Tag Archives: Travel Tips

How to See Copenhagen on a Budget

Copenhagen free attraction Nyhavn for budget travellers to enjoy classic city view of Danish capital with boats and colourful buildings

Tell someone you’re off to the land of Borgen and The Killing and they’re bound to ask, “Is Copenhagen expensive?”. Technically the answer is ‘yes’, but only in the same way that Paris or London can be pricey for the uninitiated.  You really can do Copenhagen on a budget without skimping on culture, and I’ll show you how.

Free Things to Do in Copenhagen

Catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony every day at noon, at Amalienborg Palace. Yes, it’s a tourist cliché, but it’s fun too. Also, make time to wander around Nyhavn, which you’ll recognise from postcards and any films set here. For something a little offbeat, read my review of the free tour at the Danish Parliament, the Folketinget, or consider visiting the Danish Music Museum (Rosenørns Allé 22). read more

New York Shopping: The Fountain Pen Hospital & Fishs Eddy

traditional American fountain pen ink sold in famous Tribeca New York stationery store, lined up on shelves

There’s more to the Big Apple’s retail scene than Macy’s, Bloomingdales and the designer haunts loved by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. In fact, New York shopping should be on your agenda even if you’re not a fashion fan, because there are some excellent specialist shops to discover on your travels. I’ve picked two of my new favourite niche stores not to be missed.

The Fountain Pen Hospital

With sixty years of pen repairs under its belt, this is a thriving business and a fascinating place to explore. It has survived relocation and the ups and downs of the economy, and is now run by the third generation of the Wiederlight family, brothers Terry and Steve. Inside its doors you can pick up a posh rollerball, browse the latest pen catalogue and check out limited edition fountain pens at well over the $1000 mark. As the ‘hospital’ name indicates, your pens can be repaired in store, and the staff really do know their stuff. read more

Is it Worth Getting a Lisboa Card?

Boy chases hat blown by summer breeze along Lisbon waterfront with warehouse building in the background; black and white street scene

Most major cities have their own tourist cards, promising discounts on sightseeing and transport, but it’s not always easy to tell which ones are worth paying for. However, when it comes to the Lisboa Card, Lisbon’s equivalent, the benefits are certainly tempting enough…

How much does it cost?

There are 24, 48 or 72 hour cards available, priced at €18.50, €31.50 or €39.00 for adults, or €11.50, €17.50 and €22.50 for children. Bear in mind there’s hardly any price increase from 48 to 72 hours, so you might as well pick the longer option, especially as this gives you access to exclusive restaurant discounts (not available on shorter options). read more

Is Papersmiths the Best Shop in Bristol?

Foreground HB pencils in aqua with pink rubber erasers, against background of magazines from Britain, Europe and America

Writing longhand seems like a guilty pleasure these days, but one stationery shop in Bristol makes it unashamedly cool again: Papersmiths.

This Clifton store offers a carefully curated selection of pens, notebooks, cards and accessories, not to mention a vast range of fashion and lifestyle magazines to rival those stocked by London’s best newsagents. I popped in during a quick trip to the city and, being a self-confessed stationery addict, I was quickly won over by most of the stock.

Brands in store range from the minimalist design-centric (Hay) to the infinitely quirky (Herb Lester travel guides). Visual merchandising is simple but effective, with pencils arranged in colour order, and copies of The Gentlewoman slotted between thick woollen rugs and bowls full of chunky erasers in the window, so you start to picture your own home gradually being transformed into a Papersmiths palace. read more

Travelling Solo in Tokyo: Know Before You Go

Traditional Washi paper shop in Tokyo street, shot in black and white, with calligraphy on display. Credit Soranyan via Flickr

You might remember me naming Japan as one of the hot destinations for Spring/Summer 2016, as it’s loved by fashion designers right now, not to mention travel magazines and websites.

Well, guest blogger June has captured the mood and is here to inspire you with tips for travelling solo in Tokyo, so you can see what all the fuss is about…

Solo travel can be daunting, let alone when you want to see the most populated metropolis in the world. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a massive city with a population of more than 13.3 million people, and it’s known worldwide for great food, trendsetting fashions, shopping areas and a stark contrast of tradition and modernity. There’s something for everyone, especially solo travellers. read more

Thai Island Hopping: Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan

Koh Nang Yuan boat offshore from eco-friendly island

Thailand is one of those rare places that looks just as good as the postcards would have you believe. Bright turquoise sea, colourful markets and those beautiful green forests – it’s basically like stepping into an HDR photo.

The three main islands on the Samui archipelago, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan, all have their own merits, so I suggest you don’t get picky. Enjoy all three in their own right.

Koh Samui

This is the most famous of the eastern Thai islands. It’s a really fashionable destination, and not just for those of us on a shoestring budget – you could rock up to the Six Senses, or The Library, which TripAdvisor called ‘the trendiest hotel in Thailand’. If you’re lucky, you might catch the likes of Mick Jagger performing at the Secret Garden Sunday Sessions on Big Buddha Beach. read more

Beauty and the Baggage: Beauty Products to Pack or to Buy Abroad

Smiling retro woman with curled hair holding bar of soap in magazine advertisement from Life, 1950s

Even if you’re not that interested in make-up in everyday life, travelling can change that. For one thing, any combination of jet lag, rough ferry crossings, late night road trips and weird eating patterns can play havoc with your skin, and that’s before sizzling heat or bitterly cold winds come into the equation too. Suddenly a slick of colour or a soothing skin cream seems like a very good idea, and it’s the perfect time to invest in travel beauty products.

With a slew of special offers running in high street stores all year round, World Duty Free isn’t always the cheapest place to shop. Rather than pinning your hopes on airport bargains, I suggest you stock up on basics before you travel, and save some room in your suitcase to bring home new and distinctive beauty products – either for yourself or to use as souvenirs. And if you go to South Korea, expect beauty-savvy friends to be insanely jealous, as it’s a mecca for cosmetics. read more

Testing the Three Day Official Dublin Pass

Ha'penny bridge spanning the River Liffey with hotels and shops on one side

I recently blogged about the Freedom Pass from Dublin Sightseeing, but my city break also involved another sightseeing card (yes, I like to spread my favours): the Dublin Pass, which gives tourists free entry to 33 leading attractions.

Adult prices vary from €39 (£29) for one day or €61 (£45) for six days’ access. My three day option cost €71 (£52), which worked out at €23.66 (£17.33) per day, and I was determined to see as much as possible during that time.

So what sealed the deal? As with my Freedom Pass experience, the convenience factor is one big incentive: carrying less cash saves time. With the Dublin Pass you get a free one-way Aircoach transfer, and you can skip the line at some of the city’s most popular sights. To get your attraction tickets, the staff scan your pass using a mobile app. Here’s my verdict… read more

Sightseeing in Dublin with the Freedom Pass

Sightseeing green bus on Merrion Square in city centre

Dublin is mostly a walkable city and, though you can navigate it easily, there are always extra things to be seen from the road and from the experts. When I visited last week for a short break with my parents, I knew a bus tour would be on our agenda, but we wanted to get the best value for our Euro.

I chose Dublin Sightseeing’s Freedom Pass as it seemed like good value for money: €33 (or £24) provides three days’ unlimited hop-on hop-off bus travel on two sightseeing routes, plus public bus travel (the blue and yellow buses you see everywhere), a free Pat Liddy walking tour and free entry to the Little Museum of Dublin, alongside a range of attraction discounts. Not bad for the equivalent of €11 (£8) per day. But would it be useful in reality? read more

Paris Tips for Families and Solo Travellers

Pompidou Centre with unusual architecture in central Paris steel pipes and grid

Whether you’re travelling en famille or you’re flying solo, you know there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all city break. As there are far too many existing Paris guides aimed at couples, I’ve aimed to redress the balance for the rest of us with these tips, following on from my guide for first-time visitors.

Paris with Kids

I recently compiled a city break itinerary for a family of five, so I can promise you this city is child-friendly. It’s just a case of finding what will keep everyone entertained… read more