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Five Reasons to Tour the UK by Train

Five Reasons to Tour the UK by TrainPhoto by Denis Chick on Unsplash

With restrictions on international travel still in place for many countries, there’s never been a better time to spend some time travelling around dear old Blighty! There are lots of places in the UK which rival the rest of the world in terms of beauty and many people never bother to tour our shores, choosing instead to travel abroad for their holidays. With that in mind, we thought we’d look at some of the reasons that travelling the UK by train is a great idea:

Better for the Environment

We all know that visiting new places is exciting, but have you ever thought about your carbon footprint while travelling? Rail transport is actually the most environment-friendly way to travel. The greenhouse effect of gas emissions per kilometer on railway transport is 80% less than cars. In some countries, less than 3% of all transport gas emissions come from trains.

Look at the Views

It’s great being a passenger in a car as you can look out of the window at all of the wonderful views on your journey. However, being a driver means that your view is a lot more limited for reasons of safety, so drivers rarely get to enjoy the scenery. If you travel by train, you can spend the whole journey taking in the view, and you’ll often get to see things that you wouldn’t be able to from a motorway.

No Limit on Luggage

While we aren’t suggesting that you should pack everything including the kitchen sink when travelling by train, you’re not limited by a baggage weight limit. This means that you can pack more if you travel by train than you can if you travel by plane, which saves a lot of worrying and weighing suitcases before you leave!

Efficient Routes

When you travel by road, you’re at the mercy of roads, traffic and all sorts of other things that make your journey long and potentially stressful. With trains, you generally go in a pretty straight line from A to B and you don’t have to worry about traffic or other road users. It’s also usually much quicker because of this. Many people who travel by train find it the most relaxing way to travel.

Stay Connected

Charge your phone or camera batteries, watch a movie or get some work done… it’s all possible on board the train. And what’s even better: more and more train companies are installing Wi-Fi so you can even post live updates as you journey by train. Knowing that you won’t affect your car battery by charging your devices is a bonus and taking advantage of free wi-fi also means that you won’t have to be concerned by huge data charges.

Things to Do in and Around Richmond, Yorkshire

Richmond CastleAs I’ve said before, while I’m not in any hurry to get out amongst the germy masses and expose the kids to COVID, I am looking forward to get out on some day trips and short breaks, once things are safe again. Before lockdown, my Mum and I were actually talking about getting us all away on holiday together and renting somewhere for us four, my Mum and Dad and my sister and her fiance.

One of the places I found while I was looking was The Green Door Holiday Cottage in Richmond, which is a luxury cottage in Yorkshire. Usually, we’d head for the south coast for family holidays to places like Cornwall and Devon, but the thought of taking our travels north actually really appeals to me. With this in mind, I started looking at some things to do, in and around Richmord, for when we eventually get to take our trip.

Richmond Castle

Richmond Castle is an English Heritage site, right in the heart of Richmond and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Dales. Even better, if you’re an English Heritage member, you and anyone included in your membership will get in for free, so you’ll be able to enjoy a lovely educational day out for very little outlay.

Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve

According to TripAdvisor, “Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve covers 100 acres of moorland edge adjacent to Cambrai Lines at Catterick and has a remarkable mix of habitats and species. The reserve contains semi-natural woodland, heathland, flower-rich grassland, streams, ponds, a lake, willow and Alder carr, coniferous woodlands and wet meadows. The patchwork of habitats across Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve is home to more than 2440 species. At the heart of the reserve is a modern, purpose-designed Field Centre, a great place to start your visit and learn more about the wildlife of Foxglove Covert.” Sounds like a wonderful place for a walk and a picnic!

The Forbidden Corner

The Forbidden Corner was originally a private folly. However, after popular demand, the site has been opened up to the public with four acres of all-out weird! Discover a unique labyrinth of pathways, tunnels, chambers and galleries throughout the woods. They’ll present a barrage of tricky challenges, including the occasional spray of water! Just keep your eyes peeled for the secret brass circles which reveal hidden markings and direct you on your mission. There’s also a lovely picnic area for when you need a break from the fantasy.

