Every serious traveller has at least once dreamt of the magnificent Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. Rugged mountains plunging into the ocean, grazing sheep on the world’s greenest hills, white-sand beaches like in the Caribbean, picturesque fishing villages, midnight sun: those renown islands are all about that. Located above the Arctic Circle, one may avoid visiting Lofoten Islands because of polar conditions. Forget about that. Because of the Gulf Stream climate there is incredibly mild, with winter temperatures more than 20C degrees warmer than elsewhere on the planet at same latitudes! It’s far from tropical, but in summer even sea temperature is surprisingly warm (prepare for some dips in the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by dramatic landscapes). The only drawback is rain (and a super high cost of living). It does rain a lot, but what you are going to see there will totally make up for it.
Having spent a lot of time in Cannes since my earliest childhood, I have a special relation with this famous city of the French Riviera. Everybody knows about its glamorous Film Festival, but beyond the glitzy image Cannes is an authentic Provençal town with a lot to see and do.
The Parliament, Inside and Out
Budapest’s most prominent building really is an architectural masterpiece and you realize it even more when standing next to it! Impressive from the outside without any doubts, don’t skip the guided tour to see it from inside as well. The official tour is organized in many languages and short enough to enjoy the beautiful interiors without getting bored (book you tickets here). Highlights include the grandiloquent main staircase, the dome which is home to the guarded Holy Crown of Hungary (no photos allowed in that part of the building), the magnificent Assembly Hall and the famous numbered cigar holders. No smoking allowed nowadays but those have been kept because of their historical value. You will learn that when they were in use, the interest of a hearing could be measured by the amount of Havanas left consuming on them…
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.
The original article can be found here.
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.