earthsmagicalplaces

Posts by this author:

Elafonisi Beach Crete: A Visitors Guide

Elafonisi Beach was recently named by TripAdvisor as one of the ‘Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the world’. Therefore there’s no doubt that this isolated beach, on the southwest coast of Crete, is a little slice of paradise that you’ll want to experience when staying on the island. I recently visited for myself so here’s all you need to know:

♦♦♦

What is Elafonisi Crete?

Elafonisi itself is actually an island which is connected to mainland Crete via a sandbar. Even at high tide, the sandbar is only submerged by around a meter of water, meaning that you can wade out to the island (which is actually an internationally recognised nature reserve) at any time.

elafonisi beach


What’s so special about Elafonisi Beach?

There are hundreds of Crete Beaches so what exactly makes Elafonisi so special? Well For one its a nature lovers paradise as its home to 110 plant species, many of which are very rare. Most notable is the Androcymbium rechingeri which is found nowhere else on the planet.

Top Tip: there are several paths on the island which you should stick to when exploring to avoid damaging any precious plants. 

More than this, the shallow lagoon that surrounds the island is a safe haven for the rare Loggerhead sea turtle. However, these turtles are very shy so you would be lucky to see one!

elafonisi lagoon

Even if nature isn’t your thing, there are plenty more reasons why people flock to Elafonisi Beach Crete:

1. PINK SAND: The remains of pink seashells wash up along the edges of the lagoon and along the sandbar, creating the illusion of a pink beach. Due to things such as the wind and the tide, you sadly won’t always find the beach to be pink. But if you do it’s spectacular!

Elafonisi beach crete

2. THE SOFTEST SAND: the areas of the beach that aren’t pink are instead filled with the whitest and softest sand that wouldn’t be out of place in the Maldives.

3. BEAUTIFUL WATERS: The water in the lagoon that surrounds Elafonisi beach is some of the clearest I’ve ever seen. What’s more its shallow, warm and teaming with fish, making it perfect for families.


The Best Time to Visit –

One of the best things about Elafonisi Breach Crete used to the fact that it was relatively ‘undiscovered’. However, since 2014 its become increasingly popular, meaning that if you visit in the summer months, you’ll have to share the picturesque beach with hundreds (if not thousands) of other people. Even visiting in late September I found Elafonissi Beach to be crawling with people. 🙁

Crete beaches

The part of the beach nearest the mainland is the most concentrated as its filled with deckchairs and umbrellas. But, if you cross over the sandbar to the island then there are many secluded spots where you might even be able to find a private outcrop.

More than this, if you visit early in the morning/later on in the evening you’ll still be able to enjoy the Islands fascinating rock formation and pink sand in relative peace.


How to get to Elafonisi Beach –

Part of the reason Elafonisi Beach remained undiscovered for so long is its remoteness. The beach is located quite far away from any major towns meaning its relatively difficult to reach. Most routes to the beach take you along narrow and winding mountain roads. While the scenery is breath-taking, it’s not the best drive for nervous drivers!

Elafonissi Beach

An alternative to driving is taking a coach tour. As Elafonissi beach has increased in popularity, more and more companies have arranged day tours. Therefore you’re likely to find frequent coach tours to Elafonisi from most major towns in Crete.

SIDE NOTE: although taking a coach may be easier, this does mean you’re likely to arrive at the beach at its busiest time! 


Amenities at Elafonisi Crete –

Despite its increasing popularity, locals have tried to keep Elafonissi Beach as ‘natural’ as possible. This means that there are fewer facilities than you might be used to. This said, there are toilets and two small outdoor restaurants that provide light meals and refreshments. 

Further, as I mentioned above, a section of the beach is kitted out with sunbeds and umbrellas (although I really would avoid this area if you want to experience the true magic of Elafonisi Beach). There are also lifeguards stationed across the beach in the summer months.

♦♦♦

So that complete’s my guide to Elafonisi Beach Crete. It really is one of the most stunning beaches I’ve visited in Europe! I only hope it manages to remain so pristine. So while I highly suggest visiting this stunning destination, I urge you to be mindful of its delicate environment when you do!

