The Best Places to Visit in Northern Norway


The mountains of Senja island in northern Norway

Are you planning a trip to Scandinavia? If so, you probably already have a bucket list. But here’s my take on some of the best places to visit in northern Norway that may be new to you.

There’s a lot to pack into a trip to Norway. From the fjords to the big cities, the country offers so many attractions. Yet when people ask me for my advice, I often point them northwards. Northern Norway is stunning, perhaps the most picturesque region after the fjords.

Introducing northern Norway

It never looks like it on a map, but the north of Norway is vast. Distances are long and that could be why traditional cultures have remained in place for so long. That means it’s impossible to see everything in this article on just one trip, without dedicating weeks to the task.

The region is also incredibly varied. The mountains of Lofoten offer some of the most incredible scenery on the planet. But the area east of Tromsø is largely open and barren. It’s wild and wonderful in a completely different way.

If you’re looking for an easy way to see some of the region’s best sights, consider a Hurtigruten coastal voyage. You’ll miss some inland attractions, but you’ll get a fantastic view of Lofoten, Tromsø and some other highlights. If you visit in the winter, it’s a great way to catch the northern lights too.

Despite their location at the north of Norway, many places including Lofoten and Tromsø are not as cold as you might expect, thanks to the warming waters of the Gulf Stream. However, there are significant climate variations between the coastal areas and the inland region. If you’re heading to Kautokeino and Karasjok, wrap up warm!

Read more: This German Photographer Captures Northern Norway’s Raw Beauty

As for where you should go, it’s impossible to cover everything. I’m sure many people in the comments below will be moaning that I didn’t include X or Y! But this article isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. It’s simply my personal recommendations. Use it as a resource to inspire your own trip planning. Enjoy!

Senja island

Norway’s second largest island Senja rivals the Lofoten islands for spectacular scenery. But there’s one crucial difference: there’s way fewer visitors! To fully appreciate the peace and stunning sights, you should plan to spend at least a day, preferably two, and be prepared to hike.

A good place to start is by driving the national scenic route. The narrow road twists and turns along fjords giving you sight of steep, ragged mountains plunging deep into the water. The only trouble you’ll have is to decide where to stop for a walk!

Okshornan mountains on Senja island, Norway

If you bump into a local on your wanders, there’s plenty to ask them about. Storytelling has a long tradition on Senja. Ask about Senjatrollet–the troll seen both on land and at sea—and how the Ausa mountain acquired a face and eyes.

If you have time on your travels, call in to Husøy island in the Øyfjord. This windswept isle is home to a few hundred hardy souls, some of whom live in houses stayed with wires to withstand the fierce winds. Husøy island is connected to Senja by a breakwater.

Nyksund, Vesterålen

Many Norwegian fishing villages have been through turbulent cycles of activity, but few more stories are starker than Nyksund’s. Once a thriving home to hundreds of cod fishermen, Nyksund was abandoned in the 1970s as the industry struggled.

Read more: Photos From Northern Norway’s Remote Vesterålen Islands

The village was saved by an enterprising German. Soon enough the village had life again, with accommodation, cafés, and galleries and even a population of locals, albeit only in the summer. It takes a long time to drive there, but it’s well worth it. Even at the height of summer, Nyksund still feels like the end of the world.

One of the well-known names to enjoy the area is none other than Queen Sonja. She’s even lent her name to the hiking trail over the mountain to the neighbouring village of Stø.

The ghost village of Nyksund in Vesterålen, Norway
Nyksund

The Dronningruta trail (which means Queen’s Route in Norwegian) is actually two routes that run between Nyksund and Stø, forming a circle; both routes are well marked. A straightforward 5km walk tours the sandy beaches of the coastline, while experienced hikers can tackle the tougher 14.5km route over the mountain.

The Trollfjord

Svolvær is the launch point for tours to the Trollfjord, one of Norway’s lesser known yet most dramatic fjords. While you could spend days exploring the Sognefjord alone, the Trollfjord is just 2km long and extremely narrow. You enter the fjord at its narrowest point, just 100 metres wide. Surrounded by towering mountains, this is no trip for claustrophobics.

The fjord received national notoriety in 1890 when it was the site of a standoff between the industrial steam ships and traditional open-boat fishermen about access and fishing rights to the fjord. It’s a scene that was captured in a famous painting on display in the art museum of Svolvær.

Snow-covered mountains at the Trollfjord

Today the area is known just as much for its local population of sea eagles as for the plentiful stocks of fish. Captains often use fish to lure the breathtaking birds close to the ship for a close-up view. Unlike some of the other Norwegian fjords, there is no road access.

The World War II bunker in Kirkenes

Kirkenes is notable for its Russian influence, which extends to the bilingual street signs and many shop advertisements. But it’s also known for being one of the most heavily bombed cities during the Second World War. In the town square, a War Mothers Monument commemorates the effort of the town’s women during the conflict.

Read more: Arctic Norway Travel Guide

The intimate andersgrotta bomb shelter is built into the bedrock under the town. It gives visitors a feel for what it must have been like during the hundreds of occasions local residents had to take refuge.

Access to the shelter is by pre-arrangement only, so that a short film and local guides can add context to your surroundings. Tours run daily for groups in the summer season, but individual places can be booked in advance with the Kirkenes snow hotel.

Tromsø’s Mount Fløya

To fully appreciate the spectacular Arctic setting of Tromsø, take the city’s cable car. This recently upgraded facility whisks visitors up Storsteinen mountain, 421 meters above sea level.

Blue light of Tromsø in the Norwegian winter
The view of Tromsø from Mount Fløya during the winter ‘blue hour’

In the winter, it’s a popular place for hunting the northern lights. In the summer, many visitors make the trip just before midnight to enjoy the experience of the midnight sun. Wrap up warm, because it gets chilly up here pretty much anytime of the year!

For the fitter, the Sherpa staircase (sherpatrappa) is a great alternative to the cable car. The set of 922 stone steps were built by Nepalese mountain road workers to reduce erosion on the existing path.

The witch monument in Vardø

Along with climate change, Vardø is known for the witch trials in the winter of 1662–1663, although people had been accused and killed for many years before that. About 150 people were executed for sorcery in the region over a period of 40 years, including many Sami men.

In 2011, a memorial was built on Vardø beside one of the country’s national scenic routes. The striking Steilneset memorial commemorates those killed along with other cases of genocide. The burning chair and memorial hall were designed by artist Louise Bourgeois and the architect Peter Zumthor.

Sami culture in Kautokeino & Karasjok

The Sami people are a very visible characteristic of Finnmark county in northern Norway. The indigenous people are spread over the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.

Kautokeino Church, Norway

Many visitors are spellbound by the vivid costumes, outdoor lifestyle, and folk songs known as joik, compared by some to the traditional chanting of some Native American cultures.

Although visible across northern Norway, the Sami culture really comes to the forefront in Kautokeino. About four in five people speak Sami as their primary language of everyday life in this small town. One in three Kautokeino residents work in the reindeer business, which has sustained the Sami people for years and continues to do so today.

About 80 miles away, the equally small town Karasjok is home to the striking Sami Parliament. Set amid the pine forests of Karasjok, the Parliament building is clad in Siberian larch to blend in with its surroundings. Opened in 1989, the Parliament acts as an institution of cultural autonomy for the Sami people. 39 representatives are elected every four years.

The responsibilities of the Parliament include the management of the national government’s Sami Development Fund, the development of the Sami language, protection of cultural heritage sites, and development of Sami teaching aids.

The Norwegian Sami Parliament in Karasjok, Finnmark
The Norwegian Sami Parliament in Karasjok, Finnmark

A total of 14,000 people in Norway are registered in the Sami electoral register. To be eligible for inclusion, you must have at least one great-grandparent who speaks or spoke Sami. Curiously, you must also attest to “feeling” Sami.

Visit mainland Norway’s northernmost point

I say the northernmost point rather than the North Cape (Nordkapp), because, well, it’s complicated! Choose for yourself which place you consider to be Norway’s northernmost point. As most people do head to the Cape, let’s start there!

This iconic destination attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The reason is simple to understand if you arrive on a clear day. The view from the plateau really does make it feel like you are standing on the edge of the world. Yet the rest of Magerøya island also offers stunning views and an isolation that you won’t find at Nordkapp.

Given its location at over 71 degrees north, weather can be highly unpredictable, and thick fog can often obscure the otherwise beautiful view across open ocean and make driving the E69 highway difficult and dangerous. For these reasons, planning ahead is essential on any visit to the cape.

North Cape globe sculpture
The famous globe sculpture at Nordkapp

A modern visitor centre is home to a panoramic movie of the variable weather conditions and birdlife year-round. There’s also a gallery, a small chapel, and most importantly in this part of the world, clean public restrooms! The center also contains what has to be one of Norway’s largest gift shops.

Å: the end of the road in Lofoten

The enjoyable road trip in Lofoten along the E10 ends abruptly in a car park in the ancient fishing village of Å. Today, Å functions as a living museum.

Founded by the Moskenes History and Museum Society, the main function of the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum has been to preserve the fishing village rather than to build anything new. The old boathouse has been converted to hold most of the museum’s exhibitions, but the whole village is an exhibition.

Don’t miss the 19th-century stone oven bakery that still produces the bread and aromatic cinnamon buns sold in the village café. Other buildings worth a look include the former cod liver oil factory, the forge, and the boathouse. Each one contains exhibitions detailing what life was like in each particular building.

Cottages and boats at Å in Lofoten
Fishing cottages in Å

The original 19th-century grocery shop still functions as a shop today, selling local food, literature, and groceries to the small number of local residents and holidaymakers. You can even stay here. Considering the small size of Å, there’s a lot of places to stay.

This makes the village a popular choice with travellers. That’s especially true for those starting or ending their trip with the nearby ferry to the mainland from Moskenes.

The whirlpools of Bodø

Unlike the northern lights, the Saltstraumen maelstrom is a natural phenomenon that runs to a timetable! That’s due to the predictable movement of the moon in relation to earth. Approximately every six hours, up to 400 million cubic meters of seawater is forced though a 150-metre-wide strait.

As gravity pushes water through the narrow strait, water speeds reach up to 40kph, forming whirlpools. When the current is at its strongest, the difference in water levels between the two sides of the strait can be up to a metre, easily visible with the naked eye.

While not as powerful to watch as a waterfall or white-water rapids, Saltstraumen is nevertheless a fascinating demonstration of the power of nature. The impressive backdrop of the Børvasstindene mountain range adds to that feeling.

The Saltstraumen maelstrom at its height
The Saltstraumen maelstrom at its strongest.

Once you’re done, Bodø itself is worth a few hours of your time. The city is preparing itself for its year in the spotlight as European Capital of Culture in 2024, so expect a lot of changes in the months and years to come.

Birdwatching on Røst

Last but absolutely not least, the islands of Røst. Despite all the remote places on this list, Røst has to be the most remote of them all.

This tiny group of islands is located more than 100km from the mainland and around 40km from Å in Lofoten. Despite its remoteness, driving here is possible thanks to the daily ferry service from Moskenes and Bodø.

The sole reason the community of 500 people exists here is the traditional production and export of stockfish. A sports hall, restaurant and festival carry the name Querini, a 15th-century sailor from Venice whose shipwreck on Røst lay the foundation for the industry that still exists almost 600 years later.

The ruins of a 19th-century stone church stand on the northern coastline, while the current one can seat more than half the islands’ population.

Elsewhere in Northern Norway

Chances are, I haven’t mentioned your favourite place! That’s because the region is vast and there’s so much to see. With that in mind, I hope this article gives you some ideas for planning your next trip north of the Arctic circle. Some other ideas for you include:

Narvik: Another important location during World War II. Several naval battles were fought over control of the ice-free harbour. Another important aspect to Narvik, both then and now, is the rail link to Kiruna in Sweden.

Sortland, Vesterålen: Not a place I’d recommend for a long stay, but it’s worth a stop if you’re passing through on the way to Nyksund. Check out the town’s blue buildings and the curious story behind them.

Svalbard: I didn’t include the Arctic archipelago in this article because it’s so far away! But if you have the time and the money (it’s an expensive place to visit, even by Norwegian standards), Svalbard is an incredible experience. The main settlement Longyearbyen can be reached via picturesque flights from Oslo and Tromsø.

Snow hotels: Another expensive but memorable option is to spend the night in one of the region’s snow hotels in Alta or Kirkenes. They are not as cold as you might think!

What’s your favourite place to visit in northern Norway – and why? Let us know in the comments below! If you’ve enjoyed this article, why not share it on Pinterest so that others can find it and enjoy it too? We’ve got the ideal pin for you:

A coastal scene from the north of Norway

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Why you should follow the travel blogger Francesco Mancini on Instagram


Why you should follow the travel blogger Francesco Mancini on Instagram

The Travel blogger and the Entrepreneur behind Lux Travel Official has an Instagram feed that is pure goals. Francesco Mancini is a tall, dark-haired, handsome hunk who regularly posts jaw-dropping photos from his travels around the world on his official Instagram page @Francescomancinistyle. In the past 12 months alone, he has traveled to Bali, Dubai, Thailand, Greece, Germany, Italy, Maldives, Portugal and more. Since creating his Instagram page in 2013 he has now accumulated an impressive 70,000+ followers. This figure certainly looks like it is going to continue to grow and grow as he continues to post some of the most captivating images from his travels around the world. To this day he has posted over 784 photos- that’s a lot of Francesco Mancini shots!

Francesco is a Bari (Italy) born, Bali living content creator and entrepreneur. He is 26 years old and originates from Italian descent. He started his Instagram page for fun in 2013 after he moved to London, the United Kingdom from Italy. Since starting his page, he has transformed his hobby into several businesses. These businesses include his latest venture Lux Travel Official which is an affordable but luxurious travel agency that travels to some of the world’s most luxurious destinations including Dubai and Bali. Even more, if you book one of these vacations, you might just get the opportunity to meet Francesco himself!

It is believed Francesco is now living in Bali, as the majority of his Instagram posts seem to originate from the country. His last 6 Instagram posts show him as having traveled all over Bali and to Berlin, Germany. If you are an Instagram user who wants travel inspiration, hotel recommendations or just want to watch this handsome guy travel to some of the world’s most beautiful destinations, then you should definitely be following Francesco on Instagram @Francescomancinistyle

Visit: LUX TRAVEL OFFICIAL





San Vicente Palawan Travel Guide: DIY Itinerary, How and When to Go, Hotels, Things to do and see + more


The Ultimate Travel Guide to San Vicente Palawan

Out of the numerous local trips I’ve had, I found San Vicente in Palawan as one of the most promising destinations to date. It’s known for its long white beaches and picturesque surroundings – but more than that, one can feel the tranquility because unlike its nearby municipalities, San Vicente has maintained its number of tourists to preserve and protect their sanctuary.

San Vicente Palawan Travel Guide photo by by Jimanggro via Wikipedia CC
San Vicente Palawan Travel Guide photo by Jimanggro via Wikipedia CC

San Vicente is the first-class municipality of Palawan and has two barangays that offer various activities for tourists – Port Barton and Poblacion.

To walk you through this great destination, here’s a travel guide on where to go, where to stay, and what to do and see in San Vicente, Palawan.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Malagnang Mud Festival photo via Malagnang Festival FB
Malagnang Mud Festival photo via Malagnang Festival FB

You’ll notice a lot of European tourists visiting San Vicente – most especially Port Barton from December to Mid-May, where they escape during the winter season in their respective countries. However, if you’re into cultural festivities, you might as well visit in June for their Malagnang Festival which usually happens around June 19-21.

HOW TO GET THERE

From the long 7 long hours of land travel from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa, travelers can now book direct flights from Manila to San Vicente, Palawan via Skyjet with 50-minute travel time.

San Vicente Airport in Palawan
San Vicente Airport in Palawan

However, if you prefer the latter, you can book a flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Once you arrived at the Puerto Princesa International Airport, take a van going to San Vicente, which will take about 5 hours.

