Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

What to do for a weekend in Manchester 

Manchester is a thriving city, brimming with things to do and places to see. However, getting around the UK can be a bit of a nightmare at the best of times, trains may be slightly quicker but prices are extortionate. So, I opted for a cheaper – and in my opinion – far more comfortable alternative. If you are wondering what to do for a weekend in Manchester, read on…

Departing Oxford just after 8am, I boarded my National Express coach to Manchester. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised, all National Express coaches come with leather seats, air conditioning, power sockets and toilets as standard. They ever offer a downloadable entertainment system VUER for free, which offers films, TV programmes and magazines.

VUER, National Express to Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

If you have ever been on a long coach journey before without a charger and toilet – and I have – it is not a fun time. The coaches are modern and comfortable, with adjustable leg rests, spacious seats and supported head rests – just perfect for a little mid-journey snooze. With a brief stopover to switch coaches in Birmingham, we were off again and before you know it, we were in Manchester, ready to explore the sights.

We arrived in Manchester city centre at around 1pm and were ready to kick start our weekend of cafes, culture and cocktails galore. Here are my top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester:

Top 10 things to do for a weekend in Manchester

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester

We needed an infusion of culture so headed to the Manchester Art Gallery. The gallery is spectacular, housing an assortment of classic and contemporary pieces. A particularly interesting exhibition space was dedicated to the relationship between art and mindfulness. And Breathe… allowed guests to stop and pause for a moment, appreciating the connection between the two.

Afflecks, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Afflecks, Manchester

You could spend an entire day in and around the Northern Quarter, soaking up the area before strolling through Afflecks indoor market and many a quirky shop. There is lots of retro, nostalgic and vintage treasures to be found and bought in Afflecks. It’s a lot of fun to rummage around the many shops and I have to admit, it reminded me of Camden Market on a much smaller scale.

John Rylands Library, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

John Rylands Library, Manchester

The John Rylands Library was founded by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, and is housed in an impressive Neo-Gothic building. Step inside, and you will discover its grand history and architecture, alongside its vast collection of treasured books and manuscripts. We were lucky to stop by as the Women Who Shaped Manchester exhibition was on. It detailed the journeys of incredible women, past and present. Women who used their wits and determination to overcome many a societal challenge.

National Football Museum, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

National Football Museum, Manchester

I am not a fan of the great game but the National Football Museum is impressive. My other half was delighted, heading around the various exhibitions and it was a highlight of his trip. Inside, discover a diverse range of worldwide memorabilia and interactive skills-based challenges. The penalty shoot game ever featured the old Wembley goal!

Starters, eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester | The LDN Gal

eXchange Food and Drink Lounge, Manchester

The eXchange Food and Drink Lounge is a rustic restaurant that does not fail to impress. Within, discover a restaurant area, bar, sports screens and even a kids area. Perfect for all the family, the eXchange Food and Drink Lounge offers incredible dining, spectacular cocktails and an evening of chatter and memories. Read my review of my experience here.

The Liars Club, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

The Liars Club, Manchester

While in Manchester, we proved to be frequent patrons of The Liars Club. It is a tropical tiki bar with an enviable selection of global rum and a vibrant and funky interior. The cocktails were incredible and good-value for money. You could lose hours sipping away listening to Reggae tunes aplenty. They even offer a two drinks for £10 happy hour on weekdays!

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sunset by Australasia, Manchester

Sunset by Australasia is an Instagram dream. It offers a  stunning pastel pink and gold interior, alongside an outside terrace embellished with vibrant flower wall and plush seating and cushions. Sunset by Australasia is gorgeous – but the cocktails are even better. So, grab a frozen Prosecco sorbet blend and let the world go by for a few hours.

Sugar Junction interior, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Sugar Junction, Manchester

Sugar Junction is a coffee, cake and cocktail lovers dream. This vintage venue in the Northern Quarter offers lots wholesome and homemade produce. I had a cake (gluten free, which was a nice touch) alongside pink lemonade – which was beautifully decorated. My other half opted for a rather filling and well presented sandwich, which was accompanied by chips. You can enjoy breakfast, brunch throughout the day and afternoon tea – or a cocktail or two, if you feel inclined. 

