Five free things to do in Rome

The first time I visited Rome I didn’t visit a single museum which is a precedent in my travels by this day. I love visiting museums and galleries and whenever I travel I make a plan in advance so I can get as much as possible from my trip. However, visiting Rome in the spring was a very refreshing change for me as it has so much to offer on its streets alone that you can have a very outdoorsy vacation without skipping the culture. This means you can see a lot without spending a lot which is always a win in my books. So here’s a list of my top five free things you can do in Rome.

1. Visit as many of the outdoor landmarks you can.
There are ruins and breathtaking buildings on every corner so walking the streets is like walking the halls of a great museum. You definitely want to visit the Trevi fountain, throw a coin and make a wish in it. Piazza Navona is my favourite place in Rome and I like going there a few times a day if my path allows it. The Spanish steps are a beautiful must-see and if you’re a fashion lover you’ll enjoy all of the luxury fashion shops at the bottom. You can browse the displays of Dior, Louis Vuitton, Versace and a lot of other familiar faces while walking towards Piazza del Popolo which is a gorgeous square you will definitely enjoy.

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2. Walk around the Borghese gardens and have a picnic on the grass.
There are stairs from Piazza del Popolo going directly to the Borghese gardens which are huge and very beautiful. The greenery is wonderful and even if you want to save your pennies and don’t go inside the actual villa-museum or watch a movie in the open summer cinema you can definitely enjoy the park and spend a good few hours there.

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3. Walk around Trastevere.
Probably the most popular Roman district situated on the right side of the Tiber River, Trastevere literally means ‘beyond Tiber’. It’s a wonderful place for walks as it’s basically a labyrinth of narrow streets with tons of charming caffès, restaurants and shops and the majority of the buildings are dressed in flowers from top to bottom.

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4. Visit the Pantheon.
One of the most popular Roman landmarks is free which is good news in every country. It’s a beautiful building which fascinates with its size and immaculate architecture. Of course the streets around the Pantheon are just as lovely, filled with beautiful hidden squares, fountains and caffès and are the perfect place to put the map away and get lost. Wherever you end up I promise it will be beautiful.

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5. Visit a Saturday Market.
You might need to research this in advance but it’s definitely worth planning your walk around a marketplace. You can always find something interesting as there’s usually more than food and spices being sold and the fresh produce and flowers are always beautiful to look at. We visited the one at Piazza de’Fiore which is a small piazza one street away from Piazza Navona and we loved it so mush we went back for our second visit to Rome. The market is open ever day till noon and they have some great fruit you can buy – we found Nespole which was completely new to us and we haven’t seen it anywhere else. It’s an orange fruit about the size of an apricot and it has a pit. It’s very interesting and very good – I recommend you try it.

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Those are my favourites at this point, hopefully after my next visit I will have more to share! (if I can restrain myself from going back to Piazza Navona a million times a day stuffing my face with nespole in the sun) I am skipping over the Vatican and all other churches – you can find many of them around and they are always free. I hope I gave you some ideas – get your map out and plan a great trip and feel free to like this post so you can refer to it whenever you need it. Safe travels!

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3 days in Budapest – what to see

In the middle of January I had a quick city break in Budapest and I want to share my tips for visiting the city in case you’re headed there.

You’re planning a visit to Budapest for a few days and don’t know where to start from? I spent a quick but very sightseeing-heavy week there in the middle of January and have made a list of things you need to see even if you don’t have a lot of time but still want to spend your time wisely.

Firstly, I have to mention the Budapest Card as it’s what I used to move around the city. I haven’t bought a tourist pass before but this one came very recommended on all of the blogs and websites I made my research on so I decided to go for it and I’m not sorry. You can get it for 24, 48 or 72 hours and it gives you a lot of discounts but most importantly – unlimited use of all their public transport. I have to say that after I bought it I came across a Hop On Hop Off bus service that offered some very nice deals as well, so if you’re just staying in the centre of town maybe research that as an option to move around instead.
Now to my ‘What to visit’ list!

1. A promenade on the riverside of Pesta is a must. The view is breathtaking both during the day and the night, plus there is quite a lot to see if you walk the whole thing. We used a mixture of walking an hoping on and off the tram line #2 as it’s quite a long way. However, if you start from the Old Marketplace you can get to the Parlament building passing by a few beautiful bridges, the Palace of Arts, the National Theatre, a wonderful view of the palace and a million wonderful places to have coffee.

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2. While you’re on the riverbank, visit the Old Marketplace. It’s very beautiful for a quick walk and while you’re there – it’s the best place to buy Hungary’s famous chilly red peppers from the source instead of a souvenir shop.

