Brussels is a wonderful city that offers so many things at once. Although the town might be small, especially in comparison to other European cities, it still has a more easy-going vibe about it and a more workaday feeling. Because the city is the capital of the European Union and NATO, it has become an international hub, and there are numerous international events and festival hosted in the city. During our walking tour, we will embark upon some of the city’s best attractions and let‘s have a further look at those attractions here.
Nova Fairy Tales 10 guaranteed sites:
1. Grand Place
Grand Place is the central square of Brussels. This place can‘t be missed as it is the most touristic part of the city. The square is vibrant, and there is always something going on like street performance, flowers being sold and much more. The buildings around are in Gothic and Baroque-style, and the square has even been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
Brussels Town Hall is located on Grand Place square, and it‘s the only medieval building that still stands and is considered a masterpiece. Construction on the town hall started in 1402 and was completed by 1420. However, there were numerous restorations made on and within the building during the 19th century, but today it is a historical monument and a part of the Grand Place UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Museum of the City of Brussels
During our tour, we will not be entering the museum, but the building is extraordinary to look at, and just like the town hall, it is located on the Grand Place and thus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is in the Gothic Revival style, and the museum is dedicated to the history and folklore of Brussels with paintings, photos, engravings, sculptures and more.
4. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
Constructions on the Gothic style, St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral on top of the Treurenberg Hill started in the 13th century and took almost 300 years to complete. The Belgian royals use the cathedral for weddings, funerals, and coronations.
5. Les Galeries Royals Saint-Hubert
This 19th-century gallery was designed by Jean-Pierre Cluysenaer in an Italianate Cinquecentro style, and it’s one of Europe’s first covered shopping arcades. The design was an inspiration to other famous shopping arcades in Europe. The gallery is split into two significant halls; Kings Gallery and Queen's gallery, and the smaller side section is called Gallery of the Princes. The Gallery attracted people of fashion with its luxury outdoor cafés and retailers. Today, the Gallery is on UNESCO’s “Tentative List”.
6. Manneken pis
Tthe quirky peeing little boy statue is probably the most famous attraction in Brussels, and the people of Brussels like to dress him up and he has been the recipient of about 800 different costumes. Many of those customs are on display at the Museum of the City of Brussels (mentioned above). Most of the people of Brussels see Manneken Pis as a representation of their sense of humor and their independent minds. They also refer to him as “the oldest citizen of Brussels”.
7. Palais Royal (the Royal Palace)
The Royal Palace is the official palace of the Belgian royal family, but the family resides in the Royal Palace of Laeken. The Neoclassical style palace is a very photogenic place, and we recommend being there at 2:30pm as a ceremonial “Changing of the Guards” takes place. Today, the Palace is used to host royal weddings, and the suites are at the disposal of visiting heads of states and ambassadors. New Year’s receptions are held for Ambassadors of the EU, politicians, and NATO.
8. Parc de Bruxelles
Parc de Bruxelles is the largest public park in central Brussels, and it was designed in a Neoclassical style by Gilles-Barnabé Guimard and Joachim Zinner. In the south of the park, you will find the Royal Palace, but the main entrance is in the north.
9. Notre Dame du Sablon
The church of Notre Dame du Sablon is a late Brabantine Gothic style church built in the 15th century. Although the church might be beautiful on the outside, just wait until you get a glimpse of the interior inside. The interior is marvelous stained glass, and the best-known part about the church is its two Baroque chapels, which were built on both sides of the choir.
10. Mont des Arts
Mont des arts or Mountain of Arts was a populated neighborhood in Brussels between the 15th and 18th century. However, King Leopold II had a dream of seeing constant sophisticated cultural settings happening outside of the window of his Royal Palace. Because of the lack of finance this didn’t go as planned, but his designers managed to create a garden on the hill which became a well-appreciated green area. With time, new buildings and structures were built, and the garden on the main square got redesigned into a new geometric garden.
Other must-see attractions in Brussels
The Atomium is probably one of Brussels’s best-known landmarks and even though you have to take the tram to get there, but it is worth the while. The 102-meter-high steel and aluminum structure was built for the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition, or World Fair, and designed by André Waterkeyn. The landmark hosts many different exhibitions dedicated to various aspects of Belgian culture, from science to art.
Do you wish to back-pack through all of Europe and see some of its magnificent monuments? There is no need to travel all those distances because next to the Atomium is Mini-Europe. However, the monuments have been shrunken down to 1/25th of their size. Both Mini-Europe and Atomium are great to visit with children.
If you truly love music, then the Musical Instrument Museum should be on top of your to-do list in Brussels. Inside you will find 1,200 mechanical and electrical instruments from around the world, and you will even get a chance to hear what these instruments sounded like. The concert hall in the museum also hosts many events throughout the year so please make sure you look at their calendar before you go here.
Another great museum to visit is MIMA, Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art and inside you will find showcases from graffiti to digital and subculture arts. The Belgian Comic Strip Center is another excellent place to visit. It is devoted to the history of cartoons and hosts exhibitions of 200 original comic drawings from Belgian and French artists. As many of you might know, Belgian is the country that introduced the world to The Smurfs and Tintin.
Stockholm is a big city and there is so much too see and to choose from and we believe that tips from local recommendations are always the best. The locals know where all the best places are hidden, and we have managed to pick the brains of our local tour guides and gathered valuable information regarding what to see and experience while you visit the wonderful city of Stockholm.
