Best Things to See in the Netherlands Besides Amsterdam

Millions of tourists come to the Netherlands every year, and most of them limit their visit to Amsterdam and perhaps Keukenhof tulip garden. But there are so many things to see in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam!

I have lived in the Netherlands for three years and travelled a lot around the country during this time. There are so many things to see and experience in the Netherlands. Its cities, numerous museums and galleries, castles, parks, food, architecture, tulips, windmills, canals and boats.

So if you have a few days to spend in the Netherlands, here is the list from a local (well, almost a local) of the best things to see in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam.

See also: Best Things to Do on Texel, Netherlands (Including Where to Stay and What to Eat)

Large vibrant cities in the Netherlands

Besides Amsterdam, the Netherlands has other large cities worth visiting such as Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands. Spend a day walking in the city to see some of the major landmarks such as Market Hall, Cube Houses, Witte Huis, Erasmus bridge, City Hall and others.

Make sure to visit Oude Haven (Old Harbour) with its old basin and restored boats. Get to the viewing platform of Euromast – the tallest building in the Netherlands. Take a boat tour to see the city from the water and to have a look at Europort – the largest seaport in Europe.

Related tour: Rotterdam: River Cruise and Euromast Entrance Ticket

Things to see in the Netherlands - the cube houses of Rotterdam
Cube houses of Rotterdam

The Hague

The Hague city is not only the home of the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, but also the home of Dutch government and Dutch royal family. When in the Hague, check out the Dutch parliament building complex – Binnenhof – with its inner yard and huge pond in front of the complex.

See paintings by the world famous artists in Mauritshuis museum. Visit Madurodam – a park of miniatures with replicas of Dutch cities and landmarks, outdoor exhibitions and activities for the whole family. Take a tram to Scheveningen – the Hague’s famous beach and promenade with many cafes and restaurants.

See also: Things to Do in The Hague: A Local’s Guide

Binnenhof of The Hague in the Netherlands
Binnenhof of The Hague

Utrecht

Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and famous for its medieval city center, old canals and the tallest church tower in the country – Domtoren. Walk the old streets of Utrecht downtown, stroll along the Oudegracht and dine in one of the many restaurants by the water.

Admire cathedral tower of Domtoren, gothic-style cathedral of Domkerk and cosy old garden of Pandhof. Visit museum Speelklok with its large collection of self-playing musical instruments or Spoorwegmuseum – an awesome railway museum, especially if travelling with children.

Oudegracht (Old Canal) of Utrecht among the places to see in the Netherlands
Oudegracht (Old Canal) of Utrecht

Small cosy towns to visit in the Netherlands

Do not underestimate the smaller cities in the Netherlands. Small Dutch towns have some of the most interesting attractions in the country. Because they are small and compact, it’s easy to visit the smaller towns as a day trip from Amsterdam. Here are some of the small towns in the Netherlands I would recommend visiting.

Delft

City of Delft is famous for its Delftware – Delft blue pottery. You can visit a Delftware factory and learn about the history and process of the Delftware production. Back in the 15th and 16th centuries Delft was actually one of the major cities in the Netherlands and the residence of Dutch prince of Orange.

Even though nowadays the city is small, it is still rich on Dutch history and has many historical monuments and museums worth visiting. Delft was also a home to the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (‘The Milkmaid’ and ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ are just a few of his works that you might know).

Making Delftware at Royal Delft museum as part of the things to do in the Netherlands
Making Delftware at Royal Delft museum

Maastricht 

Though Maastricht is about 2 hours away from all the major cities of the Netherlands (which is considered far in this small country), I would still recommend visiting it. Maastricht is well known in Europe as the birthplace of the European Union and ‘euro’ currency.

In the Netherlands it’s known as one of the oldest cities and places to go for great food and restaurants. You will find here the oldest bridge and the oldest city gate in the Netherlands. An iconic bookshop – Dominicanenkerk – located in the historical building of the 13th century church. Historical squares with many fine cafes and restaurants. These are just some of the things to see in Maastricht.

Markt square of Maastricht
Markt square of Maastricht

Haarlem

Haarlem is a city located 15 minutes away from Amsterdam. It’s small and cosy and full of charm. Walk to Grote Markt – central city square and admire the gothic-style Cathedral of St. Bavo. Visit some of Haarlem’s Hofjes – small enclosed courtyard gardens with nice green spaces. Explore narrow streets of Haarlem’s old town. Check out Windmill De Adriaan – a museum located in the 18th-century windmill.

Related tour: Haarlem: 50-Minute Sightseeing Canal Cruise

Cathedral of St. Bavo at Haarlem
Cathedral of St. Bavo at Haarlem

Leiden

Leiden is a small Dutch town located between Amsterdam and The Hague. If you like visiting museums Leiden is a must see when travelling in the Netherlands.

  • Visit the National Museum of Ethnology with exhibitions from around the world.
  • National Museum of Antiquities – an archaeology museum with beautiful collections of Egyptian, Greek & Roman artefacts.
  • Naturalis Biodiversity Center – a natural history museum with one of the largest natural history collections in the world.

After visiting a museum, head to Beestenmarkt square to enjoy some food in one of the cafes or to take a boat tour through the canals of Leiden.

