Your Ultimate Guide to Hawaii

With its geological wonders and near-perfect weather, Hawaii is one of the most popular destinations for a tropical island getaway. The Hawaiian islands have an exotic atmosphere with rich cultural traditions and extensive history.

The islands are renowned for their natural beauty with rugged mountain ranges, golden sand beaches, tropical foliage, cascading waterfalls and fresh floral air.

Whether its a family holiday, honeymoon, wedding or just a short getaway from reality, the islands of Hawaii have something for every traveller.

Where is Hawaii?

The US state of Hawaii is located on an archipelago in the central region of the Pacific Ocean. Approximately 3,900 km south-west of North America, Hawaii is the only state in the USA that is made up entirely of islands.

Hawaii is made up of over 130 individual islands, 6 of which are considered to be the major islands.

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Which Island Should I Go To?

O’ahu

O’ahu is home to the state’s capital and the majority of Hawaii’s population. The major city of Honolulu brings visitors from places all over the world and is perfect for those who love the hustle and bustle of the city lifestyle. It is Hawaii’s most cosmopolitan city with an amazing backdrop of mountain ranges and waterfalls. The island of O’ahu offers visitors both an urban and rural country experience with forest trails and farmlands just a short drive from the city.

Top attractions in O’ahu

  • Pearl Harbour: Hawaii’s number 1 visitor attraction, Pearl Harbour, is the location where World War II began for the United States.
  • Waikiki Beach: As one of the most famous and recognised beaches in the world, Waikiki attracts millions of visitors each year.
  • Diamond Head: Diamond Head State Monument is one of Hawaii’s most recognised landmarks, attracting thousands of hikers each year to enjoy the breathtaking views of Oahu.
  • The North Shore: The birthplace of big wave surfing with numerous professional surfing competitions being held here each year.

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Maui

Maui is the second largest island and home to some of the best whale watching locations in the world. Being Hawaii’s second most populated island, Maui has something for travellers of all ages. Maui is home to some of Hawaii’s most remote and pristine areas such as the cascading waterfalls and unspoilt rainforests of Hana. As well as an endless coastline of gorgeous beaches, you can also find rolling mountains and vineyards in up-country Maui.

Top attractions in Maui

  • The road to Hana: With approximately 600 turns, this famous scenic drive leads to the charming town of Hana.
  • Lahaina Whaling Town: If you want to learn a bit of Hawaiian history, Lahaina tells the story of Maui’s whaling days, which was once the primary source of income for Hawaii.
  • Haleakala National Park: The scenic home to Maui’s highest peak.

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Kaua’i

Kaua’i is the oldest and northernmost island in Hawaii. For all the nature lovers out there, Kaua’i is the place for you. The island, also known as “The Garden Isle”, is graced with natural beauty and home to some of the world’s best beaches. Here you can explore the incredible coastline of the Coconut Coast or check out the Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.

Fun fact: Kaua’i’s incredible landscape has been the backdrop for countless movies and tv shows including Jurassic Park.

Top attractions in Kaua’i

  • Poipu Beach: Voted one of America’s best beaches, Poipu Beach is a series of golden sand crescents perfect for swimming, snorkelling and surfing.
  • Waimea Canyon: Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, Waimea Canyon provides spectacular views of Kaua’i’s mountain ranges.
  • Napali Coast: Best seen by boat, the Napali Coast offers spectacular views of the towering cliffs of Kaua’i’s coastline.

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The Big Island

Hawaii (the Big Island) is where you can see Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Living up to its name, the Big Island is more than twice the size of the other islands combined. It is also the most geologically diverse island with 11 of 13 of the world’s major climate zones. From active volcanoes to black sand beaches, ranches, farms and gorgeous waterfalls, Hawaii has something to meet every traveller’s needs.