HOW TO GET AROUND

The local government of San Vicente has also thought of sustainable ways to introduce more transportation options for guests and tourists. One of these would be their electronic bikes (E-bikes) which can be used on land tours, and also a ride from the San Vicente Airport going to your resort or hotel in Poblacion or Long Beach.

San Vicente Palawan Electronic Bikes
San Vicente Palawan Electronic Bikes

You can also rent a habal-habal which are suitable for longer distances and rough roads. However, if you’re into DIY travel, you can rent your motorcycles as well.

WHAT TO DO

With lots of things to do in San Vicente, you’re sure to enjoy an escapade like no other – whether you’re alone or with a group.

Beach-hopping in San Vicente

Inaladelan Island Resort in San Vicente Palawan
Inaladelan Island Resort in San Vicente Palawan

Some of the beaches in San Vicente worthy of a visit include the Long Beach, Inaladelan, Capsalay Island, Ombo Beach, and more. To see the complete list of beaches, click here. To explore some of the beaches, one of the best options would be renting a motorbike with a driver, good for 2 persons.

Also read: 19 Must-Visit Beautiful Islands And Beaches In San Vicente, Palawan

Catch the Sunset at Bato ni Ningning

Bato ni Ningning photo by Stevien Camposano via Facebook
Bato ni Ningning photo by Stevien Camposano via Facebook

Watch the sun as it sets at one of the best viewing decks in the municipality. It is perched on top of a hill in Brgy. Alimanguan, the northernmost barangay of San Vicente, and is also the best place to have a fantastic view of the Irawan beach and of course, be able to get that Instagram-worthy shot. Take note that there is a 20 pesos entrance fee.

Discovering the Many Treasures of Port Barton

Port Barton Beach
Port Barton Beach

Another gem worth checking out is Port Barton, where most tourists frequent to get a glimpse of the breathtaking island. Aside from the sunset and rich wildlife, some of the places to visit in Port Barton include the Turtle Sanctuary at Secret Paradise Resort, named as the only official turtle sanctuary endorsed by the Philippine Government (DENR) and the WWF- Philippines.

Other activities include trekking to Pamuayan Falls and beach bumming at Inaladelan Island.

Go underwater at NaoNao Beach

Be mesmerized with the beach’s azure waters and white sand. This beach in Port Barton is also famous for its 70-hectare coral reef that you can explore if you’re into diving and snorkeling. Once you’ve It’s also the perfect way to chill at its tropical cottages and indulge on some fresh seafood – definitely a tropical getaway.

Stay for lunch at Starfish Island

Sandbar or Starfish Island photo by Aivan Abao
Sandbar or Starfish Island photo by Aivan Abao

This island is surrounded by lots of starfish and is a popular hot spot for lunch. It is included in one of the island tours, and light swimming is the perfect activity to do in its shallow waters.

WHERE TO STAY

Club Agutaya

Club Agutaya in San Vicente Palawan
Club Agutaya in San Vicente Palawan

Location: Long Beach, Barangay San Isidro, Palawan, San Vicente, 5309

Check Rates and Availability

The resort is in its perfect state and it has a perfect location if you just want to stay at the beachfront. Everything the resort has is unforgettable, especially its friendly staff and its lovely in-house cats and dogs (seriously). I can’t wait to go back to this piece of paradise! Read our Club Agutaya Resort Review.

Villa Encantador Resort

Villa Encantador Resort in San Vicente Palawan
Villa Encantador Resort in San Vicente Palawan

Address: Long Beach Road, San Vicente, Palawan, 5309 Palawan

This is an ideal accommodation if part of the itinerary is beach bumming at the long beach and having some time for yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They feature modern Unit/Villa and includes free use of the following: free kayaking, free videoke singing, and more. The room is equipped with corner tables, With Heater in each bathroom, comfy beds, and a TV. Lastly, the resort can also arrange short trips and activities like island hopping.

Turublien Long Beach Inn and Bar

Turublien Long Beach Inn and Beach Bar
Turublien Long Beach Inn and Beach Bar

Address: Poblacion San Vicente, San Vicente, Palawan

Check Rates and Availability

If you’re on a budget, then this beach inn might be the perfect place for you. It’s perfect for backpackers, as they have a bar, free private parking, a garden and barbecue facilities. They also feature family rooms with a private bathroom with a shower. The resort also provides a 24-hour front desk, airport transportation, a shared kitchen, and free WiFi.

La Acuario Beach Inn

La Acuario Beach Inn Native Cottages
La Acuario Beach Inn Native Cottages

Address: Sitio Panindigan, Poblacion IV-B MIMAROPA PH, San Vicente, 5309 Palawan

Check Rates and Availability

Although a budget-friendly accommodation, this place is one of the most recommended in San Vicente. They’re praised with their impressive food menu, cleanliness, room amenities, and friendly staff. Rooms are completed with free towels, toiletries, and clean beds. With only PHP1,000, you’d get to book a standard room and enjoy the sea view from there.

Also see: List Of Hotels And Resorts In San Vicente, Palawan

WHERE TO EAT

No San Vicente getaway is complete without indulging on various cuisine – most especially seafood dishes at the following restaurants.

Ayette’s Bamboo House Restaurant

Steamed Prawns at Ayette’s Bamboo House Restaurant
Steamed Prawns at Ayette’s Bamboo House Restaurant

Address: Corner Rizal Ballesteros Street, San Vicente, Port Barton, Palawan, Philippines

Located just a few steps away from Itaytay beach lies Ayette’s Bamboo House Restaurant – offering a wide range of menu and drool-worthy dishes such as the range of continental breakfast, prawns with garlic, curries, and fresh seafood of course. Fruit shakes are also available. Impressively, this place also features a garden and accommodation perfect for families and huge groups.

Mabuti Eat & Chill

creamy mushroom pasta photo via Mabuti Eat & Chill FB
creamy mushroom pasta photo via Mabuti Eat & Chill FB

Address: Rizal Street Port Barton, Palawan, Philippines

A healthy conscious restaurant in Port Barton? Yes, please! If you want to have your coffee and ice cream fixed with a view of the ocean, then this place is the place to be. They offer vegetarian and vegan breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and they do not use any artificial colorings to create their bread and cakes. To top it all off, they also serve the best coffees and fruit shakes. Some of their recommended food on the menu includes the mozzarella toast, veggie burger, and a mango salad.

Mojitos RestoBar

Mojito Flight at Mojitos Restobar
Mojito Flight at Mojitos Restobar

Address: Purok Maunlaud | San Vicente road, Port Barton, San Vicente

Cap off your island hopping with some amazing concoctions and refreshments at Mojitos RestoBar. It has a very cozy and relaxing atmosphere which makes this a perfect place to chill and try some of their impressive refreshments. Try their sharing platters! Definitely worth the hype!

Oasis Port Barton

Address: Roxas Street | Purok Masigla, Port Barton, San Vicente, Palawan Island, Philippines

Great and quality seafood dishes are here at Oasis Port Barton. It’s one of the most talked-about restaurants in Port Barton because of its impressive dishes, service, and clean surroundings. Must-tries include bulalo, garlic shrimp, and tapsilog.

Reef Café

Breakfast bagels at Reef Cafe Port Barton
Breakfast bagels at Reef Cafe Port Barton

Address: Bonifacio Street | Corner Burgos Street, Port Barton, San Vicente

It’s burger frenzy here at Reef Café which is popular for having the best burger in town. Try out the onion rings and fish tacos! People also keep coming back for more western food such as margarita pizza, veggie quesadilla, and chicken kebab skewers to name a few.

San Vicente is Palawan is an unmissable destination in the Philippines – fact. Its tranquil beaches are proof that our country is a gem worthy of a visit whether you’re a local or a tourist. Needless to say, this destination will ensure that everyone has nothing but a good time with a trove of memories to last them well into a lifetime.

With more options on how to go this paradise, you’re surely off to a great tropical adventure.

Palawan Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best San Vicente Palawan hotels, resorts, and affordable flights? Check out our complete list of affordable hotels and resorts via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new tourist attractions in San Vicente, Palawan? Please follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, and TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

*Help us improve this San Vicente Palawan Travel Guide by sending suggestions on new places to visit, foodie spots or any helpful travel tips. Happy Travels!

