Yes it may be a bit early to talk about Christmas in mid-summer , but Christmas trips often sell out quickly , so maybe just start having a think! There are a range of Christmas markets available around Europe if you really want to have a Christmas you will never forget, but picking one can be hard! So here is a small guide on which Christmas market is best for you!
The Christmas market in Amsterdam is a sight to behold, on top of the already stunning sights in and around the city! The market which has a variety of festive stalls is also complete with a large ice rink, showcasing a variety of craft shops to give that special person something a lot different to the norm this Christmas! Amsterdam showcases a variety of Christmas trees around the market with a festive atmosphere where you can warm up with the famous and even present coffee shops! Or even explore the canals under the sparkling lights of the Christmas stalls and festive lighting!
DID YOU KNOW? A child’s Favorite day is not the 25th December its the 5th December, when Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) brings them their presents!
A fantastic, friendly atmosphere is ready to greet you with iconic gems such as the ice sculpture they usually have on show near the centre, this is a fun filled market, that will really get you into the festive spirit! The setting of Bruges often makes this Christmas market what it is and offers again a large ice rink and around 30 festive wooden huts for you to have a mooch through, whist illuminated by fairy lights everywhere , Magical !
Ghent, the historical capital of Belgium, which gels nicely with the festive period! It has a large amount of stalls at the count of 53 in total! With a huge range of items, from fresh food to extra special gifts ready to be taken back to your loved ones! It’s certainly a pleasurable sight, the way the market is situated just in front of the Sint-Baafs Cathedral, makes Ghent a contender for most beautiful Christmas market!
Again Ostend contains another large ice rink in the winter season, but the thing that sets Ostend Christmas market apart from the others is it turns into a spectacular winter wonderland! Beautiful sceneries, the enchanting illuminations and the marvellous decorations make it! There is also a mini ice rink for the little ones to enjoy! This one is full of delicious winter snacks and warming drinks. If its a bit of festive magic and the ability to whisked off to a winter wonderland you want, Ostend is the place for you and the whole family!
DID YOU KNOW? – In Belgium its tradition to have a three course meal on Christmas eve!
This is the place to go to take the kids , they usually have the chance for you to visit Mr. Clause himself! You have the opportunity to visit his presents room, his bedroom .. not that he gets much sleep this time of year as well as his reindeer and sleigh! Santa is situated in the velvet cave, but don’t worry its not all for the little ones, the velvet cave contains impressive mural paintings, sculptures, a unique 18th century chapel as well as all the market stalls you would expect! A top one for taking the kids too!
Cologne boasts many Christmas markets with most set outside the impressive Cathedral in the centre of Cologne! It contains one of the largest Christmas trees in Germany and has an incredible 160 stalls dotted around the city! This one’s more for the adults, who are wishing to have a more mature holiday, well probably less mature when you start on the mulled wine in the special festive mugs they provide!
DID YOU KNOW? – In Germany if there are young children in the house, the trees are usually secretly decorated by the Mother of the family
A huge number of Christmas markets are situated in Paris. The largest being Avenue des Champs-Elysées! This is the one for shopping with lots of local craftsmen setting up there stalls to provide you with ‘can’t buy anywhere else’ products. From sweets, artwork to jewellery. To keep the cold out enjoy a traditionally made crepes! It’s also located right in Paris’s largest shopping street for those who want to get in the warm and have some high street retail therapy, best of both worlds for the shopaholics!
DID YOU KNOW? -In France as well as having the normal Nativity figures sold at markets, French scenes also have figures such as a Butcher, a Baker, a Policeman and a Priest situated in the traditional nativity setting and available to purchase!
As you can see European Christmas markets have something for everyone and will always give you that magical festive feeling! If Christmas is the festival you love celebrating, a trip to a European market is something to put on your Christmas wish list!
Travelstyle offer a variety of Christmas market trips on all the above destinations! – HERE!
Once you have got the holiday booked you know you are already out of pocket! So if you can save money here and there, whilst on or even before you go on holiday it would help! With a few of these last minute tips you can make your money go that extra mile , miles away from home!
Tip 1 – Research
The important thing is to research the prices of things you want to do before you go there, it’s even worth checking out food menus and drink prices of the places you’re going to beforehand!
Tip 2 – Water
Drink tap water, it’s free and does a quick job of quenching your thirst, people often forget tap water is an option from bars and saves a fortune from buying fresh orange juice etc. If you like to have some sort of flavour in your drink, ask for a blackcurrant or lime soda, these are often under a pound and offer a cheap way of enjoying a juiced drink!