Want to learn more about Crete? Check out this post on the wonferful town of Almyrida 

Like this post on Elafonisi Beach Crete? PIN FOR LATER:

 

 

 

Almyrida Crete: all you need to know

A visit to Almyrida Crete sadly marked the end of my summer travels for the year. This said, spending a week relaxing by a beautiful pool and gorging on amazing Greek food isn’t the worst way to wave goodbye to the sunshine. 😉

My family and I have travelled to Crete several times before, and each time we’ve stayed in the gorgeous town of Almyrida. Why? Because it’s one of those places you feel the need to go back to after every visit!

Therefore, having returned so many times, I feel well equipped to provide you with a guide on everything you need to know about Almyrida Crete:

♦♦♦

Where is it? And how to get there:

Almyrida (which is sometimes also spelt: Almirida) is located on northwest coast of Crete, about 45 minutes away from the large town of Chania. Chania is also home to one of the islands two international airports, meaning the village isn’t far to travel to after your flight.

almyrida crete

I’d suggest hiring a car on your visit to Almyrida Crete as public transports connections between here and the airport aren’t the best. What’s more, at 8,000km², Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands. Therefore, a car is by far the best way to travel around and explore all it has to offer.

SIDE NOTE: if you’re staying at one of Almyrida’s hotels you may not need to hire a car as they’re likely to offer you a free transfer to and from the airport. 


Where to stay in Almyrida Crete: 

There are several options for accommodation in Almyrida (Almirida):

Hotels:

The two main hotels in the village are actually owned by the same company (Almyrida Resorts). However, each has its own ‘vibe’ and slightly different target audience.

By far my favourite is the Almyrida Residence hotel which has a modern, elegant feel. Its rooftop pool is to die for and its terrace is also home to one of the best restaurants in Almyrida (read more on this below). The hotel even has its own bowling alley which is pretty cool!

The second is Almyrida Beach hotel which is slightly more outdated but seems to me to be more kid-friendly with its bigger pool.

Despite their benefits, I do feel that I should mention that both hotels back onto a busy carpark. In-fact most rooms face onto the said, carpark. So if you’re dreaming of beautiful beach views you might be disappointed. However, Almyrida Residence and Almyrida Beach Hotel are still great accommodation options overall!

Almyrida Crete Carpark

Villas:

Almyrida is also home to some of the most beautiful villas in Crete. My family and I usually opt for this accommodation option as there’s nothing more peaceful and relaxing than having your own space.

 villas in Crete

There are some Villas located close to the villages main shops and restaurants. However, these tend to get booked up quickly and are a lot more expensive. Therefore on my visits, we’ve tended to stay slightly out of town.

This year we actually returned to the villa we stayed out on our last visit because we loved it so much. I can’t find fault with its beautiful pool and rooms! Villa Kournedes comes equipped with everything you could need for your stay, from pool inflatables to every kitchen utensil under the sun.

Villa Kournedes

More than this, it’s located out of town (up in the mountains) meaning that the Villa has breathtaking views of the coast!

amazing views in almyrida crete - Villas in Crete

SIDE NOTE: as they’re located a little far out Almyrida to walk into the village, if you opt to stay in a villa like Kournedes then you really will want a car!

Apartments:

A happy medium between Villas in Crete and hotels is the accommodation option of apartments. There are several apartment complexes in Almyrida that sit right on the beach and come equipped with their own pool.

You can search for Almyrida Apartments here


Almyrida Crete Amenities: 

Almyrida Crete is quite a small village. This said it does have access to most of the basic amenities you could want. For one there’s a glorious bakery that sells the most amazing cakes and pastries! There’s also a butcher and several small grocery stores.

Almirida Bakery

The Bakery

This said if you’re looking for stores with slightly more variety, there’s a larger supermarket in the nearby town of Kalyves Crete. Likewise, the Town of Vamos (located higher in the mountains) has a very helpful health clinic and pharmacy should you need it.

TOP TIP: You would need to drive to both of the mentioned towns, so again a car is handy to have at your disposal when staying in Almyrida Crete. 


What to do: 

Now onto the fun part of my guide to Almyrida, what there is to do… As it’s only a small village there aren’t tons of things to get your teeth into. This said I’ve found that there has been plenty to keep me and my family busy over the years!