The Best of Dublin in a Weekend

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Traveling is one of life’s joys. From the mini-vacay to a trip of a lifetime, every adventure to a new destination is special and worth remembering.

If you only have two days to enjoy Dublin, for example, you will want to plan your itinerary carefully. There is so much to do and see that it is impossible to experience it all in two months, let alone two days! So, make the most of it.

If you get in on Friday night, check into your hotel and grab some dinner before heading out to the neighboring pub or bar for a Guinness. But leave your souvenir shopping with a Dublin luggage storage place so you don’t have to watch them.

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Saturday

  • Dublin Castle

Visiting Dublin Castle is like visiting over a dozen places at once. You can start at the Viking Excavation below the castle. It is where the Vikings defended the castle many years ago. Visit the Chapel Royal with its beautiful stained-glass windows and velvet floors, where it has been since 1242. 

The State Apartments come next where you can see the Grand Staircase, Apollo Room, Throne Room, Portrait Gallery, and more. Do not miss the neoclassical architecture in the State Corridor that was designed in 1758. The Wedgwood Room is also a must-see spot, with its colors of Wedgwood pottery and neoclassical style from 1777.

Before heading to the Dubh Linn Garden, stop at the Medieval Tower, which is the oldest structure in Dublin. It has been there since before 1204 and has been converted many times. The gardens are just to the south of the Chapel Royal where you can see four small gardens around the main one.

  • The Garda Museum

The Garda Museum is a fascinating place full of artifacts from the Republic of Ireland’s national police. The museum is hosted by a civilian employee and one Sergeant who can guide you to whatever you want to see. See photos dating back to 1812 to uniforms from the early 20th century, as well as items seized in their investigations like fake currency and an ATM skimming device. 

  • The Terrace Café

Stop in for lunch at the Terrace Café on the ground floor of the State Apartments. You can see a beautiful view of the gardens while you enjoy some delicious Irish cuisine. Some of the dishes you can choose from include seared salmon, roasted sirloin, mushroom ragout, lemon chicken, and roasted hake. Desserts include apple crumble, berries mascarpone, and lemon curd. 

  • The Revenue Museum

After lunch, head to the Revenue Museum just outside. It is located in the crypt of the Chapel Royal. Learn about the history of the currency of Ireland from old to new. See artifacts such as coins and paper money, audio-visual displays, and video games. Some of the popular exhibits include measuring instruments, counterfeit goods, and an illegal liquor still. 

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  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is next because it is right next door. You have plenty of time to explore the building that dates back to 1220. Anything that old deserves a closer look and maybe some selfies. You can explore on your own or take a group tour. Enjoy a trip up the staircase to the Cathedral organ, see 200-year old statues from clergies to sailors, and learn how to “Chance Your Arm.”

In 1492, there was a fight between the Fitzgeralds of Kildare and the Butlers of Ormonde. The Butlers were losing so they hid in the Chapter House at the Cathedral. The Fitzgeralds asked them to come out and make peace. The Butlers did not trust them, so the leader of the Fitzgeralds cut a hole in the door and stuck his arm through to shake hands. Peace was made after this. They call this door the Door of Reconciliation. 

  • Dinner at Spitalfields

It should be close to dinnertime by now so stop at Spitalfields, which is just a stone’s throw away on the Coombe. Have a Caesar salad, ember roasted beets, grilled sourdough with caviar, or tartare of Irish veal for a starter. Your main meal selections are mouthwatering as well.

You can have smoked pork chops with hazelnuts and currants, salmon with Hasselback potatoes and caviar, roasted cauliflower with cheese and truffles, or pork schnitzel with peas and smoked eel. Dessert choices include chocolate custard, orange super split, lemon & strawberry ice, or coconut & lime sorbet. 

  • Dublinia

Before heading back to the hotel for the night, visit Dublinia. This medieval experience is part of the Christ Church Cathedral on R108. See a historical reenactment of the Vikings and Medieval Dubliners, travel back in time to the Viking times, and see what it was like on the Viking warships. They even have a cool gift shop where you can get some unique souvenirs. 