Tip 3 – Travel Product
For travel accessories , don’t buy from service stations as they charge a fortune; same as food, go to pound shops for them , when you stop via coach at a service station get off with your sandwiches and have a sit down, that way you can enjoy some food while also stretching your legs and taking in a different environment!
Tip 4 – Your Library
For some reading when travelling or relaxing on the beach , try taking a book out for a week from you’re local library instead of buying one . You can also borrow a variety of travel guides and these usually cost a lot of money to keep updated each year!
Tip 5 – Do-It-Yourself Toiletries
Instead of paying over the top prices for travel packs of toiletries , make your own! Get empty bottles , wash them thoroughly and use some of your own products in your own handy bottles!
Tip 6 – Online Deals
Tip 7 – Cheap Bragging
Yes we all like to brag to our family and friends how well our holiday is going but try and use the internet, a lot of hotels , restaurants and attractions offer free Wi-Fi which means you can go online with you phone! You could Facebook or Skype your family for free and even send images of the fun your having via email! If you’re not so technology savvy then just use a pay phones that still exist and get rid of your change, if you’re going abroad check with your mobile provider if you can get a short term deal for calling from abroad!
Tip 8 – Bring Change
Always bring spare change! Whether it’s for calling loved ones or for paying at the service station for those annoying 20p toilets , they help! Especially if you are going down Blackpool amusements on the coin machines! It saves you delving into a ten pound note to get change and buying something you didn’t need just for change to go to the toilet , I could not tell you the amount of times I buy a glossy magazine and water just to go to the toilet!
Tip 9 – Cash Tracking
Track the cash , I find taking out only the money you’re going to spend for that day helps the budget , yes have your card there for emergencies but make sure you don’t take out all your cash for that night or put your spending money in a separate pocket for that day! If you’re going abroad make sure you tell your bank so they don’t block your card if you use it!
Tip 10 – The More the Merrier (or cheaper)
Invite more friends to come on holiday! That way you can take in turns paying for food or drink , put your money together to pay for meals or trips etc! Who knows maybe your mate will forget its your round next!
TravelGeekTara’s Top Tips!
We also have a guest blogger here , TravelGeekTara , who travels the world blogging about her experiences and knows how tight the pennies can get when on holiday , here are some last minute quick tips from her!
Here are some money saving tips that I have picked up whilst travelling. Firstly get the best deal on your foreign currency, shop around and order ahead to make the most of your £££s. If you are thinking of using your cards abroad check with your bank for charges. I usually only use my card for large purchases or withdrawals to minimise charges.I book attractions and guides ahead, you can often save money when booking online or as part of a group. This also saves on queuing time, and it’s a great feeling walking past the other tourists…
If breakfast is not included in my stay, I always pass on the formal breakfasts and grab a coffee and a pastry at a local cafe. When eating out, I check out restaurant reviews but I also try to eat off the beaten track and away from main attractions. Retailers increase their prices dramatically when they are in the centre of a tourist area or on beach fronts, only a little further afield and you will find the same options at a much lower price. I also try the local beers and wines, much cheaper and often better than imported brands in my opinion. Just making some of these small changes can save you enough pennies to afford your souvenirs!
You can visit Tara’s blog here – CLICK
Hopefully the tips above have given you some advice on how to save the penny’s ! Share it with your friends and help them out too!!
We all want to know what our perfect holiday in the UK would be! Well hope no more, try our mini quiz to see what holiday in the Great British isles would be for you!!
Simply select one answer which is true to you and write down the number next to it , at the end add all these numbers up to find out what your perfect holiday trip would be!!
Select one answer!!
1-I like to be tucked up in bed with a cup of coco by 9pm when on holiday!
2-I love being able to go down the pub and have 1 or 2 before bed time!
3-I like to stay up late meeting new people and ordering a few rounds with new friends I have made!
1-My perfect relaxing holiday is me relaxing in the hotel resort for most the time.
2-My perfect relaxing holiday is able to see beautiful sights out and about.
3-My perfect relaxing holiday is doing fun activities , which are quite active.
1-I love seeing live tribute acts and live comics.
2-I find it entertaining to go around viewing historic art , items or architecture out and about.
3-I like to see bizarre acts out and about or acts that are a bit different from he norm!
Food and drink
1-I prefer to have food and drink at the hotel resort so I know where I’m going and what I’m eating each night.
2-I like to eat out and about , and like eating what I know with local pub grub.
3-I like to take a chance and have food I would not normally eat when at home and be a bit more adventurous.
1-I like to go on a adult holiday where it’s me and my other half or friend and its people who are adults staying around me.
2-I prefer to with most of my family, who are various age ranges.
3-I like to go on my own or in a couple but like it when the age range varies around the place I am on staying in.