1) Visit the beach:

A large part of Almyrida is framed by a beautiful beach which means there are many different options of where to spend a beach day! My favourite part of Almyrida Beach is the stretch of sand nearest the villages small harbour. Here the sand is at its softest and the water is very shallow, making it perfect for families.

Almyrida Beach

2) Try your hand at Water-sports:

For those looking for a little more excitement, there’s a small shop in the centre of the village (just to the right-hand side of the carpark) which offers the opportunity to hire Paddle-boards, Kayaks and Windsurfing equipment.

On the last day of our trip this year, my dad and I decided to hire a Kayak and paddled around the small island which sits just outside the bay. This was great fun and provided a wonderful perspective when we looked back onto the village.

3) Go snorkelling or scuba diving:

Sticking with the sea, something you must do in Almyrida Crete is go on a Snorkeling trip. Dream Adventure Tours offers a fantastic day trip, it stops off at many crystal clear snorkelling spots and even offers you the chance to explore a secluded hermits house which is perched on the cliffs.

Things to do in almyrida crete

My parents went one step further in exploring the beautiful waters around Almyrida and booked two days worth of diving trips with the Omega Dive school, which is located in the village. They had great things to say about the company, especially their instructor: Freya.

4) Take a day trip:

Almyrida is in the perfect location to explore many of Cretes highlights. I’d highly suggest heading out to see the wider island. Some of the best day trips to take include:

  • Chania – this airport town has a fantastic harbour area that is filled with lovely shops and restaurants, there’s even a lighthouse.
Chania Crete

Chania

  • Knossos – These Ruins are said to belong to the oldest city in Europe. (I have to say though that we were a little underwhelmed) However, it’s still a must visit if you’re into Greek history.
  • Elafonisi beach – Slightly further away from Almyrida (but still more than worth the visit) this beach has been voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the WORLD. Another fantastic beach location is Balos Bay.
elafonisi beach

Elafonisi beach


5) Where to eat in Almyrida Crete:

My favourite thing about Crete/Greece is the food! Almyrida has many amazing restaurants so you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding where to eat in the village. Spots that’d I’d definitely recommend are:

Lagos Taverna

This is by far the best restaurant in Almyrida! Located on the edge of the town, this family-run establishment serves homemade food of the highest standard. Their speciality is beef stifado which is simply to die for!

Thea Roof Garden –

Part of the Almyrida Residence Hotel, the Thea Roof Garden provides a wider variety of dishes with more of a European feel, meaning a visit provides a break from traditional Greek dishes.

Best restaurants in Almyrida Crete

Psaros Restaurant –

Another of Almyrida’s restaurants that deserves a visit is Psaros (which you can actually order takeaway from). The portions here are massive so be warned but the food is delicious!

Maki’s Restaurant –

My final recommendation is Maki’s. This was a new visit for us this year, but we found that the staff were lovely and we also had the nicest starters of our trip here: Aubergine stuffed with bacon and feta cheese, with a delicious tomato sauce…

Best food in Greece

♦♦♦

So that completes my guide to Almyrida Crete. I love this little village so much so I no doubt will return in the future, even if only to visit the Gorgeous Almyrida Beach and sample the delicious Greek Food!

Got any questions about Almyrida? Ask away in the comments below 🙂 

Like this Post? PIN FOR LATER:

Ultimate 2 Week Italy Itinerary

Despite travelling to Italy several times before with my family, I’ve never visited the countries bucket-list destinations. This summer I decided to change this fact and planned a trip to Italy stopping in Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome. Thus here’s my ultimate 2 week Italy Itinerary.

♦♦♦

Best way to travel in Italy –

I found that the best way to travel in Italy is by train, as it’s by far the quickest and one of the cheapest ways to get around the country.

travel in Italy train travel

I planned my train trips between destinations using the Italia Rail website, which was easy to use and featured discounts on some tickets. Another option is to purchase an Interrail ticket. However, I personally found that pre-booking individual tickets online was cheaper.


