Hamburg Instagram Spots: 13 Photo Spots in Hamburg + MAP

Hamburg Instagram Spots: 13 Photo Spots in Hamburg + MAP

Here are the exact locations of some of my Instagram reels and posts from Hamburg. It took me multiple visits to find some of the most amazing photo spots and to compile this list of my favorite Hamburg instagram spots.
 
Hamburg made me fall in love with Germany. There are canals, bridges, a stunning warehouse district with Dark Acadamia aesthetics, massive ships on the Elbe river, a tunnel and loads of street art. There is also a narrow street with the whole Harry Potter Diagon Alley vibe.
 
Hamburg is where even the subway stations look gorgeous, bus interiors look adorable with a tiny bookshelf and also the town hall is an interesting place to photograph. Is the rest of Germany also like this? Umm, no.
 
If you’re visiting Hamburg and you’d like to create some memorable photos too, then here’s my list that’s specifically curated for that purpose. Here are top instagram spots in Hamburg.
 

1) Brooksfleet, Speicherstadt

View of Brooksfleet in Speicherstadt, Hamburg

Speicherstadt is a German word that means “warehouse district”. It is super special because Hamburg has the biggest warehouse district in the world. And it is stunning!

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is my favorite photo spot in Hamburg because all the buildings are red. The icing on the cake is that there are intersecting canals, that make the photos look stunning.

Something about the red buildings and Hamburg’s gloomy cloudy weather give me massive Dark Acadamia vibes on this particular spot.

Brooksfleet canal in Speicherstadt, Hamburg photo spots

Speicherstadt is within the HafenCity quarter. You will find many photo spots but the best ones aren’t on top of the big bridges. Get on one of the narrower bridges that go over Brooksfleet canal and click a picture. You won’t be disappointed!

The Brooksfleet in Speicherstadt t is the extension of the Kehrwiederfleet. I found this spot randomly in 2017 while I was getting out from Miniatur Wunderland, and I revisited in 2022 for a few photos and reels.

Exact location: the narrow bridge right behind VLET restaurant in Speicherstadt that goes over Brooksfleet.

Click Here for coordinates on Google Map.

2) Nikolaifleet & Deichstraße

Nikolaifleet - Hamburg’s Prettiest Canal

Nikolaifleet – Hamburg’s Prettiest Canal – I photographed this in June 2017

Oh Hamburg, stop pretending to be Amsterdam! Just kidding. But yes, this spot will remind you of Amsterdam because the buildings along the canal are narrow.

Nikolaifleet is the name of a canal that is in Hamburg’s old town. What makes this photo spot special is that it is along Deichstraße, a pretty street with historical narrow buildings.

Nikolaifleet canal in July 2022, Hamburg Instagram spots

First mentioned in 1304, Deichstraße is the oldest remaining street in Hamburg’s old town – Hamburg Altstadt. The historical canal side houses here are from the 17th – 19th century. This photo spot is right opposite Speicherstadt. 

There’s also a bench here, so that you can sit down and take a break. If you have something nice to sip while you wait here, then that is even better. If not, then just admire the view, click a few photos and move on.

I have mentioned this photo-spot in my things to do in Hamburg post already. To get to this spot, arrive at Haus der Seefahrt and walk a few steps further and you will see this view. 

Click here for location coordinates on Google Map.

3) Wasserschloss (Water Castle), Speicherstadt

Wasserschloss (Water Castle), Speicherstadt via Unsplash

The most photographed spot of Speicherstadt is the Wasserschloss, which means “the Water Castle”. It is at the end of the the historical Holländischfleet-Brücke. This photo spot is interesting because of two intersecting canals – Wandrahmsfleet & Holländischbrookfleet with the Wasserschloss building in the middle. 

The Wasserschloss building was the home and working space of the those that maintained the warehouse district’s rope winches. Not many were privileged to live inside the warehouse district, but they were.

Speicherstadt at night - Hamburg's Warehouse District

Speicherstadt at night – Hamburg’s Warehouse District

How to photograph the Water Castle (Wasserschloss) in Hamburg? You don’t get too close to it but find a bridge that overlooks it. In order to see it, you will have to get on to the Poggenmühlen-Brücke, which is close to the Schmidtchen Speicherstadt cafe.

Click here for location coordinates on Google Map.

A lot of elaborate townhouses in Speicherstadt that belonged to the merchants from Holland along the Holländischfleet-Brücke were demolisghed to makje roopm for new warehouses. Also, many historical buildings were destroyed duering the World War 2 but some were restrored brick by brick.  

As of 1991, the warehouse district is under monumental protection, and from 2015 the entire Speicherstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Other interesting buildings in Speicherstadt are:

Cafea GmbH, Am Sandtorkai 2 

Building along St. Annenfleet, Speicherstadt, Hamburg via Unsplash

The stunning building at Am Sandtorkai 2 next to St. Annenfleet canal is Cafea GmbH, which was a coffee store that’s permanently closed. This building is stunning and is definitely worth photographing. 

Speicherstadtrathaus

It means the Warehouse District Townhouse and is the head office of HHLA transport and logistics.

Kehrwiederspitze

This is a cute small buuilding that you will see from the bridge as you walk around in Speicherstadt.

Café Fleetschlösschen

This building was once a customs booth on Brooktorkai but is now a restaurant. 

 

4) Elbphilharmonie, HafenCity

The Elbphilharmonie, HafenCity or Elbphi, Hamburg, Germany via Unsplash

The Elbphilharmonie or just the Elphi is a massive concert hall in Hamburg’s HafenCity. It is an iconic glass building that you should try to photograph if you visit Hamburg.

Some people say that the Elbphilharmonie shape resembles the top of the sail. Others even say that it looks like an iceberg, or a wave or a quartz crystal – but I will leave it to you to decide.

As per the architect (Herzog & De Meuron), the Elbphi gives an impression of a giant crystal that reflects the town, Elbe River and the sky differently from any position and at any hour of the day. You guessed it, it isn’t a historical landmark. The Elbphilharmonie was inaugurated in January 2017.

If you want to explore the HafenCity and Elbphi, check out this 3 Hour Bicycle Tour with Elbphilharmonie that goes through many famous landmarks here and also Elbphilharmonie, where you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city.

Because it is massive, it isn’t a good idea to get close to it to photograph it. Instead, get to a place from where you can photograph the Elbphi over the water.

In my opinion, the Pedestrian Bridge Opposite Haus der Seefahrt is an excellent spot for photographing the Elbphilharmonie.

5) Alsterarkaden & Otto Liss Gedenktafe

Otto Liss Gedenktafe overlooking Vleet restaurant, Hamburg

There is a spot right after you get out of the Rathaus complex where cars can’t go but you can stand on the bridge that’s called Schleusenbrücke. Go on the bridge to look at the water and the restaurants along with it.

If you walk further 150 meters further and cross VLET restaurant, you will find a spot that’s marked on Google Maps as Otto Liss Gedenktafe. That my friends, is where I clicked the above picture.

Otto Liss Gedenktafe viewpoint overlooking Rathaus and Vleet restaurant, Hamburg

I really like this photo spot in Hamburg because you can see the iconic Rathaus building in the background with the canal and restaurants. 

The best time for this photo is at night because that’s when you can capture the romantic vibe of the canal side restaurants because of the warm lamps.

Alsterarkaden in Hamburg with Rathaus in the background

The canals here are Kleine Alster and Alsterfleet.  This photo spot overlooks the VLET restaurant. Yes, I have mentioned them already in the first point and no, they aren’t paying me to mention them. But it seems that this chain restaurant is all over the famous Instagram spots of Hamburg.

Click here for location coordinates to click the main evening photo at the top of this section.

6) Rathaus – inside and outside

Rathaus in Hamburg – top photo spots

Now that you’re near the Rathaus, you will notice that it is an interesting building with Neo-Renaissance architecture. The building is wide, so you have to find a way to fit it properly in a 5×4 frame that’s a preferred photo frame for Instagram. Of course you would need a wide angle lens but nowadays all good cellphones have that too.

Hamburg Rathaus – top IG spots in Hamburg

Don’t just stay inside the Rathaus, but go inside too and you will love the photo possibilities. The water fountain and the Hygieia sculpture behind the Rathaus also make a nice photo background.

Behind the Rasthaus when you cross the fountain and look towards the road, there is an arch. That makes a good photo spot too. I did not click a photo there but shot an Instagram reel.

As you get out of the Rathaus, walk around to see different photo possibilities. There’s the Handelskammer Hamburg building next to it that’s also worth photographing.

Click here for photo coordinates.

7) Stintfang for Landungsbrücken Station, St. Pauli 

View of Landungsbrücken from Stintfang, Hamburg Insta Spots – July 2022

How can a train station look so stunning. But of course Hamburg has it all.

Landungsbrücken is actually a set of bridges that connect the floating landing stations for the ships to the land on Hamburg docks. But in this point we are talking about the Landungsbrücken station in St. Pauli.

Landungsbrücken station building is very interesting because there are certain inscriptions and also a clock tower that actually is used to measure the water level too. This entire complex is a protected monument.

The best place for photographing Landungsbrücken is from a spot called Stintfang. It is an observation deck that’s across the road and you have to slightly climb up. From here you will also see the Elbphilharmonie, the famous Rickmer Rickmers museum ship and the busy Hamburg dock.