The boats at Leiden are among the best things to see in the Netherlands
Boats at Leiden

Cheese markets in the Netherlands

One of the things the Netherlands is most famous for is cheese. World known types of cheese – Gouda and Edam – originate from the Netherlands.

So, where else if not in this country to experience cheese markets, shops and cheese-related events?

The most popular cheese markets in the Netherlands happen between April and September in Alkmaar and Gouda. Visit a cheese market to see people dressed in traditional Dutch clothes, horse-drawn carts loaded with rolls of cheese and the old-fashioned way to bargain cheese price by clapping hands.

If you’re travelling to the Netherlands outside of the season for cheese markets, don’t worry – there are still many ways to experience Dutch cheese making and selling traditions. Visit a cheese museum in Amsterdam, Alkmaar or Gouda. Go to a farmers market – they happen on various days all over the Netherlands and always have cheese stalls with a big selection of Dutch cheese for you to taste and/or buy. Or simply pop into one of the many cheese stores in the country. 

Cheese stall at one of the Dutch markets
Cheese stall at one of the Dutch markets

Windmills in the Netherlands

Another thing the Netherlands is famous for is its Windmills. There are hundreds of windmills in the Netherlands and you are bound to see at least few of them. Many windmills are still operational, some of them are open to the public and some were converted into museums.

There are several places to see windmills up close in the Netherlands.

There are hundreds of windmills in the Netherlands
There are hundreds of windmills in the Netherlands

Zaanse Schans

A beautiful Dutch village of Zaanse Schans is located only half an hour away from Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans has typical 18th-19th century Dutch wooden houses, workshops and lots of windmills. Most of the windmills in Zaanse Schans are fully operational and open for visitors. There is a windmill for making oil, a wood saw windmill, a windmill to mill flour and spices, and even a windmill for making paint! 

Related tour: From Amsterdam: Zaanse Schans Windmills Half-Day Tour

Kinderdijk

Kinderdijk is an iconic Dutch village with 18th-century windmills located not far from Rotterdam. There are 19 windmills in Kinderdijk, and 2 of them have museums inside. You can explore the windmills of Kinderdijk by renting a bike and riding around, or alternatively by taking a boat tour (or a water taxi from Rotterdam).

Related tour: Rotterdam: Kinderdijk Windmill Village Entry Ticket

Windmills in the cities

There are also many windmills in Dutch cities all over the country. Take a free tour of Molen de Ster in Utrecht – a working windmill that is open to the public every Saturday afternoon.

Visit Molen De Put in Leiden and buy flour made right there on the windmill; or also in Leiden visit Molen De Valk – the 18th century windmill that is now a museum.

If you want to see some of the highest windmills in the world then make sure to go to Schiedam near Rotterdam, it has not one but 8 windmills in the city. Visit a windmill-museum Molen de Adriaan in Haarlem to learn about windmills and their history in the Netherlands. These are just some of the windmills in Dutch cities you can visit.

Museums in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has many museums of different kinds. There are art and history museums, science museums, cheese museums, museums in former windmills, tulip museums and many more other museums.

If you are visiting the Netherlands and plan on visiting several museums I would advise buying Dutch Museum Card – it is valid for a year and gives you free access to hundreds of museums across the country. Here are some of the museums in the Netherlands I’d recommend visiting:

Whatever your interests are and whether you are travelling solo, with a group or with children it’s absolutely worth visiting some of the museums the Netherlands has to offer.

Visit museums when in the Netherlands
Visit museums when in the Netherlands

Tulip fields in the Netherlands

If you are travelling to the Netherlands in spring make sure to visit tulip fields and gardens. There are many places to see blooming flowers in the Netherlands.

Best things to see in the Netherlands - Tulips
Best things to see in the Netherlands – Tulips

Lisse

Lisse is the most popular place to see blooming tulips in the Netherlands. There are quite a few fields of tulips, hyacinths and daffodils around Lisse. Best way to experience it is to rent a bike and cycle around to see the flower fields.

Keukenhof

Also located at Lisse, the famous Keukenhof is the largest tulip garden in the world. With millions of blooming flowers and hundreds of different types of tulips, it’s no surprise that Keukenhof is so popular with not only tourists but locals too.

Flevoland

The biggest area of the tulip bulbs industry in the Netherlands is Noordoostpolder, the province of Flevoland. You will find many fields with all sorts of tulips over there. Besides the fields you can visit tulip gardens, such as Pegasushof Gardens or Goldhoorn Gardens, or even a tulip picking farm – Hanneke’s Pluktuin.

North Holland

Another area to visit during the tulip blooming season is North Holland. Area between Alkmaar and Den Helder has hundreds of flower fields, and they are usually less crowded than fields around Lisse. There are tulip fields around Alkmaar, Nieuwe Niedorp, Schagen, Anna Paulowna and Julianadorp. You can also visit Bloemendagen (Flower Days) in Anna Paulowna or tulip picking farm in Julianadorp.

When enjoying tulip fields in the Netherlands, please keep in mind that picking tulips in the fields is not allowed! For that you are more than welcome to visit one of the dedicated tulip picking farms.

I hope my list of the best things to see in the Netherlands besides Amsterdam has inspired you to see more of this beautiful country. You will find a lot of information on travelling in the Netherlands and other countries in my blog – Travel By Example.


