Travel apps review: Monument Tracker and TripLingo

Monument Tracker 

This app will guide you to all the important monuments in the city you are visiting, and will provide you with useful information about them.

Sounds boring and like all the other similar apps you’ve seen out there? You’re wrong.

Monument Tracker lists different monuments based on your location, putting the closest ones on top of the list. By clicking on a monument, the app gives you the exact location of it and how to get there, as well as information on its history and cultural significance.

The maps you choose are downloaded to your phone, so they are available to you when you don’t have an internet connection, which can save you money on data roaming fees.

You can add different monuments on your “must-see” list, and some of them even have the option for a guided tour or a 360º view.

An interesting feature of this app is that you can walk around the city and explore it at your own pace, and the app will notify you if you are near a significant monument, so you don’t miss anything.

Besides important sights, this app offers info about different activities and events in the city which you can participate in.

What’s addictive about Monument Tracker is that you can gain points by visiting different sights, reading about them, taking photos, recommending places, etc., and move from “beginner” level where you started to a more advanced level. You can also share your profile with your friends to show them where you visited, what you liked the most, and what you would recommend.

There are additional, fun options, such as quizzes to test your knowledge about the city after all that exciting sight-seeing.

Monument Tracker is free, and it’s available for Android and iOS.
Download Monument Tracker for iOS
Download Monument Tracker for Android

TripLingo 

One of the most challenging things in a foreign city is communicating with locals if they don’t speak English. Triplingo makes this more comfortable and headache-free.

The app provides you with a wide range of useful phrases and expressions for everyday communication at your travel destination.

Besides phrases and expressions, the app has a built-in offline dictionary with more than 10,000 words per language. Additionally, it has audio lessons, so you can prepare yourself before your trip.

It also includes one very helpful feature that makes communication smoother and faster, especially if you’re listening to someone speaking in another language: voice translator. It instantly translates your, or someone else’s voice into another language.

Another useful feature is the image translator: it lets you take a picture, for example, a sign or a menu, and translates it instantly. Never get a wrong dish in a restaurant because of the language barrier again!

If that is not enough, the app also has so many other helpful features, such as tip calculator, safety tips (emergency numbers, medical terminology, etc.) and lots of other info about the country you are visiting.

Overall, TripLingo is an impressive app that makes sure you’re fully prepared for your trip.

TripLingo is free, and it’s available for Android and iOS.
Download TripLingo for iOS
Download TripLingo for Android

Tips to smoothly navigate the airport

The airport: a long strip of asphalt connected to a huge metal shed full of armed police officers, screaming children, and overzealous security staff! A place where nobody will bat an eyelid if you have a pint with your breakfast fry up!

It’s the place where your holiday begins, so why not make the most of it?

Airport parking
Book your airport car parking as early in advance as you can. Like flights, it tends to get more expensive as it gets closer to your departure date.

If you are being dropped off, many airports now charge extortionate amounts to be dropped off directly outside the terminal building. However, many airports give half an hour, or an hour, of free parking in the official medium stay or long stay car park, then you can get a free bus to the terminal.

Pack well
A happy airport experience begins at home. There are plenty of online tutorials for how to pack a suitcase, but some forward planning at this stage will make your airport experience that much smoother.

Tuck your ticket into the photo page your passport (to act as a bookmark) and don’t pack them in your main luggage! You will be showing your boarding pass and passport several times before you board the plane, so keep them to hand in a trouser pocket, coat pocket, or a side pocket of your carry-on bag.

If you have a mobile boarding pass on your phone, then it’s still worth taking a printed boarding pass too, as a back-up, in case your phone runs out of battery or your boarding pass app crashes!

The queue for security can sometimes be long, or you might be pulled aside for a more detailed check, so go through security as soon as you can. Don’t hang about drinking in the bars: go through security first, and then you can have a drink and relax.

Stock up on food – avoid the coffee
Food can be expensive onboard the plane, so if you haven’t brought anything from home, stock up on a few snacks for the flight while you’re at the airport. A flapjack from somewhere like Pret a Manger is good, because it fills you up for a long time.

Coffee might be something to avoid at the airport. It acts as a diuretic, making you want to go to the toilet, which can be impractical. It can also sometimes upset the stomach, which isn’t what you want either! Finally, coffee can dehydrate you, and the air inside a plane cabin is dry enough already.

Walking distances 
As demand grows for flights, UK airports are constantly getting bigger, and adding more gates to park the planes. This means that there can often be a considerable distance to walk to get to your plane, sometimes taking 15 or 20 minutes (especially if you are on a low-cost airline).

Most airports in the UK have maps available online with distances marked between entrance points, security checkpoint and departure gates. Use this to both map out your route and to leave enough time to get around without rushing.

If you’re flying with easyJet, their mobile app can sometimes give you the walking distance to the gate, depending on which airport you are flying from. Other airlines are also starting to introduce this service.

Leave enough time! 
Aim to arrive at the airport 2 hours before take off for European flights, and 3 hours before long-haul.

This will give you ample time to drop off luggage and pass through security, so that you can be relaxing with your drink when your gate is announced, not frantically rushing to put your shoes and belt back on in the security area!

A day or two before your flight, check for pre-planned roadworks or railway engineering, and check the weather reports in case there is anything that could delay your journey.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Airport and airline staff are there to help you: from our own experience, we know that airline and airport staff go above and beyond every single day.

If you need help to get through the airport, just ask. Most airports and airlines will ask that you request assistance at least 48 hours in advance if possible. They can help transport baggage (or even you!) across terminals and through security. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or worried about, it’s a practical service to help you, the customer, to have a smooth transit through the airport.

Have some perspective 
Finally, and something many of us could bear in mind, just remember where you’re going. This is the miracle of flight! You are going to be sitting in a pressurized, metal tube flying at 35,000 feet above the earth’s surface and travelling at 550mph – and it’s all as normal as getting on a train.

Winter Wonderland: Christmas markets in Bruges

Bruges is a beautiful city at any time of year. Walking its quaint cobbled streets and admiring its medieval architecture, you can’t help but be reminded of childhood fairy tales.

The winter months bring even more sparkle and shine. At this time of year you’ll find gingerbread-style houses touched with frost, and Christmas lights twinkling in the canal.

The magical centre of this winter wonderland is the Bruges Christmas markets.

The markets
The 2017 Bruges Christmas markets open from 24th November to 1st January. They’re based in the city’s central Market Square, which is overlooked by the lofty medieval bell tower. More stalls can be found on Simon Stevinplein where you can also lace up your skates and head out onto the city’s winter ice rink.

Wandering the markets, you’ll find delicious Belgian chocolates, elegant glassware, handmade Christmas decorations, and lots of traditional handicrafts like knitwear and Belgium’s juniper-flavoured Jenever liquor. Food stalls also feature, with typical Belgian and international fare on offer.

Things to do 
While the Christmas markets are a highlight of a winter escape to Bruges, venturing beyond them offers even more delights. The 83m high belfry is a great place to start. A 366-step climb to the top of the tower gives you spectacular views of the city rooves and spires below.

Other beautiful architecture includes the façade of the Stadhuis, built in 1420, and the adjoining Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, which houses a vial thought to contain drops of Christ’s blood.

For a little culture, head to Groeningemuseum, Bruges’ best art gallery and home to Flemish and Renaissance works. Or for a more down to earth experience of Bruges life, past and present, make a stop at ‘t Brugs Beertje. It’s an old drinking hole and one of Belgium’s most famous brown cafés (so-called because the walls and ceilings have been stained brown by many years of tobacco smoke).

Back outside, take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the old town centre, or wrap up warm and explore the canals instead, taking a boat tour where you’ll learn all about the long and intriguing history of Bruges.

Food and drink
No trip to Belgium would be complete without sampling the local cuisine.

Chocolate is a must. Our favourite chocolate shops are Dumon and Pralinette, the latter selling a hard-to-find massive slab of pure Belgian chocolate that can be chopped roughly with a knife and savoured.

Save space for warm, freshly made waffles, bratwurst, glühwein, some good Belgian beer, and a big bowl of frites, delicacies you can find all across the city.

Places to stay
There’s a great selection of accommodation throughout Bruges. The five-star hotel, Dukes’ Palace, sits right in the middle of the action and also provides spa facilities within its palatial interior.

For a more boutique experience, there’s Inn us Hus, a modern and stylish B&B. It’s located on a quiet street but still just a stone’s throw from the town centre.

For something a little different, try Jacquemine Luxury Guesthouse. It offers beautiful rooms, delicious breakfast, and its own gardens and art gallery. There are plenty of apartments and Airbnb options to choose from too.

Useful information
Direct flights to Bruges from the UK are, unfortunately, few and far between. By far the most straightforward way to travel is by Eurostar from London St. Pancras. Alternatively, you can fly to Brussels and then hop on the train (it takes around an hour) or the shuttle bus (which takes a little longer) to Bruges.
Winter weather in Bruges is chilly, just like in the UK. You can expect average temperatures of around 4C (39F) from December to February, so take warm layers and be prepared to make many a glühwein pitstop!

Bruges is a great destination for a winter getaway, a cultural city break, and a little Christmas shopping too. The city is a winter wonderland that will infuse even the most dedicated scrooge with its festive cheer. For a short winter break over the winter months, medieval Bruges is picture-perfect and inescapably Christmassy.

Holiday apps to experience European history and culture

Holidaying in Europe brings to mind thoughts of pretty cobbled streets, majestic castles, alluring mountains, and memorable museums. And while exploring a city or town on your own is wonderful, finding the best attractions is sometimes difficult. Add to that, some of us like to explore a museum, castle, or church on our own, instead of hiring a tour guide.

So we’ve shortlisted a few apps that help you find your way to the sites, but more importantly, act as a pocket-friendly tour guide.

Sygic Travel 
Sygic Travel allows you to plan your trip by selecting the location, then reading about and bookmarking the sights you’re interested in. Saving your trip offline before you leave home ensures you don’t have to pay for an internet connection or have to search for wi-fi spots.

The app boasts details of tourist attractions across the globe, from castles and museums to hotels and restaurants, and from waterfalls and caves to parks and beaches. You just enter your destination city into the app, and it gives you a list of attractions nearby with distances. Add in your hotel details if you’ve pre-booked, and Sygic Travel shows you the sights near your hotel first.

If you don’t want to bother with calculating the distance to the nearest museum or castle, the map format shows all the attractions with small images of the sights in the place of pins. Clicking on the pin pulls up the details and history of the attraction, along with timings, days closed, and more.

This app is free to use for most of its functions, and only requires payment for the advanced options. If you want in-depth guides to any cities, the app also allows you to purchase them. All in all, it’s a really handy app to have around!

Download Sygic Travel for iOS
Download Sygic Travel for Android

World Explorer Travel Guide
Quite similar to the Sygic Travel guide, this app shows you attractions in a city based on a 0 to 5-star rating, making it a lot easier to pick the best museums, castles or parks in any part of the world. It also gives you distances on a standard or satellite map, making it easy to navigate to where you’re going.

Although it pulls up most of the information about attractions from Wikipedia, it also has an option to purchase City guides online. With geo-location to pull up nearby attractions, distances calculated in both kilometres and miles, and more than 350,000 attractions that have been rated to date, it’s easy to see why this app is quickly becoming a travel favourite.

Download World Explorer Travel Guide for iOS
Download World Explorer Travel Guide for Android

Rick Steves’ Audio Europe
This app gives you the benefit of having a professional guide at your disposal without paying for one. Rick Steves is much more than a guide, he is a respected authority on European travel. His audio guides are perfect for learning more about a city and its history, its attractions and its culture. There are a variety of audio guides to choose from, based on cities, cultures, or types of monuments.

The audio tours can be downloaded before you embark on your journey, so that you have perfect offline access throughout your trip. PDF maps built into the app complement the walking tours. Some of the recent additions to the audio tours include Sicily’s Essential Sights, Provence Markets, Authentic Greek Food, France beyond Paris, and many more.

With Rick Steves’ Audio Europe, it’s really easy to come away from a trip feeling like you have a good grip on a country’s history and culture.

Download Rick Steves’ Audio Europe for iOS
Download Rick Steves’ Audio Europe for Android

Learn a new skill on your next holiday

Are you looking for something new and interesting to do on your next holiday? With the weather turning colder, consider using your trip as a chance to gain a new skill.

Foreign Languages
Have you ever fancied learning a foreign language, or at least learning how to order things in the restaurant abroad? You’ll be happy to know that it’s possible to find language classes for foreigners in pretty much every European country.

Courses usually take at least one week, but can be much, much longer. The intensity of the courses varies greatly, and you would be able to pick one that suits you. This could be a relaxed, one hour in the morning course, or an intense full-time course.

Group courses are usually cheaper than individual lessons, but the latter focus more on your personal needs. Many language schools combine language classes with various other activities: you can sign up for Spanish and FlamencoFrench and Bordeaux wine tastingGreek with dancing, or Italian and opera!

Cooking
Do you love paella, pizza, or pain-au-chocolat, and would like to learn how to make these from scratch? What better way to learn than from local chefs on your next holiday.

Cooking courses welcome complete beginners and experienced cooks alike, and everyone can learn something new.

The variety of cooking courses is great. You could bake baguettes in France or make and decorate chocolates in Switzerland. How about preparing tapas in the heart of Barcelona or learning from top British chefs on a Food Hero cruise?

You can choose between short courses that only take a couple of hours, full-day courses, or an entire week or two of cooking lessons.

Wine
Perhaps you enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner and would like to learn more about the different types wines and grapes. If that’s the case, you may enjoy a wine tasting holiday.

These usually involve touring different vineyards, learning about the grapes and the process of winemaking, and trying many local wines. Dedicated wine tasting holidays range from weekend trips to holidays lasting a couple of weeks. If that’s a bit too long for you, many vineyards offer short daily tours with wine tastings.

It’s not only the big wine countries, such as France, Italy, or Spain, that offer wine tasting holidays. For an off-the-beaten-track wine holiday consider Hungary, the home of the sweet Tokaji wine, or Portugal where Port wine comes from.

Photography
Have you marvelled at beautiful photographs in travel magazines and thought you would like to take better pictures? Adding a photography course to your next trip might be a good idea.

Photography holidays vary in their focus (pardon the pun!), offering a lot of choice: portrait, wildlife, cityscapes. During a photography course you would learn about light, composition, and how to capture movement in your photos. Some courses require you to have your own camera, while others offer rental of equipment.

Why not select a destination and see if there’s a photography holiday available? You are sure to return home with a collection of stunning photos that will remind you of your holiday. What a way to impress your family and friends!

The courses described here are just a taste of what’s on offer. (We have not personally checked these courses, and they are not specific recommendations, but they give you some idea of what is available.)

There are many different activities available in all the European countries. With some research, you are bound to find a perfect learning holiday for you.

Exploring the cosy towns of medieval Europe

Do you feel like you’ve already visited every interesting city in Europe, and you’d like to try something completely different? Why not discover the unexpected beauty of these small European towns, that have preserved their magical medieval feel, architecture, and past traditions?

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
This picturesque Czech town deservedly became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, and it is unique within the whole of Europe.

The town centre has preserved its historical look from the 15th century. The dominant feature of Cesky Krumlov is a gothic castle from the 13th century, which stands out above the Vltava river which flows through the middle of the town.

Local narrow streets with colourful timbered houses from medieval times complete the truly unique atmosphere of this town. Evening walks under the lit-up castle, while listening to the river and the music of local street musicians, will charm anyone who sometimes wonders what life was in the past.

If you’ve had enough of modern city life, and would like to step back into the past, at least for few days, than Cesky Krumlov is the right choice.

Rothenburg, Germany
The full name of this little Bavarian town is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For all lovers of cozy towns which have kept their centre almost exactly as it was in Middle Ages, with numerous zigzag streets, Rothenburg is another exciting destination.

As soon as you arrive you will be amazed, and will be taken back in time to an age of kings, jugglers, and traditional street markets. For film lovers, the proof of its exceptional glory is the fact that part of Harry Potter was filmed here.

Another unique feature of this town is the famous Christmas markets which take place all year round!

As always in such a medieval town, you can enter one of many half-timbered houses and admire the traditionally decorated shops or traditional crafts. The main local treat is called “Schneeball” in German – meaning snowball – which is pasta noodles rolled into a ball, baked, and sprinkled on the surface with cinnamon sugar or coconut.

Colmar, France
The north-eastern French town of Colmar is a place for all lovers of wine and gothic architecture. Colmar feels like it was cut out of a postcard, and has the air of a fairy tale where people light torches and believe in supernatural powers.

Among the most charming places of Colmar are the Fishmonger’s District and Little Venice, where you can rent a rowing boat and float along one of the many local canals.

In Colmar, there is always time for a glass of great wine. Colmar has been nicknamed by the locals as the region’s king of wine – high praise in a country so famous for wine production. Of course, this is the way it should be, because wine undoubtedly fits our romantic view of the Middle Ages.

Local winemakers specialize mainly in varieties of white wine, such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer. Life surely does not get any better than a trip in a wooden boat, followed by an evening walk alongside original medieval houses, then finishing the day by enjoying the delightful local wine in an area so rich in history.

Hallstatt, Austria
The smallest middle-ages town on our list is the Austrian town of Hallstatt, that is a home to no more than a thousand permanent residents. However, this does not change its glamour.

Even from a picture of Hallstatt it is clear to see why this town is loved by the thousands of travellers who visit this town every year, and why it has been included on the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.

Hallstatt has a breathtaking location, situated 1,670 feet above sea level, and lying beside Hallstatt lake and under Hallstatt Mountains. When looking out of the window, or when resting on a bench, you can be watching the calm lake surface or gazing at the top of the sharp mountain peaks. There is a waterfall on the mill stream right in the centre of the town.

Hallstatt has also become famous for its salt mining on one of the local hills, where one of the oldest salt mines in Europe has been preserved and is open to the public.

No matter which of these towns you visit, autumn colours will further enhance the charm that each of them has to offer.

There is only one downside to visiting one of those lovely medieval towns: you will never want to leave!

Have you heard of these new holiday essentials?

This month, we take a look at a few things to make your holiday easier which you might not have considered.

Charging your gadgets
So much of our life revolves around technology nowadays. We rely on our phones, tablets and laptops to find our way, for hotel bookings, contact information, to figure out where we want to visit and so much more, but it’s often difficult to keep your devices fully charged when you’re on the move.

Don’t forget to take plug adapters that are suited to the country you are visiting – don’t forget to check the electrical plug information for the country you are visiting). If you are visiting several countries, you can get a universal travel adapter which, via its various connectors, should work anywhere.

Battery packs can be very useful. Even if you’ve got a phone that doesn’t have a removable battery, such as an iPhone, you can plug your USB charging lead into the battery pack. This is particularly useful on a long flight, where you’re using your phone a lot for entertainment, and will need to charge it again before you get to your hotel.

Amazon sells a good selection of battery packs. The higher the mAh rating, the more charge the battery can hold. We’ve found that the Anker Power Bank Astro E1 5200mAhworks well, and can hold enough energy to charge an iPhone (or most other phones) twice. It only costs £12.99, and is very easy to use, so it’s well worth having. Don’t forget that you still need to take your phone charger cable, to use with the battery pack.

A battery pack is an extra piece of kit that needs to be carried around, which is why battery charging backpacks are becoming so popular. Yes, it’s a rucksack with a built-in battery!

With various options to suit any budget, there is a whole host of backpacks on the market that can charge multiple devices at the same time. You’ll normally have a backpack or bag with you while you’re on holiday, so it makes sense for your bag to double up as a portable charger.

Purified drinking water
Water can often be a problem when you’re travelling. It’s not just far flung countries that don’t have safe water to drink – often you’ll find that hotels or restaurants all over Europe don’t have water that’s safe to drink, and it can be hugely dangerous if you’re out walking and you don’t have enough water.

Taking a portable water filtration bottle with you on your travels is invaluable – no matter where you are, having a bottle with an inbuilt filtration system means that you’ll never be without the ability to have clean and safe drinking water.

Comfortable cushions
Adjustable seat cushions are an absolute lifesaver when you’re flying or sitting in vehicles for long periods of time. Memory foam cushions, electronically controlled cushions and inflatable cushions have been designed to make your life more comfortable; if you suffer from bad circulation or find that you ache when you’re in the same position for too long, then these cushions are for you.

The travel versions are designed to be compact and fold away easily, and give you the most comfortable travel you’ve ever experienced.

Sand-resistant beach mat
The new sand-resistant beach mat is an absolute essential when you’re going on a beach holiday. These mats are designed with filtration technology to filter out small particles through the mat, so you never have to worry about your beach mat being covered in sand again.

They’re available in a massive variety of colours and sizes so you can find one that you absolutely love and, while they’re not cheap, it’s lovely to be able to take a mat to the beach and comfortably sit or lie on it all day without having to brush endless amounts of sand off it.

We hope you enjoy our suggestions, and that they make your travelling life even more fun!

Brussels: Take the train for your next city break

If you want to avoid the hassle of flying, consider taking the Eurostar to Brussels for your next city break. It’s a place with a lot to offer, especially as we start to look towards booking Christmas holidays.

Transport 
We’re not exactly blessed with a wide range of efficient, high-speed rail in the UK so we really do need to take advantage of what we have!

The Eurostar will take you from St Pancras directly to Brussels in around two hours. A little slower than a plane, true – but also without the queues at security or baggage drop off, and Brussels South (the Eurostar terminal) is in the heart of the city.

Once in Brussels, the city boasts a modern, easy to use public transport network with an underground Metro, tram and bus networks providing extensive coverage across the city.

Christmas Markets
Christmas markets are huge all across Central Europe, but Brussels boasts one of the best! The Winter Wonders and Christmas Market attractions will be open from the 24th November until 31st December this year.

This is located in the Grand Place Grote Market, which is Brussels historical main market square, conveniently in the centre of the city. The market is home to over 200 vendors selling a range of wonderful Christmas-related wares such as clothing and unique, home made Christmas decorations.

There is plenty of food and drink too – everything from famous frites (french fries), waffles and oysters all washed down with local Belgian beers or thick, luxurious hot chocolate.

Culture and food
Brussels is home to over 80 major museums and art galleries. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is the premier art gallery, and there are major museums dedicated to the history of art, musical instruments, natural history and the Belgian armed forces.

Brussels is a beautiful city to look at, with a wide range of architectural styles on display. The centrepiece is very much the Grand Place (home of the Christmas market), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dominated by several beautiful buildings.

Belgian cuisine is a mixture of fine French and more hearty Flemish cuisines. Moules-frites (mussels and french-fries) is pretty much the national dish, as are waffles with chocolate sauce. If you enjoy beer and chocolate you could happily spend several days trying to sample all the local varieties of both, and not come close to experiencing everything that is on offer.

Brussels – What to Know 
The choice of hotels ranges from hostels and family owned B&Bs right up to 5-star multinationals.

Consider staying in the district of Anderlecht. It’s far enough from the city centre to be relatively peaceful with excellent transport links easily connecting it to the entire city.

Average daily temperatures in November are going to be a bit on the chilly side, at 6C (43F) so make sure to pack some robust winter clothes!

Escape the beach crowds on the Slovenian Riviera

Slovenia boasts a glorious coastline on the Adriatic Sea, with clear Italian influences present in the architecture, the food and the friendliness of the locals!

Although Slovenia’s coastline may be fairly short compared to neighbouring Italy and Croatia, these charming towns and resorts welcome just a fraction of the visitors who descend on some of these more traditional beach destinations.

Slovenia offers a more relaxing break for those not looking to do anything more challenging than to discover tasty food and chill out on some of Europe’s least touristy beaches. Temperatures in September average 19C (66F), with average highs of 24C (75F).

Portoroz: popular coastline
Portoroz is home to the most popular strip of coastline in Slovenia, and also boasts the country’s best sandy beach. This is the place to head to if you’re looking for swanky coastal resorts, and there is plenty of choice for those eager to indulge in fresh, Mediterranean dishes or a few drinks after dinner.

As the most popular beach town in the country, it can get fairly crowded, especially at weekends, as locals head to the coast to relax on the clean, sandy beach.

Piran for swimming and great views
A more sedate and tranquil option is the coastline by the town of Piran. Although the beach here is man-made rather than sandy, it is one of the best swimming spots in the country. From the beach you can also enjoy marvellous views of the historic town in the distance, where the influence of Italy on Slovenia’s rich heritage should be obvious.

From Piran you can pop over to Italy to explore Venice, which is just a three-hour journey by ferry. It’s a very easy trip so may be an option if you are looking to soak up some culture for a couple of days after all that time relaxing on the beach!

When you’re in Piran, make sure you do not miss the stunning view from the top of the city walls, where you can marvel at the peninsula the town sits upon jutting out into the sparkling blue sea. Of course, you’re bound to have worked up a thirst climbing the walls, so you’ll be delighted to hear that there is a wide selection of bars where you can enjoy a refreshing drink while watching a spectacular sunset.

Izola for romantic beaches and views
The picturesque fishing village of Izola is perhaps the most romantic of all Slovenia’s beaches. You can find the perfect spot to watch the sunset on the pebble beach by the lighthouse which towers above the village.

This is one of the best sunset views in the whole country, and is best enjoyed when accompanied by an ice cream or a glass of wine. The road into Izola offers plenty of excellent photo opportunities to get that postcard-worthy shot of the village seemingly perched in the Adriatic.

Strunjan Nature Park for secluded beaches
Slovenia’s most secluded beaches can be found in Strunjan Nature Park. The coastline here is protected, so you won’t find the large resorts that are present further along the coast. Instead, you’ll just be enjoying the stunning scenery.

Moon Bay Beach, also known as Mesecev Zaliv, is the most famous beach here. You can only get there on foot, but the walk is well worth the effort as you’ll make your way through thick forest with spectacular views of the soaring cliffs emerging from the crystal clear waters.

This is a very different beach to the one you can find in the centre of Strunjan town, which doesn’t begin to compare to this hidden gem just a short walk away.

Holiday like a local with these interesting apps

We look at some apps that can help give you specialist local knowledge and experience.

Pretty Streets: Free
The goal of Pretty Streets is to create an itinerary for city explorers who are on the lookout for beautiful walks. This app is for people who like to enjoy the journey before they get to the destination.

Instead of giving you the shortest possible route, Pretty Streets creates the most enjoyable path through the city, meaning you can soak up the sights on the way. For those visiting Paris, the app also provides 60 free audio stories that can be discovered at certain locations on the map.

Download Pretty Streets for iPhone or Android.

Spotted by Locals: Free
Spotted by Locals is a free app that offers city guides (at a price) that are created by local ‘Spotters’. Unlike apps like TripAdvisor and Triposo, the content on Spotted by Locals only contains local favourites with no tourist highlights.

Each Spotter lives in the city they write about, speaks the local language and regularly updates their tips. This ensures that you will have access to the newest restaurant and the most popular bars in the palm of your hand. Furthermore, the various maps and city tips are all available offline.

Download Spotted by Locals for iPhone or Android.

VizEat: Free
VizEat is the global social eating app. After entering your destination, you will be given dozens of various eating experiences that are available to you. The immersive experiences are all hosted by locals and include cheese and wine evenings, culinary classes such as pasta making, and rooftop dining.

The 20,000 accommodating hosts from all over the world are ready and willing to show you their local delicacies and traditional recipes. With an average rating of 4.9/5, this is one of the best ways of discovering new cities in a unique and exciting way.

Download VizEat for iPhone or Android.

Citymapper: Free
Citymapper is an app that will help you get from A to B via your chosen form of transport. The app uses live and real-time routing that updates every minute to give you a constant update of the quickest way to get to your destination.

You will be given information such as price, departure times, time taken and calories burnt, allowing you to decide how and when you’ll arrive. After being included in Apple’s ‘Apps of the Year’ in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, it is clear to see that this is an essential holiday app.

Download Citymapper for iPhone or Android.