tourism is good for the economy and local evolution (in the mind and the way we see our world), however, rising tourism in the Azores can also be negative.

I think evolution is important, but we should be careful and not commit the same mistakes that other destinations have made before like building big hotels, having too many cars on the road, or simply losing our real identity!

Have you seen changes in the island since tourism began to increase?

Yes! Especially the number of cars around the island!

In a way, I think local tourism and low-cost flights are amazing, but it also brings a lot of pressure to our environment.

I believe that, soon, local people will lose the capacity to afford normal life the we always have. The houses and rent will be more expensive, and being in our nature without having people everywhere will be more difficult.

I feel that tourists are responsible with our nature, but I think the numbers are high enough.

If we keep having more people here, I don't feel it will be a good thing.

What is being done to protect and preserve the land?

Our government has created protected areas and laws that control construction and limit the number of licenses to do whale watching.

There are some projects that should not go on, like building big hotels and other structures.

I think that money moves money but we should not sell our nature with the objective only produce more money.

We don't have massive tourism now, and I hope we never do.


What should tourists know before visiting?

The Internet exposes a lot our places, which will lead to even more people travelling to the Azores. I advise people to come in the winter!

They should come with no expectations and just simply enjoy what this island offers… And please stop with the phones! - Relax, breathe and look through your eyes, not on Instagram.

Pass The Mic: A Local's Perspective on the Rise of Tourism in the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

Miriam Vasconcelos

Last, (but most certainly not least), I spoke with Miriam.

Also a São Miguel native, she is currently living in London and finishing an International Tourism Degree with majors in travel and marketing. A traveller herself, Miriam says, “It is my passion to promote destinations and explore them as well.”

Once she has completed her studies, she hopes to pursue a career in travel and marketing. Her dream job is to be the Manager of a major Destination Management Organization, such as VisitBritain or VisitPortugal.

In the midst of her finals, Miriam was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of my questions about the increase of tourism in her home islands. (THANK YOU, MIRIAM)!

Her comprehensive and thoughtful responses illuminate a young professional’s perspective on both the positive and negative impacts of tourism (particularly in São Miguel), and what can be done to avoid the latter.

What is your favorite thing about the Azores?

My absolute favorite thing about the Azores is the colors and the smells… (even when it smells like cow poo). I love to see the green from the mountains meeting the blue from the sea.

I also love that nature is mostly untouched, or has been changed minimally by humans.

What are your thoughts on rising tourism in the Azores? positive, negative, or a bit of both?

The Azores have been in the spotlight for some time now, but I only recently started to notice new articles about it. I have seen it called the “Hawaii of Europe” or a “Better Iceland,” and who wouldn’t love to go to any of these places and pay £0.60 for a coffee?

Portugal is relatively cheap… but the islands are ridiculously cheap. You can find a good Airbnb for around £40p/night for a 2/3 bedroom place (and this is on São Miguel, the main island).

Due to the rise of tourism, especially in São Miguel, locals have started to be charged for things that belong to the land and that used to always be free, (for example, Poca da Dona beija, Furnas, Ferraria, and others). Other services and products have become more expensive (e.g. Whale watching, renting a car, boat trips, scuba diving, and hotels).

The rise in tourism has had positive impacts as well.

The Azores are rural islands. We live from selling milk from cows, growing fruit, and not much more. The tourism industry provides new, quicker opportunities to contribute to the archipelago’s GDP. We need it. The Azores are too small to just export - We need people coming and buying the milk from our cows, the mini pineapples that we grow, our fish, and so on. We need tourists.

Despite these positive economic impacts, it is vital to consider ways in which the islands can suffer from tourism.

It is known that our attitudes as tourists differ from our behaviours when at home in our day-to-day life. When we are on holiday we don’t care as much for things. We are relaxed. Extinguishing a cigarette on the floor is normal. Ice cream papers get dropped on the beach. This is a little thing, but when everyone does it, it is a big problem, and on a small island, it is ten times more visible than in a big city.

Another issue is transportation and pollution. More people equals more connectivity of flights, more air transport, buses running more frequently, and more pollution. The airport will probably have to be expanded and more airports created in other islands… All this to accommodate more tourists.

Pollution will impact the happiness of the locals, which will affect the satisfaction of the tourists. All tourists want to feel welcome in a destination. If the locals don’t want you there, would you come back? Would rate it? Would you suggest it? You would probably not even visit other places in the country.

What is being done (or should be done) to protect and preserve the islands?

Although, it is possible to manage this ascending issue, we must do so by studying and practicing sustainable tourism and bearing in mind every single party that is involved in the destination… including Nature.

I believe this should start with marketing.

Marketing to islands like the Azores should take into consideration more than the immediate outcome – Money. It is beneficial to have a lot now, but if the reason for the money is also the cause of the island’s destruction, then we are losing in the long run, right?

The Azores currently have several projects to balance the sustainability of Nature with tourism and the modern days. For instance, they have granted part of the green project, and they have an ecological school where you are taught how to grow vegetables, how to take care of the island, and so on.

Another strategy that the government has implemented is renewed energy houses, so, solar panels are used a lot nowadays

I hope you enjoy reading my little thoughts about my island. Please note that this is my opinion with a bit of background of marketing and tourism but it is not linked with any literature I studied. This is purely my thoughts about what I have been experiencing with my islands.

Pass The Mic: A Local's Perspective on the Rise of Tourism in the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

Why is Sustainable Tourism Important?

Joana, Jorge, and Miriam each have unique perspectives regarding tourism in the Azores, but one common idea stands out - Tourism in the Azores must be developed sustainably.

Sustainable Tourism is important because SUSTAINABILITY is important.

In recent years, we have seen once pristine beaches become covered in plastic and several animal species now face the threat of extinction. These drastic consequences have (finally) made us more conscious and aware of the crisis facing our planet - what we have done to contribute to it and how we need to do better.

Now is the time to make policy changes which will protect and preserve our environment and the species in it, particularly within the tourism sector.

People in the Azores have recognized the potential negative impacts of rising tourism and are responding by making responsible and sustainable decisions in this developing sector.

The last thing locals want is for their home to turn into the next tourist hotspot like Iceland, or worse, like Thailand’s Maya Bay - (Made famous by the film The Beach, Maya Bay received over 5,000 visitors per day at the peak of its popularity. This inevitably resulted in the destruction of 80% of the reefs surrounding the bay, and its indefinite closure last October).

The government has made steps in the right direction by creating protected areas and placing a cap on the number of hotels that can be constructed across the nine islands.

Local business owners such as Joana and Jorge are also playing their part by creating innovative, sustainable alternatives to traditional hotels and tour companies. Still, like Joana said above, there is always more that can be done.

São Miguel is easily one of the most naturally beautiful places I have ever been, and it is a place that all nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts should have the opportunity to experience and enjoy. That being said, tourists visiting the island should be conscious and respectful (of the land and the locals), and do their part to practice and support sustainable tourism, too.

Pass The Mic: A Local's Perspective on the Rise of Tourism in the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

What are your thoughts on over-tourism?

Let me know in the comments below!

A Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island

São Miguel is the largest of 9 volcanic islands in the Azores Archipelago. This autonomous region of Portugal is located in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,500km off the coast of Lisbon and 3,900km from the east coast of North America.

The Azores aren’t the most accessible holiday destination, however this has changed in recent years. In 2015, low cost, direct flights to the islands were introduced, and for better or for worse, this has led to a rise in tourism. More on this later.

We were in São Miguel for about a week, and, even though we did a lot, I know we barely scratched the surface of this pretty, (and unbelievably green) little island. Seriously… it’s the greenest and most beautiful place I’ve ever been… even over Ireland.

To prove it, I haven’t edited any of the photos in this article… yes, it’s REALLY that green!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

When to Visit

Peak season in São Miguel is from July to August… so (as you might expect) this is the one time I would NOT suggest for you to go. Sure, the weather is nice, but you’ll also be experiencing the island at its busiest.

Keep in mind that the word “busy” is pretty relative here. Peak season in the Azores is still far more calm than “peak season” in other unbearably busy travel hotspots.

We visited in early April and experienced some pretty hectic weather conditions. It was sunny one second and blazing hot… then we’d get a torrential downpour and the temperature dropped.

We also had a whole lot of peace and quiet. In most cases, we were the only ones at the view points, lakes, and other places we visited.

According to locals, it’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a day here. No matter when you visit, the weather will be unpredictable, so pack accordingly!


What to Do

Visit Sete Cidades

The lakes themselves are obviously the highlight in this district… but lots of people who “visit them” make the mistake of only experiencing them from the viewpoints. If you come all this way, be sure to head down to explore the trails and villages surrounding the lakes, too.

Weather permitting, you can do lots of activities here.

Our plan was to spend a day kayaking, SUP boarding, and biking, but mother nature had other plans. It was insanely windy, so we were only able to bike… which is probably a good thing given that it was also pretty cold and water activities might have led to pneumonia.

We spent a full three hours biking and taking in epic, moody views of the lake.

There are also lots of hiking and walking trials around the lakes, but, even with a mountain bike, you can only get so far. Ditch your bike and explore a bit!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Attempt a water activity (or Explore Ponta Delgada)

Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores. The city’s main harbor is located here, and so are lots of companies offering water sports rentals and other water activities.

We were planning to go swimming with dolphins… and were willing to brave the freezing water to do so… but (once again) mother nature said, “NOT TODAY, FELICIA!”

We were put on a whale watching tour instead, but, sadly, this didn’t pan out either…

We boarded our boat, had a quick safety briefing, and then, while attempting to leave the harbor, were informed that one of the boat’s engines wasn’t working properly… which is why we had been driving in circles since leaving the dock.

We didn’t see any whales that day, but we did get a nice 360 view of the harbor as the boat captains fought against the faulty engines to get us back to land.

It was a big bummer that we weren’t able to experience the abundance of wildlife the Azores are known for, but it was also the first of many lessons in going with the flow on this trip.

Instead of freezing our butts off on/in the water, we spent the day walking around Ponta Delgada, along the coast, and enjoying the surprisingly sunny weather.

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Visit the Gorreana Tea Factory

Family owned and operated since 1883, the Gorreana Tea Factory is the oldest in Europe and, currently, the only remaining tea plantation on the continent. Located on the northern coast of the island, it covers an impressive 32 acres and produces about 33 tons of tea each year.

It was really cool to see workers in the fields processing the tea, (which, according to the guys, looked like they were “just trimming the hedges”).

There is also an on-site museum you can walk through to learn more about the tea making process, to have a cup of tea, or buy some souvenirs to take home! I unintentionally bought a box of Gorreana’s green tea at one of the supermarkets before visiting the plantation, and can confirm that it is in fact really good.

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Take a hike

…and I mean this in the nicest way possible!

On nice days, this particular viewpoint boasts unbeatable panoramic views of the island and crater lakes below. I know this because it was a photo of this hike in particular that immediately sold us on coming here.

Unfortunately, we had no such luck when visiting Miradouro da Boca do Inferno…

…As a matter of fact, it was a real instagram versus reality situation - (and if you don’t believe me, just google what it looks like on a clear day to see for yourself).

As you can see, we couldn’t really see much of anything… but it was cool having our heads up in the clouds for a bit!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Take a detour through the Valley of Lombadas

The drive through the valley was incredible!

The best part - we didn’t pass a single car or see another person the entire time.

Once you reach the bottom, you’ll see some walking trails and an abandoned crumbling building which we all eventually climbed up on - Lindsey, Laura and I to snap some photos… and Andrew to perform his rendition of Cher’s smash hit, “Believe.”

Said a performance will now live on ‘til the end of time in (shaky because I was laughing so hard) GIPH form. You’re welcome.

If you make the drive to the valley WEAR GOOD (OLD) SHOES so you can explore.

Also, keep an eye out for the waterfall along the way!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

take a dip in furnas’ Hot springs

We visited Poça da Dona Beija, and it was one of the only places we went on the island where we saw more than half a dozen other people.

Though it was a bit busy (and raining) we still really enjoyed it. The rain was actually quite refreshing while sitting in the steaming pools.

There are also natural hot springs at the Caldeira Velha Nature Reserve.

I totally did not even know this was a thing due to poor planning (and an overall lack of research) beforehand… which was a pretty common theme throughout the whole trip.

I can’t confirm whether it’s actually a good spot to go, but it looks cool enough to tempt me back in to a second visit… as if I really need tempting…

Pro tip: Most of the hot springs charge guests a small entrance fee (and an additional fee for extras like lockers and towels). Save some money and bring your own towel if you can!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

GET LOST

Again… I mean this in the nicest way possible.

It’s an island, so, it’s kind of impossible to really get lost… but you can try.

Get off the main roads. Get off your bike.

Take the path less travelled and go until the path runs out.

Perhaps you’ll find nothing… you’ll definitely find some graving cows… or you might just find another incredible view.

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Unique Eats + Drinks

eat Cozida Das Furnas

While visiting Furnas, make sure to try Cozida das Furnas, or volcanic stew. This traditional stew is cooked underground with volcanic heat… and tastes super delicious!

Lots of restaurants in the area serve up this unique dish, but if you want to actually see it being taken out of the ground, you’ll have to get here early.

Around noon, workers head to the “cooking holes” locally known as Fumarolas to remove the cooking pots from the ground and transport them to the restaurants around the region.

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

drink Purple tea

While visiting Furnas, head to the Chalet da Tia Mercês for a quirky cup of tea. Water from the nearby mineral rich hot springs causes this green tea to turn purple!

Unfortunately, we made the mistake of leaving this stop til our last day on the island.

Turns out, the tea house was closing early for a private event, when we arrived they told us they had just served their last customer for the day! I considered begging and pleading and telling them it was our last day, but decided I’d suck it up, take the high road and plan a purple tea return trip instead!

No purple tea shots this time around, but here’s a cool photo from their outdoor patio overlooking some steaming geothermal holes… (and it was then that I truly realized we were on holiday on an active volcano)… no big deal!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Getting Around

So, this was the one tricky part about our trip to São Miguel…

Andrew and I arrived a couple of days ahead of our friends, so we just got around Ponta Delgada on foot. I don’t know that I’d recommend this, especially after dark… because the cars drove extremely fast and the sidewalks were just about non-existent.

Walking/hitch-hiking can for sure be done… but it isn’t necessarily the safest option.

Buses and taxis are also an option for getting around the island, but they can both be a bit expensive depending on where you’re going. Plus, the buses aren’t the most convenient choice as they run pretty infrequently throughout the day.

If you plan on exploring a lot of the island, your best bet is to rent a car.

I would recommend this if you are travelling as a group and can split the cost, though, even if you’re travelling solo and doing a lot of bouncing around, it would likely work out cheaper to just pay the daily fee for a rental car.

For example, a taxi from Ponta Delgada to Furnas would have cost us anywhere from 40-50Euros…and that’s just one way. It’s much more cost efficient to just rent a car. Plus, this will give you the added convenience of exploring the island at your leisure.

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Where We Stayed

Ponta Delgada

When Andrew and I arrived in São Miguel, we spent two nights in Ponta Delgada.

This was a good starting point for us because of its proximity to the airport (and to the harbor where we were supposed to meet for the dolphin swimming excursion the following morning), but it is farther from’s the islands other hot spots like Sete Cidades and the hot springs in Furnas (no pun intended).

We were tired from our journey, so it was nice to have only have a short cab ride between the airport and our cozy home away from home.

Both places we stayed were nice, but we hit the AirBnb jackpot with this first property.

The beautiful glass loft was covered in greenery on the outside and tastefully decorated on the inside. We had a fully equipped kitchen, washing machine, an outdoor patio, plus, an amazing panoramic view of the ocean, mountains, and the pineapple farm next door.

View the listing: Mirante Loft

The host Joana will also be reopening an eco-hotel on the property next year.

Read more: Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Vila Franca Do Campo

Our second AirBnb in Vila Franca Do Campo was a bit more centrally located.

The three bedroom house was right by the ocean and had all of the amenities we needed!

View the listing: Three Bedroom House with Ocean View

From here, we could get just about anywhere on the island within 30-40 minutes by car (with obvious photo pit stops along the way). It was a lot quieter than Ponta Delgada, (which was nice and peaceful), but also meant we had a lot fewer options for dining out.

We took advantage of the fully equipped kitchen, and saved money on food by cooking most of our meals at home.

Overall, both AirBnbs were incredible with very helpful and responsive hosts.

New to Airbnb? Click here to sign up and get a discount on your first booking!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Know Before You Go

First and foremost, this is not a party destination.

Sure, the wine is cheap… but you won’t find a buzzing “nightlife scene” here. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re better off going elsewhere.

Secondly, as mentioned in the beginning of this article, the Azores have become an increasingly popular destination among tourists in recent years. Since São Miguel is the easiest to reach, the rise in the number of tourists visiting each year has been more drastic here.

This is great for the economy, but, for obvious reasons, also poses a serious negative threat to the very thing the islands are famous for - their raw and natural beauty.

Sustainable tourism is a hot topic everywhere, and the Azores are no exception.

If you’re planning a trip here, BE MINDFUL. Respect the locals, the land, and leave each place as beautiful as you find it.

Thirdly… (is this a word? third of all? idk?)…

…if you’ve been considering a trip to these beautiful islands, NOW is the time.

Map

Need some help getting around? I’ve pinned all of the places we visited, (and the spots that are on my list for next time) in the interactive map below!


Planning a trip to São Miguel?

PIN THIS POST TO SAVE IT FOR LATER!

How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld
How to Spend a Week in São Miguel: The Ultimate Guide to the Azores’ Largest Island | HallAroundtheWorld

The Ultimate Guide to Lisbon - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28)

Lisbon is the second oldest and one of the least expensive capital cities in Europe… that is, if you manage to steer clear of tuk-tuks, tourist traps, and pick pockets.

If it’s your first time visiting, you’re in for a treat! - The city is as modern and colorful as it is rich in culture and history… and one week here just was not long enough.

Keep reading for some tips on what to know before you go, the best times to visit, and unique things to do… that aren’t riding tram 28.


What To Do

There is SO much to do in Lisbon… and, consequently, so much that I haven’t done yet.

This list contains mostly things I did do and see, (as I don’t really find it ethical to write about things I’ve never experienced for myself), however, I did include some of the things I’ll definitely be going back for.

Some of them were missed due to lack of time, poor weather, or, in some cases, sheer ignorance of their existence, soooo, in an effort to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did (ie. not researching properly ahead of time) here are, in no particular order, the best things we did in Lisbon… and a few that are still on my list!

First and foremost…


eat your weight in Pastéis da nata

If you eat ANYTHING in Lisbon, let it be these… and lots of em.

As the story goes, these sweet, crumbly, delicious egg tarts, otherwise known as pastel de nata, originated at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém.

The nuns and monks at the time used high quantities of egg whites to starch their clothing… and then used the leftover yolks in desserts. Thus, the birth of this heavenly treat - (pun slightly intended)!

The monks began selling these pastéis de nata to raise money for the Monastery, and did so until 1834 when it closed. The secret recipe was sold to the owners of the local sugar refinery, who then opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in 1837.

Today, you can get pastel de natas pretty much anywhere in Lisbon, but, supposedly, those served up by Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém are the best. They may be the best, but they also win the award for the longest lines… and we tended to steer clear of those on this trip.

Wherever you go for this yummy treat, get one for each hand… and add some cinnamon or sugar for good measure!

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

Visit the lx factory

In 2008, an abandoned industrial complex by the river got a serious makeover, and Ta-Dahhh!… the LX Factory was born.

Today, the historical complex is home to several cafes, restaurants, shops, a super cool bookstore, bars… and, my personal favorite, art! Lots of art - including an amazing trash, bumblebee sculpture by Portuguese street artist, Bordalo II.

If you’re a fan of urban art, you won’t want to miss this colorful and buzzing area.

There is also a flea market here on Sundays… something I wish I had known about earlier. If the timing is right, you should definitely check that out… and then let me know how it is! ;)

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

hunt for street art

The LX Factory isn’t the only place where you’ll find cool street art. As a matter of fact, Lisbon has, on more than one occasion, been called an “open air art exhibit.”

As if the tiled facades and terracotta roofs aren’t swoon-worthy enough, massive murals tastefully bring back life and color to once drab and deteriorating walls all around the city.

Street art isn’t entirely legal, but it is supported by Lisbon’s city council. Artists present them with their ideas and the council decides if the project will be allowed.

Whether or not this goes against the rebellious sentiments underlying urban art is still up for debate. Regardless, it’s pretty cool that Lisbon’s street art is mostly legal, supported by the government… and literally everywhere.

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld


Visit the MAAT

The Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology, located just beside the Tagus river (and not far from the LX factory) is not your average Portuguese building.

We decided to just enjoy the MAAT from the outside, but if you’re a big archi buff you might want to actually go IN the museum, too.

The steps in front are a nice place to people watch and soak up the sun… or you can walk up onto the roof for a great view of the river and the 25 de Abril bridge.

After visiting the MAAT, we walked over to the LX Factory, and found a pretty insta-worthy swing along the way.

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

Get your culture on at Lisbon’s Unesco sites

If you make it all the way out the the MAAT, you might as well swing over to the Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery, too.

They are about a 25-30 minute walk away from the MAAT, so, no, not superrrr close, but definitely much closer than sayyy Alfama, (which would take you about two hours by foot).

The Belém Tower was built on the shores of the Tagus river in the 1500’s to defend the city, and, the Monastery, as previously mentioned, is the home of THE pastel de nata! Both are now UNESCO World Heritage sites and two of Lisbon’s most iconic monuments.

We sadly didn’t make it to either due to poor planning, dicey weather conditions (and, if I’m being totally honest, HUNGER!), but definitely plan on making the trip next time!

Keep in mind that there is a small admission fee for both of these sites.

go on a free walking tour

If I’m being totally honest with you, I’ve never been a big fan of big group tours.

I typically prefer to explore new places solo and at my own pace… however, I’ll admit, after going on several Christmas Market tours last winter, I realized that I’ve been seriously missing out on a gold mine of information.