Home Sweet Home. Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Home Sweet Home, Manchester

Looking for the best pancakes in town? Home Sweet Home offers an American breakfast and brunch in a cosy and quirky location. The pancake stacks are huge, doused with fresh fruit, cream and sauces – there are some savoury options too, don’t fret. Do be wary though, if you get there at the weekend and are looking to quash your  comfort food cravings, there may be a bit of a wait.

Bees in the City at Manchester Cathedral, Manchester - What to do for a weekend in Manchester - The LDN Gal

Manchester Cathedral, Manchester

We spent some time in Manchester Cathedral, appreciating the many Bee in the City bee’s dotted around its interior. Although Manchester Cathedral is rather small, it was as expected, beautiful. It is the perfect place to take a few moments away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre.

So, if you are looking for a fabulous UK city break, look no further! There is plenty of things to do for a weekend in Manchester.

You can book your next journey to Manchester (or the rest of the UK) with National Express here or give them a call on 0871 7818181.

National Express travels to over 900 destinations nationwide and offer thousands of tickets for ÂŁ5 or less (plus a booking fee). The best bit? Travelling by coach proves to be the most environmentally friendly form of public transport!

Where would be your first stop in Manchester? Have you traveled via National Express before?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with National Express

York Minister, York - The LDN Gal

York Pass: best things to do in York, England

A city famed for its culinary delights such as chocolate, Yorkshire puddings and even their tea, some may say that York has it all.

Step into the beautiful city of York and be prepared to stand in awe. This Medieval walled city is brimming with attractions and bursting with a quaint charm that is hard to find elsewhere in the UK.

Surprisingly, York is rather small city considering its fascinating and lengthy history. Bordered by just two miles of Roman walls, the city centre is easy to navigate on foot and it lends itself to being a perfect destination for a long city break.

So, when exploring York, what must you do and see? Here are my recommendations on the top 10 things to do in York on a budget, including the best sights to see and the best local hotel to unwind in. The best thing? Pretty much all of these attractions are free to visit with the York Passthere’s over 30 included!

Here’s how to visit York, England on a budget 

York Minister Stained Glass Window Interior, York - The LDN Gal

York Minister:

The York Minister is a grand Gothic cathedral, highlighting pretty much all of the Gothic architectural styles over its development. It is famed for its ornate Medieval stained glass and is one of the largest churches of its kind in Northern Europe. Within, discover its artefacts, wander through the undercroft museum and take a trip up the tower. Did you know, no building in York can be higher that the York Minister?

York Minister is free with a York Pass – the tower is charged additionally

York Dungeon, York - The LDN Gal

York Dungeon:

You really cannot prepare yourself for what you will discover in York Dungeon. Pre-warned by the staff of its gruesome interior on entrance, its safe to say you are put on high alert. A few posed pictures are thrown into the mix before you and the group await your guided tour to start. As you wait in this darkened room – be sure to not mistake people for statues – a door creeks and you are beckoned in. The 75 minute tour takes you through York’s dark and dreary 2,000 year history via 10 live shows from Vikings to the plague and Guy Fawkes to Dick Turpin. Consequently, you will learn about bandits, witches and heretics and leave with an elevated heart rate.

York Dungeon is free with a York Pass

River Ouse cruise, York City Cruises, York - The LDN Gal

City Cruises York:

On a summers day, what better way to explore a city than on its waterways? An hour long cruise on the River Ouse is a charming affair with City Cruises York. Your captain will navigate you, enhancing your local knowledge with a myriad of interesting facts. Basically, expect folk, wartime and downright peculiar tales, as you watch life in York slowly go on by.

A daytime City Cruises York cruise is free with a York Pass

JORVIK Viking Centre, York - The LDN Gal

JORVIK Viking Centre:

Entering the JORVIK Viking Centre, I was not quite sure what to expect. As you make your way downstairs, you discover an excavation site beneath a glass floor, making for interesting viewing as you are informed of its origin and purpose. Follow the room round, and you are greeted with a hanging ride cart, select your language, secure your seat and you’re off! You gently weave through Viking Jorvik (York) and are greeted with a host of realistic animatronics, their at times woeful tales narrated within your cart. On exiting, discover Viking artefacts found within this archaeological site –  and a few skeletons to boot!

