Travel Guide: Brighton, UK

I have finally decided to write that long waited for Brighton travel guide. My first trip to Brighton was about a year ago but after talking about returning there for months I finally packed my bags earlier this year. I’m in love with Brighton and so should you. Most travelers just go to London not even look for other possibilities. Read this guide and decide if Brighton is the right destination for you. Skip to the end if you only want tips for day trips to Brighton from London.

travel Brighton
Abandoned Pier in Brighton

Basic facts of Brighton:

When you start planning a trip to Brighton in the UK, remember to keep in mind at all times that there’re several cities called Brighton all around the world. Mixing these places up is easy (it happened to me so believe I know!) Britain’s Brighton is in fact only a part of a city called Brighton and Hove.

Population: 290 000
Language: English
Currency: British pound
Time zone: UTC/UTC+1 (they use summer time)
Summer weather: average day temperature of 21°C
Winter weather: average day temperature of 7°C

shops in Brighton

Should I travel to Brighton?

In my opinion: YES! The city is beautiful, easily accessible and full of this to do or see. It mixes the best sides of shopping holiday, beach days and city breaks. All these within a walking distance! If this isn’t enough to make you get interested in the travel possibilities to Brighton, just check out their pier! (The new one, not the old abandoned one.) I love wooden piers and Brighton’s is my favorite. The gaming halls full of claw machines and coin games are like a heaven.

travel to Brighton pier
Brighton Palace Pier

When to travel to Brighton?

You can visit Brighton around the year but their tourist season is during summer because then the weather is then more fitting for beach life. The temperatures and conditions are quite same as in London but the sea affects them a little bit. At winter you can enjoy snow days in Brighton while autumn and spring are perfect for those travelers who want to just enjoy the city without too many people around.

Both of my own visits have been in spring so I can’t really give a full opinion on this.

Brighton streets

How long should I stay in Brighton?

A weekend is enough to get the feeling of Brighton but you can really extend your holiday as long as you want. London is easily accessible by train so you can even make Brighton your home base for day trips to the close-by cities. If you are a traveler who just wants to book her days full of attractions and things to do, I would say that 4 to 5 days would be ideal in Brighton. For me, this city was more about getting lost walking the small alleys, drinking chai latte in bohemian cafes, and sitting half of the day on their beautiful beach enjoying the sun. Far from traditional sightseeing.

Street art alley in Brighton

How to get to Brighton?

The easiest way to get to Brighton is through London. You can take train or bus to Brighton from all airports in London, however, some of them will have several changes or they will last for hours. I recommend flying to London Gatwick Airport. Gatwick Airport is halfway from London to Brighton when you take a train. The train journey to Brighton from London takes about an hour while from Gatwick Airport the trip will only last half an hour.

Brighton streets

Is Brighton expensive?

The prices are on the same level as in London. You can find cheap budget hostels but also better and more expensive five-star hotels. Food is quite pricey if you want a real meal. Pizza and other cheaper options are available. Main attractions are expensive but fortunately, most of the must-visit places in Brighton are totally free! So, you can have either expensive or budget holiday in Brighton. 

observation tower Brighton
British Airways i360 in Brighton

 

The most important tourist attractions

  • Royal Pavilion: This beautiful building is the true diamond of Brighton. It doesn’t fit in the rainy UK with its exotic Indian and Chinese heritage. Nowadays Royal Pavilion is a museum where you can see the redecorated original settings from 200 years ago. As the seaside home of the King, Royal Pavilion will charm you with its luxurious and dark past. It’s quite expensive but worth it!
  • Brighton Palace Pier: In the modern era word “palace” has disappeared from the name and most people call this “new pier” build in 1899 just Brighton Pier. It’s the new pier because a little farther away on the beach you can see “old pier” that is getting destroyed a little by little by the sea. Brighton Pier is my favorite thing to do in Brighton. What there wouldn’t be to love in old wooden pier?
Brighton Pavilion in sunset
Brighton Pavilion
  • Brighton Pier Fair: There is a small fair on the wooden pier. Their haunted house is a well-known attraction but unfortunately, it has been closed everytime I have been in Brighton. The arcade halls are my favorite part. Claw machines, coin games, and other arcade games are kind of a big thing in my family. I’m blaming them for the lost money!
  • Brighton Marina: Brighton’s marina is the commercial center of the city. Bars, shops, restaurants, cafes, theaters, minigolf, and bowling. Brighton Marina was built about 40 years ago and it’s the biggest marina in the country. I wouldn’t recommend this place for claustrophobics because part of the marina is underwater! But the above water area is BEAUTIFUL.
  • The Lanes: Brighton’s historic quarter has small alleys to get lost around but also cute cafes and bars to meet locals. Just walk around to experience the idyllic atmosphere of Brighton that changes to something more modern and electric the closer the night comes!
  • North Laine: Colorful street art and small businesses with inviting fronts. This bohemian street is the heart of Brighton and paradise for all shoppers! Old record shops, flea markets, and cafes selling cakes from your dreams. If you don’t walk around the Lanes and North Laine, you can’t say that you have visited Brighton. Sorry, not sorry…
  • Museums: Brighton isn’t a city of museums like London but they have one bigger museum and several small interesting ones. I personally visited and liked the most important place aka Brighton Museum & Art Gallery where they show you everything from changing art exhibitions to archeological findings. Other museums that were recommended to me (and that I skipped, ups…): Brighton Toy and Model Museum, Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton Fishing Museum, and so many more small galleries or art shops!
  • British Airways i360: Every real tourist destination needs an observation deck. In Brighton, this has been taken to a whole new level. Their observation deck spins and takes you slowly to 138 meters. Again, this attraction is a little expensive but what observation tower wouldn’t be? The view is amazing and my favorite thing to spot up high were the graffiti paintings on the roofs of the close-by buildings. Clever!

