An Ultimate Guide To Spending 3 Days in Budapest

Ah Budapest. The Hungarian capital seems to have become more and popular as a European city break destination over the last few years.

And it’s not difficult to see why. With cheap flights, low prices when you arrive and an abundance of amazing things to see and do, it’s the perfect place to spend a long weekend.

This guide isn’t completely exhaustive but it gives enough of the good stuff in the city to fill three days (or four at a slower pace). I feel like you could spend weeks in Budapest and still not see everything, so as with most cities, you’ll need to prioritise.

Here goes.. Budapest is split in to two parts, with the Danube river down the middle. Buda is to the west and Pest to the east, with Margaret Island in the middle of the river, accessed from both sides of the city.

The city is also split in to a number of different districts on either side, each offering a slightly different vibe, but all worth exploring.

 

When to visit

Budapest most definitely has seasons; it’s freezing cold in winter and can be sweltering in summer. I’ve visited during both, and loved the city each time. I’d say spring to summer is the best time to visit, as Budapest is a city that does outdoor living so well.

Still, prices are cheaper during the colder months, and it is the perfect time to visit the famous thermal baths in the city!

 

Getting there and around

Flights from the UK are pretty cheap, and costs when you arrive are so low compared to western Europe that it doesn’t matter too much if you have to pay a little more.

You can take the bus from the airport to the city for just a few Euros, or easily grab a taxi to travel much more quickly.

Once in the city, public transport is great, with a metro, trams and buses. Taxis are also cheap.

I’d recommend walking as much as possible, the city isn’t that huge, so it’s definitely doable. I believe that the best way to see a city is by foot, and Budapest is no different.

 

Where to stay

Pest is certainly the liveliest side of the city and where most tourists end up staying. It’s better connected by public transport, and has more going for it in terms of places to eat and drink.

You can find good value accommodation in the northern part of Buda if you’re on a budget. I stayed at Belvedere Hotel a few years back, it’s a nice hotel at a reasonable price, with great public transport links to the more central parts of the city.

If you’re looking to stay somewhere a little quieter or more upmarket, the Castle District is the place for you. With pretty cobbled streets and gorgeous hotels, it’s a good base from which to see the city if you don’t want to be in the heart of the action.I stayed here this time around, as I was with my boyfriend and his family. Whilst it wouldn’t be my first choice next time (everything closes super early), it was a charming place to stay and had a really relaxed feel.

 

Castle District

Things to see and do

Fisherman’s Bastion 

A panoramic terrace with fairytale spires, Fisherman’s Bastion offers amazing views over the city. You can pay extra to climb up to the highest viewing point but the views from the main terrace are good enough.

Head there during the day and at night if you can, both are incredible but there’s just something about the view over the Danube and Parliament building in the dark.

 

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Mathias Church

Right beside Fisherman’s Bastion, Mathias is a beautiful Roman Catholic church with the most incredible tiled roof.

You can visit the church year-round as a non-worshipper except for Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter).

 

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Royal Palace (Buda Castle)

You can’t visit a European city without seeing it’s Royal Palace and Budapest is no different. It’s home to the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum too.

 

Wander the cobbled streets

The Castle District is so quaint, full of cobbled streets and old, colourful buildings. You can spend a couple of hours just wandering and taking it all in.

 

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Castle

Places to eat and drink

Food and drink is more expensive in the Castle District than in the rest of the city; the vibe is definitely more upmarket. Most of the restaurants and bars seem to be owned by the same people but there are a couple of great places to check out.

 

Baltazar Grill

A boutique hotel, Baltazar has a grill restaurant, serving delicious burgers and classic Hungarian dishes.  The inside is cosy and there is plenty of outdoor seating for the warmer months.

 

Pest Buda

Another boutique hotel, Pest Buda has a gorgeous outdoor bar, perfect for an alfresco drink or three. Right in the centre of the Castle District, it has views of the Mathias Church and is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings.

 

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Leopold

Also know as the Inner City, Leopold is what I’d refer to as central Budapest. Situated on the Pest side of the river, this is a lively and bustling places, with some of the main tourist attractions.

 

Things to see and do

Parliament Building 

You’ll no doubt have seen many pictures of the Parliament Building, it’s synonymous with the city and its landscape. Its the third largest parliament building in the world and really is a striking piece of architecture.

Guided tours are available but be sure to also spend some time admiring it from the outside.

 

Shoes on the Danube Bank

A touching tribute, the shoes are a memorial to honour the many Jews sadly killed in Budapest during WW2. The victims were ordered to take off their shoes and shot dead, falling in to the Danube river below. It’s an extremely moving monument.

 

St. Stephen’s Basilica

Also know as Budapest Cathedral, it’s the largest church in Budapest and well worth a visit.

 

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Grab a drink by the Basilica

Yes the area around the Basilica is a little touristy and probably a little overpriced but it is such a beautiful place to grab a beer or a coffee.

Find somewhere in or around the square where the Basilica is and just watch the world go by.

 

Shopping

Leopold is home to both high street and designer shops, if you fancy doing some shopping on your trip.

 

Places to eat and drink

La Fabbrica

Budapest has so many Italian restaurants to chose from and La Fabbrica is a great option if you’re looking for tasty pizza or pasta.

Situated across from St. Peter’s Basilica, Fabbrica is a stylish restaurant with a wide menu. Although slightly expensive by Budapest standards, the prices are really reasonable for such great quality food.

 

Hedon Craft Brewery

We stumbled upon Hedon Craft Brewery when we needed somewhere to shelter from a heavy downpour but it ended up being such a good find!

Hedon is a brewery and bar with a unique twist. To drink at the bar, you top up a card with Forints, grab a glass and fill it using the card at the taps. The balance on the card goes down as you pour the beer.

It’s a really unique concept and means that you can try a selection of different craft beers or cider.They also offer bar snacks; the pizzas are pretty tasty!

 

Margaret Island (Margitsziget)

Margaret Island is not your usual city park for it’s located in the middle of the Danube river, between Buda and Pest. It can be accessed from both sides of the city, with a bridge connecting to the park.

As well as being a beautiful park to explore, there is so much to see and do in Margaret Island, including; medieval ruins, a small zoo, water fountains, swimming pools, sports facilities and playgrounds.I’d recommend renting an electric bike to explore the whole island and then grabbing a drink at one of the many bars in the park.

 

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Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter is on the Pest side of the river and it’s what I’d describe as the trendy, hipster part of the city. It has so much character and such a great vibe, it’s definitely my favourite district.

 

Synagogue

The largest Synagogue in Europe, this beautiful piece of Moorish architecture is well worth checking out.

 

Check out the street art 

There’s loads of really cool street art scattered around the district, just take a walk and be sure to get some photos as you go!

 

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Visit a Ruin Bar 

Ruin bars are a huge part of Budapest’s Jewish Quarter and you need to visit at least one whilst in the city.I wrote a whole post about Szimpla Kert, the original Ruin Bar, here.

 

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Places to eat and drink

Karavan Street Food 

Karavan is a small outdoor street food market, offering a number of different cuisines and drinks.It’s a really cool place day or night, with cute decorations and a large seating area at the back.Check out more info here.

 

Karavan

 

Most Bistro

This place was recommended to me by a colleague who lived in Budapest for a while and it is such a hidden gem. It was by far my favourite place we visited.

Filled with mainly locals, this stylish bistro offers amazing food at such reasonable prices. Don’t let the extensive menu put you off- we ordered a number of different types of food and all were absolutely delicious.

They offer a super cheap lunch time set menu too. I definitely want to go back here for brunch, I can imagine it’s amazing.

They have a h-uge terrace at the back, perfect for the warmer months!

 

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Other things to see and do

City Park and Heroes Square- a sprawling green space, City Park is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. The entrance to the park is through Heroes Square, home to the impressive Millenary Monument.

Thermal Baths- a trip to Budapest isn’t complete without a trip to one of the famous thermal baths, especially in the colder months. There are many to choose from; Szechenyi and Gellert seem to be the most popular with tourists.

Take a river cruise on the Danube- I’d recommend taking one at night, when the city is lit up and looking its most beautiful!

