This little Bruges hostel was a real bargain – friendly, clean and better decorated than many more expensive places I’ve stayed in around the world.
The included breakfast is pretty extensive – more than the usual cornflakes – but most importantly I think it is has the best location in Bruges. Just off T’Zand (one of the main squares), it’s a short distance from everything you could want to see or do in the city.
Hoogste van Brugge 2, Bruges
Hidden under the Royal Mile is a series of narrow streets that used to be part of the city above in the 16th century or so and are now part of the foundations of the Royal Mile. These are real preserved buildings, not just a tourist show, and a fascinating look at Edinburgh in a past time.
A word of warning – the smells are pretty real too!
2 Warriston’s Court, Writers Close, EH1 1PG. 08702 430160
A visit to Edinburgh wouldn’t be the same without a pint in a traditional British pub. With a handful of universities and a horde of students in the city, finding cheap beer is relatively easy. Three Sisters was the best of the lot with three bars inside and a spacious courtyard.
139 Cowgate, Edinburgh
If you plan on spending a few days visiting most of the attractions around the city, the pass is definitely worth buying.
With free entry to 30 places and airport transfer included, it saves a packet.
Buy from www.edinburgh.org/pass/
Anyone looking for good budget accommodation in Edinburgh need look no further than Castle Rock! When this Edinburgh hostel says it has a good location it isn’t joking… there are views of the castle from inside and it’s about a minute's walk away from the city centre which is perfect for exploring day or night.
In addition, it’s a funky and fun place – I especially enjoyed the random art covering the walls!
15 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh, Lothian, EH1 2PW
A very cool district of Barcelona, El Raval, stretches away just to the west of the Ramblas.
Not quite Barcelona's seamy underbelly, but in a decidedly chi-chi town, the next best thing.
In keeping with its working-class roots, there are still plenty of scruffy neighbourhood bars amidst the proliferating clothes shops, hip bars and restaurants.
From Placa Catalunya (north) to La Rambla (east); Ronda Sant Antoni (west) to Ronda Sant Pau (south)
Centric Point has got to have the poshest address of, not just any hostel in Barcelona, but any hostel in the world! Slap-bang on the Paseo de Gracia alongside all the flash shops, but still a stone's throw from the Ramblas, it's amazing.
Inside things are no less grand, either. A beautiful spiral staircase leads up to a large and very lively bar, nice, clean rooms and a good time for all.
Passeig de Gracia 33,
Not exactly in Barcelona, but nevertheless a fantastic day trip, the monastery of Montserrat is absolutely magnificent.
First and foremost: the landscape. You can see it coming from a mile off; weird bulbous rock formations bulging out.
On the way up, there's a fantastic Romanesque chapel with amazing frescoes, and the whole area is riddled with hermits' caves.
The church itself is vast, 1000m above sea-level, and (oddly) reassuringly hideous in scale and detail.
Still, it's a mighty impressive spectacle and the surrounding countryside is simply breathtaking.
90 minutes from Barcelona (near Lleida)
A huge area of forested parkland riddled with pathways, the Parc de Collserola is a great place to escape the crowds in Barcelona.
(To the northwest of the city)
Tourist information centre:
Carretera Església 92
08017 Barcelona, Spain
932 803 552
When this hostel advertised how close to sandy South Beach they were, I must admit I was sceptical – but when I arrived I was soon corrected!
A mere block from the fun and sun of the beach resort, they are also ideally situated for the shops, restaurants and nightlife in the Art Deco district which attracts travelers from all over the world.
Dorm beds are surprisingly cheap considering all rooms have their own bathroom and staff are friendly and helpful.
There’s also a lot going on here…tours in the day, events at night and other travelers chilling out in the bar. So much so that you could enjoy Miami without even leaving the hostel.
This Italianate Palace was actually built at the beginning of the twentieth century even though it looks much, much older!
A really interesting place to visit with its architecture and elaborate detail – and fascinating to try and work out just how they managed to make it look so genuinely 16th century.
The beautifully landscaped gardens compliment the style and offer a nice respite from the bustling city of Miami around.
3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL
A cultural niche within the city of Miami, Little Havana, or Calle Ocho, is THE place to people watch in this fascinating city.
A combination of older gentlemen rolling their (lovely) Cuban cigars and hip youngsters hanging out outside the McDonalds, this is the sort of place that needs to be seen to be believed.
Soak up the culture further by enjoying a specialty Cuban cocktail and a ‘media noche’ sandwich (pork, ham, cheese, pickle and mustard – tastier than it sounds!) at one of the bodegas.
Southwest 8th Street, Miami, FL
Miami is renowned for its party atmosphere and dance clubs. And what better way to experience this than at Club Space?
Regular DJs include Deep Dish, Roger Sanchez and Eric Prydz (who I’ve been lucky enough to catch) and this huge club is always packed full of revelers dancing the night away!
Its reputation as one of the best dance clubs in the States attracts an excitable crowd that are often visitors from other cities meaning there is plenty of opportunity to make new friends if you feel the need to take a break from raving…
Tickets aren’t the cheapest but they’re worth the price, especially considering just how many hours of entertainment you get in one night – it even has a 24 hour license.
34 NE 11th Street, FL 33132
Don’t be put off by the name – this is a classy joint in downtown Toronto! There are, however, brilliant discounts on offer with happy-hour drinks and a half-price dinner menu every day between 5 and 8 p.m.
I enjoyed watching office workers hurrying home, sat on one of the bar’s terraces with a nice cold beer…
A great place to relax with your shopping and soak up the city’s vibe.
539 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M5S1Y6
Toronto has some of the best shopping in North America – at least it seems that way among the boutiques and the department stores!
Far from just housing run-of-the-mill stores, the city had some great and unusual wares on sale. Honest Ed’s is the city’s first budget department store and there are some real fashion bargains to be had in here!
My only advice – make sure you have enough room in your backpack to get all those purchases home!
581 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Canada M6G 1K3
The Toronto Blue Jays are the city’s pro baseball team and, as Toronto has the most professional sports teams in Canada, its worth hitting a game to soak up the atmosphere and see how much the residents enjoy their competitive league sport!
For Europeans who, like me, are less clear about the rules of baseball, don’t worry – there are drinks and hotdogs on offer to keep you entertained too!
The season runs April through September.
One Blue Jays Way., Ste. 3200. Toronto, Canada, M5V 1J1
A bit of a local secret in the heart of Toronto. Two floors offering a surprisingly diverse and reasonable range of foods, from sandwich shops stuffed with meat (which is everywhere in Canada and about the closest thing I could find to a national dish) to Japanese and Ukrainian cuisine.
I recommend the veal and aubergine (eggplant for Americans) sandwich. Definitely worth a taste!
95 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1C2
A great, cheap place to stay right in the centre of Toronto. This budget hostel has a fantastic community feel and is a fun, lively place to meet other travelers. As a girl visiting Canada on my own, I felt right at home here – especially on Saturday nights where the free barbecue attracts a large proportion of the guests for a beer and a burger!
It’s located in Kensington market, about five minutes from the entertainment and shopping districts – and there’s no curfew so you can stay out exploring as late as you please.
This is a friendly place but its real selling point is the combination of the low price of a bed of the night set against their great facilities…
175 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5T 2L4, Canada
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org