Brighton colorful streets

Cool things to do in Brighton

  • Sea Life Brighton: If you love aquariums as much as I do, skipping the world’s oldest aquarium in Brighton build in 1872 isn’t a possibility. I have seen bigger, more modern and more enchanting aquariums but the old building has its own charm. Remember to book tickets to their behind the scenes tour early because when I went to Brighton it was fully booked for every day. You get to see what happens inside the aquarium where visitors don’t usually can go.
  • Undercliff Walk: If you are staying for a longer time in Brighton and want to spend a day walking/hiking next to the sea, 5 kilometers long Undercliff Walk on Brighton Beach is a perfect choice. The path goes between Black Rock (near Brighton Marina) and Saltdean. The cliffs on your way are made of chalk that was formed on the sea thousands of years ago. (Or something like that… Read more here.)
  • Police Cell Museum: You can visit this museum only by taking part in a tour that introduces you to the bloody history of Brighton’s old police cells. You will spend your day in the cells and hear interesting stories of prisoners, murder and solving crimes!
  • Walking Tours: One of my recent favorite things to do where ever I travel are the walking tours. Like all the bigger cities, Brighton has several free and cheap walking tours that teach you everything there is to know about the city. Take at least one walking tour to learn the basic things of Brighton and to get some unique tips from the local guides.
Ghost Walk Of The Lanes Brighton
Ghost Walk of The Lanes around Brighton
  • Ghost Walk of The Lanes: Brighton is a city with dark past and a lot of paranormal activity. I went to the Ghost Walk of The Lanes walking tour because it’s one of the most recommended tours in Brighton. I can agree with that. If you aren’t scared of ghosts and stories of murderers, Ghost Walk of The Lanes is a must thing to do in Brighton. Darkening evening, scary props and the small alleys of the Lanes will make your experience extraordinary! (And your walk back to your accommodation deadly scary…)
  • Brighton Open Market: This is the place to buy your local souvenirs. They sell local handicrafts and food in permanent market stalls but also in changing stalls around the decked market square. Check before your trip if they have any events during your stay. For example, when I was in Brighton for the first time they had Fairytale Market and it was magical!
  • Search for cool graffiti and street art: You can find art on Brighton streets where ever you walk in this city. The Lanes and North Laine are some of the best spots for graffiti sightings but any side street will do. I recommend doing googling before your trip so you don’t miss the most famous pieces of art like two policemen kissing.
  • Relax on the beach: My last tip is also the most obvious one: relax on the beach and just have fun day playing in the sea! You can walk on the beach from Brighton Pier until the Brighton Marina. The walk is about 3 kilometers but on the beautiful settings that will feel like nothing. If you return after dark or during the sunset, the lights of Brighton Pier are must see.

beach and pier in Brighton

Low budget holiday to Brighton

Can you make a low budget holiday to Brighton? Yes, if you are ready to skip some of the must to do things in Brighton and if you can contain your shopping needs, it will be easy. Hostels are the must choice for you. There are several of them around Brighton and the prices are super cheap. Just be careful because not all hostels are clean, peaceful or near the main street. For example, on my first trip to Brighton, the hostel I was staying had a bar on its first floor. They played music half of the night so loud that it felt in our room like you were part of the party.

Cheap accommodation isn’t the only thing you can save during your Brighton holiday. This student city offers many budget options. Museums, Sea Life and Royal Pavilion are nice but not necessary. You can see the most important part of Royal Pavilion from outside and the free walking tours (with voluntary fees) will tell you all the information you need to know about Brighton or its history.

The most important places to visit are also free – let’s not count the money you will use for shopping. The Lanes and North Lane are colorful, full of small alleys and covered by small idyllic shops, cafes, and restaurants. All this is free. Well, if you don’t buy all the shops empty like I would love to do, it will be free. Brighton Pier is also free to visit and so is the beach. Just walk around and enjoy the Brighton atmosphere. Especially at summer you can find several free events, concerts, and plays all around the city.

brighton travel abandoned pier
Abandoned pier in Brighton beach

Useful tips to remember

Brighton is moderately safe city and there aren’t too many things to keep in mind regarding your safety. However, these things are good to know before your trip so you can get most out of the experience.