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Sunday

  • National Leprechaun Museum

After breakfast at the hotel, head off to see some history. You can start off with the National Leprechaun Museum. This museum is sheerly entertaining and full of folklore. The tour guides will teach you the mythology of the place as well as the history of the leprechaun. They have a “giant” room where you can feel like you are a tiny leprechaun among huge furniture. 

  • National Museum of Ireland Archaeology

Over on Kildare, learn all about the beginning of Ireland at the archaeology branch of this museum. See the treasury with stunning gems and jewels or the Clontarf 1014, which has a plethora of artifacts from the ship. They also have a huge selection of gold from 2200 BC to 500 BC. 

  • National Museum of Ireland Natural History

On Merrion Street across the way, the history building has the flora and fauna of Ireland, and this museum is the place to go. See a monstrous hippo baring its giant teeth and an adorable family of badgers from 1911. The giant deer from the ice age, wooly mammoths, and spotted hyenas are also found here. 

  • The Little Museum of Dublin

It may be little, but it has a huge number of cool things to see. In fact, they have over 5,000 items! The guided tour was named the best museum tour in Ireland. See the first edition of Ulysses, a whole floor dedicated to U2, and James Joyce’s death mask. 

  • St. Stephen’s Green

Opened in 1880, this 22-acre park has a Victorian layout of lush greenery and vibrant flowers. Go for a boat ride in the lake, enjoy a walk, or learn more about the amazing sculptures all around the park. Don’t miss the waterfall. Grab some lunch nearby if you have time before you have to head to the airport. 

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Whether you are a newbie to Dublin or have visited many times, there is always something interesting to see and do in this capital city. The museums, parks, and castles are fun, but you may need to come back to visit the beaches like Dublin Bay, Sandymount, or Poolbeg Beach. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Sources

How To Spend a Weekend in Dublin

12 essential activities for a weekend in Dublin

The Ultimate 2 Days In Dublin Itinerary

https://www.findingtheuniverse.com/2-day-dublin-itinerary/

A Weekend in Dublin – My Guide to 48 Hours in Dublin

https://independenttravelcats.com/3-days-in-dublin-ireland-dublin-itinerary/

Loving Liverpool After Lockdown

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll probably know that as a family, we’re big fans of Liverpool. Obviously, the main love is Liverpool FC, but we’re also in love with the actual city of Liverpool and the people who live there. Husband and I often joke that we’d feel way more at home in Liverpool because of the politics and attitudes of the people up there and we’ve even sat and trawled through Rightmove, fantasising about a move to the North West where housing costs are so much more affordable.

Travelling right now is out of the question (we’ve barely left the house since this time last year!) and we certainly won’t be going anywhere until it’s totally safe. We can’t wait for lockdown to end so that we can visit our spiritual home again, and this in mind, I thought I’d put together a little list of some of the places that we’re planning to go:

Anfield

Anfield Stadium, Home of Liverpool FCI mean, come on, this one was a no-brainer, right?! Husband has been to Anfield to watch Liverpool play many times but I’ve only been once and I was pregnant with BB at the time, so I’d love for us to go back as a foursome and watch a match. There is NOTHING in the world like the sound of The Kop singing You’ll Never Walk Alone to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

World Museum Liverpool

World Museum Liverpool

The World Museum Liverpool is the oldest of all of the museums and galleries in Liverpool and is famous for its great collections, its history of innovation and the family-friendly experience that it offers. From science demonstrations to a packed aquarium, this is something that all four of us would absolutely love.

Mersey Ferries

Mersey Ferries LiverpoolHave you even been to Liverpool if you haven’t taken a ferry ‘cross the Mersey?! Aside from the fact that the boast themselves look like something that Paul McCartney saw in an LSD-fuelled dream, the Mersey Ferries have been an iconic way to see the shores of Liverpool for decades. Plus, with an adult return fare costing less than £4, it’s a cheap and cheerful way to kill a couple of hours in the City.

Knowsley Safari

Knowsley Safari LiverpoolI’ve gotta admit, as a family we’re suckers for a zoo or safari park and being in lockdown has made us really miss visiting this sort of attraction. As well as the car safari, which has wolves, tigers, giraffes and more, there’s a foot safari section of the park which is more like walking around a zoo, so you get the best of both worlds. I know for a fact that we could lose a whole day wandering around somewhere like this!