According to our resources ;) Aifur Krog & Bar is a great restaurant to go to get the full Viking experience. The point is to give the guests a chance to see how the old ancestors might have had it when they celebrated a grand feast. This is an experience that is not to be missed and great for all ages.
Lax pudding, or Salmon pudding, might not sound like something you would order but don‘t judge a book by its cover, this dish is mouth-wateringly delicious. This dish is considered to be one of the best examples of husmanskost (home cooking), but don’t let that make you think it is dull. Generous amounts of butter and lots of dill give it a luxurious taste and appearance.
Skinnarviksberget is the highest natural point in central Stockholm and is a favorite by many to come and have a picnic or even a party under the bright blue sky. The view is incredible, and you‘ll be able to see Kungsholmen, Gamla Stan (Old Town), the Stockholm Town Hall, and other great attractions. We recommend the open-air café in the park beneath the hill on a summer day.
The Vasa museum is a maritime museum located on the island of Djurgården. Vasa is a warship that was built between 1626 and 1628, but it sank in its maiden voyage. The ship was salvaged in the 1950s, and today Vasa is the world‘s only preserved 17th-century ship and one of the most visited museums in Scandinavia. The museum is a must see, for everyone!
Because the city of Stockholm stretches across 14 islands, the best view of the town is on the water. You can rent SUP (stand up paddle board) or Kayaks and get a duck’s eye view (the best according to our guides) of the Town Hall, Gamla Stan, and so many other attractions.
Old Town, or Gamla Stan, is where Stockholm was founded in 1252. This part of town is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval centers in Europe. This is where you’ll find old narrow streets with beautiful churches and museums, yummy cafés and restaurants and so much more. Walking around Gamla Stan is like stepping into a storybook.
We hope you’ll get the chance to try out these secret tips from our local guides in Stockholm and to join our 3-hour walking tour around the city. It will give you a great introduction to this fantastic city!
Trying out local cuisine is a fantastic way of exploring and discovering a new culture. Who doesn’t love to taste something exotic, exciting and different? You might discover a great new dish…. or find out that that dish is really not your thing! We, at Nova Fairy Tales, have gathered together some of what we think are the must-try dishes in Budapest and we hope that you will get a change to try them out. We have gathered some insight information from our local guides about the best places to get these delicious dishes. Don’t let the appearance of the food fool you; some of the dishes do look strange but we can assure you they taste absolutely heavenly. You’ll see these dishes prepared everywhere, from fancy restaurants, to cafes to street food stalls. Don’t hesitate and just dig in!
Enjoy our tasty recommendations and don't let their appearances fool you!
Berlin is the capital of Germany and the country’s biggest city. There is so much to see and do in Berlin that the list is endless. You will probably need a few weeks to be able to experience some of the best parts that the city has to offer. During our 3-hour private or public walking tours we'll visit some of the main sites to give you a great introduction to the city's history and more. Enjoy!
Nova Fairy Tales Guaranteed Sites
1. Checkpoint Charlie
This world-famous checkpoint was the main entry point for crossings in and out of East and West Berlin during the Cold War, and it operated at the same time as the Berlin Wall sealed off the city, from 1961 until 1989. It has become a symbol of the war as it represents an extreme separation between the two areas. Today, you will see fake border guards outside and hear some of the escape stories that happened at, or close, to the checkpoint. Some of them being very disturbing and important in the historical context of human rights.
2. Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s signature attraction and should not be missed. The gate was built at the end of the 18th century in a Neoclassical style, and at that time it marked the start of a road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg. Atop of the gate is a Quadriga, a statue of the goddess Victory driving a chariot drawn by four horses. Throughout Berlin’s history, the gate has been a site for major events and is considered to be a symbol of the history of not just Germany but also Europe.
3. Berlin Wall
In 1948 the routes to and from West Berlin and East Berlin were blocked, and in 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in the West while the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was established in the East. In 1961, East Berlin began its construction on the Berlin Wall. The “fall of the Berlin Wall” on the 9th of November in 1989 and paved the way for German reunification. Much of the wall still remains largely preserved and have been decorated with paintings by international artists.
4. Reichstag Building
The building of Reichstag, in a Neorenaissance style, was completed in 1894 and was initially constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire. However, it supposedly got set on fire in 1933 and was not used again until after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Finally by 1999, when the reconstructions had finished, it became the home of the German Parliament. The magnificent building is especially famous for the big glass dome that has an impressive view of the city. If you want to go inside, you might want to book your tickets in advance here
5. Führerbunker (Hitler’s bunker)
Führerbunker was an air raid shelter that Hitler resided at the beginning of 1945 up until his death. The construction of the bunker was completed in 1936 and was meant to be used as a temporary shelter for Hitler. Hitler married Eva Braun there, just 40 hours before they committed suicide inside that same bunker. The bunker got mostly destroyed after the war by the Soviets, and there are hardly any traces of it left. However, there is an information board which includes a diagram of the bunker and more interesting information.
6. Museum Island
Museum Island or Spree Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on the island you’ll find some of the city’s most important exhibition centres, at least we think so :) Here you will find Old Museum, where you will see the Crown Jewels, and The New Museum, which got destroyed during WWII but got re-opened in 2009 and is the home to collections from the Egyptian museum, Th Papyrus Collection and The Collection of Classical Antiques. On the island, you will also find The Old National Gallery, The Bode Museum and The Pergamon. We recommend that you buy a 3-day Berlin Museum Pass here.
7. Berliner Dom (The Berlin Cathedral)
The famous cathedral is located on Museum Islands and is the largest cathedral in Berlin, built in a New Baroque style. After many decades to repair war damage, the building was finally finished in 1905, but the history of the Cathedral dates back to the 15th century. Still, after 1905 the reconstructions continued and officially ended at the end of the 20th century. Today, many concerts are held in the cathedral, and we recommend you try to find a show that suits your taste here.
8. The Gendarmenmarkt
The beautiful square was created by Johann Arnold Nering at the end of the 17th century, but it is named after the cuirassier regiment Gens d’Armes who had stables on the square until 1773. Surrounding the square are beautiful building like Konzerthaus (the concert hall), the French church and the German church, all of which got destroyed in the WWII but restored shortly after. In the middle of the square is a statue of a German poet called Friedrich Schiller.
9. Holocaust Memorial
The memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or Holocaust memorial was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold in memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. On-site, you will find the names of approximately 3 million Jewish victims. According to Eisenman, the memorial is designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere and represent an ordered system that has lost all touch with human reason… just like the Holocaust.
Other great attractions to visit
The Berlin Television Tower is something you will see from a distance as it is the tallest building in Berlin. It was built in 1960, and if you go to the top of the building, you can enjoy a unique panorama view of the city.
Tempelhofer Feld used to be the Tempelhof airport, and they closed their operations in 2008. Today, it is enjoyed by walkers, runners, kitesurfers, cyclists and skaters alike. The airport is famous for its Nazi and Cold War history and was used as a runway for dive bombers and many other war-related operations.
The magnificent Charlottenburg Palace is a great place to visit, and the garden behind the palace is lovely for a stroll on a sunny day. This is the largest palace in Berlin, and it hosts a collection of china and paintings.
Amsterdam is a beautiful and vibrant city that should not be missed. With its grand historical sites, buildings and tasty food culture, you will have a hard time leaving. There is so much to do and see that we had a difficult time pinpointing the best and most appropriate attractions for a 3-hour walking tour. In this blog, we want to give you a short introduction to our guaranteed sights that will be visited on our 3-hour walking tour in, but we also want to suggest some of our favorite attractions you should visit when you are not on our insightful tour.
Nova Fairy Tales 9 Guaranteed Sights
1. Anne Frank’s house
The Anne Frank house is one of the most popular sites to visit in Amsterdam. In this house, Anne and her family hid for two years during the Nazi occupation in World War II. We will not be going into the house, but we will be walking past it and talking about the story of Anne Frank and her family. If you plan on visiting the museum, remember that the queue can be very long and we recommend that you book in advance here.
2. The Jewish Quarter
This area contains many historical buildings that preserved and managed by the Jewish Cultural Quarter. We recommend that you visit some of the buildings and museums that are dedicated to the Jewish religion and the Holocaust. During our walk through this area, we will go through the history of Judaism in Amsterdam and point out to some of their historical sites and memorials.
3. Dam Square
Dam square was created in the 13th century and has become one of the most well-known and important places in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Dam square has become a “national” square that is known to everyone living in the Netherlands. On this square, many celebrations have been held, tragedies have occurred and so much more.
4. Royal Palace
On the west end of Dam Square lies the neoclassical Royal Palace. The palace is one of three palaces that are at the monarch’s disposal by Act of Parliament. It was initially built as a city hall but later became a residence for the Dutch Royal family. Today, many events and receptions are held there, and it is open almost all year around for the public.
5. Nieuwe Kerk
Beside the Royal Palace, you will find Nieuwe Kirk or New Church, a 15th-century church. Nieuwe Kerk is a protestant church but was originally a Dutch Reformed Church parish. However, the church no longer hosts church services, but the building is used as an exhibition space and for Dutch Royal ceremonies such as weddings and investitures. The church almost burned down entirely in 1645 but was rebuilt in a Gothic style.
6. Jordaan district
This lovely neighborhood was initially a working-class area but has now become one of the most charming neighborhoods in Amsterdam. The narrow streets and quaint buildings make you feel like you’ve gone back in time. In this area, we will walk past wonderful antique shops, galleries, beautiful gardens and much more.
Westerkerk, or Western Church, is a Reformed church placed in the heart of the city. The church was built in the 17th century in a Renaissance style and the architect, Hendrick de Keyser, is buried in the church. If you get the change, you should climb up to the top of the tower, the highest church tower in Amsterdam. There, you will get an extraordinary view of the whole city, and it’s a great place to snap pictures and selfies. The church comes up in Anne Frank’s diary as she saw the tower from her attic and it brought her a source of comfort. A memorial statue of Anne Frank is located next to the church.
8. The Begijnhof
The Begijnhof is one of the oldest inner courts, or hofjes, in Amsterdam, with beautiful historical buildings and the oldest one dates back to the year 1528. It used to be home to the Beguines, a group of unmarried religious women who chose to live together. We will leave the stories and rumors up to our insightful tour guides.
9. The Nine Streets
The Nine Streets is named after the nine side streets that connect the main canals in Amsterdam, and this canal ring was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010. The Nine Streets is a wonderful place to stroll around and admire all the beautiful shops, cafés, and restaurants.
Other Wonderful Attractions
If visiting Jordaan and the Jewish neighborhood isn’t enough for you, you should visit the fantastic neighborhood ‘De Pijp’ or the ‘Latin Quarter’. It is a vibrant district, and there you will find amazing international restaurants due to the inhabitants that come from different cultures and nationalities.
If you love street markets, you need to visit Albert Cuyptmarkt, and it is located in ‘De Pijp’ district. It is the largest street market in the Netherlands with over 300 stalls, and you will be introduced to the multicultural Amsterdam.