Landungsbrücken Station, St. Pauli viewpoint – June 2017

I remember I visited this spot in 2017 from a park where a lot of people were sitting with beer to watch the sunset over Landungsbrücken. This time in 2022, I saw lot of those sitting spaces on the grass were closed off for people and instead there were just the benches.

You can also arrive here directly from Landungsbrücken station as you go on the bridge that crosses the road and then climb more steps to reach on top.

Click here for photo coordinates.

8) Elbe Tunnel & Steinwerder

Inside the Elbtunnel in Hamburg – Photo spots in Hamburg

You must have noticed that I have mentioned the Elbe River a few times. Yes, it is a major river in Central Europe and it goes through Hamburg. A lot of things and places in Hamburg have the word “Elb” because of this river.

The Elbe tunnel (or Elbtunnel in German) goes under the Elbe river and is the longest river tunnel in the world. The entry point is located actually in the Landungsbrücken complex, so pretty close to the previous point on this list. 

The Elbe Tunnel, Hamburg – top photo spots

There is a lift that will take you to the starting point of the tunnel. The lift doesn’t operate after 6 pm. It gets very close un this tunnel so I hope you carry something warm to wear.

On the other side of the Elbe River through the Elbtunnel – Steinwerder

You can walk from one side to another in less than 10 minutes. If you want, you can also explore the area on the other side of the harbor. It is called Steinwerder, and it is a maritime industrial area.

Click here for the entry coordinates for the Elbtunnel.

9) Strand Pauli at Sunset

StrandPauli, Hamburg – top photography spots

Strand Pauli means Pauli beach – but this isn’t a beach spot but is a bar that’s a good photo spot because of the location.

Like most of the spots on this list, this place also looks good at sunset. But I understand that you can’t be everywhere at the sunset time. In that case, I’d recommend you arrive here before or just after the sunset to capture a reddish hue before the purple hour of the photography begins.

To make things better, there is a frame of an old van here that makes a lovely photo frame. We saw it in 2022 and I hope it is still there when you visit.

Click here for the photo coordinates.

10) St. Michael’s Church (Hauptkirche Sankt Michaelis)

St. Michael’s Church Clock Tower, Hamburg via Unsplash

St. Michael’s Church is Hamburg’s most famous church and is one of the five main Lutheran churches. The building is iconic because of the 433 feet tall clock tower that hovers over most of the background pictures of Hamburg from many directions.

St. Michael’s Church interiors – Hamburg Instagram Spots via Unsplash

The clock tower of St. Michael’s Church was once used to navigate the ships on the river Elbe. Today this tower features an observation deck with panoramic views of Hamburg from every direction. The clock on this tower has faces on the four sides and these are the biggest clock faces in all of Germany.

Click here for the photo coordinates.

11) Hamburg Street Art: St. Pauli & Schanzenviertel

St Pauli Street Art, Hamburg

If you want to capture different perspectives of Hamburg, then you can’t miss St. Pauli & Schanzenviertel. This is where several artists began their journey, including the Beatles. (Yes, the band is from Liverpool but St. Pauli is where they were when the rise of Beatlesmania began.)  

In order to see the street art, get to the skate park in St. Pauli and walk around. Explore the area around Pauli U-Bahn station and Schanzenviertel. The walk from St. Pauli to Schanzenviertel won’t take more than 15 minutes but will take longer if you stop often for photos.

Street art St. Pauli Skate Park Hamburg

Hamburg’s Red light district – Reeperbahn is also a part of St. Pauli. For obvious reasons, you can’t click photos in that part of the city. I just wanted to make sure that you’re aware of this.

I know that the street art in Berlin is famous, but I enjoyed Hamburg too. In my opinion it was certainly more vibrant. Get to the skate park in St. Pauli and you will find an interesting spot to photograph. 

12) Hamburg Skyline From Boat

View of Hamburg Skyline from the boat

Hamburg’s skyline looks amazing at night, so where should you go to photograph it? Get on a night boat tour. The boats leave a little before it gets dark so that you can see the buildings along the water and massive ships that are lit up.

Hamburg Evening Tour with Lights

As the night darkens, you will see how the colour changes. I have personally done this tour and many people have booked it on my website over the last many years. It is a popular tour and is one of the best ways to see the skyline in a romantic setting.

This tour lasts around 60 minutes and is totally worth it. There is an outdoor deck which is rooftop and tends to get full. It offers excellent photo spots.

Hamburg can get a bit chilly because of the winds so not many people want to stay on the rooftop for long. You can also sit indoors because there are plenty of levels and a lot of seats. The view from indoors is also lovely.

13) Alster Lake

Alster Lake in Hamburg

In my Hamburg things to do post, I mention Alster Lake as a good spot for watching the sunset. I still say the same, so if you have time on your hands then definitely include this on your list.

If you like photography then you know this already that the colors right before and after the susnet bring out the best in every landscape and as a result the photos turn out amazing. This is time is called “the golden hour of photography”.

There is a walking path that goes along the main road that’s next to the lake. You can walk on it and stop for photos. There are spots for going down the steps so that you are closer to the lake.

There are spots where you will see swans. You will also see a lot of locals sitting on the benches next to the lake. Opposite the Alster Lake is the Hamburg University. You will also see a TV tower in the background here.

Where to Stay in Hamburg?

Paradise Suite at Superbude Altona Hamburg

There’s just one answer – Superbude. This chain has the most stunning rooms that aren’t just hostels but also “paradise suites”. We stayed in the Superbude Altona with our toddler and loved it. The location was amazing and it was a quieter part of Hamburg. 

The room was very interesting for not just my toddler but also for us. This is how they design the rooms in all the Superbude chains with interesting elements and small interactive art pieces. I remember our room in Superbude St. George had a singing fish!

We have also stayed in Superbude St Pauli and Superbude St. George in 2017. They are all amazing in terms of location, breakfast and comfort. More than anything, it is the design element that sets Superbude apart from all other hotels.

If you are looking to explore Hamburg with your family then I suggest you book a room at Superbude Altona. If your motive is to party and to explore Hamburg’s nightlife, then you should consider Superbude St. Pauli. If you don’t mind being in a busy area and would like to be close to the central train station and the Hafencity, then consider Superbude St. Pauli.

Yes, I love the Superbude chain so much that I even have a post about them based on my trip in 2017. Maybe it is time to update that post with new information about Superbude in Altona. 

Final Thoughts about Hamburg Instagram Spots

I hope you find my list of Instagram spots in Hamburg useful. I wanted to compile this list for people like me who are always looking for the best photo spots in a destination but maybe they don’t have time to do their research. 

You must have noticed that I love photographing the same spots, so I clicked some in 2017 and others in 2022 at the same place.  If you come across some more interesting Insta spots in Hamburg then please leave a comment and let me know since I’d love to add more to my list for my next trip.

Disclosure: I collaborated with Superbude Hamburg in 2017 and 2022. However, all opinions expressed in this articles are my own.

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.

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 – road trip Italy 2 weeks

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

Check this post for a list of places to stay in Rome.

Optional: Stop in Naples for a pizza on your way

Pizza quattro formaggi – Napoli style in Puglia, Italy – road trip Italy 2 weeks

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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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 in 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 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 way to explore the city is on a bicycle. Even though Amsterdam’s tram, ferry, and metro network is great, 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 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 the 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 of where everything is. This way, you can also keep a lookout 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 a 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 the 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 the 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 peephole 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 its pastel pink wall, it makes an amazing photo spot and is on 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 the 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 in 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, and 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 favorite 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 of tourists and is the perfect place to relax the mind. 

Pllek is fun, it is colorful and perfect for couples or solos alike.

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 colors as you sit by the water. It is one of the most romantic things to do in Amsterdam.

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 the 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 the main Amsterdam city but the only 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.

 

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Why Visit Puglia? I fell in Love with Puglia in Italy, Here’s Why

Why Visit Puglia? I fell in Love with Puglia in Italy, Here’s Why

Ciao Puglia, can I stay with you forever? I spent a month in Puglia in 2021, here’s my love letter.

So, it finally happened. After talking about it for years, I finally got to visit Puglia in 2021 – the heel of Italy’s boot. Not for a week or two but an ENTIRE MONTH. I sure am glad that I married a half-Italian.

A little background, my husband’s father’s family is from Salento in Puglia and they even have a place to stay there on the beach. After hearing about this place ever since I got married, I ended up visiting six years after being married to San. 

My Father-in-law is from Leverano, Puglia, Italy

Honestly, it wasn’t my first time in Italy. I was in the Trentino region before but most of the Italians told me that “the real Italy only starts from the south of Rome”. Really? I thought that was a snobbish thing to say.

Anyway, I was all set to have a very “average” experience in south of Italy in every sense but I was in for a surprise. It’s because I have visited a lot of amazing beach destinations and paradise islands, moreover, I have also visited countries that are known for their amazing food and I thought I’d find Italian food very “plain and basic” – but hey, I was wrong.

So, Where is Puglia in Italy?

Ever seen the map of Italy? It looks like a high heeled boot. Being in the absolute south of Italy, Puglia is the heel of that boot. So, it has coast on two sides so it means plenty of sun (and fun).

To make things confusing, Puglia is also sometimes called Apuglia. 