Top attractions on the Big Island

  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Here you can see the Kilauea volcano, the big islands most popular attraction.
  • Coffee plantations: Visit the award-winning coffee farms of Kua, Puna and Hilo and sip a freshly brewed cup of Kona Coffee.
  • Hilo farmer’s market: Known as one of the best open markets in Hawaii, the Hilo farmer’s market has a selection of freshly grown fruit and vegetables, fashion, handmade jewellery, wooden treasures and baked goods. Perfect for holiday souvenirs.

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Molokai

Molokai is one of the smallest of the six islands, offering visitors a window into a less developed Hawaii. In fact, the island is so well preserved that it does not even have a single traffic light. With it’s rural, laidback lifestyle, the island of Molokai is the ideal location for peace and seclusion. Molokai is often described as “the real Hawaii”, a place where time has stood still.

Top attractions of Molokai

  • Papohaku Beach: One of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii.
  • Kalaupapa National Historic Park: Discover the rich history of one of the most remote corners of the Hawaiian islands.

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Lanai

Lanai is another of Hawaii’s smallest islands and has made a successful transition from pineapple agriculture to tourism over the years. Lanai is the perfect place to get away from the crowds with two luxury resorts for ultimate relaxation. As Lanai doesn’t attract as many tourists as the other Hawaiian islands, there are numerous unspoilt beaches in remote locations.  For those after a bit more adventure, Lanai features mountain trails and pine forests perfect for hiking and exploring.

Top attractions of Lanai 

  • Lanai City: The central town of the island with local shopping and dining.
  • Munro Trail: This is the most popular trail to hike in Lanai, leading to the highest peak on the island. From here you can see an incredible view of 5 other Hawaiian islands.

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Have you been to the Hawaiian Islands? I’d love to hear about your experience! If you have any recommendations on things to do and see, feel free to comment below. 

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

 

The Great Aussie Bucket List

So I must admit, despite having lived in Australia for my entire life, I have barely seen half of what this beautiful country has to offer. In my defence, it is Pretty. Damn. Big. Which also means there is no shortage of things to do and see.

Whether you’re visiting from overseas, or are a local like me, these sites are something everyone should have on their Aussie bucket list.

Watch a sunset at Uluru
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone rock formation in the “red centre” of Australia’s Northern Territory. The iconic landmark is surrounded by rock caves, waterholes, ancient paintings, and magnificent views of the landscape. The colour of Uluru is said to change with the sun, making sunsets even more spectacular.

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
Home to over 1,500 species of fish, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. With more than 2,900 individual reefs, the incredible ecosystem stretches for over 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast. This gorgeous reef is World Heritage listed and is something not to be missed.

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Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
You can’t come to Sydney without seeing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but why not take it one step further and climb it. Whether you decide to climb at sunrise, midday, sunset or night time, you’ll get a 360-degree view of Sydney’s gorgeous harbour.

Take a Trip along the Great Ocean Road
If road trips are more your style, the Great Ocean Road is an unforgettable journey. The 243km drive features everything from lush rainforests and gorgeous beaches to towering cliff tops and the iconic 12 Apostles. The Great Ocean Road runs between the Victorian towns of Torquay and Allansford and is best done over a few days for the ultimate site seeing experience.

Discover the Blue Mountains
Just a 90-minute drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains feature some of Australia’s most beautiful attractions. From waterfalls and streams to canyons and caves, the Blue Mountains is nothing short of incredible. Some of the most popular sites include the Wentworth Falls, the Three Sisters rock formation and Echo Point.

Climb Mount Kosciuszko
Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s tallest mountain. Situated in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, the mountain stands at 2,228 metres above sea level. The walking track is generally snowbound during winter, however, in the summer, Australia’s highest peak can be reached in just a few hours.

Explore the Daintree rainforest
The Daintree rainforest is located on the north, east coast of Queensland. Believed to be one of the oldest rainforests in the world, the Daintree is filled with unique flora and fauna, gorgeous beaches and untouched jungles. The Daintree can be explored by land or water and is one of the most beautiful regions in Australia.

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Dive with Whale Sharks in Western Australia
Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia is known for its large number of visiting whale sharks. Here you can swim with them, not with a scuba tank or inside a cage, but right alongside the biggest fish in the world. Not only can you see whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, but dolphins, turtles, manta rays and dugongs are also commonly sighted.

Cuddle with Quokas on Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island is located in Western Australia, just off the coast from Perth. The protected nature reserve is home to the Quokka, possibly Australia’s cutest marsupial. The cuddly creatures are said to be the happiest animals in the world and seeing them up close is an absolute must do.

What’s on your Aussie bucket list?

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

Why you NEED to travel solo

If you asked me 12 months ago if I would ever travel alone, the answer would be “definitely not”. First of all, the idea of travelling solo seemed unsafe and lonely. Not to mention how bored I would get without a companion to share my experience with.

But a year on, I would actually rather travel alone.

Now I will say, travelling solo isn’t for everyone. Especially when being away from your loved ones for a long period of time. Some people live for the thrill of solo adventures. Others literally cannot stand it. But you never know if you don’t try right?

My decision to travel solo taught me many life lessons, most importantly, that being alone isn’t that bad. Everyone’s experience is different, but for me personally, going abroad by myself has completely transformed my travelling mindset.

Travelling is all about YOU

My biggest lesson from solo adventures is that travelling is all about you. You can do exactly as you please without the opinions of others influencing your decisions.

Want to try scuba diving? Do it. Feel like hiking a mountain? Do it. Want to sleep in until midday and eat pizza and ice cream for breakfast? Do it.

It’s your choice, your life, your very own adventure. Every choice whilst travelling alone is completely up to you. Do whatever you like and don’t let anyone stop you (except if it’s against the law of course).

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Solo travel gives you a new-found sense of freedom

Personally, I find solo adventures the most freeing feeling in the world. It allows you to be who you truly are and do all the things that you love doing. Each time you travel alone, you gain a new boost of confidence and sense of independence.

You have so much freedom when holidaying solo and the ability to say yes to everything (which is very difficult when travelling with other people).

Like I mentioned earlier, travelling solo is all. about. you. You have complete freedom to do everything you’ve ever dreamed of, with nobody around to stop you.

It allows you to become fully immersed in a new culture

In the past, travelling with friends has meant I’ve stuck to my regular routines. I tend to do what feels comfortable to me. Conversing in English only, eating foods I am familiar with, visiting tourist sites I googled online beforehand.

Adventuring alone changed that completely.

Personally, travelling solo has led to me branching out and trying new things. On a recent trip to Fiji, a conversation with a local man in Nadi prompted me to “do as the locals do”. I took his advice.

Trusting some locals to take me on an adventure of their choosing revealed one of the most beautiful snorkelling locations I’ve ever been to. On the walk down to the hidden cove, they taught me some of their native languages and gave a short history lesson on Fijian culture.

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You are more inclined to branch out and meet new people

Travelling alone doesn’t need to be lonely. In fact, solo travel often results in meeting more people than you would when travelling with a companion.

As an advocate for all things budget travel, I tend to stick to hostels as my choice of accommodation. Not only are they cheap as chips, but are an amazing way to make friends on solo adventures.

On my most recent overseas trip, I made friends with a couple from England within hours of arriving to my hostel. How? I simply walked up to their table and asked if I could eat dinner with them. Three days later we were booking sunset kayaking trips together.

I have met some incredible people during my travels, and trust me, you will too.

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But Sophie? Won’t I get homesick if I travel alone?

I’m not going to lie, it’s highly possible you will experience homesickness at some stage, and unfortunately, it is unavoidable.

Initially, homesickness was the main reason I avoided travelling alone. But taking those initial steps and embarking on a journey alone has resulted in some of the best moments of my life, and overseas adventures I will never forget.

Don’t let fear stop you from chasing your dreams.