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What To Do In Windsor For The Long Weekend | windsoriteDOTca News


As the second-largest province in Canada, Ontario has plenty of adventure to offer. In its southernmost corner, you’ll find Windsor and Essex County. Sharing the Detroit River with our neighbours to the south, you’ll find beautiful views, amazing eats and plenty of adventure. While many flock to my home area of Niagara for an Ontario getaway, I was excited to be invited by Tourism Windsor Essex to explore their neck of the woods! Whether you’re coming from the other side of the province or an American looking for a change in scenery, you’ll love these fun things to do in Windsor Ontario and Essex County!

Head as far south as you can in Ontario’s Southwest and you’ll find Essex County. Also referred to as Windsor Essex Pelee, this area encompasses just over 1600km2 and is comprised of seven municipalities as well as Pelee Island, Canada’s southernmost island.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF WINDSOR ESSEX PELEE ISLAND

For millennia, the Huron, Odawa, Potawatomi and Iroquois First Nations inhabited this area. In the mid-1700s, Colonial French settlers then moved in, displacing these First Nations to create Petite Côte or ‘Little Coast’. The Fur Trade exacerbated this as further development occurred along the shores of the Detroit River.

Jump ahead to the 1800s where Windsor was a battleground during the Upper Canada Rebellion. Windsor’s proximity to the border also made it a key location for refugee slaves to gain freedom along the Underground Railroad. Rum and whiskey were also smuggled from Canada into the United States during the prohibition era. Tunnels still run under the city linking Michigan and Ontario! More recently, the auto industry boomed in the area with tourism now blossoming into a driving force for Windsor’s economy.

As you can imagine I’m glossing over the abundant history of the area, yet it gives you into a glimpse of how the city you see now came to be. Get ready to dive into all this area has to offer!

WHAT TO DO IN WINDSOR ONTARIO

If you think there’s nothing to do in Windsor – think again! It’s just another Ontario city that many seem to have the ‘there is nothing to do’ mentality about. I can say first hand this is not the case as there are so many great things to do in Windsor Ontario!

CONNECT WITH NATURE AT THE OJIBWAY NATURE CENTRE

The Ojibway Prairie Complex protects five natural areas of significance in Windsor. It consists of Ojibway Park, Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park, Black Oak Heritage Park, Spring Garden Natural Area and the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve. It’s estimated that less than 0.5% of Ontario’s original prairies and savanna ecosystems remain in all of Southwestern Ontario which this collection of parks preserves. The Ojibway Prairie Complex is home to over 160 species that are at risk and in the past two years, 26 new species to Canada have been discovered here!

Head to the Ojibway Park Nature Centre and check out the exhibits there to learn more about the importance of this area. Here you’ll find a few local critters, including the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. Due to a serious decline in their habitat, these snakes are now endangered in the Essex County area. Outside the nature centre you’ll find a number of kept trails that explore the park’s 160 acres. A few of the trails are paved, making it accessible for families with small children, wheelchairs and more. Let the forest envelop you while admiring the importance of the natural wonders around you. It’s hard to believe this rugged natural area is just a 10 minute drive from the hustle and bustle of downtown!

EXPLORE WINDSOR’S WATERFRONT

Wave to our southern neighbours are you take a stroll along the Riverfront Trail. This beautiful boardwalk offers great views of Detroit and connects a number of beautiful parks that dot the shoreline. Starting at the base of the Ambassador Bridge, you have 5km of paved boardwalk to follow with a number of stops along the way. This is also one of the best places in town to catch the sunset!

Just east of the Ambassador Bridge you’ll find the Windsor Sculpture Park. It showcases over 30 large-scale works of art from world-renowned artists. From abstract shapes to models of adorable penguins, this gallery is 100% free all year round and welcoming you to explore it. Continuing on, you’ll make your way through Centennial Park and Steamboat Wharf to Dieppe Gardens. Dedicated to members of the Essex-Kent Scottish Regiment who lost their lives at the battle of Dieppe in World War II, it features a number of monuments to the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force. Lastly, there’s the Clifford and Joan Hatch Wildflower Garden that features a self-sustaining garden with native plants and local flowers.

HUNT FOR STREET ART IN DOWNTOWN WINDSOR

I was absolutely blown away by the amount of incredible street art you can find in Windsor. You’ll find a number of ‘galleries without walls‘ across the city bursting with brightly coloured masterpieces. Some are even multiple stories high!

Head down the alley between Ouellette and Pelissier Streets called Maiden Lane to find a treasure trove of artwork. Thanks to the Free 4 Walls public art project, artists from all over the world were brought in to bring this area to life. From abstract works to iconic childhood characters, treat your eyes to these beautiful bursts of colour.

These touches of art aren’t limited just to Windsor though! You’ll also find murals in LaSalle and the Town of Essex. You’ll find the work of local artists in LaSalle as they showcase their talents on these large-scale canvases. Over in the Town of Essex, you’ll learn about the history of the town and all of the stories they have to share.

INDULGE IN SOME ADULT BEVERAGES

There is no shortage of breweries and wineries in Windsor and Essex County. You might even end up on an impromptu beer crawl – and yes I’m speaking from experience! Grab your Barrels Bottles & Brews Flight Log and be prepared for some serious 19+ fun! Each stop is unique in its own way and has a special offer for those who have the flight log. Even if you’re not a big craft beer drinker, I recommend checking these locations out. You might just turn into a craft beer lover. True story!

Unsure of where to begin? I highly recommend GL Heritage Brewing Co. As soon as you step through the door, you’ll feel like part of the family. The land the brewery stands on has been in the family since 1850. While the brewery is the newest chapter of this history, it pays homage to the family’s legacy and entrepreneurial spirit. I had the pleasure of tagging along on one of their group tours and it was seriously one of the most memorable tours I’ve ever been on. Terry was our guide and he truly is quite the presenter! He shared with us the history of GL Heritage Brewing Co along with some personal stories and fun anecdotes. If he doesn’t bring it up himself, ask Terry why he doesn’t wear his shirt that says TGT anymore. Trust me when I say you’ll get a good giggle out of it!

GL Heritage Brewing Co’s beers are mellow and easy drinking. You won’t find any crazy flavour combinations or double IPA hops twice removed sort of brews. If you’re someone who finds the craft beer world to be a little intimidating, you’ll enjoy the casual refreshing beer they have to offer. Their latest beer is a cherry wheat ale which is incredibly delicious. If you’re a fan of wheat beer or cherries, this one’s for you! Though hands down, their most popular beer is the Apple Jack’d Ale. Available only from October to December, it has an almost cult-like following. They even have a huge release party each year! If you’re looking for a weekend to visit, you won’t want to miss this one. Check out their Facebook page to stay up to date on their events and offerings.

TOUR PECHE ISLAND

This is truly a hidden gem that even many of the locals don’t know about! For the second year now, head to Lakeview Park Marina where you’ll find a pontoon boat waiting to shuttle you to Peche Island.

The 86-acre island belonged to Hiram Walker (yes, the same Hiram Walker who created Canadian Club whiskey) who purchased it in 1883. What was once used as a summer getaway, has since been naturalized and reclaimed by Mother Nature. Take a stroll along the walking paths while enjoying the sounds of Lake Erie’s waves lapping the shore. You’ll also find what’s left of Walker’s summer home as trees and plants grow around it, creating an eerily beautiful sight.

If you’re looking to escape to nature, Peche Island is a perfect option. Space is limited to 6 people per shuttle so you’ll never find it overrun by people! Take a picnic lunch and soak up the sun from July to October. Washroom facilities are available on the island however there’s a strict pack in pack out policy. Anything you take with you have to bring back off the island – even the paper towel you use to dry your hands!

UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN WINDSOR ONTARIO & AREA

Are you looking to really make your trip memorable? Well, Windsor and Essex County have a number of claims to fame which you may not realize! You’ll want to add these stops to your Windsor itinerary!

BE THE SOUTHERNMOST PERSON ON MAINLAND CANADA

Head down to the southern tip of Ontario where you’ll find Point Pelee National Park. It may be one of the smallest national parks in Canada (second only to Georgian Bay Islands National Park by 1 kilometre squared!) but it has plenty to offer all year round!