How to Buy Tickets to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

The Acropolis in Athens is one of the most famous monuments in the world. It’s a universal symbol of an ancient civilization and represents immense architectural and artistic innovations created during Greek Antiquity, which happened between the 8th century BC and ended around the 6th century AD. 

As history recalls, during the second half of the 5th century BC, Athens was victorious against invasion from Persia and became the first place to establish democracy. As such, it took a leading position amongst other nations that were prominent at the time. 

Because of its massive historical and cultural significance, this is one monument that you don’t want to miss when you visit Greece. We’ll show you everything you need to know about getting Acropolis Athens tickets for your visit. 

See also: A Guide to Athens, Greece

A guide to getting tickets for the Acropolis, Athens
Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

Why should I visit the Acropolis? 

The Acropolis symbolizes Ancient Greece and its former glory, which found its prime over two millennia ago. It stands high above modern Athens and includes the Parthenon and many other ancient ruins at the site. 

When visiting, you will follow in the footsteps of ancient Greek philosophers and thinkers, such as Socrates, Pericles and Sophocles, that helped shape Western Civilization as we know it. 

Get your Acropolis Athens tickets here!

You will find all of these historical sites at the Acropolis:

  • The Odeon of Herodes Atticus
  • The Parthenon
  • The Beulé Gate
  • The Monument of Agrippa 
  • The entrance, Propylaia 
  • The Temple of Athena Nike
  • Porch of the Caryatids at the Erechtheion
  • Old Temple of Athena Polias
  • The Legendary Olive Tree of the Pandroseion
  • The Acropolis Museum 
  • The Theatre of Dionysus 

There is a reason that the Acropolis is one of the most critical sites in the Western world. You won’t want to miss out on all of these significant sites. 

Visiting the Acropolis in Athens

We will help you get most of your visit to the Acropolis. 

The Acropolis is open almost every day of the year. However, Acropolis Athens opening hours change with each season. In summer, it’s generally available from 8am to 7pm. In winter, it’s open from 9am to 5pm. Make sure to double-check the Acropolis Athens opening hours when you visit. 

You will probably spend at least two hours visiting, so make sure you leave enough time to truly enjoy your trip. Suppose you want an Athens combined ticket. In that case, you may spend even longer here to account for travel with your group and transit to your next destination.  

The best time to visit is in the late afternoon in Summer, as the sunset here is incredible with views over the city of Athens. Alternatively, you could visit in the off-season when lines are much shorter. 

You can buy Acropolis Athens tickets online or at the window upon arrival. Remember that queues at the window can be pretty long, so buying Acropolis Athens tickets online could save you some time. 

While new paving has been added around the Parthenon, you may still find some uneven areas, which could become slippery. You are advised to remain cautious of uneven surfaces when visiting. A good tip is to wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes with rubber soles. 

Drinks are not readily available, so bring along an adequate water supply, especially if you are visiting during the summer.

The Acropolis Museum has a cafe and restaurant with amazing views of the ancient ruins. The northern exit is near the neighbourhoods of Anafiotika and Pika, which have many restaurants and cafes within their winding streets. 

The main entrance is on the western side of the Acropolis. There is also a smaller entrance at the southeastern corner, mainly used for skip the line and private guided tours. 

A guide to getting tickets for the Acropolis, Athens
A guide to getting tickets for the Acropolis, Athens

Athens Acropolis tour: Which one should I choose? 

You can get many different kinds of Acropolis Athens tickets for your visit, so it would be wise to decide what you want to do before buying! 

Some of the most popular types of Acropolis tickets include:

Visiting the Acropolis in Athens as a tourist
Visiting the Acropolis in Athens as a tourist

Getting Acropolis Athens Tickets

When you’re going on an Athens Acropolis tour next time you visit Greece, ensure to get Acropolis tickets in time to enjoy the majestic beauty of the Acropolis. You do not want to miss out on the sacred Parthenon.

No matter what, you should get Acropolis Athens tickets that suit your itinerary. Some of the available options include an Athens combined ticket for the best sightseeing or Acropolis skip the line tickets for jet setters with limited time!

Remember to double-check the Acropolis Athens opening hours to ensure you get the most out of your next visit. Before you know it, you’ll be walking in the same place that Socrates walked in during the peak of the Ancient Greek era. 

We hope you enjoyed this guide on getting Acropolis Athens tickets for your next vacation.


Affordable Canadian Cities For Digital Nomads


Many major Canadian cities are fast becoming the most expensive places in the world to live. Ideally, you should travel to Canada before settling there for a significant amount of time, to get a feel for the place. But, for reference, you’re looking at at least $2,000 for a 80-square-meter apartment in Toronto, and you can double that if it’s a spacious place in the city center. Likewise, Vancouver is similarly priced, and whilst these cities have incredible amenities, the point of being a digital nomad is to be free from living in areas that we cannot afford.

So, when looking at flights to Canada, make sure you decide on the city that is right for you.

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Up And Coming

Halifax is on the rise, and whilst it used to be overshadowed by Vancouver, it’s soon becoming a wise alternative in the property market. Halifax has a decently-sized city feel to it when it comes to amenities and things to do, whilst its dense downtown is less easy to feel lost in than, say, Vancouver. It’s a small big city, in a way.