Usually, when people hear Amsterdam mentioned, their minds wander off to the Red Light District….. and the famous coffee shops of course. However, the area has a charm of its own and a friendly atmosphere to it. It is not as dangerous as it used to be, but please be aware of taking any photos there, that might get you in trouble. In the district, you will find plenty of sex shops, peep shows, sex museum and so much more.
If you want to get your culture on, you should visit Museumplein. The Museumplein square is home to Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art. The square that is located between the buildings is usually bursting with activities of some sort. The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch National Art and History museum with art and historical artifacts from Dutch culture and history. The Van Gogh museum has the most extensive collection in the world from the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. In 2017, it was the most visited museum in the Netherlands, and because of its popularity, we recommend that you book your ticket in advance. The Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art has a big collection of modern art, contemporary art, and design.
We are super excited about opening up tours in five new destinations this year, 2019. Are you just as excited as we are?!?! Probably not J So let us introduce our next chapter in our Nova Fairy Tale: We will be operating small group and private walking tours in Amsterdam, Brussels, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. These cities possess such an incredible history and it’s not to be missed. Here we will give you a little sneak peek into their history and refer to some of the sites that will be on our tours, enjoy!
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and it borders Germany and Belgium. The name Amsterdam refers to the city’s origin around a dam in the river of Amstel. The Netherlands means ‘lower countries’ and it’s a relevant name for the country as about 50% of its land is below sea level. The population of Amsterdam is around 1 million but 2,5 million in the metropolitan area.
Amsterdam became a very important port in the Dutch Golden Ages (17th century) and one of their biggest trades were Diamonds. The port is the fifth largest port in Europe today. The end of the 19th century has been named the second golden age because that is when the Industrial revolution reached the city. The canals, that Amsterdam is so known for, were built in the 17th and the 19-20th century and they are on the UNESCO World Heritage List (they will be visited on our tour).
In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and more than 100,000 Dutch Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps. The most famous deportee was undoubtedly Anne Frank, who died in one of the camps. Her diary was published and it documents her time in hiding in Amsterdam, 1942-1944.
Today, Amsterdam attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world and we want to help them to get the best out of their visit with our walking tour. During this tour we’ll visit some of Amsterdam’s main attraction and tell you about its history and living habits.
You can book your 3-hour Amsterdam walking tour here.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and its part of both the French and Flemish community of Belgium. The population of Brussels is around 1.2 million whilst the metropolitan area has over 2.1 million people.
Brussels has become a huge hub for international organizations and politics; the capital of the European Union and NATO are located within the city. Brussel also has one of the top financial centers of Europe, Euronext Brussels.
The history of Brussel is similar to other Western European countries. The city is believed to be founded around 979 and from that day the city grew rapidly due to its location by the river Senne. Brussels became a commercial center and a hub for trade routes with the other cities along the river. The Nine Year’s war with France in 1695, left Brussels with the most destructive event in the history of Brussels. There was a fire that resulted in the destruction of the Grand Place and a third of all buildings within the city. The reconstruction changed the look of the city and until this day, you can still see traces of the fire.
It wasn’t until 1830, when the Belgium revolution burst out, that Belgium gained its independence after decades of wars and many occupations by its neighboring countries. Leopald I was the first king of Belgium and he quickly began constructing many of the buildings in the city and thus, the city underwent many changes and its population grew.
During the 20th century, many fairs and conferences were held in Brussels, including three world fairs in 1910, 1935 and 1958. Brussels still remains a popular place for international events. During our tours we will show you some of the historical landmarks that have marked Brussels and Belgium’s history. Come and join us!
You can book our 3-hour Brussels walking tour here.
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with a population of 1.8 million people and 5 million in the metropolitan area. The city lies on the River Elbe along with River Alster and River Billie. The official name of ‘Hamburg is Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg’, which originates from its membership of the medieval Hanseatic League but the name Hamburg dates all the way back to AD 808 when a castle called Hammaburg was built to defend the citizens against Slavic incursion.
During medieval times, Hamburg got destroyed and occupied several times. The occupations and destruction came from the Vikings, Denmark, Poland but destructions also came from fires and diseases. The Black Death killed at least 60% of Hamburg’s population in 1350.
After its many occupations, Hamburg was finally freed in 1814 and gained its independency in 1815. In the 12th century Hamburg became a major port in Northern Europe due to its trade routes of the North and Baltic Sea but the city experienced true growth during the end of the 19th century when Hamburg became the second largest port, with shipping companies sailing to North and South America, Africa, India and East Asia. Hamburg was also a big departure hub for people migrating to the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Hamburg suffered during the Second World War as many of the cities buildings and harbor got destroyed. The multiple air raids by the Nazi Germany killed at least 42,600 civilians. Despite these many setbacks in Hamburg’s history, the city has somehow always manages to recover and emerge wealthier after each catastrophe.
Hamburg has Europe’s third-largest port and the world’s oldest merchant bank, Berenberg Bank. Today, Hamburg has become a major international and domestic tourist destination. Not only is it a great city to visit but also a great city to live in as Hamburg was ranked 18th in the world for livability in 2016. The city has a few World Heritage Sites and it’s famous for paving the way for bands such as the Beatles. We think Hamburg is such a great city and we want everyone to get the best out of their stay here, so come and join our 3-hour walking tours and let’s explore this wonderful city together.
Book you 3-hour walking tour here.