While many national parks close down or have limited attractions available in the colder months, Point Pelee truly is a destination in all seasons. If you’re a bird watcher, you’ll want to catch the numerous flocks as they migrate in the spring. Summer its the perfect time to hit the trails and enjoy the plethora of beaches as you soak up the sun. Autumn comes with an extra wave of orange as you catch the Monarch butterflies migrating south. Lastly, you won’t want to miss this winter wonderland while wandering past beautiful ice formations. No matter what time of the year you visit, you can’t miss visiting The Tip. You can hike, bike or hop on the trolley down to the southernmost point of the entire country!

Plan to spend at least half a day exploring the numerous trails and attractions within the park. Inside the visitors’ centre, you can learn about the truly fascinating history of Point Pelee and how the park came to be. Whether you visit for a few hours or a whole day, you’ll find yourself visiting Point Pelee National Park again and again!

SEE WHERE HARRY POTTER MEETS STEAMPUNK AT AMHERSTBURG UNCOMMON

If I had you at Harry Potter or Steampunk then you’ll adore The Amherstburg Uncommon Festival, though it’s so much more than that! For three days, Downtown Amherstburg becomes car-free as witches, wizards, Vikings and more take over the town. Rooted in the vibrant history of Amherstburg itself, this is a festival where everything uncommon is celebrated. Innovators unite whether you’re celebrating the transformation of the industrial era, the magical realm of Harry Potter or the here and now of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The only limit is your imagination!

The schedule is packed with fun for all ages. You’ll meet unique characters, catch some seriously amazing buskers and have the chance to participate in a number of awesome workshops. I’ve heard that a hat is a must when it comes to Steampunk so why not sign up to create your own? Coming dressed up is just one way to take your experience to the next level. You might even win a prize for best costume, so get creative!

Each year, the organizers are adding more and more highlights and attractions for attendees to enjoy. New in 2019, The Fantastic Feast was a sold-out hit as you ate like a Queen or King with a dash of Steampunk and magical flair. This five-course meal featured not only delicious eats and treats but an interactive theatre performance and plenty of entertainment at the Artisan Grill. They also featured one of Canada’s last Circus Sideshows, Carnival Diablo. If this sounds familiar, you may have seen them featured on A&E, CBC, the Discovery Channel or National Geographic. You’ll be front and centre while experiencing acts like sword swallowing or their highlight ‘freak show’. Either way, ringmaster Nikolai Diablo will transport you far beyond the natural realm.

Winner of Festival and Events Ontario’s Best New Festival Award in 2019, you know you’re in for a real treat. The Amherstburg Uncommon Festival was my main reason for visiting Windsor Essex Pelee and it alone would have been worth the trip from Kitchener!

FOR MORE FUN IN WINDSOR…

There are only so many hours in a day and as I only had a weekend in Windsor, there is plenty I missed out on! If you’re looking for additional fun, here are some additional things to do in Windsor Canada.

GET YOUR ART ON

There is no shortage of art galleries in Windsor both indoor and outdoor! Whether you wander the waterfront and take in the public art or head to one of the 13 art galleries and workshops in the city, there’s plenty to see and experience.

TEST YOUR LUCK AT CAESARS WINDSOR

As one of Canada’s largest casinos, there’s plenty to see and do within Caesars alone. You’ve got the spa, a number of night clubs, plenty of shopping options, seven restaurants and shows announced all the time! If you’re looking for a girls getaway, to celebrate a birthday or just a weekend of fun, Caesars is a great option.

TOUR THE AREA’S WINERIES

Home to 17 wineries and 1000 acres of grapes, there is no shortage of vintages in Essex County and Pelee Island! Home to Canada’s first commercial estate winery, you’ll can’t go wrong with a day (or weekend!) of touring EPIC Wine Country. As of 2019, you can purchase the EPIC Tasting Pass which gives you complimentary tastings, premium samples, and more! The best part? The pass doesn’t expire so you can explore at your own pace.

RESTAURANTS IN WINDSOR & ESSEX COUNTY

While I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in the area, I can certainly say there are plenty of great restaurant options! During my time in Windsor and Essex County, there wasn’t a single meal I didn’t enjoy. Take a look at these great Windsor restaurant options to fuel your adventure!

LAKESIDE BAKERY DELI CAFe

When you’re heading to Point Pelee National Park, a visit to Lakeside Bakery Deli Café in Leamington is a must. Serving up fresh bread for 20 years now, they have grown into a cafe, deli and specialty grocery store all in one.

I settled in for a bite to eat in front of their huge windows, basking in the natural light. Though I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw just how massive the Philly Beef Ciabatta sandwich I ordered was! If you’re not a big eater, you can easily turn this into two meals… or you can eat it all at once. No judgement here! One thing you don’t want to skip out on is dessert, especially their apple strudel. With just a hint of sweetness from the glaze, the flakey pastry mixed with the fresh apples is a treat for your tastebuds.

Once you’ve indulged, take a moment to wander around the store before you depart. You’ll find more varieties of bread than I even knew existed. Each loaf is handmade fresh, as is European tradition. Don’t be surprised if you end up coming home with a loaf or two along with some pastries or and tortes. There’s a reason I said you should take a look after you eat and not before!

PARAMOUNT FINE FOODS

While I usually try to stay away from chain restaurants, I honestly had never heard of Paramount Foods before. It wasn’t until I did some digging after receiving my itinerary that I realized this, and thought I’d give it a shot anyway. It is a Canadian Franchise after all – and I’m sure glad I did!

Paramount Fine Foods supports local Ontario farmers and local produce by sourcing as many ingredients as they can from the province. You’ll enjoy the best of the best as their meats have no hormones or additives, and the animals live a healthy, low-stress life. It’ll be love at first bite whether you sink your teeth into their charcoal barbequed meat, delicious stone oven pitas or their fresh, healthy salads.

I’ve only had Middle Eastern food a handful of times so I had no clue what to order from their expansive menu. Luckily my server was patient and recommended the Mixed Grill which comes with skewers of BBQ beef, shish tawouk (BBQ chicken breast) and kafta (BBQ’d seasoned ground beef), hummus and garlic dipping sauce, along with their house rice and pita bread. Everything was so flavourful and juicy, I wish my stomach was bigger! Their garlic dipping sauce is seriously addicting and I put it on everything. What I really enjoyed was that while I was stuffed to the brim, the food doesn’t leave you feeling heavy. Oh, and don’t forget to take an order of their handmade baklawa to go!

THYME KITCHEN

If you’re a fan of variety while feeling as comfortable as if you’re in your own kitchen, this is the restaurant for you! Owned by Chef Julie Myers who grew up in the area, Thyme Kitchen offers unique dishes inspired by worldly travels. Whether you visit for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, you’ll have a number of dishes to try. The biggest focus is community and that sense of belonging which you’ll especially see on their dinner menu as its full of shareable dishes to bring people together.

Don’t have time to eat in? That’s okay, I didn’t either! They offer a number of ready-made meals under their Thyme To-Go brand. These are perfect for if you’re in a hurry but looking for something healthy or if you’re planning a picnic… say on Peche Island! Their roasted sweet potato and kale wrap makes for the perfect snack while enjoying the trails. Whether you dine in or eat on the run, Thyme Kitchen offers a wide variety of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options to suit any palette.

TO YOUR KITCHEN

It’s always a plus when you don’t have to go far for good food when you’re enjoying a beer or two, which is the case at GL Heritage Brewing Co. During my visit, chef Jeff Wright and owner of To Your Kitchen was serving up some amazing eats for brewery patrons like myself. If you see he’s in town, you don’t want to miss this Red Seal chef’s eats!

As it’s been years since I’ve had it, when I saw Jeff was serving up jerk chicken I knew I had to order it. I’m not a big fan of chicken normally but the seasonings were absolutely incredible as this tasty morsel disappeared way too quickly. I also went full hog and enjoyed a side of his creamy coleslaw and the mac and cheese. Seriously, this is like no mac and cheese I’ve had before! Made with three cheeses and loaded with vegetables, I absolutely devoured it. I would have eaten this solely for my meal had that been an option!

