Where to see the best Christmas markets in Europe

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Best Christmas markets in Europe

Now that summer is officially over and mince pies are in the shops (yep - that's right), it's totally acceptable to start thinking about the best time of year - CHRISTMAS! There's no better way to get in the festive spirit than visiting a Christmas market so to help you out, I've rounded up my selection of where you can find the best Christmas markets in Europe. Get ready for a post filled with lots of gingerbread, mulled wine and fairy lights...

Weihnachtszauber Christmas market in Berlin

Berlin
23rd Nov - 31st Dec
Germany is the home of the Christmas market and you'll be spoilt for choice with a visit to the capital, with over 60 markets to choose from. Each market has it's own unique style, with high end, artsy and foodie specific markets all an offer.  A couple of the biggest are the Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt, known for its wide selection of handmade goods and trinkets and the Berliner Weinachtszeit at Alexander Platz, which boasts a huge ice rink and ferris wheel giving it the ultimate winter wonderland feel.



Advent in Zagreb Christmas market

Zagreb
2nd December - 7th January
Crowned the winner of best Christmas market in Europe for two years in a row, 'Advent in Zagreb' is not just a Christmas market but more like a Christmas extravaganza with an ice sculpture festival, 3D advent tunnel, live nativity scenes and much more. It even offers themed tours of their advent experience and special hotel deals for those who book to visit directly through their website - making it one of the best value destinations on the list.



Strasbourg Christmas market

Strasbourg
24th November - 24th December 
Believed to be the oldest as well as one of the best Christmas market's in Europe, Strasbourg Christmas Market was first held way back in 1570. Found in the capital of the Alsace region, right on the german french border, the market is a melting pot of the two cultures with quaint wooden chalets, cinnamon biscuits and the enormous Christmas tree at Place Kléber creating a toytown traditional feel. Make sure to check out all 11 of the different villages in the market and don't leave without trying bredele biscuits, an alsation speciality which comes in all shapes and flavours and doubles up as a sweet snack or a decoration for your Christmas tree back home!



Budapest Christmas market

Budapest
26th Nov - 2nd Jan
Budapest has two main spots for their Christmas market, the first is in Vörösmarty Square and the second is just in front of St Stephen's Basillica. Both markets offer a great place to familiarise yourself with authentic Hungarian Christmas culture - most importantly their favourite festive cuisines - including roasted pork knuckles and krampampuli, Hungary's equivalent of mulled wine. Everything on sale in the market has been verified as officially traditional and handmade by an independent jury, so if you want an authentic souvenir of your visit, take home one of their official Christmas mugs, which changes design every year.



Bruges Christmas market

Bruges
24th November - 2nd January
One of the prettiest cities in Europe is made even more picturesque by the arrival of the festive season. Twinkling fairy lights and the smell of Belgium's famous waffles drifting through the air are just two things which give Bruges Christmas market the fairytale factor. The main market is in Grote Markt, but don't forget to visit the stalls on Simon Stevinplein too, where you can also stop by a couple of Bruges' most loved Chocolate shops to sample their Christmas specials.



Prague Christmas market

Prague 
2nd December - 6th January
A visit to Prague's Christmas markets will never get boring as the market takes on a different theme every year, which is announced in November, a month or so before the market opens.
Christmas in Prague is a real family affair with local school choirs performing every afternoon and a stable where little ones can go to see donkeys, sheep and goats. For a sweet treat whilst you wander round be sure to try Trdelnik - a sugar coated pastry served warm, which is all kinds of delicious and for a nice way to finish the day why not watch an evening concert in one of the city’s churches, such as St Salvator or St George’s Basilica.



Viennese Christmas market, Vienna

Vienna
18th November - 30th December 
Like Berlin, Vienna has a number of markets for you to choose from. The highlight is arguably the Viennese Christmas Market located in front of city hall, which boats an enviable backdrop to really set off the Christmas feel, however the stalls dotted around the charming narrow lanes of Spittelberg are also worth a visit for a romantic stroll through one of Vienna's former suburbs. Don't miss out on trying your hand at Christmas cookie or candle decorating inside the city hall itself whilst you sip on your gluhwein.