  • Drugs: Okay, don’t get most out of the drugs during your visit to Brighton. This city is well known because of its high drug usage. Mostly you will see marijuana. It’s used either secretly or so normally that you don’t even realize before people are doing it. Someone will probably offer you drugs but just say that you don’t use and there shouldn’t be any problems.
  • Homeless people: Regarding the government, Brighton has the worst homelessness rate in Britain (when we don’t count London in the equation). You can clearly see this while walking around the city at evening or night time because most of the doorways and parks are full of people in their sleep bags. Even then generally speaking they won’t bother you and are just normal people who don’t have a home. If you have an extra penny consider to giving it to someone who needs it and if you don’t have anything to spare just smile while walking towards.
  • It’s a party city: Staying in shared accommodation means that people will return at the middle of the night even during weekdays. If you are staying near a bar, the music may disturb you through the day. But it’s not only a bad thing! You can always meet new people or just take over the whole hostel room at evenings because everyone else is in a party. Experiencing at least one wild party in Brighton is a must thing to do!
  • Check the events during your stay: It was a huge surprise for me how many events, concerts and other things to do there happens in Brighton every week! Even better many of these things are free. Just remember to check them before you go because sometimes the tickets are sold out quickly.
  • Airport security after Brighton: If you’re staying in a hostel or shared accommodation while in Brighton, I recommend reserving a little extra time for the airport when returning home. The security may want to do a random drug test for your things or you may happen to meet one of those cute dogs. Even if you kept away from drugs the results are probably going to be positive. However, don’t worry! As long as you haven’t used anything and don’t carry anything illegal with you it’s going to be simple package check. Tell them honestly that you were staying in a hostel so you think that someone was using something near your things. It will make the process faster and being honest is always a good thing.

Metro London Cool

Day trip to Brighton from London

Trains between Brighton and London operate several times per hour so you can leave to Brighton at any time. The journey lasts about an hour and will take you to Brighton station. Just step outside the station from its main doors and keep walking amongst the street. This will take you to the beach which is the best place to start your adventure around Brighton. After you have arrived at the beach and enjoyed the view, start your day in Brighton. Here is my itinerary suggestion:

  • Walk along the beach towards the British Airways i360. It’s the tall tower on your right side if you have walked straight to the beach from the train station. After arriving at the observation tower, buy your tickets. Check the time of your ride and then remember to go back to British Airways i360 at the right time.
  • After buying tickets and possibly visiting the observation tower, continue your way towards the Brighton Pavilion through the Lanes. Stop for cafe and shopping whenever you want. You can either buy a ticket to the Pavilion or just admire it from its park.
  • Next to the Brighton Pavilion, you can find Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.
  • Now it’s time to walk the famous North Laine. Remember to keep eye on interesting graffiti paintings on your way.
  • If you haven’t yet eaten find a restaurant or walk to the Brighton Pier and eat fish and chips with sea view. Continue enjoying the pier on its fair and gaming halls or go to the world’s oldest aquarium that you can find on the other side of the street in front of Brighton Pier.
  • As your last activity in Brighton go for the Ghost Walk of The Lanes and then walk back to the train station along the beach. This way you can see the sight of Brighton Pier’s beautiful lights in darkness as your last memory of the city.
Big ben and Telephone box London
The train journey from Brighton to London only lasts for an hour

I loved Brighton but what now?

Have you stayed in Brighton for long enough but would like to continue somewhere else? Don’t worry because you have an almost endless amount of possibilities! Here are some of my favorites:

  • London: Only one hour by cheap train and you will be in London. And then from London (even if it has always new things to see and experience), you can literally travel anywhere in Britain. With the cheap buses, you can travel around with only a few pounds.
  • Manchester: Well known soccer city is about 3 to 5 hours train trip away from Brighton but you can get cheap deals every now and then for the tickets. Bus from Brighton to Manchester takes a few hours more but the best prices are also under $10.
  • Paris: Does this recommendation surprise you? In fact, you can go by bus from Brighton to London and from London to Paris. It’s surprisingly cheap even if flying would be faster.
  • Bournemouth: Another seaside town worth of seeing in Britain. Take a cheap bus from Brighton but be ready to sit for about 5 to 6 hours.
  • Bristol: Busses starting from one pound go between Bristol and Brighton. The trip takes about 5 hours but night bus is always a practical decision. Bristol is an interesting city full of passion, culture, and things to do.

Brighton beach in UK

Have you ever visited Brighton or planning on going to see this seaside town? If you haven’t yet been in Brighton, I totally recommend it! I’m in love with this colorful city… Like always all comments and questions are more than welcome.