That’s the list so far! Have you been to Liverpool? What was your favourite thing to do there? Do leave me a comment with any recommedations below, I’d love to hear from you. In collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

Backpacking for beginners

Filling a backpack and leaving a note for your friend on which of your house plants need watering is something that will make you feel like you’re off to stand shoulder to shoulder with the great pioneering adventurers. Move over, Amundsen. Take a backseat, Earhart. Here comes some very decent walking boots and a backpack that cost a little above budget. Let’s do this. 

First, a quick message regarding COVID-19. The overall effects of the pandemic have left the travel and tourism industry with unanswered questions over whether travel restrictions will be in place at the time of travel, meaning your booking could be affected. Keep this in mind when planning your trip, and be sure to check the latest news (also, see this related COVID travel info). Now. let’s get on with backpacking for beginners.

You’ve packed way too much

When I was about 10 years old, I went to play golf for the first time. There was a golf pro on the course that day, carrying only two clubs – one for distance, and one for putting. I, on the other hand, had about 17 clubs, a golf bag on wheels, a thousand spare golf balls, a towel, sandwiches, water, a cap, a raincoat, and an umbrella. 

When it comes to backpacking, you do need certain things such as spare clothes, toiletries, tickets, travel documents, and your phone (and a charger and headphones), but beyond that you are taking things along that you probably won’t find regular use for, meaning you could just buy these things if you needed them. Expert trekkers take only what they need.

Choose hostels where breakfast is included in the price

Hostels come in all shapes and sizes. Some have luxuries that others don’t. For example, some hostels have bars. Some hostels have communal internet café type areas with vending machines and free to use computers. I’ve even been to one hostel with a pool area (although, in fairness, it was poorly maintained). Wherever you choose to stay, there’s one thing that you should look out for at the point of booking – breakfast. Underestimate breakfast at your peril. There is nothing quite as galling as setting off to find an early morning bakery because you forgot to ask about breakfast – starting the day on an empty stomach is no fun. 

Sleep tight…

Hostels do not supply you with sleeping bags (at least, certainly not in my experience – it doesn’t make good hygiene sense). They supply clean sheets (you hope) and a bed and a pillow. If you’re feeling relatively rough and ready, these arrangements may suit you just fine. However, if you think that sleeping under one thin loose sheet might leave you a little exposed (both to thieves and the overnight temperatures), you may want to look into taking along a sleeping bag. 

Not only will you feel more protected in general, but you can use the sleeping bag to store things like your phone and your money while you sleep – any potential thieves would have to have a deft touch to go unnoticed while stealing from the inside of an occupied sleeping bag!

Next Level Sailing Recent Whale Sightings Off the Coast of San Diego

Whale watchingWhale watching can be a lot of fun. Whether you are interested as a hobby or as a day outing, San Diego is one of the best places in the country to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals. Sometimes they come in close to the shore and sometimes they are much further out. Recently, there have been some noteworthy harbor whale watching San Diego sightings.

Types of Whales Commonly Sighted Near San Diego

Part of the reason for the popularity of whale watching in San Diego is that gray whales often migrate near the city. They pass down to the warmer waters in the south for the winter. They particularly visit the lagoons of Baja California. During this time, they give birth to their calves who start to grow up in those warm waters.

When the spring rolls around, the gray whales them migrate back north toward Alaska. They can frequently be spotted during their main migratory seasons. This year was no exception and there were numerous sightings of small pods of these whales including juveniles making their first trip north.

Blue whales are another common type in the area. They are the largest creatures on earth and very rare (tragically, they were hunted to near extinction). They can be found further out feeding on small fish during the summer months. Some San Diego boat charters have already caught glimpses of these breathtaking giants this summer.

Rare Beluga Whale Sighting

The most headline-worthy sighting so far has been a beluga whale swimming in the waters off San Diego during June 2020. It was about seven miles from shore.

This sighting was strange because beluga whales live in the arctic waters. They sometimes come south during the summer months. However, San Diego is an unusually long trip for one of these whales.

The beluga whale sighting was a real treat for enthusiasts and researchers in the area. One likened it to seeing a polar bear while being out for a walk.