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3. On the other side of the river you should definitely visit the castle and walk down the Fishermens towers. It’s basically the equivalent of walking on the riverside of Pesta, only it’s much higher and on the other side of the hill there’s a view of the rest of Buda –  let’s call it the less touristy side. You can get there walking for about 15 minutes or hopping on the old electric car to the top. The view is wonderful and you can see the parlament in its full glory. This is also where you realise how truly gigantic and beautiful the rest of the buildings are as well. Again, if you’ve got the Budapest Card there are a number of trams that can take you from one end to the other and there is a bus going way up to the castle and the towers.

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4. Visit Városliget park. I’m sure the experience is much different in Spring/Summer but even in -5 and snow I loved the park and there is definitely a lot to see there.
The Zoo and Botanical Garden are there, the Széchenyi Thermal Baths are there, which are the most popular baths you’ve probably seen pictures of online, Vajdahunyad Castle which is truly impressive and a must see at least from the outside, and my favourite part (only available during the winter) the ice rink build in 1895. I loved this place, skating there was truly an experience and I definitely suggest checking it out. The rink is huge and has some pretty amazing views towards Hero Square and Vajdahunyad Castle on the other side.
This makes for a great day trip as right on Hero Square are the National Gallery and Museum of Fine Arts you can also visit.

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Have you been to Budapest, can you offer something different for me to see? I definitely want to go back, maybe when it’s warmer as I’m sure it sill be a totally different experience.

And if you’re just headed there I hope my tips were helpful! Feel free to like this post so you can refer to it whenever you need it and have a great stay in Budapest!

My minimalist packing tips from the neck up

As a lot of women today I am borderline obsessed with skincare – I have so many creams, tonics and concoctions I am practically a chemist. Hence when it comes to travel I have a pretty substantial stash to pick from and it was a problem for me a few years ago (one of my biggest personal mistakes is going to Greece with just one very light moisturiser – the salty water destroyed my dry skin and it was beyond repair for months after). However, thanks to a lot of travel and product testing I like to think I ace my travel skincare needs and I know exactly what I need depending on the destination.
Since I was packing for Budapest I decided to make a few quick photos of what I’m taking with me and why and hopefully give someone a helpful idea.

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Those are the final picks for my skincare bag – the absolute smallest and lightest so I can afford the glass jar of my Nuxe lip balm. I have lighter ones but since the temperatures are going to be around -8C I am taking the best with no regrets.
I will walk you through everything else in the photos and how I justify taking it.

  • A lot of Elizabeth Arden – they hit the hydration bingo for me. A day cream + a night cream + the Eight Hour cream which I use as a multi-purpose balm or layer on top of night cream when my skin is extra dry. I also use it instead of an eye cream when travelling and it does a pretty decent job as a lip balm. Usually I even skip the separate lip balm and just use this all over.
  •  La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo – the best thing for targeted treatment of blemishes, I never travel without it in case of emergency. Extra points for how small and easy to pack the tube is.
  • The sponge I use instead of a face cloth for my cleanser in the morning- easy peasy, small and light and goes in the bin at the end of the trip. Here may be the time to add that my cleansers aren’t shown here as I pack them separately with my face brush and micellar water.
  • I am very happy with my little cotton pad box which I found in a tupperware set. I suggest finding something similar as it’s perfect for travelling and most of all very hygienic.
  • The Clarins Daily Energizer I use as a primer on top of my moisturiser. If it were warmer I would skip it but alas, -5C is not to be underestimated.
  • The small tube on the top is a travel size L’occitane shower gel with some wet wipes for glasses.
  • Body butter, obviously. This I also use instead of a hand cream.
  • Caudalie grape water or any thermal water, I never travel without one. I use it all the time – to refresh my skin during a long day of walking around cities with polluted air, to quickly wipe my face with a cotton round before landing, on the beach for refreshing and after the beach to remove leftover salt from my skin asap, to help with cakey makeup, it’s just the best.

Another tip of mine is to use an eyeglasses case for carrying jewellery and small delicate things such as hair pins and bobbles. There are plenty of gorgeous ones and even if you’re not a glasses wearer you can find a purpose for them. I always use this Klimt one I got as a gift for my earrings and hair pins and the size stops me from overpacking all of my jewellery. Plus I’m not worried they’ll smash in the suitcase if it were dropped or squished.

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This is it for this trip, cleaners aside. There’s nothing interesting to note there so I am skipping them this time. If anyone is interested in my cleanser obsession and current rotation of 8 I will gladly write a post about them at another time.

I really hope you found this helpful and I wish you all happy packing!

My tips for visiting Rome

From all the places I’ve visited to date there’s no better place for me than Rome. Yes, there’s Paris and I love Paris very much but there is something about Tuscany and this city in particular that I find very difficult to top. There’s so much culture on every corner that I find it hard to comprehend how the locals go about their days as if they’re not living in arguably the best place ever.

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So here are a few of my tips on how to go about exploring the city if you’re planning a visit.

Continue reading “My tips for visiting Rome”