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With love,
Lost Viivi

Story Time: Very Naked Swimming Team

My three weeks traveling around eastern Europe are over and I am ready to share the first story from my trip. This story is about odd roommates I had while my last night in Bratislava: men’s swimming team with a habit of walking around without anything else except their tight underwear! Yes, you did read that sentence correctly. During those 24 hours, I probably saw more naked bodies than my brain could handle.

So, here is funny travel story of how I survived 24 hours in a small room with 8 half naked swimmers. Enjoy!

bratislava

It all started when I returned earlier than usually from getting lost around the town. I had been on free walking tour and my legs were literally killing me so all I wanted was a nice evening drinking tea and watching Netflix in my hostel bed. Like usually that didn’t go as planned. I walked to my floor and there was odd smell like I had just arrived in swimming hall. I just thought that someone was cleaning. Nothing can be wrong at afternoon in a hostel, right?

Then I opened my dorm’s door and expected to see the empty room like every other day. My mouth was probably hanging open because there in front of me was about eight dudes jumping around only in their underwear. Okay, maybe I am lying. Only two of them were in their underwear while the rest of the boys had jeans on but no shirts. For a few seconds, I just stood there but was woken up from my trance quickly after they greeted me happily in unison. Yep, in unison…

It took me about five seconds to grab my computer and run out of the room. My relaxed movie night was totally destroyed because there was no way I was going back to the room while they were there hanging out nakedly. Those boys were literally sitting in front of my bed so, me trying to watch a movie there would have been more than awkward.

Like it hadn’t been clear from our first encounter I quickly realized that these boys truly didn’t have any restrictions. They were walking to the shower and back using only small towels. They also showered together in the small shower stalls. There was a lot of screaming and laughing coming from the shower rooms. I don’t even wanna know what happened there and if I believe the faces of my fellow hostel guests neither did they.

graffiti_bratislava

This is also the point where I decided that they must be swimming team or in fact, my friend suggested so. They didn’t have a problem being almost naked, they looked exactly like swimmers, there was that odd swimming hall smell from earlier and let’s not even talk about the showering thing. Definitely men’s swimming team!

However, I wasn’t the only person sharing the room with them even if I was the one who “got most of them”. Meaning that all the beds next to and above of mine were taken by them. There was also one Australian girl sharing room with us. When she returned back from the city about half an hour after me I was just going to warn her but did it too late. She had opened the door to our hell (or heaven?)

She just stood there, like I had, staring inside not knowing what to do. After finally going inside she came out of the room even faster than I had. With the scandalized look, she sat next to me and neither of us knew what to say. After we ended up laughing too much for the situation we were stuck in (aka both of us too scared to spend time in our room) she left back to see the city while I continued eating. We were totally in trouble with our new roommates.

I had time to watch one full movie on Netflix before the swimming team left our room fully dressed looking like they were going to bar. For a few hours, I was able to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Then the hell broke again.

hostel_bratislava

Boys were back. And so was the chaos. Let’s just say that I saw a lot of butts. For some reason, a few of them went back to the showers and the rest of them jumped around my bed. In the end, I decided to escape the awkward moments by playing dead. It may sound stupid but playing dead is the best way to escape any situation for those who live a lot in hostels. Just face the wall and close your eyes. Maybe even put headphones on. Everyone thinks you are sleeping and you don’t have to be part of any social encounters.

My morning didn’t differ a lot from the night before. Swimmers woke up before sunrise, some of them earlier than others because they wanted to shower, surprise, surprise… Usually, I am the roommate who isn’t disturbed by anything but a bunch of naked guys screaming at each other at six am almost made me snap. They were slapping each others’ butts with towels and wrestling only a few centimeters from my bed.

For a moment I considered asking them to let me sleep but it would have been too embarrassing. So, I turned to face the wall and put my lifesaving headphones on. I woke up again just before the check-out time and the swimming team had disappeared like they had just been one messy dream. If I didn’t have my panicky messages for my friends as a prove, I would probably think that it was all just my imagination.

bratislava_castle

Why do I always get the odd ones to room with? Maybe I should write another post full of small stories of my roommates? Would anyone be interested in reading that? I haven’t even told you about the time I shared a room with men having a bachelor party or when one nice man taught me how to learn Japanese Hiraganas if you know how to speak Germany.

Like always all comments are more than welcome and thanks to everyone who has waited patiently even if I have been depressingly inactive lately. I won’t promise anything but hopefully, my blogging motivation has returned.

With love,

Lost Viivi

Travel Guide: Rome, Italy

If you are reading this blog post, I would guess that you are planning trip to Rome or you are already there but don’t know what to do. Or then you are just interested what I have to say about this Italy’s ancient city. I have to start by saying that during my visit to Rome I didn’t fall in love. The city is nice, there is a lot of things to see and Vatican was amazing. But I didn’t fall in love. That doesn’t change the fact that Rome is still one of those places everyone should see at least once in their life time and so here is travel guide to Rome for anyone interested!

ancient_rome

Basic facts of Rome:

As the capital city of Italy Rome is also the fourth largest city in EU when compared by the population. Inside of Rome there is also Vatican, the smallest country in the world by population and area. Here some more basic information about Rome:

Population: 2,8 million
Language: Italy
Currency: euro
Time zone: UTC+1
Summer weather: dry and warm, average day temperature of 30°C
Winter weather: humid and cold, average day temperature of 12°C

rooftops_rome

Should I travel to Rome?