JORVIK Viking Centre is free with a York Pass

York's Chocolate Story, York - The LDN Gal

York’s Chocolate Story:

Ever wondered how chocolate was made? Now is your time to find out in the UK’s most famed chocolate city. York founded many an esteemed chocolate making company including the famed Terry’s and Rowntree, responsible for the chocolate orange and Kit Kat respectively. Who’d have thought that all these family favourites could be found in the same place! On this guided tour, you will delve into chocolate’s dark history, the making process via interactive workshops and will even devour a few sweet treats along the way – as well as get to have a go at creating your own!

York’s Chocolate Story is free with a York Pass

York City Walls, York - The LDN Gal

York City Walls:

Across York you will quickly discover the city walls, it is a sight to marvel in a UK city. These Medieval walls encircle the city in parts with around two miles to peacefully stroll along. They offer some incredible views from their ramparts and make for some cute photo opportunities!

The York city walls are free for all

York Castle Museum, York - The LDN Gal

York Castle Museum:

York Castle Museum offers a multitude of fascinating and varied exhibitions detailing over 400 years of York history. These include a walk through Victorian York down a recreated street, a history of toys, the best of the 60s, a focus on the body and health, powerful women, fashion history and even a throwback to WW1. Lastly, you will get to explore York Castle Prison beneath which allows for reflection on York’s sinister justice system over 1,000 years – the infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin, even had a spell in these harrowing cells. You will leave with many an interesting fact and lets face it, a superb local knowledge of York’s history.

York Castle Museum is free with a York Pass

Clifford's Tower, York - The LDN Gal

Clifford’s Tower:

Clifford’s Tower is the only real structure that remains of the former York Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. In its long history, the castle has served as a tax office, treasury, an administrative headquarters, a court, military base, royal mint and the city’s former prison! Once you ascend its gruelling steps, the rather dilapidated Clifford’s Tower offers a wonderful panoramic cityscape view.

Clifford’s Tower is free with a York Pass

The Shambles, York - The LDN Gal

The Shambles:

The Shambles is a quaint cobbled street in York, close to The Shambles market and many of York’s attractions. Here you will find cafe’s, restaurants, bakery’s and a host of themed shops. It is said that The Shambles inspired J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Therefore, any self-confessed ‘Potterheads’ will find three stores dedicated to the franchise within The Shambles. So, it is certainly a must see for fans.

The Shambles is a public street and free for all

Yorkshire Museum, York - The LDN Gal

Yorkshire Museum:

The Yorkshire Museum offers history buffs a treasure trove of delights. Inside, take a stroll on a genuine Roman mosaic floor, see the Middleham Jewel and gaze at a four and a half billion year old meteorite. The best part? The new Yorkshire’s Jurassic World exhibition where you will have the chance to learn more about and actually feed an actual dinosaur – it’s a lot of fun! Most noteworthy, The Yorkshire Museum is simply brimming with archaeological, historical and geological finds.

Yorkshire Museum is free with a York Pass

Where to stay in York

Middletons Hotel York Double Bedroom, York - The LDN Gal

We stayed at the Middletons Hotel in York, around a five minute walk into the town centre. The hotel is situated amongst beautiful landscaped lawns and gardens. There is plenty of places to sit out in the sunshine, with picnic tables and decked area, there is even a pond. Almost every corner of the Middletons Hotel is embellished with flowers and the buildings are a mixture of complimentary architectural styles. Furthermore, the rooms are clean, spacious and bright and there is a bar, restaurant and gym available to use on site. What more could you want?

So, how much can you save with a York Pass?

So, how much did we save with the York Pass? With all these attractions in mind, they totalled ÂŁ83.10. We took our time and did these over two days but all of these attractions could be easily be in a full day. A one day York pass is ÂŁ42 and a two-day is only ÂŁ60! If you get it done in a day, that is a saving of ÂŁ41.40 each!

Lastly, for more inspiration on where to go in York with your York Pass, take a look at the Visit York website.

Have you ever been to York? Which of these attractions would you like to visit? 

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with York Pass and the Middletons Hotel

5 great European road trips | The LDN Gal

5 great European road trips

Europe’s mix of open fields and rolling mountains make a perfect scenic backdrop for any road trip or holiday. From the stunning scenery, unforgettable nature or even vibrant nightlife, Europe will not disappoint.

I’ve teamed up with Compare and Choose to round up my top five European road trips.