Instead of just going around “seeing” a bunch of things, walking tours allow you to learn about what you’re seeing - the history and meaning behind a city’s architecture, foods, and traditions. They’re also a great way to meet people if you’re travelling solo… (and to get your steps in)!

Unfortunately, the timing and weather conditions didn’t work out in our favor… but NEXT TIME a Lisbon walking tour is at the top of our list… (right after a day trip to Sintra).

The tour we planned to do was run through a company called Civitatis, an online travel company that operates in over 770 destinations and offers over 17,000 activities.

They have four free walking tours in Lisbon (as well as some other pretty cool activities and Lisbon must haves):

  • Walking Tour of Lisbon takes place everyday at 10am, 11am, 2pm, and 4pm. This tour visits some of the cities most emblematic locations like the São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint and Santa Justa Elevator.

  • Walking Tour of Alfama typically takes place daily at 10:30am and 11am. It explores Lisbon’s oldest district and includes stops at the Lisbon Cathedral and Portas do Sol viewpoint.

  • Walking Tour of Mouraria typically begins daily at 11am. On this tour, you’ll visit the Medieval Moorish Quarter, the birth place of fado and the neighborhood of Graça, an area known for its miradouros and panoramic views.

  • Walking Tour of Bairro Alto & Chiado takes place daily at 3pm. On this tour you’ll explore the most bohemian areas in Lisbon, visit the areas oldest coffeehouse, and follow the route of the emblematic (and instaworthy) yellow Elevador da Bica.

Each tour takes about 2.5-3 hours and is (almost) totally free!

Here’s the catch - Though booking the tour itself won’t cost you anything, it is customary to give your guide a tip at the end. Most guides work exclusively on tips, so keep that in mind when deciding how much you will give.

Book your spot ahead of time by visiting Civitatis.com or clicking any of the tour links above!

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

Visit rossio lisbon square

This lively square is literally in the heart of the city.

It was renamed Pedro IV Square in 1874 when the statue of Dom Pedro the IV was put up, but most residents still refer to it as Rossio.

Like most city squares, this is where life happens.

When we visited, there was a market going on with loads of stalls selling flowers, food (and also giving samples), drinks (mulled wine), jewelry, tiles (of course), products made of cork, and other handicrafts.

Fun fact: Did you know that Portugal is the biggest cork producer in the world? So don’t be surprised when you see (tourist) shops filled with cork bags, wallets, bracelets, and other knickknacks you didn’t know existed in cork form.

The second time we visited the square, we witnessed a big group of med students utilizing what was hands down the most effective fundraising method I’ve ever seen.

First year students in yellow t-shirts sat on the ground, while older students in black cloaks stood behind them. They sang song after song and were dancing and clapping… and before long the music and energy had drawn a big crowd.

One of the students walked around to on-lookers explaining who they were, why they were singing, and what they were raising money for. He told us, “if you make a donation, we throw you a big party.” So of course we did.

For each donation, there was lots of clapping and cheering… always followed by another song.

GENIUS!

Street performances by cloaked student troubadours, or tunas are pretty common around Portugal… and in this square in particular. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch one yourself!

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

watch a fado performance

If you skim the web for things to do in Lisbon, I guarantee you that “Fado + Dinner Show” will come up. Fado is traditional Portuguese music that is very melancholy and sad, which, for whatever reason, seems to pair best with dinner and drinks.

These dinner and a show combos are super popular among visitors to Portugal and, thus, a pretty common way for tourists to get ripped off… which is what almost happened to us…

More on that here: Travel Tales - Fado Problems and Hair Flips Solutions

Long story short… We decided late in the afternoon on Andrew’s last day in Lisbon that we would go for dinner and a fado show to celebrate his birthday that night. We did very little (ie zero) research on where to go or how to avoid getting scammed, soooo, basically… we nearly fell into one of the aforementioned tourist traps.

Side note: Are you noticing a theme here? I literally did not plan annnything prior to this trip!

Thankfully, after a little hair flip action and some Oscar worthy acting from Lindsey and Andrew, we got our money back and left to find a more affordable spot to get our fado fix.

We soon found a buzzing little hole in the wall restaurant. There was a bit of a wait, and they were still charging a per person cover at the door to reserve tables, however, 100% of this money went towards our bill at the end.

Our experience here was much more intimate and cozy… and budget friendly.

The fado singer found out it was Andrew’s birthday and gave him his own little encore. I wish I had photos of this because a picture is worth a thousand words, but I don’t… so HERE’S A GIPH INSTEAD… which has to be worth at least a million.

Despite the little mishaps along the way, our dinner + fado evening ended up being one of my favorite nights of the whole trip, and proof that you CAN get a good meal and a fado experience without spending an arm and a leg.

eat your heart out at the time out market

The Time Out Market is a fairly new concept that got it’s start in Lisbon in 2014.

On one side, there are shops and bars, a music venue, and you can get a taste of the best restaurants in the city. The other side is home to the city’s most well known (and according to Time Out), longest-running vendors of meat, fish, fruit, and flowers.

As the Time Out Market has increased in popularity, so have the prices, but, in my opinion, it’s still well worth a visit… that is, if you go early and can actually find a spot to sit.

There are so many delicious food options, and we had a lot of them… but my FAVORITE dish by far was the tuna tataki from Confraria - it was TA DIE FOR!

Side note… and a pro tip for my fellow females with small bladders: If you so happen to need to use the toilet while you’re here (which you probably will if you, like me, eat your heart out AND split a bottle of wine with your girlfriends) go to the bathroom upstairs!

When the market gets busy, the line for the women’s bathroom on the first floor gets atrociously long… so long that I felt it imperative to give you fair warning in this article!! I didn’t realize the upstairs bathroom was a thing until I went back to the market a second time… so, yeah. Sharing is caring.

This is currently the only Time Out Market, however, the publishing company is opening another one in Miami in two days! (May 9, 2019).

Several other Time Out Markets are due to open in the next couple of years in major cities around the world (including London, Prague, New York, Montreal, Boston, and Chicago)!

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

WATCH THE SUNSET AT A rooftop bar

There are loads of popular rooftop bars around the city, like Rio Maravilha (located at the LX Factory), Park, SkyBar, TOPO… the list goes on.

We went to Park around sunset, and, as you can imagine, it was packeddd.

If you look carefully in the picture below, you’ll see the partial heads of all the people in front of me taking the same photo.

Good view: yes

Pricey drinks: also yes

Best thing I experienced in Lisbon: not quite

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

get a free view at a miradouro

Want to save yourself a few bucks? Skip the bars, grab a bottle of wine, and head to one of Lisbon’s many Miradouros instead!

These viewpoints offer stunning (free!) views of the city, and are a great place to watch the sunset, or to just stop and chill after a day of exploring. Street performers often play music in these areas, too… making them an even more appealing alternative to overcrowded (and often overpriced) rooftop bars.

Miradouro de Santa Luzia is one of the most popular viewpoints (and is located conveniently on the way to my favorite wine bar in the city, Alfama Gourmet).

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

Try the local wine

Okay… let’s be honest - Trying Portuguese wine probably should have been right up top with eating your weight in pastel de natas… but now it’s coming in at the "LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST” spot on the list.

Portuguese wines, like ports and vinho verde (or green wine), are made from varieties of grapes that aren’t really found anywhere else in the world. It’s also unlikely that you’ll find these wines being sold anywhere else in the world at such bargain prices… so get your fill of it while you can… and while you’re at it, get yourself a cheese plate, too!

Pro tip: The best wine bar we visited in Lisbon was Alfama Gourmet.

We were able to try and learn about so many different Portuguese wines and had great chats with the owner Nuno… all while watching Tram 28 occasionally breeze by the window. We also tried Ginjinha shots here, a traditional Portuguese liquor served up in a tasty little chocolate “shot glass.”

Read more: The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal

The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

So what’s the deal with Tram 28?

OKAY, I’ll admit it! We DID take the tram! ONCE!

We were actually on our way to visit Alfama for oneee last wine date, and didn’t want to brave the neighborhood’s steep hills after several days of walking around the free of charge stair master that is Lisbon.

We saw the tram pulling up to the stop just ahead, so we thought, “Eh, why not!? When in Lisbon!”

It was fun and exciting for the first couple minutes, and, after that… it was a tram… a super bumpy tram. To be honest, I don’t see what all the hype is about. I much preferred the view OF the passing tram… from the wine bar… with a cheese plate…

Not pictured: me nearly falling over while trying to record this time-lapse.

Pro tip: If you DO have a “When in Lisbon” moment and decide to take the tram, for the love of green wine, please don’t do it in the middle of the day… and if you DO decide to take it in the middle of the day, don’t get on in the city center when it’s already packed with people (and possibly pick pockets) - I personally never had an issue with this, but, according to the interwebs… and the locals who told me to wear my backpack on my chest, it is in fact a thing.

When To Go

Peak season in Lisbon is from June to August, so this, in my opinion, is when you most definitely should not go.

The weather may be nice during this time, but the cues and crowds are not. For a more enjoyable experience, go just before or after this period - from March to June or September to October. The weather will still be warm and the city will be much less busy.

Getting Around

The best way to explore Lisbon is definitely by foot. You get to explore all of the random side streets and alleyways, pop in to random shops and restaurants at a moments notice, and get a gnarly uphill workout free of charge.

On that note - Bring good shoes!!

Uber is also a great option when you have a bit further to go to reach your destination (or when the weather isn’t great).

We opted for getting an Uber from the airport and when going from our AirBnb in Alfama to the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) - (solely because it was raining, all the way on the other side of town, and it would have taken us an hour to get there by foot)… otherwise we pretty much always walked.

Heading to another city in Portugal?

After visiting Lisbon, we headed to Porto by bus, and (once we found the bus stop and figured out how to print our tickets) found it to be pretty straight forward.

We were there within 3.5 hours and then had a 5 minute ride from the bus station to our AirBnb once we arrived. Tickets cost 17 Euros one way (34euro RT) and can be booked on Rede Expressos website.

Another option is flying or taking the train.

Flights between these cities may be cheap, but when you factor in the extra baggage fees, time spent getting to the airport, the hassle of going through security, and then repeating that whole process again on the other end, you might as well just take a bus.

Taking a train is the fastest option (though not by very much - 3 hours as opposed to 3.5 by bus). It’s also the most expensive. The cheapest regular tickets are 25Euros one way, but can sometimes be purchased for a discounted rate. Visit Comboios De Portugal for more information regarding specific train times and ticket prices.

Story time/Pro tips for taking the bus:

When you get to the bus station at Lisboa Oriente, don’t make the mistake of going to the train station side… you’ll miss your bus and end up waiting another hour til the next one.

I realize I may not be selling this right now… We did have a pretty rough start, but I promise the bus is the most cost and time effective means of getting to Porto.

We were running late, the signage at the station was really poor, so when we got there, we had no clue where to go. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes!

If you walk allllll the way to the far side of the parking lot (where all of the buses are), you’ll find another smaller building - This is where the information desk for the bus station is located, and possibly the same snarky information desk lady we never got answers from.

In this building, there’s also a red machine. The red machine is your friend.

If you booked your tickets online, go STRAIGHT to the ancient red machine and enter your booking number. Then your tickets will print and you might actually get some help from someone in terms of which bus stop platform you should go to.