The short answer? Yes.
Rome is like a big museum so if you are not someone interested in history, museums and old buildings, going to somewhere else may be a good idea. But even then Rome is travel destination you should experience once in your lifetime. Walking around the old narrow streets takes you straight back to Europe’s ancient city and there is something to see literally everywhere.

summer_rome

When to travel to Rome?

The right questions would be when is not the right time to travel to Rome. We made the mistake everyone should try to avoid making. July and August are just inevitable death so don’t travel at that time. The average temperature of those months is about 26°C. What this means? Sunny days are impossible to get around in the heat of over 30°C. Especially if you are from a northern country like me and not used to over 30 degrees.

On the other hand, January can be quite cold if you are used to warmth. The best time to visit Rome would be late autumn, early summer or late spring. 

rome_history

How long should I stay in Rome?

Whatever you stay for a weekend or two weeks, you won’t have enough time to see everything. Rome is big, full of historical attractions and place that makes you quickly bored. In the end, you can get an overdose of all the history and cool places so I don’t recommend making the trip just to see everything possible. Take your time and be ready to miss some of the major attractions. Decide beforehand what you want to see.

The shortest time I would stay in Rome is for three full days. Think it this way: You will need one full day for Vatican, one day for Colosseum area and one day for just walking around, doing shopping or going for a day trip outside of the city. But the more time you have the better.

tourists_rome

Is Rome expensive?

Once again short answer is yes.
If you are not careful in Rome, you will end up paying too much for the things locals can get a lot cheaper. Main areas of this capital city are made for tourists and so also the prices are high. Check out the prices of attractions beforehand from the internet and see should you book online or buy tickets in Rome. When eating, go for the smaller side alleys and compare prices of different restaurants.

rome_colosseum

The most important tourist attractions

  • Colosseum, Forum Romanum, and Palatine Hill: These are maybe the three most important landmarks and tourist attractions in Rome. You can access all of them with the same ticket valid for two days. Just remember that you should start from Palatine and buy your ticket from there. We got inside with no waiting at all because there was literally no queue. After that, you can go to the shorter line in Colosseum.
  • Spanish Steps: It’s long tradition for tourists to take a break and sit on these steps while writing postcards to send back home. Perfect place for people watching (Following those vendors who try to sell everything touristy is too much fun!) but also amazing opportunity to see the beautiful view to Rome if you just have the patience to climb up.
  • Piazza Navona: Souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. Piazza Navona is one of the most popular places to hang out for tourists. Wander around the small streets, visit churches and just enjoy the atmosphere this plaza offers.
  • Capuchin Crypt: One of the most unique attractions in Rome. This crypt has remains of 3 700 humans. Their skeletons make out most of the crypt and its decorations. Definitely part of Rome’s history but a little different take on it. Not for easily scared people!
  • Vittoriano: Huge white monument honors the first king of Italy. It’s nice to see from outside but mentioned on my Rome travel guide for a totally different reason. What many people don’t know is that you can take lift up to the top part of this monument and see beautiful panorama view to the city.

vatican_museum

Vatican

Vatican is small country inside of Rome and one of those places you shouldn’t skip at any price. It is worth of using one full day so it also deserves its own post in my blog. Next Wednesday I will publish small post full of information about Vatican and all the travel tips I learned while visiting there. For nor I can just say a few things…

  • Buy your tickets beforehand or you will wait in line for hours.
  • Take a guided tour to their gardens! It’s totally worth it.
  • There are too many people everywhere.
  • Read the map before exploring Vatican museum. You won’t have enough time and willpower to see everything as well as you want so pick out the most important ones to see for you.
  • Don’t trust the “Vatican” sign in the metro! It’s a trap. Or well not really but it may be sign for the wrong entrance.
  • If you try to find the Vatican’t entrance and decide to ask help from local, they may not know the right way. We even asked help from a military person but he didn’t even know in what direction the country is. So, have a map and read street names.

Street art Rome

I have seen too much history… What to do?