Reasons to Visit Puglia, Italy

1) Puglia’s Coastline is Massive

My fav beach spot in Porto Cesareo, Puglia

Puglia has the longest coastline if you compare it to any other region of the mainland Italy. There’s the Adriatic sea, the Ionian Sea, gulf of Taranto and the Strait of Otranto on all the sides, so it means plenty of beach time.

No doubt there are many other things to do in Puglia, but beach-ing is something you will end up doing the most while you’re here. I don’t know about you but when I go for a beach vacation, then I don’t want to go to the exact same beach every single day. If you’re like me then you will be spoilt for choice in Puglia. 

Puglia’s Coastline – South Italy

In fact, Puglia’s Salento region has so many beaches that I couldn’t even visit a fraction of them in one month. I visited many of them but I had to leave many others on my list for my next visit. But hey, Puglia’s beaches aren’t just your typical sandy beaches. There’s a lot of other stuff going on, read on!

2) Cliffs, Arches, Caves – the Coastline has More Than Just Beaches

Puglia’s coastline will give you more than just beaches. You will see other amazing natural wonders like arches, caves, cliffs, and insane rock formations that will stun you.

When I saw the rock formations in Sant’Andrea with stunning arches and I swan in the caves of Porto Selvaggio, I wondered why aren’t these places more famous than they are? Maybe it’s a good thing!

I have seen the arches of Étretat, France, Rugen Island’s high sea cliffs, insane rock formations of Zumaia in Spain and also Ireland’s Achill Island stunning sea-cliffs but I actually got to witness something way more spectacular in Puglia. And what’s insane is that in Puglia, all these stunning places with amazing rock formations that are so different from each other are in the same region.

Vieste in Gargano National Park, Puglia, Italy – CC0 via Pixabay

See the picture of Vieste in Gargano National Park. It reminded me of Thailand’s famous Phra Nang cave beach with limestone formations.

The beach that we visited everyday ion Porto Cesareo had multiple freshwater springs in the shallow part of the water near the shore, it was an amazing experience to cool off in them.

3) Puglia’s Culture will Amaze You

Locally Orchestra at Sant’Rocco festival Leverano, Italy

If there’s one country that’s so culturally powerful that everyone has to experience it at least once, it has got to be Italy. What’s better is that everything gets highly exaggerated as you move further South.

Art on the streets of Leverano, Puglia

In terms of culture, family, food, art, architecture and music – they all play an important part individually and collectively. This is something you will witness at every step, every bite, every sip and on every face. Italians take pride in their culture

It is hard to describe how it is to experience a new culture. I come from a country where culture plays a very visible part (India) and I felt something similar in Italy. Even if you arrive in Italy with a closed mine, over time the country will win you over because you can’t help but fall in love with it.

4) Puglia’s Food will WOW You

Cozze Gratin – Mussels baked with Parmesan – food in Puglia, Italy

I did experience the country’s food scene in North Italy and I was definitely aware of the fact that the food gets even better as one moves to the South from Rome. I love seafood and I usually prefer asian food over European any day. So, I didn’t expect to fall in love with Italian food in a way that I did.

Pizza quattro formaggi – Napoli style in Puglia, Italy

Italian food outside Italy is highly altered with loads of cheese, cream and butter. In reality Italian food in Italy is much lighter, even the pizza. One might say that the best Italian pizzas can be found in Napoli, but the best food overall definitely comes from South Italy.

Salento (Puglia) has the best Seafood in Italy

If you’re used to the typical “creamy” Italian food and if that’s what you’re seeking, then you will be disappointed. But if you’re ready to experience food that’s made with just a handful of simple ingredients and yet tastes divine, then Puglia is the place for you.

Frutti di mare – Seafood Pasta in Puglia, Italy

Some of the local specialities that I loved are:

  • Cozza Gratin (mussels baked with parmesan on top)
  • Pulpetti (Meatball)
  • Pulpo (Octopus) – Italians make the tastiest octopus
  • Handmade Pasta
  • Frutti di Mare Pasta or Fruitti di Mare risotto (Fruitti di mare means fruit of the sea, or seafood)

Honestly, I was knew I’d like the food in Italy but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I normally prefer complicated Asian dishes with a lot of spice but shockingly loved everything in Puglia.

5) Puglia’s Trullo (or Trulli) in Alberobello – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Trulli houses in Alberobello Puglia, Italy via Pixabay

If you’re active on Instagram then you’ve surely seen pictures of Puglia’s Trulli. Most likely the location of the picture was Alberobello.

A Trullo is a traditional dry stone hut that can only be found in the Apuglia region of Italy. Trulli is the plural term of Trullo. Trulli are protected under UNESCO World heritage law. 

Some Trulli were built as early as the 17th century as a temporary shelter by farmers and labourours. Some were also built as a permanent place to live.

Trulli Village – Alberobello, Puglia in Italy via Pixabay

Trulli aren’t just found in Alberobello, but also in Locorotondo, Fasano, Ostuni, Cisternino, Martina Franca, and Ceglie Messapica. The ones in Alberobello are the most famous ones because there are many of them together and are highly photographed. 

Can you rent a trulli and sleep in it? Sure, you can in Alberobello. Once upon a time a local bought a lot of abandoned Trulli, renovated them and started renting them out to visitors. The locals in Alberobello still live in their Trulli and have converted some to host others.

6) Puglia Has a Lot of Historical Landmarks

The Historical Old Town of Lecce in Puglia

Puglia has a lot of history, and you don’t have to visit just the famous Historical Towns like Lecce, Ostuni, Otranto, etc – but even the smaller towns have a lot to offer. No doubt the famous bigger towns are spectacular but I found some of the similar looking buildings and landmarks in the smaller ones without any tourists.

The Barouque Old Town in Lecce city in Puglia, Italy

Did you know that Lecce city in Puglia is called the Florence of the South? Broadly speaking, it is in Salento part of Puglia. Lecce is also a province and a city. We’re talking about the city here.

Lecce city boasts of a stunning old town with  Baroque architectural buildings. The buildings here are made with a famous limestone that’s called “Lecce stone” and is sold all over the world for sculptures. It also has a Roman amphitheater that dates back to the 2nd century.

Another notable historical town in Puglia is Martina Franca, which is also in Salento. Martina Franca has a beatufully preserved baroque old town with stunning gates, narrow streets, Piazzas (the squares), and palaces.

Imagine seeing the charming historical buildings next to the beach! Yes, most of the beach towns have historical buildings. No matter where you go, you will most likely see a historical tower (Torre) near the beaches in Puglia.

7) Puglia’s Streets Are Stunning

A stunning bougainvillea fringed street in Leverano, Puglia

I have this thing for streets. I love photographing them, love walking and getting lost and discovering more in the process. If you love streets as much as I do, then you’re going to adore Puglia. 

Exploring the Historical Lecce city in Puglia, Italy

Some of the streets that I walked on in the old towns of Lecce, Leverano and Copertino are said to be 1000 years old and were built during the time of the Roman Empire. 

Cobbled streets that are lined with hold houses on each side with a lot of landmarks, it made me feel like I was walking around in a museum city. What is even better is that most of these streets were fringed with flowering vines like bougainvillea. 

The above are just some of the 100s of street photos that I clicked in Puglia. When I came back to Germany after Italy, I was shocked to see I had so many street photos. Even more than the beaches!

8) Coffee Lover or Not, You Will Love the Coffee

My cappuccino with cornetto in Porto Cesareo, Puglia, Italy

Strangely the cafes in Italy are called bars. Even if you love coffee or hate it, you will LOVE the coffee culture in Italy. Now before you say that this point is true for most of the Italian destinations, well here’s more. Puglia’s cafes (or bars) have some interesting things that can just be found here and not in other parts of Italy. 

Caffè Mousse in Leverano, Puglia, Italy

Most of us know about espresso – the little Italian coffee which is the base of cappuccino. I normally drink cappuccino back home in Germany but in Italy I fell in love with so many different ways to enjoy espresso. I’d like to mention a few that I regularly ordered:

  • Caffè ghiacciato – espresso with ice. Some will add a bit of almond syrup for sweetness and I enjoyed the marzipan kind of flavor.
  • Caffè granita – it is the normal slushie but it is made with coffee. YUM and super cooling.
  • caffè mousse – even though they called it mousse, but the texture is more like a softie ice cream. Some bars make it in coffee flavor and others in vanilla flavor and add cold espresso on top. This was my favorite.
  • Gelato Coffee flavor – this gelato that has a decent amount to get anyone caffeinated. I loved having my coffee in this form on some days.

You know what goes well with coffee? Breakfast of course. Italy with its elaborate meals has somehow a simple breakfast – pastry with coffee. I love how the cafes are full every morning till mid noon with people who visit for early to late breakfast. The most popular breakfast pastries were Pasticciotto and Cornetto.

Caffè ghiacciato with Pasticciotto, Salento, Puglia, Italy

If you don’t like sweet breakfast (like me at the beginning of my Italy trip) and want something salty, then ask for “rustico”. It is a pastry that’s stuffed with mozzarella and tomato. This is usually hidden in a very small section because most of the people order something sweet.

The cafes aren’t just open at breakfast time but till late at night. You can also order “aperitivo” and beer. Many places will also give you a few snacks (free) with aperitivo.