 

Useful tips

  • Use the local currency Forints, even though some places accept Euros. You’ll get a much better price/exchange rate.
  • Tipping is expected in restaurants, around 10% for standard services and 15% for when its exceptional. In some places, you won’t be able to get a drink at the bar and it will be table service only, which you’ll be expected to tip for.
  • Don’t expect overly friendly service; whilst local people are polite, I found that they weren’t particularly warm or chatty.
  • Most people in the city can speak English but as always, it’s a good idea to take along a phrasebook or to learn a few phrases in Hungarian.

Have you been to Budapest? Do you have any other tips or recommendations?

Visting Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s Oldest Ruin Bar

The Jewish Quarter in Budapest is home to a number of ruin bars or pubs, known as ‘romkocsma’ in Hungarian. Szimpla Kert is the original, established in 2002. The bar moved to its current location in Kazinczy Street in 2004 and has become somewhat of a tourist attraction for visitors of Budapest.

During World War II, the Jewish Quarter became a Jewish ghetto and the area was left with lots of old, dilapidated buildings. Cut to 2004, and the people behind Szimpla Kert decided to turn a building about to be demolished in to their new, bigger bar and the ruin bar craze begun!

 

 

 

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The bar is huge, with many different rooms and nooks over a couple of floors. There’s a courtyard at the back that has a couple of bars and is filled with seating. It’s difficult to describe what it’s like inside, so hopefully my pictures can do the talking!

This is a bar that isn’t just for drinking. Szimpla Kert has plenty going on, and there’s even a farmer’s market on Sunday. When I visited on a Saturday afternoon, there were a number of stalls selling homemade bits. There’s also an art corner where you can leave a piece of your own work to be exhibited on the wall, and they have a packed programme with live music to suit every taste.

They also serve food, and although I didn’t try it, I’ve heard that it’s tasty. The Farmer’s Market breakfast that they run over the weekend looks amazing- I definitely plan on going back to try it when I’m next in Budapest!

 

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Drinks-wise, the price are a little more expensive than some places in Budapest but they’re still cheap by UK standards.

Szimpla is definitely the most random bar/pub I’ve ever been to but it’s by far one of the best! It’s so quirky and the courtyard is the perfect place for a cold drink on a hot summer’s day. It’s definitely become a tourist attraction and is really busy (there was a huge queue to get in when we walked past on Saturday evening!) but it’s well worth a visit.

Add it to your Budapest itinerary or bucket list pronto!

 

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Once you’ve ticked it off, there are plenty of other ruin bars to visit. Amongst the best of the rest: Anker’t, Ellato Kert and and Grandio.

And there’s much more to the Jewish Quarter too. I’d liken this part of the Hungarian capital to Shoreditch in London- gritty but cool. My favourite district in the city by far!

 

Other things to see and do in the area:

  • A beautiful Synagogue.
  • Cool street art.
  • Karavan street food court.
  • Klauzál Square.

 

Check out with Simple Kert website here.

 

My Ultimate Travelist

I received the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist for Christmas last year. It details the “500 best places on the planet… ranked” and it is possibly the most wanderlust-inducing thing I’ve ever read!

It got me thinking about what my ultimate travelist would be. So, I’ve decided to put together a top 10 of the places I’ve already visited and the 10 that are highest on my bucket list. I’ve ranked them in order, which was not an easy task!

 

Top 10 Places Visited

1. Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Khao Sok National Park is situated in the Surat Thani province of Thailand. The crowing jewel of the park is Cheow Lan lake, which is home to beautiful lime stone karsts.

I stayed in a floating bungalow on the lake, where the facilities are very basic and there is only electricity for a few hours in the evening. The setting is absolutely stunning and my one-night stay is one of my all time favourite travel memories. Quite simply, it’s the most breathtaking place I’ve ever visited.

Read more: 9 Reasons to Visit Thailand 

 

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2. Great Wall of China

The Great Wall probably makes it on to most people’s travel bucket lists, it is a bit of a cliche.

It rightly deserves a place, it is out of this world amazing. I was super excited to hike the wall but nothing could prepare me for quite how incredible (and steep!) it was.

I visited the Jinshanling section of this wall and there were barely any other people!

 

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3. Temples of Angkor

The Temples of Angkor are out of this world and like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

I joined a small cycling tour when I visited; we got to Angkor Wat for sunrise and then cycled around the other temples and surrounding countryside.

Read more: Female solo travel in Cambodia and Vietnam: a 3 week itinerary 

 

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4. Hoi An Old Town

Most people that have visited Hoi An Old Town would probably agree that the place just feels absolutely magical, especially at night when the beautiful old buildings are lit up with colourful lanterns.

It was definitely my favourite place in Vietnam, although as you’ll see, two more places in my favourite country ever have also made it on to my list!

 

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5. Hanoi Old Quarter, Vietnam

Hanoi is by far my favourite large city in Asia. It’s busy and it’s polluted but it also has so much charm!

Home to many beautiful buildings, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple and lots of lovely restaurants, there’s plenty to see and do. But this is also a place where you can just wander and get lost, taking it all in.

Read more: Vietnam Travel Tips

 

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6. Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

One of the things I loved most about Sri Lanka is that every place we visited was so different. Galle Fort was no exception, I certainly wasn’t expecting charming cobbled streets, boutique shops and a lighthouse in Sri Lanka!

I stayed within the fort, which I’d highly recommend doing.

Read more: Sri Lankan Adventure Part 1: Colombo to Galle

 

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7. Plaza Mayor, Cuba

Trinidad in Cuba is by far one of the prettiest towns I’ve ever visited. Cobbled streets and pastel coloured buildings, it is a delight. It attracts a fair amount of tourists but it still felt really laid back and not at all crowded.

Plaza Mayor is the historic centre of the town and it’s the perfect place to wander for a couple of hours, followed by a cold beer.

See more: Cuba: Photo Edit

 

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8. Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is a must-see for visitors to Vietnam. It’s famous for its limestone karsts and dramatic scenery.

I stayed on a traditional junk boats for two days and it was an amazing experience, not to mention that the seafood served on board was some of the best and freshest I’ve ever eaten.

 

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9. Habana Vieja, Cuba

Think of Cuba and Habana Vieja is likely to be the picture in your head- the bright, pastel coloured old buildings in the old part of town.

They are iconic and even better experienced on a ride around Havana in an old American car.

Read more: Cuba Travel Tips

 

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10. Le Jardin Majorelle

I recently visited Marrakech and was concerned that I’d be disappointed by Le Jardin Majorelle given all the photos I’d seen and the masses of tourists.

I definitely wasn’t disappointed, the gardens were absolutely magical and like a complete oasis away from the slight madness of Marrakech itself.

Read more: How to Spend a Long Weekend in Marrakech

 

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So, that’s where I’ve been. Now for the list of the top 10 places I’d like go visit form the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist:

1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

2. Machu Picchu, Peru

3. Petra, Jordan

4. Taj Mahal, India

5. Bagan, Myanmar

6. Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

7. Dubrovnik Old City Walls, Croatia

8. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

9. Cristo Redentor, Brazil

10. Empire State Building

Check out the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist here.

Where are your top 10 places visited and the top 10 you want to go to? I’d love to hear from you xxx

How to Spend a Solo Weekend in Dublin

At the start of the year, I realised quite how ridiculous it was that I hadn’t visited Ireland, given it’s close proximity and the fact that I travel to Northern Ireland regularly for work. With that in mind, I booked a solo weekend trip to Dublin to explore some of the Emerald Isle. I’ll be upfront and say I didn’t fall in love with Dublin, but I did have a fun weekend and wanted to share some of my tips and recommendations for the capital of Ireland.

Getting there

I actually travelled to Dublin from Belfast via the train, which was quick, straightforward and so cheap compared to train travel in the UK. I booked my tickets in advance online at Translink and paid around £7 one way.

Flying to Dublin from around Europe is really easy; I flew back to Manchester with Aer Lingus, the country’s flag carrier. From the UK, you can also get a ferry from Liverpool or Holyhead over to Ireland if you’d prefer.

Travelling to and from the airport

 As usual, taxi is the most straightforward but priciest way to get to and from the airport. Taking the Airlink Express bus is cheap and pretty simple; there are bus stops all around the city. It costs around 6 euros for a single ticket. Book your ticket ahead of time here.

Currency

Euro is the currency of Ireland, great if you are travelling from somewhere else in Europe. Not such good news for those coming from the UK given the current exchange rate, especially as Dublin is on the expensive side. Still, Euros are readily available from all currency exchanges in the UK, I’d recommend buying before you fly to get the best rate. Avoid exchanging money at the airport. If this is your only option, I’d advise you to order this for collection, you’ll get a much better rate than if you walk up on the day.

 Travel

Dublin is quite compact and so is a very walkable city. I always think that exploring by foot is the best way to see a city anyway, so don’t forget to pack your walking shoes!

The only thing I would say is that you need to be careful with the traffic. It gets really busy in the city centre, and pedestrian crossings are not on the side of pedestrians, frustratingly. You can be waiting a fair while to cross the road. Many locals don’t wait for a green light, as I often don’t back at home in the UK. I wouldn’t recommend doing so, I had two near misses in Dublin where cars flew fast around corners almost in to me!

If you’re not up for walking, Dublin has an extensive train, tram and bus system you can use. Ubers are really expensive, so avoid using these. There’s also the usual hop on, hop off sightseeing bus if that’s your jam.

 

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Accommodation

Like with most capital cities in western Europe, accommodation is expensive, particularly at weekends. I stayed at the Generator Hostel, which I was so disappointed with. Definitely wouldn’t recommend. Unless you’re in Dublin to party and meet new people, I’d recommend staying in a hotel or B&B, rather than a hostel.

Although I can’t recommend specific accommodation (sorry), I will say to look on booking.com, which is by far my favourite site for hotels. You can even collect Avios points to convert to flights and free stays when you use the site.

 Safety

From what I’ve read and heard, Dublin is quite a safe city. I felt safe when I was there, even walking alone at night; although this wasn’t very late and I did stick to well-lit, busy areas. Use the usual amount of caution and your visit should be trouble-free.

 What to see and do

Free walking tour

 A free walking tour is a great place to start in an city, and Dublin is no exception. I joined the Yellow Umbrella Tours Southside Tour. It was great; quite long and the tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. The meeting point is easy to find, just head to the giant needle on O’ Connell Street (you’ll know when you see it). If you’re still struggling to find it, the tour guides will be holding yellow umbrellas which are easy to spot.

Whilst the tour is free, I’d recommend that you tip if you’re happy with it. Most of the 24 people on my tour gave a tip, and rightly so. It’s up to you how much to give; I gave 5 euros as that’s all I had to hand.

 

 Trinity College and The Book of Kells

One of the most famous landmarks in Dublin, Trinity College is a must-see. The grounds and architecture are stunning and it’s free to walk around. I didn’t personally visit the Book of Kells as I was pushed for time but the Old Library (included in our admission ticket) looks stunning on the photos I’ve seen.

 

 

Dublin Castle

Word of warning, there isn’t actually much of the original castle left. Still, it’s free to look around outside and I’d definitely add it to your list if you have time. It was included as a stop on the free walking tour that I joined. Adult admission costs 10 euros if you do want to go inside.

 

 

Temple Bar

Not just the famous red coloured pub you’ll see in all the tourist photos, Temple Bar is a whole area on the southside of the river. It’s full of restaurants, pubs and bars; and is buzzing during the afternoon and through to the evening. Definitely the place to go if you’re looking for drinks and a good time.

 

Classic tourist shot of The Temple Bar

 

Ha’Penny Bridge

Dublin’s most famous bridge, the Ha’Penny is a striking white structure, not far from Temple Bar. It gets it name from the half penny toll charge that those wanting to cross the Liffey via the bridge had to pay. You’ll be glad to know that there is no longer a charge and you’re free to walk over the bridge as many times as you like! If you’re looking for some Instagram material, head there around sunset to get some great shots.

 

 

Merrion Square

A Georgian square on the southside of the city, Merrion Square is well worth a wander over. If not for the beautiful greenery, then for the colourful doors that adorn the houses around the square! Instagrammer heaven.

 

 

 

National Art Gallery of Ireland

Some of you may have already read about how I found an appreciation for art in Stockholm. I was keen to discover some art in Dublin and headed to the National Art Gallery, where admission is free.

Head there if you’re an art fan or even just as a break from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.

 

 

Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Whiskey Distillery

I didn’t visit either of these but you can’t exclude them from a Dublin what to see and do list! Two of the most popular attractions, head there to learn about the history of each drink and even to pour your own Guinness.

 

Shopping

The main shopping area in Dublin is on and around O’Connell street, on the northside of the river. There are a couple of shopping centres and all the usual European high street shops.

 

Food

Here are some of the food places that I ate at and loved:

 

Brunch

Urbanity Coffee

I stumbled upon Urbanity Coffee by accident as it was close by my hostel but boy am I glad I did. My brunch there was the top pick whilst I was in Dublin and I’d go as far as saying it was the best brunch dish I’ve ever eaten. The staff were also super friendly and the cafe itself it really cool inside.

Grab a delicious coffee, a tasty brunch dish and sit and watch the world go by from the window.

Flat whites are life <3

 

Brunch heaven

 

Lunch

Boojum

Looking for something tasty, filling and affordable? Look no further than Boojum, a fast-food style Mexican chain serving delicous burritos, tacos and salads. The portion sizes are huge and the food is bloody good. Head there and you’ll see why it’s so popular.

 

Dinner

The Ramen Bar

This was my first food stop in Dublin. Yes I know Ramen is hardly traditional Irish food but to be honest, I’ve eaten plenty of fish & chips etc. back at home, so just researched where I can find some of the best Asian food.

A relatively new addition inside the established restaurant, Kokoro Bento, The Ramen Bar did not disappoint. I had Tonkotsu Butter Miso and it was possibly the best Ramen I’ve had outside of Japan. Service was efficient, and they have bench style seating which is perfect for solo diners. Check out their delicious menu here.

 

Yummy Ramen

 

Coffee/snacks

Frank and Honest

I have to say that in the UK, we definitely don’t associate convenience stores with trendy cafes and tasty coffee. But Dublin does this so well. Head to Frank and Honest, which are part of Musgrave Retail convenience stores, for a cheap and delicious start to your day.

 

Inside Frank & Honest

 

Cappuccino & pastry to start the day

 

Wolf & Spoon

Another hidden gem that I accidentally ended up in, Wolf & Spoon is a gorgeous little cafe serving great coffee. They also serve light lunches and snacks but I unfortunately didn’t get to eat there. This place is away from the main city area, situated sort of between Dublin Castle and St Stephen’s Green.

 

Outside uber cool Wolf & Spoon

 

Off Beat Donut Co

It’s actually pretty odd in my opinion but Dublin has SO MANY donut shops. Since when is Ireland known for its donuts? Still, not complaining. Rolling Donut seems to be the most popular chain but I tried Off Beat Donut Co and wasn’t disappointed with my yummy Kinder Bueno donut. Great for a quick snack or pick me up whilst you’re exploring the city.

 When in Dublin…

 

Solo travel

As I said, I travelled solo around Dublin. Whilst I enjoyed myself and felt very safe, I don’t feel that its the perfect city for solo travellers, if there’s even such a thing.

The city seemed to me to very much be about having a great time with friends over food and drinks. Given that I was alone, I felt a little like an outsider in the city. I would visit again but definitely not as a solo traveller.

 

Have you been to Dublin? What did you think of the city if so? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Why I’ve decided to take Spanish lessons this year

Hola! I’ve wanted to learn a second language for as long as I can remember. This has always been something in the back of mind, something that I looked in to but never actually got around to acting on.

There’s something about a new year coming around that makes people want to better themselves, to improve upon the person they were in the previous year. I’m one of those people. Yes I know, many people are pretty cynical about new year’s resolutions and say that you can make changes at any point in the year. That’s completely true but I find it easy to find motivation when it comes to a new year drawing in. And for this year, I’ve decided to finally take up Spanish classes. I wanted to share with you some of my reasons and maybe even inspire you to do something you’ve been putting off for a long time in 2018!

 

To gain a new skill

Simple first reason. It goes without saying that I’m learning Spanish to gain a new skill. And not just as something to add to my CV, one that I will actually put to use and see some value from.

 

To challenge myself

Don’t get me wrong, my day job is challenging and I’m constantly learning new things. But I’m one of those annoyingly curious people that always wants to know more and be challenged further. Plus, I’m terrible at picking up languages, so learning to speak Spanish really will challenge me.

I did GCSE French at school and was pretty awful, it was definitely one of my weakest subjects. So yes, I’ll probably be rubbish and it will take years to pick Spanish up, but at least I’m challenging myself to do something that’s not going to be a walk in the park.

 

To get out of my comfort zone

I don’t really like speaking in English to more than a few people, let alone trying and failing to pronounce Spanish words in front of a group. Public speaking is not really my thing and the part I find most difficult when learning a language is the pronunciation of words. Add those two things together and you can see that these lessons are definitely going to push me out of my comfort zone. That’s not a bad thing- I think everybody needs to take trip there now and again.

 

 

img_5800The Spanish town (pueblo) of Mijas

 

To avoid being the stereotypical Brit abroad

Brits have quite a reputation when abroad and I think a big part of this (aside from the drinking and ridiculous sunburn) is that we often go to places expecting everybody to be able to speak English and often knowing no more than “hello” and “thank you” in the local language.

I don’t want to be one of those people anymore. Yes, learning to speak Spanish is not going to come in useful in a lot of countries I’ll visit. Obviously. But I think it will give me the confidence to try out a few phrases from my trusty Lonely Planet books, rather than me panicking that I won’t say a word properly and not attempting at all, which is what usually happens now. I want to make an effort to speak to locals in their own language and to get under the skin of a place, which brings me nicely on my next point.

 

To learn about a new culture

I’ve been to Spain quite a lot of times and do know a fair amount about the country’s culture, but on a very superficial basis. These lessons should help me to understand another culture, which is so important for me when I’m travelling. I really like to feel like I’ve got under the skin of a place and understood its culture, history and people.

Spain is definitely a country where I haven’t been able to do that, probably due to the fact that I’ve mainly travelled there when visiting family, which can provide somewhat of an unintentional buffer between you and a place. When you’re visiting somebody abroad, I find you often follow them rather than getting to know the place. After all, it’s like having a free tour guide!

I visited Cuba last year and whilst I felt that I gained a good understanding of the culture, much of this was from books, information from tour guides and generally observing my surroundings. I wish I had been able to speak Spanish so that I could have conversed more with the local people and really got to know more about the country and its people by actually talking to them properly.

 

img_9413A Cuban local

 

To travel more and to different places

The last point, and one of the only blog-related reasons, is that by learning Spanish, I feel like this will push me to travel more. To new parts of Spain, certainly, but also to Central and South America. I have to be honest, whilst places such as Mexico and Peru are high up on my travel bucket list, I would choose a destination in Asia over the Americas all day every at the moment.

Even though that’s the case, I know it’s a pretty closed attitude for me to have, as I’ve never visited South America to know whether I’ll like it more than Asia. Because I adore Asia so much, I’m just assuming that it won’t come close, when in actual fact I might like it even more!

I don’t really need another excuse to travel (I’ve got a pretty long list already) but I’ll take it. After all, wouldn’t it be a crying shame if I didn’t put my new found skill to use in the exact place intended! I’d like to travel to Central or South America in the next couple of years and maybe even attend a Spanish school for a week or two to really immerse myself in to the language.

 

IMG_1374Revolution Square, Havana

So, there you have it, my reasons for signing up to learn another language. None of them are particularly ground-breaking but hopefully there are ones that you can associate with. My advice would be to make this the year that you embrace every opportunity and do something you’ve wanted to for a while; be that learning a language, taking that trip or even just buying that handbag/top/dress that you’ve been eyeing up!
I’m only a mere three lessons in and I already feel like I’ve achieved something in 2018. Here’s to making this year our best one yet!
Adios por ahora!

Can you speak more than one language? If, would you like to? Or do you have a completely different goal in mind for 2018?