1-I like to have my day planned for me with events and travel sorted.
2-I like to have travel planned and some events but also enjoy my own free time.
3-I wish to sort out my own events when getting around and doing things!
You prefer the peace and quiet and, the peace of mind that everything is planned for you! You like knowing you will be at a quiet resort with some live entertainment and food ready for the night!
Llandudno would be perfect for you , most of our trips offer live cabaret and performances at night and breakfast and dinner sorted for you! Also there are excursions planned for you to go places such as Chester for the day! If you feel like getting out and about!
Travelstyle offer a variety of tours here! – CLICK
You like your holidays to have a bit of pre planned organisation with excursions and trips but also time to have your own free reign and some good local pubs out and about at night. You also like there to be fun for the whole family when available!
Blackpool would be perfect ! A variety of activities available and the pier right on your doorstep to explore whenever you want! Kids can enjoy the amusements and attractions along the pier whilst the adults can enjoy live entertainment at night or trip to Madame Tussauds (Blackpool)! Some of our trips offer excursions to attractions nearby such as the National Football Museum but leave you with some free time to do your own thing! With nearby pubs you can choose when to go grab some pub grub on one of your evenings!
Travelstyle offer a variety of tours here! – CLICK
You like to be let off your reigns when on holiday and have complete freedom available when you arrive at your destination and to get your own food and drink when available. More importantly you like to be out and about and meet new people at night! You also like to do a few more adventurous activities when available! Oh you daredevil you!
Brighton would be perfect for you as it offers some of the most vibrant restaurant, bar and cafe scenes outside of London for years! You like to see live music that’s more bizarre and away from the norm and there are hundreds of exciting acts lining the streets busking throughout Brighton! The Victorian Brighton Pier offers amusement arcades and thrilling rides for the most adventurous of you with a number of various restaurants available on it! Most of our excursions give you trips to nearby areas of Brighton you would not have discovered before and the freedom to travel around these if you wish, such as Eastbourne!
Travelstyle offer a variety of tours here! – CLICK
Was it the type of holiday you expected?? Click the share button at the bottom to share this page and let your friends and family know what your perfect holiday would be and get them to have ago!!!
Welcome back to part two of my experiences of when I visited Dublin , so lets continue! -
On the second day we went on a walking tour of Dublin, seeing a variety of sights and learning incredible history about Dublin from a brilliant tour guide who you could tell loved giving us the facts and guides around the city. The reason he was so good was he was actually a prospective actor who at the moment performed at a variety of theatre shows.
It seemed Dublin was one of the most talented places I have even been. During the tour the one place I would single out to visit is Dublin castle (just off Dame Street where all the restaurants are). Where you can go into the court yard and learn some history on some nasty goings on here. You can also see where Queen Elizabeth II stayed on her recent visit, if you know your political history you would know this was a huge occasion for Irish and British politics!
Most importantly make sure you go to the back of the castle, to the gardens which are absolutely gorgeous and also contain a unique museum in the Chester Beatty library of ancient artefacts, there are handwritten books in here that are over a 1000 years old! Going on a tour is vitally important ,you learn facts you would never find out otherwise, for example that O’Connels bridge is one of the widest bridges in Europe! You will cross the bridge a few times while in Dublin without realising the significance of it without the tour guide!
Towards the afternoon we decided to go a bit quirky and visit the Leprechaun Museum, which of course Dublin and Ireland are also famous for (its not all Guinness!). Here we had a brilliant guide around the museum who would tell stories of where the leprechaun myth originally stemmed from as well as the stories told about them! During the tour he also got us involved with certain questions and acting ! Which was fun , some facts are unbelievable , for example did you know traditional leprechauns actually don’t wear green , I won’t tell you what colour they actually wear but it will come as a surprise!
After a tiring second day we sampled a few bars and a had a few more Guinness’s , when in Rome I guess!
When the third day came around we decided to visit the Guinness factory! As if we had not had enough already! Here you learn the history of not only the famous stout but the life of the founder Sir Arthur Guinness and how a perfect Guinness is made. I happened to be lucky enough to be going around with two friends who work behind a bar and because of this we found out one of the reasons for the difference in taste from the British pubs pouring Guinness from the Irish! It seems the Irish use a slightly higher pressure tap when pouring the perfect Guinness pint, this and the fact the Guinness factory is just round the corner from all the pubs and bars is probably the secret!
I also got to pour my own pint and I think I did half alright , see below what you think !
Quick tip – Make sure you go to the top floor of the factory, to the 360 bar and get an incredible 360 view of the whole of Dublin,I even cheekily took my Guinness up there I had just poured!