Tivoli Gardens Christmas market, Copenhagen

Copenhagen
19th November - 31st December
Out of all the Christmas markets in Europe, you would struggle to find one that looks as magical as Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens during November and December. Expect light shows, Christmas music and snow covered trees as you walk around the lake and for those who like a bit of a thrill seeking there are also 27 rides to have a go on. 60 stalls make up the market itself selling everything from crafts to deli foods and hot chocolate and try to catch the Pixie Band who play at various points around the gardens. For a cosier feel, you can also head to the market in Nyhavn harbour - home to a handful of stalls selling danish trinkets and delicacies.

What's your favourite Christmas market in Europe? Have you ever visited any in my roundup?

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5 foods you have to try in Belgium (and where to get them!)

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Food to try in Belgium

Belgium is not one of those places that is often at the top of people’s bucket list, but for food lovers (aka everyone) it’s actually a paradise in waiting with a whole host of local dishes that are all delicious. I’ve rounded up my five favourite foods to try in Belgium and where you can get your hands on them on your next visit. 

Moules Frites - Food to try in Belgium

Moules Frites
Before I went to Belgium, I had never even tried mussels and had no particular desire to do so but one taste of moules frites and it’s now one of my favourite dishes ever. The literal translation is mussels fries – which gives you a good idea of what the dish is - a big bowl of mussels teamed with the legendary Belgian fries (the thin crispy ones that are the god of all fries).  The most common way to serve the mussels is with white wine, shallots, parsley and butter, however in many restaurants the mussels can now be cooked with a variety of flavours including garlic and chilli. To get your moules frites fix, head to Breydel De Coninc in the pretty town of Bruges where there are a whopping nine different moules frites varieties to choose from!

Top 5 foods to try in Belgium
Photo by Visit Flanders

Food to try in Belgium - Belgian Chocolate
Photo by sart68
Belgian Chocolate
Perhaps one of the food’s Belgium is most famous for is its legendary chocolate and you’ll find it difficult to walk around the streets of any Belgian city without coming across a chocolate shop before long. The best bit is that most of these chocolate shops will happily give out samples for you to try meaning you can shop around to find your favourite to buy in bulk. My favourite is artisan chocolatier Mary’s. Originally opened in Brussels in 1919, the chain now has branches across Belgium and even a couple in America. The selection of pralines is amazing, in particular the Truffee Coco, which is almond praliné dusted with caramelised coconut flakes. The shops are also absolutely beautiful, making it the perfect place for an Instagram snap!

For hot chocolate lovers, you also have to pay a visit to Laurent Gerbaud in Brussels. Pure Belgian chocolate in liquid form it is thick, gloopy and one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. It also offers the drink paired with some of its handmade chocolates too – but that was a chocolatey step too far, even for me!


Belgian Beer - Food to try in Belgium
Photo by Nick Postorino

Belgian Beer

Belgian Beer 
Okay this technically doesn't count as a food to try in Belgium, but on average Belgians drink around 84 litres of beer and the country is home to over 180 breweries, so it’s safe to say it is a pretty big part of their lifestyle. The type of beer served in Belgium can vary from very pale lagers similar to those most commonly drunk in the UK to dark stout lagers. One cool thing about Belgian beer however is every type will usually have its own unique glass which it is drunk out of. To see an example of this, take a trip to the 2be Beer Wall in Bruges, where they have nearly every Belgian beer lined up on display along with the respective glasses. Order one of the taster boards to try a selection (my favourite was the cherry beer!) and take a seat on the terrace to enjoy a beautiful view of Bruges by the canal. 

Belgian Waffles - Food to try in Belgium
Photo by The Hostel Girl

Belgian Waffles
Belgian waffles are now found all over the world, particularly in the US where restaurants compete to see who can serve up the biggest most extravagant tower of waffles and toppings.
Traditional Belgian waffles however, known as Brussels waffles, are a bit more of a simple affair. The perfect recipe will see them crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside usually topped with just a sprinkle of sugar. Waffles are available from street vendors all over Belgium, but arguably the best are found in a little tea room in Ghent called Establissement Max. This is also thought to be the first place where Brussels waffles were first ever served back in 1839, meaning you are getting a real taste of waffle history!

Photo by Calgary Reviews

Stoemp
 
The last of my Belgian specialities comes in the from of Stoemp – a hearty, carby dish that bears resemblance to British favourite, sausage and mash. Stoemp is creamy mashed potato mixed with at least one veg such as carrots or leaks – finished off with a grilled sausage and a meat gravy. If you’re heading to Belgium in winter this is the ultimate comfort dinner after a day’s sightseeing in the chilly air. Brussels restaurant Fin de Siecle is renowned for their Stoemp, which is served in huge portions!

Have you ever tried any of these Belgian foods? What’s your favourite food you’ve tried on your travels?


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#PillowTalk: A review of Gravity Bali Hotel, Uluwatu

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Gravity Bali Hotel Review

A couple of weeks ago, I gave you the lowdown on Slow Gili Air, the island resort we stayed in during our time on the Gili islands. Today it's time for me to introduce you to another one of the hotels we frequented during our time in Indonesia, Gravity Bali Hotel. This eco boutique resort is one of Bali's best kept secrets, offering a stunning hilltop resort with the most beautiful sea views and although we only got to enjoy two nights here, it was one of my favourite hotels of the trip.

On the map
Gravity Bali Hotel is found in Bali's Bukit region not far from Uluwatu, known as the island's surfers paradise. By moped it's roughly about 3-5 minutes drive from Padang Padang and Uluwatu beaches. The hotel isn't the easiest to find as it is located up a slightly steep hill just off the main road called Jalan Labuansait - meaning you get incredible views overlooking the Bali sea but also a bit of leg burn if you're travelling round by foot!

Gravity Bali Hotel Pool

Gravity Bali hotel View

Outside Decor for Gravity Bali Hotel

Style
Teaming the Indonesian boho style with all white interiors that look like they belong on a greek island, Gravity Bali Hotel provides a stunning, chilled and unbelievably instagramable place to stay.

In the centre of the hotel are a collection of cascading infinity pools which are surrounded by plush white leather sunbeds and loungers, huge wicker umbrellas and two white stone bar areas serving up cocktails, juices and ice cold fruit infused water all day long.

Gravity Bali Hotel Bedroom Decor

Bedroom Decor 2

Gravity Bali Hotel Room

Rooms      
Gravity Bali Hotel has nine rooms, all of which are individually designed to offer their own little slice of paradise. Rooms range from the standard double room to the superior suite with a private pool - which we were lucky enough to stay in. Crochet throws, thatched roofs and white wash wood throughout give the rooms a shabby chic feel, whilst little luxuries such as air con, a mini fridge and a big double bed give it a cosy vibe - meaning you can experience the striped back, slow paced vibe that Bali is loved for, whilst still enjoying a touch of comfort.

Hotel Room Decor

Wine and Dine
Each room comes with breakfast included which is served in a stunning open plan dining area at the top of the resort. You can choose from eggs, pancakes or fresh fruit (I'd recommend the pancakes - they were incredible!) and finishing time for breakfast is flexible depending on when the guests wake up, meaning you don't need to worry about early rising if you like a lie in.
For dinner there isn't too much on offer, with just a few basic bar meals on the menu - however there are lots of great options for dinner nearby including the aussie inspired Bukit Cafe and spanish restuarant El Kabron.
They do however have plenty of cocktails for you to sample, so build in an hour or so for pre or post dinner drinks in their bar area and if you really don't fancy venturing out - there's a great pizza place called Pizza Italia, where you can order on whatsapp and they deliver directly to the hotel.

Top Tips
Whether you are staying at the hotel for just a night or for a week I would definitely recommend hiring out a moped. Gravity Bali Hotel has its own mopeds which you can hire for just 80,000 IDR the equivalent of £5 for 24 hours (£10 if you include petrol). This is so convenient as it means you don't have to walk to a separate place to pick up and drop the moped off. The Bukit Peninsula is also a great part of Bali to drive a moped if you aren't super confident, as it's not as busy as Seminyak or as bumpy as Ubud. We saw most of the area in just a day and it was so easy to get around.
If you are a keen surfer there are also surf packages available, which lots of the guests were taking advantage of during our stay - not that I can tell you much about them as I could barely master a paddleboard, let alone the Uluwatu waves.

Last Word
This relatively unknown boutique Bali hotel offers a tranquil and uber stylish spot, at a very reasonable price, from which to explore Bali's Bukit region. With a prime location, it is in close proximity to the area's best beaches and foodie hotspots yet still feels a little off the beaten track. It's boho rooms and picturesque chill out areas make it one of the area's best hidden gems - no filter needed!

Details
£££: From £64 RRP per night
Address: Jl. Labuan Sait Gravity, 80364 Uluwatu
Book Now

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Top 5 places to see the sunset in Bali

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Sunset In Bali

If there is one thing I am a sucker for - it's a sunset and Bali is known for having plenty of beautiful places where you can watch the sun disappear behind the horizon. Having just spent two weeks in Bali, drinking my fair share of sundowners, I'm giving you five of my favourites spots to witness the sunset in Bali.

Sunset in Bali - Pura Luhur, Uluwatu

Pura Luhur, Uluwatu
Pura Luhur Uluwatu or Uluwatu temple is one of six temples believed to be Bali's spiritual pillars. It is also famous for its incredible location, perched right on the edge of a cliff some 70m above sea level. At 6pm every day, a traditional Kecak Fire Dance takes place in the temple with a breathtaking backdrop of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean - a great place to see the sun go down whilst also experiencing some Balinese culture. I would recommend arriving at the temple by about 4/4.30pm to allow you enough time to look round and get to the ampitheatre early enough to get an ocean facing seat for the best views.



Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak Sunset

Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak
One of Bali's most popular beach clubs, Potato Head, is found in Seminyak - known to be the fashion district of the island. This trendy spot has an infinity pool complete with a swim up bar right on the beach and also boasts a number of cosy day beds offering the ultimate place to chill out from day right through to evening. If you want to secure a day bed for one of the best sunsets in Bali, your best bet is to get there early and stay their for the day or you could do what we did and enjoy the sunset from the edge of the pool with a cocktail in hand and then grab a bed once all the day time guests have left.



Goya Boutique Hotel, Ubud Sunset in Bali

Goya Boutique Hotel, Ubud
Known for its waterfalls and rice paddies more than its sunsets, you might be surprised to find somewhere in Ubud on this list. However the Goya Boutique Hotel with its AMAZING infinity pool overlooking the jungle was one of my favourite sunsets of our whole trip. If you are heading to Ubud, it is well worth thinking about staying here - but if that doesn't fit into your trip you can still enjoy the view by booking a table at their restaurant for sunset, which is situated right next to the pool with the same stunning view.



Sunset In Bali, Suluban Beach, Uluwatu
©Marc Veraart

Suluban Beach, Uluwatu 
The second spot to be located in Uluwatu for witnessing a beautiful sunset in Bali is Suluban beach, a popular haunt for the area's surfer crowd. This hidden beach can only by reached by descending a steep flight of concrete steps and making your way through a series of mini caves but it's well worth the walk. Grab a few Bintangs from one of the local cafes on the journey down and take a seat on one of the protruding cliff faces to see the surfers catch the last of the day's waves as the sun goes down.



Teba Mega Cafe, Jimbaran Sunset View

Teba Mega Cafe, Jimbaran
Jimbaran Bay is renowned for its seafood restaurants that line the shore and is also renowned for being one of Bali's most popular sunset spots. Most tourists will flock to the north of the bay to the restaurants close to the fish market, however in my experience the seafood here was almost double the price and nowhere near as good as at Teba Mega Cafe found in the south of the bay near the Four Seasons Resort. Arrive at around 5/5.30pm to get the best table for sunset and be sure to order one of their platters to sample the best selection of seafood on offer.

What was your favourite spot to witness sunset in Bali? Are there any I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 Best Spots for Sunset in Bali



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