Verdon Gorge circuit, Provence, France

Province boasts one of France’s deepest central gorges, the Gorges du Verdon, and a lot of care has gone into keeping it as beautiful as possible. The circuit takes just under two hours at full speed, but you can easily enjoy it at a more leisurely pace – from the quaint little town of Moustiers Sante Marie to the spectacular views of Balcons de la Mescala, this road is a constant stream of new sights and sounds that you’ll never get tired of!

There’s plenty of places to stop and take in the fantastic view from a distance, and if you’re hungry, there’s classic French food available from the many towns and businesses that you’ll find on your journey.

The Autobahns, Germany

Adrenaline seekers will flock to Germany’s famous Autobahns, the giant highways that let you cut loose and enjoy miles upon miles of raw speed! If you prefer to pace yourself, you can always slow down on the side lane and enjoy a long, smooth, hassle-free afternoon drive.

Most Autobahn roads are lined with trees, fields and small forests – nothing over-the-top or exotic, but enough to keep you relaxed and interested throughout the whole journey.

Plus, with so many places you can break away from the road, who knows where you’ll end up?

La Route des Grandes Alpes, France

Designed, constructed and maintained specifically for tourists, this road takes drivers through over fifteen mountain passes and four national parks, as well as some of the most scenic points in the French Alps. The gorgeous Geneva Lake provides a lovely backdrop to the fresh air and wide-open spaces of the mountain region.

There’s no need to rush – the easy turns and straight roads make the Alps easier to explore than ever, offering a new way to see some of the world’s most famous mountains from the comfort and warmth of your car.

Furka Pass, Switzerland

A Swiss Alps road that challenges even the most confident of drivers – more variety and fewer stretches of plain straight road mean that you’re always seeing something new with each new corner you turn or hill you pass. The beautiful grasslands and majestic mountains give you a view that’s definitely worth the effort.

Patience is a key part of any good road trip, and there’s almost nowhere it’ll pay off more than Furka Pass.

Transfăgărășan, Romania

The “Road to the Sky” takes drivers from the base of the mountain range to the highest peaks in all of Romania, always sticking to an easy-to-climb angle that even the most overloaded car could easily tackle! From a beautiful grassy valley to a spectacular mountain peak, the Transfăgărășan is the definition of variety and can last anywhere from a few hours to a whole day depending on how you want to pace your trip.

The intriguing wildlife and scenic pathways offered by the mountains’ off-road areas mean that you can easily stretch your legs, so there’s no need to confine yourself to your car all day – every good road trip needs a stop now and then, after all, and the Transfăgărășan is more than happy to oblige.

Which of these road trips would you take? Where is your favourite place in Europe?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with Compare and Choose

A 20 something's guide to Budapest - Hungarian Parliament Building

A 20-something’s guide to Budapest: Top 10 things to do in Budapest

A city of beauty, culture and cheap eats, Budapest is simply on everyone’s European bucket list – and for good reason.

Celebrated as the “Paris of the East”, the winding Danube highlights the city’s beauty, separating Buda from Pest in a sea of twinkling lights by twilight, emulating the grandeur of its buildings and monuments that line its banks.

With a Budapest card in tow, it is time to explore this city and with your new card, all your public transport travel within Budapest is totally free!

The Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

The Hungarian Parliament building:

Renowned as one of the most iconic buildings in Budapest, The Hungarian Parliament building is a truly spectacular sight on the Pest side of the river and one that cannot be missed. You can venture inside and see its stunning interior and the Holy Crown of St. Stephen on an organised tour.

See it from the Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side at night for a truly enchanting view – and photograph to boot.

St Stephen's Church, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal St Stephen's Church interior, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal St Stephen's Church view, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

St. Stephen’s Basilica:

St. Stephen’s Basilica is a truly magnificent Roman Catholic cathedral, named in the honour of the first King of Hungary.

Step inside this Neoclassical church and discover its gorgeous and grand interior and the mummified hand of St. Stephen himself (eek). Once done, ascend up to its cupola lookout for some fantastic panoramic views.

You can save 15% off your cupola lookout ticket with the Budapest card.

Szimpla Kert ruin bar exterior, Budapest- A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Szimpla Kert:

Allow yourself a cheeky evening treat and stop for a drink in one of Budapest’s famed ruin bars. Within seemingly disused buildings and overgrown outdoor spaces, these bars are housed within their remnants.

My favourite? Szimpla Kert. A quirky bar embellished with stolen literature, mismatched furnishings and years of memories, its ceilings littered paper. It has a cool vibe and offers a fantastic selection of drinks, food and even shisha. It can get busy, so head there early or during the week to soak up the interior and just unwind for a few hours.

House of Terror - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

House of Terror Museum:

Discover more about Budapest and its fascist and communist past at the House of Terror Museum. Here, you will learn more about the historical terror the tyrannic occupying forces made locals endure as you immerse yourself in the interactive exhibitions within.

This haunting building served as the former Nazi and Soviet headquarters and commemorates the victims of these regimes. Its basement, the former prison, emulates the horror faced by these victims at the time, who were tortured in its darkness.

Shoes on the Danube - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN GalChain Bridge at Night - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Explore the Danube:

Regarded as one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, the banks of the Danube are just asking to be explored. Be sure to take a cruise, be it in the day or at night, to soak up the architecture and beauty around you.

Once done, spare a moment by the haunting Shoes on the Danube memorial and pay your respects to the 20,000 lives cut short on the Danube banks under Ferenc Szalasi’s influence.

Be sure to cross the illuminated Chain Bridge at night, it offers a lovely evening stroll from Buda to Pest or vice-versa. With brazen lions standing to welcome you at each side, be sure to use it as a photostop.

Church Cave, Gellert Hill - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Gellert Hill, Budapest panorama - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Gellert Hill, Danube view - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Gellért Hill:

For the best view in the city, take a leisurely stroll-come-hike up Gellért Hill. Once atop, you will see Budapest in all her magnificence with panoramic views. It is the perfect place for a shop-bought picnic beneath the grand statues of the Citadella.

As you make your way down, stop by the GellĂ©rt Hill cave church for a unique venture into a church within the hill – not an everyday attraction.

Hospital in the Rock, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Hospital in the Rock artifacts, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Hospital in the Rock mural, Castle Hill, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Hospital in the Rock: 

The Hospital in the Rock presents a turbulent and at times tragic wartime past, offering visitors a fantastic history lesson. Step back in time and discover this former hospital located within a cave system underneath Castle Hill.

Tours are given on the hour in numerous languages and offer an informative insight into the hospital and its fascinating WW2 and 1956 Revolution history, as well as touching on the nuclear disasters within Japan – I held back tears on more than one occassion.

You can save 30% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Fisherman's Bastion - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal Matthias Church, Budapest - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Fisherman’s Bastion:

Fisherman’s Bastion is a dreamy structure sitting atop Castle Hill. This fairytale terrace sits in front of Matthias Church and close to Budapest castle.

It is free to wander around but if you desire to go up the ramparts to the upper lookout there is a small fee. From here, discover the picturesque and panoramic views of the Danube and Budapest cityscape.

You can save 10% off your ticket to the upper lookout with the Budapest card.

Holocaust Memorial Centre, Budapest- A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Holocaust Memorial Center:

Within the Holocaust Memorial Center you will discover that around 1/3rd of the people at Auschwitz-Birkenau were Hungarian. It is a shocking statistic and the interior of this memorial center emulates the shocking reality of the horrors faced by Hungarian citizens, Jews, Roma gypsies and homosexuals during this time. Its a harrowing and humbling experience, and one that simply cannot be missed.

You can save 10% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Budapest zoo petting zoo - A 20 something's guide to Budapest - The LDN Gal

Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden:

The Budapest Zoo is one of the oldest in Europe and rather strangely, located within the city centre. It has nearly 1,000 species of animals on display from across the globe and a lovely botanical garden to boot. The best part for most? An interactive petting zoo where you can stroke goats and deer.

You can save 25% off your ticket with the Budapest card.

Have you been to Budapest? Where would be your first stop?

Stephanie xox

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This post is in collaboration with Budapest card

A view of Prague Castle from the Vltava River, Prague

Guide to Prague: A long weekend of pastel coloured views and terracotta roofs

Prague has always fascinated me – pretty buildings, cultural attractions, and an affordable price tag, what more could a girl want from a city break? With all that in mind, a weekend in this scenic city was definitely on the cards, and Prague was the next destination myself and my boyfriend had planned to visit in Europe. Here is a 20 something’s guide to Prague:

Prepped for a long weekend, our mini adventure would begin after a nights sleep in our okay-ish hotel. The Hotel Colosseum was well located to attractions and to be honest, pretty cheap – I am not overly snobby when it comes to hotels, I literally sleep there. 

Old Town, Prague:

Our hotel was less than five minutes from the celebrated Dancing House or ‘Fred and Ginger’ and this was to be our first stop. This deconstructivist style building features quirky architectural design and fascinates many in its place amongst a myriad of Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance buildings, to name a few architectural styles found within Prague. We gave the Dancing House a quick glance and raced towards the UNESCO-listed Old Town – naturally.

Church of Our Lady before TĂœn, Old Town, Prague

Church of Our Lady before TĂœn, Old Town, Prague

Stepping into the Old Town in Prague is very charming, lined with ornate buildings, street food vendors and the grand Church of Our Lady before TĂœn and of course, the wonderful Astronomical Clock. Embellished with cobbled streets, Gothic churches and its array of architectural styles, the whole city is very romantic – our favourite start to the day being coffee together in the square each morning.

Astronomical Clock, Prague:

What did we love most about the quaint Old Town and its buzzing square? It would have to be the famed Astronomical Clock. Be sure to await the hourly procession for a truly lovely show, with rhythmic chimes and animated figures – we managed to miss it about eight times during our stay before finally seeing it.

Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady before TĂœn, Old Town, Prague

Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady before TĂœn, Old Town, Prague

Another cultural delight that mesmerised was the exquisite Gothic Church of our Lady on Tyn, a grand building, which dominated the Old Town skyline, its interior almost as astounding as its exterior. This divine and ornate church dates back to the 14th century.

Letenské Sady Park, Prague:

However,  there is another church that dominates the Prague cityscape, and that is St. Vitus Cathedral, a beautiful church within the mighty walls of the Prague castle compound. Uphill, we made our way through the lush LetenskĂ© sady park to the castle – there is so much green space in Prague, it is truly fabulous. 

A view on the descent towards Prague Castle, Prague

A view on the descent towards Prague Castle, Prague

Once you have made your way to the top of LetenskĂ© sady , ensure to stop a moment and appreciate the wonderful view of the city beneath you, it is so picturesque, a sea of pastel houses, terracotta roofs, and trams, separated by the delicate and winding Vltava river – it is a little bit magical, to say the least. 

Prague castle, Prague:

As you enter, be sure to purchase a ticket for Prague Castle that includes all the attractions you desire to see. The handy thing about these tickets is they seemingly last two days, so no rushing around to catch everything in one visit before 4pm.

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague:

For me, St. Vitus Cathedral was the focal point of the area, its dark exterior boldly contrasting against the smooth and light pastel walls surrounding it. Similar to all the other churches in Prague, the interior was sublime, truly beautiful for any fan of churches like myself.

Golden Lane, Prague:

After a rather disappointing venture into the castle’s interior, we had a bite to eat and wandered down towards Golden Lane, a collection of former and rather cosmopolitan looking homes of seamstresses, moviemakers, and herbalists that used to live within the castle grounds.

Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague:

While in Prague, be sure to sample some Czech delicacies by indulging in some delicious street food. Local treats include trdelnĂ­k (essentially a spiralised pastry with delicious fillings), as well as famed sausages and hams. Saying this, we were tempted more so by the Hard Rock Cafe in Prague and had a wonderful Americanised meal. Whatever food you choose to carb overload on, be sure to make your way towards the exquisite Charles Bridge afterwards.

A view of Charles Bridge from the Vltava River, Prague

A view of Charles Bridge from the Vltava River, Prague

MalĂĄ Strana, Prague:

Strolling along the winding Vltava River it is almost impossible to miss the entrance to the grand Charles Bridge. It becomes an even more impressive affair as you cross it, adorned with religious statues along its ancient stone walls. The bridge connects the Old Town with the pastel coloured streets of the historic district of Malå Strana. It is like crossing into a fairytale, with many a wow moment.

The historic district of MalĂĄ Strana, Prague

The historic district of MalĂĄ Strana, Prague

John Lennon Wall, Prague:

The backstreets of MalĂĄ Strana are amazing to wander, as you step off Charles Bridge you will discover an array of food vendors, cosy riverside views and sweet lock bridges in abundance. An interesting stop in the area, is the John Lennon Wall, a graffiti shine to the late Beatles singer and songwriter, adorned with some peculiar quotes and imagery  – It makes for an interesting picture, to say the least. 

The vibrant John Lennon Wall, Prague

The vibrant John Lennon Wall, Prague

Petƙín Hill, Prague:

Having already seen Prague Castle, we took the steep climb from MalĂĄ Strana, past the exquisite Baroque St. Nicholas Church, up to Petƙín Hill to explore some more. There we discovered incredible views, old castle ruins and so many cute dogs we didn’t really want to leave. It really is nice to just step away from the city for a moment to stop and see it all. We decided against Petƙín Tower, already having gained some incredible views from walking through the parks alone.

The view from Petƙín Hill, Prague

The view from Petƙín Hill, Prague

After all the walking and with a recommendation from a friend, we decided to celebrate one evening with a few quirky cocktails at AnonymouS Bar, a very tucked away establishment near the Old Town Square. This quirky bar sells some strong cocktails, doing so in a rather animated and exciting fashion – trust me on this one, try it out and try to get a glimpse of the secret menu.

After a whirlwind weekend, we had managed to walk about 30 miles (public transport really isn’t too necessary), see all the attractions we desired to and had a truly amazing time. I would recommend Prague to anyone and would be more than happy to give some advice if needed!

Have you been to Prague? Where is the next European destination on your travel list?

Stephanie xox

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What to pack when travelling - The LDN Gal

Suitcase essentials for your next holiday

I recently got asked by Age UK, what would my suitcase essentials be if I were to go on holiday.

As I am off to Australia for Christmas, this question could not have come at a better time, and it got me thinking (and far more excited) about what I will need to be taking.

Obviously, it is dependent on the holiday, are you going on a weekend city break? A week or two away somewhere sunny? Or are you venturing away for longer?

You have to think about the climate, what season is it going to be? Are you going to be sweltering or freezing?

These are my suitcase essentials for travelling:

So, what do I need to take on holiday with me?

All travel documentation

First of all, remember your passport and ensure that it is valid for the duration of your trip! You will also need all travel and health insurance documentation, personal identification and visas. If travelling in Europe, be sure to bring along your European Health Insurance Card.

If you have a student card, it can come in handy for discounts for tourist attractions.

Also be sure to have a copy of all relevant emergency numbers. Have a copy of contact details for your bank, travel insurance provider and emergency contacts at home.

Travel money (home and destination currency)

Another thing to remember is to have travel money for your destination country and money for when you return home.

Remember to take along your debit and/or credit cards in case of emergencies and a secure wallet to keep everything in.

Holiday clothing and accessories  

Remember to bring clothing and accessories for the climate you are traveling to.

Most noteworthy, remember underwear, tights, sleepwear, swimwear and accessories. Don’t forget bags, belts, jewellery and watches but be careful with heavier items such as shoes.

If you are doing sports outdoors, remember specialist sporting clothing.

Above all, remember to bring some outerwear just in case it gets chilling in the evenings.

Sun protection

Whether it is hot or cold, sun protection is key. Be sure to pack sunscreen, after sun, sunglasses and insect repellent.

Beauty and hair care essentials 

There is nothing worse than forgetting your beauty and hair care essentials on holiday. Make space for your makeup, wet wipes, nail varnish and a nail file.

You do not want to forget your hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, hairbands, shaving gel and razors. Optional extras include straighteners, curling tongs and tweezers.

Personal care essentials 

Even more important are your personal care essentials. Toiletries such as shower gel, body lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash). Remember, these things can be carried in hand luggage if 100ml.

You’ll want to make space for antiperspirant, perfume, female hygiene and sanitary products and any relevant prescription medication (painkillers are a must). Towels are often provided but you may want a beach towel.

Your camera, mobile and laptop 

Most importantly, be sure to bring along your camera, mobile and laptop. This is to record all of your holiday memories and adventures online. You may want to contact family back home if on longer ventures and update your blog.

Make sure that your phone has the relevant data plan to ensure that you aren’t charged too much while abroad. You may also want to bring along some headphones.

Note, that you will need to remember to bring all chargers and the relevant travel adapters. Batteries can come in handy too.

A notebook and pen

Bring along a notebook and pen as you never know when you may become inspired. Be sure to pack all relevant stationary too.

Before you head off, double check uour luggage allowance. Some baggage restrictions are very specific. Also, be sure to keep space for all the goodies you bring home with you!

Be sure to keep your valuables in your hand luggage. Although it rarely happens, suitcases can go missing or get damaged in transit.

What do you always pack? Are you off anywhere nice this summer?

Stephanie xox