  • Markets! Campo de’ Fiori, Borghetto Flaminio Market, Fontanella Borghese Market and Campo de Fiori are just a few markets you could wander around in Rome. Visiting at least one market is must to do thing for every travelers. Pick your favorite from flea markets, food markets or markets selling literally everything.
  • Go to see the sea and spend day on beach. Follow the locals on train and spent nice relaxed day on beach. You have deserved one day of rest between all the sightseeing in Rome. The ride only takes about 30 minutes.
  • Jewish Ghetto is always one of those places you should check out in bigger European cities. It has its own atmosphere and style when compared to the rest of the city. Rome’s Jewish quarter has many attractions for travelers from Tiber Island to synagogues and from small cafes to bohemian shops.
  • Roman Cat Sanctuary aka Torre Argentina may be historic attraction. To be exact it is the place where Julius Caesar was murdered. So, why should you visit here is your brains got overdose of history? The ruins are taken over by about 250 cats and animals always make everything better, right?
  • Testaccio is one of the local neighborhoods in Rome. You don’t see many tourists here and so it is good place to escape the too packed historic areas. Visit at least local food market and Macro Museum of Contemporary Art (even if you don’t go to the museum, their yard is old slaughterhouse and super cool). And don’t skip partying because there is several clubs and bars in interesting buildings all found side by side from same street.
  • Nothing wins shopping! Rome is historic city but also paradise for shoppers. If you are on budget go to the cheap flea markets and if money isn’t problems the area around Spanish steps and Piazza di Spagna is full of high-end shops. There is also some cheaper shops if you start from the Piazza del Popolo and continue along Via del Corso street. Basically Rome is full of shopping areas so just use Google and find the nearest ones.

streetart_rome

Rome + Low budget = no problem?

Rome is often seen as expensive tourist destination that isn’t fit for those traveling with small budget. This isn’t the whole truth. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, Rome has many free things to do and some of them also happen to be must things to do in Rome.

  • Spanish steps: Spanish steps is also included as one of the major tourist attractions in this blog post. As long as you don’t end up buying something from the vendors walking amongst tourist it should be 100% free.
  • Churches: Rome is the city of churches and most of them are totally free to enter.
  • Pantheon: This old temple is the most influential building in Rome. It is best-known from photos of beautiful light coming inside of the hole in its roof. Definitely worth of seeing and free.
  • St. Peter’s Basilica: This is free part of Vatican if you don’t have the money to go for tour inside. However be ready for long queues and waiting before getting in the crowded basilica.
  • First Sunday of the month: This may surprise you but first Sunday of every month is day when you can see Colosseum, Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill free of charge. You just have to wait in line for long time but hey, it’s free! Also many Romae’s museums are free on this same Sunday.

rome_spanishsteps

Beware of scams!

As super touristy city Rome is the paradise of scammers and shady people. Be always on your toes and if something feels too good to be true or just not right, get away. It’s not worth the risk of getting robbed. Here is list of some of scams or dangers you may encounter in the ancient city:

  • Help is not free. You will probably encounter this scam if you are buying tickets from the main touristy metro stations. There is someone standing between two ticket machines “helping”. In reality you could just turn the machine to English and buy your tickets cheaply. After you have bought the tickets this person helping you will snatch the change you get back from the machine as tip for helping. Tip: Pay the exact amount of your ticket price or make sure you are ready to lose the change you would get.
  • Fake tours, guides and tickets. Only buy tickets from official people. Someone may offer you possibility to skip lines or get cheaper tickets but remember to always think: Why would this guy get any special tickets if anyone else doesn’t have? Remember also ask the price always before buying anything from anyone.
  • Rose for beautiful lady. This tourist scam is getting popular around Europe. This usually happens for couples or families, not as often for solo travelers. Man offers you rose because you are so beautiful just to demand high payment after you have taken the flower. If you are girl traveling with boy, they ask the price from man traveling with you because what kind of guy doesn’t buy flowers to his girl, right?
  • Fake products. This should be clear thing. Be always careful when buying brand products and especially if the price seems to be off.
  • Photo with pigeon. I saw this a lot when traveling in Italy and around eastern Europe. Someone will throw food around you or take your hand and put food to your hand just for pigeons appear to eat around you. What any tourist would want to do in this situation? Take photo of course! Just be aware that it will cost… a lot.

rome_metro

Useful tips to remember

  • Water fountains can be found around Rome and you can get free drinkable water from them. Yes, I know this sounds suspicious but it’s the truth. Locals drink from them, tourists drink from them and even my mom ended up drinking the fountain water (before our trip she was totally against it). Just check carefully that the fountain you are using is truly for drinking and not just for decoration. If others drink from it, there is big possibility that you can too.
  • You can skip the longest lines if you are clever. Traveling to Rome means waiting in queues for too long whatever you do. However with small research and clever thinking you can skip the longest lines. We mentioned these things already but here is two examples: For Vatican buy your tickets beforehand and there is almost no waiting. When visiting Colosseum go first to Palatine hill where you can buy the ticket right away. Instead of few hours of standing in line in front of Colosseum you only have to wait for about half an hour.
  • Always carry big scarf with you. No, this doesn’t have anything to do with chilly weather or covering yourself from the sun. Churches and other sacred places in Rome have strict dress-code. You can’t enter if your knees or shoulders are showing. During the summer months top and shorts seem like luxurious choice but it means churches are off limit for you. Except if you follow my tip and cover yourself with scarf when needed.
  • Some locals enjoy “siesta”. This means that there is shops and restaurants closed during afternoon hours but it depends a lot from area to area and even from shop to shop. People in Rome usually eat later at evening so you should too.
  • Use metros or trams and save yourself from terrible bus journey. Streets in Rome are narrow and often full of traffic. We didn’t use any buses during our trip but that was because many people warned us about them before we left. Metros and trams are easy to use and don’t get stuck to bad traffic!

airplane

I saw Rome, what now?

Have you spent more than enough time exploring Rome but still feel like you could continue your adventure to somewhere else? Don’t worry! I am expert at making long and difficult travel plans so here is a few possible ways you can continue your trip from Rome to somewhere else in Italy or Europe.

  • Train: Taking a train from Rome is maybe the easiest and fastest way to get Around Italy. Some tickets are a little expensive so it’s good to buy your trip beforehand. However there is some cities you can reach with only using ten to twenty euros. I recommend cities like Nice, Florence and Pisa.
  • Long distance bus: This is slower alternative for trains but also often cheaper when we talk about longer distances. Remember always check the current rates for trains and buses so you will know which one to pick. Taking night bus is easy way to move between two cities but it’s good to know that Rome’s main bus station is kind of shady and chaotic. I recommend using buses for places like Venice, Milan or Verona. If you want to go outside of Italy, Zurich or Ljubljana are interesting destination accessible by cheap buses.
  • Airplane: Rome is big centric city in Europe so many low-cost airlines fly around the continent from there. At least right now you can get flight to many countries only with 20€. (This is not advertising in any way but I use SkyScanner to find my cheap flights. Currently they are the only website I know with working “Fly Anywhere” option.) Those twenty euros flights I found were destinations like Bulgaria, Malta, France and Romania.
  • Cruise: Many cruises visit Rome or leave/end up in Rome. So, what would be better way to continue your holiday than board luxurious cruise ship? Some of these cruises sail around Mediterranean Sea visiting France, Spain, Greece and other cities in Italy while some ships sail even further.

colosseum_rome

So, this was my Rome travel guide for anyone who is planning their trip. It was first time I write guide like this so any feedback would be nice. Do you want to see more guides like this? I had fun writing so whatever your answer is there will be probably more posts like this coming. Sorry! Have you ever visited Rome or do you have any tips I forgot to mention? All comments are welcome like always.

Also don’t forget to follow my InstagramFacebook and Twitter!

With love,

Lost Viivi

Travel Review: Going Local in Rome

This post will be review of site called LocalGuddy and story of my tour with their local guide.

This Wednesday Thursday I am going to do something a little different. If you follow me in Twitter, you may already know that I spent my last day in Rome going to ready paid tour by LocalGuddy website. This is going to be my story and review of that tour, LocalGuddy and everything that led to it. I would like to start by saying that LocalGuddy paid the tour for me but they asked my honest review so everything I say here is totally from my own will and experiences.

So, how this all started?

After my blog’s reader count has started rising I have gotten a lot of companies contacting me about sponsored posts. Some have offered me a small sum of money while other want to send me free stuff. My answer is no to almost every email like that. Why? Well, I only want to share things I WANT in MY BLOG. This is why I only accepted this offer because after getting message from LocalGuddy I checked out their website and totally fell in love.

Meeting locals while traveling is one of the best sides of traveling if you ask from me. So, what would be better way to meet locals than go on tour guided by them? I decided to answer yes to LocalGuddy’s offer when they promised to give me free tour if I write honest review of their site.

Different side of Rome

Hunting for the right tour guide

After sending back and forth a few messages with LocalGuddy it was time for me to find a tour guide. Their site is easy to use and I only had to write the name of destination and all locals offering their services appeared in for me to look through. I wanted to go for tour made by local rather than pick out one of the food options LocalGuddy also has (local taking you to the best restaurants/bars or making local food for you). Because my Rome-Venice trip was close I checked tours for those two cities.

I send message to one local in Rome and one in Venice. Guide from Venice wasn’t available but guide from Rome was excited to show me the not so popular side of Italy’s capital. We sent about five messages after I first contacted her so arranging the tour wasn’t big bother (this is important for me because I am lazy traveler…) I told time that was okay for me and she agreed. Next time she contacted me was a few days before the tour reminding me to have full water bottle for the tour. So, everything went smoothly and seemed maybe even too easy.

What my tour included? Walk around contemporary art and Testaccio district
How long was the tour? About three hours. (But we decided to be only for two hours because it was too hot to do anything for me…)
How much did it cost? If I had paid for the tour, it would have cost $25 per person.

Street art Rome

Thoughts before the tour

I am often skeptic of everything but I still go for everything with caring too much of these feelings. This tour wasn’t exception. Someone online contacted me and offered free tour. I know it’s because I am now “travel blogger” and LocalGuddy seemed trustworthy site but things like this still make me feel weird. So, like any proper traveler I was a little suspicious but didn’t let it bother me. Fortunately, I had amazing experience but let me say that I was super nervous for days before the tour.

Why was I nervous expect the too good to be true deal? Basically my English sucks. You might think that it is okay if you just read my blog but believe me, I can’t pronounce anything. Walking around with someone while speaking English seemed like my nightmare at the time but fortunately my tour guide was understanding and I always get slightly better at speaking after the panic fades. 

Rome Pyramid

Meeting my AMAZING local guide

We had arranged meeting point in front of metro station. My guide said that she would be standing on the stairs but when I came outside there was several people waiting for someone. Fortunately she spotted me quickly and asked if I was meeting her for the tour. It took only a few minutes from me to define her as good person and not some online murderer. After that I was able to enjoy the tour with my full heart.

We started from contemporary museum but unfortunately there wasn’t any exhibitions. That didn’t matter a much because the area itself (old slaughterhouse) was cool and had even a few street art pieces like the one you can see in me post’s cover photo. After the museum we continued our walk around the area while she told me about the place and Italian culture. We also talked about everything else and the atmosphere was really friendly.

After that we continued walking along the river while she kept telling me about the local life and a little bit about herself. I also saw Roma’s pyramid and I have no idea why it is not one of the main sights. I mean, it’s real pyramid! I didn’t even see it in any guidebooks. One of the highlights of the tour was going around this road full of colorful bars (that were of course closet during day).

It was her first tour so at first it was a little awkward and some thing didn’t go as planned (we tried to find one mural for long time but in the end never found it). I think this will be the case with quite many guides from LocalGuddy because the site is quite new and there is many first time guides. Necessarily not bad thing because that just means they will have different view to the things than someone who has taken people around the attractions for years.

Here is link to her tour if you want to check it out or if you are planning trip to Rome. I recommend trying out her tour (and other tours in LocalGuddy) but if you are not friend of seeing the local side of destination you are visiting, don’t bother. Tours like this only fit for those who are ready to get to know more of the culture and local lifestyle.

Side street of Rome

Thoughts after the tour

Would I recommend using LocalGuddy? Yes, definitely. Before this tour I had been going to the most popular touristy places in Rome and the city seemed kind of boring from my point of view. After I saw a little different side of this popular holiday destination my image of Rome changed. Before I didn’t think I would return there anytime soon. But after the tour going back to Rome didn’t seem like that bad idea anymore. Locals will show you places you would never find by yourself.

I tried to use the site again now during my east Europe trip but realized that they don’t have any tours in the destinations I am visiting. So, if you aren’t visiting popular tourist destination, finding a guide may be a little harder.

Because locals always know the best places to visit and especially if you are like me the selection of street art and abandoned building tours will win you over quickly. First it may sound expensive because the prices of the tours range from 25 to 40 euros. But when compared to “professional” tours there is many positive points to remember.

  • The group size will be just you and your friends.
  • You can ask anything from the guide and they will try to change the tour to fit more of your wants and needs.
  • Local guide probably knows a lot of things normal tour guide wouldn’t tell and show you.

streetart_rome

So to sum this review up I would recommend checking out LocalGuddy.com but use your own common sense when contacting the locals and going for the tour. This doesn’t mean you have to be scared of the guides who don’t yet have reviews (mine didn’t have and she was lovely person) but remember to act like you normally would when meeting someone from online for the first time. Firstly pick out public and busy place to meet and secondly tell someone where you are going. I would give this same tip for those people who want to work as guide through this website.

Finally, I want to thank LocalGuddy for giving me this opportunity and thanks for everyone who read this far. Have you used this website? Or do you have any amazing experiences with locals or guides you want to share? Like always all comments are more than welcome. 🙂

Don’t forget to follow my InstagramFacebook and Twitter!
And check out LocalGuddy for amazing tours by locals.
With love,

Lost Viivi

Photo Diary: Rome

Welcome to yet another photo travel diary! This time we will visit Rome and I will share some photos from this trip I made with my mom a few weeks ago. This time I won’t add any text or explanations but just let the images tell you the story of our trip. Be prepared for too many photos of old buildings but also some sides of Rome you won’t see as often in travel diaries. Enjoy!

airplane

rome

tourists_rome

summer_rome

rooftops_rome

Rome Pyramid

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rome_metro

rome_history

ancient_rome

rome_colosseum

colosseum_rome

sidestreet_rome

church_rome

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Different side of Rome

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Street art Rome

Side street of Rome

Different side of Rome

And there was some photos from my Rome trip. If you look at the closely, you can clearly see in what part of the trip my mum left back home and I was left behind alone to Rome. (I will give you tip: street art is my passion!) Have you ever visited Rome or do you maybe recognize any of the places seen in my photos? Like always all comments are more than welcome!

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With love,

Lost Viivi