Halifax is cheaper than most of the big cities, but it is fast accelerating in prices, so you may not want to wait around. It’s currently around $1,500 for a one-bed apartment in the city. Because people are flocking here since the rise of remote work, it’s beginning to build a buzzing economy that has plenty of start-ups, making it ideal for networking and finding clients.

Ottawa – Affordable Big City

Ottawa is a great choice if you like a big city with plenty to do. With an average one-bedroom apartment costing around $1,600 per month, Ottawa is affordable for Canadian standards, given its 1-million population and strong economy. Often, the more affordable options in Canada have fewer things to do and less nightlife – but not Ottawa, it has it all. It’s a pedestrian-friendly and diverse city that has some great history to it.

Because of its cosmopolitan and progressive nature, Ottawa is popular and friendly towards immigrants. Much more so than say, Quebec, and it remains to have a very high median income and stable economy. Plus, you’ll meet tons of other digital nomads.

Edmonton – Cheap Big City Near Nature

Edmonton is the capital of Alberta, which lies in the midwest of Canada. Despite having almost a one million population, Edmonton is both very cheap and in the midst of amazing nature. With an average rent of $950 for a one-bed apartment, Edmonton is arguably the cheapest city on this list.

Although the city grid is fairly large, conservation areas and nature parks surround it. Elk Island National Park, Muttart Conservatory, William Hawrelak Park… The list goes on. And, despite the large city feel, Edmonton has one of the best bus networks in all of Canada, with 7456 bus stops. Usually in the US and even Canada, you can only have one of the two: Affordability and public transport. However, Edmonton offers both, making it ideal for the low-key outdoorsy types.

 

The post Affordable Canadian Cities For Digital Nomads appeared first on Wandering Earl.

Things to Do in Vancouver on a Rainy Day

When you’re visiting a city like Vancouver, so known for rain that its nickname is “Raincouver”, you need to be prepared for indoor activities on your trip. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Having been to Vancouver several times now, I can honestly say there was never a visit without at least a little bit of rain. It taught me a thing or two about things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day.

Whether you don’t mind the rain or want to stay dry inside, here’s a list of things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day. But, before we get into that, let’s go over a few things you need to know to make your visit the most enjoyable.

What makes Vancouver special?

Its natural beauty and wide array of activities is what makes Vancouver such an ideal place to visit in Canada. In fact, Vancouver has been featured on many lists’ top cities to live again and again for its mix of nature and urban elements. With its beaches, mountains, forests history, food, culture and art, you won’t find anything that’s not to love about this city, maybe with the exception of its rain of course.

See also: Best Things to do in Vancouver, Canada

When is the best time to visit Vancouver?

The Summer brings Vancouver’s warmest and sunniest weather. It’s also most people’s favorite time to visit hence the crowds and price increases. If you want to avoid this, another great time to visit is during Vancouver’s “shoulder season” which is the period before or after Summer. But, be prepared for rain.

When does it rain the most in Vancouver?

Vancouver’s rainiest time of year is November, December and January. However, the rain season is typically from October to June.

How to get around Vancouver when it’s raining

When it’s not the weather for a bike or boat ride, you can catch a Taxi, Uber or Lyft which Vancouver just introduced into the city in 2020. There’s also the sea bus, bus or rapid transit. See here for public transit.

What to wear in Vancouver on a rainy day

Vancouver’s weather can be quite unpredictable. One day, you could walk out of your hotel on a sunny, warm day. The next, you might need a raincoat and umbrella. Dress knowing that it could rain at any moment. Rather than walking around in clunky rainboots, opt for vinyl boots with rubber soles or leather boots. Wear a waterproof coat or, pack a light, foldable poncho which you can throw in your bag.

Things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day

Here are a few things to get you out the house/your hotel room during the rainy days in Vancouver. You’ll find both outdoor and indoor things to do in Vancouver in the rain.

Where to spend the afternoon outside in the rain in Vancouver

If you don’t mind the rain…

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park | North Vancouver

With its history, various restaurants, shops, breathtaking sights and adventures, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a destination which you could easily spend the entire day at. At the beginning of your visit, you’ll be given a map which acts as a passport.

It’s fun to see how many stamps you can collect at all the different stops. Walk the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge or Cliff Walk which is suspended over canyons. You can also learn about BC nation’s first people at Kia’palano or, have a treehouse adventure in the rainforest amidst 1,300 year old Douglas-firs. Then, grab a bite to eat or sip at one of the park’s coffeehouses, restaurant or bars.

Related tour: Vancouver & Capilano Suspension Bridge Sightseeing: Half-Day

Just make sure to wear waterproof shoes, a decent rain jacket and have a waterproof cover for any bags.

Capilano Suspension Park, "Cliff Walk" in Vancouver
Capilano Suspension Park, “Cliff Walk”

Grouse Mountain | North Vancouver

If you want to take “adventure” to new heights, spend the day at Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain and explore the scenary, animals and activities that await you. You’ll start off riding Grouse Grind, a gondola that takes you up the mountain.

Up there, you can do fun things like go on a beautiful hike, ziplining, a rope course, see grizzly bears, ride in the sky on Eye of the Wind, play disc golf, catch an indoor show, or outdoor shows like the lumberjack show or “Birds in Motion”. You can even take a chairlift or hike up the mountain which overlooks all of Vancouver and is beautiful at sunset.

Standing atop Grouse Mountain in Vancouver
Grouse Mountain, Vancouver

Spend the afternoon in Stanley Park | Downtown

Back on sea level, take in the fresh air and beautiful views that Vancouver has to offer at Stanley Park, North America’s third largest park and Vancouver’s first and largest park. This gives you an opportunity to experience mountains, water and a rain forest all at once.

Enjoy the park’s sights with a relaxing bike ride or skate along the Seawall, a 5.5 mile waterfront path along English Bay and Vancouver Harbour. You’ll pass popular spots like Lion’s Gate Bridge, beaches, monuments like “Siwash Rock”, Lumbermen’s Arch, Prospect Point and the First Nations peoples’ totem poles, which are BC’s most visited tourist attraction. Check out Stanley Park’s maps to see where you want to start first.

Biking through Stanley Park in Vancouver on a rainy day
Stanley Park, Vancouver

Lunch at Teahouse Restaurant | Stanley Park at Ferguson Point

Located at Ferguson Point, this quaint restaurant with idyllic views is the perfect reprieve after a day of exploring in Stanley Park. Enjoy lovely views of English Bay from the dining room while enjoying West Coast cuisine.

Take a day trip from Vancouver to Seattle

Looking for another place to visit on your Vancouver trip? Check out Seattle, Washington, a city rich in history, delicious food, adventure, fun activities, and stunning scenery. It’s easy to get to with a relaxing train ride just over 3 hours!

Check out my guide to Seattle for foodie finds, places to see, things to do and where to stay!

Where to spend the afternoon inside on a rainy day in Vancouver

If you want to stay dry, here are a few indoor activities in Vancouver:

Vancouver Aquarium | Stanley Park, Downtown

While you’re in Stanley Park, take a break and head to the aquarium located inside. With over 60,000 animals like sea otters, penguins, bears, frogs, turtles and sharks as well as over 30 unique exhibits, you can experience environments and animals that range from the Arctic to the Tropics. The best part? You’ll be entertained for hours while staying dry.

Spa | Downtown

Give those tired feet a rest and book a treatment at JW Parq Vancouver. Then, enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the Aqua Lounge on the 17th floor.

Getting a spa treatment at JW Parq Vancouver Hotel on a rainy day in Vancouver
Spa, JW Parq Vancouver

Canada Place | Downtown

An iconic landmark on Vancouver’s waterfront, Canada Place stands out in the distance. Built to look like a sailing ship with sails reminiscent of Sydney’s Opera House, this building houses a Welcome Center, IMAX theater, convention center, hotel, numerous art exhibits, as well as Vancouver World Trade Center. It’s also a cruise ship terminal! I docked here for my Alaskan cruise.

At night, it’s unmistakable with its lit up and colorful sails. See it from Vancouver Lookout! Then, listen for the Heritage Horns that have been playing “O Canada” every day at noon for over 20 years.

Getting here: Come and go by riding the Skytrain via Waterfront Station or, take the the Seabus which is a ferry connecting North and Downtown Vancouver. They’re both located near Canada Place’s building.

FlyOver Canada | Canada Place, Downtown

What better way to spend a rainy day than with a virtual flight ride flying over Canada? Inspired by Disney’s Soarin’ Over California, FlyOver Canada, (located in Canada Place) takes you 62’ (19 m) into the air as the air is sprayed with mist, scents and wind to make the make you feel like you’re really flying! Not for those scared of heights.f

You can book below:

Top of Vancouver Revolving Restaurant | Downtown

I took my boyfriend to Top of Vancouver for his birthday and he loved it. But, you don’t need a special occasion to enjoy this beautiful lookout point and fine dining experience 553 feet (167m) above Vancouver. Enjoy a nice meal during the day when the sun is still out to catch stunning views of the mountains, rugged coastline and ocean then, watch the city light up the night sky as you enjoy your cocktail and dessert. Make a reservation in advance, dress your best and get ready to be impressed.

Having dinner at Top of Vancouver -  things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day
Having dinner at Top of Vancouver

Granville Island Public Market | Granville Island

At Granville Public Market, you’ll find boutique shops, restaurants, food shops that sell organic baked goods, fresh seafood, spices, wine & spirits as well as patisseries, butchers and farmers markets with fresh, locally grown produce.

Vancouver Public Library | Downtown

Resembling the Roman Colosseum, Vancouver’s Public Library is a work of art and the perfect place to hideaway on a rainy day/ Relax with a book as you enjoy the natural light brought in from the floor to ceiling windows and the almost 360 degree views of the city. You’ll find reading and study areas that are accessible through skylit bridge walkways as well as a greenroof on the 9th floor.

Watch a Soccer game at BC Place | Downtown

Proud soccer fan? Watch Vancouver Whitecaps FC play at BC Place. Their season is from February to October.

Watching a soccer game at BC Place
BC Place, Whitecaps FC Soccer Game

Brunch at Honey Salt | Downtown

Head inside the beautiful and sweet smelling JW Parq Vancouver Hotel for some brunch, lunch or rose all day at Honey Salt. There you can have custom made crepes made right at your table.

Bill Reid Gallery | Downtown

Take some time out of your rainy day in Vancouver to experience the culture of the Pacific Northwest at Bill Reid Gallery which displays art at its museum and gallery beautifully. In fact, the Bill Reid Gallery is Canada’s only public gallery dedicated to contemporary art showcasing the Indigenous Northwest Coast and its people. The gallery’s goal is to bridge the gap between cultures including the indigenous and others who have settled here.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden | Chinatown

Head to Chinatown and visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Here, you’ll learn about Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and the history of ancient Chinese culture. You’ll feel as though you’re stepping back into time and the era of the Ming Dynasty as you stroll the idyllic garden, which is the first authentic, full scale Chinese garden build outside of China. It’s become a way to honor the culture of the Chinese Canadian community.

Exploring Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Vancouver
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Yaletown Brewing Company | Yaletown

This is Vancouver’s original brewpub and many argue, it’s best. To make a birthday celebration extra special, they’ll even shoot confetti at you. But, if it’s not your birthday, you can still enjoy brew bites like wings, pizza, fries, burgers and of course, beer.

Shop at CF Pacific Centre | Downtown

Take time for some retail therapy at Downtown Vancouver’s largest mall. With over 100 stores on 3 floors, you’re sure to walk out of CF Pacific Centre with something you like.

Catch a show at Orpheum Theatre | Downtown

A designated National Heritage site, Orpheum Theatre seats 2,688 guests and houses The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Vancouver Bach Choir, and Vancouver Cantata Singers. If you’ve heard of “Orpheum Theatre” before it’s because their theaters can be found worldwide. In addition to choir and orchestra performances, you can also catch concerts from your favorite artists.

Stroll the Gastown District

Vancouver’s Gastown district has lots of charm and character but also, history. This is the city’s original settlement and the core of Vancouver. Try one of the many delicious foodie finds in the area, shop at one of the boutique stores, enjoy the architecture covering 12 city blocks and don’t forget to stop by and take a pic of the steam clock and other monuments you’re sure to pass by.

Exploring Gastown District of Vancouver
Gastown District

Where to enjoy nightlife in Vancouver in the rain

Casino | Downtown

Feelin’ lucky? Head to Parq Vancouver’s swanky casino and put your money where your mouth is. Play at one of their tables, slots or high limit salons.

Have a laugh at a comedy club

For something different than the typical night life scene, step inside one of Vancouver’s comedy clubs and have a laugh. Try The Comedy Mix, a club that’s been around for years and currently trying to find a new home in the city. It has hysterical stand up acts and reasonably priced apps and drinks.

Unwind at a Hookah Lounge

For a fun night out, try Kayan Shisha Café, a hookah lounge in Burnaby, B.C. You can also dine there or have a drink.

Vancouver views from Stanley Park
Vancouver views from Stanley Park

Don’t get the Vancouver rain hold you back

And there you have it… Things to do in Vancouver on a rainy day, whether you don’t mind the rain or would rather stay dry, inside. We hope you got some great ideas! Don’t let the weather stop you from having a great time in this wonderful city.


Best Hiking Trails in Southern California

The state of California offers some of the most exciting outdoor adventures that anyone can enjoy. You do not have to look far to find activities to fill your day with outdoor fun here! One of the most rewarding activities to do here is check out one of the many hiking trails in Southern California.

Between the deserts and mountains, you can find many rewarding views and trails to satisfy your taste for adventure. So, come along with Shannon from FitLifeTravel as she shares the California hiking experience by taking you to the best hiking trails in southern California.

Hiking through history and stunning hiking trails in Southern California

Indulge yourself in these best hiking trails in southern California with plenty of amazing adventure, historical sites, and beautiful nature!

The most rare feature that you may encounter at some of these southern California hiking trails is waterfalls. You may also notice some of the waterfalls on the trails may be dry during certain times of the year. During winter and spring seasons, the falls usually have more water flowing.

Of course, however, the climate in southern California is perfect for any type of outdoor adventures throughout the entire year.  

See also: Gear Guide: Must Haves for Camping and Hiking

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Trail

Located near the middle of the city of San Diego is an interestingly diverse little trail. At first it gives the impression that there is not much to it. As you proceed into the trail, the path begins to change from dirt and mud to gravel rocks then you will find yourself climbing up large boulders.

Along the trail, there is a historical burial grave. The late Prince John Joseph Eichar, one of the areas early pioneers; is said to be buried here. 

Historical Feature in Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Trail

Although several folks lived in this canyon during the late 1800s, Eichar is the only known person to have been buried and lived in this canyon. This hiking trail consists of a distance of 6.8 miles round trip with a mostly flat and scenic route. The ending of the trail will take you to a higher elevation and here is where you will see a few small waterfalls. Surrounding these small waterfalls are large boulders projecting from the earth.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Trail. Best Hiking Trails in Southern California
Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Trail. Best Hiking Trails in Southern California

Exploring Three Sisters Falls Trail

The best time to enjoy this awesome trail in Southern California is during the winter and spring rainy seasons. It consists of a beautiful trek with lots of trail variation and lovely rolling hills along the way. You will find this trail in the eastern part of San Diego County, in the Cleveland National Forest in California, Pine Valley. There are no facilities out here, so remember to come prepared with the essentials like water, sunscreen, and snacks.

Three Sisters Falls Trail in Southern California
Three Sisters Falls Trail

Tahquitz Canyon Trail

Palm Springs is probably more known as a second Hollywood hangout for actors, actresses and other artistic enthusiasts. But you would be surprised to know that it is home to one of the most pretty hiking trails in the area. Although the trail is quite short at a distance of two miles, the Tahquitz Canyon trail offers pretty landscapes and a rare 40 plus foot waterfall.  

Many outdoor enthusiasts discover and know the Tahquitz Canyon as a pleasant hiking spot. But it is actually the ancestral home of the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of which they stewarded for many years.    

Tahquitz Canyon waterfall
Tahquitz Canyon waterfall

Hiking through Annie’s Canyon

A short trail offering beautiful geological features is located in the heart of the San Diego area. This narrow hiking trail is quite unique and offers some pretty views. But it can also be very challenging for some people. It has extremely interesting earthly characteristics surrounding it and is, essentially, a unique steep slot canyon.

The trail is so narrow that you must go through them only one way because there is no room to pass another person in the slot zone. You will also find yourself climbing on a steel ladder to pull yourself up near the highest part of the trail. The views will be worth the efforts on this hiking trail.

Enjoying Boucher Hill Summit

If you are looking for a trail to see some of the best colors in the fall season, then this is a sensational outdoor path to enjoy. This trail is located at Palomar Mountain State Park. You will find the smell of autumn, colorful leaves and shrubs with a little similarity to the Sierra Nevada landscapes.

Potato Chip Rock at Mount Woodson

You will find plenty of fitness training on the hiking trails at Mt. Woodson near Poway, California. This one will get your heart pumping. There are two different trailhead locations. One is longer and the other is shorter but steeper.

The trail starting at the highway 67 location has a distance of about 4.1 miles round trip. Whereas the other trailhead location at Lake Poway and is 7.3 miles round trip. The popular feature of this hike is Potato Chip Rock, a thin rock layer that looks like a potato chip. 

See also: The Best Sunglasses for Hiking & Outdoor Activities

Potato Chip Rock at Mount Woodson hiking trail
Potato Chip Rock at Mount Woodson

The Perfect Moonlight Hike at Iron Mountain

Hiking at night can be an exhilarating experience. Iron Mountain is located just down the road from the Potato Chip Rock trail. There is quite a bit of elevation and switchbacks on this trail, so you must take caution when hiking this trail. It is recommended to wear a headlamp or use a flashlight when exploring in the dark.

The daytime hiking experience here will offer you lovely views from the top. The evening hike consists of peaceful serenity by the light of the moon. The distance on this trail is approximately 5.2 miles round trip and 1,102 elevation gain.

Trekking on the Beautiful Bernardo Mountain Summit Trail

On this trail you must always be listening and watching for bikers. When you reach the summit, you will enjoy pretty views of Lake Hodges. Be aware there are some residential homes along some parts of the trail. The trail distance here is 7.2 miles round trip. There are bountiful nature settings, defined trail paths, and a picnic area to enjoy lunch.

Black Mountain Nighthawk Trail

The 5.3 mile trail at Black Mountain has an elevation of 1,210 feet and is located nearby the Hilltop Community Park. This is where you can park in a paved parking lot and you will find restrooms here as well. This hike is quite scenic but is somewhat noisier.

Once you have hiked about a mile into the trail, the sounds from the freeway and the recreational park become further in the distance. I consider it a moderate hike with gradual switchbacks leading to the summit. However, much of the trail is comprised of lose rocks and intersecting routes.

Archeological trails in Southern California | Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios

The following two hiking trails are located very close to one another. These beautiful trails offer more than just adventure and views. The entire area has a historical significance. The flood of 1927 apparently exposed numerous artifacts of those early inhabitants who resided here.

The Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge hiking trails are both segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, which expands 55 miles from the ocean to the Pacific Crest.

Santa Fe Valley Trail

In the early sections of the trail, you will be walking along a chain linked fence. As you continue on, you will be walking along the beautiful Crosby Golf Course and will possibly find a few balls on the way. The Santa Fe Valley trail is not only great for hikers but you can also bring your bikes on the trail.

Biker tip: There is a bicycle repair station along this trail.

Del Dios Gorge Trail

Three pre-historic cultural periods describe this region and it portrays a peek into how Native Americans traveled throughout this valley.

Hiker tip: Be sure to take some time to enjoy the unique trail feature here at Rattlesnake Viewpoint.

The spectacular views of the rolling hills and landscapes are not the only interesting features here. As you trek along this trail, you will encounter the Rattlesnake Viewpoint area. While looking out upon Lake Hodges, you can also look into the center of the viewpoint sculpture. This is the apex of the snake’s tail (on the sculpture). The idea is to line up your view with another spot. You can match the items on the scope to the line up with point A, B or C. The purpose of these marked spots is to help you identity the spillway, the bulwarks of the dam, and the river below.

Rattlesnake Viewpoint. Best Hiking Trails in Southern California
Rattlesnake Viewpoint. Best Hiking Trails in Southern California

Slot Canyon Trail Anza Borrego

Anza Borrego is full of dramatic colorful canyons, big horn sheep, and stunning desert landscapes. And Anza Borrego Desert State Park is a Paleontologists’ dream! But the petro glyphs and fossils are not the only extraordinary thing here.

Slot trail is an amazing trek that takes you through some of the most earthly tall and narrow pathways. Once you’ve slithered through the narrow wash, there is a large open area. In front of you is the result of water and erosion of earth faults that caused hardened sediments to rise up and tilt. This natural activity occurred over millions of years causing mountains to shift and become higher.

The Slot Trail in Anza Borrego. Best Hiking Trails in Southern California
The Slot Trail in Anza Borrego. Best Hiking Trails in Southern California

Ryan Mountain Trail at Joshua Tree National Park

The California desert consists of some of the most diverse and stunning landscapes in the west. The popular Joshua Tree National Park offers endless outdoor recreation. Ryan Mountain Trail is short in distance and includes some truly amazing open desert viewpoints.

As you begin hiking on the rock steps you will slowly begin to breathe a little heavier the further you go. It is one of the highest peaks in the park. This trail includes a vast diversity of foliage and desert shrubs that accompany you along the route.

Hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park
Hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park

The Southern California best hiking trails experience

Describing the hiking experience in California is not difficult to explain. Although its trails can be some of the most diverse, unique and spectacular to explore, they all do have a few features in common.

These characteristics include the following: leaves fluttering in the wind, birds singing from above, and the smell of eucalyptus in the air. Together with its pleasant climate, rolling hills, and stunning mountains; California is the perfect place to experience amazing outdoor hiking! 

Make sure to also check out our post on Hiking Along the San Andreas Fault in Southern California


Where to go for the Best Tapas in Madrid

Madrid is a city fueled by coffee and cañas that never sleeps and never stops eating. 

Whatever brings you to Madrid, whether you are a tourist, an English teacher, a volunteer or a gap-yearer, you’ll soon get caught up in the wonderful world of tapas in Madrid.

See also: Unique Things to do in Madrid on a Sunday

Facade of traditional tapas bar on Gran Via in Madrid, Spain
Facade of traditional tapas bar on Gran Via in Madrid, Spain – depositphotos.com

Here are 5 of our favourite places to enjoy tapas in Madrid

Make sure to also check out our post on the best tapas bars in Barcelona!

Casa Labra – Croquetas de bacaloa

Stepping into Casa Labra is like stepping back in time. Order your delectable croquetas from the small counter to the right, then head to the bar to order a thimble-sized glass of beer or wine to accompany the oozy, creamy morsels.

Fatigas del querer – Patatas dos salsas

This tapas bar in Madrid is always buzzing with Spaniards and guiris alike. The free nibbles that arrive with your drinks are a delicious start. Then move on to the huge raciones of patatas dos salsas or gambas al ajillo and you won’t regret it. Brilliant, but often-chaotic service!

Fatigas del querer for tapas in Madrid
Fatigas del querer for tapas in Madrid

Lateral – Tortilla de patata

One portion of this melt in the mouth tortilla at Lateral is never enough; you’ll be back for more. The tortilla has a soft gooey middle of caramelized onions and is absolute heaven on a plate.

Taberna Txakolina – Pintxos

If you’re in to your pintxos you won’t be disappointed at Taberna Txakolina. The tapas bar in Madrid is lined with beautiful and delicious pintxos combining all sorts of good quality ingredients. A personal favourite is what we like to call the Salmon Tower.

Tapas at Taberna Txakolina in Madrid
Taberna Txakolina in Madrid

La musa – Tempura de langostinos y aguacate verde

This is such a personal favourite we almost didn’t want to share it! La musa has everything you could want in a restaurant including a delicious selection of BBQ tapas! Try the Tempura de langostinos y aguacate verde for a zingy appetizer.

El Tigre

At El Tigre, you order a glass of vino tinto (red wine) for two euros and then the Tapas God behind the counter hands you a plate piled high with tapas of every kind — tortilla, patatas bravas, jamon, queso … you name it — to accompany your drink. The best part is every time you order your cheap drink, you get another plate of deliciousness to soak up all that alcohol.

Mercado Plaza San Miguel

For a more varied experience, there is Mercado Plaza San Miguel near the Sol Metro. This gorgeous old building is PACKED with little stands featuring some of the freshest and tastiest food, including oysters, fruits and veggies, and tapas. Lots and lots of tapas.

Again, if you want to snag a seat, get there early. Otherwise, start practicing balancing a plate of tapas and a glass of vino tinto and eating/drinking at the same time.

For an explosion of wonderful sites and smells head to Mercado de San Anton in the buzzing neighbourhood of Chueca. On the lower floor there is a traditional market with fruit and veg, fish, hams and cheeses of the best quality. Floor 2 offers a great selection of international stalls where you can get anything from sushi to cured duck to ceviche. 

A personal favourite is the Greek stall offering delicious stuffed aubergines and warm pitas with home-made hummus. Head up to floor 3 for a drink on the roof-terrace with fantastic views over the city or a meal in the modern restaurant.

If you want to explore of Madrid’s markets, check out: El Rastro: The Most Popular Sunday Flea Market in Madrid