5 Tempting Reasons to Visit Hungary’s Amazing Tokaj Wine Region

Tokaj Wine Region

 

Why explore Hungary’s historic Tokaj wine region?

 

Can you name a Hungarian wine? When asked this questions, most will simply scratch their heads and shake their heads. Some may have heard of the sweet white wine coming from the Tokaj wine region… Believe it or not, Hungary’s wine-making history goes back to ancient times. The Hungarian word for wine – ‘bor’ does not derive from Latin, which makes some scientists argue that wine was made and consumed here long before the Romans started planting vineyards.

 

Tokaj Wine Region

 

In the Middle Ages, Hungary was best known for the sweet Tokaji Aszu which was dubbed ‘the king of wines and the wine of kings’ and was the drink of choice for the likes of Louis XIV and Peter the Great. Unfortunately, under Communism, wine production was nationalized and Hungary’s historic wine traditions, grape diversity, and established quality were mostly forgotten in the pursuit of mass-produced and low-quality quantities to be exported to the vast market of the Soviet Union.

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Categories: Budapest, Destinations, Food & Wine, Hungary | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

3 Absolutely Amazing Routes to Bike in Austria Now!

Amazing Routes to Bike in Austria

We have all heard of the long history, cultural riches, and cosmopolitan charm of Austria’s star cities Vienna and Salzburg. If you are looking to explore the countryside with its scenic landscapes, crisp mountain air, and hidden culinary treasures, consider adding to your next vacation one of these 3 amazing routes to bike in Austria.

Best routes to bike in Austria - Lake Zell

Lake Zell

Explore the Alpine Beauty of Zell am See-Kaprun

 

If you are in Salzburg and looking to spend a few days biking amidst gorgeous landscapes of glaciers and mountains, the resort of Zell am See-Kaprun (1.5 hours’ south by car or train) would be the perfect place. It offers 150 miles of well-marked trails for people of all levels – from challenging mountain bike routes to downhill riding, e-biking, or just a leisurely cycle around the Lake Zell. Need a little push conquering those hills? You are in luck as there are some 20 rental stations in the area offering electric (booster) bikes.

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Categories: Austria, Salzburg, Tirol, Wachau | Tags: , , , | 20 Comments

5 undiscovered Balkan towns to be on your radar now!

Ksamil, Albania

Centuries-old history, unique culture, and unspoiled natural beauty make these off-the-beaten-path Balkan towns ideal for the cultured adventurer. 

 

Sarande, Albania

 

Albania is relatively unknown to American travelers, but slowly gaining recognition due to its centuries-old history, authentic culture, and extensive coastline on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Cut off from the rest of the world during decades of communist rule, what the country lacks in terms of modern tourist infrastructure is more than compensated by the genuine hospitality of its people.

5 Balkan to discover - Butrint, Albania

Ancient site of Butrint

Sarande is a charming seaside town in the very south of Albania, easily accessible by car from the capital Tirana or by ferry from the Greek island of Corfu. It is a popular entry point for trips to the stunning Butrint National Park which extends to the border with Greece. The park includes the archaeological site of Butrint – a UNESCO-protected ancient city resplendent with Greek, Roman, and Byzantine ruins.

 

Seafood lunch in Ksamil, Albania

Seafood lunch in Ksamil

 

Also near Sarande and within the Butrint National Park, the village of Ksamil is a great destination for a day to enjoy the beach, the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea, and to sample fresh seafood and local wines.

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Categories: Albania, Destinations, Kosovo, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia, Ohrid, Ohrid, Serbia, Western Balkans | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

5 Iconic but Lesser-Known European Squares You Should Visit

It is hard not to love historic European squares. Resplendent with history and fine architecture, they often create the feeling of sunlight and space – the perfect setting for locals and visitors alike to take a stroll or linger in outdoor cafes, restaurants, and markets. A great city square is indeed a hub of urban life, where people go to meet, eat, drink, shop, see and be seen.

 

The Market Square in Krakow, Poland

 

The Rynek, as the locals call it, was first laid out in the 13th century, when it became the largest medieval marketplace in Europe and the commercial and social heart of the country where festivals, parades, and public gatherings took place. Back then, Krakow was the capital of Poland and the Royal Way, once the route of regal and religious processions, still connects the square with the medieval castle. In its center, the Cloth Hall was where merchants would meet to trade their wares – spices, silk, leather, wax, amber, and Krakow’s main export – salt from the nearby Wieliczka Mines.

Best European Squares - Market Square, Krakow, Poland

The Market Square in Krakow

Surrounded by the grand buildings of former aristocratic mansions, the Rynek is one of the loveliest European squares and a great place to stroll around or simply sit and watch the world go by.

 

Insider Tip: If a local asks you to meet ‘Pod Adamem’ (literately ‘under Adam’) meet them at the bronze monument of Adam Mickiewicz – Poland’s greatest poet, in the Market Square.

 

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Categories: Christmas Markets, Cities, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dalmatian coast, Destinations, Germany, Hvar, Krakow, Poland, Prague, Slovenia | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

3 Hedonistic Reasons to Visit Budapest This Fall!

Visit Budapest this fall - palinka brandy and sausage
Visit Budapest this fall - Buda Castle

Buda Castle in Budapest

Granted, the fall is a great time to visit Budapest. The temperatures in September – October are lower, the crowds of group tourists and river-cruise passengers are thinner, and the most-popular sites are less packed. But foodies and wine lovers will find some extra reasons to visit Budapest this fall – 3 local festivals which are very popular with Hungarians, but not (yet) so well-known abroad. What better way to try traditional food and drink and to mingle with the locals!

 

Budapest Wine Festival

 

Visit Budapest this fall - Tokay Wine

Tokay Wine

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Categories: Budapest, Cities, Destinations, Food & Wine, Hungary | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

5 Undiscovered European Adventure Destinations

European Adventure Destinations

As we are constantly on the lookout for unique experiences in uncrowded parts of the world, here are some less-visited European adventure destinations with a great variety of both natural and cultural resources to consider for your next holiday.

European Adventure Destinations - Kemeri National Park

Kemeri National Park in Latvia

Latvia

This small country with a 350-miles-long coastline on the Baltic Sea has several popular seaside resorts, but not far away, the Kemeri National Park is a nature lover’s heaven. Its territory is occupied by dense forests, bogs, lakes, and mineral springs crisscrossed by wooden walkways built above the marshes. If you are craving history and culture, Riga – Latvia’s capital, is just an hour’s drive away. It has a beautifully preserved and very walkable historic Old Town and Art Nouveau district.

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Categories: Bulgaria, Destinations, Estonia, Julian Alps, Karst Region, Latvia, Riga, Romania, Slovenia, Tallinn | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

7 Game of Thrones sites in Croatia you should visit now!

Lokrum Island and Dubrovnik in Croatia

The epic fantasy drama Game of Thrones, now in its 6th season, has used some of Croatia’s most historic and scenic sites for its filming locations. If you are a fan of the show and planning a trip to the Dalmatian coast this year, you can discover many of your favorite Game of Thrones sites and dive straight into the world of Starks and Lannisters.

Game of Thrones sites - Diocletian Palace in Split

The Vaults of the Diocletian Palace in Split

  1. The Diocletian Palace is Split’s top tourist attraction. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is more than 1,700 years old and was built as the retirement residence of Diocletian – one of Rome’s greatest emperors, who was born in this area. The palace’s walls and cellar is where Daenerys raises her three dragons and locks them up after their brutal rampage.

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Categories: Cities, Croatia, Dalmatian coast, Destinations, Dubrovnik, Game of Thrones, Split | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

9 Fun Facts About Bulgaria You Should Know Now!

Here are some fun facts about Bulgaria guaranteed to get it on your bucket list!

Fun Facts About Bulgaria-the Thracian Tombs

The first known inhabitants of Bulgaria were the ancient Thracians.

  1. It is the homeland of the ancient Thracians who gave us Orpheus and Spartacus.

Bulgaria’s history stretches back thousands of years. The first known inhabitants of these lands were the ancient Thracians who gave the world Orpheus and Spartacus. The Thracians believed in the afterlife and left behind vaulted tombs hidden in mounds, one of which, near Kazanlak, is decorated with beautiful frescoes and is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fun Facts About Bulgaria - Ancient Roman sites

The Ancient Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

  1. Bulgaria is dotted with ancient Roman sites.

The ancient Romans’ heritage can still be found all across the country, from the Roman baths in Varna on the Black Sea coast, to the ruins of the large Roman city still still being uncovered under the capital Sofia, and most of all – in the Roman amphitheater in Plovdiv which was built in the 2nd century and is still used today for outdoor plays and concerts.

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Categories: Ancient History, Bulgaria, Destinations, Food & Wine | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

More Luxury Hotel Chains Enter the Western Balkans

Resent news indicate that the Western Balkans are finally attracting some significant investment from luxury hotel chains like Four Seasons, One&Only, and St. Regis.

In Croatia, Four Seasons have signed a deal to build a luxury resort on Hvar Island. Set to open in 2019, the 120-room Four Seasons property will be located near Stari Grad – a historic town and a major ferry port.

Luxury Hotel Chains coming to Hvar, Croatia

Four Seasons Resort Coming to Hvar, Croatia

In the center of Split – the largest city on the Dalmatian coast, the Hotel Ambassador has been purchased by the heir to the Birkenstock shoe empire – Klaus Alex Birkenstock, who is expected to invest ‎more than €13 million in the property, due to open in early 2018.

Birkenstock to Develop a Hotel in Split

Birkenstock Investing in a Hotel in Split

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Categories: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Destinations, Montenegro, Serbia, Western Balkans | Tags: , | 17 Comments

3 (More) Reasons to Travel to Prague in May

Not that anyone would need yet more reasons to travel to Prague. With its historic charm and beautifully preserved medieval architecture, the city is gorgeous as it is, especially in spring before the crowds arrive, but there are some local events taking place there next month, providing additional incentive…

Charles-Bridge-Prague

Charles Bridge in Prague

  1. From May 12 – June 4, some of Prague’s finest concert venues like the Municipal House and the Rudolfinum, as well as several historic churches, will host the Prague Spring International Music Festival which will showcase some 100 orchestras, singers, and ensembles from around the world, featuring musical styles from classical to jazz and from traditional to modern.
Czech-cuisine-roast-duck

Prague’s Signature Roast Duck

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Categories: Czech Republic, Destinations, Food & Wine, Prague | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments