How to Spend One day in Dublin, Ireland (+ Walking Map)

How to Spend One day in Dublin, Ireland (+ Walking Map)

Dublin is a city where there is no room for boredom and monotony.

Ireland is actually famous for its natural attractions like the Cliffs of Moher, Achill Island, the Gap of Dunloe, etc. So, most of the people visit Ireland not for Dublin for the other places in the country.

If you arrive in Ireland, most likely you will land in Dublin. Even if it is by air or by taking a British Isles cruise. Understand that Ireland is an Island, so you can only fly in or sail in.

If your point of arrival in Ireland is Dublin, then don’t just shrug it off as “just another city”, there’s a lot to do in Dublin. More than that, it is about catching the vibe.

Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland via Pixabay

The capital of Ireland is world-famous for its diverse culture, fine pubs, and major natural attractions in its surroundings. There are over a 1000 pubs in Dublin. Insane, right?

Moreover, Dublin is a paradise for literature lovers. In 2010, it was declared as one of “the cities of Literature” by UNESCO.

If you are here just for a day, plan the trip carefully so as to make the most of your time and stay. Thankfully, I did spend a day (or two) here when I visited the Wild Atlantic Way, so I have created an amazing itinerary for you.

What to do in Dublin in a day (itinerary)

 

The first 7 activities can be done by just walking. They are made for a person who want’s to absorb the essence of Dublin in just a day. The bottom two activities are optional because you have to get out of the main city to do them and nature lovers would highly enjoy them.

1) Walk from Samuel Beckett Bridge to Talbot Memorial Bridge

Samuel Beckett Bridge Dublin via Unsplash

Walking is the best way to get a feel of a new place before you truly start exploring it. In that sense, Dublin with it’s textbook houses with bright red or green doors is super pretty. The time I was in Dublin, it was early autumn and the many buildings were covered with ivy with leaves that were turning red.

Ivy covered buildings in Dublin with red doors

Go on a walking trail that will take you across some major sites of interest and attractions for the tourists.

If you walk from Samuel Beckett Bridge to Talbot Memorial Bridge, you will also see the Triumphal Arch, the massive Custom House Quay, World Poverty Stone, Seán O’Casey Bridge, Molly Malone Statue, Matt Talbot Statue, Chester Beatty Library, and Ann Street.

Custom House Dublin – Dublin itinerary

I actually did this walk at night on my own when I was traveling solo. No one actually told me about this route but I discovered it on my own without any motive or knowledge about the city’s landmarks. The bridges were lit up and it was a decent time for some night photography. However, I still recommend you do this during the day so that you can head to a better spot at night – the Temple Bar square (I talk about it in one of the next points).

Stop for a coffee or brunch at POG Tara Street at Trinity Square. Catch your breath and stop for a while to admire the swans, herons, and ducks in the river. 

2) The Long Room, the Book of Kells at Trinity College (Old Library)

The Long Room Library – Trinity College via Unsplash

The Long Room at Trinity College is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. If you love books, the way they look and also the way they smell, then you will want to spend hours here. The earthy smell of old books that fills the library will make you smile.

Staircase Trinity Collage library via Unsplash

The Long Room library is perfect for not just literature lovers but also photographers. This is a place where you will end up clicking tonnes of photos. There are beautiful columns in front of the shelves, and rounded ceiling. The books are stacked beautifully and it will transport you to a world of Hogwarts’ library. 

Please note, tripods or flashes aren’t allowed inside the Long Room. 

3) Quick Stop at Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle – One day in Dublin – unsplash

A visit to the Dublin Castle is a must, and one can plan a palace tour in Dublin to the popular castle. Step back in time and immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Dublin and Ireland.

The castle has been sued by Lord Lieutenant, Viceroy, representative of the Monarch and Dublin Castle administration. You can roam the Medieval City under the direction of a knowledgeable guide. It was built as a protective fortification and later evolved into an official residence. 

4) Head to Marsh’s Library

Marsh’s Library is the oldest in Ireland and was built by Archbishop Narcissus in Dublin in 1707. It contains hundreds and thousands of rare books and fascinating manuscripts.

It is a joy to look at the beautifully preserved building that was built during the Renaissance and is still being used as a library, which holds literary treasures in its original oak bookcases. Book your visit in advance, and it remains open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 to 5 pm.

5) St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland via Pixabay

Marsh’s Library and St. Patrick’s Cathedral are next to each other so you can make quick stop at the cathedral together with the library.

This cathedral is also an important landmark for literature lovers, here’s why. Everyone’s heard of Gulliver’s Travels. The author of the book was Jonathan Swift, and he was the dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral till his death in 1745.

6) Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar

Guinness Storehouse Dublin, Ireland via Unsplash

Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar is the most popular rooftop bar in Ireland, and here, you can enjoy a pint of Guinness along with some panoramic views of Dublin. It is an incredible experience to sit at one of the highest points in Dublin city and relax.

The pint glass–shaped interior of the 7-story Guinness Storehouse is a major attraction. the Gravity Bar has doubled in size over the years,  and nothing could be better than enjoying a sit-down dinner or a drink from the best viewpoints of the city.

7) Walk on Ha’penny Bridge

The Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland via Pixabay

It is indeed great fun to walk on Ha’penny Bridge which dates back to the history of the overcrowded and betimes ferry that carried passengers to the far side. It is the first pedestrian bridge in the city that was greatly welcomed by the Dubliners.

It was earlier known as Wellington Bridge, later as Liffey Bridge, and today it is famous as Ha’penny Bridge.Today, more than thirty thousand people cross the daily and are glad to pay a ha’penny. Its famous white railings are adorned with love locks that have the names of the lovers written on them. The bridge still supports its original white color.

8) End your day at Temple Bar Square

Nightlife in Dublin is simply unmatched, and the city boasts plenty of bars and pubs. So get ready for a vibrant nightlife when the sun sets in, and this is the best way to end your day trip in the city.

Temple Bar Square is not just an area, but there is also a famous pub called the Temple Bar which is right here. Locals say that it is overpriced and touristy but it is still worth a visit for a beer, before you can head to the other nearby bars that are around.

Temple Bar, Dublin – One day in Dublin itinerary via Unsplash

Although there are thousands of pubs in Dublin, the ones that stand out from the rest are situated in the Temple Bar Square. Temple Bar Square is an area on the south bank of the River Liffey in central Dublin. 

Take your time to check out the authentic Irish bars flanked by glitzy shops and restaurants. Temple Bar has maintained its medieval street design of cobbled streets. Just spend some time here to soak up the energy, enjoy a few beers and eat typical Irish food.

9) Loop Head (Optional)

Explore the Loop Head is best known for panoramic views, scenic beauty spots, local seafood, and many other activities. Once here, you will feel as if you are in an unforgettable part of the world as it has the largest estuary in Ireland on one side and the ocean on the other.

Take some moments to enjoy the vibrant nature and feel the fresh air on your face and skin. This is the real way to experience authentic Ireland.

10) Montpelier Hill Viewpoint (Optional)

Montpelier Hill Viewpoint is a well-known landmark. This is an optional activity because it is out of the way. Visit it if you love viewpoints and walking. Keep in mind that you will have to skip the last three activities on this list if you visit Montpelier Hill.

There are plenty of trails that circuit around the hill to reach the top, from where you can enjoy some great views of the city. However, make sure that your fitness level matches the challenge of the trails and routes steeped in history.

Enjoy different activities along the routes and enjoy some epic moments with nature. You can stop at some scenic stops or picnic locations, and do not forget to carry plenty of water and food.

Where to Stay in Dublin:

MEC Hostel 

I stayed here and loved how airy our dormitory was. I booked a bed in a women’s dormitory and it had 4 beds, plenty of open space and large windows. There was also a toilet attached with our dormitory. The WiFi was very good.

The location is perfect because it is in the heart of Dublin city. As I mentioned before, I explored the city on my own without any knowledge of landmarks and I ended up seeing a lot because everything is nearby.

Premier Inn Dublin City Centre (Temple Bar) hotel

This is a high end hotel but not as expensive as the others in the city. It is on the Temple Bar Street, so you will have a lot of options of places to see on your doorstep.

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The Ultimate Italy Road Trip: 2 Weeks Itinerary [with Amalfi Coast]

The Ultimate Italy Road Trip: 2 Weeks Itinerary [with Amalfi Coast]

How can anyone not fall in love with Italy? Not only it is picturesque, but there’s so much more to it that just the visual beauty. It is the feeling one gets when they visit this country which makes it special. Italy is romantic, culturally beautiful, and offers delicious food.

There is a reason why some of the most famous books and movies are set in a backdrop of famous Italian towns. Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples – some of the most famous historical cities and towns in the world are in Italy. Not just that, Italy also has the Italian Alps, the Dolomites, and a massive coastline on three sides! Yep, it has it all.

The Stunning Positano on Amalfi Coast, Italy via Unsplash

The first time I visited Italy, it was just North Italy. We landed in Venice and drove to Trentino in our rental car. The second time was in South Italy where we spent one entire month in Puglia. We actually drove from Germany to Puglia but realized it would have been easier to just fly to Bari or Brindisi and drive a rental car from there.

For the purpose of travel, it is important to understand what are the regions of Italy. You can pick and choose some of them or get a taste of them all. Here are the regions in Italy that you can visit – 

  • Northeast Italy, (the Dolomites, Trentino, Venice and Bologna) 
  • Northwest Italy, (Cinque Terre, Milan and the Alps)
  • Central Italy, (Tuscany region and Rome)
  • Southern Italy, (Naples, Puglia, Amalfi and Capri)
  • The islands – Sicily and Sardinia.

If you ever see the list of the most visited countries in the world, Italy usually is in top 5 year after year. It is because there is so much to see & experience in every single region of Italy.

Keep in mind that to properly explore each region of Italy, you would probably need at least two weeks each. However, this itinerary focuses on the entire Italy, so I will help you move from one region to another and tell you the best of each. That’s the difference between a region specific itinerary or a country specific itinerary.

Matera in Puglia, Italy road trip two weeks itinerary – via Pixabay

If you think you will get to visit Italy multiple times, then by all means pick just one region or maximum two for each trip. If you’re going to visit Italy just once or twice in your life then I suggest you visit more than just 2 regions because they all have something to offer.

Don’t try to cover it all, it isn’t possible to do so. Instead, pick a few destinations and spend some quality time in each place that you visit so that you don’t feel rushed or drained out.

Starting Point for Italy Road Trip:

So where should you start your epic Italian road trip? It depends on a few things. The starting points will change based on how you enter Italy – flying or driving.

Italy has many airports from North to the South. If you want to start your trip in North Italy then I suggest you fly to Venice or Verona and rent a car from there. You can also fly to Naples or Bari to start your trip from South Italy and make your way to North. Or fly to the middle – Rome, Florence or Pisa and just do the North or the South for your Italy road trip 2 weeks.

Alternatively, you can also pick a section of Italy and do a smaller road trip that focuses on just that area. For example, North Italy road trip would include the top three points that I have mentioned below, the middle would include Tuscany and Rome and South Italy road trip would include Rome and below like Puglia and Amalfi Coast.

 

For the ease of understanding, we have created this route that starts in Venice. It is very easy to rent a car from Venice airport and drive from there. We did that already!

Circular Italy or Straight Route for Italian Road Trip?

If you’re driving to Italy, then it will make a lot of sense for you to follow a straight route. You can enter Italy from the North and move to the South. Or the other way around.

If you are able to rent a car from one place and return it in another, then I highly recommend you go for a straight route. It will save you a lot of time. However, this option isn’t usually available, so most of you will end up following a circular itinerary. 

How to approach this itinerary?

This is a fast paced itinerary that includes a lot of destinations within Italy. Some of them are optional, so you can figure out which ones to leave and skip. For example, you can pick one out of the Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast and spend a longer time in other destinations. 

Hotels in Italy are expensive but if you’re a seasoned road tripper, then you most likely have a tent with you. All the below destinations have camping spots. Park your car and pitch your tent there. You can take the public transport to explore the cities.

1) Venice (and Burano) – 2 Days – the Canals of Italy

Grand Canal in Venice - Northern Italy by Train

Grand Canal in Venice – Northern Italy by Train

You can’t drive inside Venice, so why is it a part of this itinerary? Because Venice is the most romantic city of Italy and it needs to be a part of this epic itinerary. 

If you’re flying to Italy and renting your car, then I suggest you rent your car on the day you leave Venice to save money. You can check for prices here or book one and pick it from Piazzale Roma. However, if you’re driving to Italy from another country then you will have to park your car in one of the below options.

In order to visit Venice, you will drive to the entrance of the city Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto, and park your car there. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of space and it is Europe’s largest car park. Yes, it is expensive to park here because it is EUR 30 per 24 hours.

[Box] Want to save some money? Park your car near Mestre Railway Station and take a 10 minute train ride to Venezia St.Lucia. This way, your parking costs and journey will be less than 5 euros. [/Box]

There aren’t any roads beyond Piazzale Roma, so you will have to continue by walking or by getting on a boat.

A bridge over a pretty canal in Venice, Italy

A bridge over a pretty canal in Venice, Italy

I have included two days in Venice but if you want, you can take half a day to explore Burano. It is smaller, colourful and very close to Venice. Here’s what to do in Venice:

Walking is the easiest way to explore Venice. The most popular spots in Venice are around St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge. However, I suggest you get lost on purpose and explore the narrow alleys. Here you will find the best photo spots because of fewer tourists. If it gets sunny, cover your head and eat gelato to beat the heat.

Sunset Gondola Ride:

Gondola Ride in Venice- Italy road trip via Pixabay

You can’t visit Venice and not do a Gondola ride. Yep, Gondola rides are super expensive so you make the most of it by doing it at the most romantic time – the sunset. The point of a gondola ride isn’t transportation but enjoyment. 

You can save money by doing the Gondola ride with 1 or 2 other people and doing it before the sunset time. Here are the options I have handpicked for you:

 

Find a restaurant with a view:

Most of the restaurants with nice views are going to be very expensive but I can help you find a moderately affordable one. To actually get a table with a view, you need to always book in advance. Once you’re here, try the squid ink pasta. Try one of the following:

  • Trattoria Altanella in Giudecca,
  • Gianni in Giudecca,
  • Da Fiore in Campo S. Polo,
  • Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti in Dorsoduro. 

See Scala Contarini del Bovolo

The view from Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice via Unsplash

Climb the spiral stairs and click a few photos of the view from the top. It is a famous building that was once a gothic palace. 

Visit Rialto Food Market

Venice is touristy but visiting a famous food market will give you somewhat a local experience. The locals come here to buy fresh fruit, veggies and fish. It is best to arrive here early because the market hours are 7:30 am to 1 pm.

Campo Santo Stefano

Find an outdoor cafe on Campo Santo Stefano and enjoy your afternoon or evening with cicchetti & Spritz. Cicchetti is a small snack plate. You don’t need to order cicchetti, but the servers will bring it for you if you order your drinks (Spritz).

See Doge’s Palace

the Chamber of the Great Council in Doge’s Palace Venice via Unsplash

Doge’s Palace is an important historical landmark in Venice. This was once an official residence for the Doge of Venice (the elected leaders of historical Venetian Republic). It was originally designed to be the residential palace for Nepolean.

Doge’s Palace is an interesting spot for those who like history, but it is also a photographer’s dream because of stunning interiors, especially in the Chamber of the Great Council. Believe it or not, the world’s largest canvas painting is located in this room. But remember, you can’t use flash when you photograph this.

Book Your Entry for Doge’s Palace

While inside the Doge’s Palace, you should also walk on the iconic Bridge of Sighs, which is located here. You will also see St. Mark’s Square and Correr Museum.

I have handpicked two entry ticket options for you for Doge’s Palace:

  • Doge’s Palace Entry Reservation Ticket: This is the official ticket and costs EUR 28 in May 2022. It is a “skip-the-line” ticket.
  • Doge Palace with Terrace Access: This is also a “skip-the-line” ticket but it also includes an expert guide, who will not just take you to Doge’s Palace but also St. Mark’s Basilica. Please be aware that the entry to St. Mark’s Basilica is free but this tour includes the access to the terrace of the Basilica for the views. The cost is EUR 79 in May 2022.

 

Scuola grande di San Rocco

See the interiors of Scuola grande di San Rocco. Your jaw will actually drop when you see the grandeur and the arty details.

Day Trip to Burano

Burano (Italy)

Burano (Italy)

Burano is a cute little canal side town with stunning colorful houses. It has become popular over the recent years because of Instagram.

You can prebook your boat ticket for Burano for a day trip from Venice and the boat will also take you to the nearby Murano and Torcello.

How to save money in Venice?

Eat in Pizzeria ae Oche it is a chain with affordable pizzas, don’t eat or drink in the main touristy areas, head to Dorsoduro for cheaper eateries and buy your own supplies from bakeries and supermarkets to save money. Another way to save more money is by skipping the Gondola ride.

 

2) Cinque Terre – 2 days – the Colorful Fishing Villages

The colorful houses of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The colorful houses of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy – CCO Image by heidi_ziller from Pixabay

Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso are five colorful fishing villages that are collectively called the Cinque Terre. The entire Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In order to arrive in the Cinque Terra, you can drive to Riomaggiore, Manarola or Monterosso and park your car there. If you’re nervous about driving in this hilly terrain, then park in La Spezia and take a train from there. In any case, if you want to move from one village to another, the best way to do it is by train. It is easy and affordable.

Remember – don’t get your car inside the Cinque Terra. Leave it outside and take the train.

Five villages at on cliffs and little hills, so there’s a lot to do in the Cinque Terra. Don’t get overwhelmed by the list of things that you can do. Just pick 1-2 villages and enjoy your time there. 

Here’s a bit of introduction about the five villages, so that you can pick the one that suits you and book a room there.

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre - Northern Italy by train

Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre – Northern Italy by train

It has a fun vibe for nightlife unlike a few others in this list. Riomaggiore is closest to La Spezia so it can sometimes feel crowded. It has budget accommodation options. It is as stunning as Manarola.

There’s a lot to do in Riomaggiore – you can do cliff jumping, enjoy the bar scene or just go for a stroll and get lost. The main street is called Via Colombo, and that’s where you will find everything. You can also check out the ancient castello, which is one of the monuments of the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre.

If you’re into hiking, then hike to Monte Nero, it is right above Riomaggiore. This hike takes around 50 – 60 minutes. Here’s some information about it.

You can also hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola – these two are actually the most famous villages of the Cinque Terre. This hike is should take you normally 15 minutes but check information because sometimes this path is closed

Manarola

Manarola, the Cinque Terra Italy via Pixabay

Manarola is quieter and is normally visited by couples and photographers. Out of them, the one the most photographed one is Manarola because of the above pictured sunset spot. But don’t underestimate the beauty of the other 4.

Make sure you click epic sunset photos while you’re in Manorala. No, I don’t mean photos of the sun when it is setting, but the golden hue on Manorala’s pastel houses on the cliff. You will find this spot as soon as you’re there. Photographers line up here with their fancy gear and tripods at sunrise and sunset time.

If you like swimming, then you can find some caves and swimming holes on the Blue Trail in Manarola. To access all of it, you will need a swimming pass. But there are some you can do without the pass too.

Corniglia

Corniglia, the Cinque Terra, Italy road trip via Pixabay

It is the highest village and is therefore famous for the views. You need to climb 365 steps in order to reach Corniglia – yes one for each day of the year. There’s a bus that’s run by the Cinque Terre National park that takes people up to Corniglia and back. 

Corniglia is less visited as compared to the other four but is popular amongst the hikers. It is possible to find budget accommodation here.

While you are in Corniglia, hike the Blue Trail, and you will find a stone beach with an easy access to water. Doing the entire Blue Trail can be challenging but if you do, you will arrive in Vernazza.

Vernazza

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italian Road Trip itinerary via Pixabay

Vernazza is often called the most beautiful of the five Cinque Terre villages. It is also visited by a lot of photographers and couples. If you visit Vernazza then spend some time enjoying the stunning views that this village is famous for.

If you arrive in Vernazza from Corniglia by hiking, then you will cross Prevo – it has a stunning viewpoint that overlooks Guvano Beach. At 208 meters above the sea level, it is the highest spot of Sentiero Azzurro. 

You will be surprised to know that Vernazza has a great bar scene. It also has a small sandy beach, which makes sense for family travelers to visit since it is comfortable for children. There are two clock towers in the town and the maze of small streets will be a delight to anyone who loves getting lost in small places.

While you’re in Vernazza, visit Franco’s Ristorante “La Torre”. It is in a castle on the trail to Corniglia.

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare, Italy – via Pixabay

Monterosso has a proper big sandy beach and fancy hotels. It is a bit flatter compared to the others so is a good option for those who have mobility issues and families with small children. 

Monterosso is actually two towns – Old Monterosso and New Monterosso (Fegila). The big sandy beach is in New Monterosso. The new town is flatter but the old town has that typical Cinque Terre looks and vibes.

You can walk from one village to another – check the list of walking trails here + useful information.

Where to stay in Cinque Terra:

3) Tuscany – 2 days – Art, Culture and the rolling hills

Sunset in Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Sunset in Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is romantic, arty, historical and naturally beautiful. But wait, isn’t most of Italy? True but Tuscany is special, because the Renaissance art movement began and flourished before it moved on to most of Europe.

Being a nature lover, I’m also interested in the other side of Tuscany – the rolling hills. So, when you visit Tuscany, drive around here and see the small villages because here you can truly admire the natural beauty of Tuscany. Get yourself a nice villa, see the vineyards, and castles. 

Tuscany's famous rolling hills - Italy by train

Tuscany’s famous rolling hills – Italy by train

Honestly, if I were visiting Italy for the first time and I wanted to just focus on one area, I’d do a Tuscany road trip. There’s everything in Tuscany that Italy is famous for – historical buildings, art, nature, castles and vineyards. On top of that, Tuscany is a little laid back.

Here’s what you can do while you’re in Tuscany. You can pick and choose some of the activities that I have mentioned below.

Visit one of the Old Cities – Florence / Lucca / Siena

Florence, Tuscany – Italy Road trip itinerary

Tuscany’s old cities are a stunning for art lovers because of the Renaissance art and sculptures. Out of all of them, I suggest you pick just one to keep your itinerary easy. For that purpose, I suggest Florence.

See the Statue of David by Michelangelo in Florence

Michelangelo’s Statue of David is the Renaissance masterpiece and shouldn’t be missed while you’re in Tuscany. This 17 feet marble statue is the star of Florence, the way Mona Lisa is to Paris.

Michelangelo’s Statue of Liberty is located in Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. This museum also has some other pieces by Michelangelo and many other Florentine artists.

Art lovers would enjoy Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, Uffizi Gallery and Museo Galileo

Val d’ Orcia – the Rolling Hills

Val d’ Orcia, Tuscany, Italy – via Pixabay

Tuscany’s most famous landscape are the rolling hills and one of the best way to see them is by driving to Val d’ Orcia. The rolling hills landscape is not just instagram famous but also was depicted in many Renaissance paintings.

Val d’ Orcia is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is 2 – 2.5 hours drive from Florence. You can stay in Florence during the entire time of your time in Tuscany, or split your time between Val d’ Orcia and Florence. 

Pienza is the place that you would would want to check out in Val d’ Orcia. This village is situated very high so you can get a good view of the rolling hills from here.

Saturnia Hot Springs or Terme di Saturnia

Saturnia Hot Springs in Tuscany via Pixabay

While in Tuscany, visit the stunning thermal springs of Saturnia. They are actually 3 hours away from Florence city, so it makes sense visiting this place on your way out of Tuscany but before you arrive in Rome. Alternatively, if you decided to stay in Val d’ Orcia, then Terme di Saturnia is just 30 minutes drive.

Believe it or not, there is no entry fee and these thermal springs are open 24 hours a day everyday. It can’t get better than this. Just find the parking spot and put it on your navigation system to arrive here. Spend half a day here or more, depending on how much you love being in water.

The best time to reach Saturnia hot springs is before 9 am, so that you can miss the majority of crowds. 

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy via Pixabay

Visiting the leaning tower of Pisa is on many people’s bucket lists because of the Leaning Tower. Yes, it is a very touristy thing to do and there’s nothing else to do in Pisa BUT that shouldn’t stop you from visiting it if you really want to. After all, it is just 45 minutes from Florence by car or train!

Pisa is a small city, and you can cover most of it by walking. Most of what you would want to see is situated in Campo dei Miracoli. It is a student town and as a result the nightlife is fun.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is called Torre Pendente in Italian. Go ahead and click a super silly touristy picture here. Believe it or not, you can actually climb the tower but you need to reserve your tickets in advance.

If you’re in Pisa in the middle of June, you can actually stay to watch the stunning Luminara festival. Thousands of candles are lit at sunset time along the Arno river. Watch this spectacle if you can.

Hike to Lake Calamone

If you’re not visiting Terme di Saturnia, then you can consider visiting Lake Calamone. It is located in the TEA National Park, at the base of Mt. Ventasso.

To start your hike to Lago Calamone, park your car at Bar il Faggio. The walk from there to the lake is just one hour. For more information, check this page

4) Rome – 1 day 

The bejeweled Rome in Italy

The bejeweled Rome in Italy

Rome can’t be fully explored in a day, but also Italy can’t be explored in 2 weeks!

Honestly, it makes more sense to do Rome properly on an entirely separate trip. It isn’t the best Road trip stop because of the parking, so if you want to skip Rome, then you should. I just wanted to include Rome for those who would want to do it anyway, considering it is on the way when you move from Tuscany to Amalfi.

Rome is high-priced in terms of stay and food, therefore it gets expensive to stay here longer. But if you can afford it, extend your trip by all means. Did you know there are more than 900 churches in Rome?

Saint Peters Basilica Rome, Italy road trip – via Pixabay

Honestly, I wouldn’t even include the Vatican city and the churches in this itinerary because of the time constrains. But just so you know, the most famous one is St. Peters Basilica. To enter this, one has to walk up to the Vatican and stay in a long security line.

Like many other famous cities (Lisbon, Moscow, Istanbul, San Fransisco, Edinburgh, etc), Rome is built on seven hills. It means, there are plenty of viewpoints that can be found. Also, unlike most of touristy European cities, Rome is massive. The entire historic centre of Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the fashion capitals of the world with an amazing shopping scene and buzzing nightlife.

If I were to spend just one day in Rome, I’d forget about the top things to do, but just walk around because there are interesting sights everywhere. 

Trevi Fountain 

Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy road trip itinerary via Pixabay

This is probably the busiest part of Rome and yet it is a legendary landmark. This fountain is in the modern Rome, right next to the main train station. Walk around here but keep your belongings close to yourself because Rome has many pickpockets.

Explore the ruins of ancient Rome – Colosseo

The most obvious thing to do in Rome is to explore the ancient Rome, it is the area around Colosseo. For this, get to via dei Fori Imperiali street and everything you would want to see is on both the sides of this street.

Start with the Colosseum, then move on to Piazza Venezia. Next you can check the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Forum, Arch of Constantin and Flavian Palace.

Old Rome – Pantheon

Pantheon dates back to 125 AD. Of course if you’re a Dan Brown fan then you would have probably read about all these places in the book called Angels and Demons. Yes, the book does make sightseeing more interesting but remember, it is just fiction.

There are other attractions that are nearby, like Castel Sant’Angelo – but I don’t want to include too much in the list because it will just overwhelm you.

South Rome

You can skip South Rome but if you have time, then you can check out the Baths of Caracalla, Rome City Walls, and Circus of Maxentius.

Viewpoints in Rome

Since Rome is built on seven hills, there are number of viewpoints. You can look for Janiculum hill in Western Rome, the Pincio is at the end of the Borghese Gardens, Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia and Zodiaco in Monte Mario.

Campsites Near Rome

Let’s face it, you shouldn’t enter Rome with your car because of parking problems. Instead, find a camping spot that’s just outside Rome and then explore the city by public transport. Here are two camping spots that I recommend:

  • Happy Valley
  • Camping Tiber

Optional: Stop in Naples for a pizza on your way

Pizza quattro formaggi – Napoli style in Puglia, Italy

The Pizzas of Naples are world famous. If possible, try to stop here for a meal or a snack on your way to the next spot to experience a legendary Neapolitan pizza. It is essentially Margarita Pizza that’s made with a particular kind of tomatoes and mozzarella.

The Napoli Pizza follows the guidelines by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. It has the protected status granted by the Italian Standardization Body.

I won’t go into the technicalities but keep your mind open and embrace the simplicity of this pizza. The beauty of the taste of this pizza lies in the best quality ingredients and an amazing base.

5) Amalfi Coast – 3 days – Positano 

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy via Unsplash

How can you visit Italy and not see the most praised coastal area – the Amalfi Coast. Keep in mind that it tends to get very busy even during the shoulder months because of its popularity. Amalfi Coast is an expensive destination because it attracts mostly high income travelers. 

The Italian road trip itinerary is designed in such a way that you can skip a part of it. If you think Amalfi coast is blowing up your budget, then feel free to skip it because the other destinations are equally stunning too! Honestly, if you are visiting the Cinque Terre or Puglia, then you can safely skip the Amalfi Coast.

Ever seen pictures stunning coast with colorful houses, bougainvillea flowers and low hanging lemon trees all around? That’s Amalfi Coast. It actually is a group of 13 fishing villages, all of them are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Wether you decide to stay here or not, make sure you experience driving on the “Amalfi Drive”, which goes along the coast from Vietri sul Mare to Positano.

In order to explore the Amalfi Coast, we suggest you make your base in Positano. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to see even half the villages, just focus on one or two and enjoy your time there.

Positano

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy road trip via Unsplash

Positano is situated horizontally on the face of cliffs that face the sea. It is a better idea to find a place to stay here instead of Amalfi Town. From here, you can visit the Amalfi Town by ferry.

The two beaches of Positano are Spiaggia Grande and Fornillo. Spend some lazy hours here to enjoy the landscape. 

Do the Path of the Gods hike that is from Bomerano to Positano with stunning views. You can reach Bomerano on a bus from Positano to start the hike.

While in Positano, try the Limoncello. It is a locally produced lemon liqueur.

Amalfi Town

The World Famous Amalfi in Italy via Pixabay

Amalfi Town is the heart of Amalfi Coast. Take a ferry from Positano and spend a few hours here to see what the buzz is all about. The main Amalfi town beach gets crowded but spend some time here to enjoy the vibe.

 

6) Puglia – 3 days – Bari, Matera, and Polignano a Maren

The stunning Sant’Andrea beach in Puglia, Italy

Having spent a month in Puglia last summer, I can claim that this is a place that you wouldn’t want to leave. There are stunning beaches, old cities, the Instagram famous Alberobello village, and Florence of South – Lecce city. The seafood in Puglia is mind-blowing!

Puglia was once Italy’s secret but has come up with a bang in the recent years. It has risen to prominence in popular culture.

The 2021 James Bond movie (No Time to Die) was shot in Puglia’s stunning Matera. Moreover, the Red Bull cliff diving championship took place in Polignano a Maren. Of course, people googled the location for the next days after and Puglia went high in Google searches!

Honestly, 3 days are not enough for Puglia, but if you want to include it in your Italian road trip itinerary, then I will tell you exactly where to go. 

You can’t do them all, but pick just 2-3 places and enjoy your time well.

Bari

The Streets of Bari, Puglia via Unsplash

Bari is Puglia’s largest city and it has a stunning old town. Sure, this itinerary already has many old towns but this one is very different because it is in South Italy.

Bari’s old town is called Bari Vecchia. It was the heart of the city even in the pre Roman times. Explore the maze of narrow streets here and enjoy the sights.

Many people make Bari their base as they explore the nearby destinations of Puglia. But I don’t suggest Bari as your base, check the next point.

Polignano a Maren

Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy

Instead of Bari, I suggest you make Polignano a Maren your base. It is a stunning beach town with historical buildings that’s situated on the cliffs. You can just cover almost the entire city by foot because it is small.

Polignano a Maren, Puglia, Italy road trip itinerary via Unsplash

Almost every restaurant or bar in Polignano a Maren faces the sea.

Alberobello

Trulli Village – Alberobello, Puglia in Italy

Alberobello is just 30 minutes from Polignano a Maren. It is a Trulli village and is a UNESCO world heritage site. So what’s a Trulli? It is an architectural feature of Puglia, a unique way of building temporary or sometimes full time houses.

You won’t need a lot of time for Alberobello. Just arrive here and spend 1 hour walking around to see the Trullo. You can combine Alberobello with 1-2 other places that are in your South Italy road trip itinerary, like Matera or Lecce.

Alberobello is unique! You won’t see a place like this in all of Italy, so try to include this in your Italy road trip itinerary if you can.

Matera

Matera, Puglia, Italy itinerary via Unsplash

If you thought Alberobello was unique, wait till you see Matera. It has rock-cut settlements and they are well preserved. These settlements are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Matera’s cave houses are called Sassi, and they are dug into limestone rocks. Yes, a little like Turkey’s Cappadocia. They are believed to be some of the first settlements in the Italian peninsula because some of them date back to 7000 BC.

While in Matera, see Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. This is where you will see the loveliest landscape. Matera was the main shooting location for the James Bond movie – No Time to Die.

Sant’Andrea

The Arche and Rock Formations of Sant’Andrea – I Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea – Puglia

Drive to Sant’Andrea from Bari or Polignano a Mare to visit my favorite beach in Italy. The drive will take you around 1 hour 45 minutes so leave early.

Torre Sant’Andrea beach is stunning and it has many sections. There is a nice sandy part that’s perfect for families and several rocky parts that are super stunning. 

Make a day trip here and spend a few hours here exploring this area. You can also cliff jump here.

Lecce

Exploring the Historical Lecce city in Puglia, Italy

Lecce is called the Florence of South. It is an ancient city that I absolutely fell in love with! All the buildings here are beige and it is amazing to walk in Lecce’s old town. However, if you have spent enough time in Florence, you can skip Lecce to save time. 

If you do end up visiting Lecce, walk around here and enjoy the stunning old town. Get a table outside in one of the restaurants and enjoy Lecce’s famous foods – Cozze Gratin, Frutti de Mare Pasta / risotto or Pizza and Pasticciotto.

Tips for Italy Road Trip:

  • Keep a small overnight bag ready in your car for places where you need to park your car and move further by train, like the Cinque Terre or Venice.
  • You will find free water in designated water fountains in every single town or village in Italy. Make the most of it and drink this water.
  • Parking can get very expensive in famous cities like Rome, Venice, etc – so feel free to skip them. More than just difficult, sometimes it isn’t possible to find a parking spot at all.
  • Observe the traffic rules, even if the locals around you aren’t doing so. The fines are heavy and sometimes people also receive a 1-3 day driving ban.
  • The alcohol limit is 0.50g/L and is zero for those who are under 21 or have a driving license thats not older than 3 years.

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The Externsteine: Stunning Rock Formation in Germany’s Teutoburg Forest

The Externsteine: Stunning Rock Formation in Germany’s Teutoburg Forest

This post has information about the Externsteine Rocks in Teutoburger Wald (Teutoburg Forest), which is Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia State.

Would you believe me if I told you that Germany has it’s own Stonehenge like natural site with rocks that standing there since the ice age?

I wouldn’t believe me, but thankfully I have visited this place twice. It is called the Externsteine, and it is often called the Germanic Stonehenge because of Wilhelm Teudt, an archeologist who popularized this term.

AKA the Germanic Stonehenge – The Externsteine

The Externsteine rocks are massive, and have a strange beauty about them as they appear to be jutting out of the earth out of nowhere. 

Living in Germany, I have visited a lot of destinations within the country but this place left a strong memory in my mind. The sheer magnificence of the Externsteine rock formations will leave you in awe of the geology, the nature and the history. I loved this place so much that I visited it twice already.

The Stunning Externsteine in Winter

These rock formations are a part of the Teutoburg Forest and are protected. If you have read about the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, then you probably recognize the name of the forest.

If you’re a history buff, or a nature lover or even an adventure lover, you will enjoy your time here. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Externsteine in Teutoburger Wald.

Everything You Need to Know for Visiting the Externsteine in Teutoburger Wald

The Externsteine – What’s with the Name?

The Externsteine in Teutoburger Wald, Germany

The oldest recorded names for the Externsteine were Agistersten and Eggesterenstein. The word “steine” means stones or rocks in German language but many historians and linguistic specialists have different thoughts about the name. 

Many linguistic researchers in the recent years say that the name “the Externsteine” means “sharp pointy rocks”. In older texts it was also written as “the Eastern Rocks”. 

The Externsteine, Teutoberger Wald, Germany

The most popular meaning of the name Externsteine is “the rock of the magpies”, which was popularized by Hermann Hamelmann. Now you’re thinking who is Hermann Hamelmann – well, he’s an important part of the Externsteine’s recent history and we will talk about him later in this post.

By the way, if you are into massive rock formations, then you should also check out my post about Jasmund National Park in Germany, which is famous for its white cliffs.

Where is the Extersteine, Teutoburger Wald?

The Externsteine Rocks from a distance

The Externsteine is in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state. Many travelers don’t spend much time in this state because it is mostly industrial, except if they are visiting the famous city of Cologne. (Of course, there’s a lot more to see in the state like Burg Eltz, Winterberg, Münster city, etc.)

These rocks are a part of the Teutoburg Forest (Teutoburger Wald in German), which are forested hills that cover an area of 4000 square kilometers. The forested ridge of Teutoburger Wald are mostly in NRW and some in the Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) state.

If you want to be specific, then the Externsteine is 30 KMs from Paderborn or 50 KMs from Bielefeld. The nearest town is Horn-Bad Meinberg.

How old are the Externsteine rocks? A MILLION YEARS.

It is shocking but it is believed that the Externsteine rocks are 120 million year old. No, it doesn’t mean that this exact structure is so old but the rocks are. They were laid down around 100 million years ago during the early Cretaceous era.

These rocks are from the Ice Age, more than 100 million years old

These rocks were originally horizontal layers but about 70 million years ago they were folded to an almost vertical position. The pillars look like this today after years of weathering as well as having been modified and decorated by humans over the centuries – wow!

It is interesting to know that these are outcropping of sandstone rocks in a region that is usually has no rocks. 

A Brief History of the Extersteine

I like knowing a little history of everything but I don’t like to go too deep in it every single time. So, keeping that in mind, I will make it short and sweet to include just the main points.

First Use of the Externsteine in the Prehistoric times

The Stunning Extersteine Rocks were first used in the Prehistoric times by nomads

The first use of these rocks was by nomadic groups who used them for temporary shelter. This was the prehistoric time and the stone tools daring back to 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC from the Ahrensburg culture were recovered. After that, there hasn’t been any evidence of the use of the Externsteine site in the bronze or iron age. 

The Externsteine as a Christian Sacred Site

The Extersteine in Teutoberger Wald, Germany

As per historians, the Externsteine site was mentioned in some historical documents to be used between the 10th and 15th centuries but these documents were destroyed in the Second World War. The thermoluminescence dating of the cave walls did suggest that this location was used between the the 10th and 15th centuries.

Some historians also say that the Externsteine was used in the 9th century as a Christian sanctuary.  

The rocks of the Externsteine have caves and passages within them, and there are inscriptions on some of the walls. One inscription suggests that the Externsteine was declared sacred in 1115 by the Bishop of Paderborn – Henrico or Heinrich II. von Werl. 

Use of the Externsteine as a Hermitage

There are historical documents that suggest that the Externsteine was also used as a Hermitage – a temporary place for refugees. It is important to keep in mind that the place wasn’t always called the Externsteine and the documents describe the place but not name is exactly as it is known today.

Between 14 and 16 centuries, the Hermitage at the Externsteine was used as a hiding place for bandits. It was then in the 16th century that the Hermitage was dissolved here and eventually all the church activity stopped too.

Externsteine as a Sacred Pagan Site

The Externsteine in Winter

Do you remember I mentioned the name Hermann Hamelmann in the section where I talk about the name of the Externsteine? Well, he plays an important part in the history of the Expernsteine around this time in the Early Modern Period.

Hermann Hamelmann was a reformer from Westphalia who believed in works of Martin Luther. He was a theologist who worked as a priest and later as a pastor. In 1564 he wrote that the Extersteine was used as a site for Saxon pagan worship. Till date, many Germans believe that the Externsteine was indeed a pagan worship site.

The Strange but Beautiful Externsteine

Even today the Externsteine is believed to be a sacred pagan site and thousands of people gather here every summer for the Walpurgis Night. I do mention this in detail in the section about “when to visit the Externsteine”.

Dilapidation and then Sudden Interest in the Externsteine

The Externsteine wasn’t taken care of in the early 18th century but revived soon after and then it became a tourist destination. Due to this, the interest in the Externsteine grew and people because curious about its purpose historically.

In 1860s – 1870s, many publications wrote about their speculations of what may have been the history of the Externsteine and what it was used for.  There were mentions again of pagan worship and around this time a lot of excavations were conducted.

Summer Flowers around the Externsteine in Teutoburger Wald

An important moment in the history of Externsteine was in 1926, when it was declared to be one of the oldest and important nature reserves in Lippe. It was around this time that the Externsteine was called “the Germanic Stonehenge” by the archeologist Wilhelm Teudt.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest of 9 AD occurred most likely in or around this area. This battle was one of the most significant defeats of the Romans. This battle abruptly ended the period of expansion under Ceasar Augustus and stopped the Romans plans for conquering Germania.

 Archeologist and hiostorians have tried to conduct excavations in 1880s to find evidence of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in and around the Externsteine, but none were found back then.

Wiembecke Pond

Wiembecke Pond next to the Extersteine Rocks

There is a small lake that’s next to the Externsteine columns. It is actually a pond that was created artificially by making a dam on a stream of River Wiembecke which was earlier flowing past the rocks.

Wiembecke Pond in Winter

This pond is called Wiembecke Pond and is offers stunning photo possibilities of the Externsteine and its reflection in the water.

Hermannsweg Hike or Hermann Trail

The gardens around the Externsteine in Teutoburg Forest

The Externsteine is also a part of the Hermannsweg Hike, which is a Germany’s one of the most beautiful high altitude hiking trails that goes through the Teutoburg Forest. 

This 156 KM trail starts at Rheine and ends at Lippe Velmerstot rock formation, which is another rock formation that’s close to the Externsteine.

How to Reach Externsteine

The drive through the Teutoberg Forest to Externsteine

Just like any other destination in Germany that’s not a main city, the best way of reaching the Externsteine is by driving to it. Put “Parkplatz Externsteine” on your navigation system and enjoy the drive through the beautiful forest.

I did mention hiking in the previous section. You can take a part of the Hermannsweg Hike, or do the full trail to reach the Externsteine.

It is easy to reach the Externsteine by train & bus too. Look for R51 train from Paderborn train station and get off at “H-BM-Horn, Jahnstraße“. H-BM is Horn-Bad Meinberg. From here, the walk to the Externsteine is 1.3 KMs.

If you want to minimize walking, then arrive in Horn-Bad Meinberg city by train and look for a bus 782 to Horn-Holzh – it is 450 meters from the Externsteine.

The Walk to the Externsteine from the parking place

The Externsteine car park is just 500 meters away from the rocks. There’s a visitor information center, a restaurant and a small playground for children. The parking charge is around EUR 4.50 per day.

A carved tree trunk near the Externsteine Car Park in 2017

The same carved tree trunk near the Externsteine Car Park in 2022

The walk from the parking place to the Externsteine rocks is easy and goes through the forest. In the middle, there is a lovely moment of wonder at the first glimpse of the rocks through the trees. 

What to do around the Externsteine

Walk around the Externsteine & Wiembecke Pond

The most obvious thing to do when you arrive here is to walk around the rocky columns. There is a path that goes through between two of the columns which is probably the first thing you will notice.

The view of the Extersteine across the Wiembecke Pond

This is a small trail that goes through the rocks and around the Wiembecke Pond. The trail will just take you 5-10 minutes and you can catch a glimpse of the rocks from the other side of the Wiembecke Pond.

Climb on top of the Externsteine rocks for the view 

Climb on top of the Extersteine Tower

The rocks are connected to each other with a series of steps. The path is narrow and can be slippery in rain if you’re not wearing the right shoes. It isn’t free to climb on top of the towers and I remember the fee per person being EUR 3.

View from top of the Extersteine Rocks

One the days when the Externsteine is closed, a small part of the staircase is open and the remaining is closed. So you can still go a little higher and look at the view from top.

See the Grottos of Externsteine

The Grottos of the Externsteine

There is a cave inside the rocks with three chambers that are connected by passages. This part is called the Grottenfels – or the Grottos. These are man made grottos. 

See the Markings and Drawings on the Rocks

The Carving showing showing Christ’s Descent from the Cross on Externsteine_

The marking and drawings on the columns of Externsteine are all different. They are very interesting to see. There is a carving that depicts the Christ’s Descent from the Cross.

One of the rocks of the Externsteine shows the coat of arms of the Counts of Lippe, which of course is one of the newest markings.

Explore the Beauty of Teutoberg Forest

Don’t forget that the Externsteine is just one of the many places in the lovely hilly forest of Teutoberg. Take out some time to explore the nature.

We did a slightly longer walk that went through the forest and it was very enjoyable in summer. On our second visit, we picked the smaller trail because there was snow and everything was slippery.

Exploring the forest around Externsteine – Teutoberger Wald

You can explore the forest on foot or you can bring your bicycle too. Pick one of the marked trails and see the beauty of the nature.

Please be careful of ticks while walking around the forest, some of them can be poisonous.

Enjoy a Picnic next to Externsteine

Picnic next to the Externsteine and Wiembecke pond

If you’re visiting on a warm day, then you can also carry your picnic mat and snacks for a memorable day here with friends.

When to visit the Externsteine?

All the seasons are good for visiting the Externsteine and offer something different. 

Snow on the grass around the Externstein in Winter

If you visit in Winter, with a bit of luck you can catch the beauty of the forest with snow. We did too. Although the main tourist office of the Externsteine isn’t open in winter weekdays but only the weekends, but you can still do everything except climb on top of the towers.

Unfortunately the grass and the benches will most likely be wet during a typical winter day, so you can’t sit and enjoy the nature, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting.

Wildflowers around the Externsteine

Spring and summer months are when the most of the people visit this site. The forest is sense during these seasons and you will see a lot of flowers and bees. Carry a mat and some snacks, because it’s the perfect time for picnic.

Wildflowers around the Externsteine in summer

On April 30 – May 1 every year, many locals camp here and jam (perform music together) – to celebrate Walpurgis Night. It of course helps that there’s national holiday of the labour day on May 1.  However, it didn’t happen during the peak of corona pandemic in 2020-2021.

The Externsteine Looks Lovely in all Seasons

Autumn is the best time for me to visit the Externsteine, particularly right before the leaves start to fall because of the stunning bright colors of an otherwise green and grey landscape.

Closing Thoughts on the Externsteine

The Externsteine is a an incredibly beautiful rock formation which will leave you in awe of the geology, the nature and the history. The sheer size of the rocks will amaze you and this is sure to be a place which will remain on top of your list of memorable places.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Why I love Bielefeld Christmas Market, [NRW] Germany

Why I love Bielefeld Christmas Market, [NRW] Germany

Magical season is here, and the best way to make the most of it is by heading to a Christmas Market. 

Around this time every year, I thank the universe for making me live in Germany so that I can enjoy some of the best Christmas Markets in Germany.

Many first timer visitors try to find the most famous Christmas markets in Germany but as someone who’s living there, I highly recommend the smaller ones.

Firstly, the most famous Christmas Markets like the one in Dresden or Trier are extremely crowded. Second, the hotels sell out months in advance. Third, if you’re thinking of driving to them, then be aware that the parking areas fill out too.

Keeping that in mind, I highly suggest you check out the Christmas Markets in Germany that aren’t as famous. I did write a post about a small and sweet Christmas Market Rheda-Wiedenbruck (my town), but today I want to talk about a bigger one.  

Bielefeld is a big city in North Rhine-Westphalia (the Western German state). Although I never found Bielefeld exciting but I was presently surprised by the Christmas Markets here. Here’s why I love the Christmas Markets in Bielefeld and you will too:

Many Bielefeld Christmas Markets within Walking Distance, 

The View from the Top of a Ferris Wheel at Altstädter Kirchpark Christmas Market in Bielefeld

The first time I visited Bielefeld, I walked around the main shopping street between the main train station (Bahnofstrasse) and Jahnplatz. It was beautifully decorated and had a lot of small temporary shops with Chrristmas-y things and Gluhwein, I thought that was the main Christmas Market but it is just one of the many.

Big Cities like Bielefeld have multiple Christmas Markets and they usually have different names. Three of the Christmas Markets in Bielefeld are near to each other so you can just walk from one to another.

My favorite one is in Klosterplatz, it is called Weihnachtsmarkt Bielefeld “Mitte” with a Winter Wonderland theme. Another one nearby is in Alter Markt (Old Market) with the backdrop of old buildings. A third one that’s right next to it is in Altstädter Kirchpark with carousels and a Ferris Wheel. Fourth market that’s just there too is on Niedernstraße, and fifth in Obenstrasse.

To make things easy, I have marked the Christmas Markets on a Map for you, you will find it at the end of this post.

So to recap, the 6 Christmas Markets of Bielefeld are:

  1. Weihnachtsmarkt Bielefeld “Mitte” in Klosterplatz 
  2. Shopping Street Christmas Market – Bahnofstrasse
  3. Alter Markt (Old Market) 
  4. Altstädter Kirchpark
  5. Niedernstraße
  6. Obenstrasse

If the above list confuses you, and if you’d like to pick just two, then I recommend number Weihnachtsmarkt Bielefeld “Mitte” in Klosterplatz  for ice skating, the bar scene and the old school feel and Altstädter Kirchpark Christmas Market for the carousels, food and bars. Actually they all have amazing bars but the ones in these two Christmas Markets especially stood out.

Honestly, if you move between these two then you can easily stop at Bielefeld Alter Markt Christmas Market, which is small but the decoration looks amazing with a backdrop of old buildings. The bars are nice and they have a nice gazebo like circular sitting area in the middle.

If you live in Bielefeld and know of another Christmas Market that I didn’t mention, then please tell me. 

The Decoration (+ Santa)

Altstädter Kirchpark Bielefeld Christmas Market

Bielefeld isn’t the prettiest city if you compare it to the likes of Cologne or Heidelberg, but I love how the city lights up during Christmas time. Expect to see pretty lights, massive Christmas Trees, Santas and literally everything that will make you feel like you just stepped into a winter wonderland.

Santa Claus at Weihnacht Markt Bielefeld Mitte in Klosterplatz Bielefeld Christmas Market

I wanted amazing Chrismasy pictures this winter, and I was planning on clicking them inside the house with the Christmas Tree but I clicked some of the best ones in the Christmas Markets in Bielefeld.

Ice Skating

Omg, I’m in a Winter Wonderland!

Ice Skating Rink at Weihnacht Markt Bielefeld Mitte in Klosterplatz Bielefeld

That’s what I thought when I saw the Ice Skating rink in Weihnachtsmarkt Bielefeld “Mitte” in Klosterplatz. This was actually my favorite market of all because of the theme.

I absolutely love everything Christmas-y but for me the ice skating rink with pretty lights on top and wooden Christmas market stalls in the backdrop added a breathtaking touch. Activities such as ice skating, sledding or skiing scream winter. It was like a cherry on top of an amazing cake.

Ice Skating Rink at Christmas Market in Bielefeld Mitte in Klosterplatz Bielefeld

Seriously, the winter vibes can’t get more intense than this. For me, the ice skating rink was the highlight of the Christmas Markets in Bielefeld.

Glühwein (Mulled Wine)

Typical Glühwein at Bielefeld Christmas Market

If you’re a Christmas Market newbie, then you probably don’t know what Glühwein is. I didn’t know too before visiting Germany in 2014.

Glühwein is Mulled Wine, which is warm wine with herbs, fruits, and spices added on to it. I don’t mean hot spices but things like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, mace, etc. Everyone has their own recipe for Glühwein and it is fun to try all different variations.

Most of the Glühweins are made with red wine but some also with white. Some also have fruit slices in them – mostly oranges. You will also find Glühweins that are mixed with rum, vodka and more interesting things. Of course the mixed ones are highly potent. 

Delicious Gluhwein with Orange at Christmas Market in Bielefeld Mitte in Klosterplatz Bielefeld

Not only it is fun to try all the variations of Gluhweins in different Christmas Markets in Bielefeld but I absolutely adore the mugs or glasses that are used in most of the shops for Glühweins. 

The typical cost of Glühwein in Bielefeld Christmas market is around 3-4 Euros per glass. There’s also a “pfand” – refundable fee that you will initially pay and recover from the bar when you give your cup back. The prices go up per glass if you add more things to your glühwein.

In 2021, one needs to show a proof of two vaccinations when ordering anything from a bar in a Christmas Market in Bielefeld.

Christmas Markets are cold so if you want to warm up your hands and eventually your body, then get yourself a mug of Gluhwein. There are non alcoholic ones too!

You will find amazing Gluhweins everywhere but in terms of the variety, the bar atmosphere and the energy, I pick Weihnachtsmarkt Bielefeld “Mitte” in Klosterplatz as the best one for drinking.

Eggnogs (Eierpunsch)

Eierpunsch (Eggnog) in Bielefeld Christmas Market, Germany

Glühwein isn’t the only alcoholic Christmas Market beverage in Germany, there’s also Eierpunsch (Eggnog). This is actually made with egg, milk, cream, vanilla, and white wine.

Honestly, it sounds a little disgusting because of raw eggs and alcohol – eww. But if you have had mousse at any time or tiramisu, then be aware that they also are made with raw eggs. Thankfully if the Eierpunsch is well made then you won’t smell the egg but only vanilla.

i highly recommend the Eggnog in Altstädter Kirchpark Bielefeld Christmas Market. The main bar does tend to get crowded but the service is super quick.

The Eierpunsch in Bielefeld costs 3-4 Euros. You need to show a proof of two vaccinations when ordering anything from a bar in a Christmas Market in Bielefeld.

Carousels

Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad) at Altstädter Kirchpark Christmas Market in Bielefeld

Carousels aren’t just for children. Yes, they aren’t scare if you compare then to adventure park rides but they add a magical touch. The carousels aren’t there in all the Christmas Markets in Bielefeld but are only at Altstädter Kirchpark

You will find the typical Christmas carousel that’s simple but beautifully decorated with Christmas lights. There’s also a small snowman in the middle of the carousel that throws fake snowflakes on people. Cute, right?

Carousel at Altstädter Kirchpark Christmas Market in Bielefeld

I also love the big Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad in German) that’s in Altstädter Kirchpark Christmas Market. Of course the ride is fun (sadly a little short) but the view from the top is definitely worth seeing. You will see the Christmas Market from the high up in every direction and it looks magical with the lights.

The Carousel and Ferris Wheel costs EUR 2.5 for children and EUR 3 for adults. You need to show a proof of two vaccinations when buying your ticket.

The Food at Bielefeld Christmas Markets

Mushrooms with gravy and herb sauce and bun at Bielefeld Christmas Market

In terms of food, the Christmas Market at Altstädter Kirchpark has the most variety. You will find the typical German food that you can find in Christmas Markets – brat wurst, curry wurst, Kartoffelpuffer mit Apfelmus, grünkohl, but also typical Kirmes food like Mushrooms with gravy, Lángos, Krakowska, etc.

My favorite of course are the Mushrooms (champignons) and I love the gravy and the bun that comes with it. 

In my experience, the food in Christmas Markets in Bielefeld isn’t expensive. It is always less than 10 Euros per person and is pretty filling. Just like drinks, you need to show a proof of two vaccinations when ordering anything from a restaurant in a Christmas Market in Bielefeld.

The Old School & Winter Holiday Feeling

The View from the Top of the Altstädter Kirchpark in Bielefeld

This is actually the case with not just Bielefeld Christmas Markets but most of them in Germany. There’s an atmosphere of joy, love and merry.

A Bar with an Old School Vibe at Weihnachtsmarkt Bielefeld Mitte in Klosterplatz

The magical decor with lights and garlands add to the festive mood. The small shops with handmade winter things offer something unique for everyone. In fact, the whole decor makes one want to spend their money as quickly as possible.

Bielefeld Christmas Markets Map (Walking Directions)

Below are the markets that I have marked on the map.

  1. Weihnachtsmarkt Bielefeld “Mitte” in Klosterplatz
  2. Shopping Street Christmas Market – Bahnofstrasse
  3. Alter Markt (Old Market) 
  4. Altstädter Kirchpark
  5. Niedernstraße
  6. Obenstrasse

 

 

Closing Thoughts on Christmas Markets in Bielefeld

If you live in NRW, then give the multiple Chrismas Markets of Bielefeld a try. Arrive here by train or car, park your car and spend a few hours moving from one Christmas Market to another. You can find more information about them on the city’s official webpage.

Torre Sant’Andrea Puglia: Info + Tips for Puglia’s Most Beautiful Beach [Italy]

Torre Sant’Andrea Puglia: Info + Tips for Puglia’s Most Beautiful Beach [Italy]

South Italy’s Puglia has always been a popular destination for Italians but it has been receiving international attention for the last 3-4 years. There are many reasons why one should visit Puglia, and the beaches are an important factor, especially THIS particular one. 

The stunning Sant’Andrea beach in Puglia, Italy

Looks familiar? Well, this is usually the cover picture for most of the Puglia travel articles on media. Good news – the pictures don’t lie at all, this place is simply mind-blowing.

If you are in touch with me on Instagram, then you surely know that I spent a month in Puglia, South Italy. Most of that time was spent in Salento. Wondering what’s Salento all about?

Puglia is often called the heel of Italy’s boot because that’s exactly how it looks on the map. Salento is the bottom-most point of that heel.

Out of that one entire month in Salento, if there’s one place that will forever stay etched in my mind as the most spectacular place in every way, it is Sant’Andrea – both the beach and the rock formations. I did visit a lot of beaches during my one month in Salento, and I think Sant’Andrea is the most beautiful beach in Puglia.

Sant’Andrea Puglia, Italy – Panorama

Before we go further, I’d like to tell you that this area can be divided into the following parts:

  • The Rock Formations of Sant’Andrea (I Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea) – 5-10 minutes from the parking place
  • The Sandy Beach (Spiaggia della Punticeddha) – 5-10 minutes from the parking place
  • The Rocky Beach (Torre Sant’Andrea) – Depends on which part you want to go to.

This isn’t official segregation, but something I have made to help you. I couldn’t find a lot of English articles before visiting and I didn’t realize that there’s so much to see and experience here before visiting. There is a lot more beyond these three segregations but I didn’t end up visiting further.

The Rock Formations of Sant’Andrea (I Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea)

If we talk about beaches with stunning arches and rock formations, what are the places that come to your mind? Most likely France’s Etretat, Portugal’s Lagos, Germany’s Rugen Island, Thailand’s Phra Nang Cave beach but somehow Puglia’s name never comes up. Maybe it is a good thing! 

The Arche and Rock Formations of Sant’Andrea – I Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea – Puglia

I have visited most of the places that I have listed above but for me Italy’s Sant’Andrea was beyond anything I had ever seen in terms of scale and magnificence. 

Expected to see massive arches, lagoons, towers, and crazy rock formations. There are also tower-like rocky islands that emerge out of the blue-green water.

The Sandy Beach (Spiaggia della Punticeddha)

The Sandy Beach at Sant’Andrea Puglia – Spiaggia della Punticeddha – Puglia, Italy

Sant’Andrea’s rock formations are famous, but the sandy beach will surprise you. It isn’t big but it is lovely since it has rock formations on all the sides. This beach is called Spiaggia della Punticeddha – that’s what you need to put on Google Maps to find it.

The sand on Punticeddha beach – Spiaggia della Punticeddha is very soft and light. The water is clear and very blue, so it feels unreal. The beauty of the rocks around will take your breath away but the best part of the rock formations can be viewed if you swim further away or climb towards the tower area.

The Rocky Island at Sant’Andrea Puglia – Spiaggia della Punticeddha

There is also a small island of rocky formation that you can swim to from Spiaggia della Punticeddha. If you are here with small children then get a floaty, so that you can take them with you till there.

Spiaggia della Punticeddha gets crowded with families in the summer, because that’s the only part of this entire area that’s safe for children. Try to reach here early if you want to have at least some area to yourself.

The Rocky Beach (Torre Sant’Andrea)

The Stunning Rocky beach at Torre Sant’Andrea Puglia

Just between the Sandy beach (Spiaggia della Punticeddha) and the rock formations (I Faraglioni di Sant’Andrea), there is a rocky beach. This Rocky beach isn’t just one beach but has several small segments and each is better than the other.

The Rocky beach at Torre Sant’Andrea Puglia

The parts that are easy to get to are obviously not so empty but not even half as crowded as the sandy beach that I talked about in the above section.

There are parts that are not very easy to get to, and for me the water looked much clearer there. You can climb, or you can try swimming to that area in order to reach it. 

Tips for visiting Sant’Andrea Puglia

Get Your Climbing Shoes 

In order to visit the most lovely spots here, you have to climb a little. The climb isn’t steep and was also done by my 2.5 year old girl. 

Make sure you wear proper shoes. If you lose balance and fall, you can seriously hurt yourself here because the rocks are hard and not smooth.

San’t Andrea – Puglia’s Coastline – South Italy

If you’re planning on cliff jumping, then waterproof shoes help. You will find “swimming shoes” for just 5 euros in most of the small beach towns in Puglia. Of course the price will rise as you move to more touristy areas.

EXPLORE Around

For me, the first spot of Sant’Andrea that we saw was gorgeous and I didn’t imagine that I’d want to leave that, but after an hour of being there, we decided to explore.

We realized that the more we explored, the better the landscape around us became. The shapes of the rock formations changed after every few steps. 

We visited Sant’Andrea wqith our 2.5 year old daughter so our climb was a bit limited. If you are adventurous and enjoy climbing, then you will surely see a lot more than we did. 

In order to reach a new spot, you won’t have to climb a lot or walk a lot. All the places are just 5-10 minutes away from each other.

Parking Gets Full Early in August

Parking Spot I Faraglioni Sant’Andrea Puglia

The peak travel month in Puglia is August. That’s the time when not just Italians but most of the Europeans are on their annual summer break.

The car rental prices go very high at this time and naturally, the parking spots fill out fast. Arrive early to find a good parking spot or be ready to spend some time driving in circles in order to find one. Or, you can arrive a little late at 4 or 5 pm when most of the people start to leave.

We arrived at 4 pm at Torre Sant’Andrea parking and found a spot after taking just one round, but we were lucky since many people were leaving at that time.

Arrive Early or Late in the Summer

The Sandy Part of Sant’Andrea gets crowded

Ever seen popular Italian beaches in the summer? They are usually fully jam-packed and one needs to hunt to find a place to put the mat.

The peak season crowds at Sant’Andrea,Puglia, Italy

The comfortable sandy part of the beach at Spiaggia della Punticeddha is small. It gets very full so if you want to spend even a little time here, then the best time to arrive at the beach is as early as 8 am or as late aa 4 pm.

The clear water near the rocks at Sant’Andrea beach, Puglia, Italy

Of course the rocky beach area near Torre Sant’ Andrea doesn’t get crowded because it isn’t uncomfortable to sit there unless you manage to get a thick rug or a chair. You have to climb with your stuff or swim with it to reach the rocky beach.

Cliff Jumping in Sant’ Andrea Puglia

The Many Cliff Jumping and Swimming Spots at Torre Sant’Andrea Puglia

What do you find on beaches with rock formations? Cliff Jumping spots!

If you want to do cliff jumping, then you will be happy to know that there are plenty of spots near Torre Sant’Andrea that vary in height. 

Stay Safe if you Cliff Jump

I have mentioned this before in my Puglia article but I feel it necessary to remind you to be safe if you choose to do cliff jumping. Don’t ever force yourself into an activity that you’re not comfortable doing.

If you want to cliff jump, then you have to make sure you jump straight or else you will injure yourself. My husband suffered from two fractures in his spine after cliff jumping in Puglia from Porto Selvaggio.

Visiting with Children? Get a Floatie

The view of the family beach at Sant’Andrea, Puglia, Italy

If you are visiting this beach with small children, then you will be able to explore much more with a floaty. You can put your child or children on the floaty and swim with them as you explore the different rock formations around.

We forgot to carry our floating hammock in our car and ended up buying a floaty here for Karma. We resisted buying it till the very end but realized we had to if we three were to swim together for a while instead of staying on the beach.

Shops Around the Beach are Expensive

The shops around the small sandy beach sell everything you’d need on the beach. Beach mats, sunglasses, floaties, sand toys, snacks, etc. But try to bring your stuff with you because the shops are expensive here.

Affordable Food Truck near the Parking

Taralli Pugliesi – the popular Puglian snack from the food truck at Torre Sant’Andrea parking

If you spend a few hours on the beach and swim, you will naturally get hungry. There is a food truck near the beach parking. It is actually near the small water fountain from where you can fill up your water bottles.

If you want snacks and beer, then you will be happy to know that you will get them at the food truck for an affordable price. You can get paninis, french fries, and similar small snacks.

Visit Grotta della Poesia – a Cave Pool that’s 5 KMs Away

I will be honest, I didn’t get to visit Grotta della Poesia but it doesn’t mean you should miss out. I didn’t even know of its existence. A day after visiting Sant’Andrea, I saw information for Grotta della Poesia and I kicked myself for not knowing before and missing out.

Grotto means cave in Italian, and Grotta della Poesia means “Cave of Poetry” – isn’t it romantic? The rock formations create a natural pool with a tunnel that goes into the sea, that’s Grotta della Poesia.

In order to see Grotta della Poesia, you need to pay an entrance fee of €3 per person, and must show a valid Green Pass.

Torre Sant’Andrea Puglia Corona Restrictions

Like most of the places in Italy, you need to show a valid Green Pass to enter busy public areas here. Italy has recently changed its Green Pass restrictions, it is now only for vaccinated people and not those who have just recovered from the illness. 

I didn’t see anyone checking for a green pass in the Torre Sant’Andrea area but my friends who visited Grotta della Poesia mentioned that it was checked there.

Where is Torre Sant’Andrea?

Sant’Andrea is on Salento’s East Coast. It is in Lecce province and is around 20-30 mins drive from Lecce city. Torre is an Italian word that means tower. Most of the beaches in Puglia have medieval towers that are sometimes photogenic.

How to Reach Torre Sant’Andrea

The best way to reach Sant’Andrea is by driving to it. This is how it works for most of the European destinations unless you’re visiting the main big cities like Lecce or Bari. If you’re arriving in Puglia by air, then rent a car so that you can drive to amazing places like Sant’Andrea instead of being restricted to just a handful of destinations that are accessible by public transport.

Where to Park for Visiting Sant’Andrea Beach & Rock Formations

There is a parking area near Torre Sant’Andrea which gets full very early during the high season. Most of the people park along the road that goes to Torre Sant’Andrea. This is the same road that has a van camping spot that’s called Area Camper I Faraglioni Sant’Andrea.

Honestly, the road itself gets full but if you have time or patience to look for a place to park, then you will find one. As mentioned before, arrive early or late in order to find a place for your car.

Final Thoughts about Torre Sant’Andrea, Puglia

Puglia is getting popularized every year and even more so in 2021 because of the Red Bull Cliff Diving event in Puglia. Of course the event took place on a very busy area of Puglia but if you want to see something special that’s not as busy as the rest of Italy, then make sure you don’t miss Sant’Andrea.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

NDSM Amsterdam: How to Reach + What to do in NDSM Werf (Wharf)

NDSM Amsterdam: How to Reach + What to do in NDSM Werf (Wharf)

What’s that one place in Amsterdam that’s different than all others? It is NDSM.

NDSM Werf (or NDSM Wharf in English) is in Amsterdam-Noord. It is unique, because it is unlike any other neighborhood of Amsterdam. You won’t see the typical narrow buildings or canals but don’t be disappointed – there’s something else here.

What is NDSM Werf (or NDSM Wharf)

Riverside Pllek in NDSM Amsterdam

What was once an industrial shipyard is now a space with art installations, graffiti, beachside bars, vintage markets, environmentally conscious cafes and an amazing creative hub with a contagious creative energy. Sounds a bit too much? Well, that’s the best way to describe Amsterdam’s NDSM Werf.

The word Werf is Dutch and it translates into “wharf” in English. A wharf is a quayside area in which a ship may be moored to load and unload.

Kunststad Entry – NDSM Amsterdam

Expect to see a lot of strange looking old shipyard tools here that are transformed into something arty or beautifully functional in another way. 

Technically NDSM Plein is a neighborhood of Amsterdam. The word “Plein” means a square or a plaza. Honestly, NDSM isn’t just a typical neighborhood or a square, it is a vibrant social space.

If you’re traveling to Amsterdam, then make sure you include NDSM in your itinerary. No matter how long or short your Amsterdam trip is, try to spend at least half a day in NDSM for a change of scenery. I have visited NDSM Werf on most of my Amsterdam weekend trips or even the longer ones.

How to reach NDSM Amsterdam

Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord - Amsterdam Itinerary

Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord – Amsterdam Itinerary

In my numerous posts about Amsterdam, I have mentioned over and over again that the best ways to explore the city is on a bicycle. Even though Amsterdam’s tram, ferry and metro network is great, and you probably won’t need a bicycle. Nonetheless, having one while you visit NDSM will give you much more freedom to explore. 

There is a free ferry that goes from Amsterdam Centraal to Amsterdam-Noord, and another one directly to NDSM-Yard. The ferry leaves from the other side of the Amsterdam Centraal train station, the exit that’s not towards the main city but the river. 

The ferry point is just outside the Centraal station and you won’t miss it because you will see people waiting with their bicycles or scooters. Yes, you can take the bike on the ferry.

Look for the ferry 906 towards NDSM-yard. The ferries leave after every five minutes and they cost nothing. It can’t get better than this. Remember, if you don’t have a bicycle then don’t get on the ferry that goes to A’dam tower because that’s 3 KMs away. Instead, take the ferry that’s going directly to NDSM werf. 

Ferry 906 will leave you near NDSM but if you want to check out other spots in Amsterdam-Noord, like the A’Dam lookout tower then you can ride your bicycle there, it is just 3 KMs, so will take you 15 minutes on the bicycle. If you’re scared to ride a bicycle in Amsterdam city, then you should know that riding it in Noord is super easy because of wide empty spaces.

Things to do in NDSM

Cycle Around NDSM Werf + Top Sights

NDSM Werf on bicycles and admiring street art

San and I exploring NDSM Werf on bicycles and admiring street art

When you arrive in NDSM, then the first thing you’d want to do is to explore the area on your bicycle. This will give you a sense of this space and will give you an idea about where everything is. This way, you can also keep a look out for a brand new cafe or bar that looks interesting and is not on my list.

Here are some spots to look at while you cycle around NDSM Plein. These are the spots where you don’t have to necessarily stop, unless you’d like to click a photo. They can be enjoyed as you cycle around them too.

Let me be Myself” mural of Anne Frank by Eduardo Kobra

The Iconic Let me be Myself – Ann Frank Mural in STRAAT, Amsterdam NDSM

While Cycling in NDSM Plein, you will come across a massive face of Ann Frank smiling at you. It is called “Let me be Myself” and is by Eduardo Kobra. 

I spent a long time looking at this mural because it has so many interesting bits that collectively form one face. The giant scale of this work of art is magnificent and it is not easy to photograph it unless you have a wide angle lens.

Let me be Myself mural of Ann Frank is actually the entry part of STRAAT – a museum dedicated to street art. I will talk more about that in one of my next points.

Spot the Faralda Crane Hotel

Amsterdam’s Crane Hotel Feralda in NDSM, Amsterdam Noord

Imagine a big old crane that’s converted into a high end bed and breakfast. Yes, that’s what Faralda Crane Hotel is all about. There’s even a hot top on top.

The rooms in Faralda Crane Hotel aren’t cheap and cost at least 800 euros per night for a crazy unique experience. I did mention this place in my earlier post about Amsterdam-Noord and I still say that this is a super interesting sight. 

See Alternative Housing – Trams and Containers

Old Tram Converted into a house in NDSM Amsterdam – Anthony da Cruz via Unsplash

NDSM takes recycling to another level by using up old trams and shipping containers. It was interesting to see some of them converted into houses. 

Cycle around and hopefully you will find even more interesting things to see that I didn’t notice. If you do, then please let me know too so that I can include the information on my website.

Head to Kunststad to see the Art Installations

The most obvious thing to do in NDSM Werf is to check out the art installations. They are mostly situated in a huge hall with high ceiling, which is called Kunststad (meaning Art City). 

San with his bicycle admiring the artwork inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

San with his bicycle admiring the artwork inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

Kunststad is a massive industrial building and you won’t miss it. You can take your cycle inside this hall. Kunststad features works of 250 artists. Some of the art installations are super interactive and will blow your mind.

Some art installations change over time and others stay here for a while. I saw something unique in 2017 here which was still in the same spot in 2021. It is called Barbie peep show and is hilarious.

NDSM Werf in Amsterdam-Noord – my favorite Amsterdam photo spot

The Barbie Peep show is all about putting a coin in the slot and seeing naked barbies. Once you put a coin, then a peep hole opens and you can peep for some time. I mean, no one ever needs to see naked barbies but it is a funny concept for collecting money. Moreover, with it’s pastel pink wall it makes an amazing photo spot and is in my list of top instagram spots in Amsterdam.

Cycling inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

Cycling inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

IJ-Hallen Flea Market

IJ-Hallen is a flea market that occurs in the same spot as the art installations in the first point. However this market takes place just once or twice a month, so make sure you check the website to plan your visit.

They say IJ-Hallen is the biggest flea market in Europe with 400 stands, I’m not sure because I have definitely seen massive flea markets in Puglia and another one near Germany-Poland border.

Honestly, because this market occurs just once or twice a month, I always ended up missing it. I did visit Waterlooplein, one of the other flea markets in main Amsterdam. Just because I didn’t get to visit it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. I still want to recommend this one of a kind flea market of Amsterdam to you.

Head to Pllek – Beach Bar, Movie Night, Yoga

Sipping Beer on the beach in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

I have mentioned Pllek in many of my Amsterdam posts. It is a lot of things combined in one. It is a restaurant, a bar that faces the IJ river, a spot for movie nights and Sunday morning Yoga sessions.

Pllek is a Dutch word that means “the spot” or “the place”, it is my favourite place in Amsterdam to relax and drink. Pllek is more than just a place, it is a vibe.

Pllek by the IJ in Amsterdam-Noord

While you’re in main Amsterdam, you may not realize but the city can sometimes get stressful because it is busy. This part of Amsterdam has somehow managed to stay under the radar from the tourists and is the perfect place to relax the mind. 

Sitting by the water in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord – 2021

If you’re looking for a spot to enjoy the sunset, Pllek is actually the best place because the beach chairs face the west side and you can see the magical sunset colours as you sit by the water.

I love Pllek’s contactless ordering service. You can just scan a QR code that’s displayed everywhere here, see the menu online and order. You can also pay online. When the order is ready, they will call your name and then you can enjoy your food and drinks.

Pllek by the IJ - Amsterdam Noord

Live music in Pllek by the IJ – Amsterdam Noord – 2017

Pllek gets a bit busy in the evenings so try to get here early. Be prepared to share a table if you get here late, but that’s not a bad thing because Pllek is a social spot.

Relax at Café de Ceuvel

An old houseboat transformed into a sitting area in De Ceuvel - Amsterdam

An old houseboat transformed into a sitting area in De Ceuvel – Amsterdam

Pllek definitely is an interesting spot but another one that stole my heart was De Ceuvel. It is arty, interesting and beautiful. 

Cafe De Ceuvel is one of those places where you can chill for hours and would not want to leave. There are interesting places to sit around the water and streams. If you’re lucky then you can get a houseboat table on the water.

Delicious salad at De Cuvel Café, Amsterdam-Noord

Delicious Nutty salad at De Ceuvel Café, Amsterdam-Noord

Vegans would love De Ceuvel because of the variety of food options. The food isn’t Dutch but fusion of many different cuisines. As an Indian, I can say that Cafe de Ceuvel is one of the FEW places in Europe that get “Dhaal” right. Dhaal is an Indian preparation of lentils. 

Apart from eating and drinking, De Ceuvel is a spot for many workshops that are focused on sustainability. In fact the whole restaurant is sustainable with their kitchen waste going into the garden.

Cafe de Ceuvel in NDSM Amsterdam

STRAAT Museum

Remember “Let me be Myself”, the Ann Frank mural that I mentioned in my earlier point about cycling in NDSM werf? Well that’s actually a part of STRAAT – a museum that’s dedicated to street art.

Near the entry of STRAAT Museum NDSM Amsterdam – Anthony da Cruz via Unsplash

Amsterdam is famous for its museums and STRAAT is truly one of a kind.

STRAAT is kind of like Kunststad but is much more intense. It isn’t free and it features some of the most famous artists from all over the world. In STRAAT you will find the works of Bansky, Keith Haring, etc.

The art in STRAAT is divided into 5 themes. Expect to learn about the stories, the art form, the history of graffiti, street art and NDSM Werf. Moreover it also features different international street artists from time to time.

If you’re visiting STRAAT with your children aged 6 – 12 years, you will be happy to know that they can take part in a treasure hunt – just ask at the entry point about it.

Where to Stay near NDSM Werf

Inside ClinkNoord - a fun place to stay in Amsterdam-Noord

Inside ClinkNoord – a fun place to stay in Amsterdam-Noord

I normally stay in main Amsterdam city but the only one time I stayed in Amsterdam-Noord was in a hostel called ClinkNoord. It is near A’Dam Tower, which is 2.5 – 3 KMs from NDSM werf.

Final Thoughts about NDSM Amsterdam

Pin It – NDSM Amsterdam

If you think this list contains information about too many places to visit in a small square called NDSM, you will be surprised to know that it has even more. I include NDSM in every single of my Amsterdam itineraries and every time I visit Amsterdam, I notice many interesting things to do in NDSM and a few new cafes and bars.

Amsterdam main has an old school charm but NDSM has a contemporary new look (and vibe).  Spend a few hours or days here for a change of scenery and you wouldn’t want to leave.

 

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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