Accommodation in Italy – 

Since I was travelling to very popular destinations in Italy, I found that hotels were ridiculously expensive (especially in Venice). In this way, I discovered that the best accommodation option for my trip was Airbnb. I stayed in lovely, affordable apartments for each leg of my trip and would, therefore, recommend it for when you visit Italy yourself.


2 Week Italy Itinerary –

Now the ‘admin’ is out of the way, let’s get into the details of my 2 Week Italy Itinerary:

Venice (Days 1-3):

 

2 Week Italy Itinerary Venice

I started my trip to Italy in Venice, arriving at Marco Polo Airport in the evening. The public water taxi took longer than I had expected to reach the ‘floating city’. However, I’m not complaining because the views out the window were simply to die for! What’s more, although I’d previously thought Venice would be over-rated, as soon as I stepped off the boat I fell in love with it…

Italy Itinerary Venice

This love affair continued as I reached my Airbnb and met up with a good friend of mine (who’d be my travelling companion for the 2 weeks). Although relatively late by this point, we made the most of the evening by having dinner next to one of the cities beautiful canals.

Following this, we spent the next two days exploring the magical city. Visiting highlights such as the Doge Palace and St Marks Square, all the while getting lost amongst Venice’s maze of streets.

Two weeks in Italy Venice

You can read more of the best things to do in Venice in 2 days here.

Although our two days in Venice were busy, I found it to be the perfect amount of time. If we’d spent another day here, I feel that I would have become bored as we’d done most of the top things to do.

Florence (Days 4-5):

Ready to move on to the next destination of our trip, we woke up early on our fourth day in Italy and took the water taxi (Vaporetto) to Venice’s train station, getting one last look at the grand canal on the way.

The Station (Santa Lucia) was quieter than I’d expected and easy to navigate, meaning we boarded our train to Florence (which is no doubt one of the best places to visit in Italy) with ease.

Places to visit in Italy Florence

The journey took around 2hours, and we, therefore, arrived in Florence at around 11am. Unlike Venice, the station here (Santa Maria Novella) was rather chaotic! But, we were eventually able to find a taxi to take us to our Airbnb apartment. The drive was a memorable one as we passed right by the magnificent Duomo (Florence’s Cathedral).

Seeing the Cathedral made us very excited to tour the city, so we wasted no time and headed back to the Duomo on foot, once we’d left our bags at the apartment. Sadly we hadn’t pre-booked tickets to go inside the cathedral, and the free queue was hours long. Therefore we instead decided to visit Boboli Gardens before making our way to Piazzale Michelangelo, via the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Ponte Vecchio bridge Visit italy

Each of these sites was beautiful, none more so than the Duomo, which has to be the most stunning building I’ve ever seen. It alone makes Florence one of the best Italy holiday destinations…

We spent the majority of the next day in Florence as well because our train to Cinque Terre (the next stop on my 2 Week Italy Itinerary) wasn’t until 5pm. We’d originally planned to use this extra time to visit the world famous Uffizi Gallery or Galleria Dell’Accademia. However again tickets were sold out. You really do need to prebook tickets in Florence in summer!!

Luckily, this proved not to be the end of the world as we instead visited Palazzo Vecchio, the ‘peoples palace’, which has been around since the 14th century. Touring this palace was fascinating and by climbing its tower we also got to see some breath-taking views over the city.

Where to go in Italy florence

Read more of what there is to do in Florence Italy here

Cinque Terre (Days 5-9):

As I mentioned above, our 2 Week Italy Itinerary continued in Cinque Terre, which took around 3hours to reach from Florence. The train journey was relaxing and featured some amazing views of rural Italy. We did have to change trains at La Spezia station. However, this was no trouble as trains run very regularly between here and Cinque Terre.

The area of Cinque Terre is actually made up of five distinct villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Each has a unique charm and they’re famous worldwide for their gorgeous postcard views.

Best places to visit in Italy Cinque Terre

Read more about the Cinque Terre Villages  

We opted to stay in Monterosso al Mare, which is the furthest village from La Spezia, but it only took about 20 minutes to reach. Therefore we arrived in the village just as the sun was setting… I’ve certainly had worse introductions to a new destination!!

Over the next four days, we explored each of the villages and took quite naturally to eating and drinking in their adorable seafront restaurants and cafes. We also spent a fair amount of time relaxing on Monterosso al Mare’s beach! However, what I enjoyed the most was hiking between the villages as the views from the cliffs were breath-taking.

Italy holiday destinations Cinque Terre

Monterosso Beach

More than this I found there to be something magical about walking along paths carved out by villages hundreds of years ago.

Learn more about Hiking in Cinque Terre 

Overall, our time in Cinque Terre was so relaxing, it was like a holiday away from the holiday. I simply loved it, and next time someone asks me ‘where to go in Italy’ Cinque Terre will be my top suggestion…

Rome (Days 9-14):

Our time in Cinque Terre came to an end all too quickly. Thankfully, leaving was bittersweet because the final stop on our Italy travel itinerary was none other than the ‘Eternal City’: Rome.

2 Week Italy Itinerary rome

Rome is a city that has long been on my Bucket-list and I’m glad to say that it didn’t disappoint! However, I’ve actually already written a detailed post about what I did during my 5 days in the city (which you can read here).

♦♦♦

So that completes my Ultimate 2 Week Italy Itinerary. I truly feel that its the perfect Itinerary for two weeks in Italy! I was able to visit many of the countries most famous cities, whilst also getting to spend some time on the wonderfully scenic Italian Rivera. Whatsmore, my time in each destination wasn’t rushed, meaning I left with the feeling that I had gotten to experience everything each place had to offer!

Like this Post? PIN FOR LATER:

Have any questions about my Ultimate 2 Week Italy Itinerary? Then leave me a comment below: 

 

Spending a week in Rome (Rome Itinerary)

Out of all the places there are to visit in Italy, Rome has always fascinated me the most. Mainly because I find it hard to believe that structures like the Colosseum are still standing after 2,000 years. In this way, I couldn’t wait to end my trip to Italy by spending a week in Rome! Below you’ll find all you need to know about my Rome itinerary (and why its the best).

♦♦♦

Why a week in Rome? 

Many people think a weekend in Rome will be enough time to see everything in the city. However, I personally think this is mad!! Rushing around like crazy to visit all the places to see in Rome in a short amount of time just sucks the enjoyment out of visiting. Who wants to be stressed while on ‘holiday’? Not me.

What to see in rome Colloseum

This is why I think a week in Rome is more appropriate. During my time in the city, I saw something new and amazing each day but I was also able to have some downtime, which meant I could truly appreciate the city!

If you do only have one day in Rome then check out this guide! 


When to visit Rome – 

I visited the city in June and I have to say that summer is the WORST time to visit Rome! For one the heat is intense, especially when you’re spending all day touring sites such as the Roman Forum. What’s more, the crowds are crazy (the worst I’ve encountered on my travels). Therefore I’d highly suggest visiting in the offseason (Spring/Autumn) instead.

163eb490-aee7-49e1-b715-14cc7e75905b


Where to stay in Rome –

Before we finally get into my Rome Itinerary I just want to mention where I stayed in Rome, which was actually in two different locations.

The first was a wonderful Airbnb located a bit of a walk away from the main attractions. However, this distance meant that the area felt authentic and relaxed. The Airbnb itself was a spacious private room that was beautifully decorated. The host even laid on breakfast which was a great touch.

Where to stay in Rome

Book this Airbnb Here

However, after 2 days in Rome, myself and a good friend (who I’d been travelling the rest of Italy with) met up with my parents. Therefore, we moved to an amazing apartment just meters away from the Trevi Fountain. This was modern, clean and couldn’t have been in a better location!

Book this apartment on Booking.com here


Rome Itinerary – 

Day One –

On the first day of my week in Rome, my friend and I decided to book tickets for a hop on hop off tour of the city. I found that this was a great way to get my bearings whilst learning interesting facts about Rome’s landmarks.

TOP TIP: We purchased a 48hour ticket with citysightseeing (through Get Your Guide) but there are many different companies offering virtually the same service!

The first of Rome’s sights we decided to ‘hop off’ the bus at, was the Colosseum. However, I have to say that the crowds here made me feel uncomfortable. There were just too many people in a small space. This wasn’t helped by the mass of street sellers who were very adamant and quite intimidating. I actually felt unable to take a minute to view the Colosseum!

This said we found if you climb the steps towards the Colosseum tube station, the ‘terrace’ here is a lot less crowded and provides a great view of the structure, we were even able to get a shady spot on the wall where we could sit and admire its grandeur.

After taking some time for lunch (and then waiting for the inevitable Italian food coma to pass), our first day in Rome continued… We hopped back on the bus and decided to visit Villa Borghese park, which is definitely one of the best places to visit in Rome.

As the largest green space in the city, the park has a lot of attractions within its grounds (such as the cities zoo). However, we enjoyed simply walking along its shady tree-lined paths while stumbling upon sculptures and fountains, It’s really a fantastic place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Romes Centre.

Next, we decided to exit the park via Piazza Del Popolo, which was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire. The square’s centrepiece is an exquisite Egyptian Obelisk which is flanked by two identical churches. Therefore, although not as well known as other Rome attractions, I found this Piazza to be beautiful and would say its a must see in Rome.

Day Two –

Since our ‘hop on hop off’ bus tickets were valid for 48hours, my friend and I decided to make the most of them during our second day in Rome…

Thus, we used the tickets to firstly visit the Santa Maria Maggiore church. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this church is said to be one of the four most important basilicas in Rome. I found that it’s beautiful interior certainly matched its importance!

Following the tour of the Church, we continued our Rome sightseeing by taking the citysightseeing bus back into the centre of the city. Here we got off to view the Altare Della Patria (a humongous monument dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy).

It’s hard to describe the sheer scale of this monument which is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s pristine white marble stands out against the earth coloured tones of Rome, while statues and fountains give the monument an elegant appearance. Out of all the things to see in Rome, the Altare Della Patria impressed me the most. Therefore I’d highly suggest visiting.

Top things to do in rome

After marvelling at the monument, we walked a short distance to Largo di Torre Argentina Square, the site of Julius Caesar’s murder. Here several roman ruins are visible, including the Theatre of Pompey where Julius Caesar is thought to have been stabbed. I found it so fascinating to stand where such an important moment in history had occurred!

Rome at night (Day two continued) –

I’ve always wanted to visit the Colosseum at night, therefore we continued our second day in Rome by going to see it later in the evening. We decided to walk to it along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, a wide straight road that leads from Rome’s modern city centre to its historic past.

The road is flanked on either side by hundreds of breath-taking Roman ruins (Including the famous forum). Walking along this road I could really imagine what it must have been like in the city over 2,000 years ago.

What’s even better is that visiting late in the evening meant that there were hardly any people about. We found this to be the same at the Colosseum, which much to my surprise, was widely deserted too. I was shocked by this as I thought seeing the Colosseum is one of the best things to do in Rome at night!

However, I’m not going to complain as having the place to ourselves was fantastic. I’d go as far as to say that seeing the Colosseum at night was the favourite part of my week in Rome!

Day Three –

My parents joined us on the third day of my week in Rome, and it was all about getting out of the city. So, we booked a tour to visit the cities Catacombs and the Appian Way.

The tour started by taking us out of the city centre to the Catacomb’s of St Callixtus where Rome’s early Christians were buried. Although a bit creepy, I found the Catacombs to  be one of the best places to go in Rome to learn more about the cities past.

After exploring the Catacombs, we got our walking shoes on and headed out to explore the Appian Way, one of the oldest roads leading to Rome. I found it unbelievable to see the stones still marked with grooves and dents where old Chariots had damaged them!

Before heading back to the city centre, our tour made one last stop at an ancient Roman Aqueduct, the majority of which is Amazingly still standing. Interestingly, part of the structure still brings water into the city today!

Once back from the tour we spent some time relaxing in our apartment before heading out to visit the Pantheon, another must do in Rome. As the best persevered ancient Roman monument, the Pantheon is breath-taking, especially its dome (which remained the largest unsupported dome in the world for 1300 years).

TOP TIP: I walked past the pantheon several times during my week in Rome, and noticed that the queue to enter during the day was always very long! However, by visiting at about 6pm in the evening we hardly had to wait. 

Day Four –

When you think of what to do in Rome, the first thought that pops into your mind is touring the inside of the Colosseum. Therefore we booked a guided tour of it along with Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum during our fourth day in the city.

However, our tour wasn’t until midday, so my friend and I decided to get up early and go to two famous Rome attractions before the crowds arrived: The Trevi Fountain and The Spanish steps.

We’d walked past both of these several times already on our trip to Rome, but hadn’t taken the time to admire them due to the intense crowds.

Thankfully, by visiting at 7am we had the famous landmarks all to ourselves. Therefore I’d highly suggest getting up early to visit these top things to see in Rome on your own visit! (Just take a look at the difference in the crowds):

Later in the day our Rome itinerary continued as we joined the tour. The inside of the Colosseum was amazing! As was Palatine Hill (the birthplace of Rome), which also provides beautiful views over the city.

However, for me, the crowning jewel was the Roman Forum. The ruins here are so well preserved, walking through its streets really did feel like stepping back in time.

However, the tour itself was pretty rubbish. Our guide seemed oblivious to the heat and kept us standing in the direct sun. What’s more his explanation of the ruins wasn’t great. Therefore with hindsight, I would suggest that you simply book skip the line tickets and tour the sites yourself. By doing so you could walk around at our own pace (taking breaks in the Shade). Further, audio guides or old school guidebooks would provide as much information as a person.

Day Five –

Ok so I know this post is titled a week in Rome, but I actually spent five days in the city… So it’s really a week minus the weekend. 😉

Anyway, on this final day, we headed to The Vatican (the last of my top things to do in Rome). We again decided to book a tour, but this time it was definitely worth it. For one, the Vatican was crazily busy which would have made the huge museum hard to navigate alone. Our guide on the other hand knew the best routes to take to avoid the worst of the crowds.

No doubt the most impressive part of the Vatican is St Peter’s Basilica, which is without a doubt the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen. When you visit make sure you climb up the church’s dome for amazing views back down over the Vatican and wider Rome.

♦♦♦

So that completes my Rome itinerary. I found that a week in Rome was the perfect amount of time as I left feeling like I’d seen everything I wanted to in the city. Although I might have gained a few pounds in Pasta and Gelato after the week. 😉

This said I will again suggest visiting when it’s less busy as I think this will make your time in Rome even more enjoyable!

Like this post? PIN FOR LATER:

Got any more suggestions of What to see in Rome in a week? Let me know in the comments below:

Top Things To Do In Florence In A Day

After Spending 2 days in Venicemy Italian adventure continued with a trip to Florence. Previously home to the famous Medici family, this Tuscan city is full of beautiful historic sites. Sadly I only spent one day in the city. However, I found that this was enough time to do most of the top things to do in Florence. Thus, here’s what to do in Florence in a day:

♦♦♦

1) Visit the Duomo (Florence’s Cathedral) –

Things to do in Florence the duomo

Florence’s cathedral (affectionately referred to as the Duomo) is without a doubt the most magnificent building in the city. Thus, it should be your first stop when touring Florence in a day.

Luckily its very easy to find as every road in Florence seems to lead to the Cathedral, whats more its colossal dome can be spotted from miles away. I was amazed by the Duomo when I saw it with my own eyes. I think its impossible to grasp its true scale and beauty until you’re stood right beside it, photos simply do not do it Justice!

Of course, viewing the Duomo from the outside is spectacular but getting an inside perspective of this great cathedral is also a must. In fact, one of the top things to do in Florence is to climb Brunelleschi’s dome, the views from which are said to be breath-taking.

Unfortunately, on my own visit to Florence, I was unable to do this as I miss judged how popular the Cathedral is… For one, the queue into the main cathedral (which is free to visit) was several hours long. What’s more, You MUST pre-book tickets to climb up the dome.

I was told that tickets sell out up to three weeks in advance during the summer months! Therefore I’d highly suggest pre-booking your tickets to climb the Duomo online. (you can purchase a combination ticket that also provides entry to Giotto’s Campanile and the Baptistery, which are both adjacent to the cathedral, for €18).

Top things to do in Florence gelato

The Duomo is even better with Gelato 😉


2) Visit the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia –

My poor organisation also meant that I missed out on the chance to visit two very famous Florence attractions: the Uffizi Gallery (that contains one of the oldest and most famous art collections in the world) and the Galleria Dell’Accademia (which is home to Michelangelo’s David).

For me, this wasn’t a huge loss as art isn’t really my thing, but if you want a chance to tour these galleries on your own trip to Florence then I’d highly suggest pre-booking tickets as entrance is restricted and tickets sell out fast.

Florence italy things to do

TOP TIP: If these galleries are high on your list of ‘What to see in Florence’, then you might want to spend more than one day in the city as visiting will take up more quite a lot of your day! 


3) Tour Palazzo Vecchio –

As tickets to the above galleries were sold out for my one day in Florence, I instead decided to visit Palazzo Vecchio, another of the top things to see in Florence.

Previously referred to as the ‘People’s Palace’, this historic building has been the epicentre of politics in Florence since the early 14th century, and its still used as the cities town hall today.

The palace is full of beautifully decorated rooms with elaborately painted ceilings, the most impressive of which is the Hall of the Five Hundred which features many impressive wall frescoes and golden decorations.

This said, what makes the Palazzo Vecchio one of the best places to visit in Florence is its tower. Standing at 95 meters, the top of the tower provides the most breath-taking views over Florence, including a great perspective over the Duomo. You have to climb 416 steps to be rewarded with these views, but trust me it’s more than worth it!

What to see in Florence views of the Duomo


4) Stroll around Boboli Gardens (Or Giardini di Boboli) –

After touring Palazzo Vecchio, I continued my Florence sightseeing by visiting the Boboli Gardens.

Located In the grounds of the Pitti Palace, the former residence of the Medici family, these gardens provide the perfect place to get away from the crowds and to enjoy some downtime.

Florence in a day boboli gardens

I found the gardens to be one of the best places to see in Florence. Winding paths framed by manicured hedges create the perfect green haven, meanwhile, grand sculptures and fountains remind you of the gardens royal past. The highlight of Boboli Gardens however, is the views from its hilltop position. Sitting high above Florence, part of the garden provides a beautiful view over the city below!

One day in florence boboli gardens

I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time relaxing on the lawns here and taking in the view. Especially since exploring Florence in a day is busy and stressful. Therefore taking some time to relax in ‘the green heart of Florence’ allowed me to appreciate the cities beauty. 🙂

TOP TIP: entrance to the gardens costs €10 (or €5 for EU citizens). 


5) Cross Ponte Vecchio bridge –

When you google ‘What to do in Florence Italy’ one of the top suggestions is a visit to Ponte Vecchio bridge, the oldest bridge in the city. This famous attraction is just a short walk from the Duomo and I actually crossed it several times during my 1 day in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio bridge Things to do in Florence

For the best view of the bridge, you can walk along the river to St Trinity bridge. From here you can look back at the medieval structure and marvel at its unique character. I found that it’s especially beautiful at Sunset!


6) Admire Piazzale Michelangelo view-point –

Speaking of breath-taking Tuscan sunsets, most people head to Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sun go down over the city. This meant a visit to the viewpoint was the last stop on my Florence one day itinerary.

The Piazzale is a little bit of a walk away from the main Florence attractions, but this provides the opportunity to walk through the cities more local neighbourhoods. The viewpoint is then located at the top of a hill which looks down onto central Florence. From this prime location, you can see all of the cities famous monuments and buildings.

Things to see in Florence Piazzale Michelangelo

I miss-judged just how late the sunsets in Florence in summer so left the viewpoint for some dinner before the sun went down, but the views are magnificant what-ever time of day you decide to visit! Therefore, a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo is definitely one of the best things to do in Florence.

♦♦♦

I loved how relaxed Florence felt compared to other Italian hotspots such as Rome and Venice. I also fell in love with the Duomo and the cities picturesque orange rooftops. I can certainly see myself returning as Florence made me want to explore the more of Tuscany!

From this, I will say that it is possible to explore Florence in one day. However, I think two days would be more appropriate (especially if you’re organised and managed to get tickets to get into the Duomo and Galleries).

Enjoy this post on the ‘Top Things To Do In Florence In A Day?’ PIN FOR LATER:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.