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

 

How to travel to Fiji when you’re broke

With its white sands, crystal clear waters and incredible coral reefs, Fiji is the perfect place for an island getaway. However when it comes to tropical islands, budget travel is the last thing that comes to mind. Contrary to popular belief, travelling to Fiji can be very very cheap.

Located in the South-Pacific, Fiji is made up of 333 individual islands, not all of which are inhabited. There are two main islands in Fiji, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Suva, Fiji’s capital, is located on the island of Vitu Levu and is a great location to immerse yourself in the Fijian culture and explore the British colonial buildings.

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However if relaxing in a hammock whilst drinking from a coconut is more your thing, then I recommend visiting the Mamanuca Islands. Not only are they affordable, but the islands are a short boat ride from the Nadi International Airport, and are absolutely gorgeous.

So how do I travel to Fiji without breaking the bank? Read on to learn how.

Accommodation

As I mentioned in my post on 10 tips for travelling on a budget, staying in a hostel will save you so much money. Accommodation in Fiji can be as little as $15-20 per night, with most hostels offering free breakfast, free wifi and free entertainment as well.

However, if dormitory style accommodation isn’t your thing, most hostels offer private rooms with an ensuite. These rooms do cost extra to book, but are generally much cheaper than hotels or resorts.

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Ratu Kini Backpackers and Dive Resort, Mana Island – yes, this super cute beach bungalow is actually a hostel

Food

During my stay in Fiji, I was lucky enough to find accommodation with meals included. Ratu Kini Backpackers and Dive Resort offers free breakfast every day with lunch and dinner included in the cost of your accommodation. In order to get this deal, you do have to book your accommodation through Ratu Kini’s website, however, in doing so, you will save so much money on meals.

Most islands will have a convenience store at the hostel or resort that sell snacks, water and personal items. But this can be very expensive and your options for food are limited. I recommend visiting a supermarket on the main land and buying snacks and a few bottles of water before heading out to the islands. The tap water on the islands is not safe to drink so bottled water is a must.

Water, in particular, is very pricey to buy on the islands and this is something you’ll need a lot of in a tropical location like Fiji!

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Mana Island, Fiji

Transportation

Most of the islands of Fiji are quite small, so travelling by foot is the only option. However on the main islands of Vitu Levu and Vanua Levu, public transport is the best way to get around. Taxi’s are plentiful but can be expensive if you wish to travel a long distance.

Some of the best advice I received when I was travelling in Fiji was “do as the locals do”. Rather than using taxi’s, I travelled using buses and it saved me so. much. money. Instead of paying $10 for a taxi into Nadi, I paid 50 cents for a bus that took me to the exact same place.

Travelling out to the islands is either by boat or sea plane (but let’s be real, you need to have a lot of money to fly there in a sea plane). If you’re lucky, some hostels offer free transport by boat from the mainland. However, if your place of accommodation does not offer this, South Sea Cruises is a relatively cheap way to travel. You pick your time, board the boat at Port Denurau, and sit back and relax in the air-conditioned cabin.

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Have fun for free

Swimming and hiking are activities that you can do on virtually every island in Fiji (and they won’t cost you a thing). I opted to take my own snorkelling gear to the islands but most places will offer snorkel hire for free as well as free kayak and stand up paddle board hire.

Many hostels also run cultural activities throughout the day such as coconut cutting demonstrations, local language classes and fire twirling shows.

Other top tips for travelling to Fiji!

  • Make sure you have cash when travelling to the smaller Fijian islands as many of them do not have ATMs
  • Use a site such as hostelworld to book accommodation. This will show you the cheapest places to stay as well as reviews and recommendations from previous guests
  • Do your research: some islands are more expensive than others based on the type of accommodation and the activities the island offers. Make sure to do your research to ensure you’re getting the best deal!

 

Have you been to Fiji before? I would love to hear about your travels! If you have any tips for holidaying in Fiji on a budget, let me know in the comments below. 