We had to have the printed ticket for our bus from Lisbon to Porto, but, for whatever reason, on our way back to Lisbon, showing the tickets on our phone was fine - (The Porto station signage was also much better… in that there actually WERE signs).

Play it safe and always at least try to print the tickets from the red machine if you can!

Also, BYOS… in which case, the S obviously stands for snacks!

The bus does make a few pit stops along the route, but none of them are very long.


Useful Phrases

The official language spoken in Portugal, which may seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who think they can get by with Spanish here because of the proximity to Spain. Not the case. Here’s a quick little Portuguese lesson before you go.

Hello – Olá (oh-LAH)

Goodbye – Adeus (ah-DEH-oosh)

Please – Por favor (poor fah-VOHR)

Thank you (male) – Obrigado (oh-bree-GAH-doh)

Thank you (female) – Obrigada (oh-bree-GAH-dah)

It took me much longer than I would like to admit to figure out the meaning behind this pronunciation difference.


City Map

You didn’t think I’d give you all that info without some handy dandy directions did ya? Here’s an interactive map to help you get around while you’re in Lisbon.

If you have questions about what we did, where we stayed, or just want more Lisbon tips, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly!

Enjoy your time in Lisbon!


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The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld
The Ultimate Lisbon Guide - What to Know, When to Go, and 12+ Unique Things to Do (That Aren't Riding Tram 28) FREE MAP! | HallAroundTheWorld

Travel Tales: Fado Problems and Hair Flip Solutions

If you read any guide on what to do in Lisbon, chances are you’ll come across fado.

This traditional Portuguese music is moody and sad, and, for whatever reason, seems to be best paired with dinner and drinks.

Dinner with a fado show is a super popular activity for people visiting Lisbon (and Portugal in general), so, as it goes… it’s also a pretty common way for tourists to get ripped off… which is what almost happened to us.

DSC05823.jpg

We decided late in the afternoon on Andrew’s last day in Lisbon that we would go for dinner and a fado show to celebrate his birthday that night. We did very little (ie zero) research on where to go or how to avoid getting scammed, soooo, basically… we nearly fell into one of the aforementioned tourist traps.

(Side note: are you noticing a theme here? I literally did not plan annnything prior to this trip)!

Long story short… shortly after deciding on our fado dinner plans… like literally less than two minutes later, we walked by a cute restaurant with a big sign out front that said “FADO SHOW TONIGHT!”

…and then we went inside and booked a table for the four of us that evening!

Perfect, right?! It’s like the universe had been listening to our chat!

Well, not quite…

First mistake: Going into the first place we saw.

Turns out, there was a cover charge of 10 Euros a head… something the hostess didn’t tell us until after we had given her our name and contact information.

This was a bit of a red flag. In hindsight, we probably should have backed out then, but I hadn’t done any research to know any better, so I thought, “Well, technically we’re seeing a show. I guess paying a cover is normal,”

…and then, in our excited fado frenzy, we forked over 40 Euros.

Second and third mistake: Paying 40 Euros cover. Not looking at the menu.

As we continued on our walk back to our AirBnb, we started seeing (ie noticing for the first time) loads of restaurants with signs advertising fado shows that evening… many of which also had another one of my favorite words - “FREE!”

Still, we had already paid… so we decided to give the first spot a chance.

When we came back that night we quickly realized that this restaurant was a weeeee bit out of our “Nearing the End of a Two Week Holiday” price range

…and then (even more quickly) began concocting a “Let’s Get Our Money Back” and go somewhere else plan.

After a little hair flip action and some Oscar worthy acting from Lindsey and Andrew, we got our money back and began the hunt for a more affordable place to get our fado fix.

We found a buzzing restaurant with a bit of a wait, and though they still charged a per person cover at the door to reserve a table, 100% of this money went towards our bill at the end.

Our experience here was much more intimate and cozy… not to mention a whole lot easier on our bank accounts.

The fado singer found out it was Andrew’s birthday (because she was basically standing right beside our table the entire time) and gave him his own little encore.

I wish I had photos of this because a picture is worth a thousand words… but I don’t… so HERE’S A GIPH INSTEAD. That’s gotta be worth at least a million, right!? Just look at those birthday boy dance moves!

Despite the little mishaps along the way, our dinner + fado evening ended up being one of my favorite nights of the whole trip, and proof that it IS possible to get a great meal and a fun fado experience without paying an arm and a leg.

The moral of this story isn’t to do your research… because going with the flow actually turned out pretty well for us in the end.

The moral of this story is that even the most seasoned travellers make mistakes… and that there’s no problem a sassy little hair flip can’t solve.


Have you been to a fado show?

Was your experience as cool as Andrew’s? ;)

Let me know in the comments below!

The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal

Sometimes, when I prepare for a trip, I map out the entire city beforehand.

I (over)ambitiously pin all of the restaurants, cafes, bars, and photo spots I want to hit. Then, when the time comes, I race around trying to make it to as many points on the map as I can.

This is all well and good, especially when you’re on a job, putting together a city guide, or shooting a video… but it is hardly a holiday. It’s another to do list.

I spent a solid four weeks travelling like this over the holidays last year - Bouncing from one Christmas market city to the next every couple of days, and running around like a mad woman trying to see and do everything in the meantime.

It was fun. A lot of fun… but it was also exhausting. So hectic that, when I got home, it hardly felt like I’d taken a break.

This was 10,000% NOT the case for my trip to Portugal.

All the plans I thought I had fell through, and I learned a big lesson in the art of sucking it up and going with the flow.

The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld

After spending a week in the Azores, we arrived in Lisbon with a minimal agenda and headed to the accommodation we’d booked a day prior… (after a cheeky little stop at the Time Out Market for some food... Okay, and wine).

We couldn’t check in to our AirBnb yet, so we decided to get out and explore Alfama instead.

Within minutes, we came across a hole in the wall wine bar.

Our passing, “Oooooh that place is cute” changed to “TWO euro wine!? Shall we?” once we saw the menu… And then we did.

The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld

It wasn’t a place I ever expected to find…

Even if I had actually planned out what I wanted to do in Lisbon, it’s unlikely that this little wine bar would have been on my radar. Regardless, Alfama Gourmet quickly became one of my favorite spots in Lisbon.

Maybe it was the 2 Euro wine… or maybe it was the owner Nuno.

Though his opening line, “Have you tried green wine?” might be something he uses on all the tourists, it was his warm, welcoming smile and the conversation that followed that kept us coming back.

Nuno shared his knowledge of Portuguese wines and the various wine regions, what to do around Lisbon, and even gave us tips for Porto - the next stop on our trip.

The afternoons spent chatting around the barrels, sipping wine, and watching trams go by will forever be some of my favorite memories - the perfect reward for climbing the hills of Lisbon.

If you find yourself in the Alfama area, this is one spot you won’t want to miss.

The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld

Hours + Directions

Alfama Gourmet is opened from 10am - 9pm daily.

Need help getting there? Check out the map below.


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The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Wine Bar in Lisbon, Portugal | HallAroundtheWorld

Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores

I never imagined I’d be visiting a volcanic island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean…

…In fact, I didn’t even know such a place existed until a few months ago when a friend and I began toying around with the idea of a little Portugal vacation.

Basically, the whole thing started when my friend Lindsey posted an instagram story saying something along the lines of “Portugal in April? Anyone want to meet me there?” To which I of course said, “Abso-freakin-lutley. Don’t tempt me with a good time.”

She sent me a photo of a hike in the Azores - One photo... Anddd that was all it took to turn my “Abso-freakin-lutely” into a “Take my money, Skyscanner.”

Plans were made, our group grew from 2 people to 5, and, in early April, we all travelled from our current homes (Malmo, Abu Dhabi, and Bangkok) to São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands in the Azores Archipelago.

It was the start of a what was an epic Portugal vacation.

If you browse photos of São Miguel Island online, you may find yourself seriously questioning the saturation levels of each shot… because there’s NO WAY a place could possibly be that green, right? Wrong. São Miguel is hands down THE GREENEST, most beautiful place I have ever been - (yes, even over Ireland).

I started to edit some of my photos from the trip, and then thought to myself… “This is pretty pointless. These photos don’t need editing at all.”

In honor of today being Earth Day, (and me proving to you just how naturally beautiful (and insanely green) this island really is), I wanted to share some of my favorite, unedited, straight off the camera shots with you.

If you’re anything like me, go ahead and get SkyScanner, Kiwi, or whatever flight search engine you use ready. It only took one picture to convince me to visit the Azores, and these 45 photos are definitely about to have you planning a trip there, too.

Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorldPhoto Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

ANNDDD #45

…(as if you need any more convincing after all the hiking, biking, waterfalls, cows, lakes, beaches, tea fields, and green, green, green landscapes in the previous 44 photos)…

Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

No, your eyes do not deceive you! Those are in fact bottles of wine… for less. than. 2. Euros.

So, go ahead then - Book that flight… Cash in those airline miles.

Go get a big dose of nature therapy (and your fill of cheap wine). You know you want to ;)


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Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld
Photo Diary: 45 Unedited Photos to Convince You to Visit the Azores | HallAroundtheWorld

Interested in learning more about getting around São Miguel, where we stayed, what we did, or hearing the local take on the rise of tourism in the Azores?

Subscribe for updates below and I’ll send the latest posts straight to your inbox!

In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions!

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island

Sometimes, I love a relaxing stay in a luxe hotel or meeting other travellers in buzzing hostels. Other times, it’s nice to unwind in a cozy, home away from home.

After scouring the internet for the perfect AirBnb on São Miguel Island, I found the Mirante Loft, the most unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Now I know Airbnb’s can get a bad rep sometimes, and, yes… there are a few shady properties and property owners out there. Sometimes, however, you hit the AirBnb jackpot - and that’s exactly what a stay at the Mirante Loft was for us.

After a long travel day (and by long I mean a bus from home to Malmo Central Station, a train from there to Copenhagen airport, then one flight to Lisbon and a second the Azores), we finallyyyy arrived in Ponta Delgada. A short taxi ride later, and we were checking in to the beautiful Mirante Loft.

With its nearly panoramic windows, this quiet oasis in the middle of the Atlantic offers guests beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, sea, and the pineapple farm next door. The landscape views are tastefully complemented by crisp and simplistic decorations in the interior.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

The property boasts several other amenities like a sparkling white, fully equipped kitchen (a must for travellers who love cooking on the road), a washer (nice for people with laundry), a living room, dining area, TV (with netflix), a balcony, andddd (BIG plus) a shower with a view.

Thoughtful little in-house touches like a deck of cards and tea light candles put this loft at the top of my list of favorite AirBnb’s. The host Joana was also extremely kind and accommodating when we needed to check out a bit later on our final day.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

As far as amenities go, we had everything we needed here and more… except for the best weather conditions, but, from what we’ve heard, this is pretty typical on the island.

We did have nice enough weather to walk to the beach, down to the marina, and around the city for a bit, but, other than that, we spent a lot of our time just enjoying this amazing property and the incredible view from our little glass loft.

We sat on the balcony drinking 3 Euro bottles of wine, listening to music, and watching the weather change from one minute to the next. I’ve never seen such insanely temperamental and unpredictable weather patterns.

One minute, the clouds rolled in and the rain was pouring, and the next we’d put on our shades and soak up the blazing sun. It was a great spot to write, actually… and once my pen hit the paper, I poured more words and thoughts from my soul to my journal than I have in ages.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

ANYWAY, back to the property.

As much as I’ve been raving about the interior of this place… the exterior isn’t half bad either… and by that I mean it’s pretty freakin’ fantastic. The grounds are calm, quiet, and FILLED with greenery.

The loft itself is also covered in bright green, viney plants.

If you know me, you know I’m a hugeeeee plant lover - so, yes… these green walls mighttt have played a major role in my booking decision. (They did… they definitely played a major role).

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Now though the Mirante Loft DID cost a bit more per night than I typically would spend, it was totally worth it. I’m happy to report that splurging on a stay here did not disappoint.

The restaurants in Ponta Delgada are a bit far away (unless you rent a car), so we stocked up on food and drinks at the local market, and cooked our own meals (something I’d highly recommend doing anytime you have access to a kitchen so as to maximize your travel funds).

We spent money on one meal out throughout our whole stay, and the rest of the time, we saved by preparing meals in this swoon worthy (future house GOALS) kitchen.

Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

There is so much to see and explore on São Miguel Island, but a couple of nights in Ponta Delgada at the Mirante Loft was a great starting point for us. After such a long travel day, it was nice to have a short commute from the airport to our final destination. We were able to unwind and have some quiet time before diving in to all the island has to offer.

If you’re planning to spend some time in Ponta Delgada while visiting São Miguel, I can’t recommend this AirBnb enough. Joana is an amazing host and the beautiful Mirante loft was the perfect place to stay.


BOOKING

Click here to check current rates or to book the Mirante Loft on AirBnb.

New to AirBnb? Click here to sign up and get $40 in travel credit!


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Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld
Unique AirBnb in Ponta Delgada with the Best View of São Miguel Island | HallAroundtheWorld

Weekend Staycation at Clarion Hotel Malmö Live

At the start of March, Andrew and I both had an actual day off work. This, in itself, is a pretty rare occurrence… but what’s even more rare is that we were both off on the same day. I can literally count on one hand the number of times it has happened so far this year.

In celebration, we went full R&R mode and had a little two day Malmö staycation at Clarion Hotel Malmö Live.

Watch (for all of you visual people): Video Recap

Typically, when I have time off work (especially consecutive days), I’m the first one to hop on a bus, a train, or a plane and head off to another city. On this particular day, we had considered going across the bridge to Copenhagen for the day, but, in hindsight, it felt super nice to stay put here in Malmö.

We didn’t have the hassle of travel or the stress of packing that typically accompanies a holiday. Plus, we got to spend some quality time together out and about in Malmö - something we haven’t done nearly enough since I moved here.

Now, if you’ve never treated to yourself to a staycation (or if it’s been awhile), stop what you’re doing right now - Yes, you! Pick up your calendar and find an open date! Can’t find one?? Clear one!! Now… find yourself a nice, cozy room at one of your city’s best hotels and BOOK IT.

Done??? Perfect! - Now, here’s a little more about our staycation, and why, whether you’re a local or just visiting, I would 100% recommend checking in at the Clarion Hotel Malmö Live for yourself.

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Clarion Hotel Malmö Live

Our staycation, (which started out as one day… and turned in to two), was the best start to our month. We got some much needed R&R, and, as you can see in the video, had a pretty great time. We could “go out” and “stay in” all at the same place, which was a pretty big win for us homebodies.

Even if you don’t stay the night at the hotel, you should absolutely still go by for a drink or a meal or a show… or just to lounge around in the Living Room… yes! Living Room! This place has a lot going for it, and there is always - and I mean ALWAYS - something going on.


Sleek decor + Epic Views

A couple of the many things this place has got going on are it's minimalistic, modern design and incredible city views. Basically the entire building consists of floor to ceiling windows, (which makes for some epic sunrises and even better sunsets over the Öresund Bridge).

You can’t really go wrong with any of the rooms here, but the corner rooms are phenomenal. We were in room 2000 and, aside from the couple of necessary walls, had a nearly panoramic view around the side of the building facing Central Station and the Turning Torso.

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

In House Dining + Bars

I was dying to go to the in-house Mexican restaurant, Eatery Social Taqueria, before staying here had even crossed my mind. I finally did… and now we can’t stay away. But that’s just one of the dining options you’ll find here.

For a more upscale dining experience, head up to the 25th floor to Kitchen and Table + SkyBar.

Both restaurants offer weekend brunches as well!

Read more: Eatery Social Taqueria

Read more: Kitchen and Table + SkyBar

Eatery Social Taqueria - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Kitchen and Table + SkyBar - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Eatery Social Taqueria - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Kitchen and Table + SkyBar - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Eatery Social Taqueria - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Kitchen and Table + SkyBar - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

And last, but certainly not least, the Living Room Bar… my personal favorite.

For casual drinks, check out this cozy bar, located just past the lobby. The comfy couches and decor will literally make you feel right at home.

These shots were taken in the morning, so it’s empty… but I promise that’s not what it usually looks like. After work and on the weekends, you’ll likely have a hard time finding a free seat!

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Concerts + Exhibitions + Special Events

When we stayed here, we lucked out by being here on the same night as the premiere of Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Live’s free afterwork event.

This event is a great place to let off some after work, ready for the weekend steam. There were DJs and confetti and sparklers, and it was all very 0-60, out of the office and straight to the club vibes… so prepare yourself accordingly.

Cirque du Aw is set to take place monthly, but the hotel doesn’t just host party events. They frequently have ballets, orchestras, and other performances here as well. As we waited in line for Cirque Du Aw, a very… let us say… more mature crowd, was heading to a performance upstairs. See! - Something for everyone!

Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Cirque Du Aw - Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Convenience

Not only do all of the in house dining options, events, and property perks make this a super convenient place to say… the property itself is also really well located.

It’s about a 5 minute walk from Central Station, a 30 minute commute to Copenhagen airport, and is near many of Malmö’s most beautiful scenes and attractions.

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Affordablity + Amenities

Though a stay here may not fall within a backpacking budget, in my opinion, all things considered, it is well worth the money… especially if you’re planning to visit Denmark too.

Hotels in Malmö tend to be significantly cheaper than they are across the bridge in Copenhagen, and the Clarion Malmö Live is no exception. When you stay here, you can explore two cities and two countries in one go, (and save yourself a bit of money).

If all that isn’t enough to convince you to book a stay, here are a few more of my favorite photos from around the property. Peep that fitness center (and SAUNA)… and the lobby ping pong table… and the all you can eat buffet breakfast. Need I say more?

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

This little coastal city I’ve been calling home is so unique, and, in my opinion, a pretty underrated destination among travellers. So many people visit Copenhagen each year, but few cross the bridge over into Malmö.

Read more: Life Update + 8 Things I Love About Life in Malmö

I’m really glad I had the opportunity to relax and unwind for a bit, and found that it was nice to get out and about and be a bit of a tourist in my own town.

I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in the past few years, but can honestly say that few compare to the Clarion Malmö Live. From the cozy lobby Living Room Bar to the roof top SkyBar and restaurant, the entire property is always buzzing… and not just with tourists.

With their special events and affordable restaurants, the Clarion Malmö Live is so much more than just a hotel. They cater to guests and locals of all ages, and have an authenticity that is undeniable.

Don’t believe me?

Come by and see for yourself.


Booking

To check current rates, or to book your room at Clarion Malmö Live, use the search bar below or head to their website.

Booking.com

Planning a visit to Malmö?

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Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld
Malmö Staycation - Clarion Malmö Live + HallAroundtheWorld

Dinner, Drinks, and the Best View of Malmö - Date Night at Kitchen and Table + SkyBar

Andrew and I aren’t really “fancy restaurant people”

…and there are a couple of reasons for that.

If you know the Valentine’s Day wine bottle story, then you know that the fancy restaurant gods are not in our favor.

Thankfully (for our bank accounts sake), Andrew NOW knows I’m not the kind of girl who is impressed by fancy shmancy dining experiences - or absurdly priced bottles of wine.

After a long work week, you’re more likely to find us eating takeout sushi on the couch with a box of red wine than going out for dinner… except a couple weekends ago when we finally went to a restaurant we’d been talking about trying for ages - Kitchen and Table + SkyBar at the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel.

Though the rooftop location might give you the impression that there’d be an uppity vibe, I actually found the atmosphere to be really laid back. The staff was friendly and welcoming, the food was good, and the views were even better.

If you’re looking for a good date night restaurant…or just a cool place to grab a drink and take in an epic city view, Kitchen and Table + Malmö Skybar is the perfect spot.


Malmö SkyBar

Located on the 25th floor of the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel, the SkyBar has hands down the greatest view you’ll find of the city.

The cocktails are as delicious as they are beautifully presented, and the views of the Turning Torso and Oresund Bridge are unbeatable.

I’d recommend arriving early to grab a few pre-dinner drinks at golden hour.

If you like gin and want a light, refreshing drink, try a classic French 75 (complete with an adorably dainty elder flower flourish)… or my not so classic favorite, Any Last Words - made with gin, apricot, green chartreuse, lime, pineapple, sugar, basil. So yum.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Kitchen and Table

After kicking things off with drinks at the SkyBar, walk on over to Kitchen and Table, one of the hotel’s two restaurants by Ethiopian Swedish chef, Marcus Samuelsson.

Read more: About Marcus Samuelsson

We came for dinner, but they also have a cocktail brunch every Saturday from 11:30-2.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Cosy, cosy, cosy DECOR

The laid back atmosphere at Kitchen and Table is due in part to the awesome staff, but also the rustic and cosy decor. After the sun went down, the candles were lit, and their flickering made the space feel even more warm and welcoming… no pun intended.

The restaurant has an open kitchen layout (complete with a wrap around bar), and a community style high-top table in the center of the room which I really liked.

Some of my family members are planning to visit Malmö in the summer, and, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I could totally picture us all sitting down for a beautiful (and rare) meal together here.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

snacks & STARTERS

Given that we aren’t really fancy food people, some of the terms on the menu were a bit over my head. Thankfully our waitress Daniella was awesome (and a total foodie). She explained everything in detail and gave us some great recommendations.

To start we had Kissed by the Sun (crispy Jerusalem artichokes and a delicious, creamy parmesan mayonnaise) and the Cuttle Me (grilled octopus, spiced cream, black radish, apple, and olive oil). You can’t go wrong with either one, but, I personally preferred the contrasting flavors of the octopus and green apple in the Cuttle Me.

We also had a surprise /TAI(R)´TAI(R)/ (sans ox heart), which we both LOVED. The flavors complimented each other well and it was beautifully presented. This was another dish that had Andrew saying, “Oh my gosh… so good” every other bite - For reference, the same thing happened at the hotel’s restaurant downstairs, Eatery Social Taqueria. I’m tellin ya, this Marcus Samuelsson guy is on the something.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Mains

I honestly could have made a meal out of just starters and sides here, but we went with Daniella’s recommendations and tried some different things instead.