How To Go Whale Watching

There are many great ways to go whale watching in the San Diego area. The gray whales are often visible from the shore using binoculars, especially during the spring migration.

Whale watching in San Diego

However, the best way to get a view of the whales is usually to take a boat. There are many whale watching San Diego tours that will give you a beautiful view. Sometimes the best choice is sailing because it disturbs the whales less.

There are options for sailing all the way out into the wide ocean water or just to stay within the harbor area. Both can provide views of the whales as they come in close to the land.

Discover the Wonders of San Diego’s Coastal Waters

Whale watching in San Diego can be a truly memorable experience. It is best when you have the right boat charter to help you get great views of the whales further out. Whether you want to take a short trip, spend a full day on the water or dedicate your life to the whales, there are options for you in San Diego.

How to Spend 48 Hours in Wichita, Kansas

Wichita, KansasThe largest city in the state of Kansas sure has a lot to offer; so how best do you go about spending 48 hours in the Air Capital of the World, as it is also known?

Well, read on as we find out!

Trip to Kansas Aviation Museum

While in Wichita, you can never be far away from aviation and avionics, can you? Well, given the city’s legacy in these areas, a trip to Kansas Aviation Museum is definitely an idyllic way to spend time while in Wichita.

The site of this museum is in fact the former Wichita Municipal Airport, setup in the 1930s. Eventually, it took the shape of a museum much later in 1991.

Today, you can enjoy viewing airplanes such as the Cessna T-37, Beech Starship, B-52D Stratofortress, Boeing 737-2H4, as well as the Learjet 23 among others. You can also enjoy an annual “Play on a Plane Day” event held at the museum, in case you happen to be in Wichita at that time.

Wichita Art Museum

Art enthusiasts will certainly enjoy visiting Wichita Art Museum which is in fact the largest art museum in all of Kansas with over 7,000 unique artworks from all over housed in the museum.

Additionally, there are a lot of art galleries in the city; as an art enthusiast, we do recommend that you do try and visit these as well.

Sedgwick County Zoo

No trip to Wichita will be complete without visiting the city’s Sedgwick County Zoo, which is not only the largest zoo in the state of Kansas but also one of the largest in all of United States.

Shopping

Wichita does offer ample avenues for you to shop with ease.

Bradley Fair, an outdoor mall on the city’s North Rock Road is especially recommended for a number of cool apparel stores, besides restaurants that offer delectable cuisine unique to the area.

There are also the usual malls like Towne East Square and Towne West Square with typical retail outlets you will find in much of America.

Food

For a memorable culinary experience, we do wholeheartedly recommend heading out to the city’s Old Town. Situated just across from downtown, it is easy to get here and the food and drinks scene here is quite vibrant with a lot of unique gastronomic delicacies to try out.

The city’s Waterfront is another unique destination for a lot of special experiences that foodies would want to have. There are just so many nice restaurants here and the whole place is done up so well; you definitely would not want to miss out on this place!

Wichita Travel Made Easy with ESTA

ESTA or Electronic System for Travel Authorization is a special provision for travelers from select countries which allows them to travel to the US without having to obtain a visa in advance.

As a part of the entire exercise to ‘Check my ESTA’, viz. to ensure you are actually eligible to travel to the US under this program, you must confirm:

  • You do actually belong to one of the countries on the VWP or Visa Waiver Program list; not necessarily as a citizen – being an eligible national would suffice.

  • Your planned trip to the US should not exceed 90 days.

  • You should not have a Visitor’s Visa to the US already.

  • The purpose of your trip to the US should quite clearly be either business or pleasure.

Many travelers to Wichita have had memorable trips to the Aviation Capital of the World, all thanks to the ESTA provision.

Accordingly, we do reiterate that you confirm your eligibility for the program as per the ‘Check my ESTA’ checklist we have shared above.

Music

As a music buff, you will definitely enjoy your time in Wichita. After all, there’s a lot going on – on this front, not only from a Kansan perspective but indeed an American and international one.

First up, there is Wichita Symphony Orchestra which performs regularly. Then, there are Wichita Grand Opera and Music Theatre Wichita, both of which are well known all over America.

