St Petersburg’s highlights

St Petersburg or “Peter” as the locals call it surely is one of the most interesting big cities in Europe. No skyscrapers but extravagant palaces, magnificent cathedrals and vast museums. What surprised me most is how clean and modern St Petersburg is! Pulkovo airport stands out as impressive as Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport and there is no trash in the streets of the city center. Roads are in good condition and traffic isn’t the mad hell you had imagined. Visiting in winter is a nice way to discover the city with less tourists, and I was lucky to have the best possible weather (snow on the ground, freezing temperatures and some beautiful sunlight!). You need to spend at least a few days in the city to experience a major part of what it has to offer.

St Petersburg skyline on a cold winter day
St Petersburg skyline on a cold winter’s day

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Exploring Helsinki – from ice walking to Art Nouveau

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With trips to Scandinavian capitals becoming increasingly de rigueur, the Finnish capital Helsinki, offers a quirky but stylish experience filled with hip design and cool eateries juxtaposed with beautiful historic architecture. Find out the places you should definitely include in your Helsinki itinerary.

Helsinki from the sea
Helsinki from the sea

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Guide to South Norway (Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen and surrounding fjords): 6 days/5 nights itinerary

Driving from Oslo to Stavanger to Bergen and back to Oslo on Norway’s ultra-scenic roads is an experience you won’t soon forget! Prepare for some beautiful Scandinavian cities, old wooden churches, fjords, waterfalls and Viking ships. Here is how to do it.

Day 1: Oslo

Try to arrive early in Oslo to have the rest of the day for some sightseeing. A nice and original hotel in central Oslo that I can recommend is Hotel Guldsmeden. If you rent a car from day 1, there is a QPark nearby (expensive) or you can park in the street if you find a spot. Walk to the new and very modern district of Aker Brygge with a lot of restaurants on the seafront (quite touristy though). Continue to the impressive Opera House, new and modern as well. Then turn towards Oslo’s main railway station (Oslo sentralstasjon) on your left and walk up the Karl Johans street, Oslo’s main shopping street. At the end arises the Royal Palace (Kongelige Slott) and its surrounding park. First night in Oslo.

Oslo's Opera House, Norway
Oslo’s Opera House

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A week in Northern Italy: Milan, the lakes, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre

Milan and the lakes (Maggiore, Como, Orta)

In Lago Maggiore area, I recommend to spend the night in Stresa as it’s the closest town to the amazing Borromean islands. Many companies link the islands to Stresa by boat. You can hire a private water taxi (expensive, but no timetables to stick to) or use the scheduled connections (very affordable) offered by many companies. I took the first morning shuttle boat of a company named Lake Tours, departing from Stresa at 9:15. Their boats first stops at Isola Madre, then Isola dei Pescatori and last in Isola Bella before heading back to Stresa. They leave from each island to the next one on an hourly basis (every 30 minutes in high season) and adult ticket for the 3 islands costs 15 euros. Each of those 3 wonderful islands has a very strong identity and are all totally worth the visit! Isola Madre for the exotic gardens, Isola dei Pescatori for its picturesque village and Isola Bella for the magnificent palace.

Baveno, Lago Maggiore Italy
Baveno, Lago Maggiore

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Top things to do in Scandinavia

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Top things to do in Scandinavia

This vast region in Northern Europe includes 5 different countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. From fjords, endless forests and lakes to beautiful cities, Scandinavia surely has a lot to offer to any traveller. Let’s see what there is to experience there.

Ferry-boats in Helsinki Scandinavia
Ferry-boats in Helsinki

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