His: Potato Rhapsody with Beef Sirloin - Crispy potato, roasted potato broth, pickled potato, Leicestershire Red cheese, and a grilled sirloin (not pictured because Andrew eats too fast).

Hers: What What to the Halibut - hilariously named, and so delicious. Baked halibut, salsify, miso beurre blanc, potato puree, and dried porcini mushroom. To be honest, I don’t know what half of those words mean… but I can tell ya it was good.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

The sweet stuff

For dessert, after much deliberation (aka arguing over who got the Pulp Fiction), we decided to get that and the Eton Mess.

His: The majority of the Pulp Fiction. The sherbert icecream and carrot cake combination was pretty good… but we both agreed I made the better choice.

Hers: The Eton Mess - a delicious meringue, tonka bean, cream, and seasonal berry treat that literally melted in my mouth. The berry of the day was blueberry… and, again, they knocked this one out of the park - so yum.

Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld.jpg

Overall, I really enjoyed our dining experience at Kitchen and Table, (and also the fact that there were no pricey wine bottle mishaps). Thanks again to Daniella for teaching us more about each dish and recommending such delicious combinations!

Whether you’re having a date night or just looking for a cool spot for after work cocktails, the food, drinks, and views at SkyBar + Kitchen and Table will not disappoint. I can’t wait to go back to try their Saturday cocktail brunch, (& also to bring my family here this summer - lookin at you, mum. BOOK YOUR FLIGHT ALREADY)!


Hours + Location

Lunch
Monday-Friday: 11.30-14:00

Dinner
Monday-Sunday: 17.00-22:00

Cocktail Brunch
Saturdays: 11.30 – 14.00

Sky Bar
Monday-Thursday: 11:30-14:00 & 17.00-01.00
Friday: 11:30-14:00 & 16:00-01:00
Saturday: 11:30-01.00
Sunday: 17.00-00:00


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Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld
Date Night at Kitchen and Table + Malmö SkyBar | HallAroundtheWorld

Checking in to London’s Greenest Boutique Hotel - Qbic Hotel

Last November, Andrew and I set off on a four week, seven country adventure to visit and capture Europe’s Christmas markets with Urban Adventures. London was our last stop, and, for a couple of reasons, it was the destination I was most excited about.

My mom is from England, so, I’ve visited London a couple of times before with family, but, on both occasions, I was barely a teenager. I was old enough to like the city… but I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate it.

This time around, things were really different. I was excited about revisiting London, but was also looking forward to visiting my family there. It was the first time in my life I’d be visiting them by myself, and also the first time I’d be entering the UK on a British passport!

I was also pumped for our London trip because we were going to be staying a couple of nights in one of the coolest areas… at the city’s most eco-friendly (and cutest) boutique hotel - Qbic Hotel London.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

About QBIC Hotel London

The Vibe + mission

In one word, Qbic Hotel is super cozy. Picture your typical, stuffy, corporate chain hotel… and then think the exact opposite. I was a big fan of their trendy decor, art filled walls, and the staff’s laid back and welcoming attitude.

Qbic says, “We use local, innovative designers to create refreshingly different interior design that is authentically unique and holds an inspiring story.”

They are dedicated to reducing their environmental impact and support eco-friendly charities in the local community. One of these is Cafe Art, London based initiative that aims to reconnect people affected by homelessness with society through Art. Qbic showcases some of the artists work in their hotel and has even given Cafe Art a space to run the charity in the hotel’s basement.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

From the solar panels on the roof to their use of chemical free cleaning products, at Qbic Hotel, being “green” is more than just empty words or a marketing slogan.

They provide guests with organic toiletries and natural, organic beds made from sustainable and renewable resources. They also offer free bike rental and encourage guests staying two or more nights to conserve water and energy, by skipping room cleaning (in exchange for a free drink at the bar). Qbic Hotel believes this incentive will encourage guests to make greener decisions.

Though their aren’t in-room coffee makers, each floor is equipped with a free coffee and tea area. You won’t find any plastic water bottles here. Instead, guests are provided with free filtered water in their room’s refillable glass bottle. Qbic hotel also uses sustainable, re-usable metal straws instead of single-use plastic straws.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

The rooms

Compared to other hotels in, our room at Qbic smaller. We didn’t have all of the bells and whistles you might find in other hotel rooms, but, we found that we did have everything we needed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the sleek, modern, clutter free design of the room, and impressed by the rooms defining wall art and highly efficient reusable pod that stood center-stage.

The “Qbi pods” in each room are sustainably built, aluminium pods that contain everything you need in a fully functioning hotel room… and I mean everything from the bed, tv, lights, outlets, and USB ports to the toilet, sink, and waterfall shower. It’s such a genius and innovative concept.

Guests have the choice of a smart room, cosy room, or a fun room. So, what’s the difference?

If you’re looking for a crashpad where you can get a solid nights sleep, go for a window-less smart room. If you want a bit of daylight, go for a cosy room like we did. If you’re travelling with two or three people and want a bit more space, go for one of their larger fun rooms (complete with a couch).

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

Motley Bar + Restaurant

Motley, Qbic’s in house restaurant and bar, is popular amongst travellers and locals alike.

They offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner throughout that week and several delicious options for sharing (…or keeping to yourself). Their menu has lots of healthy, vegetarian friendly dishes made from seasonal, sustainable, and locally sourced produce.

The restaurant and bar was always pretty quiet during lunch (and at 5am when I took the photos below), but it got really busy after working hours. We stayed here during the week, so it was a great spot to grab a bite to eat and get some work done, but it’s probably much busier for brunches on the weekend!

Hours

BREAKFAST: Mon-Fri 7:00-10:30 Sat-Sun 8:00-11:00

BRUNCH: Sat-Sun 11:30-15:00

LUNCH & DINNER: Mon-Fri 12:00-22:30 Sat-Sun 15:30 - 22:30

BAR: Sun-Wed 16:00 - 00:00 Thu-Sat 16:00-2:00

Click here to view Motley’s various menus.

London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

Rates + Booking

To check current rates or to book your room at Qbic Hotel London, use the search bar below!

Booking.com

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London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld
London's Greenest Hotel - Qbic Hotel | HallAroundtheWorld

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería

I’m a huge sucker for Mexican food…

…and I mean HUGE. I’d eat guacamole everyday if I could, but, unfortunately, avocados are pretty freakin’ expensive.

When visiting Malmo for the first time last September, I was excited to quickly find a place where I could get my Mexican food fix - Eatery Social Taquería at the Clarion Malmö Live Hotel.

Despite coming across the place at the end of last summer, it wasn’t until recently that Andrew and I actually went to try it… and now we kind of can’t stay away.

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld


“Mucho Mas Que Una Taquería”

Eatery Social Taquería is, as their slogan suggests, “Much More Than a Taco Restaurant.”

They serve up some seriously tasty tacos, yes… but they also offer guests an awesome atmosphere. Eatery Social is the perfect spot for any occasion - whether you are grabbing a quick bite and after work drinks or celebrating something special.

Created by Marcus Samuelsson, the restaurant’s dishes are influenced and inspired by the food and cultures of Mexico, Manhattan, Peru, and Scandanavia.

Samuelsson, an Ethiopian Swedish chef has been cooking his whole life. On his personal website, he says, “My mission with each project – whether it be a new restaurant, book, or TV show – is to celebrate the food, the culture, and hopefully inspire others to be adventurous, learn something new, and get cooking!”

Read more: About Marcus Samuelsson

At Malmo’s Eatery Social Taquería, Latin American flavors are combined with a local twist to make unique and delicious foods. It’s also pretty freakin’ cute.

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld


Food + Drinks

For starters, we always get the nachos. They are served with salsa and guacamole, which for me is a no brainer because avocados… duh.

You might find your main course decision to be a bit more tricky because they have SO much to choose from.

If you’re hungry, go for a sharing platter. On our last visit, we got the chicken fajitas and, I kid you not, Andrew said “OMG THIS IS SO GOOD,” every other bite. It was WAY too much for the two of us - so unless you’ve got a big appetite, I’d suggest bringing a friend (or two).

If you’re in the mood for something smaller, try the tacos. It is a taqueria afterall!

The tacos are served in pairs and are quite filling (but not TOO filling). You should be left with just enough room for some guac and dessert. They have five different styles to choose from, but my favorites so far are the Pineapple Pork Tacos - (full disclosure… they’re also the only ones I’ve tried… When you find something THIS delicious, it’s hard to switch it up).

It wouldn’t be a trip to a Mexican Restaurant without a good ole’ adult beverage. Grab a Cerveza or one of their delicious cocktails. We got the Mexican Bulldog because it was Friday… and, if I were you, I’d maybe save this one for the weekend. Go for a regular margarita if you don’t want a pounding headache. Turns out, we can’t throw em back like we used to.

We somehow managed to save some room for dessert, and decided to try the Chocolate Y Jengibre and the Coco Pannacotta, but we both preferred the first - hands down. The sweetness of the white chocolate and sour flavors of the lime jelly complimented each other really well... But don’t take my word for it… go try it for yourself!

Check out their full menu here.

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld


Brunch

Yes, you read that right… They also have brunch (but only on Sundays)!

BOTTOMLESS brunch - complete with Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Which is basically a combination of all my favorite B words… Breakfast Beverages and Bottomless Brunch.

I have yet to try it for myself, but, if it’s anything like their dinner, it must be pretty dang good. The next time I have a Sunday off, you know where to find me… Or maybe you don’t know where exactly to find me… which is why I conveniently listed the location and hours below!

Location + Hours

Eatery Social Taqueria is located at the Clarion Malmö Live hotel.

Their address is Dag Hammarskjölds torg 2, 211 18 Malmö

Dinner Monday–Saturday 17:00-23:00

Bar Monday–Thursday 17.00 – 23.00
Friday-Saturday 17.00 – 00.00

Bottomless Brunch at Live Every Sunday 12:00-16:00

Reserve a Table

Given that I’ve yet to see this place on a slow night, it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s generally always packed. The restaurant is really popular among hotel guests and locals alike. If you don’t reserve a table ahead of time, chances are you’ll either end up waiting for hours, or you may not get a table at all.

Avoid the uncertainty and reserve your spot… especially if you plan on going for their bottomless Sunday brunch!

Have you been to Eatery Social? What’d you think?

Let me know in the comments below!

The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld

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The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld
The Best Mexican Cuisine in Malmö - Eatery Social Taquería | HallAroundtheWorld

A Night Behind Bars in Ljubljana - Checking in to Hostel Celica: Slovenia's Prison Turned Hostel

I never imagined I’d be spending the night in a Slovenian jail cell

I also never thought I’d be doing so willingly… that is, until I started planning our trip to Ljubljana and discovered that the city is home to Hostel Celica - an ex prison turned hostel. Then I was all like, “A night behind bars!? SIGN ME UP!!”

For a unique accommodation experience during your visit to Slovenia’s capital, you have to stay a night or two at Ljubljana’s former prison - Hostel Celica.

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History + Transformation

In the 1880’s, “Hostel Celica” was a prison…

…and it remained a prison for over 100 years.

In 1991, the building was abandoned, and local artists began trying to formally obtain the empty premises. They wanted to preserve the building, and, in doing so, to preserve a piece of Ljubljana’s history. These artists were strongly opposed by the local government who answered their attempts by trying to have the building demolished in 1993.

Nearly 10 years later, the city finally approved creative plans to transform the building into a youth hostel in 2001. For the next two years, more than 80 local and international artists collaborated to transform Hostel Celica into the beautiful, eclectic work of art that it is today.

In 2003, they welcomed their first guests, and, today, it is the most awarded hostel in Slovenia.

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Not Your Average Hostel

Yes, Hostel Celica does have your standard hostel common areas like a bar/cafe, and various lounges… but it also has an on site Art Gallery featuring monthly exhibits by local and international artists, a unique, spiritual room called the Point of Peace, and, in the basement, you’ll find the Museum of Confinement.

POINT OF PEACE

The Point of Peace is the only jail cell in Celica which has had the bars removed from windows and doors. This symbolizes openness and acceptance, a point that is further illustrated by what is actually in this spiritual room.

On their website, Celica says:

The Point of Peace represents the meeting point of all travelers who want to get in touch with their spiritual side or just give themselves a moment of peace and quiet. There are 6 niches where each represents a world religion – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. The sixth one is left empty and opened for any other religion, your own belief.

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MUSUEM OF CONFINEMENT

If you’re bold enough to wander downstairs to the Museum of Confinement, you’ll see the prison’s old solitary confinement cells and can learn more about Celica’s dark history. The location of this museum in relation to the point of Peace and third floor common room also has an interesting, symbolic meaning:

The solitary confinement cells, which are part of the museum, are located right under the Point of Peace, which rises up into the lightest point of the building, the common room. The vertical symbolizes how the old prison building opens itself from its darkest corner into its lightest point.

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Be sure to check out all of these spaces to learn more about the property’s history and evolution over time.

Read more now: Hostel Celica - More Than a Hostel

Room (aka cell) Options

Sold on a stay at Hostel Celica? GREAT!

…Now you’ve got a pretty wide variety of room options to choose from. Stay solo in a private room, or bunk up with a few cell mates in one of Celica’s dorms.

For the full experience, I recommend spending a night behind bars in one of their 20 cells.

These cells were transformed by artists during the prison’s transformation, and each one has its own unique story and concept.

We stayed in Cell 116, “The Eye”… which was pretty cool, but there’s one catch… you can’t choose your specific cell - and theres a meaning behind that too.

Guests are assigned the cells at the moment of booking and cannot choose them according their tastes or wishes… The same way the prisoners could not choose theirs back at the time - A nice element of surprise, completely free of charge.

Read more about Cell 116’s concept and check out the other cells here.

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Property Perks

Hostel Celica offers several property perks…

…in addition to all of the unique aspects mentioned previously.

Their check in desk is open 24-hours a day and the ground floor has a common space, cafe, and bar where you can pay small, reasonable prices for meals, drinks, and their buffet breakfast. Upstairs, you’ll find another lounge, a shared kitchen, and laundry area.

Hostel Celica also offers bike rental, city maps, and a variety of trips and tours.

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What’s in the Neighborhood?

To put it in short… a WHOLE lot of art.

The hostel is located right in the middle of Metelkova Mesto, an autonomous social centre in the centre of Ljubljana. Think Copenhagen’s Christiania Freetown… except smaller.

Before the renovation and transformation of Hostel Celica began, the abandoned barracks and prison were occupied by artists trying to preserve the area. Today it is arguably the most successful Urban Squat in Europe.

The entire area is filled with murals, quirky art installations, and museums. It’s pretty deserted in the day time… but once the sun goes down, Metelkova Mesto comes to life.

Read more about Metelkova here or visit their website to stay up to date on upcoming exhibitions and events.

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Booking

To check current rates or book your cell at Hostel Celica, use the search box below.

Booking.com

What’s the most unique hostel you’ve ever stayed at? Let me know in the comments below!

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Quick Guide to Kraków: What to See + Do + Eat

Last December I travelled to Kraków, Poland for the first time, and though my trip was initially to visit the city’s Christmas market, I was pleasantly surprised by everything else Kraków had to offer... good food, rich history, and awesome street art to name a few.

If you’re into any of that, here are some attractions, eats, and neighborhoods that you won’t want to miss.


What To Do

explore the Old Town

A trip to Kraków isn’t a trip to Kraków without visiting the Old Town. It was on the first UNESCO World Heritage list in 1978... and for good reason. The Old Town is home to many of the city’s icons like St. Mary’s Basilica, the historic Town Hall Tower, Wawel Castle, and the largest market square in Europe.

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Wander the grounds of Wawel Castle

Though it’s definitely one of Old Town’s most touristy landmarks, Wawel Castle, & the iconic fire breathing dragon at the foot of the hill, are both worth a visit.

Local tip: a friend from Kraków told us the castle is best enjoyed from the grounds, so we decided against paying the admission to get inside. Whether you decide to go in or not, you should get there early to avoid crowds.

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Hunt for street art in Kazimierz

The Old Town is beautiful, but if that’s the only area you visit you’ll seriously miss out. Be sure to spend some time wandering around the Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz - this was one of my favorite spots in the city.

The area has an entirely different look and feel than the Old Town... which probably has to do with the fact that it used to be an entirely separate city.

I’m a huge sucker for hole in the wall bars, cafes, and street art... and Kazimierz has plenty of all of them.

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cross the Bernatek Footbridge

After exploring Kazimierz, head towards the Vistula River to the Bernatek Footbridge. This pedestrian + bike friendly bridge opened in 2010, but the love locks & gravity defying aerialists were added a bit later.

The bridge connects Kazimierz with Podgórze, another hot spot for good eats and drinks.

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What to Eat/Drink (and where)



If you visit Kraków in the winter, you’ll find lots of delicious foods to warm you up at the Christmas Market like pierogi or, the most traditional polish dish of all - soup.

You can get mulled wine served straight from the barrel, or switch it up with other hot drinks like beer and vodka. I was as skeptical at first, but, turns out, the hot ginger beer at @piwnicapodbaranami, a super cozy underground cabaret turned bar, is actually pretty delicious.

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Good food is everywhere in this city, but, if you’re balling on a budget like me, I wouldn’t recommend eating at the Main Square.

As a general rule, the further away you get, the cheaper meal prices will be.

Unless you’re grubbing on street food at the Christmas market, you’ll likely find delicious meals for much less in Kazimierz.

The pierogi pictured below is from Zielony Balonik (The Green Balloon). For a cheaper (delicious) alternative head to the Old Town Restaurant and Wine Bar. It’s just a short walk away from the Old Town and is easily my favorite place we ate during our time in Poland. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos because… well, I was more focused on eating.

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Getting Around

The best way to get around Kraków is to WALK. Kraków is pedestrian friendly and most of the landmarks around Old Town are within walking distance.

Don’t feel like walking? You can also rent a bike or use the city’s public transit which operates 24 hours a day.

If you plan on taking buses or trams frequently, you may want to get a 2 or 3 day Krakow Tourist card (US$26 and $32 respectively). This card is good for airport transfer, unlimited public transport around the city, and will get you free admission to 40+ museums & attractions.

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Christmas Markets of Kraków



Have you been to Kraków? What is your favorite thing to do in the city?

Let me know in the comments below!


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Budapest’s Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel at St. Stephen's Basilica

On their website, Pal’s Hostel makes the bold claim that they are, “Not your average hostel.” After staying here myself, I can honestly say that this statement couldn’t be more accurate.

They say it’s because the hostel is actually a chain of dorms and apartments near St. Stephen’s Square… but I think their unique setup and prime location are just two of several defining characteristics that make Pal’s stand out from the rest.

If you’re travelling to Budapest (especially on a time limit), this is the best (and most budget friendly) place you could stay.

Here’s why.


Location

Voted 10th best large hostel worldwide in the 2018 Hoscar Awards, Pal’s is hands down the most conveniently located hostel I have ever stayed at… and I have crashed at my fair share hostels.

It is located so close to St. Stephen’s Basilica that you can literally see it from some of their properties. This is not an exaggeration.

This location puts the hostel a short walk away from Deák Ferenc tér - the metro station where Budapest’s three main lines intersect.

Staying in such a central location made it easy for us to make the most of our short time in Budapest and to see as much as we could.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld


privacy

In addition to its great location, Pal’s has a wide variety of room options ranging from mixed dorms and private rooms to ensuites and apartments. Thanks to their wide range of options, the hostel attracts a wide range of travellers. We saw families, older couples, backpackers, solo travellers and groups checking in and out.

Andrew and I opted for a private room in a shared apartment located in a building just across the street from the main reception building. Even though we were in the middle of the city (during the Christmas markets), our room was quiet and we had so much privacy.

It wasn’t just a place to sleep - I had a place to set up my classroom to teach online each morning, a kitchen to make our own meals, and, after a day of exploring, we could come back to chill and recharge, just the two of us.

There were a couple flights of stairs to get to the apartment - which isn’t exactly ideal for older, less mobile individuals (or for carrying our one shared suitcase - filled with lots of (my) winter clothes. Shout out to Andrew for carrying that sucker up).

The apartment had a living room, full kitchen, one other bedroom, and a shared bathroom. There were a couple of times that I had to pee or wanted to shower and had to wait because someone was in the bathroom… but this wasn’t a big issue.

It was a major upgrade from some hostel situations where the bathroom is either gross because it’s shared by too many people and not cleaned often enough, or you have to wait for ages. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to race for the shower while staying at a hostel. Not ideal. This was much better than that)


Social Atmosphere

Just because Pal’s offers guests more private room options doesn’t mean it isn’t a social hostel.

There are communal spaces located in the main building where you can get some work done or grab a free cup of coffee while mingling with your fellow travellers. They also host daily activities here like trivia nights, family dinners (featuring traditional Hungarian dishes), and even beer pong tournaments.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

It definitely isn’t the most social hostel I’ve ever been to, since it’s so spread out… but, in my opinion, it’s nicer to have the option of attending events than to be bombarded by a loud party crowd when you just want some privacy or peace and quiet.

It was just the right amount of social… in that socializing was optional and not unavoidable… (I’m kind of a recluse sometimes… sue me).



Friendly Staff

Speaking of the social atmosphere, the people at Pal’s are pretty great, too… but I guess when you work at a place called “Pal’s,” you kinda have to be.

The staff was comprised of a fun and friendly group of people from all over the world. Many of them had been in Budapest for awhile, so they were able to give great advice on the best places to see in the neighborhood, around the city, and how to get there.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

Fast Wifi

Since I work on the go, having a good wifi connection is crucial.

Some hostels are hit or miss when it comes to their high-speed internet, but in our apartment at Pal’s I had zero problems connecting and teaching my English classes online.



Clean and colorful

Some people may not care where they lay their head or what it looks like, but when I’m deciding on a hostel or hotel, I almost always make sure it meets these two bonus criteria.

Call me crazy, (extra, bougie, high-maintenance… whatever)… but there’s something special about staying in a place that’s visually appealing.

Pal’s is filled with colorful artwork and murals in its shared spaces… and when I say filled I mean these masterpieces literally cover the majority of the walls.

In my opinion, they could have done a little more with the interior decoration in the apartments… but they were clean, and that’s what matters most.

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld



Affordability

As with anywhere, prices at Pal’s vary greatly depending on when you go, what type of room you choose, and how long you stay.

We visited at the start of December for the Christmas markets and found the costs to be significantly lower than comparable accommodations in the neighborhood.

Booking

Check current rates or book your room using the search box below.

Booking.com

Don’t forget to add your name to the wall!

Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

What is the best hostel you’ve ever stayed at? Let me know in the comments below!

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Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld
Budapest's Most Convenient Hostel - Pal's Hostel | HallAroundtheWorld

Teaching English Online with PalFish - What's Required + How to Get Started

Teaching English Online with PalFish - What's Required + How to Get Started

In the month of January, I made over $1.2k for about 50 hours of work.

I didn’t have to leave the house, wear real pants, put on makeup, or interact with anyone over the age of 12. I could travel without having to “take time off,” and, so far, have been able to work in over half a dozen different countries.

SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, RIGHT?

Well, it’s not! It’s completely legitimate and it’s made possible by an innovative online teaching company called PalFish.

I’ve received a lot of questions from family and friends about this company and how they can get started, so I figured a little blog guide was in order!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul

Ahhh, Seoul.

My home away from home, and a vastly underrated travel destination.

From endless underground shopping to incredible nightlife... a vibrant, well-preserved culture and amazing, modern architecture... this sprawling city seriously has it all. 

Turns out, it's also a photographers paradise…

In no particular order, Here are 10 urban photo spots you won’t want to miss.


Ewha Womans University

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

I was pumped when my friend Nick said he wanted to shoot here because, despite living in Seoul for years, I still hadn't been. We arrived so early on that Saturday morning that the, typically crowded, famous walkway on campus was practically empty... which made for some incredible shots.

According to google images, this is also an epic spot to shoot after the sun goes down and the buildings light up. I didn’t get a great shot of the buildings (because I only had my phone camera, and, when it comes to night photos, its shooting abilities are subpar at best). I did, however, get this cool photo of the empty cafe area.

Getting there

Head to Ehwa Womans University Station on the green (2) line. Take either exit two or three and walk straight for a few minutes. You'll run right in to the university grounds!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

CanonPlex

On the southside of the Han, in an unsuspecting camera shop, is one seriously swoon-worthy spiral staircase. There's really not much to see here other than that... (unless you're in the market for some new Canon stuff), but it makes for a pretty cool "Down the Rabbit Hole"-esque shot.

If you're in Apgujeong, pop in to the CanonPlex for your next insta-post!


Getting there

Head to Apgujeong Rodeo Station on the Bundang (yellow) line and walk straight out of exit 5. The CanonPlex will be just down the road on your right!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE... YES, YOU! If there is one place in Seoul you HAVE to go… it’s here. Seriously.

This was one of my favorite areas in the whole city since I first moved to Seoul in 2015. My friends made fun of me for loving it so much, but who could blame me!? - Look at those curves! (Side note: I also had a really adorable first date, first kiss on a butt-statue chair here, therefore, it will always hold a special place in my heart. The place, not the butt statue...).

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Aside from its sentimental value, the DDP's futuristic architecture and design never cease to amaze and inspire. Be sure to wander inside the spaceships as well. Scotty might not beam you up, but I guarantee you'll find an exhibit, stairwell, or spacey corridor that'll make you feel like you're on another planet.

Getting there

Head to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, (located on lines 2, 4, and 5), and walk out of Exit 1.

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Blue Square

Blue Square is a culture complex with a bookstore, cafe, and even a performing arts theatre. The walls of its Book Park are lined with books from the floor to the ceiling, and the massive windows, giving this aesthetically pleasing location an even cozier feel.

There are several little nooks and lofts where you can literally sit amongst the bookshelves... so, that's exactly what I did. I got a cup of tea, pulled out my journal, and was happily stuck here waiting out a rainstorm for the rest of the afternoon.

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Note: BYOB(ook). 

There are lots of books here, but, as I wasn't here book shopping, I'm honestly not sure if any of their books are actually in English. It isn’t uncommon to go in a book store in Korea and find fake English books on display.

Getting there

Blue Square is located at Hangangjin Station on the brown (9) line, and just outside of exit 2. Pair this with a visit to Leeum Art Museum (mentioned a bit later).


Sulwhasoo Flagship Store

This location is a spa, a boutique, lounge, and the home to what may be the most genius staircase concept I've ever seen. The metal grid alongside the outdoor stairwell seems to go on forever... and, though it actually stopped at the rooftop garden lounge, it was still awesome.

We got some really cool, minimal shots here - in most of which, I was either sticking my tongue out (or taking photos of Nick taking photos of me)... but I was such a minimal midget, you'd never be able to tell... (which is why I LOVE THIS TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPHY - as there's zero pressure on the person in the frame).

The golden metal staircase at Sulwhasoo would undoubtedly be an amazing background for portraits as well... but, unfortunately, at this point in the day, my sniffly nose was wayyyy too red and runny for that

Getting there

The Sulwhasoo Flagship Store (not to be confused with the Sulwhasoo Spa in Jamsil) is also accessible from Apgujeong Rodeo station.

Take exit 5 and walk straight along Seolleung-ro (선릉로).

When you reach the first major intersection, past the CanonPlex & Sony store, turn right on to Dosan-daero (도산대로). Turn down the third road on your right. This spot will be down the road and on the right - can't miss it!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Anyang Art Park

This park deserves a post of its own… because it is quite literally the most elusive park I have ever been to. The installations are scattered throughout the woods… and the signage is all in Korean… so the first time I attempted to go, I didn’t find any of them.

The second time, I found a few installations but most of them were locked… so I tried a third time… (and, surprise surprise, still didn’t find all of the installations I was looking for).

Thankfully, Seoul photographer James Lucian let me snag a few of his photos for this article!

Each installation is so unique. I love the different compositions you can make of the textures and colors.

Getting there

Gwanak is the nearest Metro Station to the art park. Like I said, it’s super tough to sort out where everything is… I’ll go into more detail in a post just for this a bit later.

In the meantime, I’ve pinned it in the map below - Pay attention to the signage when you leave the station and be prepared to walk through the woods. May the odds be ever in your favor!

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

StarField Library

The beautiful StarField library is located in the COEX mall, Asia’s largest underground shopping center. It is well lit, aesthetically pleasing, and has the cutest little photo spot at the curve of the shelf.

Though it isn’t the quietest library in the world, it’s definitely a cool spot to check out while visiting the city.

In addition to the library, there are so many other things to see and do within this complex. There is an aquarium, clubs, hotels, restaurants, and, of course, lots of shops.

Right across the street from COEX, you’ll find the Bongeunsa Temple - one of the largest Buddhist Temples in the city.

Getting there

Take the metro to Samseong Station and take exit 5 or 6 to get to the mall!

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO


Leeum Art Museum

On my second weekend in the country, I braved the metro and headed to Itaewon to visit the Leeum Art Museum and explore the area… making this museum one of the first places I visited on my own… not just in Korea, but probably ever. Prior to moving abroad by myself, I had a group mentality, and was honestly a bit scared/nervous to go places on my own. This would be the first of many times I ventured out solo.

Unfortunately, being by yourself sometimes means missing out on epic shots like these. Thankfully, Brittany of LifeOfBrit let me borrow this shot of her in one of the Museum’s most well known exhibits.

The Leeum Art Museum has many permanent and rotating exhibits of traditional and modern art. Museum 1 showcases traditional Korean art and Museum 2 features modern and contemporary pieces.

There is an admission fee of 10,000 won, but if you are a university student with school ID, under the age of 24, or over age 65, you can get a 50% discount.

Getting there

Head to Hangangjin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6) and take exit 1. Walk straight for 100m then take a right down the first alley. Walk about 5 minutes up the hill to reach the museum.

Pair this with a trip to Blue Square (located at the same station) or a day of eating your way through Itaewon.

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BRITTANY VARANO


Seoul Botanic Park

This gorgeous Botanic Park opened in Western Seoul in October 2018… (which is a huge bummer for me because I had already left the country by then).

Like the famous Cloud Forest in Singapore, the Seoul Botanic Park has a skywalk through its upper canopy. There are currently about 3,100 kinds of plants, but their goal is to eventually have 8,000 plant species.

The architecture of the park looks gorgeous… especially in these golden hour shots by James Lucian… plus - I love plants. The best part… during their trial period, admission is free!

Getting there

Seoul Botanic Park is a short walk from exit 3 of Magongnaru Station on subway Line 9 and the Airport Express Line.  They are open from 9 am to 6 pm.

Visit their website for more information!

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN


Ttukseom Resort Station

Okay, so I know I said the DDP was my favorite spot in the city… but that’s not entirely true. This riverside station actually takes the cake for my number 1 favorite spot in Seoul.

There are plenty of parks by the Han, but, the first year and a half that I lived in Korea, I’d ride the train 40 minutes across the city just to get to this one. Thankfully, my last apartment in Korea was just a couple stations away!

The spaceship-esque building connected to the station is actually a small library and events center, so if it’s too cold to be outside, you can go inside and still get a great river view.

This is a great spot to chill and have river beers, go biking, or just do some people watching. On weekends when the weather is nice, the lawn areas are filled with tents and blankets as friends and families picnic together (one of my favorite Korean pastimes).

Getting There

Directions for this one are easy. Take the train to Ttukseom resort station… and then you’ll be at Ttukseom resort station!

Make sure to take exit 2 or 3 so you come out of the station on the river side.

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

PHOTO BY JAMES LUCIAN

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

BONUS PHOTO SPOT

While you’re in the area, I’d recommend walking or taking the train one stop to Konkuk University station area and heading to another super trendy photo spot in the area - Common Ground.

Common Ground is a shopping and restaurant area made from shipping containers where lots of festivals and special events are held.

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

MAP

Need a little help finding your way in Seoul? Click around my custom map to discover the best urban photo locations in and around the city.


About the Contributors

Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld

Nick Classen

Nick Claasen, a New Zealand born photographer based in Hong Kong, is absolutely incredible behind the camera.

During his visit to Seoul last year, we teamed up to create some minimal shots that show off just a handful of the city’s many futuristic, architectural masterpieces.

I can say without a doubt that he is one of the most creative people I've ever met and has what is easily one of my favorite urban photography accounts on Instagram


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Brittany Varano

Originally from the states, Brit quit her job to move abroad and  teach English in Daegu, South Korea for two years.

She has loved spending her weekends finding the most picturesque spots in Seoul and  
practicing her photography along the way.

Brit shares all of her Korea travel tips, guides and recommendations on her blog LifeofBrit.com.

Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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James Lucian

Originally from St. Louis, James is now lives and teaches English in South Korea. Though his interest in photography began in high school, and he majored in photography in university, James says living in Seoul really rejuvenated his desire to pick up the camera.

He bought an old camera at the Namdaemun Market and started taking pictures again.

James says that living in Seoul has given him a great canvas for photography. “The streets of Seoul are so different from home and I am constantly stimulated by them, even after three years of living here. It’s been such a pleasure to go photograph them!”

Check out his work on Instagram.


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Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld
Urban Photographers Guide to Seoul - HallAroundtheWorld