Berlin is the capital of Germany and the country’s largest city, with 3.8 million inhabitants and 6 million in the metropolitan area. The name of the city comes from the language of West Slavic and it is related to the Old Polabian term berl-/birl- which means swamp.
The first evidence of settlements in Berlin were around 1174 and in the 12th century, the two towns of Berlin and Cölln were united as one. During the 15th century Berlin-Cölln was named the capital of the margraviate and ruled by the Hohenzollern family until the beginning of the 20th century. Within that time, the construction on the new palace began and the royal residence moved to Berlin-Cölln. During the famous Thirty Years’ War in 1618-1648, Berlin lost one third of its houses and half of its population. During the Industrial Revolution, Berlin got transformed into Germany’s main railway hub and economic center of Germany. The population of Berlin also increased and in 1871, Berlin became the capital of the German Empire.
In 1920, Berlin merged in building dozens of suburban cities, villages and estates and the result of this was that its population doubled, from 2 million to 4 million. In 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power in Germany and during the World War II a big part of Berlin got destroyed and left Berlin as the most heavily bombed city in history. In 1945, Berlin got divided into four sectors due to the victorious powers. The sectors then got split into West Berlin and East Berlin, the Soviet sector. In 1948 East Berlin blocked any routes to and from West Berlin and in 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in the West whilst the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was founded in the East. In 1961, East Berlin began its construction on the Berlin Wall. The wall fell on the 9th of November in 1989 but its remains are still largely preserved. The wall pays a big part in Nova Fairy Tales walking tours.
Today, Berlin can be considered a world city because of its culture, politics, media and science. The city’s economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector and recently there has been an emerge of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene. Berlin has world-renowned universities, museums, orchestras, and hosts many entertainment and sporting events. It’s known for its festivals, nightlife, art and the high quality of living. Amazingly, one-third of the cities area is surrounded by parks, forests, gardens, canals, rivers and lakes. Berlin is a very popular tourist destination and that is where we come in. We want to take you around and show you Berlin’s greatest historical monuments and attractions.
Join our Berlin’s 3-hour walking tour here.
Munich is the third largest city of Germany with a population of 1.5 million residence but 6 million in the metropolitan region. Munich is the capital of its region, Bavaria, and it was chosen the world’s most livable city by the Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey in 2018. The city has a very high standard of living and is a major center of art, culture, finance, technology, innovation, business, tourism and education. The name Munich comes from an Old/middle High German term Munichen, which means “by the monks” and it does in fact derive from the monks who lived in what is now known as the old town of Munich.
The first known settlement in the area of Munich was in 1158 and in the year 1506 Munich became Bavaria’s capital. The city didn’t suffer many destructions nor deaths in the medieval times but the worst disease that affected Munich was the bubonic plague which broke out in 1634-1635 and a third of Munich’s population died.
During the Nazi Party ruling, Munich became “the capital of the movement” and in 1933, when the party had taken power, they created the first concentration camp in Dachau, 16 kilometers north-west of Munich. The camp is a must-visit whilst visiting Munich but we warn you, it’s not for sensitive souls. The city was heavily bombed during the war which resulted in more than 50% of the entire city getting destroyed. However, Munich managed to restore most of its traditional cityscapes after the war. In 1972, Munich hosted the Summer Olympics where Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian fedayeen in what has been called “the Munich Massacre”.
Today, Munich hosts numerous events, exhibition and more but the most famous event is probably Oktoberfest which attracts many tourists into the city. Munich is one of the fastest growing cities in Germany and the crime rate there is very low in comparison to other big cities in Germany. We absolutely adore this city and we want you to feel the same way during our tour.
Book your Munich 3-hour walking tour here.
Traditional Danish Cuisine
Many Danish cuisine recipes nowadays originate from the Viking era. For Vikings it was a necessity to preserve almost all food—meat, fish, dairy, fruits and vegetables alike. Therefore their food was mostly salted, pickled, marinated or dried so that it would keep for a very long time. While Danish cuisine was inherited from the Viking era, it has been adjusted to the modern Danish taste buds. When visiting Denmark, especially Copenhagen, it is a must to pay a visit to a traditional restaurant, as Danish and Nordic cuisine has become increasingly popular worldwide and this is a great opportunity to sample some!
Restaurant Schønnemann is one of the oldest restaurants in Copenhagen, established in 1877. It is a lunch-only destination and is well known for its wide variety of choices, its delicious open sandwiches (smørrebrod), and for its seafood dishes. Another restaurant with typical Danish dishes is Restaurant Puk, which offers many exciting choices for those wanting to sample something traditional. Both these restaurants offer high quality food with medium prices, so expect to pay around 200 DKK for a meal.
New Nordic Cuisine
In recent years some Danish chefs have been part of the New Nordic Cuisine movement, which is an innovative way of cooking based on high quality and local production. The restaurant that took the lead and had a great impact on the success of the New Nordic Cuisine movement was the internationally acclaimed, two Michelin star restaurant noma (set menu: 2,250 DKK). Noma (short for Nordisk mad – Nordic food) was ranked the world’s best restaurant in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Before it closed down in 2016 (in order to reopen with a new concept in 2018), it had two stars in Guide Michelin Nordic Cities for 2015 and 2016. After its huge success Noma opened a spin-off restaurant 108 (full tasting menu: 1,950 DKK) in 2016, which has already been awarded with one Michelin star.
Other Danish restaurants that follow the New Nordic Cuisine are Geranium, Restaurant AOC, and Radio. Geranium (set menu: 2,500 DKK) has a very dynamic style and its chef Rasmus Kofoed, considered one of the world’s best chefs, tries to involve all the senses in the restaurant’s dishes. Radio (set menu: around 400 DKK) was established by famous chef Claus Meyer and is focused on Nordic and organic cuisine. All ingredients are organic, Danish, and contribute to an extraordinary taste experience.
Traditional with a twist
Kadeau (set menu: 1,800 DKK) is a restaurant that was initially established on the island of Bornholm. It offers high class dishes inspired by Bornholm specialties and Danish ingredients. The menu and opening hours change according to the season so be sure to check beforehand!
The Standard is a Michelin awarded restaurant situated right next to the main Copenhagen canal. It offers food from the Nordic kitchen. In Almanak (set menu: 1,195 DKK) you can eat ”food that a grandmother would have made if she had known what we know today”, or you can have a taste experience like never before in Studio (set menu: 1,300 DKK), with dishes that represent Danish nature.
Of course, Danish cuisine is not only about fancy restaurants. The Danes also love their street food. There are hot-dog stands (Pølsevogne) all over the centre of Copenhagen. On Amagertorv 31 there is an organic hot-dog stand called DØP (Den Økologiske Pølsemand) (30-50 DKK). It was established in 2009 by Claus Christiansen; all bread and sausage recipes are his own, and his hotdogs are said to be the best in town! In Denmark there is an obsession with sausages (pølser in Danish), maybe even as much as in Germany. Rød-pølse (red sausage) is one of the local favorites and you can find it at any hotdog stand.
There are also many food halls in Copenhagen. A popular and very central one is Torvehallerne. There you can find stands with traditional Danish food such as Smørrebrød, but also different cuisines from other countries. Another food market, which opened in 2017, is Tivoli Food Hall – a great way to enjoy lunch in Copenhagen from all over the world and have fun in one of the oldest amusement parks in the world!
If you prefer a more rough setting you should check out Reffen Street Food market.
Even though Denmark is one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world, it is also one with the highest meat consumption per capita in the world (even though it has been falling continuously). Of course, this means that in almost all traditional Danish dishes there is some kind of meat. However, vegetarians are just as easily able to find something to eat too! An example of vegetarian restaurants would be Veve (set menu: 750 dkk). It offers a special experience to its customers and its menu is inspired by kitchens from all around the world.
Some of the most traditional Danish dishes, can probably be found in any traditional Danish restaurant. Smørrebrod (an open sandwich) is one that Danes love, and eat at any time of the day. It is rye bread buttered and garnished with a variety of ingredients—meat, fish, eggs, vegetables etc. Stegt flæsk med persillesovs (fried pork with parsley gravy) is not as well-known to the outside world, but it is considered Denmark’s national dish. Another favorite is frikadeller, which is fried meatballs (pork) or fishballs (fiskefrikadeller).
One of the most well-known pastries is a “Danish”. What is surprising however, is that a “Danish” is not Danish! The Danes call it Wienerbrød because it actually originates from Vienna. The danish came to Denmark in 1850 during a bakers’ strike. Bakery owners had to hire bakers from abroad, especially Austrian bakers, who started making Wienerbrød. The Danes liked it so much that they started asking for it even after the strike and the recipe was adjusted to the Danish liking.
Lagkagehuset is a pastry house, with locations all around town, where you can find many pastries, bread, cakes and desserts if you are hungry while walking around Copenhagen! Lagkagehuset is also located at our walking tour start point - try it out!
Lakrids (liquorice) is relished by the Danes! It comes salty, sour, sweet, fruity, chili or chocolate coated. So many different flavors! The best lakrids you can find is at Lakrids by Johan Bülow(from around 80 DKK).
Danes like to have a drink during their meals. Usually, and especially during celebrations, they have “snaps”. In Denmark Akvavit (in Latin this means water of life, how ironic…) is always used for “snaps” and is considered the national drink. Don’t forget to “Skål!” (cheers) whenever you drink “snaps”!
Denmark also has a long history of beer brewing. It has Carlsberg (probably) the best beer in the world, Tuborg (which is beloved, especially for its annual Christmas beer), and many microbreweries that are growing in number and strength. A great place to try some beers would be Brus or BrewPub, which also has a restaurant and a great courtyard to enjoy a beer during the sunny summer days in Copenhagen!
The Danes have made food an experience and a pleasure for the senses. If you are wondering what to eat in Copenhagen and you are a foodie you shouldn’t miss visiting at least one of the places listed above or trying some of our traditional Danish foodsuggestions. You won’t be disappointed!
When Amber, our Gothenburg Destination Manager, first moved to Sweden she was immediately enchanted by the incredible number of flowers and nature she found in Gothenburg, even in the depths of Swedish winter. Here, she writes about why everyone should make the urban nature trail part of their visit to this beautiful city.
When I first arrived in Gothenburg, on a cold January day back in 2016, the last thing I expected to see, as I walked through the bracing wind tunnels of the city centre, were the unexpected but near-constant explosions of colour and abundant green. That anything could live in this cold northern country seemed, to this out-of-her-element Australian, somewhat unbelievable. But live things did, and my first impression of Gothenburg was that I’d never seen so many flower shops. There seemed to be one everywhere I looked! In fact, the first shop I ventured into on my first day in the city was the flower shop La Fleuriste. As soon as I walked through its doors, my nose was filled with a warm floral scent that, to this day, I relish every time I venture into one of these delightful, bright and welcoming shops. I soon realised that flower shops were common throughout Sweden, but since Gothenburg was the first city I visited, it will forever be associated with flower shops for me. I also quickly learned that in addition to the beautiful flower shops nestled in amongst the city street, this Swedish city was also home to parks, green houses and nature galore. Even in the depths of winter in Gothenburg, you can still find the promise of spring.
But to first return to the flower shops. In some ways, I don’t think it’s even really fair to call these little rooms of beauty something as straight forward as “flower shops”. It sounds a little mundane, and belies the levels of artistry that one can find behind their doors. Simple flower shops are usually filled with bucket after bucket of cut stems, but in Gothenburg, while the cut stems remain, you can also find bonsaied worlds, often with delightfully kitsch accoutrements, such as a mushroom or a troll. Or little pots full of carefully selected bulbs, all with hints of the colours that will spring forth in just a few days. Wreaths for hanging on doors are for every season, not just Christmas, and I recently watched a heart wreath being made from ivy, pink roses and eucalyptus. At Easter, birch branches, which are about to burst into green bud and are decorated with vibrantly coloured feathers, make one feel as though one is in a candy store. This is a typical Easter decoration in Sweden, and if timed correctly, the birch leaves will come out in time for Easter, symbolising the regeneration of life associated with the coming of spring and the resurrection of Christ. In the lead up to Christmas, red berries delight the eyes just as much as the smell of pine delights the nose. Little bags of moss are packaged up, and box, pine and fir wreaths beckon you to buy them. At Midsommar (Midsummer, arguably Sweden’s biggest annual celebration), you can barely fight your way to the counter to get the perfect petals for your floral crown that you must wear as you dance around the maypole singing the (in)famous frog song.
After I got over my delight at the sheer artistry that goes on in these often tiny and crowed shops, I started to wonder why. Why were there so many? Surely with so many flower shops, the market would soon be flooded with sad, droopy buds, with no one to buy them? Not so. The only drooping buds I’ve ever seen were beautifully and purposefully arranged, with a beauty to their melancholy that only a true artist could achieve (if I tried this effect at home I would achieve something suitable only to line the halls of the Adams Family mansion). It turns out that in the winter months in particular, having fresh cut flowers, little posies, or petite bulbs artistically arranged in little trays and artificially hurried along to hasten the arrival of spring (which is usually a very long time coming naturally), are what fills the benches, tables and desks in many a Swedish household. Flowers are brought in to remind us that even in the bleak mid-winter, the warmth of spring is not too far off. I myself was delighted the other day, when I found a tiny posy at Blom Blom in Haga, which I lovingly carried around all day until I got home (and that I would guarantee would cheer up even the most bleak hotel room)! It’s also standard practice to give flowers or a potted display when you have been invited over to someone’s house, and in Gothenburg you are spoilt for choice in what floral delight you may choose to give!
Visitors to Gothenburg might not at first think of venturing into flower shops, as flowers are not something a traveller often buys. However, the Gothenburg flower shops are an attraction in themselves, worthy of a detour and rivalling even the biggest tourist attractions. If you’re so inclined, you can even join a floral arranging class at Blom Blom! Also, many of these stores double as a wonderful design and gift shops, where you can find wonderful and thoughtful gifts for friends and family back home. My personal favourite for this is Floramor & Krukatös, where you can find everything from beautiful botanical soaps, to amazingly tall tapered candles, to tea-light holders, to limited edition prints, to curio objects, and to beautiful handmade ceramics.
If you love the idea of walking a flower trail around Gothenburg, you’re in for a treat. A wonderful thing about Gothenburg’s flower shops is their location. So many are off the beaten track, down cosy passageways and within hidden internal courtyards (so far this month I’ve taken no less than six people into the hidden courtyard of Floramor & Krukatös, and I think I have more photos of that courtyard on my iPhone than I do my dog…well, that’s probably an exaggeration, but only just)! This makes discovering them an adventure in itself, and allows you to see an entirely different side of Gothenburg. The yellow wattle and citrus that one day spilled out of Blom Rum and into Torgpassagen looked like the physical manifestation of sunshine, even though the streets outside were lined with snow. Bunches in Victoriaspassagen similarly excels at drawing your eye and inviting you in.
Gothenburg also has a host of beautiful parks (and thus flowers!) to enjoy. Trägårdsföreningen (the Garden Society of Gothenburg) is open all year round. In June, it plays host to the biggest collection of roses in Northern Europe, with some 2500 species spilling out over the boarders of the rose garden. Even in the depths of winter, the palm house comes alive with colour in February with the camellia festival. If discovering different climes in palm houses and greenhouses is your thing, then you should also head over to the Gothenburg Botanic Gardens, which have some amazing greenhouses. If you’re in town at the right time, check out their fantastic pumpkin festival. In early spring, if you take a stroll through Kungsparken, you need to play hopscotch through the crocuses, which are so abundant that even with the best of intentions you can often clumsily trample. A real treat is walking among the azaleas and rhododendrons during the summer months in Slottsskogen. Slottsskogen at anytime of year is a real treat, and as the largest recreational park in Gothenburg, it is popular with locals and visitors alike. You can wander along the pathways that wind through the grounds, and enjoy the waterways and cycle paths. If you want a bit of indoors time after strolling around Slottskogen you will also find the Natural History Museum and the Observatory (planetarium) nearby. If you are in Gothenburg for a while in the spring time, do take the time to go out of the city to Delsjön, a wonderful place for any nature lover, which in the spring is littered with sippar, little blue and white star-like flowers that cover the ground with colour and truly herald the arrival of spring in Sweden.
Walking a flower trail through Gothenburg may not seem like an obvious choice for a visitor, but along the way, not only will you be treated with spectacular floral visions, but you’ll also get to see a lot of the city that you might otherwise miss. I recommend following the lead of the Swedish and immersing yourself in the wonderful world of flowers and nature!
Everyone should spend New Year’s Eve in Scandinavia at least once. The cold crisp air, and the lingering of Christmas lights twinkling in the dark make the frozen North an enchanting place to countdown to New Year’s (and since Scandinavia is known as a nature and health hub, it’s probably a good place to kick-start your new year’s resolutions!)
Sometimes visitors to Scandinavia have difficulties distinguishing between the Scandic countries, owing to their many shared cultural and linguistic similarities. On New Year’s you can spot these although each country still has their distinct traditions too.
All across Scandinavian, they love their New Year fireworks as much as most countries do (actually, now that we’re thinking about it, where does the ‘fireworks at New Year’ tradition come from?!), and in most cities across the region you will be able to venture out into the cold night and watch the sky sparkle and explode with colour at midnight. In fact, the locals love getting out into the fresh air for New Year’s and will certainly not stay copped up inside for the evening just because of the cold. Join the fun, but just make sure you dress up warmly, as your beer-jackets won’t really do the trick when the temperatures are well into the minuses! Just remember that there is a saying in the north: there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes! So rug up!
In Finland, Helsinki’s Senate Square is where all the firework action will be, and it will certainly be a sight to see, especially against the backdrop of one of the most magnificent settings in the capital. In Sweden, it’s actually Gothenburg, the second largest city, where the best firework action is considered to be. Head down to the river for a true visual feast, or to Götaplatsen which is known for it’s wild and friendly festivities. In Stockholm, one of the biggest events of the early evening is concert at Storkyrkan in Gamla Stan and at midnight the big tradition is the reading of Tennyson’s ‘Ring out Wilds Bells’ at the Skansen. In Oslo you’ll want to head to the Town Hall and in Copenhagen the Town Hall is also where all the action will be, although it has big competition with Tivoli. Be careful though because even though the setting off fireworks in banned in many public spots, at the peak of merriment the locals can often forget this and set of fireworks haphazardly around the adjoining streets.
One quite big distinction between the Scandic countries at New year is that in Norway the focus is on spending the evening with family. In Finland and Sweden however, it is mainly spent with friends (since Christmas was dominated by family and thus NYE is a chance to get away from Uncle Bob’s appalling jokes and awkward conversation!) and many will hold big parties and invite all their friends to celebrate with them. In Denmark, it’s a bit of both. Interestingly, Denmark has quite the set of rituals to follow before the clock strikes midnight. The Queen’s televised speech to the nation earlier in the evening is something that most people will watch, and many will cluster around Amalienborg to watch the Royal Guard Parade. After that the jokes begin, and there is a bit of a Halloween theme as the Danes play pranks on their neighbours and friends, coating trees in toilet paper and smashing china plates on doorsteps! Norway also has a slight Halloween twist on New Years! In Finland, one of the best traditions of the evening is fortune telling! To celebrate the general theme of new opportunities in the new year, the Finns try to predict the future by interpreting shapes formed by molten tin. Of course, the shapes and their fortunes are always positive and you are bound to have a great coming year!
Food is also a pretty important component of New Years, alongside the warming (both physically and metaphorically) beverages consumed. Each country has their own set of dishes that are traditional New Year’s fodder! In Sweden’s Jansson’s Temptation (Janssons frestelse) is a solid favourite. Also popular at the Christmas table, this is a creamy potato dish which takes most of its flavour from cheese and anchovies. It’s delicious, even if its description sounds a little dubious! It’s also super popular in Finland, although there it is called Janssoninkiusaus. Cold cuts are also popular in Finland at this time of year, and so you’ll probably find offerings of cold-smoked reindeer and roast beef all around. In Demark cod is the favourite dish of the evening, but this should also be accompanied by a marzipan ring cake (Kransekage), which is so delicious that it will have any marzipan lover begging for seconds (and thirds, and fourths). In Norway, rice pudding is a favourite treat to see in the new year, and similar to a Christmas plum pudding, they bake it with a hidden silver penny. The idea is that the person who gets the silver penny in their helping will have fantastic luck for the coming year.
After the New Year’s countdown, for those wanting to extend the festivities into the early hours, all across Scandinavia you will be able to find clubs, restaurants and bars that will keep the party going. Make sure you have a look at what’s on offer and book a place, as these parties can get pretty busy. If you’re really in the partying mood, you can even enjoy double New Year! The towns of Haparandra in Sweden and Tornio in Finland and only 5 minutes drive from each other, but they are in different timezones, so celebrate an hour apart. So, you can celebrate first time around in Finland and then an hour later celebrate all over again in Sweden!
We absolutely recommend that you spend New Year’s Eve at least once in your lifetime in Scandinavia. It’ll be something you remember forever! If you need a good outdoors activity to help you recover the next day, our tours run across our Scandinavian cities on the 1st of January! Finally, you’ll need to be able to wish everyone around you a Happy New Year when the clock strikes midnight and we’ve got you covered for that too!
How to wish people a Happy New Year in Scandinavia. These are the sayings:
Finnish: Hyvää uutta vuotta!
Swedish: Gott nytt år!
Danish: Godt nytår
Norwegian: Godt nytt år
On our blog you will find travel tips and inspiration across our destinations. You'll find anything from food and drink recommendations to must-see attractions, hidden gems and seasonal events.