If you visit GL Heritage Brewing Co and don’t see To Your Kitchen, never fear. You don’t have to wait for the truck to appear! To Your Kitchen also offers food delivery where they’ll happily drop off their gourmet meals to your home. All you have to do is heat and serve!

HOTELS IN WINDSOR ONTARIO

As Windsor is a city of 230,000 people, it stands to reason there are a number of accommodation options in the city – let alone in Essex County! If you’re looking to stay in town then check out these Windsor hotels but if you’re like me and plan on exploring, you’ll want somewhere with a great location that makes it easy to come and go as you please!

During my stay, I called the Comfort Inn & Suites Ambassador Bridge home base for two nights. As my trip was spent travelling across the region, the location is great. I was able to avoid any real traffic due to its close proximity to the highway. This pet-friendly hotel features a large indoor heated pool (with a waterslide!), exercise room, business centre and more. There’s also coffee available in the lobby throughout the day for when you need a caffeine fix!

I settled right into my queen room and immediately felt at home. There was plenty of space to spread out my gear and settle in nicely. I was thrilled to see a mini-fridge (perfect for keeping my leftovers fresh for snack time), microwave (popcorn anyone?), and Keurig coffee maker with both coffee and tea pods. Each room also has a desk, iron, ironing board, hairdryer and 42-inch television. Though I have to say I didn’t use the latter as I sunk right into a deep sleep as soon as I hit the comfortable cloud of pillows and blankets on my bed.

READY TO VISIT WINDSOR & ESSEX COUNTY?

As you can see, there’s plenty to do in both Windsor and the surrounding area of Essex County. While this was my very first time in the area, it surely won’t be my last! Foodies, beer aficionados, nature lovers and more will not regret a Windsor Essex Pelee getaway. If anything, you’ll find so much to do that you’ll be planning another trip as soon as you can!

Original blog by Lindsay of I’ve Been Bit! Travel Blog | October 9, 2019

To read more blogs from Tourism Windsor Essex click here.

Sponsored by Tourism Windsor Essex. For more details on Tourism Windsor Essex click their website, or visit them on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram





Black Travel Vibes: Discover A Different Side To Iceland


Black Travel Vibes: Discover A Different Side To Iceland
Photo Credit: @just_janyah

In recent years Iceland has gone from relatively unknown to one of Black travel’s coolest destinations — literally. Just a quick scroll of social media shows that travelers just can’t get enough of this ice-cold “hotspot.”

Popular sites in the country like the famed Blue Lagoon and the Skógafoss Water Fall are a must when you visit, but there are other amazing gems to discover as well like the eerie Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck. Even when it comes to Iceland’s accommodations there’s more to uncover beyond ice hotels and bubble rooms.

This hidden side of Iceland is exactly what travelista Janyah (@just_janyah) set out to find on her trip to the country. From climbing arches to finding stillness in churches, Janyah saw a side to Iceland many don’t see. Check out more photos from her adventure and take notes from our guide so that you can plan a trip that will help you travel deeper in Iceland too.

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What to do in Sofia: The ultimate Sofia travel guide


Hello fellow visitors! Alexx right here from FindingAlexx I get on a year-long solo experience to a brand-new nation each week for a year, with my path based totally off the most affordable trip eachTuesday Yep, it’s as frantic as it appears! This outrageous experience took me to Sofia, a lovely concealed treasure in the Balkans and also the funding city ofBulgaria Here’s all you require to understand if you’re taking into consideration a journey to Sofia, from what to do, where to rest to exactly how to navigate and also extra.

Where to keep in Sofia

Let’s kick this off with some excellent information … Sofia is the excellent area if you get on a spending plan! There are a lot of economical hostels in Sofia with dormitory beds for much less than $13 an evening, or you can obtain an affordable resort space from regarding $32 an evening.

Normally I’m a large supporter for holiday accommodation with complete kitchen area centers so you can conserve cash on food, however food in Sofia is so economical (and also excellent!) that there’s truthfully no requirement to prepare your very own food.

Some wonderful alternatives for locations to keep in Sofia are Generaator Hostel, Peter Pan Hostel, 5 Vintage Guest House and also the aptly-named Hotel Cheap.

How to navigate Sofia

If you’re remaining in the city centre and also you do not mind obtaining your actions up, you’ll possibly be able to see the city rather conveniently by foot. A great deal of the primary views are within strolling range, and also straying aimlessly around the city was exactly how I discovered tons of my leading food suggestions!

If you like to obtain someplace quicker (and also possibly drier), there are cable cars, buses and also the city. A solitary trip is 1.60 BGN (regarding 90 cents) or a day pass with unrestricted travel is 4BGN (regarding $2).

There’s no Uber in Sofia, however there is a wonderful regional taxi application that does the very same point, called TaxiMe. You can register with your UK number, include in your bank card and also hail a flight via the application similar to you would certainly anywhere else.

To obtain to and also from the airport terminal conveniently and also fairly inexpensively, I would certainly advise obtaining a taxi from the airport terminal taxi stand. Only one firm is authorized to give taxi solutions at the airport terminal and also they have actually obtained typical price prices, so comply with the indications to the main taxi location and also you’ll be taken care of. To enter into the city centre you must pay regarding 15-20 BGN ($ 8-$12).

On an incredibly limited budget plan? You can obtain the city from Terminal 2 at the airport terminal to Serdika terminal for 1.60 BGN (cash money just so you’ll require to utilize an ATM MACHINE at the airport terminal), after that transfer to a bus, cable car or various other city to obtain closer to your resort.

How much to allocate Sofia

Yay for economical locations! Much like my week in Warsaw, Sofia was an actual reward for my budget.

If you’re searching for a difficulty, Sofia is in fact feasible to experience from just $15-$20 each day. This would certainly cover economical hostel holiday accommodation ($ 9-$13) and also grocery store or bakeshop food (up to $7). You can see tons of the lovely structures completely free, and also with a little Googling you might self-guide a city trip to learn more about the city’s communist background.

To include in a wonderful regional dish ($ 6-$10), a beverage ($ 3) and also the contribution for a complimentary strolling trip ($ 6), I would certainly advise budgeting around $40 a day.

You can obtain newly baked rewards from regional pastry shops for much less than 1BGN (regarding 65 cents), good sandwiches or salads for lunch from 4-8BGN ($ 1.95-$ 4.50) or somewhat fancier sit-down suppers from 12-20 BGN ($ 6.50-$12). A neighborhood beer will certainly set you back anything from 2BGN to 6BGN relying on where you are ($ 1.30-$ 4).

The ideal points to do in Sofia

Despite it not being as popular as various other Eastern European locations like Prague and also Budapest, the city has a great deal going all out and also there’s unlimited points to do in Sofia whatever you enjoy.

Gain some understanding right into Bulgaria’s rough past, look for pre-owned rewards at flea markets, consume your heart out at a few of my much-loved cafés from all my trips, or get away the metropolitan forest and also go out to discover an additional neighboring city. Here’s 5 of the very best points to do on your Sofia journey.

1. Learn regarding communist background

Bulgaria’s political past is something that’s still woven throughout the city, with significant head office, style, galleries and also sculptures standing for the communist age from 1946 to 1989.

Whether you’re an overall novice to communist background or all clued up and also desire to see exactly how if influenced Bulgaria especially, there’s a number of locations and also scenic tours to include to your Sofia communism course.

Coming from New Zealand, where communism’s never ever touched anywhere near our little edge of the globe and also where I went with mathematics and also scientific research courses over background, location and also national politics (geek, I understand), my understanding of Eastern Europe’s communist regimens was restricted.

First up is the Free Sofia strolling trip, which runs 3 or 4 times a day (relying on the period) and also is tip-based. Your regional trip guide will certainly take you around 20 of Sofia’s must-see places, and also you’ll obtain a suitable introduction of the background and also national politics of the city, in addition to a neighborhood’s pointers on points to do, consume and also see.

Free Sofia likewise has a day-to-day communism trip for just $11, which provides you a three-hour in- deepness go through of the city’s communist sites in addition to an understanding right into what Sofia resembled to live in throughout those 43 years.

Want extra? Consider seeing the National Historical Museum or the Museum of Socialist Art, which is residence to the significant red celebrity that rested on top of the communist celebration’s head office prior to being toppled in the late 80’s.

2. See the city’s most lovely spiritual structures

While the leading religious beliefs in Bulgaria without a doubt is Bulgarian Orthodox (at around 60%), there are some merely sensational churches, mosques, sanctuaries and also abbeys in the funding city.

Start off with one of the most legendary structure in the city, and also among the coolest structures I have actually ever before seen, Alexander NevskyCathedral This seriously outstanding Orthodox church was begun in 1882 however not complete till 30 years later on, and also it is just one of one of the most legendary sites in Bulgaria’s funding city, with a 45 m high gold-plated dome and also inside made from onyx, marble and also various other ultra-fancy products.

Other Orthodox churches that deserve a check out are St Nicholas Church (a Russian Orthodox church), the Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church, and also Sveta Nedelya Church, which has a significant background consisting of a funeral battle in 1925 by the Communist Party where over 500 of Bulgaria’s exclusive political numbers were hurt and also 150 were eliminated.

After Eastern Orthodox, the following most usual religious beliefs is Islam, with up to 15% of the populace determining asMuslim Bulgaria was under Ottoman policy for nearly 500 years, from the late 1300 s till the Russian Empire tackled the Ottoman Empire in 1878, however after being freed many thanks to Russia’s success and after that stating self-reliance in 1908, several structures from this age were repurposed or ruined. The 16 th century Banya Bashi Mosque is the only working mosque left in Sofia, and also because of this it’s a dynamic center for the city’s Muslim neighborhood.

Ancient background followers will certainly desire to make a quit at Sveti Georgi, a 4th-century Christian church constructed by the Romans in the old city ofSerdica It’s the earliest structure in the city, and also it’s residence to some sensational frescoes going back to the 10 th century.

3. Devour all the economical food

I’m a large advocate for food preparation your very own food while taking a trip to stick within a limited budget plan, and also typically enable myself a little investing cash weekly for a dish or 2 out. Buttttt in Sofia, I ate in restaurants every dish of the entire week. Yes, I claimed every dish!

The regional food scene is not just economical, however it’s in fact seriously outstanding as well. From pastry shops where you can obtain 4 breads or savouries for the matching of EUR1, to Instagrammable breakfast places with following degree meals, to standard dining establishments providing home-style meals, I would certainly return in a 2nd essentially simply for the food.

There’s bound to be a restaurant in Sofia ideal for whatever sort of food pleases your fancy, however right here are a few of my favourites.

Bistro Pesto was my top, and also I’m not embarrassed to claim I had lunch there 4 days in a row! They’re an incredibly charming edge dining establishment close to the primary purchasing blvd, and also they offer Italian food all the time and also evening. Their panini food selection is incredible; genuine Italian active ingredients and also a Bulgarian cost. Win win!

If you’re searching for a fashionable food image (no reasoning right here), look into the breakfast food selection at Rainbow Factory orBoho I really did not make it to Rainbow Factory however my hostel friends went crazy regarding it, and also I can directly guarantee the Oreo pancake pile atBoho Mmmmhmmmm.

And for a reasonably-priced however scrumptious sit-down supper, make sure to see the tales at Shtastlivetsa, a chain dining establishment with a HUGE food selection of home-cooked dishes. Prices are not surprisingly a little bit more than the regional road food delays, however the solution is amazing, the dishes are substantial and also there are a lot of passionate Bulgarian meals to select from.

4. Head right into the hills

Sofia’s landscape is unusual in regards to European funding cities, since there’s a range of mountains so close to the city centre. The base of Vitosha Mountain is just 10 kilometres approximately from the city, and also it’s conveniently obtainable by taxi, public transportation, or strolling if you desire to make a day of it.

In summer season Vitosha is a preferred treking location, where city-dwellers get away to on weekend breaks to obtain some fresh air. The greatest top is 2290 m however there’s likewise treks around the lower fifty percent of the hill to various rivers and also falls.

During winter season, the hill is a ski hotel, ideal for any type of snow rabbits on a spending plan. Although it is substantially less-developed than various other European ski locations like Switzerland and also France, your day pass and also rental will certainly be more affordable and also your cash will certainly go way better.

As well as being an adrenaline task location, Vitosha is residence to an additional Sofia must-see and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, BoyanaChurch Boyana is an Orthodox church from the 11 th century and also is renowned for the several frescoes it houses, specifically a collection ago in 1259.

5. Take an outing

There’s some rather extraordinary locations to see and also experience beyond Sofia itself, so if you have actually obtained the moment, I would certainly advise attempting to press in an outing or 2!

My leading choice for an outing from Sofia is Plovdiv, an additional Bulgarian city and also among both 2019 European Capitals ofCulture Plovdiv is a number of hrs far from Sofia by bus, and also tickets set you back regarding ₤ 6 each method. Once you’re in the city I would certainly advise getting on a complimentary strolling trip, run by the very same organisation that run the Sofia trip. They have actually obtained a city trip everyday year-round in addition to a complimentary graffiti trip daily from October toApril And if you desire to discover on your own, do not miss out on the special coloured homes that line the roads in the old community, it’s various to every various other European old community I have actually seen!

Fancy an exercise? There’s no far better location in Bulgaria to obtain relocating than in the Seven Rila Lakes location. Seven Rila Lakes is, you presumed it, residence to 7 antarctic lakes in the Rila chain of mountains, and also all are in between 2100 m and also 2500 m of elevation. It is feasible however it is difficult to arrive on public transportation so it’s ideal to work with a cars and truck and also drive (1.5-2 hrs), or to publication an arranged day trip or shuttle. Bonus idea: Don’ t miss out on Rila Monastery, a 10 th-century Eastern Orthodox abbey and also the biggest in the nation. Well worth a check out!

And there you have it, a complete travel guide for Sofia and also past for your Bulgarian experience! Book your trip to Sofia currently with STATravel If you desire to comply with even more of my experiences you can locate me on Instagram



Will female-only tours be 2020’s hottest travel trend?


Female-only expeditions are rising sharply in bookings – and they’re transforming the lives of women across the globe (by Rosie Gizauskas)

Learning the ancient arts of henna and kohl in Jordan’s Wadi Rum valley – sat side-by-side with local Bedouin women, chatting and laughing freely without headscarves – is something that not many outsiders get to experience. It certainly wouldn’t be included on a standard guided tour, with male travellers present, due to cultural restrictions in the country.

But a new breed of female-only tours, which are skyrocketing in popularity, allows Bedouin beauty secrets that go back centuries to be shared – offering an unprecedented insight into the conservative county’s private lives of women.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

While solo female travel has long been on the rise, with Google Trends reporting a 131% rise in interest in 2019, exclusively female-run tours in far-flung destinations like Iran, Morocco, Nepal and Jordan take the trend up a notch. These locations might look extra impressive on the ’gram, but there’s a serious backbone to the fast-growing trend, and it’s no coincidence that female-only tours are becoming prolific in conservative countries like these.

With male visitors taken out of the equation, women tour guides and female-run businesses there can access the economic benefits of tourism that traditionally haven’t been open to them. In turn, they’re able to offer a far more intimate experience than normal to female visitors.

Intrepid Travel is leading the way with its Women’s Expeditions, which launched on International Women’s Day in 2018. Since then it has seen a rise in their bookings by 116% year-on-year, to India, Morocco, Kenya, Nepal, Turkey and Iran, as well as the aforementioned trip to Jordan.

Taking in the usual hotspots like Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea and Petra, this itinerary also gives women travellers the opportunity to do things that they’d never have access to as part of a mixed group. They swim at a ladies-only beach; learn to cook, make tea and gossip Arabic-style in a local home; and milk goats with a female shepherd. It’s more than a win-win for customers and hosts. Tours like these are the product of a business model that puts sustainability, in terms of gender equality, first.

Gender equality from the ground up

“We launched these tours to create gender equality not just for the travellers, but also for the hosts,” says Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid’s Regional General Manager for Europe, Middle East and North Africa. “The tours empower the hosts through employing them – allowing women to do jobs that they wouldn’t normally be able to do if they were interacting with male guests.

“This breaks down cultural barriers between our customers and hosts, who get to interact in a really special and unique way. The tours have been picked up so well by our female customers that they’ve been our most successful product in 30 years.”

The tours are also opening up future job opportunities, as the likes of Intrepid ensure that more female guides are being trained than ever before, particularly in areas where they’re lacking.

“We really pushed the authorities to train women up in places such as Morocco, where it’s very rare that you’ll find a female mountain guide,” says Bencheikh. “There are now 10 of them. We also have female drivers on our Turkey trips. We ensure that the women are well paid, and this means that other women really aspire to do these jobs. We see this as reducing the gender gap.”

Other tours that Intrepid runs include a 12-day trip to northern India, which encompasses the Taj Mahal, Old Delhi’s bazaar and Jaipur. Yet the female-only elements set the trip apart from standard tours of Rajasthan, while providing income where it’s most needed. The tour includes visits to a café run by acid attack survivors; a non-profit rickshaw company that offers employment to women from low-income households; and the female-only Gangaur Festival, where visitors dance, paint henna and make arts and crafts with local women.

Ticking off bucket-list destinations

As for other offerings, New York-based travel company SmarTours runs female-focused trips to Egypt, Morocco, Colombia and Vietnam. Their 14-night Amazing Thailand package spans meeting female Buddhist monks and taking part in a Thai cookery class, as well as a lecture on the social perspectives of Thai women. Of course, guests can tick off other bucket-list activities such as visiting the awe-inspiring temples of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Bangkok – all led by their local female guide.

Millennial travellers, on the other hand, might be tempted by Explorer Chick’s fun, female-focused ‘she-nanigans’, which run mostly in the US, South America and Caribbean, but also to Jordan, headed up by female tour guides. Then there’s Jomfrureiser, a Norwegian company that specialises in “travel for ladies” to the UAE, Malaysia and Miami, which often encompass wellness elements like yoga and hiking.

Are there safety concerns on female-only tours that aren’t a consideration for mixed groups? For Bencheikh, the answer is not at all. “We train up our female guides to the same high standards as our male guides,” she says. “They have the same first aid and health and safety qualifications – the same skills completely.”

But if the testimonials are anything to go by, the female guides seem to provide something that’s not necessarily guaranteed from their male counterparts: the ability to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience through genuine, cross-cultural exchange. “This women’s expedition changed my life, impacted me and empowered me,” reads one, from Intrepid’s Women’s Expedition to Morocco. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” says another.



Travel Guide for OWL Fans: Washington DC


Overwatch Washington Justice

With the Overwatch League kicking off this new season this past weekend in Dallas and New York City, fans are traveling across the country, or in some cases internationally to see their favorite teams play live. Some fans may end up spending a little more time than just the games in their host city, and with that in mind here is a list of recommendations to fill the time while visiting the United States capital for the Washington Justice’s Homestand.

Memorials and Museums tend to be one of the capital’s biggest attractions outside of the world of politics and sports. As one could imagine, there is an extraordinary amount of history to cover so guests would have to pick and choose depending on their stay, with that here are some recommendations for every homestand the Justice host. 

One of the easiest activities to do is to take advantage of the national parks services. D.C. has plenty of those connected to the National Mall, however, some of them are a little off the beaten track, they are well worth the trips.

  • Washington Wizards game Feb. 21, 7 pm EST- NBA game against the Cleveland Cavilers 
  • Washington Capitals game April 4, 7 pm EST- NHL game against the Florida Panthers
  • Washington Nationals games all at 7:05 pm EST for the following dates April 6, June 19 and June 22-MLB games against the Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Crumbs and Whiskers– If you are looking to get some friendly pets in, book in advanced and you can get a 15 minute cuddle session in with a cat or 70 minute stay for less than $25!
Ben's Chili Bowl
The original Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street. Photo by Leigh Vogel
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl– A local favorite for politicians that has earned its reputation for a must-visit destination
  • Toki Underground– Claims to be “D.C.’s Original Ramen House” and can satisfy your noodles craving
  • Union Market– If you are looking for relatively cheap but local food, this is the spot to go to.
  • Pop’s Sea Bar– For those of you wanting to experience seafood on the east coast on a budget, look no further.
Dupont Underground live event space
Photo courtesy of Daniel Lobo
  • Bonsai National Museum-For nature lovers, this unique stop claims to be an “oasis of calm in the middle of [the] nation’s capital.” It may not be a bad idea to go there and relax after a full day of Overwatch.
  • DuPont Underground-The closest thing for urban exploration can be found here just a stones throw away from the national mall. This closed down subway station has transformed into an underground art gallery for the city.
  • Artechouse-An augmented reality exhibit that makes it’s name a little on the nose. Artechouse takes the building its housed in and transforms it into a breathtaking art space through the power of augmented reality. Come for the art, stay for the augmented reality cocktails at the end of the tour!

Featured image courtesy of Danita Delimont

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other TGH writers along with Matt.

You can also follow Matt @CoyleMatt_ on Twitter and @Coyle.m_ on Instagram.

“From Our Haus to Yours”





Re: Tourism Authority had a successful New York Travel Show


Earlier this week, Ghanaweb published a report culled from a barely-known blog named ‘The AfroDrifter’ with a tiny social media following of 4 Instagram followers, 144 Facebook likes and 339 Twitter followers. The author of the blog post, Freeman Chari, is a Zimbabwean living in America.

We wish to point out emphatically that the statements made in the blog post about Ghana’s booth at the New York Times Travel Show are false and likely driven by a desire to drive traffic to his site or stems from inadequate understanding of the show or the industry. Interestingly the blog had no picture of the booth or the four people he claimed were on their phones continuously for two days. 

In 2020, North America is being focused on as a key target market as Ghana builds on the momentum of the ‘Year of Return’ into the new project ‘Beyond the Return’. The World Tourism Organization reports that Americans spent $144 billion on tourism expenditures in 2018. The buying power of the African-American population is expected to increase to $1.4 trillion by 2020 as reported by Statista.

To capitalize on the North American market trends and to enter the United States travel trade show sector, GTA for the first time ever, attended the New York Times Travel Show held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City from January 24 to 26, 2020. The delegation was led by the Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture and included the GTA CEO, Manager Year of Return, GTA Product Development and Investment Manager, and three of the leading private sector tour operators (Land tours, Sunseekers, Apstar). The New York Times Travel Show attracts more than 35,000 attendees with over 700 exhibitors from more than 175 countries, making it the largest travel trade and consumer show in North America. 

The GTA booth was dually branded as ‘Visit Ghana’ and ‘Beyond The Return.’ The setup was engaging with several trades and consumer visitors.  At one point in time, GTA had to annex an unoccupied stand to be able to serve the numerous visitors. The tables were nicely covered with the white “Year of Return” cloth, the backdrop was boldly branded as ‘Beyond The Return,” and the entryway  branded as ‘Visit Ghana.”

There were thousands of marketing materials and giveaways to visitors which included Ghana chocolate, notebooks, pen drives, informational materials and much more. 

Ghana was also one of the few African countries that had a speaking opportunity at the show with the CEO featuring as a product expert on Heritage offerings. On the sidelines of the travel show, the team led by the Minister engaged media Houses such as the New York Times, Harlem Times and clinched a deal to host this year’s Africa Tourism Association “World to Africa” Tourism Conference in Ghana in October 2020.

In the post-event wrap up meeting the Minister held with the private sector tour operators, they were extremely happy with the leads they generated through the lead retrieval app deployed to collect lead information. To collect a lead, tour operators and GTA officials used their mobile phones to scan the QR Code on the name badge of each interested lead. The data from the QR Code about the lead was automatically sent to a database for immediate action. 

We have taken pains to explain in detail because several well-meaning and patriotic Ghanaians have reached out to find out the accuracy of the report. Whilst we welcome criticism and feedback, we will not be distracted in our quest to market and make Ghana a top tourism destination.
                                                    
The ‘AfroDrifter’ blog post is inaccurate and must be disregarded. 

GTA CORPORATE AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT