Are you still debating about where to go on your summer holiday? We’ve selected 5 European destinations for this summer that we believe will make your decision a little easier!
The country that used to be one of the most visited holiday destinations in Europe, but since the economical and refugees crisis, tourists have decided to stay away. A big mistake if you ask us. Luckily, Greece is getting back on its feet and still one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Forget about the usual suspects like Rhodos, Kos and Mykonos and opt for islands like Lefkas, Kefalonia or Folegandros. Do you still need more reasons why it’s on our list? Well, what about the food (wow wow wow), it’s very affordable, you will the bluest sea and the weather is damn good! Not sure which island to choose? Check out our Greece section for all the inside tips! Fly to Greece affordable with TUIfor just a few 100 Euro!
Do something different this year and book a trip to Sweden! We traveled to Stockholm and Swedish Lapland last summer and we absolutely loved it! Stockholm is situated next to a large river with plenty of things to do and discover. From museums to cool restaurants, bars, vintage and concept stores to boat trips. Did you know Stockholm has a lot of little islands where you can swim and sunbath? Check out our Stockholm and Lapland tips!
Summer is great in Sweden!
It’s one of the places in Europe with the cleanest air due to all the nature. When spring arrives, the snow melts and makes way for green hills and a landscape that will take you straight into a Heidi scenery. We explored Switzerland last May and visited Bern, Lucerne and mount Rigi. For more info about this route and what you can see & do, check our Switzerland report.
Surprisingly, Portugal landed on the least-visited-destinations-list last year published at the holiday fair. We love the golden beaches and rock formations and the Portuguese cuisine is to die for. Book yourself a stay at an Eco-resort like Into The wild Algarve where we stayed last year and enjoyed yoga, vegan cooking, supping and more. Hire a car and explore the Algarve and all the amazing beaches. Check our Algarve report about this adventurous (plus relaxing) spot.
Golden rocks and beaches in Portugal
Eco-Resort Into The Wild Algarve
Hidden between Italy and Africa, Malta is easily overlooked. A shame, since those pristine beaches, ancient cities, spectacular cliffs, amazing architecture and so much more, is worth every bit of your attention. The Daily Telegraph evens tips it as one of the hottest destinations for this summer. We’ve been there and yes, it’s all true. Read the Guide To Malta from our guest blogger Jill for more info.
We just came back from an amazing trip to Madeira and even though this is not your typical beach holiday, we think it deserves a spot on this list! Firstly, the island is incredibly beautiful and reminds us a little bit of Hawaï and Portugal combined. Besides hiking, you can tour the island with a jeep, watch wild dolphins and whales or swim in one of the many natural pools. Find out more in our Madeira Island Guide.
We won’t blame you if you have never been to Madeira. The Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean isn’t that easy to find on the world map. However, once discovered, you won’t leave her out of your sight. Here’s your travel guide the island they call the Hawaï of Europe. Madeira.
Good to know
Transavia and TUI offer direct flights to Madeira which both take about 4 hours.
If you visit Madeira, it can be a good idea to hire a car. This way you are able to see most of the island. This also means that you can pick your accommodation outside of the busy and touristic town of Funchal.
There is always a breeze on Madeira! Because of this, the weather can change on each individual side of the island. Bring enough clothes to adapt. Bring your hiking boots!
Football player Christiano Ronaldo is from Madeira a therefore a national hero. You will see his face everywhere and the airport has even been named after him.
Recently, Madeira has won the best island of Europe Award. It is the 4th time they have won this prestigious award.
More than a hiking destination
Most people that have heard of Madeira know that it’s a great hiking destination. But did you know that you can also sail, spot dolphins & whales, participate in abseiling and kayak activities and do so much more. Discover the infamous levada walks and surround yourself with lush green scenery, natural pools and waterfalls.
Hiking around the Levadas Madeira
Jump! Dolphin watching on Madeira was one of the highlights!
Tip: Visit Ponta do Sol, the sunniest town on the island! There is a road nearby with tunnels and a little bit further you will find a waterfall that comes out on the road. Get a free car wash or take a refreshing shower!
Natural road showers
There is enough nature on Madeira, but if you are looking for a short city escape with lot’s of restaurants, a few bars and shops, you should visit Madeira’s capital. Some highlights in Funchal that we recommend are:
Merdaco dos Lavradores, the market that is popular with travelers and locals alike. A place where the colours of fruit the smell of fresh herbs come together.
Walk around the old town to spot the ‘Street Art’ on almost every door. Houses and abandoned shops are now colourful displays since this art project launched a few years ago.
Visit a traditional Poncha bar! Poncha is the nr. 1 national drink mixed with rum, honey and fresh juice. Try Clementine, it’s my favourite!
Walking around in Old Town, Funchal
Merdaco dos Lavradores
Tip: From Funchal you can take the cable car to the historical village Monte that offers beautiful houses, churches and gardens.
Where to stay
There are many hotels and guesthouses to choose from, but at Wander-Lust we like to tip you with the most unique and special accommodations on the island of course! During our stay we stayed at 2 different hotels/villa’s. However, we have a few extra tips for the best place to stay for each budget.
Fajã dos Padres is only accessible by cable car or boat which makes this place a hidden gem. On the premises they grow bananas, mango’s and figs. Warning: If you have a dislike for spiders, beware that you are staying in the middle of nature. I was confronted by one in the bathroom and it wasn’t pleasant haha. Bungalows are available from around €70,- Book your stay here.
Estalagem da Ponta do Sol is a luxurious hotel that used to be a historic land house that has been refurbished and extended. The hotel is located in the sunniest town of Madeira. Jump in the wonderful pool or dine with sea view. During high season rooms go between €139,- and €300,-.
If you are looking for a private apartment with sea view, bookCastelo Áustria Studio for just €100,- per night. You can easily share.
The organic banana plantage at Fajã dos Padres
The spacious rooms at Estalagem da Ponta do Sol
What to eat
On Madeira you can enjoy a good meal for a reasonable price. Fish and shell fish are often caught locally and the black fish with banana (Espada com Banana) is a local favourite that you will find on every menu. Another dish that we love is the grilled octopus with potatoes and garlic olive oil. Funchal has many restaurant options, but if you want our recommendations, we advise you to check out these restaurants:
Quinta do Furão for the best lunch view! It’s located on top of the mountain so perfect to combine this with a road trip over the island.
Vivaldi is located in the busy Funchal so perfect for drinks afterwards. The food is OK but not out of this world.
Fajã dos Padres, this is also where we stayed. It was the best lunch we had on the island! Their herbs come straight out of their own garden.
Nini Design Centre for a lavish dinner overlooking the port. This design centre used to be a nightclub but now offers exhibitions and events.
Grilled Octopus with potatoes
Quinta do Furão overlooking the North East Coast of Madeira
See the sun set & see the sun rise
Drive up to Ponta do Pargo, the most western part of Madeira. You can easily park your car here and have dinner at a restaurant with sea view. If you want, you can also hike past the beautiful cliffs. Here you can see the sun set in the sea. If you are a morning person, we highly recommend you to book the sunrise tour with Hit The Road Madeira. You will have to get up around 5am, but the views are absolutely worth it! Tip: dress warmly, it can get windy and cold up the Pico do Arieiro mountain. This sunrise tour also takes you on an off road jeep adventure around Cova da Roda (hold yourself because it can get bumpy).
Sunrise tour at Pico do Arieiro
Beaches & Natural Pools
Madeira is not known for her beautiful sandy beaches because it’s a volcanic island. However, there are some beautiful rocky bays and nice man-made beaches around. Next to that, Madeira offers some nice natural pools! Here are the best ones:
Prainha is one of madeira’s best natural beaches and located near popular Ponta de São Lourenço. It offers sun beds, parasols and toilets.
Calheta, this man-made beach has a beach restaurant and bar and is also popular with the locals.
Porto do Seixal Beach, is a natural black sand beach located right next to Seixal harbour. It has no services though.
Porto Moniz are probably the most popular natural pools on the island. It can be busy during high season.
Seixal Natural Pools are surrounded by stunning nature and a black beach. You can rent a lounger here.
Pocas Do Gomes/Doca Do Cavacas are not big but quite worth a visit! There is a natural pool next to the normal one and you can see the fish swim around your feet!