Next was Kilmainham Gaol Prison , which had haunting stories of the past and to be honest made me feel a bit guilty about been British with some of the things we did to certain Irish prisoners , it really is a must visit not just for your education but in remembrance of the number of Irish which suffered there at the hands of the British!
A number of Ireland’s political protesters were constrained tortured and executed here ! We had a brilliant tour guide around the prison and fantastically honoured the deceased, make sure you look back in remembrance at the front entrance of the prison where a variety of prisoners were hung from because of their beliefs!
On our final day of Dublin we stopped at one of the many burger shacks which are dotted around Dublin. But these were no ordinary burgers , there were hundreds you could order or make your own and the burgers were absolutely huge made with proper Irish beef! There are many restaurants out there but look along Dame Street near the Temple Bar for some decent ones!
We also had a quick visit to Trinity College Campus which has grand architecture at the university courtyard and impressive statues dotted around the campus! The main courtyard here is breathtakingly beautiful and is near the centre of Dublin , so just take tens minutes out your day and spend a while just taking in the sights here! We also had a stop at Phoenix Park which is a beautifully kept park in the middle of Dublin and also home to Dublin Zoo , which we did not have time to visit , you can also usually get a tour guide to take your round the park and get more information on a variety of statues and sculptures dotted around within!
Overall I could sum Dublin up in three words , educating , atmospheric and friendly! You could be a few guys going for the Guinness or just a family and still have an enjoying time, even in most the bars that have live music playing.
Now some of the drink prices in Dublin are not cheap that’s why I personally feel it’s important to book a low cost trip with Travelstyle , that then means there can me more time spent enjoying the sights , getting to know the locals and drinking more Guinness!!!
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Dublin is a fantastic, culturally rich city , with an incredible atmosphere and nightlife for those of all ages , and extremely friendly as well.
The one thing I honestly worried about was how the locals would find the pesky English coming over to Ireland to sample in their delights (mainly Guinness for me!). Surprisingly they are probably the most friendly locals of all time, helping with directions and guidance.
The first day there , we found it fairly easy to get around; everything is signposted and not one person didn’t know where to go or turned us away when asking for directions , it’s one of the only places I have been where the locals would actually want to get talking to you after you have received the information.
It wasn’t just information like ‘where the nearest burger bar was’ , it was ‘ go to either this diner or this restaurant they have this deal on’ etc. The information given from the locals was so valuable and they seemed to enjoy giving it. First impressions of the city was how authentic it has been kept , yes there were modern buildings but at the same time , the old stone and brick architecture stood proudly.
One thing I noticed was the amount of street artists and budding musicians, there were talented artists busking for most the day, and would then tell the crowd where they are playing at night ! The exciting atmosphere was already getting to us!
After a quick explore and freshen up we went out to see what we could find out in the local pubs and bars !
We went to the main place famous for its live music and atmosphere which was The Old Store House , due to it being near where we were staying , although if you don’t want to go out on your own there are a variety of pub crawls for live music about, but I just like to explore on my own!
This is the place to come when it comes to good live authentic Irish music , it plays a variety of classic Irish songs and also gets you to join in and sing along , I also tried some Irish dancing , it didn’t go very well! The interior is classic wooden decor with old vintage items, such as classic news articles or funny short stories!
We spent a long time here and met a variety of different people who we got chatting to ,as well as the actual bar staff who were happy to give us any more information we needed. Funnily enough we actually bumped into some Brazilian guys who were also travelling and had a drink and chat with them for about an hour; it’s not just the Irish you will meet out and about !
They happened to tell us to go the Temple Bar pub just down the road for some music we would know and could sing along to. So off we trotted down the Temple Bar cobbled street , which was buzzing now , live buskers singing and playing guitar ,with people of all ages walking down the street soaking in the atmosphere! I myself was feeling a bit jolly by this point.
We finally got into temple bar, where it had more of a modern look for a change , that’s the great thing about Dublin all the bars are different. Here we had a fantastic artist who would take any request the audience wanted and would put his own twist on it etc. It was a miracle he knew most of the lyrics to the songs being requested, of course being a Queen fan I requested some of that and he duly obliged!
One of the most fantastic live performances we have ever seen, have you ever heard ‘Don’t stop me now’ mixed with ‘Hakuna Matata’ from the Lion King! We got chatting to the musician after and he even walked us back to our accommodation where we stayed as we were a bit lost getting back (or had a few too many!).
We bid farewell to our friend who was originally from Nottingham and after he told us where he was playing the next night we went to bed ready for what the next day had in store.
The next part will go into more of the sightseeing I did , and should be out next Tuesday! Stay tuned!
Remember Travelstyle offers cheap breaks to Dublin! HERE