Dublin, Lisbon, Rome – where will your next citybreak be?

When spring arrives with sunshine and daffodils, it always puts me in the mood for planning my next getaway, a mini-break to throw off the chill of winter and tide me over until the summer holidays. If you’re in the mood for a weekend away in Europe or the UK, take a look at the fun web app from SuperBreak to fuel your holiday inspiration. Whether you’re planning a relaxing half term break with the family, a weekend of eating and entertainment with your friends, or a cultural city-break with your partner, here are some of the destinations that you might want to consider;

If you’re a couple looking for a weekend of food, drink and entertainment you might look at….

Dublin

Dublin at night Photo by Lendog64 on Flickr

Dublin at night, the ultimate party town

What Superbreak have to say; Just a quick jump across the water and you can enjoy traditional Bars, comedy clubs, delicious local food and the ever-so-friendly Irish welcome! Guinness at the ready!

What I enjoyed about Dublin;

  • I love the way that the Irish always have a story to tell, that you can go into any pub and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and there’s always some music and a song or two.
  • Visit the Guinness Storehouse in an amazing 7 storey old warehouse with modern glass additions to learn about Dublin’s favourite tipple – you’ll be shown how to pull the perfect pint of the black stuff and can buy up the brand’s heritage (love the retro toucans).
  • Take the train out to Sandy Cove, a seaside spot where the members of the 40 foot swimming club test the water every day of the year and where James Joyce lived in an old Martello tower and liked to take a dip.

Here’s what I wrote about Dublin: The best of TBEX, the best of Dublin

But if you and your partner are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome to return some day

What Superbreak have to say; With a wealth of history, culture and plenty of Italian charisma, you can’t help but feel the love on a weekend break in Rome with someone special.

What I enjoyed about Rome;

  • Buying a gelato from the kiosk shop on the island in the Tiber and eating it with a view of the river where Dan Brown’s hero, in the book Angels and Demons, parachutes out of an exploding helicopter to land on the island.
  • Visiting the Turtle fountain or Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei first thing in the morning before the crowds have gathered – so much more charming and less crowded than the Trevi Fountain.
  • Visiting the daily fruit and vegetable market in Campo de’Fiori and buying a slice of pizza fresh from the oven from the artizan bakery at one end, then sitting on the steps of the central monument to eat it.

Here’s one of my stories about Rome: The view from the dome of St Peter’s in Rome

If you are a couple who fancy a weekend of culture in the UK take a look at …

Stratford-upon-Avon

The river at Stratford-upon-Avon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Picnic by the river at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare

What Superbreak have to say; Discover the quaint city of Stratford upon Avon on a romantic weekend break. Step back in time in this historic city and see the spots where Shakespeare’s most famous plays were created.

What I love to do in Stratford-upon-Avon;

  • Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a fabulous venue that has gone through a multi-million pound renovation. You must try and get a ticket to see one of their Shakespeare productions but even if you can’t, be sure to pop in to wander round the building, visit one of the exhibitions, climb the tower or take a backstage tour.
  • Taking afternoon tea at the Arden Hotel right opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the perfect place for a lunch stop in between sightseeing or a pre-theatre dinner before you pop across the road for the performance.
  • Several of the houses in and around Stratford associated with Shakespeare and his family are open to the public, and we we especially love Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with its cottage garden and the settle by the fire where young William might have snuggled with his new bride Anne.

Here’s what I wrote about Stratford-upon-Avon: The Tower and other Transformations at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

But if you are a group who’d like a weekend of culture in Europe why not try …

Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Visit the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

What Superbreak have to say; With history, landmarks and iconic French architecture around every corner, Paris offers everything a group would need for a cultural break. Don’t forget your camera!

What I enjoyed about Paris;

  • Wandering around the Parisian’s choice of market, Marche d’Aligre with the most polished and perfect fruit and vegetables, a mouthwatering selection of prepared dishes in the covered market and a flea market where you can buy everything from vintage footwear to elegant wine glasses.
  • Walking down Canal Saint Martin to admire all the houseboats and then continuing along the narrow footpath right beside the Seine, with views of Notre Dame in the distance – a world away from the tourist crowds at the cathedral itself.
  • Exploring the covered arcades with art galleries and street cafes in Place des Vosges and then visiting Maison Victor Hugo to find out about the life and times of this celebrated French writer, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Here’s what I wrote about Paris: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

And if and your friends are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Lisbon

The vintage trams in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ride the vintage trams in Lisbon up the hill

What Superbreak have to say; A weekend break in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital offers an eclectic mix of fascinating Portuguese history and contemporary art and culture.

What I loved about Lisbon;

  • Listening to the mournful Fado singers who perform in the restaurants in the Bairo Alto and Alfama neighbourhoods – don’t expect the food to be anything special but the music will touch your soul.
  • Eating Pasteis de Belem from the famous cakes shop near the Monastery of Jerónimos - these creamy custard tarts are the signature of Lisbon and you can either sit in the vaulted cafe rooms at the back of the shop or take them away to eat in the gardens overlooking the port.
  • Taking the yellow, vintage No 28 tram up the hill to the Castelo de Sao Jorge where you can walk around the ramparts and gaze over the rooftops towards the river where the ships left to conquer the New World centuries ago.

Here’s one of my stories about Lisbon: An autumn weekend in Lisbon – Podcast

There are plenty more inspirational short break destinations to discover with the SuperBreak app so why not give it a try and see where your inspiration leads you.

About the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator:  To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Yorkshire based holiday company  Superbreak.com have created a fun app to help you choose the perfect UK or European city break based on who you’re travelling with and what you enjoy. Check out the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator Webapp or follow the coversation on the Superbreak Facebook Page or on Twitter @Superbreak using hashtag #SuperBreakinspo

This article is brought to you in partnership with Superbreak.com

Photo Credits: Dublin at night by LenDog64 Other photos by Heatheronhertravels.com

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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Lisbon Hotels: Inspira Santa Marta Hotel: review from Oneika the Traveller

In this guest post, Oneika Raymond reviews the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel in Lisbon where she spent a long weekend soaking up the atmosphere and colour of Portugal’s capital, as well as the fragrance of pasteis de nata from the local bakeries.

These days, my hotel experience can make or break a trip. I am not a traveller who is content with just having a place to sleep. Quality and comfort are of the utmost importance when I am looking for a place to lay my head away from home, and why shouldn’t it be? Location also plays a large role for me, especially when I am in a destination for only a short amount of time. I mean, who wants an interminable commute back to a hotel after a long day of sightseeing?

With all this in mind, I enjoyed my recent hotel stay in Lisbon. Needing a respite from dreary, cloud-filled London last month, my boyfriend and I booked tickets for a weekend trip to Portugal’s capital. After my three visits to this wonderful city, I am hooked: Lisbon is amazing. The streets are alive with hustle and bustle, vibrant with colour, and fragrant with the smell of the bakeries selling pasteis de nata on every corner.

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

All this activity was just a stone’s throw away from our homebase, the Inspira Santa Marta hotel. Located right near the end of the tree-lined Avenida de Liberdade, one of the city’s most important avenues, we were very centrally located.

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

Lisbon is one of Western Europe’s most underrated capital cities, and from the superbly located Inspira Santa Marta we were able to explore mostly on foot. We were a fifteen minute walk from the Praça do Commercio (Lisbon’s grand main square) and the Rossio train station, from which one can hop a train to nearby attractions like Sintra.

Praça do Commercio, Lisbon  Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Praça do Commercio, Lisbon

Many restaurants serving seafood dishes and traditional Portuguese dishes like bacalhau were within a five minute walk. If you don’t mind a longer walk or a metro ride, I highly recommend making a stop at Cervejaria Ramiro, where we had a spectacular meal of prawns, clams, and parma ham.

Oneika at Cervejaria Ramiro, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Oneika at Cervejaria Ramiro, Lisbon

But more about the hotel itself. After a 15 minute taxi ride from the airport, we arrived late on a Friday night and were greeted warmly by the people at the reception who speedily checked us in. The design of the Inspira Santa Marta is clean and modern, which contrasts sharply with the charming, old world architecture just beyond its doors. The lobby and the common areas have an open plan that make you feel as though you are outside when you are really not; on sunny days the main atrium is flooded with light.

The main atrium of Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

The main atrium of Inspira Santa Marta Hotel

The Inspira promotes a sustainability concept, most evident in the room we were given for the duration of our stay. Our room, on the fourth floor, was efficiently, almost spartanly, furnished. It was a lovely room, meticulously tidy, although, in drawing back the curtain from the window, we were disappointed that we didn’t have a view. In an effort to reduce waste, the complimentary water in our room and toiletries in the washroom were all in refillable screw-top vials and pump bottles, topped up every day by housekeeping. The floor is bare, surely uncarpeted so as to eliminate the wasteful energy emitted by a vacuum cleaner. In the same spirit, the lighting in the room is very dim; while it may be too dim for some, it did lend a romantic air to the room.

Bedroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Bedroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

The room also has a very open plan, which, while nice, may present a few issues. At first, the washroom appeared to have no door on it, but then I came to realize that the panel of the closet located just adjacent was meant to be slid over and used as a door for the washroom. This was not a problem; in fact I thought that this was a pretty nifty idea. However, the wall that separated the bedroom from the washroom was designed in such a way that it left a sizeable gap, which meant that water from the shower was able to seep out into the room. I also noticed that this wall was fairly sheer, to the point where I could very clearly see the outline of my boyfriend as he took a shower. This lack of privacy may be a problem for people sharing a room who do not know each other intimately.

Bathroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon Photo: www.oneika-the-traveller.com

Bathroom in Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, Lisbon

The breakfast is hearty, with an assortment of fresh pastries and fruit to sate even the largest appetite (be sure to eat the croissants — they are fantastic!). There is an assortment of teas and fresh juices (in refillable glass bottles, of course), and coffee can be ordered from the many waiting staff milling about the breakfast area, a smart restaurant-type deal found on the ground floor of the hotel. Additionally, there is a station where eggs are made to order. The hotel is also equipped with a small spa area where I was treated to a relaxing hour-long massage by a very capable therapist.

Our recommendation

All things considered, the Inspira Santa Marta was a great base for our weekend jaunt to Lisbon: clean, pleasingly decorated, and extremely well located. It is also great value for money: a room for two including breakfast will run you under 115 GBP (and should you opt to grab breakfast at one of the numerous bakeries in the area instead of the hotel, a room can be had at under 95 GBP).

Hotel Inspira Santa Marta , R. de Santa Marta 48, 1150-297 Lisboa, Portugal Tel: +351 210 440 900
Reservation enquiries email: reservas.ismh@inspirahotels.com

You can also follow Inspira Hotels on Twitter: @Inspira_Hotels, on Facebook and on Google+

OneikaOneika Raymond is a serial expat and travel junkie who has travelled to over 60 countries on 6 continents and manages to balance long term travel with a full time career. Oneika writes at Oneika the Traveller and you can also connect with her on her Facebook page and on Twitter @OneikaTraveller

Many thanks to Hotel Inspira Santa Marta, who hosted Oneika’s stay at the hotel.

More articles from Oneika’s trip to Lisbon

Portugal: A day trip to Sintra
Portugal: A morning stroll in Lisbon
Portuguese Pastries: Bad for the waistline, good for the soul

This article is published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here.

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

Hidden highlights to explore on a Mediterranean Cruise

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Europe, Guest post, Lisbon, Misc, Portugal, Spain

Join us on a Mediterranean cruise taking in seven wonderful destinations – Barcelona, Genoa, Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon, Gibraltar and Alicante. Each city has much to offer, but if you’d like to explore some lesser known corners, as well as some well known highlights, here are some ideas for the places you might visit.

Barcelona

Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city and the capital of the Catalonia region. One of its most famous landmarks is Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished church of the Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction since 1882, with a planned completion date of 2026.

To get  away from the tourist-orientated areas of the city, explore the district of Raval, whose maze of streets offer fashionable and unique shops.

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Maradentro_

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Genoa

Genoa is an historical Italian city and the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, the explorer who discovered the Americas. The home where he was allegedly born is in an area known as the Piazza De Ferrari, where the Teatro Carlo Felice Opera and Palace of the Doges is also located.

To search out a tasty treat, explore Recco to the east of Genoa, the birthplace of cheese focaccia, where cheap and delicious focaccia bread is served on the seafront.

 

Alcazaba in Malaga

Malaga

Malaga is in the Spanish region of Andalusia and enjoys a subtropical climate. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and is surrounded by mountains to the north, the harbour to the south and two rivers, the Guadalmedina and the Gualdhorce.

For a view over the city try the Alcazaba, a Moorish fortress that enjoys wonderful views of the Plaza de Toros and the port. Perfect for lazy afternoons when other attractions may be closed.

Cadiz

Cadiz is a seaport to the south of Spain and has been the main homeport of the Spanish navy since the 18th century. Commonly known as Casco Antiguo (Old City), it is many narrow streets, which connect a number of stunning plazas.

For a break from city sightseeing seek out the Donana National Park to the north of the province, the largest Natural Park in Spain and home to a range of wildlife.

Lisbon

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and the most populated city in the country. The most popular area for shopping, entertainment and nightlife is Bairro Alto, where Portugal’s national song Fado, can still be enjoyed. The monument Cristo Rei overlooks the whole city and resembles the Corcovado monument in Rio de Janeiro.

Off the beaten track , you’ll find Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, home to an esteemed art collection and surrounded by serene and beautiful gardens.

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon

Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon

Gibraltar

Gibraltar lies at the entrance to the Mediterranean and is an overseas British controlled territory at the end of the Iberian peninsular. Its famous landmark is the Rock of Gibraltar with its upper area covered by a nature reserve, which is home to over 200 Barbary Macaques, the only wild monkeys found in Europe.

For a different perspective, the World War II Seige and St Michaels Cave’s are popular with tourists, but enquire at the Rock Hotel about ways to see more of the tunnels.

St Michael's Cave, Gibraltar

St Michael’s Cave, Gibraltar

Alicante

Alicante is an historic Mediterranean port that is overlooked by the Castle of Santa Barbara, which sits on Mount Benacantil. The Explanada de Esparia is a tree-lined promenade where concerts often take place and the El Palmeral Park is a great place to relax by the lakes, enjoy a picnic or take a stroll.

To escape the bustle, the Old City has some stunning architecture, ‘Spanish colonial’ style buildings and streets that are generally quiet.

My thanks for this article to www.Travel247.ie, an Irish owned tour operator that specialises in Mediterranean Cruises and package holidays globally.

Photo Credits: Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Maradentro, Alcazaba in Malaga by Manuelfloresv, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian by Sheilaellen, St Michael’s cave, Gibraltar by Mouseshadows

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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