Cachalote Natural Pools are located at the entrance of Porto Moniz Village, right next to Cachalote restaurant and to the Aquarium at São João Baptista Fort.
Pocas Do Gomes/Doca Do Cavacas
Tip: If you really want the golden sandy beaches you can take a day trip to sister island Porto Santo, also named the “Golden Island”.
Must visit places on Madeira
Camara de Lobos is a cute fishers-man village with a few bars and restaurants. Take a seat where the locals sit and enjoy the easy life.
Miradouro do Guindaste in Faial is the spot that you see on the header photo of this article. Do we need to say more?
Ponta de São Lourenzo is one of Madeira’s most stunning cliff sides and therefore also very popular with tourists. However, we thought it was worth it and if you come late afternoon, it won’t be too crowded.
Achada do Marques is a tiny village that is only accesible by foot and surrounded by green mountains. We got this tip from a local, so this is off the beaten track!
Ponta de São Lourenzo reminds us of Nusa Penida
In conclusion, Madeira really surprised us! This is an island for those that love a bit of adventure and don’t always need a sandy beach to complete their holiday. The locals are very proud of their lush volcanic island and people that have been, always seem to return.
Have you read our Marrakech Guide for 2019 yet? Click on the picture to read!
As a woman, it’s important to feel save when you travel abroad. In some countries is better than others, but with my personal experience and lot’s of stories from fellow female travelers, we found that these 5 countries deserve to be mentioned when it comes to Safe Female Solo Travel.
Canada A beautiful destination which, funny enough, is yet to be discovered by backpackers. Because of this fact, it’s not packed with tourists and even more reason to visit! The roads are well maintained so perfect for renting a van and cruise through the beautiful nature. There are many campings in the middle of nature and near cities that are very secured. Canada is perfect for women that love a little adventure; from kayaking with orca’s and watching humpback whales, to stunning hikes, it’s all possible and easily arranged. The only resident you should be wary off, is the grizzly bear! But if that’s all?
Australia Perhaps is no surprise but Australia is really one of the best places to start as a solo traveler. Everything is well arranged for the backpacker. I speak from experience, because I did it for 4 months and had the best time! Public transport, travel cards, discounts for backpackers, it’s all available in Australia. Downsider: Australia can be quite expensive so my TIP is to eat as much vegetarian food in order to save some cash, and stay away from the booze. For more money saving tips, check our 6 tips to travel for free.
Thailand South East Asia is pretty safe to travel around but Thailand is taking the lead. 4 years ago I traveled to Thailand on my own and I was a little worried that I would feel alone. The worry was for no reason, because I met some lovely people in no-time that I am still in contact with! TIP: The hygiene in Asia is not always of the highest standard so always bring some disinfectant wipes, diarrhoea pills and antihistamine for allergies. Thinking about traveling to Thailand? Check out ourThailand sectionfor all the best tips!
Iceland This country is topping the charts of the Global Peace Index for years. There is relatively little crime and the country is doing pretty well economically. Because of this, the infrastructure is well arranged. Start your trip in Reykjavik and visit the picture perfect Blue Lagoon or the Northern light. Bring your camera girls, instagram is going to love it where you are! Guest editor Jolien took a trip and has some inside tips on where to go!
Guest editor Jolien in Iceland
Portugal Sun, sea, delicious food and friendly people. Portugal has it all! From vibrant cities to the cliffs of the Algarve, you can go anywhere. Life isn’t too expensive and there are a lot of amazing eco-lodges, campings and resorts where you can totally relax. Inside Tip: Visit Eco Resort Into The Wild Algarve, where you can sleep in a tipi or a luxurious treehouse!
Sleep in a bohemian tipi in Portugal
But to sum it up, I think the most important weapon a woman has, is her intuition. Does it feel off? Don’t go with it but just enjoy your trip of a lifetime!
January is the perfect month for booking your next trip. It’s great to let your mind wander off during these cold winter months and to look forward to a sunny destination. A ‘hidden gems’ city trip should therefore not be missing on your travel list for 2019.
1. The cozy Zagreb and a day trip to Plitvice, Croatia
Zagreb has grown from a stopover destination into a real travel destination. The charming city has is located on the Sava river. This combination gives a special vibe. With cobblestone streets, boutiques, workshops and cafes that are full of music, Zagreb is a perfect destination for a pleasant and surprising city trip. This city trip can be combined with a day trip to the national park Plitvice. This is a beautiful nature park with azure blue lakes and more than 400 waterfalls. (see photo)
Go back in the time of knights in Valetta, Malta
Valetta is the ideal destination for a longer city trip and can be combined with a day at the beach. The capital of Malta is full of sights that come from the time of the hospital knights. In the relatively small city you will find no fewer than 320 monuments, such as church domes and forts. A nice side note; Check out Popeye Village which was once used as a filmset, but now looks like a fishing village that is too cute not to post on the gram!
The Streets of Malta
Beautiful cities like London or Paris often have an impressive history and plenty to admire, but unfortunately you have to share these cities with hundreds of other tourists.
3. Authentic Italian atmosphere and sea urchins in Bari, Puglia Italy
After all the bustle in Rome, Pisa and Venice, the cozy Bari located in the Puglia region is a real relief. The old center, called Bari Vecchia, is a photogenic labyrinth full of small alleys and churches. Real daredevils taste the raw sea urchins in the port of Bari with a view of the beautiful sea.
4. Boutiques and ice creams in Braga, Portugal
Braga is also called ‘the Rome of Portugal’. This is because the city is full of historic cathedrals and elegant architecture. All perfectly maintained squares and alleyways that are only accessible for pedestrians. Because of this, Braga forms an excellent alternative to, for example, the city of Lisbon. From the large number of boutiques and cafés you can clearly see that Braga is a real student city. For a delicious dinner and cocktails, head to the popular Brac Restaurante. Then enjoy coffee and an ice cream at Spiritio.
5. Look for the ‘hidden gem’ at a surprise destination
Every city, big or small, has its own ‘hidden gems’. With a surprise trip you are guaranteed to discover new special places during the city trip, because preparation is not possible. You will not know where the trip is going until the last minute before you board the plane. That is why a surprise trip with srprs.me is the ideal way to experience a special city trip in 2019. Moreover, chances are that you will end up in a place that you might never have thought of yourself. But also on the popular destinations you will discover new places in this way that will surprise you and will never forget you.
If you ever been out camping as a child, you know that it’s something special. The outdoor sounds of birds and crickets, and the cozy evening by the fire. However, the damp floor, cold nights and wet socks was perhaps something you would rather forget. As I got older, I realised that I was becoming a glampacker instead of a backpacker. And lucky for me..Luxury Camping (glamping) is hot, especially in Europe.
There are plenty of glamping options in Europe and sometimes it’s difficult to choose one. Yelloh! Village, is a network for different campsites-villages that has became THE luxury outdoor hotels reference in France, Spain and Portugal. Yelloh! Village is particularity good if you’re traveling with kids, because of the many options for children.
Whether you want to camp near the sea, rivers, mountains or stay in the countryside, it’s all possible. We’ve picked some of our favorite accommodations that Yelloh! Village has on offer.
The Yurt in France Feel like a nomad is this traditional Mongolian stay. This yurt sleeps 4 people (one double bed and 2 single beds), and is located in France. Outside the yurt is a shower and toilet, plus you can relax in the lounge chairs on the terrace. And it’s not expensive at all! You can book this yurt from 156 Euro for 4 nights!
Magical and unique!
Experience the traveling nomadic lifestyle, with all the luxury you want
Cabane sur la plage, in Spain This cabin on the beach is a dream! It’s not the largest stay that Yelloh! Villages has on offer, but the location totally makes up for it. The 15²m cabin/tent has 2 bedrooms and a small terrace overlooking the beach. Waking up here, is the best part! The camping itself offers a swimmingpool, bar, minimarket, restaurant, children activities and sports. Nearby towns are Creixell, Barcelona, Calafell, El Vendrell, Reus, Salou, Tarragona, and Torredembarra. Book it here from just 560 euro for 7 nights!
Cabin on the beach!
Chalet s’Agaró in Costa Brava If you are looking for more facilities, like the luxury camping of having your own kitchen and living room, you should check out this chalet in the Costa Brava. There are 3 bedrooms and fits 5 people easily. You have a lot of space, in and outside (and a BBQ!). Wifi, breakfast and sheets/towels are included within the price. You can book this chalet here.
All campsites have restaurants, swimming pools and things to do.
Whether we’d like to admit our not, the world has been coping with several new insecurities since 2009 according to the Global Peace Index. With this fact developing worldwide, travelers are seeking after safer destinations as well as feeling save in your own home country. The Global Peace Index has selected 25 countries in their 10th report, that are referred to as the safest countries in the world. 18 of which are European. So how did they select these countries and where should you feel the safest? To start off with, they looked at several points such as respective intrinsic wealth per capita, educational access, criminal justice systems, and social welfare. No, not just terrorism. (even though it has affected many countries over the last few years)
Scandinavia Having all three of its most prominent constituent nations (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) among the 25 safest countries in the world, Scandinavia has to be considered the safest region. Iceland and Finland aren’t officially part of Scandinavia but you can kind of consider them to be, then it would be 5 safe countries within one region and this is pretty impressive to say the least. People from Scandinavian countries are among some of the happiest people on the planet so that might count for something too.
Feeling good in Sweden
Asia This might surprise you but Asia is doing pretty well, even though the Asian countries represented are fairly small. Their the second-best represented region in the top 25 safest countries in the world. Some violations are paid with a high price in Asian countries, like it’s even forbidden to sell chewing gum in Singapore in order to keep the streets clean. Somehow this works over there and people play by the rules, making the crime rate lower.
The list So you’re all wondering where to plan your next (safe) adventure to right? Nice to know that plenty of beautiful countries with a lot of sunshine made it to the list. The largest improvement in the region was recorded by Portugal, which built on gains last year to rise nine places to fifth globally.
We are 2 happy campers in Portugal
Global Peace Index
To learn more about the report and to see the full list of 163 countries, please check here. So, is your country on the list and more importantly, where do you feel save?
Sometimes things are just meant to happen, just as our recent trip to Portugal. Back in March we talked to Sophia van Sorgen (check out her health blog!) And she connected us to Dave and Sonja, a couple from Amsterdam that decided the city was not for them. So they sold their house, quit their jobs and drove to Portugal in a campervan full of stuff and their 3 year old daughter. This was 3 years ago. They found 40 acres of land in the Algarve and they decided to start an Eco Glamping facility located in the hills of the ‘Costa Vicentina Natural Park’. Together with a Dutch/Israeli couple, they started Into The Wild Algarve. When we heard this story, we just had to go there. So Sarah and I booked our tickets to Faro and we decided to go in all blanco. This is our exclusive photo report and guide to the Algarve in Portugal.
Getting there Flying into Faro takes about 3 hours. The good thing is that it’s one hour earlier if you come from Amsterdam. One of the most important tips we will give you is that you need to rent yourself a car. It’s about a 1,5 hours drive, especially if you don’t know the roads. Ask for a car with navigation and type in the town Budens. This way you will go towards the right direction. After that we went off road which was a lot of fun. Our Peugot 2008 that looked very shiny when we first got it, now looked like it participated in a Dakar race! After 10 minutes and a few wrong turns we finally arrived at Into The Wild Algarve. Friendly faces welcomed us and the smell of eucalyptus passed our noses. This place was exactly what we needed. Away from the big city and into the wild. Literally. Dave, Sonya, Quirina and Dror came here when there was nothing but a bunch of trees and wild growth. They’ve been sleeping in a yurt and self made houses with their children and put all their efforts into ITWA.
The infamous Camper Van that Dave and Sonja came to Portugal with
Where did we sleep? One of the best features here has to be the bohemian tent we slept in. Yes, sometimes dreams come true..the tent we slept in features 3 beds (with real mattresses) of which one a double, and a patio where you can enjoy your breakfast in the morning. On the other side behind the tent you have an outside shower which gives you warm water (heated by the sun) which comes from the fresh water lake. The toilet is also a bit special. It’s a Eco toilet without a flush, surrounded with eucalyptus branches for your privacy. Talk about into the great wide open! They are planning to create at least 8 of these tents over the summer. You can also bring your own tent or caravan if you like.
Our bohemian style tent
Our sun heated shower and the fresh lake across from our tent
The car that you really need in the Algarve; Peugeot 2008
Activities Into the Wild Algarve offers a lot of extra’s that you can book next to your accommodation. We enjoyed outside yoga and massages, subbing at sunrise and a vegan cooking workshop. One of the best things we enjoyed was the food that they have on offer here. A homemade breakfast, dinner and a picknick at the beach. Wow. Most ingredients come from their own garden and they mostly prepare vegetarian or vegan food. Super healthy and very very tasty. If you want you can prepare your own meals at the outdoor community kitchen but we highly advise you to order one of their amazing breakfast baskets at least twice during your stay. If you have the time you can also book the following activities: Holistic horse riding (without a saddle), Hiking tour, Surfing and Dolphin Watching.
Enjoying the best yoga session we’ve ever had, outside in the morning sun..
Enjoying a massage in nature which you can book separately at Into the Wild Algarve.
Fresh basil, amazing breakfast and lunch
Eating homemade everything from the ITWA garden!
Highly recommended: Organic breakfast and pick nick on the beach by Into the Wild Algarve
Things to do When you’re here you must visit the village: Pedralva. Super cute and great for pictures. It’s only a 15 minute drive from Into The Wild Algarve camping. Book a table and have dinner at the famous pizza joint Pizza Pazza. The pizza’s are around 8 euro’s and the salads are huge! Also try to visit the Saturday market in Lagos where you can find local goods like vegetables, honey, dates and herbs. The best thing you could do is to take your car and drive past the coast where you will find small beach towns like Salema where you will find a few bars and nice restaurants. Check out hippie town Barao de Sao Joao and the long established market on every 4th Sunday of the month. The market which is self-organized and self-regulating, it is free to stallholders and open to everyone.
Checking our photo’s in Pedralva
Colorful salad at Pizza Pizza
The streets of Lagos (shot by Wander-Lust)
Walking around in Salema
Nearby Beaches The Algarve is also famous for it’s amazing golden beaches. We managed to visit a couple of nice Praias (beaches) and these are our favorite ones: »Praia das Cabanas Velhas, here is our favorite beach bar for the Algarve; Cabana’s! Make sure you visit and book a massage on the beach around 5pm. Ask for Sonja, she is truly amazing! »Praia Figueira , the most beautiful beach we’ve come across on our trip. Clear blue water (cold though!). Be aware this is a nudist beach so be respectful and try not to stare (we couldn’t help it, sorry!) »Praia Dona Ana, this is where we had our first ever Sub lesson from Aussi David (who has a pretty cool storyof his own!). This beach is quite large and has one simple beach restaurant. Enjoy the beautiful rock formations and golden sand. » Praia da Ingrina, this is a small beach with shallow clear water and has a restaurant surrounded by palmtrees
You only pay 8 euro’s per couple for a half day sunbed at Cabana’s Beach Club
So what does it cost? Flights » From as little as €90,- euro’s per person if you book early Car rental» Check out this website and don’t forget to get insurance! Bohemian Bell Tent for 3-4 people » €80,- per night Breakfast brought to your tent » €6,- per person Picknick lunch mandje » €8,- p.p Chef’s delicious meal of the day » €12,- p.p The great grill experience » €10,- p.p Home made pizza’s » €8,- p.p
Yoga » €10,- p.p Massage » From €40,- Sunrise SUP lesson » €34,- p.p www.jahshakasurf.com(you can also book this at ITWA) Vegan cook workshop » €40,- Plant your own tree or branch » Free! (we planted a Pomegranate tree which is now called the Wanderlust Tree)
So there you have it, Into The Wild Algarve is ready for it’s first visitors! If you love nature, fresh air, great food, amazing people and you don’t mind going a bit back to basic, you’re at the right address! They are still developing a few things so be prepared for the great outdoors and lot’s of frogs that will sing you to sleep at night! We were truly touched by the compassion of Dave, Sonja, Quirina and Dror and would go back in a heartbeat.