Finally, as the place where the electric guitar was born, there sure is an electrifying buzz to Wichita, on the musical front!

Botanica

Botanica is an experience unique to Wichita which we wholeheartedly recommend if you have 48 hours to spend in the city. There are as many as 24 immaculately designed gardens within Botanica, which definitely make a perfect setting for your Instagram ‘Wichita trip’ Story!

Conclusion

Ultimately, you will hardly find 48 hours to be adequate to explore and experience Wichita to the fullest.

At the same time, if that is all the time you have, this article will surely help you make the most of it!

If you are an international traveler eligible for ESTA, don’t forget to do a ‘Check my ESTA’ as specified above!

Exploring Toowoomba: 7 Things to Do in This City

If you ever find yourself wanting to explore Toowoomba in Australia, go ahead because you will not regret it. Here are the top seven things to do, see, and eat in this Queensland’s largest inland city.

  1. Relax at Picnic Point Lookout

Have a picnic and relax by yourself, with a partner, or the whole family. Overlooking the Great Dividing Range, you can feast your eyes to the seemingly never-ending acres of lush lawn offered by Picnic Point Lookout. Place a picnic rug under one of the different kauri or pine trees and revel in the sight. 

  1. Learn at Cobb + Co Museum

Museums, the “look but don’t touch” kinds, are usually not everyone’s cup of tea. But this one must be. It’s not the standard museum where you walk around and appreciate the art piece or historical item using your eyes only.

Instead, Cobb+Co Museum offers interactive displays as well as trade workshops you can participate in. Boys and girls can certainly have fun and learn a lot with their whip plaiting and silversmithing workshops. God knows these skills can come pretty handy one day. The museum also has some of the best scones in town. Try them! 

  1. Watch a Show at Empire Theatre

If you want to be mesmerized, then catch a show at the Empire Theatre. The theatre by itself offers an impressive architecture you will be happy to have stepped foot in, but the shows are something else. Some of the notable shows here are Swan Lake, The Lion, The Witch, and many more others. My Fair Lady is set to be shown in the upcoming days.

  1. Smell the Flowers at Lauren Bank Park

If Picnic Point Lookout is not enough, you can also visit Laurel Bank Park. It’s a garden inside a garden. It’s one of the Toowoomba’s premier parks and features all sorts of trees and flowers. There are barbecue spots as well as picnic areas, which you can plop down and revel in the view and scents as well.

Children play equipment are available for kids to play with. it’s a nice place to just wind down and appreciate what nature has to offer. Since seasons change, one can expect the floral offerings of this park to change as well. However, throughout the year, guests can just visit spectacular transformations. Trees change in color and new flowers bloom in certain seasons so it is never tiring to visit this park.

  1. Appreciate Passion at Street Art Trail

Fifth, discover the finest of Toowoomba’s street art. It is not only Melbourne that has some of the nicest graffiti laneways in Australia. Toowoomba has them too! Go to Street Art Trail and check out all the eye-popping artworks in sky-high walls. Some buildings are so covered with graffiti art teeming with emotions and passion from the artists popping out it’s actually meditating to just gaze at them. 

  1. Drink at Preston Peak Wines

Number five got you all thirsty? Then check out Preston Peak Wines. You can do a mix of both here, exploring and drinking. Located on the Great Dividing Range as well as overlooking the Lockyer Valley, you can certainly consume some fine wine here while soaking in the majestic view. Deep into this locality is the village chapel where most of the amazing weddings take place.

  1. Eat at Original Saigon Restaurant

While there are several more historical sites, parks, and gardens that you can explore in Toowoomba, check out its amazing food scene as well. After all the sightseeing, you must be tired at the end of the day. Looking for delivery food nearby? Then check out Original Saigon’s menu for more healthy food options.

It’s one of the premier Vietnamese restaurants in the area. Craving for pho? For rice noodles? How about some pork or vegetable banh mi? You name it, they have it. You can have some takeout on the go too and go to the aforementioned parks. 

You can do so much more than these seven things in this list, of course. But these are great for starters. If you are new to Toowoomba or have already visited this gem of a place, then you are in for a surprise for how many things you can do and sights to see in here. There’s always something to appreciate here, especially its food scene.

