My City Break in Amsterdam


When visiting Europe it would be a shame not to spend a couple of days in this remarkable city. With its unique architecture, amazing art collections and a truly vivid nightlife, Amsterdam has plenty to offer all its visitors. When you are there it seems like there is never enough time to visit all the stunning locations and sites this marvelous city has to offer. So I always tend to choose several different items each time I visit just to make sure I get to soak in as much of Amsterdam as I possibly can.

A Walking Tour of the City

Amsterdam Walking Tour

This is the perfect way to start your visit. Usually when I get off the plane I prefer to move instead of just sitting around. Luckily there are numerous free walking tours of Amsterdam, and I try to pick a different one each time. With a whole array of great guides, who have different stories to tell, there is never a dull moment. All you have to do is book your tour online or by phone and decide on the date and time. It is usually up to 20 people in a group so you don’t feel overwhelmed, and the beauty is actually hearing about the city from the people who love it and live in it.

A Day at the Rijksmuseum


One of the best experiences I have ever had was visiting this magnificent museum. The sheer size and architecture of this place will leave you in awe. Just a quick note though, the lines at the entrance can be quite long, and considering the ever changing Amsterdam weather, it would be wise to pack your Go Travel pocket poncho so that you don’t get soaked. Once inside brace yourself, the amount of stunning works of art is overwhelming. From the famous Rembrandt’s auto portrait to his Night Watch, a colossal painting covering an entire wall of the museum. It will take you several hours to walk around the entire museum, but it is well worth it. After your tour you can take a break at the nearby Vondelpark, one of Amsterdam’s most relaxing locations. Or in case you haven't had your fill of art, get to the Van Gogh Museum, it is just a short walk away and you can continue to marvel at the grand artworks of the true masters.

And for Fun

If you want to experience a bit of adrenaline rush and at the same time capture some stunning views of the city you should definitely take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel at the Dam Square. There is usually a bit of a line but nothing major, and after your ride you can pay a visit to the wax museum right there at the square. You can also take a break and have a delicious meal at one of the local cafes and restaurants. Considering I have some dietary restrictions regarding gluten my favorite was the  Greenwoods Singel, a quaint little place where you can get the tastiest gluten free, vegan and vegetarian meals along with a wide array of quality local cuisine.

End Your Trip on a High Note

Waffles in Amsterdam

There is no shortage of a great night time scenes in Amsterdam, from bustling cafes to music clubs and cabarets. One of my favorite places to unwind and dance to some great live tunes is definitely the Bourbon Street Music Club on Leidsekruisstraat. This vintage jazz club with an old school feel hosts live music session seven nights a week and offers some of the best beers on tap. It is definitely worth your while. It opens its doors around 10 PM so you will have plenty of time to have a drink or two at a nearby cafe and taste some of those famous Dutch waffles. Finally, when it is all said and done and it is time to go home, take a few hours and sit by the side of one of numerous canals and just take in the unique energy of this remarkable city.

The one thing about Amsterdam I can guarantee is that it will keep inviting you back for more, and you will never run out of sights and locations to explore and discover here. Until next time, goede reis!

10 Must-See Castles Around the World

Some of us dream of the day where our own Cinderella fairytale would come true. The one where we get to leave our ordinary lives, go live in a beautiful castle and forget about all of our responsibilities, right? Luckily, you don’t need a fairy godmother to make all your dreams come true any longer. Now, it’s as easy as one plane ticket or one train ride away!

Here are 10 must-see castles around the world.

1. Cardiff Castle in Cardiff, Wales


The 2,000-year-old castle has been renovated a number of times. As a very versatile space, the castle has been used as a Roman fort and a coal exporting port, until finally being restored into a beautiful castle. Architect William Burges remodeled the castle in 1866, transforming the enormous structure by creating gothic towers, murals, stained glass, marble, wood carvings and assigning each room it’s own theme. Some of these themes include a Mediterranean garden and Italian and Arabian styled rooms. The castle was presented to the city of Cardiff as a gift and has since been one of the city’s
largest tourist attractions.

Along with obtaining a rich history lesson, as a visitor at the Cardiff Castle, you'll be able to see breath-taking views of the city of Cardiff from the high towers scouring over the area.

2. Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland

Set in the capital of Scotland this stunning castle is sure to be the best part of your trip. It sits atop a volcanic rock (referred to as the Castle Rock), so it can be a bit of a climb to reach, but the stone walls and towers and the encapsulating view will make the climb well worth it.

The castle is the biggest attraction in the city with over a million visitors in 2013. Audio and staff-led tours are available of the historic castle in addition to fully costumed reenactments of the Fourth Earl of Bothwell and Mary, Queen of Scots. Set a date as soon as possible to see the beloved Edinburgh Castle.

3. Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal


The Pena Palace in Portugal surpasses all language barriers a traveler may face with just one look at it. The view from the top makes stumbling around with little language knowledge a little better.

The palace lies on top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains, towering over the town of Sintra. This national monument can be seen from the capital city Lisbon and other surrounding cities. The style of the castle was heavily influenced by romanticism during the 1800s. As for photo-worthy spots go, The Queen’s Terrace serves as an excellent photoshoot setting as well as the clock tower. As one of the seven wonders of Portugal, there is no excuse not to go see this architectural masterpiece.

4. Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto, Japan

Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto

Commonly referred to as the “Crow Castle,” this all black sleek castle is a must-see for any tourist. Original wood and brick cover the interior and exterior of the castle. This castle was built on top of a plain which gives easy access to everyone. Besides the appeal of the castle’s elegant and historic infrastructure, it is in close proximity of the capital of Japan, Tokyo. Classified as one of the national treasures of Japan, there is no doubt this castle should be at the top of every traveler's bucket list.

5. Dover Castle in Dover, England


Created during the Bronze Age, this medieval castle holds the history of the country within its walls. It is the largest castle in England and is called the “Key to England” because of its historical significance. The castle has been classified as a national monument and is recognized worldwide for its preservation of history. If the worldwide significance isn’t enough to convince you to visit, maybe the secret war tunnels, Roman lighthouse, or ocean views will be enough.

6. Chillon Castle in Veytaux, Switzerland


This quaint castle resides on an island alongside Lake Geneva and is one of the most highly visited castles in Switzerland. Visitors can tour the whimsical castle or look around and absorb the tranquility of the surrounding nature. If the cozy setting hasn’t sold you, maybe a little nostalgia will. This castle was used as the castle in the 1989 film The Little Mermaid. That’s right, the beloved setting of one of your favorite Disney movies is just a plane ticket away. This historic monument is a perfect tourist attraction for anyone who wants to relax, take some photos and maybe catch a tail flipping through the water.

7. Spiš Castle in Žehra, Slovakia

Spiš Castle

If you find yourself traveling in Europe, hop on a plane and head to Slovakia to see one of the largest castles in all of Europe. Built during the 12th century, this castle has changed its style enough times it could make its own clothing line. The structures original style was Romanesque then it went through its goth phase during the 1400s until it was destroyed in a fire in 1780. But honestly, who didn’t destroy their goth phase? The castle was partially rebuilt in the 20th century and now is open to the public for tours and viewings.

8. Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg in Orschwiller, France

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

A fairytale castle without a fairytale story, this castle was taken back by the French from the Germans after World War I through the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Originally a French castle….and then a German castle….and then a French castle once again, the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is considered one the most popular tourist attractions in France. Although the last reconstruction of the castle does not precisely mimic the original medieval construction, this castle is one you do not want to miss.

9. Powis Castle in Powys, Wales

Powis Castle

This eloquent castle houses an array of gardens and terraces that attracts thousands of visitors a year. The gardens are the most notable of all the aspects of this castle. The mansion was originally used as a hideaway for the treasure that Robert and Edward Clive retrieved from India through their work with the British East India Company but was later transformed into a castle. This cultivated castle is perfect for any history lover to come visit.

10. Tourbillon Castle in Sion, Switzerland

Tourbillon Castle in Sion

Ruined by a fire in 1788, this Swiss castle is perched atop a hill, towering over the city of Sion. Parts of the demolished castle have been restored and is open for public visitation. Now setting foot on the grounds of this castle is no easy battle. Visitors must climb up the winding stairs that hug the edges of the hill. If you are up for a worthwhile challenge, this castle is the one for you.


To find out more about castles, check out Tripedia's Guide to Castles.


The Best London Attractions That Don't Make Headlines


London might be more closely associated with its main attractions than any other place in Europe. That is, if you’re visiting London, you probably already have a list of places you’d like to see before you even start thinking about it. But it also happens to be a huge city with a lot of really interesting stuff going on, which means it’s a good idea to look past the guidebook headlines and top-10 lists you’ll find when you do start thinking about what to do and see. 

The following aren’t exactly off-the-beaten-path destinations. Some are very prominent, and some are quite famous. But they still represent a deeper layer of London landmark tourism than, say, checking out Big Ben and Buckingham Palace!

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court

Buckingham Palace gets so much attention - and deservedly so - that you almost wouldn’t know there are other palaces nearby. But Hampton Court Palace is another sensational royal residence that you can visit as a tourist. And it’s arguably a more entertaining place to explore. There are all kinds of activities for visitors, from exploring a 300-year-old hedge maze to attending festivals to touring the rooftop.

South Bank

South Bank

There are a few different parks in London that get a lot of attention as traveler hot spots, like St. James’s and Hyde Park. But the South Bank might actually be the nicest outdoor area to explore for a few areas. Essentially a sort of tree-lined promenade on the Thames, it’s a very welcoming stretch, lit at night by lanterns along the walkway and with tons of restaurants in close proximity.

Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge

Here again, we have a spot that is simply overlooked in comparison to other, similar attractions. The Tower Bridge is a mighty, impressive landmark and one of London’s most famous sights. The Millennium Bridge, however, is also a gorgeous piece of engineering, and one every visitor to London should explore. Built via Britain’s Heritage Lottery Fund, it was actually created to celebrate the year 2000 and still seems to be one of the city’s more modern features.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

It’s easy to forget that there’s a selection of museums in London given that the British Museum commands so much attention and other attractions like Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey have plenty to say on their own about British history. But there are other museums, to be sure, and the Natural History Museum is frankly incredible. With displays dedicated to dinosaurs, outer space, recent science, human history, and more, it’s quite the learning experience as well

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

The Kew Gardens also get overlooked sometimes because of some of the popularly recommended parks around London, as well as because some of the royal palaces and castles in and around London have their own meticulously kept grounds. But this is one urban botanical garden you should make time for. Claiming to have the largest botanical collection in the world, it makes for a beautiful excursion for anyone who enjoys nature. And make sure you don’t miss the Temperate House - it’s a massive Victorian glasshouse with upwards of 10,000 plants inside.

Tottenham Stadium

Tottenham Stadium

This stadium doesn’t actually exist yet, and what’s more, we don’t know for sure what it will be called. But Tottenham Hotspur, which plays its home football in London, is transitioning from White Hart Lane to a new arena that’s quickly taking shape and is expected to be ready for the 2018-19 Premier League. These days it seems that any new football stadium in a prominent country or league is magnificent, and by the look of things, Tottenham’s new home could become the new best stadium in London (which is saying something).