9) Puglia Has an Abundant Local Produce – Olive Oil, Wines, Figs

Primitivo Grape growing in Salento, Puglia, Italy

Why does everything taste better in Italy? A lot of that is because of the country’s abundant fresh produce. Tomatoes, olives, figs, lemons, oranges, apples, grapes, cactus-fruit, garlic, chili-peppers, lettuce, extra virgin olive oil, wines, breads and so many other things are freshly produced right here in Italy.

Guess what, Apulia has one of the highest concentration of fruits and vegetable production in Italy. You can taste the freshness in the food and the richness when you buy them from the supermarket to cook at home. Not just the fruits and the vegetables, even the fresh seafood and meat tastes much better here than the rest of Europe.

Olives on an Olive tree in Puglia, Italy

Things like olive oil, Primitivo red wine, cookies, handmade pasta make excellent gifts for your family and friends after your visit to Puglia. Don’t forget to buy these things for yourself too before you leave.

If you drive around in Apuglia, be ready to pick fruits from trees that are growing in public spaces and have fruits that are ready to be picked. We picked a lot of figs and cactus fruit, which were growing everywhere in summer. They tasted much better than the ones in the supermarkets.

If you’re picking your own cactus-fruit (prickly pear) then you need to be extremely careful. Make sure you wear the thickest gloves.

10) Adventure Lovers will Love Puglia

Porto Selvaggio Caves & Kayaking, Puglia, Italy

Cliff Jumping, Scuba diving, canyoning, snorkeling, kayaking – you name it, you’ve got it. Puglia has it all to keep adventure lovers entertained.

Puglia not only has sandy beaches but high sea cliffs too. There are some spots that are perfect for cliff jumping. The water clarity is impressive and with just swim goggles, we had a memorable experience in one particular location that reminded us of snorkeling in the Philippines.

Did you know that Puglia is also the location for Red Bull Cliff diving tournament for 2021? Those who follow the tournament love the location. The exact location for the Red Bull Cliff Diving 2021 is Polignano a Mare near Bari in Puglia. No doubt it is stunning but it isn’t even the most amazing cliff jumping spot that Puglia has to offer.

Cliff Jumping in Porto Selvaggio, Puglia, Italy

There are places on Puglia’s coast where one can find caves (or grottos). You can literally cliff jump, swim and go inside the grotto. We did that in Porto Selvaggio in Salento.

Stay Safe while cliff jumping: I’d like to mention that one needs to be very careful when cliff jumping. If you follow me on Instagram then you surely know that San had a cliff jumping accident in Puglia and he fractured his vertebrae. He was in an intensive care unit in a hospital in Lecce for almost a week after this.

He is an excellent swimmer and diver, so what went wrong? Even the slightest wrong entry while cliff jumping can have dangerous consequences.  This is a warning to all my adventure lover friends, please be careful and don’t do cliff jumps from higher than 10 meters (he did from 20 meters). If something doesn’t feel right then there’s no reason to push yourself to do it.

11) Puglia has Warm Weather = Real Summer

A Beach near Torre Lapillo, Puglia, Italy

Living in Germany, I miss real summer when one doesn’t need to carry a light jacket, just in case it gets chilly. Thankfully Puglia’s summer reminded me of India’s summer, where summer meant warm weather every single hour of the day or night.

Summers season in Puglia is long and one can expect sunshine almost every single day. Yes, it does rain and when it does, then it rains a lot. But then again, the sun shines the very next day. 

12) Puglia is a Shopping Heaven

Shopping in Porto Cesareo, Puglia

One of the things that I crib about after moving to Europe is about shopping. I love flea markets and handmade things, and I found a lot of amazing dresses, shoes, bags and home decor for cheap in Asia, but never in Europe. Even though I did find flea markets in Amsterdam and vintage shops in Hamburg, but nothing was affordable at the same level as Asia.

Guess what, there’s a weekly market in most of the towns in Puglia where one can get everything – clothes, shoes, food, household things, etc. I didn’t think I’d buy anything and my visit was purely for photography purposes but I came back home with 4 bags.

Imagine my surprise when I found amazing dresses for 7 Euros and shorts for 1 Euro. Yes, just ONE Euro. The Italians are known for their amazing sense of style and I found some amazing clothes even in the small town markets.

13) Puglia’s Beauty Salons are Awesome (and CHEAP)

Who visits a salon on a vacation? I did because it was a month long vacation. Also, I will do so again even if it is a short trip because the beauty salons in Italy are amazing and ridiculously cheap.

Living in India, I visited salons for things like haircuts, styling, waxing, etc, monthly. I don’t in Germany because they are crazy expensive (and most aren’t good). Believe it or not, I paid just 45 euros for a haircut & color and just 30 euros for waxing. Insane!

14) The Festivals of Puglia

San’Rocco Fireworks in Leverano, Puglia

We visited Puglia in August and got to witness a few festivals. We witnessed San’t Lorenzo, Ferragosto and San’Rocco and all of them involved fireworks. The locals came out of their homes and sat all over the beach in groups. The town centers were lit up and some of them also had elaborate stalls that were set up.

San’Rocco Festival Celebration in Leverano, Puglia

I did mention in my earlier point about Italy’s culture and I’d like to mention how strongly it shone in front of our eyes when we saw people celebrate. 

15) The People

There’s definitely something about the weather effecting the mood of the people, and it is always evident when one visits a warm country. I felt this the first time when I traveled to Portugal and Spain after spending a month in colder parts of Europe, and I definitely felt it in South Italy.

The people of Puglia are extremely warm, friendly, expressive, lively and most of all – approachable. They don’t shy away from a conversation after finding out that one doesn’t know their language, they still find a way to communicate. My little girl made more friends in our one month in Italy than she has ever made in Germany (and we live here!).

Locals who saw me on the beach everyday came up to me eventually to introduce themselves and to chat a little, even if we didn’t speak the language. By the end of my second day in Salento, I was saying Ciao to everyone who lived around our apartment (and there were many). They are all just so approachable, friendly and they acknowledged me each time I walked by.

What’s the Best Time to Visit Puglia

Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy

Puglia’s summer months are long so you can visit from May to September. The beaches get crowded in August but in terms of weather, that month is really good. Also, if you want to experience Puglia’s lively culture then August is the time when most of the festivals and celebrations happen.

August is the month when most of the European countries go for their summer vacation. Puglia is a very popular destination for Italians, hence you may not find an empty spot for your mat on the popular beaches. To avoid crowds, visit Puglia in the months of May, June, July or even September.

Leverano’s lively Piazza in Summer – Puglia, Italy

I have been told by my husband’s family that Puglia’s towns feel completely dead in the winter months and most people stay indoors. The liveliness of summer and staying outdoor ends when winter arrives. Of course the whole culture of restaurants with outdoor seating ends but they still remain open with indoor seating.

Airports in Puglia

There are two airports in Puglia – Bari and Brindisi. Bari is served by more flights and a lot of budget airlines too. Brindisi is served by fewer airlines. Brindisi is closer to Salento – the gem of Puglia. That’s where everything is – the best beaches, the stunning old towns like Lecce because that’s the Southmost province.

Check Car Rental Prices in Italy

If you can’t find a flight to Bari or Brindisi for Puglia, then you should know that some people fly to an airport in Tuscany instead. From there they rent a car and drive to Puglia.

Where to Stay in Puglia as a Base

Bahia Porto Cesareo – Sandy beach in Puglia

A lot of first timers stay in Bari and drive to the nearby beaches but honestly that’s like just like viewing the top layer. Sure, Bari is lovely but if you want to experience the best of Puglia, then you have to make your base somewhere in Salento.

Porto Cesareo was an amazing base for us because we were right on the beach. We could see it from our balcony and went there at every opportunity. Porto Cesareo has an amazing stretch of sandy beach

Also, from Porto Cesareo we could just drive to all the famous landmarks, towns and beaches in just an hour (mostly). The city centre does get extremely crowded in August, but the trick is to stay away from the centre. 

Lecce is also an amazing place for a base for those who don’t need to wake up on the beach. Lecce has the best food, the most amazing historical landmarks and you will feel like you’re walking in a museum. Lecce is literally in the middle of Salento so you can drive to the east coast, the west coast or the absolutely Southern tip from here. 

To experience Puglia like a local then find base in a smaller town like Leverano or the nearby Copertino. These towns aren’t on the beach but they are just 15 mins drive away. Both these cities have a stunning old towns and you can create some magical photos without crowds. Here the restaurant scene is even better because there are just locals. Of course, it helps if you can speak a few words of Italian.

How to Travel within Puglia?

By car. Really there isn’t a better way because not everything is connected well with public transport. If you live in Europe then you can just drive to Puglia from your place of residence. We did from Germany. Yes the duration was crazy long but it can be a fun road trip with stops.

Check Car Rental Prices in Italy

A better option would be to arrive in Puglia by air and rent a car (click here to check the prices) from Bari or Brindisi airports. The car rental prices shoot up very high in August, so it is better if you in a group of 3 or 4, so that you can split the cost.

How Many Days do you Need for Puglia?

A lot. I spent a month and I still didn’t see all the famous spots. If you want to see at least some of them, then spend no less than two weeks. If you just have a week then don’t stress yourself in trying to do too much. Focus on a handful of places and do them well.

Is Puglia Crowded or Touristy?

The answer depends on when you visit and where you visit (like most destinations). Most people fly and stay in Bari as their base so of course it is crowded there.

A lot of Italians and Europeans in general visit in Puglia in August. During that month most of the popular places to visit in Puglia are crowded. However, if you know of some less visited places then you can find empty areas in Puglia in August too.

Pin it – Why visit Puglia in Italy

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Amsterdam Instagram Spots: 17 Photo Spots in Amsterdam (+ Map)

Amsterdam Instagram Spots: 17 Photo Spots in Amsterdam (+ Map)

You asked and I answered, here are the exact locations of some of my Instagram posts from Amsterdam. It took me five visits to find some of the most amazing photo spots and to compile this list of my favorite Amsterdam Instagram spots.
 
I have said it before and I will again – Amsterdam is a beautiful city and every spot is picture-perfect. There are canals, rivers, bridges, and narrow streets – Amsterdam has everything it takes to make a city pretty. Ok, so a lot of European cities already have all this, so what makes Amsterdam special?
 
Amsterdam has something that’s unique to it – super narrow old buildings that look insanely beautiful along the water. Not all the buildings look symmetrical and some appear to be leaning. And that’s exactly what makes them even more interesting because they all seem to fit well together for an insanely beautiful photo.
 
 
So where should you go in Amsterdam to capture the best of all? I will let you all know my favorite spots which I discovered during my 5 visits to this lovely city over the last few years:
 

1) Damrak, Near Amsterdam Centraal

Amsterdam’s Narrow Buildings by the water

Damrak is in Amsterdam Centrum and you will surely cross it at some point. It is literally just 2 minute’s walk from the Amsterdam Centraal Station and Dam Square.

Damrak is the most popular photo spot in Amsterdam and it is for a reason – it is easy to click a good photo here and the results are always good.

If you have a little more time on your hands then you can play with the reflection and create something unique. I didn’t because I was alone on a weekend trip in Amsterdam and I did not have a lot of time. If you have a tripod then this spot is excellent for capturing a night photo of Amsterdam with long exposure. 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sonal | Drifter Planet (@drifterplanet)

I’d also like to mention that Damrak is excellent for creating Instagram Reels because it fits a vertical frame really well.

You don’t need to arrive here at a particular time to avoid the crowd because this part of Amsterdam is always crowded. Still, it isn’t difficult to capture this place without people if you can wait for 2-5 minutes. But sometimes there are too many boats parked so you may need to wait for a little for them to leave.

Tip: Get yourself a cheap Amsterdam souvenir and hold it in front of the Damrak houses for an interesting photo..
  • How to reach Damrak: Just walk here from Dam Square station or Amsterdam Centraal train or tram stations. There’s another tram station that’s just 200 meters away – Nieuwezijds Kolk.
  • Click here for map coordinates.

 

2) Staalmeestersbrug over Groenburgwal with Zuidkerk View

Staalmeestersbrug over Groenburgwal with Zuidkerk – Amsterdam Photo Spots – CCO Unsplash

Yes, I can’t get enough of canal photo spots. This post does contain many different types of photo spots but my best-performing Amsterdam photos on Instagram are the ones that show canals, narrow houses, and bridges.

Bonus points if you can capture bicycles or an iconic building in the background. In this particular location, it is the Zuiderkerk Church tower.

The name of the bridge is Staalmeestersbrug and it goes over the Groenburgwal canal on one side you can see the Zuidkerk. There’s a painting by Claude Monet that depicts this exact setting. This is why this view is sometimes called “the million-dollar view”.

 
 

3) Leidsegracht and Keizersgracht Intersections

Leidsegracht and Keizersgracht Intersections – Amsterdam photo spots (CC0 via Unsplash)

Just like the Damrak Buildings, this particular spot is also a super famous photo point that’s usually featured in many famous magazines. This is the point where two canals intersect – Leidesgracht and Keizersgracht and the results are interesting.

Amsterdam Nightlife Guide - best nightclubs and bars

Amsterdam Nightlife Guide – best nightclubs and bars

There It is also a very good spot for night photography if you have a tripod. You can catch the trailing boat nights on long exposure and the results can be breathtaking.

Leidsegracht and Keizersgracht bridges in Amsterdam – IG spots

  • How to reach: Look for Pastini restaurant. From there, walk to the nearest bridge and don’t climb it. Just stand at the end of the bridge and see another bridge that’s going diagonal with arches under it. Capture the photo with water, the arches of the bridge, and those 3-4 buildings behind it. 
  • Click here for the Location Coordinates.
Suggested: Hamburg Instagram posts – 13 amazing photo spots.

4) Kapitein Zeppos Restaurant

Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam

Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam

Just look at this picture. Is this the most instagrammable restaurant in Amsterdam? It is just a random restaurant with outdoor seating in a pretty alley and it isn’t even famous. The setting makes it so romantic that it is perfect for a date in Amsterdam.
 
It isn’t even featured in any of the top lists. The above is a phone photo but imagine how much more you can do with a slightly better lens.
 
I think Kapitein Zeppos restaurant is very pretty. I love this particular narrow street that’s fringed with flowering vines and the other building in the background. I actually found this place when I was walking around in Amsterdam in 2014 and then once more by chance in 2017. 
 
Tip: For the best result, arrive here a little early before people start sitting on the chairs so that you can capture this spot without people. The best time would be a rainy day, it was for me! 
 
 
 

5) The Bridges on Princengracht or Bloemengracht

Jordaan has a lot of narrow canals with small bridges over them. A Gracht is Dutch for canal and Princengracht or Bloemengracht are the names of two of the canals that are in Jordaan.

 
Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night - the BEST 2 day itinerary for Amsterdam

Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night – the BEST 2-day itinerary for Amsterdam

Honestly, all the bridges on Jordaan’s canals are lovely. These bridges are decorated with flowers so you can capture a lovely frame with flowers, the canal, narrow houses on each side, and sometimes even a seagull or the Westerkerk. (Westerkerk is an iconic church building that’s next to the Ann Frank Haus).

I particularly like Bridge 62 on Princengracht and bridge 160 on Bloemengracht. Many maps mysteriously don’t show bridge 62, so you have to look for “Kees de Jongen bridge”.

  • How to reach this photo spot: Just arrive near the Ann Frank Haus and walk in the opposite direction where you see narrower canals. Keep walking and you will find many photo spots.
  • Location coordinates on Google maps.
 
 

6) NDSM Wharf (or werf), Amsterdam-Noord 

If you’re looking for a place in Amsterdam to create unique photos that haven’t been overly popularized, then NDSM Wharf (or NDSM Werf) is the place for you. Seriously everyone posts a picture of Amsterdam’s canals or bridges, but not enough people post something different. 
 

NDSM Werf was once a shipyard but now is an open-air space that’s full of art installations. No, this is more than just your typical street art, many of the installations are interactive and you will enjoy playing around there.

I do have a guide about the Amsterdam-Noord neighborhood of Amsterdam, be sure to read it before you go.

Tip: You can rent a bicycle for free with the I Amsterdam City Card. Make sure you do and visit this part of Amsterdam because it is different from the rest of the city.
  • How to Reach NDSM Werf: It is very easy to reach NDSM Werf. Just catch a free ferry from Amsterdam Centrum that goes over the IJ River and will leave you near the A’Dam tower. You can bring your bicycle on the ferry with you. From there, NDSM is 2 km away and you can reach there on your bicycle.
  • Location coordinates on Google Maps.

 

7) From the Edge of a Boat

Canal Cruise in Amsterdam on a private open boat by Pure Amsterdam

Canal Cruise in Amsterdam

 
Canals are a very important part of Amsterdam’s cityscape, so make sure you capture the beauty from the source itself. For the best result, stand on the edge of a narrow boat as it floats on a canal that’s lined with buildings on both sides.
 

Canal View of Amsterdam from the edge of a boat under the bridge – September 2017

 
A typical canal cruise on a boat will take you to most of the scenic spots in Amsterdam, so keep your eyes open and click loads of photos.
 
For an interesting perspective, wait for the boat to go under the bridge and click as soon as the bridge forms an arch with a view of the narrow buildings on the other side.
 
It took me 2 boat tours in Amsterdam to get the photos right because not all boats are fully open. The semi-open or fully open private boats are usually more expensive and don’t safeguard you from the rain. And normally you can’t go to the edge of the boat because you have to stay seated unless you pick a private boat tour.
 
Tip: The I Amsterdam City Card offers one free canal boat tour. There are many options for different kinds of tours, pick one wisely.
 
 

8) Hortus Botanicus

Butterfly Garden in Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

You may have not heard of this place in Amsterdam but it took my breath away. Not only it is a must-visit place in every Amsterdam itinerary but also super Instagram worthy.

Guess what, Hortus Botanicus was perhaps the only place that I visited in Amsterdam that had way more locals instead of tourists. That’s always a good sign!

This place is so lovely that people visit it for their wedding photo shoots. The time I visited Hortus Botanicus, there was a wedding photo shoot that was going on inside with an entire photography team.

 
Head to the tropical forest area and you will have endless photo ideas. The tropical forest area also has massive banana trees, vines, big peace lilies, waterfalls, and bridges. There are benches in some special locations where you can put the camera and click your photos.
 
I also clicked my favorite Amsterdam photos in Hortus Botanicus’ Butterfly Garden, but it may not always be possible to enter this section because the entry is restricted to a maximum of 6 people at a time.
 
Tip: The entry for the Hortus Botanicus is EUR 11,50 but is free with the I Amsterdam City Card, so consider getting the card if you’re visiting at least 2 attractions
 
 
  • How to reach Hortus Botanicus: Get off at Mr. Visserplein or Amsterdam Artis or Plantage tram stations. I was staying in a hostel near Hortus Botanicus so for me, Mr. Visserplein was the most convenient one. You can also arrive here from the Waterlooplein Metro station.
  • Location coordinates on Maps
 

9) De Beurs Passage (+ the Arch)

De Beurs Passage doesn’t look like it belongs in Amsterdam at all. In fact, it looks like it would fit Istanbul instead. This passage is in the centrum, just 1 minute’s walk from Damrak so it is usually crowded unless you are patient because you have to wait for people to move away.
 
I did see a bunch of people at De Beurs Passage who were clicking photos of the ceiling, but for me, the end of this passage was way more photogenic because of the arch, and you can see a glimpse of a street behind.
 
I would have absolutely loved to pose here with a pretty flowy dress but I was traveling alone. I didn’t end up wearing dresses because I was always on a bicycle and ended up clicking all the photos without me in them.
 
 

10) A’Dam Lookout Tower, Amsterdam-Noord

View of Amsterdam from A'Dam Tower - how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

View of Amsterdam from A’Dam Tower – how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

If you’re looking for a view of Amsterdam from up above, then A’Dam Lookout is the place to be. The rooftop viewing deck here offers amazing views over Amsterdam in all directions.

 
Moon Bar on A'Dam Tower - Amsterdam itinerary

Moon Bar on A’Dam Tower – Amsterdam itinerary

Not just the top, but you can visit the Moon Bar and get a place with a breathtaking view of the city. Honestly, I think the Moon Bar makes a better photo spot than the terrace because you can add an interesting perspective.

Extreme Swing on A'Dam Tower - 2 Days in Amsterdam

Extreme Swing on A’Dam Tower – 2 Days in Amsterdam

I’d like to mention that I also tried the Extreme Swing that’s on top of the A’Dam tower and it was an insane experience! Get someone to click your photo when you’re up there and trust me it will be one of the most memorable photos for you.

Moreover, the extreme swing will also give you an amazing Instagram reel opportunity. I do have a video of it on my YouTube channel, and honestly, it was just a super quick edit and I’m surprised that it has so many views.

Tip: The entry for the A’Dam Lookout is EUR 15 per person but is free with the I Amsterdam City Card. Consider getting the card to save money for transport and attractions.
  • How to Reach A’Dam tower: Get to the Amsterdam Centraal station and go on the opposite side. There’s one side that goes into the main city but the other side is towards the IJ river, reach there and you will see a few ferries. These are free public ferries that will take you to Noord. Get on the next ferry, it will leave you just next to the A’Dam tower in Noord.
  • Click here for location coordinates.

 

11) Waterlooplein Market

Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam

Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam

I have a thing for flea markets. No, not for shipping but I find them very interesting because of the casual set of shops and hanging merchandise. More than that, you can also see some interesting faces and lots of photo opportunities.

Amsterdam’s Waterlooplein market actually reminds me of Goa’s hippie flea markets. There are usually 300 stalls and they are lined up next to the Amstel river, so the backdrop is lovely.

Tip: The Waterlooplein Market is closed on Sundays, so keep that in mind if you’re spending a weekend in Amsterdam. It is just a quick walk from the Hortus Botanicus which is also featured on this list. You can combine both these spots one after another in your Amsterdam itinerary.

 

12) Rijksmuseum Library

Rijksmuseum Research Library - Amsterdam museums

Rijksmuseum Research Library – Amsterdam museums

Rijksmuseum is legendary and it is Amsterdam’s most famous museum. You can’t click a photo anywhere in this museum except in the library. The Rijksmuseum research library is the largest public art history research library in the Netherlands.

I think the Rijksmuseum library is stunning with its high arched ceiling and wooden pillars. I’d actually love to go back to Amsterdam for my 6th visit to click a photo in a dress here.

Tip: The Rijksmuseum is open every day but the library is closed on Sundays. The entry for the museum tickets costs EUR 20 per person but you can enter for free with the I Amsterdam City Card. Make sure you PREBOOK a time slot not just at the museum but ALSO at the library. This is the new rule because of Covid-19 post-June 1, 2021.

 

13) Pllek Restaurant and Beach Bar

Sipping Beer on the beach in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

Did you know it was possible to visit a beach bar in Amsterdam? I didn’t till the time I visited Amsterdam-Noord in 2017. From that time I made sure to include Noord in my itinerary to visit this particular bar and restaurant. I was so happy when I noticed that my favorite bloggers mentioned Pllek as the best sunset spot in Amsterdam.

Visiting Pllek is an experience because it is more than just a normal restaurant or bar, it was once a shipyard (the entire NDSM wharf was). Everything inside and also outside looks insanely interesting and unusual. It overlooks the IJ river and Amsterdam Centrum from the other side.

Beach bar at Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

 
I love Amsterdam city but sometimes it can get a little too busy and stressful for me. Honestly, the hours I spent sipping my beer by the IJ River in Pllek actually felt like a vacation. This place is lively, fun, and more than just a pretty photo spot.
 
  • How to Reach Pllek: In order to reach Pllek, you have to reach Amsterdam-Noord first. You can catch a free ferry to Noord from Amsterdam Centrum. Bring your bicycle on the ferry because you will need to ride it to reach here from the pier. And yes, you can rent your bicycle for free with your I Amsterdam City Card.
  • Click here for Pllek Coordinates on Google Maps.
 

14) Museumplein Entry Tunnel Arch

Amsterdam Museumplein entry tunnel copy

I have never seen this tunnel ever mentioned in any travel article or blog but I really wonder why. When you enter the Museumplein (museum square) on a bicycle or by walking, you get to see the most amazing entry tunnel with arches and lamps.

Museumplein isn’t exactly small so if you’re looking for this spot, this is the entry tunnel is towards the Rijksmuseum.

The thing is, the middle area is for bicycles and the one in the corner is for pedestrians. This isn’t a safe photo spot because you’re going to be standing right in the middle of the cyclists. Amsterdam’s cyclists literally rule the city and they will run over you if you stand in their way (as I mentioned in my travel tips post).

I actually shot a video here while I was cycling and made pictures from the screenshots of the video. Haha. Yes, I cycled here 4-5 times in this tunnel for the best photos.

Tip: Because you have to get into the middle of the cycling lane, the only way I suggest you click this is by arriving here super early before the people reach. If you stand in the middle point of the lanes to capture this tunnel, you can get hurt because there is a blind spot here, and approaching cyclists may not be able to see you. So, get this shot before people start arriving, or do what I did, create a video while cycling.

 

15) Bloemstraat with Westerkerk

Bloemstraat with Westerkerk in the background - Jordaan - Amsterdam IG spots

Bloemstraat with Westerkerk in the background – Jordaan – Amsterdam IG spots – Amsterdam July 2021

 
There’s a street in Jordaan where you will see the Westerkerk in the background. This makes an interesting photo spot, I realized this because I have this photo from many of my Amsterdam trips.
 
Jordaan, Amsterdam - travel tips for Amsterdam

Jordaan, Amsterdam – travel tips for Amsterdam – July 2017

 
If you see the first photo has a better perspective, it is because my photography skills became a little better over the years and so did my gear. The first photo here was clicked in 2021 and the second in 2017.
 
 

16) Vondelkerk

Vondelkerk – Amsterdam photo spots

Vondelkerk is near Vondelpark and near museum square. I actually arrived here because it is a peaceful area and I wanted to practice riding my new rented bicycle before heading out to the other parts of the city. This church looks very beautiful from many different directions and I cycled all around it and stopped for a few photos.
 
  • How to reach Vondelkerk: The nearest tram stops are 1e Con. Huygensstraat and Overtoom. If you arrive here on a bicycle as I did, then just follow the map coordinates in the next point.
  • Click here for map coordinates.

17) Outside Moco Museum

Moco Museum – visiting Museumplein on my rented bicycle

Moco isn’t the most famous museum in Amsterdam, but I found the building very cute. It is small and there is a lot of empty space on one side. This is in the direction that goes from Rijksmuseum to Moco.

So, one can stand next to it and make a pretty picture. In my case, I was alone so I just parked my rented bicycle where I would have liked to stand and clicked a picture.

  • How to reach: Get to the Museumplein tram stop and just walk or cycle from there to Moco Museum. To reach the location that I’m talking about, just walk from Rijksmuseum to Moco museum. After you will cross a few touristy shops on the right, you will arrive here.
  • Click here for the location coordinates.

BONUS: Intel Hotel Zaandam

There’s a reason why this place didn’t make it into the final list, that’s because the Intel Hotel is in Zaandam (and not in Amsterdam), it is right outside Amsterdam. Nevertheless, it is perhaps the most interesting hotel building that you will ever see. Just like Prague’s dancing house hotel building is now an iconic landmark, so is this particular hotel.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Pema Prima Photography (@pema.prima)

Look how pretty it looks. Honestly, I have been eying the photos of this particular hotel on Instagram for ages but I didn’t get an opportunity to visit. I’d still like to mention this place because I’d not want you to miss out on photographing it just because I didn’t.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Travel couple (Roel & Eline) (@trendytravelduo)


 

Map of Amsterdam Instagram Spots

Here’s a map that I have made of all these Instagram locations in Amsterdam. This will help you plan your time and know where to go first and which places you can photograph together. If you like my list of photo spots in Amsterdam then please share it with a friend who’s going there.

 

What About the “Wake me up when I’m famous” Bench? It No Longer Exists

There used to be a super popular Instagram photo spot in Amsterdam with a bench right next to the “Wake me up when I’m famous” sign. People took some very interesting pictures pretending to sleep on the bench and some of them even carried their rugs and pillows for an elaborate photo shoot.

Sadly the bench is no longer there, but you can see the spot below. It is in a neighborhood called De Pijp, which is an excellent spot for eating and drinking.

Click here for the location coordinates for the “Wake me up when I’m famous” sign.

Wake me up when I'm famous sign in Amsterdam

Wake me up when I’m famous sign in Amsterdam

 

Final Thoughts about Amsterdam Instagram Spots

I hope you enjoyed my list of Instagram spots in Amsterdam. Over the years I have added more spots to my list because I visit Amsterdam pretty often.

I love photographing the same spots but I change the perspective a little bit. Of course, I am always in search of more photo spots. If you come to know of any more interesting Insta spots in Amsterdam then please leave a comment and let me know.

Amsterdam Instagram Spots – 17 Photo Spots in Amsterdam

Disclosure: I collaborated with the I Amsterdam (Amsterdam city tourism board) for a part of my trip in 2017 and 2021. However, all opinions expressed in this article are definitely my own.

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 pro

What’s it Like to Live in Germany – the Good, Bad and the FUN

What’s it Like to Live in Germany – the Good, Bad and the FUN

It has now been close to five years that I have been living in Germany. The last five years have been extremely eventful. I have learned a new language, lived with Germans, made many friends, traveled within the country, celebrated many festivals, taught Yoga in a studio here and done much more than what can even be put on a list like this.

There have been moments when I have been bewildered by German rules, excited at the start of spring or snow season, hated everything when I missed my home country too much – but most of my moments were spent enjoying  the joy of living in this country.

If you’re on this page, then most likely you are considering moving to another country. Is Germany the country for you? Read on to see my experience of living in Germany. 

Germany is a Country Full of Rules

Every country has rules for everything, but not everyone follows them. In many cases, the people aren’t even aware of the rules in the first place. Things run very differently in Germany. In fact, things run exactly the way they should. 

There is a reason why public systems or many other processes run very efficiently in Germany. It is because the people have a very high regard for the rules and hardly ever break them. There is a process for everything and it is black and white hence highly efficient. If only every other country functioned like this, the world would have been very different. 

If you break a rule in Germany, then it is very likely that a fellow resident will point it out to you instead of turning a blind eye. Take it with a smile because they are just trying to help you.

Mountains, Castles, Forests: Germany is Insanely Pretty

Posing Outside Disney’s Cinderella Castle – Burg Eltz, Germany

Germany has the alps, the North Sea coast, the Baltic sea coast, insanely beautiful national parks and stunning castles. Germany has the best of nature and the most interesting cities. 

If you’re looking for stunning castle destinations then Burg Eltz and Heidelberg will steal your heart. For me, the stunning beauty of the Externsteine (in Teutoberger Wald) and the legends associated with it were mind-blowing.

If you like big cities then you’re going to love Hamburg and Berlin. If you want to see beaches then you will love Reugan Island on the Baltic coast and North Sea destinations. 

Everyone is aware of Bavaria’s beauty – the clear lakes, Bavarian Alps and lovely small towns. But honestly most of the small towns all over Germany are lovely because of an “old town”, castles, protected forest area and more.

Germany’s Trash Management is Crazy Awesome

Yeah so almost every developed country and some developing countries have a trash management system that starts with people segregating their trash, but things are a little too extreme in Germany. 

Broadly speaking, all households need to sort out their trash into bio, plastic, paper, diaper, glass, old batteries, old electronics, paint, and drink bottles. Yes, you need to segregate trash in these categories in your house.  This is a very broad bifurcation because there are many “if”s and “but”s to this segregation in terms of rules. 

There are recycling boxes for old clothes and shoes in many parts of the city so you can get rid of everything that you don’t use as long as you plan accordingly.

I don’t know if there’s any country that beats Germany in terms of trash management but I have heard that the Scandinavian countries are pretty good too.

Clean Air and Forest Reserves

Germany is so green

Germany is so green

I love how Germany as a country protects and preserves the environment. The country is full of forests. There are plenty of nature reserves and they aren’t just close to small towns but also big cities. Yes, you could be living in a busy city on some 4th floor of an apartment building but you may still be able to find a small forest reserve nearby where you can go for a run and feel alive in the nature. 

Everything is Closed on Sundays (+ Holidays)

In most of the countries, offices are closed on Sundays but the big shopping areas are open because that’s when a lot of people finally get the time to step out and buy things. Of course, the things are very different in Germany. Here everything is shut on Sundays. Really, everything.

It took me some time to get used to the fact that there is one day in a week where almost all the shops are closed. Sometimes there is a holiday that’s on Monday or Saturday, so one has to be prepared for two days of supermarket closure and buy the important things from before.

This required a bit of planning from me in the beginning because in India the stores are open literally everyday. Even on Diwali. Yes, this is one of the things that I miss about living in India.

Drinking in Public is Normal 

Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal

Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal

Yes, shockingly you can drink beer in many public areas in Germany, including trains. No, that doesn’t mean you see wasted people everywhere.

German people know how to handle their alcohol well because beer is a very important part of their culture. They seem to respect the social decorum and you’d hardly ever seen anyone overdoing it unless it is a special occasion. But yes, occasionally you will see people who are drunk as hell. 

No Work After Hours: Work Life Balance is Super

Do you have a 9-5 job? It is highly likely that you don’t leave your workplace at exactly 5 everyday. It can be 5:15 on some days or 4:50 on the others. Even after you leave work, it is likely that on some days your team or colleagues will call you or email you about some important work. It is very normal to work after the hours in most countries. It sucks!

Having experienced corporate life in India and the US, the German way of working came as a pleasant surprise to me. If someone’s work ends at 5 pm here, the person WILL leave at 5 pm, and not a minute after that. No boss will call or email after the work hours or on a weekend. That just doesn’t happen in Germany, unless it is a highly exceptional case. 

This system really works well in Germany because Germans are highly efficient during their work hours. They really do work like machines because being efficient is in their blood. 

Silence on Buses or Trains

Berlin Train Station

Berlin Train Station

Things may be different in bigger cities that are international, but when you travel within a smaller city or a town, you will notice how silent the public places are. Coming from India, this was a big change because on a train in India, you’d normally hear a few people talking excitedly and loudly, a group laughing, somewhere a kid whining and his mother yelling.

Most of the Germans don’t talk loudly and if they are in a public place, they observe an unwritten but mutually understood rule that they’d lower their voices to a level that no one else can hear them. 

I do remember traveling with a group of blogger friends on a train in Berlin and all of us were from different countries. Someone from the USA, someone else from the UK, a couple from Spain, and me from India. Yes, all from the countries where people talk loudly. Of course we were the loudest group on the train but we weren’t even talking loudly.

Getting a Doctors Appointment Isn’t Always Easy

This isn’t always the case but it happens a lot. Don’t be surprised if it takes you 6 months to get an appointment with a doctor. Because it is 6 months away, you are highly likely going to forget it and miss it. Good luck getting another appointment within the next few months. 

If you fall sick or need to see a doctor urgently then God help you! Once my daughter injured herself near her teeth and we called every single doctor for jaws and also dentists, but no one was available to see her.

Lovely Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser

Most of the people who travel to Germany end up visiting the most expensive and touristy cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Hamburg or Cologne. No doubt these cities are lovely but so are the smaller towns. 

No matter where you live in Germany, you are never going to be far from old town areas and traditional timber framed houses a.k.a. Fachwerkhäuser. Even my completely under the radar boring town has two breathtaking old town areas with some historical houses. Some of the houses are from as early as 1300 AD.

The old town areas are super dreamy and they will make you feel like you’re starring in your own romantic movie. You will most likely find old buildings, small shops with lovely but expensive handmade things, benches strategically places in scenic spots and an amazing atmosphere.

Talking about the timber framed houses, yes – they exist in other countries too. BUT, as per wikipedia, the country that’s most known for these kind of houses is (drumroll) – Germany.

The Language

If you’re traveling within Germany then you will not really face a lot of language barriers. It is only when you start living in the country, you will realize that you will need to learn more than just the basic level German to do things here. I’m talking about paperwork, visiting different government offices like the town hall, tax office, etc.

In order to live in Germany, most of the visas have a prerequisite of basic German language skills. Trust me, you NEED to learn the basic level German, else you will feel stuck.

If you know English, then learning basic German isn’t that difficult because many nouns and verbs are same. What’s different is how the verbs are used and the endless articles. The good thing is, that German words sound exactly how they are written, which can’t be said about a lot of English words. The bad thing is that German language is highly complicated if you compare it to English.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you slightly mess up the grammar. If you make an effort to speak a few sentences in German then the locals will highly appreciate it and help you.

Paperwork Never Ends

Get ready to drown in a lot of paperwork if you end up living in Germany. Yes, paperwork exists in every country but in Germany it seems to never get over.

If you live in Germany, you will notice that there’s something new that comes up every month that needs immediate attention. Hence, more paperwork. Thankfully, the paperwork in Germany is pretty straightforward because all the rules and procedures are always black or white. 

The Food in Germany

Food in Germany - Schnitzel

Food in Germany – Schnitzel

Potatoes, meat, eggs, bread and dairy are things that truly rule the German food scene. If you eat in a restaurant in Germany, you will find very limited vegan food options unless it is an Asian restaurant.

In India and many other Asian countries you will find an entire section of vegetarian and vegan dishes, even if it is burgers. I have spent 3 months in the USA and I always noticed a lot of veggie items in the menu too. In comparison, here in Germany you will notice barely 1-2 dishes in the entire menu that are vegetarian and just one out of that would be vegan. 

However, when it comes to the availability of vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets, then Germany is awesome. Even the smaller super markets in small towns have German as well as a lot of international produce so you can find almost anything. If you love vegetables as much as I do, you are going to really enjoy cooking while you live in Germany. I didn’t know I could cook before I arrived in Germany!

Trains are Good BUT Expensive

German trains are awesome. They are clean, comfortable, 98% on time and extremely fast. You can travel very easily within Germany and nearby countries on trains. But they aren’t cheap.

It is sometimes cheaper to take a flight than travel by train. In many cases, if you’re looking for an affordable train ticket, you may have to change trains a few times in your journey.

Bicycle Will be Your Best Friend

Cycling in Germany

Cycling in Germany in Spring

Forget driving, or buses but the best way of getting around in Germany is on a bicycle. The bike lanes are everywhere and in many cases you can take an inside “walking / cycle only” path that’s more scenic. You can also take your bicycle on a train and travel to other places within Europe. San and I once also traveled to Amsterdam from our town in Germany on our bicycles.

Carry a lock, learn how to take care of your bicycle and enjoy riding one. 

Tier E Scooters – Yay

This is a new point because E Scooters have recently been introduced. I used to crib about the lack of good internal public transport in smaller cities but everything changed after Tier was launched.

You can use an app called Tier and find a scooter near you and just ride it to where you want to go and leave it there so that another person can use it after you’re done. I love this! These scooters are very easy to ride too.

No, I’m not getting paid to promote them but I genuinely love this app and use it everyday to rent scooters. The scooters are environment friendly!

You Can Travel all Over Europe 

Us three with van and our camping spot - traveling with a baby

Us three with van in Croatia – we drove all over Europe with our camper van

I’m sure other Europeans who are reading this would just say – “yeah of course”, but for a non European the ease of traveling within Europe is unbelievable. Yes, one of the best things about living in Germany is the possibly of reaching a new country in just a couple of hours. Not just by air but very easily by road or train without any need for visa paperwork. 

Depending on where you live in Germany, a few hours of driving can take you to Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, or the Czechia. If you take a flight, you can reach most of the European countries in just 2 hours. How awesome is that? San and I ended up traveling in most of Europe on our camper van while living in Germany. Check out our post about the most beautiful lakes in Europe.

Tap Water is Safe for Drinking

The tap water in Germany is safe for drinking even in big cities. It is the most controlled beverage in Germany and it should be. I wish it was the same all over the world. Everyone should have the access to clean and safe drinking water from their taps.

Strangely enough, not many Germans that I know drink tap water. They buy bottled water or carbonated drinks and choose to drink that over tap water despite its consequences on the planet (and their health).

Tap water gets tested periodically to check the quality and as per many reports it is as good and sometimes even better than the bottled mineral water. 

BUT You Can Never Order Tap Water in Restaurants. Never.

For a country where the tap water is safe for drinking, it is super strange that you can never ask for a glass of it in a restaurant. You are expected to order drinks with your meal and water isn’t always cheap. Also, bottled water creates unnecessary plastic waste. 

If You Ask for Water, You Will Most Likely Get Soda

For non-Europeans, water means just water. But that’s not the case with most of the Europeans. If you order water in a restaurant or ask for it somewhere, you will get a glass or a bottle of soda. In some places, they’re nice enough to ask if you want your water with or without bubbles. No, plain water doesn’t have bubbles, that’s soda. 

Highways have no toll.. and no speed limit

German highways are awesome. They are very well maintained, have resting stops after every few kilometers and are toll free. The only time we remember ever paying toll was when we used a bridge that connected Germany’s mainland to Rugen island.

Guess what, Germany’s highways are world famous and some people come come here from surrounding countries with their fancy cars. All because the highways (Autobahns) have no speed limit.

School System is Very Weird

There are just a few things that I dislike about Germany and one of them is the school system. It is very weird and it feels wrong. There are separate schools based on the intelligence level. There is a school for very bright kids and only those who finish this school can go to college. Rest others have to go to a school that’s not for the smartest kids. If they fail, they get thrown into a school that’s for below average kids. 

I understand that this may be an efficient system for managing education but it is a horrible system for developing smarter all rounded children. In real life, everyone has something to learn from the other. When children aren’t given the opportunity to study with those who are smarter than or not as smart as them, then they will miss out on some important life lessons.

Customer Service Doesn’t Normally Exist

You know what’s the only word that comes to my mind when I think of German customer service? It’s non-existent. Unlike Asia or Americas where the service mantra is that the customer is the king, in Germany it is completely different. Apart from the Deutsche Post and DHL, if you seek help from anyone at any office at any time, they will act as if they are doing YOU a big favor or they will just say no.

You Get to Enjoy All the Seasons

Snowy Winter in Germany

Snowy Winter in Germany

You’re probably thinking – huh, so that’s in many other places. Yes it is but I felt a need to add this here because this is a very big deal for me. You see, while living in New Delhi (India), I thought I was experiencing every season but I realized what I was missing after moving to Germany. 

Because Germany is in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter is really cold with shorter days. It doesn’t snow throughout the winter but it does snow at least once or twice per season. When it does, the world turns absolutely magical and white. Because of the extreme winter, spring feels more alive and the sudden burst of color because of the flowers is eye-popping.

Spring in Germany - Rapeseed Flower Field

Spring in Germany – Rapeseed Flower Field

The summer is warm in Germany and sometimes the temperature can go till 35-40 degree celsius. Those are the times I miss an air conditioner but I made do with a fan here. Right after summer, the autumn season is pretty intense.

Honestly, my first Autumn experience was in Germany. I never realized I was missing out on Autumn beauty in India till the time I moved to Germany. Autumn in Germany is beautiful because there are so many trees everywhere. They all turn yellow, then red and then brown. It is insanely beautiful to see autumn foliage in Germany.

When it Snows, You Gotta Shovel the Sidewalk next to your House

No, I’m not talking about shoveling the driveway – that’s something you will need to do anyway if you want to take out your car after it snows. If you live in a house then most likely it would have a sidewalk for bicycles or pedestrians. In Germany, if anyone walks on the sidewalk next to your house and hurt themself bad if they slip on the snow then it is your responsibility. So, enjoy the snow but keep shoveling the sidewalk. 

Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a rant about Germany but just an observation about how life is different here than my own country. I like the fact that the residents are accountable for the area around their house in the immediate vicinity.

Celebrations and Festivals

Carnival in Germany

Carnival in Germany

I thought India had too many festivals and celebrations but Germany isn’t any different. There’s something that happens every month in Germany. Everyone knows about the Oktoberfest? Well that’s just one of many. There’s the Carnival that’s crazier than anything you can imagine. It is like a psychedelic festival where everyone dresses up crazy and participates.

My First German Christmas Market - Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

My First German Christmas Market – Christkindlmarkt Wiedenbrück

Christmas time in Germany is like no other. Guess what, many famous international Christmas traditions actually came out of Germany., Santa Claus is from Germany too! Christmas festivities start in Germany at the end of November and last till Christmas.

There’s St Martin where children walk with the lanterns. Apart from this, there are so many smaller monthly celebrations and some are region specific. In my area we celebrate Kirmes, Schützenfest, Medieval Fest, Plum festival and many wine festivals to name a few.

The only time of the year when I haven’t seen any celebrations is between the New Years Eve to Carnival and that’s just one month. Carnival occurs in mid February every year.

Germany Has Bad Internet

You will find it unbelievable but you will find better internet in most places in Asia as compared to Germany. This comes as a shock because Germany is a highly advanced and developed country but the internet situation has evolved in a strange manner.

You see, Germany has an Oligopoly market situation when it comes to the internal. That means, there are just a handful of providers that rule the market. The speed is slow, service is horrible and faster internet is obscenely overprices as compared to many other countries.

Conclusion – Life in Germany – Yay or Nay?

I didn’t particularly love every aspect of living in Germany right away. It took me some time to adjust, and I kept comparing it to life in India. I missed the food, the color, the sensory overload and my people from India. I don’t know how it happened but two years after living in Germany, I started to miss it while I was traveling in India. When I was at the airport, I felt an odd connection to people who were talking in German. This is how I usually felt when I saw Indians talking in India. 

So, for me life in Germany is definitely YAY.

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