Where to Go in Cebu Based on Your Travel Style

When you ask people about tourist destinations in the Visayas, one of the top answers would probably be Cebu Province. Indeed, Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the second busiest airport in the Philippines, one that attracts millions of visitors each year.

It’s easy to see why Cebu is so appealing to tourists. It has plenty of attractions like museums and historical buildings, and quite a number of interesting landmarks. It also has excellent coastal destinations, characterized by their pristine white beaches and crystal-clear waters. These locations are often home to modern and ultra-luxe hotels with the latest and most sublime amenities. Last but not the least, Cebu has plenty of delicious delicacies that visitors can enjoy.

If you haven’t been to Cebu yet or you’re planning for another visit but haven’t decided where to go, here are a few suggestions. These have been narrowed down to different type of activities to help you decide easier.

For Sightseeing and Food Tripping: Cebu City

When it comes to the sheer number of tourist spots for sightseeing, nothing compares to the bustling capital of Cebu Province—Cebu City. There’s Fort San Pedro, Plaza de Independencia, Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Menor del Santo Niño de Cebu, and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral just within the city center. There are also plenty of museums like the Museo Sugbo, Rizal Memorial Library and Museum, Casa Gorordo, and Museo de Parian. For some of the more touristy destinations (read: Instagrammable), check out the Taoist Temple in Beverly Hills Subdivision, the Temple of Leah, the Sirao Flower Farm, Tops, and more. In fact, it may actually be a better idea to stay in hotels in Lahug, Cebu City, since Lahug is close to many of these destinations.

Cebu City is also a great destination for food trips. The Sugbo Mercado, a weekend food market, is one of the biggest in the province. It serves not just Cebuano specialties, but also Asian dishes, fusion options, and other unique gastronomic creations. Of course, you should also drop by Larsian sa Fuente, Cebu’s ever-famous street food hub. There’s also Cebu lechon to indulge in, with a variety of well-known names like Rico’s, CnT, Carcar, and Alejo’s serving this popular Cebuano fare. Finally, there are home-grown restaurants that you can’t find anywhere else and are therefore almost a requirement to visit. One of these places is Sunburst Chicken, which has been a mainstay in the city since 1971.

For Beautiful Beaches: Mactan Island or Badian

It’s a little difficult to pinpoint just a couple of locations for the best beaches in Cebu because there’s simply too many. In terms of accessibility, however, you can’t go wrong with Mactan Island. It’s connected to Cebu City by bridges, so you don’t have to deal with long boat rides and multiple transfers to get your dose of white sand and blue waters. There are a lot of budget resorts in Mactan Island, although this is also where you can find plenty of high-end establishments, including Plantation Bay, Shangri-La Mactan, and Movenpick.

For somewhere a little more secluded but still easy to reach, you can go to Badian. This is the hometown of the Kawasan Falls, one of Cebu’s most popular ecotourism destinations. Near Kawasan Falls is Lambug Beach, considered one of Badian’s many hidden paradises. Another one of these breathtaking idyllic destinations is Matutinao Beach. For other water activities like snorkeling and diving, you can visit Zaragosa (Badian Island). Moalboal to the north also has excellent diving spots, specifically in Pescador Island.

For Nature Tripping: Oslob or Medellin

This is another conundrum as there are so many places in Cebu to experience the wonders of nature. Oslob is a definite must-visit for whale shark sightings, but there are also other locations here for ecotourism. These include Tumalog Falls, a horsetail waterfall, which means that the falls start from a small stream and then widens as it falls. The water also touches the bedrock most of the time to create a smooth, misty appearance like a horse’s tail. Also part of Oslob is Sumilon Island, the Philippines’ first marine reserve. Diving and snorkeling are excellent activities here.

Meanwhile, Medellin on the northern side of Cebu has Gibitngil Island, which features majestic rock formations that are perfect for cliff diving. You can also partake in a cruise of Dagusungan River to see the expansive mangrove forest, or explore the rich biodiversity of Discovery Reef. Finally, if you’re looking for a slice of hidden paradise, go to Medellin Hideaway in Barangay Tindug. It’s carefully built to follow the layout of the land, preserving the sea rocks and other natural elements.

There’s so much more to do and see in Cebu, and these destinations barely scratch the surface. However, these are perfect examples of the many offerings of the province. Visit these places for your next travel adventure!

9 Reasons to Visit the Algarve

You probably already know that the Algarve region of Portugal is a hugely popular holiday destination with travellers from all over the world flocking to this area yearly. What you may not be quite so clear on is why, exactly, is it such a favourite with so many different types of travellers? It probably has a lot to do with the fact that the area enjoys year-round sunshine and average temperatures between 20ºC and 30ºC. The natural white sand beaches lapped by warm, crystal blue waters are also a possible factor, or it could be something to do with the many vibrant towns and cities waiting to welcome you.

If you’re still not convinced that the Algarve is the destination for you, here are nine more which might just persuade you to find out for yourself what all the fuss is about.

  1. Parque Natural de Ria Formosa

The Parque Natural de Ria Formosa is in the south and sits between the towns of Vale do Lobo and Manta Rota. Since 1987, it has been a protected area of 18,000 hectares of untouched marshlands, lagoons and lakes which are bursting with unique wildlife and rare birds as well as plants, trees and flowers. It’s a wonderful attraction for tourists which you can explore via a guided walk, a boat trip, a bike ride or even in a kayak.

  1. Vilamoura

The town and resort of Vilamoura is often referred to as ‘the Monaco of Portugal’ thanks to its sophisticated and vibrant atmosphere which is perfect for luxury getaways. The town is buzzing with energy, providing visitors with world-class restaurants, stylish bars, four excellent golf courses, beautiful beaches, exciting watersports, casino and, of course, the incredible marina which is home to jaw-dropping yachts. It’s also not unheard of to be able to indulge in a bit of celebrity spotting in this part of the Algarve. If you’re looking for a place to experience the best of the best, James Villas offer a wide range of luxury villas in Vilamoura.

  1. Faro

Faro is one of the most popular destinations for sun-worshippers as it’s renowned for the high levels of sunshine it experiences all year round. It’s also a great place to see some Moorish and colonial architecture and fascinating museums and historical buildings such as the Nossa Senhora da Assuncão Convent.

  1. Tavira

The picturesque town of Tavira is about 30km east from Faro and one of only a handful of towns which retains much of its original architecture. The whitewashed buildings and authentic roofs and chimneys are a beautiful sight to behold, and it is home to 28 churches and chapels, more than any other town in the Algarve. It also includes a Roman bridge which provides breath-taking views across the Gilão river. Make sure you take the time to sample the marzipan pastries, fig pastries, almond paste and caramel pastries from Tavira.

  1. Castro Marim

The town of Castro Marim has three beaches, all of which feature soft golden sands and warm turquoise waters. You’ll also find the river Guardania which is lined with banks of vegetable gardens and orchards as well as rolling hills of countryside and wildflowers.

  1. Carvoeiro

In the centre of the Algarve in the Lagoa region, you can find the coastal fishing village of Carvoeiro. It’s a very popular and lively hub for tourists for several reasons, but the main attractions are the wide variety of quality bars and restaurants, free live entertainment and the sheltered beach which is ideal for snorkelling.

  1. Monchique

The mountain village of Monchique is near Faro and is renowned for its natural thermal spa which has been drawing in visitors since the age of the Romans. The hot sulphur springs and baths amongst the woods of the Serra de Monchique mountain range.

  1. Praia de Odeceixe

If you’re looking for a quiet beach which offers fantastic surfing at any time of year, Praia de Odeceixe is the place to be. It’s a crescent-shaped and sheltered beach in the south which is rarely busy even in high season.

  1. Albufeira

Albufeira is one of the leading resorts in the Algarve which offers tourists everything they could ask for from a holiday destination. Although a peaceful fishing village by day there are plenty of bars and restaurants which create a vibrant nightlife. It is particularly well known for the beaches which include Oura, Gale, Vigia, Baleeira, Maria Luísa, Falésia and Olhos de Água. Albufeira is also home to some of the area’s best golf courses including Balaia Golf Village, Pine Cliffs and Salgados.