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

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First timers guide to Florence: Top travel tips

Heading to Florence but not sure what to expect? This final instalment of ‘First timers guide to Florence’ covers everything from basic Italian to staying safe in the city. Read on for some awesome tips on how to make the most of your holiday.

One thing I regret before travelling to Florence was not learning Italian. Whilst the majority of the population of Italy speak English, knowing some basic Italian is such a great help when communicating with locals. Not only does it help you understand directions, instructions and recommendations but the locals really appreciate you going out of your way to learn their language.

Here are some handy words you may want to know for your trip to Italy (trust me, it makes things SO much easier).

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Yes – Si
No – No 
Hello/Goodbye (informal) – Ciao
Hello (formal) – Buongiorno
Goodbye (formal) – Arrivederci
Please – Per favore
Thank you – Grazie
Prego – You’re welcome; after you
Excuse me – Mi scusi
I’m sorry – Mi dispiace
I don’t speak Italian – Non parlo italiano
Do you speak English? – Parla inglese?
Where is the bathroom – Dov’e la toilette?
Aiuto! – Help!

Picking up and Italian phrasebook will also come in handy when communicating during your travels.

Safety

Whilst Florence isn’t exactly a dangerous city, exercising caution is recommended. As for most tourist areas, pick-pocketing does happen, most commonly around the top site seeing locations like the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio. I recommend this tips to ensure your belongings don’t get stolen.

  1. Do not carry anything in your back pocket. This should be common travel sense, but I often see people making this mistake. Putting your phone or wallet in your back pocket is a big no-no. You’re basically asking for your belongings to get taken
  2. Don’t carry large amounts of cash. This one is a no-brainer. When you’re out exploring, only take enough cash for the day. Carrying large amounts is cash is dangerous and means if the rare occasion of being mugged does happen, you’ll lose the lot.
  3. Choose clothing with deep pockets. If you do happen to carry your wallet or phone in your pocket, make sure the pockets are deep enough so the item is not seen. If someone does spot your phone in the pocket of your coat, it makes it very easy for them to reach in and grab it.

 

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Gypsies and beggars

It is quite common see gypsies and people begging on the streets of Florence, however these people are not dangerous as long as you exercise caution. Gypsies are easy to spot with their colourful clothing and scarves. Often they will paint their faces, making them stand out from the crowd. Whilst gypsies mainly beg on the streets, the odd few will engage in pickpocketing, especially in crowded places like train stations. But don’t worry, this is quite rare.

Take extra caution when using ATMs or buying tickets at the train station, like you would in any country. Like I mentioned previously, Florence is not dangerous, however being cautious is a great habit to get into when travelling.

On the rare occasion that you are approached by someone on the street simply tell them ‘no’. If they continue to hassle you, yelling ‘Polizia!’ as loud as you can is usually enough to make them back off.

Phone apps you NEED for Italy

Rome2Rio

Florence is small enough to tackle by foot, but if you’re planning to visit other towns nearby, public transport is your best option. If you haven’t heard of rome2rio, I am about to change your life (well not really, but I will make travelling around Europe a lot easier).

Rome2rio is a website and mobile app that shows you all possible public transport choices to get you from A to B. Firstly you select your current location and your intended destination. The site then gives you every possible public transport option as well as the travel time, approximate cost and route. The site can also be used to find accommodation, hire cars and tourist attractions.

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ProntoTreno

If you intend to travel by train, this is an app you need. ProntoTreno gives you up to date train timetables and allows you to book tickets on your phone. You can use the app to check the status of your trip as well as any delays in your arrival time. Plus, the app is entirely in English so there’s no need to worry about translations!

Google Translate

Speaking of translations, this is an app that will definitely make your trip easier. Google translate has an app that allows offline translation of any language. Even better, by activating the camera feature on the app, you can simply hold your phone over anything that is written in another language and have it translate right in front of your eyes!

I hope these handy tips help you on your adventure to Florence. If you have any handy tips for travelling to Italy, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear your advice.

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph.

