Montenegro is small. Real small. In fact, it’s half the size of Wales. Yet it’s packed with so much beauty and diversity. It’s got rugged mountains, Venetian-style red-roofed towns, beautiful beaches, mystical islands, tiny remote villages and so much more. That being said – there are few places in the country that are more spectacular than the city of Kotor.

What’s so great about Kotor?

Located on the Bay of Kotor, it has a beautiful stretch of water on one side and a rugged mountain backdrop dotted with fortifications on the other. The town itself has quiet cobbled traffic-less streets, piazzas, charming architecture and an incredible atmosphere. And what’s more… It doesn’t feel engulfed and distorted by tourism in the way that Budva does. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple of days.

Kotor is over 2,000 years old. Yet it belongs to a country that only claimed its independence in 2006. And while tourism numbers have been steadily increasing since, you can still wander through the old town streets without it feeling crowded. Try saying that about Dubrovnik, a city which is just up the road, relatively speaking. It’s a city I love, sure. But Kotor is better. And cheaper.

How do you get to Kotor?

Kotor is reasonably easy to get to – well if you’re in this neck of the woods to begin with. You can get to it quickly from Budva in 30 minutes or Podgorica in 90, while Dubrovnik in Croatia is only 2 hours away. There’s public transport from all these locations, but if you can, rent a car and drive – read this blog as to why this is the best option. When you arrive, there’s loads of places to stay. I can only recommend the Montenegro Hostel if you’re looking for somewhere affordable, with a great location. A double room with a brilliant view was about £5 each a night – you can’t say fairer than that.

What’s there to do?

There’s only one thing to do in Kotor. That’s right – one thing. Walk. Just walk. And it’s absolutely free. Don’t believe me? Think you need to spend cash to experience the city in all its glory? Allow me to prove otherwise.

Walk through the cobbled streets of the old town.

Walk along the beautiful harbour.

Walk up the 1,500 steps to get to the top of St. John’s Fortress. 

Got any tips?

I’ll give you one. Just one. Then you’ve got to get out and explore yourself. When you climb up to the top of St. John’s Fortress, go mad with the photos. It’s an incredible view. Walk through the ruins of the fortress, sit down, enjoy a beer if you want to (which you can, should you be so inclined, buy from one of the enterprising people that carry them up the hill everyday). Then, as you begin your walk back down the hill, it’s time to look for the secret hole in the wall. No, literally. It’s a hole in the wall.

Can you see the hole up there? Go through it!

Go through the hole, not many people do. You’ll emerge into a beautiful pasture, with a small track running alongside the sheer face of the fortification. Following the track down and you’ll find a beautiful abandoned church, some stone cottages and yes, you’ll eventually even come across a farmhouse selling fresh cheese (and homemade rakia, of course).

If you follow this path down, you’ll experience what it was like to walk between the villages of Kotor and Cetinje hundreds of years ago. When I go back, I’ll ascend this way and keep ascending past the fortress – eventually ending up at Lovcen. Perfect.

What more could you ask for? Kotor is bound to continue to get busier and busier every year – so go and visit now. You won’t regret it. I’m itching to get back.

Budapest is one of the best cities in Europe.

Fact. Boom. Done. End of discussion.

Okay, allow me to elaborate…

Budapest has got a fascinating history, incredible architecture and a brilliant location (right on the Danube).

It’s also very cheap. Compared to most capital cities in Europe, it’s very affordable. We got a private en-suite room, 5 minutes from the city centre, for £7 a night. Hell, you can barely get a Big Mac meal in the UK for that much. Speaking of food… You can eat for under £7 a day too. Yes, 3 meals. A goulash (so good – I could genuinely eat it every day) will cost you about 1400 HUF (about £3). A pint will cost you about 80 pence.

Not only is it cheap, but its value for money too. There is so much to see and do. I spent 5 or so days there in April 2015 and I could’ve easily spent a lot longer. There are just SO MANY things to do. This post is going to be a no thrills list of what I consider 10 of the best things to do in the city. I could’ve included a lot more, but 10’s a nice number. Let’s go!

Top 10 things to do in Budapest

1. Soak in the Széchenyi Baths.

There are loads of geothermal baths in Budapest for you to choose from; the most famous of which is probably the Széchenyi baths. It’s also the only one I’ve been to and therefore the only one I can recommend. There are some which are probably less touristy, but there were also loads of locals here too, so it didn’t bother me too much. When I return to Budapest, I’ll try and explore some baths which are more off the beaten track.

Széchenyi Baths, Budapest

2. Visit the Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum.

This is one of the most unique and fascinating museums I’ve ever been too. Located beneath Buda Castle hill, it comprises of something crazy like 10km’s of interconnected tunnels. Used as a bomb shelter and hospital in World War II, it was then expanded to defend against nuclear attack during the cold war. Incredibly, it only had its classified status lifted in 2002.

Hospital in the Rock Museum

 3. Visit Some Ruin Pubs.

After World War II, there were so many buildings left empty and abandoned. They became squats, before artists and hipsters moved in and turned them into some of the most interesting, unique and eclectic pubs in Europe. I’m not going to give you any specific recommendations, because you need to get out and stumble upon your own dark, poorly lit doorways, which turn out being one of the best places to get a pint.

4. Go Hungarian Wine Tasting.

Hungary has wine. In fact, it has over 20 wine regions. And it’s pretty damn good wine too. One of the best is Egri Bikavér, or ‘Bulls Blood’, from the region of Eger. While Faust Wine Cellar is probably the most famous venue to taste wine, I would strongly recommend a trip to The Tasting Rooms. Incredible venue, delicious wines and an extremely passionate and knowledgeable host.

T

Tasting Rooms, Budapest

5. Explore the Labyrinth below Buda Castle.

This is the second recommendation I’ve given to go underground in this post. I find it fascinating and the Labyrinth is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Here’s a fun story. In 2011, the Hungarian police stormed the cave and forced all the tourists to leave. They made all the staff collect their belongings and would not allow them to leave unaccompanied. Some argue this was under the pretext of wanting to nationalise the attraction, but I disagree. I think something far more sinister is going on…

6. Lookout from the Fisherman’s Bastion.

A beautiful terrace located on the Buda bank of the Danube. It looks pretty cool, but it also provides you with a fantastic view across the city. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Fisherman’s Bastion

7. Visit the House of Terror Museum.

As with many of the countries in Central or Eastern Europe, there is a long, dark, history of terror. This museum, which is housed in a building previously run by the Hungarian secret police, has exhibits and acts as a memorial for all those imprisoned, tortured and killed by the regime and specifically within the building. The basement is one of the most haunting parts of the museum.

8. Hike up Gellért Hill.

Couldn’t be more self-explanatory. Hike up the steps and slopes to the top of Gellert Hill for one of the best views of the city. Simple.

View from Gellert Hill

9. Visit the Cave Church.

On your way up Gellért Hill, make sure you visit the Cave Church. It does what it says on the tin – it’s a church, unsurprisingly, in a cave. Originally home to hermit who healed the sick, it became a poor family’s house and eventually a chapel and monastery (minus a brief stint as a WWII field hospital). In 1951, the monastery superior was executed under communist rule and the rest of the monks imprisoned. Following the collapse off the USSR, the concrete sealing the cave was smashed and the monks returned. They’re still there, but you can visit too.

You can just see the Cave Church – halfway up Gellért Hill

10. Climb St. Stephen’s Basilica.

As well as my apparent interest in going underground, I also like climbing shit too. Not only is St. Stephen’s Basilica well worth a visit for its stunning architecture, but the view from the domes observation deck is absolutely cracking. It’s only 364 steps after all. Note: There is an elevator, but don’t take it. You’ll enjoy the view all the more if you walk.

View from St. Stephen’s Basilica

That’s pretty much it for this post. The best thing about Budapest is this – I could easily write a list of another 10 things to do in Budapest and possibly even another 10 after that. But it’s much better if you get out and explore yourself. Get lost, stumble on some cool shit and enjoy barely spending any money. Enjoy.

I’m not suggesting that people don’t know where Slovenia is (although I have heard a fair few people confuse it for Slovakia). What I am suggesting however, is that most people don’t realise it’s beautiful diversity. As far as European countries and European capital cities go, Ljubljana is one of the best kept secrets. Read More

When people use to ask me what’s my favourite country in Europe, I always use to say Montenegro. It’s absolutely stunning. Read More

This is the 9th blog inspired by my 900km walk across the Canary Islands, following my two day crossing of the beautiful La Gomera. Read More

This is the eighth blog covering my 900km+ crossing of the beautiful Canary Islands, off the West coast of Morocco. Read More

As Gran Canaria was one of my favourite islands, I’ve decided to do something different than just writing a diary-type-blog of all five stages of the GR131. Read More

If you read my last blog, you’ll know that after an interesting few days on Fuerteventura, I’d covered the first four sections of the GR131 walking trail, ending in Betancuria at the end of the final day.

It’s from here that I resume my story.

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This blog features as part of my 900km+ walk across the Canary Islands. Click here to read more.

After a days rest in Playa Blanca, I couldn’t wait to be moving on. While this trip has always intended to show that there is more to the Canary Islands than tacky tourist resorts – there still are tacky tourist resorts and Playa Blanca is one of them. Therefore it was with a feeling of excitement that I boarded the ferry and headed for Corralejo, on the northern coast of Fuerteventura. It was from here that I planned to pick up the island-hopping GR131 which crosses the entire length of the island with around 160 kilometers of trail. This has been split into 9 sections which are recommended to take a day each – this blog will discuss the first four of those sections. I hope you enjoy. Read More

So… it turns out I’m not very good at keeping a ‘live’ blog while undertaking hundreds of miles of walking. Therefore, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. This blog features as part of the Small Islands, Big Walk series, following my crossing of some of Spain’s most spectacular islands.  Read More

If you read my last post, you’ll know that my first night in the Canary Islands was spent wrapped up in my bivvy on sunset beach on the beautiful island of La Graciosa. (In case you missed it, you can check it out here). Read More

I wrote this while curled up in my bivvy yesterday morning, waiting for the sun to come up:

With a trip like this, not everything can be expected to go to plan or run smoothly. The sooner that I accept that, the more enjoyable this trip will be. Read More

I’ll have to keep this brief. I’m currently hurtling along on my train to Birmingham Airport, where I will be spending the night before embarking on my first adventure of 2017 – Small Islands, Big Walk (yeah, I couldn’t think of a better name than that). Read More

I’d heard lots of things about Malta, not all of which were positive, before we decided to make it our winter escape in February 2016. Some family friends had raved about it, making the beautiful Mediterranean island their yearly holiday destination of choice. Others had a far less pleasant things to say about Europe’s 5th smallest country, describing it as overcrowded, over-urbanized and rather dull. Never willing to let someone else decided my mind for me, I convinced MP it would make a decent week away and booked a February trip to escape the chilly UK weather. Read More

It might seem strange that my first post on Florence is about the Pope. I could of written about Il Duomo, Galleria degli Uffizi, Galleria dell’ Academia or Ponte Vecchio, but nope. I chose to write about the Pope. Why? Because it’s the fucking Pope, man. I’m not Catholic. Hell, I’m not even religious (is it obvious?). But with over 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, this dude’s a pretty big deal. And since he was the reason I couldn’t visit Il Duomo or move freely through the streets of Florence, I thought I might as well see what all the fuss is about. Read More

It was back in April 2016 that I first decided to visit Slovakia, a relatively small country in Central Europe. Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, I feel, has been largely overshadowed by the nearby more popular cities of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. This means it’s rather off the beaten path for most European travelers. Read More

“Zagreb? Why? Croatia is all about the Dalmatian Cost!”

Yes, the coast is stunning. I won’t argue with that.
And Dubrovnik, although brimming with tourists (and the accompanying army of umbrella holding tour guides), is a must-see location.But while everyone crams themselves in to Dubrovnik’s tiny old town (think Venice, in summer, on steroids – at least Venice is a bit bigger, has a bit more of a local population and can be quiet if you get yourself lost enough), Zagreb is often overlooked completely. That, in my opinion, is a massive injustice. Read More

Being the cliched individual that I apparently am, I wanted to kick off my year (at least) of adventures in symbolic fashion. Yesterday, that’s exactly what I did – with my very own microadventure to climb Kinder Scout in the Peak District. Read More

So… I quit my job.

Probably best to start with that. While I’ve had a fantastic four years in my job, I felt it time for a change. And no, not a change of job… You might have noticed, either from speaking to me or from the not-so-subtle tweets and posts, that I’ve been making plans for awhile. While I’ve made sweet progress, those plans are – ridiculously – still not finalised.

Why?

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As I’ve previously written about the 2.5 days that I spent in Kraków, I thought it about time that I did the same for Poland’s capital city, Warsaw. Let me set the record straight (and incite a riot) at the beginning. If you only have time to visit one Polish city, I’d head to Kraków. It just edges it for me in terms of architecture, atmosphere and proximity to day-trip locations. Read More

At the end of last year I reflected about how lucky I had been, having traveled to 18 different countries in 2015.Although I prioritise and self-finance all my travels and practically live paycheck to paycheck in order to make them a reality, I’m still extremely fortunate to have the luxury of being able to spend my time and money doing what I’m passionate about – exploring the world. Read More

If you only have time to do one thing in Croatia, there’s a choice to make. If you’re a lover of history, architecture and crowds of people – head to Dubrovnik. However, if you’re a lover of waterfalls, natural beauty and crowds of people – head to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Hopefully you have time to do both. Read More

Note: The photos in this blog (all taken in wet, grey and windy weather) do not do the city justice.

I recently read another bloggers post that argued that Kraków was overrated. I disagree. Firstly, if I asked a group of my friends for a list of the top 10 cities in Europe, I don’t think many of them would include Kraków on that list. Secondly, it’s a cheap, fascinating, beautiful city, that’s easily accessible and has less of the drawbacks that befall other cheap destinations (well… I saw a lot less stag do’s than usual…). It’s not rated as highly as it deserves to be. Read More

Lisbon is one of my favorite cities in Europe and thankfully it doesn’t have to be too expensive to escape to for a few days. I spent 6 days there last year and kept costs down to around £200, including flights and accommodation. Yeah, really.

We flew to Lisbon from London for about £40 return and we managed to find ourselves a private en-suite right in the heart of the city for under £8 a night – you could probably do this cheaper if you wanted to stay in a dorm. That’s under £80 for 5 nights in the beautiful capital of Portugal. While I wont give you a breakdown of exactly how I spent the rest of my budget (because, um, I don’t remember), I will gladly tell you about some of the free (or very cheap) things that Lisbon has to offer.
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When I visited Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau last year, I wrote the following:

While it was an educational experience, it wasn’t an enjoyable one, nor one that I wish to repeat. However, it was an experience that I believe everyone should have. Learning about the past is the only way to ensure it isn’t repeated and that couldn’t be more important than in the case of the Holocaust. This is the only picture I’m willing to upload from today. Not because I believe it is disrespectful, as images are hugely powerful educational tools, but because there are no photos that can do justice to the amount of terror and despair that the 1.5 million people within this camp went through. That being said, I was not comfortable watching people smile and pose for photos or take selfies next to gas chambers or prisoner barracks. “For ever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity”. Read More

Early last year I spent 4 days in Barcelona, Spain.

And while I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, looking back on things, I feel like I’ve never actually been there at all. I’m not sure why this is. It’s possible it’s because I was in a state of saturation when I visited, at least as far as European cities were concerned. Optimistically, I like to think it’s more likely because Barcelona is a city with so much to offer that it’d take weeks, months, years to truly experience it and four days just isn’t enough. Either way, I think I need to return. Read More