 

 

First timers guide to Florence: Food and drinks

The food is possibly the best thing that Florence has to offer (aside from the sightseeing of course), and there are endless restaurants and cafes to choose from. My time living is Florence was mainly spent trying delicious Italian restaurants and exploring the cobblestone alleyways for new places to eat.

My second instalment of ‘First timers guide to Florence’ lists my favourite places for food and drinks (and yes, I did try all of them, multiple times). Here are my top picks!

Eats

Gusta pizza

Okay so I may be a little biased, but personally, this is one of the best pizza shops in the whole of Florence. Not only does the pizza taste amazing, but you get to see it made from scratch right in front of your eyes. The range of flavours to choose from is limited but the prices are so so cheap. Did I mention how delicious the pizza is? Even better, the staff often get creative and make heart shaped pizzas for their most loyal customers. Just make sure you get there before the lunch time rush to avoid lining up out the door.

20170114_133126.jpgOsteria dei Baroncelli

This place is tucked away in a small alley away from the city centre. However, for the price and the size of meals, it is worth searching for. The menu features traditional Italian pizza and pasta as well as it’s famous Florentine steak with steamed vegetables and rosemary potatoes. Serving sizes are very generous so pick a smaller dish if you want to save room for dessert.

San Lorenzo Food Markets

If you like to have plenty of options, the San Lorenzo Food Markets are the place to go. San Lorenzo is one of Florence’s oldest markets and with two stories of fresh food and produce, it does not disappoint. On level 1 you can find ingredients to cook meals at home from local butchers, bakers and fruit and vegetable vendors. The second level features endless stalls of delicious freshly made pizza and pasta, sushi, arancini balls, beef burgers, chips, soups and literally anything else you can think of. This place has everything, and all for a good price!

san lorenzoAmble

Amble pride themselves on their fresh food and old furniture and this description is perfect. The quirky decor provides a fun setting, perfect for a meal with friends. The alternative cafe mainly serves salads and sandwiches that can be custom made according to your tastes. Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the location is optimal for a quiet lunch or afternoon snack.

Trattoria La Cassalinga Amorino

Located near the Pitti Palace, this restaurant is possibly my number one favourite. The menu offers a large range of choices featuring some of the finest traditional Italian dishes and desserts. The serving sizes are quite large but don’t worry, you’ll still be able to save room for Panna Cotta afterwards. The menu is written entirely in Italian so be prepared to translate. However, the staff are lovely and more than willing to explain each dish on the menu. The delicious food makes the resturant extremely popular so reserving a table in advance is highly recommended.

DSCN0023_1 (2)Amorino Gelatoria

If you’ve visited Italy before, you’ll be familiar with the gelato stores that seem to be placed on every. single. corner. Generally, stores will have similar flavours, but the quality of the ice cream varies. Every time I ate gelato in Florence I told myself “this one is the best gelateria I’ve been to”. Most times I was very wrong until I came across Amorino.

Not only does Amorino Gelatoria produce amazing quality ice cream, but the range of flavours is never ending. The store even has a featured flavour that changes each season. Even better, Amorino creates gelato flowers that not only look great for your Instagram page but taste amazing too.

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Drinks

Amble

Amble makes it into the list for both food and drinks! This place is hard to stay away from, especially for evening cocktails. From a quiet cafe by day Amble transforms into a hip cocktail bar by night. It is particularly known for its Aperol Spritz (and trust me they are delicious) but serves just about anything you want! Can’t see the cocktail you like on the menu? Just ask the bar staff to mix up a drink of your choice! More often than not, they’re more than happy to tailor drinks to your liking!

May day club

Yet another bar known for its amazing cocktails. May Day has a great atmosphere and some of the friendliest bar staff I came across during my time in Florence. Here you’ll find cocktail combinations you have never heard of in your life (but they taste absolutely amazing). The unique decor adds to the experience with funky lights, world globes and records hanging from the ceiling. If you ever want a quirky bar to relax and have drinks of an evening, this is the place to go.

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Do you have any favourite resturants or bars in Florence? I would love to hear your recommendations. Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph.

First-timers guide to Florence: Site Seeing

Living in Florence really taught me a lot about the city. I had the amazing opportunity to call Florence my home for a short time whilst studying a Communications and Media degree at the Institute of European Design. Every single day was a new adventure exploring parts of Italy that I had never been to. I’m basically a local now (despite my limited vocabulary of an entire 10 Italian words).

Florence is an amazing city, with endless adventures and sites to see, most of them being super cheap or even free! Here are some of my favourites.

The Duomo

This is a site you cannot miss. Literally. Because it is an enormous structure right in the centre of the city. The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral (duomo being the Italian word for cathedral) was constructed in the 1200’s and took over 2 centuries to be built. Entry into the duomo is free, but if you’re willing to spend 15 Euro, you can climb 463 steps to the very top of the dome. This 15 Euro also enables you to climb to bell tower as well as enter the museum, the baptistery and the crypt below the church. This I would highly recommend! The view is incredible, even if you climb it at night, in the snow, at -2 degrees celsius like I did.

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The famous Ponte Vecchio bridge

The Ponte Vecchio is one of the oldest bridges in Florence. In fact, the words Ponte Vecchio literally translate to ‘Old Bridge’. Built over the River Arno, the bridge is home to many luxurious (and very pricey) jewellery stores and cafes, all with an amazing view. For anyone visiting Florence, this bridge is a must-see.

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The Pitti Palace

Located on the south side of the River Arno and a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio stands the stunning Pitti Palace. The palace, which was built in the 15th century, is now home to some of the most important museums in Florence. 7 Euro will get you entry into to palace as well as the Silver Museum, Costume Gallery, Porcelain Museum and Bardini Gardens. The Gallery of Modern Art will set you back an extra 8.50 Euro. However if you’re not willing to spend the extra dollars, do not worry as the inside of the Pitti Palace is an artwork in itself.

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Boboli gardens

Located at the rear of the Pitti Palace are the Boboli Gardens. The park features stunning green lawns and ancient oak trees and is also home to Neptune’s Fountain. Filled with incredible stone sculptures, the Boboli Gardens have been coined the largest monumental park in the whole of Florence. The top of the gardens offers an incredible view of the Pitti Palace with the gorgeous cityscape in the background.

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Statue of David

You can’t go to Florence without seeing the Statue of David. The 5-metre tall statue is located in the Galleria dell’Accademia museum and was sculpted by a famous artist of the 1500’s, Michelangelo. A ticket into the museum will set you back around 12 Euro, but it’s well worth it to tick this well-renowned sculpture off your bucket list.

Piazzale Michelangelo Florence

If you’re a fan of photography, this is a site you cannot miss. The Piazzale Michelangelo is a square located on the south bank of the River Arno in the Oltrarno district of Florence. It is one of the most famous lookouts, offering incredible views of the entire city both at day and night. The walk to the top of the stairs isn’t too fun, however it is free and well worth the climb.

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San Lorenzo leather markets

As Florence’s most famous outdoor markets, the San Lorenzo leather stalls are a must-see. The markets offer leather goods at discounted prices with a huge range of handbags, belts, wallets, shoes and coats. If you’re also after small souvenir pieces like magnets, keyrings and diaries, this is the place to buy them. Prices are generally cheap, but if you’re up for it, you can always have a go at bartering. More often than not, it actually works.

Free walking tours

If you love free stuff, then this is the one for you. The Florence free walking tours run twice a day for 1.5 – 2 hours. Not only do you get to see some of the most famous sites in the city but you also get a full history lesson ALL FOR FREE! It is also a great way to explore Florence if you’re only staying for a short time.

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Do you have any other sites in Florence that you recommend? I’d love to hear from you! If you also have an endless love for Italy like myself, feel free to share your travel experiences in the comments below!

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph